If you were going to quit your governorship in mid-stream, and you were a winger, who would you call? If you're Sarah Palin, add Rudy Giuliani (hopefully he didn't propose to her too much... or drool into the phone about how much she reminds him of his cousin...) Dick Cheney (who apparently discussed the ogre-like family's possible vacation trip to Alaska, during which 'm sure Sarah and her kin will keep their whale guns at the ready...) [sidebar: Jesus, Republicans are creepy!] ... and Florida's very own Charlie Crist to the list. Reports ABC News:
Palin's phone calls are shown on her official schedule for May 2009, obtained by Alaskan Andree McLeod through an open-records request with the state and shared with ABC News. McLeod has filed numerous open-records requests for Palin-related documents, as well as four ethics complaints against the governor and her aides.
"GOV: Telephone Call Into Governor Crist," reads a May 4 entry in Palin's schedule. A spokeswoman for Crist said she did not know who had initiated contact, or what the subject of conversation was to have been, but the two did not speak. "It was a courtesy call. They know each other, both being governors," said Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac.
Crist may have had his own reasons to chat with Palin: to promote his candidacy for U.S. Senate, which Crist launched one week after Palin's phone call. Nine days later, Crist announced an endorsement by Sen. John McCain, Palin's 2008 GOP ticket-topper.
So will the Barricuda endorse the tan guy in Tallahassee over the RedState base's choice, Marco Rubio, or will she "go rogue" again and oppose McCain's choice and add fresh drama to the Florida GOP Senate primary? (Hell, at least their party HAS primary drama ...) The plot thickens...
Tehrani source close to those detained says some have been beaten heavily and waterboarded with hot water #iranelection
In my younger years, I would simply expect this news to be greeted with universal outrage, knowing that the techniques being described had long been deemed to be well across the Bridge Too Far. Now that I've lived through the Bush administration, however, I am forced to contemplate the possibility that Iran is merely taking legitimate steps to obtain critical information in their nations' vital national security interests. One mustn't preclude the possibility that many of those being waterboarded are privy to information about "time bombs" that may, at this moment, be "ticking." ...
The Wapo details Dick Cheney's vigorous defense of torture ... not in his recent raft of media availabilities and speeches, but rather back in 2005, when he seemed to be scrambling to prevent Congress from either stopping, or investigating, his torture and domestic wiretapping program. According to the Post, Cheney personally led briefings of members of Congress, including John McCain:
One of the most critical Cheney-led briefings came in late October 2005, when the vice president and Porter J. Goss, then director of the CIA, read Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) into the program on the interrogation methods, according to congressional and intelligence sources.
One knowledgeable official described the meeting as contentious. Cheney and Goss, with other CIA officials present, tried to persuade the former Vietnam POW to back off an anti-torture amendment that had already won the support of 90 senators.
The McCain amendment would have ended practices such as waterboarding by forbidding "cruel, degrading and inhumane" treatment of detainees. The CIA had not used waterboarding since 2003, but the White House sought to maintain the ability to employ it.
Meanwhile, the story also offers insight into why Cheney seems to believe there is exculpatory evidence inside certain CIA memos:
Lawmakers at times challenged Cheney and CIA officials about the legality of the program and pressed for specific results that would show whether the techniques worked. In response, the CIA briefers said that half of the agency's knowledge about al-Qaeda's plans and structure had been obtained through the interrogations.
And the other interesting point: the timing and effectiveness of Cheney's efforts?
Cheney's briefings on interrogations began in the winter of 2005 as the top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sen. John D. Rockefeller III (W.Va.) and Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), publicly advocated a full-scale investigation of the tactics used against top al-Qaeda suspects.
On March 8, 2005 -- two days after a detailed report in the New York Times about interrogations -- Cheney gathered Rockefeller, Harman and the chairmen of the intelligence panels, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), according to current and former intelligence officials. Weeks earlier, Roberts had given public statements suggesting possible support for the investigation sought by Rockefeller. But by early March 2005, Roberts announced that he opposed a separate probe, and the matter soon died.
And last but certainly not least, there was the arrogance of the Cheney team:
Cheney's efforts to sway Congress toward supporting waterboarding went beyond secret meetings in Washington. In July 2005, he sent David S. Addington, his chief counsel at the time, to travel with five senators -- four of them opponents of the CIA interrogation methods -- to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On the trip, Sen. Graham urged Addington to put the interrogations at secret prisons and the use of military tribunals into a stronger constitutional position by pushing legislation through Congress, rather than relying on executive orders and secret rulings from Justice Department lawyers.
Subsequent court rulings would challenge the legality of the system, and Justice Department lawyers were privately drafting new rules on interrogations. Addington dismissed the views of Graham, who had been a military lawyer.
"I've got all the authority I need right here," Addington said, pulling from his coat a pocket-size copy of the Constitution, according to the senator, suggesting there was no doubt about the system's legal footing.
And what's scary, is that the neocons actually believe that.
Next, Powell was attacked by Draft Dodgin' Dick Cheney, the benighted one, who got out of his Vietnam service by makin' babies! Cheney attempted to usher Powell out of the GOP, for the above-mentioned offense of supporting Barack Obama. And he sided with his teammate, Rush, over Powell (if he had to choose.) Well, Powell hit back at him, too, and now, it looks like Dick has decided to walk it back:
In an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Cheney said Powell is welcome back into the party and that Republicans would be "happy to have him."
KUDLOW: ... You kind of took a shot at General Colin Powell the other day, said you didn't know he was still a member of the Republican Party. He responded to you by saying that you were mistaken. He is a member of the Republican Party, and he regards himself a, quote, "Jack Kemp Republican," end quote. Could you react to what Mr. Powell is saying?
Mr. CHENEY: Well, we're happy to have General Powell in the Republican Party. I was asked a question about a dispute he was having, I think, with Rush Limbaugh, and I expressed the consent, the notion I had that he had already left since he endorsed Barack Obama for president. But I meant no offense to my former colleague. I wasn't seeking to rearrange his political identity.
KUDLOW: So you welcome him back into the party.
Mr. CHENEY: We're in the mode where we welcome everybody to the party. What I don't want to do, in the course of trying to expand the overall size of the Republican Party and expand our base, is to take away from basic fundamental principles. I think it's very important that we remind people out around the country what it is that we stand for, that we do believe in a strong national defense, in low taxes and limited government; and giving up on those principles, in order to try to appeal to people who are otherwise going to vote Democratic, seems to me is a--would be a fundamental defeat for those of us who are essentially conservative, who've been long-time supporters of the Republican Party.
If of course, by limited government you mean an extensive domestic surveillance network, sneak and peak searches, opening of all mail and email, tapping everyone's phone and secretly detaining American citizens ... (ahem) ... Point: War heroes.
Now, the third blow. Gen. David Petraeus, who enjoys near Jack Bauer levels of worship from the right, has sided with none other than President Barack Obama (plus Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen and SecDef Bob Gates and many, many other military men) on the subjects of ending the Cheney torture program and closing Gitmo:
Petraeus was asked if the recent moves by Obama help or hurt the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He replied, “I think, on balance, that those moves help it. In fact, I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention. And as a division commander in Iraq in the early days, we put out guidance very early on to make sure that our soldiers, in fact, knew that we needed to stay within those guidelines.”
On the issue of Gitmo, he said, “With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice -- I talked to the attorney general the other day [and] they have a very intensive effort ongoing to determine, indeed, what to do with the detainees who are left, how to deal with them in a legal way, and if continued incarceration is necessary -- again, how to take that forward. But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.”
Can a vicious Limbaugh attack on Petraeus as a "phony soldier" be far behind? I think Petraeus can take him. Point: War Heroes.
UPDATE: Score another one for the war heroes. Barack Obama's national security adviser, a retired Marine general, smacks Cheney too:
President Barack Obama's national security adviser laid out a sweeping rebuttal Wednesday to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that America is less safe under the new administration.
Pointing to increases in defense spending, efforts to get out of Iraq and revamp the strategy for Afghanistan, and a broad campaign to repair the U.S. reputation abroad, retired Marine Gen. James Jones said the nation is safer today than it has been. But, he added, no administration is perfect.
"I think that the former vice president knows full well that perfection is an impossible standard," said Jones, adding that the U.S. can only do everything it can "to keep threats at bay and as far away from our shores as possible."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."
He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."
In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."
A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.
There's much more, but don't expect the rest of the media to rally to Landay's factual cause. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out earlier this week, the mainstream media has long since moved the center to the right, and adopted the Cheney version of reality when it comes to war and national security, and relegated all other versions to the fringe:
What is, in my view, most noteworthy about all of this is how it gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism. Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions -- particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media -- acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.
Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the Bush approach to counterterrorism policy." That's because -- contrary to the ceremonial displays of regret and denouncements of Bush -- the dominant media view is this: the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism was right; those policies are "centrist"; Obama is acting commendably by embracing them; most of the country wants those policies; and only the Far Left opposes the Bush/Cheney approach.
Increasingly, President Barack Obama and Democrats who run Congress are being pulled between the competing interests of party liberals and the rest of the country on Bush-era wartime matters of torture, detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
When it comes to torture and Bush's Terrorism policies, it's the Far Left (which opposes those things) versus "the rest of the country" (which favors them). And she described Obama's embrace of Bush's policies as "governing from the center." Apparently, Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies are Centrist. Who knew?
BTW, if you caught MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning, you see Greenwald's point. The show, which increasingly is obsessed with rehabilitating the George W. Bush presidency, with Joe and Mika pulling the wagons and only Donny Deutsch and Lawrence O'Donnell running interference for the reality based community, has now become the new, unofficial home of that nasty piece of right wing work: Liz Cheney. Today, they gave her a full hour to bond with Mika and kvetch about Barack Obama not appreciating her dad.
When Dick Cheney mounted his full-throated defense of the previous administration's national security state at the curiously named American Enterprise Institute this afternoon, he made his core argument (that the Bush-Cheney torture and surveillance programs should be praised by a grateful nation, not shunned and despised by phony moralists who don't seem to mind when Jack Bauer does it...) based on a set of facts that are no longer operative. [Illustration at left by Rex Lameray]
Cheney continued to make the case that he ... I mean President Bush ... did what had to be done after 9/11 in order to thwart another -- imminent -- attack on America. They had to waterboard the bad guys you see -- and make no mistake, these weren't balerinas they were near-drowning -- because no one at the time knew when or where the next attack was coming. And it was coming. It's always coming... a few hundred turns on the waterboard and a mock burial or two later, the attack never came. See how well that worked?
But Dick Cheney didn't mention that today, nor did he bother to defend it. He didn't have to. The media has so thoroughly set aside the stunning revelations in the previous paragraph, that Cheney doesn't even feel the need to bring it up. He is free to continue arguing his case on pre-May 13 thinking, and he knows he'll get away with it. After all, who's going to stop him ... the "media?" The vast majority of the Washington press corps has long since lost interest in the subject of how, and why, we got into Iraq. And as NBC's Mark Murray all-but admitted today, the mainstream press spends more time helping the GOP out with their media strategy than rethinking their credulous assent on the Iraq war. ... The Obama administration? They're all about "moving forward." ... Congress? Don't make me laugh. They're too scared of the vanishing right's mysterious power to cow them on national security issues even to vote for the money to close Guantanamo, and they can't even build up the spinal fluid to move forward on a truth commission. The American people??? I'm sure Dick, who was too scared to fight in Vietnam but is clearly not afraid of YOU, would simply say, "good luck with that."
Cheney's speech to the American Enterprise Institute (any wonder the two outlets to get advanced copies of Cheney's durge were Fox News and the Weekly Standard...?) contained nothing unexpected, unless you count Cheney's sudden love for the CIA as unexpected.
As for President Obama's speech, you definitely get the feeling that it's starting to bug him that so many of us out here in Americanland want him to "re-litigate" the torture policies of the past. But Obama's main points were well taken: he is not a continuation of George W. Bush, and sorry Dick, but the previous administration did clearly subvert American values. But Obama's strongest point may have been this: that the previous administration's response to the 9/11 attacks was haphazard at best.
By the way, Cheney's obsession with the CIA-torture nexus isn't new. You probably won't recall this, because the media has had no interest in it, but according to investigative reporter Jane Mayer and others, as recounted by Jason Leopold:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney intervened in CIA Inspector General John Helgerson investigation into the agency’s use of torture against alleged “high-value” detainees, but the watchdog was still able to prepare a report that concluded the interrogation program violated some provisions of the International Convention Against Torture.
The report, which the Obama administration may soon declassify, was completed in May 2004 and implicated CIA interrogators in at least three detainee deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and referred eight criminal cases of alleged homicide, abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department for further investigation, reporter Jane Mayer reported in her book, The Dark Side, and an investigative report published in The New Yorker in November 2005.
In The Dark Side, Mayer described the report as being “as thick as two Manhattan phone books” and contained information, according to an unnamed source, “that was simply sickening.”
“The behavior it described, another knowledgeable source said, raised concerns not just about the detainees but also about the Americans who had inflicted the abuse, one of whom seemed to have become frighteningly dehumanized,” Mayer wrote. “The source said, ‘You couldn't read the documents without wondering, 'Why didn't someone say, "Stop!'""
Mayer added that Cheney routinely “summoned” Inspector General Helgerson to meet with him privately about his investigation, launched in 2003, and soon thereafter the probe “was stopped in its tracks.” Mayer characterized Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson as highly unusual.
Cheney’s “reaction to this first, carefully documented in-house study concluding that the CIA’s secret program was most likely criminal was to summon the Inspector General to his office for a private chat,” Mayer wrote. “The Inspector General is supposed to function as an independent overseer, free from political pressure, but Cheney summoned the CIA Inspector General more than once to his office.
“Cheney loomed over everything,” the former CIA officer told Mayer. “The whole IG’s office was completely politicized. They were working hand in glove with the White House.”
But Mayer said Cheney's intervention in Helgerson's probe proved that as early as 2004 “the Vice President's office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in the [torture] Program." Helgerson has denied that he was pressured by Cheney.
Cheney, torture, and the very bored mainstream media
Just realized today that Commondreams ran my piece: "The media's collective yawn over torture for war" on Saturday. It starts off as follows:
Faced with what could be the biggest foreign policy bombshell since the Gulf of Tonkin lies cleared the way for Vietnam, the Washington-New York media establishment has chosen to do nothing. Much as D.C. reporters decided several years ago that they were no longer interested covering the Bush administration's duplicity in the run-up to the Iraq war (nor are the David Gregory's of the world interested in revisiting their profession's complicity with the former administration in that regard,) "the press," it seems, has decided to take a pass. And what they're passing on is truly stunning.
In short, evidence is quickly piling up suggesting that the torture of terrorism suspects, and even the alleged request from no less than the office of the vice president of the United States, to waterboard an Iraqi official, had less to do with protecting Americans from further attack after 9/11, than it had to do with bolstering a phony case for invading Iraq. Polls show a plurality of Americans will accept even torture - as sickening as that fact is to anyone who cares about civil liberties - if it's done to save innocent (read American) lives. But how would the American people square the idea of torturing people, not to save lives, but to produce false confessions in order to give a small group of ideologues - the neoconservatives - the war they desired. Most Americans have long since accepted that the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was flawed, if not totally false. What we didn't know until recently, was that to sell that case, members of the Bush administration, possibly including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - maybe even the president of the United States, were willing to do things we're accustomed to ascribing to the North Koreans or Maoist Chinese: using torture not to get good information, but to produce false confessions, to justify an unnecessary war.
I'll be on FAIR's radio show "CounterSpin" tomorrow to discuss it. ... of course, we don't get CounterSpin here in South Florida, where pretty much the only things on the radio are right wing talk, sports talk, party music, and black comedians on FM talking to angry baby mamas. So you'll have to listen online. The interview is at 1:15 p.m. Not sure what time it will air.
Did you catch Liz Cheney's act on Stephanopoulos on Sunday? Sorry to be slow on the uptake, but my Tivo failed and I just caught it last night. Watch if for yourself here and here. Spoiler alert: the Cheney apple didn't fall from the gnarled, twisted tree... If you don't feel like clicking, here's a small portion of the roundtable, in which Liz continues the family tradition of shoving the CIA out front as a human shield:
I hope someone will ask him about the emerging evidence that despite his increasingly desperate attempts to shape history, the Bush-Cheney torture program was not about protecting Americans from an imminent "ticking time bomb" attack -- but rather was a sadistic attempt to falsify, and then shore up the falsified, case for invading Iraq. The evidence is everywhere. Plain as day.
We tortured Abu Zubaydah 83 times in one month to try to get him to falsely confess a link, and this after he had been cooperating with FBI interrogators...
We tortured the now very dead Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi to force him to confess to a link -- and he did. Per Andrew Sullivan:
...Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was first captured by the US and tortured by CIA surrogates in an Egyptian cell. Apparently, they beat him and put him in a coffin for 17 hours as a mock-burial. To end the severe mental and physical suffering, he confessed that Saddam had trained al Qaeda terrorists in deploying WMDs. This evidence was then cited by Colin Powell as part of the rationale for going to war in Iraq.
My investigations have revealed to me--vividly and clearly--that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering "the Cheney methods of interrogation", simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.
What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?
Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.
So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.
There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)
An extensive analysis I conducted as a reporter for NBC News of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report and its monograph on terrorist travel showed that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was based on the CIA's interrogations of high-ranking al Qaeda operatives who had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques."
More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.
The NBC analysis also showed—and agency and commission staffers concur—there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, specifically conducted to answer new questions from the 9/11 Commission after its lawyers had been left unsatisfied by the agency’s internal interrogation reports.
Human-rights advocates, including Karen Greenberg of New York University Law School’s Center for Law and Security and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, have said that, at the least, the 9/11 Commission should have been more suspect of the information derived under such pressure.
Philip Zelikow, who led the 9/11 commission as its executive director, is the same guy who authored the "anti-torture memo" that was buried by the Bushies, and who is now calling for an independent investigation into Bush-era torture. He now says:
"We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility."
Credibility? What credibility? The fact is, that now even the timeline and explanation of events surrounding 9/11 is tainted by torture. If we cannot trust the commission's reconstruction of events, and the means of getting that reconstruction included the same techniques Dick Cheney wanted used to justify a phony case for war with Iraq, what other conclusion can you come to other than that the fruits of that poisoned tree are ALL bad, and we really don't know what happened on 9/11, or who indeed, was ultimately responsible...?
As Bush stays silent, the evidence against Dick Cheney mounts
I've often wondered, is George W. Bush really as dumb as he seems, or could he, behind the scenes, have figured out -- eventually -- that his vice president had hijacked his presidency. Assuming for the moment that he did figure out, maybe around mid-to-late 2003, by which time the case for the Iraq war had completely fallen apart, and during the summer of which, Robert Novak had completed the leak of a CIA officer's name, something that originated inside the vice president's office, too. There is some evidence to suggest that not only did Dubya figure out what was up, but he also took steps to correct it:
Bush fought fiercely for a second term, deploying Karl Rove (who by the way has now admitted that the Bush administration conducted torture...) to do anything to win.
After he won (or stole Ohio, whichever historic read you prefer) he ejected the entire neocon fraternity from his administration -- including, eventually, Don Rumsfeld.
The one person he couldn't get rid of, or didn't try to, was Dick Cheney, who had gone to war with the CIA over Iraq (an agency Bush's father once held,) and authorized the Plame leak, something that went against Bush Sr.'s strongest admonitions when it came to undercover personnel. So could Bush, in his second term, have been seeking to repair the presidency he had allowed his vice president to destroy? Maybe. And then there's this: Bush and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms, according to news reports, and Bush does indeed blame Cheney for what went wrong with his reign (he should blame himself more -- Katrina wasn't Cheney's fault, and the economi catastrophe was a shared responsibility...) Bush also refused to pardon Scooter "the CIA agent outer" Libby, despite Cheney's strenuous insistance. And now, Cheney is out there on his own, defending the Bush administration's torture program as if it was ... well, the Cheney administration torture program. Which brings me to a post in today's Daily Beast:
Robert Windrem, who covered terrorism for NBC, reports exclusively in The Daily Beast that:
*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.
*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.
*Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.
At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.
Two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard an Iraqi prisoner came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.
“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding.
Could GWB be keeping so very quiet, because he knows that if prosecutions for torture do occur, Cheney will be on the hook more than he? Perhaps that's why this past weekend, Cheney tried to tie Bush to the torture program, claiming Bush "signed off on it..."
Meanwhile, the CIA today turned down Cheney's request to selectively declassify documents he insists will clear him ... or, he never asked. Either way he's not getting any memos. (BTW, which guy do you think would get more CIA cover if bad things went down in the A.G.'s office, former son of a CIA director Bush, or Dick "Deferrments" Cheney?" Just asking. BTW, the American Conservative's Philip Geraldi makes a very good point about those still classified memos, about which he was briefed by someone who has seen them; he writes this:
... The memos were drafted for the White House to demonstrate the success of the enhanced interrogation program and were not intended to look at the downside of the procedure, which means they provide only a very selective and uncritical overview. They were written by the CIA staff tasked with carrying out the interrogations which inevitably had a vested interest in making the program appear to be both effective and legal. Other Agency components, including its Inspector General’s office, opposed the program for various reasons, including its failure to produce any genuine intelligence, so there was hardly any consensus even inside the CIA on the procedure and effectiveness.
The memos cite several leads developed from the interrogations which may or may not have led to the thwarting of terrorist plots, but they make no attempt to critique the interrogation process itself to determine if the information might have been obtained more conventionally. None of the interrogations of “high value suspects” related to a “smoking gun scenario” where a detainee knew details of an imminent terrorist attack, meaning that the waterboarding was carried out even when there was no pressing need to use that technique. The memos also did not address the issue of the numerous false leads and bogus information derived from confessions under torture that made the entire process questionable. [emphasis added]
And the credulous Washington press corps continues to buy into the GOP's Operation Get Nancy distraction technique, to a degree that is shameful, even for this Republican-coddling crowd.
TIME Magazine also wondered why the once-reclusive Dick is so chatty these days, and concluded as follows:
Cheney is "trying to rewrite history," says a Republican consultant who has experience in intelligence matters. "He knows that as time goes by, he will look worse. And so he's trying to put his stroke on it."
And you know what? I'll bet George W. Bush knows that, too.
It's no secret that there hasn't been much love lost over the years between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. When it comes to the moderate military man, the chickenhawk cabal who hijacked George W. Bush's presidency and crashed it into the ground (sorry, couldn't resist the 20th hijacker reference...) no likey. In fact Cheney, who opted out of Vietnam himself, doesn't seem to have much use for people who actually serve. But fellow Vietnam service dodgers like Rush Limbaugh? Them, he likes:
And if you look at the latest Gallup Poll, it appears the Republican Party will soon be made up only of draft dodgers, pill heads and wacked out talk show hosts (and Michael "Fo Sheezy" Steele.) Wow.
I realize that he's a private citizen with a perfect right to speak his mind, criticize the current president, or do whatever he feels will help beat back the demons of total public repudiation that dog his every, lurching step... but could somebody please muzzle the felonious former vice president, like, for a couple of days, so we can all recover from the migraines?
Meanwhile, a friendly reminder from George Lucas: Dick Cheney is not Darth Vader ... he's too evil to be Darth Vader. (Though I'm not sure the GWB as Vader comparison works either, since at no point in his history could you call Dubya a "promising young man..."
The song is actually from a podcast I did about a year ago. The video is new, though; inspired by the recent rantings of Richard "The Torturer" Cheney (analyzed by the fabulous Joan Walsh here.) Enjoy, and happy Good Friday!
Related: Duke U flunks Cheney on security analysis. The bottom line:
Cheney's ideas are directly contrary to our constitutional values. Whether in the Bill of Rights or the separation of powers, the Constitution consistently sacrifices expediency for principles that better serve our nation's long-term interests. Cheney's lack of faith in this core American belief may be his most troubling legacy.
Sy Hersh says Dick Cheney left "stay behinds" inside the NSA and Pentagon, and perhaps elsewhere in government, to inform him, and possibly undermine President Obama, on matters Cheney deems important. Per ThinkP:
In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh if, as he continues to investigate the Bush administration, “more people” were “coming forward” to talk to him now that “the president and vice president are no longer in power.” Hersh replied that though “a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, ‘call me next, next February,’ not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney.
“Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward,” asked Gross. “I’ll make it worse,” answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney “put people back” in government to “stay behind” in order to “tell him what’s going on” and perhaps even “do sabotage...”
Cheney, who we already know held unprecedented power in the Baby Bush administration, apparently is also strangely unafraid of being indicted for war crimes, or even investigated by the Obama Justice Department. One wonders why...
Republicans on Capitol Hill have enough on their plates just pleasing Rush Limbaugh every day. The last thing they want is Dick Cheney running around without his shock collar on... From The Hill, word that Congressional GOPers feel they'd have a better shot at reinventing the party without the Man from Hopeless (hat tip to ThinkProgress):
Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) said, “He became so unpopular while he was in the White House that it would probably be better for us politically if he wouldn’t be so public...But he has the right to speak out since he’s a private citizen.”
Another House Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity said he wasn’t surprised that Cheney has strongly criticized Obama early in his term, but argued that it’s not helping the GOP cause.
The legislator said Cheney, whose approval ratings were lower than President Bush’s during the last Congress, didn’t think through the political implications of going after Obama.
Cheney did “House Republicans no favors,” the lawmaker said, adding, “I could never understand him anyway."
Cheney responded to requests for comment with the following statement: "GRRRRRRRRR...."
On Rachel's show last night, Chuck Hagel slammed Dick Cheney's accusations about the Obama administration as "ridiculous," and paddled his Republican Party for its conduct over the previous eight years.
RACHEL: What do you make of Vice President Dick Cheney's allegation that President Obama has made the U.S. less safe? He's been rather bellicose about that recently.
HAGEL: Well, that's ridiculous. It has no merit on fact, or by any measurement. Come on, this guy hasn't even been in office two months!
The mess that the Bush Administration left the Obama Administration....I'm a Republican! We ran up more than a third of the nation's national debt under a Republican President and a Republican Congress six out of the last eight years. We got America into two wars. We've done great damage to our economy, to our force structure, to our standing in the world. And for a Vice President who participated in that, who LED in that, to come on and say that this new administration has really put America in danger is just folly.
Now, maybe in four years that will be the case. I don't know, we'll see. But to say that now makes no sense and I'm sorry the Vice President said that.
How do you not love this guy? He also discussed the new threats from Russia, which appears to be preparing to see our missile shields in their backyard, and raise it some bombers in ours.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby - and was furious when President George W. Bush wouldn't budge.
Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration - even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.
"He tried to make it happen right up until the very end," one Cheney associate said.
In multiple conversations, both in person and over the telephone, Cheney tried to get Bush to change his mind. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal probe of who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press.
Several sources confirmed Cheney refused to take no for an answer. "He went to the mat and came back and back and back at Bush," a Cheney defender said. "He was still trying the day before Obama was sworn in."
After repeatedly telling Cheney his mind was made up, Bush became so exasperated with Cheney's persistence he told aides he didn't want to discuss the matter any further.
And the NYDN's Tom DeFrank reports that the Bush-Cheney relationship became more "businesslike" than warm over time, after the WMD not turning up and the rosy Iraq scenarios not panning out and such. I suppose even George W. Bush could tell when his presidency was ruined, and who contributed most to ruining it.
He has been described as a comic book villain, a character out of a Kafka novel, and even Darth Vader, but who would have thought he was also Punxtatawney Dick, rearing his ugly head on a chilly day in February and seeing the shadow of fear ... yes, lovely, beautiful, marvelous fear...!!! Cheney, who many former colleagues say they don't even recognize as the guy they knew from the Ford administration, jumps straight off the deep end in an interview with Politico, accusing the Obama administration of caring more about the comfort of terrorists than the safety of the country, and warning of dire consequences (yes, he means terror attacks) if Team Obama stops renditioning, torturing and spying on people. Watch, listen, and DESPAIR!
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.
Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”
And who can forget this gem:
“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”
Oh, and Politico's team, which apparently emerged from the interview surprisingly unscarred by primordial ooze, reports:
He expressed confidence that files will some day be publicly accessible offering specific evidence that waterboarding and other policies he promoted — over sharp internal dissent from colleagues and harsh public criticism — were directly responsible for averting new Sept. 11-style attacks.
Not content to wait for a historical verdict, Cheney said he is set to plunge into his own memoirs, feeling liberated to describe behind-the-scenes roles over several decades in government now that the “statute of limitations has expired” on many of the most sensitive episodes.
I think I have a title for the book: "Burn Before Reading..."
Two must-read articles on the HuffPo, both having to do with the legal twists and turns of the former president.
First up: Bush's last minute end run around accountability, in the form of letters issued to memebers of his now defunct administration, attempting to immunize them against probes by Congress:
Michael Isikoff reported for Newsweek that while many of us were fomenting about Bush preemptively pardoning at-risk members of his administration, he and his lawyer Fred Fielding (White House Counsel) were concocting one last expansion of executive privilege. Four days before he left office, Mr. Bush authorized Fielding to write letters to Harriet Miers and Karl Rove giving them "absolute immunity" from Congressional inquiry and prosecution. Preemptively. In perpetuity. Absolute and irrevocable.
The letters set the stage for what is likely to be a highly contentious legal and political battle over an unresolved issue: whether a former president can assert "executive privilege" -- and therefore prevent his aides from testifying before Congress -- even after his term has expired.
These letters were delivered before Congress or any prosecutor had initiated action against Miers and Rove. Clearly Bush sought to inoculate Rove and Miers from all attempts to prosecute them for their actions during his administration. Only when John Conyers (Chairman, House Judiciary Committee) subpoenaed Mr. Rove did the letters come to light. Waving his letter in the air, Karl Rove refused to appear before the committee.
Read the full Isikoff piece here. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney gave his own set of interviews, all but daring the new administration to charge him with a war crime for ordering torture, he says, at Bush's behest. Wonder if he has a letter, too...
Next up: Slate uncovers a college thesis by none other than Liz Cheney (the non-gay Cheney offspring, who apparently was an inspiration to her father in more ways that one. The thesis was called "The Evolution of Presidential War Powers 1988." ...
In 1988, while Dick Cheney was Wyoming's sole representative in the House of Representatives, his daughter's senior thesis was quietly published in Colorado Springs. The 125-page treatise argued that, constitutionally and historically, presidents have virtually unchecked powers in war. Thirteen years before her father became vice president, she had symbolically authored the first legal memorandum of the Bush administration, laying out the same arguments that would eventually justify Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition, wiretapping of American citizens, and, broadly, the unitary theory of the executive that shaped the Bush presidency.
Elizabeth's thesis contains such gems as the justifiable fabrication of enemy attacks to launch pre-emptive wars, and other nuggets of the founding father's hidden intent:
Elizabeth Cheney begins her survey at the Constitutional Convention. Contrary to today's middle-school mythology, she tells us, fear of enabling a tyrannical monarch was not foremost in the Founding Fathers' minds. Rather, they did not want to repeat the failure of the Continental Congress' attempts to manage the war for independence. Our constitutional architects, she argues, believed they could not "foresee every possible future use of American armed forces" and, as a result, wanted a commander in chief endowed with great latitude in wartime.
For Cheney, Thomas Jefferson established the path presidents would and should take when dealing with Congress. In engaging American warships against Barbary pirates, Jefferson "chose to inform Congress of his actions at his own convenience." When he did, he fabricated an attack on an American ship to secure their support.
Though Dick Cheney would seem to have been at the epicenter of America's totalitarian torture, detention and domestic spying regimes, one man stands front and center as probably the most easily prosecutable "first case" in what should be a series of U.S. war crimes trials: Donald Rumsfeld. RawStory reports:
Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN's Rick Sanchez that the US has an "obligation" to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
"We have clear evidence," he said. "In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, 'Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.' So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney disagreed publicly with his boss just four times in the eight years they served together. Yesterday, however, on the first day after the official end of the Bush administration, Cheney disagreed with George W. Bush once more.
Cheney told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, whom he described as a "victim of a serious miscarriage of justice," deserved a presidential pardon.
Asked for his reaction to Bush's decision Cheney said: "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and honorable men I've ever known. He's been an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."
Bush's decision not to pardon Libby has angered many of the president's strongest defenders. One Libby sympathizer, a longtime defender of Bush, told friends she was "disgusted" by the president. Another described Bush as "dishonorable" and a third suggested that refusing to pardon Libby was akin to leaving a soldier on the battlefield. ...
Dick Cheney works on his own legacy tour, with an exit interview with Chris Wallace that features an interesting discussion of the president's powers, and a certain "football":
Cheney defended the administration's aggressive prosecution of the War on Terror, which he said was a major reason the nation hasn't been attacked in seven years. He said the 1973 War Powers Act is a violation of the Constitution because Congress does not have the right by statute to alter presidential constitutional power.
"That it is an infringement on the president's authority as the commander-in-chief," Cheney said. "It has never been resolved, but I think it's a very good example of a way in which Congress has tried to limit the president's authority and, frankly, can't.
"The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States," Cheney said. "He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen.
"He doesn't have to check with anybody. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in."
Cheney also told Wallace he tried to talk Bush out of firing Donald Rumsfeld in 2006:
"I did disagree with the decision," Cheney said. "The president doesn't always take my advice."
Cheney said he supports Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, "but I was a Rumsfeld man. I'd helped recruit him and I thought he did a good job for us."
And he defended cursing at Pat Leahy. But that's not the news, I think, in the interview. It's that football bit. Cheney just declared that the president can start a global, thermonuclear war at his own discretion, without even checking in with Congress! Could that possibly be true? Let's go back in time, to 2002, when the folks at FindLaw were trying to talk sense to the Congress of the United States:
The decision to go to war is exclusively that of Congress
Sadly, it seems we've reached the point where the Constitution is no longer relevant on matters of a president's war-making powers. Presidents, the Congress and the courts have made going to war, once a serious constitutional issue, and a purely political question.
As a result, in the last half century, the war powers clause of the Constitution has become a nullity, if not a quaint relic. While conservatives often insist on following the letter of the Constitution on most issues, on matters of war they ignore it.
That's a disgrace, because the Framers of the Constitution carefully laid out the decision-making process for war. Pursuant to the document, war is a decision to be made exclusively by the representatives of the people -- the Congress. Only Congress is authorized to declare war, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, and make the rules for these armed forces. There is nothing vague or unclear about the language in Article I, ¤ 8, clauses 11-16.
And Dick, (who ironically, also spent part of his latest interview mocking Joe Biden's understanding of the Constitution) I think that includes the football... Congress could have stepped in at any time to stop the Bush administration from waging war in Iraq, and had it come to that, they could also stop the president from launching a nuclear strike against, say, Iran. It's within their power to do, Dick. They simply have failed, in recent history, to exercise it.
But the fact that Cheney believes that a president is free to do almost anything ... and yes, he said that too ... in a "time of war," including launch a nuclear war, is truly frightening.
Cheney said the new administration must carefully assess the tools put in place to fight terror. "How they deal with these issues are going to be very important, because it's going to have a direct impact on whether or not they retain the tools that have been so essential and defending the nation for the last seven-and-a-half years, or whether they give them up," he said.
Obama's team needs to look at the specific threats, understand how the programs were put together, and how they operate, the vice president said.
"They shouldn't just fall back on campaign rhetoric to make these very fundamental decisions about the safety of the nation," he warned.
Things you really don't want, but that you have to say thank you for anyway
To the delight of the Obama campaign, Darth Cheney endorses the McCain-Fey ... er ... Palin ...ticket:
"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," said Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."
Cheney also said he was pleased McCain has "chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president, Sarah Palin."
Oh, that'l help...
At an appearance Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., Obama used the Cheney endorsement to underscore his charge that McCain represents a continuation of current policies in Washington.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."
And McCain can't pull a grandpa and claim he "doesn't agree" that the endorsement ever happened, cuz it's on the Youtube:
Check out this "secret history of the war over oil in Iraq." It's a fascinating presentation of the tug of war between the neocons who used to run George W. Bush's government, and the James Baker-led "realists" who literally represented the interests of Big Oil in U.S. foreign policy, and who attended those secret energy policy meetings organized by Dick Cheney (who apparently has favored both sides at different points in history, according to the author, investigative journalist Greg Palast.)
The bottom line: the Bush administration sought the invasion of Iraq from the time they stepped into office, and initially drafted a plan, in secret meetings with oil industry giants, and including "the late" Ken Lay, which included staging a coup to replace the inconvenient dictator of Iraq with an oil industry favorite, and maintaining the nationalized Iraqi oil industry under the control of U.S. and European firms. After 9/11, the neocons rolled out their own, alternative plan: to privatize Iraqi oil and use direct control over oil output to cut the throat of OPEC. The "secret history" outlines how the "realists" eventually came roaring back, scuttling the neocons plans and maintaining Iraq's state-run oil system, under American control, of course, including direct viceroyship by former U.S. oil executives, who were tapped to run Iraq's oil ministries, and boosting oil prices through the roof in the process. In the end, the U.S. sided with OPEC, including the Saudis and the Iranians, to let everyone get fat off U.S. leverage over Iraqi oil.
In a hotel room in Brussels, the chief executives of the world’s top oil companies unrolled a huge map of the Middle East, drew a fat, red line around Iraq and signed their names to it.
The map, the red line, the secret signatures. It explains this war. It explains this week’s rocketing of the price of oil to $134 a barrel.
It happened on July 31, 1928, but the bill came due now.
Barack Obama knows this. Or, just as important, those crafting his policies seem to know this. Same for Hillary Clinton’s team. There could be no more vital difference between the Republican and Democratic candidacies. And you won’t learn a thing about it on the news from the Fox-holes.
Let me explain.
In 1928, oil company chieftains (from Anglo-Persian Oil, now British Petroleum, from Standard Oil, now Exxon, and their Continental counterparts) were faced with a crisis: falling prices due to rising supplies of oil; the same crisis faced by their successors during the Clinton years, when oil traded at $22 a barrel.
The solution then, as now: stop the flow of oil, squeeze the market, raise the price. The method: put a red line around Iraq and declare that virtually all the oil under its sands would remain there, untapped. Their plan: choke supply, raise prices rise, boost profits. That was the program for 1928. For 2003. For 2008.
Again and again, year after year, the world price of oil has been boosted artificially by keeping a tight limit on Iraq’s oil output. Methods varied. The 1928 “Redline” agreement held, in various forms, for over three decades. It was replaced in 1959 by quotas imposed by President Eisenhower. Then Saudi Arabia and OPEC kept Iraq, capable of producing over 6 million barrels a day, capped at half that, given an export quota equal to Iran’s lower output.
In 1991, output was again limited, this time by a new red line: B-52 bombings by Bush Senior’s air force. Then came the Oil Embargo followed by the “Food for Oil” program. Not much food for them, not much oil for us.
In 2002, after Bush Junior took power, the top ten oil companies took in a nice $31 billion in profits. But then, a miracle fell from the sky. Or, more precisely, the 101st Airborne landed. Bush declared, “Bring’m on!” and, as the dogs of war chewed up the world’s second largest source of oil, crude doubled in two years to an astonishing $40 a barrel and those same oil companies saw their profits triple to $87 billion.
In response, Senators Obama and Clinton propose something wrongly called a “windfall” profits tax on oil. But oil industry profits didn’t blow in on a breeze. It is war, not wind, that fills their coffers. The beastly leap in prices is nothing but war profiteering, hiking prices to take cruel advantage of oil fields shut by bullets and blood.
I wish to hell the Democrats would call their plan what it is: A war profiteering tax. War is profitable business – if you’re an oil man. But somehow, the public pays the price, at the pump and at the funerals, and the oil companies reap the benefits.
Indeed, the recent engorgement in oil prices and profits goes right back to the Bush-McCain “surge.” The Iraq government attack on a Basra militia was really nothing more than Baghdad’s leaping into a gang war over control of Iraq’s Southern oil fields and oil-loading docks. Moqtada al-Sadr’s gangsters and the government-sponsored greedsters of SCIRI (the Supreme Council For Islamic Revolution In Iraq) are battling over an estimated $5 billion a year in oil shipment kickbacks, theft and protection fees.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the surge-backed civil warring has cut Iraq’s exports by up to a million barrels a day. And that translates to slashing OPEC excess crude capacity by nearly half.
Result: ka-BOOM in oil prices and ka-ZOOM in oil profits. For 2007, Exxon recorded the highest annual profit, $40.6 billion, of any enterprise since the building of the pyramids. And that was BEFORE the war surge and price surge to over $100 a barrel.
Actually, during the second quarter of 2008, the profits swelled to an even higher $51,5 billion for the six biggest OilCos -- the highest EVER. Meanwhile, John McCain's flip-flop on oil drilling, and his almost obsessive promotion of "the surge," which again, is keeping oil profits high, has paid huge dividends for him:
Campaign contributions from oil industry executives to Sen. John McCain rose dramatically in the last half of June, after the senator from Arizona made a high-profile split with environmentalists and reversed his position on the federal ban on offshore drilling.
Oil and gas industry executives and employees donated $1.1 million to McCain last month - three-quarters of which came after his June 16 speech calling for an end to the ban - compared with $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.
McCain delivered the speech before heading to Texas for a series of fund-raisers with energy industry executives, and the day after the speech he raised $1.3 million at a private luncheon and reception at the San Antonio Country Club, according to local news accounts.
"The timing was significant," said David Donnelly, the national campaigns director of the Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonpartisan campaign finance reform group that conducted the analysis of McCain's oil industry contributions. "This is a case study of how a candidate can change a policy position in the interest of raising money."
What's interesting, is that McCain has surrounded himself with the neocons, including Joe Lieberman, whose oil policy lost out in Bush and Cheney's Iraq. Does that mean that as president, he would return to their "Plan A" for the country: privatizing its oil fields and attempting to cut OPEC out of the picture? With McCain's belligerence toward OPEC-member Iran, and the neocons' hatred for all things Arab, it's an important question, which the media unfortunately will never ask.
SIDEBAR: I think it's clear to most people who are not aparatchiks of the GOP that what we're seeing in Iraq is the future of global resource wars -- a push for direct corporate control over entire governments, whether it's Dole in Latin America or Big Oil in LatAm, Africa and the Middle East, complete with private or government armies to maintain corporate interests. It may sound far fetched, but that's what's happening today, in Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere (the Bushies tried to make it happen in Venezuela, too, and would love to do so in Iran.) Americans aren't vigilant enough to ask questions, and the national security state is growing so quickly here, without much opposition from a public that's become accustomed to the existence of cameras and "reality show" surreal lives, that perhaps in the near future, many, if not most, will be unable -- or afraid -- to do so. (Those who do pay attention are frequently written off as paranoids or kooks, or even "un-American" by those on the right.) |
Cheney is booted from a speaking gig before a disabled vets group after his camp demands they be locked in room for two hours in order to hear him speak:
The veep had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas.
His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.
"Word got back to us ... that this would be a prerequisite," said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn't have any rest rooms. "We told them it just wasn't acceptable."
When Cheney spoke to the group in 2004, his handlers imposed the same stringent security lockdown, upsetting members, officials said.
Many of the vets are elderly and left pieces of themselves on foreign battlefields since World War II, and others were crippled by recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan. For health reasons, many can't be stuck in a room for hours.
"It was a huge imposition on our delegates," added David Autry, another Disabled American Veterans official.
Autry said vets would've had to get up "at Oh-dark-30 and try to get breakfast and showered and get their prosthetics on."
Once inside, they "could not leave the meeting room, and the bathrooms are outside," he said.
Cheney's office acknowledged the security requests, but insisted he is sensitive to combat veterans' needs.
Spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said the two-hour rule is "a recommendation, not a requirement," and "we always work to make sure the bathrooms are within the security perimeters."
Turns out the veep has tougher security requirements than the POTUS, who apparently has no interest in addressing disabled vets anyway:
President Bush routinely speaks at events such as large dinners where thousands of guests freely pass back and forth through Secret Service screening portals.
Gorman first invited Bush, who has never addressed the group, but the White House declined last month.
President Bush's latest executive privilege claim, this time over FBI interviews of Dick Cheney and his staff regarding the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, drew contempt threats directed at the derelict Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, from Henry Waxman yesterday. Not only should Waxman follow through, Congress should junk the absurd handshake deal that's keeping them from exercising their right as a co-equal branch of government, to have their subpoenas honored (not only by Cheney and Bush, but also by Karl Rove,) or to file inherent contempt of congress charges against the intransigent. Mukasey should go first, as he has refused to carry out his duty as A.G., no less than did his predecessor, the squirlish Alberto Gonzales.
Last night, GOP hack Brad Blakeman asserted on Dan Abrams' show "Verdict" that Mukasey was, by refusing to enforce congressional subpoenas, simply serving his client, the president of the United States. Read the Constitution, Brad. The attorney general's client is the American people. It's the White House counsel who serves the POTUS. I'm surprised Abrams, a lawyer, failed to call Blakeman on that one.
(The Politico) Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) has introduced legislation calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle criminal contempt of Congress charges when Justice will not cooperate.
The Miller bill grows out of the dispute between House Democrats and the White House over subpoenas issued to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
The committee issued the subpoenas as part of its probe ino the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Bolten and Miers, relying on an assertion of executive privilege by President Bush, refused to comply with the subpoenas. The House passed both criminal and civil contempt resolutions against Bolten and Miers, but the Justice Department, citing earlier legal opinions, declined to allow a federal prosecutor to bring the case before a grand jury. The Judiciary Committee has filed a civil lawsuit against the Justice Dept. seeking to enforce the subpoenas.
According to Miller's office, his new bill would allow a federal judge to "appoint an independent ;Special Advocate' to investigate and prosecute alleged Contempt of Congress charges passed by the House of Representatives against current and former executive branch employees, when the Justice Department fails to do so." The special prosecutor would technically work for attorney general, but in reality, would be "largely independent from both the executive and legislative branches and not subject to undue political influences."
“The law explicitly requires the Justice Department to present Contempt of Congress charges to the grand jury, but the Bush Administration claims Congress can not compel a U.S. attorney to prosecute contempt cases where the White House claims executive privilege,” Miller said in a statement. “Other presidents have made bodacious claims about their powers, but always compromised in the end. No president, not even Nixon, has gone this far before.”
Good idea, Congressman. And while you're at it, how about proposing legislation requiring Nancy Pelosi and the other Bush cuckolds running the House of Representatives to use their constitutional authority, rather than ducking and running from the president, including -- no especially -- on the subject of impeachment, about which Miss Nancy is allowing only Potemkin hearings. As Johnathan Turley (who yesterday called such hearings little more than a "fancy dress ball") has said repeatedly (echoed by John Dean) there is more than enough reason to believe that crimes have been committed by this White House, such that impeachment is the only constitutional option. If the House won't even consider it, than divided government is dead, and the 110th Congress risks going down in ignominy, just like the 109th. |
Members of Vice President Cheney's staff censored congressional testimony by a top federal official on the health threats posed by global warming, a former Environmental Protection Agency official said today.
In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, former EPA deputy associate administrator Jason K. Burnett said an official from Cheney's office edited out six pages from the testimony of Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last October.
Several media outlets, including The Washington Post, reported at the time that Gerberding had planned to say that "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern," among other passages.
Boxer said the administration feared that Gerberding's testimony would force it to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. The White House has opposed mandatory limits and insisted that voluntary measures and increased research are the best way to address the problem.
By the way, the Post went out of its way to point out that the whistleblower is a Democrat. And that's important, because...? The Post did not, however, point out Cheney's ongoing ties to a company with major oil interests, but I guess that's not germain ... By the way, was there anything going on in the White House that Cheney wasn't the boss of?
Vice President Dick Cheney has apologized through his spokeswoman for making an offhand joke during a speech at the National Press Club Monday stereotyping West Virginia as a state prone to incest.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride tells us, "The Vice President's offhand comment was not meant to hurt anyone. On reflection, he concluded that it was an inappropriate attempt at humor that he should not have made. The Vice President apologizes to the people of West Virginia for the inappropriate remark."
So get to the remark already!
Cheney was at the Press Club to congratulate this year's winners of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency. During a question-and-answer session toward the end of the luncheon, someone asked the vice president about his wife Lynne Cheney's revelation on MSNBC last year that "Dick and Barack Obama are eighth cousins."
The questioner jokingly asked the vice president if he and Obama were going to have a family reunion, to which Cheney replied he would "have no objections" though he said he doubted Obama would want one - "certainly not before November."
Then came the offensive punch line. Cheney explained that during the course of researching his family lineage for Lynne's memoir "Blue Skies, No Fences" last year, he learned there were Cheneys on both his father's and his mother's side of the family. There was a Richard Cheney on his mother's side, the vice president said.
"So I had Cheneys on both sides of the family and we don't even live in West Virginia," Cheney quipped.
Cheney's remarks received universal rebuke from W.Va pols, Democrat and Republican, state and federal, and so he apologized (what, no "so what"???)
I'm not sure which is worse: Dick Cheney's crude joke about West Virginia, or the fact that the state voted for him and his little buddy George twice, and will likely vote for more of the same with John McCain, another Republican who would gladly accept their votes and then screw them... and their sister... for four more years...
We all knew that Dick Cheney is an arrogant S.O.B. who waved off military service for himself, while relishing sending other people's sons and daughters into war. But how much of an ass do you have to be to respond to the question of most Americans' opinions on the war with "so?" ... "SO???" ThinkP has the video.
Well we know that Cheney doesn't care, but perhaps you do, about what your fellow Americans think...
Iraqification: Cheney's words come back to haunt us
With Iraqi Sunnis now begging their Arab brethren for help to stop what that country's most senior politician is calling a genocide by ruling Shia, backed by Iran, which lawmaker Adnan al-Dulaimi says could spread to other Arab regimes, there are new wrinkles in George W. Bush's Iraq miracle:
A plot to ship 150,000 rifles from Italy to the Iraqi interior ministry -- the same ministry feared by many Sunnis inside Iraq as something of an Office of Ethnic Cleansing, was uncovered, with the Italian Mafia apparently behind the deal. The Guardian reports:
An Iraqi interior ministry official insisted the weapons were mostly for Iraqi police in Anbar province. But, given the close relationship between the Shia-led government and Shia militias and the irregular nature of the arms order, the disclosure prompted suspicion that the eventual destination could have been the militias, or police units close to them.
The aborted shipment comes only a week after a congressional investigation team found that the Pentagon could not account for 190,000 US-supplied weapons that had gone missing in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. It would have been another spectacular lapse to add to a growing list that began immediately after the invasion when the US failed to protect Iraqi army weapons dumps from looting and disbanded the Iraqi army complete with weapons.
The anti-Mafia investigators stumbled on the deal, which had not been authorised by the Italian government, while shadowing a group of suspected Italian drug traffickers. Expecting to find drugs during a covert search of the luggage of a suspect boarding a flight to Libya early last year, police instead found helmets, bullet-proof vests and a weapons catalogue. ...
Meanwhile, we step into the wayback machine to listen to a former U.S. Secretary of Defense explain to us why invading and occupying Iraq as the climax of the 1991 Gulf War would be such a bone-headed idea. Let's head back to 1994. Our epxert: one Richard Bruce Cheney. Bruce ... take it away...
Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?
Q: Why not?
A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.
Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.
It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.
The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?
Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.
Righto. Meanwhile, on this side of the ledger, the U.S. lost five more troops today.
Sleep well, Dick. And your little pal George, too...
At 7:16 a.m. EDT Bush invoked Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to voluntarily transfer his powers of the presidency to Cheney while he was unable to discharge his duties during the colonoscopy procedure.
He reclaimed his powers at 9:21 a.m. EDT, Stanzel said. Bush is expected to return to the White House on Sunday.
This frightening scenario has happened before, back in July of 2002, during his previous colonoscopy. Back then, one writer out West had this to say:
Thankfully, Mr. Cheney didn't order a robot duplicate of himself made, since his own robotic parts are rusting and aren't compatible with Mr. Gore's parts. After a two-hour procedure, President Bush's presidential powers were returned scandal-free.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush had five polyps removed during a routine colon cancer test on Saturday, but his doctors described them as small and apparently not worrisome, the White House said.
The polyps, all less than one centimeter (0.4 inch), will be tested to determine whether there are any signs of cancer and the results are expected to be available within 48 hours to 72 hours, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters.
"None appeared worrisome," he said, citing the president's doctors. The president "was in very good spirits and in good humor and looks forward to returning to his activities."
OK now here's the funny part:
Bush was planning to take a bicycle ride later on Saturday afternoon after participating in briefings with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and eating lunch with them, Stanzel said.
Ouch ... that's gonna smart...
So what did Mr. Cheney, who has fought for more than 30 years to build an imperial presidency, do with his vast powers as the Unitary Executive? According to White House spokesman Scott Stanzel:
Stanzel said Cheney spent the morning reading at his home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and "nothing occurred that required him to take official action as acting president."
Whew. Looks like we dodged the bullet. But just in case, somebody please double check that Iran is still there...?
He didn't listen to Collin Powell before the invasion of Iraq, when the decorated military man spent a whole 2 and a half hours trying to talk him out of the war. Two and a half hours? Wow. Now that's a statesman! Yeesh...
He just might be possibly thinking about bringing the Iraq war to a close ... not!
And apparently, while he is a wide open book to the creators of Lil' Bush, he remains a singular mystery to the people who work with him:
"Top administration officials are aware that the strategy's stated goal -- using U.S. forces to create breathing space for Iraqi political reconciliation -- will not be met by September, said one person fresh from a White House meeting," Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks wrote for the Post. "But though some, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have indicated flexibility toward other options, including early troop redeployments, Bush has made no decisions on a possible new course."
The official told the paper, "The heart of darkness is the president. Nobody knows what he thinks, even the people who work for him."
The Bush administration has made a near science of duplicitousness, secrecy, stonewalling and, in my opinion, extra-constitutional lawbreaking. On the latter subject, apparently, Congress is finally taking action, and not just on cutting off Dick Cheney's executive branch allowance.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Patrick Leahy, has issued subpoenas to the White House and the Office of the Vice President for documents related to the Bush administration's illegal warrentless NSA spying program. At the same time, the committee is also demanding documents related to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, apparently at the behest of White House functionaries within the Justice Department. Not surprisingly, the White House is refusing to comply, citing something that might come as a surprise to Dick Cheney at this stage: executive privilege. (TPMM has White House Counsel Fred Fielding's letter to the twin judiciary committees here.)
Meanwhile, Leahy, and his counterpart in the House, John Conyers of Michigan, are seeing shades of Dick Nixon, and Conyers is even threatening to take the White House to court. And speaking of Nixon, wasn't he nearly impeached, and didn't his vice president resign in disgrace? Hey, let's as this guy:
The nation's first vice president, John Adams, bemoaned: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet common fate." Vice President John Nance Garner, serving under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, lamented: "The vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." In modern times, vice presidents have generally been confined to attending state funerals or to distributing blankets after earthquakes.
Then President George W. Bush outsourced the lion's share of his presidency to Vice President Cheney, and Mr. Cheney has made the most of it. Since 9/11, he has proclaimed that all checks and balances and individual liberties are subservient to the president's commander in chief powers in confronting international terrorism. Let's review the record of his abuses and excesses:
The vice president asserted presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes. The Supreme Court rebuked Cheney in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Mr. Cheney claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the president's say-so alone, a frightening power indistinguishable from King Louis XVI's execrated lettres de cachet that occasioned the storming of the Bastille. The Supreme Court repudiated Cheney in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.
The vice president initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists. This lawlessness has been answered in Germany and Italy with criminal charges against CIA operatives or agents. The legal precedent set by Cheney would justify a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to kidnap American tourists in Paris and to dispatch them to dungeons in Belarus if they were suspected of Chechen sympathies.
The vice president has maintained that the entire world is a battlefield. Accordingly, he contends that military power may be unleashed to kill or capture any American citizen on American soil if suspected of association or affiliation with al-Qaida. Thus, Mr. Cheney could have ordered the military to kill Jose Padilla with rockets, artillery, or otherwise when he landed at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, because of Padilla's then-suspected ties to international terrorism.
He has advocated and authored signing statements that declare the president's intent to disregard provisions of bills he has signed into law that he proclaims are unconstitutional, for example, a requirement to obtain a judicial warrant before opening mail or a prohibition on employing military force to fight narco-terrorists in Colombia. The signing statements are tantamount to absolute line-item vetoes that the Supreme Court invalidated in the 1998 case Clinton v. New York.
The vice president engineered the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. He concocted the alarming theory that the president may flout any law that inhibits the collection of foreign intelligence, including prohibitions on breaking and entering homes, torture, or assassinations. As a reflection of his power in this arena, today the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Cheney's office, as well as the White House, for documents that relate to the warrantless eavesdropping.
The vice president has orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications. He has summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force, and to frustrate the testimonies of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers regarding the firings of U.S. attorneys.
Cheney scorns freedom of speech and of the press. He urges application of the Espionage Act to prosecute journalists who expose national security abuses, for example, secret prisons in Eastern Europe or the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. He retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, through Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq. Mr. Cheney is defending himself from a pending suit brought by Wilson and Plame on the grounds that he is entitled to the absolute immunity of the president established in 1982 by Nixon v. Fitzgerald. (Although this defense contradicts Cheney's claim that he is not part of the executive branch.)
The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties. ...
...In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.
And who is that guy? He's Bruce Fein, the former Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan. Missed the Washington Post series on draft-doging Dick? Here it is.
Update: On the House side, Conyers prepares for war:
"The President's response to our subpoena shows an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government. The executive privilege assertion is unprecedented in its breadth and scope, and even includes documents that the Adminstration previously offered to provide as part of their 'take it or leave it' proposal. This response indicates the reckless disrepect this Administration has for the rule of law. The charges alleged in this investigation are serious - including obstruction of justice and misleading Congress - and the White House should be as committed to this investigation as the Congress. At this point, I see only one choice in moving forward, and that is to enforce the rule of law set forth in these subpoenas."
The Washington Post on Sunday lifted the veil on the separate branch of government that is Richard B. Cheney, vice president of the United States, and apparently, a law unto himself. Issue one, Cheney's extreme secrecy:
So clandestine is the Vice President's work that he has created a new secret document designation: "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI."
That's not all: the piece also reveals that Cheney keeps 'man-size' Mosler safes on hand for "workaday business" and has destroyed all Secret Service visitor logs, in addition to already refusing to comply with a national security directive issued by President Bush, which RAW STORY first reported earlier this week.
Not only does he refuse to give the names of his staff, Cheney won't even disclose how many people he employs.
"Across the board, the vice president's office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency," the Post article says. "Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs."
"Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools," the piece adds. "Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI."
"Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to "sensitive compartmented information," the most closely guarded category of government secrets," the Post adds. "By adding the words "treated as," they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security."
The Post intimates that Cheney's office is like a black hole -- everything goes in, but nothing comes out.
Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney's lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby. The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to humane techniques allowed by the Geneva Conventions.
From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.
Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.
A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for both Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."
But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view. ...
...David S. Addington, Cheney's general counsel, set the new legal agenda in a blunt memorandum shortly after the CIA delegation returned to Langley. Geneva's "strict limits on questioning of enemy prisoners," he wrote on Jan. 25, 2002, hobbled efforts "to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists."
No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials. ...
Is it any wonder he won't let the Inspector General's office any where near the office of the vice president?
Meanwhile, Democrats are finally taking Cheney's absurd claims of not being a part of the executive branch to their logical conclusion:
Following Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is not a part of the executive branch of the US government, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) plans to introduce an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney's office.
The amendment to the bill that sets the funding for the executive branch will be considered next week in the House of Representatives.
"The Vice President has a choice to make. If he believes his legal case, his office has no business being funded as part of the executive branch," said Emanuel in a statement released to RAW STORY. "However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot ignore executive branch rules. At the very least, the Vice President should be consistent. This amendment will ensure that the Vice President's funding is consistent with his legal arguments."
... On Thursday, Emanuel suggested that if Cheney feels his office is not part of the executive branch "he should return the salary the American taxpayers have been paying him since January 2001, and move out of the home for which they are footing the bill."
So what will it be, Mr. Vice President? The money or your secrets?
Last but not least ... Mr. Blue Dress, otherwise known as Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, reports that there may be an interesting nexus between the Secret Fourth Branch of Government, Dick Cheney, and America's most useless attorney general ... ever ... Alberto Gonzales:
July 2-9, 2007 issue - A new battle has erupted over Vice President Dick Cheney's refusal to submit to an executive order requiring a government review of his handling of classified documents. But the dispute could also raise questions for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. For the past four years, Cheney's office has failed to comply with an executive order requiring all federal offices—including those in the White House—to annually report to the National Archives on how they safeguard classified documents. Cheney's hard-line chief of staff, David Addington, has made the novel argument that the veep doesn't have to comply on the ground that, because the vice president also serves as president of the Senate, his office is not really part of the executive branch.
Cheney's position so frustrated J. William Leonard, the chief of the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which enforces the order, that he complained in January to Gonzales. In a letter, Leonard wrote that Cheney's position was inconsistent with the "plain text reading" of the executive order and asked the attorney general for an official ruling. But Gonzales never responded, thereby permitting Cheney to continue blocking Leonard from conducting even a routine inspection of how the veep's office was handling classified documents, according to correspondence released by House Government Reform Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman.
Why didn't Gonzales act on Leonard's request? His aides assured reporters that Leonard's letter has been "under review" for the past five months—by Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). But on June 4, an OLC lawyer denied a Freedom of Information Act request about the Cheney dispute asserting that OLC had "no documents" on the matter, according to a copy of the letter obtained by NEWSWEEK. Steve Aftergood, the Federation of American Scientists researcher who filed the request, said he found the denial letter "puzzling and inexplicable"—especially since Leonard had copied OLC chief Steve Bradbury on his original letter to Gonzales. The FOIA response has piqued the interest of congressional investigators, who note Bradbury is the same official in charge of vetting all document requests from Congress about the U.S. attorneys flap. Asked about the apparent discrepancy, Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the OLC response "was and remains accurate" because Leonard's letter had generated no "substantive work product."
You knew Dick Cheney waas a bad guy, but who knew he was a fourth branch of government unto himself? From NBC News:
Vice President Cheney's office has refused to comply with an executive order governing the handling of classified information for the past four years and recently tried to abolish the office that sought to enforce those rules, according to documents released by a congressional committee yesterday.
Since 2003, the vice president's staff has not cooperated with an office at the National Archives and Records Administration charged with making sure the executive branch protects classified information. Cheney aides have not filed reports on their possession of classified data and at one point blocked an inspection of their office. After the Archives office pressed the matter, the documents say, Cheney's staff this year proposed eliminating it.
The dispute centers on a relatively obscure process but underscores a wider struggle waged in the past 6 1/2 years over Cheney's penchant for secrecy. Since becoming vice president, he has fought attempts to peer into the inner workings of his office, shielding an array of information such as the industry executives who advised his energy task force, details about his privately funded travel and Secret Service logs showing who visits his official residence.
The aggressive efforts to protect the operations of his staff have usually pitted Cheney against lawmakers, interest groups or media organizations, sometimes going all the way to the Supreme Court. But the fight about classified information regulation indicates that the vice president has resisted oversight even by other parts of the Bush administration. Cheney's office argued that it is exempt from the rules in this case because it is not strictly an executive agency. ...
"The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, you exempted the Office of the Vice President from the presidential executive order that establishes a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified national security information," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Committee's chairman, wrote in a letter to Cheney. "Your decision to exempt your office from the President's order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk. It is also hard to understand given the history of security breaches involving officials in your office."
... "Your position was that your office 'does not believe it is included in the definition of 'agency' as set forth in the Order' and 'does not consider itself an 'entity within the executive branch' that comes into the possession of classified information,'" a National Archives official claims Cheney chief of staff David Addington wrote to him.
Full documents available here. The National Archives has requested a Justice Department investigation, but so far, surprise surprise, Alberto Gonzales has not even replied. Furthermore:
In 2004, the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, a 25-member agency responsible for securing classified information, decided to conduct an on-site inspection of Cheney's office to see how sensitive material was handled. The vice president's staff, according to a letter Waxman sent Cheney, blocked the inspection.
After the Chicago Tribune reported last year that Cheney failed to report classification data, the Federation of American Scientists filed a complaint. J. William Leonard, director of the Archives' oversight office, sent two letters to Cheney's chief of staff, David S. Addington, requesting compliance with the executive order but received no replies. Leonard then wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in January asking him to render a legal ruling on whether the vice president is violating the order. Gonzales has not replied.
In an interview yesterday, Steven Aftergood, who directs the federation's Project on Governmental Secrecy, said the dispute concerns "a very narrow bit of information" but indicated a broader disregard for following the same rules as the rest of the executive branch. "By refusing to comply with these trivial instructions, the vice president undermines the integrity of the executive order," he said. "If it can be violated with impunity on a trivial point, then it can also be violated on more important matters."
And lets go it one better ... er ... worse: what does Dick do with an agency that's bothering him? He tries to eliminate it:
For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the National Archives unit that monitors classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested abolishing the oversight unit, according to documents released yesterday by a Democratic congressman.
The Information Security Oversight Office, a unit of the National Archives, appealed the issue to the Justice Department, which has not yet ruled on the matter.
Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, disclosed Mr. Cheney’s effort to shut down the oversight office. Mr. Waxman, who has had a leading role in the stepped-up efforts by Democrats to investigate the Bush administration, outlined the matter in an eight-page letter sent Thursday to the vice president and posted, along with other documentation, on the committee’s Web site.
Officials at the National Archives and the Justice Department confirmed the basic chronology of events cited in Mr. Waxman’s letter.
The letter said that after repeatedly refusing to comply with a routine annual request from the archives for data on his staff’s classification of internal documents, the vice president’s office in 2004 blocked an on-site inspection of records that other agencies of the executive branch regularly go through.
But the National Archives is an executive branch department headed by a presidential appointee, and it is assigned to collect the data on classified documents under a presidential executive order. Its Information Security Oversight Office is the archives division that oversees classification and declassification.
“I know the vice president wants to operate with unprecedented secrecy,” Mr. Waxman said in an interview. “But this is absurd. This order is designed to keep classified information safe. His argument is really that he’s not part of the executive branch, so he doesn’t have to comply.”...
And of course, if any administration department -- or non-department as the Cheney case may be -- should be careful about how it handles secrets, it's the office of the vice president:
Mr. Waxman asserted in his letter and the interview that Mr. Cheney’s office should take the efforts of the National Archives especially seriously because it has had problems protecting secrets.
He noted that I. Lewis Libby Jr., the vice president’s former chief of staff, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury and the F.B.I. during an investigation of the leak of classified information — the secret status of Valerie Wilson, the wife of a Bush administration critic, as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.
Mr. Waxman added that in May 2006, a former aide in Mr. Cheney’s office, Leandro Aragoncillo, pleaded guilty to passing classified information to plotters trying to overthrow the president of the Philippines.
“Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information,” Mr. Waxman wrote to Mr. Cheney. ...
The president of the United States has an outlaw on his hands. Dick Cheney has pushed George W. Bush around from the time he named himself vice president, filled his purported boss' administration with his own neocon accolytes, and then bullied this president into starting an unnecessary war. It's arguable that it is Cheney who primarily is responsible for pushing the administration to remain in Iraq, unless you buy the theory that Bushie has been thoroughly indoctrinated by now, and needs no further flattering or cajoling into the throes of neoconservatism. But now, Mr. Cheney has become a rogue operator, conducting his own foreign policy, his own domestic secrecy operation, and now, naming himself a separate branch of government.
George W. Bush's presidency is already lost. But he can recover his manhood by finally sidelining Dick Cheney.
New written testimony from James Comey, probably the most moral actor to have graced the pitiful hull that is the Bush Justice Department, sheds new light on the dark shadow that is Dick Cheney. From the National Journal:
... In written answers to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey spelled out the strongest case yet that pushback on the warrantless wiretapping program in 2004 came directly from Vice President Dick Cheney.
In testimony before the committee last month on the abrupt firing of eight U.S. attorneys, Comey revealed surprising new details about DOJ's resistance to the controversial surveillance program implemented at the direction of the White House following the 9/11 attacks. Comey said that he and other top DOJ officials, including then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, had decided to resign if the White House didn't agree to amend the program. Comey's testimony also revealed for the first time that former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a favorite villain of civil libertarians, had deemed the program illegal as well.
In his new testimony [PDF], released by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy yesterday, Comey said that he had personally informed Cheney that DOJ would not sign off on the program one day before then-White House officials Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales were dispatched to Ashcroft's hospital bed.
Comey was acting attorney general at the time, but Card and Gonzales ignored him as they pressured an ailing Ashcroft to sign off on the program, according to the hearing testimony.
In the newly released statement, Comey wrote, "The vice president was aware of DOJ's decision not to certify the program, because I had communicated this orally during a March 9 meeting."
Gonzales, now in danger of receiving a no-confidence vote from Congress as attorney general, has not said who ordered him to make the dramatic trip to George Washington University Hospital the night of March 10, 2004. The dots connecting Cheney to the visit seem closer than they were previously.
Comey also confirmed long-circulating reports that Cheney blocked the promotion of a DOJ official over the surveillance program. Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Philbin, a terrorism-law specialist with solid conservative credentials, was being considered for the deputy solicitor general slot at the time he accompanied Comey to Ashcroft's hospital room to fend off Card and Gonzales' entreaties to Ashcroft.
Later, Comey said, he learned that Cheney intended to squash Philbin's promotion. "I understood that someone at the White House communicated to Attorney General Gonzales that the vice president would oppose the appointment if the attorney general pursued the matter."
It will not come as a surprise to his many critics that Gonzales dropped Philbin's promotion. ...
Also, tonight, Newsweek's Howard Fineman told Keith Olbermann that investigators he's talked to on the Hill say that the president and vice president played the dynamic duo when it came to the strong arming of John Ashcroft: Bush called Ashcroft's wife to tell her that he was sending his little Torquemada and his chief of staff to the hospital bed, and Cheney pushing Torquemada's minions around. Nice work if you can get it...
Update: There's more Justice Department excitement, with new evidence of politically timed prosecutions designed to disenfranchise Democratic voters.
Dick Cheney continues his campaign of using the American military to oust his former business partners. First it was Iraq, where Halliburton continues to make a ton of profits, even without his and Don Rumsfeld's buddy Saddam. Next, there's increasing talk that Cheney is looking for ways to get around Condi Rice, and even George W. Bush, so that he can attack Iran, another frequent Halliburton business partner.
... The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well -- as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.
Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.
This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.
The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).
This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war. ...
Cheney is insane. Or maybe not.
His oil holdings stand to substantially benefit from another war, and he and his cronies have to fear that if Republican support seriously erodes in September, the major oil companies and oil exploitation firms like Halliburton stand to lose substantial income should the war draw down, Iraq's insurgency cools without the pressure of U.S. occupation, and gas prices begin to fall. So what to do? Start another war, take Iran's oil off market (or seriously reduce the output of the world's fourth largest oil exporter, and watch the profits from sky-high gas prices roll in. Cheney & Co. also have to realize that with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, investigations into current gouging could force Big Oil to bring the prices down.
So what to do? Start another war.
War is the answer to the Oil Industrial Complexes dreams of unlimited profits. They saw what the defense industry was able to make of the wars from Korea onward, and what industrial America was able to reap from World War II. They want their piece of the pie, and they're not going to let anybody stop them. Not even George W. Bush.
Clemons' conclusion is chilling:
The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.
According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.
On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was "potentially criminal insubordination" against the President. I don't believe that the White House would take official action against Cheney for this agenda-mongering around Washington -- but I do believe that the White House must either shut Cheney and his team down and give them all garden view offices so that they can spend their days staring out their windows with not much to do or expect some to begin to think that Bush has no control over his Vice President.
Update: Did you hear the one about the undersecretary of defense who made up a fake company in the Netherlands in order to justify going to war with Iraq?
The Bush administration is digging in. With the president's approval ratings and credibility in the toilet, and his legacy hanging by a thread because of the incompetence of Iraq, compounded by the incompetence of Katrina, the incompetence of running the economy, immigration policy, etc., etc., etc., the administration has chosen to barricade itself in, and swing wildly at all comers like a bear with one leg caught in a steel trap, whether it's on Alberto Gonzales, on Iraq war funding, on timetables, or on Congressional oversight in any form (they don't want it, duh...)
So which fights can the White House win, if the Democrats dig in, too, and as the mechanisms of oversight inevitably kick in? I see the walls slowly closing in on this administration, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that they plan to hunker down, Nixon style, and cling to one another as the ship goes down. First, the walls falling. Let me count the ways:
1. Iraq propaganda. The lies of Iraq are now glaringly obvious, and perhaps the most egregious is the lies about heroism, by Jessica Lynch, by Pat Tillman -- both legitimate heroes due to their service, but each of whom were used cynically by a Pentagon desperate to sell the war to an increasingly skeptical public. Tillman's brother testified before Congress today, along with the a fellow Ranger who was with the former NFL star when he was cut down by friendly fire, and who was ordered not to tell Tillman's brother, Kevin (who was in a nearby convoy in the same Army convoy) what he knew, and of course, Ms. Lynch, who to her credit, refused to play along with the administration's glorification of her back in the early days of the war, in 2003. Their words about the administration were damning.
2. Investigation of Karl Rove. Finally, Rove becomes the direct target of an investigation, this time by the Office of Special Counsel, which, incidentally, has the power to subpoena White House officials, with the exception of the President and Vice President, according to former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who filed the complaint which got the ball rolling. Rove is being probed for possibly violating the Hatch Act, by firing Iglesias while the latter was performing his service in the Reserves. Rove is also being looked at for the alleged distribution of RNC email accounts to White House staffers to do political work they shouldn't have been doing on taxpayer time.
3. Albertogate. The Bushies are circling the wagons around the attorney general, but increasingly, the wagons are few and far between. Sources inside and outside the White House -- Republican sources -- are apparently privately pushing for him to go. One reason Bush may be hanging on tight: if Alberto resigns, the White House may fear that the Dems will next set their sights on Mr. "Don't Touch Me, Sheryl Crow!"
4. War funding. President Bush threw down the gauntlet on war funding and timetables today, in his own, Bushly sombar way, announcing unsurprisingly that he will veto the bill passed by the Congress to fund the war. The Bushies have clearly made the decision to try and throw Iraq over to the Dems, by making them the scapegoats for cutting off the funds. It seems to me that the Democrats have no choice but to come back fighting, too. If they fold, they give the Bushies ammunition to keep being recalcitrant, and to continue defying the will of the American people. Seemingly odd strategic choice: deployiing Five Deferrments Dick to take shots at Congress over matters of war. But for the White House to put forward the supremely unpopular veep, clearly indicates that they are no longer playing for the support of the American people (they probably understand that such support is lost to the ages) -- they are desperately kow-towing to the most extreme elements of their base, who love Cheney, and who want to see George W. Bush fight like a man.
The bill approved $123.2 billion, with the vast majority — $96 billion — going to the Defense Department, mostly to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also included a $1 billion increase for the National Guard and Reserve and $1.1 billion for improvements to military housing. The bill also has $5.75 billion for programs overseen by the State Department, with $3.2 billion of that for Iraq.
Update: Further proof that the White House has abandoned the vast majority of the American public, and is now playing strictly to the crazies: the rhetoric of the forward men for the Iraq project is getting more and more desperate. Beyond the despicable and cowardly Cheney, there's also the criminal Tom Delay, who went straight for the "treason" card, and the idiotic Bush sycophant Glenn Beck, who bet the farm this week, saying per the ThinkP headline: "Iraq Withdrawal Would Be ‘America’s Most Shameful Act Of Immorality Since Slavery’... right...
Scooter Libby's conviction on perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI provided some satisfaction to those of us who have long believed that the current administration has been, since its inception, engaged in a criminal conspiracy to mislead Congress and the American people into supporting an invasion of Iraq, for the purpose of taking over that country's natural resources and controlling it currency. But the core question, which remains under debate, is whether there was an underlying crime, beyond Libby's lying lips. Bush supporters and conservatives (there is a distinction these days) argue that no such underlyng crime occurred, because, they insist, Valerie Plame was not a covert agent, having been out of the field for more than five years. They argue that this was a case about perfectly legitimate "push back" by the administration against critics of its pre-war claims, which got elevated when put into the hands of an overzealous prosecutor (exactly the flip side of their Clinton-era argument, which stated that lying and obstruction WERE the underlying crimes...)
But those of us on the other side have argued that first, Valerie Plame WAS a covert agent, otherwise the CIA would not have gone to the Justice Department to demand an investigation of her outing. Further, the stamp of "secret" that accompanied the memo to then Secretary of State Colin Powell regarding Plame's status speaks to how crucial her work was considered to the national security operations of the United States. Thirdly, critics of the administration have concluded that Libby only would have put himself in such legal jeopardy if he deemed it important to protect someone higher up -- in this case, the vice president -- from public disclosures that could damage him, either politically or legally. In fact, the Libby jury seems to have concluded that Libby did, in fact, become the willing fall guy, either for Karl Rove, or for Dick Cheney, or for someone else.
So we're back to the quetsion at hand: Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney went to great lengths to see that Valerie Plame's identity wound up in the newspapers. Why?
I have come to the conclusion that Cheney and Libby became so desperate to refute Joe Wilson, not so much because they thought he was a threat, but bcasue they saw his disclosures -- his very presence in Niger -- as the latest challenge from a recalcitrant CIA, which had been fighting the administration the whole way on Iraq intelligence. Outing Valerie Plame wasn't about punishing Joe Wilson, or about hurting Valerie Plame -- it was about slapping down the CIA, impeding its work on finding the truth about WMD (something Plame had dedicated her work to) and stopping any additional CIA officials from daring to challenge Bush, Cheney or their operatives inside the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans on the subject of Iraq's WMD or supposed nuclear programs.
Last week, we had 27 year CIA veteran Ray McGovern on the program for the second time. He made much the same point on the air, and does so in his latest piece for Common Dreams. McGovern writes:
CIA analysts were still insisting, correctly, that there were no meaningful ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, despite Tenet's acquiescence to Powell's request that Tenet sit behind him on camera as Powell wove his web of half- and un-truths at the UN. (Watching Tenet sit impassively as Powell spoke of a "sinister nexus" between al-Qaeda and Iraq was a tremendous blow to the morale of the courageous analysts who had resisted that particular recipe for cooking intelligence. As for their colleagues working on WMD, most of them had long since been pressured to cave in to Cheney's pressure during the dozen visits he made to CIA headquarters and were not as incensed.)
No trace had been found of weapons of mass destruction. In some quarters (even in the corporate press) the casus belli had morphed into a casus bellylaughi. Reports in Fox News that Saddam had somehow transported his WMD to Syria undetected (or maybe buried them in the desert) elicited widespread ridicule. Constant reminders of how difficult it is to find something in such a large country as Iraq - "the size of California" - were wearing thin. The attempt to associate uranium enrichment with the (in)famous aluminum tubes had, well, gone down the tubes. And the "mobile biological weapons laboratories," initially applauded by the president himself as proof the administration had found the WMD, turned out to be balloon-making machines for artillery practice, as the Iraqis had said. It was getting very embarrassing.
So this new challenge from Joe Wilson and his obnoxiously expert wife made for a very bad hair day. Cheney readily saw it as payback by honest CIA professionals for all the crass arm-twisting they had experienced at the hands of Cheney and kemosabe Libby. It is not hard to put oneself in Cheney's frame of mind as he witnessed the gathering storm.
Worst of all, the Iraq-Niger caper was particularly damaging, since it was tied directly to the office of the vice president. There was that unanswered question regarding who commissioned the forgery in the first place. And not even Judy Miller could help this time, since most thinking folks knew her to be a shill for the Bush administration.
And yet this insubordination, this deliberate sabotage, had to be answered. Something had to be done, and quickly, so that others privy to sensitive information about the litany of lies leading up to the war would not think they could follow Wilson's example and go to the press. ...
But wait, there's more. Because ultimately, Plamegate was about protecting the administration from an even more damaging truth -- that they probably knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction long before they made the decision to invade, and the decision to invade was itself made long before 9/11 provided the excuse. A second piece from Common Dreams, by investigative reporter Dave Lindorf, breaks it down:
way back in early 2001 there was a pair of burglaries at the Niger Embassy in Rome and at the home of the Niger ambassador. Police investigating the crimes found that the only things stolen were official stationary and some official stamps, used to make documents official. A cleaning lady and a former member of Italy's intelligence service were arrested for the crimes. They were odd burglaries to be sure, since there is precious little one could use, or sell, such documents for, given the country involved. I mean, it might make sense to steal official stationary from the French Embassy in Rome, which a thief might use to finagle a pass to the Cannes Festival. But Niger?
Jump to October 2001. A few weeks after the 9-11 attacks, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accompanied by his ministers of defense and intelligence, made a visit to the White House. There he reportedly handed over the forged Niger documents (they were on Niger government stationary, and had Niger government stamps!), which appeared to be receipts for uranium ore, made out to Saddam Hussein. Now forget the matter of why either Hussein or Niger's government would want paper receipts for such an illegal transaction, and forget the matter of how Hussein would have transported 400 tons of yellow dust across the Sahara to his country without somebody noticing. The simple fact is that Bush's own intelligence experts at the CIA and State Department promptly spotted the forgeries, and they were dumped.
We know this because we know, from the likes of onetime National Security Council counterterrorism head Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, that Bush was pushing for war with Iraq almost as soon as he finished reading My Pet Goat following the attack on the Twin Towers. Surely if the White House had even thought those Niger documents might be legit, they would have leaked or broadcast them all over creation.
They didn't. The documents were deep-sixed, and mentioned to no one.
But according to some dedicated investigative reporters at the respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica, they resurfaced before long at a very suspicious meeting. This meeting occurred in December 2001 in Rome, and included Michael Ledeen, an associate of Defense Department Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith and a key figure in the White House's war-propaganda program, Larry Franklin, a top Defense Intelligence Agency Middle East analyst who later pleaded guilty to passing classified information to two employees of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), convicted Iraqi bank swindler Ahmed Chalabi, then head of the CIA-created Iraqi National Congress, and Harold Rhode of the sinister Defense Department Office of Special Plans, that office set up by the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld under Feith's direction to manufacture "evidence" to justify a war on Iraq. Also at this peculiar meeting were the heads of the Italian Defense Department and of SISMI, the Italian intelligence agency.
According to La Repubblica, it was at that meeting that a plan was hatched to resurrect the forged Niger documents, and to give them credibility by recycling them through British intelligence.
And that is what Bush was referring to when, in his 2003 State of the Union address, he famously frightened a nation by declaring, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Bush lyingly implied that this was new information, when in fact he knew--had to know--that the "evidence" in British hands was the same set of documents he had been offered by Berlusconi almost a year and a half earlier, which had been declared to be bogus. ...
That, my friends, is the real story behind Plamegate, and as Lindorf points out further down in the piece, it's right there, waiting for some enterprising mainstream media organization to uncover.
The question is, will anyone do so.
On Friday, Valerie Plame will testify before Henry Waxman's House committee on government reform. Let's hope that's the first step in getting the truth out. If it does emerge, it could mean there is incontrovertible proof that the president, the vice president, and key members of the administration committed high crimes -- lying to Congress, misleading the country into war, and, as we have seen the bribes and dollar unfold, engaging in war profiteering.
Kind of makes Monicagate look like a walk in the park.
He may have come across as deferential to the President in public, but friends and advisers in the fall of 2002 described Cheney as nothing less than the engine of the Administration. "There's no way in which he is not driving the train on this," said one, referring to Cheney's role in pushing Bush and the Administration inexorably toward an invasion of Iraq. "Analysis, advocacy — it's all done by Cheney or ... his former mentor [Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld]. It's about context. It's reflective not so much of Cheney's direct influence on the President as it is of his influence on — his dominance of — the decision-making process. It's about providing the facts and analysis to the decision maker that the decision maker needs. Bush is making the decision, but the Veep is directing the process toward the decision that he thinks is the right one." In other words, Cheney had so rigged the process that important decisions were foregone conclusions, ones that had been reached by the Vice President well in advance.
I've said this before, but if President Bush wants control of his presidency, he will have to get rid of Dick Cheney.
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted Tuesday of lying and obstructing an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.
Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s. The conviction focused renewed attention on the Bush administration’s much-criticized handling of weapons of mass destruction intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.
The verdict culminated an almost four-year investigation into how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to reporters in 2003. The trial revealed how top members of the Bush administration were eager to discredit Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Libby, who was once Cheney’s most trusted adviser and an assistant to President Bush, was expressionless as the jury verdict was announced on the 10th day of deliberations. His wife choked out a sob and sank her head.
Libby was found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury for his statements about what he learned from Tim Russert and Matt Cooper of Time Magazine and one of two counts of lying to the FBI (about Russert, but not about Cooper). Prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald did throw out some red meat for Bushophiles:
Fitzgerald said the CIA leak investigation was now inactive. “I do not expect to file any additional charges,” he said. “We’re all going back to our day jobs.”
What? No squeezing Scooter to give up the Dark Lord, Dick Cheney? One can still hold out hope, Jeralyn Merritt and her commenters know well.
There's still an outside possibility that the Libby conviction will have a ripple effect on Mr. Cheney, who is being treated for deep vein thrombosis, who remains a rather unhealthy lout, and who could still resign before Dubya completes his term if the oven gets hot enough.
The Bush Administration, trying to assert its leadership on Iraq, the war on terrorists, and a number of domestic initiatives, may decide that they can't afford a drawn-out defense of the Vice President. Cheney, a loyal soldier, may also be able to use his new health issues as a convenient (and legitimate) reason for stepping down. His resignation would give Bush Administration critics one less thing to complain about. And the right replacement nominated by Mr. Bush could earn him points and goodwill.
The most likely opponents of a Cheney resignation, at least in the short run, would be Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, frontrunners for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. They would be fearful that any new veep who gained popularity would be likely to sweep their cracks at the presidency aside, automatically becoming the frontrunner for Republicans next year. If Cheney is to resign, they will lobby for the President to nominate a Republican elder statesman for President, someone like Richard Lugar or John Warner, people unlikely to run for the presidency themselves.
For now, kudos to Pat Fitzgerald and to the jury on a job well done. Libby was proved to be a liar, and the "cloud over the White House" remains. Congress, it's your move.
Update: The reax are coming in to the Libby convictions. Dick Cheney and the prez are quotably "saddened" -- Dubya even watched the verdict on the picture box.
A juror in the case says the panel felt sorry for Libby, feeling that he was the fall guy. The question is, fall guy for whom?
Meanwhile, the National Review swings for the pardon.
Quick take headlines: Thursdays in the park with Cheney
There will be no indictment against the white woman who pointed out 14-year-old Emmit Till to her husband and brother in law, who later murdered the boy and threw his body into the Tallahatchee River. Even 50 years later, the case is chilling. And while the jury found "not enough evidence" of Carolyn Bryant Donham's guilt, she knows that guilt full well. The good news is that God will deal with her.
Take the person who briefed reporters aboard Vice President Cheney's plane after his secret stay in Afghanistan. He didn't want his name used when he talked to reporters, but he kept using the words "I" and "me" as he referred to Cheney and to the reason for the vice president's visit.
For example, the source said, "The reason the president wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world."
And when it comes to the reports that Cheney went in to "beat up on" the Pakistani president and to get him to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on the border with Afghanistan, the official said, "That's not the way I work."
Howard Kurtz of the WaPo asks in his column whether reporters should have refused to go along with Cheney's "anonymous source" fakery, and he lambastes blog commenters who seemed to wish that suicide bomber had succeeded. Earth to Kurtz! People were joking, and let's recall that it was right wingers who started us down this path to hating the president of the opposite party...
Meanwhile, the poster child for the Sovietization of America, Jose Padilla, has been ruled competent to stand trial. Padilla's case is an embarassment to the now quaint notion that the United States is a nation of laws, where the president is prevented from wielding dictatorial power over helpless citizens.
Over to Iraq, where U.S. troops are moving out of fortified bases, and into the violent, chaotic neighborhoods they usually patrol. Sounds like a recipe for more U.S. casualties. And the U.S. continues to insist that no children were killed in a soccer field bomb blast in Ramadi this week. But a local sheikh says differently.
Meanwhile, Africa has become a key transit point for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine and heroine trafficking. Just what they need.
Why is the Bush administration lying about the attempt on Cheney?
Dick Cheney came within earshot of a suicide bomber, who got through the first of three checkpoints protecting him at Kabul's Bagram Air Base during his visit to the "Mayor of Kabul," Hamid karzai. So why is the U.S. military lying about Cheney being the target of the assassination attempt? (Maj. William Mitchell said it did not appear the explosion was intended as a threat to Cheney. "He wasn't near the site of the explosion," Mitchell said. "He was safely within the base at the time of the explosion.") The resurgent Taliban says its bomber did in fact target the vice president:
A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said Cheney was the target of the attack carried out by an Afghan named Mullah Abdul Rahim.
"We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base," Ahmadi told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location. "The attacker was trying to reach Cheney."
... The bad guys clearly knew where he would be. So why the obfuscation? Could it be that the Bush administration is continuing to try and hide the fact of just how badly things are going in our original theater of the war on terror? Signs point to yes:
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — In what the Taliban claimed was an assassination attempt, a suicide bomber attacked the main gate of a U.S. military base Tuesday within earshot of Vice President Dick Cheney. The explosion killed 23 people, including two Americans, and delivered a propaganda blow that undercut the U.S. military and the weak Afghan government it supports.
The bomber struck about 10 a.m., and U.S. military officials declared a "red alert" at the sprawling Bagram Air Base while Cheney was rushed to a bomb shelter. Cheney, who had been stranded at the base overnight by a snowstorm, met with President Hamid Karzai in the capital before heading back to the United States via the Gulf state of Oman.
"I heard a loud boom," Cheney told reporters aboard Air Force Two en route to Oman. "The Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate."
Many of the victims were said to be Afghan truck drivers waiting to get inside the base. A dozen men — many of them sobbing heavily — left the base holding a stretcher bearing their loved ones wrapped in black body bags. Tears streamed down the face of one man sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV that carried another victim away.
Although the bomber did not get closer than roughly a mile to the vice president, the attack highlighted an increasingly precarious security situation posed by the resurgent Taliban. Five years after U.S.-led forces toppled their regime, Taliban-led militants have stepped up attacks. There were 139 suicide bombings last year, a fivefold increase over 2005, and a fresh wave of violence is expected this spring.
The guerrillas, according to NATO officials, have the flexibility to organize an attack quickly and may have been able to plan a bombing at the base while Cheney was there after hearing news reports on Monday that he was delayed by bad weather. The Taliban have attacked in the area north of the capital in the past even though people living in the Bagram area have not been supportive of the guerrillas. Col. Tom Collins, the top spokesman for the NATO force, said the Taliban had a cell in Kabul that could have traveled the 30 miles north to Bagram.
But perhaps the most interesting note in the AP account was the rather casual reaction of the Bush faction at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
President Bush was not awakened to be told about the attack, but received an update early Tuesday morning. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush's first reaction was to ask if Cheney was OK.
I'm tempted to ask whether his reaction to the news that in fact Cheney was fine, was "damn..."
A member of the Scooter Libby jury is dismissed, but the deliberations go on. ... I wonder if it had anything to do with her refusing to wear a festive, pink shirt on Valentine's Day? And what about that alternate... hm???
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber killed and wounded some two dozen people outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney was the target.
The blast happened outside the base at Bagram, north of the capital, Kabul. Cheney's spokeswoman said he was fine, and the U.S. Embassy said the vice president later met with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
There were conflicting reports on the death toll. Provincial Gov. Abdul Jabar Taqwa said 20 people were killed, but NATO said initial reports indicated only three were killed, including a U.S. soldier, a South Korean coalition soldier and a U.S. government contractor whose nationality wasn't immediately known. NATO said 27 people were also wounded.
It was unclear why there was such a large discrepancy in the reports.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's Shiite vice president narrowly escaped assassination Monday as a blast ripped through a government meeting hall just hours after it was searched by U.S. teams with bomb-sniffing dogs. At least 10 people were killed.
Adel Abdul-Mahdi was slightly wounded in the explosion, which splintered chairs, destroyed a speakers' podium and sent a chilling message that suspected Sunni militants can strike anywhere despite a major security crackdown across Baghdad.
As U.S. forces sealed off the area around the municipal building, investigators grappled with the troubling question of how the bomb was smuggled into the ministry of public works — a seven-story structure with crack surveillance systems from its days as offices for Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence service.
Last but not least, is our military ready for a third "major conflict" should one arise? Er ... no:
WASHINGTON - Strained by the demands of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a significant risk that the U.S. military won't be able to quickly and fully respond to yet another crisis, according to a new report to Congress.
The assessment, done by the nation's top military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represents a worsening from a year ago, when that risk was rated as moderate.
The report is classified, but on Monday senior defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity, confirmed the decline in overall military readiness. And a report that accompanied Pace's review concluded that while the Pentagon is working to improve its warfighting abilities, it "may take several years to reduce risk to acceptable levels."
Pace's report comes as the U.S. is increasing its forces in Iraq to quell escalating violence in Baghdad. And top military officials have consistently acknowledged that the repeated and lengthy deployments are straining the Army, Marine Corps and reserve forces and taking a heavy toll on critical warfighting equipment.
Between this and his continued contrariness on the subject of Iran's supposed meddling in Iraq, how much longer until General Pace is put out to pasture by the Bushies?
GQ Magazine lays out the case for impeaching the vice president:
That in the buildup to war in Iraq, the vice president, lacking confidence in the true casus belli, conspired to invent additional ones, misrepresenting the available intelligence, crafting new “intelligence,” and then spreading these falsehoods to the public, perverting the democratic process that he is sworn to uphold.
That as the war devolved into occupation, the vice president again sabotaged the democratic system, developing back channels into the Coalition Provisional Authority, a body not under his purview, to remove some of the most effective staff and replace them with his own loyal supplicants—undercutting America’s best effort at war in order to expand his own power.
That in his domestic capacity, the vice president has been equally reckless with the trust of his office, converting the vice presidency into a de facto prime ministership, conducting secret meetings with secret policy boards to determine national policy and then refusing to share the details of those meetings with the other branches of government.
Finally, that the vice president has repeatedly promoted the interests of a corporation, Halliburton, over the interests of the nation, causing untold harm to American economic, military, and public health.
For these and other offenses against the nation, Vice President Cheney, clearly, is guilty of crimes against the state.