Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wanker of the Day

Herpes Hanson.

Late Night


Lies and the Lying Liars

Oh my, what will we tell the children. And Broderella! From Roll Call:

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.

GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.

Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.

And predatorgate coverup marches on...

Keep Wasting Money

Joe's paying money for this stuff?

The Predatorgate Coverup

The guys responsible for covering up Predatorgate are having fundraisers for the guy who settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit over accusations he choked his young mistress.

Birds of a feather...

Webb Raises Money

This is good news. Lots of people have been claiming at various times that Webb had a fundraising problem. It seems that's no longer true.

A Banana And An Apple And An Orange

Thank you, oh wise men of Washington. Including you, Booby.

Whereas Mr. Woodward has tended in the past to stand apart from his narrative, rarely pausing to analyze or assess the copious material he has gathered, he is more of an active agent in this volume — perhaps in a kind of belated mea culpa for his earlier positive portrayals of the administration. In particular, he inserts himself into interviews with Mr. Rumsfeld — clearly annoyed, even appalled, by the Pentagon chief’s cavalier language and reluctance to assume responsibility for his department’s failures.

Mr. Woodward reports that when he told Mr. Rumsfeld that the number of insurgent attacks was going up, the defense secretary replied that they’re now “categorizing more things as attacks.” Mr. Woodward quotes Mr. Rumsfeld as saying, “A random round can be an attack and all the way up to killing 50 people someplace. So you’ve got a whole fruit bowl of different things — a banana and an apple and an orange.”

Mr. Woodward adds: “I was speechless. Even with the loosest and most careless use of language and analogy, I did not understand how the secretary of defense would compare insurgent attacks to a ‘fruit bowl,’ a metaphor that stripped them of all urgency and emotion. The official categories in the classified reports that Rumsfeld regularly received were the lethal I.E.D.’s, standoff attacks with mortars and close engagements such as ambushes.”

Earlier in the volume, in a section describing the former Iraq administrator Jay Garner’s reluctance to tell the president about the mistakes he saw the Pentagon making in Iraq, Mr. Woodward writes: “It was only one example of a visitor to the Oval Office not telling the president the whole story or the truth. Likewise, in these moments where Bush had someone from the field there in the chair beside him, he did not press, did not try to open the door himself and ask what the visitor had seen and thought. The whole atmosphere too often resembled a royal court, with Cheney and Rice in attendance, some upbeat stories, exaggerated good news and a good time had by all.” Were the war in Iraq not a real war that has resulted in more than 2,700 American military casualties and more than 56,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, the picture of the Bush administration that emerges from this book might resemble a farce. It’s like something out of “The Daily Show” or a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, with Freudian Bush family dramas and high-school-like rivalries between cabinet members who refuse to look at one another at meetings being played out on the world stage.

Operation Ignore


It describes how, on July 10, 2001, CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters "to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The mass of fragments made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately."

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser. "For months," Woodward writes, "Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy... that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden.... Tenet and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

"Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming....

"But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the intelligence, asking: Could it all be a grand deception? "

Woodward describes the meeting, and the two officials' plea that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden."

The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting though to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies."

"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long....

I've long believed that the My Pet Goat moment had a simple explanation. For perhaps the first time in his life George Bush, just for a moment, felt a tiny bit of personal responsibility for something that went horribly wrong under his watch. It was not a nice feeling. They were warned, strongly, and they did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Heckuva job.

Farewell to Grover

He had a long and good life.

A Tale of Two Boobies



The return of the Keyboard Kommandos.

One Khalilzad

Is one third of a Friedman:

BAGHDAD - The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned on Friday that time is running out for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to contain the burgeoning sectarian bloodshed that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.

"He has a window of a couple months," said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost and it would take a long time to address this issue."

His remarks, which came during a surge in reprisal killings across Baghdad, reinforced comments by several senior U.S. military officials this week that Maliki's government must move urgently to tackle the militias and death squads wreaking havoc across the country.


I've really never understood how Lieberman's campaign people seem think that "Vote for me - I'm the biggest whining baby" is a good strategy, but there it is.

Morning Thread


Taking Care of It

Not so much. Time to resign Denny.

The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it."

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Late Night


...oh man, this is unbelievable.

...and more.


McClatchy, not Mason Dixon, has the race tied between Webb and George Felix Allen, Jr., that was mason dixon doing it for mcclatchy/msnbc.


I didn't jump on this at first because in part it wasn't clear where exactly it was on the continuum between creepy and criminal. And reading this latest from ABC it's still not clear to me. I believe the age of consent in DC 16 - is it illegal to "solicit sex" over the internet from an underage person even if that person is of age in their respective state? That's rather odd.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not defending Foley's behavior, I'm just curious about what makes it rise to the level of criminal.

Evening Thread


Daily Show of Shrill

I also saw Jeffrey Foucault play the other day. His music isn't quite to my taste, but I recognize that it's pretty good with a distinctive style.

At the show he introduced one of his songs by describing it as, roughly, "a song about a country which traded freedom for security, and replaced its democratic government with a Christian theocracy." Something like that anyway.

So, Jeffrey Foucault is indeed very shrill and is happy to be shrill in front of an audience.

You can listen to the title track of his new album, Ghost Repeater, here.

Or the song Americans in Corduroys here.


Not Larry Sabato says Webb is tied with Allen in a soon to be released poll. Good news....ooops, right after I posted apparently Mason Dixon sent a nastygram. So maybe it's not true.

And, one of the witnesses to his racism speaks up more:

Sept. 29, 2006 | WASHINGTON -- A former football teammate of Sen. George Allen decided Friday to go on the record with recollections of the Virginia Republican's alleged racist behavior during college.

Edward J. Sabornie, a special education professor at North Carolina State University, had previously spoken to Salon about Allen's behavior on the condition of anonymity, because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign. In a Salon story on Sunday, Sabornie was quoted as a "teammate" who remembered Allen using the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," Sabornie said in that article.

Sabornie said he has now decided to let his name be known because he was upset by how Allen responded this week to the Salon story. "What George said on Monday really kind of inflamed me -- that it was 'ludicrously false' that he ever used the N-word," Sabornie told Salon. "I don't know how George can look himself in the mirror after saying that."

When Wingnuts Fight

Oooh. Pass the popcorn.

Down 1

Mark Foley resigns (or is not running for re-election at least) over emails sent to then 16 year old now former house page...

...MSNBC thinks he's just not running for re-election. ABC says he's resigning.

Sociopathic Derangement


Double Down

And the grand old men of Washington want to make another bet with other peoples' kids.

Safety Net

I'm all for coming up with sexy new names for good things if it helps them, but whatever the thinking behind it a "Universal Insurance Program" is just a social safety net, or, in words which are illegal in this country, the expansion of the welfare state. We can quibble about the details in order to confuse Mickey Kaus a bit, but that's what it is.

People should have universal health care, genuine bankruptcy protection, decent unemployment benefits, and the some system of delivering some direct cash support for when they really fall down for whatever reason. We can fight about how to means test such benefits, how generous they should be, and for what length of time, and conservatives will always make sure we understand that The Wrong People Who Are Undeserving are taking your tax dollars. When regional catastrophes happen - hurricane, earthquake, whatever, we should have a federal government which is capable of delivering emergency aid and reconstruction.

It's really not that complicated. But if coming up with a new name for the welfare state helps things along so be it.

Let God Sort it Out

Thank you, oh wise men of Washington, for enabling this.

Wanker of the Day

Tom Friedman.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Ezra asks:

What is it that so infuriates the folks at The New Republic about the Clinton Global Initiative?


That has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

There's a slightly more complicated explanation, but it's basically the same thing.

Borat Speaks


A statement from fictional Kazakh reporter Borat's D.C. press conference outside the Embassy of Kazakhstan:

"Jagshemash, my name Borat Sagdiyev. I would like to comment on recent advertisments on television and in media about my nation of Kazakhstan, saying that women are treated equally, and that all religions are tolerated — these are disgusting fabrications. These claims are part of a propoganda campaign against our country by evil nitwits Uzbekistan — who as we all know are a very nosey people, with a bone in the middle of their brain.

"There is a man name Roman Vasilenko who is claiming to be Press Secretary of Kazakhstan. Please do not listen this man, he is Uzbek imposter, and is currently being hunted by our agents. I must further say on behalf of my government, that if Uzbekistan do not desist from funding these attacks, then we will not rule out the possibility of military intervention. ...

"Furthermore, all claims that our glorious leader is displeased with my film, 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan' is lie. Infacts main purpose of Premier Nazharbayev's visit to Washingtons is to promote this moviefilm. This why together with Ministry of Information he will be hosting a screening tomorrow evening, to which he have invitate Premier George Walter Bush and other American dignitaries — Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Gates, O.J. Simpson and Mel Gibsons. This screening will be followed by cocktail party and a discussion of closer ties between our countries at Hooters, on 825 7th Street.

"Thank you, I must now return to Embassy where my government need me.


Lies and the Lying Liars

Ken Mehlman edition.

But he's not CRAAAZY like that Howard Dean, and is deeply in touch with Murkin values.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 — The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”


Robert D. Blackwill, then the top Iraq adviser on the National Security Council, is said to have issued his warning about the need for more troops in a lengthy memorandum sent to Ms. Rice. The book says Mr. Blackwill’s memorandum concluded that more ground troops, perhaps as many as 40,000, were desperately needed.

It says that Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, later briefed Ms. Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, her deputy, about the pressing need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq. It says the White House did nothing in response.


Mr. Cheney was involved in the details of the hunt for illicit weapons, the book says. One night, Mr. Woodward wrote, Mr. Kay was awakened at 3 a.m. by an aide who told him Mr. Cheney’s office was on the phone. It says Mr. Kay was told that Mr. Cheney wanted to make sure he had read a highly classified communications intercept picked up from Syria indicating a possible location for chemical weapons.

Crazy Curt

Oh give me hope:

The first nonpartisan poll conducted in the 7th Congressional District shows U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon and Democrat Joseph Sestak locked in a statistical dead heat, with less than 40 percent of registered voters believing the Republican incumbent deserves re-election, according to political sources.

Sestak is leading Weldon 44-43 in a Franklin & Marshall College Keystone Poll that will be released today, falling well within the 4.7-percent margin of error. The poll of 430 voters refutes a recent Republican poll that showed Weldon leading by 19 points.

Democrats greeted the numbers as proof that Sestak has begun to have an impact on the electorate through nonstop campaigning and his first TV ad that hit the district two weeks ago.

"No one campaigns harder than Joe Sestak," said his senior campaign adviser, David Landau. "I just don’t know when he sleeps. He has more energy and more drive than any candidate I have ever worked for."

Memories of Joe

A hideous human being, a disgusting moralist who is morally bankrupt.

These comments came after the senators had screened a 30-second snippet in which, to quote John Burgess's report in these pages, "three black-suited assailants enter a bathroom, grab a young woman wearing a flimsy nightgown, then attach a long, hooked device to her neck to suck out blood." The clip led many of the evening's TV news reports, replete with anti-video-game-violence commentary spawned by Sen. Lieberman's earlier observations on the product: that it was set in a sorority house, where the object was to hang women on meat hooks. "These games teach a child to enjoy inflicting torture," said Lieberman.

Today Joe voted for torture. A sick and twisted man, obsessed with his own image and his desire for Tim Russert's love. One of David Broder's Wise Old Men, one who hates the constitution, human rights, and the rule of law.

The Bullshit Moose's best friend is a best friend of torture.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Smell it. Smells like ass.

BAGHDAD — Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers.

He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters’ only threat. Men with gavels are, too.

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

Wise Men

David Broder better find some of his wise men and get them to work on the work of wise men.

Ill winds blowing, again.

Only shrillness can save America. I hope to highlight a new entry in the shrillosphere(or one I'm newly aware of) every day until the election. Not sure if I'll manage, but we'll see what we can find.

I know most people don't come for the youtube videos and other music recommendations, but I do it because one thing I'm really hopeful for about the internet is that it does become a successful alternate distribution/promotion model for certain creative output. One element of that is people taking the time to promote the crap they like. Don't like what I like? No problem. I'm not trying to convince you. I'm just trying to share.

Today's shrillfest is provided by Jess Klein and her song Real Live Love. Go listen. I saw her perform it a few days back and she seemed somewhat shy and self-conscious when she introduced it as a political song. I don't think all art should be political or that politcal art is necessarily very persuasive or effective, but I do believe in people speaking their mind using whatever medium they are comfortable with. I know it'll make David Broder sniff with righteous indignation, but that's about all he's good at.

So, listen to Jess get shrill. Consider ways of getting shrill in your own life. Support candidates, artists, musicians, groups, authors who are shrill.

Get your shrill on.

Encourage others to do the same. Shout from the rooftops and all that.

The Mighty Hunters

In the 4 and a half years I've had my cats I believe they've managed to annihilate one moth, several ants and other smallish bugs, and two mice. I just found mouse #2.

They are very proud cats tonight.

1, 2, 3, What Are We...

The people who rule us:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

"No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

Lott went on to say he has difficulty understanding the motivations behind the violence in Iraq.

"It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

Fresh Thread


Clinton Speaks


The Senate is currently debating a bill on how we treat detainees in our custody, and, more broadly, on how we treat the principles on which our nation was founded.

The implications are far reaching for our national security interests abroad; the rights of Americans at home, our reputation in the world; and the safety of our troops.

The threat posed by the evil and nihilistic movement that has spawned terrorist networks is real and gravely serious. We must do all we can to defeat the enemy with all the tools in our arsenal and every resource at our disposal. All of us are dedicated to defeating this enemy.

The challenge before us on this bill, in the final days of session before the November election, is to rise above partisanship and find a solution that serves our national security interests. I fear that there are those who place a strategy for winning elections ahead of a smart strategy for winning the war on terrorism.

Democrats and Republicans alike believe that terrorists must be caught captured and sentenced. I believe that there can be no mercy for those who perpetrated 9/11 and other crimes against humanity. But in the process of accomplishing that I believe we must hold on to our values and set an example we can point to with pride, not shame. Those captured are going nowhere – they are in jail now – so we should follow the duty given us by the Supreme Court and carefully craft the right piece of legislation to try them. The president acted without authority and it is our duty now to be careful in handing this president just the right amount of authority to get the job done and no more.

Washington's Choice

During the Revolutionary War, between the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which set our founding ideals to paper, and the writing of our Constitution, which fortified those ideals under the rule of law, our values – our beliefs as Americans – were already being tested.

We were at war and victory was hardly assured, in fact the situation was closer to the opposite. New York City and Long Island had been captured. General George Washington and the continental army retreated across New Jersey to Pennsylvania, suffering tremendous casualties and a body blow to the cause of American Independence.

It was at this time, among these soldiers at this moment of defeat and despair, that Thomas Paine would write, "These are the times that try men's souls." Soon afterward, Washington led his soldiers across the Delaware River and onto victory in the Battle of Trenton. There he captured nearly 1000 foreign mercenaries and he faced a crucial choice.

How would General Washington treat these men? The British had already committed atrocities against Americans, including torture. As David Hackett Fischer describes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Washington's Crossing," thousands of American prisoners of war were "treated with extreme cruelty by British captors." There are accounts of injured soldiers who surrendered being murdered instead of quartered. Countless Americans dying in prison hulks in New York harbor. Starvation and other acts of inhumanity perpetrated against Americans confined to churches in New York City.

The light of our ideals shone dimly in those early dark days, years from an end to the conflict, years before our improbable triumph and the birth of our democracy. General Washington wasn't that far from where the Continental Congress had met and signed the Declaration of Independence. But it's easy to imagine how far that must have seemed. General Washington announced a decision unique in human history, sending the following order for handling prisoners: "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren."

Therefore, George Washington, our commander-in-chief before he was our President, laid down the indelible marker of our nation's values even as we were struggling as a nation – and his courageous act reminds us that America was born out of faith in certain basic principles. In fact, it is these principles that made and still make our country exceptional and allow us to serve as an example. We are not bound together as a nation by bloodlines. We are not bound by ancient history; our nation is a new nation. Above all, we are bound by our values.

George Washington understood that how you treat enemy combatants could reverberate around the world. We must convict and punish the guilty in a way that reinforces their guilt before the world and does not undermine our constitutional values.

The Senate's Choice

Now these values – George Washington's values, the values of our founding – are at stake. We are debating far-reaching legislation that would fundamentally alter our nation's conduct in the world and the rights of Americans here at home. And we are debating it too hastily in a debate too steeped in electoral politics.

The Senate, under the authority of the Republican Majority and with the blessing and encouragement of the Bush-Cheney Administration, is doing a great disservice to our history, our principles, our citizens, and our soldiers.

The deliberative process is being broken under the pressure of partisanship and the policy that results is a travesty.


Fellow Senators, the process for drafting this legislation to correct the administration's missteps has not befitted the "world's greatest deliberative body." Legitimate, serious concerns raised by our senior military and intelligence community have been marginalized, difficult issues glossed over, and debates we should have had have been shut off in order to pass a misconceived bill before Senators return home to campaign for re-election.

For the safety of our soldiers and the reputation of our nation, it is far more important to take the time to do the job right than to do it quickly and badly. There is no reason other than partisanship for not continuing deliberation to find a solution that works to achieve a true consensus based on American values.

In the last several days, the bill has undergone countless changes – all for the worse – and differs significantly from the compromise brokered between the Bush Administration and a few Senate Republicans last week.

We cannot have a serious debate over a bill that has been hastily written with little opportunity for serious review. To vote on a proposal that evolved by the hour, on an issue that is so important, is an insult to the American people, to the Senate, to our troops, and to our nation.


Fellow Senators, we all know we are holding this hugely important debate in the backdrop of November's elections. There are some in this body more focused on holding on to their jobs than doing their jobs right. Some in this chamber plan to use our honest and serious concerns for protecting our country and our troops as a political wedge issue to divide us for electoral gain.

How can we in the Senate find a proper answer and reach a consensus when any matter that does not serve the Majority's partisan advantage is mocked as weakness, and any true concern for our troops and values dismissed demagogically as coddling the enemy?


This broken process and its blatant politics will cost our nation dearly. It allows a discredited policy ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional to largely continue and to be made worse. This spectacle ill-serves our national security interests.

The rule of law cannot be compromised. We must stand for the rule of law before the world, especially when we are under stress and under threat. We must show that we uphold our most profound values.

We need a set of rules that will stand up to judicial scrutiny. We in this chamber know that a hastily written bill driven by partisanship will not withstand the scrutiny of judicial oversight.

We need a set of rules that will protect our values, protect our security, and protect our troops. We need a set of rules that recognizes how serious and dangerous the threat is, and enhances, not undermines, our chances to deter and defeat our enemies.

Our Supreme Court in its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision ruled that the Bush Administration's previous military commission system had failed to follow the Constitution and the law in its treatment of detainees.

As the Supreme Court noted, the Bush Administration has been operating under a system that undermines our nation's commitment to the rule of law.

The question before us is whether this Congress will follow the decision of the Supreme Court and create a better system that withstands judicial examination – or attempt to confound that decision, a strategy destined to fail again.

The bill before us allows the admission into evidence of statements derived through cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation. That sets a dangerous precedent that will endanger our own men and women in uniform overseas. Will our enemies be less likely to surrender? Will informants be less likely to come forward? Will our soldiers be more likely to face torture if captured? Will the information we obtain be less reliable? These are the questions we should be asking. And based on what we know about warfare from listening to those who have fought for our country, the answers do not support this bill. As Lieutenant John F. Kimmons, the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence said, "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive interrogation practices."

Mr. President, I would like to submit for the Record letters and statements from former military leaders – including Generals Colin Powell and John Vessey, 9/11 Families, the religious community, retired judges, legal scholars and law professors, all of whom have registered serious concerns with this bill and its provisions.

The bill also makes significant changes to the War Crimes Act. As it is now written, the War Crimes Act makes it a federal crime for any soldier or national of the U.S. to violate, among other things, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions in an armed conflict not of an international character. The administration has voiced concern that Common Article – which prohibits "cruel treatment or torture," "outrages against human dignity," and "humiliating and degrading treatment" – sets out an intolerably vague standard on which to base criminal liability, and may expose CIA agents to jail sentences for rough interrogation tactics used in questioning detainees.

But the current bill's changes to the War Crimes Act haven't done much to clarify the rules for our interrogators. What we are doing with this bill is passing on an opportunity to clearly state what it is we stand for and what we will not permit.

This bill undermines the Geneva Conventions by allowing the President to issue Executive Orders to redefine what permissible interrogation techniques happen to be. Have we fallen so low as to debate how much torture we are willing to stomach? By allowing this Administration to further stretch the definition of what is and is not torture, we lower our moral standards to those whom we despise, undermine the values of our flag wherever it flies, put our troops in danger, and jeopardize our moral strength in a conflict that cannot be won simply with military might.

Once again, there are those who are willing to stay a course that is not working, giving the Bush-Cheney administration a blank check – a blank check to torture, to create secret courts using secret evidence, to detain people, including Americans, to be free of judicial oversight and accountability, to put our troops in greater danger.

The bill has several other flaws as well.

This bill would not only deny detainees habeas corpus rights – a process that would allow them to challenge the very validity of their confinement – it would also deny these rights to lawful immigrants living in the United States. If enacted, this law would give license to this Administration to pick people up off the streets of the United States and hold them indefinitely without charges and without legal recourse.

Americans believe strongly that defendants, no matter who they are, should be able to hear the evidence against them. The bill we are considering does away with this right, instead providing the accused with only the right to respond to the evidence admitted against him. How can someone respond to evidence they have not seen?


At the very least, this is worth a debate on the merits, not on the politics. This is worth putting aside our differences – it's too important.

Our values are central. Our national security interests in the world are vital. And nothing should be of greater concern to those of us in this chamber than the young men and women who are, right now, wearing our nation's uniform, serving in dangerous territory.

After all, our standing, our morality, our beliefs are tested in this chamber. And their impact and their consequences are tested under fire; they are tested when American lives are on the line; they are tested when our strength and ideals are questioned by our friends and by our enemies.

When our soldiers face an enemy, when our soldiers are in danger, that is when our decisions in this chamber will be felt. Will that enemy surrender? Or will he continue to fight, with fear for how he might be treated and with hate directed not at us, but at the patriot wearing our uniform whose life is on the line?

When our nation seeks to lead the world in service to our interests and our values, will we still be able to lead by example?

Our values, our history, our interests, and our military and intelligence experts all point to one answer. Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities had this to say. "If Vice President Cheney is right, that some 'cruel, inhumane, or degrading' treatment of captives is a necessary tool for winning the war on terrorism, then the war is lost already."

Let's pass a bill that's been honestly and openly debated, not hastily cobbled together.

Let's pass a bill that unites us, not divides us.

Let's pass a bill that strengthens our moral standing in the world, that declares clearly that we will not retreat from our values before the terrorists. We will not give up who we are. We will not be shaken by fear and intimidation. We will not give one inch to the evil and nihilistic extremists who have set their sights on our way of life.

I saw with confidence and without fear that we are the United States of America, and that we stand now and forever for our enduring values to people around the world, to our friends, to our enemies, to anyone and everyone.

Before George Washington crossed the Delaware, before he could achieve that long-needed victory, before the tide would turn, before he ordered that prisoners be treated humanely, he ordered that his soldiers read Thomas Paine's writing. He ordered that they read about the ideals for which they would fight, the principles at stake, the importance of this American project.

Now we find ourselves at a moment when we feel threatened, when the world seems to have grown more dangerous, when our nation needs to ready itself for a long and difficult struggle against a new and dangerous enemy that means us great harm.

Just as Washington faced a hard choice, so do we. It's up to us to decide how we wage this struggle and not up to the fear fostered by terrorists. We decide.

This is a moment where we need to remind ourselves of the confidence, fearlessness, and bravery of George Washington – then we will know that we cannot, we must not, subvert our ideals – we can and must use them to win.

Obama Speaks

Mr. President, I am proud to be sponsoring this amendment with the senior senator from West Virginia. He’s absolutely right that Congress has abrogated its oversight responsibilities, and one way to reverse that troubling trend is to adopt a sunset provision in this bill. We did that in the Patriot Act, and that allowed us to make important revisions to the bill that reflected our experience about what worked and didn’t work during the previous 5 years. We should do that again with this important piece of legislation.

But I want to take a few minutes to speak more broadly about the bill before us.

I may have only been in this body for a short while, but I am not naive to the political considerations that go along with many of the decisions we make here. I realize that soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be called everything from cut-and-run quitters to Defeatocrats to people who care more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.

And yet, while I know all of this, I’m still disappointed, and I’m still ashamed. Because what we’re doing here today – a debate over the fundamental human rights of the accused – should be bigger than politics. This is serious.

If this was a debate with obvious ideological differences – heartfelt convictions that couldn’t be settled by compromise – I would understand. But it’s not.

All of us – Democrats and Republicans – want to do whatever it takes to track down terrorists and bring them to justice as swiftly as possible. All of us want to give our President every tool necessary to do this. And all of us were willing to do that in this bill. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to the American people.

In the five years that the President’s system of military tribunals has existed, not one terrorist has been tried. Not one has been convicted. Not one has been brought to justice. And in the end, the Supreme Court of the United found the whole thing unconstitutional, which is why we’re here today.

We could have fixed all of this in a way that allows us to detain and interrogate and try suspected terrorists while still protecting the accidentally accused from spending their lives locked away in Guantanamo Bay. Easily. This was not an either-or question.

Instead of allowing this President – or any President – to decide what does and does not constitute torture, we could have left the definition up to our own laws and to the Geneva Conventions, as we would have if we passed the bill that the Armed Services committee originally offered.

Instead of detainees arriving at Guantanamo and facing a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that allows them no real chance to prove their innocence with evidence or a lawyer, we could have developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused.

And instead of not just suspending, but eliminating, the right of habeas corpus – the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention, we could have given the accused one chance – one single chance – to ask the government why they are being held and what they are being charged with.

But politics won today. Politics won. The Administration got its vote, and now it will have its victory lap, and now they will be able to go out on the campaign trail and tell the American people that they were the ones who were tough on the terrorists.

And yet, we have a bill that gives the terrorist mastermind of 9/11 his day in court, but not the innocent people we may have accidentally rounded up and mistaken for terrorists – people who may stay in prison for the rest of their lives.

And yet, we have a report authored by sixteen of our own government’s intelligence agencies, a previous draft of which described, and I quote, “…actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay…”

And yet, we have Al Qaeda and the Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan while we look the other way. We have a war in Iraq that our own government’s intelligence says is serving as Al Qaeda’s best recruitment tool. And we have recommendations from the bipartisan 9/11 commission that we still refuse to implement five years after the fact.

The problem with this bill is not that it’s too tough on terrorists. The problem with this bill is that it’s sloppy. And the reason it’s sloppy is because we rushed it to serve political purposes instead of getting the job done.

I’ve heard, for example, the argument that it should be military courts, and not federal judges, who should make decisions on these detainees. I actually agree with that. The problem is that the structure of the military proceedings has been poorly thought through. Indeed, the regulations that are supposed to be governing administrative hearings for these detainees, which should have been issued months ago, still haven’t been issued because we’re so intent to rush this through in time for Election Day. And so we are once again creating a situation in which this legislation is vulnerable to Supreme Court challenge.

This is not how a serious Administration would approach the problem of terrorism. And I know the President came here today and was insisting that this is supposed to be our primary concern. He’s absolutely right it should be our primary concern – which is why we should be approaching this with a somberness and seriousness that they have not displayed with this legislation.

But politics is what won today.

The only thing I hope for those who plot terror against the United States is that God has mercy on their soul, because I certainly do not. And for those who our government suspects of terror, I support whatever tools are necessary to try them and uncover their plot.

But we also know that some have been detained who have no connection to terror whatsoever. We’ve already had reports from the CIA and various generals over the last few years saying that many of the detainees at Guantanamo shouldn’t have been there – as one U.S. commander of Guantanamo told the Wall Street Journal, “Sometimes, we just didn’t get the right folks.” And we all know about the recent case of the Canadian man who was suspected of terrorist connections, detained in New York, sent to Syria, and tortured, only to find out later that it was all a case of mistaken identity and poor information.

And yet, in the future, people like this may never have a chance to prove their innocence. And they may remain locked away forever.

And the sad part about all of this is that this betrayal of American values is unnecessary. We could’ve drafted a bipartisan, well-structured bill that provided adequate due process through the military courts, had an effective review process that would’ve prevented frivolous lawsuits being filed and kept lawyers from clogging our courts, but upheld the basic ideals that have made this country great.

Instead, what we have is a flawed document that in fact betrays the best instincts of some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle – those who worked in a bipartisan fashion in the Armed Services Committee to craft a bill that we could have been proud of. And they essentially got steamrolled by this Administration and by the imperatives of November 7th.

That is not how we should be doing business in the U.S. Senate, and that’s not how we should be prosecuting this war on terrorism. When we’re sloppy and cut corners, we are undermining those very virtues of America that will lead us to success in winning this war. At bare minimum, I hope we can at least pass this provision so that cooler heads can prevail after the silly season is over. Thank you.

These are David Broder's wise men.


I know getting upset over the quality of cable news is really a waste of emotion, but CNN has spent the entire day repackaging pointless local news stories as if they mattered.


Thank you oh guardians of our elite discourse, oh adherents to High Broderism, for enabling all of this.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of five people were found, shot and tortured overnight in different districts of Baghdad, police said. Added to 35 found the previous day, that brought the total for a 24-hour period to 40.

Patrick Murphy Speaks


We need to be absolutely clear, to the world and to our professional soldiers, that the United States of America does not condone torture, and does not conduct torture. Period. Not only is it not right morally, but strategically, as a military professional, it's wrong. When you look back at our nation's history, when you look back at Desert Storm back in the early 90's, when we had tens of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of them in the first few days of the campaign rose with the white flag of surrender. Why did they do that, ladies and gentlemen? They surrendered because they knew when captured by the Americans we would treat them humanely. We would treat them appropriately, and we would follow the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

When I sat and taught the rules of engagement, and I was the law enforcement officer in my combat brigade, my soldiers knew, our paratroopers knew, that they were professional soldiers, that we have army values. Those Army values cannot be breached. Those same Army values that I taught to the 600 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members, the new Iraqi Army, to make sure that they too understood that we are a part of a profession. That we are to act appropriately. That we are to follow the law of war. Because it is a profession, and it's a profession that we take very seriously. And for those members to talk tough, from the White House or wherever, to try and blur the lines, it's hurting our own soldiers. It's hurting our military profession.

All we can do is try to elect more and better Democrats.


Clark on Lamont:

Ned Lamont

Ned Lamont

In Connecticut, Ned Lamont is running the type of campaign all Democrats can be proud of. Standing up to President Bush's failed policy in Iraq, dispensing with self-serving and wishy-washy notions of "independence," and pledging to invest in America's future, Ned Lamont is a candidate for Senate who I am proud to endorse.

Of course Ned's opponent, Joe Lieberman, after refusing to abide by the results of August's Democratic primary election, has decided to do his best to drag every Connecticut Democrat's electoral prospects down with him. He continues to provide political cover to President Bush and other local Republicans despite their clearly failed policies.

By supporting Ned Lamont, you are not only helping to elect a proud Democrat to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, but you are also helping three Democratic challengers in tough House races who are running with Ned's name at the top of the ticket.

Jess Klein Gets Shrill

I asked Jess Klein's PR person if they could make this song available, and they obliged. So head over to her Myspace page and listen to her entrance into the shrillosphere, Real Live Love.

Remember people, only shrillness can save America, so support shrillness in all of its forms whenever you have a chance.

Buy a CD.

Or go see a show
. Shrillness loves company.


I've been saying it for a very long time, but perhaps now it will penetrate the consciousness. Bush will never leave Iraq.

President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course, says Woodward. So certain is the president on this matter, Woodward says, that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."

There is no plan for victory because to Bush the mere act of staying is victory.

Thank you High Broderism for all you have done for our country.

Edwards Speaks

In its zeal to score a political victory before Congress adjourns for the midterm elections, the Bush administration and the Republican leadership are playing politics with our national security by pushing through a deeply-flawed bill that would undermine our long term ability to win the war on terror.

Congress clearly must address the issue of the interrogation and judicial review of terrorism suspects and detainees. But Congress must do so in a manner that upholds the legal ideals and moral principles that for more than two centuries have made the United States a beacon to the entire world.

President Bush is now proposing legislation which will repudiate the writ of habeas corpus and grant him the power to imprison whomever he pleases for as long as he pleases without trial, charge, or judicial review. This bill signals to the rest of the world that the United States government condones torture.

To win the war on terror, we must preserve our moral authority to lead the world. If we are to succeed in spreading democracy abroad, we must defend the fundamental principles of democracy at home.

The Senate should reject this proposed legislation, and address the issue of terrorist detainees in a manner worthy of our people, our heritage, and our values.

Are there not 41 Democrats who can stand up against this?

Kerry Speaks


“We’ve got to tell the truth about what’s happening right now – right now – in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn’t limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn’t get it. Still. Right now – today — they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

Let me be clear about something—something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.

The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they’ve already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.”


The three saviors of Democracy voted against the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The media spent a week telling their courageous story, but they forgot to inform us of the final chapter.

Froomkin Speaks


Today's Senate vote on President Bush's detainee legislation, after House approval yesterday, marks a defining moment for this nation.

How far from our historic and Constitutional values are we willing to stray? How mercilessly are we willing to treat those we suspect to be our enemies? How much raw, unchecked power are we willing to hand over to the executive?

The legislation before the Senate today would ban torture, but let Bush define it; would allow the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant; would suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus; would immunize retroactively those who may have engaged in torture. And that's just for starters.

It's a red-letter day for the country. It's also a telling day for our political system.

The people have lost confidence in their president. Despite that small recent uptick in the polls, Bush remains deeply unpopular with the American public, mistrusted by a majority, widely considered out of touch with the nation's real priorities.

But he's still got Congress wrapped around his little finger.

Today's vote will show more clearly than ever before that, when push comes to shove, the Republicans who control Congress are in lock step behind the president, and the Democrats -- who could block him, if they chose to do so -- are too afraid to put up a real fight.

The kind of emotionless, he-said-she-said news coverage, obsessed with incremental developments and political posturing -- in short, much of modern political journalism -- just doesn't do this story justice.

High Broderism has failed the country.

Feingold Speaks

Mr. President, I oppose the Military Commissions Act.

Let me be clear: I welcome efforts to bring terrorists to justice. It is about time. This Administration has too long been distracted by the war in Iraq from the fight against al Qaeda. We need a renewed focus on the terrorist networks that present the greatest threat to this country.

But Mr. President, we wouldn’t be where we are today, five years after September 11 with not a single Guantanamo Bay detainee having been brought to trial, if the President had come to Congress in the first place, rather than unilaterally creating military commissions that didn’t comply with the law. The President wanted to act on his own, and he dared the Supreme Court to stop him. And he lost. The Hamdan decision was an historic rebuke to an Administration that has acted for years as if it were above the law.

Finally, only because he was essentially ordered to do so by the Supreme Court, the President has agreed to consult with Congress. I would have hoped that we would take this opportunity to pass legislation that allows us to proceed in accordance with our laws and our values. That is what separates America from our enemies. These trials, conducted appropriately, have the potential to demonstrate to the world that our democratic, constitutional system of government is our greatest strength in fighting those who attacked us.

And that is why I am saddened that I must oppose this legislation. Because, Mr. President, the trials conducted under this legislation will send a very different signal to the world, one that I fear will put our own troops and personnel in jeopardy both now and in future conflicts. To take just a few examples, this legislation would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and hearsay, would not allow full judicial review of the conviction, and yet would allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death. That is simply unacceptable. We would not stand for another country to try our citizens under those rules, and we should not stand for our own government to do so, either.

Not only that, this legislation would deny detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere—people who have been held for years but have not been tried or even charged with any crime—the ability to challenge their detention in court. Among its many flaws, this is the most troubling—that the legislation seeks to suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus.

The legislation before us is better than that originally proposed by the President, which would have largely codified the procedures the Supreme Court has already rejected. And that is thanks to the efforts of some of my Republican colleagues for whom I have great respect and admiration.

But this bill remains deeply flawed, and I cannot support it.

One of the most disturbing provisions of this bill eliminates the right of habeas corpus for those detained as enemy combatants. I support an amendment by Senator Specter to strike that provision from the bill. I ask unanimous consent that my separate statement on that amendment be put in the record at the appropriate point.

Habeas corpus is a fundamental recognition that in America, the government does not have the power to detain people indefinitely and arbitrarily. And that in America, the courts must have the power to review the legality of executive detention decisions.

Habeas corpus is a longstanding vital part of our American tradition, and is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

As a group of retired judges wrote to Congress, habeas corpus “safeguards the most hallowed judicial role in our constitutional democracy – ensuring that no man is imprisoned unlawfully.”

Mr. President, this bill would fundamentally alter that historical equation. Faced with an executive branch that has detained hundreds of people without trial for years now, it would eliminate the right of habeas corpus.

Under this legislation, some individuals, at the designation of the executive branch alone, could be picked up, even in the United States, and held indefinitely without trial and without any access whatsoever to the courts. They would not be able to call upon the laws of our great nation to challenge their detention because they would have been put outside the reach of the law.

Mr. President, that is unacceptable, and it almost surely violates our Constitution. But that determination will take years of protracted litigation.

Mr. President, why would we turn our back on hundreds of years of history and our nation’s commitment to liberty -- particularly when there is no good reason to do so? We should be working to provide a lawful system of military commissions so that those who have committed war crimes can be brought to justice. We can do that quite well without denying one of the most basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution to those held in custody by our government.

Some have suggested that terrorists who take up arms against this country should not be allowed to challenge their detention in court. But that argument is circular – the writ of habeas allows those who might be mistakenly detained to challenge their detention in court, before a neutral decision-maker. The alternative is to allow people to be detained indefinitely with no ability to argue that they are not, in fact, enemy combatants. Unless any of my colleagues can say with absolute certainty that everyone detained as an enemy combatant was correctly detained – and there is ample evidence to suggest that is not the case – then we should make sure that people can’t simply be locked up forever, without court review, based on someone slapping a “terrorist” label on them.

There is another reason why we must not deprive detainees of habeas corpus, and that is the fact that the American system of government is supposed to set an example for the world, as a beacon of democracy. And this provision will only serve to harm others’ perception of our system of government.

Mr. President, a group of retired diplomats sent a very moving letter explaining their concerns about this habeas-stripping provision. Here is what they said: “To proclaim democratic government to the rest of the world as the supreme form of government at the very moment we eliminate the most important avenue of relief from arbitrary governmental detention will not serve our interests in the larger world.”

Many, many dedicated patriotic Americans share these grave reservations about this particular provision of the bill.

They have reservations not because they sympathize with suspected terrorists. Not because they are soft on national security. Not because they don’t understand the threat we face. No. They, and we in the Senate who support the Specter amendment, are concerned about this provision because we care about the Constitution, because we care about the image that American presents to the world as we fight the terrorists. Because we know that the writ of habeas corpus provides one of the most significant protections of human freedom against arbitrary government action ever created. If we sacrifice it here, we will head down a road that history will judge harshly and our descendants will regret.

Mr. President, we must not imperil our proud history. We must not abandon the Great Writ. We must not jeopardize our nation’s proud traditions and principles by suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and permitting our government to pick people up off the street, even in U.S. cities, and detain them indefinitely without court review. That is not what America is about.

Unfortunately, the suspension of the Great Writ is not the only problem with this legislation, nor is it the only instance where the legislation goes beyond establishing military commissions to include unnecessary provisions with deeply troubling results.

The Administration has spoken about the need for this legislation to bring clarity to the War Crimes Act, which makes it a crime to violate Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It has proposed that we specifically list the actions that would be considered crimes under that law. On the face of it, that certainly sounds sensible. But when you look at this legislation, you realize that the modification it makes only muddies the waters. Not only that, it does so retroactively.

The key problem is in the definition of “cruel or inhuman” treatment. This is a critical definition because it is the provision that determines which coercive interrogation techniques amount to crimes under U.S. law. But because of the complex structure of this section, it is very difficult to understand what the new definition would criminalize, and I am concerned that any ambiguity may be interpreted too narrowly by some. The definition incorporates several terms that in turn have their own separate definitions, and it even has one new definition that doesn’t go into effect until the date of enactment, even though the rest of the amendments to the War Crimes Act are made retroactive to 1997. Frankly, Mr. President, the new prohibition is extremely unclear. And we have already heard different interpretations of it from Senators and Administration officials who negotiated the language. If our goal is to give unambiguous guidance to our personnel, and the courts, this does not do it.

The way the provision is drafted, it even seems designed to grant immunity to senior officials who authorized coercive interrogation techniques.

Mr. President, we should just follow the approach originally endorsed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would have applied the language of the McCain amendment.

Mr. President, I am also very concerned about the definition of unlawful enemy combatant that is included in this legislation, and about the corresponding issue of the jurisdiction of the military commissions.

Mr. President, this legislation has been justified as necessary to allow our government to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other dangerous men recently transferred to Guantanamo Bay. Yet if you look at the fine print of this legislation, it becomes clear that it is much, much broader than that. It would permit trial by military commission not just for those accused of serious terrorist crimes, but also individuals, including legal permanent residents of this country, who are alleged to have “purposefully and materially supported hostilities” against the United States or its allies.

This is extremely broad, and key terms go undefined. And by including hostilities not only against the United States but also against its allies, the bill allows the U.S. to hold and try by military commission individuals who have never engaged, directly or indirectly, in any action against the United States.

Not only that, but the bill would also define as an unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission, anyone who “has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.” This essentially grants a blank check to the executive branch to decide entirely on its own who can be tried by military commission.

If we are going to establish military commissions outside of our traditional military and civilian justice systems, at a minimum we should explicitly limit their application to the worst of the worst, those who pose a serious threat to our country. We shouldn’t leave it up to just one branch of government to make these incredibly important decisions.

Mr. President, the bulk of this legislation concerns the structure and process of military commissions. Although we heard from many witnesses at congressional hearings this summer that we should hew as closely as possible to the long-established military system of justice, this bill instead essentially starts from scratch and creates a whole new structure. It does so despite Justice Kennedy’s wise advice in his concurrence in Hamdan, where he said: “The Constitution is best preserved by reliance on standards tested over time and insulated from the pressures of the moment.”

For example, this legislation creates a presumption for the admissibility of hearsay evidence. Now, it is true that because of the exigencies of war and active combat situations, hearsay rules may need to be structured differently than they are in our criminal courts, but the rules laid out in the UCMJ are drafted to handle these same exigencies. While there may need to be some adjustments to the UCMJ hearsay rules, we need not discard them altogether.

The presumption against hearsay is a fundamental protection built into our existing legal structures to ensure that proceedings yield a just and fair result. Yet in this provision and elsewhere, the legislation erodes such protections—going far beyond what is allowed in the military system—and without justification.

Even more disturbing is that the bill appears to permit individuals to be convicted, and even sentenced to death, on the basis of coerced testimony. According to the legislation, statements obtained through cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, as long as it was obtained prior to December 2005 when the McCain amendment become law, would apparently be admissible in many instances in these military commissions.

Now, it is true that the bill would require the commission to find these statements have sufficient reliability and probative value. But why would we go down this road of trying to convict people based on statements obtained through cruel, inhuman, or degrading interrogation techniques? Either we are a nation that stands against this type of cruelty and for the rule of law, or we are not. We can’t have it both ways.

The idea that coerced statements can be used as long as they were obtained long enough ago is appalling. It seems to assume that there was a lack of clarity in the law prior to December 2005. In fact, there was great clarity, until this Administration decided to invent a narrow definition of torture that had never been used or accepted anywhere in the civilized world. The McCain amendment was needed to get this Administration to return to the law. It was a repudiation of the legal theories of the infamous Bybee memo, which the Administration even said it was withdrawing once it was publicly revealed. Its enactment should not now be used as a dividing point before which evidence obtained through cruel and inhuman treatment can be used in court.

At times of great adversity, the strength of a nation’s convictions is tested and its true character revealed. If we sacrifice or qualify our principles in the face of the tremendous challenge we face from terrorists who want to destroy America, we will be making a terrible mistake. If we cloak cruel or degrading interrogations done in the name of American safety with euphemisms like “alternative techniques,” if we create arbitrary dates for when differing degrees of morality will apply, we will have betrayed our principles and ourselves.

Statements obtained through such techniques should not be admissible, even against the most vicious killers in the world, in proceedings held by the government of the United States of America. Period.

Mr. President, in sum, this legislation is very troubling and in many respects legally suspect. I fear the end result of this legislation will only be more delay. It will surely be subject to further legal challenge, and may squander another four or five years while cases work their way through the courts again.

We can and must fight terrorism aggressively without compromising fundamental American values. We must remember what the Army Judge Advocate General told me at a Judiciary Committee hearing this summer: that the United States should set an example for the world, and that we must carefully consider the effect on the way our own soldiers will be treated.

Mr. President, in closing let me do something I don’t do very often – and that is quote John Ashcroft. According to the New York Times, at a private meeting of high-level officials in 2003 about the military commission structure, then-Attorney General Ashcroft said: “Timothy McVeigh was one of the worst killers in U.S. history. But at least we had fair procedures for him.” How sad that this Congress would seek to pass legislation about which the same cannot be said.

Audio here.

Dodd Speaks

Remarks of Senator Dodd 9/28/06, as prepared:

Mr. President, on September 11, 2001, America was attacked by ruthless enemies of this country. It is my strong belief that those responsible for orchestrating this plot, and anyone else who seeks to do harm to our nation and our citizens, must be brought to justice, and punished severely.

These are extraordinary times, and we must act in a way that fully safeguards America’s national security. That is why I support the concept of military commissions -- to protect U.S. intelligence and expedite judicial proceedings vital to military action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In my view, as we develop such means, we must also ensure that our actions are not counter-productive to our overall efforts to protect America at all levels.

As you know Mr. President, 430 detainees are being held in Guantanamo Bay facilities as so called “enemy combatants.” The President has claimed the authority to detain prisoners indefinitely without formally charging them with a crime, to use questionable interrogation practices which some experts say violate international law banning torture, and to set up secret tribunals in which some detainees could be convicted without ever seeing the evidence against them, while others receive no trials at all. The Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld this activity is unconstitutional. But the groundwork for this decision was laid in the Supreme court decision Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, two years ago, in which Justice Sandra Day O’Connor declared “A state of war is not a blank check for the President."

Mr. President, the Administration and Republican leadership would have the American people believe that the War on Terror requires a choice between protecting America from terrorism and upholding the basic tenets upon which our country was founded -- but not both. This canard has been showcased in every recent election cycle.
I fully reject that reasoning. We can, and we must, balance our responsibilities to bring terrorists to justice, while at the same time protecting what it means to be America. To choose the rule of law over the passion of the moment takes courage. But it is the right thing to do if we are to uphold the values of equal justice and due process that are codified in our Constitution.

Our founding fathers established the legal framework of our country on the premise that those in government are not infallible. America’s leaders knew this sixty years ago, when they determined how to deal with Nazi leaders guilty of horrendous crimes. There were strong and persuasive voices, at the time, crying out for the execution of these men who had commanded with ruthless efficiency the slaughter of six million innocent Jews and five million other innocent men, women, and children. After World War II, our country was forced to decide if the accused criminals deserved a trial or execution.

This history is particularly personal to me. My father, Thomas Dodd, worked alongside Justice Robert Jackson in prosecuting these trials at Nuremberg. He viewed Nuremberg as one of the most pivotal moments in our history – where America chose to uphold the rule of law rather than succumb to rule of the mob. Let me be clear: these enemies of the United States were not given the opportunity to walk away from their crimes. Rather, they were given the right to face their accuser, the right to confront evidence against them, and the right to a fair trial. Underlying that decision was the conviction that this nation must not tailor its most fundamental principles to the conflict of the moment -- and the recognition that if we did, we would be walking in the very footsteps of the enemies we despised.

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the first verdict of the Nuremburg trials this Saturday, it is important to reflect on the implications of the past as we face new challenges, new enemies, and new decisions. Much as our actions in the post-war period affected our nation’s standing in the world, so too do our actions in the post 9-11 era.

The Administration’s initial legislative proposal reinstated secret tribunals and redefined Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions. Senators on both sides of the aisle and dozens of retired members of the military opposed this proposal.

The Armed Services Committee decided not to rubber-stamp the Administration’s legislation, working in a bipartisan way to craft a more narrowly tailored approach. Unfortunately the bill that we are discussing today is not the one which passed through the Committee process.

The bill before us was worked out between several of my Republican colleagues and the White House and does contain some improvements over the Bush Administration’s original proposal. However, I remain concerned about several provisions in the pending legislation. The bill would strip detainees of their habeas corpus rights – a very troublesome provision. There is a strong belief among Senators on both sides of the aisle that this provision is not only inadvisable, it is flatly unconstitutional.

The Armed Services Committee bill prohibited the use of all evidence that was coerced through illegal methods. The bill before us today only prohibits “cruel, unusual, or inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution” obtained after December 30, 2005. The Administration claims that they need to employ interrogation techniques whose methods are questionable both morally and practicably. As you know Mr. President, this notion has been dispelled handily by one of our colleagues who has first hand experience as a prisoner of war. In a Newsweek op-ed dated November 21, 2005, our colleague Senator McCain wrote, “The abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort. In my experience, abuse of prisoners often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear—whether it is true or false—if he believes it will relieve his suffering.”

Mr. President, I will take a backseat to no one in supporting the use of whatever tools are available to keep America safe. But the use of waterboarding and extreme sleep deprivation, to name just a few, undermines America’s moral authority and provides dubious results. This arbitrary deadline makes a mockery of the principle underlying the prohibition and seems to run counter to the view’s expressed in Senator McCain’s op-ed.

I applaud the fact that this bill drops the language in which the United States would seek to redefine its commitments under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. However, I am deeply troubled that this legislation allows the President to define our commitments under the Geneva Conventions through regulation rather than legislation. In doing so, Congress is shirking its oversight responsibilities. We undermine the separation of powers, a guiding doctrine of our Constitution, in allowing the Executive branch to unilaterally decree what interrogation techniques are permitted without legislative review.

We must do everything in our power to protect our country from threats to our national security but it is also incumbent upon every one of us to protect the very foundation upon which our nation was established. This legislation will not achieve these aims.

I support the efforts of our colleagues, Senators Levin, Specter, Kennedy, Rockefeller and Byrd to correct the serious defects with the pending legislation. It now appears doubtful that any of these amendments are likely to be adopted by the Senate. Therefore, in good conscience I will vote no on final passage when that occurs later today.

As Justice Jackson said at Nuremberg, “we must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well.” Mr. President, to rubber-stamp the Administration’s bill would poison one of the most fundamental principles of American democracy. I urge my colleagues not to allow that to happen.

They Hate Our Freedom

The writ of habeas corpus is one of those basic foundations of modern Democracy. Without it, words like liberty and freedom have no meaning.

These are bad people running our government. Very bad.

Clap Louder!


BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 -- A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."

"This is the most essential civil security project in the country -- and it's a failure," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. "The Baghdad police academy is a disaster."

Bowen's office plans to release a 21-page report Thursday detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Wanker of the Day

James Taranto.


Thanks guys:

QUESTION: I don’t get to go to the board room.

SECRETARY RICE: I assume that there are – there is information that corporations keep confidential; it’s in their boardrooms. But somehow, when it’s the United States Government that is dealing with life and death, war and peace matters, allies who are putting their lives on the line, allies who have different political structures than we do and different obligations than we do, we’re not supposed to keep anything confidential. And so I --

QUESTION: Well, that’s taking it to extremes.


QUESTION: And we – this paper has kept some of your secrets for you, too.

SECRETARY RICE: I understand that and I appreciate that. But I think that when it comes to – you know, I’m speaking to the leaks problem. I know this is a major, major issue in the journalistic community. But I can tell you from the point of view of somebody who has to (inaudible) security (inaudible), it’s a problem.

I can’t tell you how many times people will say to me, my counterparts or, you know, other counterparts, "Well, you know, I really don’t know if we should have this conversation because I don’t know when it’s going to be exposed." That’s a problem. So you asked me if it was a problem and yeah, it’s a problem.

Morning Thread


The Path to Slavery Never Happened

Colbert on ABC's latest.

Atrios Across America

This didn't turn out so badly.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Obama Speaks

Grey Lady Awakens

Hey, torture and lawlessness sucks.

Late Night

Green Day Does Queen


The fools that rule us.

Lord High Everything Else

Hopefully Commandant Tomasky has good things ahead of him. I've met Mike a few times - even once when my identity was super double secret - and he's always come across as one of the good ones.


Jeebus. If the Dow reaches a new record that'll mean it'll reach the level it reached in... early 2000, before Bush's tax cuts. And, of course, there's been inflation since then, so...

Evening Thread

I hear Obama gave a good speech, though I was out. Will pass along when I get.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Drum asks:

I expect this kind of stuff from Charles Krauthammer, not sane people. Is there something in the water?


This has been another another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Keep Calling


The debate is on C-Span 2 here. The Levin substitution failed 43-54, and Lindsay Graham is speaking. Here are more specific instructions on what to say to the Maine Senators.

Call Senator Collins/Snowe and urge her to vote against S. 3930 . This unAmerican bill betrays our constitutional tradition and costs us what little moral authority we retain, not to secure the country -- torture doesn't produce useful intelligence -- but because desperate politicians want something to brag about on the campaign trail. Tell Senator Collins/Snowe that no cheap partisan stunt is worth exposing our troops to torture, alienating our allies, and abandoning the Constitution.

Susan Collins
461 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2523
Fax: (202) 224-2693

Olympia Snowe
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5344
Toll Free: (800) 432-1599
Fax: (202) 224-1946

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Bernie Kerik.


No Show Joe thinks the American people and Congress should be kept in the dark about what's going on with Iraq.

Fresh Thread



Fake anthrax mailings are now a joke?

Does Violence to the Constitution

Indeed it does, but the Republicans have no respect for that document.

The Constitution

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

Call Olympia Snowe

Mailing Address:
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-5344

Call Susan Collins

DC Office Information
461 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2523

Ask them if they think it's a good thing for people to be held indefinitely without charges without being able to even challenge the basis of that detention. At all.


Time to go George:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Another acquaintance of Senator George Allen said Tuesday that she heard him use a racial slur in 1976, contradicting a statement he made Monday in an effort to tamp down similar accusations.

Mr. Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, called the account by the woman, Ellen G. Hawkins, “another false accusation.”

Mr. Allen, a Virginia Republican whose re-election campaign has been knocked off balance by the accusations, said Monday that he did not remember ever using the term and that “it is absolutely false that that was ever part of my vocabulary.”

Mrs. Hawkins, who described herself as a rural Virginia housewife and an active Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday that she heard Mr. Allen use the slur repeatedly at a party on election night in 1976. She said Mr. Allen used the term while deprecating the intelligence of the black players on the Washington Redskins football team, which Mr. Allen’s father coached. Recalling remarks about its star running back, Larry Brown, Mrs. Hawkins said that Mr. Allen “started in effect bad-mouthing him, saying what a shiftless you-know-what” he was.

She said she remembered the conversation because she was a big fan of the team and was shocked. She said Mr. Allen’s statement on Monday was “just plain a lie.”

Silly Iraqis

George Bush, Joe Lieberman, and Glenn Reynolds know what's best for you. Just lie back and enjoy it.

Wanker of the Day

Little Ricky Sasntorum.

Truly Foolish People

Even at a distance, the stupidity burns.

Durbin is a Patriot

He's stepping up, on CSPAN2.

I'm trying to get a copy of his remarks.


This is obvious to everyone who does not live in Washington. Balkin:

I am puzzled by and ashamed of the Democrats' moral cowardice on this bill. The latest version of the bill blesses detainee abuse and looks the other way on forms of detainee torture; it immunizes terrible acts; it abridges the writ of habeas corpus-- in the last, most egregious draft, it strips the writ for alleged enemy combatants whether proved to be so or not, whether citizens or not, and whether found in the U.S. or overseas.

This bill is simply outrageous. I doubt whether many Democratic Senators or staffs have read the bill or understand what is in it. Instead, they seem to be scrambling over themselves to vote for it out of a fear that the American public will think them weak and soft on terror.

The reason why the Democrats have not been doing very well on these issues, however, is that the public does not believe that they stand for anything other than echoing what the Republicans have been doing with a bit less conviction. If the Republicans are now the Party of Torture, the Democrats are now the Party of "Torture? Yeah, I guess so." Not exactly the moral high ground from which to seek office.

The Democrats may think that if they let this pass, they are guaranteed to pick up more seats in the House and Senate. But they will actually win less seats this way. For they will have proved to the American people that they are spineless and opportunistic-- that, when faced with a genuine choice and a genuine challenge, they can keep neither our country nor our values safe.

It is the very definition of weakness to cowardly enshrine tyranny in statute. It the very definition of cowardice to be unable to stand up for what is so obviously right.

Louise Slaughter is a patriot.. Do we have any more in Congress?

Dahlia Speak

Everyone should listen.


This is the guy the Bullshit Moose, David Broder, and Fred Hiatt think is a serious person on foreign policy.

Joe Lieberman is a buffoon and a coward, a weak and foolish man who surrounds himself with liars and puts himself above the country.


We have some. Louise Slaughter:

It is a reality made all the more egregious by the historic importance of this moment.

We are at a crossroads today, and I fear that we will not by judged kindly by future Americans for what my Republican friends want us to do today.

This bill sends a clear message to both our friends and our enemies about what kind of people we are.

It shows them whether or not we are really willing to practice what we preach about freedom, democracy, and human dignity.

It is moments like this one when we reveal our true colors, and our real values.

Sadly, M. Speaker, those watching today will conclude that when the going gets tough, America's leaders are willing abandon our values...

...abandon them in favor of thuggish tactics they hope might make them safer for a little while.

In his second Inaugural Address, President Bush used noble words to describe America's role in the world and its duty as a beacon of hope for all nations.

From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value."

Those were inspirational words. But here is the reality:

For years, this Administration has circumvented our Constitution in the name of security.

Its officials have dismissed even the most important of our legal documents - such as the Geneva Convention - as being nothing more than "quaint."

This Administration and this Republican Congress have allowed detainees to sit in prison for years without charging them with any crime.

They are willing to deprive people of even the most basic due process rights our country has always afforded those held by the government.

They are willing to convict people of crimes without giving them any opportunity to review the evidence the government is using against them.

They are willing to try and convict people based on unreliable evidence acquired through cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that the rest of the world recognizes as torture.

They are willing to allow government officials to degrade and torment other human beings in ways that the civilized nations agreed to outlaw sixty years ago.

They are even willing to make any new legislation we pass today retroactive, so that past abuses may be forgotten instead of being sincerely addressed.

What this Congress is showing the world today is that we are willing to trade our national birthright for a false and temporary sense of security.

Let me emphasize that: because it is indeed a false sense of security.