Saturday, July 17, 2004

CIA agent outed

Speaking of reading, some people around here seem to have selectively read the Senate's report about prewar intelligence. Of special interest is Joe Wilson's part in this whole mess. What the trolls seem to want to gloss over is that his wife, a covert CIA agent who was working on counter-terrorism cases, was outed at a particularly crazy time, post 9/11.

Outed, illegally, by some people of *dubious* patriotism in the White House.

What is it about this that people don't understand?

Going back to my *crazy time* remark, why would the Bushies do this to her at a time when they had a good part of the country on pins and needles?

All this criticism of the CIA. And look what the Bush administration did.

Can someone explain why *outing* Plame was a good thing?

Summer reading

Anybody read a good book lately? I'd love to hear from some of our trolls, too.

Lazy Weekend Open Thread

It's all yours, folks.

Just You Wait Until November

Gee, looks like November is going to be a busy month for the Bushies.  Your preznit is intent on naming a new Director of Central Intelligence - after November 2.
The commission he created to investigate his own faulty Iraqi WMD claims will issue a report - after Novewmber 2.
Little Barbara Bush promises to start working with AIDS victims - after November 2.
And of course, the Bushes will be moving back to Crawford - after November 2.

Fire Jack Richardson

The Poor Man points out a guy who richly deserves unemployment:

Louisville-AP -- A Republican leader applauded a bumper sticker being circulated in Louisville that reads "Kerry is bin Laden's Man/Bush is Mine" as Democrats decried it.

Jefferson County G-O-P chairman Jack Richardson the Fourth says he didn't know the bumper sticker's origins, but agreed with its message.

Richardson says the local G-O-P had no involvement in creating the bumper stickers, but said the stickers were available at the county's GOP headquarters.

The Jefferson County GOP needs to hear from us, I think.

And the Jefferson County Dems sound like they deserve some turkee in honor of this jerk.

The man behind the curtain peeks out

On Saturday, John Negroponte gave his first press briefing since (pretending to hand) (handing) over power to the Iraqis. He said he remained "hopeful" and "optmistic" that the new Iraq could become successful and prosper.

Negroponte runs one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, with about 1,000 staffers. The Embassy replaced the Coalition Provisional Authority that ran the country from the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last year until the transfer of power late last month.

``We are no longer the ultimate political authority in Iraq,'' Negroponte said.

The United States' mission here now is ``to support and assist the government and the people of Iraq as they take full responsibility for the exercise of their sovereignty,'' he said.


``The intent is to empower them entirely in this area so that over time an American military presence will not be necessary,'' he said, declining to say when the 160,000 troops in the U.S.-led coalition might be able to leave.

Who's writing the laws? Who's running the government? Who's controlling the finances and the oil fields? Who's in charge of security and reconstruction? Who's writing the speeches being given by the *new* government?

Who's in charge of Iraq?


The Values System

President Bush, citing government stats, makes the shocking declaration that strong families and strong communities lead to lower crime rates, less kids getting knocked up or shot, and less general mayhem.

To which I'd say okay, file it under "no shit, Sherlock" and move on, but for the unfortunate way Preznit Master & Commander makes an argument he's been screwing backwards from day one of his preznitcy. Play along with me:

Preznit words: Children raised by married parents are less likely to live in poverty.
Preznit actions: Tries to deny marriage to thousands of couples, some of whom would likely raise children in that marriage.

Preznit words: Schools can "send the right message" to American children.
Preznit actions: Proposes drug testing in schools and "character curricula," and cuts afterschool programs.

Preznit words: The lot of children in America is improving.
Preznit actions: Presided over the first increase in child poverty in a decade.

I could go on all day with this nonsense, but the real reason it irritates me is that every time Bush talks about "values," it's code word for God, manners and pissing in a cup after lunch hour. And if you need child care, or housing assistance, well, those aren't subjects to be talked about under the guise of "values." Those don't "strengthen communities."

From the article:

Bush and Democratic rival John Kerry are trying to define and dominate the debate on gay marriage, abortion, gun rights and other values issues.

It's time for a radical redefinition of what constitutes the "values issues" in this election. Instead of trying to be slightly less craven than the other guy, slightly less offensive on what Bush defines as "values issues," we should raise our own, what we consider "values." And then make him try to out-liberal us.

It's not that crazy. The reverse has been working for years.

Interview with a Blogger

OK, so I'm no Anne Rice.  But for my money, TBogg is the funniest person in the blogosphere.
Read an interview with TBogg here.

kevin k was my tipster.

Doing an Atwater on Kerry

E. J. Dionne's latest in the Post.

Bush Returns Donation

President George W. Bush said Friday he will return a campaign donation after the Free Press reported on an Iraqi-American donor from Michigan who had business dealings with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government.

The Bush campaign returned $2,000 to businessman Asaad Kalasho.  The RNC returned $25,000, while several republican reps returned smaller amounts.  Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., also accepted $2,000 from Asaad Kalasho, funds she has since donated to charity.

Bloodcurdling Brute?

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown reacting to the allegations that Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi murdered six men in cold blood in June:
"The immediate question is how did Allawi, who helped install Saddam Hussein, become the White House choice to lead this benighted country into freedom and democracy?" Senator Brown said.

Dr Allawi's record was well known to both Mr Howard and US President George W Bush, he said.

"Our PM should tell Australia about his role in this brutal man's promotion," Senator Brown said.

"He should return Australia's defence forces from the service of this bloodcurdling brute."
Allawi's bodyguards, provided by the US of A, are said to have witnessed the summary executions.  Did these men witness the bloody birth of the New Iraq?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Open thread

It's been quite a day. Peace out.

Hawking is a flip flopper

Stephen Hawking, after arguing for 30 years that black holes never release information, now believes they do.


Preemption strategy takes a hit

There's hope for the planet, after all.
CBS/AP) The public continues to grow more critical of the war in Iraq, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. For the first time, a majority of Americans (51 percent) say the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. Another 45 percent say going to war was the right thing to do. In other findings, 56 percent of Americans say the war is going badly for the U.S., up from 36 percent a year ago. And nearly two-third of Americans (62 percent) say the war has not been worth the cost.
The poll also found that 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. should not attack another country unless it attacks first.

Thirty-four percent of Americans think Iraqis are safer now than an interim government is in place. Another 12 percent believe Iraqis are less safe, while 48 percent don't see any change. Prior to the handover, only 16 percent of Americans expected Iraqis to be safer with the transfer of power.

I think the American people have gotten a clue.

Buh bye, george.

Thanks, Old Hat.

Flogging the Allawi Story

That is exactly what I am doing.  Paul McGeough reported in today's Sydney Morning Herald that Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi carried out the summary execution of six Iraqi detainees (with one left wounded, bringing the count of victims to seven) in Baghdad just days prior to the power handoff.
Why is it important?
  • Human beings were allegedly murdered in cold blood.  The victims were detainees who were denied due process.
  • Our tax dollars should not be used to support a murderous thug.
  • The War on Iraq was based on lies.  The assertion that the people of Iraq are better off now than they were under Saddam evaporates in the face of this accusation.

Why is the story credible?

  • McGeough names the place that the alleged summary executions occurred, Al-Amariyah security centre in the southwestern suburbs of Baghdad.
  • The story names three of the seven victims, Ahmed Abdulah Ahsamey, Amer Lutfi Mohammed Ahmed al-Kutsia, and Walid Mehdi Ahmed al-Samarrai.  Unless these were "ghost detainees", with their names and the place of detention we should be able to find out if these three men were in the security center in late June.
  • As McGeough writes, "The two witnesses were independently and separately found by the Herald. Neither approached the newspaper. They were interviewed on different days in a private home in Baghdad, without being told the other had spoken."  I'd call that careful reporting.

What is the official US response?

Two sentences, in response to the author's e-mail message to Ambassador John Negroponte:

"If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, this case is closed."

That is a non-denial denial, and not a convincing one at that.  The case is closed after a single inquiry?  John is off of his game.


Important links:   Paul McGeough's original story in the Sydney Morning Herald, and an interview of McGeough recorded today by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC).

Update:  Bloomberg picks up the story.

Two More Senate Candidates for the Illinois GOP

Scratch Ryan and Ditka.  The Nuge did not pass the laugh test, and anti-medicinal marijuana crusader Andrea Grubb Barthwell has some problems of her own.
Never fear, Illinois GOOPers, the Times has a couple of suggestions:
One hails from Chicago,
The other is a resident of Springfield.

On Blame

The Sept. 11 commission's report will come out next week, and we'll hear the usual cant from the right-wing loonies about who's really to blame and who is lily-white and free of responsibility. Freepi will overload this blog with "why are you blaming America? You should blame Al Qaeda!" just like that woman who rushed up to Lila Lipscomb outside the White House in Fahrenheit 9/11.

I wish that people like this and this would understand that trying to find out what happened on 9/11 doesn't mean you don't place ultimate blame for the attacks on the terrorists. If you can hold more than one idea in your mind at once, you can see that.

I blame the terrorists for the attacks of Sept. 11. I also want to make sure we do everything we can, the next time this happens, to save as many as we can. That's what the commission's report will be about trying to accomplish, and yes, it actually is that simple.

Iyad the Butcher

So far I can find just three US media outlets that have picked up on the Sydney Morning Herald story alleging that Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi shot six Iraqi detainees in the head a few days prior to the "power transfer" at the end of June.
The Washington Times.
WPMI-TV, Mobile, Alabama.
And Rush Limbaugh, to whom I will not provide a link.  I heard a bit of Drug-addled Fatboy's show at lunch.  He read a few lines of the Herald story, and his response was:
"Good, hubba-hubba."
What a waste of space, someone could have erected a human being there.

Old Fart Loves Rappers

Last week I gave a shout out to the Beastie Boys, and today I say:  give it up for Jadakiss:
[S]even words in his new song ``Why'' -- ``Why did Bush knock down the towers?'' -- has gotten Jadakiss the most mainstream attention, and criticism, of his career.

``It caught the ear of white America,'' he said proudly during a phone interview with The Associated Press. ``It's a good thing. No matter what you do, somebody's not going to like it, but for the most part, most people love the song.''

Not everyone loves it. Bill O'Reilly called Jadakiss a ``smear merchant'' this week, and some radio stations have edited out the line in the song, in which Jadakiss talks about perceived injustices, conspiracies and problems affecting the world. MTV says it is playing an edited version of the video, as it was sent by his label, Interscope.

Jadakiss says fans have demanded to hear the original version.

``In the beginning, they would edit, but after that, everybody called back for the version that was calling Bush (out),'' he says. 

I believe the word is "word".

Death to Abortionists... Except Me

Former Congressman Tom Colburn, a candidate for the Republican senatorial nomination in Oklahoma, via Josh Marshall:
Coburn is traditional conservative, opposing abortion except in rare cases to save the life of the mother and advocating tax cuts and limited government.

On the death penalty, he said: "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."

He said he performed two abortions to save the lives of mothers who had congenital heart disease, but opposes the procedure in cases of rape.
Candidates for the Democratic nomination include Brad Carson, Carroll Fisher Monte Johnson, Jim Rogers, and W. B. G. Woodson.

Bush attacks hard-working Cubans

Bush, in Florida, Assails Castro on Sex Tourism 
File this under stories that make the Onion green with envy:
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - President Bush accused Cuba's Fidel Castro on Friday of welcoming sex tourism and contributing to a global problem of human trafficking, as he courted Cuban voters in Florida, a pivotal state in the election.
"The regime of Fidel Castro has turned Cuba into a major destination for sex tourism," Bush said, adding that the Cuban president "welcomes sex tourism" as a source of hard currency for his government.
Call in the Crisco Kid!  He'll save the day!
The Department of Justice -organized conference was aimed at touting the administration's efforts to crack down on the trafficking of people across borders for forced labor such as prostitution and sweatshop work.
Why do I get the feeling Bush just single-handedly boosted Cuba's economy?

AP Takes Quest for AWOL's Records To Federal Court

The Associated Press is not giving up on their efforts to view all of Bush's military records:

The Associated Press asked a federal judge Friday to order the Pentagon to quickly turn over a full copy of President Bush's military service record.

The White House has released partial documentation of Bush's military service in the Texas Air National Guard but has not complied with the news service's Freedom of Information Act request for any record archived at a state library records center in Texas, the AP said in a court filing.

Earlier this month it was revealed that microfilm of Bush's military pay records were "accidentally" destroyed.  However those were the microfilm copies stored in Denver.

Those records came from federal records clearinghouses. Texas law requires separate record keeping for state National Guard service, and those records should exist on microfilm in Austin, the AP said. 



Or is it Politigion?
The tax-exempt status of Jerry Falwell Ministries is challenged after Falwell endorses Bush in an e-mail newsletter and on his web site (no, I will not link to Falwell's web site, thank you).
Also:  participate in Christianet's presidential poll.
Thanks to Dave Pickering.

Give 'em Hell, Joe!

Ambassador Joseph Wilson responds to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a lengthy letter published by Salon. 
Yes, you have to click through an ad.

Allawi the Assassin

Paul McGeough of The Sydney Morning Herald, who broke the story of Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi's alleged murder of six detainees, is interviewed by ABC Australia.

cen·sure (noun): a judgment involving condemnation of democrats

Yesterday during debate over HR-4818 (a bill that would provide international monitoring of the November presidential election) Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) was censured by the US House of Representatives for this remark:

"I come from Florida, where you [the GOP leadership] and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat. We need to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Over and over again after the election when you stole the election, you came back here and said get over it. No we're not going to get over it and we want verification from the world." 

If she would have just told the House leadership to go fuck themselves it would have been OK.

Rep. Brown's website.

Saddam Returns to Power

Only the name has changed, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.


"The prisoners were against the wall and we were standing in the courtyard when the Interior Minister said that he would like to kill them all on the spot. Allawi said that they deserved worse than death - but then he pulled the pistol from his belt and started shooting them."

Re-enacting the killings, one witness stood three to four metres in front of a wall and swung his outstretched arm in an even arc, left to right, jerking his wrist to mimic the recoil as each bullet was fired. Then he raised a hand to his brow, saying: "He was very close. Each was shot in the head."


The Herald has established that as many as 30 people, including the victims, may have been in the courtyard. One of the witnesses said there were five or six civilian-clad American security men in a convoy of five or six late model four-wheel-drive vehicles that was shepherding Dr Allawi's entourage on the day. The US military and Dr Allawi's office refused to respond to questions about the composition of his security team. It is understood that the core of his protection unit is drawn from the US Special Forces units.

Nice catch, YY .

UPDATE:  this story was just picked up by another Australian paper, The Age.  How long will it be before the AP or other US-based media are on to it?

UPDATE II:  The Sydney Morning Herald provides some context.

UPDATE III:  ABC News Online (Australia) picks it up.  Come on, US media.  We're number 1, right?  Run this story.  USA!  USA!  USA! 

UPDATE IV:  And the winner is:  The Washington Times (!).  Thanks, Omar K. Ravenhurst.

Electoral College: Kerry 312 - Bush 215

According to the Electoral Vote Predictor.
a la skippy.

R. James Woolsey: Former CIA Director, Bogus WMD Intelligence Pimp, War Profiteer

James Woolsey acted as a conduit for false information about the Iraqi "Winnebagos of Death":

A former CIA director who advocated war against Saddam Hussein helped arrange the debriefing of an Iraqi defector who falsely claimed that Iraq had biological-warfare laboratories disguised as yogurt and milk trucks.

R. James Woolsey's role as a go-between was detailed in a classified Defense Department report chronicling how the defector's assertion came to be included in the Bush administration's case for war even after the defector was determined to be a fabricator.


The report said that on Feb. 11, 2002, Woolsey telephoned Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells about the defector and told him how to contact the man, who'd been produced by an Iraqi exile group eager to oust Saddam. Wells said he passed the information to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Woolsey's previously undisclosed role in the case of Maj. Mohammad Harith casts new light on how prominent invasion advocates outside the government used their ties to senior officials in the Bush administration to help make the case for war.


After several meetings, a DIA debriefer concluded that some of Harith's information "seemed accurate, but much of it appeared embellished" and he apparently "had been coached on what information to provide."
Those findings weren't included in the initial DIA report on Harith, which noted that he'd passed a lie detector test, the Senate committee said.

However, further intelligence assessments in April, May and July 2002 questioned his credibility - including a "fabricator notice" issued by the DIA. Nevertheless, Harith's claim was included in an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and cited by Bush in his January 2003 State of the Union message.

There's no indication in the Senate Intelligence Committee report why Bush and other top administration officials used Harith's information after it was found by intelligence professionals to be bogus.


Woolsey was among the most outspoken advocates outside of government for invading Iraq.
In television appearances and in articles, he suggested that Saddam's Iraq was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax poisonings. He has also been critical of the CIA's intelligence-gathering on Iraq.

"We can work a lot more closely with Iraqi defectors. The Defense Department has been willing to do that," he said in a September 2002 television appearance. "The State Department and the CIA have been somewhat reluctant."


Meanwhile, Woolsey profits from the deaths of nearly 900 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians:
Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests. He left the CIA in 1995, but he remains a senior government advisor on intelligence and national security issues, including Iraq. Meanwhile, he works for two private companies that do business in Iraq and is a partner in a company that invests in firms that provide security and anti-terrorism services.


Freedom to Shoot

Margaret Cho on the proposed ban on photos on New York public transit, and her own experience at the March for Women's Lives:

What vital information could a terrorist gain from a grainy cell phone picture that they couldn’t get from the subway maps available on every corner? The only people that would be hurt by a photography ban are tourists and photographers documenting life in this essential part of New York City. What is the real motivation behind this proposed photo ban?

I guess I reacted strongly to this article because I had an experience of being hassled taking pictures recently. When we were in Washington D.C. for the March for Women’s Lives, I was approached by security guards within moments of arriving at the Lincoln Memorial with a video camera. “Who are you with?” each demanded, in a tone of voice meant to intimidate one into truth telling, I guess. Actually, it inspired me more toward lying, as I tried to figure out who would be good enough to “be with”.

Is an acceptable media outlet? Fox News? CBS? Aljazeera? Am I as a private citizen a qualified journalist? It made me furious that they would ask such a question, as it implied they could deny me the right to photograph these national landmarks based on my corporate or political affiliations. As we left the monument, one of the guards told me we’d better get lost, because a security backup was on the way.

After a brief but menacing interrogation at the rear gate of the White House the next day, an officer told me I only had a minute to get a shot, and then I better move on.

"Who are you with?"


Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Helen Thomas has a question:
Q Does the United States harbor secret detainees who are not available --

MR. McCLELLAN: Holly, go ahead. I'll come back to you, Helen. I'll come back to you. Go ahead, Holly.

Q Okay.
And later... 
Q I have a question.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to you, Helen.

Later still... 
Q Can I ask you a question on Taiwan?

MR. McCLELLAN: And then I'm coming to Helen. 


Go ahead. Oh, I'm sorry, Helen. Go ahead. 

Q Does the President -- does the United States harbor or hold secret detainees who are not available to the International Red Cross?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, this is an issue that came up earlier in the week and I talked about it at that point. When it comes to the International Committee for the Red Cross, we work very closely with them on detainee issues, and we --

Q I have a follow-up.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay -- we stay in close and regular contact with the Red Cross on all the issues related to detainees. And they do, from time to time, raise issues and we work to address those issues directly --

Q Why don't you answer the question? Do we have secret detainees and is it possible that they could be subjected to the same treatment as in Baghdad prisons?

MR. McCLELLAN: We work to address these issues that the Red Cross raises directly with the Red Cross. And any issues that they have, we respond directly to the --

Q That's not the answer to the question.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- Red Cross. We meet with them on a regular basis at a variety of levels, and we stay in close and constant contact with them. And I really don't have anything else to add to this issue.

Q You don't know whether we have secret detainees --

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, Helen, I don't have anything else to add to this issue.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Well, that clears it up.

Bush Administration Stonewalls UN Auditors

The Bush administration is withholding information from U.N.-sanctioned auditors examining more than $1 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton and other companies in Iraq without competitive bidding, the head of an international auditing panel said Thursday.Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the chairman of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, said that the United States has repeatedly rebuffed his requests since March to turn over internal audits, including one that covered three contracts valued at $1.4 billion that were awarded to Halliburton, a Texas-based oil services firm. It has also failed to produce a list of other companies that have obtained contracts without having to compete.


Meanwhile, Halliburton's war profiteering pays dividends to its stockholders.

Soo-prise, Soo-prise, Soo-prise

Krugman examines Bush's helath care plan and discovers it offers scant help to anyone but the rich:
The difference couldn't be starker. Mr. Kerry offers a health care plan that would extend coverage to most of those now uninsured, paid for by rolling back tax cuts for those with incomes over $200,000. President Bush offers a tax credit that would extend coverage to fewer than 5 percent of the uninsured, plus a new tax break for the affluent that would actually increase the number of uninsured. As I said last week, I don't see how Mr. Bush can win this debate.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Will soon ever come?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's interim prime minister said Thursday he expects insurgents to strike harder in the coming weeks and announced the creation of an intelligence service designed to combat terrorism.  
Iraq's new government has talked increasingly tough about cracking down on insurgents. It passed emergency laws giving Allawi broad powers to combat violence; police have conducted sweeps of terror suspects in Baghdad and other cities. Those actions may have spurred militants to launch their series of attacks in recent days, Allawi said.    
They will "hit harder in the weeks ahead, and maybe even months ahead."  
Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib, with Allawi at the news conference, said the government had arrested terrorists and criminals in the cities of Mosul and Baghdad in recent days. Iraq's sparsely patrolled borders, which foreign fighters are accused of exploiting to enter the country, have not yet been secured, but the government was working with the armed forces to change that, he said. "We have organized crime and we have terrorism. We are working against the two," he said. "You will seem some great results soon."  
Iraqis to Allawi:  Tell us something we haven't heard.


Hope springs eternal

Maybe there's a glimmer of hope.  There was a discussion on CNN's Paula Zahn Now about Cheney being dumped from the ticket.  I missed the first part but happened to see Joe Klein's assertion that there was nothing to it; it was a rumor being perpetrated by the media and the Dems.  Paula actually countered with the fact that it was the Republican Al D'Amato who had said it.  Joe suddenly became more objective. 
Funny how an example of fairer commentary can warm one's heart.
In other news, Hillary will be speaking at the Democratic Convention.  She will introduce her husband on the opening night. 

Flowers from the Heart

Patriotboy points out a wonderful business with its politics in the right place:
A few days ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted to chip in for flowers for Lila Lipscomb, the mother in Fahrenheit 911 who lost her son in Iraq. Although I doubted she'd be able to get an address, I said yes--Lila's story was very moving. I should have never doubted my friend; she's incredible. She wrote Michael Moore and he forwarded her email to Lila, who was touched that her story had moved people she'd never met.
My friend ordered the flowers and when the florist saw the note, he made the biggest bouquet possible and refused payment.

My family will henceforth be getting flowers sent from The Organic Bouquet.

Senate Report Indicates Powell Knew He Was Lying

Secretary Colin L. Powell, UN Security Council, February 5, 2003 


My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples...

The LA Times  delves into the SSCI report and finds that the State Department's very own analysts tried to delete a number of lies from Powell's speech:

The analysts, describing many of the claims as "weak" and assigning grades to arguments on a 5-star scale, warned Powell against making an array of allegations they deemed implausible. They also warned against including Iraqi communications intercepts they deemed ambiguous and against speculating that terrorists might "come through Baghdad and pick-up biological weapons" as if they were stocked on store shelves. 


On the Mobile Weapons Labs:
In one section that remained in the speech, Powell showed aerial images of a supposed decontamination vehicle circling a suspected chemical weapons site.

"We caution," State Department analysts wrote, "that Iraq has given … what may be a plausible account for this activity — that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives."

The presence of a water truck "is common in such an event," they concluded.
On Aluminum Tubes:

State Department analysts also made it clear that they disagreed with CIA and other analysts on the allegation that aluminum tubes imported by Iraq were for use in a nuclear weapons program. "We will work with our [intelligence community] colleagues to fix some of the more egregious errors in the tubes discussion," the memo said.

In the speech, Powell acknowledged disagreement among analysts on the tubes, but included the claim. The Senate report concluded last week that the tubes were for conventional rockets.


In one case, Powell was to say that the aluminum tubes were so unsuitable for use in conventional rockets that if he were to roll one on a table, "the mere pressure of my hand would deform it."
Department of engineers said that statement was incorrect. 

On Nuclear Weapons:
In a section on nuclear weapons, the analysts argued against using a communications intercept they described as "taken out of context" and "highly misleading." There is no more information on what was in the intercept, but Powell in his speech referred to intercepted communications that he said showed that "Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors."


America Held Homosexually Hostage

The Center for Reclaiming America fills the crucial "complete barking looney" spot that's been open all day:
Unfortunately, many of our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. have been taken hostage by militant homosexual advocates, who seek to redefine our most precious institutions, indoctrinate our children, and silence our pulpits. In doing so, it has become very obvious that many of America's elected leaders have lost touch with mainstream America.

I hate it when militant homosexuals go around taking hostages and stuff. It's such a buzzkill.

The Seymour Hersh Compendium

You can read a summary of Hersh's speech about torture at EdCone.
You can listen to Hersh's speech at Sadly, No!
(RealMedia 10, 8.3MB.)
You can watch streaming video of Hersh's speech here, courtesy of The Poor Man.
(71MB streaming video)
I suppose it all depends on your bandwidth.

A Family Tradition

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times published articles today about Riggs Bank and the money-laundering services they provided to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Riggs also stands accused of facilitating Big Oil's bribery of government officials in human rights-challenged Equatorial Guinea.

From the Times:

Senators investigating Riggs Bank's operations said Thursday they were outraged by senior bank officials' failure to act while managers helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet conceal his wealth, move funds and evade efforts under court order to seize his assets.


Managers at the old-line Washington bank, working with Pinochet from 1994 to 2002, set up phony offshore companies and hid the existence of his accounts from U.S. examiners, according to the report based on a yearlong investigation by the panel's Republican and Democratic staffs.

``I sit here in amazement ... to see how casually they dismissed the rules'' to prevent money laundering, said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.


The Senate investigators discovered large payments by oil companies, including major U.S. companies, to Equatorial Guinea officials and their relatives and to businesses they controlled. That raised concerns about corruption, the Senate investigators said.

The State Department has cited the West African country for human rights abuses, corruption, and diversion of oil revenues to government officials.

In one case, a Riggs account manager brought a suitcase weighing 60 pounds full of dollar bills into the bank to make a deposit into an account of Equatorial Guinea's president, the investigators said.

``If that kind of cash deposit doesn't make a bank sit up and ask questions, I'm not sure anything will,'' [Sen. Carl] Levin said.

You will recall that this is the same bank that was caught laundering money for the Saudis several weeks ago:

[O]n Jan. 13, 2003, the Muslim World League, an Islamic charitable organization, wired $461,341.72 into an account at Riggs in the name of the "Ministry of Defense and Aviation-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia." The Muslim World League, which was founded by Osama bin Laden but was taken over by the Saudi government years ago, is largely funded by the Saudi royal family and by most accounts funds a variety of worthy causes around the world. But it is also the subject of scrutiny by congressional investigators and federal law enforcement agencies for possible terrorist connections in some countries, and some of its officials abroad have been linked to al Qaeda. Treasury agents seized files at the league's offices in Falls Church in March 2002.

Oddly absent from today's stories in both the Times and the Post is any mention of George W. Bush's uncle Jonathan J. Bush's involvement in Riggs, nor is there any mention of Bush family pal Joseph Allbritton's ties to Riggs Bank.

Gee, what is it with the Bush family and their financial connections to notorious dictators accused of crimes against humanity?

Props to Erin Haag.

The Definitve Tom DeLay Cartoon

By my fellow Austinite Ben Sargent.

Courtesy of John Gillnitz.

Battle of Absurdities

Which statement is the most absurd?

Ed Meese, the third-worst Attorney General in US history, while arguing in favor of the Hate Amendment:

The framers rightly left marriage policy, as so many other things, with the states.

Or Watergate felon turned born-again nutcase Charles Colson, comparing efforts to deny same-sex couples the equal rights guaranteed to them by the 14th Amendment to...

wait for it...

the abolition of slavery:

Remember two centuries ago when William Wilberforce started his campaign to abolish the slave trade in Britain. He didn’t have the votes, but he persisted. And after twenty years, he prevailed.


So do not despair—the same thing could very well happen in this country.

Notorius T-Shirt Terrorists Set Free

About a million posts ago I wrote about FEMA employee Nicole Rank and her husband Jeff, who were arrested for trespassing because they *gasp* wore anti-Bush t-shirts to a Bush rally. Even though they held tickets to the event, the Ranks were arrested and sent back to Texas.

Well, the Ranks won their day in court:

Jeff Rank says he's empowered by the decision. He says, "It reaffirms my belief in our Constitutional rights and it's certainly heartening to find that those are upheld, that the system works." In fact, both say all the controversy was well worth it. Nicole says, "I think we had the right to be where we were and this morning we were proven that we were right in that."

Jeff says he was surprised by all the media coverage and certainly never meant to make an issue of it. "We didn't look to bring it to the forefront. I'm not sorry that we were a focal point for it. I'm not happy about that but I'm not sorry about that, it just is and that's okay. We're willing to accept that in order to uphold our Constitutional rights."

Several supporters joined the Ranks during their hearing. At least two people wore white anti-Bush T-shirts, much like the Ranks did on the 4th of July. Supporter Julian Martin says the two were certainly within their rights. "I'm exercising my support for these brave people for exercising their right to say that they don't like George Bush. You outta be able to say that anywhere, anytime in this country."

Thanks to Luther English for the link.


Because no one blog is big enough to contain him. From Altercation:

In 1994, an eight-year old girl named Valerie Lakey was playing in a wading pool. She got caught in a defective drain. Her intestines were ripped from her body by the suction. She is now 17. She will have to be fed through a tube, 12 hours a day, for the rest of her life. In 1997, John Edwards won her family a $25 million judgment, of which he took a portion. The judgment helped jump-start his political career.

On the first day of last year, as part of his opening comments on Crossfire, this is how the incident was described by Tucker Carlson, whom public and private broadcasting networks tumble all over themselves to hire: "Four years ago, he (Edwards) was a personal-injury lawyer specializing in Jacuzzi cases."

Jacuzzi cases.

An eight-year old who got disemboweled.

Jacuzzi cases.

A child who'll have to be fed through a tube for as long as she lives.

Jacuzzi cases.

Now, I know it's a terrible thing when Whoopi Goldberg makes salacious fun of C-Plus Augustus's last name. I know that society may simply collapse. But here is a professional communicator at the top of his profession who, because he couldn't come up with anything else to say at the moment, smugly dispatches the tragedy of a child whose guts were ripped out. (Later in the same show, he told co-host James Carville to "Lighten up," about his comments.) It was an interesting evening -- not only should Tucker Carlson have lost every job in the professional media that he has, and not only did he lose forever any right to criticize anyone for intemperate speech, he at that moment should have been shunned by decent people for the rest of his sorry life.

Jacuzzi cases.


Joe Hoeffel Day Continues

We're still raising cash for Joe Hoeffel in his campaign against Arlen Specter for one of Pennsylvania's senate seats.

Wouldn't you, at the very least, like to cancel out Rick Santorum's vote? Give to Joe here.

In addition to, or instead of, giving money to the campaign you can help us to Double Joe in July.

The campaign has set a goal of doubling Joe Hoeffel's mailing list this month. All you have to do is click here and follow the instructions to add your e-mail address to Joe's list. You will receive updates of Joe's progress in his quest to unseat Specter and give dems the majority in the senate.

WaPo on CIA Torture

The Washington Post's editorial page often seems to be a bit of an apologist for the Bush administration, particularly in light of some of the reporting that takes place within the pages of the paper itself.

However, today they have a well written editorial about the CIA's ghost detainees and their treatment:

The White House reportedly has exempted the CIA's prisoners from the reviews that have been granted to detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison. And it has not disclosed the interrogation techniques approved for use by the CIA, though it has released those for Guantanamo.

What is known, mostly through leaks to the media, is that several of the CIA's detainees probably have been tortured -- and that a controversial Justice Department opinion defending such abuse was written after the fact to justify the activity. According to reports in The Post, pain medication for Abu Zubaida, who suffered from a gunshot wound in the groin, was manipulated to obtain his cooperation, while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to "water boarding," which causes the sensation of drowning. Notwithstanding the Justice Department opinion, parts of which recently were repudiated by the White House, U.S. personnel responsible for such treatment may be guilty of violating the international Convention Against Torture and U.S. laws related to it.

Athenae blogged on Seymour Hersh's latest revelations last night, and you will find similar posts throughout the blogosphere (like here at EdCone, for instance).

We simply cannot let this issue be swept under the carpet

More Problems for Potential Obama Opponents

Looks like former Bush administration drugwarrior Andrea Grubb Barthwell has a, a-hem, Clarence Thomas problem:

An internal inquiry last year found a potential Republican candidate for the Senate seat from Illinois engaged in "lewd and abusive behavior" while she served as a top official in the White House drug policy office.

A March 19th, 2003, memo prepared by drug policy office staff says Andrea Grubb Barthwell made repeated comments about the sexual orientation of a staff member to staff and used a kaleidoscope to make sexually offensive gestures.

Barthwell says the memo overstates what happened. But she says she was wrong for participating in "inappropriate banter" at a staff birthday party.

Commenter Nina Katarina provides a few details:

"Dr. Barthwell suggested that the staff member would want to cut the cake available for the gathering because the knife was 'long and hard' and he might 'enjoy handling it.'" And "she said to the staff member, 'I know you like it big and meaty'."

Let's see: Jack Ryan, Mike Ditka, Ted Nugent, and now Dr. Barthwell...

Who wants to be next?

Today's Forecast: Mud

So, just what will the Bush Campaign run on now?

War Preznit?
Looks like that's not going too well.

Hate Amendment?
Don't look now, but your wedge issue just gave you a wedgie.

The Economy?

U.S. retail sales fell in June by the most since February 2003, underscoring forecasts that consumer spending slowed in the second quarter from the previous three months.

So, consumer spending, which drives our economy, is off. What about industrial output?

Output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities fell unexpectedly in June, recording its largest drop in more than a year, the Federal Reserve reported on Thursday.

The Fed said industrial production fell 0.3 percent in June after a downwardly revised 0.9 percent May increase. Wall Street had expected the June reading to be flat.


The overall industrial production drop was the largest since April 2003, when it fell 0.6 percent.

Manufacturing output fell 0.1 percent, its first drop in 13 months, the Fed said. Utilities output decreased 2.3 percent, due to cooler-than-normal temperatures in the United States.

My friends, they have nothing to run on. A dismal record of illegal war, corruption and cronyism, and a ruined economy will not be too popular with the voting public.

All the Bush campaign can do is continue to sling mud at John Kerry.

New Jobless Thursday

Another Eschaton tradition, in addition to Joe Hoeffel Day, is New Jobless Thursday. This week we welcome 349,000 new Lucky Duckies. Have you seen my Bush Boom?

In the week ending July 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 349,000, an increase of 40,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 309,000. The 4-week moving average was 339,000, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average of 335,750.

Another Season, Another Reason, for Dropping Whoopi

Many of you have written the blog to call our attention to the fact that SlimFast has dropped Whoopi Goldberg from their advertising campaign.

Here is SlimFast's statement:

"We are disappointed by the manner in which Ms Goldberg chose to express herself and sincerely regret that her recent remarks offended some of our consumers," said the Slim-Fast general manager, Terry Olson.

And Whoopi's response:

"I've done material on every president in the past 20 years, from Reagan to Carter, from Clinton to Bush. It seems now that people from the other side are using this to further their own agenda."

I know nothing about the contractual agreement between Ms. Goldberg and SlimFast. However, when you hire a comedian like Whoopi you have to expect her to do some blue material now and then.

Furthermore, Whoopi has the right to speak out in support of the candidate she prefers in this presidential race. What she said about Bush was pretty tame by the standards of this blog. She supports Kerry, as is her right, and she spoke out for him in her characteristic style.

If you are as unhappy with their decision as I am, let SlimFast know about it.


By telephone: 561-833-9920

Or in writing:
Mailing Address:
Slim·Fast Foods Company
P.O. Box 3625
West Palm Beach, FL 33402

Well, Pardon Us For Living

Journalism prof calls bloggers "pretend journalists," says they shouldn't be given convention credentials.

That bloggers get front seats bothers Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri.

''They're certainly not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo,'' McPhail says. Bloggers ''should be put in a different category, like 'pretend' journalists.''

Hey, Arbiter of What Constitutes Journalism, when's the last time you set foot in a newsroom?

Via Romenesko

Coalition of the - Hey, Where Did Everyone Go?

The Coalition of the Willing has lost four members, and is about to lose four more. But your preznit is on top of it:

To track commitments, the Bush administration keeps a color-coded chart of coalition members: red for countries withdrawing, yellow for nations considering a pullout and green for countries staying.

Seriously, though, as the violence continues and kidnappings have become an effective tool of the insurgency, it looks like it might be just the US and the Brits (with perhaps a few Eastern European nations) with boots on the ground come January. And we don't have enough troops there now to establish security.

Ditka Out. Ya' Got Any Other B-List Celebrities Out There?

Mike Ditka has decided not to run for the Illinois senate seat against Barak Obama:

Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka has told Republican Party officials in Illinois that he does not plan to run for U.S. Senate, dimming the GOP's hopes for a high-profile candidate.

Fear not, Illinois Republicans, your party has a back-up plan:

[A]nother name surfacing is that of rocker, outspoken conservative and gun-rights activist Ted Nugent.

I can see it now. "Mr. Chariman, I yield the floor to the gentleman from Illinois."

Joe Hoeffel Day!

Yes, it is Thursday, time once again to raise money for Joe Hoeffel in his quest to unseat Bush/Santorum buddy Arlen Specter (who, BTW, voted yesterday on the hateful side of the Hate Amendment).

Give to Joe here.

What's that? You say you have donor's fatigue, you're all tapped out? You've given to John Kerry, the Democratic National Committee, you even bought Atrios a present from his Amazon wish list (what's up with that Angel fascination?). You've done enough.

Fear not, dear reader, you can help Joe Hoeffel without it costing you one penny. Help us to Double Joe in July.

The campaign has set a goal of doubling Joe Hoeffel's mailing list this month. All you have to do is click here and follow the instructions to add your e-mail address to Joe's list. You will receive updates of Joe's progress in his quest to unseat Specter and give dems the majority in the senate.

The choice is yours. You can giv joe turkee or Double Joe in July.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

'The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking'

The Poor Man has the latest on Abu Ghraib.

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher." ...

Frat hazing, I assume, will continue to be the standard explanation on the right along with the ever popular postulation that some Arabs, somewhere, are worse than this.

Letters to George

Send George a message.

A theater company is soliciting open letters to the president as part of a performance project.

I've been reading these letters most of the afternoon and what impresses me is that people don't just say what they believe, they say why they believe it. They tell the president about the power of his office by telling him the things he did that made a difference in their lives, for good or ill.

One of my major peeves with this president is that he does not seem to understand how awe-inspiring his position is, how far and deep his words resonate. There are people out there who really did look to him after Sept. 11 and say, "Okay, pal, show us what you can do" and "tell us it's going to be okay, because you're the president and we'll believe you."

For all that we talk about the loss of faith in government since Vietnam and Watergate, what always strikes me when the elections come around again is how much people want to trust in their leaders. As well they should. That's what we elected them for. So when they lie to us, the betrayal is equal to the sincerity of our belief.

Check the letters blog out, and write your own letter to George. Think about why you believe what you believe, what you want in a president, and tell Bush whether or not he's lived up to your expectations.

One page

In today's Slate, Fred Kaplan asks:

What did the president know about Iraqi WMD?or, more to the point, what did he think (or what was he led to think) his intelligence agencies knew?

This is why the Senate Intelligence Committee wants the summary released. It's the same reason the 9/11 commission wanted the White House to release the president's daily intelligence briefing of Aug. 6, 2001 (the one headlined, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."). They want to know what the president knew. Did he have reason to see Osama Bin Laden's attack coming?and, if so, should he have done something about it? Did he know about internal disputes over the evidence of Iraqi weapons programs?and, if so, should he have thought twice about going to war?

If all George W. Bush knew about the Iraqi threat was gleaned from a one-page summary that stated the case for WMD?and that did not even acknowledge the existence of a case for skepticism?that's important to know. It's important for citizens who want some insight on why we went to war. And it's important for the president, who may decide to read a longer document the next time there's trouble.

Kaplan wonders how much attention was paid to dissenting opinions. Did Bush know? Did he care?

Those dissenters turned out to be right. Bush is a man whose single-minded vision ( or call it pig-headed stupidity) had been disastrous. Is this really the kind of leadership Americans want?

I doubt it.

Oh, that lazy media

Liz Cox Barrett, in the CJR, offers this depressing commentary:

Two reporters from big-shot newspapers were, to the certain envy of their peers everywhere, granted one-day backstage passes to the Bush campaign war room in Arlington, Virginia earlier this week. Today, the chosen two -- The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold and The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg -- share with readers the fruits of their access (and flatter the Bush camp with front-page treatment).


Both reporters demonstrate how the Bush crew seizes on a sound bite from Kerry's Boston speech, and feeds it (out of context) to a list of political reporters. (The sound bite in question is Kerry saying he is "proud" of his vote against the $87 billion to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kerry actually said he is "proud" that John Edwards joined him in voting against the $87 billion "when we knew the policy had to be changed".) Gold provides an effective chronological tracking of just how the Bush camp gets its selected Kerry sound bite -- complete with spin (Kerry is "reckless") -- into the media's bloodstream.

Among the more telling moments in either piece, to Campaign Desk's mind, was the confession (old news though it is) that Rutenberg wrested from a few nameless Kerry campaign reporters. "Several journalists who cover Mr. Kerry later said they were too embarrassed to say publicly that it took the Bush operatives to spot what was notable in Mr. Kerry's remarks," Rutenberg writes, referring to Kerry's "proud" comment.

In other words, these reporters sheepishly acknowledged to Rutenberg, though not to their readers, that they are open to -- even rely on -- helpful hints from a campaign as to what is newsworthy in an opponent's speech.

Even though remarks are taken out of context, thus presenting a skewed, especially negative, picture of the opposition?

As Atrios would say: Oy.

Update: Somerby, of course, weighs in admirably.

(Thanks, hadenough.)

Not Good - problems with absentee voting for troops overseas

from USA Today:

"Problems with military absentee ballots that clouded the 2000 election have not been fixed, jeopardizing the ability of more than 160,000 troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to have their votes counted this fall.


The signs are worrisome, says Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, one of the authors of the 2002 Help America Vote Act, a law designed to fix problems that became evident in the 2000 election. He said troops in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf voiced concerns to him during a recent trip. 'They are at war, and they want that vote to count,' Ney says. 'It's scary, because it's just not going the way it should."

There's quite a list of difficulties in the article, and this is just unconscionable. For all the rhetoric about supporting the troops, and bringing democracy to the middle east, one would think that absentee balloting for our military would be a priority. But time is running out, and I'm not convinced that the difficulties will be addressed in time. And that really makes me mad.

Ditka Can't Handle the Press

Illinois GOP's Great White Hope storms out of super-secret meeting at the first hint of the Fourth Estate:

This morning in downtown Chicago, Mike Ditka left before a secret meeting with IL GOP decision makers began, angered about the media being tipped off.

Ditka was to meet with members of the IL GOP State Central Committee and to speak via conference call with state and national level Republicans as he considered whether or not to fill the vacancy left when former candidate for U.S. Senate Jack Ryan announced his intentions to withdraw on June 25.

Word leaked out to the press, and Ditka reportedly was angered when met by the media as he arrived. The former Chicago Bears coach exited the meeting before it began, and left in his black Escalade, obviously upset.

But will he be labeled "angry" as Howard Dean was?

Short answer: No.
Long Answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Tip provided by Jdancingkid.

Barbara Bush on a Bar Hop

Somehow I don't think this anecdote will make the pages of Vogue:

I smile and Barbara Bush smiles wider. "Hi! How are you?" she says in a very loud voice. She immediately wraps her arms around me. "Oh my God," she says enthusiastically, "I love your shirt. Guys, look at her shirt." I am wearing a black turtleneck. Her friends look and nod approvingly. She surveys the room and steps very close to my face. For a minute I think she is going to kiss me. "Oh my God, this place is cool!" she shouts. "How long has it been here?" Even though the music is loud, her voice is much more forceful than needed to be heard.

"Since August," I say.

"It's so nice!" she says, adding, "You have pretty eyes."


From behind me I hear a loud voice. "Thank you, this is great, really." I turn around and there is Barbara, drink in hand, so close that if I just thrust my lips out a little we would touch. She is smiling widely, and I smile, too. Her friendliness and lack of pretense make it impossible not to like her.

"I love this song!" Barbara exclaims, grabbing my wrists and starting to wave my arms around. She throws her shoulders back and grinds her hips. It is the part of the evening when the D.J. goes old school with Guns N' Roses. For people who work here every night, this is the saddest point.

Fifteen minutes later, I step outside to make sure the entrance is swept, and there I see Barbara bent over, hands on her knees, out on the sidewalk. "Are you all right?" I ask. Please, I think, don't let me see her throw up.

She spits on the pavement. "Yeah, I just needed some fresh air," she says. She stands and I see her forehead is damp with sweat. It must be 20 degrees out, and windy. I want to go back into the warm restaurant, but I stay with her.

I massage her back for a moment. Finally she lets out a loud burp, mumbles, "Excuse me" and returns inside.

From a lead provided by Froomkin.

Crisco Johnny, Pants Ablaze

We all remember John Ashcroft's opening statement before the September 11th commission, in which he lambasted commission member Jamie Gorelick over a Justice Department memo she wrote in 1995:

In 1995, the Justice Department embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required. The 1995 Guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers to communications between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall "effectively excluded" prosecutors from intelligence investigations. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents. In 1995, the Justice Department designed a system destined to fail.

Now he's out pimping the Patriot Act, and as the Center for American Progress points out he has changed his story:

To be sure, the procedures [outlined in the 1995 memo] were intended to permit a degree of interaction and information sharing between prosecutors and intelligence officers, while at the same time ensuring that the FBI would be able to obtain or continue FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] coverage and later use the fruits of that coverage in a criminal prosecution. Over time, however, coordination and information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement investigators became even more limited in practice than was allowed in theory under the Department’s procedures. Due both to confusion about when sharing was permitted and to a perception that improper information sharing could end a career, a culture developed within the Department sharply limiting the exchange of information between intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Hmmm. Under oath, he says that Gorelick erected a "wall" and created "draconian measures" that hamstrung terrorism investigations. Now he says the memo was written to permit and encourage "information sharing" and "interaction", but confusion and misperceptions in the Justice Department limited such exchanges.

Did Ashcroft perjure himself twice in April?

I'll Take "Egomaniacs" for $200, Alex

Who are these members of the Congressional Black Caucus talking about?

“He ain’t playing with a full deck,” said Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“I don’t think he gets it,” said Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.).

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said, “If he didn’t understand what the meeting was about, not only is he an egotistical maniac, he’s dumber than I thought he was.”

I won't make you guess this time, because you all know it's Ralph Nader.

Courtesy of Altercation.

I'll Take "Quotent Quotables" for $500, Alex

In light of this NYTimes article about employers reducing or eliminating prescription drug benefits for 3.8 million retirees in response to Bush's Medicare prescription drug law,

Who said this?

"It is beyond belief, it is beyond belief that we would pass legislation that would attempt to provide low income Americans with affordable prescription drugs and at the same time pass two provisions to that bill, one a prohibition from importation of lower priced drugs and the other even more incredibly, which I hope will be AARP's next agenda item, is a prohibition of negotiating Medicare being able to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs."
[Emphasis in the original.]

Answer soon.

You guys are too sharp (except for whoever it was who said it was "Barbara Boxturtle").

John McCain, of course.
Listen to him here [Scroll down and click on "Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks to activists and supporters of the AARP about the importation of prescription drugs. (:36)". Dang MP3 link went kablooie.]

Hate Amendment Goes Down, 48 Yea - 50 Nay

I know you guys hate the rapid-fire posting, but this is something to celebrate.

And there was much rejoicing.

[Thanks for the correction, Dr. Gonzo.]

UPDATE: NTodd provides a link to the roll call on the cloture motion.

And, no that is not a box turtle. But the turtle is smiling!

Obama to Give Convention Keynote Address

The man is a rising star.

Leads me to wonder who could be considered a rising star for the Republicans. Arnold? Give me a break. McCain is an established star, but will he be interested in the presidency after another eight years of peace and prosperity under a Democratic president?

What else you got?

Have You Seen My Bush Boom Meets Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Brad DeLong reminds us that the Bush administration has missed their own benchmark for June 2004 payroll employment by a whopping 1.2 million jobs (Brad also provides a nifty chart).

The administration's jobs forecast was published in the Economic Report of the President on February 9, 2004. This is the jobs forecast that Treasury Secretary Snow, Commerce Secretary Evans, and later the preznit had to back away from a scant nine days later, prompting this classic exchange in the gaggle:

Q Why -- if you're suggesting that people will debate the numbers, that's kind of a backhanded way to say, oh, who cares about the numbers. Well, apparently, the President's top economic advisors do, because that's why they wrote a very large report and sent it to Congress. So why was the prediction made in the first place, if the President and you and his Treasury Secretary were going to just back away from it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I disagree with the premise of the way you stated that. This is the annual Economic Report of the President and the economic modeling is done this way every year. It's been done this way for 20-some years.

Q So why not -- why aren't you standing behind it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think what the President stands behind is the policies that he is implementing, the policies that he is advocating. That's what's important.

Q That's not in dispute. The number is the question.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but the President's concern is on the number of jobs being created --

Q My question is, why was the prediction made --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and the President's focus is on making sure that people who are hurting because they cannot find work have a job. That's where the President's focus is.

Q Then why predict a number? Why was the number predicted? Why was the number predicted? You can't get away with not -- just answer the question. Why was that number predicted?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've been asked this, and I've asked -- I've been asked, and I've answered.

Q No, you have not answered. And everybody watching knows you haven't answered.

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree.

Chat with Froomkin

I have no earthly idea how many times I have linked to Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing during my stint guest-blogging here on Eschaton. The man has the scoop, he's funny, and he's no whore.

Mr. Froomkin will be participating in an online chat today at 1 PM eastern. You can ask him about the White House press corps, his views on the campaign, the GOP's apparent proclivity for box turtles, or whatever.

My question: What can you tell us about Les Kinsolving?

Shorter Butler Report

Mistakes were made, crappy intelligence was deliberately skewed, but let's not hold any individual accountable.

In my mind, a more thorough whitewash than the SSCI report issued Friday.

Here's the longer version of the shorter Butler Report (sans some of the whitewash):

• In March 2002, the intelligence was "insufficiently robust" to prove Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions

• Since the war events have "thrown doubt" on a high proportion of the sources used to justify the war

• Some human intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "seriously flawed" and "open to doubt"

• The Joint Intelligence Committee should not have included the "45 minute" claim in the Iraq dossier without stating what exactly it referred to

• The language of the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons may have left readers with the impression that there was "fuller and firmer" intelligence behind its judgments than was the case

• Tony Blair's statement to MPs on the day the dossier was published may have reinforced this impression.

• The judgments in the dossier went to the "outer limits", although not beyond the intelligence available.

• Making public that the Joint Intelligence Committee had authorship of the Iraq dossier was a "mistaken judgment".

• This resulted in more weight being placed on the intelligence than it could bear, the report found.

• The report found no evidence that the motive of the British Government for initiating military action in Iraq was securing continued access to oil supplies.

• The report raised concern about the "informality and circumscribed character" of the Government’s policy-making procedures towards Iraq.

Why Does Fox Hate America?

Robert S. Boynton wrote a lengthy review of Outfoxed for the Times.

This pisses me off:

One memo, thought to have been circulated at Fox in April, instructs employees how to report on the increasing number of American fatalities in Iraq: ''Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives,'' it reads.

Fucking bastards.

Wonkette also has her hands on the Fox memos.

A Visit with Bill

David Cole recalls a day in the No Spin Zone.

I sat in the Washington studio as the taping of the show began in New York with a rant from Bill O'Reilly. He claimed that "the Factor" had established the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and then played a clip from Thomas Kean, head of the Senate's 9/11 Commission, in which Kean said, "There is no evidence that we can find whatsoever that Iraq or Saddam Hussein participated in any way in attacks on the United States, in other words, on 9/11. What we do say, however, is there were contacts between Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Iraq, Saddam--excuse me. Al Qaeda."


But suddenly O'Reilly interrupted, plainly angry, and said, "We can't use that.... We need to redo the whole thing." Three minutes of silence later, the show began again, with O'Reilly re-recording the introduction verbatim. Except this time, when he got to the part about Kean, he played no tape, and simply paraphrased Kean as confirming that "definitely there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda." The part about no link to 9/11 was left on the cutting-room floor.

Talk Hard

Kerry's campaign manager sends the Bushies an anniversary gift.

Some choice quotes fom the letter:

July 13, 2004
Ken Mehlman
Campaign Manager

Dear Ken:

Over the past several months, allies of the President have questioned John Kerry’s patriotism while your staff has criticized his service in Vietnam. Republicans and their allies have gone so far as to launch attacks against his wife and your campaign has run $80 million in negative ads that have been called baseless, misleading and unfair by several independent observers.


We also wanted to wish you a happy anniversary. As we are sure you and the attorneys representing the President, Vice-President and other White House officials are aware, today marks one year since Administration sources leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to Bob Novak in an effort to retaliate against a critic of the Administration.

In light of the fact that the Administration began gutting the laws protecting the nation’s forests yesterday, we hope you will accept the paper on which this letter is written as an anniversary gift. (The one year anniversary is known as the “paper anniversary.”)

I think I need a cigarette. Thanks to Kate in comments.

What Were You Thinking?

Mr. President, here is a question from the press corps and your answer, February 2, 2004:

Q Yes, Mr. President. I'd like to ask you about this intelligence investigation that you're going to order. Do you think that the country is owed an explanation about the Iraq intelligence failures before the election, so that voters have this information when they elect a new President?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the -- first of all, I want to know all the facts. We do know that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capabilities to cause great harm, we know he was a danger. And he was not only a danger to people in the free world, he was a danger to his own people; he slaughtered thousands of people, imprisoned people.

What we don't know yet is what we thought and what the Iraqi Survey Group has found, and we want to look at that. But we also want to look at our war against proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, kind of in a broader context. And so I'm putting together an independent, bipartisan commission to analyze where we stand, what we can do better as we fight this war against terror.

Before I move forward with the commission, I want to sit down with Mr. Kay. I appreciate his service. I've invited him to come down to the White House. I'll be doing so soon. I do want to get a briefing from him.

Yes, I want to know what you thought, too. I believe that the intelligence presented to you did not indicate that Iraq was a threat (imminent, grave, gathering - you pick the adjective, Mr. President). Yet you hyped that intelligence, slanted it, massaged it, and - dare I say it - lied about what the intelligence agencies told you prior to invading Iraq.

That's what I believe, but it would be nice to know for sure what you knew before sending eight hundred and counting of our young men and women to their deaths.

The SSCI report released Friday amply demonstrates that the intelligence agencies did not believe that Iraq posed a threat to the United States or the region. But we know you, Mr. President, you're not the kind of guy who reads lengthy reports and delves into the nuts and bolts of an analytical review.

You, Mr. President, are more of a one-page summary kind of guy. Screw the details, just tell me in a few short, clear sentences whatever it is that you want to say.

It would be nice if we could see that one-page summary, wouldn't it?

The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials.

Senate Democrats claim that the document could help clear up exactly what intelligence agencies told Mr. Bush about Iraq's illicit weapons. The administration and the C.I.A. say the White House is protected by executive privilege, and Republicans on the committee dismissed the Democrats' argument that the summary was significant.

Also in today's Times, James Risen on Niger uranium, the story no serious person ever believed.

It's a Small World After All

George Bush's lawyer in the Plame investigation, James E. Sharp, just happens to the representing Ken Lay in the Enron case.

So sayeth Josh Marshall.

Sucks to be Disney


Michael Moore's headline grabbing documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which Disney declined to distribute, grossed more than $80 million in its first three weeks of release, more than any Disney film this year ...

IMHO, Michael Moore aside, Disney needs to stop making complete crapola and go back to what worked, which was lush art and good stories. Quit churning out junk straight-to-video Aladdin sequels and go back to fairytales in all their subversive and disturbed beauty.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Because you can never have too much turtle porn

Gay sex, Republican style.

By our lovely and talented Zombiebirdhouse. For explanation, see this thread.

After reading all the posts and all the comments about this on several different threads on several different blogs today, I have to say, I'm beginning to think the Senator should apologize to the poor turtles.

Juan Cole and VOA

Juan Cole has a post that is an article about Voice of America Radio. Apparently, the Director, who is a Bush appointee, has "reassigned" the network's award-winning journalist, who has been keeping the Director from "2d guessing" news copy, especially on Iraq.

VOA may not mean much to you - it didn't to me, to be honest about it. But this article is a story about the creeping Stalinism at work in this administration. It isn't a short entry, so if you don't read it all, do read the 2d to the last paragraph.

More on Nader's contributors

from the July 19 issue of Newsweek:

"In his run for the White House, Ralph Nader is getting help from an unexpected source: Republicans. Of the $1 million that Nader has raised in his campaign so far, about $50,000 is from donors who have also given to President George W. Bush's campaign. One in 10 of Nader's biggest contributors - individuals who've written checks of $1,000 or more - are longtime GOP donors."

I know this has been talked about before, but go read. The article names some of the big Republican donors to Nader. Nader still claims that he is taking votes from Bush, but if anyone still believes that, well...

Senate GOP short on votes for hate amendment to ban same sex marriages

link here.

"Short on votes and beset by internal divisions, Senate Republicans struggled Tuesday to salvage a respectable defeat for the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."

Frist said: "This issue is not going away." (no shit, Sherlock) However, he had to concede that the 60 votes needed to advance past a Wednesday test vote aren't there.

Senator Dog on Man Santorum claimed that he and others are hearing from opponents of the amendment that: "marriage is hate, marriage is a stain, an evil thing." He and other Republicans, in a series of speeches, claim they are motivated by their desire to defend marriage and "the children, my god, the children!"

Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, read aloud Lynne Cheney's statement on the subject (leave it to the states.)

Meanwhile, House Republicans pursued a different strategy - hate legislation instead of a hate amendment.

Open Thread: John Cornyn Porn Edition

A real cutie.

Court Decision Won't Stop Yucca Mountain

The Bush administration is forging ahead with their plans to store 77,000 tons of radioactive material with a halflife of 300,000 years in Nevada despite a ruling that safeguards at the Yucca Mountain storage facility are inadequate.

The Bush administration will proceed with a plan to build a nuclear waste site in Nevada this year despite a court decision ordering it to prevent radiation leaks for more than 10,000 years, a senior Energy Department official said on Tuesday.

Critics of the project, including Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, say this recent federal court ruling could permanently derail a plan to build a massive underground storage depot beneath Yucca Mountain about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The administration said, however, that it does not intend to slow down.

``We are still on track toward submitting a license application in December of this year, and opening the repository and beginning waste acceptance in 2010,'' Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow told a Senate Energy Committee hearing on nuclear energy.

Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Little Scottie: Straight Shooter.

Q Can I ask you -- I'm sorry -- my real question is, the International Red Cross says it fears the United States is holding terrorist suspects at secret locations around the world. Do you know anything about that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I saw that report, or some of the comments from the Red Cross. Here's what I can tell you, I mean, we work closely with the Red Cross on these issues and we are always in regular and constant contact with the Red Cross. The Red Cross raises issues from time to time and we always work to respond directly to the Red Cross on the issues that they raise. And we try to do so -- and do so as promptly as we can.

Q Is there any merit to this concern? And are you doing anything about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you know, if they have issues that they want to bring to our attention, we always work with them to respond directly to them on those issues.

Q They haven't brought this up to you yet, that you know of?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm looking further into this, but, again, I just want to remind you that we do work closely with the Red Cross on all detainee issues and that they do bring up issues from time to time and we always work to respond directly to the Red Cross.

Um, Scott. You may want to check on that conflagration raging in your dockers.

U.S. officials are detaining terror suspect at undisclosed locations around the world, avoiding access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, a spokeswoman for the Geneva-based aid organization said.

The Red Cross hasn't had access to a ``certain number'' of detainees identified as arrested on the Web site of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or in media reports, said Antonella Notari, a Red Cross spokeswoman, declining to provide an estimate.


The U.S. government hasn't officially responded to the Red Cross demand to be notified about all detainees, including those at undisclosed locations.

``We're still waiting for a U.S. reply,'' Notari said. That request was made Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger in January.


Who Will Face Obama?

Will it be Mike Ditka?

"I've got to be firmly convinced in my mind that I really think I can make a difference," before deciding to seek the Republican nomination, the 64-year-old Pro Football Hall of Fame member told a Chicago radio station. "If I'm just going to be another schmuck up there in Washington then it wouldn't be fun for me."

What about Bush administration drug warrior Dr. Andrea Grubb Barthwell? She resigned from the crusade against medical marijuana in order to run, will Ditka ruin it for her?

Wait a minute, what about Jack "Watch Me Now" Ryan? Don't forget, Illinois GOPers, you can't force Jack off of the ballot and...

As of Monday, he had yet to file the paperwork to have his name removed from the ballot.


Update: count on attaturk to provide the infamous Ditka/Williams marriage photo.
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