Filtered news 3/8

CIA guy asks: "If a President can be impeached for lying about a blow job then by God a Vice President should be impeached for setting in motion the forces that destroyed an intelligence network during a time of war."

Who suports our troops? blasted the Bush administration again last night over Waltergate. Yesterday they how the White House refuses to take responsibility for their myriad screws-ups. Tonight they went after the "Support The Troops" mantra they so miserably failed to live up to, and are now denying they ever employed. | | This isn't the first time we've caught the Bushies from their . The internet just makes it too easy.

Welcome to Earth I guess we're not watching the same White House. : "This is an administration that has been mostly free of scandal over the last six years and now they have the taint that they cannot erase. It has damaged this White House, and I think it's damaged the Republican prospects for 2008 in taking the White House and keeping it."

Public humiliation Indeed. I don't care how many times Giuliani has been married, but the fact that publicly humiliated his family Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Associated Press that evangelicals believe the former New York City mayor showed a lack of character during his divorce from his second wife, television personality Donna Hanover. "I mean, this is divorce on steroids," Land said. "To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children. That's rough. I think that's going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren't pro-choice and pro-gun control." Still, he gets a lot of manlove from Chris Matthews and the gang, who apparently aren't bothered by this behavior.

Those Repugs are such rebels! It is true that during the glorious Summer of War many war their support for the war, which lined them up with the executive branch, congress, and the prevailing weight of opinion of the media industrial complex, was somehow a hipster act of rebellion which was generally represented by random posts at that Next thing you know, they'll grow their hair out over their ears....

Scummy Law School Sleazebags (sorry for the redundancy) Yes, the internet provides infinite opportunities That doesn't mean they have to take them, of course.

Any guess who's going to get the call? We're just finishing up a major chapter in the Plame-Niger-Uranium scandal. The core of that story is that when the Bush administration's back is against the wall, the accusers have to be destroyed. Usually by a campaign of leaks and anonymous accusations delivered to reliable, pro-administration reporters.

Note to Big Media bosses: We're not as dumb as you think we are. What if Paris Hilton did something and the traditional media didn't cover it? Would anyone miss it? Would anyone care? As it turns out, no. . They were braced for questions and complaints … instead they got thanks, from media and alike. Now contrast that to this quote found from an LA Times owner in the :

"[The LA Times] has got these 22 foreign bureaus…That's not what readers want. Readers care about the local entertainment industry…They care about things like fashion...Where the problem is, is that the people who are writing the L.A. Times, they want to be writing about international events. They want to be writing long-term pieces about why Bush went to war in Iraq. And we're saying, and the people at Tribune are saying, there are other people writing those stories…Do we really need the L.A. Times devoting the resources it has to that story?"

Actually, yes, we DO need the LA Times (and other media) devoting resources to that. And as the AP example show, your consumers will thank you for it. Duh.

Paging all wingnuts: Keith Ellison, the first Muslim Congressman and a frequent right wing target, is now with the Bush administration to promote America's image abroad.

Remember when lawyers were the predators, not the prey? We know they had the ear of the White House. But on Washington Republicans' campaign to sack U.S. Attorney John McKay. DOJ spokesman's for the fired US Attorneys: "former disgruntled employees grandstanding before Congress."

What more do we need to know? The All Wise Voices of Reason at The Washington Post editorial board and conclude with a sniff: "Mr. Fitzgerald was, at least, right about one thing: The Wilson-Plame case, and Mr. Libby's conviction, tell us nothing about the war in Iraq." Come now. That reads like a dispatch from, say, mid-2004 when there was a serious debate in this country about the Iraq War. From the vantage point of March 2007 what could we possibly learn that would change our minds about the Iraq War. We learned, years ago, that the WMD case was a mess. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died. Nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea has gotten worse. Thousands of American soldiers are dead. Tens of thousands more are wounded, many of them seriously. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent. And nothing has been accomplished. There was nothing left for the Libby conviction to possibly tell us about the war; the war debate ship left the port years ago.

No crime? Not so fast. When a prosecutor doesn't indict, that might mean . But it also might mean:

A. That a crime was committed, but there isn't enough admissible evidence to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

B. That a provable crime was committed, but by somone who is immune from prosecution by reason of office (the President probably can't be indicted in federal court) or because of immunity given in return for testimony.

C. That a provable crime was committed by someone who can be indicted, but that it would be unjust or imprudent to bring a prosecution.

Based on Fitzgerald's "umpire" analogy at his post-indictment press conference, my betting is on (A). Cheney is probably guilty of heading a conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, but most of the evidence to prove it would be Libby's testimony, and Libby's multiple lies to the grand jury made it impossible to convict anyone based on Libby's word. If this is right, don't expect to hear it from Fitzgerald. Prosecutors indict; they don't tattle.

Here's the most interesting fact I learned: both the U.S. and Russia still have their thousands of nuclear warheads on "launch-on-warning" status, which means that a computer malfunction on either end could put us into Fail-Safe territory, with top officials having minutes in which to decide whether to respond to an apparent attack or risk losing their capacity to counter-attack. And Russia's warning systems have been degrading ever since the Soviet system fell. There! Doesn't that make you feel secure?

Forget evidence. Forget testimony. Ed Rogers knows Scooter Libby personally and claims he's a nice guy that would never tell a lie. Good enough for me…overturn the conviction! Watch Apologist Ed get all hot and bothered after Matthews and Bob Shrum literally laugh in his face. | | You'll remember Rogers from another Hardball spot. He went after Obama's middle name when it .

Who supports our troops? Internal documents show that the Pentagon “ to identify and treat tens of thousands of troops who may suffer from traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq war.” ABC anchor Bob Woodruff reported recently that the Pentagon is “ about how widespread these debilitating wounds have become.”

Didn’t do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. Former President George H. W. Bush insists he didn’t pat the behind of “Desperate Housewives” star Teri Hatcher after a lunch last month, despite apparent . The 82-year-old told Extra, “I have been teased about it relentlessly. (A website) accused me of patting her backside, which I did not do.

Subpoena Time Domenici .

Subpoena Time, Part II Paul Kiel is reporting at that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to request the testimony in the Prosecutor Purge case of a number of Justice Department officials tomorrow, and vote on issuing subpoenas to them should they refuse the invitation. On the list:

-- Mike Elston, we know, made the now infamous not-at-all-threatening to former USA Bud Cummins.

-- Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson and the Justice Department's White House liaison Monica Goodling were involved in generating the list of prosecutors to fire.

-- Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer two of the fired prosecutors that they were being replaced in order to free up the spot for someone else.

-- And Michael Battle, who will be stepping down at the end of next week, actually made the calls firing the prosecutors.

Mercer's testimony will be most interesting. Here's what United States attorneys Daniel Bogden of Utah and Paul Charlton of Arizona testified to at yesterday's House hearing:

Mercer told them plainly that they'd been fired in order to free up some plum patronage spots.

Mercer told Charlton that "this was being done so that other individuals could 'touch base' as a United States attorney before the end of the president's term."

He was more explicit in his conversation with Bogden. Bogden testified that Mercer told him "the administration has a very short, two year window of opportunity concerning United States Attorney positions" and that "this would be an opportunity to put others in those positions so they could build their resumes, get experience as a United States Attorney, so that for future opportunities, being a federal judge or another political type position, they would be better enhanced to do so."

You will recall to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2007:

. . . Gonzales acknowledged . . . that some U.S. attorneys have been asked to resign their posts in recent weeks because of performance issues, but he denied any political motives and vowed to quickly submit new nominees for the jobs to the Senate for confirmation.

"What we're trying to do is ensure that for the people in each of these respective districts, we have the very best possible representative for the Department of Justice," Gonzales testified, adding later: "I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it."

Somebody is lying. Given the remarkable display of candor on Mercer's part in his discussions with Bogden and Charlton, it just doesn't seem like it would be him. All a warm up, I suspect, for the hearings with Gonzales.

The war on Easter (I'll wait until you stop laughing....) As sure as April showers bring May flowers, so too does Fox News every year around this time announce that there is “a War on Easter.” Last year, Bill O’Reilly suggested the Easter bunny was “.” After embarrassing himself and his , O’Reilly eventually acknowledged, “.” This year, John Gibson is carrying the “War on Easter” mantra, hailing it today as “an incredible development.” Gibson cited efforts by the city of Walnut Creek, California, to rebrand the Easter bunny as the “spring bunny.” “Is this political correctness gone too far”? Gibson wondered. The truth is there is no “war” on Easter. Like the alleged “War on Christmas,” right-wing pundits stir such controversies in order to raise money and suggest that “” are at war with Christianity. Walnut Creek’s changes were made . San Francisco Chronicle reporter Chuck Nevius said, “Walnut Creek is flabbergasted that they are in the cross hairs of a national controversy.” Fox News has tried to sensationalize local events such as these to try to create a national firestorm where none exists.

What Tommy Thompson gave us According to the AARP, the “prices for about 200 prescription drugs commonly used by seniors in the United States …making a case for letting the government negotiate drug prices.”

Who supports our troops? Democratic Senate leaders said yesterday they will use the upcoming defense spending bill to improve health care for military veterans, including , improve diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries and mental health problems, and ease the transition between the military and veterans’ health care systems. Meanwhile, the White House is adopting a sharply “defensive stance on the Iraq-war-funding bill,” resisting “giving Democratic staff .” Bush held “a Republicans-only strategy dinner in the White House family quarters last week” on the bill.

Hush lil' darlin' Internal memorandums circulated by the Bush administration’s Federal Fish and Wildlife Service “appear to require government biologists or other employees traveling in countries around the Arctic not to discuss climate change, polar bears or sea ice .”

NY Times on the Gonzales Eight The editorial board at the New York Times cuts to the chase on the :

Congress must keep demanding answers. It must find out who decided to fire these prosecutors and why, and who may have authorized putting pressure on Mr. Cummins. And it must look into whether Senator Domenici and Representatives Wilson and Hastings violated ethics rules that forbid this sort of interference. We hope the House committee will not be deterred by the fact that Mr. Hastings is its ranking Republican. The Justice Department also needs to open its own investigation. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s claim that these prosecutors were fired for poor performance was always difficult to believe. Now it’s impossible.

Absolutely. Impeach Gonzales.

Teddy sobers up long enough to nail the GOP, but good The White House has a critical 9/11 Commission security bill if it includes legislation giving federal airport screeners collective bargaining rights and whistle-blower protections. Senate conservatives have argued that providing basic workers’ rights to TSA employees endangers our national security. “It’s absolutely absurd,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). “Terrorists don’t go on strike. ” Yesterday on the Senate floor, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) ripped into the right wing for suggesting that our first-line defenders would sacrifice America’s security. “What is it about the other side that questions that these are men and women of dignity that will do their job when this nation is threatened?” he said. “As the smoke was coming out of the buildings in New York, when we saw the collapse of the first buildings and men and women under collective bargaining agreements were asked to go into those fiery infernos, no one was talking about collective bargaining agreements! They were talking about doing their duty to the United States of America.” The good news: the Senate held the line and voted to .

Wow. We're going to run out of orange jump suits. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has uncovered potentially illegal activity by the head of the General Services Administration, Lorita Doan. Waxman has discovered that Doan “used a January 2007 teleconference to through targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country.” Doan discussed with GSA officials “how to exclude House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from an upcoming courthouse opening in San Francisco and how to include Republican Senator Mel Martinez.” Doan’s activity is now being investigated as a potential violation of the , which prohibits partisan campaign activities on federal property.

Doan’s inappropriate (and potentially illegal) behavior extends beyond partisan hackery. Last summer, Doan signed a “promoting GSA’s use of minority- and women-owned businesses.” Doan made the deal with a firm called Diversity Best Practices, headed by Edie Fraser. Waxman has discovered that Doan “had a that has not been disclosed previously. Moreover, “Fraser used her professional connections to advance Doan’s nomination to GSA and to provide personal favors, and…Ms. Fraser continued to provide services with the expectation of payment to Ms. Doan after she became GSA Administrator.” Waxman released an email from Fraser to Doan on 9/6/06:

Lurita, I will do anything for you and will do for the rest of my life… But I have spent so much time at GSA from the report planning to these sessions with ZERO $$. How do we solve

Fraser’s $20,000 contract was eventually canceled because, at the time, GSA contracts worth more than $2,500 . But Doan wouldn’t go down without a fight. According to Waxman, Doan pushed her staff “behind the scenes ,” even suggesting “that if GSA were to make the contract available through a competitive bid, Ms. Fraser could write the ‘Statement of Work’ describing the award for which her company would be competing.” More details and . Doan will on March 20.

Secret (in)justice “Reporters will be barred” from Guantanamo Bay hearings meant to determine if 14 terrors suspects transferred from secret CIA prisons are “enemy combatants.” “ until the government releases a transcript of the proceedings, edited to remove material deemed damaging to national security.”

Who supports our troops? The Center for American Progress has released a new study on the state of our military readiness. The report — “: A Comprehensive Review of the Overuse of the Army in the Administration’s War of Choice in Iraq” — undertook a “massive research project to identify, brigade by brigade, the number and duration of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan by the active Army.” The report found a large majority of Army brigades have served multiple tours:

– Brigades with one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan: 12

– Brigades with two tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 20

– Brigades with three tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 9

– Brigades with four tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 2

The report also points out that a total of 420,000 troops have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan more than once, and over 84,000 National Guard and Reservists have done multiple tours.

The multiple deployments and extended tours of duty are taking a serious toll on our soldiers. Two-thirds of Army brigades are “,” and one Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment.

In addition, an Army survey conducted last year found “U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from , raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder”:

Combat stress is significantly higher among soldiers with at least one previous tour — 18.4 percent, compared with 12.5 percent of those on their first deployment, the survey found. … The report also found a doubling of suicides among soldiers serving in the Iraq war from 2004 to 2005, the latest period for which data are available.

President Bush’s escalation strategy will push these overstressed troops even further. “Our Army is in bad shape,” report co-author Lawrence Korb said, “and for the Army and the country.”

You do the math. Here are worth reading that debunk Bill O's claims about Iraqi civilian casualites. According to Lancet, over 600,000 have died in four years (not to mention the 1.8 million ).

Big Brother is listening Yesterday featured a story about former AT&T technician and whistleblower Mark Klein. While working at AT&T headquarters in San Francisco, Klein discovered (and had the courage to speak out about) a secret eavesdropping room that all of the company's traffic was routed through. With the help of the , Mr. Klein back in April 2006, but alleges John Negroponte and Michael Hayden pressured the LA Times to kill the story. | |

Should we really worry about our government spying on us? President Bush's hand-selected secret "White House privacy board" this week that everything is fine and dandy. Nothing to worry about. Case closed.

A White House privacy board is giving its stamp of approval to two of the Bush administration's surveillance programs - electronic eavesdropping and financial tracking - and says they do not violate citizens' civil liberties. Democrats newly in charge of Congress quickly criticized the findings, which they said were questionable given some of the board members' close ties with the Bush administration. "Their current findings and any additional conclusions they reach will be taken with a grain of salt until they become fully independent," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

It's nice to have responsible, liberty-protecting Democratic committee chairmen. The rubber stamp Republicans would have rolled over and played dead after this White House stamp of approval. Senator Leahy will surely need a tad more verification. Longtime NSA insider Russell Tice in January 2006 about illegal spying as well.


March 8, 2007 - 9:43am