Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Pulitzer winning story

The November 2, 2005 edition of the Washington Post featured a page one article by Dana Priest, under the headline, CIA Hold Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons. The article reported that, “The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.”

The government’s secret gulag was embarrassing, to say the least. No less so because the Dana Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting it. What to do?

The same government that can’t figure out who leaked Valerie Wilson’s covert status, got right on it, and promptly fired a CIA agent, Mary McCarthy who was seen lunching with Dana Priest. Ms. McCarthy denies having leaked the information regarding “black site” prisons. She also denies ever having the information. To many, it looked like a scape-goating.

At the White House press briefing, Scott McClellan answered questions about the firing of Mary McCarthy, who, it should be noted was going to retire at the end of the month, anyway. This is from his answer:
The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. And the unauthorized disclosure of classified information can severely harm our national security. We have talked previously about the terrorist surveillance program and how the unauthorized disclosure of that program has shown the enemy our playbook. We are engaged in a difficult and long war against a bunch of ideological extremists who want to do everything they can to stop the advance of freedom in this world and want to harm innocent Americans and innocent people in the civilized world. And that's why it's important that we not show them our playbook. So the leaking of classified information is a matter that the President takes very seriously.
This is wrong on so many levels.

First, wrong Pulitzer Prize. It was the James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times that won a National Reporting Pulitzer for “their carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberty.” These were the stories with headlines like “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”

Second, give up the “terrorist surveillance program” newspeak. It’s domestic spying, it’s illegal, and you can’t spin away from it.

Third, does Scott McClellan believe that al Qaeda learned from the New York Times that the American Government is trying to listen to their phone calls and read their emails? I am trying to picture Osama Bin Laden putting out to his evil minions an urgent message:
In the name of the merciful and beneficent Allah, please be careful on the ones-phay. We have reason to believe the Satanic Crusaders are trying to listen to our phone calls. No more talk about upcoming terrorist acts, please. Peace be unto you. OBL.

P.S. In light of the inconvenience that this memo may cause, the reward for martyrs will immediately be increased to 72 virgins.
Fourth, “the leaking of classified information is a matter that the President takes very seriously”? Get serious. We now know that none other than King George W, himself, authorized leaking selected portions of the highly classified National Security Estimate. The portions that were leaked were selected to convey an impression that was the exact opposite of what was in the document taken as a whole. I guess what Scott McClellan meant to say is, “The President himself is a serious leaker.”

It should be obvious that it is time for Scott McClellan to take a permanent vacation. We need a Press Secretary who is willing to speak the truth. Someone not afraid to say:

Bush has “lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc." [3/17/06]

“George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion." [3/17/06]

“President Bush distilled the essence of his presidency in this year’s State of the Union Address: brilliant foreign policy and listless domestic policy." [2/3/06]

“George Bush has become something of an embarrassment." [11/11/05]

“Bush “has a habit of singing from the Political Correctness hymnal.” [10/7/05]

No president has looked this impotent this long when it comes to defending presidential powers and prerogatives.” [9/30/05]

Bush “has given the impression that [he] is more eager to please than lead and that political opponents can get their way if they simply dig in their heels and behave like petulant trust-fund brats, demanding money and favor now!” [9/30/05]

When it comes to federal spending, George W. Bush is the boy who can’t say no. In each of his three years at the helm, the president has warned Congress to restrain its spending appetites, but so far nobody has pushed away from the table mainly because the president doesn’t seem to mean what he says.” [The Detroit News, 12/28/03]

“The president doesn’t seem to give a rip about spending restraint.” [The Detroit News, 12/28/03]

“Bush, for all his personal appeal, ultimately bolstered his detractors’ claims that he didn’t have the drive and work ethic to succeed.” [11/16/00]

Little in the character of demeanor of Al Gore or George Bush makes us say to ourselves: Now, this man is truly special! Little in our present peace and prosperity impels us to say: Give us a great man!” [8/25/00]

“George W. Bush, meanwhile, talks of a pillowy America, full of niceness and goodwill. Bush has inherited his mother’s attractive feistiness, but he also got his father’s syntax. At one point last week, he stunned a friendly audience by barking out absurd and inappropriate words, like a soul tortured with Tourette’s.”[8/25/00]

“He recently tried to dazzle reporters by discussing the vagaries of Congressional Budget Office economic forecasts, but his recitation of numbers proved so bewildering that not even his aides could produce a comprehensible translation. The English Language has become a minefield for the man, whose malaprops make him the political heir not of Ronald Reagan, but Norm Crosby.” [8/25/00]

On the policy side, he has become a classical dime-store Democrat. He gladly will shovel money into programs that enjoy undeserved prestige, such as Head Start. He seems to consider it mean-spirited to shut down programs that rip-off taxpayers and mislead supposed beneficiaries.” [8/25/00]

Let's welcome Tony Snow, who insiders are quoted as saying will be our next White House Press Secretary. Scott McClellan, be gone.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

P.S. Thanks to Think for the compilation of quotes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Republican Dirty Tricks? Demand proof.

It was just a week before Christmas when I asked the question, Do Republicans want fair elections? The question was provoked by The New York Times, which has a little column called National Roundup where they publish odds and ends from around the country. On December 16th it had a little blurb, about 6 paragraphs into the column from the New England region. It reported that the Republicans had been found to have engaged in a scheme to stifle Democratic efforts to get out the vote in the New Hampshire Senatorial elections. A fellow named James Tobin had pled guilty.

Digging deeper, I found that the Concord (NH) Monitor had reported: “Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Maine, was the New England political director for the Republican National Committee and the Northeast field representative for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2002 election. He later served as New England chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign but resigned shortly before the 2004 election, after allegations about his involvement in the phone scheme became public.”

Obviously, John McCain wasn't paying attention to this blog. How else could he explain hiring Terry Nelson as a senior advisor? Terry Nelson was supervising Tobin while he was engaged in this criminal vote-suppression conspiracy. Maybe Nelson will claim ignorance, but the U.S. attorney had him on the witness list against Tobin until Tobin pled guilty.


I know what you're thinking: Could that be the same Terry Nelson mentioned in the indictment of Tom DeLay? The answer is YES! Do you demand proof? Take a look at the sixth overt act which alleges as follows:
on or about the thirteenth day of September, 2002, in Washington, D.C., the defendant, James Walter Ellis, did tender and deliver the aforesaid check, and did cause the aforesaid check to be tendered and delivered, to Terry Nelson and the Republican National Committee.

Today, Bloomberg news reported as follows:
To Republicans, the New Hampshire phone-jamming incident is an isolated case of political dirty tricks that took place more than three years ago.

To Democrats, it’s a scandal with echoes of Watergate that may reach all the way to the White House.

Republican leaders are facing questions stemming from a criminal case involving efforts to suppress voter turnout in a U.S. Senate election in the state in 2002. Republican John Sununu won that race over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, helping Republicans retake control of the Senate.

The facts, on the surface at least, are suspicious: dozens of phone calls to the White House by a man later convicted in the case; the national Republican Party agreeing to pay more than $2.5 million in legal bills; phones jammed on Election Day, not only of Democrats but of a firefighters' group, in the first U.S. congressional elections since the Sept. 11 attacks. Democrats say that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff may even be involved.

“The calls to the White House and the relationship with White House staff are a real eye-opener and should be a cause for concern on all fronts,” said Sheila Krumholz, acting executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington- based research group. “It calls into question who the person was on the end of that telephone line.”
Curiouser and curiouser. You can read the entire story here.

I know what you're thinking: just because there were phone calls doesn't mean anyone in the White House was part of the conspiracy. We demand proof!

Well, that's exactly what Democrats are doing. Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts wrote U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on April 20 seeking information on any links Abramoff or the White House may have had to the phone-jamming scheme.

One question that will come up again and again is whether or not the Democrats also engaged in Watergate-like dirty tricks. The answer is NO! When you hear the accusation, demand proof …

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Lesson from Watergate: It’s not the crime. It’s the coverup.

Here’s how Think Progress described it:
Tonight on 60 Minutes, Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.
Josh Micah Marshall over on Talking Points Memo reports that he called Mr. Drumheller early Sunday evening to find out why, if that was so, did none of it show up in any of the investigations that Republicans and Bush apologists point to as vindicating the White House, albeit by blaming the intelligence community.

Here’s Marshall’s take on 60 minutes, and his own personal interview of Drumheller:
Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence.

So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country on what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs?

Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels.

Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story?

Did the Robb-Silverman Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee?

I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silverman Commission. Three times apparently.

Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely.
It is pretty late in the day to be arguing about whether or not Bush and his cult of criminals lied to America and the United Nations about Iraq’s nonexistent WMD program. To deny that they lied is to reveal yourself as a kool-aid drunk muffin-head. But now, Josh Micah Marshall points out, it can no longer be denied that the so-called investigations by the Rob Silverman Commission and the Roberts Committee were anything other than a papering over of the truth.

Let me be clear: the President lied us into war, and the commissions and committees that investigated the matter are guilty as accessories after the fact, and misprision of a felony.

There’s a theme emerging in the blogosphere that the mainstream media are turning on King George. I don’t know if Rolling Stone Magazine is the mainstream media, but about 12,077,000 households had the tube turned to 60 Minutes tonight. And 1,392,672 copies of the Los Angeles Times hit the streets with an editorial saying that Bush should fire Cheney!

The only way these lying bastards can hold on to power is if they continue to deny the Democrats subpoena power by holding on to both houses of Congress in the fall. That’s why Karl Rove was told to focus on that and nothing else.

… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Terrorists in the White House. Really. No, REALLY!

It has often been remarked that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The problem is that we need a precise definition of terrorist. Let’s start with the official State Department definition: a terrorist is someone who uses violence or the threat of violence against civilians for political aims.

That’s okay as far as it goes, but it doesn’t help to distinguish the terrorist from the freedom fighter. For instance, when the United States Air Force engages in a program of bombing in Baghdad to provoke “shock and awe,” only the most partisan person could call that terrorism. Therefore, I propose that we add to the State Department definition the following words: “to subvert democratic processes.”

Are we in agreement so far? Our definition of a terrorist – a person who uses violence or the threat of violence against civilians to subvert democratic processes for political aims – is narrower than the State Department definition, but no one can confuse a terrorist under our definition with a freedom fighter.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today because of this rather disturbing fact. The President’s new Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy is a terrorist.

People have been rejoicing that Karl Rove got a slap on the wrist, and was relieved of his duties as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy as if it were a good thing that he is going to be freed up to run a filthy, vile campaign to control congress for two more years. But not much attention has been paid to the fact that his replacement was part of a group of thugs hired to disrupt an election.

Here are the details. In 2000 the election was incredibly close, and it all came down to who won the State of Florida. On Nov. 22, 2000, Republican thugs stopped a vote recount in Miami -- and showed how far George W. Bush’s supporters were ready to go to put their man in the White House. They were prepared to commit acts of violence to prevent the counting of votes. There’s a name for that. It’s called terrorism.

It may seem over the top to call Republicans activists "thugs," but that’s the name I give anyone who would menace civilians to prevent them from counting votes. The fact that they were well dressed changes nothing, notwithstanding the fact that one of them was so concerned about his image that he coined the phrase, “Brooks Brothers riot.”

But who were the well-dressed thugs? No legal charges were filed against the Republicans, but documents released in the summer of 2002 show that Bush’s recount committee paid at least a half dozen of the publicly identified rioters.

The payments to the Republican activists are documented in hundreds of pages of Bush committee records – released grudgingly to the Internal Revenue Service on July 15, 2002, 19 months after the 36-day recount battle ended. Overall, the records provide a road map of how the Bush recount team brought its operatives across state lines to stop then-Vice President Al Gore’s recount efforts.

The documents show that the Bush organization put on the payroll about 250 staffers, spent about $1.2 million to fly operatives to Florida and elsewhere, and paid for hotel bills adding up to about $1 million. To add flexibility to the travel arrangements, a fleet of corporate jets was assembled, including planes owned by Enron Corp., then run by Bush backer Kenneth Lay, and Halliburton Co., where Dick Cheney had served as chairman and chief executive officer.

Only a handful of the Brooks Brothers rioters were publicly identified, some through photographs published in the Washington Post. Jake Tapper’s book on the recount battle, Down and Dirty, provides a list of 12 Republican operatives who took part in the Miami riot. Half of those individuals received payments from the Bush recount committee, according to the IRS records.

The Miami protesters who were paid by Bush recount committee were: Matt Schlapp, a Bush staffer who was based in Austin and received $4,276.09; Thomas Pyle, a staff aide to House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, $456; Michael Murphy, a DeLay fund-raiser, $935.12; Garry Malphrus, House majority chief counsel to the House Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice, $330; Charles Royal, a legislative aide to Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. $391.80; and Kevin Smith, a former GOP House staffer, $373.23. In the summer of 2002, the Miami Herald reported that three of the Miami protesters were then members of Bush’s White House staff.

They include Schlapp, a special assistant to the president; Malphrus, a deputy director of the president’s Domestic Policy Council; and Joel Kaplan, another special assistant to the president. [See Miami Herald, July 14, 2002]

The Brooks Brothers Riot – carried live on CNN and other networks – marked a turning point in the recount battle. At the time, Bush clung to a lead that had dwindled to several hundred votes and Gore was pressing for recounts. The riot in Miami and the prospects of spreading violence were among the arguments later cited by defenders of the 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Dec. 12, 2000, that stopped a statewide Florida recount and handed Bush the presidency.

The afore-mentioned Joel Kaplan was the man who coined the phrase “Brooks Brothers Riot” to describe the actions of him and his fellow thugs when they threatened precinct workers with violence to prevent the counting of votes.

Yesterday, he was appointed to replace Karl Rove as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. Yes, there are terrorists in the White House, in service of King George W. What does that make W? Start with worst president ever, and go down from there.

To read a truly informative account of how Republicans tried to thwart majority rule in Florida, including the personal participation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, look here. Here’s the bottom line: it worked.

After the Supreme Court prevented the counting of votes, an unofficial recount by news organizations found that if all legally cast ballots in Florida had been counted – regardless of which kinds of chads were accepted, whether punched-through, hanging or dimpled – Gore would have won Florida and thus the presidency. Gore also won the national popular vote, defeating Bush by more than a half million votes, making Bush the first popular-vote loser in more than a century to be installed in the White House. [See, "So Bush Did Steal the White House"]

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

From America's number one source of News: The Daily Show

Jon Stewart summed it up nicely. He said that if you walked into a Cabinet meeting at the White House and flung your feces against the wall, George Bush would probably name a state after you. How else can you explain today’s news?

First, a review. The Bush administration has been sensitive to calls to infuse some new blood into the White House. In response, Dubya appointed the Josh Bolton to Andrew Card’s former position, viz. Chief of Staff. Mr. Bolton had been the budget director. Who says there are no new faces in the Administration?

In a related item, they have added a digit to the clock that measures the National Debt. (Your share: $28,056.47 as of this morning.) How did that budget director thing work out for you, Josh? Not quite as good as throwing shit against the walls, but not much worse, either.

Maybe Mr. Bolton will have more success in his new position as he interfaces with new faces. For example, today we learned that the job of deputy chief of staff for policy is being given to Joel Kaplan, the artist formerly known as Josh Bolton’s deputy budget director.

You may ask, “who vacated the office of deputy chief of staff for policy to create the vacancy for Mr. Kaplan?” Good question. That would be Karl Rove. “What?” you say, “Is Karl Rove leaving the White House?” Hell, no. Here’s the part that is hardest to say with a straight face: Rove is going to start concentrating on political matters.

I wonder how hard it will be for Rove to adapt to his new job, what with its focus on politics. Don’t forget that Rove had a background that gave him a unique qualifications in the arcane world of policy development: He was the king of direct mail advertising.

The shake-up doesn’t stop there. Scott McClellan has also jumped ship. Shall I tell you why? Sorry. The question arises in the context of an on-going criminal investigation, and I am not going to comment on it.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, April 14, 2006

Big Mitch dares to call it treason.

On November 25, 2005, I wrote an article that friends criticized for intemperance of language. You can see it here and judge for yourself. In the article, I quoted from Dick Cheney's September 14, 2003 appearance on Meet the Press:
I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report -- that I ever saw -- when he came back.
As I said at the time, “Oh Dick, your pants are on fire. Of course you didn’t see his report – it was oral! And you know that this is standard operating procedure for the CIA, too. Go back to your undisclosed location, and think about the fact that America is on to you, you lying bastard.” [Note: that was not the intemperate part.]

Why am I revisiting my indiscretions now? Well, just today, Murray Waas wrote in the National Journal:
Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.

The March 2002 intelligence report was a debriefing of Wilson by the CIA's Directorate of Operations after Wilson returned from a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to investigate claims, later proved to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation, according to government records.
A few hours after Cheney instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby called then-New York Timesreporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper and blew the cover of a CIA agent, thereby endangering the lives of anyone with whom she was known to work.

Incidentally, she was working on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but that’s a different story.

I highly recommend that you read Murray Waas’ article which can be found here, but the main point is simply this: “There is a growing body of information showing that at the time Plame was outed the vice president was deeply involved in the effort to undermine her husband.”

I probably should not have called the Vice President of the United States a lying sack of shit, and I thank my friends for reining in my anger. I should have just called him a traitor.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saddam used WMD's against his own people! Saddam tortured Iraqis!

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.(From Read the entire article here.)

Hey! Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Update to “Do Republicans Want Fair Elections? You be the Judge.”

Today the AP reported as follows:
Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.
Preposterous, sure. Untrue? Probably not.

You can read the entire AP article here .

By the way, as I indicated here Tobin’s supervisor in the Republican Nation Committee was a fellow named Terry Nelson. We can assume that he knew something about the anti-democratic plot because he was on the Government’s witness list, as you can see here. Terry Nelson is now a Senior Advisor on the John McCain campaign, and an unindicted co-conspirator of Tom DeLay's.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where is this all going?

John Kerry, on Meet the Press, asserted that President Bush had the authority to declassify material and that, therefore, W. did not break the law when he authorized Scooter Libby to show parts of the National Intelligence Estimate to Judith Miller. He said that what the President did was “wrong” and a “disgrace,” but not illegal.

A logical question that may be asked is whether or not, President Bush complied with Sec. 4.1(e) of Executive Order No. 13292, which may be found at Fed. Reg. Vol 68, No. 60, Page 15325 (March 28, 2003).

In case you don’t remember what it says, or don’t have easy access to the Federal Register, here it is:
Persons authorized to disseminate classified information outside the executive branch shall ensure the protection of the information in a manner equivalent to that provided within the executive branch.
Well, obviously, that doesn’t apply to documents that were declassified. So before you close your Federal Register, take a gander at Sec. 1.5(h) of Executive Order No.13292:
Prior to public release, all declassified records shall be appropriately marked to reflect their declassification.
Ibid. at Fed. Reg. Vol 68, No. 60, Page 15317 (March 28, 2003).

Did this occur? I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is plenty despicable the President of the United States was a party to leaking selected parts of the NIE, which parts were selected to be misleading. I think it is unconscionable that the administration did so as part of “a ‘concerted action’ by ‘multiple people in the White House’ -- using classified information -- to ‘discredit, punish or seek revenge against’ a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq,” according to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, as reported in the Washington Post. I think there is not any doubt about that.

It’s just that I am also concerned about the fact that everyone in the media, and even those who would be presumed to be King George’s harshest critics are not examining the assertion that the President “declassified” the NIE before George Tenet did. I want to know why nobody is asking these questions.

Elsewhere I have revealed that I am, as it were, a child of the ‘60’s. What that means is that not only Viet Nam and Kent State, but also Watergate were landmark events in the awakening of my own political consciousness. The zeitgeist of the Watergate epoch was that the Fourth Estate would serve as a bulwark against fascism. We know that Bob Woodward won’t do that duty again. He’s too busy genuflecting to whoever will give him access to insiders.

But is there anyone else who can or will?

Earlier today, I listened to Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again, on C-Span. He argued pursuasively that the 2004 election was stolen. He also made the point that this was not corruption as usual, but rather a concerted effort to destroy democracy. I suppose that is why I thought it was somewhat ironic that Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press began with this banter:
MR. RUSSERT: But first, the man who received 48.3 percent of the popular vote in 2004 in his race against George W. Bush. John Kerry is back on MEET THE PRESS.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, I’m glad to be here. I thought it was 49.2, but that’s OK. Who’s counting?

MR. RUSSERT: Forty-eight-point-three, but who’s counting?
Who's counting, indeed?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

P.S. Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller for alerting me to the subject of the next post.

Are you scared yet?

No? Then read this.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, April 07, 2006

If Dubya does it, it is illegal.

From Chris Matthews to Al Franken, pundits and commentators have naively accepted the proposition that if the President of the United States authorizes the leaking of classified information, then that information is ipso facto no longer classified. That proposition gained some face validity when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed it.

Big Mitch says, "Fiddle-faddle!"

How do I come to that conclusion? Ask yourself this question: if after Scooter Libby had leaked selective parts of the National Security Estimate to the Royal Stenographer, Judith Miller, could anyone else have obtained the document with a Freedom of Information Request?

Did anyone at the CIA know that the document had been de-classified? The Presidential Order controlling such things requires notice to the classifying entity. Was it supplied? Later, when George Tenet de-classified the same document, why did nobody say, “Isn’t this a bit redundant?”

As a matter of fact, I am not the only one wondering about that last one. After I wrote those words, I checked how Scott McClellan was doing as the White House Press Secretary, otherwise known as the Prevaricateur Royale. Here's the first question, and part of his answer:
Question: Back when the NIE was released on July 18, 2003, you were asked that day when that had been actually declassified. And you said in that gaggle that it had been declassified that day. And if that's the case, then when the information was passed on to the reporter 10 days earlier, then it was still classified at that time.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you're referring -- a couple of things. First of all, it was publicly released that day, so that's when a portion of the National Intelligence Estimate that we were making available to the public was released.
At the 2004 Republican National Convention, which nominated George W. Bush, Arnold Schwartzenegger said that it was his admiration for Richard Nixon that made him choose to be a Republican. Now would be a good time to review the disgraced President’s view of presidential power, as expressed in his famous interview with David Frost, May 19, 1977:
FROST: So what in a sense, you’re saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

FROST: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law.
Is there some reason that impeachment was considered for Nixon but not for Bush? I am just asking.

Why is it so hard to accept the obvious? George Bush is a criminal and a threat to national security. He must go.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

That was then; this is now.

That was then:
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.
(September 30, 2003, at a meeting with business leaders in Chicago.)

This is now:
As to the meeting on July 8, defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was “pretty definitive” against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the Vice President thought that it was “very important” for the key judgments of the NIE to come out. Defendant further testified that he first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE.
(From pleadings filed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, in United States of America vs. I. Lewis Libby, April 5, 2006.)

Here's how David Swanson explained it:
Bush authorized the leaking of selected portions of classified documents, selected in such a way as to constitute a lie. He painted a picture of a nuclear threat that he knew did not exist, and used it to scare people into supporting an illegal war, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Of course, the leaking itself was illegal. Of course, Bush's past promises to fire leakers were lies, and his eagerness to investigate other leaks that he didn't authorize is hypocrisy. Of course, it is quite likely he also authorized the leak of Plame's undercover identity. Of course, this was retribution against a whistleblower. Of course, he may have lied to Fitzgerald and be guilty of obstruction of justice.

But all of that rather misses the point that Bush and his gang of thugs were spoon-feeding immensely destructive lies to the New York Times and other media outlets, which were passing them on to us unquestioningly, obediently. Had Bush legally declassified the NIE, reporters and editors would have seen the whole thing, not the misleading bits that Bush illegally leaked.
Read his entire article on After Downing Street.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Organized Crime a.k.a. the G.O.P.

Tom DeLay has a guy on his staff turn state’s evidence and so now he has to resign from Congress and withdraw from his Texas campaign for re-election where he just narrowly won a primary victory. Bummer.

How do Republicans in Congress deal with it? They gave him a standing ovation. DeLay says he fasted to help him make the spiritual decision to drop out. I figure it is all just spin. He contemplated life in prison with a cell-mate that has a predilection for pudginess, and, well, he lost his appetite. His spiritual advisor compared him to Christ.

Why did he resign? Well, he says it is because he wanted his constituents to be sure to have a Republican representative in the House. Then why did he run in the primary? Apparently, he didn’t want the constituents to actually choose their Republican representative for themselves. Of course, the money raised during his campaign will be put to good use. It’s all going to his legal fees.

Here’s how Knight-Ridder framed the issue:
The former House majority leader announced his resignation three days after court documents revealed that federal investigators have uncovered evidence of corruption in his leadership office. Tony Rudy, former deputy chief of staff to the powerful Republican congressman from Texas, admitted in a plea agreement that he sold his influence to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff while he was working for DeLay.

Rudy became the second former DeLay aide who's agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in return for a more lenient sentence.
During a interview in Time, DeLay let it be known that there’s a third pigeon in his coup. All eyes are on Ed Buckham.

Anyway, in order to get off the ballot, he had to announce that he no longer plans to live in Texas. That’s funny because he is under indictment and out on bail in Texas. Generally speaking, one of the factors that determine whether or not a defendant is released on bail is his or her “ties to the community.”

Over in Homeland Security, they found another pervert trying to solicit a child on the Internet. This time it was a spokesman for DHS, Brian Doyle. He was actually caught by Operation Predator, the agency’s program to bust child sex predators.

Not the first time we found a pervert in Homeland Security. We can’t forget that Frank Figuero was caught exposing himself to a girl, and masturbating for 10 minutes in the food court at a shopping mall. Funny thing is, Figuero was the guy who ran Operation Predator.

At least the Department of Homeland Security is preparing for management of the next emergency. Only problem is that they can’t get anyone to take the job vacated by Mike “heck-of-a-job” Brown.

And they still bother to ask people if the country is heading in the right direction. According to the NBC/Wall Street Journel Poll, 26% said “yep.” Go figure!

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”