31 July 2005

CAFTA's deciding votes were coerced

From the New York Times:
It was just before midnight on Wednesday when Representative Robin Hayes capitulated.

Mr. Hayes, a Republican whose district in North Carolina has lost thousands of textile jobs in the last four years, had defied President Bush and House Republican leaders by voting against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or Cafta.

But the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, told him they needed his vote anyway. If he switched from "nay" to "aye," Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months.

As it turned out, the switch by Mr. Hayes was decisive. Within a few minutes, the House approved the trade pact by the paper-thin margin of two votes, 217 to 215. The pact would eliminate most trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The cliffhanger House vote was one of the most wrenching in Congress this year, and it highlighted the messy compromises that were necessary to overcome deep antagonism in many quarters toward trade-opening agreements.

The restrictions Mr. Hastert promised could come soon. Within the next 10 days, the Bush administration is expected to rule on whether to impose import quotas on Chinese sweaters, wool trousers, bras and other goods.

Mr. Hastert "said to me, 'If you vote with me, we'll do everything we need to do in your district to help with jobs,' " Mr. Hayes recalled.

Democrats charged Republicans with buying votes and forcing members to vote against their consciences.


One of the strangest votes was by Representative Charles H. Taylor, Republican of North Carolina, who had vowed to vote against the pact because of his concerns for textile workers.

But as the minutes ticked by, Mr. Taylor was one of only two members recorded as not voting. By not voting, he gave Republicans a two-vote victory rather than a one-vote margin.

But on Thursday, Mr. Taylor insisted that there had been an error in the electronic voting system and that he had indeed voted against the measure.

"I voted NO," Mr. Taylor announced in a terse statement on Thursday, saying the House clerk's written log showed his vote and that he would seek to have the vote registered as a "no."
[Read more.]

30 July 2005

It's like appointing Arafat as ambassador to Israel

Many people are speculating that George Bush will appoint the controversial hothead John Bolton as UN Ambassador soon, while the Senate is in recess, thus bypassing the need for Senate approval. [Read more.]

In the meantime, the press is reporting that Bolton had lied to Congress during the confirmation process. [Read more.]

Since Bush has a proven track record of rewarding liars, I suspect that we may be seeing that recess appointment in the near future. And appointing a beligerant, hotheaded bully to a "diplomatic" role is par for the course in Bush's upside-down world.

29 July 2005

Magic bus

Two people from the Philadelphia area are making a cross-country trip in a bus that runs on vegetable oil.

Despite the whimsical novelty of the stunt, I hope that the underlying message gets through to people -- that there are alternatives to fossil fuels, and that we need to get to work now to bring those alternatives into the mainstream.

I don't think Bush would have been so eager to attack Iraq for vegetable oil.

To read more about the Veg-e-Bus, click here.

Dick Cheney lobbies for torture

Vice President Dick Cheney (emphasis on "Vice") has been working hard on Capitol Hill to keep Republicans from siding with Democrats on a bill that would prevent Donald Rumsfeld and the military from carrying out more torture and abuse of detainees.

The White House is saying that they need to torture people in order to protect us from terrorism. How ironic!

From the Washington Post:
The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.

Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case that legislation on these matters would usurp the president's authority and -- in the words of a White House official -- interfere with his ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack."
[Read more.]

I hope that our lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will stand up for what is right. Torture is never right.

For some good commentary on the subject from The Progressive, click here.

What was Condi's role in Plamegate?

From CounterPunch via SmirkingChimp.com:
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

It was September 2002, and then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fastening on CNN perhaps the most memorable and frightening single link in the Bush regime's chain of lies propagandizing the war on Iraq. Behind her carefully planted one-liner with its grim imagery was the whole larger hoax about Saddam Hussein possessing or about to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a deception as blatant and inflammatory as claims of the Iraqi dictator's ties to Al Qaeda.

Rice's demagogic scare tactic was also very much part of the tangled history of alleged Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, the fabrication leading to ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous exposé of the fraud, the administration's immediate retaliatory "outing" of Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and now the revelation that the President's supreme political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby were involved in that potentially criminal leak-altogether the most serious political crisis Bush has faced. In fact, though her pivotal role has been missed entirely or deliberately ignored -- in both the media feeding frenzy and the rising political clamor, Condoleezza Rice was also deeply embroiled in the Niger uranium-Plame scandal, arguably as much as or more so than either Rove or Libby.

For those who know the invariably central role of the NSC Advisor in sensitive political subjects in foreign policy and in White House leaks to the media as well as tending of policy, especially in George W. Bush's rigidly disciplined, relentlessly political regime, Rice by both commission and omission was integral in perpetrating the original fraud of Niger, and then inevitably in the vengeful betrayal of Plame's identity. None of that spilling of secrets for crass political retribution could have gone on without her knowledge and approval, and thus complicity. Little of it could have happened without her participation, if not as a leaker herself, at least with her direction and with her scripting.

* * *

The evidence of Rice's complicity is increasingly damning as it gathers over a six-year twisting chronology of the Nigerien uranium-Wilson-Plame affair, particularly when set beside what we also know very well about the inside operations of the NSC and Rice's unique closeness to Bush, her tight grip on her staff, and the power and reach that went with it all. What follows isn't simple. These machinations in government never are, especially in foreign policy. But follow the bouncing ball of Rice's deceptions, folly, fraud and culpability. Slowly, relentlessly, despite the evidence, the hoax of the Iraq-Niger uranium emerges as a central thread in the fabricated justification for war, and thus in the President's, Rice's, and the regime's inseparable credibility. The discrediting of Wilson, in which the outing his CIA wife is irresistible, becomes as imperative for Rice as for Rove and Libby, Bush and Cheney. And when that moment comes, she has the unique authority, and is in a position, to do the deed. Motive, means, opportunity-in the classic terms of prosecution, Rice had them all.
[Read more.]

28 July 2005

A nun takes Santorum to task

In a letter to the editor last week in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a Catholic nun did a great job of confronting Sentator Rick Santorum on his dishonesty in cheating the Penn Hills School District out of the taxes that he should have paid for his children's education.

To read the letter, click here and then scroll down to the 3rd letter on the page (titled "Not moral messages").

A Pakistani speaks out on the true causes of terrorism

From the British newspaper The Independent:
The terrorist attacks have nothing to do with religious faith and everything to do with genuine injustices. Until the US addresses the root causes and its own double standards, the bombings will increase
[Read more.]

27 July 2005

NYT columnist wants to undermine the First Amendment

From Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a majority of Americans, according to recent polls.

Friedman's July 22 column proposed that the State Department, in order to "shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears," create a quarterly "War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others." But Friedman said the governmental speech monitoring should go beyond those who actually advocate violence, and also include what former State Department spokesperson Jamie Rubin calls "excuse makers." Friedman wrote:

"After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow 'understandable' is outrageous. 'It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism,' Mr. Rubin said, 'and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them.'"

The "despicable" idea that there may be a connection between acts of terrorism and particular policies by Western countries is one that is widely held by the citizens of those countries. Asked by the CNN/Gallup poll on July 7, "Do you think the terrorists attacked London today mostly because Great Britain supports the United States in the war in Iraq?" 56 percent of Americans agreed. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (7/7-10/05), 54 percent said "the war with Iraq has made the U.S....less safe from terrorism." Since they see a connection between Iraq and terrorism, a majority of Americans are what Friedman calls "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed."

Friedman's column urged the government to create quarterly lists of "hatemongers" and "excuse makers"--as well as "truth tellers," Muslims who agree with Friedman's critique of Islam. Friedman's proposed list of "excuse makers" would have to include his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert, who wrote in his July 25 column, "There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism."
[Read more.]

Warning: Don't have sex with a priest

OK, so the title advice goes without saying for anyone under the age of 18.

But now women might want to think twice before doing the deed with a priest or seminarian.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Single and unemployed, Stephanie Collopy asked a Portland judge this month to order her son's father to increase her child support and to add their chronically ill boy to his health insurance plan.

Sitting on the witness stand in a white button-down shirt, gray slacks and blue blazer with a small gold cross on the lapel, Arturo Uribe - the 12-year-old boy's father - had an unusual defense: He is a Roman Catholic priest.

Uribe, who was a seminarian when he fathered the boy during a consensual affair with Collopy, had taken a vow of poverty and therefore had no money to support his son, he told the court. Now pastor of the 4,000-family St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Whittier, Uribe had never seen the boy, who was born in 1993.

And as for health insurance, Uribe said his plan - tailored for priests, nuns and brothers - didn't provide for children.

Uribe's legal argument worked.
[Read more.]

"Pentagon Blocks Release of Abu Ghraib Images: Here's Why"

From Editor & Publisher:
So what is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon, in an eleventh hour move, blocked from release this weekend? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.” They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of “rape and murder.” No wonder Rumsfeld commented then, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Yesterday, news emerged that lawyers for the Pentagon had refused to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release dozens of unseen photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by Saturday. The photos were among thousands turned over by the key “whistleblower” in the scandal, Specialist Joseph M. Darby. Just a few that were released to the press sparked the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal last year, and the video images are said to be even more shocking.

The Pentagon lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material. They had been ordered to do so by a federal judge in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU accused the government Friday of putting another legal roadblock in the way of its bid to allow the public to see the images of the prisoner abuse scandal.

One Pentagon lawyer has argued that they should not be released because they would only add to the humiliation of the prisoners. But the ACLU has said the faces of the victims can easily be "redacted."
[Read more.]

Jon Stewart vs. Rick Santorum

On Monday night, untra-conservative Senator Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" to promote his new book.

Stewart handled him pretty well.

If you didn't catch it on Monday night, you can watch it online here.

26 July 2005

Wine drinkers: Don't buy Gallo

The Gallo wine family has been found guilty of exploiting and mistreating their workers, and they still keep doing it.

From PurpleOcean.org:
Lately, Gallo Wines is worried about too much publicity. And more specifically, they're worried about the Internet. Why? Because they're doing something wrong.

The Gallos are one of America's wealthiest winemaking families, but their seasonal contract workers often endure miserable living conditions without health benefits. The Gallos are right about one thing--they should be very, very worried about the power of the Internet. By adding your name to the Gallo boycott, you'll send a message to Gallo confirming their worst fears--that exploiting workers can have a very high cost.


Already, tens of thousands of people from across the country have pledged their support in this boycott, started by the United Farm Workers. It's simple: by standing together, we can convince the Gallos to do the responsible thing. Actions have consequences--and with your help, the Gallos are about to find out that they can't get away with mistreating their workers.


The famous winemakers have already been found guilty in 2004 by the State of California of illegally trying to get rid of their workers' union, the Cesar Chavez-founded United Farm Workers. Add your name to the boycott and join Americans across the country in sending a strong message for economic justice.


Your support means so much to the workers in California. Thank you.

25 July 2005

Another conflict of interest in Mr. Roberts' Neighborhood? -- and selective amnesia

From the Washington Post:
Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory
By Charles Lane
The Washington Post

Monday 25 July 2005

Court nominee said he has no memory of membership.

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society would provide some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret, but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members.

Roberts has burnished his legal image carefully. When news organizations have reported his membership in the society, he or others speaking on his behalf have sought corrections. Last week, the White House told news organizations that had reported his membership in the group that he had no memory of belonging. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Associated Press printed corrections.

Over the weekend, The Post obtained a copy of the Federalist Society Lawyers' Division Leadership Directory, 1997-1998. It lists Roberts, then a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number.

Yesterday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Roberts "has no recollection of being a member of the Federalist Society, or its steering committee." Roberts has acknowledged taking part in some Federalist Society activities, Perino said.

The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by conservatives who disagreed with what they saw as a leftist tilt in the nation's law schools. The group sponsors legal symposia and similar activities and serves as a network for rising conservative lawyers.

In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability. Roberts's membership was routinely reported by news organizations in the context of his work in two GOP administrations and legal assistance to the party during the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida.

But the society's alignment with conservative GOP politics and public policy makes Roberts's relationship with the organization a potentially sensitive point for his confirmation process because many Democrats regard the organization with suspicion.
[Read more.]

Gonzales admits to warning the White House about Plamegate investigation

Gonzales has admitted to warning Andrew Card that the Plamegate investigation was about to hit home. He gave Card a 12-hour window before formally informing the rest of the White House staff, as required by law, to preserve and secure all evidence related to the case.

12 hours is plenty of time to destroy any incriminating evidence.

From the Washington Post:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday that he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. immediately after learning that the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. But Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, waited 12 hours before officially notifying the rest of the staff of the inquiry.

Many details of the investigation led by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald are unknown. Sources close to the case have said Fitzgerald is looking into possible conflicts between what President Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove and vice presidential staff chief I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a grand jury, and the accounts of reporters who spoke with the two men.

Gonzales said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" that he is among the group of top current and former Bush administration officials who have testified to the grand jury about the unmasking of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. Gonzales, who has recused himself from the case, would not discuss details of his testimony but said he learned about Plame's work from newspaper accounts.

In the New York Times yesterday, columnist Frank Rich reported that when Gonzales was notified about the investigation on the evening of Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, he waited 12 hours before telling the White House staff about the inquiry. Official notification to staff is meant to quickly alert anyone who may have pertinent records to make sure they are preserved and safeguarded.

Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about the report, Gonzales said the Justice Department had informed his office around 8 p.m. and that White House lawyers said he could wait until the next morning before notifying the staff. He did not say why he called Card.

"I specifically had our lawyers go back to the Department of Justice lawyers and ask them, 'Do you want us to notify the staff now, immediately, or would it be okay to notify the staff early in the morning?' And we were advised, go ahead and notify the staff early in the morning, that would be okay." He said most of the staff had left by the time the Justice Department called and that "no one knew about the investigation."

But he acknowledged telling one person: "the chief of staff. And immediately the next morning, I told the president. And shortly thereafter, there was notification sent out to all the members of the White House staff," Gonzales said.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), appearing on the same program, questioned why Gonzales would not have notified the staff immediately by e-mail and suggested that Fitzgerald now pursue whether Card may have given anyone in the White House advance notice to prepare for a criminal investigation.
[Read more.]

So we have an Attorney General, chief enforcer of the law of the land, who may have participated in a criminal cover-up.

It's reminiscent of Watergate. And it's so Bushian.

A Republican blogger explains why the Bolton nomination is toast

From Ragged Thots:
John Bolton will never be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Whether he should be or not is no longer the question. Whether the "temperament" charges against him were fair or if he was just a victim of Chris Dodd's pro-Cuba fetish doesn't matter.

It is now politically impossible.
[Read more.]

The connection between Rovegate and the Downing Street Memo

As noted in a previous post, this past Saturday there were house parties, workshops, and other events across the country to discuss the Downing Street Memo.

At one of these events, constitutional attorney John Bonifaz talked about the history of our constitutional system of checks and balances and why it exists, and then discussed how Congress has been lax in doing their part through the decades. Interesting and insightful stuff.

Finally, while I think that the link between Rovegate and the Doaning Street Memo is obvious (lies for war), Bonifaz summarized it nicely.

To read a report on Bonifaz's speech, click here.

24 July 2005

Global warming witch hunt

From the Washington Post:
[House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who] rejects the existence of climate change, demanded personal and private information last month from researchers whose work supports a contrary conclusion. The scientists, co-authors of an influential 1999 study showing a dramatic increase in global warming over the past millennium, were told to hand over not only raw data but personal financial information, information on grants received and distributed, and computer codes.

In other words, toe the party line or have your life turned upside down.

[Read more.]

"Eight Days in July"

New York Times columnist Frank Rich has an excellent and insightful column in today's paper about Plamegate, the Supreme Court nomination, and a possible explanation for why Bush did not nominate his buddy Alberto Gonzales. [Read it.]

What it takes to be a good Republican

At the Plamegate hearing on Friday, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, a registered Republican, expressed outrage at how the House and Senate Republicans are defending Karl Rove. He said he wished that a GOP lawmaker would have the courage to stand up and "call the ugly dog the ugly dog."

He went on to say, "Where are these men and women with any integrity to speak out against this? I expect better behavior out of Republicans."

Amen. To be a "good Republican" today, you have to defend Karl Rove. You have to defend the outing of a CIA agent in an act of vengeance to discredit her husband who presented facts that were inconvenient to the Bush administration's war agenda. You have to defend the ongoing justification of war with transparent lies -- an unnecessary war that thus far has cost over 1800 American lives. And you have to defend selfishness, greed, and war profiteering.

During Watergate, Republican lawmakers stepped forward to tell Nixon that he had crossed the line. Where are they now?

If something like this had happened during the Clinton administration, imagine the outrage! But, of course, this time around it was just a matter of compromising national security and endangering our brave CIA agents and their contacts, and smearing those who would challenge the lies used to justify a war. After all, it's not as if anyone got a blowjob, so why worry about it?

23 July 2005

"A True Patriot Would Shut Up"

David Corn has posted on his blog the testimony by one of ex-CIA officers who participated in yesterday's Plamegate hearing.

It is reproduced below:
What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people.

Understandable to all Americans is a simple, incontrovertible, but damning truth: the United States government exposed the identity of a clandestine officer working for the CIA. This is not just another partisan "dust-up" between political parties. This unprecedented act will have far-reaching consequences for covert operations around the world. Equally disastrous is that from the time of that first damning act, we have continued on a course of self-inflicted wounds by government officials who have refused to take any responsibility, have played hide-and-seek with the truth and engaged in semantic parlor games for more than two years, all at the expense of the safety of the American people. No government official has that right.

For an understanding of what is at stake it is important to understand some fundamental principles. No country or hostile group, from al Qaeda to any drug rings operating in our cities, likes to be infiltrated or spied upon. The CIA, much like any police department in any city, has undercover officers--spies, that use "cover."

To operate under "cover" means you use some ruse to cloak both your identity and your intentions. The degree of cover needed to carry out any operation varies depending on the target of the investigation. A police officer performing "street buys" uses a "light" cover, meaning he or she could pose as something as simple as a drug user, operate only at night and during the day and, believe it or not, have a desk job in the police station. On the other hand, if an attempt were made to infiltrate a crime syndicate, visiting the local police station or drinking with fellow FBI agents after work may be out of the question. In any scenario, your cover, no matter what the degree, provides personal protection and safety. But it does not end there. Cover is also used to protect collection methodology as well as any innocent persons a CIA officer may have regular contact with, such as overseas acquaintances, friends, and even other U.S. government officials.

While cover provides a degree of safety for the case officer, it also provides security for that officer's informants or agents. In most human intelligence operations, the confidentiality of the cover used by a CIA officer and the personal security of the agent or asset is mutually dependent. A case officer cannot be identified as working for the CIA, just as the informant/agent cannot be identified as working for the CIA through the case officer. If an informant or agent is exposed as working for the CIA, there is a good chance that the CIA officer has been identified as well. Similarly, if the CIA officer is exposed, his or her agents or informants are exposed. In all cases, the cover of a case officer ensures not only his or her own personal safety but that of the agents or assets as well.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's cover by the White House is the same as the local chief of police announcing to the media the identity of its undercover drug officers. In both cases, the ability of the officer to operate is destroyed, but there is also an added dimension. An informant in a major sophisticated crime network, or a CIA asset working in a foreign government, if exposed, has a rather good chance of losing more than just their ability to operate.

Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost.

So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, would be asked to retire.

And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because "promises of protection" will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the "I'm ok, you're ok" politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don't care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.
[Go to Corn's site.]

More required reading: Interesting Plamegate overview

I just found an article that provides a very interesting - and thorough - overview of the Plamegate scandal, along with some interesting theories. It includes links to every name and situation mentioned.

It's long, but it's worth it: Rove-gate: Who Leaked to the Leakers?

More on yesterday's Plamegate hearings

From Reuters:
President Bush's failure to take action against a top aide involved in the outing of a covert CIA operative sends "the wrong message" overseas, former US intelligence officials said on Friday.

At a hearing sponsored by Democrats, the retired agents said US intelligence gathering had been damaged by the leak of Valerie Plame's name two years ago after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House's justification for going to war in Iraq.
[Read more.]

Ex-CIA officers speak out on Plamegate

Yesterday, House and Senate Democrats held a hearing to examine the implications of the outing of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. Panelists included some former CIA officers, who had very harsh words to say about the implications of the outing and the poor way in which the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans are handling the matter. [Read more.]

C-SPAN covered the hearing and showed reruns of the entire event throughout the evening and overnight. If they are still running it, try to catch it.

22 July 2005

The coming police state

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 257-171 to renew the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. [Read more.]

Meanwhile, the Senate is working on its own version.

This is dangerous stuff, folks. When the PATRIOT Act was first introduced in the wake of 9/11, those particular provisions were presented as temporary measures because they so severely threatened our civil liberties.

Let's hope that the Senate comes up with something more reasonable, and that the final legislation turns out to be something that preserves some good old-fashioned American freedom.

Stay tuned for updates and calls to action.

Judge Roberts - Political conflict of interest?

Of course, conflicts of interest have never stopped the neocon agenda before. (Can you say "Halliburton"?)

From the Miami Herald:
U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts provided legal advice to Gov. Jeb Bush in the weeks following the November 2000 election as part of the effort to make sure the governor's brother won the disputed presidential vote.

Roberts, at the time a private attorney in Washington, D.C., came to Tallahassee to advise the state's Republican administration as it was trying to prevent a Democratic end-run that the GOP feared might give the election to Al Gore, sources told The Herald.

The maneuver, which the Democrats never attempted, might have kept the state from sending its list of official "electors" -- the Electoral College members who actually cast the votes that count -- to Congress and the National Archives.

If the names were not forwarded to Washington in a timely fashion, Republicans feared, Gore might be declared the winner because Florida's 25 electoral votes wouldn't be counted -- and the Democrat had garnered more electoral votes than George W. Bush in the rest of the country.

Roberts, himself a noted constitutional lawyer, and an unnamed law professor spent between 30 and 40 minutes talking to Bush in the governor's conference room, sources told The Herald.
[Read more.]

Rove digs himself in deeper

One of Karl Rove's lame defenses in the Plamegate scandal revolves around the possibility that Valerie Plame was not actually a covert agent.

The Washington Post put this question to rest in a front-page article in yesterday's paper.

An excerpt:
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.
[Read more.]

21 July 2005

Condi to Khartoum: Do as I say, not as I do.

Condi Rice has been in Sudan this week urging the Sudanese government to put a stop to the ongoing violence in Darfur that has killed over 180,000 people and displaced 2 million.

I applaud her work on this issue and I hope that it leads to some positive results.

However, I find it ironic. Condi is essentially telling the Sudanese to stop doing to their people what we're doing to the Iraqi people.

Saturday, July 23: Downing Street events everywhere!

Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and various supporters have organized some really good events for this Saturday, July 23.

Throughout the country, there will be house parties, workshops, rallies, and other events taking place to address the Downing Street Memo, Plamegate, and the Bush war agenda in general.

To find an event near you, click here.

20 July 2005

More bad news about Judge Roberts - and a call to action

From MoveOn.org:
In the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats have called on President Bush to nominate a moderate for the Supreme Court—someone who would honor the legacy of independent Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But last night, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts, a far-right lawyer and corporate lobbyist, to fill her post on the Supreme Court.

We've got to stop Roberts. He opposed clean air rules and worked to help coal companies strip-mine mountaintops. He worked with Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr), and tried to keep Congress from defending the Voting Rights Act. He wrote that Roe v. Wade should be "overruled," and as a lawyer argued (and won) the case that stopped some doctors from even discussing abortion.

Join our urgent petition to let our senators know we expect them to oppose John Roberts right now at:


This is one of the most important domestic fights of President Bush's career. We can win—Americans overwhelmingly want a moderate judge. But to win, we need to get the word out early that Roberts is out of the mainstream.

After you've signed, please send this message on to your friends and colleagues. We need to fight back against the misinformation that the Bush administration is putting out.

John Roberts has little experience as a judge—he was only appointed in 2003. But he's got a lot of experience as a corporate lobbyist and lawyer, consistently favoring wealthy corporations over regular Americans.

Here's a list of some of the things that make Roberts the wrong pick for the Supreme Court:

Wrong on environmental protection: Roberts appears to want to limit the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and in papers he wrote while in law school he supported far-right legal theories about "takings" which would make it almost impossible for the government to enforce most environmental legislation.

Wrong on civil rights: Roberts worked to keep Congress from defending parts of the Voting Rights Act.

Wrong on human rights: As a appeals court judge, Roberts ruled that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to some prisoners of war.

Wrong on our right to religious freedom: Roberts argued that schools should be able to impose religious speech on attendees.

Wrong on women's rights: Roberts wrote that "Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled." He also weighed in on behalf of Operation Rescue, a violent anti-abortion group, in a federal case.

President Bush could have chosen many fair-minded and independent jurists to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Instead, he chose a corporate partisan loved by Bush's right-wing base but out of step with the rest of the country.

Tell your senators they need to stop John Roberts now, at:


More on Judge Roberts: A troubling record

Info is now pouring in about Bush's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and his views on various issues. Most of what I'm seeing is rather troubling.

Here is some info from People for the American Way (PFAW):
What we know about John Robert's record as Deputy Solicitor General and as a judge shows a troubling lack of concern for the fundamental civil and constitutional rights of all Americans. Americans deserve a justice who will protect our rights and freedoms. Serious questions must be addressed before Robert's nomination to the nation's highest court can be evaluated properly.

Some alarming aspects of Robert's record they must consider include:

Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that issue. His brief plainly states that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the Supreme Court, which rejected his argument.

Environmental Protections: As a judge, Roberts suggested in a dissent that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied to a California development case.

Veteran Protections: Roberts argued American POWs tortured in Iraq during the Gulf War should not be able to utilize federal courts to pursue their claims.

Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would only have gotten a paper citation in that situation.
PFAW has issued an eye-opening preliminary report about Roberts' judicial record. To view the report in PDF format, click here.

The Supreme Court and our future

Well, George Dubya surprised a lot of folks last evening with his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. He nominated not a woman, not an Hispanic, but a 50-year-old white guy.

Since 2003, Judge John G. Roberts has been serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (which I have often heard described as a harshly conservative court).

[Read MSNBC article about the nomination.]

Some Senate Democrats are vowing that they will not give Roberts a free ride through the confirmation hearings, but it appears that he will almost surely be confirmed.

So what does this mean for you and me?

Sanda Day O'Connor was the swing vote in a lot of 5-4 rulings during her years on the bench, often leaning to the left. That configuration is very likely to change now. But I don't want to pre-judge the judge, so I'll just say that it will be interesting to see what happens. And it will be interesting to discover how his personal convictions might or might not influence his work.

Of course, the hot issue is Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights. Interestingly, Roberts has expressed conflicting points of view on this. (In other words, he appears to have "flip-flopped" on the issue.) NARAL Pro-Choice America refers to Roberts as an "anti-choice activist" on the organizations's Web site. With the Bush administration's ongoing push for "abstinence-only" sex education, we cannot afford another step backwards into the dark ages of sexual ignorance and repression of women.

It will also be interesting to see where Judge Roberts stands on the environment, labor rights, and prisoner rights.

And will his devout Catholicism influence his decisions in Church-State matters and other issues?

Stay tuned, folks. And let's hope that we can get through the next four years without losing our country as we know it.

19 July 2005

Bush to announce Supreme Court nominee tonight

Breaking news: Tonight at 9:00 pm, George W. Bush will announce his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to MSNBC, there is intense speculation "that it would be Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans." Judge Clement, a conservative, has expressed her view that the Supreme Court "has clearly held that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right to have an abortion" and that "the law is settled in that regard."

But some pro-choice groups are still concerned about her level of commitment to protecting that freedom.

[Read more.]

Has Rove violated his nondisclosure agreement?

More goodies from Rep. Henry Waxman!

I just stumbled upon a PDF file that he published that explicitly outlines how Karl Rove may have violated the terms of his nondisclosure agreement when he disclosed Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.

An excerpt:
Independent of the relevance these new disclosures have to Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation, they also have significant implications for: (1) whether Mr. Rove violated his obligations under his "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement" and (2) whether the White House violated its obligations under Executive Order 12958. Under the nondisclosure agreement and the executive order, Mr. Rove would be subject to the loss of his security clearance or dismissal even for "negligently" disclosing Ms. Wilson's identity.

Executive Order 12958 governs how federal employees are awarded security clearances in order to obtain access to classified information. It was last updated by President George W. Bush on March 25, 2003, although it has existed in some form since the Truman era. The executive order applies to any entity within the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information, including the White House. It requires employees to undergo a criminal background check, obtain training on how to protect classified information, and sign a "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement," also known as a SF-312, promising not to reveal classified information. The nondisclosure agreement signed by White House officials such as Mr. Rove states: "I will never divulge classified information to anyone" who is not authorized to receive it.

Mr. Rove, through his attorney, has raised the implication that there is a distinction between releasing classified information to someone not authorized to receive it and confirming classified information from someone not authorized to have it. In fact, there is no such distinction under the nondisclosure agreement Mr. Rove signed.
[Read more.]

Bush may be in violation of Executive Order 12958

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has written a letter to George Bush in which he points out that Bush's conveniently modified criteria for dealing with staff involved in the Plame case "is not consistent with your obligations to enforce Executive Order 12958, which governs the protection of national security secrets."

Under the executive order, according to Waxman, "you may not wait until criminal intent and liability are proved by a prosecutor."

[Read more.]

The reasons for Bush's tapdancing are obvious. Karl Rove has been called "Bush's Brain". Rove has been the mastermind of the Bush political strategy for years. Rove's dirty tricks won Bush the 2004 election, and his wag-the-dog and shoot-the-messenger tactics have kept the American public sufficiently ignorant and compliant for a long time.

Without Rove and his evil-genius strategies, the Bush administration risks a greater level of accountability.

Time to wag the dog again

The mainstream press are reporting that George W. Bush may very soon announce his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. They say that he might make this announcement this week, instead of waiting until later in the month, as originally planned. [Read more.]

How convenient! This will distract the press from the Karl Rove scandal.

Bush moves the goalposts

Reported yesterday by the Associated Press:
President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration." At the same time, Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

Bush, appearing at a news conference with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, spoke a day after Time magazine's Matthew Cooper said that a 2003 phone call with Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.
[Read more.]

When Clinton split hairs like this, the Republican-led Congress started impeachment proceedings.

This time around, however, the Republicans in Congress are rushing to Rove's defense. Any Democrats who call for action are accused of playing partisan politics.

What a curious double standard.

18 July 2005

Just in case I suddenly disappear....

From today's New York Times:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.

The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a federal court in Washington.


"I'm still somewhat shocked by the size of the file on us," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U. "Why would the F.B.I. collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?"
[Read more.]

Perhaps the FBI and the Bush administration need to be reminded of the words of a former Republican president:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

-- President Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

Saddam charged, trial soon

The Associated Press reported yesterda that the first criminal charges have been filed against Saddam Hussein and that a trial date will be announced within the next few days. Saddam could face the death penalty. [Read more.]

Will Saddam's trial receive anywhere near the level of U.S. press coverage that the Michael Jackson trial or the Scott Peterson trial generated?

Will the American mainstream media find it sensational enough to justify taking time away from their round-the-clock coverage of the Missing White Girl of the Month to keep us up-to-date on this particular little subplot from Iraq?

Don't hold your breath.

17 July 2005

Matthew Cooper: "What I Told The Grand Jury"

In an article in the July 25 issue of Time Magazine, Plamegate figure Matthew Cooper reveals what went on in his Grand Jury hearing -- and more. [Read it.]

Official transcript of McClellan's pressfest

If you've been paying attention lately, you're aware of last Monday's press conference at which White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tapdanced around a barrage of questions about Karl Rove and Plamegate.

I just stumbled upon the official transcript and thought it worth posting here for posterity.

Some choice excerpts:
Q Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren't going to comment on it while it is ongoing.

Q Excuse me, but I wasn't actually talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the President said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak, to press of information. And I just want to know, is that still his position?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that's why I said that our policy continues to be that we're not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium. The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium. And so that's why we are not going to get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation, or questions related to it.

Q Scott, if I could -- if I could point out, contradictory to that statement, on September 29th, 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one who said, if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation is when the President made his comment that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, "We're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation"?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. That's something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow. And that's why we're continuing to follow that approach and that policy.

Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.

Q So could I just ask, when did you change your mind to say that it was okay to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry's question at the beginning. There came a point when the investigation got underway when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be their -- or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing. I think that's the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.

Q Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than we're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

Q Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this" -- do you stand by that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as well.

Q Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --

Q No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

Go ahead, Terry.

Q Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said -- October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this." From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization Terry, and I think you are well aware of that. We know each other very well, and it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation. And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this, because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point, I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.

Q Do you recall when you were asked --

Q Wait, wait -- so you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore, and since then, you haven't?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation, and I'm just not going to respond any further.

Q When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?

MR. McCLELLAN: Back at that time period.

Q Well, then the President commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.

Go ahead, Dave.

Q We are going to keep asking them. When did the President learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with the President -- with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson's wife and the decision to send --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions.

Q When did the President learn that Karl Rove had --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions, Dick.

Go ahead.

Q After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the President's word that anybody who was involved would be let go?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.

Q And a follow-up. Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.


Q Does the President continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, these are all questions coming up in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation. And you've heard my response on this.

Q So you're not going to respond as to whether or not the President has confidence in his Deputy Chief of Staff?

MR. McCLELLAN: Carl, you're asking this question in the context of an ongoing investigation. And I would not read anything into it other than I'm simply not going to comment on an ongoing --

Q Has there been -- has there been any change --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- investigation.

Q Has there been any change or is there a plan for Mr. Rove's portfolio to be altered in any way?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you have my response to these questions.


Q There's a difference between commenting publicly on an action and taking action in response to it. Newsweek put out a story, an email saying that Karl Rove passed national security information on to a reporter that outed a CIA officer. Now, are you saying that the President is not taking any action in response to that? Because I presume that the prosecutor did not ask you not to take action, and that if he did, you still would not necessarily abide by that; that the President is free to respond to news reports, regardless of whether there's an investigation or not. So are you saying that he's not going to do anything about this until the investigation is fully over and done with?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President has previously spoken to this. This continues to be an ongoing criminal investigation. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And we're just not going to have more to say on it until that investigation is complete.

Q But you acknowledge that he is free, as President of the United States, to take whatever action he wants to in response to a credible report that a member of his staff leaked information. He is free to take action if he wants to.

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're asking questions relating to an ongoing investigation, and I think I've responded to it.


Q Scott, what was the President's interaction today with Karl Rove? Did they discuss this current situation? And understanding that Karl Rove was the architect of the President's win for the second term in the Oval Office, how important is Karl Rove to this administration currently?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is coming at it from --

Q It has nothing to do with what you just said.

MR. McCLELLAN: This is still coming at the same question relating to reports about an ongoing investigation, and I think I've responded to it.

Q Who is Karl Rove as it relates to this administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have questions on another topic?

Q No, no, no, no. Who is Karl Rove as it relates to this current administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate the question, April. I think I've responded.


Q Scott, I think you're barrage today in part because we -- it is now clear that 21 months ago, you were up at this podium saying something that we now know to be demonstratively false. Now, are you concerned that in not setting the record straight today that this could undermine the credibility of the other things you say from the podium?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm going to be happy to talk about this at the appropriate time. Dana, you all -- you and everybody in this room, or most people in this room, I should say, know me very well and they know the type of person that I am. And I'm confident in our relationship that we have. But I will be glad to talk about this at the appropriate time, and that's once the investigation is complete. I'm not going to get into commenting based on reports or anything of that nature.

Q Scott, at this point, are we to consider what you've said previously, when you were talking about this, that you're still standing by that, or are those all inoperative at this point?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're still trying to come at this from a different angle, and I've responded to it.

Q Are you standing by what you said previously?

MR. McCLELLAN: You've heard my response.

Go ahead.


Q When the leak investigation is concluded, does the President believe it might be important for his credibility, the credibility of the White House, to release all the information voluntarily that was submitted as part of the investigation, so the American public could see what the -- what transpired inside the White House at the time?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is an investigation being overseen by a special prosecutor. And I think those are questions best directed to the special prosecutor. Again, this is an ongoing matter; I'm just not going to get into commenting on it further at this time. At the appropriate time, when it's complete, then I'll be glad to talk about it at that point.

Q Have you in the White House considered whether that would be optimum to release as much information and make it as open a process --

MR. McCLELLAN: It's the same type of question. You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation, and I'm not going to do that.

Q I'm actually talking about the communication strategy, which is a little different.

MR. McCLELLAN: Understood. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And that's what he expects people in the White House to do.

Q And he would like to that when it is concluded, cooperate fully with --

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've already responded.

Go ahead.

Q Scott, was it -- who in the investigation made this request of the White House not to comment further about the investigation? Was it Mr. Fitzgerald? Did he make the request of you --

MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, you can ask -- you can direct those questions to the special prosecutors. I think probably more than one individual who's involved in overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. I think we all want to see the prosecutors get to the bottom of this matter. The President wants to see the prosecutors get to the bottom of this matter. And the way to help them do that is to not get into commenting on it while it is ongoing.

Q Was the request made of you, or of whom in the White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: I already responded to these questions.


Q Yes, in your dealings with the special counsel, have you consulted a personal attorney?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm just not going to say anything further. I expressed all I'm going to say on this matter from this podium.
[See complete transcript.]

Good Plamegate analysis

From AlterNet:
Okay, keep your eye on the ball: Karl Rove endangered America.

But, you've been keeping up, reading, watching TV, and you've undoubtedly heard (or will hear) that Karl Rove didn't say the words "Valerie Plame," or he didn't mean to blow her cover -- or was her cover too threadbare to even matter? -- or Joe Wilson's claims weren't true, or else he was trying to save a reporter from printing a false story, or ...

...Hey, look over there: MoveOn.org is unpatriotic!

Confused? Well, that's the plan, anyway. By shattering the story into a dozen shards, defenders of Rove's dangerous abuse of power hope to shift the debate away from the scandalous fact that Karl Rove endangered America by leaking the classified information that Joseph Wilson's wife "works at the agency" (CIA). In fact, the GOP's latest talking points on the Rove scandal focus almost exclusively on smearing Joseph Wilson -- which is ironic, to say the least, given the fact that this whole scandal began with a smear of Joseph Wilson.

Ignore it. Joseph Wilson didn't order Karl Rove to leak the identity of his wife.

Next, lawyers and "experts" will parse the legalese: Here are the A, B and C required to convict Karl Rove of violating the law, they'll say. Again, ignore it. It's not about the letter of the law, it's about two simple facts:

1. Karl Rove endangered America
2. Karl Rove retains his security clearance and the trust of President Bush, thus enabling him to do it again.

All the remaining questions being filtered to the media for scripted debate on Hannity and Colmes or Hardball are, to varying degrees, worth debating. Sometime. And in a balanced venue. But right now, the most important strands in this scandal are the two simple, irrefutable facts above.
[Read more.]

Environmental Destruction Agency

From yesterday's New York Times:
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the federal Environmental Protection Agency had the administrative discretion to decide, in 2003, not to order reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles, as the states sought.

In other words, the so-called Environmental Protection Agency can choose not to protect the environment.


This ruling was in response to pressure from environmental groups and states seeking federal involvement in controlling motor vehicle emissions.

[Read more.]

Environmental Defense Fund takes Limbaugh to task

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, Rush Limbaugh's best-selling books The Way Things Ought To Be and See, I Told You So are full of statements on the environment that are misleading, distorted, and factually incorrect.

To set the record straight, the organization created a report called "The Way Things Really Are: Debunking Rush Limbaugh On The Environment", which analyzes some of Rush's many scientific inaccuracies and corrects his claims in three areas: ozone depletion, climate change, and old growth forests.

Some excerpts:
RUSH FICTION: "Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than 1,000 times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the fluorocarbons manufactured by wicked, diabolical and insensitive corporations in history..."

SCIENTIFIC FACT: Cumulatively speaking, Pinatubo's impact on the ozone layer has been about 50 times less than that of CFC's. Volcanoes emit two sorts of ozone-depleting compounds: hydrochloric acid (amounts measured in the stratosphere were largely unchanged by the Pinatubo eruption) and sulfur dioxide (converted in the stratosphere into tiny particles which act in combination with chlorine from man-made CFC's. This temporarily increased the rate of ozone depletion by several percentage points during 1992 and 1993). Nearly all the chemicals emitted by Pinatubo have already washed out of the stratosphere, unlike CFC's, which remain for as long as a century.

RUSH FICTION: Limbaugh claims environmental "prophets of doom" have exaggerated the problem of ozone depletion, suggesting that it has been limited to "occasional reduced levels of ozone over Antarctica."

SCIENTIFIC FACT: Substantially reduced levels of ozone have been measured over most of the globe, including N. America, Europe, and elsewhere. Scientists have observed a thinning of the ozone layer at all latitudes outside the tropics. By 1991, the depletion over N. America averaged nearly 5%. Since 1991, ozone depletion has further intensified. The most recent World Meteorological Organization assessment confirms that "the weight of scientific evidence" points to CFC's and related compounds as the chief cause of global depletion.

RUSH FICTION: "Algore's (sic) book is full of calculated disinformation. For instance, he claims that 98% of scientists believe global warming is taking place. However a Gallup poll of scientists involved in global climate research shows that 53% do not believe that global warming has occurred, 30% say they don't know, and only 17% are devotees of this dubious theory."

SCIENTIFIC FACT: These numbers, apparently from a George Will column of 3 September 1992, are supposed to show the findings of a Gallup poll taken in late 1991 to ascertain the opinions of research scientists concerning global warming. Nowhere in the actual poll results are there figures that resemble those cited by Will or Limbaugh. Instead, the poll found a substantial majority of the scientists polled, 66%, believed that human-induced global warming was already occurring. Only 10% disagreed, and the remainder were undecided.

RUSH FICTION: "A fact you never hear the environmentalist wacko crowd acknowledge is that 96% of the so-called 'greenhouse' gases are not created by man, but by nature."

SCIENTIFIC FACT: The greenhouse effect is, by and large, a natural phenomenon, produced by gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor that have warmed the Earth for eons, enabling its climate to support life. However, in nature these gases usually remain in balance, leading to a stable climate, while the greenhouse gases added by humans over the last 200 years have accumulated to the point that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, for example, is now more than 25% above what it had been for the previous 10,000 years. The scientific consensus is that the accumulation of CO2 and other gases due to human activity will alter the climate substantially, warming the globe by three to eight degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

RUSH FICTION: "It reminds me of the researchers who recently ventured into the forests of California. Do you know what they found? No, not Algore. They found spotted owls. It seems the place is teeming with spotted owls -even though they're supposed to be an endangered species."

SCIENTIFIC FACT: Fewer than 2,000 pairs of the Northern spotted owl are thought to survive in California forests--a number that could hardly be described as "teeming". More importantly, at a meeting of experts called by the U.S. government in December 1993 at Fort Collins, Colorado, virtually every biologist who presented data concluded that the total numbers of the owl are still in decline, and the population loss rate appears to be accelerating.
[Download the free report.]

16 July 2005

Harry Potter and the disapproving pope

The new Harry Potter book went on sale today, and it's flying off the shelves worldwide. [Read story.]

In the meantime, the press has resurrected past criticisms of the Harry Potter books by Pope Benedict XVI, who perceives the Harry Potter stories as a potentially corrupting influence on children. [Read more.]

Does he feel the same way about the books I read as a child -- Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, the tales of the Brothers Grimm -- all full of witches, wizards, fairies, and magical elves?

It seems to me that the pontiff doesn't want children to use their imagination. Imagination is almost as much a threat to his control as is critical thought.

So what's next -- book burning ceremonies in Vatican Square?

15 July 2005

Beyond Rove: Special prosecutor said to be investigating Ari Fleischer and others; also probing possible post-leak coverup

From SmirkingChimp.com:
The special prosecutor probing the outing of a CIA spy is looking beyond who leaked Valerie Plame's identity, seeking whether White House aides tried to cover their tracks after her name went public, sources told the Daily News.

Along with Bush political guru Karl Rove, the grand jury is investigating what role, if any, ex-White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may have played in the revelation that the former covert operative Plame was married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
[Read more.]

Joe Wilson sets the record straight -- yet again

From BuzzFlash:
Ambassador Joe Wilson forwarded to BuzzFlash his response to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's "conclusions" about his efforts to expose the truth about the phony Niger claims, and how he came to investigate them.

He asked that we share his evidence with our readers.
[Read Ambassador Wilson's letter.]

Santorum blames liberalism for priestly pedophilia

If all else fails, blame Ted Kennedy and the liberals.

From the Boston Globe:
Earlier this week, Santorum stood by comments he made on a Catholic website in 2002 when he said, "It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. In a brief interview with the Globe on Tuesday, Santorum reiterated his view that the "basic liberal attitude" in Boston fostered an environment where sexual abuse of children could occur.
[Read more.]

What's really pathetic is that Santorum probably truly believes what he is saying here.

Never mind the fact that the conservative bishops have hardly been discouraging such behavior with their coverups.

Rehnquist denies retirement rumors

Despite his battle with cancer and his hospitalization earlier this week for a high fever, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said yesterday that he plans to stay on the job as long as his health permits.
[Read story.]

Unborn babies soaked in chemicals, survey finds

From a Reuters report from yesterday:
Unborn U.S. babies are soaking in a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report to be released Thursday.

Although the effects on the babies are not clear, the survey prompted several members of Congress to press for legislation that would strengthen controls on chemicals in the environment.

The report by the Environmental Working Group is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical cord blood taken by the American Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.

"These 10 newborn babies ... were born polluted," said New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, who planned to publicize the findings at a news conference Thursday.
[Read more.]

Might there be some hope for the U.S. and the environment? Let's hope that those in Congress who are pressing for legislation to address this sort of thing won't drop the ball.

French constitution goes green

Those pesky French! They want peace. They want liberty. They want equality. And now there's more reason for the American neocons to hate them: They've passed an environmental charter as an amendment to France's constitution.

From the charter's preamble:
Decisions made responding to today's needs should not compromise the capacity of future generations and other populations to satisfy their own need.
Very well said.

Actually, the U.S. lags behind a lot of other countries, not just France, in its lack of official government support for the environment.

From a recent article in Grist magazine:
In truth, constitutional environmental rights turn out to be more the rule than the exception. Of the world's 190-odd nations, the constitutions of 117 mention protection of the environment or natural resources, according to an analysis by Earthjustice. Fifty-six -- including unlikely progressives such as Tajikistan and Angola -- explicitly recognize the right to a clean and healthy environment; 20 hold those who harm the environment liable. The U.S. Constitution, by contrast, contains no explicit environmental reference.
[Read more.]

Shame on us!

Kudos to Toyota

Many thanks to Julian for posting a very interesting and informative comment earlier this week about Toyota's commitment to reduced vehicle emissions.

Then I found a section on Toyota's Web site that contains lots of information about all the good work that they're doing to help the environment. [Read about it.]

With all the greedy companies out there fighting against regulations and environmental responsiblity, it's nice to see that Toyota has the right idea.

I currently own my third Corolla in a row, and my next car will almost surely be a Toyota as well. (Probably a Prius.)

14 July 2005

The "liberal media" play word games to protect Rove

From Media Matters for America:
Responding to the July 2003 outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the White House made an unqualified pledge to fire any administration official involved in leaking Plame's identity. But following allegations that White House senior adviser Karl Rove was involved in the Plame leak, The New York Times and The Washington Post presented this pledge more narrowly, writing that President Bush promised to fire only those administration officials who "knowingly" or "illegally" disclosed Plame's identity.

The distinction between what Bush actually pledged and what the Post and the Times reported that he pledged is significant. By pledging unequivocally to dismiss anyone who leaked classified information, Bush is now in a bind; recent reports reveal that Rove told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife worked at the CIA. If the perception takes hold that Bush had pledged only to fire anyone found to have "illegally" or "knowingly" leaked, then he could retain Rove, barring a criminal conviction, and claim that he kept his promise.
[Read more.]

Required reading: Joe Wilson interview

Yesterday, The Raw Story published a very interesting interview with former ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame).

[Read interview.]

Be sure to read the part about the feedback that Wilson got from former President George H. W. Bush.

Santorum gets away with cheating the taxpayers

In a scandal that broke last fall, we learned that Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) was educating his children at the expense of a school district in Pennsylvania while they actually resided in Virginia.

In a preliminary ruling on Monday, it was determined that Santorum does not owe the Penn Hills School District thousands of dollars for his children's education. However, this ruling was based on a technicality.

An editorial in yesterday's Delaware County Daily Times does a good job of exposing the hypocrisy in how Santorum constantly preaches "morality and ethics" while taking money from a Pennsylvania school district to educate his children at an Internet-based charter school in Virginia. [Read the editorial.]

13 July 2005

Sign up or shut up

Have you noticed all the young Republican preppies and yuppies who go around praising George W. Bush and the Iraq war from the safety of their BMWs? You never see them standing in line at the army recruiting station.

That might be about to change, thanks to Operation Yellow Elephant!
[Read about it.]

They also have a great merchandise store online here.

Many thanks to Paul for pointing me to this stuff.

Enviro-friendly SUV!

If you absolutely must drive an SUV, now there's one that I'll forgive you for. Ford's new Mercury Mariner SUV will appear in showrooms this fall. It gets 33 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway -- almost as good as my little Corolla!
[Read more and see photo.]

12 July 2005

Scott McClellan dodges a barrage of Plamegate questions

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan found himself between a rock and a hard place yesterday when faced with questions about Karl Rove's involvement in outing CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. So he tapdanced and stammered and refused to give us any info. [Read story.]

In the past, McClellan and Rove had repeatedly denied that Rove had anything to do with the leak.

Given recent developments, it's becoming clear that someone lied.

It seems that some reporters are finally growing a backbone, as they gave McClellan a pretty good grilling yesterday. Let's hope that they keep at it until the full truth comes out and the people responsible are held accountable.

Take Action: Stop PATRIOT Act reauthorization!

From the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
We have recently learned that both the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees will mark up USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization legislation this week. A floor vote in the House is expected the week of July 18th. Now is the time to tell your representative to protect civil liberties!

Some proponents of the PATRIOT Act are already pointing to the terrorist attacks in London as further justification for suspending the protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. While we all abhor these acts of terror, neither the recent attacks nor the September 11, 2001, attacks render our Bill of Rights obsolete.

Urge your representative to:
restore personal privacy;
restore due process;
respect First Amendment rights to assemble and to petition (criticize) the government;
limit the definition of "terrorism" to violent crimes perpetrated on human civilian targets for political gain;
prohibit all authorized prisoner abuse;
restore respect for the rule of law;
decrease government secrecy; and
respect the balance of power between the branches of government.
To send a pre-written e-mail to your representative, click here..

To read the complete text of the PATRIOT Act, click here.

11 July 2005

Let the sun set on the PATRIOT Act

George W. Bush keeps touting American freedom, liberty, democracy, and patriotism. But, while all patriotic Americans are proud of the fundamental freedoms upon which this nation was founded, a true patriot must also take a look at how some methods employed in the Bush administration's "war on terror" actually threaten those freedoms.

One very troubling aspect of the "war on terror" is the USA PATRIOT Act, which has the potential to seriously erode our basic human rights and civil liberties.

The PATRIOT Act was born in the wake of the September 11 tragedy, and passed through Congress so quickly that most of our elected representatives did not have time to read its content before voting it into law with no discussion or debate. Under the circumstances, one can almost understand how our leaders back then succumbed to the panic and paranoia of the times and lost sight of the critical importance of protecting our freedoms.

Also, many of the more egregious provisions of the PATRIOT Act were set to expire, or "sunset", in December of 2005, unless Congress votes to reauthorize them. These provisions were presented not as permanent solutions to the terrorist threat but as temporary measures to be used until the terrorist threat could be analyzed and less extreme methods of dealing with it could be put into place.

Now, however, some members of Congress are advocating against these sunsets in favor of making those provisions a permanent part of U.S. law. If they succeed, they will be giving a green light to the government and law enforcement agencies to continue their extreme intrusions into our lives, and will leave us with little or no legal recourse against arbitrary infringements by the government on our civil rights.

Let's take a look at some of the problems with the PATRIOT Act:

It broadens the definition of "domestic terrorism" to include any "acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State" and that "appear to be intended ... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." This broad definition could be used arbitrarily or routinely against activists exercising their rights to assemble and to dissent. It can lead to rampant abuse, as we saw with the arrests of numerous innocent bystanders swept up in police nets during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions of 2004. Furthermore, it authorizes the FBI to monitor religious and political groups without any "probable cause".

It infringes on our right to privacy and removes many types of judicial review over intelligence activities. The government can search our homes and our computers when we're not at home, tap our phones, monitor our e-mail, and access our financial and educational records, all without notification. In addition, the government can force libraries and bookstores to hand over records of books a person has read, and the library or bookstore cannot reveal that this was done.

It allows the government to detain citizens and non-citizens without charge and hold them indefinitely by labeling them as "enemy combatants". Because of this, numerous detainees have found themselves in a legal limbo, with no communication with their families or other outsiders, no legal representation, no judicial review, and no opportunity to prove their innocence - in other words, no due process.

Surely our founding fathers would not have approved of this kind of disregard for human rights and governmental checks and balances.

On a positive note, in June the House of Representatives voted 238 to 187 to deny funding for FBI demands under the PATRIOT Act for the library or book store records of innocent Americans without any reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. This is a good start, but it's not enough. The PATRIOT Act must be reformed, and the provisions set to expire this year must not be renewed or made permanent.

It is imperative that the United States stand solidly for the principles of unalienable, universal rights. Otherwise, those who wage "war on terror" will have simply won the battle against freedom.

I urge all of our elected representatives to stand up for liberty and let the sun set on the PATRIOT Act.