31 October 2005

Wilson says leak destroyed wife's CIA career

This is not really news to anyone who's been paying attention, but the details are interesting.

From Reuters via truthout.org:
Valerie Plame's nearly two-decade career at the CIA and the secret life she crafted to conceal it were blown when her identity was revealed by a newspaper columnist, her husband, Joe Wilson said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday.

Wilson, a former career diplomat, said Plame, 42, was in shock when she saw her name and that of her fictitious employer published in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.

"She felt like she'd been hit in the stomach. It took her breath away," Wilson said.

"When he published her name-- it was very easy to unravel everything about her, her entire cover," Wilson said. "You live your cover."

Asked whether she realized then that her career as a CIA undercover agent was over, Wilson said: "Absolutely. Sure. There was no doubt about it in her mind. And she wondered for what."

Wilson contends that his wife's identity was deliberately revealed by the Bush administration to get back at him for publicly challenging U.S. prewar intelligence on Iraq.


Before the exposure, Plame's identity had been a well kept secret. Friends and even relatives were kept in the dark about her work, Wilson told "60 Minutes."

"The day that Mr. Novak's article appeared, my sister-in-law turned to my brother and said, 'Do you think Joe knew?' So, not even my brother or my sister-in-law or any of my immediate family knew," Wilson said.

Former CIA agent Jim Marcinkowski, now a city attorney in Royal Oak, Michigan, told "60 Minutes" it was "outrageous" that Plame had been exposed.

"CIA people don't like cameras. We don't like publicity. We operate in the background as much as possible. So she's in a very, very uncomfortable spot," said Marcinkowski, who trained with Plame at the CIA.

"Her career has been ended, Marcinkowski said when asked about the damage to Plame, who is the mother of 5-year-old twins.

Wilson said his wife quickly recovered after the initial shock of having her identity compromised "and started making lists of what she had to do to ensure that her assets, her projects, her programs and her operations were protected."

He said there had been some "specific threats" and that he and his wife had discussed security with various agencies, but he could not say anything further.
[Read more.]

Our tax dollars paid for this treasonous exposure of a covert CIA operative. I want my money back.

Teachers vs. Rock Stars

Ahhhhh, autumn! This is the season of cool weather, colorful leaves, Oktoberfest beers, and striking teachers.

Each fall, teachers' unions here in the Philly area and all around the country find themselves negotiating their contacts and, all too often, going on strike.

And, each fall, I find myself wondering why teachers are paid so little that they have to go on strike over nickels and dimes.

Consider the following:

Movie star Brad Pitt gets $17 million per film.

Basketball star Allen Iverson makes over $16 million per season.

Hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs scored $3 million just to endorse a brand of spot cream.

And - get this - Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen are each worth more than $150 million.

We are paying these people millions of dollars to entertain our kids.

Meanwhile, according to the American Federation of Teachers, public school teachers (elementary and secondary) make an average of $44,367 per year. Their parochial school counterparts usually earn considerably less. These teachers, who dedicate their lives to educating our young people and teaching them the skills they'll need to be productive and successful adults, often have to seek out temporary jobs during their summer breaks just to make ends meet.

And it gets worse. Many teachers are forced to teach from outdated textbooks, and some must use their own modest salaries to pay for needed classroom supplies.

What has happened to our priorities as a society? Why do we freely spend so much more on our children's entertainment than we do on their education? And why must teachers go on strike to get a fair benefits package?

Perhaps this is just another example of a broader "dumbing down" of America, the assault on the intellect and the fostering of a fear-based groupthink that leads red-state citizens to vote blindly against their own best interests.

And perhaps this is a symptom of America's programmed preference for "faith" over science.

Knowledge is dangerous when it conflicts with the agenda of the ruling class.

That is why we have a movement all across the country to teach religion - just one particular brand of religion - in science class, rather than in a philosophy class or comparative religions class, where it belongs.

That is why it is called murder to perform life-saving research on a blob of pre-sentient cells that would otherwise be thrown away.

That is why widely accepted scientific data regarding climate change, pollution, resource endangerment, and mercury poisoning are ignored or covered up in favor of reduced regulations for corporate campaign donors.

And that is why, with the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, teachers have to teach to a test instead of teaching young minds how to think for themselves.

You don't need much of an education to merely do and say and think as you're told. Besides, the more you know, the less likely you'll be to march in lockstep for the status quo.

But now it's time to wake up, and it's time to think. To be a true democracy, to move this country forward, reduce crime, and reignite the American dream, we need an educated populace. And, for that, we need teachers who get the kind of pay and respect that they deserve.

It certainly seems a much better use of our tax dollars than the billions we're wasting in Iraq.

Bush nominates conservative Philly judge to Supreme Court

From the Associated Press via MSNBC:
President Bush is nominating Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, The Associated Press has learned, choosing a long-time federal judge embraced by judicial conservatives to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Bush plans to announce the nomination at 8 a.m. EST, officials said.

The choice likely will mend a rift in the Republican Party caused by his failed nomination of Harriet Miers.


While Alito is expected to win praise from Bush's allies on the right, Democrats have served notice that his nomination would spark a partisan brawl. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sunday that Alito's nomination would "create a lot of problems."
[Read more.]

White House under seige

U.S. News & World Report just published an interesting story about the state of the Bush administration.

An excerpt:
In Washington, a few words can have ugly consequences. It might not have taken all that much newspaper ink to print the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame for the first time, but the July 2003 disclosure set off a dramatic chain of events that could end up altering the entire course of President Bush's second term in office.

The most immediate result of the tightly held two-year investigation by special federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the influential chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, on charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice. In past administrations, where vice presidents tended to play more ornamental roles, this might not have been such big news. But Cheney ranks as perhaps the most powerful vice president in history. As the hand behind the throne, he was central in shaping Bush's approach to national security and, in particular, the controversial decision to go to war with Iraq. Libby, as Cheney's national security adviser, was at the heart of devising the administration's case for the invasion. "If it is proven that a chief of staff of the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information . . . that is a very, very serious matter," Fitzgerald said. "That, to me, defines a serious breach of the public trust."

Libby, who denied the accusations, resigned as soon as the indictment was made public, but the crisis for the White House is far from over. Even though deputy chief of staff Karl Rove was not tagged by Fitzgerald--which would have been an even bigger blow to the White House--the prosecutor held open the possibility of more indictments in the continuing investigation. And even if it stops with Libby, the ongoing legal proceedings could be an albatross around Bush's neck. For one thing, Cheney could find himself being dragged before the trial as a witness, along with several other senior officials.

Bungling and doubt. This is all happening to a White House whose stature is plummeting. It was only a year ago when, after winning a second term, Bush boasted, "I've earned capital in this election--and I'm going to spend it." Now, amid the lowest poll numbers of his presidency and rising doubts about his ability to lead the Iraq war effort, Bush is watching his ambitious second-term agenda being swept away by everything from the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and ballooning budget deficits to this latest indictment (a boost in third-quarter gross domestic product growth was a rare bright spot). "It's seldom in living memory that a presidency has such an array of things," said David Abshire, a former U.S. diplomat who served as a steadying force in the Reagan White House in the wake of the Iran-contra scandal. "When you put them all together, it's the perfect storm."

And it comes at a time when the Republican leadership is groaning under the weight of other ethics inquiries, including an indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on fundraising-related charges and a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the financial dealings of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The combination is allowing Democrats to make charges like one from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week that this is "another chapter in the Republicans' culture of corruption."
[Read more.]

Frank Rich: "One Step Closer to the Big Enchilada"

New York Times columnist Frank Rich always tells the story straight.

In his column in yesterday's Times, he gives us hope that justice might ultimately rule over this administration as it did the Nixon administration.

An excerpt:
To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in. But Watergate played out for nearly two years after the gang that burglarized Democratic headquarters was indicted by a federal grand jury; it even dragged on for more than a year after Nixon took "responsibility" for the scandal, sacrificed his two top aides and weathered the indictments of two first-term cabinet members. In those ensuing months, America would come to see that the original petty crime was merely the leading edge of thematically related but wildly disparate abuses of power that Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, would name "the White House horrors."

In our current imperial presidency, as in its antecedent, what may look like a narrow case involving a second banana with a child's name contains the DNA of the White House, and that DNA offers a road map to the duplicitous culture of the whole. The coming prosecution of Lewis (Scooter) Libby in the Wilson affair is hardly the end of the story. That "Cheney's Cheney," as Mr. Libby is known, would allegedly go to such lengths to obscure his role in punishing a man who challenged the administration's W.M.D. propaganda is just one very big window into the genesis of the smoke screen (or, more accurately, mushroom cloud) that the White House used to sell the war in Iraq.

After the heat of last week's drama, we can forget just how effective the administration's cover-up of that con job had been until very recently. Before Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation, there were two separate official investigations into the failure of prewar intelligence. With great fanfare and to great acclaim, both found that our information about Saddam's W.M.D.'s was dead wrong. But wittingly or unwittingly, both of these supposedly thorough inquiries actually protected the White House by avoiding, in Watergate lingo, "the big enchilada."

The 601-page report from the special presidential commission led by Laurence Silberman and Charles Robb, hailed at its March release as a "sharp critique" by Mr. Bush, contains only a passing mention of Dick Cheney. It has no mention whatsoever of Mr. Libby or Karl Rove or their semicovert propaganda operation (the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG) created to push all that dead-wrong intel. Nor does it mention Douglas Feith, the first-term under secretary of defense for policy, whose rogue intelligence operation in the Pentagon supplied the vice president with the disinformation that bamboozled the nation.

The other investigation into prewar intelligence, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is a scandal in its own right. After the release of its initial findings in July 2004, the committee's Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, promised that a Phase 2 to determine whether the White House had misled the public would arrive after the presidential election. It still hasn't, and no wonder: Murray Waas reported Thursday in The National Journal that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby had refused to provide the committee with "crucial documents," including the Libby-written passages in early drafts of Colin Powell's notorious presentation of W.M.D. "evidence" to the U.N. on the eve of war.

Along the way, Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has prompted the revelation of much of what these previous investigations left out. But even so, the trigger for the Wilson affair - the administration's fierce effort to protect its hype of Saddam's uranium - is only one piece of the larger puzzle of post- and pre-9/11 White House subterfuge. We're a long way from putting together the full history of a self-described "war presidency" that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well.

There are many other mysteries to be cracked, from the catastrophic, almost willful failure of the Pentagon to plan for the occupation of Iraq to the utter ineptitude of the huge and costly Department of Homeland Security that was revealed in all its bankruptcy by Katrina. There are countless riddles, large and small. Why have the official reports on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo spared all but a single officer in the chain of command? Why does Halliburton continue to receive lucrative government contracts even after it's been the focus of multiple federal inquiries into accusations of bid-rigging, overcharging and fraud? Why did it take five weeks for Pat Tillman's parents to be told that their son had been killed by friendly fire, and who ordered up the fake story of his death that was sold relentlessly on TV before then?

These questions are just a representative sampling. It won't be easy to get honest answers because this administration, like Nixon's, practices obsessive secrecy even as it erects an alternative reality built on spin and outright lies.

Mr. Cheney is a particularly shameless master of these black arts. Long before he played semantics on "Meet the Press" with his knowledge of Joseph Wilson in the leak case, he repeatedly fictionalized crucial matters of national security. As far back as May 8, 2001, he appeared on CNN to promote his new assignment, announced that day by Mr. Bush, to direct a governmentwide review of U.S. "consequence management" in the event of a terrorist attack. As we would learn only in the recriminatory aftermath of 9/11 (from Barton Gellman of The Washington Post), Mr. Cheney never did so.
[Read more.]

30 October 2005

Joe Wilson: "Our 27 Months of Hell"

From a column by former ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame) in yesterday's Los Angeles Times:
After the two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Between us, Valerie and I have served the United States for nearly 43 years. I was President George H. W. Bush's acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, and I served as ambassador to two African nations for him and President Clinton. Valerie worked undercover for the CIA in several overseas assignments and in areas related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.

Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. Twenty years of service had gone down the drain. She immediately started jotting down a checklist of things she needed to do to limit the damage to people she knew and to projects she was working on. She wondered how her friends would feel when they learned that what they thought they knew about her was a lie.

It was payback - cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech - that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa - was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."

That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men - allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") - were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.
[Read more.]

29 October 2005

They did the mash. They did the climate mash.

Just in time for Halloween: Climate Mash

[Take action to stop the "global warming zombies".]

Plamegate, Miers, and Bush's base

How the charges against Libby could impact Bush’s Supreme Court pick and his relations with the right.

From Newsweek:
It turns out Karl Rove may not be that distracted after all. Pulling the Harriet Miers nomination on the eve of the indictment in the CIA leak case was brilliant. Now that Scooter Libby has been indicted on five counts the Miers news gets washed over and President Bush can send up a real right-winger to gin up his base as the White House moves into crisis mode.

It was a political mistake for Bush to choose Miers. She was unqualified and didn’t meet the test on ideology that Bush’s base demands. After all the kowtowing Bush has done to the religious right, he must be really ticked that they wouldn’t accept a fellow evangelical. The question now is whether Bush will cave to the right to shore up his eroding base, or stick it to them with a quasi moderate, confusing history’s judgment of him but letting the right know he can’t be pushed around.

The betting is that Bush moves to the right to lock down his base.
[Read more.]

28 October 2005

Scooter scoots from the White House after indictment

As expected, Scooter Libby was indicted today for his role in outing CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame. The indictment includes one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements, court documents show.

Scooter then resigned.

[Read CNN's coverage of this story -- including the full text of the indictment and other goodies.]

Answers at noon?

Breaking news from MSNBC:
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to release some documents in the [Plamegate] case around noon ET and then hold a press conference at the Justice Department at 2 p.m. ET.
[Read more.]

The Miers fiasco explained

From the Washington Post via MSNBC:
By nearly all accounts, the 24 days of the Miers nomination was hobbled by a succession of miscalculations. President Bush bypassed his own selection process to pick Miers, his onetime personal lawyer and White House counsel since February. His aides ignored warnings by some of the administration's closest conservative allies that she would prove difficult to confirm, and took for granted that its base would ultimately stick with the president.

And in perhaps the biggest misjudgment, Bush assumed that Miers would somehow shine in a Washington klieg light she had never before faced.

It did not take a call from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to convince the White House that Miers's nomination was in trouble. By the time Miers withdrew her name from consideration yesterday morning, her own colleagues had all but despaired of rescuing her nomination. With top Bush aides facing possible indictment as early as today, the White House concluded that it was time to move on and brace for the more threatening crisis.

"This thing never got off the launching pad very well," said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because public airing of self-criticism is not encouraged in the White House.

"What we ran up against may be a different bar and maybe discomfort with the unfamiliar," another official said. "Did we learn anything? I don't know."
[Read more.]

Will the Supreme Court become a kangaroo court that threatens our human rights?

When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her intention to retire from the Supreme Court in July, many of us expected Bush to nominate his buddy Alberto ("Torture Boy") Gonzales. Instead, he nominated John ("Wholesome Shoo-In With Blond Kids") Roberts.

Soon thereafter, when Chief Justice Renquist died, many of us expected Bush to nominate Gonzales. Instead, he elevated Roberts to the bigger gig.

So then many of us expected a Gonzo Torture Boy nomination to the once-again-vacant O'Connor spot. Instead, Bush pulled Harriet Miers out of thin air.

Now that Miers has been unable to stand the heat and has chosen to leave the kitchen, will Gonzo get the nod?

Or will Bush nominate an even more extreme right-winger to appeal to the hardcore conservatives who challenged the Miers nomination?

Or is Bush starting to realize that he doesn't hold as much political capital as he thought he did?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, something to consider: Bush could conveniently time a Supreme Court nomination to change the subject and distract us from any Plamegate indictments that might hit the fan today.

The good news: At least we'll still have O'Connor on the Court for a while, since she promised to stay on until a successor is confirmed. We should be thankful for that small victory.

Harriet Miers in review

I never really made up my mind as to how I felt about the prospect of Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court.

It's a moot point now.

But I just discovered that (not surprisingly) the Wikipedia site contains a rather thorough overview of Harriet Miers' life and career, along with links to more info.

[Read it.]

It will be interesting to see if the next nominee will be so scary as to make us wish we still had Miers.

Meantime, I hope that Harriet will get a nice book deal. She has earned it.

27 October 2005

NYT: Libby likely to be indicted, but not Rove?

More rumors from the New York Times:
Associates of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, expected an indictment on Friday charging him with making false statements to the grand jury in the C.I.A. leak inquiry, lawyers in the case said Thursday.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

As rumors coursed through the capital, Mr. Fitzgerald gave no public signal of how he intends to proceed, further intensifying the anxiety that has gripped the White House and left partisans on both sides of the political aisle holding their breath.
[Read more.]

Court issues surveillance smack-down to Justice Department

No cell phone location tracking without probable cause

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):
Agreeing with a brief submitted by EFF, a federal judge forcefully rejected the government's request to track the location of a mobile phone user without a warrant.

Strongly reaffirming an earlier decision, Federal Magistrate James Orenstein in New York comprehensively smacked down every argument made by the government in an extensive, fifty-seven page opinion issued this week. Judge Orenstein decided, as EFF has urged, that tracking cell phone users in real time required a showing of probable cause that a crime was being committed. Judge Orenstein's opinion was decisive, and referred to government arguments variously as "unsupported," "misleading," "contrived," and a "Hail Mary."

"This is a true victory for privacy in the digital age, where nearly any mobile communications device you use might be converted into a tracking device," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Combined with a similar decision this month from a federal court in Texas, I think we're seeing a trend--judges are starting to realize that when it comes to surveillance issues, the DOJ has been pulling the wool over their eyes for far too long."

Earlier this month, a magistrate judge in Texas, following the lead of Orenstein's original decision, published his own decision denying a government application for a cell phone tracking order. That ruling, along with Judge Orenstein's two decisions, revealed that the DOJ has routinely been securing court orders for real-time cell phone tracking without probable cause and without any law authorizing the surveillance.

"The Justice Department's abuse of the law here is probably just the tip of the iceberg," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The routine transformation of your mobile phone into a tracking device, without any legal authority, raises an obvious and very troubling question: what other new surveillance powers has the government been creating out of whole cloth and how long have they been getting away with it?"

The government is expected to appeal both decisions and EFF intends to participate as a friend of the court in each case.

For the full text of Judge Orenstein's new opinion, and the similar Texas opinion:

Fat? Over 40? Don't bother applying for a Wal-Mart job

From The Independent (UK) via Common Dreams:
If you are on the wrong side of 40 and not as fit as you'd like to be, don't bother applying for a job at Wal-Mart. That is the message for workers in America - revealed in a secret memo, laying out a plan by Wal-Mart to make it harder for older, less healthy people to get a job at one of its legions of stores in the US.

The memo, written by Wal-Mart's vice-president in charge of benefits, says undesirable applicants could be discouraged by making physical activity part of the job, such as asking cashiers to demonstrate they are also able to collect trolleys. The tactics appear to be designed to drive down the bill for health care and other employee benefits at the company, which made $10bn (£5bn) in profits last year.

For the world's largest retailer, which owns Asda in the UK, the leaking of the memo could hardly have come at a worse time because it is has embarked on a campaign to improve its public image.

For Wal-Mart's mounting critics, the document is proof that it is the world's most controversial company, which locks its workers in overnight while they stock shelves and aggressively resists the formation of unions among its employees.
[Read more.]

GAO report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings

From The Free Press:
As a legal noose appears to be tightening around the Bush/Cheney/Rove inner circle, a shocking government report shows the floor under the legitimacy of their alleged election to the White House is crumbling.

The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the General Accounting Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.

The government's lead investigative agency is known for its general incorruptibility and its through, in-depth analyses. Its concurrence with assertions widely dismissed as "conspiracy theories" adds crucial new weight to the case that Team Bush has no legitimate business being in the White House.

Nearly a year ago, senior Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) asked the GAO to investigate electronic voting machines as they were used during the November 2, 2004 presidential election. The request came amidst widespread complaints in Ohio and elsewhere that often shocking irregularities defined their performance.

According to CNN, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee received "more than 57,000 complaints" following Bush's alleged re-election. Many such concerns were memorialized under oath in a series of sworn statements and affidavits in public hearings and investigations conducted in Ohio by the Free Press and other election protection organizations.

The non-partisan GAO report has now found that, "some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."

The United States is the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non-transparent software. Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, has asserted that "public elections must not be conducted on privately-owned machines." The CEO of one of the most crucial suppliers of electronic voting machines, Warren O'Dell of Diebold, pledged before the 2004 campaign to deliver Ohio and thus the presidency to George W. Bush.

Bush's official margin of victory in Ohio was just 118,775 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast. Election protection advocates argue that O'Dell's statement still stands as a clear sign of an effort, apparently successful, to steal the White House.
[Read more.]

Good Plamegate Q&A from the New York Daily News

A Q&A in today's New York Daily News provides a good overview of the Plamegate scandal. [Read it.]

NOW urges O'Connor to remain on court

It would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

From the National Organization for Women (NOW):
Today's withdrawal by Harriet Miers as a nominee to the Supreme Court illustrates once again the stranglehold George W. Bush's base of religious and political extremists have on his administration.

The real reason Bush's right-wing base demanded her withdrawal was the lack of an iron-clad guarantee (which they had with John Roberts) that Miers would be a solid vote to overturn longstanding precedents like Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut and uphold abortion restrictions enacted under this administration.

Conservatives were looking for their own kind of "activist" judge and Miers did not appear to fit the bill.

At this time, with the country's leadership in turmoil and confidence in the government steadily declining, now more than ever we need stability — and a justice who has the confidence of the people of this country.

We need a proven and independent justice on the Supreme Court. Someone who will uphold our core fundamental rights and constitutional protections. Someone who will not turn back the clock on women's rights and human rights. Someone who is not beholden to any extreme faction.

That person is Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. We strongly encourage Justice O'Connor to reconsider her stated intention to retire, and instead remain on the court. NOW is initiating a petition campaign to demonstrate widespread support for such an action.

We urge Justice O'Connor to again respond to a call to serve her country, this time by providing critical stability when it is sorely needed. Though this action would come at considerable personal cost to Justice O'Connor, it would be an undeniable service and the people of the United States would be grateful.
[Read this on the NOW site.]

Plamegate grand jury decisions may come tomorrow

Don't you just love being kept in suspense until the last minute?

From the Washington Post via MSNBC:
The prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation presented a summary of his case to a federal grand jury yesterday and is expected to announce a final decision on charges in the two-year-long probe tomorrow, according to people familiar with the case.

Even as Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald wrapped up his case, the legal team of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been engaged in a furious effort to convince the prosecutor that Rove did not commit perjury during the course of the investigation, according to people close to the aide. The sources, who indicated that the effort intensified in recent weeks, said Rove still did not know last night whether he would be indicted.

Fitzgerald is completing his probe of whether senior administration officials broke the law by disclosing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media in the summer of 2003 to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, an administration critic. The grand jury's term will expire Friday.
[Read more.]

Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

It will be interesting to see who Bush chooses next, especially considering the tense political climate surrounding Plamegate and other political scandals currently haunting the White House.

Confronted with criticism from both liberals and conservatives, Harriet Miers on Thursday withdrew her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement, President Bush said he “reluctantly accepted” her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down.

Bush blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.


NBC’s chief legal correspondent, Pete Williams, said the move was exceptional, noting that only seven of 150 nominations have been withdrawn in the history of the court.
[Read more.]

Human Rights Watch: Only US seeks to justify abuse

From Agence France Presse via Common Dreams:
The US Congress should reject a Senate bill if it includes a White House-proposed amendment that would allow the CIA to abuse prisoners during interrogations, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch said that under President George W. Bush, the United States has become "the only government in the world to claim a legal justification for mistreating prisoners during interrogation."

"The administration is setting a dangerous example for the world when it claims that spy agencies are above the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch.

"Congress should reject this proposal outright. Otherwise, the United States will have no standing to demand humane treatment if an American falls into the hands of foreign intelligence services," he said in a statement.
[Read more.]

Serious lapses taint probes of detainee deaths

From the Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency:
Despite repeated vows by the Pentagon to fully investigate the deaths of all detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq and elsewhere in the "war on terror", a major human rights group has found a pattern of "grossly inadequate and flawed investigations" that have made it difficult or impossible to hold perpetrators accountable.

Human Rights First (HRF), a 25-year-old lawyers' group, said record-keeping of detainee deaths, of which Pentagon has reported 108 since 2002, has been "grossly inadequate" and that criminal investigators have routinely failed to interview key witnesses or collect and maintain usable evidence, such as body parts or basic ballistics evidence, for possible prosecution.

In addition, commanders have often either repeated failed to even to report deaths of detainees in the custody of their command, or delayed reporting them for days or even weeks after they occurred, greatly complicating efforts to collect relevant evidence. In one case, a death of an Iraqi detainee was not reported until a year later, and the case was closed without any determination of the cause of death.

In some cases, the military has launched serious investigations, but only after the case was reported in the media. In others, deaths that clearly resulted from foul play were initially attributed to natural causes, according to HRF, which said it is preparing a soon-to-be-released report on detainee deaths.

Of the Pentagon's estimate of 108 deaths in custody, the Army has identified 27 cases of suspected or confirmed homicides and at least seven cases in which detainees were tortured or beaten to death.
[Read more.]

Gitmo prisoner wants judge to order feeding tube removed

From the Associated Press via Information Clearing House:
A detainee on a hunger strike at the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay wants a judge to order the removal of his feeding tube so he can be allowed to die, one of his lawyers said Tuesday.

Fawzi al-Odah of Kuwait asked his lawyers during a meeting last week to file court papers seeking the removal of his feeding tube "out of desperation" over his imprisonment without charges, attorney Tom Wilner said.

"He is willing to take a stand if it will bring justice," Mr. Wilner said.


There are 26 detainees participating in the hunger strike, which began Aug. 8. Almost all are being force-fed through nasal tubes, Mr. Wilner said. Defense lawyers said the detainees are seeking to face trial or be released.
[Read more.]

New York Times: Legalized torture, reloaded

From a New York Times editorial via Information Clearing House:
Amid all the natural and political disasters it faces, the White House is certainly tireless in its effort to legalize torture. This week, Vice President Dick Cheney proposed a novel solution for the moral and legal problems raised by the use of American soldiers to abuse prisoners and the practice of turning captives over to governments willing to act as proxies in doing the torturing. Mr. Cheney wants to make it legal for the Central Intelligence Agency to do this wet work.
[Read more.]

Washington Post: Vice president for torture

From a Washington Post editorial via Information Clearing House:
Vice President Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Official investigations have indicated that some aberrant practices by Army personnel in Iraq originated with the CIA. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency's performance.
[Read more.]

White House seeks exception in abuse ban

From the New York Times via Common Dreams:
Stepping up a confrontation with the Senate over the handling of detainees, the White House is insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempted from a proposed ban on abusive treatment of suspected Qaeda militants and other terrorists.

The Senate defied a presidential veto threat nearly three weeks ago and approved, 90 to 9, an amendment to a $440 billion military spending bill that would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of any detainee held by the United States government. This could bar some techniques that the C.I.A. has used in some interrogations overseas.

But in a 45-minute meeting last Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney and the C.I.A. director, Porter J. Goss, urged Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who wrote the amendment, to support an exemption for the agency, arguing that the president needed maximum flexibility in dealing with the global war on terrorism, said two government officials who were briefed on the meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the discussions.

Mr. McCain rejected the proposed exemption, which stated that the measure "shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense and are consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and treaties to which the United States is a party, if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack."

Spokesmen for Mr. McCain, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Goss all declined to comment on the matter Monday, citing the confidentiality of the talks.

Human rights organizations said Monday that it was unclear whether the language in the changes proposed by the White House meant that the president would decide exemptions case by case or whether there would be more of a blanket authority. But they said the administration's proposal would seriously undermine Mr. McCain's measure.

Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said the administration had interpreted an international treaty banning torture to mean that a prohibition against cruel and inhumane treatment did not apply to C.I.A. actions overseas.

"That's why the McCain amendment is important, and that's why this language they're floating now would gut it," said Ms. Massimino, who provided a copy of the administration's proposed changes to The New York Times.

Human rights advocates said that creating parallel sets of interrogation rules for military personnel and clandestine intelligence operatives was impractical in the war on terrorism, where soldiers and spies routinely cross paths on a global battlefield and often share techniques

"They are explicitly saying, for the first time, that the intelligence community should have the ability to treat prisoners inhumanely," Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said. "You can't tell soldiers that inhumane treatment is always morally wrong if they see with their own eyes that C.I.A. personnel are allowed to engage in it."
[Read more.]

26 October 2005

Sign wisdom

A sign recently seen in Washington, DC:

"Would someone please give him a blowjob so we can impeach him!"

Bush calls for more sacrifice in the war in Iraq

Freedom is on the march. (Just ask George.)

From the Associated Press via USA Today:
With the U.S. military death toll in Iraq poised to surpass 2,000, President Bush warned the nation on Tuesday to brace for an even higher casualty count, as there is more work to be done in the country.

"The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of common humanity and by the rules of warfare," the president said in a speech at the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' luncheon, held at Bolling Air Force Base. "No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead."

But, Bush added: "Nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight. ... Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It's not justified."
[Read more.]

So, George, what are these "advantages we bring to this fight"? A greedy, reckless thirst for foreign oil and the willingness to lie and kill other people's children (never your own) to get control of that oil?

NOW: Rosa Parks' bravery reminds us that every person can take a stand

The National Organization for Women (NOW) issued the following statement upon the passing of Rosa Parks:
The National Organization for Women joins the world in mourning and saluting Rosa Parks, whose intrepid act nearly 50 years ago spurred a movement for basic human rights for all people of color.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks took a seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., on her way home from her job as a department store seamstress. When a white man boarded the bus and demanded her seat-laws in Alabama at the time required blacks to give up their seats to whites-Parks refused. For her act of defiance, she was arrested and fined $14. For the next 13 months, blacks boycotted the Montgomery bus system to protest the law, nearly bankrupting the company because the vast majority of passengers were black. In December1956 the Supreme Court ruled that the Alabama laws segregating buses were unconstitutional.

Parks was an ordinary woman who did an extraordinary act. Her simple act of dignity and courage came when it was needed most, bringing disparate factions together and launching a movement that changed the country and the world. Because she sat down, hundreds and later thousands stood up.

Today, more than ever, we could all stand to take a lesson from Rosa Parks. Many of us witness abuses of privilege and power every day; but how many of us stand up — or even speak up? How many of us remain quiet, silenced by the embarrassment or peer pressure? Parks' courage inspired a generation — and we must pick up her torch for the generations to come.

Whether you are working for women's rights, peace and justice, for environmental justice and the conservation of the planet, or the education of all our children, Rosa Parks' moment of bravery in the face of racism and inequality reminds us that every person, no matter their place, can take a stand.
[View this on the NOW site.]

No indictments today

From the Financial Times:
The US Justice Department said there would be no announcement on Wednesday in the CIA leak investigation case, while the grand jury met to consider the indictments.

On Tuesday night, news reports, supported by a source close to the lawyers involved in the case, said that target letters to those facing indictment were being issued, with sealed indictments to be filed on Wednesday and released by the end of the week.

Those in legal jeopardy may include Lewis “Scooter” Libby, vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, Mr Bush's chief political strategist.

Mr Cheney himself has also been linked to the inquiry into the leaking of the name of an undercover CIA operative, according to a story in Tuesday's New York Times.

Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has said he would announce any conclusion to his 22-month investigation in Washington.

The New York Times report said Mr Cheney had talked with Mr Libby on June 12 2003 about the fact that the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration's claims about Iraq, worked at the agency. The identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, was first disclosed by Robert Novak in an syndicated column on July 14 2003, which triggered the inquiry.

The suggestion appears to contradict comments in late 2003 from Mr Cheney that he did not know who had sent Mr Wilson to Niger in February 2002 to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium. They also cast some doubt on statements Mr Libby is reported to have made to the grand jury that he may have learned about Ms Plame's job from journalists.
[Read more.]

Home states of the 2,000 dead troops

The Boston Globe has published a map showing the number of dead troops from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and each of the U.S. territories.

California has the most, at 215.

Interestingly, Texas appears to be in second place, at 174.

[See the map.]

Bush and Plamegate: Between a rock and a hard place, and out of sound bites

From Reuters via truthout.org:
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday the investigation into the outing of a covert CIA operative was "very serious," even as Republican allies started casting aspersions on the prosecutor and the possibility of perjury charges.

The mixed signals came as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appeared close to indicting top White House officials in the nearly two-year investigation, lawyers involved in the case said.

Fitzgerald's investigation has focused largely on Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and their conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame in June and July of 2003.

After a Cabinet meeting, Bush was asked whether he agreed with Republican suggestions that Fitzgerald may be overzealous and that possible perjury charges would be little more than legal technicalities.

"This is a very serious investigation," Bush said. Rove sat behind the president in the Cabinet room; across the room sat Libby.

Lawyers involved in the case say Fitzgerald has laid the groundwork for indictments this week, and that he was focusing on whether Rove, Libby and others may have tried to conceal their involvement in the leak from investigators.

Indictments against any top officials would be a severe blow to an administration already at a low point in public opinion, and would put a spotlight on aggressive tactics used by the White House to counter critics of its Iraq policy.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, challenged the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Lawyers said one possibility was a "split decision" in which Libby is indicted and Rove is spared.
[Read more.]

Hip deep in this and the sharks are circling

The Grand Jury in the Plamegate case is set to expire at the end of this week. Rumor has it that high-level indictments will arrive any minute.

From Capitol Hill Blue:
Senior White House officials over the weekend warned President George W. Bush to “prepare for the worst” in the ever-deepening Valerie Plame scandal, laying out a scenario that includes indictments of top officials and detailing a direct involvement by the Administration in a concentrated effort to destroy the credibility of Ambassador Joseph Wilson and then conceal the actions from investigators.

Chief of Staff Andrew Card cancelled a weekend schedule of appearances and events to spend the weekend with Bush at Camp David and deliver the bad news personally, White House insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue.

With indictments expected against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Richard Cheney’s chief of staff, and possibly White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Card told Bush that both will have to resign if the administration is to salvage any chance of recovering from the scandal.

“We’re hip deep in this and the sharks are circling,” Card told the President.

According to multiple White House sources, Card laid out a detailed scenario of White House involvement in a staff-directed campaign to destroy administration critic Wilson.
[Read more.]

25 October 2005

Not one more: Protest the unnecessary loss of 2,000 U.S. troops

From the American Friends Service Committee:
The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has passed the 2000 mark.

On Wednesday, October 26, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to say that the country’s pro-peace majority wants Congress to stop the deaths and suffering in Iraq by stopping the dollars that are funding the war.
[Find or organize an event in your community.]


It's official.

U.S. military fatalities in the current Iraq war: 2000

Iraqi constitution passes

The press is reporting that the votes have been counted and the Iraqi constitution was approved by 78.59 percent of the voters. [Read story.]

Now George W. Bush can brag to us again about how we're spreading freedom and democracy around the world.

Just 1 more to go

U.S. military fatalities in the current Iraq war (as of this morning): 1999

Rosa Parks dead at 92

I awoke this morning to some sad news: Rosa Parks, the matriarch of the civil rights movement, is dead. She died of natural causes at her home in Detroit. She was 92 years old. [Read story.]

The world has lost another true hero.

24 October 2005

Human trafficking

Despite the fact that most countries condemn the practice of slavery, human trafficking is happening all around the world, and even here in the U.S. We need to fight it and erase it from this planet.

Learn more: Amnesty International spokesperson Mira Sorvino is starring in Human Trafficking, a Lifetime TV mini-series that illustrates the violence of the global sex trade. The show will air tonight and tomorrow at 9:00 pm eastern and pacific time.

[Read more.]

23 October 2005

Former aides say Libby targeted Joe Wilson

From the Los Angeles Times:
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was so angry about the public statements of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a Bush administration critic married to an undercover CIA officer, that he monitored all of Wilson's television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him, former aides say.

Those efforts by the chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, began shortly after Wilson went public with his criticisms in 2003. But they continued into last year — well after the Justice Department began an investigation in September 2003, into whether administration officials had illegally disclosed the CIA operative's identity, say former White House aides.

While other administration officials were maintaining a careful distance from Wilson in 2004, Libby ordered up a compendium of information that could be used to rebut Wilson's claims that the administration had "twisted" intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

Libby pressed the administration to publicly counter Wilson, sparking a debate with other White House officials who thought the tactic would call more attention to the former diplomat and his criticisms. That debate ended after an April 2004 meeting in the office of White House Communications Director Daniel Bartlett, when staffers were told "don't engage" Wilson, according to notes taken during the meeting by one person present.

"Scooter had a plan to counter Wilson and a passionate desire to do so," said a second person, a former White House official familiar with the internal deliberations. Like other former White House staff, this person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
[Read more.]

"A Constitutional Disaster"

Former Amnesty International USA board chairman Chip Pitts provides a good overview of the problems with the Patiot Act on the Web site of The Nation.

An excerpt:
While natural disasters in the Gulf Coast and the man-made disaster in Iraq continue to grab the public's attention, a constitutional disaster quietly threatens the nation.

The USA Patriot Act's renewal is now almost a fait accompli--accepted by all but the most steadfast civil libertarians in Congress. The House and Senate have separately voted to approve the law with only minor changes, and the final conference committee action and vote is expected within the next week or so. None of the provisions of the law that were slated to sunset now appear likely to do so.

This law, enacted during a "state of emergency" declared by President Bush and intended to be revisited in calmer times, is now effectively being made permanent. California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher has strongly objected to the reauthorization on this ground.

The Patriot Act has been and will continue to be used mainly against ordinary Americans accused of crimes unrelated to terrorism, or those who disagree with government policies or happen to be immigrants or of the Muslim faith.

The result is likely to be an enduring shift of power from the legislative and judicial branches to the executive branch--and less privacy and liberty for all.

New Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is unlikely to offer much relief; he has supported the Administration's so-called "war on terror" policies. Unlike retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote last year that the President did not have a "blank check" even in times of war, her proposed replacement, Harriet Miers, if confirmed would likely be more accommodating on these issues. Granting the President such broad new powers, especially given today's surveillance technologies, would change the very foundations of the American body politic.
[Read more.]

Just 4 more to go

U.S. military fatalities in the current Iraq war (as of this morning): 1996

22 October 2005

Philly folks: This is the weekend!

I am writing this from Amnesty International's Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, which this year is being held in Philadelphia. If you are within a reasonable travel distance from Philly, you want to be here. The list of speakers for Saturday and Sunday is pretty much an all-star lineup:

- Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter for The New Yorker who uncovered the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib

- Donna Newman, the attorney for Jose Padilla, the only American civilian ever to be arrested on U.S. soil and held by the military without a charge, a court hearing, or access to his lawyer

- Clive Stafford Smith, human rights attorney who represents inmates held at Guantanamo Bay and is focusing his work on achieving due process for the detainees being held by the United States

- Susan Burke, who is leading the litigation team representing the victims of abuse during the interrogations at Abu Ghraib

- Jennifer Harbury, a Harvard-educated lawyer whose three-year quest to find her Guatemalan husband revealed high-level involvement between the CIA and the Guatemalan military in his capture, torture, and murder

... and more!

The conference is being held at the Crown Plaza at 1800 Market Street, 2nd floor.

[Click for more info.]

Just 7 more to go

U.S. military fatalities in the current Iraq war (as of this morning): 1993

21 October 2005

Victory for VAWA! (More support still needed, though.)

Good news: It seems a good bet that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will soon be reauthorized.

Here is a status update from the Sheila Wellstone Institute (including a link to more info):
For the past six months, Wellstone Action and the Sheila Wellstone Institute called on you to make sure the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) did not expire - which would have set back over 10 years of progress ending sexual and domestic violence.

We asked you to take action, and you raised your voice. You sent nearly 10,000 faxes, calls, and emails to your representatives in Congress - and they heard you.

Thanks to your efforts, VAWA passed overwhelmingly in both the House of Representatives and the Senate!

Now, the two versions of the bills must go to conference committee. We will need your help again in the coming weeks to make sure that families and communities have all the protections they need to stay safe and seek justice. To learn more, visit our VAWA Online Action Center.

Thank you for celebrating this victory for safe families and safe communities with us.

20 October 2005

Just 12 more to go

U.S. military fatalities in the current Iraq war (thru today): 1988

Maura Stephens: "Why torture is OK"

From openDemocracy:
Imagine that you are on your way to work, coffee in hand, one December morning when three men in United States military uniforms, armed with guns, approach you. They say your name; you acknowledge it.

One of them slams you in the chest, knocking your briefcase and coffee to the ground, but not before the hot beverage spills on your hand, burning you. The men throw a heavy plastic black hood over your head. You can see nothing. It is very hard to breathe. You are confused and scared out of your mind. You do not have any idea what these men might want. What happened to the quiet day you were expecting? How can you get word to your family? Nobody knows where you are. They will be paralysed with worry.

You are helpless: this cannot be. This is a free country, not a totalitarian state. This is “the greatest country in the world.” Things like this happen in other places, not here. Innocent people are protected here; innocent people are not jailed and abused for no reason, not here.

You are thrown into the back of a pickup truck with a lot of other people. Even through the hood you can smell the fear of others bound and hooded like you. You call out: “This is a mistake! Why am I here? I have done nothing!” You are punched hard in the stomach; it knocks the wind out of you. The truck moves; you are jostled against those next to you.

Eventually the truck stops and you are hauled off, stumbling. You go down hard on one knee because your arms are tied behind you. You are hauled up, twisted by the elbow on your already swollen arm, then herded along with the others; all are quiet except for the occasional cough or sneeze as you shuffle along, prodded in the side occasionally by something sharp and metal, and eventually you hear a huge metal door open. You are tossed inside a room, your hood removed. Your handcuffs are still very tight. Your scalded hand and your bruised knee are throbbing. The other people in the room look as terrified as you are; you count at least thirty-five other prisoners. There is no sink or running water other than one toilet, which already reeks of human excrement and urine.

Soon you are brought in front of a gang of armed men in an office sitting behind a desk. You are made to strip completely naked while being asked questions you don’t understand about people you do know and care about. You cannot answer; you don’t have a clue what the questioners are getting at. They hood and handcuff you again without letting you don even your underwear. Next they force you to crawl a hundred yards and then climb a set of stairs on your knees, naked, your arms behind you, unable to see, struggling for breath the entire time. Your panic is rising, you see no way out.

There is no way out. Over the next five and a half months you are kicked, beaten, stomped, punched, hung backward by your hands, made to go days without sleep, starved, left uncovered in the cold, sprayed with freezing cold water, your teeth chattering so hard you think your brains will simply turn to pulp. Men take turns pissing on you. They poke the barrel of a gun up your anus. They electrocute you. They gleefully pummel your infected hand. They take your photograph as they mock you. Not one of them treats you in any way like a human being. You hold onto your sanity by a thread.

No protection

Put yourself in the position of this prisoner. It could very easily have been you. If you’re a United States citizen, it could still be you in the not-too-distant future. Or it could be someone you love with all your heart, someone you would die to protect.

There is no protection in the current US law for any innocent person who undergoes such treatment. You could be treated thus just for sport, really, and your abusers could claim they “suspect” you of some sort of terrorism, thus leaving them free to do as they will with you, without oversight or accounting.

The story just touched on above is that of at least one man in Abu Ghraib – an innocent man who was tortured and abused at the hands of US military personnel in such unimaginable ways it makes me sick to contemplate them.

His abusers, remember, were liberating his country from an evil dictator. Their commander-in-chief claims to be on the side of good versus evil.


I have also spoken to US citizens who think along the same lines as one reader who wrote in response to a brief article I published on a talk by Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist. The reader stated: "I don’t really have much of a problem with the 'torture' [Hersh] uncovered at Abu Ghraib. Throwing hoods over their heads and only letting them sleep a couple of hours at a time is nothing, compared to the fate the victims of 9/11 suffered. Do critics of the military really think you just nicely ask suspected terrorists for information, and they’ll tell you?"

This man, no doubt, loves his parents and his wife and children, and donates to his church and to hurricane victims’ funds. I imagine that in September 2001 he gave money to New York City relief efforts. His friends probably say about him: "He’s a great guy – he’d give you the shirt off his back."

I wonder how the people of a nation that considers itself the epitome of enlightenment and education, a so-called "civilised society," can draw such bizarre distinctions and tolerate the inhumane treatment endured by the people in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay and other US – and probably UK – prisons.

I wonder how. But I must point out that we could not have expected otherwise.
[Read more.]

Rove points the finger at Libby

From today's Washington Post:
White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.
[Read more.]

Bush reprimanded Rove two years ago for involvement in CIA leak

From the New York Daily News:
An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald nears a decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether to issue indictments in his two-year probe, Bush has already circled the wagons around Rove, whose departure would be a grievous blow to an already shell-shocked White House staff and a President in deep political trouble.
[Read more.]

Heightened expectations of Plamegate indictments

Sounds like there will be fireworks either way.

From the New York Times via truthout.org:
The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

A final report had long been considered an option for Mr. Fitzgerald if he decided not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, although Justice Department officials have been dubious about his legal authority to issue such a report.

By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm.
[Read more.]

19 October 2005

UN asks rights groups to report on U.S. violations

From OneWorld.net:
In an unprecedented move, a UN committee has asked human and civil rights groups to submit reports and testify on U.S. breaches of international law, filling a gap left by the U.S. government's failure to submit its own report.

The 18-member United Nations Human Rights Committee, which reviews nations' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, began reviewing country reports Monday and will complete its session on October 24.

But for the third time since ratifying the treaty in 1992, the United States has failed to submit its five-year report to the committee on U.S. violations of the treaty.

The treaty, which entered into force in 1976 and has been signed by 155 countries, outlaws torture or degrading treatment, protects self-determination, and ensures that all people everywhere are treated within the law.

Without a U.S. report, the committee usually skips over discussions of U.S. compliance.

But anticipating an absent U.S. report, the Human Rights Committee took precautions this year.

Last August, the committee sent a letter to a number of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the World Organization for Human Rights USA, requesting reports on U.S. transgressions of the treaty, to be used in case the U.S. itself failed to report.

Specifically, the committee's letter requested documentation relating to, "the fight against terrorism following the events of 11 September 2001 and notably the implications of the Patriot Act on nationals as well as non-nationals; and problems relating to the legal status and treatment of persons detained in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Iraq, and other places of detention outside the USA."

The move represents a new level of intensity by the United Nations to hold the United States accountable for what is widely seen by rights groups as an increasing disregard of human rights by the U.S. government at the highest level, and at the same time an elevation of the status of NGOs within the UN system.

"It was a very unusual request. As far as I know it's never happened before," the Executive Director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, Morton Sklar, told OneWorld.

"It's highly unusual for them to call a special session without a report having been filed," he said.
[Read more.]

Hearings begin on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act

From civilrights.org:
Members of the House Judiciary Committee, civil rights leaders, and voting rights experts convened on October 18 for the first in a series of hearings to discuss the role the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has played and continues to play in ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunity in voting.

A major focus of the hearings is the importance of the Act's temporary provisions, which are up for renewal in 2007.

The hearings are designed to educate Congress on the continued need for the VRA. Witnesses will discuss the prevalence of voting discrimination around the country and the role the VRA has played in curbing it.


Reauthorization of the VRA is "critical," according to Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

"For the past 40 years, the Voting Rights Act has worked well to enfranchise the disenfranchised. But threats to minority voters and efforts to discourage minority voters continue," Henderson said. "In making our democracy work, it is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure that every citizen's right to vote is protected. Congressional reauthorization and strengthening of the Voting Rights Act will accomplish this vital goal."
[Read more.]

Texas court issues warrant for DeLay

Will justice be served in Texas?

From the Associated Press via truthout.org:
A Texas court on Wednesday issued a warrant for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's arrest, and set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and state money laundering charges.

Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County, Texas, jail for booking, where he'd likely be fingerprinted and photographed. DeLay's lawyers had hoped to avoid such a spectacle.
[Read more.]

New PBS documentary: "The Torture Question"

Last evening, PBS premiered a very interesting show on Frontline called "The Torture QUestion". The program traces the history of how decisions made in Washington in the immediate aftermath of September 11 led to a robust interrogation policy that laid the groundwork for prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and Iraq.

The Frontline producers interviewed more than 30 direct participants in the story, pored over thousands of pages of documents, examined hundreds of pictures and videotapes, and traveled to the American prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to produce the documentary.

After 12:00 noon today, you will be able to view the complete documentary on the PBS site.

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Procedures for Saddam's trial

The trial begins today in Iraq for the first counts against Saddam Hussein. Hopefully he will be tried swiftly and fairly, and will finally be held accountable for his crimes against humanity.

From Newsday:
Saddam Hussein will be tried in a heavily guarded courtroom under rules grounded in international law but deviating from past war crimes tribunals on key points.

The major difference with recent trials is that Saddam faces the death penalty as a possible sentence. And unlike most similar cases since World War II, he will be tried by his own countrymen.

The tribunal was set up by an interim Iraqi government created by U.S. occupation authorities, although the court is now overseen by a democratically elected Iraqi government.

There will be no jury. The chief judge will question witnesses, and all five judges will decide the guilt or innocence of Saddam and his seven co-defendants. The judges will be permitted to draw help from international advisers.

Saddam will sit with his co-defendants, probably behind protective glass. He will have the right to call witnesses and, if convicted, to lodge numerous appeals before any sentence could be carried out. Each defendant will have at least one lawyer.
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18 October 2005

Take Action: Today is National Call-In Day for Darfur

Even with our own United States in such a mess, we must not forget the victims of the genocide in Darfur, in western Sudan.

From the Save Darfur Coalition:
As the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, we need Congress to do its part to end the atrocities by passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act now that they have returned from last week’s recess. We therefore urge you to call your Representative and Senators and let them know that you expect them to pass this important and necessary legislation before they adjourn for the year next month.
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Torture on the Hill

From an excellent editorial in the current issue of The Nation:
Over a single week in October, the President's entire coalition suddenly seemed in danger of unraveling. There's no doubt about the political import of Republican fratricide over George W. Bush's nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, perhaps betokening the long-overdue rupture of the patronage bargain between the President and the religious right. But in global terms, the emerging chasm between Congress and the President over the Iraq War in general and war crimes in particular is of the most profound consequence--signaled by the Senate's bracing passage, by a 90-to-9 vote, of John McCain's anti-torture amendment to the defense appropriations bill.

The Senate's passage of the amendment stands as a singular legislative attempt to corral Bush into compliance with international law and human rights standards. McCain's legislation, which would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" by the military, bears the unmistakable moral authority of Vietnam POW McCain and Vietnam vet Senator Chuck Hagel and the strategic endorsement of more than two dozen retired senior military officers, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili. No longer can the White House pretend that for the sake of national security Congress has acquiesced in torture. The most shocking aspect of the McCain amendment is not the bill's content but the White House's threat of a veto in the face of near-unanimous Senate support. Even if Administration arm-twisting brings a challenge in the House-Senate conference committee, the overwhelming margin of the Senate vote sends an important message to the federal courts about legislative intent--and further isolates the Administration.
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New Downing Street memo: First Iraq, and then Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea

Yes, even Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are led by buddies of Bush!

From The Independent via truthout.org:
George Bush told the Prime Minister two months before the invasion of Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction, a top secret Downing Street memo shows.

The US President told Tony Blair, in a secret telephone conversation in January 2003 that he "wanted to go beyond Iraq".

He implied that the military action against Saddam Hussein was only a first step in the battle against WMD proliferation in a series of countries.

Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation", says the letter on Downing Street paper, marked secret and personal.

No 10 said yesterday it would "not comment on leaked documents". But the revelation that Mr Bush was considering tackling other countries over WMD before the Iraq war has shocked MPs. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been close allies of the US in the war against terror and have not been considered targets in relation to WMD.

The confidential memo recording the President's explosive remarks was written by Michael Rycroft, then the Prime Minister's private secretary and foreign policy adviser. He sent the two-page letter recording the conversation between the two leaders on 30 January 2003 to Simon McDonald, who was then private secretary to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Rycroft said it "must only be shown to those with a real need to know ".
[Read more.]

17 October 2005

DeLay shoots the messenger

From CNN:
Tom DeLay is using his congressional campaign to distribute to voters derogatory information about the Texas prosecutor who has indicted him -- and to raise more money for a re-election bid that has been affected by the criminal case.

"Help Tom fight back," reads one of the solicitations on the www.TomDelay.com Web site that voters are being directed to as part of an Internet-based campaign paid for by DeLay's re-election committee.

Contributors, voters and others who sign up can get regular e-mails and an electronic "toolkit" from DeLay's campaign with the latest disparaging information his legal team has prepared on Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle.

"Join thousands of conservatives across the country in the fight against liberal DA Ronnie Earle," recipients are told.
[Read more.]

Frank Rich's latest on Plamegate

As always, columnist Frank Rich provides the voice of reason.

From yesterday's New York Times via truthout.org:
There hasn't been anything like it since Martha Stewart fended off questions about her stock-trading scandal by manically chopping cabbage on "The Early Show" on CBS. Last week the setting was "Today" on NBC, where the image of President Bush manically hammering nails at a Habitat for Humanity construction site on the Gulf Coast was juggled with the sight of him trying to duck Matt Lauer's questions about Karl Rove.

As with Ms. Stewart, Mr. Bush's paroxysm of panic was must-see TV. "The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts," Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post. Asked repeatedly about Mr. Rove's serial appearances before a Washington grand jury, the jittery Mr. Bush, for once bereft of a script, improvised a passable impersonation of Norman Bates being quizzed by the detective in "Psycho." Like Norman and Ms. Stewart, he stonewalled.

That stonewall may start to crumble in a Washington courtroom this week or next. In a sense it already has. Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Mr. Wilson and his wife were trashed to protect that larger plot. Because the personnel in both stories overlap, the bits and pieces we've learned about the leak inquiry over the past two years have gradually helped fill in the über-narrative about the war. Last week was no exception. Deep in a Wall Street Journal account of Judy Miller's grand jury appearance was this crucial sentence: "Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group."

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, was never announced. Only much later would a newspaper article or two mention it in passing, reporting that it had been set up by Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff. Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.

Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration was ensuring that "the intelligence and facts" about Iraq's W.M.D.'s "were being fixed around the policy" of going to war. And on Sept. 6, 2002 - just a few weeks after WHIG first convened - Mr. Card alluded to his group's existence by telling Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times that there was a plan afoot to sell a war against Saddam Hussein: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."
[Read more.]

16 October 2005

Judith Miller on her Grand Jury testimony

New York Times reporter and Bush administration cheerleader Judith Miller today published an article in the Times outlining her testimony to the Grand Jury investigating the leak of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame.

In the piece, Miller takes every opportunity to make the Bush administration officials (and herself) look like saints, while smearing those who would dare to criticize or investigate the Bush administration.

And when she can't find a way to twist an issue, she tapdances around it. (Perhaps that's how she stays so slim.)

For instance, a two-minute Google search will reveal the name of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife. You don't need a Bush administration official to get that specific.

I'm starting to agree with those who have asserted that the Times was protecting not a whistle-blower but an administration campaign intended to squelch dissent.

An excerpt:
In July 2003, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, created a firestorm by publishing an essay in The New York Times that accused the Bush administration of using faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. The administration, he charged, ignored findings of a secret mission he had undertaken for the Central Intelligence Agency - findings, he said, that undermined claims that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear bomb.

It was the first time Mr. Wilson had gone public with his criticisms of the White House. Yet he had already become a focus of significant scrutiny at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Almost two weeks earlier, in an interview with me on June 23, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, discussed Mr. Wilson's activities and placed blame for intelligence failures on the C.I.A. In later conversations with me, on July 8 and July 12, Mr. Libby, who is Mr. Cheney's top aide, played down the importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his performance.

My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.

My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative," as the conservative columnist Robert D. Novak first described her in a syndicated column published on July 14, 2003. (Mr. Novak used her maiden name, Valerie Plame.)

This is what I told a federal grand jury and the special counsel investigating whether administration officials committed a crime by leaking Ms. Plame's identity and the nature of her job to reporters.

During my testimony on Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail last month. And Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Cheney had known what his chief aide was doing and saying.

My interview notes show that Mr. Libby sought from the beginning, before Mr. Wilson's name became public, to insulate his boss from Mr. Wilson's charges. According to my notes, he told me at our June meeting that Mr. Cheney did not know of Mr. Wilson, much less know that Mr. Wilson had traveled to Niger, in West Africa, to verify reports that Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium for a weapons program.

As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq. I testified about these conversations after spending 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury inquiry. Having been summoned to testify before the grand jury, I went to jail instead, to protect my source - Mr. Libby - because he had not communicated to me his personal and voluntary permission to speak.

At the behest of President Bush and Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Libby had signed a blanket form waiver, which his lawyer signaled to my counsel was not really voluntary, even though Mr. Libby's lawyer also said it had enabled other reporters to cooperate with the grand jury. But I believed that nothing short of a personal letter and a telephone call would allow me to assess whether Mr. Libby truly wished to free me from the pledge of confidentiality I had given him. The letter and the telephone call came last month.

Equally central to my decision was Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor. He had declined to confine his questioning to the subject of Mr. Libby. This meant I would have been unable to protect other confidential sources who had provided information - unrelated to Mr. Wilson or his wife - for articles published in The Times. Last month, Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questioning.
[Read more.]

The New York Times examines Plamegate and their reporter's role in the scandal

True to the rumors, today's New York Times contains an in-depth examination of "Judith Miller's decision not to testify, and then to do so, [and] offers fresh information about her role and how The Times turned her case into a cause."

An excerpt:
In a notebook belonging to Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, amid notations about Iraq and nuclear weapons, appear two small words: "Valerie Flame."

Ms. Miller should have written Valerie Plame. That name is at the core of a federal grand jury investigation that has reached deep into the White House. At issue is whether Bush administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, an undercover C.I.A. operative, to reporters as part of an effort to blunt criticism of the president's justification for the war in Iraq.

Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify and reveal her confidential source, then relented. On Sept. 30, she told the grand jury that her source was I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. But she said he did not reveal Ms. Plame's name.

And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how "Valerie Flame" appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard it from him. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall," she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today.

Whether Ms. Miller's testimony will prove valuable to the prosecution remains unclear, as do its ramifications for press freedom. Yet an examination of Ms. Miller's decision not to testify, and then to do so, offers fresh information about her role in the investigation and how The New York Times turned her case into a cause.

The grand jury investigation centers on whether administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, whose husband, a former diplomat named Joseph C. Wilson IV, became a public critic of the Iraq war in July 2003. But Ms. Miller said Mr. Libby first raised questions about the diplomat in an interview with her that June, an account suggesting that Mr. Wilson was on the White House's radar before he went public with his criticisms.

Once Ms. Miller was issued a subpoena in August 2004 to testify about her conversations with Mr. Libby, she and The Times vowed to fight it. Behind the scenes, however, her lawyer made inquiries to see if Mr. Libby would release her from their confidentiality agreement. Ms. Miller said she decided not to testify in part because she thought that Mr. Libby's lawyer might be signaling to keep her quiet unless she would exonerate his client. The lawyer denies that, and Mr. Libby did not respond to requests for an interview.

As Ms. Miller, 57, remained resolute and moved closer to going to jail for her silence, the leadership of The Times stood squarely behind her.

"She'd given her pledge of confidentiality," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher. "She was prepared to honor that. We were going to support her."

But Mr. Sulzberger and the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, knew few details about Ms. Miller's conversations with her confidential source other than his name. They did not review Ms. Miller's notes. Mr. Keller said he learned about the "Valerie Flame" notation only this month. Mr. Sulzberger was told about it by Times reporters on Thursday.

Interviews show that the paper's leaders, in taking what they considered to be a principled stand, ultimately left the major decisions in the case up to Ms. Miller, an intrepid reporter whom editors found hard to control.

"This car had her hand on the wheel because she was the one at risk," Mr. Sulzberger said.

Once Ms. Miller was jailed, her lawyers were in open conflict about whether she should stay there. She had refused to reopen communications with Mr. Libby for a year, saying she did not want to pressure a source into waiving confidentiality. But in the end, saying "I owed it to myself" after two months of jail, she had her lawyer reach out to Mr. Libby. This time, hearing directly from her source, she accepted his permission and was set free.

"We have everything to be proud of and nothing to apologize for," Ms. Miller said in an interview Friday.

Neither The Times nor its cause has emerged unbruised. Three courts, including the Supreme Court, declined to back Ms. Miller. Critics said The Times was protecting not a whistle-blower but an administration campaign intended to squelch dissent. The Times's coverage of itself was under assault: While the editorial page had crusaded on Ms. Miller's behalf, the news department had more than once been scooped on the paper's own story, even including the news of Ms. Miller's release from jail.

Asked what she regretted about The Times's handling of the matter, Jill Abramson, a managing editor, said: "The entire thing."
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