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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Having trouble accessing the new site?

After much hard work we have finally isolated the problem causing numerous
readers to not be able to access the firedoglake.com site. If you try to go
there and receive CPanel page that says "there is no site configured for this
address", then you are one of these people.


The problem lies in the network of name servers around the world that changes
a domain like firedoglake.com into something that computers understand, in this
case an IP address. We are trying to get the situation resolved but this could
take a few days or even a week or so, depending on how long the new information
takes to work its way through the internet.


For people using Windows, I can offer the following solutions to you. First
thing you can attempt to do is flush your DNS. To do that go to start then run
and enter cmd in the box then press ok. This will bring up the command
prompt. From there enter ipconfig /flushdns then press enter. Once that
is complete you can close out the command window. After you are done with that
clear the cache for your browser then restart the browser.


If you are still having problems after that, then you can add a host file to
your system. You need to locate a file called host and open it up with a text
editor (like notepad). This file will be located in your

c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc
directory. You may have to substitute
windows for what ever directory windows is actually installed.


Once you open that file up, add the following to the end of the file.


38.98.18.100 firedoglake.com


Then save the file. Again clear your browser's cache and restart your
browser. This should take you to the new site.


I hope this helps out and if anyone has a similar work around for MAC then
please leave it in the comments.


A similar solution is available for MAC. Open the file /etc/hosts in a text
editor. Add the following lines at the end of the file


firedoglake.com A 38.98.18.100


Separate each part with a tab instead of spaces. Again clear your browser's
cache and try again. I can not guarantee this will work on MAC as I have never
tried but it does work on Linux so the chances are good it will.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Digs

Please visit us at our new home, firedoglake.com.

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Moussaoui Case Stunner

For every person out there who tried to dismiss Colleen Rowley as an angry, disgruntled employee or an overly-emotional woman or whatever other pathetic excuse was used by people trying to marginalize her voice or to minimize blame for the Bush Administration and the folks at the higher echelons of the FBI -- you look like apologist idiots.
The F.B.I. agent who arrested and interrogated Zacarias Moussaoui just weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks told a jury on Monday how he had tried repeatedly to get his superiors in Washington to help confirm his certainty that Mr. Moussaoui was involved in an imminent terrorist airline hijacking plot.

But, said the agent, Harry Samit, he was regularly thwarted by senior bureau officials whose obstructionism he later described to Justice Department investigators as "criminally negligent" and who were, he believed, motivated principally by a need to protect their careers....

Mr. Samit confirmed that he had told Justice Department investigators that the senior agents in Washington "took a calculated risk not to advance the investigation" by refusing to seek search warrants for Mr. Moussaoui's belongings and computer. He testified that he had come to believe that "the wager was a national tragedy."...

Mr. Samit said two senior agents had declined to provide help in obtaining a search warrant, either through a special panel of judges that considers applications for foreign intelligence cases or through a normal application to any federal court for a criminal investigation.

As a field agent in Minnesota, he said, he required help and approval from headquarters to continue his investigation. He acknowledged that he had asserted that Michael Maltbie, a supervisor in the bureau's Radical Fundamentalist Unit, had told him that applications for the special intelligence court warrants had proved troublesome for the bureau and that seeking one "was just the kind of thing that would get F.B.I. agents in trouble."

Mr. Samit wrote that Mr. Maltbie had told him that "he was not about to let that happen to him." During that period, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had complained about improper applications from the bureau.

Mr. Samit also acknowledged that he had asserted to investigators that David Frasca, Mr. Maltbie's superior, had similarly blocked him from seeking a search warrant under the more common route, a criminal investigation. Some of the special court's complaints dealt with the idea that law-enforcement officials were sometimes exploiting the lower standard required for warrants in intelligence investigations and then using the information that they obtained in criminal cases.

Mr. Frasca, Mr. Samit explained, believed that once the Moussaoui investigation was opened as an intelligence inquiry, it would arouse suspicion that agents had been trying to abuse the intelligence law to get information for a case they now believed was a criminal one.
So, let's see, the problem has never been the FISA Court nor the field agents, but the attitude of the careerists in DC. And every Administration apologist who has been on the talking head shows for YEARS now trying to lay blame on the FISA judges or the field agents or anyone else who is actually doing the work was full of crap. Because all along, it was the folks in charge who were the problem.

That the Bush Administration may have known this all along, and kept the information from the 9/11 Commission, and every other commission that has studied these issues -- because they were limited in scope in terms of their investigative powers, is unconscionable.

Those Americans and those of other nations who were tragically killed on 9/11 deserve a hell of a lot better than getting confirmation of this only during cross-examination in the death penalty phase of the Moussaoui trial. A hell of a lot better.

NOTE: Obviously, we're still having some sight growing pains. We're back to cross-posting in both places until we can work things out. Thanks so much, everyone, for your patience on this. We're exhausted, but we're going to get this fixed no matter what. Oh, and blogger isn't letting me upload pictures again...will get one up when the glitch goes away.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Feingold Plays Rochambeau With Lincoln Chafee

Leading Democrat Russ Feingold on Charlie Rose:

I was pleased, Charlie, that Lincoln Chafee, Senator from Rhode Island, a Republican -- even though he didn't say he would vote for it he did not rule out the possibility that censure would be the right answer at some point in time. And that's the spirit in which I offered the resolution this week.
Yeah Republican tower of conviction Lincoln Chafee did say that, didn't he? I'm sure he believes it. Just like he believes in pro-choice -- and voted for cloture on Samuel Alito. Just like he claims to be a progressive from a blue state -- and supported John Bolton.

Chafee believed it okay, on March 15. But on March 16 he released a statement entitled:
Chafee Reiterates His Opposition To Censure Resolution
How brave. How principled. Must've had his chain righteously yanked by BushCo post haste. They don't really care what kind of problems Chafee is going to have running in a progressive blue state, nobody is allowed that far off the reservation no matter how urgent their need to distance themselves from Fearless Leader.

Chafee's numbers are shockingly bad. Yet the voters of Rhode Island get to see another portrait in GOP courage from Lincoln Chafee. And Russ Feingold's censure resolution has not only highlighted Chafee's horrible dilemma, Feingold himself then went on national television and pointed his finger at it.

Can we hear the one again about how Feingold is killing the Democrats' chance to take the Senate in 2006? 'Cos I need a good laugh.

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Thanks For Being Patient

We're still having growing pains into our new site. Fortunately we have great people working on it and we hope to be back up soon.

In the mean time, Digby catches DC Beltway denizen Cokie Roberts sticking her finger in the air and coming up -- bloggers:
Democrats are enjoying their miseries. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said to me this week-end "we have a strong wind at our back and all we have to do is get a sail up, any sail, some sail" but they haven't managed to do that yet.

They were interested to see how Senator Russ Feingold's call for censure worked with the blogosphere, mainly, and also in polls. Because Democrats backed away from his call just dramatically, even Democrats like Nancy Pelosi of California didn't want anything to do with it. But a Newsweek poll out today shows 42% of the people supporting censure including 20% of Republicans. So Democrats are feeling pretty good about where they are in all this.
They waited to see what we were going to say? While there were a few in the blogosphere who decided to sit this one out, the people who took a stand to back Feingold came out looking pretty good. The opinion polls show that there is a lot of public support for censuring the President and it feels like there is a sea change taking place as Democrats (though not Evan Bayh) warm up to the idea of representing what a large part of the country already feels.

I guess we're not so fringe after all.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Incomprehensible Demoralization

When Nancy Pelosi recently stated that she thought things were "going well" for the Democrats she was no doubt referring to polls that show the Democrats have a 16-point lead in 2006 congressional election preferences.

But this confidence presumes that the Democrats will be able to mobilize the GOTV. The Republicans are very, very good at this and I hear a lot of defeatism amongst netroots Democrats that I am quite worried about. It only seems to grow worse as the Senate Democrats prove so deaf to the concerns of their base as evidenced in their petty, dismissive attitude toward Russ Feingold and his censure resolution.

People have come to believe in the past five years that Karl Rove is all-powerful (he's not), that Diebold can steal every election (they can't), that it is just not worth fighting because defeat is inevitable. That is a very dangerous mindset amongst people upon whom you are counting for those 16 points.

Digby:
If the Democrats lose in November, I'm sure [Eleanor Clift will] find plenty of reasons to blame Democrats, but it won't occur to her that the reason people didn't vote for the D's was because the party listened to people like her and campaigned like a herd of neutered animals instead of listening to their hearts, their minds, their constituents and their leaders who were prepared to take a stand for what we believe in. No, they'll blame the "extremists" who want a safety net and a sane terrorism policy --- and leaders who defend the constitution. It couldn't possibly be that their tired, stale reflexive passivity is to blame when half the base fails to turn out because they just. have. no. hope.
Aravosis:
I'll go beyond Digby. When half the country fails to vote because they realize they're not represented by an political party. Almost half the country supports censuring the president. That's not half the Democratic party, that's half the country.
Voter disenfranchisement isn't something you deal with in October, it's something you deal with now. People need something to believe in, not politicians who shun their values and treat them like some sort of social disease as they dive for the cocktail weenies in the center.

To presume voters will show up for you just because they think they other guy is worse is suicidal.

(drawing by Matt Elder)

Note: This should be our last post on this blog. Thanks to Blogger for giving us such a nice home for so long. We'll see you tomorrow on the other side.

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3 Years of War


2318 dead
March 19, 2003-March 19, 2006

As I ate breakfast yesterday morning, eggs, bacon, french toast, I sipped from a glass of iced tea, the new york kind which always comes unsweetened, I was looking through the Daily News. I usually leave the Times for the internets.

So as I ate, and watched a three year old tell her grandmother about her "breasteses", I read the paper.

Not too far in the paper was a story about an incident in a Queens school. It seems a parent ran into a kid who was bullying his son. He grabbed him up and told him to leave the kid alone. Nothing too weird for New York.

Until.....he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot the child if he messed with his son again.

Which even in New York, is insane.

The man ran off and then turned himself in at the local precinct.

OK. So why am I telling you about this story? I normally post these things on my blog, but this isn't a local interest story.

The man was an ICE criminal investigator who had spent a year in Iraq with the 69th Infantry as a staff sergeant. The NY Post reported today that he'd had nightmares and looked for help for months. They lost 19 dead, eight in one week.

The Oregonian is running a series on vets with PTSD. A national guardsman flipped out and was arrested in front of his children. He needed his gun and his wife wouldn't give it to him. He also needed help, and he didn't get that either.

His life after Iraq went from bad to worse to jail.

One out of every six Iraq war veterans will suffer some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of it may not show for years.

From the day we crossed the Iraqi frontier, the war has been ongoing. There has never been a day of peace. All of the progress, elections, an Iraqi Army has been illusory. Because the fact is that the day we entered Baghdad, we undid a century's worth of work.

Between the Ottomans, the British and various Iraqi dictators, their twin goals have been to control the Kurds and supress the Shia.

Well, George Bush undid that.

He guaranteed, from the first Humvee which crossed the frontier, that a civil war would eventually result. Ken Pollack, who's godawful dung pile of a book, the Threatening Storm, ramped up support for the war among people who should have known better, never once, ever, considered the strategic issues of Iraq.

Saddam had a 12,000 man personal bodyguard for a reason. There wasn't a day where he couldn't have been killed.

The Kurds had fought the Iraqi government since the mid-1960's, the Shia rose in 1991. Why did the neocons think these people wanted a unified Iraq?

Dick Cheney said his statement about the US being greeted as liberators was true. Sure, if you argue the French liberated Mexico in 1863. Otherwise, we have unleashed an apocalypse on Iraq, maybe up to 250,000 dead.

Bush is still blathering about democracy, like it's magic or something. Well, Iraqi "democracy" has unleashed death squads, and created a parliment which cannot work with each other. After centuries of oppression, the Kurds want a country and the Shia want to run Iraq. Bit of a problem there. Except that the Shia have a friend in Iran and the Kurds have nothing but enemies.

The ability of the US Army, ground down by years of constant deployments and combat, to fight has been degraded to the point that there is real worry that the Army could collapse like it did in the 1970's. The equipment has already been ground down to the point of major refitting.

When Bush is talking about victory, if that victory is an orderly, low violence Iraq, he's dreaming. That isn't going to happen. The only victory which we might get is most of the Army escaping to Kuwait. All this talk of years of occupation and permanent bases is nonsense. Our end in Iraq will come quickly, completely and without much warning.

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Redd on CSPAN: No Prisoners



Reddhedd did a super job on Washington Journal this morning with Paul Mirengoff of Powerline. They had a good exchange over Scooter Libby and Redd, of course, was shining.

Crooks & Liars has the video.

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Nancy Pelosi Should Act First, Criticize Later

Although Nancy Pelosi is not a member of the Senate, she decided to pipe up and discipline Russ Feingold for daring to challenge the hegemony of the GOP:
"I think that things are going well for the Democrats right now," Pelosi told reporters Thursday, alluding to recent data showing that a plurality of poll respondents would prefer a Democratic-controlled House.

So why, she implied, should Democrats risk spoiling the mood?

She rebuffed the call by Sen. Russ Feingold, D- Wisc., to censure Bush for ordering National Security Agency surveillance of al Qaida contacts with persons in the United States without seeking warrants from a court.

"I have no idea why anybody would censure someone before they have an investigation,"” she said.
This would be the same Nancy Pelosi who, as Pach noted, sits in the same House of Representatives with some of the most corrupt Republicans who have ever climbed out of the primordial slime and attempted to walk erect, yet she actively discourages Democrats who want to file ethics complaints against them.

Ari Berman, writing in the Nation:
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders cry out for investigations--but only in their public statements. "The House Ethics Committee must get to work immediately to investigate ethics and corruption cases in the House, including those involving members with ties to Jack Abramoff," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi declared recently, naming DeLay, Ney, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo as deserving of inquiry. Yet according to Bell, Sloan and lawmakers who asked not to be named, Pelosi has specifically told House members not to file complaints. Pelosi, who said through a spokesperson that she has never been a party to any ethics truce, spent six years on the Ethics Committee during the turbulent Gingrich era ("serving my time," she jokingly calls it). Bell suspects that she's worried about retaliatory complaints being filed against Democrats. "There are some members who want to act, and when they bring it up with the leadership they're told to wait a while," says Bell. Congress, he says, "is a self-preservation institution. Members realize that if they rock the boat they endanger their self-preservation. And you can't file an ethics complaint without rocking the boat."
Pombo and Doolittle are facing tough re-election campaigns this November, and the only reason not to do their jobs and wave big, fat red flags around their flagrant ethics violations is incumbency protection. You don't challenge us, we don't challenge you. Their responsibilty to the people who actually elected them is considered not at all.

Pelosi claims there is no truce in place. Which means what, she doesn't know what Pombo and Dolittle have done? I guess that's what she has claimed, though one has to wonder what exactly she hopes to achieve in acknowledging ignorance about something about which the rest of the country is only too well aware.

It's the same frigid recalcitrance that paralyzes the rest of the Democratic establishment -- Feingold's resolution rocks the boat. It makes them all uncomfortale.

Too bad. Pelosi should STFU about Russ Feingold and do her damn job.

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Let's Play Strategery



Ryan Lizza isn't a complete idiot, his piece on Gold Bars Luskin is the best I've read and I thoroughly enjoyed his portrait of McCain's unprincipled backdown from the steel-caged death match with Grover Norquist now that he's eyeing the white house. But since his TNR piece on Feingold this week is emblematic of much conventional wisdom he is, for the moment, a useful idiot:
Feingold is thinking about 2008. Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and other Democrats are thinking about 2006. Feingold cares about wooing the anti-Bush donor base on the web and putting some of his '08 rivals--Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh--in uncomfortable positions. Reid and Schumer care about winning the six seats it will take for Democrats to win control of the Senate. Feingold cares about making a political point with a measure that has no chance of succeeding and which, even if it did, would have no actual consequences.

(snip)

So the partisans on the left cheering Feingold appear to have both the policy and the politics wrong. Censure is meaningless. Changing the FISA law is the way to address Bush's overreach. And the only way for Democrats to change FISA is for them to take back the Senate. This week, Feingold's censure petition has made that goal just a little bit more difficult to achieve. What an ass.
Scott Lemieux dispatched the inherent absurdity of this Bayh-esque statement yesterday, to wit: How is changing the law going to deal with the problem of a President who doesn't think he has to obey the law? It doesn't even make sense on its own terms.

But I'd like to address the wholehearted swallowing by the Democratic establishment that this startling little bit of GOP group-think represents. As Jamison Foser says today (via Atrios):
Osama bin Laden may be dead? Good news for Republicans: They got bin Laden! New tapes prove bin Laden is still alive? Good news for Republicans: It reminds people of the threat of terrorism! Democrats don't criticize Bush? Good news for Republicans: Democrats are timid! Democrats do criticize Bush? Good news for Republicans: Democrats are shrill!
That's basic marketing 101, no matter what happens it's good for your team. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that the media has internalized this so thoroughly they don't even know what they're doing; more puzzling is the fact that the Democrats now seem to be doing so as well.

If you're fighting a war you intend to win, you never. Ever. Say. That. Ever. So when token Democrats like Eleanor Clift step up and say Feingold's actions help the GOP, it can only be reflective of what Digby articulates so well: individuals (not the party) who have decided their lives will be made easier if they just stop resisting, lie back and learn to enjoy being throttled. Russ Feingold's fight -- our fight -- makes it uncomfortable for them to do that. Is there any other reason why they should be oh so much more exasperated with our exasperation than with, say, the President himself?

Even Bill Kristol today acknowledges the political efficacy of Feingold's move :
Kristol: I think Feingold has succeeded in casting a big cloud over the President's program.

Wallace: Do you think it's helping Democrats and hurting Republicans?

Kristol: Absolutely, as long as the charge is out there and not rebutted?

Hume: That is absurd. No politician among those who have been thoroughly briefed on this claims the briefings were insufficient and vague…Rockefeller does not claim that. Rockefeller has said many things about this program, but he has never said that he wasn't fully briefed that I know of.
Watch the tape at Crooks and Liars. Brit Hume's head explodes. Tell me he is a Republican happy about these charges being made? His only answer is to cook up a lie about Rockefeller, who most certainly has said he doesn't have enough information about the program. Hume fumbled with nary a Democrat in sight.

The idea that somehow this will hurt the Democrats in the 2006 election is beyond witless. That Feingold is being selfish, only stoking his own 2008 chances, throwing 2006 to the dogs. Please. Can someone explain to me how forcing the Republicans to rally around an unpopular President just as they're trying to distance themselves from him is going to hurt the Democrats? Lincoln Chafee knows it -- he's in the fight of his life for his Rhode Island Senate seat, and is notably the only Republican who said Feingold has raised good points and he wouldn't rule out voting for the measure.

If someone had the guts to hammer that wedge they'd put Chafee in an awfully uncomfortable position vis-a-vis BushCo (who must've kicked the shit out of him over it, because he backed down mighty quickly). Isn't that what Lizza says they're desperate to do? But they don't. They send Evan "Lemming" Bayh to trash Russ Feingold.

It was nice to see Dick Durbin back Feingold up this morning, even if he didn't come out and say he'd vote for the resolution. In doing so he seems to be bucking the one thing the Senate Democrats have been quite good at holding party solidarity on -- something they couldn't muster to oppose putting a rabid, Dobson-loving fundamentalist on the Supreme Court.

Is Bill Kristol the only one who's going to point out the obvious? Not only is Russ Feingold rallying a disspirited base frustrated with lack of leadership on the part of big Senate Democrats, this is a full-on disaster for the GOP in November.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Her masters at WaPo still aren't letting Little Debbie Howell touch national politics, but today she does have this to offer:

There's one big intangible in all this: a paper's connection with its readers. Readers who feel respected and who love their newspaper don't depart easily. If Post journalists write every story, take every photo, compose every headline and design every page with readers in mind, and the newspaper is printed well and delivered on time, The Post will be fine.

Indeed. Nice bromide. Shame about the content. And we're still waiting for those factual errors to be corrected. That would be one way to demonstrate respect. Eh?

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Spector: Electing Santorum my "top priority in 2006"

Via ( Avedon (Rittenhouse Review (the Philadelphia Inkwire))):

I strongly disagree with the comments of Jennifer Stockman, on behalf of the Republican Majority for Choice, criticizing U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum ("S. Dakota abortion law is an assault," March 8).

While Sen. Santorum and I disagree on issues, I believe that he has done an excellent job for Pennsylvania and ought to be reelected. Without his support, I would not have won the 2004 Republican primary. Sen. Santorum's reelection is my top priority in 2006.

The organization which identifies itself as the Republican Majority for Choice ought not to be actively seeking to defeat Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

Washington, D.C.

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The new, new conventional wisdom

Of course Iraq is a civil war.

At least that's what everybody's saying on This Week. C&L has the clip; Xan has the interpretive redaction.

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Democrats vs. Theocrats

The Times has an interesting juxtaposition today.

The Good Guy
From Deborah Solomon's interview in the Magazine:
The strongest part of your book argues that Democrats are in desperate need of savvier consultants, their own Karl Rove, to help them build [sic--remember Florida 2000] a political majority. Why would you want them to be more like Republicans?

[KOS] To get their message out, the Republicans created this entire conservative noise machine. They have Fox News and The Washington Times and the 700 Club and just about the entire talk-radio dial. They have this incredible ability to promote whatever the big issue of the day is. There is no partisan liberal media that is working in concert with the Democratic Party in order to sell whatever the party is selling.
The dark overlords of the authoritarian cultist Sith
From Allan Brinkley's review of Kevin Phillips's American Theocracy in the Book Review:
On the far right is a still obscure but, Phillips says, rapidly growing group of "Christian Reconstructionists" who believe in a "Taliban-like" reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a "myth" and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent "rapture" — the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven.

Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse — among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. [Phillips] convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public.
Oh, and this little lagniappe from Brinkley:
Phillips's evidence for this disturbing claim is significant, but not conclusive.
Tranlation: "They can't be serious." When, oh when, will we learn to take these people at their word?

It will be, indeed, a long war.

NOTE Of course, the blogosphere (in particular, farmer) has been all over christianism from before beginning. So it's nice to see Phillips join the analytical mainstream on this one.

UPDATE Rapture Index closes down 2 on Oil and lack of activity in Kings of the East. See, oil prices dropped, so the rapture is farther away. So it's bad that oil prices dropped... Maybe we really need look no further than these loons for the source of the malAdministration's blac-is-white-ism.

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When the cleaning people don't actually move the vacuum, you know they're FBI thugs

By now we know that not only does Bush conduct secret, warrantless, illegal electronic surveillance, He conducts secret, warrantless, illegal physical searches as well. So much for The Fourth Amendment.

But that's old--and expected--news. (Would it be simpler just to make a list of Constitutional clauses these guys haven't trashed? Because I'm having a hard time keeping track.) Here's my favorite part of the US News article that broke this story.

Thomas Nelson is the defense attorney who was a target of the latest outbreak of Republican bag jobs, and who, nine months before the NSA story broke, wrote U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut in Oregon that in the previous nine months, "I and others have seen strong indications that my office and my home have been the target of clandestine searches."

And here's one of those indications:

Late at night on two occasions, Nelson's colleague Jonathan Norling noticed a heavyset, middle-aged, non-Hispanic white man claiming to be a member of an otherwise all-Hispanic cleaning crew, wearing an apron and a badge and toting a vacuum. But, says Norling, "it was clear the vacuum was not moving." Three months later, the same man, waving a brillo pad, spent some time trying to open Nelson's locked office door, Norling says. Nelson's wife and son, meanwhile, repeatedly called their home security company asking why their alarm system seemed to keep malfunctioning. The company could find no fault with the system.

Of course, I'm sure this is an isolated incident, perpetrated by over-zealous, brillo pad-waving, apron-wearing field operatives....

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Ho Lieberman doesn't need the Times to be his pimp

Because Joe's an independent, right?

Put down your coffee.

Now read General Paul Eaton on The Times Op-Ed page:

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

I love it! "Proven Democrat..." Proven at what? Repeating Republican talking points on Fox and stabbing other Democrats in the back?

NOTE You can contribute to Lieberman's primary opponent, Ned Lamont, here.

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Putting the question

Bush breaks the law, admits that he broke the law, claims he has the authority to break the law, and does all this with impunity.

I don't see how there can be a bigger issue than Bush's impunity from lawbreaking. If Bush can cherrypick which laws to obey, and when and how to obey them, then he might as well be writing the laws and interpreting them too, besides executing them. That means the end of the separation of powers, the concentration of all power in the executive, and the end of the independent legislative and judicial branches. That means the end of our Constitution.

This is tyranny, exactly in the form the Founders understood and were determined to prevent. Federalist 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

So the question I'd like to see posed to every elected representative, Democratic or Republican, is this:

What is your plan to restore Constitutional government in the United States?

NOTE Has it escaped anyone's notice that raising this question would be a very good way to nationalize the 2006 midterms?

UPDATE Alert, and Constant, Reader points out that Gary Trudeau gets it. Funny, though not exactly funnny ha-ha, eh?

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Well, That Was Fun...

Well, that was actually fun. Am back at my hotel -- awaiting my breakfast from room service. Amazing how hungry being up early and talking politics on television can make you. I'm STARVING. And in need of much more coffee before my drive home.

But I wanted to stop in and say thanks to everyone for watching this morning. You guys are the best, do you know that?

The C-Span Washington Journal set has the most amazing view of the Capitol. It was the perfect backdrop for political discourse this morning. A big thank you to Eloise and Lisa at C-Span for taking such good care of me. Peter, the host, has a wry sense of humor -- would have liked to have spoken more with him (I hear he has a good Cher calling into the show story...).

It turns out that Paul Mirengoff and I have a mutual legal acquaintance -- wow, the world is small, eh? And for my very first television interview, I could not have asked for a better conservative counterpart across the desk.

Had dinner with Pach yesterday at a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant somewhere in Virginia. Poor fella, I dragged him around the mall because I left my black cashmere sweater at home (oops!) and had to find something to wear on camera beyond my sleeping t-shirt. We had a great time, though -- and some exceptional food and conversation at dinner. Pach is a peach!

Ahhhh...the room service is here and I must have more coffee. Have I mentioned how great you all are for getting up this morning? This was lots of fun, but I miss my morning routine...and blogspot isn't letting me upload a photo, so I'll have to put up the lovely robin I had picked out for TeddySanFran when I get home later today.

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Three Years Of Hell


Three years ago tomorrow night was when our news channels filled with images of bombs exploding in Baghdad. 9:34pm est. time will mark the anniversary of the actual start of the invasion.

So where have we gone since then? Well we did make it to Baghdad with little effort. We did find Saddam Hussein. That’s about it for the good points..

Now here we sit 3 years later and where are we. We have lost 2,318 soldiers, over 30,000 Iraqi citizens; spent over half a trillion dollars (increasing by $200 million a day) and we sit here, isolated from the rest of the world. What does our President have to say about the war now?

"More fighting and sacrifice will be required," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "For some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong. Yet there is no peace, there's no honor and there's no security in retreat. So America will not abandon Iraq to the terrorists who want to attack us again."

Basically the Bush plan for Iraq is the same it has been since the invasion. Think of it as football. We see upsets time and time again. A team takes to the field with an over optimistic attitude because their opponents rated a large underdog. Of course that over optimistic team comes home with their heads held down low because they were just upset. I am not saying our outcome in Iraq will be the same because we can change the rules. We can redefine what we call a win. True in war, the only winner is war.

In January of 2003, Saddam Huessein vowed to give the Americans “a war like no other they have fought before”. Many people laughed at that comment. Well there are 2, 318 families not laughing now. In fact Saddam has given us exactly what he vowed. The insurgency is that war which Saddam vowed.

Last fall Donald Rumsfeld took to the Sunday morning talk shows to try and build support for the war. One question he was asked on Meet the Press was about the insurgency. Rumsfeld said he does not believe a “robust” insurgency was something they planned for. Of course it wasn’t. What they planned for were people greeting their liberators and throwing flowers and candy at them. It is not a lack of planning, but rather a lack of perspective.

Prior to the invasion, our President did not even know the difference between Sunni, Shiite and Kurds. He thought Iraq was nothing more than “Iraqis”. It is that sort of monochrome view that has helped contribute to this disastrous nightmare.

One of the benefits I have on IntoxiNation, is having a great partner in blogging who shares my same views. The only difference we have is the fact that I am in the United States and he is in the United Kingdom.

In the U.K. public support for the war has always been very low. Tony Blair is now facing some big political challenges and one way he is trying to gain public support is by fixing Iraq. This week the U.K. announced that they were withdrawing 800 troops from Iraq. The next day the U.S. announces they are sending over 700 more troops. Kind of hard to say we are making progress when we have to offset our allies’ withdrawal like that.

This move by Blair was also done the same week a new Downing Street Memo was published in the Guardian.

Senior British diplomatic and military staff gave Tony Blair explicit warnings three years ago that the US was disastrously mishandling the occupation of Iraq, according to leaked memos.

John Sawers, Mr Blair's envoy in Baghdad in the aftermath of the invasion, sent a series of confidential memos to Downing Street in May and June 2003 cataloguing US failures. With unusual frankness, he described the US postwar administration, led by the retired general Jay Garner, as "an unbelievable mess" and said "Garner and his top team of 60-year-old retired generals" were "well-meaning but out of their depth".

Of course we already knew this. There was a five year project headed up in the State Department, which started under Clinton, whose mission was to deal with a strategy when it comes to dealing with a post war Iraq. This project employed some of the brightest minds in our nation when it comes to Iraq and cost the taxpayers’ millions. What did George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld do with this plan? They threw it out. Instead they went into Iraq with no plan because they were that over optimistic team I talked about earlier. In war the greatest enemy is optimism.

In the past three years we have created a breeding ground for terrorists. We have also destabilized the most dangerous region in the world. We ignored the offers of help last year from other Middle Eastern countries and now Iraq is on the verge of civil war – a war which will most likely span across its borders and further destabilize the region as a whole.

Three years later and we got the President out giving his same talking points. The year may be different but the rhetoric is the same. Today you can turn on the television and see General Casey talk about the war. He is scheduled on three Sunday Morning talk shows while Dick Cheney is slotted on Face the Nation. While the citizens of this country mourn what we have lost, we got the cheerleaders out trying to muster support for a highly unpopular war. If they want to gain support then they should be locked in a room in Washington trying to figure out a plan to get us out of this nightmare.

Cross posted at IntoxiNation

(On another note: Great job Reddhedd on Washington Journal this morning)

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

And They're Off....



Remember, tomorrow all the cool kids will be watching:
07:45 AM EST
LIVE
Call-In
News Review
C-SPAN, Washington Journal
Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake.com
Paul Mirengoff, Powerlineblog.com
Go Redd. We'll be cheering you on.

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FDL Late Nite: The Silent Majority

"A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing." -- Muhammad Ali

According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, George W. Bush's overall approval rating stands now at 33%. That's 9% among democrats, 26% among independents and 73% among Republicans. The poll further points out that, since the beginning of his second term, Bush has lost sizable chunks of Republican support. That 73% is down from a 89% in January, 2005. This is the same poll that tells us the most popular, single descriptive word for Bush is incompetent. Oops.

How about Iraq? After all, national security is the republican's signature issue, right? Eh, not so much. According to NBC News/Wall Street Journal's most recent poll, 35% of the public approves Bush's handling of the war while 61% disapprove. And get this: only 4% are undecided, presumably because they have too much to handle walking and chewing gum simultaneously. Oops again.

But aside from Iraq, Republicans still enjoy a national security advantage, right? Look away, Unka Karl (the horror!). NPR released a poll yesterday that includes the following absolutely devastating conclusions in its executive summary:
Democrats win every security debate in this poll and when voters are asked who they trust more on issues including the Iraq war, foreign ownership of US ports, and homeland security issues, Democrats come out on top. The only exception is the nuclear threat in Iran, where Republicans have a narrow 5 point advantage.

[snip. . .]

Democrats have an historic 15 point advantage (52 to 37 percent) in the generic congressional vote, the result of an emerging trend over the last 7 months and serious conclusions drawn about President Bush, the war in Iraq, and the economy.

These results are brought about by independents including mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Baby-Boom college voters moving away from the Republicans and by a crash in key parts of the Republican base. The parties are now running even in the white rural counties and in the counties carried by Bush in 2004. Older blue collar voters - most impacted by the changing economy, and least interested in foreign spending and foreign ownership of American ports - have pulled away from the Republicans.
On November 3, 1969, the spiritual father of today's Republican Party, Richard M. Nixon ("When the president does it, that means it's not illegal."), delivered a speech containing the following famous phrase regarding another failed, idiotic war:
"So tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support. I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace."
That was then; this is now. Today, March 18, 2006, we clearly have a new Silent Majority. It is not heard through the establishment media, though it shows up in the polls. And guess what: that majority includes the coveted likely voters. How do you think they feel about the president asserting the right to sniff panties in your home without a warrant?

I think Harry Reid is catching on. Otherwise, he would not have said of George Bush yesterday, "I really do believe this man will go down as the worst president this country has ever had." Representative Jane Harman got a lesson from the Silent Majority yesterday, too, when she got an earful over at kos (as Jane pointed out last night) over chalenging the president on warrentless wiretapping.

Nope. No more silence from the Silent Majority. And while the netroots/grassroots makes noise on the Internet and on the phone lines into the Capitol, the mass of voters will be heard in November. How will Tweety survive?

Take another look at that man in the picture above. In his day, establishment elites like Tweety wanted him to shut his damn mouth. They wanted him to accept his birth name when he chose another. They wanted him to fight a war he knew was bullshit. He refused. To their unending exasperation, he would not be silent. He's the model for today's Silent Majority. Let's get LOUD!

Today's Silent Majority wants to see action from leaders in Washington, not just timid posturing. In that vein, I have some advice for Harry Reid (Minority Leader) and Chuck Schumer (head of the DSCC) in the Senate: take a look at those polls again. It's time to play some offense. Get in front of the parade by getting behind Feingold's censure motion.

If you do, I'll bet many of the remaining 26% of democrats who currently oppose censure will flip to support it, moving overall population support for censure from 48% to well over 50% (hat tip to eRiposte). Some independents will follow along, too, if you stand together and make your case to a public starving for alternative leadership. (Note: censure polling varies by the wording of the question.) That will boost democratic turnout for the midterms, and also happens to be a political stance for the right fucking principle: the president does not get to break or ignore the law at his whim.

Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader) and Rahm Emanuel (head of the DCCC) in the House, you have homework, too. Play some damn offense. End the off-the-record ethics truce in the House, and start filing charges. CREW has a fine list you and your senate colleagues have been ignoring for some time. Every indication is this year will hold a nationalized midterm election. Let your people run on accountability and ethics in Washington and ride the wave to glory. This is no time for rope-a-dope.

All this friendly advice comes with a warning: the Silent Majority will not be denied. The tectonic plates of American politics are fundamentally shifting. To those who would get in the way of the new majority politics, consider: like that guy in the picture, we in the Silent Majority know how to handle those who stand in our way.

PS - Don't forget to set your TiVo to record Christy (ReddHedd) on C-Span tomorrow morning at 7:45. We love ya, Redd!

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Three Years Later


Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory.

My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.

President Bush - Operation Iraqi Freedom
March 20, 2003
The number of troops involved in Operation Swarmer is down from 1500 to 900. There was not one single firefight. Not one major terrorist nabbed. Nada.

The Republicans deserve to lose their edge on national security and foreign policy issues.

... "This is not the only poll that is showing significant problems for Republicans on the generic ballot, significant problems for the president," Bolger says. "We're in a hole, and we're at a point where we've got to start digging our way out, as opposed to digging deeper."

It's not uncommon to see polls where Democrats beat Republicans on domestic issues, such as the economy and jobs, health care and Social Security. But in this poll, when asked which party they trust more on issues such as the Iraq war, foreign ownership of U.S. ports and attention to homeland security, majorities chose the Democrats. ... GOP Losing Edge on Foreign Policy Issues
Unfortunately, Terror Guy's favorite toy is his shovel.

Three years after Bush launched a preemptive attack in Iraq, the Iraqi people have voted, they have a parliament, but chose not to choose a president or cabinet, and Saddam is on trial. What is there left for us to do? Pacification is not our problem. If the Iraqi people want peace they will have to fight for it themselves.

That said, I must admit I'm not a peaceful soul. We're a gun toting family and I was born in red state Missouri and raised on John Wayne. Give peace a chance has never been my refrain. I'm not bragging, believe me, just telling you the root of my rant. Frankly, I don't trust our neighbors around the world. Since we invaded Iraq I trust them even less. That's what has me so concerned. The mantra of the day for me is give strategic redeployment a chance. Three years later, I'm looking at Iran, North Korea and terrorists in other lands. I'm also starting to worry again about Afghanistan. Because while Bush has been playing preemption in Iraq, the Taliban are back, the weather is warming and things are going to get noisy.

But three years after preemption, we're in Iraq to "stay the course" until "victory" is achieved. We all remember the promises, the misinformation, the downright whoppers.

"To suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement." - Vice President Dick Cheney

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” - Paul Wolfowitz (Source: House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03)

Q: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, how much money do you think the Department of Defense would need to pay for a war with Iraq? Rumsfeld: Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost. - Donald Rumsfeld (Sunday, January 19, 2003)
The cost of the Iraq war is now estimated at $1 - 2 TRILLION.

And what of the mismanagement of the post war peace, the down right incompetence of President Bush and the Republicans to effectively prosecute the post war planning? I've got my own, but here's a sampling of Republican incompetence on Iraq.

Failing to build a real international coalition prior to the Iraq invasion, forcing the US to shoulder the full cost and consequences of the war.

Approving the demobilization of the Iraqi Army in May, 2003 – bypassing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and reversing an earlier position, the President left hundreds of thousands of armed Iraqis disgruntled and unemployed, contributing significantly to the massive security problems American troops have faced during occupation.

Not equipping troops in Iraq with adequate body armor or armored HUMVEES.

Ignoring the advice Gen. Eric Shinseki regarding the need for more troops in Iraq – now Bush is belatedly adding troops, having allowed the security situation to deteriorate in exactly the way Shinseki said it would if there were not enough troops.

Ignoring plans drawn up by the Army War College and other war-planning agencies, which predicted most of the worst security and infrastructure problems America faced in the early days of the Iraq occupation.

Making a case for war which ignored intelligence that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Predicting Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction.

Wildly underestimating the cost of the war.

Disbanding the Sunni Baathist managers responsible for Iraq's water, electricity, sewer system and all the other critical parts of that country's infrastructure.

Including discredited intelligence concerning Nigerian Yellow Cake in his 2003 State of the Union.

Announcing that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a "Mission Accomplished" banner – more U.S. soldiers have died in combat since Bush's announcement than before it.

Having no real plan for the occupation of Iraq.

Shutting down an Iraqi newspaper for "inciting violence" – the move, which led in short order to street fighting in Fallujah, incited more violence than the newspaper ever had.
Three years of incompetence on Iraq from President Bush and the Republicans who control Congress. We, our country and our mighty military, simply cannot afford a fourth.

guest posted by Taylor Marsh

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Feingold and the Censure Resolution: 2006 and 2008

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Hi, it's Scott back from Lawyers, Guns and Money for a cameo appearance.

As a follow up to ReddHedd's post below, yesterday I wrote a post about Ryan Lizza's baffling claim, in response to Russ Feingold's proposed censure of the President, that "[c]hanging the FISA law is the way to address Bush's overreach." Ann Althouse objects, arguing that I am not "the best person to be deciding who's 'vacuous.'" The merits of the ad hominem I will leave to the reader, but I think that Althouse is missing the fundamental point here, and I don't think that what's at stake can be emphasized often enough. There are two issues here: the politics, and the merits. The former issue I see little point in discussing, because whether it's a net positive or negative the political impact of a censure resolution on mid-term elections in November will be negligible in any case. I will only point out another contradiction in Lizza's argument. His argument that the resolution will be politically damaging rests on his assertion that "providing a check on Bush and the Republican dominance of Washington is a key Democratic talking point, but it's being advanced subtly by candidates who still often must distance themselves from national Democrats." But, if a Democratic victory rests on red-state Democrats being able to distance themselves from the Senate leadership--a plausible enough claim--then how can the fact that Feingold's resolution has not produced a unified Democratic caucus be damaging? Lizza's argument gets more puzzling the more you think about it.

But the more important point, which I think Althouse also misses, is that Lizza's claim that supporters of the resolution have the policy wrong is just a transparent non-sequitur. Changing the FISA law is hardly an adequate response to presidential overreaching, given that the administration has asserted the authority to ignore any statutory restrictions placed on its authority to conduct domestic searches. The value of Feingold's resolution is that it draws attention to the point that pundits like Lizza seem unable to grasp: this dispute is not only about the best policy to gather information about terrorists, but is about central questions of the President's constitutional powers and the rule of law. The key issue here is that the President acted--and continues to act years after 9/11, and therefore with plenty of time to request changes in the statute if it was inadequate--against a law passed by Congress. And, as ReddHedd says, claims that FISA is unconstitutional because the President has unconstrained authority over foreign policy are exceptionally weak. It's worth repeating my quote from Cass Sunstein about how contrary to our Constitutional framework such claims of plenary presidential power are:

Yoo emphasizes Blackstone and British practice, arguing that the United States closely followed the British model, in which the executive--the king!--was able to make war on his own. But not so fast. There is specific evidence that the British model was rejected. Just three years after ratification Wilson wrote, with unambiguous disapproval, that "in England, the king has the sole prerogative of making war." Wilson contrasted the United States, where the power "of making war and peace" is in the legislature. Early presidents spoke in similar terms. Facing attacks from Indian tribes along the western frontier, George Washington, whose views on presidential power over war deserve special respect, observed: "The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated on the subject, and authorized such a measure." As president, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams expressed similar views. In his influential Commentaries, written in 1826, James Kent wrote that "war cannot lawfully be commenced on the part of the United States, without an act of Congress."



That's
the issue. The administration is claiming powers to act unilaterally with respect to a conflict with no logical end, powers far beyond what Lincoln claimed at the height of the Civil War. Changing the FISA statute not only doesn't address this crucial issue--which the censure resolution, at least, foregrounds--it compounds it by legitimating the President's lawbreaking and contempt for constitutional restraints retroactively. Feingold, unlike Lizza, actually understands the crucial issue at stake. As long as Congressional Republicans refuse to assert congressional prerogatives there's nothing Democrats can do policy-wise, but at least they should be making this point as often as possible.

One area where I agree with Lizza, however, is that this is more about 2008 than 2006, and that's where I'll throw open to the discussion to FDL readers. This probably won't make me a very popular in these parts, but as much as I admire Feingold I think that, ideally, the Democrats would be better served by running a red-state governor than a blue-state Senator. On the other hand, if Matt is right that this strengthens Feingold's odds against Clinton, that can only be good news. If it comes down to Clinton/Feingold, then I think there shouldn't be any contest: Clinton--who ran well behind Gore in New Work, while Feingold ran well ahead of Kerry in Wisconsin--has electability issues that are just as or more serious, and Feingold is much better on the merits. To the extent that it weakens Clinton by highlighting her unswerving commitment to a disastrous and increasingly unpopular war, this is a good thing for the Dems in '08.

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Libby's Defense Could Be Our Answer


The trial of Scooter Libby is still 10 months away but already we are learning that his defense could expose serious problems within the White House, in particular, their claims for the war in Iraq.



Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide are suggesting they may delve deeply at his criminal trial into infighting among the White House, the CIA and the State Department over pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.


New legal documents raise the potential that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial could turn into a political embarrassment for the Bush administration by focusing on whether the White House manipulated intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.


In a court filing late Friday night, Libby's legal team said that in June and July 2003, the status of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame was at most a peripheral issue to "the finger-pointing that went on within the executive branch about who was to blame" for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.



So does this mean one of the administration’s top allies in selling the war to the public could now become a greater asset to revealing the truth that lead is into this mess called Iraq? When it comes down to a threat of jail time that is exactly what could happen.


Since the invasion started three years ago there have been countless documents, reports and documentaries on the subject of “cooked intelligence”. One of the most damaging items has been reports from employees at Langley talking about the vice-President and his excessive “hands on” attitude when it came to the Iraq war. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern even brought this up during the Downing Street Memo hearings last summer. He spoke of times where Cheney would come in and want “briefings” from the analysts and Tenet would be there with him. This was a highly uncommon practice with previous administrations and in fact put extra pressure on the analysts to say what Cheney wanted to hear.


Now that Scooter Libby is getting ready to go to court, stories like this have a greater chance of gaining more attention. It not only helps build the defense of him being under enormous pressure and the pressure building inside the beltway, but also the lengths this administration was going to in order to protect their lie.


Something else that will help back Scooter's defense is a July 30, 2003 Rose Garden press conference. This was the day President Bush accepted responsibility for the flawed intelligence of the Niger claim. This will help show that those times were in fact tense. At the same time it will be a damaging blow to the White House. Just a few weeks prior to that, the administration was in a full blown “attack Joe (Wilson)” campaign and one of those attacks was outing his wife which lead to all of this.

Perhaps Scooter will be able to convince a jury that he did “forget” about disclosing Plame’s identity. It is a long shot but even if he does, it will expose more truths about what was happening in Washington and to what lengths this administration would go to defend their illegal war. The only hurdle left for our side is hoping that this information is not kept from the public because it is classified. Even if it is we still have the ears of Patrick Fitzgerald listening in and he might just be willing to pursue other angles of this case.


Cross posted at IntoxiNation.

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The Constitution Is Not a Legal Technicality



The indespensible Crooks and Liars has a great clip of Jonathon Turley discussing the illegal NSA domestic spying. Turley disgust and anger is palpible -- watch the clip and see if you don't agree with me on that. And it is anger not just at the Bush Administration for treating our Constitution as if it were some piece of paper filled with legal technicalities -- but he is also furious with Congress for their rubber stamp roll-over on this issue.
...the fact that it was so quick as a suggestion shows the inclinations unfortunately of this administration-it treats the constitution like some legal technicality, and instead of the thing we're trying to fight to protect.
Go watch the whole clip. It's worth a few minutes of your time this morning.

A housekeeping matter: We've removed Kerry and Menendez from the Lions box on the Feingold censure resolution until we can get a firm answer from both their offices on Monday whether the current position is for, against, or on the fence. I didn't feel comfortable leaving them in the Lions category at this point, because we've gotten some mixed signals the last couple of days via regular posters in the comments and via e-mail.

If there was some mistake in putting them there in the first place (as in a staffer in a local office told one reader one thing, and the DC office was saying another), or if someone just got wrong information and passed it along -- whatever -- I want to give both Senator's offices the opportunity to give us the full scoop. And I will pass that information along here on Monday or whenever I can get someone on the record about it.

We don't want to push information that is no longer correct, because that just isn't right -- but at the same time, I'm not saying that either of these Senators won't go right back up on Monday if their offices confirm they are supporting the Feingold resolution. It's just the weekend and I can't exactly get a complete answer until Monday, so this is how Jane and I have decided to handle it in the meantime. Don't read anything into it other than we'll let you know something certain when we know something certain for ourselves. I hope that's clear for everyone -- but if you have questions, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Also, if you've heard news from either Senator's office in the last coupla days -- please feel free to share it in the comments. It isn't fair to tar a Senator with mixed messages coming from staffers who may or may not have been overly-eager, nor is it fair to blame a mixed message on a staffer if it is coming from the elected official. Which is why we will endeavor to get the full and complete scoop for everyone on Monday. (If there are Senators other than Kerry and Menendez that you feel we ought to contact on this as well, please let me know and I'll see what I can do.) Thanks everyone!

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The Bush Administration's Infinite Spin Loop



Elizabeth de la Vega has a great article (via TomDispatch) on the Bush Administration's infinite spin loop regarding the illegal NSA domestic spying program. It's certainly worth a read -- and she hammers the idiocy of "we have been repeatedly breaking the law, but we'd like you to amend it so our illegal behavior won't be so illegal in the future."
If you have any doubt that the NSA spying "debate" is trapped in an infinite loop, you need only review two pieces of evidence. The first, which we'll call "Exhibit A," is an article, dated March 8, 2006, entitled "Gonzales: NSA Program Doesn't Need a Law." Aha, you say, a mere headline. But this is what the article says: "The Attorney General made clear Wednesday, March 8, that the White House is not seeking congressional action to inscribe the National Security Agency's monitoring into U.S. law."

How, you wonder, could that be true? Since December, the President, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, have said that FISA is outdated, not sufficiently agile, ineffective against terrorists, and too paper-intensive. Perhaps the AP reporter misinterpreted Gonzales' remarks…

I now refer you to Exhibit B -- a February 28, 2006 letter from Alberto Gonzales to Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In answer to a question about what changes to FISA are needed, Gonzales explicitly says, "The Administration believes it is unnecessary to amend FISA" to accommodate the spying program.

Let's review. Members of the Bush administration have admitted that they routinely ignore FISA. That does not mean, however, that they believe there's anything wrong with the law. On the contrary, the Bush administration does not think the law needs to be changed; nor does it even want the law to be changed. So every time you hear a Bush team member mention problems with FISA, all you need to do is think like a lawyer and the terms "objection.. irrelevant" will come to mind. Under the circumstances, why should Congress waste one more minute trying to amend a law the administration has no desire to see amended?
Nothing like rewarding the law breaker by making actions which violate the 4th Amendment legal for as long as our courts will uphold the law.

Here's the thing: if we sacrifice who we are as a nation, if we sacrifice our commitment to basic freedoms and liberty, if George Bush willfully ignores the laws, the Congress, and the judiciary and just does whatever he wants, we are no longer the America that we have fought for centuries to protect and uphold.

And if we are no longer an America fully committed to our principles, then who is really winning?

UPDATE: Georgia10 has more on why the President is not a king, and why his authority is not plenary when confronted with laws passed by Congress.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

FDL Late Nite Bonus Bayh Edition: Spring the Crooks



Anybody see this over at Josh Marshall's?

I just love that the guy Bush hired to spy on terrorists us (and provide "intelligence services" to the White House they don't want to talk about) is looking at 20 years for bribing Duke Cunningham.

Maybe Evan Bayh can change the law and have him back in the Quaker panty sniffing business in time for the War on Christmas. I'd hate to see O'Reilly have to face that alone.

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Late Nite FDL: Everyone Wants to Take Us To the Prom



This is rich. From a Boston Globe article on how the big Democrats are all courting the netroots for their 2008 bids:
The next round of prospective Democratic presidential candidates, even those with centrist credentials, is actively courting the Democratic Party's left wing -- which speaks loudly through its blogs, enjoys rising fund-raising clout built on Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, and is imbued with a confidence that it can build on Republican disarray.

(snip)

The 2008 prospects appear especially eager to stay in the good graces of bloggers, who enjoy growing influence though only a small percentage of voters read or write them. Even a solid centrist like Bayh felt compelled to take his message for a "tough and smart" foreign policy to the liberal Huffington Post, founded by commentator Arianna Huffington.
Jane Harmon posted a diary over at Kos recently asking people to email George Bush and tell him they didn't want permanent bases in Iraq. She was shocked when knowledgeable, articulate people showed up and told her in no uncertain terms that her Bayh-esque plans to change the law and make George Bush's illegal NSA wiretap activity legal were utterly ridiculous. To her credit she stayed around and addressed people's concerns but it certainly wasn't the response she anticipated.

On the heels of his backstabbing of Russ Feingold, can I for one say how much I'm looking forward to Evan "lemming" Bayh's next "tough and smart" diary on the Huffington Post?

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More Rough 'n' Ready Russ



Glenn Greenwald:
The Feingold Censure Resolution is unmasking the hideous underbelly of almost every Washington institution as vividly as anything that can be recalled. Each of the rotted Beltway branches is playing so true to form that the distinct forms of corruption and dishonesty which characterize each of them are standing nakedly revealed. As ugly of a sight as it is, it is highly instructive to watch it all unfold.
Digby:
Feingold stepped up and spoke for millions of Americans who see this administration's abuse of power as a very serious matter for which this president should be held to account. We are desperate for such leadership and we care nothing about the lack of political politesse with which it was raised. The president and his party are held in very low esteem by two thirds of the country. If not now, when?
Puppethead (from the comments):
The thing that pisses me off is how the Democrats are treating this as a political calculation. I want them to uphold our nation's Constitution and the rule of law. I don't care how many senate seats are lost over this, or whether or not anyone's re-election bid is jeopardized. I want accountability in my government.
I'll repeat -- Feingold's popularity among Democrats has soared from 22% before he introduced the resolution to 52% after the resolution. The nerve he tapped is way beyond political squabbling. This should not be some big mystery.

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Lieberman Distorts His Record



It's no surprise that Joe Lieberman is afraid of Ned Lamont. Ned's a handsome guy, a self-made man with superb business acumen, a great sense of humor and the willingness to speak out and oppose this disastrous war. Lieberman is a squirrelly little opportunist who backstabs his own party while his election coffers grow fat from the contributions of war profiteers his petty bellicosity has done so much to enrich.

Most Connecticut residents oppose the war according to the Stamford Advocate in an editorial which appeared yesterday welcoming Lamont into the race. They hope that it spurs a serious local discussion about Holy Joe's warmongering which appears to have nothing to do with actually representing the views of his constituents.

So I guess it's no surprise that Lieberman feels he's got to distort his record to boost his credibility with his constituents. I noticed this in the National Journal today (subscription):
For his part, Lieberman is taking his first-ever primary challenge seriously. His campaign Web site prominently features his lifetime voting records from such left-leaning groups as the AFL-CIO (82 percent), NARAL (95 percent), the Human Rights Campaign (90 percent) and the League of Conservation Voters (88 percent), which has already endorsed him.
Yeah and if you go back to 1977 Joe never voted to authorize the war in Iraq, either. The fact is that Joe's 2005 NARAL voting record is 75%, and that doesn't even include his cloture votes on judges that put both both Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court. Nor does it take into account his recent comments telling rape victims to get up off the gurney and leave Catholic hospitals in order to get emergency contraception (which the hospitals will not even tell them they need). NARAL may not be willing to speak out against Holy Joe but to imply that they are 95% happy with his record is 100% bullshit.

If you're from Connecticut you might want to drop an LTE to the local papers and let them know that Joe needs to stop sliding around on statistics and old news, and that he needs to be held accountable for what he does now:
Hartford Courant LTE Webform
Connecticut Post LTE email
New Haven Register LTE email
Stamford Advocate LTE email
While you're at it let them know that you're interested in hearing more about Ned Lamont, who actually cares about representing the views of Connecticut voters.

And on this Sunday, the third anniversary of the horrendous war Joe Lieberman got us into, there will be a demonstration outside of Lieberman's office. Crooks & Liars has the details.

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I'd Be Happy, Too



I just don't understand this. Every time any Democrat opens their mouth they talk about how the netroots community is more an more influential every day on the course of party politics, and they are most certainly looking to turn us into a virtual ATM for the next election cycle.

Yet they are so disconnected from the palpable rage of the base -- and yes, we are the base, the people who show up every day, who write about this stuff, send letters, make phone calls, give money, give a shit -- that they have no concept of stepping into a leadership position on matters of great concern like the illegal NSA wiretaps and channeling that emotion into positive action.

They are then often startled to find that frustration turning back on them. Is it really such a mystery?

EJ Dionne understands:
Consider the disparity between the response to Feingold's initiative among Democratic senators and the reaction among Democratic activists.

Senators mostly scampered away from the cameras earlier this week, because they didn't want to say publicly what many of them said privately. Most were livid that Feingold sprang his censure idea on a Sunday talk show without giving them any notice. Many see Feingold as more concerned with rallying support from the Democratic base for his 2008 presidential candidacy than with helping his party regain control of Congress this fall.

Some Democrats want the party to forget the issue of warrantless wiretapping, because engaging it would let Bush claim that he's tougher on terrorists than his partisan enemies. Others share Feingold's frustration with the administration's stonewalling on the program, but they think they need to know more before they can effectively challenge Bush on the issue. Both groups were furious that Feingold grabbed headlines away from those delicious stories about Republican divisions and defections.

But at the grass roots and Web roots, Feingold has become a hero -- again. They already loved him for his courage in opposing the USA Patriot Act and his call for a timetable for troop withdrawals from Iraq. Feingold's latest move only reinforced his image of being "a Dem with a spine," as the left-liberal Web site BuzzFlash.com put it in a comment representative of the acclaim he won across the activist blogs.

In an interview, Feingold was unrepentant, arguing that before he made his proposal, "the whole issue of the president violating the laws of this country was being swept under the rug."

"We were going to sit back as Democrats and say, 'This is too hot to handle' -- well that's outrageous." He warned that "the mistakes of 2002 are being repeated," meaning, he said, that Democrats should never again "cower" before Bush on security issues, as so many at the grass roots saw them doing before the 2002 elections.

And it's a sign of Feingold's view of some of his Democratic colleagues that he defended his decision not to let them in on his plan. Had they known what he was up to, he said, "they would have planned a strategy to blunt this."

Here's the problem: Feingold and the activists are right that Democrats can't just take a pass on the wiretapping issue, because Bush's legal claims are so suspect -- even to many in his own party. The opposition's job is to raise alarms over potential abuses of presidential power.

But Democrats, unlike Republicans, have yet to develop a healthy relationship between activists willing to test and expand the conventional limits on political debate and the politicians who have to calculate what works in creating an electoral majority.

For two decades, Republicans have used their idealists, their ideologues and their loudmouths to push the boundaries of discussion to the right. In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism.

That would demand coordination, trust and, yes, calculation involving both the vote-counting politicians and the guardians of principle among the activists. Republicans have mastered this art. Democrats haven't.

Turning a minority into a majority requires both passion and discipline. Bringing the two together requires effective leadership. Does anybody out there know how to play this game?
I don't know how to make it any clearer. You can't tell people what to care about. They can continue to harp on the Dubai Ports mess all they want, but that moment has passed. It will make a fine talking point but the white-hot emotion fueling the discussion is gone. Russ Feingold saw where the conversation was going and he stepped in to provide leadership in a timely manner, not six weeks from now when they'd caucused the fucker to death and the world had moved on.

So let me speak in a language that even the dullest, the most remedial, most thick-witted Democratic consultant can understand.

According to a new Rassmussen poll:
"Initially, 22% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of him while 16% had an unfavorable opinion. However, knowing he advocates censure, Feingold's numbers within his own party jumped to 52% favorable and 14% unfavorable."
Every day that goes by and the party leaders do nothing but carp about an investigation that will never happen they are single-handedly delivering the loyalty, dollars and activism of the base over to Russ Feingold.

Are we communicating now?

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C-Span's Washington Journal and Me



I've had a lot of questions on this, and I can now give everyone a few answers.

I will be a guest on Sunday morning's Washington Journal on C-Span. The segment will begin at 7:45 am ET. (My apologies to all the bleary eyed West Coasters. All I can say is thank goodness for Tivo or your VCR.)

My conservative counterpart on the show will be Paul Mirengoff of Powerline. The host on Sunday morning will be Peter Slen.

Am trying to do a bit of prep -- we'll be discussing news of the day, per the usual Washington Journal format. I love the show, so this will be very fun for me.

I'll try to do you all proud.

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You Tell Me They Aren't Motivated by Corruption and Cronyism



This is beyond the pale:
Lawyers for two airlines being sued by 9/11 victims prompted a federal attorney to coach witnesses in the Zacarias Moussaoui death penalty trial so the government's case against the al-Qaida conspirator would not undercut their defense, victims' lawyers allege.

A United Airlines lawyer received a transcript of the first day of the Moussaoui trial from an American Airlines lawyer and forwarded it to Carla J. Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, the victims' lawyers, Robert Clifford and Gregory Joseph, claim.

Martin forwarded that day's transcript to seven federal aviation officials scheduled to testify later in the sentencing trial of the 37-year-old Frenchman, in violation of an order by Moussaoui trial judge Leonie Brinkema.

Martin's e-mailing of the transcript and her efforts to shape their testimony prompted Brinkema to toss out half the government's case against Moussaoui as contaminated beyond repair.

American Airlines attorneys denied on Friday that the government position in the Moussaoui case would have undercut their defense in the civil suit and said that none of their attorneys had any direct contact with Martin about the Moussaoui trial.

The contacts between Martin and airline lawyers were detailed in a legal brief filed on Moussaoui's behalf Thursday. That brief contained a March 15 letter from Clifford and Joseph complaining about Martin's actions to U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is presiding over the civil damage case in New York.
You tell me they aren't motivated by corruption and cronyism.

I am so angry right now I am shaking. The perversion of our justice system to help out big party donors, the willful disregard of the law, the abject failure of this Administration to respect anything beyond its own greed is beyond my ability to describe in words right now.

This was the death penalty phase of a criminal proceeding. Not only were her actions in blatant disregard of the judge's direct order, but they were in direct violation of any sense of ethics that one would hope would prevail in our system of justice. All for the question of a buck for the Bush Administration's airline donor cronies and their civil suit fears. Absolutely shameful and wrong.

More than that, the families of all those people killed on 9/11 deserve a hell of a lot better than the Bush Administration coordinating with the airlines to prevent them from finding out the truth about airline safety and other issues involved in this case. I am just so, very angry.

You tell me they aren't motivated by corruption and cronyism.

(Thanks to a number of readers who sent me the link to this article.)

UPDATE: Jeralyn has much, much more on this at TalkLeft.

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