Friday, April 07, 2006

Mainstream Media Get Suckered Again, Coverage of the Leak Scandals Hits New Low

Does the media get it? Listening to the major networks, surfing the net, one would never know that the libby-leak story is all about Iraq and the lies Bushco told to get us there. Bushco has gotten away with reframing yet another debate. So what if Bush could make the illegal legal? So what if Bush can de-classify upon a malicious, vindictive whim? All dictators claim omnipotence but the powers of a dictator do not justify the dictatorship!

The real issues are these:

  • the lies the Bush administration told about Iraq;
  • the draconian measures Bush was willing to "authorize" in order to cover them up!
The timely "outing" of Valerie Plame is clearly one of those measures. Then why are the media following Scott McClellan's red herrings?

According to the Washington Post, Bush authorized Libby to "...disclose highly sensitive intelligence information". The question is not whether but why? The Center for American Progress states flatly that it was an attempt to discredit critics of Bush's rationale for the war against Iraq. If not that —then what? Some background. Wilson had blown holes in Bush's claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake from Niger in order to build a nuke.
I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat

Ambassador Joseph Wilson

This is consistent with the various Downing Street memos themselves compelling if not conclusive evidence that Bush and Blair conspired to wage a war of aggression upon various fraudulent pretexts. It's also consistent with a recent story in the New York Times:

The Reach of War: Leaders; Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

In July of 2003, Wilson wrote that he had seen no evidence of an Iraq/Niger uranium transaction. His claim was backed up by N.I.E. and the CIA itself which gave "low confidence" to Bushco's uranium claims adding in a report that "...we cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore.

Bushies, desperate for a pretext to wage a war upon which they had already decided, embarked upon a campaign to "...fix the intelligence " around a pre-conceived rationale. When this Machiavellian strategy was blown by Wilson, Bushco embarked upon an insidious campaign of retaliation. Thuggery in high places!

It's but the tip of an iceberg but you wouldn't have known that watching TV today. Clearly —the Bush administration cherry-picked intelligence and, according the various Downing Street Memos, engaged in planning campaigns of character assassination for anyone daring to dispute the official cover stories, the various Bush frauds to justify a war of naked aggression against Iraq.

Look at the polls. Most people now believe that Bush deliberately misled the American people about the reasons this nation attacked, invaded, and occupied a sovereign nation. Even Bush admits that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 911 —though Bush passively benefited from the misconception. He may have even encouraged it. The war has now cost hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives —American and Iraqi. The questions remaining today are: why can't the media get it right? When will Bush be held to account?

There is some good coverage to be had. But, generally speaking, you will not find it on network TV which seems to have bought into the Bush campaign to reframe both his role and the debate.Bush is toast. As I had already written, the idea that Bush can make legal crimes he's already committed is absurd on its face! How the media fell for this obvious bunkum, I'll never know.

Media left unanswered questions about NIE disclosure

Summary: Many in the media have simply asserted as fact that President Bush's alleged authorization of the release of key judgments of a classified National Intelligence Estimate is legal, without any discussion of the implications or consequences of such a position. Media Matters has prepared a list of questions arising from the revelation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's claim that Bush did just that -- questions that the simple assertion of the legality of the president's alleged actions doesn't begin to answer.

On April 5, special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald filed court documents alleging that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, testified that Cheney told Libby in July 2003 that President Bush had authorized Libby to disclose the key judgments of a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). According to Fitzgerald, Libby further testified that "he brought a brief abstract of the NIE's key judgments" to a July 8, 2003, meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller and that Libby "understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." According to Fitzgerald, Libby testified that this disclosure was intended to rebut former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had charged that the Bush administration distorted intelligence about Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program in making the case for war.

In 2005, Libby was indicted for obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements in connection with the Bush administration's alleged disclosure that Wilson's wife -- Valerie Plame -- was a CIA operative.

Immediately following The New York Sun's publication of an April 6 article breaking the story about Libby's testimony, many in the media have simply asserted as fact that what Bush is alleged to have done is legal, without any discussion of the implications or consequences of such a position. Media Matters for America has prepared a partial list of questions arising from the revelation of Libby's claims -- questions that the simple assertion of the legality of the president's alleged actions doesn't begin to answer.

1. Is there a process that the president must go through in order to have national security information declassified? If so, was that process followed? For example, are there any documents that the president must sign or officials that must be contacted before information can be made public? Must the president coordinate with or inform the agency that produced the information?

Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush all signed executive orders pertaining to the declassification of national security information. At least one legal analyst -- Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew P. Napolitano, a former New Jersey state judge -- has argued that Bush "would be violating his own order" if he declassified parts of the NIE without following certain procedures. ...

An update from Greg Palast[the bolding is mine]:

Gangster Government -- A Leaky President Runs Afoul of "Little Rico"

By Greg Palast

It's a crime. No kidding. But the media has it all wrong. As usual, 'Scooter' Libby finally outed 'Mr. Big,' the perpetrator of the heinous disclosure of the name of secret agent Valerie Plame. It was the President of United States himself -- in conspiracy with his Vice-President. Now the pundits are arguing over whether our war-a-holic President had the legal right to leak this national security information. But, that's a fake debate meant to distract you.

OK, let's accept the White House alibi that releasing Plame's identity was no crime. But if that's true, they've committed a bigger crime: Bush and Cheney knowingly withheld vital information from a grand jury investigation, a multimillion dollar inquiry the perps themselves authorized. That's akin to calling in a false fire alarm or calling the cops for a burglary that never happened -- but far, far worse. Let's not forget that in the hunt for the perpetrator of this non-crime, reporter Judith Miller went to jail.

Think about that. While Miller sat in a prison cell, Bush and Cheney were laughing their sick heads off, knowing the grand jury testimony, the special prosecutor's subpoenas and the FBI's terrorizing newsrooms were nothing but fake props in Bush's elaborate charade, Cheney's Big Con.

On February 10, 2004, our not-so-dumb-as-he-sounds President stated, "Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. ...And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it."

Notice Bush's cleverly crafted words. He says he can't name anyone who leaked this "classified" info -- knowing full well he'd de-classified it. Far from letting Bush off the hook, it worsens the crime. For years, I worked as a government investigator and, let me tell you, Bush and Cheney withholding material information from the grand jury is a felony. Several felonies, actually: abuse of legal process, fraud, racketeering and, that old standby, obstruction of justice.

If you or I had manipulated the legal system this way, we'd be breaking rocks on a chain gang. We wouldn't even get a trial -- most judges would consider this a "fraud upon the court" and send us to the slammer in minutes using the bench's power to administer instant punishment for contempt of the judicial system.

Why'd they do it? The White House junta did the deed for the most evil of motives: to hoodwink the public during the 2004 election campaign, to pretend that evil anti-Bush elements were undermining the Republic, when it was the Bush element itself at the center of the conspiracy. (Notably, elections trickery also motivated Richard Nixon's "plumbers" to break into the Watergate, then the Democratic Party campaign headquarters.)

Let me draft the indictment for you as I would have were I still a government gumshoe:

"Perpetrator Lewis Libby (alias, 'Scooter') contacted Miller; while John Doe 1 contacted perpetrators' shill at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, in furtherance of a scheme directed by George Bush (alias 'The POTUS') and Dick Cheney (alias, 'The Veep') to release intelligence information fraudulently proffered as 'classified,' and thereinafter, knowingly withheld material evidence from a grand jury empanelled to investigate said disclosure. Furthermore, perpetrator 'The POTUS' made material statements designed to deceive investigators and knowingly misrepresent his state of knowledge of the facts."

Statements aimed at misleading grand jury investigators are hard-time offenses. It doesn't matter that Bush's too-clever little quip was made to the press and not under oath. I've cited press releases and comments in the New York Times in court as evidence of fraud. By not swearing to his disingenuous statement, Bush gets off the perjury hook, but he committed a crime nonetheless, "deliberate concealment."

Here's how the law works (and hopefully, it will). The Bush gang's use of the telephone in this con game constituted wire fraud. Furthermore, while presidents may leak ("declassify") intelligence information, they may not obstruct justice; that is, send a grand jury on a wild goose chase. Under the 'RICO' statute (named after the Edward G. Robinson movie mobster, 'Little Rico'), the combination of these crimes makes the Bush executive branch a "racketeering enterprise."

So, book'm, Dan-o. Time to read The POTUS and The Veep their rights.

After setting their bail (following the impeachments and removals, of course), a judge will have a more intriguing matter to address. The RICO law requires the Feds to seize all "ill-gotten gains" of a racketeering enterprise, even before trial. Usually we're talking fast cars and diamond bling. But in this case, the conspirators' purloined booty includes a stolen election and a fraudulently obtained authorization for war. I see no reason why a judge could not impound the 82d Airborne as "fruits of the fraud " -- lock, stock and gun barrels -- and bring the boys home.

And if justice is to be done we will will also have to run yellow tape across the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- "CRIME SCENE - DO NOT ENTER" -- and return the White House to its rightful owners, the American people, the victims of this gangster government.

A Pattern of Partisan Intelligence Leaks

Knights Ridder reporters say that Bush/Cheney's authorization to Scooter Libby to declassify and divulge classified information about Iraq "fits a pattern of selective leaks of secret intelligence to further the administration's political agenda."

Scott McClellan today tried to justify the Adminstration's actions:
Without specifically acknowledging Bush's actions in the Libby case, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters: "There were irresponsible and unfounded accusations being made against the administration suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence. We felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified be reclassified."

McClellan didn't address why administration officials often declassified information that supported their allegations about Iraq but not intelligence that undercut their claims.
Here's a question I'm not seeing answered. If Libby was authorized to disclose newly declassified information to Judith Miller, and if it was all on the up and up, why did Libby, Cheney and Bush let her do 85 days in jail for refusing to say she got the information from Libby?

And, as Digby says, if they wanted to declassify and disclose information favorable to their case for war in Iraq, why didn't they call a press conference? Why did they give it to selected reporters? That's not disclosure to the public, that's a selective leak for partisan purposes.

There's two issues with Fitzgerald's filing. One is the Administration's failure to come clean about dissenting opinions on whether Saddam had WMD's. As Murray Waas reported, there's a one page piece of paper floating around that was given to the President in which doubts were expressed. Greg Sargent explains.

Let's state this as clearly as we can: Wass says there is a piece of paper out there which constitutes hard evidence that Bush withheld critical info from the American public as he made the most critical decision a president can make -- the decision whether to go to war. Jaded DC hands will say, "Old news -- everyone knew there was dissent within the bureaucracy." Fine. But Wass's story says more than that -- he says there's proof of the extent to which Bush knew of that dissent, that he deliberately concealed it from the public, and that Rove thought this fact could "severely damage" Bush's reelection prospects if it surfaced.

The other is whether Bush ordered the declassification of a document specifically for the purpose of discrediting Joseph Wilson (and by extension, his wife, Valerie Plame) to bolster his case for war.

If he declassified information to trash Wilson, that's a big problem.
While the MSM seems largely to have missed the boat, the web and blogoshere have yielded some interesting comments.

One of the most lucid descriptions of how Bush/Cheney abused the power of the Oval Office to make legal what is by rights and common sense a vindicative, malicious crime:
Bush would never, never take a fall for anyone, probably not even his own mother. Or I should say for sure not his own mother, because he obviously has a lot of unresolved issues with her.

Bush stepped in because he was forced to by Libby's court filings. He knew this day would come but he also knew he was untouchable.

When Libby leaked the name of a CIA operative he released classified information, which would be a crime, if he acted on his own authority, as most of us believed. But now we find out that he was not acting on his own authority, he was acting under instructions from Cheney and Bush and thus, as it turns out, he did nothing illegal.

That is, until he lied, presumably to save the butts of Cheney and Bush. If Libby would have simply went before the grand jury and told the truth, the saga would have ended then and there and the public would have known the truth before the last Presidential election.

—Evelyn Pringle, Bush and Cheney Get Over On Fitzgerald, OpEdNews

Here's a concise compilation of comments from the SoCal Law Blog (Southern Calfornia Law Blogs)
The Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2006, “Bush Authorized Secrets’ Release, Libby Testified.”) Other links of note:

  1. The DOJ has posted the court filing where the prosecutor describes Libby’s testimony here. At page 23, the prosecutor states: “As to the meeting on July8, defendant testified that he was specificallyauthorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was “pretty definitive” against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the Vice President thought that it was “very important” for the key judgments of the NIE to come out. Defendant further testified that he at first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. Defendant testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document.”

  2. Anti-Strib points out that the hysteria over this issue is “a reflection on the way anti-Bush animus has fed into the adversarial culture of post-Watergate journalism in America.

  3. Think Progress thinks he caught Scott McCellan in a slip-up on the timing of the declassification of the NIE.

  4. Howard Kurtz concludes: “On that score, Bush is probably safe from having to fire himself, despite Scooter Libby’s accusation yesterday that the president, through Dick Cheney, had authorized him to feed classified CIA data to Judy Miller. The reason: It’s legal for the president to declassify something that otherwise would remain super-secret. Politically, it’s a mess.”

  5. The Existentialist Cowboy concludes: “Wake up, folks! It doesn’t get any more evil than that. The act is dastardly, impeachable, prosecutable, morally reprehensible, despicable!”

  6. Talk Left thinks the disclosure is part of a bigger pattern.

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Bush Deliberately Put Plame's Life in Jeopardy to Cover Up a Fraud!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

It's not about Libby! It's not about Rove! It's not about Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson!

It's all about Iraq, a fraud that Bush tried to cover up —by sacrificing Valerie Plame, if need be. It's all about keeping secret a deliberate fraud that Bush perpetrated upon the American people and the world. And Bush proved himself capable of jeopardizing lives in order to perpetuate his cover up.

It doesn't get any more evil than that. The act is dastardly, impeachable, prosecutable, morally reprehensible, despicable!

That there was a such a leak at all proves that Bush's order to attack and invade Iraq was and continues to be a war crime. All the black hearted lies told by Bush —and by Powell at the United Nations —were known by Bush to be lies at the time he told them. Hiding the nature of the crime and the lies told to justify it is the motive for yet another crime —the deliberate "outing" of Plame. She was targeted because her husband dared to tell the truth about just one of many lies told by Bushcho about Iraq.

Bush's crime is much worse that a mere technical violation of the law —itself an act of treason. No! Bush's crime against humanity is his personal authorization of a leak by which Bush deliberately put Valerie Plame's life in jeopardy. This is clearly the act of a psychopath, the act of a petty, desperate, mean-spirited, tin horn tyrant. The moral dimensions of this crime are too easily overlooked. The   "major" media is myopically obsessed with tracking down who told who what and when. What makes it all a crime is why?.

Has it soaked in? George W. Bush deliberately sought to endanger the life of Valerie Plame because Ambassador Joe Wilson dared to expose just one of Bush's multiple frauds, lies, and con games. How does one characterize this act? Immature, petty, psychopathic, criminal, vindictive, evil!

Now Bush is left with no defense but "...if the President does it is not illegal"! That's nonsense for a start and not worth comment. This is a nation of laws and Bush is not "the" law. If Bush says otherwise, he's lying.

Bush will try to claim that he declassified Plame's cover. More nonsense! Was Plame notified or, in any way, warned that her life would suddenly be imperiled? What consideration other than revenge would have motivated such a de-classification even if it had been undertaken in a legal manner?

Any case that Bush might make will be laughed out of the court that tries Bush for his crimes. The fact is Bush didn't go through a process by which things that no longer need to be classified are thus de-classified. See: EXECUTIVE ORDER 13292 which outlines the procedures by which information is classified and de-classified —by law!
Sec. 3.1. Authority for Declassification. (a) Information shall be declassified as soon as it no longer meets the standards for classification under this order.

(b) It is presumed that information that continues to meet the classification requirements under this order requires continued protection. In some exceptional cases, however, the need to protect such information may be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure of the information, and in these cases the information should be declassified. When such questions arise, they shall be referred to the agency head or the senior agency official. That official will determine, as an exercise of discretion, whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure. This provision does not:

(1) amplify or modify the substantive criteria or procedures for classification; or (2) create any substantive or procedural rights subject to judicial review.

(c) If the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office determines that information is classified in violation of this order, the Director may require the information to be declassified by the agency that originated the classification. Any such decision by the Director may be appealed to the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The information shall remain classified pending a prompt decision on the appeal.

(d) The provisions of this section shall also apply to agencies that, under the terms of this order, do not have original classification authority, but had such authority under predecessor orders. ... [Thanks to Doug Drenkow & Barry Gordon for the link to Executive Order 13292 ]
Bush, however, always tries to make legal —after the fact —crimes that he's already committed. How bloody convenient!

In the year 2005, when confronted by leak developments, Bush, with practiced deliberation, leaned forward, put on his best sincere face, placed the splayed fingers of his left hand on his heart, and intoned with rehearsed earnestness:
If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if that person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
It is time that Bush is held precisely to that standard. Clearly —that statement gives the lie away. Clearly —the leak had nothing whatever to do with national security but with a petty, criminal vendetta!

Bush must step down or be impeached and removed. And when he is removed, he must be charged and prosecuted in a criminal court.

Additional resources:
Did Bush Lie to Fitzgerald?
An excerpt:
Lewis Libby's testimony identifying George W. Bush as the top official who authorized the leaking of intelligence about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program raises two key questions: What did the President tell the special prosecutor about this issue in 2004 and what is Bush's legal status in the federal criminal probe?

Bush's legal danger came into clearer focus with the release of a court document citing testimony from Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who claimed that Bush approved the selective release of intelligence in July 2003 to counter growing complaints that Bush had hyped evidence on Iraq's pursuit of enriched uranium. ...
Leaker-In-ChiefYesterday, a court filing disclosed that President Bush specifically authorized Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby to disclose classified information in an effort to discredit Joseph Wilson, a former CIA adviser whose criticisms undermined the administration's case for war. According to the 39-page document submitted by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on late Wednesday night, Libby testified that Cheney "advised him that the President had authorized [Libby] to disclose relevant portions" of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.), the key CIA document that the administration used to persuade Congress and the American public into war. The court filing "for the first time places Bush and Vice President Cheney at the heart of what Libby testified was an exceptional and deliberate leak of material designed to buttress the administration's claim that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear weapons." While the document does not address the issue of whether Bush was personally involved in specifically leaking Valerie Plame's identity, it is clear from the timing of the leak authorization by President Bush that he was personally involved in the administration-wide effort to smear Joseph Wilson by any means necessary.
BUSH AUTHORIZED LEAKING DESPITE REPEATED ASSURANCES TO THE CONTRARY: Throughout the past two and half years, while the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity has been ongoing, Bush has made numerous public statements indicating his desire to crack down on leakers. For instance, on September 30, 2003, Bush said, "There's just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." He added, "I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing." And on October 28, 2003, the president said, "I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information." Bush never indicated that he was engaged in leaks, instead casting "himself as a disinterested observer, eager to resolve the case and hold those responsible accountable." The new revelations by Fitzgerald, however, demonstrate Bush was personally authorizing highly-sensitive intelligence leaks and has therefore been engaged in a cover-up about the extent of his own involvement in the leak case. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "The president has always stood so strong against leaks. If he leaked himself, he should explain why this is different than every other leak."

BUSH WAS INVOLVED IN THE CAMPAIGN TO SMEAR WILSON: "The White House did not challenge the prosecutor's account of Bush's and Cheney's role in orchestrating the effort to discredit Wilson yesterday." Previously, the administration claimed it had not engaged in a smear campaign against Wilson. Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's attorney, previously claimed that the facts were being spun "in an ugly fashion to make it seem like people in the White House were affirmatively reaching out to try to get them to report negative information about Plame." But Fitzgerald made clear that Libby's disclosure took place as the result of "a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House, to repudiate" Wilson's claims, adding, "it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson." Bush has now been placed at the center of those efforts. (The Progress Report has previously documented why Wilson was smeared -- simply put, because his public criticisms of the administration set into motion a series of events that were not only politically damaging but began to expose how the nation was misled into war. See our timeline.) "If the disclosure is true, it's breathtaking. The president is revealed as the leaker-in-chief," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). While it is clear that Bush was engaged in the campaign to "punish" Wilson, it is unclear what knowledge he had of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. At the very least, Bush should now be asked when he personally learned of Plame and whether he authorized the leak of her covert identity.

N.I.E. BOLSTERED WILSON'S ARGUMENT: Libby testified that he was given specific authority by the president to "disclose certain information in the N.I.E." to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller and others. The administration decided to disclose only "relevant portions" for a very obvious reason -- disclosure of the full N.I.E. would have undermined the administration's argument and bolstered Joseph Wilson's. Recall, Wilson attacked Bush's 2003 State of the Union claim that Iraq was acquiring uranium from Niger to build a nuclear weapon. Wilson wrote in July 2003, "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," specifically stating he saw no evidence of a uranium transaction. The N.I.E. bolstered Wilson's claim. The CIA gave "low confidence" to the uranium claim and said "we cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore." The estimate further said the intelligence on Iraq's uranium acquisition was "inconclusive."
BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S DEFENSE FULL OF LEAKY HOLES: At the heart of the White House and Libby's defense of their actions is the claim that a March 2003 executive order allows both the president and vice president to unilaterally declassify intelligence documents. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated yesterday that Bush has "inherent authority to decide who should have classified information." The White House maintains Bush's decision to disclose classified information means he declassified it. But it was unclear if that was the President's intention in this case. First, the action to leak the October 2002 N.I.E. was apparently done "without notifying Cabinet officials or others in the administration, including the CIA authors of the National Intelligence Estimate," raising questions about whether a real declassification ever occurred. Moreover, as Fitzgerald writes in the court filing, then-deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was engaged in a process to get the N.I.E. officially declassified at the same time Libby was leaking classified portions of the N.I.E. to reporters. On July 18, 2003, the administration decided to officially disclose the contents of the full N.I.E. at a White House press briefing, "suggesting the information had not been declassified until that time." Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, argued on National Public Radio yesterday, "At a minimum, it is grossly improper for the president to order a subordinate to disclose a highly classified document to an uncleared reporter and then have that document treated as continuing to be classified."
CASE AGAINST LIBBY NOT AFFECTED: The new disclosures do not affect the legal case against Scooter Libby. Libby is on trial for having allegedly lied to FBI investigators and the federal grand jury about how he learned of Plame's identity. As special prosecutor Fitzgerald said at his October 2005 press conference announcing the indictments against Libby, "At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false." The court filing reasserts that the "central issue at trial will be whether defendant lied when he testified that he was not aware that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the CIA prior to his purported conversation with Tim Russert about Mr. Wilson's wife on or about July 10, 2003."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Democrats should be laying the foundations for freedom in a post Bush world!

Democrats may be shy of impeachment for the same reasons that it would have been better for them if Tom DeLay had hung around until after the elections. But if the Democratic "platform" consists only of tactical moves to regain White House and Congress, they are doomed to fail. Democrats must now position themselves in opposition to the Bush dictatorship if they are to entertain thoughts of resurgence.

I would advise the Democratic party to beware of Machiavellian thinking of the form: a Bush in the White House is worth two birds [Bush and Cheney] in the "dock". Sadly, the Democrats who believe this are probably correct if one assumes that the only goal is to retake the house and put a Democrat in the White House. That's mere "DeLayism" but on the other side of the aisle. I would hope that Democrats are thinking past that. I would hope that they are thinking in terms of what policies and measures are absolutely necessary if this nation is to heal of its Bush inflicted wounds.

Democrats must be thinking in terms of restoring the separation of powers, the rule of law, due process of law, civil liberties, free and fair elections. Democrats must be thinking about how they can organize a viable party without selling out to the military/industrial complex, the crooked lobbies, the powerful and ruthless industries like oil, tobacco, and gun.

Democrats must be thinking of restoring the economy, creating jobs, addressing obscene income disparities, restoring financial integrity to the Social Security trust fund and securing it against another attack from the GOP.

Democrats must address the U.S. failure to educate its people. "No Child Left Behind" was a fraud from the get go; the cost of attending any college (even a poor one) is often out of reach; the right wing has watered down many curricula and has, indeed, attacked science itself.

Democrats must restore the separation of church and state and repeal "faith-based initiatives", a violation of the First Amendment on its face. The Democrats must affirm the Constitution, a document about which Bush is credibly quoted: "The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!" Impeaching Bush, admittedly, doesn't even begin to address the problem. Neither would a double impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. Sadly, bringing criminal charges against the majority of the GOP leadership won't either. Just as the GOP emerged from the fall of Nixon radicalized, more organized, ruthless, even a successful impeachment of Bush will push the bitter-enders over the edge. We have not yet seen the end of the radicalization of the Republican party.

To address the crimes that have gone unpunished and the deeper divisions ripping apart what's left of the republic, I support a new National Convention, a notion that scares most people who fear it will be hijacked by special interests and lobbyists. But our entire government has been permanently hijacked by moneyed special interests. I fail to see how we would be any worse off. Moreover, a new National Convention is convened upon a petition of two thirds of the State Legislatures. The apparatuses of the various lobbies are located in D.C. and geared toward the existing Federal Bureaucracy; the various incestuous relationships have been years in the making. A new National Convention will fare better. And the best part of it is this: Bush would be powerless to prevent it by any lawful measure.

I am told that the "religious right" is not the monolithic block that it might appear to be. I am told that there are many "religious" people working to bring about the end of the Bush tyranny. I would hope so. The alternative to moderation —a long and nasty cultural war —is too terrible to contemplate.

A post-Bush world may be nearer than generally thought. Following are two reports indicating that Bush himself authorized the leak that "outed" Valerie Plame. This act is properly characterized as treason. Treason is specifically mentioned in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment.

The impeachment procedings against George W. Bush should begin immediately. Contact your reps!

Libby: Bush himself authorized leak on Iraq

Former top aide to Cheney says word came down through vice president

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney’s former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame leak that Cheney told him to pass on the information and that it was Bush who authorized the leak, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Plame’s CIA identity.
From the Smoking Gun:

Libby: Bush Authorized Plamegate Leak

Indicted ex-Cheney aide told grand jury of White House approval

APRIL 6--A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that President George W. Bush authorized him to leak information from a classified intelligence report to a New York Times reporter. Details of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's testimony were included in a court filing made yesterday by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is prosecuting Libby for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in connection with the probe into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.

According to Fitzgerald's filing, an excerpt of which you'll find below, Libby, 55, testified in 2003 that he provided reporter Judith Miller with information from a classified National Intelligence Estimate after being told by Cheney that Bush "specifically had authorized" him to "disclose certain information in the NIE." Libby also testified that Cheney specifically directed him to speak to other reporters about information in the classified NIE (which addressed Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction programs) as well as a cable authored by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.

The leaking of the classified material was apparently done in an effort to counter claims made by Wilson regarding the White House's justification for invading Iraq. The Fitzgerald filing also notes that Libby told grand jurors that he conferred with David Addington, Cheney's counsel, about the leak directive and that Addington told him "that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document."

While both Bush and Cheney have been interviewed by Fitzgerald, it is unknown whether they confirmed or disputed Libby's assertion that he was authorized to disclose findings in classified reports. Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, resigned his White House post last October following his indictment on five felony counts. (7 pages)

Plamegate aficionados: Click here for PDF of entire 39-page Fitzgerald filing
Count on this: Bush and the endemically criminal GOP will now say that if Bush ordered the leak, then it's not a crime!

But you must remember what Bush said back in 2005.
WASHINGTON -- President Bush vowed yesterday to fire anyone in his administration who is found to have ''committed a crime" involving the disclosure of a former covert CIA agent's name, seemingly redefining the grounds for dismissal the White House had pledged when the case erupted in 2003.

''If someone committed a crime, they will no longer be in my administration," Bush said, answering a question about whether his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, should be fired if he is found to have leaked the identity of a former CIA operative, Valerie Plame. The leaking of information about Plame, who is married to a White House critic and a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is being investigated by a federal grand jury.

Bush's remarks suggested he has narrowed the criteria for sacking a White House employee in the Plame matter; previous statements by Bush and his press secretary, Scott McClellan, made as recently as last year, indicated that Bush would dismiss anyone from his staff who had identified Plame to reporters.

''If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if that person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of," Bush said at a campaign stop in Chicago in October 2003. McClellan, speaking to reporters just before the campaign appearance, said, ''If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."


—George W. Bush, from the Boston Globe, Bush seems to shift on his grounds for dismissal

If there was any legitimacy whatsoever to what will most surely be the Bush ex post facto defense, Bush would have 'fessed up at the time. He didn't. Instead, he tried muddy the issue and play stupid word games.

Bush is unfit to hold any public office whatsoever!

Bombard the House with emails and letters demanding that Bush be impeached, tried, arrested and jailed!

And —as if to illustrate points I've already made —the Bush administration can be counted on to prove true everything I've ever said about it. The war against the people of Iraq —we were told amid all the other lies —was intended to bring about Democracy in Iraq even as Democracy was put on life support at home. It didn't make sense then, and has since been proven to have been yet another Bush, bald-faced lie. Here's an update from the Washington Post:

Democracy In Iraq Not A Priority in U.S. Budget

By Peter Baker

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 5, 2006; Page A01

While President Bush vows to transform Iraq into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, his administration has been scaling back funding for the main organizations trying to carry out his vision by building democratic institutions such as political parties and civil society groups.

The administration has included limited new money for traditional democracy promotion in budget requests to Congress. Some organizations face funding cutoffs this month, while others struggle to stretch resources through the summer. The shortfall threatens projects that teach Iraqis how to create and sustain political parties, think tanks, human rights groups, independent media outlets, trade unions and other elements of democratic society. ...

Polls: Embattled Repugs Rattled by Dems

Posted by Buck | Apr. 5, 2006, 8:33 am

Outta here: The latest round of Wall Street Journal/Zogby Interactive statewide polls shows an interesting political terrain for both Democrat and Republican incumbents and challengers.

California: Terminator Terminated

California voters are seriously dissatisfied with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fewer than one in three (30 percent) approve of his job performance in Sacramento, and just one-third (34 percent) think he deserves re-election. Matched up against potential Democratic opponents, the Gubernator does better than previous poll numbers had suggested, but he still trails both potential opponents. State Treasurer Phil Angelides leads Schwarzenegger by five (46 percent to 41 percent) and state Comptroller Steve Westly holds a nine-point advantage over the incumbent, 47 percent to 38 percent.

Pennsylvania: Santorum Toast

For Sen. Rick Santorum, considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the nation, election night is shaping up to be a big disappointment. But the race is far from over, with a nasty battle brewing within Democratic ranks over Democrat Bob Casey Jr.’s support for the pro-life position on abortion. The state Treasurer, Casey is beating Santorum by eight points, 47 percent to 39 percent. Just 40 percent give Santorum a positive job approval rating, and fewer (38 percent) think he deserves to be re-elected. ...
'Toon by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Local Republicans Are Eating Each Other Alive"

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

That's how the situation is described in Tom DeLay's hometown of Sugar Land, TX. where a web site called "Juanita's" has been snapping at DeLay's heels and exposing his hijinks from the get go. So —don't fall for GOP nonsense about how those nasty old liberals like George Soros, Michael Moore and Barbra Streisand are ganging up on poor Tom. Tom DeLay's worst enemies are not only in the GOP, they live in Texas where they know him better than anyone else anywhere. The atmosphere in at least some parts of Sugar Land is downright "giddy" if not a substitute for Mardi Gras:
My prediction is that Tom will continue in his present life-calling and become a teevee evangelist. It's just like being a Congressman: the hours are good, you can have girlfriends on the side as long as you don't get caught, you can get stoopid people to give you lotsa money, it helps if your wife cries a lot and can make "Jesus" a three-syllable word, and you get to wear fancy clothes. He'll hardly know the difference.
Juanita's, Sugar Land, TX Web Site
The GOP has beheld the vacuum and it sucks! Most Texas GOPPERS fed at the trough; most benefited from crookery; most got on board the gravy train. DeLay's fall is a product of a polarized House of Representatives, a growing culture of corruption throughout Washington, and Bush's own falling star.
While Democrats might have looked forward to having DeLay to paint with "culture of corruption" charges, the GOP loses the most "effective" partisan in the GOP arsenal. It was back in the early 80's as a State Representative that DeLay began building a GOP majority that he hoped would last for decades, if not a thousand years.

A 20 year Reich? 

Here's the PC version on Tom DeLay's own web site:
During a Fort Bend County Republican Committee meeting in 1978, a party official suggested that DeLay run for an open Texas State House seat that had never before elected a Republican. Excited by the prospect of lowering taxes and excess regulations, DeLay rolled up his sleeves and impressed enough voters to win the election. After serving in Austin for six years, he succeeded in becoming the first Republican Fort Bend County ever elected to the United States Congress.
DeLay mastered the art of diluting the Democratic voting strength in Houston's area minority districts. Pioneering computer-aided gerrymandering, DeLay's GOP created strange looking districts —narrow, weirdly-shaped, artificial.

Before his announcement, it was reported that DeLay had raised $1.3 million for his campaign. DeLay would have faced a former victim of DeLay-mandering: former Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat, who lost his seat in 2004.

DeLay's troubles may have just begun. He still faces indictment in Texas on money laundering charges and other allegations of campaign law violations. Former DeLay aides, Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, have already pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. Ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, meanwhile, is cooperating with federal investigators even as a corruption investigation continues to widen on Capitol Hill. And it is in this thicket that we find DeLay's real reasons for withdrawing:
"The guy has a hide of titanium. This is not about his election, this is about his defense of the criminal investigation," former federal prosecutor John P. Flannery II said. "The circle is closing on him for a federal indictment."
Brand, whose previous clients have included members of Congress, said it wasn't uncommon for lawmakers to shelve their political careers when faced with the possibility of criminal charges.
"He's going to face hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses if he gets charged and decides to defend himself," Brand said. "It's hard to focus on that and focus on re-election."
Signs point to federal investigators zeroing in on DeLay, Ron Hutcheson, Knight Ridder Newspapers
Thoughtful bloggers have asked the question: "In the wake of DeLay's departure, will the GOP become more introspective about the "...course of the Republican revolution"?  Nahhhhhhh.....


Lampson Campaign Condemns DeLay's Goon Squad Assault

Nick Lampson wants Tom DeLay's job representing Texas's 22nd Congressional District. He wants it bad. Especially since he lost his House seat as a result of The Hammer's 2004 redistricting scheme. He's been gaining serious momentum and leads the polls. DeLay's announcement this week that he's dropping out of the race and resigning from Congress in June only enhances Lampson's chances at winning. And that makes many ReTHUGlicans very, very angry. They showed that anger Thursday by disrupting a press conference Lampson held on the steps of the Sugar Land city hall. The city is DeLay's hometown.
In calling on Tom DeLay to immediately resign so a May 13th special election can be held to fill his seat, Lampson's words were drowned out by demonstrators reminescent of the dozens of screaming, bullying GOP thugs who converged on Miami/Dade election headquarters during the 2000 recount. People were pushed, shoved and shouted at. Lampson and his supporters were surrounded by these bullies, who held up hand-written signs that read "Liberal Lampson," "I Stand with Tom DeLay" and "Go Lose Somewhere Else."In an ail sent to supporters, Lampson's campaign manager Mike Malaise said that "DeLay's goons showed up to harass, assault, and intimidate. A number of female Lampson supporters, including Marsha Rovai, a 69 year-old woman from Richmond, reported being pushed and shoved by belligerent DeLay goons at the event.""I can't believe my Congressman, Tom DeLay, would organize this type of assault," said Ms. Rovai. "I was assaulted by two different people. One of the men hit me and another shoved his sign into my face, and then when I pushed his sign away he violently pulled my hat down over my eyes and pushed me. I'm considering filing an assault charge. This is just very upsetting and I'm so disappointed in Tom Delay for organizing this attack." The disruption was well-orchestrated: "Let's give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference," read a mass e-mail to supporters by DeLay campaign manager Chris Homan. He promised more agressive protests. "Mr. Lampson is going to have to get used to being confronted about his voting record the next seven months." "This incident certainly shows that Tom DeLay continues to try and intimidate the people of this district from speaking out against his unethical activity," Malaise said.Take notice, Democrats. This is just the beginning of the type of brutish intimidation and devious acts the ReTHUGlicans will resort to in order to hold onto power. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Juanita's has more
....Lampson's Press release: "Tom DeLay's campaign sent out an email asking supporters to disrupt Nick Lampson's press conference this morning. At that event, a 69 year old woman says she was assaulted by one of the DeLay thugs who showed up to disrupt the event. The woman, Marsha Rovai, of Richmond has asked the Lampson campaign to help see if any of the televisions stations caught this incident on tape so she can consider filing an assault charge. Several of the women at the event complained that they were pushed and shoved by male DeLay supporters.

Additional coverage:

DeLay Reveals Plan To Have Texas Legislature Oust Ronnie Earle

From Think Progress

By Judd

On an interview this morning on Fox News Radio’s Tony Snow Show, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) revealed a plan to have the Texas legislature oust district attorney Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor who charged DeLay with money laundering:

SNOW: Okay, so at this point, you know — are you willing to let bygones be bygones?

DELAY: Absolutely not. Texas should not allow a district attorney from Travis County have this kind of power. And they can take his power away from him because there was the Texas legislature that gave him this power. And I think that will happen in the next session of the Texas legislature.SNOW: Oh, really?


Clearly —DeLay is not interested in winning his "defense" on merit. DeLay, true to his odious nature and vindictive spirit, is going to try to smear anyone who has dared to bring his sorry ass to justice.

Update from the Washington Post indicates that DeLay could not have won re-election. And the money he had raised would not pay for both legal fees and the high price of campaigning:

DeLay to Resign, But His House Still Stands

Criminally-indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) announced last night that "he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months." According to DeLay, he has been chosen as a "target" because he was "effective" and accomplished "some pretty amazing things." But the truth is that Tom DeLay's extensive corruption and bitter ultra-partisan activism had finally caught up with him -- costing him his Majority Leader title, turning him into a national political pariah, and eventually shifting his conservative Texas district against him. DeLay will reportedly leave Congress by the end of May, and says he plans to "pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government." But despite his absence, the House of Representatives will remain the House of DeLay. The overwhelming majority of House conservatives supported the "DeLay Rule" that was "custom tailored for Majority Leader DeLay to avoid stepping down even after indictment." House conservatives rigged the ethics committee to protect DeLay from being penalized. And they rushed to his side with support even after the full extent of his corruption became evident. As Josh Marshall writes, "He's their guy. Their rule rests on his machine. They can run but they can't hide."

Email: "We would meet tomorrow morning at 9:45 am on the first floor of the parking garage attached to the Marriott. Please get folks to call our campaign office 281.XXX-XXXX and let us know they can do it-or e-mail Leonard Cash (in the cc field above) so that we can get some head count. Let's give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference."
One elderly Democratic woman was slightly injured when she was assaulted by a DeLay protester. The male DeLay supporter first hit her in the face with a sign and then grabbed her hat and tried to pull it down over her eyes. Think about this: Your Congressman asked his supporters to go out and assault old women. Okay, "wreck" them. But, that's all right because one of the Democrats shoved the DeLay protestor away from the elderly woman. We ain't doing non-violent protests when it comes to protecting our elderly.

But that's all right. It's all right. They're just helping prove what a stone-cold hypocrite DeLay and his supporters are. One day DeLay laments the "polarization" in the district and how horrible it is. The next day, he calls a hit. Thanks to the increasingly lawless right wing, a violent cultural war is now underway in America.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Cowardly SCOTUS Takes the Easy Way Out, Refuses to Uphold Due Process of Law!

The Supreme Court has declined to rule on whether the Bush administration has the right to hold American citizens indefinitely without charges or trial. The high court's lack of action in defense of Due Process moves the U.S. closer to dictatorship and leaves the Constitutional basis of our republic in doubt.

Specifically, the high court refused to rule on an appeal by Jose Padilla, designated an "enemy combatant" by the Bush administration and held in a military brig in South Carolina for more than three years. The court's failure to act, is, in fact, a victory by default for Bush who claims all manner of inherent and implied war powers that, in fact, do not exist. Bush's war powers are spelled out in the Constitution.

Rather than clarifying, the high court has but muddied the waters. Rather than making a definitive statement in support of an embattled Constitution, the high court has but encouraged a would-be dictator. Bush's bogus and fallacious rationalizations are left standing to set dangerous precedents. If the high court's passive consent is allowed to stand, then all Bush need do to silence a critic is to term that critic an "enemy combatant". An "enemy combatant" is whatever Bush says is an "enemy combatant". This is the absurd logic that flies in the face of the very rule of law. This is the threat to both Democracy and justice that this court has let stand.

According to the BBC:
Jose Padilla was moved to civilian custody in January after being held for more than three years without charge. Government lawyers argued that the Supreme Court appeal was no longer relevant in the light of that move.
Justices David H Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voted in favor of granting the appeal, one vote short of four votes needed to grant an appeal.

Earlier, according to the Washington Post, the federal judge overseeing the Padilla case imposed tight restrictions on the handling of classified material including:
  • Results of surveillance conducted by the FBI in a separate investigation authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees eavesdropping and other monitoring of suspected foreign agents in the United States.

  • A request to limit defense questioning of a witness about the chain of custody of a specific piece of evidence. No details were given, but the defense has raised questions about a "mujahideen data form" Padilla allegedly filled out to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.

  • Information provided to the U.S. by an unspecified foreign government. The material may eventually be declassified, prosecutors said.
  • Written and recorded statements Padilla made while in military custody. Some information about Padilla's interrogations has already been made public and the Justice Department is seeking declassification of most of the remaining evidence.
  • —Washington Post, Padilla Judge Restricts Classified Info

    Additional resources:A judiciary, due process update:

    ACS v. Federalists

    Abner Mikva

    With Samuel Alito's confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, some pundits predict that we may be witnessing the final act in a great drama that has riveted the nation for decades. Fifty years ago the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education placed the courts at the forefront of the struggle for social justice, and there they remained, largely unchallenged, for three decades. But then, during the Reagan Administration, a conservative legal movement symbolized by (but not limited to) the Federalist Society rapidly rose to prominence. Its agenda was clear: Government--all government, but especially the courts--must be hobbled and the struggle for social justice initiated by Brown halted. Now, with Alito joining fellow conservative John Roberts on the Court, some on the right seem to believe that their great project is nearing completion.

    They are, however, dead wrong. Justices Roberts and Alito will take an already conservative court even further to the right, but the struggle for social justice will go on. And I am pleased to report that a new force--full of energy and optimism and new ideas--has entered the fray on the side of those who are committed to our founding values of liberty, equality and justice. It is the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), which employs many of the undeniably successful techniques perfected by the Federalist Society, but in pursuit of liberal ends. ...