Thursday, May 31, 2007

Purge Update

Tom Hamburger reports in today's LA Times that Tom Heffelfinger, the highly respected former U.S. attorney for Minnesota, may have been pushed out of his job by the Bush administration for trying to preserve the rights of Native Americans to vote in the 2004 election. Heffelfinger was replaced by Rachel Paulose, a DOJ lawyer and member of the Federalist Society with close ties to the White House. Paulose's entire senior staff resigned in early April because of her "management style."

McClatchy reports that the Department of Justice has expanded its internal inquiry to look into allegations that that senior DOJ officials improperly filled career jobs at the department based on applicants GOP credentials or conservative views while the Democratic Congress has promised continued oversight into the matter.

And Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove aide who replaced purged prosecutor Bud Cumins in Arkansas, will resign his post effective June 1. There was a rumor going around (I think I heard it on Hardball) that Griffin would be joining Fred Thompson's presidential campaign.

"No Longer Fun And Games"

Former financial aid director at Johns Hopkins University, Ellen Frishberg, accepted more than $133,695 from 8 different student loan companies over 10 years while at the same time advising the federal government on rules for officials dealing with the student loan industry, lecturing peers on the need to avoid perceived conflicts of interest and providing "impartial" student loan advice to students in financial aid matters.

The Washington Post has some details:

The portrait of Frishberg that emerges -- a savvy businesswoman who worked at home as a $200-an-hour consultant and accepted free tickets from lenders to black-tie galas -- contrasts with her public profile as a loan company critic and student advocate. Lawmakers and consumer advocates say her case illustrates a troubling overlap between the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry and some university financial aid officials whom students have relied on for impartial guidance.


As Congress and the New York attorney general began to crack down on the industry this year, Frishberg privately lamented the new scrutiny of ties between lenders and university officials.

"This is no longer the fun and games we have come to know and love," Frishberg wrote in a March e-mail to executives at Campus Direct, a lender that paid her more than $13,000.

Frishberg's superiors at Johns Hopkins approved of her consulting work with the student loan companies while also working as a financial aid officer for the university:

"Sounds like a win-win for you and Hopkins," William Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services, wrote in a 2006 e-mail to Frishberg after a university attorney reviewed her $3,000 contract with Student Loan Processors Inc.

She took the most money from Student Loan Xpress - over $62,870 since 2002.

The system is rotten to the core when the financial aid officer of a major university receives the approval of her superiors to accept money from student loan companies while simultaneously advising students on student loan issues and lecturing the industry against perceived conflcicts of interest.

Of course, Ms. Frishberg saw it all as "fun and games."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For What?

Here's a taste of the news items out of Iraq today:

According to, 116 American troops have been killed in Iraq for the first 28 days of of this month, making May the bloodiest month for U.S. troops since November 2004 when 137 troops were killed during the second battle for Fallujah. The first battle for Fallujah killed 135 troops in April 2004.

According to the Associated Press, gunmen in Samarra set up fake checkpoints on the outside of the city and abducted more than 40 people, most of them soldiers, police officers and members of two tribes that had banded together against local insurgents.

Also according to the AP, 120 people were either reported killed or found dead nationwide on Tuesday. 35 bodies were found in a mass grave in Diyala Province.

Also according to the AP, mortar attacks in Fallujah killed 9 people. The mortar attacks were aimed at an American base but missed the targets and hit in a residential area instead.

According to Reuters, At least 23 people were killed and 68 others wounded when a powerful bomb in a parked bus exploded in central Baghdad while At least 18 people were killed and 41 wounded when a car bomb exploded in a busy market of a mainly Shi'ite neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad.

Also according to Reuters, the bodies of 21 people were found shot dead in two different sections of Baquba.

And Britain confirmed that 5 British citizens were abducted from the Finance Ministry in central Baghdad by gunmen dressed in police uniforms. A 19 car convoy was used to cart the abducted Brits away from the scene.

The Washington Post notes how Preznut Bush, citing the new American military strategy of putting more American troops on the streets and in small combat outposts, said last week that this August "could be bloody."

To which I ask, "Bloodier than May?"

Because if that is so, than the preznut is going to have Republican support for this war - the only thing keeping the war going - crumble under his feet.

If Democrats could have garnered enough GOP support in the Iraq war funding bill fight to overcome a veto threat, they would have certainly added withdrawal timelines to the bill.

They didn't have veto-proof majorities in either the House (where they have a 30 seat majority) or the Senate (where they don't even have a majority - Joe Lieberman supports the war and Tim Johnson is still sick) so they bowed to the preznut and gave him exactly what he wanted in the funding bill.

But the funding will have to be revisited in September and a long, bloody summer in Iraq is going to peel away Repubs.

The NY Times says that process is already happening as GOP voters are turning against the war in larger numbers than ever before:

WILMETTE, Ill., May 29 — Through four elections, Debbie Thompson has supported Representative Mark Steven Kirk, a Republican and staunch backer of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq.

But Ms. Thompson, a mother of two from this affluent suburb of Chicago, says her views on the war have evolved, and she now wants Mr. Kirk to change, too.

“My patience for this war, it’s run out,” said Ms. Thompson, 53. “I think this is the most expensive, stupidest thing ever done. My frustration has reached a level that is so unsettling, something has to be done.”

Though voters here in the 10th Congressional District have elected a Republican to the House for as long as anyone can remember, there is a newfound hostility about the war that is being directed toward Mr. Kirk, who was narrowly re-elected to a fourth term last November.

Nor is Mr. Kirk alone in his struggle to appease increasingly restless constituents. He and 10 other Republicans in Congress recently delivered a warning to President Bush that conditions in Iraq needed to improve soon because public support of the war was crumbling.

While a majority of Republican voters continue to support Mr. Bush and the Iraq war, including the recent increase in American troops deployed, there are concerns that the war is undermining the party’s political position. A majority of Republicans who were interviewed for a New York Times/CBS News poll this month said that things were going badly in Iraq and that Congress should allow financing only on the condition that the Iraqi government met benchmarks for progress.

In a poll in March, a majority of Republicans said that a candidate who backed Mr. Bush’s war policies would be at a decided disadvantage in 2008. They also suggested that they were open to supporting a candidate who broke with the president on the war.

You can bet that all the wheedling, cajoling and threatening that Karl Rove, Josh Bolten and the other Bush people can do to keep Repubs on board with the preznut's war policy is going to be a lot harder if June, July, and August are as bloody as May or bloodier.

It's unfortunate that we have to go through the sham of making believe we're giving the surge a chance to work wonders on conditions in Iraq when everybody pretty much knows it's not working and it's not going to work given the numbers of additional troops that were added.

It's even more unfortunate that the only reason politicians aren't pulling the plug on the war funding is political - Repubs want to stick with their preznut as near to the end as they can while Dems don't want to be tarred by Rove and Company as "surrender monkeys" and the "reason why the Iraq war was lost" (because you know that an American public dumb enough to buy the b.s. reasons for this stupid war in the first place and fickled enough to turn against it are also dumb enough to want Dems to cut off the war funding so the war can end but also fickled enough to blame Dems for doing it and then vote Republican for the next generation or two.)

And the truth of the matter is that whether we pull out tomorrow or 5 years from now, Iraq is coming apart in a horrific explosion of violence.

Which is the most unfortunate part of all of this - that all of the lives we spent on this war and all of the money and American prestige - will mean nothing when we pull out and Iraq devolves into an unrefereed civil war.

POSTSCRIPT: According to this Daily Kos diary, NY Times reporter told Anderson Cooper last night on CNN that the the American people should be prepared to see as many as a million Iraqis die in the aftermath of an American military drawdown.

That will make this bloody May look like a vacation in Disneyland.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Documents Show Plame Was Covert Agent


WASHINGTON - An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald's memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.


The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

Plame worked as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations and was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) in January 2002 at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The employment history indicates that while she was assigned to CPD, Plame, "engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business." The report says, "she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times." When overseas Plame traveled undercover, "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

Gee, somebody better tell all the wingnuts who still maintain that Ms. Plam was not covert.

Think Progress had a pretty good rundown of them on March 16, 2007:

Washington Post editorial: “The trial has provided…no evidence that she was, in fact, covert.” [Washingotn Post, 3/7/07]

Mort Kondracke: “I frankly don’t think since Valerie Plame was not a covert officer that there was a crime here.” [Fox, 3/9/07]

Sean Hannity: “She did not meet the criteria, in any way, shape, matter or form as a covert agent.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Robert Novak: “No evidence that she was a covert agent was ever presented to the jury.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Brit Hume: “Whether the woman was covert, Valerie Plame was covert within the meaning of the law, remains at this point, still unclear. Unlikely she was.” [Fox, 3/6/07]

Victoria Toensing: “Plame was not covert. She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak’s column.” [Washington Post, 2/18/07]

It sure would be nice if FOX Noise and the Washington Post editorial page would issue apologies.

Guess I shouldn't hold my breath, however.


According to Reuters, gunmen wearing police uniforms kidnapped at least three Western lecturers and their bodyguards from a Finance Ministry building in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The lecturers were Germans and employed by a U.S. organization.

Reuters says the kidnappings appeared to be the first time that Westerners were kidnapped from inside a government building where many foreigners work assisting the Iraqi government.

Pretty brazen. No doubt the gunmen had help on the inside as well.

Doesn't bode well for handing over security to our Iraqi allies, does it?

As this NY Times article reported yesterday
, it seems many of our Iraqi allies - the Iraqi police and security forces - are either insurgents or militiamen.

Certainly they're untrustworthy.

Yet the preznut and his merry men and women apologists continue to make believe we're trying to stabilize conditions in Iraq so we can hand the country over to Hakim Jefferson and Rasheed Madison.

Uh, huh.

As this soldier noted in yesterday's Times article:

“I thought: ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”


“If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy,” he said. “It would go straight into a civil war. That’s how it feels, like we’re putting a Band-Aid on this country until we leave here.”

Time to rip the Band-Aid off, see just how much damage Bush, Cheney et al. have done to the region and try and contain it.

This delaying withdrawal just so we can make believe we still have a chance to succeed in creating a stable country is stupid.

As the soldier says, whether we pull out today or 10 years from now, that country is going to blow sky-high.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tom Friedman Really Is One Dumb Chump

Atrios put up this transcript of NY Times columnist Tom Friedman on The Charlie Rose Show on May 30, 2003. Atrios pointed to the following Friedman quotation as proof Friedman is a moron, but you really should watch the whole show (available here) to see just how wrong Friedman was about the war, both pre- and post-phases:

I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie.


We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big state right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.


What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"

You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow?

Well, Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

Watching the entire performance, all I can say is - what an arrogant, pretentious, silly, little person Friedman is.

It's a shame his editors at the NY Times and all those bookers on the Sunday chat shows don't have the brains or the ambition to go back and actually listen to and/or read the truly idiotic things Friedman has said in the past about both the Iraq war and the overall WoT and finally pull the plug on him.

Seriously, he should be writing for Richie Rich comics, not a column for one of the premier American daily newspapers.

Surge Continues To Fail As Iraqi Police Work With Militants and Jihadis Bleed Out Of Iraq Into Surrounding Countries

Initially after Preznut Bush sent an additional 30,000-40,000 troops to Iraq in late winter, sectarian killings in Baghdad dropped. Supporters of the preznut's Iraq war policy like Holy Joe Lieberman and St. John McCain pointed to the drop in sectarian killings as proof positive that the surge policy was working. Critics of the preznut's war policy and honest analysts of the war noted that much of the drop in sectarian killings in Bahgdad was due to the Mahdi Army standing down during the early part of the surge and wondered if sectarian killings wouldn't return as soon as the Shiite militias got back into the streets in force.

Well, guess who was right?

Sectarian violence soared in Baghdad on Sunday, despite the presence of virtually all of the more than 28,000 U.S. troops called up for the U.S. surge meant to calm the capital. At least 44 unidentified bodies turned up, the highest number since the initiative began.

Iraqi politicians worry that the intensified combat could lead to a full-scale confrontation between Coalition Forces and the Mahdi Army.

"It's worrying for us," said Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite legislator from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party. "We don't want to open an all out war between the Multi-National Forces and the Sadrists. That is opening a new front."

A new front indeed:

On Saturday four militants were killed and one was detained as U.S. forces fought their way out of a nine-car ambush in Sadr City, a military statement said. The Americans called in air support to hit the vehicles, which Sadrists and Iraqi police later said were merely waiting for gas at a nearby station.

In Basra, British forces killed four militia members on Saturday following a Mahdi Army attack on the British and Iraqi headquarters there, according to the British military. On Sunday they killed three more gunmen and detained four.

Notice how the Iraqi police backed up the Sadrists in the battle in Sadr City? The NY Times says this happening more frequently as Iraqi police and soldiers work with the U.S. forces during the day and with the insurgency or the militias against the U.S. forces at night:

BAGHDAD — Staff Sgt. David Safstrom does not regret his previous tours in Iraq, not even a difficult second stint when two comrades were killed while trying to capture insurgents.

“In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place,” he said. “There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.”

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

“I thought: ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness.


With few reliable surveys of soldiers’ attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in the company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers in this 83-man unit over a one-week period, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop.

They had seen shadowy militia commanders installed as Iraqi Army officers, they said, had come under increasing attack from roadside bombs — planted within sight of Iraqi Army checkpoints — and had fought against Iraqi soldiers whom they thought were their allies.

“In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war,” said Sgt. First Class David Moore, a self-described “conservative Texas Republican” and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. “Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.”

The NY Times also reports that terrorists and jihadis are now bleeding out of Iraq into countries surrounding it to carry on their campaigns of terror abroad.

So here's where the state of the war stands:

1. The surge is not working in any measurable capacity. Violence is as bad in Iraq now as it was before the surge and U.S. casualties are significantly higher as a result of the change in policy. Even when there is a decrease in violence somewhere in Iraq, like w/ sectarian killings in Baghdad, the decrease is always temporary because the U.S. does not have sufficient enough force to really tamp down the violence everywhere in the country. Supporters of the preznut point to Anbar Province as the current success story as Sunni tribalists have supposedly turned against Al Qaeda and are fighting on our side against the jihadis. But experience tells us this "success" will turn again to the same old same old before long.

2. Iraqi police and troops, trained and armed by the United States, are increasingly working to kill Americans.

3. Jihadis and terrorists are leaving Iraq (which is sufficiently chaotic enough for them, perhaps?) and streaming to Jordan, Egypt and other neighboring countries to wreak havoc. The real worry is that Iraqi militants and terrorists, trained in the urban areas of Iraq in the techniques of terrorism, may be able to export that terror to urban areas in the West:

In an April 17 report written for the United States government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, said battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics.

“There are some operational parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States,” Mr. Pluchinsky wrote. “More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” he went on, citing the use of safe houses, surveillance, bomb making and mortars.

So here we have the preznut and DeadEye Dick claiming we had to take out Iraq to make it a pillar of stability in the region from which we could export democracy of peace and instead the country is exporting terror and killing. The EXACT thing we did not want to happen has happened as a result of the stupidity, lack of foresight and ineptitude of this administration. As Andrew Sullivan noted in this post, if a Democrat had failed so badly at carrying out this war and helped Al Qaeda and jihadism out the way this administration has, Republicans in Congress and the media would have "Carterized" him or her.

Sullivan sums up the horrific failures of this preznut both in Iraq and the overall WOT this way:

The president is right that al Qaeda remains a terrible threat to Americans. He is right to insist on this. But one core reason he is right is because he has been in the White House for the last six years. Al Qaeda surely never had a more helpful man in such a powerful place. After over six years of this presidency, Bin Laden is still at large. Five and a half years after Bin Laden's religious tools murdered 3,000 innocents, this president still cannot find or capture or kill him. Five and a half years after that dreadful day, al Qaeda's reach in the Middle East is more extensive than ever, centered in Iraq, where it was barely existent before the war. Over four years after invading Iraq, the security situation there is as grave as it has ever been. Tens of thousands of innocents have been added to the three thousand murdered on 9/11 - many of them unspeakably tortured and murdered by death squads or Islamist cells empowered by Bush's jaw-dropping negligence. Over three thousand young Americans have died in order to give al Qaeda this victory and this new platform.

Here is Bush's gift to the victims of 9/11: two new al Qaeda safe havens - in Anbar and in Pakistan. He gave Zarqawi a second career, by refusing to kill him when had a clear shot in 2003, and then allowing him to run rampant across Iraq for several years. Islamists, moreover, are far closer now to getting their hands on WMDs than they were when Bush became president - the very casus belli I foolishly bought to go to war with Saddam. Given the financial boost al Qaeda has gotten from the Iraq invasion, the massive propaganda coup they have won by Bush's authorization of torture, and the triumph of Iran as a consequence of Bush's non-existent "strategy", isn't it simply a fact that Bush is the best thing to happen to al Qaeda since its founding? Is not the record now clear that, whatever their intentions, Bush and Cheney have actually advanced the day when Islamist terrorists will kill and murder more Americans?

If a Democrat had been responsible for endangering America in this fashion, the Republicans would have impeached him by now. If a Democrat had bungled a war as obviously as this president - a war, moreover, that he has described as an existential struggle for our survival - the Republicans would long ago have Carterized him. Look how the Israelis have held Olmert accountable for his feckless war in Lebanon. Compared to Bush, Olmert is Churchill. If Bush's record in this war is "offense," then the only sane response is: so was the charge of the light brigade.

Just to anger up the blood some more, it's now clear, thanks to the latest Congressional report, that this president was warned starkly about the dangers of "a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups" as a result of an invasion of Iraq. He was told that Iraq was "largely bereft of the social underpinnings" for democracy. He was explicitly informed that there was "a significant chance that domestic groups would engage in violent conflict with each other unless an occupying force prevented them from doing so." And yet he still sent a pathetically insufficient occupation force in 2003 - and refused to increase it for three years of growing chaos and mayhem. Even if you excuse the original recklessness, the persistence in it - until our current point of no return - is and was criminal negligence - a callous disregard for your security and mine.

The gravity of the mistake this country made in 2004 by re-electing al Qaeda's best bet is only now sinking in as deep as it should. I fear, however, that we have yet to experience the full and terrifying consequences of that historic mistake.

It is now quite clear that when Bin Laden showed up on tape right before the '04 election, it was for a very specific purpose. The greatest ally Bin Laden and the other jihadis have in the WOT is this administration, specifically this preznut and VP.

They really both ought to be impeached, along w/ Condi, and sent to Elba along w/ Rummy, Tenet, Wolfie, Perle and the rest of the neocons.

Unfortunately, not only are they still in power, they are still getting their way on the war even though their policies and strategies are not working. No matter whether we stay or go, things are going to continue to get worse in Iraq, much worse before they get better. One of the soldiers in the Times article on how half of the Iraqi security forces are insurgents sums up what is going to happen in Iraq this way:

In Sergeant Safstrom’s view, the American presence is futile. “If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy,” he said. “It would go straight into a civil war. That’s how it feels, like we’re putting a Band-Aid on this country until we leave here.”

That's where Bush, Cheney, Rice, Hadley, Rummy et al. have taken us. We created chaos where none existed, we created a terrorist exporter where none existed and we have to spend nearly 3,500 American lives and half a trillion dollars to do it.

I'd say that Bush, Cheney and all their Republican enablers (along w/ Holy Joe) ought to be "Carterized," but I don't think Carter was even close to being as bad as this preznut (and that's saying something...)

Perhaps Bush, Cheney and their Repub enablers ought to be "Bushed"?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rgoue Operators and Crossing the Line

The News Hour's favorite constitutional law expert is John Yoo. He is a former lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Bush Department of Justice, the deviser of legal rationalizations for the Bush administration's illegal surveillance and torture programs, and a current professor at Berkley University. Here's how he's described in a Newsweek article on Gonzogate:

The Justice Department has a relatively obscure department known as the Office of Legal Counsel. Typically staffed by brilliant young lawyers, the OLC opines on the legality and constitutionality of administration policies. One of the stars of OLC was a cocky young lawyer named John Yoo. After 9/11, Yoo began writing opinions giving the administration exceptional latitude to fight terrorism. Yoo's memos were used to justify both the secret eavesdropping program, which for the first time allowed the government to listen in on American citizens without obtaining a court warrant, and aggressive interrogation methods, like water boarding.

While easygoing and congenial on the surface, Yoo was a fierce bureaucratic infighter with a penchant for circumventing his superiors. Though all the top officials at Justice were conservative Republicans, Yoo seemed to regard them as political dolts. "He had this calm, unruffled, almost 'devil may care' attitude when he talked about issues that were extraordinarily sensitive," recalled a former Justice Department official. "He would sort of come flying by your office and say things like, 'We've done a little analysis, it's no big deal'." Only later, the official said, would he discover that Yoo had sent the White House an opinion authorizing some sweeping new—and constitutionally dubious—program.

Yoo was increasingly seen as a rogue operator inside the Justice Department. Officials were suspicious of his ties to David Addington, counsel to Vice President Cheney. The vice president's office took a hard-line view that the executive branch should not be trammeled in the war on terror by legislators and bureaucrats. Yoo was "out of control," recalled a former Ashcroft aide. Almost without exception, this conflict stayed behind closed doors. (Yoo declined to respond on the record, but he has told others that Ashcroft was fully briefed by him and approved his memos, and that his critics are now engaged in creative "Monday-morning quarterbacking."

The article goes on to say that when there was a vacancy to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Abu Gonzales wanted Yoo to fill the slot but former A.G. Ashcroft opposed the move because of Yoo's "renegade" status. Ashcroft prevailed and Yoo was not chosen to head the OLC.

After the Yoo showdown, Ashcroft aides began taking a closer look at Yoo's "carte blanche memos" written to justify surveillance and torture and became convinced they were not legally supportable (these Ashcroft aides, btw, were all card-carrying conservatives - one of them had clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas):

"This was not ideological," recalled a former Ashcroft aide. "This was about the difference between pushing the limits to the edge of the line and crossing the line."

Interestingly enough, former Gonzales aide Monica Goodling used the exact same phrase ("crossed the line") when she testified before the Congress last week and admitted she had hired career DOJ employees on the basis of their right politics. But the Newsweek article makes clear that these instances of "line-crossing" seemed to have been okayed at the highest levels of the administration. Take Abu Gonzales' and Andy Card's midnight visit to Ashcroft's hospital bedroom to get a very ill and delirious Ashcroft to sigh off on the warrantless wiretapping program:

Bush's role has remained shadowy throughout the controversy over the eavesdropping program. But there are strong suggestions that he was an active presence. On the night after Ashcroft's operation, as Ashcroft lay groggy in his bed, his wife, Janet, took a phone call. It was Andy Card, asking if he could come over with Gonzales to speak to the attorney general. Mrs. Ashcroft said no, her husband was too sick for visitors. The phone rang again, and this time Mrs. Ashcroft acquiesced to a visit from the White House officials. Who was the second caller, one with enough power to persuade Mrs. Ashcroft to relent? The former Ashcroft aide who described this scene would not say, but senior DOJ officials had little doubt who it was—the president. (The White House would not comment on the president's role.) Ashcroft's chief of staff, David Ayres, then called Comey, Ashcroft's deputy, to warn him that the White House duo was on the way. With an FBI escort, Comey raced to the hospital to try to stop them, but Ashcroft himself was strong enough to turn down his White House visitors' request.

After Gonzales' and Card's trip to Ashcroft's hospital room, the entire braintrust of the DOJ as well as FBI director Mueller were going to resign over the warrentless wiretapping program until Bush reluctantly agreed with deputy A.G. Comey and Mueller to "bring the eavesdropping program back inside the boundaries of the law." A former senior DOJ official told Newsweek "This was a showdown...Everybody understood the choice they were making and the gravity of the situation. Everybody knew what the stakes were."

So did Bush. Newsweek says he knew he couldn't afford to lose his FBI Director nor could he afford to lose the rest of the Justice Department leadership over a matter of principle in an election year. That was the only reason why he relented on the program.

Gonzogate continues to smoulder on low-burn and the White House continues to try and obstruct the investigations into both the Prosecutor Purge scandal and the midnight ride of Alberto Gonzales (as Keith Olbermann calls it.) Nonetheless, we are slowly learning that somebody at a pretty high level of the administration had to sign off on the "rogue operators" like Yoo and all the "crossing of the lines" that was happening around the surveillance and torture programs. Circumstantial evidence suggests that someone was at least as high as Karl Rove and more than likely the preznut himself.

I have never thought pushing this preznut's impeachment was a good idea either politically for Democrats or constitutionally for the country. But given the rottenness at the core of this administration, given the absolute disregard Bush, Cheney, Rove et al. have for the rule of law, given the relish with which they have circumvented the constitution, consolidated power for themselves and irrevocably harmed the reputation and the status of the United States abroad, I am starting to rethink my position.

Indeed, if it is found that the true "rogue operator" behind all the legal and constitutional line-crossing is Barbara's little boy, then I think we may have no choice but to pursue a course of impeachment.

We'll see. We're not there yet. We may not get there either, as this White House is quite adept at stonewalling (even as their adept at little else.) But it seems to me that's where we're heading.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

8 More Soldiers Killed In Iraq Today

The rundown of the casualties is here. The U.S. death toll for the month of May so far is 101. 3 British soldiers, 1 South Korean and 1 Danish soldier have also been killed in Iraq this month. Last month, 104 U.S. troops were killed (along w/12 Brits and 1 multi-national soldier.)

Memorial day weekend, soldiers continue to die, the media continues to fail to cover the stories of these fallen soldiers. I had to search out the story on the MSNBC website. The NY Times, The Washington Post and Reuters have nothing about the deaths so far. Nothing on the cable networks either. I guess 8 dead Americans in Iraq isn't much news anymore, but you'd think they'd take a break from all the stories about gas prices and where to buy nice sunglasses to cover the story on Memorial Day weekend.

UPDATE: USA Today is running the AP story on it's front page now.

Trickling Only Upward

If you're in your 30's, your Dad was better off in his day than you are now:

A generation ago, American men in their thirties had median annual incomes of about $40,000 compared with men of the same age who now make about $35,000 a year, adjusted for inflation. That’s a 12.5 percent drop between 1974 and 2004, according to the report from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project.


U.S. inflation-adjusted household incomes rose only 9 percent from 1974 to 2004 — a severe slowdown when compared with the 32 percent increase from 1964 to 1994.

Going back to 1820, per capita gross domestic product in the United States has grown an average of 52 percent for each 30-year generation, according to the report. But since 1973, median family income has grown only 0.6 percent per year, a rate that produces just a 17 percent increase over a generation.

"Thus, unless the rate of economic growth increases, the next generation will experience an improvement in its standard of living that is only one-third as large as the historical average for earlier generations," the report said.

Of course, not everybody is sucking wind:

The men who run American companies don’t have too much to complain about. CEO pay increased to 262 times the average worker’s pay in 2005 from 35 times in 1978, according to the report’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office statistics.

I don't think the Repubs and corporate whore Dems in the DLC understand just how much anger and fear there is out there on the economic issues.

People are working longer to make less, it takes two incomes to do what one used to, Americans are carrying historical levels of debt, the top 1% gets richer and richer while everybody else is lagging behind (or accumulating more debt to live like the Jones).

The boys running the WSJ editorial page may be happy with the way things are going as are Larry Kudlow and the investor class.

But a lot of other people are very, very unhappy about the direction of the country and it's not just the war causing this.

When 72% say they are unhappy with the direction of the country in the latest NY Times/CBS News poll, you know there's some deep-seated unrest out there about a lot of things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Long, Hot, Bloody Summer

More and more of the data out of Iraq shows that Preznut Bush's troop surge policy has been a miserable failure so far.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that morgue data from Baghdad shows that sectarian killings are on the rise again after a brief lull.

Three months after the surge started, the number of bodies found in Baghdad in May equaled the number of bodies found in Baghdad in January, the month before the surge started.

Sectarian killings are the "signature practice" of the Shiite militias and while many of the militiamen were apparently "standing down" during the first part of the troop surge, they are coming back in increasing numbers.

As if on cue, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr returned to public view in Iraq today after going into hiding for the first part of the surge. The Washington Post says Sadr is expected to try and rally people to his "nationalist cause" to lead Iraq now that his main Shiite rival, cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, went to Iran for treatment of lung cancer.

The Post also reported on Wednesday that the U.S. is devising a new strategy for Iraq that will be completed by May 31 and looks to

negotiate settlements between warring factions in Iraq from the national level down to the local level. In essence, it is as much about the political deals needed to defuse a civil war as about the military operations aimed at quelling a complex insurgency, said officials with knowledge of the plan.

According to the Post story, the military plans to keep elevated troop levels in Iraq for the forseeable future.

Today, the NY Times/CBS News poll shows the popularity of the Iraq war is at an all-time low, with 61% saying we should have stayed out of Iraq, 76% saying things are going badly for the United States in Iraq, 47% saying things are going very badly in Iraq and 76% saying the troop surge is having no positive effect on conditions on the ground.

With those kind of poll numbers, it's no wonder the preznut tried to strike a conciliatory tone in his post-Iraq war funding bill press conference yesterday, claiming that he was now open to parts of the Iraq Study Group recommendations that just a few months ago he flatly rejected. The preznut also warned that casualties in Iraq would probably get worse in the short term, saying things could get "bloody".

If anything, it sounded like Bush was paying lip service to the Iraq Study Group recommendations yesterday because his fellow Repubs are telling him just how unpopular he and his war are. But nobody really thinks he's changing strategies.

The surge, puny as it is, will continue.

So will the casualties.

5 more soldiers were killed in Iraq today
. That makes the total for the month of May 90.

Now that Bushie has secured the funding for his unending escalation of the war, it's going to be a long, hot, bloody summer indeed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CIA Accurately Predicted Iraq Mess BEFORE Bush Launched The War

Remember that Senate Intelligence Committee report on the pre-Iraq war intel that Senator Par Roberts (R-Kansas) sat on for over two years while Repubs were in charge of Congress? Some of it is getting released tomorrow:

In a move sure to raise even more questions about the decision to go to war with Iraq, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will on Friday release selected portions of pre-war intelligence in which the CIA warned the administration of the risk and consequences of a conflict in the Middle East.

Among other things, the 40-page Senate report reveals that two intelligence assessments before the war accurately predicted that toppling Saddam could lead to a dangerous period of internal violence and provide a boost to terrorists. But those warnings were seemingly ignored.

In January 2003, two months before the invasion, the intelligence community's think tank — the National Intelligence Council — issued an assessment warning that after Saddam was toppled, there was “a significant chance that domestic groups would engage in violent conflict with each other and that rogue Saddam loyalists would wage guerilla warfare either by themselves or in alliance with terrorists.”

It also warned that “many angry young recruits” would fuel the rank of Islamic extremists and "Iraqi political culture is so embued with mores (opposed) to the democratic experience … that it may resist the most rigorous and prolonged democratic tutorials."

None of those warnings were reflected in the administration's predictions about the war.

In fact, Vice President Cheney stated the day before the war, “Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

A second assessment weeks before the invasion warned that the war also could be “exploited by terrorists and extremists outside Iraq.”

The same assessment added, “Iraqi patience with an extended U.S. presence after an overwhelming victory would be short,” and said “humanitarian conditions in many parts of Iraq would probably not understand that the Coalition wartime logistic pipeline would require time to reorient its mission to humanitarian aid.”

Both assessments were given to the White House and to congressional intelligence committees.

They knew this could happen, but they ignored the intel they didn't want to hear about and only pushed the good stuff.

No surprises, but it's good to get the evidence out there they were told by the CIA that a post-Saddam Iraq could be a mess.

Even The Washington Post Editorial Board Thinks Gonzogate Is Important

For a while, many in the mainstream media have sneered at the Prosecutor Purge scandal, seeing it as the attempt by Democrats to "criminalize politics." Chris Matthews said as much on Hardball early on in th scandal and the Washington Post editorial board, mostly loyal Bushies on the war, warrantless wiretapping and other controversial Bush agenda items, have either ignored the scandal or tried to minimize it.

Until today:

WHEN HE TESTIFIED before a House Judiciary subcommittee this month, former deputy attorney general James B. Comey said he was horrified by reports that the department was examining the political affiliations of lawyers being considered for career positions. "If that was going on, that strikes at the core of what the Department of Justice is," Mr. Comey said.

Yesterday, promised that her testimony could not be used against her in a criminal prosecution, Monica M. Goodling, former senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, admitted to doing exactly that as she screened applicants for prosecutorial positions. "I know I took political considerations into account on some occasions . . . I know I crossed the line," Ms. Goodling said. This was, for the reasons Mr. Comey suggested, a sad moment for anyone who cares about the Justice Department.

It was sad, as well, that so many Republican committee members chose to ignore this ugly fact and heap praise on Ms. Goodling. "I think you have . . . shown people who are here. . . . why people in the Justice Department thought you were worthy of your job," said Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.). "Millions of Americans now know a lot more about you, and they're proud to have somebody like you serving in government," said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) Violating the law against politicizing the civil service is no grounds for pride.

There you have one of the reasons why this scandal is important - it shows how many Repubs are proud to have administration members purging the ranks of the civil service of people who aren't "loyal Bushies" and are happy to turn every instrument of the government into a partisan bludgeon to maintain control for their party.

Which brings us to the wider emerging scandal of just who was behind using the DOJ for partisan gain. It doesn't take a genius to see that Gonzo, Monica, McNulty and Sampson at DOJ weren't REALLY behind the Prosecutor Purge, but we all have a pretty good idea who was:

In pushing prosecutors to investigate voter fraud and dumping ones who didn't perform, was the White House pursuing a legitimate prosecutorial priority or an avenue of partisan gain? The complaints from lawmakers that President Bush passed on to Mr. Gonzales and the similar involvement of Mr. Rove contain more than a whiff of political self-interest. That is a legitimate and important area for congressional inquiry, and it is looking increasingly as if the answers are to be found at the White House.

Which means subpoenas.

POSTSCRIPT: One thing the Post editorial fails to mention is how all of these allegations of voter fraud the WH was throwing around were false. That's an important piece of this, because Repub defenders have claimed that Gonzo and Company were just pushing out attorneys who weren't protecting the integrity of the election system. But as we know from many news sources and the attorneys themselves (all Republicans, btw), the vote fraud allegations were b.s. - there was no "there" there. Rather, it seems the vote fraud allegations were excuses to try and tamp down Democratic votes in swing states.

Again, it doesn't take a genius to see who might be behind that effort.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Now It's Official

Toxic dust at Ground Zero was lethal and killed people - so says the chief medical examiner of New York City:

NEW YORK (AP) -- A woman who died of lung disease five months after Sept. 11 was added Wednesday to the medical examiner's list of attack victims, marking the first time the city has officially linked a death to the toxic dust caused by the World Trade Center's collapse.

Felicia Dunn-Jones, a 42-year-old attorney who was caught in the dust cloud while fleeing the collapsing towers on Sept. 11, 2001, died of sarcoidosis, a disease that causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs, on Feb. 10, 2002.

''Mrs. Dunn-Jones' exposure to World Trade Center dust on 9/11/01 contributed to her death, and it has been ruled a homicide,'' Chief Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch wrote.

The city said the Sept. 11 death toll at the trade center now stands at 2,750.

Dunn-Jones' family had asked last year that the medical examiner add her name to the death toll, but Hirsch wrote at the time that his office could not link her death to the exposure ''with certainty beyond a reasonable doubt.''

Since then, a doctor for the Fire Department of New York published a study that found firefighters who worked at ground zero contracted sarcoidosis at a much higher rate after the Sept. 11 attacks than before, linking the disease firmly to the dust exposure.


New York lawmakers, some of whom urged the city to add Dunn-Jones to the death toll last year, said more people should be added in the future.

''Sadly, we have known that Felicia is not alone and that others have died from ailments caused by 9/11,'' said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. ''I hope that the medical examiner is no longer in denial about the trade center dust. Dr. Hirsch must review the cases of other 9/11 heroes who, like Felicia, died in the prime of their lives.''

There will be many more deaths added to the 9/11 toll number and many of those deaths could have been prevented if Bush, St. Rudy, and Christie Todd Whitman had done their jobs correctly and protected both the heroes working at Ground Zero and the people working and/or living in downtown New York.

9 U.S. Military Personnel Killed In Iraq

The day after Dems announce they have withdrawn timelines from the Iraq war spending bill and given Preznut Bush a blank check to continue to escalate the war, the U.S. military announced the results of a very deadly day in Iraq:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Twenty people were killed by a suicide bomber in a crowded cafe northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, while the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more soldiers.

Iraqi police also said they had found the body of one of three U.S. soldiers who have been missing since an attack on their patrol south of Baghdad on May 12.


The U.S. military said seven soldiers were killed in four separate roadside bomb and shooting attacks on Tuesday, most of them in or around the capital. The military had already reported the deaths of two Marines in Anbar on Tuesday.

The latest reported deaths mean a total of nine soldiers were killed on Tuesday, one of the highest daily tolls suffered by U.S. troops in Iraq. Eighty soldiers have now been killed since the beginning of the month.

Reuters reports that a body of a U.S. soldier was found half-naked and tortured and floating in the Euphrates River. The military cannot confirm if the body is one of the three missing U.S. soldiers captured by insurgents.

A total of 3,431 American military personnel have been killed since the start of the war.

Since the preznut has been given another blank check to fight the war any old way he wants, expect American casualties to continue to mount.

Since the troop surge policy has been implemented, American casualties have risen to an average of 3.32 a day, nearly one more casualty a day than before the surge.

While Fred Kagan and some loyal Bushies are claiming progress from the surge, the news from Iraq gets worse and worse and only the most deluded can actually believe that 30,000-40,000 additional troops added to an already overstretched military trying to referee a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, fight a Sunni insurgency, and battle Al Qaeda jihadis will actually bring positive results.

So all we're doing here is treading water until the next administration comes in to clean up Bush's mess. Bush knows that, the Repubs in Congress know that, the Dems in Congress know that and the presidential candidates in both parties know that. Unfortunately, few in either party have the political will or courage to do what is right and take the keys from the crazy guy in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While Dems deserve scorn for bowing to the preznut on the Iraq war funding bill, Repubs deserve as much scorn for enabling Bush all these years and continuing to enable his war policy. You know that if Dems had the numbers, they would have forced the timelines. But they didn't and they would have needed Republican support override a veto. They didn't have it, they surrendered to both reality and Bush's obstinacy.

I wonder how many more Americans will die between now and the eventual pull-out as a result.

Doomed To Repeat

Cunning Realist wrote a piece for the May 21 edition of The American Conservative entitled "Doomed To Repeat."

For my liberal friends and readers who don't know the magazine, TAC is a paleoconservative journal that pretty scathingly skewers Bush economic policy, foreign policy and Iraq war policy. Unlike many in the conservative media (i.e., NRO, The American Spectator, FOX Noise, etc.), TAC does not defend a policy simply because it is a Republican policy or a Bush policy.

I may not always agree with the writers in the TAC, but I at least feel they actually believe what they're writing and saying.

When you look at NRO or watch FOX Noise, you know that if the current Bush war policy or foreign policy were being carried out by a Democrat, they would be critical to high heaven.

But because it's "their guy," they defend it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Study: Over A Third Of America "Not Entitled To Their Opinion"

I think this is exactly right:

CHICAGO—In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago's School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions.

"On topics from evolution to the environment to gay marriage to immigration reform, we found that many of the opinions expressed were so off-base and ill-informed that they actually hurt society by being voiced," said chief researcher Professor Mark Fultz, who based the findings on hundreds of telephone, office, and dinner-party conversations compiled over a three-year period. "While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don't have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them."

The above article is actually from The Onion, but it sure does have a ring of truth. You ever watch "Man on the Street" interviews on local news, listen to talk radio, or sit through a bunch of callers on Larry King? For that matter, you ever listen to Larry King?

Godfather IV

Fredo's Revenge, via Andrew Sullivan and YouTube:

BTW, Monica Goodling, former Gonzales aide and liaison between the White House and the DOJ testifies tomorrow after being granted limited immunity. Should be interesting.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

21 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq In Last 3 Days

Mike at Crest notes that the carnage wreaked against U.S. troops has been particularly bloody the last three days - 7 U.S. soldiers were killed today, 8 yesterday, 6 on Friday.

In all, 71 U.S. soldiers, 2 Brits and 2 multi-nationals have been killed this month in Iraq.

And there are still 11 days to go before June.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

GOP Strategist: No-Confidence Vote On Gonzales Is A "Brilliant" Move

From US News:

With the likelihood of a European-style no-confidence vote in the Senate against embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, some Republican strategists with ties to the White House are beginning to consider what type of a replacement nominee could win swift approval.

"We need somebody they can accept, first, then somebody who can get confirmed," said one strategist. A likely trait: The candidate will be older and with a long record of legal and public service. The White House says that it remains firm in its support for Gonzales, but there are signs that the AG's days are numbered and that he may be gone by mid-to late summer, after a replacement is settled on.

That mood was elevated when Senate Democrats called for a no-confidence vote on Gonzales. A key GOP adviser said on background that the move was "brilliant" and something Republicans should consider if they ever win the Senate back. The adviser predicted a devastating loss for the White House and Gonzales because "none of these Republican senators even want to be in the same room as the AG, no less voting that they have confidence in him."

Gonzo's a goner - the Comey testimony did him in. Kudos to Senator Schumer for bringing the former deputy attorney general back to testify about Gonzales' midnight ride to the hospital. That put GOPers on the defensive and forced their hand. It's hard to defend an A.G. who tried to get the former A.G., sick in intensive care and loaded to the gills on painkillers, to sign off on an illegal wiretapping program DOJ lawyers said was illegal

Friday, May 18, 2007

More Chaos In Iraq

How much longer do we have to make believe that Preznut Bush's surge policy in Iraq has a chance to work?

BAGHDAD, May 18 -- Five U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded in separate attacks in Baghdad and the restive province of Diyala northeast of the capital, the U.S. military said Friday, and ABC News reported that two Iraqi journalists working for the network's Baghdad bureau were killed by gunmen while on their way home from work Thursday night.


The U.S. military reported that three soldiers were killed Friday in Diyala when an explosion occurred near their vehicle. Two other soldiers were killed and nine were injured Thursday in separate attacks in southern Baghdad, where the Army has been conducting raids against weapons caches and assisting in reconstruction projects, the military said.


The U.S. military reported Friday that it was continuing the search for three soldiers who were abducted last Saturday when their patrol was ambushed by insurgents south of Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in the attack.


Also Friday, the bodies of 21 people who had been tortured were found in Khalis, a city about 35 miles north of Baghdad, a police source in Diyala said. The victims were both Sunni Arabs and Shiites who had been kidnapped two days earlier, he said.

Iraq army Capt. Abdul Hussein Muhammad said 12 other people were kidnapped Friday about 70 miles south of Kirkuk. The Diyala police source said they were abducted by gunmen who had set up a fake checkpoint.

58 U.S. soldiers have been killed this month in Iraq, 3409 in all. And the NY Times reports that the death toll for contractors in Iraq has reached a record high this year - 146 were killed in Iraq in just the first three months of the year.

This is what the administration (and all of the GOP candidates for president except for Ron Paul) call "progress."

Grand Old Pervert Party

If true, these allegations are really disturbing:

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- A former state House member was arrested Friday on charges of rape and other sexual offenses against two teen girls.

Republican Ted A. Klaudt surrendered at the Corson County Sheriff's office. He did not enter a plea during two court appearances, and bond was set at $100,000. He was taken to jail and declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

The charges against him include eight counts of second-degree rape, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of sexual contact with a child younger than 16, two counts of witness tampering and one count of stalking. Some of the rape charges carry penalties of up to 50 years in prison.

The accusers were aged 15 to 19 over the years the crimes are to have occurred. One girl was molested when she was a legislative page, authorities allege.

The girls told law officers that Klaudt touched their genitals during what he called exams for a purported scheme to have them donate their eggs to make money, Long said.

''He was convincing these girls they were candidates for donation of their eggs, that this would be a significant financial advantage to them and it was necessary for him to perform these acts on the girls to determine if they would be viable candidates for the procedure,'' Long told The Associated Press.

The two girls were among a number of children who were sent to foster care in Klaudt's home under a program that provides foster care for young people who have no safe home to return to after completing programs in juvenile corrections facilities. He had taken in participants of the program since 2001.

The Argus Leader has more:

He's accused of performing "ovary checks" and "breast exams" on one of the girls under the guise that he was helping her to donate her eggs, according to court records.

When the girl began to cry, he would give her beer or alcohol, the documents state.

On Feb. 2, when Division of Criminal Investigation agents interviewed Klaudt, he initially denied performing any tests on the girls, according to court records.

But when the agents confronted him with contents of emails he's accused of sending the girls, he changed his story, the records state.

Klaudt then stated that "maybe I did some things I shouldn't have," according to a court affidavit.

Creepy - and of course he was one of those "Family Values" kind of Republicans

They almost always are.

UPDATE: No_Slappz points out that Klaudt is the second SD lawmaker to be charged with improper sexual misconduct this year and the other was a Democrat (Dan Sutton).

Touche - sleaziness and criminality are not wholly partisan endeavors.

The difference between many of the Dems charged with misconduct and the Repubs charged with it, however, is that many of the Repubs run on platforms of "moral values" as members of Jerry Falwell's erstwhile "Moral Majority" coalition.

It's the "holier than thou" aspect of some of these guys that burns me up.

Speaking of which, remember Jim Gibbons, the Republican Congressman from Nevada who got elected governor of the state last year even though he was accused of attempted rape, attempted murder and criminal cover-up during the campaign? Well, he's back in the criminal blotter:

The new governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, is being investigated by the FBI because of alleged gifts and payments from Warren Trepp, a defense contractor whose Nevada firm received tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

The FBI wants to know if Gibbons, while a member of Congress, improperly used his influence to help Trepp get those contracts.

A witness says he saw Trapp give Gibbons $100,000 in cash on a lavish all-expenses paid Caribbean cruise that that Gibbons and his family were brought on by Trapp.

Just so we can all remember what a stand-up guy Gibbons is, here's Wonkette's post (in full, cuz' it's just that good) on the attempted rape/attempted murder charges made against Gibbons from last year:

A couple of mysterious 911 calls to Las Vegas police — all apparently made from the bathroom of a Starbucks on Paradise Road by a terrified drunk gal — have suddenly derailed Congressman Jim Gibbons and his campaign to be Nevada’s next governor.

The story is changing so quick we can’t even get a timeline in order, so let’s just randomly toss together some of the filthier details, after the jump.

* Casino waitress (or interior designer?) invited to join drinking party with Gibbons and some other gals at McCormick & Schmick’s, one of those upscale-chain seafood & steak joints at Paradise and Flamingo.

* Restaurant staff says the drunken party becomes “flirty.”

* Something happens, she makes three 911 calls over 45 minutes, claiming assault and the threat of rape. Also, she’s drunk.

* She mysteriously refuses to file charges at the last minute, and 24 hours later completely recants her entire story, sounding like she fears the old Bugsy Siegel Goodbye.

* Gibbons’ ever-changing claims are also totally different from what he told the cops and what’s on the 911 recordings, which you can enjoy here.

* Security cameras should have captured lots of interesting footage.

* Actual quote from her third 911 call: “I told him I survived cancer 11 years and I, someone assaults me … I don’t care about rape I care about survival and he says ‘survival ain’t going to do your problem a bit,’ so you’ll see this stuff on camera if they have a camera.” We’re not sure what it means, other than that Republican congressman and Nevada gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons allegedly threatened to rape and murder some drunken gal he picked up in Vegas.

* Hilariously, Gibbons told the gal his marriage was “boring” and his hotel was so close that they could “crawl to it.” Gibbons’ wife, Dawn Gibbons, is running for the congressional seat he’s abandoning to run for governor.

* PS, we mean she was running for his District 2 seat — pretty much all of Nevada north of Vegas/Clark County — because she came in third in the GOP primary. Even more hilariously, that is Wonkette’s guest editor’s district.

* Gibbons was leading Democrat rival Dina Titus by nine five points. If she can avoid threatening to rape and kill people between now and Election Day, chances are she’s the next governor.

Unfortunately, while Democratic rival Dina Titus COULD refrain from threatening to rape or kill people between then and Election Day, it wasn't enough for her to carry the day and Gibbons was elected governor.

POSTSCRIPT: Here's a picture of Gibbons on that Caribbean cruise "thugging" it up:

I would think Gibbons will be eligible for a "Medal of Freedom" from Preznut Bush any day now...and a prison cell next to Randy "Duke" Cunningham any day after that.

2 ABC News Journalists Killed In Iraq

They were brown people and Iraqis, though, so they don't really count - which is why the story hasn't been mentioned at all on any of the cable networks or in the major news dailies.

UPDATE: Tiny link on the Washington Post website to the AP story about the two deaths. Nothing from the NY Times, the LA Times, CNN, or Reuters. MSNBC website is down for me, but the cable station is doing lots of b.s. stories about long pregnancies, where to buy the best sunglasses, and the top 10 beaches in America.

SECOND UPDATE: USA Today also links to AP story.


Senate Democrats plan on holding a no-confidence vote next week on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Department of Justice as the scandals over the Prosecutor Purge and the end-run Gonzo and former Bush chief of staff Andy Card tried on the warranteless wiretapping program continue to widen.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time a no-confidence vote has been held in the Senate for an intractable attorney general involved in a scandal stonewall over the firing of a federal prosecutor:

The vote on a resolution of no confidence, to be sponsored by Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, could come as early as next week, Democrats said. Such votes of censure or condemnation are uncommon, although a handful were held in the 19th century, Congressional historians say. In 1886, the Senate adopted such a resolution against President Grover Cleveland’s attorney general, A. H. Garland, because he had refused to provide documents concerning the firing of a federal prosecutor.

While Gonzales was smugly telling staffers just last week that he believed he had survived the worst of the Prosecutor Purge scandal and thought he would be able to retain his position as A.G., the news over the "hospital incident" that former deputy attorney general James Comey testified to on Tuesday before the Senate has changed all that and thrown the trajectory of the scandal right into the White House:

At a news conference on Thursday, President Bush would not discuss whether in March 2004 he had ordered Mr. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., then White House chief of staff, to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to obtain his signature on an order reauthorizing the surveillance program.

James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general, provided a gripping account about the confrontation in testimony on Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Comey said he raced to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room to intercept Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card before they could obtain the approval of Mr. Ashcroft, who sent them away without signing the order.

Mr. Comey, who was acting attorney general at the time, suggested in his testimony that it might have been Mr. Bush who sent the two officials after he and other Justice Department officials had concluded that the program did not comply with the law and had refused to sign the renewal directive.

“There’s a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn’t happen,” Mr. Bush said Thursday. “I’m not going to talk about it.”

The print and TV media need to keep asking Bush that question very directly and if Bush continues to stonewall that question, maybe the Senate should have a vote of no-confidence on Bush.

As for Gonzo, 6 Senate Republicans have called for Gonzales' resignation (Hagel, McCain, Coleman, Coburn, Sununu, and Roberts) and while House Republicans were more willing to come to Gonzales' rescue at the House hearings than Senate Republicans were at the Senate Judiciary hearings, Comey's testimony over the warrantless wiretapping program will change that. It's hard to defend the indefensible, even in Tom Delay's old house.

Despite the preznut's insistence that the A.G. has his full confidence, I think Gonzales will follow Paul Wolfowitz into retirement. It may not come next week, but given the damaging stuff that has already broken and the stuff that still may be revealed, I just don't see how some Repubs don't make that walk up to the White House and say "Gonzo's gotta go."

St. John McCain Is The Only Presidential Candidate To Miss Votes On Iraq This Year...

...and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took him to the woodshed for his hypocrisy:

Liz Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Reid, told The Hill, “Sen. McCain has spent considerable time defending the president on Iraq and catering to the Republican base on immigration, but has only managed to show up for four of the last 14 Iraq votes and parachute into [yesterday’s] immigration press conference at the last minute. Who is the real John McCain?”


While McCain has missed four of 14 Senate roll calls on the war this year, other presidential candidates have managed their schedules around the high-profile votes.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) voted on each of the 14 measures.

In the House, on three major votes dealing with the troop surge and supplemental funding for the war, the four announced presidential candidates voted every time.

Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) registered their votes on all three occasions.

McCain’s campaign said the rigorous travel schedule necessary when running for the White House makes it extremely difficult to be voting all the time in Washington.

Sure, the rigorous travel schedule and demands are tough when you're running for president, but how come ALL of the other candidates in the Senate and the House were able to make the votes but St. John wasn't?

The next time McCain pontificates about the Iraq war on TV, maybe the Beard or Russert can ask him why he doesn't feel it's necessary to show up for war votes that ALL of the other candidates think are important enough to show up for.

This sort of carelessness says something about the man, don't you think?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going, Going...


WASHINGTON -- Support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sank further Thursday as Democrats proposed a no-confidence vote, a fifth GOP senator called for his resignation and yet another Republican predicted he won't survive a congressional investigation.


For all of the administration's defense, several GOP officials acknowledged privately that Republicans were still reeling from testimony this week that Gonzales, when he was Bush's White House counsel, pressured Attorney General John Ashcroft to certify the legality of Bush's controversial eavesdropping program while Ashcroft lay in intensive care.

Asked twice during a news conference Thursday if he personally ordered Gonzales to Ashcroft's hospital room, Bush refused to answer.

"There's a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn't happen. I'm not going to talk about it," Bush said.

James Comey's account to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Schumer said, turned more lawmakers against Gonzales. New criticism came from multiple Republicans.

One, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, on Thursday became the fifth Republican senator to demand that Gonzales leave.

"I would hope that the attorney general understands that the department is suffering right now, and he does the right thing, and that is allows the president to provide new leadership," Coleman told reporters on a conference call.

And Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., usually a staunch GOP ally, suggested Thursday that Bush consider ejecting Gonzales.

"The president might decide that the current leadership remaining at DOJ is doing more harm than good," Bond told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican, said the Justice Department cannot properly oversee Bush's eavesdropping program with Gonzales at the helm of the agency.

"I have a sense that when we finish our investigation, we may have the conclusion of the tenure of the attorney general," Specter said during a committee hearing. "It'll be clear even to the attorney general and the president that we're looking at a dysfunctional department which is vital to the national welfare."

Chances are Gonzo and Bushie could have ridden out the Prosecutor Purge scandal, but the Comey testimony that Gonzales and Andy Card attempted to get an ill Ashcroft to sign off on an illegal warrentless wiretapping program that Ashcroft and the DOJ had already said was illegal may be the thing that gets him.

I hope so.

And I also hope they keep asking the preznut if he was the one who sent Card and Gonzo to the hospital to pressure Ashcroft to sign off on the program.

Wolfowitz Resigns


Purge News

The Washington Post reports that 26 U.S. attorneys were originally slated for the Purge.

McClatchy reports that two more prosecutors were slated for firing - one in Colorado, one in Florida:

That brings to nine the number of battleground election states where the Bush administration set out to replace some of the nation's top prosecutors. In at least seven states, it now appears, U.S. attorneys were fired or considered for firing as Republicans in those states urged investigations or prosecutions of alleged Democratic voter fraud.

The Department of Justice has found only a single message in which DOJ officials communicated with Karl Rove about the Prosecutor Purge matter. Congress had subpoenaed Justice for ALL messages related to Rove and the matter.

Monica Goodling, former Alberto Gonzales aide and liaison between Department of Justice and the White House in the purge matter, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday after being granted limited immunity.

Another Republican has called for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general:

Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) yesterday became the fifth Senate Republican to demand the resignation of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Hagel cited revelations that Gonzales in 2004 tried to persuade then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft -- who was in intensive care at the time -- to reauthorize a warrantless surveillance program that the Justice Department had ruled illegal. Gonzales was White House counsel at the time.

Here's the video of that extraordinary testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Gonzales' "Godfather" bedside visit to an ill Ashcroft trying to get him to sign off on the warrantless wiretap program.

Finally in other scandal news, former Karl Rove aide Susan Ralston is seeking immunity before she will testify before Henry Waxman's Government Oversight Committee in the Jack Abramoff matter. Ralston worked for Abramoff before she became Rove's top aide.

Busy day on the scandal beat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GAO Report: Surge Has Done Nothing To Stem Violence In Iraq

We keep hearing about how we have to give the surge time to work in Iraq, but today the General Accounting Office released a report from statistics compiled by the Pentagon that shows the additional troops are having minimal effect on the violence in the country:

Newly declassified data show that as additional American troops began streaming into Iraq in March and April, the number of attacks on civilians and security forces there stayed relatively steady or at most declined slightly, in the clearest indication yet that the troop increase could take months to have a widespread impact on security.

Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one. American commanders have conceded that since the start of the troop increase, which the United States calls a “surge,” attacks in the form of car bombs with their high death tolls have risen.

The daily attack figures for March and April were 157 and 149 - down from a high of 176 attacks a day in October 2006, but much higher than the 71 attacks a day that were occurring in January 2006. Also, casualty rates are not given for the attacks, so while the numbers of attacks is done slightly, the number of casualties in those attacks has not been released by either the Iraqi government or the U.S. military. Since death squad killings are down since the beginning of the surge but deadlier car bomb attacks are up, it is possible that daily attacks rates are "down" while casualty rates are "up" (and the fact that the Iraqis and the Bush administration have stopped releasing casualty rates suggests that may be exactly the case.)

The GAO report
goes on to say that the attacks upon the infrastructure of the country have been "devastating":

“Insurgents have destroyed key oil and electricity infrastructure, threatened workers, compromised the transport of materials, and hindered project completion and repairs by preventing access to work sites,” the report says.

In addition, it says, the looting and vandalism that American and Iraqi officials have vowed to stop has continued to destroy infrastructure that billions of dollars in American and Iraqi money have refurbished.

The report also contains the analysis of what appears to be billions of dollars of oil that is unaccounted for over the past four years. The report says smuggling, sabotage or colossal accounting errors could potentially account for the discrepancy.

So there you have it - a minimal decrease in daily attacks, an unknown number of casualties from these attacks, and an infrastructure that continues to be "devastated" by attacks, looting, and vandalism.

POSTSCRIPT: Another deadly day in Iraq despite the surge:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A parked car bomb exploded near a market in a Shiite enclave northeast of the capital, killing at least 32 people and wounding 50, police said Wednesday. Hospital officials and wounded victims said chlorine gas may have been used in the attack, but police denied that.

Thousands of U.S. forces continued to search for three American soldiers feared captured by al-Qaida last week after an attack on their convoy south of Baghdad also killed four U.S. troops and an Iraqi soldier.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the mostly Shiite city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq on Wednesday, when a militia fought with police there after they arrested two wanted militia members, police said. Nine Iraqis were killed and 75 wounded, a police spokesman said.

The sham of all this is that everybody with any sense knows that adding 30,000-40,000 more troops into the country wasn't going to do diddly to change security conditions on the ground. While Repubs and Holy Joe Lieberman keep saying "We have to give our new Iraq policy a chance to work," evidence is mounting that the number of surge troops added to Iraq came too little, too late to do anything permanently meaningful.

If the Repubs and Holy Joe Lieberman REALLY want to affect change in Iraq, they need to rally the country behind a 10 year/350,000 additional troop plan to help bring political stability and security to Iraq.

But since they know that's a no-go with the American public, instead we platitudes from them about a surge plan everybody knows is doomed to failure.

And the shame of it is Americans are dying so that politicians can save face before the inevitable defeat and retreat" out of there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gonzo Blames McNulty For Purge

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty resigned from the Department of Justice yesterday, becoming the fourth DOJ official to step down as a result of the Prosecutor Purge scandal.

Today, Attorney General Abu Gonzales tried to pin the Prosecutor Purge scandal on him:

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday he relied heavily on his deputy to oversee the firings of U.S. attorneys, appearing to distance himself from his departing second-in-command.


"At the end of the day, the recommendations reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names," Gonzales told reporters after a speech about Justice Department steps to curb rising violent crime.

"The one person I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys," Gonzales said.

Gonzales has said he most valued McNulty's opinions about firing the prosecutors, now under investigation by Congress to determine if they were politically motivated. But his remarks Tuesday, on the heels of McNulty's resignation, underscored weeks of strain between the two men and their staffs. It also raised questions of whether McNulty's resignation also was ordered, despite his insistence that it was his own decision to step down.


On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties defended McNulty and rapped Gonzales' leadership of the Justice Department.

Sen. Arlen Specter, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called McNulty a "professional" and then added: "It's embarrassing for a professional to work for the Department of Justice today."

Embarrassing it is.

But Gonzo's not really a professional.

Not unless you mean professional whore for the White House.

Speaking of whoring, check out how Gonzales helped Cheney and the preznut sidestep the law in the warrantless wiretapping program and how former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (Paul McNulty's predecessor) tried to stop them:

WASHINGTON, May 15 — President Bush intervened in March 2004 to avert a crisis over the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program after Attorney General John Ashcroft, Director Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I. and other senior Justice Department aides all threatened to resign, a former deputy attorney general testified Tuesday.

Mr. Bush quelled the revolt over the program’s legality by allowing it to continue without Justice Department approval, also directing department officials to take the necessary steps to bring it into compliance with the law, according to Congressional testimony by the former deputy attorney general, James B. Comey.


Mr. Comey, the former No. 2 official in the Justice Department, said the crisis began when he refused to sign a presidential order reauthorizing the program, which allowed monitoring of international telephone calls and e-mail of people inside the United States who were suspected of having terrorist ties. He said he made his decision after the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, based on an extensive review, concluded that the program did not comply with the law. At the time, Mr. Comey was acting attorney general because Mr. Ashcroft had been hospitalized for emergency gall bladder surgery.

Mr. Comey would not describe the rationale for his refusal to approve the eavesdropping program, citing its classified nature. The N.S.A. program, which began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks and did not require court approval to listen in on the communications of Americans and others, provoked an outcry in Congress when it was disclosed in December 2005.

Mr. Comey said that on the evening of March 10, 2004, Mr. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., then Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, tried to bypass him by secretly visiting Mr. Ashcroft. Mr. Ashcroft was extremely ill and disoriented, Mr. Comey said, and his wife had forbidden any visitors.

Mr. Comey said that when a top aide to Mr. Ashcroft alerted him about the pending visit, he ordered his driver to rush him to George Washington University Hospital with emergency lights flashing and a siren blaring, to intercept the pair. They were seeking his signature because authority for the program was to expire the next day.

Mr. Comey said he phoned Mr. Mueller, who agreed to meet him at the hospital. Once there, Mr. Comey said he “literally ran up the stairs.” At his request, Mr. Mueller ordered the F.B.I. agents on Mr. Ashcroft’s security detail not to evict Mr. Comey from the room if Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card objected to his presence.

Mr. Comey said he arrived first in the darkened room, in time to brief Mr. Ashcroft, who he said seemed barely conscious. Before Mr. Ashcroft became ill, Mr. Comey said the two men had talked and agreed that the program should not be renewed.

When the White House officials appeared minutes later, Mr. Gonzales began to explain to Mr. Ashcroft why they were there. Mr. Comey said Mr. Ashcroft rose weakly from his hospital bed, but in strong and unequivocal terms, refused to approve the eavesdropping program.

“I was angry,” Mr. Comey told the committee. “ I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me. I thought he had conducted himself in a way that demonstrated a strength I had never seen before, but still I thought it was improper.”

Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card quickly departed, but Mr. Comey said he soon got an angry phone call from Mr. Card, demanding that he come to the White House. Mr. Comey said he replied: “After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness, and I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States.”

Mr. Comey said he reached Theodore B. Olson, the solicitor general, at a dinner party. At the White House session, which included Mr. Olson, Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Comey and Mr. Card, the four officials discussed the impasse. Mr. Comey knew that other top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, wanted to continue the program.

Mr. Card expressed concern about mass resignations at the Justice Department, Mr. Comey said. He told the Senate panel that he prepared a letter of resignation and that David Ayres, Mr. Ashcroft’s chief of staff, asked him to delay delivering it so that Mr. Ashcroft could join him. Mr. Comey said Mr. Mueller was also prepared to quit.

The next morning, March 11, Mr. Comey went to the White House for a morning terrorism briefing. Afterward, he said Mr. Bush took him aside for a private 15-minute meeting in the president’s study, which Mr. Comey described as a “full exchange.”

At Mr. Comey’s urging, Mr. Bush also met with Mr. Mueller, who emerged to inform Mr. Comey that the president had authorized the changes in the program sought by the Justice Department.

“We had the president’s direction to do what we believed, what the Justice Department believed, was necessary to put this on a footing where we could certify to its legality,” Mr. Comey said. “And so we set out to do that and we did that.”

Mr. Comey said he signed the reauthorization in “two or three weeks.” It was unclear from his testimony what authority existed for the program while the changes were being made. Mr. Comey said he shelved his resignation plans that day when terrorists set off bombs on commuter trains in Madrid.

Mr. Comey left the Justice Department in August 2006, saying publicly that he had never intended to serve through the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Privately, he has told friends that he grew weary of what he felt was increasing White House influence on the agency.

Just amazing.

Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Card, Rove - they're a criminal cadre.

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