Saturday, March 31, 2007
Rove's Strategy To Resell The War
Howard Fineman in NEWSWEEK
writes that nearly all of the GOPers in the House and Senate remain nervously on board with Karl Rove's strategy to resell the war and the surge policy (HINT: It's the NEW REALISM!!!!) and tar Democrats and war opponents as dirty treehugging soldier hating hippie motherfuckers:
March 31, 2007 - “The war,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told me last week, “is the reason you are speaking to the Republican leader, not the majority leader.” Yet McConnell and his fellow Republicans in Congress have chosen, nearly unanimously, to stick with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in a confrontation over the Democrats’ proposal to tie $100 billion in Iraq funding to a timetable for withdrawal. “The war is a difficult issue for my party, which is a statement of the obvious,” he said. But the goal remains the same: “to establish a stable government in Iraq” that can be an ally in the “war on terror.”
The GOP survival strategy rests—not unreasonably—on the hope that Democrats fall to squabbling over competing House and Senate versions of a funding bill. Republicans will argue that Congress is not able, and constitutionally barred, from a lead role in the war. And they’ll decry the pork-barrel spending the Dems used to grease passage of their plans. Rove, meanwhile, is talking up internal polls that purport to show an uptick in public optimism about Iraq. Bush, on the road this week, plans to argue that the surge is working and tout the “new realism” of the American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus. With not the least bit of irony—let alone shame—Republicans will contend that they care more about the soldiers, the sordid evidence at Walter Reed notwithstanding. They will unveil an online “countdown” clock showing the days allegedly left until money runs out for the troops—a made-up number in the world’s capital of flexible arithmetic.But, at their core, Republicans will rely on Rove’s argument that emerged after 9/11: that the GOP, led by Bush, does not flinch from war; that the war on terror is unlimited in space and time; and that those who think otherwise are misguided, weak-kneed or naive enablers of the enemy. Democrats, McConnell says, wrote a bill that has a “surrender date for Iraq in it.”
In the meantime, in the real world beyond Rovian public relations bonanzas and administration spin, the war goes as badly as always:
BAGHDAD, March 31 — The Iraqi government on Saturday gave its first official reckoning of the truck bombing Tuesday in the northern city of Tal Afar, putting the death toll at 152 people, a number about double that in early reports.
The bombing, which left 347 other people in a poor Shiite neighborhood wounded, set off a wave of reprisals by Shiite policemen and others that left another 47 people dead and shattered the image of Tal Afar held up by American politicians last year as a model of a turbulent city turned peaceful.
When the bomb detonated, younger Shiite policemen “were motivated by emotions when they saw their parents and siblings getting killed, but this is not acceptable,” Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said Saturday. He said that 16 policemen and 2 civilians were under arrest and would be fully prosecuted for the reprisals.
Sectarian violence continued around Iraq on Saturday, when 27 people were killed in shootings and car bombings and 10 bodies were found in Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry....
In the Interior Ministry’s first news conference since the bombing, officials underscored the event’s scale and horror. “It is a very painful attack,” General Khalaf said.
If the death toll of 152 in the Tal Afar attack is correct, it was the highest total from a single bomb in the four-year-old war.
So on the one hand, you have Karl Rove, George Bush and Mitch McConnell calling war critics and opponents "surrender monkeys" (or some other euphemism for cowards) and on the other, Iraqis continue to die at horrific rates and nothing has changed for the better in Iraq.
It's takes an amazing amount of confidence and/or self-delusion to keep backing the preznut's failed war. And yet GOPers, fresh off their November spanking, continue to do it (albeit very, very nervously.)
Let's see how much longer that continues.
You can make believe a change in policy has brought a change in the conditions on the ground for only so long before it becomes plain that Rove and Company are simply flinging more horseshit around in the hopes that they can fool most Americans ( who are, to be fair, kinda stupid to begin with - that's how all this shit started in in the first place.)UPDATE:
Here are some more stats
that show the surge policy hasn't changed a fucking thing in Iraq:
The Associated Press count of U.S. military deaths for the month was 81, including a soldier who died from non-combat causes Friday.
At least 83 American forces died in January and 80 in February, according to the AP tabulation.
The Iraqi ministry figures listed 1,872 Iraqi civilian deaths for the month, about 300 more than the AP tabulation, which is mainly gathered from daily police reports nationwide.
The civilian death toll for the month was down significantly from 2,172 in December, the highest month casualty figure since the AP began keeping records of civilian deaths in April 2005.
However, the number of civilians killed in March was in the same range as for the first two months of this year; 1,604 in January and 1,552 in February, according to the AP count.
Nearly a third of the Iraqi civilian deaths, more than 500 people, where killed in three big bomb attacks in the last week of the month and revenge killings of Sunni men in Tal Afar the night after a Shiite market was bombed in the northwest Iraqi city.
The preznut, his spinmeisters and his apologists (e.g., Joe Lieberman, John McCain) say the surge is working because Shiite death squad killings are down.
Whoop-dee fucking doo.
Tell it to the dead 81 Americans and 1872 Iraqis.
Rudy Giuliani Business Ethics
It's all about conflict of interest and cronyism for Rudy. More from today's Washington Post:
The contract with A&P was one of many deals -- some much more lucrative -- that the Giuliani-Kerik firm arranged using the partners' extensive political connections. The work included a Justice Department contract and multimillion-dollar consulting arrangements with business clients in the technology and security sectors worldwide.
In some cases, Giuliani and Kerik simultaneously advised a private company and the federal agency whose actions could affect it. Giuliani's firm, for instance, was hired by Purdue Pharma to help figure out how to keep sales of its popular painkiller OxyContin from being restricted by the government; street dealers were crushing and converting it into a powerful narcotic offering an instant high. Kerik was personally named to oversee security improvements at a New Jersey manufacturing plant.
At the same time, the Justice Department paid Giuliani-Kerik $1.1 million to conduct a management review of the organized-crime drug task force, whose responsibilities included stemming illegal use of OxyContin.
Likewise, Giuliani, Kerik and other firm partners were hired by cellphone carrier Nextel to win Federal Communications Commission approval for a new, emergency-only wireless spectrum for first responders.
The idea was to solve one problem for Nextel -- it had long been subject to complaints that its wireless signal sometimes interfered with the communications channels used by police, fire and rescue officials -- while creating an even stronger business opportunity for the cellular carrier.
At the same time, Giuliani's firm was brought in by the FCC to participate in a panel that was advising the agency in its efforts to address the future needs of a police, fire and rescue communications system in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
Hire your friends, even if they're not qualified.
Work both sides of the street when it comes to "advising" government regulatory entities how to handle products that happen to be owned by your business clients.
Enrich yourself with the help of your political connections.
Gee, maybe we should take a closer look at the way Rudy Giuliani has conducted business since he left office in 2002.
Wash Post: Feds Want To Indict Kerik On Felony Charges
More bad news for Rudy Giuliani:
Federal prosecutors have told Bernard B. Kerik, whose nomination as homeland security secretary in 2004 ended in scandal, that he is likely to be charged with several felonies, including tax evasion and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.
Kerik's indictment could set the stage for a courtroom battle that would draw attention to Kerik's extensive business and political dealings with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who personally recommended him to President Bush for the Cabinet. Giuliani, the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination according to most polls, later called the recommendation a mistake.
Kerik rose from being a warden and police detective to become Giuliani's campaign security adviser, corrections chief, police commissioner and eventual partner in Giuliani-Kerik, a security arm of Giuliani Partners, which Giuliani established after leaving office in 2001. Kerik resigned his positions in Giuliani's firm after he was nominated to the homeland security job.
The case against Kerik that federal prosecutors are preparing could generate uncomfortable political attention for Giuliani because it focuses on Kerik's activities while the two men were in government together and were jointly running Giuliani-Kerik, which was paid millions of dollars for advising upstart companies, doing federal work and consulting with clients overseas.
Even as Giuliani prepared to announce his presidential bid, his political team had identified as a political liability the man who had stood stoically by the mayor's side after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, according to a strategy memo that surfaced in January.
Kerik's legal troubles could damage the law-and-order image that is the bedrock of Giuliani's campaign, said Republican political consultant Nelson Warfield, who is not aligned with any 2008 candidate. "Kerik has potential to undermine his image as a competent leader and someone best fit to fight terrorism," Warfield said. "Either he had fundamentally bad information about Kerik, or he was reckless in not knowing enough about a man who was that close to him."
Of course none of these revelations about Kerik and Rudy will deter Chris Matthews and the rest of the news media pom-pom crew away from their masturbatory fantasies of "Tough Guy Rudy" giving "Shrew Hillary" and "Cheatin' Bill" the comeuppance they deserve in 2008.
While I agree the Clintons deserve a major dose of comeuppance, I also think arrogant asshole Rudy deserves just as big a dose.
Oh, well - we'll just have to see how this plays out for '08. The good news is, there is a very good chance that Bernie Kerik will be doing some jail time in the near future.
I wonder how the other inmates will react to him around the prison courtyard during exercise time?
Friday, March 30, 2007
AP: 9/11 Hero Rudy Not So Heroic
A second critical piece on St. Rudy Giuliani today
, following up on the NY Times
article that says Rudy knew the man he appointed to be NYPD commissioner was connected to organized crime:
While the former mayor of the nation's largest city was widely lionized for his post-9/11 leadership - "Churchillian" was one adjective, "America's mayor" was Oprah Winfrey's assessment - city firefighters and their families are renewing their attacks on him for his performance before and after the terrorist attack.
"If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was among the 343 FDNY members killed in the terrorist attack. "If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime - that's indisputable.
"But when he runs on 9/11, I want the American people to know he was part of the problem."
Such comments contradict Giuliani's post-Sept. 11 profile as a hero and symbol of the city's resilience - the steadfast leader who calmed the nerves of a rattled nation. But as the presidential campaign intensifies, criticisms of his 2001 performance are resurfacing.
Giuliani, the leader in polls of Republican voters for his party's nomination, has been faulted on two major issues:
--His administration's failure to provide the World Trade Center's first responders with adequate radios, a long-standing complaint from relatives of the firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed. The Sept. 11 Commission noted the firefighters at the World Trade Center were using the same ineffective radios employed by the first responders to the 1993 terrorist attack on the trade center.
Regenhard, at a 2004 commission hearing in Manhattan, screamed at Giuliani, "My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" The hearing was a perfect example of the 9/11 duality: Commission members universally praised Giuliani at the same event.
--A November 2001 decision to step up removal of the massive rubble pile at ground zero. The firefighters were angered when the then-mayor reduced their numbers among the group searching for remains of their lost "brothers," focusing instead on what they derided as a "scoop and dump" approach. Giuliani agreed to increase the number of firefighters at ground zero just days after ordering the cutback.
More than 5 1/2 years later, body parts are still turning up in the trade center site.
"We want America to know what this guy meant to New York City firefighters," said Peter Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "In our experiences with this man, he disrespected us in the most horrific way."
St. Rudy not so sainted.
Now we'll just have to see if this stuff starts sticking to Giuliani.POSTSCRIPT:
I also found this NY Daily News article
about Rudy and Judy pretty scary stuff:
A lovestruck Rudy Giuliani says that if he makes it to the White House, his wife will be at his side - to the point where she'll be welcome at cabinet meetings.
When it comes to shaping policy, "I couldn't have a better adviser," the GOP hopeful told ABC's Barbara Walters.
Asked if Judith Giuliani would be sitting in on cabinet meetings, the former mayor said he'd be all for it if that's what she wants.
"That would be something that I'd be very, very comfortable with," he said.
Judith Giuliani, a former nurse, said she'd attend policy meetings if her husband asks, "and certainly in the areas of health care."
Judi Nathan sitting in on cabinet meetings with Bernie Kerik - former NYPD commissioner and Gambino family associate - skulking around in the background.
Truly terrifying.SECOND POSTSCRIPT:
How come Rudy and Judi, eager to appear on TV and tell America all about their happy relationship, won't divulge how they met? Again, from the NY Daily News:
While the Giulianis were happy to proclaim their love before the cameras, there was one thing the happy couple wouldn't reveal: How they met.
"That's one thing that I would kind of like to keep private," said Judith Giuliani, although she did say it "was by accident."
Rudy Knew Kerik Had Ties To Organized Crime BEFORE He Made Him Police Commissioner
Bad news for Rudy Giuliani on the front page of the NY Times:
Rudolph W. Giuliani told a grand jury that his former chief investigator remembered having briefed him on some aspects of Bernard B. Kerik’s relationship with a company suspected of ties to organized crime before Mr. Kerik’s appointment as New York City police commissioner, according to court records.
Mr. Giuliani, testifying last year under oath before a Bronx grand jury investigating Mr. Kerik, said he had no memory of the briefing, but he did not dispute that it had taken place, according to a transcript of his testimony.
Mr. Giuliani’s testimony amounts to a significantly new version of what information was probably before him in the summer of 2000 as he was debating Mr. Kerik’s appointment as the city’s top law enforcement officer. Mr. Giuliani had previously said that he had never been told of Mr. Kerik’s entanglement with the company before promoting him to the police job or later supporting his failed bid to be the nation’s homeland security secretary.
For Mr. Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president and who has done well in early polls, his history with Mr. Kerik looms as a likely issue in the campaign. His own aides have anticipated that questions are likely to arise about Mr. Giuliani’s judgment in, among other things, promoting Mr. Kerik for one of the country’s most important national security posts.
Now, Mr. Giuliani, whose private company provides background checks for companies as part of its services, may have to explain his response to the information that was provided to him in 2000.
For a while now, many in the news media have willfully ignored Rudy's "Kerik problem." We have heard from Rudy fans like MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Americans will easily be able to overlook Giuliani's troubled personal life (numerous adulteries, three marriages, estranged children) and problematic professional relationships because they want " a strong leader" and Giuliani of course showed his "strong leadership" qualities on 9/11.
But I have long maintained that Rudy's business interests (he has done some work for Hugo Chavez, has kept his client list secret and won't divulge who else he has worked for), his seriously twisted personal life (evangelical leaders like Richard Land are already on record saying Rudy's personal life is problematic for them) his batshit wife (she makes Teresa Heinz Kerry seem sane), and his "Kerik problem" will derail his presidential campaign.
Today's front page times story is aimed right at the heart of Rudy's "Strong Leader" persona. Does a strong leader really appoint a mob-connected guy to be NYPD commissioner after he knows the guy has ethics problems? Does a strong leader really suggest the same mob-connected be made Homeland Security Director? While today's Times story is not going to do Rudy's campaign in, it does raise more questions about what Rudy knew about Kerik both before he appointed him commissioner, after the appointment, after he hired Kerik to work at his company, and after he suggested Kerik be appointed to the Homeland Security Director position.
And Rudy better be asked those questions along the campaign trail. It's time for News media people to put away the pom-poms and ask some serious questions of America's Mayor.POSTSCRIPT:
Why is it that Chris Matthews has decided that adultery only matters when Bill Clinton is doing it? Yesterday on Hardball, Matthews gleefully pointed to a poll that showed most Americans don't believe Clinton has "changed his stripes" when it comes to adultery (probably true, btw), but never once did he ask whether admitted adulterers Giuliani and Gingrich have "changed their stripes." When Tom Delay was on Hardball a week ago and he called Clinton a moral scumbag for cheating on his wife, never once did Tweety Bird Matthews say "Wait a minute, you just admitted to adultery yourself back in the early 90's! Doesn't that make you a moral scumbag too?"
It seems that Chris Matthews is perfectly happy to ignore the numerous adulteries and sexual antics of members of the Grand Old Family Values Party, but when it comes to Bill Clinton (who after all is just doing what Gingrich, Rudy and Delay have done), it's high crimes and misdemeanors time.
What a phony.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I've been hearing a lot on my television from the usual suspects (McCain, Lieberman, Boehner, et al.) that the surge in Iraq is working.
Is it really?
Today's news from Iraq via Reuters:
Yesterday's news from Iraq via Reuters:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Suicide bombers killed nearly 130 people in a crowded market in a Shi'ite district of Baghdad and a mainly Shi'ite town on Thursday, one of the bloodiest days in Iraq in months.
The upsurge in sectarian violence threatens all-out civil war and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, called for restraint and urged Iraqis to work with security forces to prevent the violence spiraling out of control. Bombs earlier this week in northern Iraq sparked mass reprisal killings.
Two suicide bombers wearing vests packed with explosives killed 76 people in a market in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police and medical sources said, in what appeared to be the latest of a string of attacks on Shi'ite districts and towns blamed on al Qaeda. More than 100 were wounded.
"It is impossible to tell the exact number of dead because we are basically counting body parts," said a Health Ministry official in Baghdad, who asked not to be named.
Most of the victims were women and children, who had been out shopping in the crowded market before the start of the nightly curfew, he said.
At about the same time, three suicide car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, killing 53 people and wounding 103, police said.
On Tuesday two truck bombs killed 85 people in a Shi'ite area of Tal Afar in northern Iraq. In the hours after those blasts Shi'ite gunmen, including police, shot dead up to 70 Sunni Arab men in reprisal. Reuters reports that:
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, confirmed on Thursday police appeared to have carried out "retribution killings" after the bombings, which he blamed on al Qaeda. Iraq's Sunni vice-president urged the Shi'ite-led government to do more to purge the security forces of militias.
While this crackdown has succeeded in reducing the number of deaths in the capital, violence has surged elsewhere.
So, technically the preznut's surge policy is succeeding. Violence is down in Baghdad. That's what the surge was designed to do. Unfortunately, violence is "surging" everywhere else, including in Tal Afar, the city that Preznut Bush pointed to last year as a "success story" in the Iraq war where the U.S. military was able to root out insurgents and turn security over to the Iraqis.As TIME's Joe Klein notes today:
The violence in Tal Afar is all the more depressing because that city was the site of the most recent, pre-Baghdad experiment in counter-insurgency tactics. The estimable scholar-warrior Col H.R. McMaster led the effort, and Bush praised it at the time...and it fell apart as soon as the Americans left.
The point is, as I've said before: Counter-insurgency tactics are a wonderful idea that require lots of troops (which we don't have), lots of time (which we don't have) and a coherent, cooperative local government (which we don't have).
The surge is not working.
Unless you consider delaying the inevitable ignominious retreat and defeat to the next administration as the point of the surge, of course.
A Good Question
From Talking Points Memo:
Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) makes a very good point. The prosecutor firings and replacements just happen to be in all the key 2008 swing states, and not in any states that are safe for either party -- with the exception of California, where the Lam -Cunningham investigation is. Why do you think that would be?
Probably not a coincidence.
Nothing like winning elections in swing states with the help of some friendly U.S. attorneys.
Fitz Hosts Gonzales In Chicago
Attorney General Abu Gonzales has been touring the country, meeting with U.S. attorneys, and listening to their complaints and concerns about the recent spate of bad news surrounding Gonzales and the DOJ. Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for Chicago, hosted a meeting between Gonzo and U.S. attorneys from Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, and Washington State yesterday in Chicago. The New York Times reports Gonzales got an earful:
WASHINGTON, March 28 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales endured blunt criticism Tuesday from federal prosecutors who questioned the firings of eight United States attorneys, complained that the dismissals had undermined morale and expressed broader grievances about his leadership, according to people briefed on the discussion.
Several of the prosecutors said the dismissals caused them to wonder about their own standing and distracted their employees, according to one person familiar with the discussions. Others asked Mr. Gonzales about the removal of Daniel C. Bogden, the former United States attorney in Nevada, a respected career prosecutor whose ouster has never been fully explained by the Justice Department.
Behind the prosecutors’ complaints is what several officials have described as their anger about the seemingly arbitrary manner used to identify the United States attorneys selected for dismissal.
One recently released document that underscored their feelings was a chart prepared by Mr. Sampson in 2005 that ranked people as strong or weak performers and identified Mr. Fitzgerald, widely regarded as a highly able prosecutor, as undistinguished.
The article goes on to say that morale in the DOJ is "dispirited" and that Gonzales' staff and deputy A.G. Paul McNulty's staff are feuding over who is to blame for the mess in the department.
The word "embattled" does not even come close to describing how bad things are for Gonzales.
The conventional wisdom has it that Gonzales won't make it to April 17 when he is supposed to testify under oath before Congress.
We'll see what happens after Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson testifies before Congress today
and says that other officials in the administration - including White House officials - were in the loop on the attorney firings and accuses Gonzales of a pattern of "imprecision" in Gonzo's public statements about the prosecutor purge.
I suspect a late Friday Gonzales resignation might be the order of the day.POSTSCRIPT:
One more thing to watch for today is how Sampson addresses this issue:
On Wednesday, Justice Department officials acknowledged that they provided incorrect information to Congress in a letter on Feb. 23 drafted by Mr. Sampson and approved by the White House counsel. The letter said that “the department is not aware” of the president’s adviser Karl Rove “playing any role” in the decision to appoint his former deputy, J. Timothy Griffin, as interim United States attorney in Arkansas.
The letter was written weeks after Mr. Sampson wrote in other messages that Mr. Griffin’s appointment was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.,” referring to Mr. Rove and Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel at the time.
The messages describe an aide to Mr. Rove, J. Scott Jennings, holding conference calls with Justice Department officials about how to have Mr. Griffin installed despite Senate opposition.
Richard A. Hertling, acting assistant attorney general, told Congressional investigators on Wednesday that the letter was contradicted by the e-mail messages.
“We sincerely regret any inaccuracy,” Mr. Hertling said.
A spokesman for the White House, Tony Fratto, said the letter was reviewed by an associate White House counsel who left it to the Justice Department to double-check its accuracy.
“He did not double-check the Justice Department’s facts,” Mr. Fratto said. “He did caution Justice to make sure that the facts were accurate.”
Mr. Rove had no recollection of seeing the letter, Mr. Fratto said.
A lawyer for Mr. Sampson, Brad Berenson, declined to comment.
Lots of contradictions, inaccuracies, false recollections, spotty memories and good old finger-pointing over who first okayed the false statement to Congress that Rove had nothing to do with the prosecutor firings.
Might have to get some White House officials like Rove up their under oath to testify about the matter.
How Fitz Got His Job As U.S. Attorney
Nearly everyone acknowledges that Patrick Fitzgerald is a skilled, indomitable, non-partisan prosecutor willing to investigate anybody of any party for crimes and malfeasance. The NY Times
says that's why Karl Rove, Denny Hastert and former Illinois Governor George Ryan DIDN'T
want him to be appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago:
Early in the Bush administration, Mr. Fitzgerald said, he sought to recruit a prosecutor who could investigate Gov. George Ryan of Illinois without fear of influence by the state’s political powers. But Governor Ryan and his political ally Speaker J. Dennis Hastert argued to the White House that they should have a voice in the decision and insisted that someone from Illinois get the post. Mr. Fitzgerald, who had hired Mr. Rove as a consultant , called him to settle the question.
“Peter, it is your pick,” Mr. Rove told Mr. Fitzgerald, the former senator recalled. “But we don’t want you to pick anybody from out of state. For your Chicago guy, it has to be from Chicago.”
Undeterred, Mr. Fitzgerald sidestepped the White House. He made only one recommendation — Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a New York prosecutor — announced it publicly, and drew public acclaim that made it unstoppable. Some time after the appointment, the former Senator Fitzgerald said, Mr. Rove “kind of yelled at me,” telling him, “The appointment got great headlines for you but it ticked off the base”— a phrase that the senator took to refer to the state’s Republican establishment.
Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Rove was simply pushing a general administration goal to appoint home-state prosecutors.
Had Rove and Hastert gotten their way and had a "Chicago guy" appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago (i.e., a Republican Party apparatchik who wouldn't ruffle the feathers of the wrong people) , Governor Ryan would still be governor today.
Instead, Senator Peter Fitzgerald had Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) from New York appointed and Governor Ryan was convicted of racketeering and bribery charges. Here's wikipedia
on what Fitz had to say about Ryan in court:
"Mr. Ryan steered contracts worth millions of dollars to friends and took payments and vacations in return. When he was a sitting governor, he lied to the F.B.I. about this conduct and then he went out and did it again." He charged that one of the most egregious aspects of the corruption was Ryan's action after learning that bribes were being paid for licenses. Instead of ending the practice he tried to end the investigation that had uncovered it, Fitzgerald said, calling the moment "a low-water mark for public service.
Now you can see why Karl Rove, Denny Hastert and George Ryan weren't so happy when Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed U.S. attorney for Chicago.
One wonders in how many other cases Rove and the local Republican Party authorities had their way and had Republican Party apparatchiks and hacks appointed who played along with what Rove and Company wanted - prosecutions of Democrats/no prosecutions of fellow Repubs.
The Myth Of Voter Fraud
A Washington Post op-ed piece
takes a look at the validity of the excuse the Bush administration has used for their recent prosecutor purge - voter fraud - and finds it wanting:
As Congress probes the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, attention is centering on who knew what, and when. It's just as important to focus on "why," such as the reason given for the firing of at least one of the U.S. attorneys, John McKay of Washington state: failure to prosecute the phantom of individual voter fraud.
Allegations of voter fraud -- someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote -- have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting. Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.
But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch. Where fraud exists, of course, it should be prosecuted and punished.
Before and after every close election, politicians and pundits proclaim: The dead are voting, foreigners are voting, people are voting twice. On closer examination, though, most such allegations don't pan out. Consider a list of supposedly dead voters in Upstate New York that was much touted last October. Where reporters looked into names on the list, it turned out that the voters were, to quote Monty Python, "not dead yet."
Or consider Washington state, where McKay closely watched the photo-finish gubernatorial election of 2004. A challenge to ostensibly noncitizen voters was lodged in April 2005 on the questionable basis of "foreign-sounding names." After an election there last year in which more than 2 million votes were cast, following much controversy, only one ballot ended up under suspicion for double-voting. That makes sense. A person casting two votes risks jail time and a fine for minimal gain. Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike.
Yet the stories have taken on the character of urban myth. Alarmingly, the Supreme Court suggested in a ruling last year ( Purcell v. Gonzalez) that fear of fraud might in some circumstances justify laws that have the consequence of disenfranchising voters. But it's already happening -- those chasing imaginary fraud are actually taking preventive steps that would disenfranchise millions of real live Americans.
Identification requirements often sound simple. But some types of paperwork simply aren't available to many Americans. We saw this with the new Medicaid proof-of-citizenship requirement, which led to benefits being cut off for many longtime citizens. Some states insist that voters provide photo IDs such as driver's licenses. But at least 11 percent of voting-age Americans, disproportionately elderly and minority voters, lack the necessary papers. Required documentation such as naturalization paperwork can cost as much as $200. By contrast, when the poll tax was declared unconstitutional in 1966, it was $1.50 ($8.97 in 2007 dollars).
Congress should use this controversy as an opportunity to address true issues of voter protection. Experts have concluded that the most significant threat of fraud comes from electronic voting systems, now used by 80 percent of voters. Legislation introduced by Reps. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) and Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) would require a voter-verified record along with random audits to double-check against tampering. It would also bar wireless components from machines that could allow a hacker using a PDA to stage an attack. Lawmakers should also immediately stop pushing ID measures that would turn away legitimate voters.
Those investigating the U.S. attorney firings should ask what orders went out to other prosecutors in the run-up to the 2006 election. Prosecutors are not hired-gun lawyers on a party payroll. They have a special duty to exercise their power responsibly, particularly in the context of a heated election. Pressure on prosecutors to join a witch hunt for individual voter fraud is a scandal, not just for the Justice Department but for voters seeking to exercise their most basic right.
Electronic voting machines like those owned by Republican Party donor Diebold Corporation are a bigger threat to election integrity than the phantom people who "vote early and vote often."
Not a surprise.
Let's face it, it's easier to fix an election with the flick of a computer button or the manipulation of a computer source code than it is to use thousands of illegal votes from people who vote more than once and/or are unregistered.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Blaming It All On Sampson
The DOJ seems to be doing just that:
The Justice Department admitted today that officials "may have provided inaccurate and incomplete information" to Congress about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, and turned over new documents laying the blame for the inaccuracies on the attorney general's former chief of staff.
The release of 202 pages of new documents by Justice comes before scheduled testimony in the Senate tomorrow morning by D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Sampson resigned March 12 after the discovery of records showing that the attorney firings, described for months as an internal Justice review, was started in the White House two years ago. Gonzales said Sampson quit because he failed to turn over relevant information to his colleagues, a point that Sampson disputes.
But Sampson's pushing back:
Sampson is expected to testify tomorrow that numerous other officials were aware he was coordinating the firings with the White House and that he decided to resign because he failed to see the political threat posed by the firings.
In a related story, Spikey Mikey Isikoff writes in NEWSWEEK
that there may be a smoking gun tying Karl Rove to the purge:
March 28, 2007 - New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici’s chief of staff sent a cryptic thank-you note to Karl Rove just as the senator was recommending replacements for David Iglesias, the fired U.S. attorney in New Mexico, according to internal White House and Justice Department documents.
“Thanks for everything,” Domenici chief of staff Steve Bell wrote Rove and two other White House officials, including Rove’s political deputy, Scott Jennings, in a Jan. 8, 2007 e-mail that forwarded the name of a candidate to replace Iglesias.
Buried in Justice Department documents released two weeks ago, the Bell e-mail was not initially noticed by congressional investigators because it was sent to Rove’s political e-mail account—not his more clearly recognizable White House e-mail address.
It is not clear from the content of the e-mail what Bell was thanking Rove for. But the thank-you note is the first indication that Rove himself may have been involved in replacing Iglesias. It is the dismissal of Iglesias—fired after Domenici complained about his handling of a local corruption investigation—that has raised the most serious questions of political interference in the U.S. attorney controversy.
“This absolutely corroborates what I’ve been saying all along—this is a political matter, not a performance matter,” Iglesias said when a Newsweek reporter read him the e-mail today. “What is he thanking him [Rove] for? It’s thanking him for getting Dave out of the picture.”Asked about the e-mail today, and why Bell was thanking Rove, Domenici’s press secretary, Chris Gallegos said: “We’re not going to have anything to say about that e-mail.” He added that Bell “did not want to discuss a private communication.” White House press spokesman Tony Fratto said the e-mail was "interpreted" by the three White House officials who recevied it as a thank you for considering the names of Domenici's candidates for replacing Iglesias—not for their help in removing Iglesias. Did Rove in fact intervene to have Iglesias removed? Fratto replied: "We're not commenting on that" because of general White House policy not to talk about "internal White House communications."
finds a Kyle Sampson email that contradicts an earlier statement from Sampson that Karl Rove and Harriet Miers had no roles in the decision to appoint Rove's former aide, Tim Griffin, to replace purged U.S. Attorney Bud Cumins in Arkansas.
I bet Pat Leahy and Chuck Schumer ask Sampson about that email tomorrow.
I also bet the pressure the White House is under to have both Rove and Miers testify under oath to the Congress gets heavier after tomorrow's testimony from Sampson.
It sure looks like Rove had a emphatic role in the purges of both Iglesias and Cumins.
Senator John McCain just told John Roberts on CNN that media people are "living in a time warp" and reporting the Iraq war story "like it's three months ago." McCain says the preznut's surge policy is working, Baghdad is safer than before the surge, Iraq is safer than before the surge and we are on the way toward making Iraq into a stable, safe place.
Here's the news from Iraq today. First, from the Associated Press:
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.
The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.
Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen.
The violence came a day after two truck bombs shattered markets in the city, killing at least 63 people and wounding dozens in the second assault in four days. After Tuesday's bombings, suspected Sunni insurgents tried to ambush ambulances carrying the injured out of the northwestern city but were driven off by police gunfire, Iraqi authorities said.
The carnage was the worst bloodshed in a surge of violence across Iraq as militants on both sides of the sectarian divide apparently have fled to other parts of the country to avoid a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown, raising tensions outside the capital.
Now from Xinhua:
FALLUJAH, Iraq, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Two suicide car bombs, including a truck carrying Chlorine toxic gas, struck a U.S. base in Fallujah City, 50 km west of Baghdad, on Wednesday, killing eight Iraqi policemen and wounding more than 20 others, local police said.
A suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into the checkpoint on the main gate of a U.S. military base in central city and blew it up at about 9:00 a.m. (0600 GMT), the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Few minutes later, another suicide bomber drove a booby-trapped truck carrying Chlorine gas into the same entrance to the base and blew it up, causing a powerful explosion and sending a cloud of toxic gas, the source said.
A total of eight policemen were killed at the checkpoint and at least 20 others were wounded, he said, adding that there was undetermined number of U.S. soldiers killed or wounded but he couldn't give exact number.
Gee, it doesn't sound like Iraq is either safe nor stable. Rather, it sounds like violence has decreased in Baghdad and increased elsewhere in the country.
McCain is either a fool to think that Iraq is going better now that it was three months ago or he's a liar trying to fool the American people into believing something that is not true.
Either way, he's wrong.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Bush Justice Department Investigated Dems At Local Level 7 Times Greater Than Fellow Repubs
has the details about what he says may be a pattern of "deep, deep corruption of the justice system, all designed to foment unstoppable, uncheckable one-party rule":
From 2001 through 2006 the Bush Justice Department investigated elected Democratic office holders and office seekers locally (non-state-wide and non federal offices) at a rate more than seven times greater (nearly 85 percent to 12 percent) than they investigated local Republican elected office holders and seekers. This was so even though, throughout the nation, Democrat elected officials outnumber Republican elected officials at the rate of only 50 percent to 41 percent. Nine percent of elected officials are Independent/Other.
Local and under the radar. Andrew says what I said earlier - keep digging. There's something very bad underneath all the spin and lame excuses. And whatever it is, Gonzo, Bush, and Rove do not want us to know too much about it.
Americans Overwhelmingly Support Prosecutor Purge Investigation
The elite Washington punditry have been pushing the meme that Democrats need to be careful that they don't "overreach" in their oversight hearings of Bush administration malfeasance, particularly in the case of the prosecutor purge scandal. A new USA Today/Gallup poll should put that spin to rest:
WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly support a congressional investigation into White House involvement in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, and they say President Bush and his aides should answer questions about it without invoking executive privilege.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday-Sunday, respondents said by nearly 3-to-1 that Congress should issue subpoenas to force White House officials to testify....
By 53%-26%, respondents say the U.S. attorneys were dismissed primarily for political reasons, not because they weren't doing their jobs well — as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said.
The poll finds little sympathy for the administration's claim that White House aides shouldn't have to testify to ensure that a president gets candid advice. By 68%-26%, those surveyed say the president should drop the claim of executive privilege in this case.
Sounds to me like Americans would like to see a little oversight in this matter.
Kyle Sampson Is Set To Finish Gonzales
Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff, is set to testify before Congress on Thursday. Many are wondering what Sampson is going to say. US News reports
that while Sampson is unlikely to rat out Karl Rove in the matter, Gonzales is another story:
Sampson will set off some fireworks by contradicting a key assurance that Gonzales made to Congress and the American public last Tuesday that he was not in the loop during the long deliberations leading up to the firings.
Gonzales probably spoke to Sampson 20 times a day, and had a morning management meeting daily on a range of issues with Sampson and other key officials also involved in the U.S. Attorney deliberations. Gonzales had delegated the replacement plan for U.S. Attorneys largely to Sampson and was monitoring it at "the 30,000 feet level," Sampson's associate says. But Sampson will testify that the Attorney General not only discussed the idea while he was still White House counsel and signed off at the end, but also was "aware of the arc of the whole process" in between, says this source. "The idea that there were no discussions on this overall issue," says the source, "the Attorney General could not have meant to say that."
If Sampson testifies to that under oath on Thursday, I just don't see how the A.G. stays in his job.
Many think Bush will back him and GOPers will follow suit at least until April 17th when Gonzales himself goes before the Congress to testify under oath about the matter.
But what kind of firestorm would be set off if Gonzales' chief of staff says under oath that Gonzo has been lying the whole time about his involvement in the matter?
As for the kind of damage Sampson can do the White House staff, here again is US News:
While Sampson's testimony won't implicate White House officials, it won't rule out their involvement - including Rove's - in the selection of the fired U.S. Attorneys either. In fact, it will only give Democrats in Congress new fodder to demand the testimony under oath of Rove and other key Bush officials, something Bush has so far said he won't tolerate, citing executive privilege. Sampson is likely to testify that although he exchanged E-mails and had discussions with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy William Kelley, what happened "behind the curtains," in the White House, was largely invisible to him.
After all is said and done, the White House position that Karl Rove and Harriet Miers will ONLY
go to Congress for informal interviews about these matters with no transcripts and no oaths will become even more untenable after Sampson and Gonzales testify before Congress and Gonzales' counsel, Monica Goodling, invokes her fifth amendment privilege and declines to testify.
Save The Emails
That was Congressman Henry Waxman's warning to the Republican National Committee and Bush/Cheney '04 campaign yesterday:
A Democratic House committee chairman yesterday told the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign to retain copies of all e-mails sent or received by White House officials using e-mail accounts under their control, raising the political stakes in the congressional inquiry into U.S. attorneys' firings.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said his broadly written request was based on evidence that White House officials -- particularly aides to top political adviser Karl Rove -- have used their politically related e-mail accounts to hide the conduct of official business regarding the prosecutor firings and other matters being investigated by Congress.
"The e-mails of White House officials maintained on RNC e-mail accounts may be relevant to multiple congressional investigations," Waxman wrote to the group's chairman, Mike Duncan, adding that as "governmental records" they are subject to preservation requirements and "eventual public disclosure."
Yesterday's request was based, Waxman said, on at least three White House officials' use of Republican Party-affiliated e-mail accounts for some of their work in recent years, as well as on reports that Rove routinely uses his RNC e-mail account for business.
Waxman noted for example that J. Scott Jennings, the White House deputy director of political affairs, used a "gwb43.com" e-mail account last August to discuss the replacement of the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, Bud Cummins, according to e-mails released to Congress by the White House.
Barry Jackson, a deputy to Rove, in 2003 used a "georgewbush.com" e-mail account to consult with Neil G. Volz, then an aide to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, about nominating one of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients for a Medal of Freedom, according to a copy of an e-mail. Abramoff is now serving a prison sentence for bank fraud, and Volz plead guilty to conspiracy charges last year.
Susan B. Ralston, while she was executive assistant to Rove, similarly used "georgewbush.com" and "rnchq.org" e-mail accounts to confer in 2001 and 2003 with Abramoff, her former boss, about matters of interest to Abramoff's clients.
In a related e-mail, an Abramoff aide said Ralston had warned that "it is better to not put this stuff in writing in [the White House] . . . email system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc."
Abramoff's response, according to a copy of his e-mail, was: "Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her rnc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system."
Waxman said the exchange indicated that in some instances, White House officials were using nongovernmental accounts "specifically to avoid creating a record of communications" that are nonetheless subject to the committee's jurisdiction.
Starting to sound more and more like a criminal organization.
At some point, don't you expect to hear that some members of this administration only conduct business out on noisy street corners?
Monday, March 26, 2007
Gonzales Aide To Plead Fifth In Prosecutor Purge Hearing
Gee, this story raises more questions about the role of Gonzo and his DOJ aides in the prosecutor purge scandal:
WASHINGTON - Monica Goodling, a Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.
"The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real," said the lawyer, John Dowd.
He said that members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees seem already to have made up their minds that wrongdoing has occurred in the firings.
The scandal that keeps giving and giving. When a DOJ official says she's going to take the fifth because she's afraid her "truthful and accurate testimony" will put her in "legal jeopardy," you know there's something there.
So keep digging, Congress, keep digging.
I just don't see how the WH is going to get away with Rove and Miers not testifying under oath and/or testifying with a transcript. Not with a Gonzo aide taking the fifth.
Put Away The Tutus
James Wolcott writes in this post
how the current meme running through Washington punditry is that Democrats must be very, very careful not to go TOO FAR
with their oversight hearings. Wolcott calls this the "Tiptoe With The Tutus" movement:
Congressional Democrats ought to form their own ballet company--that's the counsel coming from the Washington sages this Sunday. When Democrats were in the minority, they were dismissed and mocked as ineffectual, irrelevant, and directionless. Now that Democrats chair committees and wield gavels, the Beltway punditry want them to rise on tiptoe and tread gingerly through the maze of mousetraps the pundits have scattered across the floor. From the ultimate concern troll to Egbert the Egghead to Noron today on Chris Matthews' show (that's Norah O'Donnell -- rbe), the message is that Democrats have to be "careful" not to "overreach" and "go too far." If I could trademark the phrase "The Democrats need to be careful...," I could retire in a few years to Cape May and build bat houses for needy bats. For six years we've had no Congressional oversight whatsoever over the rot and ruin of the Bush administration, and as soon as the first flexings of oversight are made, we get a plethora of Poloniuses dribbling advice (and as Saul Bellow reminded us, one of the nice things about Hamlet is that Polonius gets stabbed).
Wolcott notes that the elite punditry love to "wave those caution signs" whenever Democrats are concerned (or in power, for that matter) and make believe that all the oversight hearings they're holding are "nothing more than political hormones run riot and payback."
But as an anonymous Dem said in a Politico article a while back, every time they bark up a particular Bush administration tree with oversight hearings, they find a cat.
The prosecutor purge scandal is widening under the scrutiny of both the press and Congressional oversight hearings. In the Plame hearings held by the House
, we learned that one meme dispersed endlessly by wingers on the cable tee vee circuit - that Valerie Plame was NOT
a covert agent - was finally laid to rest. We have learned in other hearings that Bush administration officials with clear ties to Exxon Mobil purposely edited government reports to minimize the seriousness of global warming. The Walter Reed scandal story, while broken by Dana Priest in the Washington Post, most likely would have died without a trace if the Republican Rubber Stamp Congress were still in power. Instead, high level military officials were held accountable for their roles in both the scandal and the cover-up (Mold? What Mold?)
So we can see that so far, Dems have not come close to overreaching in their oversight hearings. Rather, they are finding malfeasance, incompetence and/or criminal activity everywhere they look in the Bush government. And why not? After 6 years of little-to-no oversight by the Republican Rubber Stamp Congress, these folks in the Bush administration thought they could act illegally and/or unethically with impunity and the Republican Rubber Stampers would either ignore their activities or abet them.
So now we get to today's news in the Washington Post
- Bush administration officials have been accused of politicizing the General Services Administration:
Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.
With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections.
When Jennings concluded his presentation to the GSA political appointees, Doan allegedly asked them how they could "help 'our candidates' in the next elections," according to a March 6 letter to Doan from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman said in the letter that one method suggested was using "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country."
On Wednesday, Doan is scheduled to appear before Waxman's committee to answer questions about the videoconference and other issues. The committee is investigating whether remarks made during the videoconference violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes. Those found in violation of the act do not face criminal penalties but can be removed from their jobs.
Waxman said in the letter that the remarks made during the videoconference have been confirmed by "multiple sources." Congressional investigators have taken statements from GSA employees and others in recent weeks.
The planned hearing is part of an expanding examination by Waxman's committee of Doan's tumultuous 10-month tenure as administrator of the GSA. The government's leading procurement agency annually handles about $56 billion worth of federal contracts.
The committee is also expected to question Doan about her attempt to give a no-bid job to a friend and professional associate last summer. In addition, the committee plans to look at Waxman's charge that Doan "intervened" in a troubled technology contract with Sun Microsystems that could cost taxpayers millions more than necessary.
In the Senate, Doan is facing a similar line of questioning in letters from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Also examining Doan are the GSA's Office of Inspector General and the independent federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates allegations of Hatch Act violations.
The Ultimate Concern Troll and Eggbert the Egghead would prefer that Dems (and even a Republican like Charles Grassley) put on their tutus and tread carefully into investigations like this one. But if we have learned anything in the past eight weeks since Dems took power back from the Republican Rubber Stampers, whenever there is smoke surrounding Bush administration officials, there is fire as well.
Dems need to put away the tutus, ignore the elite punditocracy, and keep up the aggressive but fair oversight hearings. The oversight hearings and investigations are doing what they are supposed to do - keep the executive branch and members of the government accountable.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
LA Times: Bush Completely Politicized DOJ
Not only have two of eight recently fired U.S. attorneys complained that in specific cases they felt pressure to make decisions that would advance Republican political interests, but last week several former career officials in the Justice Department said they had felt similar pressures on voting rights cases.
"The political decision-making process that led to the dismissal of eight United States attorneys was standard practice in the Civil Rights Division years before these revelations," Joseph D. Rich, recently retired head of the division's voting rights section, said in a sparsely attended House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing last week.
"This connection should not be minimized," he said.
Some Civil Rights Division veterans — mostly Democrats — have been expressing concern for months. But last week more officials spoke out about what they described as a pattern of partisan decision-making on individual cases.
They said their superiors, who were political appointees, repeatedly bottled up cases that might harm the electoral position of Republicans while encouraging the staff to pursue matters that might damage Democrats' prospects.
The critics tied their allegations to those described by two of the fired U.S. attorneys. David C. Iglesias of Albuquerque, N.M., and John McKay of Seattle have said they felt pressure from Republican officials to prosecute alleged voter fraud in their states.
Keep digging, Congress. Keep digging.UPDATE: The NY Times
says the Gonzales DOJ is completely under siege as a consequence of the apparent politicization of the department:
In the past few days alone, Democrats have challenged Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and by extension the White House, not only on the firings and the national security letters, but also on the agency’s record of civil rights enforcement, the accusation of political interference in tobacco litigation and redistricting cases, the status of pending corruption cases, and Mr. Gonzales’s role in halting an in-house inquiry into the domestic surveillance program.
Lawmakers in both parties have said mounting dissatisfaction with his department is at the heart of Mr. Gonzales’s loss of support on Capitol Hill. In the eyes of many in the House and Senate, the mishandling of the prosecutors was not an isolated incident. Some even consider the extensive use of national security letters a more fundamental threat to the attorney general’s continuing tenure, since Republicans are as unhappy about it as Democrats.
The Justice Department this week also addressed an article in The National Journal asserting that Mr. Gonzales continued to advise President Bush on whether to block a proposed investigation of the department’s role in overseeing the National Security Agency’s program to eavesdrop domestically without court warrants, after learning that the attorney general’s own conduct would be scrutinized. The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility dropped the planned investigation after President Bush denied security clearances for agents.
On Thursday, the department said that in fact Mr. Gonzales recommended to Mr. Bush that he should grant the security clearances but was overruled. Since November, the department’s inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, has been conducting his own review of the department’s involvement with the National Security Agency program.
The department has been hit with a barrage of pointed letters from Capitol Hill.
Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote asking the attorney general to explain any role in shutting down the inquiry into the wiretapping. Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote Thursday asking for any communication between the White House and the agency on the tobacco legislation.
Democratic Representatives Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Howard L. Berman of California sought assurances that the removal of the prosecutors would not impede any continuing corruption investigations. “The American people must be reassured,” their letter said, “that the best efforts of the top federal law enforcement officers in their communities are not going to be hobbled by political partisanship.”
There is pressure from outside groups as well. Bruce Fein, a lawyer and former Reagan administration Justice Department official, this week announced the formation by several prominent conservatives of the American Freedom Agenda, an organization that denounced the Bush administration’s record on civil liberties and said it would seek pledges from all presidential candidates not to pursue similar policies.
Bush and Gonzo are getting from both the left and the honest right and even the most ardent of Bush hacks like John Cornyn (R-Bushland) have been loath to back up Gonzales or try and block Democratic investigations into the malfeasance, corruption and/or incompetence infecting the Department of Justice.
I'd Like Former Reagan Administration Officials Under Indictment For $200, Alex
And the answer is:
NEW YORK - David Stockman, the former budget director in the Reagan Administration, is expected to turn himself in on accounting fraud charges in connection with a now-bankrupt auto parts company he helped run, sources familiar with the case said. Stockman is set to be arraigned in federal court in Manhattan Monday in connection with his actions as head of auto parts supplier Collins & Aikman from 2002 through 2005. Stockman is expected to be charged with failing to properly report his company's worsening financial problems to the company board, among other criminal counts. U.S. attorney Michael Garcia is expected to announce the criminal charges at a Monday news conference. Officials with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspectors will also be present. Spokesmen for these agencies declined comment and Stockman's attorney Elkan Abramowitz did not return calls.
I don't know why Stockman's in trouble. He simply took supply-side economics principles and brought them to the company he helped run.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
WSJ: Iraqi Police May Have Helped Murder 5 American Soldiers
The Bush administration first blamed an assault on a U.S.-Iraqi compound in Karbala in January that killed 5 American soldiers on Iran. Administration officials claimed that the American soldiers were killed in retaliation for U.S. forces recent detention of five Iranian diplomats in Iraq.
But today the Wall Street Journal
reports that the U.S. military now believes the attack was carried out by insurgents who had infiltrated the Iraqi police force:
Stoking concerns that insurgents have infiltrated Iraqi forces, an account by four witnesses suggests that a brazen January attack that killed five U.S. soldiers may have been aided by Iraqi police.
The assault on a U.S.-Iraqi compound in Karbala has become the subject of intense scrutiny by military investigators, in part because of its brazenness and in part because of the sophisticated tactics used in the raid.
Initially, it was thought to have begun at the front gates of the compound, which serves as Karbala's provincial headquarters, when English-speaking gunmen, dressed in U.S.-military uniforms, stormed the gates. But the four witnesses, two of whom are U.S. soldiers, all have said that the first sounds of fighting came from inside a building on the compound in which both U.S. and Iraqi forces worked, not at its front gate. That is just one piece of evidence raising questions about the role of some of the Iraqi forces inside the compound.
The witnesses' account has heightened worries in the U.S. military about infiltration of Iraqi soldier and police ranks. The recently launched U.S. plan to boost security in Iraq, which included an increase in U.S. troops of more than 20,000, also calls for much-closer coordination between U.S. and Iraqi forces. Infiltration of those forces by insurgents would increase the danger for U.S. soldiers and make the security plan far harder to implement.
The U.S. military has completed its investigation of the Karbala incident but hasn't released details of its findings. On Thursday, officials said they had detained two Iraqi brothers in connection with the raid, Qais and Laith Khazali. The military said both are closely tied to Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose powerful Mahdi Army is blamed for some of the violence in Iraq and has often been at odds with U.S. forces. But no details of their alleged roles in the raid were disclosed.
"The precision of the attack, the equipment used and possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles suggest that the attack was well-rehearsed prior to execution," said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for the Multi-National Division in Baghdad, in a statement.
Fears about infiltrators were underscored again Friday when Salam al-Zubaie, one of Iraq's two deputy prime ministers, was seriously wounded in a suicide bombing that killed nine people and injured 14. The Associated Press reported that Iraqi state television said the attacker was one of Mr. Zubaie's bodyguards, but the AP couldn't confirm that claim.
Convenient that the administration blamed the Karbala attack on Iran at the very same time they were trying to deflect from all the problems besetting them in the Iraq war by stoking fears that Iran was behind much of the violence aimed at U.S. forces.
But as usual with this administration, what they were saying was wrong (perhaps a mistake, more likely a purposeful and convenient lie.)
The real perpetrators of the slaughter were our "Iraqi allies".
A public school custodian was arrested on child rape charges on Monday. Here's how the Daily News wrote up the story:
A janitor at a Brooklyn elementary school was charged today with raping and sodomizing an 8-year-old girl in a school bathroom.
Francis Evelyn, 58, of Brooklyn, was charged eight days after the unidentified student told her mother of the attacks, which allegedly occurred between Feb. 1 and March 9, police said.
The numerous sexual assaults took place during school hours in a basement bathroom adjacent to the cafeteria at Public School 91 in Wingate, cops said.
Bail for Francis Evelyn, 58, was set at $150,000 during his arraignment on rape, sex
abuse and other charges. His attorney denied any wrongdoing.
Evelyn does not have any prior arrests, police said.
The girl was examined by doctors before the man's 3:30 p.m. arrest yesterday, a police source said.
But investigators were not able to take DNA evidence from the student because the last alleged encounter occurred 10 days before the arrest, the source said.
Evelyn faces rape, criminal sex act, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child charges, officials said.
Lo and behold, after two spending two days in Rikers Island jail where he was physically threatened and abused by inmates, Mr. Evelyn had the charges against him dropped:
After days of falsely being portrayed as a child rapist, a Brooklyn school custodian broke down in tears yesterday as the charges against him were dismissed.
"Just kill me," a distraught Francis Evelyn, 58, muttered to family members who tried to soothe him as he left Brooklyn Criminal Court.
Evelyn had been led out of Public School 91 in Wingate in handcuffs on Monday and spent two days in jail at Rikers Island after an 8-year-old girl said he had repeatedly molested her in a basement bathroom between Feb. 1 and March 9.
But the Trinidad native knew he was innocent.
"I went through hell," Evelyn later told Channel 7 news.
He said he would never forget being in jail - his first time ever behind bars, the station reported.
"They were threatening me, and tell me they're going to take me out, they're gonna cut my throat," he said. "It's their sister, their niece. It was hell."
Questions about the case quickly surfaced after sources said the second-grader had been abused in the past and had recently accused another student.
Tuesday night, prosecutors rushed to court to request that Evelyn be released on his own recognizance after initially asking for $150,000 bail.
"People are dismissing the charges due to insufficient evidence," prosecutor Roger McCreedy told Judge William Garnett yesterday as Evelyn clasped his hands and bowed his head.
"Dismissed and sealed," Garnett responded.
School officials reinstated Evelyn to his job a few hours later.
PS 91's widely respected principal, Solomon Long, has been yanked from the post he held for 16 years for allegedly failing to report an abuse charge the child previously made against another person.
Long remains exiled at a district office, pending an investigation. The principals union is calling for him to be returned to his post.
For his part, Evelyn has one wish for his future.
"I want my name to be cleared," Evelyn told Channel 7. "I want to walk the street with my head up."
We live in a society where every abuse allegation made by a child against an adult is believed. While I believe it is important we take every abuse allegation made by a child against an adult seriously, wouldn't it be prudent to look into some of the claims a little more closely before throwing the accused into Rikers?
Take the Evelyn case. Here was a man who had never before been accused of any misdeeds. Here was a child who had been abused in the past, had recently made abuse charges against another student, and had made at least one other charge of abuse in the past that had gotten the principal of the school suspended. Given the numerous (and in some cases, dubious) abuse claims the child had previously made, shouldn't investigators have moved a little more cautiously before grabbing the custodian and tossing him into Rikers where the good inmates could threaten to kill him for being a child rapist?
Mr. Evelyn was put through hell and his name and reputation have been sullied (although at least the Daily News ran the exoneration article in a prominent place in the paper...usually when accusations are proven false, the exoneration article goes on page 72 right by the horse racing results.) Is there a way that society can effectively protect children from predators AND
protect innocent adults accused of false charges from having to go through what Mr. Evelyn went through?
Friday, March 23, 2007
A surprise document dump from the administration tonight contains the smoking gun that ought to finish Attorney General Gonzales:
WASHINGTON Mar 23, 2007 (AP)— Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in a November meeting, according to documents released Friday that contradict earlier claims that he was not closely involved in the dismissals.
The Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Justice Department officials said late Friday.
There, Gonzales signed off on the plan, which was crafted by his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson. Sampson resigned last week amid a political firestorm surrounding the firings.
The documents indicated that the hour-long morning discussion, held in the attorney general's conference room, was the only time Gonzales met with top aides who decided which prosecutors to fire and how to do it.
Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said it was not immediately clear whether Gonzales gave his final approval to begin the firings at that meeting. Scolinos also said Gonzales was not involved in the process of selecting which prosecutors would be asked to resign.
On March 13, in explaining the firings, Gonzales told reporters he was aware that some of the dismissals were being discussed but was not involved in them.
"I knew my chief of staff was involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers where were the districts around the country where we could do better for the people in that district, and that's what I knew," Gonzales said last week. "But that is in essence what I knew about the process; was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as the attorney general."
Later, he added: "I accept responsibility for everything that happens here within this department. But when you have 110,000 people working in the department, obviously there are going to be decisions that I'm not aware of in real time. Many decisions are delegated."
Now that we have direct evidence that Gonzales has lied about his role in the prosecutor purge, it ought to be fairly easy to make the case that Harriet Miers and Karl Rove MUST
testify publicly before Congress under oath about their own roles in this matter.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tony Snow: Executive Branch Can Do Whatever It Wants And Congress Can Do Nothing About It
Snow's quotation today:
Markos at The Daily Kos
The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability.
notes that it's
the cleanest elucidation of the "fuck you Congress" theory Bush has operated under the past 6 years.Josh Marshall
thinks the administration is gambling that they can tie up ALL
Congressional oversight of the executive in court for the next two years by claiming executive privilege:
Quite a few people have speculated over whether Tony Snow really meant to say that Congress had no right or ability to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The claim is belied by the US constitution and all US history down to the present day. But I strongly suspect that it was no accident, slip of the tongue or loosely general statement the White House won't stand behind.
The simple truth, I think, is that there's too much criminality waiting to be uncovered.
In the US Attorney purge, yes. But that's only the start of it.
The only and perhaps the best approach for the White House is to fight what in military terms you might call a forward engagement, gumming up the very concept and premise of oversight itself in the courts for long enough to wait out the clock. That's what this is about.
I think that's exactly right.
More Charges Of Political Manipulation Of DOJ By Gonzales And Company
A former career Justice Department lawyer tells the Washington Post
that political interference is happening all across the Justice Department:
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.
Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.
She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.
"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."
Eubanks, who served for 22 years as a lawyer at Justice, said three political appointees were responsible for the last-minute shifts in the government's tobacco case in June 2005: then-Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum, then-Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and Keisler's deputy at the time, Dan Meron.
News reports on the strategy changes at the time caused an uproar in Congress and sparked an inquiry by the Justice Department. Government witnesses said they had been asked to change testimony, and one expert withdrew from the case. Government lawyers also announced that they were scaling back a proposed penalty against the industry from $130 billion to $10 billion.
High-ranking Justice Department officials said there was no political meddling in the case, and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) concurred after an investigation.
Yesterday was the first time that any of the government lawyers on the case spoke at length publicly about what they considered high-level interference by Justice officials.
Eubanks, who retired from Justice in December 2005, said she is coming forward now because she is concerned about what she called the "overwhelming politicization" of the department demonstrated by the controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Lawyers from Justice's civil rights division have made similar claims about being overruled by supervisors in the past.
Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.
"Political interference is happening at Justice across the department," she said. "When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general's office, politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out the window."
The more Congress and the working press look into this mess at Justice, the more they are going to find that Preznut Bush, Karl Rove and Abu Gonzales have concluded that the DOJ is just another wing of the Republican National Committee.
Yet tee vee chattering heads like Tweety Bird Matthews and Lou Dobbs are complaining that the Democrats' investigations into the prosecutor purge and Abu Gonzales scandals are nothing more than a distraction from the importance business of "real governing." (In Dobbs' case, of course, that means deporting illegal brown people...)
Yet what could be more important than investigating an administration that has subverted the rule of law by turning the justice department into a bastion of political cronyism?As Josh Marshall noted
You realize that these are textbook cases of the party in power interfering or obstructing the administration of justice for narrowly partisan purposes. It's a direct attack on the rule of law.
That's why these investigations are important and must be expanded.
The True Significance of The Prosecutor Purge
There has been a lot of crap on the tee vee over the last few days as Republican operatives and White House apologists have attempted to minimize the significance of the preznut's firing of U.S. attorneys because they wouldn't act like Republican National Committee cronies and cut off investigations of Republicans while simultaneously launching spurious investigations of Democrats.Josh Marshall cuts through the crap in this post:
Okay, enough. The president fired US Attorneys to stymie investigations of Republicans and punish US Attorneys who didn't harass Democrats with bogus voter fraud prosecutions. In the former instance, the evidence remains circumstantial. But in the latter the evidence is clear, overwhelming and undeniable.
Indeed, it is so undeniable the president hismelf does not deny it.
The president himself says that in some cases US Attorneys were dismissed because they were too lax in prosecuting election fraud. What he does not say -- but what we know directly from the accounts of the players involved -- is that these were cases in which Republican operatives and activists complained to the White House and Republican members of Congress that certain US Attorneys weren't convening grand juries or issuing indictments against Democrats, even though these were cases where all the available evidence suggests there was no wrongdoing prosecuted. (It's all reminiscent of the bogus voter fraud allegations Republicans got caught peddling in the South Dakota senate race in 2002. Only in this case getting these charges into the press wasn't enough; they wanted to use US Attorneys to actual harrass people or put them in jail.)
We know that Republican members of Congress sought to pressure the prosecutors in question to push these indictments. And we know at least in the case of David Iglesias in New Mexico that Sen. Domenici's (R-NM) complaints after not being able to get Iglesias to knuckle under were directly tied to his dismissal.
Back up a bit from the sparks flying over executive privilege and congressional testimony and you realize that these are textbook cases of the party in power interfering or obstructing the administration of justice for narrowly partisan purposes. It's a direct attack on the rule of law.
This much is already clear in the record. And we're now having a big public debate about the politics for each side if the president tries to obstruct the investigation and keep the truth from coming out. The contours and scope of executive privilege is one issue, and certainly an important one. But in this case it is being used as no more than a shield to keep the full extent of the president's perversion of the rule of law from becoming known.
It's yet another example of how far this White House has gone in normalizing behavior that we've been raised to associate with third-world countries where democracy has never successfully taken root and the rule of law is unknown. At most points in our history the idea that an Attorney General could stay in office after having overseen such an effort would be unthinkable. The most telling part of this episode is that they're not even really denying the wrongdoing. They're ignoring the point or at least pleading 'no contest' and saying it's okay.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
AP: Fired Attorneys Were Upper Tier
The administration said they fired U.S. attorneys Paul Charlton, Carol Lam, and David Iglesias because they were bad at their jobs. The Associated Press reports
they "consistently placed in the upper tier of U.S. attorneys":
WASHINGTON — Three of the eight U.S. attorneys ousted by the Justice Department as poor performers rank in the top 10 of the nation's 93 federal districts for prosecutions, convictions and prison sentences during the past five years, an analysis of federal court records shows.
A constitutional dispute between the Congress and the White House escalated Wednesday when a House subcommittee authorized the use of subpoenas to force President Bush's political strategist Karl Rove and other White House aides to testify about their roles in the dismissals.
Court records show large volumes of immigration cases helped Paul Charlton of Phoenix, Carol Lam of San Diego and David Iglesias of New Mexico consistently place in the upper tier of U.S. attorneys. The analysis is based on a comparison of major criminal offenses and the population of a U.S. attorney's former district.
A fourth former prosecutor, Daniel Bogden of Nevada, ranked among the top third of all U.S. attorneys during four of the past five years, according to federal data maintained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The statistics raise questions about the criteria the Justice Department used to argue that the fired U.S. attorneys were dismissed over inadequate job performance. Although some of the numbers appear to support Justice contentions that specific attorneys were falling short of the administration prosecutorial priorities, the statistics also show that others were either meeting or exceeding those goals.
"What is clear to me is that performance was not on the table in any credible way when these (firing) decisions were made," said former Arkansas prosecutor Bud Cummins. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has said Cummins was removed to make room for a former aide to Rove.
Check out the stats in the AP article.
Maybe now we can put to bed the administration/GOP talking point that Lam, Charlton, and Iglesias were fired for "incompetence" and/or "performance-related issues"?POSTSCRIPT: A few emails from the 18 day gap (November 15-December 4)
have been found - but just very few. Here
. Think Progress
notes that these emails from the gap seem to bolster the administration's argument (since discredited by the above AP article) that the attorneys were fired for performance-related issues:
It makes sense that the administration would include this set of emails and apparently virtually nothing else from that 18-day-gap, since the emails from Ward bolster the administration’s case that the firings were based on performance-related concerns.
Strange how nothing else from that crucial time period showed up in the document dump. When asked about the gap today at the gaggle, Tony Snow responded this way:
Q Okay. You keep saying the Justice Department, the response -- that these emails, the 3,000 pages is unprecedented, is very responsive. Why, then, is there this gap from mid-November to about December 4th, right before the actual firings? Why is there a gap in the emails?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. Why don't you ask them?
Q Well, you're the White House, the Justice Department serves under --
MR. SNOW: I know, but I'm not going to be the fact witness on Justice.
Q But you're the one representing that this has been very responsive. Now when there's a gap you say go to them.
MR. SNOW: Yes, and I've been led to believe that there's a good response for it, but I'm going to let you ask them because they're going to have the answer.
I read somewhere (and I can't find the link tonight so you'll have to take my word) that the administration said one of the reasons why there are so few emails from November 15-December 4 is because it was around Thanksgiving and nothing was getting done.
I'll ask again, what are they hiding?
Gap In The Emails
Looks like the White House is continuing to hide information and evidence about the prosecutor purge. From Mike Allen's Politico article:
In DOJ documents that were publicly posted by the House Judiciary Committee, there is a gap from mid-November to early December in e-mails and other memos, which was a critical period as the White House and Justice Department reviewed, then approved, which U.S. attorneys would be fired while also developing a political and communications strategy for countering any fallout from the firings.Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo
wonders if the ghost of Rose Mary Woods helped with the 18 day gap of missing emails in the administration's latest document dump.
Sure looks like it.
Those three weeks, from November 15 to December 4, are key days in the purge. The calls to the fired prosecutors were originally supposed to start going out on November 15. For some reason, they didn't start going out until December 7.
What happened during that time period to delay the call? Why didn't the administration release the emails from those three weeks? Will anybody in the mainstream press besides Mike Allen even notice the missing three weeks?
So many questions, so few answers from the dissemblers in the administration.
No wonder they don't want Karl Rove or Harriet Miers to have to testify under oath or have a transcript made of informal "interviews" they may have with Congress.
They're hiding something.