Friday, March 30, 2007

Gonzales Watch

Okay, so we're going to fire some U.S. attorneys. Why would we not tell them why they're fired?


Washington Post (via BuzzFlash) reports on the Republicans' Monica:

At yesterday's Judiciary hearing, senators questioned why she was still employed at Justice. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney, noted that the department encourages corporations to fire employees who refuse to cooperate with government investigations.

"I'm a little surprised that she's still there after taking the Fifth," he said.


"In seven, often tense, hours of testimony ..."

former chief of staff Kyle Sampson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Gonzales was aware of the plan from the outset, was briefed at least five times over the past two years and attended a meeting where Justice Department officials discussed removing the prosecutors.


Ignore the Pundits and Bark Louder:

Since the substantive issues raised by the U.S. attorney purge—such as the political abuse of law enforcement by the White House and the false testimony of Attorney General Gonzales, among others—are of such scant interest to so many commentators, let’s focus instead on public opinion.

Every poll shows that American voters want Congress to fulfill its constitutional mandate to oversee the executive branch, which ran amok under the flaccid reign of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Most Americans are sick of this unaccountable presidency and show no signs of impatience with Democratic efforts to rein in the White House.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Karl Rove's Wrinkle

MSNBC:
The Justice Department admitted Wednesday that it gave senators inaccurate information about the firings and presidential political adviser Karl Rove's role in trying to secure a U.S. attorney's post in Arkansas for one of his former aides, Tim Griffin.

Justice officials acknowledged that a Feb. 23 letter to four Democratic senators erred in asserting that the department was not aware of any role Rove played in the decision to appoint Griffin to replace U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark.


War and Piece:

Comment on Karl Rove's emails.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monica Goodling

Who is Monica Goodling?
Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice official who said Monday that she'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than talk to lawmakers, is a frequent figure in department e-mails released so far as part of the congressional investigation into the firings and hirings of U.S. attorneys.

Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to embracing an evangelical spirit."

She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson ...


NYT Editorial:

Time for Answers

As the liaison between the White House and the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling seems to have been squarely in the middle of what appears to have been improper directions from the White House to politicize the hiring and firing of United States attorneys. Mr. Gonzales has insisted the eight prosecutors were let go for poor performance, and that the dismissals are an “overblown personnel matter.” But Ms. Goodling’s decision to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights suggests that she, at least, believes crimes may have been committed.


Talking Points Memo:

Just watching this from the outside, it looks as though that is the bad act she's afraid to testify about or -- and somehow I find this more believeable -- she's afraid of indictment for perjury because she has to go up to Congress and testify under oath before the White House has decided what its story is. And yeah, I'd feel like I was in jeopardy then too.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Incredible Bushies

MSNBC:

Gonzales aide to invoke Fifth Amendment

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.

Meanwhile, from Iraq, Patrick Cockburn reports on  A Week in Hell:

The difficulty in reporting Iraq is that it is impossibly dangerous to know what is happening in most of the country outside central Baghdad. Bush and Blair hint that large parts of Iraq are at peace; untrue of course but difficult to disprove without getting killed in the attempt.


There's the sad fact -- you cannot believe anything the President of the United States says.


Kucinich:

America was never meant to be a nation forever on the warpath. It was meant to be a nation which also had the capacity to “Promote the General Welfare.” We need to reevaluate the direction of this administration by looking at its conduct in office, by determining whether it has faithfully followed the laws of our nation. I'm prepared to start that process. I began this week with a speech on the floor of the House, which warned the administration that its actions toward Iran already constitute a case to ask the question about impeachment.

So I'm asking you, what do you think? Do you think it's time?

Gonzales Watch

McClatchy:

"The committee is scheduled to hear from Gonzales on April 17 - but could move that date forward."

American Prospect:

It's hard to imagine a more direct assault on the impartiality of the law or the professionalism of the criminal justice system. There are several other reasons to remove Gonzales, all involving his cavalier contempt for courts and the liberties of citizens, most recently in the FBI's more than 3,000 cases of illegal snooping on Americans.

Why impeachment? In our system of checks and balances, the Senate confirms members of the Cabinet, but impeachment for cause is the only way to remove them. The White House, by refusing to cooperate, has now left Congress no other recourse.

TPM Muckraker:

Hatch: No "Clear Evidence" Gonzales "Deliberately" Lied to Congress

The AP is running this story under the headline, "Bush, key senator still backing Gonzales." So that's a constituency of two.


The Hill:

"Pay no attention..."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rovegate: You Mean Rove Tells Lies?

"By now the porous brainpans
of the Washington press corps not only seem to have excused Rove's leaking and lying about Plame's CIA position, but also to have erased that disgraceful episode from their memories. The president and all his flacks can stand before the public and act as if Rove should be treated like a truthful person whose words can be believed -- and not as someone who lies routinely even in the direst of circumstances. The press secretary Snow can say, without fear of contradiction, that the best way to ascertain the facts about the White House role in the firing of the U.S. attorneys is to interview Rove without benefit of oath or transcript."


Nine Other Oaths Karl Rove Could Swear:

...

4. Do you solemnly swear to answer all questions in a semitruthful fashion and not claim things that are totally ridiculous, such as that George Bush actually reads a book every week, so that we all don't have to sit here and feel embarrassed by what you're saying, so help you God?

...


Rovian Theory:

Rovian theory suggests the following: The eight U.S. attorneys were fired not only to purge the Justice Department of some prosecutors who were insufficiently willing to use the power of their offices to attack Democrats and protect Republicans --- but also to install favored people who wouldn't have such scruples. And, thanks to a provision snuck into law by a Bush administration henchman (who has since been granted a job as -- you guessed it -- a U.S. attorney) there would be none of those pesky safeguards to prevent those jobs going to unqualified hacks.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gonzales & Rovegate

The Raw Story:
Nearly three weeks before seven US attorneys were asked to submit their resignations, the top spokesperson for the Department of Justice expressed little concern and told a senior White House official that the firings probably wouldn't even become a "national story."


Huffington Post:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in an hourlong meeting last fall, according to documents released Friday that indicate he was more involved in the dismissals than he has claimed.

Last week, Gonzales said he "was not involved in any discussions about what was going on" in the firings of eight prosecutors that has since led to a political firestorm and calls for his ouster.


TPM Muckraker:

For no apparent reason, Bush shut down an internal DoJ investigation that would have examined his administration's possibly illegal wiretapping program. And the guy who heads up that department, whose job is to uphold the rule of law, objected, but let it happen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Suburban Money

AmericaBlog  quotes The New York Times:
In a sign of the spreading economic fallout of mortgage foreclosures, several suburbs of Cleveland, one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities, are spending millions of dollars to maintain vacant houses as they try to contain blight and real-estate panic.

In Indiana, Masson's Blog  refers to "More Budget Tricks" --

Back when we were trying to decide whether to dive into the Iraqi bog, Mitch Daniels characterized the proposed war as “an affordable endeavour” and opined that an estimate that the war would cost between $100 and $200 billion as “very, very high.” The cost of the war is already north of the $200 billion mark and climbing. (Though, my favorite gross underestimation of the Iraq War was the Bush administration’s insistence that Iraq could be reconstructed at a maximum expense of $1.7 billion.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rovegate

Firedoglake:
Let's all take a peek at the above electoral college map — and contemplate which states are solidly red and blue — and which states are potentially on the verge. And then let's contemplate, of those states on the map, which of them have US Attorneys who were fired or are involved somehow in the current mess with the Department of Justice and "Rove's Shop."


What Bush Is Hiding:

McKay was removed from favored status, according to his own sworn testimony before the Congress, because of his refusal to prosecute Democrats on nonexistent charges of voter fraud after the Democratic candidate for governor won by a razor-thin margin in 2004. McKay said he received telephone calls from Ed Cassidy, chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and state Republican Party chairman Chris Vance pressuring him to open a probe.
. . .
Domenici and Wilson have both hired lawyers, given that they could potentially face prosecution for obstruction of justice. Their possible legal vulnerability and that of other Republicans across the country suggests a major reason why Bush is fighting to keep Rove from testifying before the Congress under oath.
Man, that makes so much sense after all! Launching probes against opponents just before an election is so Rovey. Apparently, Margaret Chiara  in Western Michigan didn't measure up as a loyal Bushie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tony Snow: Executive Privilege a Dodge

Glenn Greenwald, Salon:

Tony Snow - Op-Ed - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998 :

(HEADLINE: "Executive Privilege is a Dodge")

Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law.
(Via Hullabaloo)


U.S. Attorney Iglesias: "Why I Was Fired"

Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Representative Heather Wilson and the other from Senator Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, “I am very sorry to hear that,” and the line went dead.
(Via Talking Points Memo)


Document Dump:

[March 20, 2007]

This comment thread will be our HQ for sorting through tonight's document dump.

Monday, March 19, 2007

US Attorneys Fired Legally?

If it's the case that removal of US Attorneys was illegal without the President's OK:
The legal analysis of the removals (by firing, pushing out, forced resignations, etc.) starts with looking to see who has the right to remove United States Attorneys. Does the Attorney General or Department of Justice have that right?

No.

...then one of the President's candid admissions would be called for, like the candid admission that he had declassified the information his people in the White House leaked, before he called for their heads for leaking classified information. In this case, simply to say, "Oh yeah, I did call for the removal of those attorneys."

"Fasten your seatbelts":

Leahy: "I Am Sick and Tired of Getting Half-Truths"

“I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this.”

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thousands March

Via Michael Moore:

Thousands march to protest Iraq war

MoveOn:

Iraq War Anniversary Vigil

Right now, there are 1170 gatherings planned

Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame

President Bush announced that he wanted to know who in the White House leaked the identity of Valerie Plame. But ...

Dr. James Knodell, director of the Office of Security at the White House,

revealed today that to his knowledge the White House has never ordered a probe, report, or sanctions as a result of the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. “I have no knowledge of any investigation in my office,” he said.

Guardian:

Ms Plame described her outing as a CIA agent four years ago - which triggered a federal investigation - as a "travesty" which was done for "purely political reasons".

She believes she was unmasked as a retaliation against her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was critical of the Bush administration's pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

MoJoBlog:

Valerie Plame to Congress: I Was Covert

Well, for what it's worth, Valerie Plame went before Congress today and said that she was in fact covert. She's in a position to know, obviously.

Attorneygate

The attorneygate business did not register in my brain cell, but I was aware that others were following it. Subsequent information on the actors and motives doesn't come as any kind of surprise, such as Karl Rove being in the thick of it, and Gonzales telling lies. Those are givens.

Talking Points Memo   presents a timeline, including the crucial play of the Patriot Act:

The USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 comes out of conference. At some point during the conference, a staffer for Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA), Brett Tolman, added Section 502. The addition eliminates restrictions on the length of service for interim Attorneys. The new Patriot Act allows future interim attorneys to serve indefinitely without Senate confirmation.

William Moschella, principal associate deputy attorney general, later tells McClatchy Newspapers that he pursued the change for the Justice Department "without the knowledge or coordination of his superiors at the Justice Department or anyone at the White House."

ABC News:

E-Mails Show Rove's Role in U.S. Attorney Firings

The e-mails put Rove at the epicenter of the imbroglio and raise questions about Gonzales' explanations of the matter.
This would be hard-copy confirmation of something that is well known as a Rove signature piece, launching investigations of political opponents just before an election.

The American Prospect:

"THE SCANDAL OF THE BUSH YEARS. Part eleventy-million."

More on that heck-of-attorney general.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coulterized Republicans

Salon:
A few newspapers have dropped her column, and some GOP presidential candidates condemned her statement -- who cares? As should be amply clear by now, there is virtually nothing that Ann Coulter can do that will cause her to be cast out of the bosom of the American right. And even if she was to lose her head and cross a line that even she can't cross -- calling Obama a "nigger" is about the only thing that would do the trick -- a thousand hissing Coulters would spring up to take her place.

For this isn't really about Coulter at all. This is about a pact the American right made with the devil, a pact the devil is now coming to collect on.

. . .

Yet despite their supposed beliefs, a kind of nihilism, an intellectual sterility, emanates from the Coulters and Limbaughs of the world. This is in part due to the fact that they are, at bottom, entertainers, stand-up comedians of resentment. Their riffs are so facile and endless that they devour whatever actual beliefs supposedly stand behind them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gonzales, Git

Yahoo! News:
The developments unfolded as presidential aides labored to protect White House political director Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers from congressional subpoenas.

HuffPo Blog:

According to internal White House emails, White House Counsel Harriet Miers suggested in early 2005 that all 93 U.S. Attorneys be removed and replaced. We need to know a lot more about the scope and detail of this plan, and critically, its relation to the provision in the March 2006 Patriot Act that allowed the White House to circumvent both legislative and local controls on prosecutorial appointments.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Invisible City

I hope he will, as he said, keep reporting. Years ago I lived in Detroit -- a pedestrian in Motown. At the bus stops, the elderly people often thanked me for being there. They said they felt safer. That was stunning, because really I was afraid of my own shadow, and I was riding buses because I was too broke to own a car. But I was a tall white male, and that meant something to them. Grandfathers and grandmothers afraid for their lives, thanking me for being there.

One day on a bus, some thuggy business started up, and the old guy sitting next to me whispered, "You and me's okay." He indicated with his eyes, then lifted his shirt tail to show me the handgun tucked under his belt. I said thank you. But I felt like saying, "Grandfather, I'm sorry."

One night I got shot. The neighbors, the doctors, all my friends told me how stupid I was. It was supposed to be a robbery, but I fought back and ended up getting shot. Yes I know I know I know it was stupid. But that punk was not going to get my thirty dollars, that's all.

The Invisible City: Entering Oakland:
As a black man, I was struck initially by this white woman’s use of such racially blunt language, then startled by the introspection the question thrust upon me. We drove on, now at Treasure Island, about halfway through our ride; I was quietly trying to figure out just what the hell was going on in Oakland, now one of America’s deadliest cities.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Plan B (What Was Plan A?)

Watchdog:
Q. When officials and pundits speak of supporting the “legitimate elected government of Iraq” (which happens to be dominated by the Shia and Kurds) and then go on to define the enemy primarily as the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda, are they, in actuality, articulating a vision of taking sides in the civil war?

Q. Assuming substantially reduced U.S. force levels (under either Plan B option), is it possible to train and advise the ISF without taking sides in the civil war? And, if the answer is no, will American troop presence alongside Shia and Kurdish forces substantially limit atrocities and conflict escalation or simply dirty our hands by involving us directly in sectarian cleansing?

Q. When proponents of disengagement say they want to remove all “combat” troops, what mission do they envision for the remaining forces?

Sen. Harry Reid:

The mission in Iraq has changed and, therefore, so must U.S. policy change. Troops should not be policing a civil war. The current conflict in Iraq requires a political solution.
. . .

I introduced a joint resolution calling for the president to change course and bring stability to Iraq by beginning a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq in 120 days, with the goal of redeploying combat forces from Iraq by the end of March of next year.

A limited number of troops would remain for the purposes of force protection, training and equipping the Iraqi troops, and counterterrorism activities.

Just World News:
... Meantime, however, a great part of the steely, pre-negotiation dance of these two wilful powers is being played out within the borders of poor, long-suffering Iraq. For the sake of the Iraqis, I hope Washington and Teheran resolve their issues and move to the normal working relationship of two fully adult powers as soon as possible.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Where's Rove?

Outing an agent: the Valerie Plame Case:

USA Today flash presentation of the key players and a timeline (via BuzzFlash).

June 13, 2006
Rove's lawyer says prosecutors will not seek any charges against Rove in the CIA leak case. A spokesman for Rove says the White House official "is elated" and says "we're done."

July 12, 2006
Novak writes in a column that Rove was a confirming source of Plame's identity.

Hunter/Daily Kos:

Where's Rove?

Libby took a hard fall: Rove, even though he was part of the campaign against Wilson's wife, and even though he apparently lied about that fact to the president (or, of course, Bush lied to the rest of us about it), and even though he misrepresented his conversations with reporters just as Libby did -- seemingly narrowly missing indictment himself, according to many observers, until he suddenly "recalled" conversations he previously claimed didn't happen -- he remains ensconced in the White House, just as always. He even retains his security clearance, in spite of it now being demonstrated that he did discuss classified information with reporters.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ann Coulter & Gay Porn Star

Did this really happen???
For his supposed courage in the face of liberal cruelty, Cpl. Sanchez was presented with the Jeanne Kirpatrick Academic Freedom Award at this year’s CPAC.
. . .

As several gay blogs revealed late yesterday, Corporal Sanchez was known during his halcyon days as Rod Majors, a majorly well-endowed gay porn star.

These stories about Republicans are like Dickens on crack.

Jeff Gannon Redux:

...I began to get emails letting me know that his rather late appearance on the Ivy League scene was because Sanchez has had a lengthy career in gay porn, working under the names Rod Majors (NSFW) and Pierre LaBranche, starring in such art films as Jawbreaker, Donkey Dick, and Glory Holes Of Fame 3 ...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scooter's Pardon

Why Bush Will Pardon Libby If He Has To:
What the White House is going to do is wait and hope that the D.C. Court of Appeals, on which the infamous partisan Federal Judge David Sentelle sits, will save them from the issue of a pardon by overturning Libby’s conviction on some technicality.

Sentelle has an interesting history in this area. He was one of the judges who overturned the Iran-Contra felony convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter on a technicality.

Meanwhile, Where's Rove?

It's a shame that Rove isn't going to bed tonight a convicted felon like Scooter Libby is. The fateful loss of the mid-term elections and the complete collapse of the Bush administration will have to be his legacy.

From Vermont:

Whereas George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have:

  1. deliberately misled the nation about the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war,
  2. condoned the torture of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and US law,
  3. approved illegal electronic surveillance of American citizens without a warrant, and,
Whereas these actions have undermined our Constitutional system of government, damaged the reputation of America, and threatened our national security,

Therefore...

Ann Coulter's Mouth

She used the "F-Word" on Edwards, but she didn't use the "N-Word" on Obama. I wonder why that is.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ann Coulter, Republican

Media Matters:

Coulter reference to Edwards as "faggot" gives rise to questions for media

But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards.
. . .
Well, you know, screw you, I'm not anti-gay. We're against gay marriage. ... I mean, I think we have, in addition to blacks, I don't know why all gays aren't Republicans.

Let's see: she's a fag-basher, but she's not anti-gay. Somewhere, I read that she's supposed to be a Christian, too. She voices the logic of good Christian, non-anti-gay Republicans.

Karl Rove in a Corner (2004):

More often a Rove campaign questions an opponent's sexual orientation. Bush's 1994 race against Ann Richards featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record—when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for "appointing avowed homosexual activists" to state jobs.

A Man Called Jeff (2005):

This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers? While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay hating political base?

The Foley Scandal (2006):

The system of congressional pages offers valuable experience for teenage boys and girls but also puts a burden on Congress to ensure that the young people in its care are not subject to sexual harassment or abuse. In 1983 the House censured Reps. Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill) and Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) for sexual misconduct with pages. Given that history, initial reports about the institutional response to questions about Mr. Foley's behavior are extremely troubling -- suggestive of a self-protective desire to sweep the problem under the rug rather than to put the well-being of pages paramount.

Ann Coulter:

"Why wait until right before the election to let it break?"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dubya Tells the Truth

Just kiddin' ...

Public Misconduct:

If, after observing this administration for over six years, Nicholas Kristof thinks that the President and Vice President are going to suddenly be overcome by conscience and tell all because he has put his foot down, then Nicholas Kristof is downright adorable.

zFacts:
Kissinger's list of Cheney's mistakes

(1) Did not send enough troops to win. =>Insurgents
(2) Held elections when the parties were almost purely sectarian. =>Civil war
(3) Focused on training Iraqi troops instead of keeping the peace. => Chaos
(4) Trained Iraqi troops who are fighting under the wrong banner. => Death squads

NYT: New Bush, Iraq Poll Numbers

2
9
%