Attention Parents of the Men and Women of America's Armed Forces!
You have nothing to worry about! Should your sons and daughters be captured and held captive by enemies forces, the example that has been set for their treatment by our government will serve as a model for the humane treatment they can expect to receive!
As Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) repeated over and over again on today's Fox "News" Sunday, the "honey-glazed chicken" they may receive on Sundays (UPDATE: David Edwards caught that too, here's video, RealPlayer or Windows) will more than make up for the rest of the humane treatment we have shown prisoners that America holds captive in Gitmo and elsewhere around the world. All of which is condoned by the U.S. Military, and, specifically, by Sec. of Defense, Donald Rumseld.
We are certain that this excerpt from this week's TIME magazine, as reported by RAW STORY will put you at ease...
Today's front-page report covers new revelations from a briefing paper prepared for Tony Blair eight months before the War on Iraq, and states the Bush Administration were not preparing for what would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occuption of Iraq...
[T]he memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."
Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."
For our money, the delinquency of the Bush Administration in preparing for a Post-War Iraq, which has already cost the lives and limbs of thousands of U.S. Troops, is perhaps more reprehensible even than the revelations from the original "Downing Street Minutes" that the Administration would be "fixing" the intelligence around the policy of toppling Saddam through military means and lying both Congress and the American People about it.
And these jerks have the gall to speak to us about "supporting the troops"?!
The hell with impeachment, these folks deserve jail time for the death and destruction they have so carelessly and callously wrought!
All of that, in addition to more breaking news out from today's Sunday Times of London (as mentioned as it broke on last night's BRAD SHOW via RAW RADIO!) revealing that the Blair Administration knew that the war would be illegal, but that they had committed to going into it with the Bushies months before acknowledging it publicly. They endeavored to find a way to make the action "legal" in those pre-war months when it was assessed by the Brits as being an illegal incursion.
John Conyers' Hearings on all of the above, with members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, will occur this Thursday at 2pm ET. Please contact C-SPAN and ask them to carry the hearings live. For that matter, so should CNN, MSNBC, FNC as well as all three of the broadcast networks at this point!
As originally reported here yesterday, Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee invoked a rarely used rule to extend Committee hearings on the renewal of the Patriot Act.
Apparently, they inappropriately called witnesses to testify today from whom the Republicans did not wish to hear. And thus, in what can only be seen as an unprecedented tyrannical abuse of Majority power in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), suddenly and without warning, gavelled the hearings to a close! Unilaterally, without debate, and in the middle of ongoing testimony!
The extraordinary video clip of Sensenbrenner's appalling display, was captured by C-SPAN. Take a look at the meltdown...
GOP House Judiciary Chair Uses Pinochet Tactics to Abruptly and Unilaterally Shut Down Hearing Into Abuses of the (Un)Patriot Act, Because He Was Afraid the Truth Would Come Out. America: "IT" is Happening Here. Democracy is Being Dismantled by GOP Thugs.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
June 10, 2005
BuzzFlash News Analysis
This morning, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing a statement. Sensenbrenner gaveled the committee hearings in the middle of witnesses testifying about human and civil rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling of individuals of Middle Eastern descent, prolonged detentions of Americans after September 11th and other abuses.
The suppression of free speech and testimony in the congressional committee in charge of protecting our civil liberties shows the Republican's power grab has no limits and no decency. The irony was not lost on anyone.
UPDATE: We must go on the air on Tony Trupiano's show in a just a few minutes, so this must be quick for now. (Link to that interview, with a lot more information on my conversation with a Democratic staffer who was in the room, is now below.)
To clarify some confusion on this matter, what had been referred to as "Democratic Hearings" today in some places, actually were not Democratic-only hearings (unlike the hearings that took place in January on Ohio Election Irregularities, and the recent Media Bias forum held by Conyers and other Dems).
Today's hearings were called under the archane provision of House Rule 11, which, we are told, allows the Minority to call for an additional day of hearings and to choose their own witnesses if they are unsatisfied with the hearings as held by the Majority.
The U.S. House Judiciary Democrats have been unable to do that previously on issues like Election 2004 and Media Bias because the Majority hadn't called a hearing at all on those matters, and thus, they were forced to call their own hearings.
We are told by a Democratic Staffer who The BRAD BLOG has just spoken to, and who was present at today's debacle, that the Majority has been quite disturbed by those previous hearings for some time, and, in fact, during the airing of Conyers' Media Bias forum (it ran as taped on C-SPAN at 8:30pm ET a few Saturdays ago), an email was sent to a Judiciary Committee staffer which said, in effect, "I'm watching your forum right now, hope you enjoyed it, it will be your last."
We'll have more detail after we're off the air, but the staffer just explained to us that the Minority was displeased with the witnesses called previously in the Commission hearings on renewal of the Patriot Act, and attempted to work with the Majority to call additional witnesses.
According to the staffer, they were told, "'You're gonna get your hearing, but it's gonna be 8:30am on Friday morning'...Never in the history of the Judiciary Committee have we been able to find a time when a hearing has been scheduled like that. The Congress was not in session today. We've never been able to find an instance when a hearing was called when Congress wasn't in session."
"The irony, when we're debating the Patriot Act," we were told, "of cutting off the debate and acting so anti-democratic when that's going on, is unbelievable!
"In the committee with sole jurisdiction over civil rights and civil liberties, for the chairman to say, I don't want to hear about guys who are getting their testicles shocked, it's breathtaking arrogance, it's testimony to abuse of power and how this place is now run. They've become everything they said they deplored when they took over the house in 1994."
Conversations with the House Democratic leadership on currently ongoing. The BRAD BLOG has learned that they are "very very concerned" about this matter, and that "the issue will be elevated."
"Ms. Pelosi is very concerned about this," said the staffer.
We meant to blog about this earlier, but were waylaid by the power outage today and other matters... In any case, a DU'er announced last night that a meeting of the Hocking Democratic Central Committee was to take place tonight to discuss the recent firing by the Board of Elections of Ohio Recount Whistleblower, Sherole Eaton.
Eaton filed an affidavit during the December recount concerning some chicanery she witnessed by a Voting Machine Company employee from Triad. The employee, Mark Barbarian, she testified, removed a hard drive from the central tabulating machine in Hocking County prior to the recount and instructed her county and others in Ohio, on how to create a "cheat sheet" to ensure that the recount would match the original Election results.
As her thanks for whistleblowing, she was fired this month by the Hocking County Board of Elections.
The legend goes --- as spread frequently and thickly by Ohio Secretary of State and Co-Chair for the Committee to Re-Elect Bush/Cheney, J. Kenneth Blackwell --- that nothing could possibly have been amiss in Ohio's Election, since all of the BoE's are bi-partisan and comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans.
Trouble is, many of those Democrats, we've since come to learn, may indeed be "Democrats" in name only. They serve at the approval and pleasure of Blackwell and the behavior of the Hocking County Democrats on the BoE give every indication that they are anything but Democrats.
As Eaton explained to us on the show last Saturday night, these Boards of Elections are "cooked".
This evening, the Democratic Central Committee met to call those two Hocking County "Democrats", Susie Hughes and Gerald Robinette, on the carpet in a public hearing concerning the Eaton firing.
Once again, DU'er "NoBushSpokenHere" filled us in on the details including a surprise appearance by Eaton herself who was, as of this past Monday, under the knife having brain surgery for an aneurysm.
The good news is she made it through the surgery successfully. The bad news is that the surgery was unsuccessful.
Indefatigable as she is, incredibly, she made it to the meeting tonight to stand her ground and face her accusers. We'll let "NoBushSpokenHere" take it from here:
I was quite surprised to see Sherole in attendance at the Hocking Democrat Meeting tonight. She was released from the hospital earlier today after having brain surgery just 3 days ago. Her face is bruised, her head shaved, large incision on her head, and just as ready to stand up for Democracy as she was the day she stood up to the Hocking Board of Elections during the recount in December.
Shaping up to be a great show so far! Check out our currently scheduled guests...
Retired 27-year CIA Analyst, RAY MCGOVERN on the CIA, intelligence matters, the Downing Street Minutes (he's testifying next week at the just-announced U.S. House Judiciary hearings), and working for Presidents from Kennedy to Reagan to Bush Sr.
Tune in via www.BradShow.com this Saturday Night! Join us right here at BRAD BLOG for a LIVE Open Thread during the show! And feel free to DONATE to help keep us up and on the air! I can use all the help I can get!
As fallout from the Downing Street Minutes continues to rock Capitol Hill, more unwanted attention to Administration policies on the war and human rights abuses looks to be on the way.
MoveOn.org joined the call for signatures earlier this morning for John Conyers letter to George W. Bush asking for clarification about several matters in the official British minutes now known as the Downing Street Minutes. That recently released information documents an official UK meeting describing the Bush Administration policy to topple Saddam Hussein through military means and to "fix" intelligence around the policy as early as eight months prior to the war. The BRAD BLOG has learned that MoveOn.org has received well over 240,000 350,000 new signatures to that letter in just the few hours since joining the campaign, and is receiving several thousand new signatures each minute.
But Conyers and Company are not resting. The BRAD BLOG has learned that the ranking House Judiciary Member has just announced additional hearings will be held tomorrow morning concerning the allegations of Human Rights abuses at U.S. Terror Prisons, including Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. The hearings will feature testimony from a representative of Amnesty International, the first such congressional testimony since the group released their recent report on alleged Human Rights abuses at the U.S. run prison camps.
The following Press Release was issued just moments ago concerning hearings to be held tomorrow on Capitol Hill...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2005
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO HOLD OFFICIAL OVERSIGHT HEARING ON PATRIOT ACT ABUSES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a rarely used procedural move, House Judiciary Committee Democrats invoked Rule 11 of the House Rules and requested an additional day of hearings on the Patriot Act and civil liberties implications of the Administration's terrorism related efforts. This will be the first hearing in which Members of the Committee will have the opportunity to address in detail, the horrific human rights abuses of detainees that occurred in the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons, as well as the ongoing problems of racial profiling and hate crimes that have plagued Muslim and Arab Americans since the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001. In addition, this will be the first time Amnesty International has testified before Congressional Committee since the publication of their 2005 Annual Report on human rights abuses throughout the world. The Committee will also hear testimony how the Administration has abused the immigration system to hold people without charge or bond, and have proceedings behind closed doors.
WHAT: House Judiciary Committee Democratic Oversight Hearing on Patriot Act Abuses
WHEN: Friday, June 10th @ 8:30am
WHERE: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Chip Pitts, Chair of the Board, Amnesty International USA
Dr. James J. Zogby, President, Arab American Institute
Deborah Pearlstein, Director, U.S. Law and Security Program, Human Rights First
Carlina Tapia-Ruano, American Immigration Lawyers Association
UPDATE: Tomorrow's hearing, clearly, is different from the one later announced by Conyers concerning the Downing Street Minutes. That one, scheduled for next Thursday, will feature testimony from Constitutional Attorney John Bonifaz (featured on last weekends BRAD SHOW) as well as CIA Analyst Ray McGovern (scheduled for this Saturday's BRAD SHOW! Do we got your news agenda right here or what?!
NOTE: That's also a rare picture of the ingenious and mysterious Freeway Blogger himself, otherwise known as "Scarlet P." --- and more good news, he is currently scheduled to be a guest of ours on this weekend's BRAD SHOW!
Robert Koehler of Tribune Media Services, one of just a handful of MSM'ers willing to continue the fight for democracy in America, gets it right all over again in tomorrow's column when he refers to November 2nd, as a "shiv to the gut of democracy."
In his latest column, Koehler recounts the story of a man from Franklin County, Ohio, who had voted at the same precint for 50 years, only to show up last November to find that he was no longer on the voter rolls. "I guess my vote don't matter anymore," he was quoted as saying at a hearing before the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Koehler also vows to continue his still-too-lonely fight to correct the greatest domestic threat to democracy this country has seen in...well, perhaps ever.
Here's an advance look at a couple of key grafs from tomorrow's piece, penned after returning from the recent Election Reform Conference in Cleveland, most of which will be picked up by very few newspapers most likely, as none of them contain the words "Michael Jackson":
I have pledged to stay on this story about the rot at the core of our democratic underpinnings until I'm confident that the next election will be secure. I know I won't feel this way until the alleged irregularities - the unconscionably long lines in Democratic precincts, the untold instances of vote flipping (press Kerry, Bush lights up), the undervotes, the bogus "code red" lockdown in Ohio's Warren County while the votes were counted in secret, the Ohio precinct where 638 ballots were cast but 4,258 votes were recorded for Bush (what investigative reporter Bob Fitrakis calls the miraculous "loaves and fishes" precinct), and so much more - are thoroughly investigated, and accountability and paper trails (better yet, paper ballots) are guaranteed by law in 50 states.
And this won't happen until the country's small-d democrats, who constitute, I am positive, a large if disorganized and overly trusting majority, demand it. Right now they're in a fog that's one part denial and 99 parts ignorance.
As Jonathon Alter posits in his must-read NEWSWEEK column this week (really, go read it!) about what would have happened had Watergate occured in today's Media/Political climate, the current strategy for the apologists on the Right --- and a very successful one so far, we might add --- is to make enough noise with unsupported claims that eventually "the American people figure both sides [are] just spinning, and a tie always goes to the incumbent."
If you have any doubt about that strategy, just ask yourself who eventually won the PR battle last year between Bush and Kerry concerning their respective military service during Vietnam.
Echoing that sentiment, Koehler recounts his personal investigation of one such attempt by an emailer from the Right to neutralize the issue of Election Fraud with bogus claims to a level playing field:
As a columnist who relishes e-mail interaction with my readers, I find myself taking up the cause one skeptic at a time. This is how I wound up investigating one correspondent's claim, via the Web links he sent me, that there was fraud on both sides, a sort of symmetry of corruption that evened out into a fair election.
This is a comforting stopgap assertion that may preserve complacency, but not only does it fall apart upon examination, it actually reveals what might be the underlying hysteria - Republican fear of riffraff, you might say - that made vote suppression not only widely tolerated but a participatory sport in 2004.
Thanks for your continued work on behalf of this country, Bob. Glad to see that you've vowed to remain on the job! We'll be right there with you keeping up a fight that is more than worth continuing, no matter how many charlatans are on the beat trying cynically to suppress it.
As Rush spent a full two hours on this morning's show trying to tear Howard Dean apart, while not once mentioning the new WaPo-ABC poll just out today outlining the real trouble that Bush and his Congressional Supporters are now in, we figure he must be pretty worried about what's happening.
We also figure the poll will go less reported than it ought to, so we'll try to help. It's the least we can do.
In addition to the headline figure that shows, for the first time since Bush's War on Iraq began, more than half of Americans now understand that the war has not made America any safer, it's a few of the nothing-but-bad-news-for-Bush internals that caught our eye.
Even without the proper investigation and reportage by the MSM on the unprecedented corruption of this administration, the American people seem to be getting the picture. Take a look...
Six in 10 respondents said Bush and GOP leaders are not making good progress on the nation's problems; of those, 67 percent blamed the president and Republicans while 13 percent blamed congressional Democrats. For the first time, a majority, 55 percent, also said Bush has done more to divide the country than to unite it.
The drop in Bush's approval ratings on fighting terrorism came disproportionately from political independents. In March, 63 percent of independents approved of Bush's job combating terrorism. By April this had fallen to 54 percent. And in this weekend's survey, 40 percent gave him good marks.
A plurality said Bush is doing worse in his second term than in his first, and 58 percent said he is not concentrating on the things that matter most to them --- the worst showing Bush has had in this measure in Post-ABC polls.
While the debate amongst the Left rages on (even here at BRAD BLOG on occasion) about which way Democrats should move --- to fight for their core values or move towards the Right --- the poll numbers are noteworthy, particularly in the current atmosphere where so little honest coverage is given to this Administration's failures by the Mainstream Corporate Media.
Those "Independents", as the poll demonstrates, are getting the picture. Without the Democratic party attempting to remake itself as Republican Lite.
And while the phony Red State/Blue State battle continues (phony, because most of the country lives smack dab in the Purple area, even while being largely underinformed and/or grossly misinformed, and the premise, put forward by Neo-Cons and Bush Supporters, but fallen for by too many on the Left, is simply meant as an attempt to shame the majority of Americans who live in the middle into choosing sides) the truth continues to make its way into the American conciousness.
Truth has a way of doing that. Sometimes, it just takes a while.
That said, perhaps now is a good time to remind Democrats once again that none of those numbers much matter. Not as long as the Republicans own the ballot box machinery. Pay attention. Or continue your "losing" streak.
UPDATE: On that point, it's also worth pointing out, as Stephanie Miller did on her excellent radio show this morning, that the "approval rating" numbers in this poll, just a few months after the November Election, are eerily similar to those "discredited" Exit Poll numbers you may have heard about. We just thought we'd mention that.
We were pulling for Eric Brewer, our man in D.C. (well, BTCNews.com's man in D.C., but as he's a blogger and was a featured guest on last weekend's BRAD SHOW, we consider him one of our own), to win the $1000 offered to anyone who would publicly ask Bush about the Downing Street Minutes/Memo. It's only been over a month or so since it was revealed, according to the minutes, that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Brewer was there today, but Steve Holland of Reuters beat him to the punch. We'll let Eric give you the first-hand skinny...
UPDATE: We like Brewer's account. But for those who prefer the tale of the tape, it's right here (courtesy of our friend, David Edwards): RealPlayer or Windows Media
The American people deserve to know the truth. Mr. Dearlove's report in July 2002 directly contradicts what the President and the Prime Minister said today. Only a full congressional investigation, with subpoena power, will reveal the truth.
AfterDowningStreet.org, a broad coalition of veterans groups, peace groups, and public interest organizations across this country, renews its call today for Members of Congress to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry directing the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal investigation into whether the President of the United States has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. This inquiry must now answer the question: Has the President engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq? If the President has committed a High Crime, he must be held accountable under the United States Constitution.
It should also be noted that Mr. Bonifaz was a guest on last Saturday's BRAD SHOW as well, during which time he informed us that he was also a supporter of the Impeachment of Bill Clinton. Just so's ya know.
Something stinks to high heaven about these people and their new report. And not simply because they're based in Houston, TX, (though it certainly doesn't help their case) but the fact that they are directly funded by Voting Machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia immediately destroys any credibility they might have otherwise had when it comes to making decisions about our Electoral System in desperate need of reform.
ElectionCenter.org claims to be a non-profit, non-partisan, professional organization of Elections Workers. Today, they have released a new report [large PDF] with recommendations on how to improve America's Electoral System.
The AP covered the new report in a story yesterday which shines a fairly positive light on it yet manages to include a couple of paragraphs which jump out as huge red flags. Here's a couple of them from the AP story [emphasis added]...
In a new, sweeping report, state and local officials focus much of their attention on voters and poll workers rather than voting machines --- the subject of so much debate ever since the 2000 presidential stalemate in Florida.
The report also urges state legislators to consider an "independently verifiable" record of each voter's ballot from ATM-style touchscreen voting machines that could be electronic, video or some other form --- pointedly downplaying a widespread push for paper receipts from touchscreens.
The Election Center has come in for criticism after reports that the nonprofit, nonpartisan group accepts contributions from voting machine manufacturers. Two members of the task force are former local election administrators who've formed their own election-related businesses.
So here we have yet another "nonprofit, nonpartisan" organization dedicated to Election issues, who have a clear conflict of interest due to their financial alliance with the Voting Machine Companies instead of the American Citizens whose interests they claim to represent.
Unlike the now-discredited "American Center for Voting Rights", a phony front group founded by GOP operatives as a smokescreen for real Election Reform issues, Election Center has been around for a number of years. But their claims that their mission is to "improve service to voters, the public, the taxpayers and to government" is completely belied by the companies they keep...or that keep them...
A few Googles of the various election officials associated with this organization and their new report should answer any other questions you may have. These people (folks like Palm Beach's Theresa LePore and Los Angeles' Conny McCormack to name just a few) are certainly not in the business of fighting for the voters' best interests.
Suffice to say, if Election Center expects any recognition for their recommendations for Electoral Reform from the Election Reform community, perhaps they should have thought of that before selling that option off to Diebold and friends.