After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
We were up not long after dawn on this coast to catch the hearings in full and have been able to follow them with the exception of one hour when we had a radio commitment. In any case, it's still-ongoing, and well worth the watch on C-SPAN 1, for a change. If you can't get to a TV, you can catch it online here. I suspect we'll have more on it later today, as time allows. For those of you watching, feel free to "open thread" your thoughts on it here.
UPDATE 1:15pm PT: Phew. The six-hour session just concluded with Conyers stating that these were "the most important hearings we've held in the Judiciary in this session of Congress." We concur, but are thus left wondering what took 'em so long. As mentioned, hopefully more later on today's sobering and historic hearings (if we can overcome our sore wrist).
All six hours will be re-aired in full tonight (Friday) on C-SPAN beginning at 8pm ET.
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.
The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."
Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.
Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.
In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.
"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."
Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.
The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...
Ed Note: The following request comes from Matthew Segal, who formed the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE) following his experience voting as a student at Kenyon College in Ohio in 2004 where the last vote was not cast until after 2am on Election Night. Please take the time to read it, and use the opportunity to get some tough questions directly to the folks who will be on his panel this week! - BF
Does anything that George W. Bush and John McCain say matter? Based on this colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on "Countdown" last night, apparently not:
OLBERMANN: ...The Iraqi government is saying, “Get out,” and President Bush swore, you know, “Some day if they say ‘get out,‘ we‘ll get out.”
MADDOW: That‘s right. May 2007 in the Rose Garden, Bush said—and I went back and checked the quote directly so I could be sure to directly quote him — “If they were to say leave, we would leave.” Also, for what it‘s worth, in April of 2004, John McCain at the Council on Foreign Relations said, “It is obvious we would have to leave if they asked to us leave.”
I mean, they told us that the point of invading Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was toppled; they told us that the point of staying there after, was to set up a sovereign Iraqi government. Well now, the sovereign Iraqi government is standing up on its hind legs enough to tell us to leave, and we‘re left with this situation where they need another explanation of why we can‘t leave. That‘s the real headline here.
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
On Election Day this November, voters in San Francisco will vote on a local initiative to rename one of the city's largest waste treatment plants in honor of George W. Bush. If the initiative passes --- and since the number of Republicans in the city is statistically zero, it very well might --- the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant will be forever known as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. It is as fitting a monument to the eight years of the Bush presidency as we can think of, with the possible exception of naming a garbage dump after him.
The San Francisco effort is the work-product of local activists who came up with the idea in the most grassroots of all settings: over beers. Subsequently, the group set up the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco, which handled promotion for the petition drive. On Thursday, the city's Department of Elections certified that the 7,168 signatures the commission submitted were valid and approved the initiative for the November ballot.
Although the organizers in San Francisco are clear that their effort is satire, this is a cause that grassroots organizers in other cities should consider seriously. This nationwide effort could be similar to, but hopefully more successful than, the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which was the brainchild of the anti-government lobbyist Grover Norquist, who is best known for his close associations with corrupt Bush cronies like (now-imprisoned) Jack Abramoff and (perhaps incarcerated one day) Karl Rove.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The fact that hardly anyone has heard of David Addington is no accident. As chief of staff to Dick Cheney, he shares his boss's fetish for secrecy. But as reporters are finally zeroing in on what Bush officials have really been up to these last seven years, evidence continues to pile up about the key role Addington has played in the skullduggery. Some are even suggesting he could be tried for war crimes for his role in approving the torture of terror suspects.
In the video above, in an interview with Steve Clemons, editor of The Washington Note, Jane Mayer discusses Addington, whom she profiled in the New Yorker last year and who plays a central role in her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, which Trish, my colleague at PR, wrote about this week.
The excerpt in the following transcript comes about 11 minutes into the interview. The quote mentioned by Mayer and Clemens is the last line in Mayer's book. It comes from Phillip Zelikow, a former counselor to Condoleeza Rice, who attempted to explain what went wrong within the administration after the attacks on September 11 this way: "Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools."
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Courtesy of our colleagues at Velvet Revolution, you can watch the entire press conference here, and an interview with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis is here.
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
See PDFs of the hold letter to AG Mukasey here, the hold letter to the U.S. Chamber here, and the motion to lift the stay here.
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and I, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
Following up on Jon Ponder's earlier coverage of the latest Impeachment machinations --- with a date now set for some kind of hearings in the House Judiary Committee on July 25th and even several Republicans breaking ranks to vote in support of accountability --- a statement this week from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) pretty much nails the entire matter, at least the most obvious, in one fell paragraph as reported at RAW STORY:
"Our Constitution is being destroyed. We are losing our nation to a war based on lies. I am determined to get this bill to committee for a hearing," he said. "The President has conducted the affairs of the nation in a manner which cries out for justice and it is the Constitutional obligation of Congress to check his wanton abuses of U.S. and international law. We have troops whose lives were put on the line because the President told them Iraq was a threat to the United States and it was not. The loss of lives of our troops and of innocent Iraqi civilians is a direct result of the lies this president told to Congress. He must be held accountable."
UPDATE: John Conyers' press release on "Imperial Presidency" hearings (nothing like Impeachment hearings, of course) to be held in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee next Friday and six different "allegations of misconduct by the administration" (nothing like Articles of Impeachment, of course), now follows in full below...
There will be a hearing related to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Article of Impeachment against George Bush in the House Judiciary Committee. That was assured by a vote of 238 to 180 on Tuesday. (Details on that hearing, now posted here.)
But, according to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has mandated that questioning in the hearing be relegated to Bush's abuses of power, not his criminal wrongdoing.
“There’s never been one [hearing] that accumulated all the things that constitute an imperial presidency,” said Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, according to CQ Politics. He indicated topics covered in the hearing would include the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the betrayal of CIA agent Valerie Plame and Bush's alleged lying to Congress about the reasons for invading Iraq.
Kucinich's single Article of Impeachment only deals with Bush's lies to Congress.
There were no Democratic votes against holding the hearing. While 180 Republicans voted to follow their Dear Leader lock-step over the cliff, 10 Republicans abstained and nine Republican members of Congress voted with the Democrats. Here are their names...
When the Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, the new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, famously took the impeachment of George Bush "off the table." This puzzled and disappointed millions of people who rightly wondered why a president could be impeached over a sex lie in 1999 but not over a lie just four years later that sent hundreds of thousands of innocent people to their deaths in Iraq while draining the U.S. Treasury of billions upon billions of dollars.
In parliamentary proceedings, however, any item that can be taken off the table can be put back on it, if conditions change and the leadership wills it so. As we reported yesterday, Speaker Pelosi has signaled that an Article of Impeachment charging Bush with lying to Congress about his pretexts for invading Iraq might at least get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
There's no way to know what, if any, changes in conditions may have prompted her to rethink impeachment, but it may have something to do with a new Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday that found approval of Congress at 9 percent, which is essentially a statistical zero.
Pundits have long speculated that Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the other leaders have been averse to impeaching Bush because the impeachment of Pres. Bill Clinton put the Republican-controlled Congress in such bad odor with the public.
Let's assume that Pelosi and company are not so blind that they can't see the difference in severity of Clinton's misdemeanor and Bush's high crimes --- or that they're such bad politicians that they can't judge the difference in the voters' view of Clinton, whose approval rating remained in the mid-60s throughout the ordeal, and its disregard for Bush, whose approval is in the low 30s. Nor can they be unaware of the corollary fact that disapproval of Bush's misadventure in Iraq is in the upper 60s.
Perhaps impeachment won't die in the House Judiciary Committee after all, as Pelosi gently --- if tepidly --- seemed to put the topic back on the table, according to Politico today, (via RAW STORY):
Pelosi has said previously that impeachment "was off the table," so her comments this morning were surprising, and clearly signaled a new willingness to entertain the idea of ousting Bush, although no one in the Democratic leadership believes that is likely since the president has only six months left in this term.
"This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee," Pelosi told reporters. "Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject."
Pelosi added: "My expectation is that there will be some review of that in the committee."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed 35 Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush in June. Those articles, like the ones before them against Dick Cheney, were referred to House Judiciary where action has yet to be taken on them. Yesterday, Kucinich announced that he will introduce yet another Article today, on Bush lying the country into war, in a privileged resolution on the House floor.
This morning, his office announced the new article will be filed between 3:30 and 4:00pm ET today. They are asking the public to sign their petition calling on Congress to take action on the matter.
DISCLOSURE:The BRAD BLOG was consulted by Kucinich concerning the Bush Articles of Impeachment. The information submitted was included in Article 28, "Tampering with Free and Fair Elections" and Article 29, "Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965" of the original 35 Articles filed last month against Bush.
The torment and imprisonment of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, allegedly via the hands of Karl Rove and his political hitmen operatives, has been extensively covered by The BRAD BLOG.
Over the weekend, Velvet Revolution.us (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) sat down with him for an exclusive video-taped interview in Alabama. The entire interview will be posted soon, but we have posted two excerpts on YouTube. Both are embedded below.
Siegelman wants you to let Congress know that Rove must face the consequences of his actions. So do we.
Rove has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress tomorrow, July 10th, regarding the politicization of the Justice Department. The House Judiciary Committee wants to question Rove about his knowledge of the persecutionprosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.
But Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has informed the Judiciary Committee that Rove will not attend the hearing.
Luskin has offered to make Rove available to the committee behind closed doors and not under oath. Luskin also insists that there be no transcript of the questioning and that Rove would not respond to written questions from the panel.
The Judiciary Committee has rejected that so-called "compromise."
We join Siegelman's request, as stated in his interview, in asking you to please contact the House Judiciary Committee and your House Representative to politely but firmly insist that they hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress.
You can call the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951 and you can email them via this page.
You can call your House Rep. at 202-224-3121. More contact info for your specific Representative can be found here.
As Siegelman notes about Rove during the VR interview, in the first posted excerpt (seen at right)...
This is a guy who has told Congress that he will not show up under subpoena unless he is not sworn to tell the truth, unless he has the questions in advance, and unless he is assured that nobody is writing down his answers. Now does that sound like somebody who's prepared to tell the truth?
We won't know the truth until Congress digs it out, and that's why it is so incredibly important that anybody that reads your blog or listens to it or watches it gets on the phone, gets on their computer, or writes Congress and tells them to hold Karl Rove in contempt if he does not show up to testify on July 10th.
[H]e needs to be held in contempt, needs to be arrested, needs to be brought in and made to sit before Congress and answer questions.
In the second excerpt (video at right, below), Siegelman goes on to point out that only Congress currently holds the power to reveal the truth about what went on in this sordid affair...
Via BuzzFlash.com. On Tuesday, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced that he has scheduled a vote for July 16 on whether to charge Attorney General Michael Mukasey with contempt of Congress.
Mukasey has refused to comply with the committee's subpoena for FBI transcripts of a June 2004 interview with Dick Cheney about the leaking of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
The administration has asserted that Cheney's interview cannot be shared with Congress. However, Waxman has confirmed that the interview was not covered by a secrecy agreement, primarily because it was part of grand jury inquiry into the leak.
The confirmation comes from Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the leak investigation:
I can advise you that as to any interviews of either the president or vice president not protected by the rules of grand jury secrecy, there were no "agreements, conditions and understandings between the Office of Special Counselor the Federal Bureau of Investigation" and either the president or vice president "regarding the conduct and use of the interview or interviews."
The committee is looking into allegations that Cheney directed the unmasking of Plame, a specialist in the black market for terror weapons, because her husband, Joe Wilson, had criticized him in a newspaper.
In early 2007, Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was found guilty of obstructing the inquiry by lying to investigators.