In a long article from NEWSWEEK's Daniel Klaidman today, it's reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is weighing the appointment a special prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture policies, and may now be "on the verge" of finally doing so...
Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."
The detailed story explores the tensions between the White House and an independent AG --- a tension that is ever present in any WH/DoJ relationship --- and how Holder seems to be fighting to maintain that independence, while remaining in good stead with the White House where, it seems, Rahm Emmanuel may be the one calling the shots in Obama's ill-considered (or, at least, politically-considered) "look forward not back" policy...
"The thing I have to watch out for is the desire to be a team player," [Holder] says, well aware that he's on the verge of becoming something else entirely.
The report goes on to note that Holder began reviewing the former administration's torture policies "in April," and "became increasingly troubled" as he did.
To connect a dot or two here, that would be around the same time --- April 24th of this year --- when Holder told anti-torture protesters, off mic, after a Congressional hearing at which he testified, that they would "be proud of [their] country" in response to their demands for investigation and prosecution of those policies.
Though we noted what protester David Swanson had reported as a "promise" at the time, few others took any notice of what we'd regarded as a very positive, if quiet, sign that he had intended to do the right thing here...
Imagine --- just imagine --- the outrage we'd be hearing from every side of the Rightwing blogo-mediasphere if the report [PDF], just out today from the Inspectors General of five different U.S. intelligence agencies, found that President Obama was carrying out a clandestine "Presidential Surveillance Program" that only he, a handful in the White House, and just two or three officials at the DoJ were aware of.
They would, of course, be appropriately outraged (for a change), and even justified in calling for Obama's impeachment over an apparently unprecedented, illegal intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, justified only by a single "legal finding" of one low-level attorney at the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel.
But will the wingnuts say a word about the report out today showing that Bush/Cheney's criminal outfit did exactly that? Will those who have found our site of late, having come here to justify crazy Sarah Palin's decision to abort in her first term, condemn Bush for any of this, as they surely would had it been found that Obama had been doing the exact same thing? We'll see.
Finally, we're beginning to receive some details on what former Deputy AG James Comey's incredibly dramatic Congressional testimony (video here, transcript here)-- describing his late-night sprint to Ashcroft's hospital bedside to intercept White House officials (Gonzalez and Card) coming over to strongarm him into signing an extension for the still not-fully-disclosed spying program --- was all about.
On the road for the moment, so you're on your own here for a bit. Dig in...
So, imagine if the corporate media had spent even a fraction of the time and resources they've spent going wall-to-wall with around-the-clock "team coverage" of their important "investigation" into the death of Michael Jackson, on any single investigation of any single crime of the Bush Administration.
For example, imagine if they had spent as much time and resources for any single week over the past eight years, on any of the crimes involved with sending us into a war that's killed over 4,000 Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and has otherwise put our national security at dangerous risk for decades to come.
Some things are important, we guess. Other things aren't. Don't stop till ya get enough. And don't forget to blame the bloggers on the way out. Heckuva job, mainstream media. Don't let the door hit ya...
It was a "glaring inaccuracy," according to VotersUnite.org's Ellen Theisen last week.
Yet, even though it's been more than a full week since the New York Times ran an editorial endorsing Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s new election reform bill (H.R. 2894), in which they included a huge factual error about the legislation, they have failed to issue a correction. Neither have they even bothered to respond to letters to the editor detailing the error, sent to them when we first pointed out the problem last week.
While several aspects of their editorial misled readers about the bill, as we detailed in our original article, one assertion made by the "paper of record" was just out and out incorrect, when they erroneously asserted the following:
Mr. Holt's bill would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010.
On that point, the Times is just plain wrong. Any reading of the bill would quickly reveal as much. Theisen would later call it a "complete misrepresentation."
While the bill, as currently written, would require Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines to print "paper trails" (otherwise known as "voter verifiable paper audit trails" or "VVPAT") by 2010, it decidely does not "require a paper ballot to be used for every vote cast in November 2010." Paper ballots for every voter will not be required by Holt's bill, as it's currently written, and as it's been introduced in the House, until 2014. That's two federal elections away, including one Presidential election. The Times is off by four years in their assertion.
That the NYTimes --- again, known as the "paper of record" for a reason --- would get something as important as that blatantly wrong in an editorial endorsing such a sweeping piece of legislation, is rather incredible in the first place. That they've not bothered to issue a correction, or even respond to a letter pointing out the error, is mind-boggling.
But their appears at least one reason --- though hardly an excuse --- that the Times might have gotten it so wrong. Congressman Holt makes the same wholly erroneous assertion about his own bill on his own Congressional webpage...
Several weeks ago, VelvetRevolution.us, in coalition with a number of other accountability groups, filed bar disbarment complaints against 12 different Bush Administration attorneys in four states and the District of Columbia in regard to their approval of banned torture techniques used during detainee interrogations.
In a press conference today we (Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is co-founder of VR) added two more to that list, both top CIA attorneys who continue to serve at the agency under the Obama Administration.
A grassroots coalition will file complaints today with the Washington, D.C. bar against two Central Intelligence Agency lawyers for their involvement in authorizing the use of controversial interrogation techniques against detainees in US custody.
Velvet Revolution, a coalition of over 150 grassroots groups, will register complaints against CIA lawyers Jonathan M. Fredman and John A. Rizzo. Fredmen, who is currently counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, served as the Associate General counsel for the CIA from 2001-2004. Rizzo is the current Acting General Counsel for the CIA but is retiring this month. His nomination to become full General Counsel has been held up for years over his alleged role in enabling the CIA’s controversial interrogation program.
DC lawyer and activist Kevin Zeese, along with a former Reagan administration Associate Attorney General Bruce Fein, held a press conference this morning at the National Press Club in which they discussed the complaints they will be filing later today.
“We call for dismissal of two torture architects still working in the Obama administration,” said Zeese. “The United States must face the reality of the extent of the torture program under the Bush-Cheney administration. War crimes were committed. The toxic poison of torture will not be removed from the body politic unless the rule of law is applied.”
Please see Alexandrovna's coverage today for details of revelations discussed at the presser this morning (eg. the "crucifixion" of a detainee who "died from asphyxiation after having been hung by his arms, in a hood, and suffering broken ribs" and details on, and links to, the new complaints against Rizzo and Fredman, both of whom still serve in the CIA today, incredibly enough).
More information on the campaign, including all of the complaints filed, is available at VR's DisbarTortureLawyers.com campaign. A quick video of Zeese's announcement, summarizing the complaints after today's press conference follows below...
As of tomorrow, the increasingly useless Washington Post will become more so. Dan Froomkin, one of the few journalists at the once-credible newspaper who bothered to do his job by investigating and asking the questions that mattered during the Bush Administration's historic gutting of America and so much of what it stands for, filed his final "White House Watch" column today. He described, today, what he does as "accountability journalism." We could use dozens more like him in the MSM.
His piece today echoes FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley's exposé on these pages yesterday, in his description of Bush as "the proverbial emperor with no clothes." He goes on to note how, after 9/11, "the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn't have and credibility he didn't deserve."
By late January/early February, 2003, I and other Americans were witnessing the Bush Administration's final and intense push to launch their pre-emptive war on Iraq, based largely on (what are now well known as) two completely false pretexts: Iraq's possession of WMD and its connections to Al Qaeda terrorists. My knowledge that Iraq's WMD was being exaggerated was merely what anyone could gain from close reading of public sources: the McClatchy news articles by Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel (who later won Pulitzers for their reporting) as well as a few buried articles in the Washington Post and Newsweek debunking the "evidence" being educed by Bush-Cheney-Powell-Rice-Rumsfeld et al.
Due to the Minneapolis FBI's pre-9/11 investigation of an Al Qaeda operative, however, I was in a better position to know more than J.Q. Average Citizen in regard to the non-existence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
I felt it my responsibility to speak out, and so I did --- or tried to --- to my bosses at the FBI, and to the media, including CBS' 60 Minutes...
SIBEL EDMONDS, the FBI translator/whistleblower, described by the ACLU as the "most gagged" woman in the history of this country following the Bush Administration's use of the "State Secrets Privilege" in keeping her from exposing corruption learned while a translator at the FBI after 9/11. On that, her new blog, her new project "Project Expose MSM", and anything else you want to ask her about!
Consider this an Open Show Thread, where, as always, "Agent 99" will be your friendly hostess throughout. See ya tonight!
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POST-SHOW UPDATE, AUDIO ARCHIVES: I hope you'll enjoy the audio archives of tonight's show, as much as I enjoyed making them for you. All three "hours" (about :36 mins each with commercials removed, courtesy of Ben Burch at WhiteRoseSociety.org) provide some good listening, and follow below...
It's been nearly five months since the official complaint about Ann Coulter's alleged voter fraud in 2002 and 2004 was filed in Connecticut, yet state election officials continue to refuse comment on the status of the case beyond acknowledging that it's "still pending," as recently confirmed by The BRAD BLOG.
Several charges of absentee voter fraud were alleged in the complaint against Coulter in Connecticut, where evidence shows she cast absentee ballots illegally while living in her then permanent New York City residence.
In addition to the head of the California GOP's voter registration firm pleading guilty to fraud last week (his company, Young Political Majors, is under investigation in several other states as well, and is alleged to have secretly changed thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican, denying voters the ability to cast votes in last year's primary), and the Republican election official in Kentucky who last month pleaded guilty to participating in a massive election fraud conspiracy beginning in 2002, there still remains the outstanding official investigation into the allegations against Coulter, the GOP's storied Queen of Voter Fraud.
If all you watched was the Fox "News" Channel, however, and their increasingly bizarre --- and yet still evidence-free --- "investigation" into "voter fraud" by ACORN, you'd have no idea. That, even though Coulter herself continues to parade in front of their cameras as a regular guest without ever being asked about the official inquiry in the second state to investigate voting improprieties by the GOP superstar.
"The delay in this case is inexplicable given they need to prove two things: where she registered to vote/voted and where she lived when she registered to vote/voted," the complainant in the case, Daniel Borchers, a Christian conservative who has long opposed Coulter's behavior, told The BRAD BLOG. "Both are easily proven."...
In last week's "New Rules" segment on HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher blasted President Obama for "not getting the job done," adding "this is not what I voted for." He had been critical of Obama's lack of fight for health care reform, and "nibbling" that's leaving insurance companies "still running the show," bailed out banks "laughing at us about how easy it was to get back to 'business as usual,'" and scientists' vital warnings about serious climate change being largely ignored.
We ran that video last week, and found it was linked to by an enormous number of rightwing websites, using the opportunity to suggest that Maher now agreed with them about Obama.
This week (video above-right) Maher clarified the record. He first noted: "Last week in this space, I criticized President Obama for not fighting corporate influence enough, and it made some Liberals very angry. My phone rang off the hook." But he then removed any doubt about whether he was actually "in league" with those on the Right.
"As far as you folks on the Right that think that we're somehow in league --- we're not in league! I was criticizing Obama for not being hard enough on the corporate douche bags you live to defend. I don't wanna be on your team. Pick another kid."
"So I stand by my words," Maher said, before launching into a no-holds barred attack on the Democrats and Obama for their failings, yet again. "There is another side to the story. And that is, that every time Obama tries to take on a Progressive cause, there's a major political party standing in his way --- the Democrats."
"We don't have a Left and a Right party in this country anymore. We have a center-Right party and a crazy party. And over the last thirty-odd years, Democrats have moved to the Right, and the Right has moved into a mental hospital."
He went on to criticize Democrats for becoming the party of "hedge fund managers, credit card companies, banks, defense contractors, big agriculture and the pharmaceutical lobby [who] sit across the aisle from a small group of religious lunatics, flat-earthers, and Civil War re-enacters...who mostly communicate by AM radio and call themselves the Republicans."
The major concluding thesis in his scathing criticism: "Bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans"
Diane Sweet of RAW STORY observed in her coverage: "If Maher had finished by declaring his candidacy for public office, by the sound of the applause in response to his monologue, he would have left the studio Friday evening with an audience full of supporters."
If you're unable to watch the video (above right), a text-transcript of the key quotes from this week's must-see monologue follow below. As with last week's, we find ourselves hard-pressed to disagree with a word of it...
What's perhaps most interesting here is what isn't mentioned in this story, as written on the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" blog. First, here's their entire blog item...
The owner of a voter-registration company pleaded guilty Tuesday to voter-registration fraud, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Laguna Beach resident Mark Jacoby, who collects signatures for petition drives, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years' probation and 30 days of service with the California Department of Transportation.
Jacoby, owner of Young Political Majors, registered to vote at Los Angeles addresses that were not his own. State law requires petition circulators to be qualified voters. Jacoby will also be required to show proof he is registered at his correct address.
And what they didn't bother to mention in that story?...
Meant to run this clip from Crazy Land (aka Fox "News") over the weekend. You may have seen some portions of O'Reilly's flip-out previously, but the entire thing is worth a look. Feelin' guilty much, Mr. O'Reilly? What a maroon (and that's putting it nicely). Crazy Land gets crazier and crazier by the day...
The New York Times has an unbylined editorial today, headlined "Neither Real Nor Free" which blasts the Iranian election, alleging that "it certainly looks like fraud."
Our friend Michael Jay, a former delegate to the California Democratic Party who amended their party platform to include language encouraging Democratic candidates to not concede until every ballot is counted, took the opportunity today to riff on our weekend comparison of Iran '09 to Ohio '04 with a letter to the NYTimes editors which begins as follows...
Major typos in "Neither Real Nor Free"
To The Editor:
I'm afraid your spell check software got the better of you in preparing "Neither Real Nor Free," (Editorial, June 15, 2009.) It appears both the country and a key political party were misidentified.
I've included a corrected, and abbreviated, version. Too bad the Times, and other news outlets, didn't publish such editorials following our 2004 election.
See Michael's "corrected" version of the piece, sent with his letter to the Times editors, below...
While I couldn't care less about Bill Maher's 'Obama being on TV too much' schtick here, as seen on last night's Real Time on HBO, his scathing criticism of Obama which follows it is dead on the money.
Sorry folks, but this President is not fighting for real health care reform. It's nibbling that leaves insurance companies still running the show. And the banks, the banks that brought us to financial ruin and then got bailout money, are laughing at us about how easy it was to get back to 'business as usual.' And scientists keep saying that if we want to keep living, you know, on Earth, it's kind of essential we reduce carbon dioxide by 40% in the next ten years. Obama's bill calls for 4%.
This is not getting the job done, and this is not what I voted for.
Maher continues by arguing that "if you can't shove some real reform down [Republican] throats now, then when?" before adding: "I never thought I'd say this, but what he needs in his personality is a little George Bush. He needs to stop worrying about being loved, and bring out that smug, insufferable swagger that says, 'Suck on it, America!'"
"I'm glad Obama is President," Maher concludes, "but the 'Audicity of Hope' part is over. Right now, I'm hoping for a little more audacity..."
UPDATE 6/20/09: Maher follows up this monologue with another, equally as scathing, the following week. Details and video here...
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Video of this week's scathing monologue is above right, the complete text transcript follows below...