Washington, D.C. -- U.S. District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy held a hearing this morning on a motion filed by attorneys representing detainees being held in Guantanamo. Following reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post that CIA videotapes of ‘harsh interrogations’ of detainees had been destroyed, apparently by the CIA, possibly under administration approval, attorneys David Remes and Marc Falkoff filed an Emergency Motion [PDF] for inquiry into the preservation of documents relating to prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Before Judge Kennedy and a courtroom packed with journalists,
• Lawyers for the detainees are asking the court to schedule a hearing for inquiry into whether the government is preserving evidence relating to detainees. Attorney David Remes expressed concern that the destruction of the two videotapes, as reported, may not be the full extent of the evidence destroyed...
Anonymous Blogger Offers Evidence-Free Claim That 'Left-Wing Activist' Academics and SoS Brunner 'Cooked Up' Report Results Showing All Buckeye State E-Voting Systems Vulnerable to Failure, Fraud, Easy Tampering...
Shamelessly (an inaccurately) writing on the Ohio Republican Party's blogsite, an unnamed writer posted the following opening to a critique of the $1.9 million bi-partisan study [strikethrough included in the original]:
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner found some left-wing activists academics to issue an expensive taxpayer-funded "study" criticizing Ohio's election system.
"Left-wing activists"? Incredible. And wrong. And slimy enough on its own --- never mind the rest of the blog item, which gets even worse, as posted by an unnamed election terrorist from the Ohio GOP --- to merit an immediate apology and retraction by the Ohio Republican party, along with the outing and firing of whoever the official was who wrote it...
The controversial head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, John Tanner, finally resigned from his position as of 11am ET this morning...
Today, John Tanner resigned from his position effective immediately as chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section. His resignation email, with the subject line "Moving On" was sent out at approximately 11 AM to voting section staff. He said that he will be moving on to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
"The resignation of John Tanner is long overdue," writes one happy voting section staffer to The BRAD BLOG this morning, saying that he and his colleagues are "overjoyed at the news."
"Since becoming Section Chief in 2005 and even before, Tanner demonstrated that he cared only about serving his Republican overlords' desire to suppress minority voting to help the Republican Party win elections and not about the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. A great many long-time members of the Voting Section staff are overjoyed at the news of his departure," the staffer tells us, adding that a celebration is in the works.
"We are already planning a party for next week --- not a 'John Tanner goodbye party' but a 'goodbye John Tanner party.'"
At right is the most notable section of the now-infamous BRAD BLOG video, taped by our own Alan Breslauer at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles and which kicked off the most recent firestorm over Tanner's tenure. In it, as we reported exclusively at the time, Tanner explains his reasoning for over-ruling the majority opinion of career staffers in his own department in order to approve a controversial Photo ID polling place restriction in the state of Georgia. The measure was later found unconstitutional and declared to be a modern day Jim Crow-era poll tax by two federal courts.
Tanner says in the video, that though it's a "shame" that the elderly might be disenfranchised by such laws, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
"Mr. Tanner had a clear record of undermining the core mission of the section – protecting the right to vote," Rep. Jerrod Nadler, chair of a House Judiciary subcommittee which oversees Tanner's department, said in a statement today in response to the resignation. "Tanner was actively seeking to curtail that cornerstone of American democracy. The right to vote is the foundation of all our liberties and it must be protected."
The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, was so incensed by Tanner's comments, as well as his previous efforts at white-washing a DoJ investigation of election fraud and voter suppression during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio, hearings were called in the House in late October, featuring an even more shameful performance by Tanner (video highlights/lowlights here), who would be described by the Washington Post afterwards as "one sorry man."
In response to Tanner's testimony at the hearings, The BRAD BLOG posted a letter from a voting section staffer, excoriating his sworn comments to the panel as "not credible", adding that Tanner had "lost no time in twisting the truth" in his testimony.
Tanner's long, often rambling resignation email sent out this morning (posted in full at the bottom of this article) skillfully attempts to re-write the history of his shameful tenure. In it, he conflates past performance of the department, beginning with his original arrival at DoJ 30 years ago, with the Civil Rights division's more recent and politicized history during which six years passed without a single lawsuit against African-American voter suppression have being filed.
Just one such case was filed under the DoJ's Voting Rights Act Section 5 oversight mandate, and it was a reverse-discrimination case in which white voters in Mississippi were said to have been discriminated against.
A special series on "Bush League Justice" by MSNBC's Dan Abrams premiered this week. In it's opening episode on Monday, Abrams focused on the DoJ's disastrous Civil Rights Division, and once again played a clip from Tanner's "minorities...die first" comments which we originally captured.
"Under Mr. Tanner's leadership, the Justice Department essentially took positions that disenfranchised minorities and the elderly," Nadler echoed once more in his comments today.
The final installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams deals with the controversial prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Evidence suggests that Siegelman, who remains in prison, was wrongly prosecuted by prominent Alabama Republicans with the help of Karl Rove.
For starters, two prominent Republicans, Senator Jeff Sessions and Judge William Pryor Jr., were also named by the chief witness against Siegelman but were never even investigated. Further, a Republican lawyer working for Siegelman's political opponent has sworn under oath that he overheard key Republicans on Governor Riley's team discussing the case. He quotes one operative as saying:
"Not to worry, that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl, and Karl had spoken to the Department of Justice."
After a brief introduction, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and Harper's Scott Horton join Abrams for an in depth discussion about the case.
The Reno Gazette Journal reports on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) announcement that he intends to file Articles of Impeachment very shortly against George W. Bush...
"On the way over here, I was reading a 50-page document that relates to Articles of Impeachment for the President of the United States," Kucinich said to a standing ovation. "And I want you to know that I'm actually preparing this document for submission to the House."
The BRAD BLOG can confirm recent efforts by Kucinich's office to prepare such a document. We cannot yet confirm when it will be filed in the U.S. House, but we're told it may be quite soon.
In the meantime, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) demonstrated that he understands both the U.S. Constitution and American politics, by offering this lesson to his fellow Democrats at a speech last week in Florida. (RAW STORY has the short video):
"The way we pass stem-cell research, the way we get implemented a children's health care plan, the way we get higher CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standards to bring our energy debacle into a better condition for generations to come is to have impeachment hearings," Wexler said, appearing to nearly run out breath at one point during his speech. "Because that'll get the president's eye. That'll get the vice president's eye. That for the first time will show that the Democratic majority is here, and that in fact we have the courage of our convictions, and that we're not bound to be tied by conventional wisdom."
Wexler said that impeachment hearings weren't just an option available to Congress, but a requirement.
"This administration has abused its power in office...and it is the obligation --- not discretionary --- but it is the obligation of this Congress to investigate," he said. "And that's what I and some of my colleagues are beginning to call for."
"If we want to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, we need to become more popular. If we want to avoid a traumatic split between Sunnis and Shiites that endangers further our national security, we need to become more popular...If we want to engage with the Chinese in a more beneficial way, we need to become more popular."
"Let me tell you one more thing those impeachment hearings will do," he concluded. "It'll make America more popular."
"I urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months," Wexler stated at the time. "Only through hearings can we begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration; and, if it is determined in these hearings that Vice President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should be impeached and removed from office."
Two high-ranking Republicans, Arlen Specter (PA) and Chuck Grassley (IA), joined the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today by voting in favor of holding both Karl Rove and former White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten in Contempt of Congress.
The committee recommendation, which was passed by a 12-7 vote, now goes to Majority Leader Harry Reid who may, or may not, join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in failing to hold a full floor vote on the recommendation. Pelosi has held a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee, finding both Bolten and former White House attorney Harriet Miers in contempt, since July.
The White House, which we all know is well above the law, continued their bullying of the Democrats who are likely to shrink in fear at the intimidation.
"They should be fully aware of the futility of pressing ahead on this," AP reports White House spokesman Tony Fratto as saying. "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, that the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."
"I vote for the contempt citations knowing that it's highly likely to be a meaningless act," Specter said. "In this context we have no alternative."
Paul Kiel at TPM Muck speculates: "Perhaps the Senate and House will team up and schedule both votes before the New Year, sending the White House contempt citations against Rove, Miers, and Bolten as a Christmas gift. Or maybe nothing will happen."
Take your time, kids. Those in contempt have said they won't allow you to carry out your duty in holding them in contempt anyway, so why make so much unpleasantness just before the holidays?
What's your guess on when/if Reid/Pelosi will schedule such votes?
By law, the U.S. government is barred from propagandizing within the country. While that hasn't necessarily stopped them before, the Bush Administration has raised the art to a science. As well, they've reportedly been doing so out of Gitmo, perhaps a tacit acknowledgment that the practice is illegal under U.S. law, but hey, they're not in the U.S. when they do it from there, right? At least, that's what their legal department has long maintained in support of suspension of habeas corpus, human rights and long-held treaty agreements in relation to the detention of whoever they damn-well wish to hold without charges down there.
So they've been "vandalizing Wikipedia" and news sites across the web, according to a recent report at Wikileaks, which also offers the evidence...
WASHINGTON--The US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been caught conducting covert propaganda attacks on the internet. The attacks, exposed this week in a report by the government transparency group Wikileaks, include deleting detainee ID numbers from Wikipedia last month, the systematic posting of unattributed "self praise" comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantanamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro's encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as "an admitted transexual" [sic].
Anybody doubt these same guys are working to post their propaganda in comments at websites like...oh, The BRAD BLOG for example? We're sure the Bush DoJ will get right on it.
The third installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into how the DoJ has targeted Democrats for investigation and prosecution. In fact, one study shows that Democrats have been investigated and prosecuted at nearly six times the rate of Republicans at the federal level. According to the study's author, the statistical possibility of this happening by chance is 1 in 10,000. Studies show that prosecutions on the state level are fairly even between Democrats and Republicans.
This is hardly surprising since the DoJ tracked which attorney's "Exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General" and which were members of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.
Evaluating attorneys based on whether they were "loyal Bushies", according to former U.S. Attorney and current Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is "disgraceful".
Also "troubling" to Abrams is the timing of investigations and prosecutions which often occurred right before elections, in violation of the DoJ's own procedures manual. When the Bushies were eventually caught doing so, they simply changed the manual.
The second installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into the Bush administration's "unprecedented use" of signing statements to subvert the rule of law. A signing statement is a president's written interpretation of legislation passed by congress which accompanies his signature when he signs a bill into law.
For example, in 2005 congress voted overwhelmingly to ban torture which Bush signed into law. However, Bush also included a signing statement which basically allowed him to ignore the new law.
To date, Bush has issued 1,100 signing statements which is nearly double that of all 42 presidents that preceded him combined.
The State Department stepped in and literally "rescued" a 22-year-old woman being held captive by Halliburton in Iraq for 24-hours in a shipping container without food and water after she reported being gang raped in 2005, according to Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), who intervened after being contacted by the victim's father.
Yet none of the "six or seven perpetrators" has been brought to justice and it is not even clear if an investigation was ever conducted. Attorney Brian Wice surmises that the DoD, State Department, and DoJ have not pursued the case further because they "don't want this case to see the inside of a United States courtroom."
Reprentative Poe also believes that the federal government has the obligation to pursue the case and "hold [the perpetrators] accountable."
MSNBC's Dan Abram's coverage is at right. Visit the victim's Foundation for more information.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby is dropping the appeal of his criminal conviction in the CIA leak case, his lawyer tells the Associated Press.
"We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Theodore Wells tells the wire service. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."
President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence in July after a jury convicted him of lying to federal agents. They were investigating the source of leaks that identified an undercover CIA officer who was married to a former diplomat who had criticized the invasion of Iraq.
At her daily briefing today, White House spokesperson Dana Perino refused to speculate whether Scooter Libby would be pardoned over the upcoming holidays.
Wednesday night, George Bush's spokesperson Dana Perino was forced to acknowledge in an email that Bush had been lying to the American people both about the status of Iran's nuclear capabilities and about when he was informed that Iran's nuclear program had been suspended.
Yesterday, however, when she asked if Bush was "candid" about what he knew and when he knew it, Perino answered, "Yes, he was." Then, as proof of his candor, she launched into this tortured peroration:
If you look at the rest of that sentence, what the President --- the President was clearly told that there was new information that was coming in, but he wasn't told the details of it. And the President was also told that the intelligence community was going to need to go back and check out to find out if it's true. What I said is that [Director of National Intelligence Mike] McConnell told the President, if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right: Iran does, in fact, have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended. He said that there were many streams of information that were coming in that could be potentially in conflict. They didn't have a lot of confidence in the information yet.
When challenged on the fact that her parsing did not square with what Bush actually said, Perino waved off the gap in credibility with this obviously scripted-in-advance bit of tripe:
I can see where you could see that the President could have been more precise in that language, but the President was being truthful.
The emphasis on "truthful" is hers. (And she will trot out the "he could have been more precise" nonsense twice more in the session.)
The White House press corps was refreshingly aggressive in putting Perino through her paces. As the session wore on, she sounded increasingly like her predecessor, Scott McClellan, in a skirt, deploying McClellan's usual tricks --- holding forth at length to answer a simple question and changing the subject whenever possible --- in order to avoid producing a sound bite. On the other hand, she couldn't entirely avoid that fact that Bush lied:
Q Dana, but listen to what he said: "He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze." Was the President told that there was a possibility that Iran's nuclear program could be suspended? That's what you said he was told.
MS. PERINO: Yes, the President was told that there is new information [in August]...
Meanwhile, in the real world, no one --- except increasingly desperate neo-cons and Bush-cult dead-enders --- believes Perino, Bush or Cheney on this matter. What little credibility Bush, and, by extension, the United States, had on Iran among our allies and other stakeholders in the Middle East has evaporated. And rightly so, why should any foreign government put stock in anything the Bush administration has to say now?
Our only hope is that no serious world crisis erupts until the United States changes leadership in 13 months, and, presumably --- hopefully --- a normal president and administration take charge at long last.
The White House has quietly admitted that George Bush lied to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday when he said he was not informed by intelligence officials that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been suspended in 2003.
On Tuesday, Bush denied he knew the program had been disbanded when he warned the American people in October that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could unleash World War III. Now, as we reported last night at Pensito Review, Bush press flack Dana Perino confirmed off-camera to reporters that, in fact, Bush learned about the suspension of Iran's weapons program in August.
The White House made a stunning admission Wednesday that appeared to suggest President Bush has directly contradicted himself about when he learned U.S. intelligence that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program...
After taking a reporters' question earlier today about exactly what the President was told, White House press secretary Dana Perino provided a response to reporters Wednesday night.
Perino stated Bush had been told in August that Iran suspended it's covert nuclear weapons program.
"In August, DNI Director McConnell advised President Bush that the intelligence community would not be able to meet a congressionally imposed deadline requiring a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran because new information had been obtained just as they were about to finalize the report," Perino wrote in an emailed response.
"He said that if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right. Iran does in fact have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended," Perino's email said.
Perino also said McConnell told the President the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran's covert nuclear program.
Of course, Perino's latest version of who-knew-what-and-when may well be yet another lie. New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh said earlier yesterday that Dick Cheney knew about the Iranian program's suspension as late as last November, and that he had "kept his foot on the neck of that report" until last week.
The White House has apparently been successful in burying the news that Bush lied at the news conference on Tuesday about when he was informed about the suspension of the Iranian program --- and that, by extension both Bush and Cheney have been lying to the American public for months about the threat Iran poses to world peace.
Repercussions continue to shake out in the wake of the release this week of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that says Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program four years ago.
At a news conference yesterday, George Bush denied knowing that U.S. intelligence had learned the Iranian program had been suspended when he warned the American people last month that Iran was on the verge of launching World War III. He was not lying, Bush suggested, but rather his own incompetence and famous lack of curiosity led him to give the false warning. Bush said that when Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell told him in August that new information about the Iranian nuclear program had come to light, he simply did not bother to ask the DNI about the nature of the new developments.
If the muted response to this assertion, from reporters at the news conference, is a guide, journalists close to the White House appear to believe that while it may be unacceptable for Bush to lie to them, it is perfectly okay for him to issue false predictions about an impending apocalypse if the warnings are based entirely on his ineptitude as commander-in-chief and his personal lack of curiosity.
As if all of that isn't a sorry enough state of affairs, today we learn that Dick Cheney has known about --- and actively suppressed --- the intelligence community's finding for over a year. In particular, Cheney knew that Iran suspended its weapons program when he made this statement on Oct. 21, 2007, in an address to a Washington think tank...