President Obama announced the nomination on Thursday of a former government lawyer, who had been critical of the legal rationale for the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, to lead the Justice Department’s national security division.
The lawyer, David Kris, served as a senior Justice Department official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations from 2000 to 2003, and is widely respected in Washington for his knowledge of intelligence law.
In late 2005, following the public disclosure of the N.S.A. wiretapping program approved by President Bush, Mr. Kris wrote a 23-page legal analysis that described as “weak’’ and likely unsupportable some of the Bush administration’s key legal arguments in justifying the program.
And when he was still at the Justice Department, he advised his boss, who was at the time Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, not to sign a mysterious batch of wiretapping warrants — which grew out of the program — because intelligence officials would not reveal how the information in the wiretaps was obtained.
If I hear one more Bush Legacy con-artist --- or worse, supposed Progressives who brainlessly buy into the masterstroke of propaganda --- state that "Bush kept us safe" or "There have been no terror attacks on American soil since 9/11," I think I may shoot someone, or poison them with anthrax --- just to keep them safe.
To be clear, there were deadly terror attacks --- and on American soil! --- since 9/11.
5 people were killed and 17 other were injured in the 2001 anthrax attacks in what was the most deadly use of lethal bioterrorism on American soil in this nation's history. Many of those multiple terror attacks included notes intended to signal that they were attacks by supporters of Islamic jihadists.
Additionally, in October 2002, for three weeks, D.C. and environs were ground to a panicked stand-still as sniper attacks by a terrorist from the Nation of Islam went on for three weeks, killing 10 people and injuring 3 at 15 different sites throughout the Beltway.
Both the Anthrax Attacks and the Beltway Sniper Attacks were terrorist attacks on Americans, on American soil, following 9/11.
As to Bush having kept us safe beyond the 15 killed and 20 injured in the dozens of terror attacks on American soil since 9/11 as mentioned above, to date 4,230 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. Additionally, 172 American civilian contractors were also killed in the unnecessary, optional war on a country which had nothing to do with 9/11. Moreover, tens of thousands of U.S. troops were permanently injured in the conflict.
The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, under Bush's optional deployment, far exceeds, by more than one thousand, the number of American citizens killed on 9/11.
Counting only the dead (and only the American dead, in this case, since estimates of violent Iraqi civilian fatalities during the war are currently estimated to be anywhere from a conservative 150,000 to more than 1,000,000) that totals 4,245 Americans killed by terrorists, or in optional conflicts with terrorists, since 9/11.
"Bush kept us safe"?
Since 9/11, we could have had 14 different massive domestic terrorist bombings, in 14 different major U.S. cities, kill 300 Americans in each attack, and still had fewer Americans killed by terrorists since 9/11 than we have under the bold and courageous leadership of George W. Bush.
None of the above refers to the likely millions of individuals across the world now far more interested in bringing us harm than they were prior to 9/11, but other than that, yeah, "Bush kept us safe".
Though the clemency granted by George W. Bush to the criminal I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for his part in illegally covering up the investigation into the unprecedented White House outing of a covert CIA asset, was reprehensible, Bush showed admirable restraint in his issuing of Presidential pardons on his way out the door.
There! Never let it be said we couldn't come up with something positive to say about his reign! Took us eight years, but there ya go. Even a broken clock is right at least once every eight years.
By way of underscoring his nearly once-in-a-lifetime apparently (accidentally?) good judgment, it's worth noting that many of Bush's supporters (such that there still are any) are pissed off that he hadn't issued a full pardon for Libby before leaving:
According to conservative columnist and Cheney biographer Stephen F. Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, "Bush's decision not to pardon Libby has angered many of the president's strongest defenders. One Libby sympathizer, a longtime defender of Bush, told friends she was 'disgusted' by the president. Another described Bush as 'dishonorable' and a third suggested that refusing to pardon Libby was akin to leaving a soldier on the battlefield."
Hayes quotes Cheney himself as saying, "...Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."
Waytago, Decider! You finally did something right!
As we've been predicting for some weeks ago, the flood of revelations that would be flowing forth after Obama was sworn in would likely make what we currently know about Bush Era illegalities and incompetence seem like barely the tip of the iceberg.
Just one day after the Inauguration, Russell Tice, the NSA whistleblower who originally participated in that agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program, and revealed details of same to the New York Times' back in late 2005, has now come forward with more details that he had been disinclined to release previously (he had been, after all, hounded by the FBI, subpoenaed by a grand jury, etc. after his original, heroic revelations.)
He spoke yesterday on MSNBC, revealing that American journalists were targeted by Bush's program which "had access to all Americans' communications." Please watch the remarkable video interview at right. Both that, and the text below, is from RAW STORY's coverage last night...
"The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications --- faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications," Tice claimed. "It didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications."
"In one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations, just supposedly so that we would not target them," Tice told Olbermann. "What I was finding out, though, is that the collection on those organizations was 24/7 and 365 days a year --- and it made no sense. ... I started to investigate that. That's about the time when they came after me to fire me."
When Olbermann pressed him for specifics, Tice offered, "An organization that was collected on were US news organizations and reporters and journalists."
"To what purpose?" Olbermann asked. "I mean, is there a file somewhere full of every email sent by all the reporters at the New York Times? Is there a recording somewhere of every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York?"
Tice did not answer directly, but simply stated, "If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be everything."
At the end of the MSNBC interview, Olbermann asked Tice to appear again this evening (Thursday) for more discussion on this issue.
Her words are more impressive when read, than when seen in the video, I think. Nonetheless, both seem to reveal a Pelosi at a bit of a crossroads. Perhaps. Could the woman who took impeachment "off the table" be ready to now move in a different direction?
In a Sunday morning interview with Fox' Chris Wallace, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi signaled that she's open to backing prosecutions of Bush administration officials that may arise from congressional hearings.
"I think we have to learn from the past and we cannot let the politicizing of, for example, the Justice Department to go unreviewed," said Pelosi, . "The past is prologue, we learn from it... I want to see the truth come forth."
"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," Pelosi said. "We have a contempt of Congress against members of the executive branch who withheld information from us."
The words that impress me most there: "You look at each item and see what is a violation of law and do we even have a right to ignore it."
Last week, President-elect Barack Obama said he was open to "good ideas" from anyone, even from the New York Times' Paul Krugman. (Video here.)
"If Paul Krugman has a good idea...then we're gonna do it," said Obama. He was speaking about "good ideas" for his economic stimulus package at the time, but we'd written that we hoped the sentiments might extend to good ideas on any important issue that his administration might face, including some good ideas of our own that we'd offered to his transition team, who had consulted with us, as they are working on review of the dreadfully-failed U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
Well, as it turns out, the New York Times' Paul Krugman does have some very good ideas, as noted in an op-ed yesterday, this time on why the Obama administration must bring accountability for the crimes of the Bush Era. The must-read column, headlined "Forgive and Forget?" begins this way...
TV and Radio flim-flam artist and Bush-era dinosaur Bill O'Reilly told listeners of his radio show today that his role in the next few years will be "to be Paul Revere." (Audio clip at end of article.)
O'Reilly had little explanation for his new-found patriotism and why he had decided, over the last eight years, to be a front line general for "the British" instead.
During much of this morning's Radio Factor w/ Bill O'Reilly, which he will soon be leaving for good, he chided so-called "Bush haters" who believe in accountability for the soon-to-be-former "President," for their unwillingness to simply "move ahead" and ignore the myriad crimes of the outgoing Administration.
The phrase, oft-repeated this morning by the wanna-be-patriot O'Reilly, was reminiscent of similar "get over it, move on" admonitions proffered by his ilk when Bush was awarded the Presidency by the Supreme Court in late 2000 despite his opponent, Al Gore, having received more votes in Florida [PDF] and across the entire nation.
"Move on" then, "move ahead" now, warns the new Paul Revere who has previously noticed no British either coming nor going...
Eric Holder just told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the behavior of president Bush has been illegal, and that he, Eric Holder, will uphold the rule of law. It will be very hard to maintain those positions and not prosecute or appoint a Special Counsel to prosecute Bush's crimes.
Here's roughly what was said:
10:29 a.m. Leahy: is "waterboarding" torture and illegal?
Holder: yes, it is torture.
Leahy: Can other nations legally torture Americans?
Leahy: Can President of the United States immunize acts of torture?
Holder: Nobody is above the law. President has Constitutional obligation to enforce the laws. We have laws and treaties. The president acts most forcefully and has the greatest power when consistent with Congressional intent and directives. The president does NOT have the power that you have indicated.
Leahy: Washington Post yesterday reported that the top Bush Admin. official on military commissions says we tortured a detainee.
If he's confirmed, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings today, he'll review the Bush U.S. Attorney's decision to not prosecute former DoJ Civil Rights attorney Bradley Schlozman for his grotesque bastardization and politicization of the department as we detailed earlier this week. Schlozman, the DoJ's Inspector General found, broke federal law and custom vis a vis his hiring practices of only fellow whack-a-doodle wingnuts, and further went on to lie to Congress about during hearings (which is also a federal crime).
Said Holder during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein...
I've had this picture in my mind lately, an editorial cartoon-like drawing, of a dam about to break and someone (Obama?) leaning hard up against it in futile hopes of keeping it from bursting forth. The dam and its contents, in my mind's eye, are labeled "Bush Administration Crimes and Failures." I've been pondering, over the last several days, how we're soon likely to learn that everything we think we already know about the historically-unparalleled failures, crimes and cover-ups of the Bush administration, will likely prove to be barely the tip of the iceberg as the Bushies lose their power, and "the files" are finally opened for all to see.
It's likely to take years, after President Obama is sworn in next week, to unearth the entire breadth of the degradation, filth, corruption and dismantling of federal law and U.S. Constitution under the current administration, and to piece together all of the unshredded and likely-shredded evidence both, and to take in the information likely to pour forth from officials and former officials who finally find the courage to tell the world just how bad it all really was and is (even if many of them would now be doing so only to salvage their own hide.)
One hint of what will be found beyond the tip of that iceberg, or inside that near-to-bursting dam (take your metaphorical pick) comes in today's remarkable report [PDF] from the DoJ Inspector General on the illegal politicization of the hiring practices at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division and "other improper personnel actions" in the division.
It's remarkable on several fronts. Not only because it describes the politicization of the department under the Bushies, their strictly illegal hiring practices; their determined dismantling of a core of career attorneys devoted to years of legal-processes in the fight for civil rights; as well as perjury and out-and-out lying to Congress, but also because the report itself --- in one last classic stroke of corrupt Bush Administration gaming of the system --- was completed last July, prior to the election, but held for release until today, just 7 days before the criminals (or at least those who won't be still-embedded like cancer cells within the federal buearocracy for years to come) take their leave.
And, as if all of that isn't bad enough, with the out-and-out finding of criminal wrongdoing in the report (such as illegal hiring practices and lying about them to Congress), the Bush Administration's own DoJ has decided that no prosecutions should be brought against the Bush Administration's own DoJ for the Bush Administration's own DoJ's now-well-documented actions in breaking federal law.
The bastardization of the DoJ Civil Rights division is a topic which we've covered closely over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, and even played a part in helping to expose, for example, when the head of the Voting Section in that division, John Tanner, was forced to resign from his post, not long after we'd video-taped and published controversial (and inaccurate) comments he made at a 2007 conference in Los Angeles declaring that disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place were more of a concern for the elderly than for African-Americans because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
(See our now-infamous video, shot by our own Alan Breslauer, at right.)
As today's (actually July's) report reveals, that wouldn't be the only unfortunate --- and one might say, "ironic", given his position --- derogatory remark made about African-Americans by Tanner. But the bulk of the report, it seems, is devoted to one Bradley Schlozman, who insidiously twisted the mission of the Civil Rights division, brought political prosecutions in order to try and affect the outcome of elections, in violation of written DoJ policy, and attempted (and arguably succeeded) in helping to engineer an outright illegal, and ideological purge --- an ethical cleansing, if you will --- at the department, in an attempt to stack it with far rightwing brethren from the Federalist Society, or "right thinking Americans" (RTAs), as he referred to them among friends...