Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
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...
According to CNN's Bill Schneider, "Iraq is not a top issue to Republicans" in the coming election. Thus, Senator John McCain, who is seen as the GOP candidate "Best Able To Handle Iraq" does not gain much traction with voters whose interests have shifted to the economy and to other issues.
The White House is blocking efforts by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to present evidence he collected in the CIA Leak investigation to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Prompted by Scott McClellan's statement last month asserting that top White House officials, including George Bush and Dick Cheney, were complicit in an effort to deceive the public about the leak, Rep. Waxman has written to Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging him to convince Bush to release the evidence.
In his letter, Rep. Waxman points to a precedent from the Clinton administration:
"[There] is direct precedent for the production of these records to the Committee. During the Clinton Administration, the Justice Department provided the Committee with dozens of FBI 302 reports of interviews with White House officials. No White House official — including the President and the Vice President — was exempted from the production. Among the White House officials whose FBI 302 reports were provided to the Committee were President Clinton, Vice President Gore [and 10 other top White House officials, including current and former chiefs of staff].
Of particular interest are Fitzgerald's notes from his interviews at the White House. If either Bush or Cheney gave statements that contradict McClellan's, a new investigation would likely be triggered. Lying to federal prosecutors is a felony.
In Bushworld, incompetence must be rewarded (in order to prevent the incompetent ex-employee from writing a tell-all book):
Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank --- amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend --- he's in line to return to public service.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board [ISAB], a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters.
"We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job," said one senior official.
Right. What harm could he possibly do as head of this group:
The Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board, formerly called the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board (ACNAB), provides the Department with independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy. The ISAB is sponsored and overseen by the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. The Board provides its recommendations directly to the Secretary of State. The Board currently has 18 members and is chartered to have up to 25. Board members are national security experts with scientific, military, diplomatic, and political backgrounds. The Board meets in a plenary session on a quarterly basis.
The position was previously held by former lobbyist and U.S. senator, Fred Thompson, who is currently a Republican candidate for president.
This ought to drive a stake through the heart of the myth that Republicans are fiscally conservative.
According to the Associated Press, after seven years of mismanagement by George Bush and 12 years of Republican dominance of the Senate and control of the House, the national debt of the United States is now expanding by $1.4 billion per day and $1 million per minute:
What's that mean to you?
It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States...
[The] government is fast straining resources needed to meet interest payments on the national debt, which stands at a mind-numbing $9.13 trillion.
By the time Bush is scheduled to leave office in January 2009, the debt will be $10 trillion, which is $10,000,000,000,000.00.
In brief, I became known to some as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when, in January of 2004, I stole and exposed legal documents [PDF] proving that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was using and planned to continue using illegal, uncertified software in their California voting machines. (By the way, Diebold recently changed its name to Premier Election Solutions, but don't let that fool you; it's still the same bunch of idiots.) Details about my case can be found here and here [PDF].
The documents I stole were covered under attorney-client privilege, so my theft was a serious crime. In February of 2006 I was charged with three felonies. On November 20, 2006, I plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer, and in exchange for my guilty plea and a restitution payment of $10,000 to the law firm from which I stole the documents, the law firm promised they wouldn't bring a civil suit against me, and I was put on felony probation instead of being sent to jail. The term of probation was to be at least one year, and as much as three years.
Now, one year after my guilty plea, because I've stayed out of trouble and because I'm a first offender, the judge has reduced my felony to a misdemeanor. Sometime in 2008, my lawyers will petition the court to have my misdemeanor expunged.
The bad part is that the most troublesome aspect of my probation is still in force. Before I can accept a job at which I would use a computer networked to one or more other computers (basically any job for which I'd be qualified), any potential employer must write to the judge in my case, tell him that they know about my conviction and that they still want to hire me, and then we have to wait until the judge responds with a "yes" or a "no" before I can accept the job and start work (and then only if the judge says "yes"). So as you can see, employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me.
Meanwhile, my wife (an actor, filmmaker and writer) certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor. She had been calling me Felonious Punk, but now that I'm no longer a felon, she's switched to Mister Meanor. Ain't it great being married to a comedy writer?
To be clear, breaking attorney-client privilege is a very serious crime, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I'm still being punished for it, and so far the punishment has cost my wife and me over $210,000 - and counting. $210,000 is an enormous amount of money to us. My wife and I have paid and are continuing to pay a very high price for my crime.
But, as we're not Republicans, we might have expected that.
Which got me thinking about other crimes in America that have recently been committed or alleged, and what's happened to those involved. Among the first of many, Lewis "Scooter" Libby comes to mind...