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...
During Monday's State Department press briefing, Associated Press State Department Correspondent Matthew Lee posed the most pointed question about the conflict in Gaza and the Bush administration's position: "What’s wrong with an immediate cease-fire that doesn’t have to be sustainable and durable if, during the pause that you get from an immediate cease-fire, something longer-term can be negotiated?" Lee didn't tread lightly either when Deputy Secretary of State Sean McCormack failed to provide a sufficient answer and continued to challenge McCormack on the same point in Tuesday's press briefing.
Yet a funny thing happened on the way to print: the substance of these exchanges never made it into Lee's corresponding articles...
[UPDATE 1/8/09: Oops! The article discussed below is indeed from Wednesday, but from a Wednesday in 2007! March 14th to be precise. I'll not out the colleague who sent it to me, who similarly thought it was published yesterday. But I'll thank the commenter who finally noticed the date on the Reuters article, re-remind myself of the the dangers of "road blogging" too quickly, and otherwise make myself feel better by noting that my originally expressed caution about getting too optimistic at this point was apparently well placed. As another commenter then noted, the original bill in question was later blocked in the Senate by an unknown, likely-Republican, Senator. Let's hope the Ds now have enough votes and control of the Senate to avoid the same fate for these bills that need to be passed now in the new Congress. And my apologies for the false-positive alarm. - BF]
So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.
What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.