Via BuzzFlash.com. On Tuesday, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced that he has scheduled a vote for July 16 on whether to charge Attorney General Michael Mukasey with contempt of Congress.
Mukasey has refused to comply with the committee's subpoena for FBI transcripts of a June 2004 interview with Dick Cheney about the leaking of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
The administration has asserted that Cheney's interview cannot be shared with Congress. However, Waxman has confirmed that the interview was not covered by a secrecy agreement, primarily because it was part of grand jury inquiry into the leak.
The confirmation comes from Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the leak investigation:
I can advise you that as to any interviews of either the president or vice president not protected by the rules of grand jury secrecy, there were no "agreements, conditions and understandings between the Office of Special Counselor the Federal Bureau of Investigation" and either the president or vice president "regarding the conduct and use of the interview or interviews."
The committee is looking into allegations that Cheney directed the unmasking of Plame, a specialist in the black market for terror weapons, because her husband, Joe Wilson, had criticized him in a newspaper.
In early 2007, Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was found guilty of obstructing the inquiry by lying to investigators.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki dropped a bombshell into the American presidential campaign yesterday when he stated publicly that it was time for U.S. troops to leave his country.
“The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or to put a timetable on their withdrawal,” al Maliki said, while on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates.
The U.S. government is currently negotiating with the Iraqis on an agreement that would keep U.S. forces in the country on a long-term basis. But members of the parliament and the al Maliki government are said to be unhappy with the proposal because it would undermine Iraq's sovereignty.
Al Maliki's announcement can be seen as a direct challenge to the Iraq policy of George Bush and his presumptive heir, John McCain, both of whom insist that the U.S. cannot withdraw until Iraq is secure. McCain is on the record saying U.S. troops could remain in Iraq for a century or more, if conditions warrant.
Reacting to al Maliki's announcement, Barack Obama said the Iraqi government is more in sync with his view of future U.S.-Iraq relations.
"I think that his statement is consistent with my view about how withdrawals should proceed," Obama said to reporters on Monday. "I think it's encouraging ... that the prime minister himself now acknowledges that in cooperation with Iraq, it's time for American forces to start sending out a timeframe for the withdrawal.
"I hope that this administration as well as John McCain is listening to what Prime Minister al Maliki has to say."
If the Iraqis take the next step and officially request a withdrawal, and Bush declines the request, it will the myth that U.S. troops are not forces of occupation in Iraq.
It's unclear whether the Iraqis will take that step, but no matter what happens, the Iraqi government's position on withdrawal will make it harder as the fall campaign plays out for McCain and Bush to smear Obama and the Democrats as advocates of "surrendering" and "cutting and running" from the Iraq civil war.
Last week, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that his government has defeated terrorism in Iraq.
"They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it. But, thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them," al-Maliki declared, referring to recent government operations against Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
Violence in Iraq is said to be at its lowest level in four years, a factor that is attributed to the surge of U.S. forces into the country.
So if the surge has been so successful, can we bring U.S. troops out of Iraq and leave internal security to al-Maliki and the Iraqi military?
What this means is that the surge is a success only in the sense that flooding the zone with security has tamped down violence and --- here is the real point --- neutralized Iraq as a domestic political issue in the presidential campaign.
Underlying the "success," however, the morass of internecine religious conflicts, intrigue and power struggles is far from resolved and will undoubtedly raise its ugly head again when U.S. troops come out, if they ever do.
Blogged by Brad from somewhere on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula...
Perhaps next year, for the first time in five years, we won't feel that we must post the following document on the Fourth of July. Perhaps.
But once again this year, it seems necessary to remind readers that this country's founders once described King George thusly: "A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
With a right to be free from tyranny and for a system of self-governance that derives its power from the consent of the governed, the founders declared: "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," they wrote. "And accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
And thus, we recommend, once again this year, that you read the following document in full if you have not done so recently. We also challenge you to not notice the extraordinary irony. In the bargain, we wish you the best and most free holiday you are able to enjoy this year...
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), one of the new FISA bill's strongest champions, spoke about the bill's new "exclusivity provision" on the floor of the House on March 14, 2008. He proclaimed that "It clarifies that FISA is the exclusive means of conducting surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes."
On June 20, Hoyer optimistically echoed his previous comment: "This legislation makes clear that FISA is the exclusive means by which the government may conduct surveillance."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA), in an email sent to some constituents, including myself, wrote that the new FISA bill: "Includes provisions I authored that make clear that FISA is the exclusive (or only) authority for conducting surveillance inside the United States...FISA would be the only legal authority for conducting surveillance on Americans for intelligence purposes..."
But the old FISA bill, which was the law when Bush began to spy on us without warrants, also had an "exclusivity" provision that stated:
[P]rocedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.
Since the "President" ignored the old FISA law, despite its existing exclusivity provision, what makes Hoyer or Feinstein or any of the other Dems think he'll bother to obey the new version of the law?
The existing law didn't keep Bush from breaking it last time, so it's beyond me what makes law makers think he won't do the same this time around. I decided to contact three different Democratic officials, all in favor of the new law, to try and find out why they believe they won't be fooled again...
On Friday, just 10 days after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) for notes from a June 2004 interview the FBI conducted with George Bush and Dick Cheney regarding their roles in the CIA leak scandal, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for documents related to the leak as well as the department's alleged political prosecutions.
According to a news release from the House Judiciary Committee, "[Chairman] John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today issued a subpoena to the [DOJ] to provide to the committee a number of previously requested documents by July 9. The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law voted this week to authorize committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. to issue the subpoena at his discretion. The documents the committee is seeking cover a broad range of issues including the Valerie Plame leak, allegations of selective prosecution, and other matters."
In an interview posted on the website of the London Telegraph, John Bolton, one of the most belligerent of the neocon war hawks, predicted that Israel will attack Iran sometime after the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and before January 21, the day George Bush and Dick Cheney leave office.
Attacking Iran has long been a neocon objective. Last February, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that Dick Cheney had secret plans for creating an "open confrontation" with Iran, and that he had the Pentagon ready to start bombing with 24 hours of a signal from the White House. At the same time, the Times of London reported that top U.S. military brass had let it be known they would resign if Cheney launched the attack.
Public outcry generated by the Hersh article and other reports quickly dampened the fervor for attacking Tehran. Two months after the report, however, John McCain ramped up the bellicose rhetoric when, during a campaign stop in South Carolina in April 2007, he made a joke about bombing Iran by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys song, "Barbara Ann."
John Bolton now believes Bush and Cheney have succumbed to political reality and will not pursue the attack using U.S. forces. According to the Telegraph, Bolton said, "It's clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility... I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards."
About his suggested timeframe for the attack of November to January, Bolton said, "The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defenses by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
John Yoo and David Addington, the architects of Bush's illegal torture policies, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. The hearing included this frothy exchange between Yoo and the committee chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich.):
CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?
YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive…
CONYERS: I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked if you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.
YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President — no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.
Yoo was serving in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, when he wrote the infamous memo and contributed to the PATRIOT ACT. He is now a professor of law at UC Berkeley.
'Welcome to Judiciary Committee's First Book of the Month Club Meeting,' Snarks Ranking Member, Comparing Former Press Sec to Judas, During Oversight Hearing Concerning First-Ever Outing of Covert CIA Operative by an American White House
The testimony was interrupted by House floor votes shortly after it began, but not before opening statements from Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Scott McClellan himself (text here), as well as a single round of questions from Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Not surprisingly, the Dems were respectful to the former WH Press Secretary, and even Coble was restrained and decent-ish in his first set of questions on behalf of the Republicans, following Smith's predictable attempts to try and smear McClellan and his publisher (as little more than operatives of the evil evil master overlord of all things not-Republican: George Soros).
Smith's opening statement --- characterized as "character assassination" which "has no place in this committee," as Nadler described it --- likely portends what's to come from the bulk of the Republicans should the hearings ever get re-started this morning.
In the meantime, McClellan, to his credit, again has refused to back off of his claims even one iota. As legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote to us recently, following McClellan's recent Fox "News" appearance, in which he stood up to bully boy Bill O'Reilly, "he sounded to me as though he had ACQUIRED, even if belatedly, the instincts of a whistleblower (and he's paying the usual social price for that with respect to all his old colleagues, though compensated by royalties)."
With all of that in mind, Smith's opening statement (video now posted at left, text posted below), described the hearing as "the Judiciary Committees first book of the month club meeting" before proceeding to plug Ann Coulter's book. He then accused McClellan of "selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver." It was something to behold, and demonstrated (yet again) just how far these guys are willing to go to protect the Administration (versus offering oversight, as required by the Constitution) when they need to.
Remember, this hearing has to do with an administration, for the first time in the history of this nation, having revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative...and one who was monitoring WMD traffic in the Middle East, of all things.
The text of Smith's complete opening statement follows in full...
Is the photo at left beginning to seem less and less absurd?
Looks like we're headed for an interesting game of chicken next month in the House Judiciary Committee surrounding Rove's subpoena to appear before it to answer questions in the Don Siegelman affair (and perhaps others) on July 10. RAW has the story worth putting on your radar, with no less than two House Judiciary members hinting that they may be willing to take extra steps (e.g., use of "inherent contempt" to have Rove arrested by the House Sergeant at Arms if need be) should he refuse to testify.
If Rove refuses to appear, says Rep. Wasserman-Schultz, "then we have to take the next step." And Rep. Sanchez notes, "We really need to set our foot down and show there are consequences to people who laugh in the face of Congressional subpoenas."
Tea leaves sure, but interesting ones, worth watching. The point is also made that the Committee may continue with this particular investigation, even as a new President takes office. Would be a whole different ballgame under those conditions. Presuming that new President isn't McCain, in any case. Hmmm...
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have subpoenaed notes of an FBI interview with George Bush and Dick Cheney in the Oval Office on June 24, 2004, about their role in the unmasking of a CIA anti-WMD program administered by Valerie Plame:
The subpoena follows a June 3 letter from committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman to Attorney General Mukasey, asking for the documents and a June 11 response from Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Keith B. Nelson [who declined the request due to "separation of powers" issues.
Waxman requested the transcripts of the FBI interviews earlier this month, after publication of Scott McClellan’s tell all memoir revealing Bush administration deception. A transcript of Cheney’s interview would be of particular interest because his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was the only official convicted of a crime in relation to the Plame probe.
Libby told the FBI that it was “possible” Cheney instructed him to leak Plame’s name, Waxman wrote in his initial letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
The question appears to be, if Bush and Cheney lied to McClellan, did they also lie to the FBI that June morning. Lying to the FBI is illegal, even if the subjects are not under oath.
Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) reports Bradley Schlozman, one of the DoJ's GOP "voter fraud" operatives, who was inserted as US Attorney in Missouri just in time to bring "voter registration fraud" indictments just days before a major election, may be heading for more trouble...
Justice Department lawyers have filed a grand-jury referral stemming from the 2006 U.S. attorneys scandal, according to people familiar with the probe, a move indicating that the yearlong investigation may be entering a new phase.
The grand-jury referral, the first time the probe has moved beyond the investigative phase, relates to allegations of political meddling in the Justice Department's civil-rights division, these people say. Specifically, it focuses on possible perjury by Bradley Schlozman, who served a year as interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo.
The article goes on to say it's unclear which of Schlozzie's comments --- characterized by one BRAD BLOG DoJ source, at the time, as "on the razor's edge of perjury" --- that prosecutors are specifically focusing on.
Perhaps it could be the moment seen in the video at right? (But, even if not, the clip featuring an outraged Rep. Patrick Leahy, is always worth watching again!)
After his testimony, Schlozman, who had passed the buck, claiming he was "acting at the direction of the [DoJ's] Public Integrity section," suggesting that they had given him the go-ahead to violate DoJ rules disallowing election-related indictments just prior to elections, was forced to offer a retraction to that part of his testimony.
Today's WSJ article also notes: "Separate investigations into the department's handling of the prosecutor firings and related issues, which are being conducted by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General, are expected to be completed within the next few weeks."
Looks like it could be a long hot summer for Schlozzie. Or the DoJ could bury it entirely. At this point in the Bush Adminstration, it's anyone's guess how, or if, the DoJ works at all.
As I listened to Rep. Kucinich invoke the great engine of impeachment—he listed some 35 crimes by these two faithless officials—we heard, like great bells tolling, the voice of the Constitution itself speak out ringingly against those who had tried to destroy it.
this is the most important motion made in Congress in the 21st century
And perhaps the capper:
But then I have known for a long time that the media of the U.S. and too many of its elected officials give not a flying fuck for the welfare of this republic...
Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Congressman and former 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate, said he would continue to introduce resolutions calling for the removal of President George W. Bush from office if the articles of impeachment against Bush that he presented to the House Monday is not taken up within 30 days.
Congressman Robert Wexler, (D-Fla.), agreed to co-sponsor of the measure Tuesday.
Congress voted 251-166 Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment to a House Judiciary Committee for review where it's expected to die.
But Kucinich said if that happens he will just introduce another resolution until lawmakers vote on the measure.
"Leadership wants to bury it, but this is one resolution that will be coming back from the dead," Kucinich told the Washington Post Wednesday. "Thirty days from now, if there is no action, I will be bringing the resolution up again, and I won't be the only one reading it. We'll come back and many of us will be reading this [on the House floor], and we'll come back with 60 articles, not 35."
DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG was consulted by Kucinich's office prior to his filing of Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush. We were asked to submit material as used in Article 28, "Tampering with Free and Fair Elections" and Article 29, "Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965".
Looks like we're coming into rewards season at the White House for longtime Bush loyalists. Of course, we thought that's what the last seven year were about, but we digress.
Apparently, being named as a criminal co-conspirator in Articles of Impeachment is worthy of a prize from this particular White House, as Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.'s self-proclaimed "non-partisan" "longtime voting rights advocate" --- and not-self-proclaimed national champion GOP vote-suppressor Thor Hearne --- received yet another thank you gift from the White House today: A non-partisan appointment to a "non-partisan Commission" (according to the nationally renowned liar Thor) by George W. Bush.
Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the few reporters Thor will answer the phone for (other than those at "liberal media" outlets such as NYTimes, NPR, USA Today and again at USA Today) writes today, while failing to note Hearne's infamous entry into the history books on the floor of the U.S. House this week...