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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, July 31, 2014
FEC Commissioners at War Over Rove's Campaign Finance Violations
Deadlock vote, ignoring federal agencies own attorneys, leads to lawsuit and scathing attack of Dem Commissioners by GOP colleagues...
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A RW caller's admission to Brad on NC radio underscores unparalleled propaganda power of Fox 'News'...
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HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
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Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Sorry for 'Hurtful Way Explanation of Data Came Across,' Does Not Recant Analysis That Minorities Somehow Benefit From Photo ID Restrictions at Polling Places Because They 'Die First' Before Becoming Elderly
Tanner to Meet Elderly Minority Congressman Conyers at Hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday Morning...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 6:01pm PT  

John Tanner, chief of the DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Unit, has not yet been fired. But he is sorry:

I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congreso about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters. I understand that my explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way which I deeply regret. The reports of my comments do not in any way accurately reflect my career of devotion to enforcing federal laws designed to assure fair and equal access to the ballot. I am honored to have the opportunity to do this work, and I am honored to serve with the dedicated employees of the Voting Section who, day in and day out, work hard to protect the rights of all Americans under the Voting Rights Act.

The apology, sent last Friday, becomes public on the eve of his testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10am ET, and just after the DNC joined many others early today in demanding he be "immediately fired." Tanner's sorry note was sent to a few folks just after Senator Barack Obama called on the Acting Attorney General to fire him. Several others have followed suit since.

Paul Kiel, who notes that "Tanner does not recant his analysis that voter ID laws actually discriminate against whites, but does apologize that his 'explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way,' has the scoop on the apology. It was sent to some of the attendees at the National Latino Congreso earlier this month where The BRAD BLOG video-taped and reported his objectionable, and incorrect, comments on restrictive Photo ID laws he's approved at the DoJ.

He had claimed such laws were just fine by him since, though they may disenfranchise some elderly voters, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

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Says John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner's Recent Remarks 'Underscore the GOP's Utter Disregard for the Integrity of our Nation's Election System'
Statement Issued in Advance of Tomorrow's U.S. House Judicary Hearings Featuring Testimony from Embattled DoJ Voting Rights Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 12:46pm PT  

In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."

"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.

The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.

"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."

They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."

As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.

Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.

Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."

(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)

The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.

Though Tanner comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG, the DNC press release credits Fox News.com (thanks guys!).

UPDATE: Tanner apologizes for remarks! Sort of...

The complete DNC statement from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile as just issued, follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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She's Prepared to Name Names, Including Those of Two 'Well-Known' Congress Members Involved in Criminal Corruption
The 'Most Gagged Person in U.S. History' Tells The BRAD BLOG She's Now Exhausted All Other Channels...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 5:30am PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

Attention CBS 60 Minutes: we've got a huge scoop for you. If you want it.

Remember the exclusive story you aired on Sibel Edmonds, originally on October 27th, 2002, when she was not allowed to tell you everything that she heard while serving as an FBI translator after 9/11 because she was gagged by the rarely-invoked "States Secret Privilege"? Well, she's still gagged. In fact, as the ACLU first described her, she's "the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America."

But if you'll sit down and talk with her for an unedited interview, she has now told The BRAD BLOG during an exclusive interview, she will now tell you everything she knows.

Everything she hasn't been allowed to tell since 2002, about the criminal penetration of the FBI where she worked, and at the Departments of State and Defense; everything she heard concerning the corruption and illegal activities of several well-known members of Congress; everything she's aware of concerning information omitted and/or covered up in relation to 9/11. All of the information gleaned from her time listening to and translating wire-taps made prior to 9/11 at the FBI.

Here's a handy bullet-point list, as we ran it in March of 2006, for reference, of what she's now willing to tell you about.

"People say, 'why doesn't she just come forward and spill the beans?' I have gone all the way to the Supreme Court and was shut down, I went to Congress and now consider that shut down," she told The BRAD BLOG last week when we spoke with her for comments in relation to our story on former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's original attempt to move a resolution through the U.S. House in 2000 declaring the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians in Turkey as "genocide."

"Here's my promise to the American Public: If anyone of the major networks --- ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX --- promise to air the entire segment, without editing, I promise to tell them everything that I know," about everything mentioned above, she told us.

"I can tell the American public exactly what it is, and what it is that they are covering up," she continued. "I'm not compromising ongoing investigations," Edmonds explained, because "they've all been shut down since."

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Washington Post Turns to Rightwing 'Nutroots' for 'Expert' Input...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2007 2:36pm PT  

A "Game of Chicken" is how Washington Post describes the current standoff in the Senate concerning the FEC nomination of GOP "voter fraud" zealot/operative Hans von Spakovsky. The nomination is currently at a standstill, along with three other FEC nominations that Senate Republicans insist be voted on along with him, in the wake of a hold registered by Obama and Feingold.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's D-NV) incredible "deal" to slide HvS's nomination through has, for now, thankfully come to a standstill. But the resultant standoff could mean no operational FEC in 2008 as only two commissioners are currently left, and a minimum of four are needed to vote on anything.

WaPo's piece includes supportive quotes, in favor of von Spakovsky, from hard right partisan and former FEC Chair Brad Smith. Yet it fails to point out how much of a rightwing bomb-thrower Smith --- who charged in his own Redstate blog item last week that HvS is "currently under attack for being a Republican" --- actually is. Would WaPo have given such prominence to someone on the other side of the political spectrum?

You'll note, in Smith's piece, written prior to WaPo's, that he refers to Democratic "nutroots" as being responsible for the hold, along with "the campaign finance zealotry of Senator Feingold." Smith, apparently, forgot to mention that Feingold's co-sponsor on that bill was John McCain, who --- last we checked --- is a Republican.

In short, Smith argues in his Redstate diatribe, that though HvS may have participated in GOP-backed voter supression efforts when he served at the DoJ, nobody has complained about actions during his tenure over the last many months as an absentee appointee at the FEC. To which we say, yes, after the Fox has overseen the mutilation of the chickens in the Henhouse, by all means, let's elect him as chief meat inspector for the USDA.

Beyond that, and in teeing things up for this Tuesday's heaings in the House Judiciary Committee, set to star John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, the outrageously still-employed chief of the Bush DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section, Christy Hardin Smith suggests the GOP may be "throwing Tanner under the bus" in favor of von Spakovsky. She catches us up with the latest today in "Hans Down".

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Text Transcript, Video of Senate Hearings Reveal Federal Judge Less Than Concerned About Disenfranchising Poll Restriction Laws as Approved by John 'Minories Die First' Tanner on Behalf of DoJ Civil Rights Division...
ALSO: How Would California Voters Who Lost Possessions in This Week's Fires Vote Next Month if Such Laws Existed in the State?
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2007 1:16pm PT  

"These remarks display a shameful lack of understanding and sensitivity that is unacceptable in the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws against voting discrimination," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote in a question sent to Attorney General Nominee Michael Mukasey today concerning bizarre and objectionable comments made earlier this month by the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner.

Tanner, whose recent remarks at the National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles, as video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG earlier this month, have sparked outrage, leading to calls for his firing last week by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), this past Wednesday by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Civil Rights groups have also called for Tanner to be canned in the wake of his remarks claiming that Photo ID restrictions at the polling do effect the elderly, and that that's a "shame." But, minorities needn't worry because "they don't become elderly. They die first."

"The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has failed miserably in its responsibility to enforce the Voting Rights Act during this Administration," Kennedy said in a statement quoted by TPM Muckraker. "The latest shameful revelations from the Section drive home the urgent need for the next Attorney General to install strong leadership to allow the Voting Section to return to its historic role in ensuring access to the ballot."

Kennedy's question to Mukasey, which TPM Muck has in full, ends with "If you are confirmed, will you review Mr. Tanner’s record and consider whether he should be replaced as head of the Voting Section?"

But for those paying very close attention to Mukasey's confirmation hearings last week, his position on the controversial Photo ID issue --- a concern since some 10 to 30 million legally registered voters, largely Democratic-leaning minorities and elderly, are believed not to have such IDs and would therefore be kept from voting --- was troubling.

We had to review the testimony several times, as given in answer to questions by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), to figure out where he fell on this issue. But a close reading reveals that, while Mukasey offered clear responses objecting to voter suppression issues such as misinformation concerning polling place location, he was far dodgier on the question of polling place Photo ID restrictions.

Close review of the transcript --- posted along with the video in full below --- reveals that Mukasey feels that overt disenfranchisement efforts via dirty tricks, such as misleading and/or threatening fliers and phone calls, definitely amounts to "flat-out fraud and pernicious fraud."

His feelings about disenfranchising Photo ID requirements, however, are far different...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Says Recent Comments and Other Actions by John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner Demonstrate He and Others Have 'Perverted the Justice Department'
PLUS: New Allegations of Financial Improprieties by a Subordinate, 'Could Not Have Occurred Without Tanner's Approval,' Charges a BRAD BLOG DoJ Source...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2007 2:27pm PT  

The chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), says that the DoJ's Voting Section chief, John Tanner, should be fired in light of recent controversial comments made at a panel discussion at the National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles as first video taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG.

Nadler is now the second elected official to publicly call for the removal of Tanner from his post. Senator Barack Obama, and civil rights groups such as Advancement Project, have recently made the same demand.

"He should certainly be fired, obviously," Nadler told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman this morning when asked about Tanner's comments admitting that while it was a "shame" that elderly voters would be disenfranchised by restrictive Photo ID laws he'd approved on behalf of the DoJ, minorities actually benefit from such laws because "they don't become elderly. They die first."

Nadler went on to explain the reasons why he feels that Tanner and a "few others" have "perverted the Justice Department."

The video and complete text transcript of the interview with Nadler's comments in regard to Tanner are posted at the end of this article.

As well, new allegations of financial improprieties by one of Tanner's immediate subordinates have surfaced this morning in the Washington Post. Questionable travel by the Voting Section's acting deputy director is now being investigated by the DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibility.

The travel in question, a DoJ source tells The BRAD BLOG this morning, "could not have occurred without Tanner's approval."

"Obviously, someone who has such prejudices has no business heading the Voting Rights section or any other branch of the government and certainly not being on the Federal Voting Commission, which is supposed to enforce our election laws and our voting rights laws," Nadler continued in the interview today...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Email Sent to Supporters Describes Civil Rights Voting Chief's Comments as 'Pretty Unbelievable,' 'Last Straw'
Says: 'John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them'
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2007 2:09pm PT  

"This is pretty unbelievable," begins the email send from the campaign manager of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to supporters today.

The email, from David Pouffe, calls on members of the public to demand the DoJ fire its Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner, in the wake of disturbing and inaccurate comments, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, as made during a recent panel discussion at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles.

The email, which exhorts readers to send emails to DoJ via their new "John Tanner Must Go" campaign at http://Action.BarackObama.com/TannerMustGo continues thusly [emphasis in original]:

John Tanner, the top ranking voting rights official at the Justice Department, was caught on video claiming that photo ID requirements do not disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters because: "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do; they die first."

He went on to argue, irrationally, that these requirements actually benefit minorities because: "Anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities."

The letter to supporters from Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, is posted in full here.

Last week, Obama had sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler, demanding he immediately fire Tanner. Our coverage, along with his full letter, is here.

"The situation is clear," Plouffe writes in today's email after detailing a number of concerns about Tanner's record at the DoJ. "John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them."

Plouffe concludes by charging that "His recent comments are the last straw --- he must go."

Hearings have been tentatively confirmed by The BRAD BLOG as scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for October 30th at 10:00am ET. Tanner will be called as a witness and likely presented with clips from the video tape that we delivered yesterday in D.C. to committee staffers.

The chairman of the sub-committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), has said he's hopeful that Tanner "will be as willing to provide lawmakers with the same candid views he has been providing at various public venues."

The chairman of the full House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a 78-year old elderly minority member who, contrary to Tanner's assertions has not, in fact "die[d] first," has expressed consternation recently and over the years about the DoJ's chief voting official, including a 2005 letter in which he said he was "flabbergasted" at Tanner's contention that the reason for long voting lines in minority areas in Ohio's 2004 Presidential election was due to African Americans coming to the polls later in the day than non-minority voters.

The twisted conclusions from Tanner's "investigation" of voting problems reported during the 2004 Presidential election, including his assertion that minority voters actually had more access than whites to voting machines, were detailed in a letter, posted here in 2005, which can only be described as an extraordinary (and literal) "white washing" of the facts on the ground that day.

Conyers and his staff published a comprehensive report, entitled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio," as based on their own, far-reaching investigation after the election. We look forward to his questioning of Tanner next week.

Yesterday, we detailed additional allegations likely to be faced by Tanner in hearings next week.

A quick, video-taped snapshot of Tanner's most offensive --- and inaccurate, according to his former DoJ colleagues --- comments from the October 5th National Latino Congresso panel in Los Angeles, follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'Minorities Die First' Comments by DoJ's Voting Chief, John Tanner Continue to Reverberate in Advance of House Judiciary Hearings Next Week
National Journal Calls on the DoJ to Fire Tanner; Alternet Says His Recent Outreach to Latinos Suggests Still Further Politicization of the Civil Rights Division...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2007 6:19pm PT  


Heat and new, disturbing allegations continue to build in advance of next week's House Judiciary Committee hearings featuring the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner, following on BRAD BLOG's exclusive report on his offensive comments at a recent event in Los Angeles. (A short video recap of his comments, courtesy of our friends at TPM, is at left.)

The video-taped comments prompted a letter from Barak Obama to the Acting Attorney General, calling for Tanner's immediate dismissal.

While that letter was covered far and wide, late last week, two different articles today, one at National Journal and one at AlterNet follow up on the matter, and offer additional concerns and allegations that are likely to come up during next week's hearing, tentatively scheduled for Oct 30th.

(NOTE: Our own Alan Breslauer, who taped Tanner's comments originally, hand-delivered a copy of the video to the House Judiciary Committee today, as he happened to be in DC on other business.)

Tanner told audience members during an October 5th panel in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso, that it was a "shame" that some elderly voters would, in fact, be disenfranchised by restrictive polling place Photo ID laws that he approved on behalf of the DoJ, but that minorities needn't worry because they "don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

National Journal's Eliza Carney notes, in her column today, that should AG-nominee Michael Mukasey be confirmed, "His first step should be to replace John Tanner with someone less patently biased and ill-informed."

While AlterNet's Steve Rosenfeld points out that it appears the Civil Rights Voting Section, under Tanner, has become politicized in its outreach to Latinos and Asian-Americans, in order to curry GOP votes, while completely ignoring (or even exasperating) polling place access issues for African and Native Americans...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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From DREs to the ACVR to the DOJ, The Republican Alphabet Soup Blueprint for Disenfranchisement and Miscounting in Next Year's Election Has Been a Well-Crafted and Well-Funded Work, Long in the Planning...
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on 10/21/2007 5:04pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of The Columbus Free Press

ED NOTE: The following feature was originally published in the Autumn '07 print version of the Columbus Free Press. The comprehensive aerial overview --- connecting dots from 2000 to 2004 to the outlook for 2008, as based on a wide body of years-long investigative reportage and exposés as collected from a variety of sources, including The BRAD BLOG and many others --- offers such a useful round-up of "our story until now" that we thought running the piece in its entirety here would be a very good idea. We hope you agree.

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?

Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.

With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.

Thus it should come as no surprise that our exclusive investigations into the firings of eight federal prosecutors who refused to execute Rove’s plans for massive disenfranchisement of Democratic voters reveal a pattern of illegalities and fraud aimed at reducing the number of minority, poor and young voters at the core of Democratic support. In the wake of major news breaks, two felony convictions have come from the rigging of the illegal Ohio 2004 vote count and recount that gave George W. Bush a second illegitimate term. Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions. And the multi-million-dollar electronic voting machine scam that made possible the biggest electoral frauds in US history is under massive new attack, with key states moving to scrap the machines altogether in a desperate attempt to restore American democracy – but with the job far from done.

Rove, Ney and the Undead

Indeed, the Rovian theft engine is far from dead. The media groundwork has already been laid out for the Republicans to claim that hordes of illegal aliens have registered to vote. The Bush administration has been caught ordering public agencies – possibly in violation of the law – to cease registering voters. In an April, 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove openly alluded to the strategy of demanding photo ID and purging voter roles of poor, minority voters just as had been done in 2000 and 2004. And, as always with Bush/Rove, there is much more beneath the surface.

All that has happened to challenge the GOP death grip on the American vote count has been reported in the pages of Hustler and on the internet at FreePress.org, The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere, and is being seized upon by a national grassroots movement determined to restore American democracy next year.

Nowhere has that movement been more in evidence than with the high profile firestorm surrounding Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ firing of eight federal prosecutors without legitimate cause.

Evidence continues to surface from throughout the United States about this blatant Bush abuse of executive power. But we have traced the roots of the firings to an obscure Congressional hearing held at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, 2005, and to a shadowy GOP operative named Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

The hearing was conducted by none other than former US Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th OH). The once-powerful Ohio Congressman (who is now behind bars) was the godfather of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the national boondoggle that mandated electronic voting machines for the American electoral process.

That the machines would cost taxpayers billions was a big plus for Ney. They would come from Diebold and other companies that poured money into Republican coffers. Thanks largely to the manipulations of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, these e-voting machine companies would help guarantee the GOP’s ability to steal elections.

Ney’s hearing featured a marquee appearance by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State responsible for delivering Ohio’s decisive 2004 electoral votes to Bush. Blackwell was a key operative for the Bush election campaign in Florida in 2000 and co-chaired the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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If Mukasey can't call a spade a spade, we shouldn't call him Attorney General...
By Arlen Parsa on 10/20/2007 6:40pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa

At his confirmation hearings this past week, Bush's Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey was asked by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) if he considered waterboarding a form of torture. Here's an exchange the two had:

MUKASEY: If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
...
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: If it’s torture. That’s a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn’t. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding…is constitutional?

MUKASEY: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.

SEN. WHITEHOUSE: I’m very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.

MUKASEY: I’m sorry.

Mukasey's refusal to categorize waterboarding as torture is troubling to say the least...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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As Insiders Express Hope that the Voting Section Chief's Days Are Numbered
'That's All Anybody's Talking About' in the Civil Rights Division, The BRAD BLOG Has Been Told...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 4:13pm PT  

In addition to the earlier AP-reported "grossly misconstrued" response by a DoJ spokesman to John Tanner's "minorities die first" remarks, Paul Kane at Washington Post files yet another defense of the embattled Tanner from yet another DoJ spokesman. Kale posts the entire "full-throated defense" from Brian Roehrkasse on his Capitol Briefing blog.

Even as a DoJ insider source of ours writes to say "thanks for starting the ball rolling on what may be the end of John Tanner."

"That's all anybody's talking about" today, the source tells us.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, as made this week by Bush's AG-nominee Michael Mukasey during his AG Senate confirmation hearings, things are not quite as peachy keen inside the Civil Rights Division as the Bushies would love you to believe.

"It is a constant uphill struggle against hand-picked Bush administration appointees like John Tanner," the insider wrote, "That is why we are so often demoralized: they won't let us do our work."

You wouldn't know it, of course, if you listened only to the Bush administration's hand-picked spokesmen/deniers.

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Wire Service Reports on Obama Letter, Fails to Cite BRAD BLOG for Breaking Story, Misses Much of the Point in General...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 1:46pm PT  

AP is notorious for refusing to give appropriate credit to blogs that break stories. They've done so again in their coverage today of Barack Obama's letter calling for the firing of DoJ Voting Rights section chief John Tanner in the wake of our video coverage of his recent objectionable comments [emphasis ours]:

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Setting aside the de rigueur BRAD BLOG slight, AP received a response to Obama's call for Tanner's head from DoJ spokesman Erik Ablin:

"Mr. Tanner is an attorney who works to protect civil rights on a daily basis," Ablin said, adding that the official had won numerous awards from African-American groups. "Nothing in his comments deviated from his firm commitment to enforce the law, and it is unfortunate that they have been so grossly misconstrued."

"Grossly misconstrued"? AP does not detail in what way Ablin believes the comments to have been "grossly misconstrued," but quotes him as saying the department "continues to have full confidence" in Tanner.

Former colleagues of Tanner's, however, don't seem to agree that the comments were misconstrued...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 12:46pm PT  

As we mentioned earlier this week, the embattled DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights section chief, John Tanner, was scheduled to speak to an audience at UC Berkeley's Latino Policy Forum yesterday.

According to a report this morning from The Daily Californian...

Tanner focused on the continuing relevance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He said he worked in the department when the act was passed and shared insight on “how bad it was for African Americans” at the time, adding that some minority populations continue to face obstacles when attempting to vote.

We've yet to speak to anybody who was actually at yesterday's event, so no word at this time on whether or not John Tanner clarified the point that one of the great obstacles minority populations face when attempting to vote is, in fact, John Tanner.

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Letter to Acting Attorney General Says John Tanner's Recent Remarks Are 'Patently Erroneous, Offensive, and Dangerous'
Comments, Video Taped and First Reported by BRAD BLOG, Have Been Given to Judiciary Committee, Continue to Reverberate...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 12:16pm PT  

After recently stepping up, along with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), to block the nomination to the FEC of insidious GOP "voter fraud" zealot Hans Von Spakovsky, Illinois' Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is calling for the head of the Voting Rights Section chief of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

In a letter sent today (posted in full at end of this article) to Acting Attorney General, Peter D. Keisler, Obama has requested that John Tanner be sent packing following objectionable comments he made two weeks ago in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso.

The remarks by Tanner, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, were meant in support of his decision to allow a Photo ID restriction at polling places in Georgia, over the recommendation of four out of five of the career attorneys in the Civil Rights unit. The law would later be found unconstitutional by two federal judges, one of whom declared the practice to be a "Jim Crow-era poll tax".

Tanner told audience members during the panel on October 5th, that while it was a "shame" that the elderly would, in fact, be disenfranchised by the law he approved on behalf of the DoJ, minorities would have less to worry about because, as he told the stunned room, "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Former colleagues of Tanner went on to characterize his comments as "false", "ludicrous" and "cherry-picked" from existing data.

In his letter today, Obama said, "Such comments are patently erroneous, offensive, and dangerous, and they are especially troubling coming from the federal official charged with protecting voting rights in this country."

As we reported several days ago, Tanner is scheduled to testify on this and related matters to a sub-commitee of the House Judiciary Committee on October 30th. The committee has asked The BRAD BLOG for a copy of the entire session with Tanner, as video-taped by our own Alan Breslauer. We have complied with their request.

In breaking the news of Obama's letter this morning, TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel noted the irony that during his appearance before the Judiciary Committee, Tanner will "get to explain personally to its 78 year-old African-American chairman [John Conyers] that minorities don't 'become elderly.'"

"Through his inexcusable comments," Obama writes in today's letter, "Mr. Tanner has clearly demonstrated that he possesses neither the character nor the judgment to be heading the Voting Rights Section. For that reason, I respectfully request that you remove him from his position."

Since the 2004 election, Republican officials and operatives have been attempting to enact such Photo ID laws at polling places across the country, despite some 10 to 30 million, largely Democratic and minority voters, who do not have such ID's and would be disenfranchised by such laws. Millions of dollars have been spent to support the unevidenced idea of Democratic "voter fraud" by phony GOP front groups such as the "non-partisan" ACVR, created by Bush/Cheney '04's national general counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director, Jim Dyke. Hearne is now laying low since shutting down the ACVR in the wake of calls for phony "voter fraud" prosecutions being found at the center of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal. Dyke, who parlayed his "non-partisan" ACVR gig into work for Dick Cheney, is now Communications Director for the Rudy Giuliani campaign.

Continuing the false GOP meme of Democratic "voter fraud", The BRAD BLOG recently noted unsupported claims of undocumented immigrants being "rounded up, herded into the polls [and] voting illegally" in California as charged by Golden State Rep. Duncan Hunter during a recent Republican Presidential Debate. Both Hunter's campaign and Congressional offices subsequently failed to respond to BRAD BLOG requests to back up with the claim with details or evidence.

During it's current session, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to review the constitutionality of a similar Photo ID law enacted in the state of Indiana.

UPDATE: AP picks up the story, quotes DoJ as saying Tanner's comments were "grossly misconstrued", fails to credit BRAD BLOG for breaking original story. Details here...

LATER UPDATE: WaPo again picks up the story, and again, as last time (and unlike AP) credits us appropriately. They also offer yet another DoJ spokesman's defense of Tanner, while an insider DoJ source gives us an indication of what's really going on over at DoJ in the wake of all of this. Details here...

The complete letter from Sen. Barack Obama to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Only One of Them Properly Credits Us...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2007 5:12pm PT  

We hadn't noticed it, but last week Paul Krugman over at the NY Times picked up on our original exclusive report on DoJ Voting Chief John Tanner's recent comments saying while it's a "shame" that the elderly are, in fact, disenfranchised by Photo ID restrictions at the polling place --- like the one that he approved on behalf of the Department's Civil Rights Division in Georgia --- he's less worried about minorities being disenfranchised because "minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first."

Unfortunately, Krugman credited our friends at TPM Muckraker for the story, even though their story followed up on, and properly credited, ours. Krugman's comments were in his NYTimes blog and we hope he'll cover the important matter in his regular column as well. Though if he does, we'd appreciate it if, like Al Kamen's coverage at WaPo, he offered appropriate attribution where it's due.

Believe it or not, it matters, and not just for our own ego.

On the other hand, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now today also picked up on the story (see the short video above left) and gave The BRAD BLOG the appropriate credit. Her coverage also included some of the video that our own Alan Breslauer posted here originally.

Thanks Amy! And thanks Alan for posting Amy's video here. There now, was that so hard?

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