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Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Blogged by Brad from the road...in Texas...
Now UPDATED with a response from Hinchey's office. See update at end of article.
Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate have announced they are prepared to issue a very, very stern slap on the wrist to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales.
Moments ago, in a joint news release (posted in full below) issued by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), it was announced that Censure resolutions, which have absolutely no force of law or actual consequences if passed, would be brought against the three men in both chambers.
"From misleading this country into invading Iraq to establishing a warrantless domestic spy program, this White House has continuously misled and deceived the American people while disregarding the rule of law that guides our democracy," says Hinchey in the statement.
Of course, it could be argued that a resolution of Censure, in lieu of a trial on Articles of Impeachment, is one of the only ways the U.S. Senate can bring some form of historic accountability to the three accused men until such Articles of Impeachment are sent to them by the U.S. House. But where the Senate may be limited in that they cannot bring their own Articles of Impeachment, the U.S. House has no such excuse.
The Censure resolution brought by Hinchey seems to fly in the face of his own comments on the Peter B. Collins Show just weeks ago when he said that this administration was "the most impeachable in the history of our country." From the transcript/audio of the interview:
And yet, Hinchey is now supporting only Censure, apparently.
If Hinchey and his 19 co-sponsors in the House believe the White House needs condemnation for the points they describe in their resolutions of Censure --- which read like a swell description of Impeachable High Crimes and Misdemeanors --- then they have little excuse not to perform their Constitutional Duty and bring forward Articles of Impeachment in the House for this precise set of serious crimes which, as Hinchey said, "disregard the rule of law that guides our democracy."
Then again, courage of conviction is not something Democrats are too often accused of.
While we were unable to reach the White House for comment, we are fairly well able to anticipate their expected reaction to the Democrats latest attempt at "accountability":
The press release from Feingold and Hinchey, announcing Censure Resolutions in both the House and Senate, follows in full below. Following that is an update with a response from Hinchey's office to the comments above...
Blogged by Brad from Houston...
It's difficult to keep up with everything from on the road, in a hotel without C-SPAN, and while being on air (at least) three hours every day right now. So we're grateful to reader SG, who took the opportunity to "be the media" and send us the following overlooked item from yesterday's Gonzales hearings in the Senate.
During the Gonzo hearing yesterday, Diane Feinstein brought up the fact that the new 2007 version of the "Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses" [PDF] guidebook had significant alterations and omissions from the prior version (1995) in the area related to preventing new prosecutions from being timed in a manner that could impact the results of an election. As I'm sure you know, there were some pretty strict guidelines related to that which were violated by some of Bush's US attorneys in their quest to gain Republican advantage.
Here's the relevant portion of FDL's liveblog:
[FROM SEN. FEINSTEIN QUESTIONS] Read to you what has been dropped from the earlier addition of the DOJ manual. (1) restriction on bringing a voter fraud case close to an election. (2) Care for overt investigations in the pre-election period and while election is underway. “Most if not all prosecutions and investigations should await the end of the election.” — underlined in the prior volume — has been removed. Reason for that was to not impact the election. Gonzales, predictably, has no idea what Feinstein is talking about and can’t answer why those changes were made.
Feinstein says that this is relevent because two, possibly three, USAttys did not bring these small cases which could have impacted the elections. And when you look at the changes in the regs on this, something is rotten.
Hope that is helpful.
Helpful indeed. Thank you, SG.
BRAD BLOG readers likely recall the questions given to Bradley Schlozman during Senate Judiciary Hearings last May after the DoJ Civil Rights Unit "Voter Fraud" zealot turned Missouri US Attorney "Voter Fraud" zealot brought voter fraud indictments just days before the November '06 general election in the Show Me state, where a razor thin Senate election was raging. The indictments, so close to an election, were in contradiction of written DoJ policies, and led to an extraordinarily angry exchange between Schlozman and Sen. Patrick Leahy during those hearings (video here).
In that exchange, Schlozzie admitted that he could have brought the same indictments two weeks later --- well, after the election --- without otherwise damaging his case. He also blamed others at Main Justice for giving him the okay to bring the obviously politically-timed indictments. Shortly thereafter, facing pressure from those he'd blamed at DoJ, he was forced to recant his testimony to take responsibility himself for bringing the indictments.
Unfortunately, we can't dig deeper into the Feinstein/Gonzales exchange for the moment, but welcome readers who can to leave more info on this in comments as they are able to unearth it.
Guest blogged from DC by Margie Burns
Listening to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for fifteen minutes is worth a week of the para-discourse from elsewhere on national television. Feingold said on Meet the Press this morning that he will introduce a resolution to censure George W. Bush “in a few days.”
The censure resolutions will focus on two huge issues:
• Bush's process for getting us into the war in Iraq, including misleading statements and misuse of intelligence before the war; and
• “the outrageous attack on the rule of law,” including illicit electronic surveillance and other surveillance, and administration approval of torture. “This administration has assaulted the constitution,” Feingold said briskly.
Feingold said that he has talked with the Democratic leadership about the resolution, adding that it might provide an opportunity as well for Republicans uncomfortable with the administration but unwilling to use impeachment.
Questioned by Tim Russert about whether the resolution would pass, Feingold said basically we’ll see how it goes. He commented, “There’s a lot of support in the country for actually impeaching the president and the vice president.”...
Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa
A mysterious and politically-incorrect series of viral videos posted on YouTube are lighting up speculation online about their origin. A report published on July 13th attributed them to an employee of of Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Potholm (SRCP), the same Republican firm that produced the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004.
The videos, posted on the YouTube account "abrad2345", mock several Republican candidates, at times making racist attacks against Rudy Giuliani, making fun of his bout with prostate cancer, suggesting that Fred Thompson's wife is transgender, and Mitt Romney is gay. SRCP now apparently works for John McCain.
"In 2004, Mr. McCain said the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisement asserting that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had not properly earned his medals from the Vietnam War was 'dishonest and dishonorable,'" the New York Times reported in February. "Nonetheless, he has hired the firm that made the spots, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, which worked on his 2000 campaign, to work for him again this year."
Plans for syndication of the story alleging an SRCP connection to the videos on The BRAD BLOG Monday were delayed at the last minute due to legal concerns after SRCP's lawyers claimed the story was false and asked that it be purged from The Daily Background blog, where it had been originally published.
Watch the first of the "abrad" videos (video at right), which appear to be endorsing Giuliani in a mocking way. The video even resorts to racism for its not-so-subtle attacks on Giuliani. More of the videos can be found here.
"We strongly urge you to cease distribution of all content furthering from these false assertions," a July 16th letter from SRCP's law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP read. "The business reputation and professionalism of SRCP is being challenged in a way that causes irreparable damage unless you act immediately."
Oh, the irony. (A complete copy of the letter can be found at the bottom of this post...)
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are caught on tape today at the NAACP Democratic presidential candidates forum seemingly making anti-democratic comments about shrinking the democratic field in future debate settings. (Video available at left.)
Fox "News", who filed the report during Brit Hume's Special Report on Thursday, included sub-titles for the "overheard" post-forum conversation between Clinton and Edwards. They also managed to get in several cheapshots against a number of other Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama.
As subtitled by Fox during the video clip, the exchange between Clinton and Edwards purportedly went as follows:
HILLARY CLINTON: Well...we...we've got to cut the number...because they are...because they are just being trivialized.
EDWARDS: ...and they're...they're not serious. They're not serious.
CLINTON: No...you know...I...I...I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. It got...it got somehow...detoured. We've gotta get back to it...because that's all we're going to do between now and then is that...(Barack Obama walks over)...thanks, Barack. (Obama walks away) So...we...us...(Dennis Kucinich walks over) thanks, Dennis (Kucinich walks away)...our guys should talk.
Blogged by Brad from Nashville...
And from Patrick Fitzgerald's reaction:
Meanwhile, former Sen. Fred Thompson couldn't be happier:
...And Guilliani joins him in standing firmly against National Security for America, and in favor of outing covert CIA assets:
George W. Bush's father, however, feels differently. Or, at least he did back in 1999 when addressing his former colleagues at the CIA...
Blogged by Brad from Nashville...It's not easy keeping up from the road. But we're doing our best....
LEAHY: That is something that the whole Congress has to vote on. In our case, in the Senate, we'd have to vote on it; in the House, they would have to vote on it. I can't...
RUSSERT: Would you go that far?
LEAHY: If they don't cooperate, yes, I'd go that far. I mean, this is very important to the American people.
Leahy's comments synch up with what Conyer's telegraphed a week during a House Judiciary hearing when he asked outgoing Dep. AG Paul McNulty if the DoJ would work with Congress should the White House ignore their subpoenas and it became necessary to issue criminal contempt charges. (For the record, McNulty punted in response, stating he's recused himself from the issue, will likely be gone by then, since he's already resigned, and otherwise, couldn't speak for the DoJ on the matter.)
Washington Post noticed Leahy's comments as well, and offers this road map to what comes next in their Monday edition...
"Referred to a U.S. attorney." See what a frickin' mess we're looking at here? The USA in question would be Jeffrey A. Taylor of the District of Columbia. Unless he gets fired any time soon. Don't know much about Taylor, with no time to dig for now. So feel free to fill us in with any thoughts on him in comments.
As the Summer of Accountability continues...
Blogged by Brad from Atlanta...
Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.
The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal squabbles within the administration over the legality of the program, said a congressional official speaking on condition of anonymity because the subpoenas had not been made public.
As TPM Muckraker notes in their breaking coverage, "The trigger is pulled...Get ready for a huge court fight."
RAW STORY has a statement from Sen. Leahy concerning the subpoenas.
And as Joseph Cannon guest blogged here yesterday, a subpoena was/is needed to begin the impeachment process. Any subpeona issued to Cheney's office and/or the White House. Well, we now have one.
"If Cheney or any of his underlings refuse to comply with a single subpoena --- and that's a very good bet --- he becomes instantly impeachable, on the same grounds that brought down Nixon," wrote Cannon, who knows the topic well.
Stay tuned. It may be a busy summer...
UPDATE 12:06pm PT: In a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG (posted in full below) Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says "After a year and a half of stonewalling by the Administration...The bipartisan support for issuing these subpoenas demonstrates that both Democrats and Republicans are fed up with the misleading statements from the Attorney General and the Administration about this illegal program."
Feingold's complete brief statement follows below...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
The video includes highlights from John and Elizabeth Edwards's Tonight Show appearance last night. Elizabeth, who looked great and said she feels great, gave an impassioned response to a Leno question about the mixed reaction the Edwardses received from the media after deciding to continue on with the presidential campaign after her diagnosis with incurable breast cancer, stating at one point, "And honestly, people who have been in the same situation all do what we do. Just grab hold of life as hard as they can and do everything they can to make whatever days they've got left mean something."
On the lighter side, Leno questioned Elizabeth about whether she hangs out with "some of the other spouses like Michelle Obama or Bill Clinton" at campaign functions. John Edwards also garnered laughs by poking fun at his highly publicized $400 haircut.
Those separate email accounts – email accounts held by people working in the White House and the Office of the Vice President, often with security clearances, but not “.gov” accounts – now threaten to become bigger news. Those alternate accounts, as we know now from work done by the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the new report from the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, both potentially and actually allowed WH and DOJ and OVP personnel to communicate ‘off the books’ up to a point. While theoretically still bound by the rules for preserving presidential records (see below) the 88 government officials with email accounts provided by the Republican National Committee could move with electronic fluidity from their official to their partisan political duties, and back again, with remarkably little scrutiny for the entire four years of Bush’s first term.
So any correspondence about --- for example --- Chandra Levy and Gary Condit, 9/11 and Iraq, anthrax mailings and Judith Miller, will remain lost from public view until the advanced technology of un-deleting can sweep it up from the bottom of whatever files it has been submerged in to date.
Tabling for now such topics as political motivation in the firing and hiring of US Attorneys, the immediate question is, exactly how EARLY did administration personnel start using these alternate email accounts?...
This is exactly why Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and his "voter fraud" scamming buddies need to be called in, under oath --- with subpoenas if necessary --- before a Congressional committee. And pronto. The garbage they've been circulating for years is still taken "as gospel" by the Bush Dead Enders.
Here's one of them. Peter Kirsanow, appointed by Bush in 2001 to the US Commission on Civil Rights. Laura McGann has more details on this clown. But at left is the video of this clown's Senate testimony from last Thursday --- even after all of this stuff has been completely discredited --- repeating the same garbage, known well enough for him to repeat it a mile-a-minute, in a hearing concerning intimidation at the polls.
And yes, you read that right. This guy is on the US Commission on Civil Rights. The entire system has been compromised. It's time to haul in the ACVR bunch and get them on the record, to find out exactly "whodunnit." For example, the ACVR had nearly a million dollars to operate their "non-partisan" tax-exempt outfit in order to generate propaganda for chumps like Kirsanow to puke up in official hearings. That was the plan --- even while they lied about it on their tax forms --- and it's still working like a charm.
Before he became a "non-partisan" "voting rights" advocate, Hearne was the national general counsel for Bush/Cheney '04, Inc. He was recognized --- by name --- by Karl Rove when he spoke at a Republic National Lawyers Association event in April of 2006, thanking them for their "work on clean elections" in 2000, 2002, and 2004.
So where did Thor get his million dollars for his now shut down and discredited organization? We still don't know, because nobody has ever asked them under oath.
Anybody in the House or Senate Judiciary Committees paying attention here and feel like finding out?
Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, Co-Director of VotersUnite.Org
Yesterday I discussed the dangers presented by Rush Holt's Election Reform bill, HR 811, now pending a floor vote in the House. I detailed seven points which, taken as a whole, lead me to believe that the bill does more harm than good.
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill S. 1487, “The Ballot Integrity Act of 2007,” was introduced on May 24, 2007. Some were expecting it to be a companion to, and improvement on, Holt’s bill, H.R. 811. Far from an improvement, S. 1487 introduces surprising — and disturbing — new provisions.
It includes many of the most troubling points of the Holt bill, but goes even farther in the wrong direction away from what is needed for Electoral Integrity in America, presenting instead a grave danger to our democracy.
The bill systematically dismantles government by the people, and it provides a legal excuse for expanding the disenfranchisement of “distinct communities” such as racial minorities.
(The following excerpt discusses only how S. 1487 functions like a Voting Rights Act in reverse. I've posted a more complete analysis of the bill at VotersUnite.org.)
Historically, racial minorities have been prevented from voting by violence, poll taxes, highly subjective literacy tests, police dogs, and so on. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was landmark legislation to remove such obstacles and clear the path for all voters to have a voice in elections.
A shameful provision in S. 1487 functions as a Voting Rights Act in reverse. “They” (historically disenfranchised communities) would get to vote, but the bill allows for the future massive loss of “their” voices through machine malfunction or other means, while limiting the vote loss that would be acceptable in jurisdictions where “they” aren’t as predominant....
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