Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
The White House is blocking efforts by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to present evidence he collected in the CIA Leak investigation to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Prompted by Scott McClellan's statement last month asserting that top White House officials, including George Bush and Dick Cheney, were complicit in an effort to deceive the public about the leak, Rep. Waxman has written to Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging him to convince Bush to release the evidence.
In his letter, Rep. Waxman points to a precedent from the Clinton administration:
"[There] is direct precedent for the production of these records to the Committee. During the Clinton Administration, the Justice Department provided the Committee with dozens of FBI 302 reports of interviews with White House officials. No White House official — including the President and the Vice President — was exempted from the production. Among the White House officials whose FBI 302 reports were provided to the Committee were President Clinton, Vice President Gore [and 10 other top White House officials, including current and former chiefs of staff].
Of particular interest are Fitzgerald's notes from his interviews at the White House. If either Bush or Cheney gave statements that contradict McClellan's, a new investigation would likely be triggered. Lying to federal prosecutors is a felony.
In Bushworld, incompetence must be rewarded (in order to prevent the incompetent ex-employee from writing a tell-all book):
Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank --- amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend --- he's in line to return to public service.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board [ISAB], a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters.
"We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job," said one senior official.
Right. What harm could he possibly do as head of this group:
The Secretary of State's International Security Advisory Board, formerly called the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board (ACNAB), provides the Department with independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy. The ISAB is sponsored and overseen by the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. The Board provides its recommendations directly to the Secretary of State. The Board currently has 18 members and is chartered to have up to 25. Board members are national security experts with scientific, military, diplomatic, and political backgrounds. The Board meets in a plenary session on a quarterly basis.
The position was previously held by former lobbyist and U.S. senator, Fred Thompson, who is currently a Republican candidate for president.
In brief, I became known to some as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when, in January of 2004, I stole and exposed legal documents [PDF] proving that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was using and planned to continue using illegal, uncertified software in their California voting machines. (By the way, Diebold recently changed its name to Premier Election Solutions, but don't let that fool you; it's still the same bunch of idiots.) Details about my case can be found here and here [PDF].
The documents I stole were covered under attorney-client privilege, so my theft was a serious crime. In February of 2006 I was charged with three felonies. On November 20, 2006, I plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer, and in exchange for my guilty plea and a restitution payment of $10,000 to the law firm from which I stole the documents, the law firm promised they wouldn't bring a civil suit against me, and I was put on felony probation instead of being sent to jail. The term of probation was to be at least one year, and as much as three years.
Now, one year after my guilty plea, because I've stayed out of trouble and because I'm a first offender, the judge has reduced my felony to a misdemeanor. Sometime in 2008, my lawyers will petition the court to have my misdemeanor expunged.
The bad part is that the most troublesome aspect of my probation is still in force. Before I can accept a job at which I would use a computer networked to one or more other computers (basically any job for which I'd be qualified), any potential employer must write to the judge in my case, tell him that they know about my conviction and that they still want to hire me, and then we have to wait until the judge responds with a "yes" or a "no" before I can accept the job and start work (and then only if the judge says "yes"). So as you can see, employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me.
Meanwhile, my wife (an actor, filmmaker and writer) certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor. She had been calling me Felonious Punk, but now that I'm no longer a felon, she's switched to Mister Meanor. Ain't it great being married to a comedy writer?
To be clear, breaking attorney-client privilege is a very serious crime, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I'm still being punished for it, and so far the punishment has cost my wife and me over $210,000 - and counting. $210,000 is an enormous amount of money to us. My wife and I have paid and are continuing to pay a very high price for my crime.
But, as we're not Republicans, we might have expected that.
Which got me thinking about other crimes in America that have recently been committed or alleged, and what's happened to those involved. Among the first of many, Lewis "Scooter" Libby comes to mind...
First some ancient history: In the fall of 2002, the Bush administration was preoccupied with ramming its Iraq war resolution through Congress. It wasn't that they needed the resolution to go to war. Not hardly.
What the Bush team wanted was to get the Congress on the record about the war before the midterm elections that November --- in particular the resolution was intended to cause a rift between bloodthirsty voters back home and antiwar Democrats in the House. They also hoped to use votes for the resolution by Democratic senators who might run against Bush in 2004, including Sens. Kerry, Clinton, Edwards, and Lieberman, to name a few, as a wedge issue to separate them from their liberal base.
The war resolution was part of a "marketing campaign," as Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, referred to it, that had been put together by the Iraq Study Group, an elite corps inside the West Wing that included, among others, Karl Rove.
Last Wednesday, a mere five years after helping ram the war resolution through Congress, Karl Rove went on Charlie Rose and rewrote history as brazenly as it has ever been done:
Cable newsers are ga-ga over breaking news that Dick Cheney's doctors discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat today:
"During examination he was incidentally found to have an irregular heartbeat, which on further testing was determined to be atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart," said spokeswoman Megan Mitchell.
She said Cheney would go to the hospital later Monday for further evaluation. She said that if necessary, he would be receive cardioversion, a procedure that involves the delivery of an electric impulse to the heart.
Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't seem odd that a vice president's health problem might be discovered "incidentally" --- or that his spokeswoman is, well, speaking about it. But this is Dick Cheney. And it brings us to a question: Is this story real, or could it be a fabrication meant to set the stage for Cheney's resignation?
Before you dismiss the latter as speculation from a conspiracy nut whose tin-foil hat is on too tight, consider this:
Cheney and Bush created an incredibly elaborate and entirely false rationale for taking the country to war --- a massive misinformation campaign that completely snookered the corporate media and a majority of the public and that has yet to be sussed out. Faking news of an irregular heartbeat in order to shuffle Cheney off the stage quietly is child's play by comparison.
It's a damn good excuse. The standard remedy for heart ailments like atrial fibrillation is to reduce stress. The only practicable way for a sitting vice president to reduce stress is to resign.
With Cheney out of the way, a new vice president could run for president with all the campaign advantages of the incumbency, especially including the ability to manufacture events and control the flow of news.
And the motivations for moving Cheney out under false pretenses are manifold:
In 1999, former Pres. George Bush famously said, "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
John Gibson, the Fox "News" anchor, takes an opposite view. He says he wants to "give a medal" to the Bush officials who deliberately jeopardized a top-secret, well-established CIA program that tracked the sales of weapons of mass destruction in black markets worldwide.
Why would a rightwinger like Gibby want to pin a medal on these traitors? Because the traitors are Republicans --- a cabal led by Dick Cheney and that included Karl Rove and Scooter Libby --- while the covert agent in charge of the CIA's top secret WMD tracking program, Valerie Plame Wilson, made a campaign donation to Al Gore in 1999.
(Ed Note: It is our understanding that she and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, also contributed to George W. Bush's campaign at the time as well.)
In her 20 years as a spy for the United States, Agent Wilson worked for a front business, an oil industry consulting firm called Brewster Jennings and Associates. She frequently traveled overseas where she developed a network of secret "assets" --- foreign nationals who provided her with inside knowledge on the movement of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons and materials in the worldwide terrorist black market.
The CIA will not say, of course, how many of these foreign assets were compromised, killed, wounded or kidnapped and tortured as a result of Cheney's treasonous conspiracy to forfeit them by exposing Agent Wilson's covert identity.
And only time will tell how many weapons of mass destruction were transported undetected because Agent Wilson's network was forfeited --- and whether one or more of these weapons will be used to attack the United States.
But none of that matters to Republicans like John Gibson and his cohorts at Fox "News" and in the Bush White House, whose patriotism is as fake as the made-in-China American flags pinned to their lapels. Gibson's remarkable statement advocating giving a medal to Rove, Cheney and Libby --- the "most insidious of traitors" who betrayed vital national secrets --- exposes him for what he is: an ideologue who puts his party ahead of his country even at the risk of national security.
Yesterday we reported that in an excerpt from his upcoming book on his years as Bush's press spokesman, Scott McClellan wrote that, in 2003, when he exonerated Scooter Libby and Karl Rove of any involvement in the leak of the secret identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, he had unknowingly lied. "And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."
Today, predictably, McClellan's publisher is trying neuturalize McClellan's claim that Bush was in on the conspiracy to deceive:
Peter Osnos of PublicAffairs, told MSNBC that Mr. McClellan "did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him" about two senior aides’ roles in leaking the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. operative, to the conservative columnist Robert Novak and others in 2003.
Right. Except that is precisely what he wrote in the excerpt. Here's how Osnos squares the circle:
"[Bush] told him something that wasn’t true," Osnos told Bloomberg News, "but the president didn’t know it wasn’t true," And: "The president told him what he thought to be the case."
The title of former Bush flak Scott McClellan's new book, "What Happened" brings to mind the title of O.J. Simpson's recent allegedly fictional memoir, "If I Did It."
Perhaps it's because both books seek to exonerate their authors from much deserved guilty verdicts --- both in the court of public opinion and in courts of law, certainly in O.J.'s case, and maybe even for Scotty too.
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.
And this was not just run of the mill political spin. Rove, Libby, Ari Fleischer and others, including Colin Powell's righthand man Richard Armitage, leaked the secret identity of a CIA agent whose specialty was tracking WMD. And they did it at the behest of the vice president who eagerly jeopardized state secrets for the tawdriest of purposes: to do political damage to the agent's husband, Joe Wilson, because he had dared to expose a lie told by the president in his 2003 State of the Union speech about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger.
The CIA, of course, can't reveal how many illegal weapons were successfully transported into the Middle East or how many foreigners acting as U.S. agents were permanently sidelined --- or captured or killed --- as a result the treasonous act of outing Agent Plame by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their henchmen.
Only Armitage has expressed regret about the leak.
Scott McClellan shredded his credibility for Bush, Cheney and the rest. Surely he can't expect anyone to believe he is telling the truth now when he claims he was misled by these same people. He is either the most gullible person to walk the planet, or he thinks the rest of us are fools.
After Blackwater guards opened fire and killed 17 Iraqis in the Nisoor Square section of Baghdad on Sept. 17, in true Bushie fashion, the State Dept. unilaterally conferred limited immunity on the Blackwater personnel who were on the scene --- including apparently the guards who opened fire --- in exchange for their statements detailing the events.
According to an ABC report, of the 17 Blackwater guards at the scene of the incident, only five fired their weapons. And an investigation by the FBI reportedly has turned up evidence that only three of the 17 people shot had been involved in attacking the Blackwater detail.
Officials cautioned that the decision to begin a grand jury inquiry did not mean that prosecutors had decided to charge anyone with a crime in what they said was a legally complex case, The New York Times reported. Some government lawyers have expressed misgivings about whether a federal law exists that would apply to the actions Blackwater employees are accused of committing...
The limited immunity given to the Blackwater personnel presents another question: Would it prevent justice from being served if the grand jury finds evidence that the killing of the 14 apparently innocent Iraqis was unprovoked?
Howard Krongard, the inspector general (IG) for the Bush State Dept., has recused himself from a second major probe under his purview. The new recusal was announced yesterday and came at the "request" of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).
This new development follows a dramatic moment during a hearing before Waxman's committee on Wednesday when Kronberg was forced to recuse himself from an investigation into Blackwater after it was revealed that, despite his earlier denials, his brother sits on an advisory board for the controversial paramilitary government security contractor. Making matters potentially worse for Krongard, his brother, Buzzy Krongard, issued a statement after the hearing contradicting Howard's testimony regarding the timing of when Howard learned that Buzzy had accepted a seat on the Blackwater board.
It is unclear at the moment whether Democrats on the committee will pursue perjury charges against the State Dept. IG.
Krongard's latest recusal stems from what appears to be obstruction of justice and witness tampering in a criminal probe by the Dept. of Justice into the way billions of dollars in contracts for the construction of the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad were let by the State Dept.:
A report by the committee's majority staff referred to the Justice Department probe and also said that Krongard, against his staff's advice, met in August with someone implicated in "potential criminal activity" uncovered during a State Department audit of the embassy contract.
Then, the report said, Krongard met in September with someone else under investigation by the Justice Department. A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, identified that person as [Mary French is the embassy project coordinator based in Baghdad]. When Krongard arrived in Baghdad, he was warned by his deputy that French had become a "subject of investigation" and that he should not meet with her, for fear of tainting the investigation. But, the report said, "Krongard went through with the meeting and spent several hours with this individual."
James L. Golden, an embassy project overseer who works on a contract basis for the State Dept. in Washington, and who is also said to be a subject of the DoJ probe, may be the other person of interest Krongard met with.
Sean McCormack, a State Dept. spokesman, said Krongard recused himself from the embassy contracts investigation at Chairman Waxman's request:
"That was at the request of Congressman Waxman's committee because they are doing their own inquiries into the new embassy compound," McCormack said. "Because of the reporting relationship between the IG and the Congress, of course, Howard honored that request."
Despite Krongard's removal from the two highest profile investigations by his office, McCormack says he still has the confidence of Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice.
The White House is probably busy right now dusting off a Medal of Freedom --- as well as complete and full pardon --- for Howard "Cookie" Krongard, their inspector general (IG) at the State Dept. It appears that in Krongard's testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform yesterday, he made false statements under oath about the membership of his brother, Buzzy Krongard, on an advisory board for Blackwater, the controversial paramilitary security contractor based in North Carolina's Dismal Swamp.
Blackwater has close ties with Howard Krongard's bosses in the Bush administration, who have awarded over $100 million in contracts to the company since the invasion and occupation of Iraq began. The fact that the brother of the Bush State Dept.'s chief investigator into Blackwater's activities in Iraq is on Blackwater's payroll would appear to be a conflict of interest, to put it mildly.
Early in the hearings, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) laid out a series of allegations from officials in the State and Justice departments that Krongard has been stonewalling investigations into corruption and illegal activities by Blackwater and other U.S. personnel and companies in Iraq.
Here is video of Waxman's questioning and Krongard's evasive responses:
Laters, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked Krongard if his brother was a member of the Blackwater advisory board:
Howard Krongard responded, under oath, with a flat denial:
"I can tell you very frankly, I am not aware of any financial interest or position [my brother] has with respect to Blackwater. It couldn’t possibly have affected anything I’ve done, because I don’t believe it. And when these ugly rumors started recently, I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true that he is a member of the advisory board, as you stated, and that is something I think I need to say."
But during the break, Howard Krongard called his brother and found out that Buzzy did, indeed, sit on a Blackwater board:
In what may be one of his most ironic public statements to date, far-Right Fox "News" commentator Bill O'Reilly charged last night that Dallas Mavericks owner and media mogul Mark Cuban's "arrogance is horrifying."
He then went on to call the billionaire blogger Cuban "anti-American" and noted, approvingly, that "during WWII President Roosevelt might have incarcerated" him and "General Patton would have slapped the tar out of him."
Why? Because Cuban's cable television network, HDNet, is distributing Brian DePalma's new film Redacted, apparently.
After Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur, had earlier noted in his address that while he might feel O'Reilly was "a moron," for the various attacks the news commentator had unleashed upon him, he had thought better than to blog that point, noting that the written word hangs around forever on the Internet.
When The BRAD BLOG, who was present at the speech, later asked him during the Q&A if he felt O'Reilly's attacks have been a "net plus or minus" in regard to Redacted, the amused Cuban said that he was "very grateful" to O'Reilly, who he called his "new best friend" for all the attention he'd brought to the otherwise small film release.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, the Fox "News" host shot back, promising still more publicity for the film, by calling for the public to show up outside theaters showing Redacted with signs reading "Support the Troops." O'Reilly claimed that he will personally be at theaters holding up such signs, charging that "Mark Cuban has a grudge against his country" and that he is somehow "putting our troops in danger."
At the end of the segment, O'Reilly promised that he would "have more information about what we're going to do and when we're going to do it...coming up."
His "Talking Points Memo" tirade (video below) charges that "subsequently the effort became extremely difficult," after opposition to the Iraq War was brought by "the far-left." He then went on to include a quick, out of context video clip from Cuban's BlogWorld address. He did not show the part in which Cuban said he was "very grateful" to O'Reilly, or that he considered him his "new best friend."
Here's O'Reilly's "outraged" comments from last night's The O'Reilly Factor on Fox "News," along with a discussion with a Republican and a "Democratic" analyst which follows. (Thanks to Alan Breslauer for the video!)...
UPDATE:Cuban blogs on the ridiculous O'Reilly situation, in a piece which begins "I've grown to love Bill OReilly. Seriously. If there is anyone who can publicize a political movie, it's Bill and I truly appreciate that about him."
The U.S. command announced six new deaths Tuesday, making 2007 the bloodiest year for American troops in Iraq despite a recent decline in casualties and a sharp drop in roadside bombings. With nearly two months left in the year, the annual toll is now 853 --- three more than the previous worst of 850 in 2004.
Six U.S. troops were killed when insurgents ambushed their foot patrol in the high mountains of eastern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday. The attack, the most lethal against American forces this year, made 2007 the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.
US President George W. Bush had a shoot-out with the "bad guys" in Iraq on Thursday, playing a computer game with war veterans that simulates a firefight in Baghdad, the White House said. Bush tried his hand at the game with two soldiers during a visit to a rehabilitation center in Texas that treats veterans wounded in Iraq... Apart from the computer game session, Bush's visit with badly wounded soldiers was often emotional as he spoke with patients who had lost limbs or suffered severe burns in the Iraq war.
As reported in full by David Swanson, in the wake of yesterday's wild ride (and game of chicken) on the House floor concerning the privileged resolution filed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), calling for the Impeachment of Dick Cheney.
The following is from a letter sent to constituents today by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where the matter has been sent again. Wexler is calling for the committee "to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months."...
I share your belief that Vice President Cheney must answer for his deceptive actions in office, particularly with regard to the preparations for the Iraq war and the revelation of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson as part of political retribution against her husband. That is why I voted against the motion to table debate on H.Res. 333. Along with only 85 other Democrats, I opposed tabling the measure and supported beginning immediate debate and a vote on the Cheney impeachment resolution. The vote on tabling the Kucinich resolution was rejected, and the House subsequently voted to refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee.
The American people are served well with a legitimate and thorough impeachment inquiry. I will urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months. Only through hearings can we bring begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration; and, if it is determined in these hearings that Vice President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should be impeached and removed from office.