George Bush went out of his way not to use the term "mission accomplished" yesterday when he quietly declared the surge in Iraq to be a success. Bush's declaration has been ignored by just about everyone, except for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who used it as an opportunity to trot out one of the tired-est of the GOP Big Lies: that Saddam Hussein's government was behind the 9/11 attacks.
First, here's a bit of Bush's non-declaration of success mumbo-jumbo:
BUSH: This has been a month of encouraging news from Iraq. Violence is down to its lowest level since the spring of 2004, and we're now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker caution that the progress is still reversible, but they report that there now appears to be a "degree of durability" to the gains we have made.
A significant reason for this sustained progress is the success of the surge. Another is the increasing capability of the Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces now have 192 combat battalions in the fight --- and more than 110 of these battalions are taking the lead in combat operations against terrorists and extremists.
A little later, during a press conference held by Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to congratulate Dear Leader on his latest triumph, Lieberman said this:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress as its Senate counterpart publicly pursued possible punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
...Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
The White House's opinion that advisers cannot be compelled to testify does not address whether or not the witness is nonetheless required to appear in response to a subpoena. From Congress.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats will actually assert authority and re-establish parity as a co-equal branch of the federal government under the Constitution, or if this is just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Last February the full House voted to hold White House officials Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. They have failed to enforce that vote, which passed 223 to 32, and AG Mukasey has said he would not enforce the House's contempt finding.
Last December, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended finding Rove in contempt in a bi-partisan 12 to 7 vote, during which Republican Arlen Specter noted "we have no alternative," given Rove's snub of the subpoenas issued by the panel.
Despite the endorsement from even two Republicans on the committee, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid has failed to bring the recommendation to the full Senate for a vote. Will Pelosi hold the House committee's endorsement (and the will of the American people, and the Rule of Law) in similar contempt?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In addition to the Committee's finding of contempt, the resolution passed today also recommends an interesting additional course of action recommended for the House, as noted in the Resolution's markup memo [WORD] that we received from the House Judiciary this morning...
Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who notified Attorney General Mukasey yesterday about threats made by Karl Rove against the GOP's high-tech guru, Mike Connell, as we reported last night, will join Peter B. Collins and me during my weekly Friday 5pm PT appearance on PBC's syndicated radio show.
You'll be able to listen online at www.PeterBCollins.com if his show is not aired in your town. And you may call in with questions and comments for Arnebeck or myself at 888-5-PeterB (or post them here, and I'll try to ask them). Hope you'll tune in!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Arnebeck joined us for the first half-hour of the show and dropped a few interesting details during our discussion. Among them: 1) Bush can't pardon someone convicted under a civil RICO case, which is what Arnebeck is compiling. (Also, can't remember if it came up during the interview, but as some have suggested that Rove simply invoke Executive Privilege to avoid being deposed in this case, Exec Privilege does not come into play in such a case. It only refers to Congressional testimony.) 2) Connell had agreed to meet with the House Judiciary Comm. several months ago, but so far Judiciary hasn't followed up. 3) Arnebeck makes a tantalizing reference to the finding in the Paula Jones case that sitting Presidents may be deposed in civil cases. More detail on those points and others in the audio interview. Download MP3 or listen online here...
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.
The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."
Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.
Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.
In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.
"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."
Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.
The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...
Does anything that George W. Bush and John McCain say matter? Based on this colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on "Countdown" last night, apparently not:
OLBERMANN: ...The Iraqi government is saying, “Get out,” and President Bush swore, you know, “Some day if they say ‘get out,‘ we‘ll get out.”
MADDOW: That‘s right. May 2007 in the Rose Garden, Bush said—and I went back and checked the quote directly so I could be sure to directly quote him — “If they were to say leave, we would leave.” Also, for what it‘s worth, in April of 2004, John McCain at the Council on Foreign Relations said, “It is obvious we would have to leave if they asked to us leave.”
I mean, they told us that the point of invading Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was toppled; they told us that the point of staying there after, was to set up a sovereign Iraqi government. Well now, the sovereign Iraqi government is standing up on its hind legs enough to tell us to leave, and we‘re left with this situation where they need another explanation of why we can‘t leave. That‘s the real headline here.
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
On Election Day this November, voters in San Francisco will vote on a local initiative to rename one of the city's largest waste treatment plants in honor of George W. Bush. If the initiative passes --- and since the number of Republicans in the city is statistically zero, it very well might --- the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant will be forever known as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. It is as fitting a monument to the eight years of the Bush presidency as we can think of, with the possible exception of naming a garbage dump after him.
The San Francisco effort is the work-product of local activists who came up with the idea in the most grassroots of all settings: over beers. Subsequently, the group set up the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco, which handled promotion for the petition drive. On Thursday, the city's Department of Elections certified that the 7,168 signatures the commission submitted were valid and approved the initiative for the November ballot.
Although the organizers in San Francisco are clear that their effort is satire, this is a cause that grassroots organizers in other cities should consider seriously. This nationwide effort could be similar to, but hopefully more successful than, the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which was the brainchild of the anti-government lobbyist Grover Norquist, who is best known for his close associations with corrupt Bush cronies like (now-imprisoned) Jack Abramoff and (perhaps incarcerated one day) Karl Rove.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The fact that hardly anyone has heard of David Addington is no accident. As chief of staff to Dick Cheney, he shares his boss's fetish for secrecy. But as reporters are finally zeroing in on what Bush officials have really been up to these last seven years, evidence continues to pile up about the key role Addington has played in the skullduggery. Some are even suggesting he could be tried for war crimes for his role in approving the torture of terror suspects.
In the video above, in an interview with Steve Clemons, editor of The Washington Note, Jane Mayer discusses Addington, whom she profiled in the New Yorker last year and who plays a central role in her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, which Trish, my colleague at PR, wrote about this week.
The excerpt in the following transcript comes about 11 minutes into the interview. The quote mentioned by Mayer and Clemens is the last line in Mayer's book. It comes from Phillip Zelikow, a former counselor to Condoleeza Rice, who attempted to explain what went wrong within the administration after the attacks on September 11 this way: "Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools."
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Courtesy of our colleagues at Velvet Revolution, you can watch the entire press conference here, and an interview with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis is here.
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
See PDFs of the hold letter to AG Mukasey here, the hold letter to the U.S. Chamber here, and the motion to lift the stay here.
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and I, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
There will be a hearing related to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Article of Impeachment against George Bush in the House Judiciary Committee. That was assured by a vote of 238 to 180 on Tuesday. (Details on that hearing, now posted here.)
But, according to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has mandated that questioning in the hearing be relegated to Bush's abuses of power, not his criminal wrongdoing.
“There’s never been one [hearing] that accumulated all the things that constitute an imperial presidency,” said Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, according to CQ Politics. He indicated topics covered in the hearing would include the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the betrayal of CIA agent Valerie Plame and Bush's alleged lying to Congress about the reasons for invading Iraq.
Kucinich's single Article of Impeachment only deals with Bush's lies to Congress.
There were no Democratic votes against holding the hearing. While 180 Republicans voted to follow their Dear Leader lock-step over the cliff, 10 Republicans abstained and nine Republican members of Congress voted with the Democrats. Here are their names...
When the Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, the new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, famously took the impeachment of George Bush "off the table." This puzzled and disappointed millions of people who rightly wondered why a president could be impeached over a sex lie in 1999 but not over a lie just four years later that sent hundreds of thousands of innocent people to their deaths in Iraq while draining the U.S. Treasury of billions upon billions of dollars.
In parliamentary proceedings, however, any item that can be taken off the table can be put back on it, if conditions change and the leadership wills it so. As we reported yesterday, Speaker Pelosi has signaled that an Article of Impeachment charging Bush with lying to Congress about his pretexts for invading Iraq might at least get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
There's no way to know what, if any, changes in conditions may have prompted her to rethink impeachment, but it may have something to do with a new Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday that found approval of Congress at 9 percent, which is essentially a statistical zero.
Pundits have long speculated that Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the other leaders have been averse to impeaching Bush because the impeachment of Pres. Bill Clinton put the Republican-controlled Congress in such bad odor with the public.
Let's assume that Pelosi and company are not so blind that they can't see the difference in severity of Clinton's misdemeanor and Bush's high crimes --- or that they're such bad politicians that they can't judge the difference in the voters' view of Clinton, whose approval rating remained in the mid-60s throughout the ordeal, and its disregard for Bush, whose approval is in the low 30s. Nor can they be unaware of the corollary fact that disapproval of Bush's misadventure in Iraq is in the upper 60s.
The torment and imprisonment of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, allegedly via the hands of Karl Rove and his political hitmen operatives, has been extensively covered by The BRAD BLOG.
Over the weekend, Velvet Revolution.us (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) sat down with him for an exclusive video-taped interview in Alabama. The entire interview will be posted soon, but we have posted two excerpts on YouTube. Both are embedded below.
Siegelman wants you to let Congress know that Rove must face the consequences of his actions. So do we.
Rove has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress tomorrow, July 10th, regarding the politicization of the Justice Department. The House Judiciary Committee wants to question Rove about his knowledge of the persecutionprosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.
But Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has informed the Judiciary Committee that Rove will not attend the hearing.
Luskin has offered to make Rove available to the committee behind closed doors and not under oath. Luskin also insists that there be no transcript of the questioning and that Rove would not respond to written questions from the panel.
The Judiciary Committee has rejected that so-called "compromise."
We join Siegelman's request, as stated in his interview, in asking you to please contact the House Judiciary Committee and your House Representative to politely but firmly insist that they hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress.
You can call the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951 and you can email them via this page.
You can call your House Rep. at 202-224-3121. More contact info for your specific Representative can be found here.
As Siegelman notes about Rove during the VR interview, in the first posted excerpt (seen at right)...
This is a guy who has told Congress that he will not show up under subpoena unless he is not sworn to tell the truth, unless he has the questions in advance, and unless he is assured that nobody is writing down his answers. Now does that sound like somebody who's prepared to tell the truth?
We won't know the truth until Congress digs it out, and that's why it is so incredibly important that anybody that reads your blog or listens to it or watches it gets on the phone, gets on their computer, or writes Congress and tells them to hold Karl Rove in contempt if he does not show up to testify on July 10th.
[H]e needs to be held in contempt, needs to be arrested, needs to be brought in and made to sit before Congress and answer questions.
In the second excerpt (video at right, below), Siegelman goes on to point out that only Congress currently holds the power to reveal the truth about what went on in this sordid affair...
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.