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.
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), one of the new FISA bill's strongest champions, spoke about the bill's new "exclusivity provision" on the floor of the House on March 14, 2008. He proclaimed that "It clarifies that FISA is the exclusive means of conducting surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes."
On June 20, Hoyer optimistically echoed his previous comment: "This legislation makes clear that FISA is the exclusive means by which the government may conduct surveillance."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA), in an email sent to some constituents, including myself, wrote that the new FISA bill: "Includes provisions I authored that make clear that FISA is the exclusive (or only) authority for conducting surveillance inside the United States...FISA would be the only legal authority for conducting surveillance on Americans for intelligence purposes..."
But the old FISA bill, which was the law when Bush began to spy on us without warrants, also had an "exclusivity" provision that stated:
[P]rocedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.
Since the "President" ignored the old FISA law, despite its existing exclusivity provision, what makes Hoyer or Feinstein or any of the other Dems think he'll bother to obey the new version of the law?
The existing law didn't keep Bush from breaking it last time, so it's beyond me what makes law makers think he won't do the same this time around. I decided to contact three different Democratic officials, all in favor of the new law, to try and find out why they believe they won't be fooled again...
On Friday, just 10 days after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) for notes from a June 2004 interview the FBI conducted with George Bush and Dick Cheney regarding their roles in the CIA leak scandal, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for documents related to the leak as well as the department's alleged political prosecutions.
According to a news release from the House Judiciary Committee, "[Chairman] John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today issued a subpoena to the [DOJ] to provide to the committee a number of previously requested documents by July 9. The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law voted this week to authorize committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. to issue the subpoena at his discretion. The documents the committee is seeking cover a broad range of issues including the Valerie Plame leak, allegations of selective prosecution, and other matters."
In an interview posted on the website of the London Telegraph, John Bolton, one of the most belligerent of the neocon war hawks, predicted that Israel will attack Iran sometime after the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and before January 21, the day George Bush and Dick Cheney leave office.
Attacking Iran has long been a neocon objective. Last February, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that Dick Cheney had secret plans for creating an "open confrontation" with Iran, and that he had the Pentagon ready to start bombing with 24 hours of a signal from the White House. At the same time, the Times of London reported that top U.S. military brass had let it be known they would resign if Cheney launched the attack.
Public outcry generated by the Hersh article and other reports quickly dampened the fervor for attacking Tehran. Two months after the report, however, John McCain ramped up the bellicose rhetoric when, during a campaign stop in South Carolina in April 2007, he made a joke about bombing Iran by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys song, "Barbara Ann."
John Bolton now believes Bush and Cheney have succumbed to political reality and will not pursue the attack using U.S. forces. According to the Telegraph, Bolton said, "It's clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility... I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards."
About his suggested timeframe for the attack of November to January, Bolton said, "The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defenses by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
John Yoo and David Addington, the architects of Bush's illegal torture policies, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. The hearing included this frothy exchange between Yoo and the committee chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich.):
CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?
YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive…
CONYERS: I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked if you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.
YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President — no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.
Yoo was serving in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, when he wrote the infamous memo and contributed to the PATRIOT ACT. He is now a professor of law at UC Berkeley.
'Welcome to Judiciary Committee's First Book of the Month Club Meeting,' Snarks Ranking Member, Comparing Former Press Sec to Judas, During Oversight Hearing Concerning First-Ever Outing of Covert CIA Operative by an American White House
The testimony was interrupted by House floor votes shortly after it began, but not before opening statements from Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Scott McClellan himself (text here), as well as a single round of questions from Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Not surprisingly, the Dems were respectful to the former WH Press Secretary, and even Coble was restrained and decent-ish in his first set of questions on behalf of the Republicans, following Smith's predictable attempts to try and smear McClellan and his publisher (as little more than operatives of the evil evil master overlord of all things not-Republican: George Soros).
Smith's opening statement --- characterized as "character assassination" which "has no place in this committee," as Nadler described it --- likely portends what's to come from the bulk of the Republicans should the hearings ever get re-started this morning.
In the meantime, McClellan, to his credit, again has refused to back off of his claims even one iota. As legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote to us recently, following McClellan's recent Fox "News" appearance, in which he stood up to bully boy Bill O'Reilly, "he sounded to me as though he had ACQUIRED, even if belatedly, the instincts of a whistleblower (and he's paying the usual social price for that with respect to all his old colleagues, though compensated by royalties)."
With all of that in mind, Smith's opening statement (video now posted at left, text posted below), described the hearing as "the Judiciary Committees first book of the month club meeting" before proceeding to plug Ann Coulter's book. He then accused McClellan of "selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver." It was something to behold, and demonstrated (yet again) just how far these guys are willing to go to protect the Administration (versus offering oversight, as required by the Constitution) when they need to.
Remember, this hearing has to do with an administration, for the first time in the history of this nation, having revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative...and one who was monitoring WMD traffic in the Middle East, of all things.
The text of Smith's complete opening statement follows in full...
Is the photo at left beginning to seem less and less absurd?
Looks like we're headed for an interesting game of chicken next month in the House Judiciary Committee surrounding Rove's subpoena to appear before it to answer questions in the Don Siegelman affair (and perhaps others) on July 10. RAW has the story worth putting on your radar, with no less than two House Judiciary members hinting that they may be willing to take extra steps (e.g., use of "inherent contempt" to have Rove arrested by the House Sergeant at Arms if need be) should he refuse to testify.
If Rove refuses to appear, says Rep. Wasserman-Schultz, "then we have to take the next step." And Rep. Sanchez notes, "We really need to set our foot down and show there are consequences to people who laugh in the face of Congressional subpoenas."
Tea leaves sure, but interesting ones, worth watching. The point is also made that the Committee may continue with this particular investigation, even as a new President takes office. Would be a whole different ballgame under those conditions. Presuming that new President isn't McCain, in any case. Hmmm...
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have subpoenaed notes of an FBI interview with George Bush and Dick Cheney in the Oval Office on June 24, 2004, about their role in the unmasking of a CIA anti-WMD program administered by Valerie Plame:
The subpoena follows a June 3 letter from committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman to Attorney General Mukasey, asking for the documents and a June 11 response from Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Keith B. Nelson [who declined the request due to "separation of powers" issues.
Waxman requested the transcripts of the FBI interviews earlier this month, after publication of Scott McClellan’s tell all memoir revealing Bush administration deception. A transcript of Cheney’s interview would be of particular interest because his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was the only official convicted of a crime in relation to the Plame probe.
Libby told the FBI that it was “possible” Cheney instructed him to leak Plame’s name, Waxman wrote in his initial letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
The question appears to be, if Bush and Cheney lied to McClellan, did they also lie to the FBI that June morning. Lying to the FBI is illegal, even if the subjects are not under oath.