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By Alan Breslauer on 8/23/2007 9:48am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

This short preview clip from tomorrow night's NOW episode shows a former Iraq war medic who sought conscientious objector status after, among other incidents, witnessing an innocent Iraqi man killed for driving too close to a convoy: "We're unfortunately hurting people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This individual obviously had no intention of harming us. There was nothing in his vehicle that was found. Yet, someone doesn't have a father. So that's a memory that really stuck with me."

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Speech to VFW Today May Be His Lowest Moment Yet - And That Is Saying a Lot
By Jon Ponder on 8/22/2007 10:01am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review

When you hear the sound bites from George W. Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars today in which he compares his botched war in Iraq to the Vietnam war, think about what he was doing while thousands of U.S. soldiers were wounded and killed in the mud of Southeast Asia.

As is well known, rather than serving in Vietnam, George W. Bush spent the war years in a cushy assignment to the "Champagne Unit" of the Texas Air National Guard. There are witnesses from that era who say Bush's main preoccupations then were doing drugs, chasing women and driving drunk. There are also rumors he seriously damaged a fighter jet while taxiing it on a runway.

Conversely, no witnesses have ever been found who can verify that he completed his service with honor --- and there is circumstantial evidence that he did not. Around the time he was in the TNG, the Pentagon began requiring drug testing of all military pilots. The record indicates that Bush never submitted to a physical after the drug testing was required — and thus was never honorably discharged.

Today, in what may be his most astoundingly outrageous speech to date, Bush had the temerity to lecture the American people about lessons the country should have learned from Vietnam:

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left... Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'"


"Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility, but the terrorists see things differently."

Just when you think there is nowhere lower Bush can go to try to fool people into supporting his illegal and misbegotten war, he finds a way to make us even more disgusted with him, the people who work for him and their rank incompetence --- as well as with our leaders who insist on allowing him to remain in office.

Update: Flip-flop alert: In 2004, Bush bristled at comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam: "I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy."

Update 2: The complete text of Bush's speech is here. The excerpt about Vietnam follows below the fold:

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

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Worries About Defending The Oil Fields
Says Obesity And Urban Couch-Potatoes Hindering Recruitment
By Alan Breslauer on 8/13/2007 3:59pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

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Plans to Spend More Time with Family...
By Jon Ponder on 8/13/2007 5:02am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder of Pensito Review

Buried in a newly published profile in the Wall St. Journal comes word that Karl Rove is resigning as head of the White House political office effective August 31.

Rove says he is giving up his powerful position in order to spend more time with his family:

"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," Mr. Rove says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.

Rove insists his exit has nothing to do with the multitude of investigations into suspicious Bush administration activities that all seem to lead to his doorstep:

"[I'm] not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." He also knows he'll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.

As to the timing of his departure, Rove offers a bit of his signature plausible implausibility. He says his decision now was prompted by a demand from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten that staffers who stay on past the summer break must commit to serving Bush through the end of his term. That may sound reasonable on the surface but in fact the idea that Bolten could tell Rove when to come and go is not credible.

Whatever his excuse, Rove's departure will increase speculation that investigators are closing in him over his role in the illegal firing of U.S. attorneys for political purposes, vote caging schemes by the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, which he directed, or other as-yet unrevealed activities.

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Asked 'How Many Dead Americans is Saddam Worth?'
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2007 12:43pm PT  

That was then, this is now, we suppose.

Dick Cheney, in 1994 (see short video at right), said "we got it right" by deciding not to invade Iraq after the liberation of Kuwait in '91, since "for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families --- it wasn't a cheap war."

"[I]n an effort to get Saddam Hussein, [the question for the President] was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?" Cheney is seen answering the question at the time: "Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right."

Apparently, the worth of Saddam has increased since '94, to at least 4,000 dead Americans and still counting.

But, as we said, that was then, and this is now. So flip-floppery doesn't matter, even though he predicted back then that "if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us...It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq."

Smart guy. He should have listened to him.

Text transcript of the short interview is below, courtesy of Editor & Publisher....

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

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Data-Mining Gone Wild...
By Desi Doyen on 7/28/2007 4:12pm PT  

The Washington Post reports that the United States and the European Union signed an agreement this week detailing the amount of private information the U.S. can obtain on EU citizens traveling to and from the United States, what kinds of information can be gathered, and for how long the data may be stored.

Privacy advocates in the U.S. and the E.U. immediately questioned the agreement's sweeping expansion of data mining of travelers’ private information, including such data fields as medical history, religious affiliation, trade union membership, sexual orientation, and sexual partners.

According to WaPo:

Peter Hustinx, the E.U.'s privacy supervisor, expressed "grave concern" over the plan, which he said is "without legal precedent." He wrote to E.U. officials on June 27, "I have serious doubts whether the outcome of these negotiations will be fully compatible with European fundamental rights."

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the pact as an "essential screening tool for detecting potentially dangerous transatlantic travelers." If available at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Chertoff said, such information would have, "within a matter of moments, helped to identify many of the 19 hijackers by linking their methods of payment, phone numbers and seat assignments."

Paul Rosenzweig, Homeland Security’s deputy assistant secretary for policy, explained that the broad categories of information gathered are due to U.S. authorities' fears of risks they haven't yet imagined. Rosenzweig justified the unusual data fields if, for example, U.S. officials learned of an alert about passengers who request wheelchairs hiding bombs in leg casts.

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2007 3:07pm PT  

From today's NYTimes...

Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.

And as if that's not bad enough, there's this:

The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, like power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general’s office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declared that they had been successfully completed.

Gotten bad enough for ya yet, you pathetic 28-percenters?

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By Desi Doyen on 7/26/2007 12:28pm PT  

Guest blogged by DES...

The Hill reports that Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has issued a subpoena to White House adviser Karl Rove, the next step in the escalation of the standoff between the White House and Democrats over their attempts to assert congressional oversight and investigation over the executive branch. Scott Jennings, a White House aide, was also subpoenaed.

The latest subpoenas come on the heels of the contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was openly derided by both Democrats and Republicans on the committee for his perceived misleading testimony; several members of the committee alleged the testimony borders on perjury and today asked the U.S. Solicitor General to appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Comparing current Bush White House tactics to the embattled Nixon Administration, Leahy said:

The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases,” Leahy said. “It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort...

Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability...

I am left to ask what the White House is so intent on hiding that it cannot even identify the documents, the dates, the authors and recipients that they claim are privileged.

Rove and Jennings have one week to appear before the committee to testify under oath.

Hold your breath.

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Army Specialist Michael Vassell Challenges Bush To Ride Alongside Him In Iraq
By Alan Breslauer on 7/22/2007 11:55am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

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Cheney, Gonzales May Also Be Included, According to the Wisconsin Senator on This Morning's 'Meet the Press'...
By Margie Burns on 7/22/2007 9:22am PT  

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.”...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2007 6:46pm PT  

From Bloomberg News:

July 20 (Bloomberg) --- Patrick Fitzgerald won the convictions of four Osama bin Laden associates in May 2001. In March, he got Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Last week, he nailed Conrad Black.

Fitzgerald, 46, isn't saying what he'll do next in his career. Friends and colleagues say he probably will remain a prosecutor rather than join a law firm. One colleague says Fitzgerald's destiny may include the top law-enforcement job in the country: U.S. attorney general.

"I think he would make a spectacular attorney general," said former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey

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By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2007 12:09pm PT  

Breaking minutes ago from AP...

WASHINGTON --- A federal judge on Thursday dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments. Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove and former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

UPDATE: RAW STORY has a bit more and a link to the judge's ruling, which said, "The court ruled it lacked jurisdiction over Plame's case because she has not exhausted administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which is the 'proper, and exclusive, avenue for relief on such a claim.'"

In a statement to RAW from CREW's Melanie Sloane, representing the Wilsons, she said they intend to appeal the decision to a higher court. "We disagree with the court's holding and intend to pursue this case vigorously to protect all Americans from vindictive government officials who abuse their power for their own political ends," she said. We'll try to get Sloane or Joe Wilson on for tonight's Peter B. Collins show for more reaction if possible.

UPDATE 7/20/07: Who is Judge John D. Bates? The one who dismissed the case? This is who...

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Despite Promise to Investigate, Fire Leaker, Admits He 'Didn't Ask Then, Hasn't Asked Since'
Says Commutation Was 'Fair and Balanced' Before Turning to Fox 'News' Reporter for Next Question...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2007 11:40am PT  

RAW STORY has the shameful report and video of Bush's press conference and latest failure of the mainstream corporate media...

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Fred Fielding, Counsel to Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush, Greenlights Probation
By Margie Burns on 7/11/2007 8:45am PT  

Guest blogged from DC by Margie Burns

These are interesting times. A short update on the most recent legal motions in the Libby case:

As we know, in a Grant of Executive Clemency on July 2, George W. Bush commuted all prison terms for I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. The grant states that it leaves “intact and in effect the two-year term of supervised release, with all its conditions, and all other components of the sentence.”

What with Libby not having served any time, Judge Walton, the trial judge in the Libby case, ordered input from prosecution and defense on the question of whether there could be any “release” – and consequently any “supervised release,” i.e. probation.

First response came from Fred Fielding, Esq., now Counsel to the President. Fielding was the man who helped Nixon negotiate the shoals of the Watergate investigation --- speaking of no jail time --- concluding with Nixon’s resignation followed in short order by a presidential pardon even without a conviction – and, according to Nixon and then-President Gerald Ford, without even a request for a pardon. One sees why Fielding would be welcome aboard the current White House.

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

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'Gut Feeling' Now Apparently Driving Our Homeland Security Policy Decisions...
By Jon Ponder on 7/10/2007 6:03pm PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder of Pensito Review

George W. Bush's poll numbers are mired in the 20s, so he releases the hounds hoping to terrify the populace into rallying to him in fear:

Calling it "a gut feeling" based on past patterns of terrorists in Europe, recent al-Qaeda statements and intelligence he did not disclose, Chertoff said of terrorists: "Summertime seems to be appealing to them. ... We worry that they are rebuilding their activities."

A recent terror plot in London and Scotland has America's defense system on alert, Chertoff said. He urged Americans to be attentive if something appears suspicious. But he said there is an assessment "not of a specific threat, but of increased vulnerability."

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