Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Edited down Fox News special, "Radical Islam: Terror In Its Own Words", to show only the comments of host, and mother of eight, E.D. Hill.
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
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Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Edited down Fox News special, "Radical Islam: Terror In Its Own Words", to show only the comments of host, and mother of eight, E.D. Hill.
Blogged by Brad Friedman from Phoenix, AZ...
In a conference call with several bloggers concluded moments ago, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) had a number of harsh words concerning today's procedural bickering and fillibustering by Republicans in the Senate, which stifled both votes on his own legislation to end the Iraq War as well as amendments offered by other lawmakers to several non-binding resolutions that also failed to come to the floor for a full vote.
Feingold's remarks were highly critical not just of the Republicans, but even moreso of his own Democratic caucus colleagues, "Washington insider consultants," and even former Senatorial colleague-turned-presidential candidate John Edwards, for failing to take a tough stand to end the war in Iraq.
In a passionate, thirty-minute call, Feingold stressed, "This is an important moment to see if we're gonna try and end this war. Frankly, I'm disappointed that Democrats are playing it safe on this one."
"We need to play hardball on this. We're gonna have to take the lead on this issue and we're gonna need to tie this place up as long as it takes," he said in describing what he sees as a fear and timidity in his colleagues who now hold a slight majority in the Senate...
Yesterday, we looked at faux-journalist "Jeff Gannon's" assiduous work at planting administration propaganda during White House press briefings. His "questioning" of then-Press Secretary Scott McClellan seems to have been focused quite specifically on the story line --- which we now know to be wholly false --- as being propagated by Office of the Vice President. In retrospect, it leads one to wonder just what Gannon's relationship to the OVP might have been.
On the other side of the coin, the real journalist, Helen Thomas, seemed to be cutting quite close to the bone when she opened the White House press briefing with questions about the CIA leak on Monday, September 29, 2003. An unnamed "senior administration offical" in the WashPost the day before had said that two administration officials had mentioned Mrs. Wilson’s CIA link with at least six Washington journalists, and shouldn’t have done so.
After – or during – this press briefing, things started happening even faster; the DOJ requested the FBI to investigate the leak, Bob Novak made a defensive television appearance on Crossfire, and DOJ notified the CIA that its Counterespionage division had also requested an investigation.
The briefing itself shows White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan aggressively trying to evade even a direct denial that the White House was involved, though he opened with the now-quite-dubious "The President expects everyone in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. No one would be authorized to do such a thing."
Here's how Thomas's line of inquiry began and continued that morning...
We do not have a political system of government by one man. By virtue of that fact, by definition the man at the top --- the president --- is responsible for what his people do. When former ambassador Joseph Wilson belatedly published demurrals about purported Iraq efforts to obtain uranium, in July 2003, CIA skepticism about the uranium story also gradually became known to the wider public. In simplest terms, what followed was that the White House including Cheney’s office launched a campaign not only against Wilson personally but also against offices within the CIA that still functioned in intelligence gathering and analysis.
In this endeavor, the Bush-Cheney faction relied heavily on the media, and the Libby trial demonstrates how the administration took a campaign to, and through, major media figures to attribute purported nepotism to a CIA office. But just as a reminder, “Jeff Gannon” -- actually James Guckert --- demonstrates that small fish also had their uses; it wasn't only the Tim Russerts of the world who served.
The excerpts below from White House Press Briefiings and Gaggles during Scott McClellan's tenure represent only a fraction of the faux-journalist Gannon/Guckert's White House-friendly lines and, undoubtedly, helpful Administration-approved attacks on Wilson...
Blogged by Brad from the road...
See RAW STORY for their excerpts from Frank Rich's analysis about what's going on at the White House and in Dick Cheney's brain right now. We happily associate ourselves with Rich's take on things. Particularly the part about most of the DC insiders "misunderestimating" all that is likely at stake --- and on display --- vis-a-vis the Libby trial.
Always bearing in mind that so far only the government has presented in U.S. v. Libby – the defense will begin next week, probably Wednesday or so – the government’s chronology of events looks pretty solid to date.
Today Deborah Bond, now the FBI case agent for the CIA leak matter, recounted in low-key and organized point-by-point responses under government questioning how Libby responded to questions in his first FBI interview, on October 12, 2003.
Shorn of editorializing and condensed for brevity, here was the substance of Libby’s statement to the FBI:
• Libby said that he had learned that Mrs. Wilson worked for the CIA in a telephone conversation with Vice President Cheney on or about June 12, 2003;
• He said the call had been made in reference to an upcoming newspaper article by WashPost reporter Walter Pincus;
• Libby said that he later forgot he had been told this information by the VP;
• He said he recalled this item only when he found the note of this phone call with the date 06-12-03 inserted on it by him;
• Libby also stated that he did not know the name Joe Wilson at that time.
Are the wheels finally beginning to come off this thing?
TruthOut's Jason Leopold and Marc Ash get a great scoop from the Libby/CIA Leak Trial as George W. Bush appears to be dragged into protecting the identity of the CIA leak via a hand-written note from Dick Cheney...
...And the rest is history. Or at least current history as it is unspooling in Courtroom 16 of the Prettyman Courthouse in D.C., in the Perjury Trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Today, following a long, leisurely courtroom session with witness David Addington, the government lawyer for Vice President Cheney as opposed to Cheney’s private attorney, prosecution witness Judith Miller was escorted into the courtroom a little after 2:00 p.m.
Just in time to contradict her previously friendly “deeper-background” “former Hill staffer” source, Libby. The one who was Chief of Staff to the Vice-President of the United States.
Giving her current occupation as “freelance journalist” and her former employer as the NYTimes, Miller laid out under prosecution questioning the basic chronology of her acquaintance with Libby. Miller testified that she came to know Libby through her book Germs, co-authored with Stephen Engelberg and William Broad. The book, basically a highly torqued argument in favor of being very afraid of bioweapons, came out on September 10, 2001. In spite of being given a free taxpayer-funded boost by then-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, it did not rocket to the top of the bestseller lists immediately; however, the anthrax attacks, which began a few weeks after 9/11, did enhance sales. At least the book mentions (eventually) that anthrax spores can be killed by direct sunlight, a fact that boosters of war with Iraq seem to have overlooked.
Engelberg had interviewed Libby in the course of writing the book, Miller testified, and found him helpful, so Miller later – “some time between 9/11 and the beginning of the war with Iraq” – phoned Libby and asked to see him. She and Libby met in the Old Executive Office Building; he said he liked her writing on WMDs and terrorism; she expressed a wish to talk with him often; he said “fine” but on condition that his name not appear in print; she said “fine” to that.
A neocon marriage of minds between government official and sympathetic journalist, one might think, and one would be right...
On Thursday we covered the announcement of hearings to be held by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in the House Judiciary Committee and by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Conyers' hearing will look at the questions of legality surrounding Bush's "Signing Statements" and Feingold will look at issues surround de-funding the War in Iraq in advance of a legislative proposal to do just that. More details, and the expected witnesses for both of those hearings are in our previous article.
The BRAD BLOG has now obtained details from Feingold's office concerning what his proposal to exercise Congressional control of the purse strings over military deployment in Iraq will and won't do. A fact sheet concerning his upcoming legislation and how the defunding and re-deployment of U.S. troops would be conducted is below.
As well, the statement lists several other historical instances in which Congress voted to hold back funding while American troops were deployed, including in 1998 when the Republican-controlled legislature included a provision in a Defense Authorization bill prohibiting additional funding for U.S. troops in Bosnia after a date-certain, unless certain assurances were given to Congress by then-President Bill Clinton.
Feingold's fact-sheet follows in full...
A startling detail emerged from testimony Wednesday in U.S. v. Libby: the CIA briefer for Vice President Richard Cheney and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, kept each Table of Contents from his briefing binders when he sent the contents of the binders to shredder and burn bag. CIA manager Craig Schmall testified, matter-of-factly, in response to defense attorney questioning about those informative subject headings: “They still exist.”
Schmall’s cross-examination by Libby’s attorneys corroborates that the CIA morning briefing covered dozens of topics each day deemed important to U.S. security. Twenty-seven topics from a single day mentioned by Libby’s lawyer included terrorist strikes and threats, any actions deemed worthy of attention by foreign governments or other entities, and any significant actions by North Korea, Iran, and Iraq.
Schmall, as noted in a previous post, was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby’s morning intelligence briefer six days a week from summer 2002 through fall 2003 and served Vice President Cheney as intelligence briefer to the end of May 2004. In winter 2002-2003, he briefed both Libby and Cheney on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week and briefed Libby on Saturdays at Libby’s home. The briefings began at 7:00 a.m. and lasted about 40 minutes; results and taskings were then typed into a database and pooled with results from briefers of other senior government officials (“principals”).
Presumably CIA briefers raised equally critical topics each morning for the president, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense.
Each topic was clearly titled in the Table of Contents in the daily briefing binder. Investigators should look at those tables of contents in regard to White House efforts to cover up the unraveling of the Iraq WMD fable. When bogus intelligence was floated, for example, or when reports corrected the misinformation, presumably those items were reflected in the briefings.
Schmall testified that the principals spent most of the time in briefings reading their binders, with any questions or requests noted for follow-up by the Intelligence Community.
The fragmentary list below illustrates a few of the critical events that Bush, Cheney, their top aides and their Cabinet members may have known and reacted to. The basic starting question is the same for each item:
Did this appear in a table of contents for a briefing, and if so, on what date?...
An absolutely classic and devastating segment from last night's Daily Show featuring a relentless --- if greatly deserved --- reaming of the as-yet unimpeached Dick Cheney by Jon Stewart.
Must-see video is at RAW STORY courtesy of David Edwards.
As noted in an earlier post, the Libby defense team has emphasized memory lapses in the first three prosecution witnesses, government figures who placed Libby at the nexus of information about Joseph Wilson’s wife. Probing, sometimes repetitiously --- or so it seemed to me, sitting in Courtroom 16 --- for variable or incomplete memories took up much of the first two days of the Libby trial, now in its third day.
This line of attack has already been picked up by rightwing media outlets, including a gloating article posted this morning by Byron York at the National Review and another on a rightwing web site called "America Thinks."
More insidiously, the same line is seeping from some large media outlets. The Los Angeles Times ran an article today saying that the "memory defense" is aided by the government witnesses' own memory lapses, and the Baltimore Sun reports that the "'busy man' defense gains some ground". The local (D.C.) ABC television station presents a more balanced report, but very brief.
As it turns out, the memory defense at this stage of the Libby trial is not supposed to be used under judicial guidelines. Former prosecutor Christy Hardin Smith, also present in Courtroom 16 yesterday, points out that for Libby’s lawyers to plead shortness of memory, Libby himself has to take the stand as a witness, because it is his memories that are being referenced. The unremitting focus on witness memory for the entire day Wednesday seems to have resulted in a ruling from the judge that there will be no 'memory defense' allowed in the closing argument unless Libby does take the stand . . .
At the turn of the new year, we dubbed 2007 "The Year of Accountability." So, let it begin.
Two announcements were released today concerning upcoming oversight and investigative hearings in Congress on Bush Administration policy. If you can imagine such a thing.
In the House, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee --- the one which would lead the way concerning any Articles of Impeachment for a sitting U.S. President or Vice-President --- announced today that hearings would be held next Wednesday in the committee on "Presidential Signing Statements under the Bush Administration: A Threat to Checks and Balances and the Rule of Law?" (Complete media release, with details, scheduled witnesses, etc. at end of this article.)
In the Senate, Russ Feingold (D-WI) will chair Judiciary Committee hearings on "Congress's Power to End a War." In a media advisory just released, (posted in full below) Feingold refers to Congress's "power of the purse to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq so that we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten our national security."
"This hearing will help inform my colleagues and the public about Congress’s power to end a war and how that power has been used in the past," Feingold is quoted in the release. As well, he promises to to introduce new legislation to do exactly that in the Senate. "I will soon be introducing legislation to use the power of the purse to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of our nation’s foreign policy," the senator said.
Neither of the Constitutionally mandated oversight hearings will be held in a basement broom closet, but rather in proper Congressional Hearing Rooms.
UPDATE 8:22pm PT White House says they "will cooperate." Of course they will.
The complete media releases from Conyers and Feingold, with dates, times, locations, and expected witnesses, follow below...
With more than 5600 words in his State of the Union speech, Bush couldn't cobble together five or six of them to thank our 1.6 million new American Veterans? Let alone recognize the continuing horrors they face and what our country plans to do to help them?
A press release from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America find that pretty crappy. So do we.
Why does George W. Bush hate our troops?
Fitzgerald said Cheney told his chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby, in 2003 that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA and Libby spread that information to reporters. When that information got out, it triggered a federal investigation.
“But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the defendant did,” Fitzgerald said, “he made up a story.”
Fitzgerald alleged that Libby in September 2003 “destroyed” a Cheney note just before Libby's first FBI interview when he said he learned about Wilson from reporters, not the vice president.
It also appears that Libby's Defense is preparing to go against the White House, according to their opening statement. Or, at least they seem to be claiming he was worried about being thrown under the bus to protect Rove...
“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”
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