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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bush admin officials knew they were lying

E&P writes about a story in tomorrow's NYTimes. Carl Levin has disclosed a newly declassified memo which purportedly shows that the Bush admin was citing a source for pre war WMD scare that they knew to be a "fabricator."

It shows that an al-Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002.

It declared that it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for al-Qaeda's work with illicit weapons, Jehl reports.

The NYTimes put the story up a little earlier than normal. Guess they didn't like getting scooped on their own story.

Cheney's staff spied on the NSC!!!!

Cheney had his staff spying on and undermining, the Bush's NSC staff according to Wilkerson. It got to the point that the NSC staff were no longer sending emails to each other. AFP article on Wilkerson's latest revelations. This is from the AFP version of Wilkerson's interview with NPR where Wilkerson claimed that he had built up an audit trail linking prisoner "abuse" directly back to Cheney.

(Again, see Mike's wild-assed theory that Powell is trying to take down Cheney through surrogates.)

Wilkerson also told National Public Radio that Cheney's office ran an "alternate national security staff" that spied on and undermined the president's formal National Security Council.

He said National Security Council staff stopped sending emails when they found out Cheney's staffers were reading their messages.

He said he believed that Cheney's staff prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council memo arguing strongly that the US needed far more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Holy crap!!!! This is why we need phase II of the senate intel committee investigation into the prewar WMD claims. This is why the democrats' and Harry Reid's "stunt" was so significant. Is Sen Roberts willing to stall the investigation to cover up THIS? In order for the truth to come out, the dems are going to have to reclaim either the house or senate so that there will be a REAL investigation.

The upcoming midterms just got a whole lot more serious.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Massive Knight Ridder archive regarding phase II WMD investigation

Just throwing this out as source material. Knight Ridder put up a great reference page for all their articles about pre-war intelligence. It's worth a look. As they were the only major media printing stories questioning the intelligence, I wouldn't expect to see anyone else following suit.

McCain takes a stand

McCain fell out of my good graces when he stood by while the Bush campaign slimed Kerry the same way they had slimed him in the 2000 SC primary.

But this is pretty badass.

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate added language barring inhumane treatment of enemy combatants to legislation that sets military policy, the second major defense measure the chamber has amended with this provision.

The amendment sponsored by Arizona Republican Senator John McCain passed by a voice vote. It was attached to the Senate's fiscal 2006 defense spending bill Oct. 6 by a vote of 90-9. That bill is being negotiated with members of the U.S. House, including Republicans whose support is in question.

McCain said his intent is to prevent abuses such as those at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He vowed today that his measure would be ``on every vehicle that goes through this body'' until it's enacted into law. ``It's not going away,'' he said on the Senate floor.

And just as a refresher, here's the list of 9 senators who voted for torture. I've already sent a couple letters to crazy Cornyn.

Getting the WMD story straight?

Sometimes I'm just so overwhelmed I just don't know what to say.

Chalabi, who begins his eight-day visit on Tuesday, is due to see Rice on Wednesday and make a speech that day at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that provides personnel and considerable support to the administration. ....

He expects to see other senior U.S. officials as well, but he has not yet nailed down a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, another goal as Chalabi maneuvers to become Iraq's next prime minister after elections in December.

Maybe Sen Roberts could get him to answer some questions on the stalled WMD investigation while he's here.

The evil that never stops.

Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.

Elsewhere: (AUDIO of NPR piece)

Another shocking accusation by former administration insider Lawrence Wilkerson appears to be going under the media radar today.

On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office.

UPDATE: The link for the second quote no longer works. Try this link now. It was from Froomkin's column White house briefing, title "Another Thunderbolt from Wilkerson."

Plame gossip is back!!!

Remember that John Dean article that came out last week right before the Libby indictment that said he didn't expect anyone to be indicted? Well, looks like he's changed the tune a bit. And it's a pretty interesting new tune.

Now, however, one indictment has been issued -- naming Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby as the defendant, and charging false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. If the indictment is to be believed, the case against Libby is, indeed, a clear one.

Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.

Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney. ....

And who is most vulnerable under the Espionage Act? Dick Cheney - as I will explain. ....

Aaahhhh. Welcome back Plame gossip. How I've missed ya!!!! There's alot there including a plausible legally interesting reason that Libby perjured himself.

And the NYTimes runs a piece describing Rove as far from out of the woods.

Mr. Fitzgerald no longer seems to be actively examining some of the more incendiary questions involving Mr. Rove. At one point, he explored whether Mr. Rove misrepresented his role in the leak case to President Bush - an issue that led to discussions between Mr. Fitzgerald and James E. Sharp, a lawyer for Mr. Bush, an associate of Mr. Rove said. ....

One lawyer with a client in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald could be skeptical of Mr. Rove's account because the message was not discovered until the fall of 2004. It was at about the same time that Mr. Fitzgerald had begun to compel reporters to cooperate with his inquiry, among them Mr. Cooper. ....

I also saw a Rawstory piece relinking Bolton as the Undersecretary of State in the indictment. Raw story so treat it with big caution.

Unbelievably it's only been a week since the indictment. That's one thing I can say for the Bush presidency. It has never been boring.

Another sign of Bush's falling political fortunes.

In another sign of Bush's falling political fortunes, notice the attention the anti-Bush protesters in Argentina are receiving. I remember trying to find coverage of the giant worldwide protests right before the start of the Iraq war, remember a million in New York, London, Rome, and there was no coverage anywhere but CSPAN 2.

Now, Bush goes to Argentina where he is greeted by what appears to be 10,000-20,000 protesters and it's front page news.

Interesting back and forth

If you get a chance, take a look at the back and forth I have been having with Matt on individual personal identity and the structure of the religious right in the comments section of this post. I know alot of visitors here don't like to comment, but I'd be really curious to get some more opinions in there.

We will suffer the Bush Presdidency for a generation

Every once in a while, it's useful to step back from the Bush bashing to truly look at the level of damage "the Party of Fiscal Responsibility" is doing.

(Knight Ridder - loosely based on Heritage Foundation numbers(I know, Heritage focuses solely on social programs not defense, business subsides etc. But this does show the mindbending numbers.))

"The facts are not partisan and they're not ideological," said David Walker, the nation's comptroller general. He should know. He's the nation's chief accountant and signs off on the government's balance sheet. America's fiscal future, he said, "is worse than advertised.".....

Unfunded liabilities include everything from public debt to promised Medicare and Social Security benefits. In 2000 they totaled $20.4 trillion. By 2004, after President Bush and Congress increased spending and cut taxes, they reached $43.3 trillion.

When the government next reports these numbers on Dec. 15, the total is expected to reach $46 trillion to $50 trillion.

How much is $50 trillion? It's about $166,000 for each of the almost 300 million Americans.......

Congress shows no interest in halting a Medicare drug benefit that's scheduled to take effect next year. It will cost $700 billion over 10 years, and more after. It's one reason why spending on Medicare, the health care program for the elderly and disabled, is projected to explode.

Also, from another KR article, a great quote from Delay.

He also blamed Democrats, complaining that they haven't offered any suggestions on how to cut spending. He said they created a congressional budget process that makes it difficult to cut spending.

"We've been operating off a Congress designed by Democrats," he said.

The Republicans took control of Congress in 1995.

I'll bet Ms. Bloecher from the post below believes him, too.

UPDATE: Bush actually answered a few questions from the hand picked travelling press pool.

Q The American people, though -- sir, the American people, though, are beginning to question your honesty, according to the polls, 58 percent. And your approval rating is at an all-time low, primarily because, it seems, of this investigation. They are wondering whether you can keep on track and whether to believe you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, I understand there is a preoccupation by polls and by some. I think this may be -- I think we've got -- this is maybe the fourth or fifth consecutive semi-press conference -- press conference or semi-press conference that I've been asked about polls. The way you earn credibility with the American people is to declare an agenda that everybody can understand, an agenda that relates to their lives, and get the job done. And the agenda that I'm working on now is one that is important to the American people.

Quote of the day

From an AP article on the AP/Ipsos poll.

Four in five Republicans still back the president.

"I think he's done a wonderful job," said Gloria Bloecher, a Republican from Sherman, Texas. "He's done wonderful things for the economy. He rescued people who needed help in Iraq — it was the Christian thing to do. I still trust his people and the people he picks for the Supreme Court."

So many, many things wrong here. But, if I get one question, I'd ask Ms. Bloecher , "Can you describe to me exactly how the Iraq war was the 'Christian thing to do?'" Okay, two questions: "Can you show me in the bible exactly where Jesus supports shock and awe bombing, or secret gulags, or....?" I don't even know how to continue.

But needless to say, Bush still polls very well among the delusional Christian demographic. It's his base after all.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Chavez and Rumsfeld walk into a bar.

I just liked the way this began.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Donald Rumsfeld are like two alcoholics drinking together, pathetically doing the only thing they know how to do, egged on by their presence at the bar.


WaPo poll says Bush at 39% approve and 60% disapprove

The overall number of 60% disapprove is amazing to me, but you figure that it has to be a forced choice, not a "no opinion," so you would think that alot of those disapproves would be tepid, "because I had to choose" disapproves. You would be wrong.

Take a look at some of the internal numbers here.

20% strongly approve of Bush, 47% strongly disapprove.
A year ago, roughly before the election, the numbers were 50% strongly approve 25% strongly disapprove.

The situation in Iraq 20% strongly approve, 51% strongly disapprove.

The economy gets a 61% disapproval(no measure of degree) Health care 61% disapprove.

The right direction/wrong track numbers are 30/68.

"He(Bush) is honest and trustworthy" 40% yes 58% no.

Enough. I'm not normally a poll chaser, but this is just amazing especially when you look at the trend info.

The knives are out for Rove

First, there was the WaPo story out last night...

Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.

Which also included mention of the ongoing Fitzgerald investigation(expected to be wrapping up in weeks) who re-interviewed Matt Cooper in light of that "new information" Rove's lawyer sprang on Fitzgerald at the last minute.

Then, today, from Newsweek, we get this...

Nov. 2, 2005 - The conventional wisdom in Washington this week is that Karl Rove is out of the woods. But while an indictment against him in the Valerie Plame leak case is now unlikely, he may be in danger of losing his security clearance.

Certainly, it would be an unwise staffer who would attempt to step between that relationship, but I can't help reading these anonymous leaks regarding Rove's status as people inside the Whitehouse trying to save Bush from himself.

Rove has been the parental hand on the back of the bicycle as Bush has learned how to president. And here we are, five years down the road, and George still doesn't believe he can ride on his own. And all the members in the boy emporer's court are telling him to let go, that he can ride the bike on his own. But he's just too afraid.

This is the truth of the flightsuited war president.

Fallout from the Secret Prisons story

Today, we have the inevitable fallout from yesterday's WaPo story on the US run Gulags in Eastern Europe.


Reuters: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on Thursday for access to all foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States after a report of a covert CIA prison system for al Qaeda captives.

AP: The European Commission said Thursday it will investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe. The governments of the European Union's 25 members nations will be informally questioned about the allegations, EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said.

And AFP has a pretty big piece. US on the defensive over reported secret CIA prisons

The NYTimes has an editorial(free), but no story.

And the WaPo reports the EU investigation.

If I come across any more, I'll drop it in as an update.

Pay for Play

I actually don't see Delay staff involvement as the story here, although it's definitely not good. To me, the story is that Interior Secretary Gale Norton sold access for a quarter mil donation to her private environmental charity.

Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter-million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton. .....

The December 2000 e-mails show DeLay's office identified — as an avenue for winning a meeting with the new interior secretary — Norton's former political fundraiser, Italia Federici, and a conservative environmental group called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA).

Norton founded the group in 1999 with Federici and conservative activist Grover Norquist, a close ally of President Bush. When Norton was named interior secretary by Bush, Federici took over as president of CREA.

I'll be looking forward to a fuller description of this charity. "Returning Honesty and Integrity to the Whitehouse", my ass.

Here's the CREA website. I think my favorite page is the one that describes Bush's "further investigation" into climate change as positive. However the euphemism "treatment" to describe logging in the Healthy Forests initiative is pretty good, too.

UPDATE: It gets more interesting. Apparently, according to this WaPo story from Aug. 27, Abramoff was seeking to use Norton's post to refuse the construction of a competing casino by refusing the EIR.

(in an email to Federici) Abramoff wrote. "This is the casino we discussed with Steve and he said that it would not happen. It seems to be happening! The way to stop it is for Interior to say they are not satisfied with the environmental impact report. Can you get him to stop this one asap? They are moving fast. Thanks Italia. This is a direct assault on our guys, Saginaw Chippewa.".....

Federici's group, CREA, was founded in the 1990s by conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and Gale Norton, now secretary of the interior. It has received financial backing from chemical and mining interests, leading some environmentalists to brand it a front for industrial polluters.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bush's security is top notch

Have you ever noticed that after 9-11, security for the President, Vice President, Congress, the Supreme Court and other significant government officials was increased immediately without any discussion of cost?

The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships and railways from terrorists.

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of giving anti-terrorism training to federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago.

Bush at the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I was watching Hardball tonight and Chris Matthews was interviewing former President Jimmy Carter. Carter was discussing the completely different approach this administration has taken in regards to preemptive military action. Then Matthews posed this question, (paraphrased)

What do you think would have happened if we had had a Bush administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Think about that for a minute.

Does this man look like he's gonna back down?

Not one God Damned inch.

This is what we're fighting for. This is why Harry Reid shut down the Senate. This isn't about politcs.

This is about crimes.

Details on the CIA "covert prison system"

This is huge. I will be very curious in the next couple of days to see the recurrence of the debate regarding the legality of the US gulag system in the wake of this new, more complete portrait.

Certainly, some of the practices are locally illegal, in the countries where the suspects are seized, in the countries where they are held, and also, probably, in the US, despite the presidential finding. But as to international law, UN law, and the Geneva Conventions, the only US defense, I see, is the presidential authority to declare these individuals as "enemy combatants," or some other sort of special legal status.

Because, if these individuals are deemed prisoners of war, this is a black letter violation of the Geneva Conventions. Top level, presidentially approved, war crimes. If these individuals are not deemed to be of a legally special status, but instead, just world citizens, I'm quite sure that many laws could be applied coming out of the ICC or Brussels.(Probably why Bush renegged on the previous US commitment to sign onto the ICC.) Most certainly the "Convention Against Torture," to which the US is a signatory, would apply.

And, lastly, and most horribly, if even one of the people who has gone through this system is deemed to have been misidentified and completely innocent of terrorism charges, this is a crime against humanity.

(I know this is a long excerpt. And I know that this is A01 front page of the Washington Post, but several people I know who visit this site don't look at other blogs or visit the WaPo, so I wanted to give them a fair reading of this.)

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.....

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad. .....

Although the CIA will not acknowledge details of its system, intelligence officials defend the agency's approach, arguing that the successful defense of the country requires that the agency be empowered to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without restrictions imposed by the U.S. legal system or even by the military tribunals established for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. .....

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA's approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as "waterboarding," in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning. ....

The agency set up prisons under its covert action authority. Under U.S. law, only the president can authorize a covert action, by signing a document called a presidential finding. Findings must not break U.S. law and are reviewed and approved by CIA, Justice Department and White House legal advisers......

Rather, they believe that the CIA general counsel's office acted within the parameters of the Sept. 17 finding. The black-site program was approved by a small circle of White House and Justice Department lawyers and officials, according to several former and current U.S. government and intelligence officials.

And let's remember a week ago.

The proposal, which two sources said Vice President Cheney handed last Thursday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the company of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department.

By the way, after all the foofarah about Judy Miller and the First Amendment, I want to point out that this is a perfect example and use of unnamed sources. This is what a press shield law should protect. I know it's classified information that has been leaked here, but it appears to have been reported in a very responsible way with no details released that would endanger national security. This passes my first amendment test both on the "checks and balance of power" level, and also on the American people's right to know if their government is engaged in illegal activities. So, good job Dana Priest, good job WaPo.

UPDATE: Stephen Hadley had a press confrence today in which he took questions on two interesting topics. The first was on his meeting with Pollari the Sismi Niger forgeries guy, ThinkProgress has the transcript of that here.

Second, he answered questions on this story and torture.

Asked about secret prisons, Hadley said, "The fact that they are secret, assuming there are such sites, does not mean" torture would be tolerated. "Some people say that the test of your principles (is) what you do when no one's looking. And the president has insisted that whether it is in the public or it is in the private, the same principles will apply and the same principles will be respected. And to the extent people do not meet up, measure up to those principles, there will be accountability and responsibility."

Do you believe him?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hannah was White House channel for Chalabi intel?

Knight Ridder is good. First off, they were the only major media press outlet anywhere that featured skepticism of the WMD claims as their primary story line. Second, they always seem to do reporting based on what they actually uncover, rather than just reporting what one side says and how the other side reacts. Third, because of the first two, they occasionally come out with gems like this.

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as his national security adviser on Monday with an aide identified by a former Iraqi exile group as the White House official to whom it fed information on Iraq that turned out to be erroneous. .....

The White House announced on Monday the elevation of John Hannah to replace Libby as Cheney's national security adviser. ......

The vice president's office has previously denied that Hannah received INC information. Cheney's office didn't respond immediately to questions Monday about Hannah and Addington.

The INC's leader, Ahmad Chalabi, now a deputy prime minister in Iraq, was close to Cheney and other senior administration architects of the invasion. The INC supplied Iraqi defectors whose information turned out to be false. It has insisted that it tried its best to verify defectors' claims before passing them to the United States.

On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group through a U.S.-funded effort called the Information Collection Program.

Go. Read it all. It's got specific examples of bad intel, and where they appeared. Turns out Salman Pak, the "terror" base with the disabled 737 was used to train anti-terrorist commandos.

This smells funny.

I don't really have a working theory as to what happened here, whether somebody at the prison let this guy out to keep him from testifying or the military released him or disappeared him into the archipelago gulag, or the CIA.... But this just doesn't smell right to me.

You want me to believe that one of Bin Laden's top lieutenants was allowed to escape from a US run detention facility? And it just so happens that he is the only corroborating witness who can testify about the torture allegations which the defense lawyer contends was ordered by the CIA?

A man once considered a top al-Qaida operative escaped from a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan and cannot testify against the soldier who allegedly mistreated him, a defense lawyer involved in a prison abuse case said Tuesday.

Omar al-Farouq was one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia until Indonesian authorities captured him in the summer of 2002 and turned him over to the United States......

In earlier cases of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, the alleged victims either were dead or unidentified. Other alleged victims in Driver's case also cannot testify. One was released from custody and cannot be found, and the other has died.

Maybe I'm overly suspicious, but I just don't buy it.

UPDATE: Follow up story today telling me how I already knew all this. Apparently, there was a video released in which he and three other prisoners detailed their escape. The article also quotes a security consultant who tells me to expect Al-Farouq to turn up in Iraq(surprise.) If this is an intel op, this second story would come right out of the playbook. I still think there are too many coincidences in this story. If the military/intel folks weren't often caught lying, I would be more inclined to believe them.

And in other torture news.

The US invited three UN Human Rights investigators to come and examine Guantanamo. As of today's Rumsfeld press conference, Rumsfeld said they would not be allowed to even speak with any of the detainees, just come look at the facilities and talk with the commanding officers. Needless to say, the UN investigators have made it clear that they will refuse to investigate under those conditions.

In the bottom of that story, there's another graphic mention of the hunger strike and the court case around it. Funny how Rumsfeld is always legally distant from any controversial decisions regarding detainee "abuse."

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler last week ordered the government to provide medical records on Guantanamo prisoners who are being force-fed and to notify their lawyers about forced feedings.

The judge said detainees' lawyers had presented "deeply troubling" allegations of U.S. personnel violently shoving feeding tubes as thick as a finger through the men's noses and into their stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives, with detainees vomiting blood as U.S. personnel mocked them.

Rumsfeld appeared to distance himself from the decision to force-feed detainees.

"I'm not a doctor and I'm not the kind of a person who would be in a position to approve or disapprove. It seems to me, looking at it from this distance, is that the responsible people are the combatant commanders. And the Army is the executive agent for detainees," Rumsfeld said.

And we're all gonna die.

NYTimes reminds us that global warming is coming, Big Time.

(sorry, I liked the Cheney pun there.)

If emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at the current rate, there may be many centuries of warming and a near-total loss of Arctic tundra, according to a new climate study. ....

Consistent with many other studies, the model showed that the Arctic would see the most warming, with average annual temperatures in many parts of Arctic Russia and northern North America rising more than 25 degrees Fahrenheit around 2100.

And just as a point, this simulation appears to have only taken account of man made elements to global warming, not the terrifying feedback loops that seem to be setting up.

The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports. ..... The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

or, maybe, this....

The floating cap of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to what is probably its smallest size in at least a century of record keeping, continuing a trend toward less summer ice, a team of climate experts reported yesterday. .......

The change also appears to be headed toward becoming self-sustaining: the increased open water absorbs solar energy that would otherwise be reflected back into space by bright white ice, said Ted A. Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., which compiled the data along with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"Feedbacks in the system are starting to take hold," Dr. Scambos said.

There're more of these theoretical feedback loops, but these are just the two I had handy.

Big Time.

Labor dept. helps hide child labor violations?

I didn't know about this. I don't even know what to say.

The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations. .....

In addition to allowing the 15-day notice, the agreement lets Wal-Mart avoid civil citations and fines if it brings a store into compliance within 10 days of when the department notifies it of a violation. ......

Even though department officials asserted that the agreement was much like that with other companies, .....

I am the all powerful Harry Reid

I am the all powerful Harry Reid. Republican majorities quake before my unmatched parliamentary abilities.

My strength radiates outward from my mighty brain.

(just had a little time tonight and still feeling a little humorous after watching Bill Frist whine like a little girl.)

Give 'em Hell, Harry

Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue.

"They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why," Democratic leader Harry Reid said.

Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt.

"The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," said Majority Leader Bill Frist. "They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas," the Republican leader said.

Yep, Marisa nailed it in the comments. Even better version over at her blog. This is a brilliant political move to put the news media's focus back on the pre-war WMD lies. The Bush administration has fired two of their three topic changing bullets, Alito and Bird Flu, and the third, streamlining tax reform, from what I've read of it, probably isn't going to be an easy sell.

So, Reid has put the focus back on the lies that led us to war. Mr. Bush, do you want to answer the questions, or are you going to aim for more distractions?

Rumsfeld is profiting from Tamiflu sales!!!!!

Crimnos has a great article find over at his site The Junkheap of History.

Rumsfeld just happens to hold a whole bunch of stock in Gilead Sciences, the company who holds the rights to Tamiflu. And, I assume, that he is reponsible for the decision as to how much Tamiflu to purchase to ensure "military preparedness" in Bush's new bird flu pan.

I cry foul. I cry conflict of interest.

NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

Rumsfeld served as GileadResearch)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

Just wondering about other sites and sources.

Through the Plame investigation, I've wandered outside my usual news sites and found some pretty interesting stuff. I've also come across several other smaller blogs like mine that I really like, and I've been fascinated by some of the articles they have found.

So, I thought I'd ask the question. Beyond the big sites, where do you go looking for ideas and information? What are you favorites? What are your dailies? What are your dark horses?

Please, throw a few at me in the comments to this post. I think it would be broadening.

Here are a few of mine beyond the blogs linked right.

Bigger sites I visit daily. Josh Marshall, Atrios, Americablog, Leftcoaster, Antiwar.

Smaller but still big. Holden. Rising Hegemon.

Kinda small, but an absolute must for national security/foreign policy. Laura Rozen.

And, what has been a great site through the Fitzgerald investigation, Firedoglake.

And finally, from the way out, for references to stories I don't see anywhere else, WRH. (be careful though, he'll sometimes cite messageboard posts as news)

So, what's on your daily list. Give me a couple.

Bird Flu as topic changing

Now, lemme get this straight. Bush withheld a plan to combat Bird Flu until he needed to change the subject from the Libby indictment? Certainly, the warnings about the Avian Flu from within the US government go back well over 18 months, but Bush waited until now to develop a plan?

I haven't read the plan yet, maybe I'll comment on it later, but the absolute crassness of this just got to me. Playing politics with people's lives.

Gulf of Tonkin was a lie, too

In case you missed it, a government report has been withheld which confirms what is already pretty public knowledge that the events surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin attacks were misrepresented.

The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that NSA officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence during the Tonkin Gulf episode that helped precipitate the Vietnam War, according to two people familiar with the historian's work. .....

Asked about Hanyok's research, an NSA spokesman said the agency intended to release the material late next month. The release has been "delayed," said Don Weber, the spokesman, "in an effort to be consistent with our preferred practice of providing the public a more contextual perspective."

Now, if only we can figure out what happened to the Maine.

Quote of the day.

(Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo)

"This technique, hunger striking, is consistent with the al Qaeda training, and reflects the detainees' attempts to elicit media attention and bring pressure on the United States government," Martin said.

These men have never been proven to be Al Qaeda. They have faced no trial and are being held solely on the fiat of the military and, in turn, the executive.


I hadn't heard about this in any of the US press and the details here are sketchy, but is this a case of fragging? - BBC

A military investigator has recommended that a US soldier face a court martial over charges he murdered two of his superiors while serving in Iraq.

Col Patrick Reinert said he had reasonable cause to believe Staff Sgt Alberto Martinez, 38, had killed his colleagues in a personal vendetta.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ledeen, the Iranians, and Sismi

Really interesting details from the meeting in Rome between Ledeen, Rhode, and Franklin(yes the AIPAC spy ring Franklin,) miscellaneous Iranian political figures, the head of SISMI, Ahmad Chalabi, and, according to other reports, arms dealer and Iran Contra figure Ghorbanifar. It is Chalabi who brought the Niger forgeries to this meeting.

Four paragraphs translated from another Il Republica series. It's really short, and contains alot.

Take a look.

So, Berlusconi comes to visit George Bush

So, Berlusconi comes to visit George Bush. Berlusconi has just been put under indictment, again, for business dealings in his own country; This week, the Niger forgeries investigation in Italy is interviewing the former top official at Sismi who has admitted involvement(shouldn't our congress be looking into this?); Two days ago, Berlusconi said publicly that he had attempted to dissuade Bush from invading Iraq; One of the subtexts of the meeting is agreeing upon a timetable for the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq(the third largest contigent); Bush has just been battered by the Libby indictment and the Miers' withdrawal; And, both Bush and Berlusconi's poll numbers are at the lowest points in their leadership.

So, needless to say,....

The customary joint press conference which usually follows a foreign leader's visit to the White House was cancelled.

Is it getting chilly in here?

And this might have something to do with it as well.

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows that a solid majority of Americans, 55%, now judge Bush's presidency to be a failure.



Just like that, six more American soldiers dead. 2,000 last Wednesday; 2,024 by Monday.

Six American soldiers were killed Monday by roadside bombs in two separate attacks in Iraq, while U.S. jets bombed two insurgent safe houses near the Syrian border in an attack aimed at al-Qaida in Iraq, the U.S. command said.

You can tell me all you want about the body count. About how many we've killed or caputured, or how many weapons caches we've found. But our soldiers are still dying. Our soldiers are still dying at an increasing rate.

Whenever I see pictures or videos of soldiers coming home, even if it's on leave, the relief of the family always gets to me. The mother crying, alternating between holding his face and hugging him, speaking loudly about her baby or little man, the father standing quietly and uncomfortably in the background waiting. And then there's the wife who wraps herself around him and cries whispering quietly to him. She holds on. She holds on. She holds on like she's afraid someone is going to drag him away again. It's always the wives that make me cry.

Amidst it all - a UN vote on Syria today.

Just a reminder that there is a pretty significant vote at the UN security council today on Syria. The resolution appears to call for economic sanctions(seizing/freezing assets) and immediate detention of anyone implicated in the Mehlis report on the death of Rafiq Hariri. I would also, "let investigators determine the location and conditions under which the individual would be questioned," giving the UN police powers within Syria.

One of the controversial items is the "stick" that if Syria does not freeze the assets or detain the individuals implicated in the Mehlis report, Syria as a country could be subject to semispecified "further measures." There has been some debate through the drafts as to whether these measures should be limited to a section of the UN code which details economic and diplomatic sanctions. Read the alternative there.

Still no statements from Russia and China as to whether they'd veto, but beyond them, the joint effort by the US, British, and French seems to have lined up enough votes. But the countries involved think this is a pretty big deal requiring negotiations at the highest level. This is not just a vote by the UN representatives.

Foreign ministers from almost all 15 council nations were expected to cast votes, a high-level presence that Washington and its allies hope will send a message to Damascus about the seriousness of international concern at its failure to cooperate in the probe of Rafik Hariri's assassination.

Update: it passed, but read this:

The three co-sponsors agreed to drop a direct threat of sanctions against Syria in order to get support from Russia and China, which opposed sanctions while the investigation is still under way. Nonetheless, the resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Just interesting to add to Plame

Just a brief mention of the Libby plea deal negotiations.
And Fitzgerald's indictment sets the stage for either a trial next spring or a plea bargain that almost certainly would mean jail time for Libby. That possibility has already been discussed: a source close to the investigation told TIME that Fitzgerald and Libby's attorney Joseph Tate discussed possible plea options before the indictment was issued last week. But the deal was scotched because the prosecutor insisted that Libby do some "serious" jail time.

Not a surprise that there were plea negotiations with Libby, but one salient point is left out. Who initiated those negotiations? Because I think that would tell us alot towards whether the case is closed, or the Libby indictment was simply a move for leverage. Reading the last sentence, it sounds like Libby's lawyer approached Fitzgerald with some sort of light, no jail time offer. But if that's the case, I would love to know if there was any deal which Fitzgerald would have accepted. Is it over? I sure wish I could see Fitzgerald's cards.

UPDATE: Interesting theory to back up the mysterious disappearing line in that WaPo article today.

Remember 2,000 dead?

Remember way back when the 2,000 US soldier died in Iraq. Way back last Wednesday. Well, as of this morning, 2,016 have died. Despite the fact that there hasn't been a major attack, this has not been a good week. 83 US soldiers have died this month. Take a look at the previous Oct. link. There are alot more threes and fours killed in a single attack. Successful change in tactics by the Iraqis?

It's horrible, just horrible.

Tell me again about WMD's, DICK.


Libby's replacement was involved in Plame, too?

One of the names thrown out as Libby's replacement is David Addington. According to the NYTimes, he was involved in the Plame outing as well.

The indictment identifies the other officials only by their titles, but it clearly asserts that others involved in the discussion included David Addington, Mr. Cheney's counsel; John Hannah, deputy national security adviser; and Catherine Martin, then Mr. Cheney's press secretary.

Mr. Addington and Mr. Hannah in particular were powerful forces within the administration, and like Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby, they had often been at odds with the C.I.A. before the war in Iraq.

So much for the cleaning house/fresh start many were advising for the Bush admin.

Also, same article, names Marc Grossman as the "undersecretary of state" from the indictment. First major media naming of this individual.

By any measure, the indictment suggests that Mr. Libby and others went to unusual lengths to gather information about Mr. Wilson and his trip. An initial request on May 29, 2003, from Mr. Libby to Marc Grossman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, led Mr. Grossman to request a classified memorandum from Carl Ford, the director of the State Department's intelligence bureau, and later Mr. Grossman orally briefed Mr. Libby on its contents.

And the WaPo has a very long, but less administration-literal version of the whole WMD/Cheney/Wilson story. Kind of a fleshing out of the indictments version.


And because I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Does anyone else see the caricature similarities between Cheney and Libby here?