Saturday, October 22

Media Matters : Top 10 Plamegate Falsehoods

Orginally Posted by Media Matters:

Falsehood: It is legally significant whether the leakers disclosed Plame's name in their conversations with reporters

Shortly after Newsweek published an email by Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to Time Washington bureau chief Mike Duffy saying that, according to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, "Wilson's wife" worked at the CIA, Rove's lawyer responded by noting that his client had not stated her actual name. Several news outlets went on to report Rove's response as if his reported omission of Plame's name was relevant to whether he violated the law. Simultaneously, commentators such as former presidential adviser David Gergen and Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro, as well as the Republican National Committee (RNC), began to advance the argument that because Rove didn't specifically name her, he did not reveal her identity.

But whether leakers identified Plame as "Valerie Plame," "Valerie Wilson," or "Wilson's wife" is irrelevant, both as a practical matter and likely as a legal matter. Practically speaking, a quick Google search of Joseph Wilson at the time would have produced Plame's actual name. As such, administration defenders have declared that whether her name was mentioned to reporters likely has no bearing on whether there was a violation of the law. Despite having previously implied that there is a meaningful distinction between disclosing her name and her identity before, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, later conceded that drawing such a line was "too legalistic." Similarly, Victoria Toensing, the Republican lawyer who helped draft the potentially applicable 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), agreed that the use of her name is "not an important part of whether this is a crime or not."

Nonetheless, numerous media figures recently revived this claim in the wake of New York Times reporter Judith Miller's revelation that the source who told her that Plame worked at the CIA, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also never disclosed her actual name.

Falsehood: Wilson said that Cheney sent him to Niger

An RNC talking points memo made public on July 12 accused Wilson of falsely claiming "that it was Vice President Cheney who sent him to Niger." The allegation that Wilson had lied about the genesis of his trip was soon repeated by RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who argued that this fact justified the purported leaking of Plame's identity to the press and that the White House had simply been attempting to set the record straight.

New York Times columnist David Brooks made this argument at least twice (here and here). And a string of journalists and commentators -- including CNN's Dana Bash, The Washington Post's Mike Allen, Newsweek's Jon Meacham, and U.S. News and World Report's Michael Barone -- parroted the allegation during news reports and media appearances in the following weeks. NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell recently repeated the claim as a guest on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.

But Wilson never said that Cheney sent him to Niger. To support this accusation, the RNC had misrepresented his July 6, 2003, op-ed in The New York Times and distorted a remark he made in an August 3, 2003, interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Contrary to their allegation, Wilson clearly stated in the op-ed that "agency officials" had requested he travel to Niger. Further, in the CNN appearance, he stated it was "absolutely true" that Cheney was unaware he went on the trip.

Falsehood: Plame suggested Wilson for the trip to Niger

In their ongoing attempts to justify the alleged leaks, Mehlman and other supporters claimed that the White House had a legitimate interest in setting the record straight by disclosing that Plame, not Cheney, was actually responsible for Wilson being sent to Niger. In a January 2005 Washington Post op-ed, attorneys Victoria Toensing -- a friend of Novak -- and Bruce W. Sanford framed the leak in such a light and suggested that Novak outed Plame because he wanted to "expose wrongdoing" -- i.e., the alleged nepotism that led to Wilson's assignment. Numerous reporters subsequently repeated that Plame suggested Wilson for the trip, including The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, and, most recently, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster.

But what these reporters stated as fact is actually in dispute. Unnamed intelligence officials have been quoted in the media claiming that the CIA -- not Plame -- selected Wilson for the mission. Also, CIA officials have disputed the accuracy of a State Department intelligence memo that reportedly indicates that Plame "suggested" Wilson's name for the trip.

Novak himself claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in its 2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq," concluded that Plame suggested the trip. In fact, the committee did not officially conclude that she had been responsible for Wilson's assignment.

Falsehood: Wilson was not qualified to investigate the Niger claims

In conjunction with the claim that nepotism led to the selection of Wilson for the trip to Niger, several conservative media figures have attempted to cast the former ambassador as unqualified to investigate the claims that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake form the African country. Toensing has repeatedly claimed that he lacked "any experience in WMD" and "any kind of senior experience in that country." National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne has described Wilson as "no expert in weapons of mass destruction."

But Wilson possessed extensive diplomatic experience, had specialized in Africa during most of his career, and had taken a similar trip to Niger in 1999 to investigate possible purchases by Iran.

Falsehood: Plame's CIA employment was widely known

In an apparent effort to undermine the possibility that the alleged White House leakers committed a crime, both The Washington Times editorial page and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh have argued that Plame's identity was known by many in Washington, D.C., at the time Novak published his column outing her as "an agency operative." As support for this argument, the Times claimed that "numerous neighbors were aware that she worked for the agency."

In fact, none of the neighbors cited in The Washington Times' own news reports or in other reports said that they knew before reading the Novak column that Plame worked at the CIA. Her acquaintances told reporters that they believed she worked as a private "consultant."

Falsehood: Fitzgerald must prove that Plame's covert status was leaked

Recent reports from a number of news outlets have attributed legal significance to whether Rove and Libby leaked Plame's covert status to the press. But as with the issue of whether Plame's actual name was leaked, whether the officials communicated her status as a covert operative is likely not relevant to the question of whether their actions violated federal law. According to news reports, a 2003 State Department memo -- which was likely read by top administration officials during a trip to Africa -- designated as "S" for "secret" a section mentioning Plame, even though it did not mention her covert status. Therefore, the information allegedly disclosed by Rove and Libby -- that she worked at the CIA -- was apparently classified.

Falsehood: Fitzgerald's investigation was originally limited to possible violation of 1982 law

Conservative commentators have reacted to reports that Fitzgerald is looking at a variety of legal approaches to the CIA leak investigation by characterizing him as a "runaway prosecutor" or a Captain Ahab "chasing a white whale." The argument put forth by Toensing, as well as columnists Richard Cohen and George F. Will is that, in pursuing such charges, the special prosecutor is overstepping his mandate. The claim underlying this argument is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) originally granted him authority to investigate whether the alleged leakers had violated the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA).

But the DOJ's delegation of Fitzgerald as special prosecutor gave him broad authority to investigate the leaks; it made no mention of the IIPA, nor did it name any other specific statute. The DOJ official who appointed Fitzgerald as special prosecutor, then-deputy attorney general James Comey, stated in a December 30, 2003, press conference that "Mr. Fitzgerald alone will decide ... what prosecutive [sic] decisions to make" and that "he can pursue it [the leak investigation] wherever he wants to pursue it." In a February 6, 2004, letter to Fitzgerald, Comey further clarified that his delegation included the "authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal crime laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses."

Despite the lack of evidence that the DOJ limited the scope of Fitzgerald's investigation in any way, two recent New York Times articles (here and here) reported that he was appointed to investigate "whether government officials had violated a 1982 law that makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the identity of an undercover agent."

Similar to this baseless claim is Weekly Standard editor William Kristol's recent assertion that the CIA referred the case to the DOJ specifically as a possible violation of the IIPA. But the initial news reports on the referral indicate that the CIA more generally requested that the DOJ "investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees." Moreover, a "former government official" quoted in Newsweek stated that the CIA's referral never even mentioned the IIPA.

Falsehood: Leak investigation is the result of partisan motivations

Conservative commentators have made what appear to be preemptive accusations that Fitzgerald is a partisan. Numerous Fox News personalities -- including Chris Wallace, Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, and Bill O'Reilly -- have stated that his probe represents the "criminalization of politics." William Kristol penned a Weekly Standard editorial on the topic titled "Criminalizing Conservatives." On the October 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, nationally syndicated radio host Mike Gallagher claimed that this investigation -- like the recent indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) on money laundering charges -- "is driven by partisan politics."

But Fitzgerald is no Democratic partisan. In September 2001, President Bush appointed Fitzgerald to his current post as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois upon the recommendation of then-Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL). When then-deputy attorney general James Comey selected Fitzgerald as special prosecutor in December 2003, he cited his "sterling reputation for integrity and impartiality" and described him as "an absolutely apolitical career prosecutor." And in a recent interview on NBC's Today, President Bush described the prosecutor's investigation as "dignified." Moreover, in his capacity as U.S. attorney, Fitzgerald is also currently conducting an "intense" investigation of the Democratic mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, and his administration.

Despite Fitzgerald's background, Limbaugh suggested on the October 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show that if the outcome of the CIA leak investigation is "over the top," he and other conservatives may target the prosecutor:

LIMBAUGH: [W]e're going to be watching ... very carefully here to see what Fitzgerald does, the special prosecutor here. If he conducts himself in a way that we find over the top, we'll say so. You can count on it. Now, you liberals, you viciously attacked [former independent counsel] Ken Starr. You went out there and tried to portray him as a sexual pervert, a voyeur. You did everything you could to destroy Ken Starr's reputation and his life, and now you demand that we accept whatever comes down the pike that we must be consistent. Well, it depends on what it is. If it stinks, I will say so. Pure and simple.

Falsehood: Leaks go on all the time in Washington

In defense of the Bush administration officials alleged to have disclosed Plame's CIA identity, numerous media figures have attempted to downplay the alleged leak as par for the course in Washington. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen claimed that such leaking is "what Washington does day in and day out" and that it "is rarely considered a crime." On the October 20 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Republican strategist Ed Rollins stated, "We know for sure that a couple of very high-ranking White House guys talked to some reporters and basically tried to go out and diminish someone who was criticizing them. I mean, that goes on every single day in the White House."

But Cohen and Rollins glossed over the fact that this leak allegedly involved the identity of a CIA operative -- potentially a crime -- although Cohen subsequently issued a "clarification" in which, responding to readers, he wrote that he does consider "the outing of a covert employee a serious matter." Former President George H.W. Bush expressed his view of such actions during an April 26, 1999, speech at the dedication of the CIA's George Bush Center for Intelligence. He stated: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."

Torture: The Case Against Rumsfeld

From Dailykos:
    Frontline kicked off it's 24th season this week, with a blockbuster on Rumsfeld's role in the Torture Atrocities. You can watch the entire program online Source

  • "I'm screwed, and Donald Rumsfeld is going to walk away from this."

    Abu Ghraib has always been a terrifying place to Iraqis -- Saddam Hussein used it as his primary torture chamber -- but in 2004, when graphic photographs of American soldiers abusing prisoners surfaced, Abu Ghraib took on deeper meaning.

    "The details of what happened in those cellblocks between the American soldiers and Iraqi detainees are well known," says producer/director Michael Kirk, "but how and why it happened is what took us into the heart of Abu Ghraib that night."

    In "The Torture Question", FRONTLINE traces the history of how decisions made in Washington in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 -- including an internal administration battle over the Geneva Conventions -- led to a robust interrogation policy that laid the groundwork for prisoner abuse in Afghanistan; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Iraq.

    "They can do whatever they want; they could make it appear any way they want. I will not be silenced," Karpinski tells FRONTLINE. "I will continue to ask how they can continue to blame seven rogue soldiers on the nightshift when there is a preponderance of information right now, hard information from a variety of sources, that says otherwise."

  • Powell's speech included a talking point about Iraq providing weapons and training to Al Qaedia. Turns out the "informant" "confessed" to that under torture.

  • "General Miller insisted that the prisoners be treated like dogs."

  • Because the prisoners at GITMO were either innocent or basic, none-ranking members of Al Qaedia, they had no information, and as a result, the torture increased

  • One method used was so atrocious, that I won't repeat it here. I've only heard of it once before -by Nazi doctors.

    In this report, American soldiers give first-hand accounts of their involvement in the harsh treatment of prisoners. Moreover, one former Army interrogator and member of a special intelligence team insists that the use of torture was happening all over Iraq. Other military sources, some of whom had to be disguised, confirm that prisoner abuse is a more widespread problem than previously reported.

  • The Report includes an interview with Capt Fishback, who has come forward with reports of widespread prison abuse in Iraq even after the revelation of the Abu Ghraib scandal.

    "Now it's all over Iraq, people are being tortured in thier homes - they'll break bones, ribs - that was serious stuff..."


    Miscounting the Votes

    Yesterday Rep John Conyers posted this explosive new blog on Dailykos:
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report today I requested with Rep. Henry Waxman and other Members Of Congress. In sum, the GAO found that "some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes." GAO found that these concerns "merit the focused attention of federal state and local authorities responsible for election administration."

    What does this mean? Much has been made about this issue during the 2004 Ohio election debaclehere on DailyKos and elsewhere, however, this is the first time Congress' investigatory arm has weighed in on the problems with our voting machines. The GAO studied the work of others and ultimately put their stamp of approval on it. That lends important credibility to the cause of election reform generally, aand more specifically to requiring that every machine have a voter verified paper ballot that is used in election days audits and, if discrepancies are found in those audits, becomes the official record for the election.

    On this site and elsewhere, there have been discussions and debates about whether this or that election was "hacked." I would like to suggest putting that discussion aside for the moment (or longer -- I understand some such discussions can result in a ban from this blog community). In this context, we should focus on what we all agree on, and what the GAO found: these machines have substantial problems. To me, in addition to being an issue that goes to the heart of our democracy, this is a consumer protection issue. There are certainly voting machine manufacturers who produce a good product. But by and large, when it comes to a voting machine, the average voter is getting a lemon -- the Ford Pinto of voting technology. We must demand better.

    More specifics about what GAO found: Serious problems were identified regarding the security control system, access controls, hardware controls, and the voter-verified paper audit trail system. Among the security shortcomings identified by GAO:

    1. Some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, thus making it possible to alter them without detection.

    2. It is easy to alter a file defining how a ballot appears, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and actually be recorded as voting for an entirely different candidate.

    3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards.

    4. Access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network.

    5. Supervisory across to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.

    6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy.

    7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.

    8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel.

    The suggestions made by GAO to ensure the security of machines barely scratch the surface of the problems what is needed to improve the national voting systems standards. Their report divulges that, despite the many official assurances that the problems of the past elections were isolated and few, the election system is indeed riddled with problems and flaws.

    The bottom line is until we make a serious commitment to address the significant security and controls concerns we have regarding our voting machines, American citizens have no reason to have complete confidence in our democracy.

    Friday, October 21

    FEMA and the Telltale E-mail

    FEMA official Marty Bahamonde (CBS)

    In the midst of the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina Federal Emergency Management Agency official Marty Bahamonde, who was in New Orleans and recently testified before Congress, sent a dire e-mail to Director Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying.

    Seattle Times: On Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

    "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."

    No response came from Brown.

    A short time later, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote to colleagues, in an e-mail containing numerous misspellings, to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that 20 or 30 minutes," Worthy wrote.

    "Restaurants are getting busy," she said. "We now have traffic to encounter to get to and from a location of his choise, followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

    "OH MY GOD!!!!!!!" Bahamonde messaged a co-worker. "I just ate an MRE [military rations] and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants."

    On the morning of Aug. 29, Bahamonde said, he alerted Brown's assistant to the "worst possible news" for New Orleans: that the hurricane had carved a 20-foot breach in the 17th Avenue Canal levee.

    Five FEMA aides were e-mailed Bahamonde's report of "water flow 'bad' " from the broken levees designed to hold back Lake Pontchartrain. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally that evening to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was under water and that he had photographed what was by then a 200-foot-wide breach.

    "He just said, 'Thank you,' and that he was going to call the White House," Bahamonde said.

    "FEMA headquarters knew at 11 o'clock. Mike Brown knew at 7 o'clock. Most of FEMA's operational staff knew by 9 o'clock that evening. I don't know where that information went," Bahamonde said.

    Michael Brown,
    former director of FEMA
    The e-mails were made public Thursday at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing featuring Marty Bahamonde, the first agency official to arrive in New Orleans in advance of the Aug. 29 storm. The hurricane killed more than 1,200 people and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate.

    Bahamonde said the correspondence illustrates the government's failure to grasp what was happening.

    ''There was a systematic failure at all levels of government to understand the magnitude of the situation,'' Bahamonde testified. ``The leadership from top down in our agency is unprepared and out of touch.''

    The 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as Aug. 28, the day before Katrina made landfall. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Brown quit after being recalled from New Orleans amid criticism of his work.
    Among the many abbreviations in the exchanges include M.R.E. for ready to eat meal and DMAT for Disaster Medical Assistance Team and NDMS, which is for the National Disaster Medical System. US stands for Under Secretary, referring to former FEMA director Michael Brown. Mr. Bahamnode has worked for FEMA for 12 years, although he has only been with the agency full time since 2002.

    FEMA Emails 1

    FEMA Emails 2

    CBSNews: Orr reports that Bahamonde, who spent two days himself in the squalid conditions of the Superdome, denied ever telling Brown the shelter of last resort was prepared for thousands of evacuees.

    "I couldn't have been any more clear to him that food and water was a desperate situation at the Superdome," Bahamonde said.

    This information means of course, that Brownie Lied To Congress :

    From Bayou Buzz:

    Brown denied he was inexperienced for the job. "I´ve overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I´m doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown said. Brown in his opening statement said he had made several "specific mistakes" in dealing with the storm, and listed two. The most striking was "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn´t pull that off."

    From Deseret News:

    "My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday (Aug. 27) that Louisiana was dysfunctional," he told the committee. The storm struck the Gulf Coast two days later on Aug. 29, causing widespread damage and at least 1,000 deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    In his testimony, Brown strongly defended his experience in disaster management and challenged the "Keystone Kops" image of FEMA that has emerged.
    "I've overseen more than 150 presidentially declared disasters — I know what I'm doing," he told the panel. "The people of FEMA are tired of being beat up, and they don't deserve it."

    Brown said that before the hurricane struck he had raised red flags at the highest levels, alerting President Bush and White House chief of staff Andy Card that Katrina had the potential to be disastrous.

    He blamed the Department of Homeland Security, which controls FEMA's budgets, for failing to buy sufficient emergency communications gear before the storm struck.
    Brown described FEMA as a politically powerless arm of Homeland Security, which he said had siphoned more than $77 million from his agency over the past three years. Additionally, he said Homeland Security cut FEMA budget requests — including one for hurricane preparedness — before they were ever presented to Congress.

    White House press secretary Scott McClellan, asked about Bush's reaction to Brown's testimony, said, "Washington tends to focus on finger-pointing. The president is focused on problem solving."

    Brown's testimony, which was largely boycotted by Democratic House members seeking an independent commission to investigate the governmental failures, sparked angry responses from members of both parties. At several points, Brown turned red in the face and slapped the table in front of him.

    "I find it absolutely stunning that this hearing would start out with you, Mr. Brown, laying the blame for FEMA's failings at the feet of the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans," said Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., whose district includes portions of New Orleans that were damaged by the floods.

    Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., chided Brown. "I'm happy you left. . . . You weren't capable to do the job," Shays said.

    Brown replied, "I take great umbrage to that comment, congressman."
    In one heated exchange, Brown told Shays, "I guess you want me to be this superhero that is going to step in there and suddenly take everybody out of New Orleans."

    Shays shot back, "No, what I wanted you to do was do your job of coordinating."
    Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said that Brown had stood by as chaos reigned, local disaster relief agencies were overwhelmed and bodies piled up.
    Brown angrily wagged his finger at Taylor. "I don't need you to lecture me about death and destruction," Brown said. "I know how much people suffer. And it breaks my heart. I pray for these people every night. So don't lecture me about knowing what disaster is like."

    It may have broken his heart, but apparently it didn't

    Thursday, October 20

    Katrina Fatigue

    Weeks have passed since the twin disasters that was Hurricane's Katrina and F.E.M.A., and it's clear that the attention span of the nation has wavered. With the Earthquake's in Kashmir, and the approaching Hurricane Wilma - the temporary window of oppurtunity where the true impact of poverty was clear and obvious to all, has returned to it's nominal position -- far on the back burner.

    Box of privately donated Supplies ready to be sent to Katrina Victims in August
    We've entered Katrina Fatigue, the charity drives are over, all the Rock Stars and Movie stars have all gone back to Hollywood and New York - back to the Red Carpet, people's attention has wavered - the levee's are still broken, the city is still mostly flooded, the GOP has shifted blame to Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco.

    We had a moment where the national's attention was focused - like a laser - on the issue of poverty. People cared - for a while - people contributed - for a time, but that time has passed. President Bush made a speach from New Orleans that practically made him sound like a simpering Liberal, with a long list of federal subsidies and spending on the poor...

    Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.

    I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.

    And to help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity. Home ownership is one of the great strengths of any community, and it must be a central part of our vision for the revival of this region.

    Then he turns around and destroys the minimum wage in the disaster area, which or course is exactly what poor people really need.

    Riding the Bus home from work in LA I heard an exchange between the driver and one of the passangers concerning Katrina Survivors and Refugees who had been bused to the Skid Row area of Downtown LA.

    "I'm not giving another dime to F.E.M.A, those people downtown are taking their $2000, going out and spending it on crack -- getting high!"

    Never mind the fact that Skid Row is filled with predators and dealers who are more than happy to relieve these desperate people, who've lost everything they own and many of their own family in the storm and aftermath, of every dime they can. Never mind the fact that people who've been through a trauma this large are far more than likely to self-medicate - and that what they really need is treatment and counciling. As she was saying this the bus driver was in the middle of haggling over a set of bootleg Louis Vuitton purses and sunglasses from a sleazy hustler who was only half-a-rung up the food chain from a drug dealer.

    Because that's how you have to survive sometimes in the inner city. Got no job? Become an Dntrepeneur and meet the needs of the market. If people want cheap knock-offs of some ugly name brand knick-knacks - go to Downtown LA and sell them at a 60% markup to any dupe you can find. If a bunch of hungry desperate and demorilized people get bused into town with $2000 a peice burning a hole in their pocket - sell 'em drugs.

    It's the American Way - don't cha know?

    We began a War on Poverty over thirty years ago, and we've had many different flare-ups and skirmishes during that entire time -- this isn't the time to give up, not when the costs of failure are so obvious and glaring to all.


    Wednesday, October 19

    O'Reilly Talks Retirement - Olberman Dances

    A picture named KO-Billo-Retires.jpgBill O'Reilly calling it Quits?

    From Crooks and is a segment of video from Countdown with Keith Olberman where he quotes Bill O'Reilly discussing his contract with Fox running out in Two years and his eventually RETIREMENT.



    Olberman responds to this news by jumping up from his seat and chanting "We won.. we won...ding dong the witch is dead... happy happy joy joy happy joy joy!" and begins to do dance a jig. Definately must-see TV!


    Arrest Warrant Issued for Tom Delay

    Court issues warrant for DeLay, sets bail: AP By William L. Watts

    vert.delay.hcso.jpgRep. Tom DeLay's mug shot
    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- A Texas court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and set his bail at $10,000 in a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and state money laundering charges, the Associated Press reported. The issuance of the warrant is "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin told the A.P. The lawyer said DeLay would make his first court appearance Friday morning. DeLay, who remains a member of Congress, relinquished his leadership post last month after being indicted on a charge of conspiring to violate state campaign finance laws. DeLay contends the charges are politically motivated and that he will be vindicated at trial.

    More from the Houston Chronicle


    Scotty's Bad Day

    In response to todays New York Daily News report that President Bush has been aware of Karl Roves involvement with the outing of Valerie Plame for Two Years there was the following response from the White House Press Corp this morning:

    Trancript Courtesy of TalkingPoints
    QUESTION: Thanks. Is it true that the President slapped Karl Rove upside the head a couple of years ago over the CIA leak?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

    QUESTION: That's a comment.

    QUESTION: Which part of it?

    QUESTION: Yes, that is.

    QUESTION: Which facts --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm just saying -- no, I'm just trying to help you all.

    QUESTION: So what facts are you challenging?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

    QUESTION: You can't say you're challenging the facts and then not say which ones you're challenging.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I can. I just did. (Laughter.)


    QUESTION: Scott, let me come back to -- so you say you're challenging the accuracy, but you won't tell us why. Why would it be irresponsible for us to report that?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Report what?

    QUESTION: What you said --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: It's up to you what you want to report. I'm just trying to --

    QUESTION: Well, if you want us to say it's inaccurate, you need to give us a reason why, or it wouldn't be responsible to report it.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, there's an ongoing investigation, and as you know, our policy is not to comment on it. So that's where we are.

    QUESTION: You just did.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Based on your personal knowledge, based on your opinion, based on your frustration with the story -- what caused you to say that?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I mean, I read the story and I didn't view it as an accurate story.

    QUESTION: Why not?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to go any further than that. There's an ongoing investigation. This is bringing up matters related to an ongoing investigation.

    QUESTION: After you read the story, Scott, did you check with either the two people mentioned, the President or Rove, to ask them? Is that what you base --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I don't have any further comment, Peter.

    QUESTION: Well, is that what you base your guidance on, or is it just -- you know, is it just you're feeling that this couldn't have happened?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I stand by what I just said and I'm going to leave it at that.


    QUESTION: No, just some details on why you're challenging the facts of this case by the briefing would be great.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Because you asked the question.

    QUESTION: No, I think we're all interested to know on what basis you're challenging it.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Like I said, I'll be glad to talk about the investigation once it has come to a conclusion, but until that time --

    QUESTION: You're on the record now. We expect you to really talk about it.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I'm on the record every day.

    QUESTION: Well, I mean, this is really -- you have said you really are going to go into a deep, profiled explanation --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I said I'd be glad to talk about it. I don't know all the facts, Helen.

    QUESTION: Didn't you say you were going to write a book about it? (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: I mean when it's all over, you said you were going to give us a total explanation --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Exclusive interview for John Roberts.

    QUESTION: A PowerPoint presentation, the whole thing. (Laughter.)

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm not committing to that. Welcome back. I'm glad your gloves are left back there. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Was that particular story part of what you shared with the President today from highlights of the news?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, you have my comment on it and I'll leave it there.


    Second Cheney Aide Flips

    Just breaking from Raw

    Second Cheney aide cooperating in leak probe, those close to case say

    by Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold

    October 19, 2005

    A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say.

    Late Monday, several sources familiar with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe said John Hannah, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, was cooperating with Fitzgerald after being told that he was identified by witnesses as a co-conspirator in the leak. Sources said Hannah was not given immunity, but was likely offered a “deal” in exchange for information that could result in indictments of key White House officials.

    Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.

    Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, the sources said. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings.

    Bush knew about Plame outing, blamed Rove

    WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

    "He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

    Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

    As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald nears a decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether to issue indictments in his two-year probe, Bush has already circled the wagons around Rove, whose departure would be a grievous blow to an already shell-shocked White House staff and a President in deep political trouble.

    Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

    "Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

    Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

    Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

    But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

    A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

    "Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.

    Now assuming this story is true, how does this revelation square with the following statement by the President to the Press:

    Q Mr. President, on another issue, the CIA leak-gate. What is your confidence level in the results of the DOJ investigation about any of your staffers not being found guilty or being found guilty? And what do you say to critics of the administration who say that this administration retaliates against naysayers?

    PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, I'm glad you brought that question up. This is a very serious matter, and our administration takes it seriously. As members of the press corps here know, I have, at times, complained about leaks of security information, whether the leaks be in the legislative branch or in the executive branch. And I take those leaks very seriously.

    And, therefore, we will cooperate fully with the Justice Department. I've got all the confidence in the world the Justice Department will do a good, thorough job. And that's exactly what I want them to do, is a good, thorough job. I'd like to know who leaked, and if anybody has got any information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department so we can find out the leaker.

    I have told my staff, I want full cooperation with the Justice Department. And when they ask for information, we expect the information to be delivered on a timely basis. I expect it to be delivered on a timely basis. I want there to be full participation, because, April, I am most interested in finding out the truth.

    And, you know, there's a lot of leaking in Washington, D.C. It's a town famous for it. And if this helps stop leaks of -- this investigation in finding the truth, it will not only hold someone to account who should not have leaked -- and this is a serious charge, by the way. We're talking about a criminal action, but also hopefully will help set a clear signal we expect other leaks to stop, as well. And so I look forward to finding the truth.

    Q What about retaliation? People are saying that it's retaliation --

    PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't know who leaked the information, for starters. So it's hard for me to answer that question until I find out the truth. You hear all kinds of rumors. And the best way to clarify the issue is for full participation with the Justice Department.

    These are professionals who are professional prosecutors who are leading this investigation, and we look forward to -- look, I want to know. I want to know, and the best way to do this is for there to be a good, thorough investigation, which, apparently, is going to happen soon. And all I can tell you is inside the White House, we've said, gather all the information that's requested and get it ready to be analyzed by the Justice Department.


    Tuesday, October 18

    Fitzgerald Flips Cheney Aid

    Raw Story has breaking news that Dick Cheney and John Bolton aid - John Hannah has agreed to Cooperating with the Special Prosecutor.

    Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.


    Those close to the investigation said in June 2003, Hannah was given orders by higher-ups in Cheney’s office to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson, who had been a thorn in the side of the administration since May 2003, when he started questioning the administration’s claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East. The specifics of who issued those orders and what directives were given were not provided.


    Fitzgerald may be looking at a broader conspiracy case of pre-war machinations by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) and by the Pentagon’s ultra-secret Office of Net Assessment, the former operating out of Dick Cheney’s office and tasked with “selling” the war in Iraq, and the latter operating out of Defense Under Secretary for Policy, Douglas Feith’s office and tasked with creating a war to “sell,” as some describe.

    To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, the White House Iraq Group relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

    On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, for example, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.

    If at long last the circle of silence has been broken and a senior White House Aid is now pointing fingers at high-ups in the Bush Administration for deliberately trying to use classified information (the fact the Joe Wilson's wife worked forthe CIA according to a Classified State Department memo), then we've just entered an entirely new phase of the ball game boys and girls. It may not be that long before we start drawing up Impeachement papers...


    Will Cheney Resign?

    From Dailykos and the Washington Post.

    Will Cheney resign if indicted?

    <> Go to fullsize image By Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus

    As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.

    In grand jury sessions, including with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Fitzgerald has pressed witnesses on what Cheney may have known about the effort to push back against ex-diplomat and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, including the leak of his wife's position at the CIA, Miller and others said. But Fitzgerald has focused more on the role of Cheney's top aides, including Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lawyers involved in the case said.

    One former CIA official told prosecutors early in the probe about efforts by Cheney's office and his allies at the National Security Council to obtain information about Wilson's trip as long as two months before Plame was unmasked in July 2003, according to a person familiar with the account.

    It is not clear whether Fitzgerald plans to charge anyone inside the Bush administration with a crime. But with the case reaching a climax -- administration officials are braced for possible indictments as early as this week-- it is increasingly clear that Cheney and his aides have been deeply enmeshed in events surrounding the Plame affair from the outset.


    The story says that indictments may be announced as early as Tuesday, though the paper couldn't confirm.

    Monday, October 17

    Stomaching the Iraqi Constitution

    From Armando of Dailykos:

    Here we go again. From the Wingnuts, the Myth of the Purple Finger:

    The polling went off without a hitch. Security was maintained. Sunni participation went up (though laughably, this was noted as a bad thing on ABC's This Week program today since increased Sunni participation would lead to increased resistance which would somehow lead to a civil war. Note that these Cassandras are the same people who tried to find doom and gloom in the January 30th elections because there was a lack of Sunni participation. You just can't please some people, I guess).

    The doom and gloom about the January 30 elections was proven right. And what this particular Wingnut fails to note about Sunni participation this time is this:

    Six American soldiers died on Saturday, military officials said. Five were working with a Marine unit in Ramadi, a hotbed of the insurgency 70 miles west of Baghdad, and were killed during the voting there when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, the United States military said. The sixth, also assigned to a Marine unit, was killed in Saqlawiyah, northwest of Falluja, died when his vehicle was attacked with an explosive device, the military said. In the vote count, which began by lamplight in many districts without mains electrical powers on Saturday night, attention was focusing on four provinces with large Sunni populations, where Sunni voting appeared to have gone overwhelmingly against the constitution.

    Those provinces are Anbar, west of Baghdad, an insurgent hotbed where voting, though relatively low, appeared to have gone strongly against the charter; Diyala, to the east of the capital, where Sunnis and Shia are evenly balanced; and two Sunni-majority provinces in the north, Salahuddin and Nineveh, with its capital in Mosul.

    With Anbar considered likely to vote the constitution down by a wide margin, Sunni rejectionists required two other provinces to meet the requirement in Iraq's transitional constitution that requires two-thirds of the voters in three of the country's provinces to vote "no" for the new constitution to be defeated. Another province likely to reject the charter was Salahuddin, with its capital in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, where officials said today that voting in the city was running about 96 per cent against the document.

    Although the Sunni votes in Nineveh and Diyala were also expected to run heavily against the constitution, Kurdish and Shiite voters, who heavily favor the charter, appeared likely to deny the Sunnis the two-thirds majority there.

    Now let's see if we can explain this in terms a Wingnut might understand. Sunnis voted overwhelmingly against the Constitution. But despite this, and despite the fact that 4 provinces will likely vote No on the Constitution, the Constitution will be ratified anyway. Thus, high Sunni participation demonstrated that they lack any political power.

    Of course, the insurgency is strongest in Sunni areas, where their electoral powerlessness was amply demonstrated yesterday. Does one expect that the insurgency will now LOSE support in those areas? How absurd.


    Dobson and Miers, together again for the first time

    In the midst of the Conservative outcry over the appointment of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Focus on the Families James Dobson spoke of receiving "assurances" that Miers was "our kid of Justice". Apparently John Fund at the Wall Street Journal has finally provided some details on exactly what those assurances may have actually been:

    Two days after President Bush announced Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination, James Dobson of Focus on the Family raised some eyebrows by declaring on his radio program: "When you know some of the things that I know--that I probably shouldn't know--you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice."

    Mr. Dobson quelled the controversy by saying that Karl Rove, the White House's deputy chief of staff, had not given him assurances about how a Justice Miers would vote. "I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade," Mr. Dobson said last week. "But even if Karl had known the answer to that--and I'm certain that he didn't because the president himself said he didn't know--Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there, and it was never part of our discussion."

    It might, however, have been part of another discussion. On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.



    Treason, Business as Usual?

    Another exciting week for the Bush Administration. Karl Rove testifying before the grand jury for the Fourth Time, Judith Miller for the Second Time then writing a detailed article about what she told them. The hint from places such as FireDogLake that Judith "forgetton" second source may indeed by John Bolton. And then we have an excellent write-up by John Aravosis at AMERICAblog::

    If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

    We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

    Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:

    • It's the criminalization of politics
    • Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
    • Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
    • Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime

    Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue.

    The GOP has become the party of treason.

    It would be one thing for a senior adviser to the president to put the nation's security at risk during a time of war. That could be explained as an aberration - a quite serious one, no doubt - but a fluke nonetheless. But when the president himself refuses to keep his own word about firing that aberration, and when the entire Republican party rallies around that fluke and tries to minimize what is usually a capital offense during wartime, something is seriously wrong with that party and its leadership.

    Another interesting point via Bloomberg:

    "In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career."

    "If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time."