Friday, March 3

WaPo: New Suit filed on NSA Spying

In addition to the "throw everything at the wall" approach of the current ACLU suit regarding the NSA Wiretap program, a new suit has emerged from an Islamic Charity Group allegeding that they were illegally spied on. From the Washington Post.

Documents cited in federal court by a defunct Islamic charity may provide the first detailed evidence of U.S. residents being spied upon by President Bush's secret eavesdropping program, according to the organization's lawsuit and a source familiar with the case.

The al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi organization that once operated in Portland, Ore., filed a description of classified government records in a lawsuit Tuesday and immediately asked a judge for a private review.

According to a source familiar with the case, the records indicate that the National Security Agency intercepted several conversations in March and April 2004 between al-Haramain's director, who was in Saudi Arabia, and two U.S. citizens in Washington who were working as lawyers for the organization.

The problem here is that conversations between a lawyer and his clients are supposed to be priviledged (an issue that generated a very intense amount of debate when I posted my Dkos dairy on Stephan Heller: the Diebold Whistle-blower). But these guys aren't just guessing that they might have been surveilled (as is the case with the ACLU suit), they know it.

This lawsuit appears to be the first to cite the government's own documents of intercepted conversations and e-mails as the reason to suspect NSA surveillance. The government has acknowledged that it targeted Iyman Faris, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, for surveillance under the NSA program. Several convicted members of a group described by prosecutors as Virginia jihad network have said they believe they were targets of surveillance. The government has said it either has no evidence to support the allegation or is still investigating.

This appears like it just might be the first court case to challenge the legal validity of President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales claims that the NSA Wiretaping program is "legal" and inherently Constitutional. Meanwhile Arlen Spector and the Senate try an ex post facto end run as they frantically put together their own re-writing of FISA to include the NSA program (a rewrite which codifies the lawlessness of the Presidents current practice of a 45-day review of the program by moving it to within the purview of the FISA Court itself, withouting bother to address the 4th Amendment probable cause and warrant issues)

Considering the Rocky History of previous Presidential Spying suits, we just might have the beginings of another Kieth case no our harnds. (Keith: The landmard decision where President Nixon attempted to argue his "inherent authority" to spy on War protestors, suspected communist or anyone who basically pissed him off - and failed).

Stay tuned.


Vyan

Thursday, March 2

Torture Ban doesn't apply to Gitmo?

Surprising practically no one that can comprehend above a third-grade level - attorneys for the Bush Justice Department have just declared King's X on the McCain Torture Ban in relation to facilities like Gitmo. Like Duh...

From the Washington Post:

U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban
McCain Law May Not Apply to Cuba Prison

By Josh White and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 3, 2006; A04

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

Yeah, "We absolutely do not torture -- except for when we do...". In an effort to force a detainee to break his hunger strike, U.S. military personnel used a device they call a "restraint chair".

In Bawazir's case, the government claims that it had to forcefully intervene in a hunger strike that was causing his weight to drop dangerously. In January, officials strapped Bawazir into a special chair, put a larger tube than they had previously used through his nose and kept him restrained for nearly two hours at a time to make sure he did not purge the food he was being given, the government and Bawazir's attorneys said.

Richard Murphy Jr., Bawazir's attorney, said his client gave in to the new techniques and began eating solid food days after the first use of the restraint chair. Murphy said the military deliberately made the process painful and embarrassing, noting that Bawazir soiled himself because of the approach.

Now we know what a signing statement really means - it's a pre-emptive court challenge to future court proceeding when the President has decided he doens't feels like obeying the law, not to mention the Constitution prohibition against 'Cruel and Unusual Punishment."

It's crap like this that should make everyone wonder - even if they do reach and agreement on the Patriot Act (which just passed the Senate today) will President Bush even abide by it?

Vyan

Emails link Cheney, Libby, Hadley, Rove & Bolton to Plame

(Crossposted on Dailykos)

Jason Leopold of Truthout has the scoop.

The White House confirmed Tuesday that it recently turned over to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald 250 pages of emails from the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney related to covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence. The emails were not submitted three years ago when then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales ordered White House staffers to turn over all documents that contained any reference to Valerie and Joseph Wilson.

Seems to me a three year delay is rather hard to explain isn't it? By comparison it took several years for some of the Rose Law Firm billing records to show up - as it turned out they were at Vince Foster's Place -- but those were hardcopies, and ultimately revealed no wrong-doing by the Former President or New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

There was no deliberate attempt to conceal because there was nothing damaging to hide -- but in the case of Vice-President Cheney and his Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby, there is a great deal to hide.

[Update: I bring the above point up to simply highlight the vast and important contrast between a pointless partisan witch-hunt and a genuine investigation of criminal wrong-doing by the executive branch. The nation endured years of bogus scandals involving the Clintons - from Whitewater to Filegate and Travelgate - but all of that is nothing compared to what Bush and Co have gotten away with without consequence... up until now that is]

The emails from Cheney's office that were turned over to Fitzgerald earlier this month were written by senior aides and sent to various officials at the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Office of the President. The emails were written as early as March 2003 - four months before Plame Wilson's cover was blown in a report written by conservative columnist Robert Novak. The contents of the emails are said to be damning, according to sources close to the investigation who are familiar with their substance. The emails are said to implicate Cheney in a months-long effort to discredit Wilson - a fact that Cheney did not disclose when he was interviewed by federal investigators in early 2004, these sources said.

The emails also show I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff who was indicted in October on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators related to his role in the leak, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, as well as former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton and other top officials in the vice president's office also took part in discussions about ways in which the administration could respond to Wilson's public criticism about the Bush administration's use of intelligence that claimed Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

Now one might argue that just attempting to argue with Wilson's claim isn't a crime. Never mind the fact that Wilson had actually bothered to go check on the facts by travelling to Niger himself, while these arm-chair chickenhawks simply sat at home and kavetched.

Just wait, it gets worse...

Other emails show that in mid-June 2003 these officials had sent emails that mentioned "Valerie Wilson" - not Valerie Plame - and her employment with the CIA, sources close to the leak investigation said.

One email about Wilson and his wife is said to have been sent by Libby to an unknown senior individual at the National Security Council in early June 2003, after Libby was told by Marc Grossman, then Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and that Grossman's colleagues told him that Plame Wilson was involved in organizing Wilson's trip to Niger in February 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country.

Ok, this is a pretty big smoking gun. It was in June of 2003 that the INR memo which made the exact same claim was drafted. One of Leopold's previous articles on this subject states that sources indicated that Libby discovered Plame's covert indentity in May of 2003 after the publishing of a scathing report on the Niger story by Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times.

Following that revelation to the Cheney team, there was nearly a month for this information to sit around and percolate. It was during June that Libby spoke to Times reporter Judith Miller, which according to the Fitzgerald indictment was the first linking of Plame's employement to Wilson's trip. Libby has claimed that he learned of Plame's CIA status from reporters, and testified to this effect before the Grand Jury and to FBI Investigators - but these long missing emails paint a completely different picture, one that isn't particularly Rosey for Libby, Hadley, Rove, Bolton or for that matter, the Vice-President.

Crossposted on Truth 2 Power.

[Update 2: Leopold has posted on my comments that he has added additional information to his report including a transcript of comments from Libby's attorney Ted Wells.

"I may say we are also told that there are an additional approximately 250 pages of documents that are emails from the office of the vice president. Your Honor, may recall that in earlier filings it was represented or alluded to that certain e-mails had not been preserved in the White House. That turns out not to be true. There were some e-mails that weren't archived in the normal process but the office of the vice president or the office of administration...
This comment relates to a previous report that the emails were "missing" which has been addressed many places, including Firedoglake. Next comes the money quote.
I guess [V. Yeah, right] it is has been able to recover those e-mails. Gave those to special counsel I think only on February 6 and those again are going to be produced to us. We don't know what's in there. We've been led to believe it's probably not anything startling in those e-mails but again we need to review those and that also may be the subject of a motion."

So Libby's people seem pretty hopeful that there's nothing damaging in the emails. Maybe there isn't - and maybe there is. My money is on the later. If I'm wrong there no loss, no foul to Fitzgerald's case -- but if I'm right the odds are that the information won't just be used in the Libby case (he's got more than enough to prove both Perjury and Obsruction of Justice on Libby).

It's very likely that any damaging information in these suddenly found emails will find it's way directly in front of the second Fitzgerald Grand Jury and into future charges against future defendants such as Bolton, Hadley and ...Cheney -- cases which would be greatly helped if Libby discovers just how tight a box he's really in and starts to talk about making a deal to save his slimy skin.

Stay tuned sports fans...this could get interesting.

[Update 3: From Annefrank in the comments it appears that Fitzgerald has filed an affidavit Today explaining why Libby's "Greymail" attempts should be thwarted in order to protect Grand Jury Secrecy in regards to privacy of other potential targets of the inquiry. So yes, there are indeed other targets, but Fitzgerald isn't telling who - yet]

Vyan

Abu Gonzales : Liar, Liar pants on FIre!

Today's Glenn Greenwald where he goes over the blatant an obvious lying by our esteemed Attorney General is truly excellent. During his testimony for the Senate a few weeks ago Abu Gonzales claimed in response to several questions that there is no spoon warrantless (entirely) domestic surveillance program.

... warrantless eavesdropping is plainly occurring beyond the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," which means that there is eavesdropping on domestic calls and/or calls not involving Al Qeada (since international calls involving Al Qaeda are, by definition, part of that Program). That means that the assurances repeatedly given by the President and his officials are just false.

...

(2) Several weeks ago, I noted that Gonazles -- in response to questions from several Senators about whether the Administration has the power to engage in warrantless eavesdropping on purely domestic communications -- testified that the Department of Justice had never conducted a legal analysis of the legality of warrantless eavesdropping on strictly domestic communications. He made that claim several times:

"That analysis, quite frankly, has not been conducted."

"I have said I do not believe we have done the analysis on that."

"The legal analysis as to whether or not that kind of [domestic] surveillance – we haven’t done that kind of analysis . . "

However in a letter (PDF) that he sent to the Senate to "clarify" his testimony, Gonzales has just done a total about face on the issue of "whether an analysis had been done".
In his letter yesterday, Gonzales backed away – completely – from what was his unambiguous (and now clearly false) claim that the DoJ had never analyzed the legality of warrantless eavesdropping for domestic communications. Clearly, the DoJ has analyzed the legality of warrantless domestic surveillance:

Since I was testifying only as to the legal basis of the activity confirmed by the President, I was referring only to the legal analysis of the Department set out in the January 19th paper, which addressed that activity and therefore, of course, does not address the interception of purely domestic communications. However, I did not mean to suggest that no analysis beyond the January 19th paper had ever been conducted by the Department.
I say this advisedly: the Administration is now in full-blown shameless lying mode. Gonzales repeatedly told the Committee that the DoJ had not analyzed the legality of domestic surveillance -- because he wanted to leave the impression that there is no domestic surveillance. In fact, the DoJ clearly has engaged in exactly the analysis Gonzales categorically denied.


This is patently ridiculous people. This is a farce. It's pay no attention to the fracking idiot behind the curtain time. Glenn adeptly points out that this is a total replay of the President's claims that all wiretaping "requires a warrant" - except obviously for when the President decides it doesn't.

Oh and by the way, we now exactly what at least part of that warrantless domestic spying program - which the Administration had previously claimed was shutdown is called Total Information Awareness.

Just for those who are unfamiliar with the project:

The Information Awareness Office was a project of the United States Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency focused on developing mass surveillance and related technologies to counter transnational threats to national security. The IAO mission was to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness". The IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003.

...

The IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data. In essence, the IAO’s goal is to develop the capacity to recreate a life history of thoughts and movements for any individual on the planet on demand, which some deem necessary to counter the threat of terrorism. Critics claim the very existence of the IAO completely disregards the concept of individual privacy and liberties. They see the organization as far too invasive and prone to abuse.
Prone to abuse? Ya think?

Although Wikipedia points out that this program was supposedly defended in 2003, the National Journal reports that the work on this project still goes on.

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.
At this point we turn back to Abu Gonzales and look anew at why he wasn't put under oath when he testified before the Senate. And why after he gave 8-hours of thorough testimony political spin-meistering he found it neccesary to take yet another bite from that rancid apple and "clarify" himself.

Just keep repeating to yourself kids, "Beside the NSA "Terrorist Surveillance Program" - there are no warrantless domestic spying programs - except for all the other programs that Gonzales forgot to mention."

Vyan

The Smoking Katrina Video

Crooks and Liars has posted a video supplied by the AP which clearly shows that Bush was warned about the levee problems in New Orleans before Katrina hit.

But what's even more interesting is how the White House, Press and Blogosphere have already begun to respond to the revelations.



(AP) Video-WMP Video-QT

Yahoo News has the story. It's currently on the Homepage for AOL and CNN. From the Washington Post we already have video Mayor Nagin's response to the tape..."Shocked, just Shocked...They seemed that they were aware of everything."

And various bloggers and sites have been having a field day with this...

Federal officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief of possible devastation just before Hurricane Katrina struck. Six days of video footage from briefings and transcripts were obtained by The Associated Press. The warnings were that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in the New Orleans Superdome and overwhelm rescuers.A-P reports Bush didn't ask any questions during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on August 29th....read on"

AmericaBlog has more...

DarkSyde has more: The video shows both FEMA Director Mike "Heckuva job" Brownie saying he had a gut feeling this would be the "big one" and storm meteorologist Max Mayfield standing in front of a radar image indicating a breach in the levees, specifically from Lake Pontchartrain driven by high winds, was a concern:

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing."

Technically speaking I have to point out that what Mr. Mayfield says isn't that the levee could or would be breached, he says that they might be "topped" - which is significantly different. Topping of the levee is more like have waves crash over a storm wall, but what occured was the failure of a levee wall - or breach. So although many have already been pointing at Max Mayfields comments and saying this proves that "Bush is a liar" -- I think this may be technically untrue, but only if you listen to just Mr. Mayfield.

More from MSNBC on the additional transcripts that were provided by the AP.

Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly floodwaters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility -- and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

So although Maxfield didn't specifically say "breach" it's clear that the issue was in fact discussed - and anticipated. This is in additional to the dire warning email that was sent to the White House situation room by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC) 48 hours before the landfall of Katrina that said based their Hurricane Pam simulations they predicted "breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property."

An additional email sent on the day of landfall warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. This is a fact that has already been sternly addressed by John Kerry.

"How is it that the White House Situation Room received detailed warnings 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, that the National Hurricane Center was warning CNN and the world that Katrina could be The Big One, that FEMA reported two days before landfall that Katrina's surge `could greatly overtop levees and protective systems,' destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, require `incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus),' and displace more than a million people - and the President days later still insisted on national television, `I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees' that left 1,300 dead and thousands more homeless?
It's almost comical that now that we have it on Video from the AP, people are suddenly starting to be outraged. I noticed tonight that neither the O'Reilly Factor or Hannity and Colmes bother to address this story (although it may have broken too late in the day for them to cover) - while Keith Olbermann opened his show with it. In his report he noted that these video tapes were released to the media the day they were shot, and it's quite ironic and coincidental that these details were noticed exactly 6-months after Katrina hit New Orleans.

Another fact noted by Olberman is the almost immediate pushback that came out of the White House just an hour after tapes hit the AP wire. A fact that Jane Hamsher at Firedog also noticed.

FireDogLake:

"Hoping to counteract the damage of the story, the White House leaked Newsweek transcripts from daily noon FEMA conference calls during and after Katrina to show how engaged and concerned Dubya was. Trouble is, these are transcripts that they had initially refused to provide to congressional investigators...read on


So they wouldn't give this information to Congress, but when the prospect of having these tapes repeatedly broadcast like the Rodney King Beating on the Network News over and over again arises -- they suddenly find a way share the information?

On Tuesday President Bush was interviewed on ABC News by Elizabeth Vargas. During that interview Bush continued to claim that they simply didn't have "situational awareness" of things happening on the ground in New Orleans. But the pushback transcripts that were just released to Newsweek seem to contradict that arguement.

Some congressional investigators say it now seems somewhat ironic that having belatedly found the Aug. 29 conference-call transcript, the administration is now touting it as evidence of deep presidential--and White House--involvement in the crisis. White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Aug. 31 told reporters on Air Force One that the president was still deeply engaged in responding to Katrina. McClellan said Bush participated in a conference call that included Vice President Dick Cheney, Brown of FEMA, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, White House Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend, chief of staff Andy Card, deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, deputy national-security adviser J. D. Crouch, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett and others.

Congressional investigators say they can't recall seeing a transcript of this Aug. 31 conference call. An administration official said the White House is withholding the Aug. 31 transcript in order to protect the confidentiality of communications between the president and his advisers. Brown now says that after initially being deeply immersed in the crisis, "I think the president assumed, despite my warnings about FEMA's marginalization, that it could handle a catastrophic disaster, too. Clearly that was not the case because of budget and personnel cuts imposed by Homeland Security."

In their report on Katrina delivered just last week the House Investigators found that...
Contrary to Bush's claim that the White House failed to get "good, solid information from people who were on the ground," the House report [page 141] found that, at the White House, "[f]ailure to resolve conflicts in information and the 'fog of war,' not a lack of information, caused confusion," and that "[t]he White House did not suffer from a lack of information."
Instead the report found that the White House suffered from a failure of initiative.

To those who've been following this story for some time, it should come as no surprise that Bush knew damn well what was going on the entire time and simpy sat on his hands and let New Orleans drown. Since that time he's done nothing but pass the buck, used Brownie as a scapegoat and tried to cover for himself and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff's obvious failures.

It should be humorous watching Bush and his supporters try to dance their way out of this one, because from what I can tell the Fit has just Finally Hit the Shan on the Bush Administration.

Impeachment's too good for 'em.

Vyan

Tuesday, February 28

The Neo-Con Artist Crashdown

I've been waiting a long time for this day.

From me personally, November 4th 2004 was where I painfully asked "What's it gonna take?"). Since then I've been waiting for the time when America would finally start to wake up and smell the decay, and it looks like that time just might have arrived and the neo-con/artist who've been in driving this country into a ditch for the last five years are finally bailing out just before the car begins to flip over.

After not getting any real traction on the Jack Abramoff Scandal and the NSA Spying (that even Grover Norquist has denounced) we have the following... (detail over the flip)


Survey USA Map of Bush Approval

President Bush's approval rating has hit yet another all time low of 34% (at least until it drops to the next all time low).

Over half (53%) of Americans now say the administration "deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction."

Only Only 23 percent of our Troops want to stay in Iraq until the "Mission is Accomplished"...again.

72 percent of the public opposes the Dubai Deal and 62% percent feel that Congress should block it.

54% Percent feel the government hasn't done enough to help New Orleans recover from Katrina, and and 57% percent disapprove of how Bush has handling things.

Approval for how George Bush has handled the War on Terrorism has dropped to 43% and Congressional Democrats are polling two points higher than Bush on National Security.

Vice-President Cheney busted a cap in some old dudes dome just last week!

And let's not forget Congress, where Bill Frist is being investigated for securities fraud, Tom Delay is under indictment and "Duke" Cunningham has plead guilty to accepting bribes -- this situation is light-years beyond the House Checking Kiting Scandal of the 90's.

There's blood in the water and not just for Bush - the entire neo-con agenda is rapidally crumbling everywhere you look. William F. Buckley has come out against the war, and now you have one of the founders of the movement claiming Neo-Conversatism has failed on Keith Olberman.

From Crooks and Liars - Fukuyama: Neo-Con Failure

Francis Fukuyama, the author of "AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS," joined Nora O'Donnell on Countdown last night and discussed the failures of the neo-conservative movement.

Keith: It is just three months now since congressman and decorated vet Jack Murtha was denounced on the floor of the House of Representatives as a, quote, "coward" for having even suggested we make a quick exit from Iraq. Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, now William F. Buckley is saying we should get out, and fast.

Video-WMP Video-QT (hat tip Lynne)

I believe this is a watershed moment. Just a few weeks ago most Americans were willing to turn a blind-eye to Bush's illegal wiretapping and simply "trust him" -- but not anymore.

Conservative water-boys such as Charles Krathhammer have gotten great milage out of the idea that Bush's opponents and critics are somehow deranged. But now I think it's becoming plain that they should have been looking more closely at themselves, it's now painfully obvious that those sad 30-odd percenters who continue to support this President and Administration no matter how badly they perform on every level are suffering from a pathological addiction to bullshit.

They believe -- just like a junkie or a hard-core gambler -- that just around the corner is the next score that'll set them up for life. This Administration has done nothing but bow and fetch according to the whims of imperialist corporate aristocrats, while hordes of syncophantic wanna-bes who continue to deludedly dream that they too will one day be invited to sit at the grown-up economic table, continue to prop Boy King George up on their shoulders. Bush believes that if he just keeps the bribes tax cuts coming the red-state peasants won't drop him on his head.

But eventually, the luster of the lie has to wear off. Eventually, like any addict - they have to bottom out. That time is rapidly approaching. It's only after you reach the bottom will you finally realize that you have to change direction and start climbing out of the hole you've dug yourself into.

Right about now the syncophants and suckers who've bought into the neo-cons reverse Robin Hood jingoistic bullshit are starting to realize they've been had on the bankruptcy bill. Their parents have been had with Medicare Deform. Their children have been had both on "No Child Behind Left" and the Birth Tax. The Troops have been had on armor and benefits. Right now the neo-con artist Marie Antoinettes like Fukuyama are starting to book a flight to some other ideological shores. Somewhere, anywhere but aligned with being a neo-con. They haven't hit bottom yet, the term neo-con hasn't yet become an epithet, but it will - they can see it getting closer as the price tag for Bush's Iraq boondoogle begins to round $100 Brillion, or is it $200 Brillion?

The neo-cons know the truth in their heart of hearts. They know that the "crackpots and crazies" they've been feeding on to support their agenda and line their pockets with the contents of our Federal Treasury are just over the hill with their torches and pitchforks. That glow isn't the lights from the "shining city on the hill", it's the approach of the angry mob. Things are about to get ugly.

But there's no where to run. Nowhere to hide. Their bullshit is long, deep, well documented and is just about to turn into quicksand around their ankles.

I know we can't afford to become complacent. Those Conservatives who never fully bought into their nutttiness or have willfully rejoined the reality-based community such as Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman have already done so. As their numbers dwindle, the remaining neo-con clinger-ons will no doubt fight back and lash out, holding on with a death-grip to their intellectually and factually bankrupt ideology. There's nothing more dangerous than a cornered rat-fucker. They are certain to blame War Critics (none of whom had any power what-so-ever) for their failures in Iraq and the Gulf Coast. ("Yeah, If you weren't always telling us we're fucking up, maybe we wouldn't have!") We'll have to fight back, hard.

But I for one, will glad applaud as they sink and eventually succumb the truthiness of their situation. No, not because I hate them or am obsessed with Bush - because it's the only way to begin to heal the wounds they've gouged into this country and much of the world. All this pain and suffering has been unfortunate, but neccesary. The neo-cons had everything under their control, they had every opportunity to finally implement all the nitwit theories they've been harbouring in thinktank cesspolls since the Nixon era -- and they've failed. Completely. Utterly. Totally.

30 years of planning went into this - we've been infected with it for even longer - and it only took 5 years for it come crashing down.

It's about damn time.

Vyan

More Dubai Deal Facts leaking through

The attempt to silence or block information and details on this Dubai deal is gradually begining to break down. First it was just 6 Ports, now it's twenty one!. It may turn out that the (legally mandated) 45-day delay that Bushco has finally agreed too (imagine that, they agreed to abide by the law for once? yeah, but only if the deal is still sealed and delivered) will provide time for tons of truths about the Dubai Ports World deal to leak through.

First we have Lou Dobbs crying foul via Crooks and Liars.

Lou Dobbs reported today that "Dubai Ports World" officials have tried to silence him and get CNN to suppress his reports.

Video-WMP Video-QT

Mark Dennis, spokesman for Dubai Ports World: " CNN won't shut up Lou Dobbs."

They are refusing to give any more interviews to CNN or allow them to video tape their operations overseas. To CNN's credit they have refused to comply with their demands.

Now Lou Dobb's has gained an incredibly hostile reputation when it comes to issues of immigration, and I could see how you could expect him to be equally hostile when a foreign government is about to take over control of U.S. ports -- but he's still a correspondent for CNN, and they are simply not going to silence him, period. But just the fact that they're trying to is very telling.

Next we have the revelation regarding the Coast Guard.

WASHINGTON - Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration that it was unable to determine whether a United Arab Emirates-owned company might support terrorist operations, a Senate panel said Monday.

The surprise disclosure came during a hearing on Dubai-owned DP World's plans to take over significant operations at six leading U.S. ports. The port operations are now handled by London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

"There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment of the potential" merger," an undated Coast Guard intelligence assessment says.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," the document says.

Lastly we have a report from Newsweek that shows just how out of touch the Bush Admin has been on this entire deal.


The GOP leadership on Capitol Hill did not want to get stuck trying to explain the sale to a public anxious after hearing how little had been done to protect U.S. ports. The White House, meanwhile, was slow to read the signs, write Wolffe and Bailey. Nobody had tracked the bidding war for the venerable British ports company called the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (known as P & O). And nobody noticed an Associated Press story-on the day of Cheney's hunting incident-that aired the security concerns of a small Miami port operator called Eller. A disgruntled partner of P & O, Eller feared that an Arab government takeover could trigger a political backlash that might jeopardize its business. Its lawyers approached the Feds but were brushed aside; the security review was long complete.

Rep. Peter King, the GOP chair of the House homeland security committee, called the White House to ask about the deal a few days after the AP story. A senior official told him not to worry, but conceded he didn't know about any investigation into the Dubai company. When King said he planned to go public, the White House official just shrugged and said, "Go ahead."

When the crisis came to a head, Bush ordered his staff to contact each cabinet secretary involved in reviewing the sale to make sure that everyone stood by the decision. Reassured, Bush called reporters to his conference room aboard Air Force One, where he suggested that critics were indulging in anti- Arab prejudice and promised to veto any legislation blocking the deal. Midweek, as he stepped off the plane in Ohio, the president was greeted by Rep. Steve Chabot. The congressman pressed into the president's hand a cartoon from that morning's Cincinnati Enquirer. It showed a grinning Arab emir spreading his arms over an American port. The caption read, "Relax, Homeland Security has everything under control."

This Presidency is a joke.

The more people learn about this deal, the more of obvious trainwreck it becomes. Now, I for one, am happily cheering the Bush adminstration along -- because the light at the end of their Dubai tunnel isn't the way out, it's the oncoming train of American Outrage and they are not about to stop or slowdown.

This is the gang that can't think straight. These guys have repeatedly shown their disregard for the American People and for real issues of safety and security. Be it local issues like the Sago Mine, or international like the location of bin Laden and al Zarqawi - they have failed.

With his approval ratings at an all time low of 34%, it appears Americans - both Democrats and Republicans alike - are finally waking from the fog of neo-war and coming to this realization.

I say "It's about damn time" -- and bring on the November Elections. Yeeehah!!!

Vyan

Monday, February 27

Deibold Whistleblower charged with 3 Felonies

From Huffpost via Democratic Underground.

Two Years ago Stephen Heller, an actor in LA who worked part time for the law firm of Jones Day, discovered that one of the firm's clients, Diebold, was possibly going to disenfranchise thousands of voters in the next election.

Heller did the honorable thing, and provided this information to the California Attorney General and then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley - which ultimately resulted in the decertication of Deibold in California.

But last year Kevin Shelley was forced to resign as Secretary of State due to a fundraising scandal. Ah-nald promptly appointed a new Republican Secretary of State who has proceeded to Temporarily certify Deibold despite the information provided by Stephen Heller, and Heller himself is now facing criminal charges.

Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed documents in Jan. & Feb. 2004 which provided smoking gun evidence that Diebold was using illegal, uncertified software in California voting machines. The docs also showed that Diebold's California attorneys (the powerful international law firm Jones Day) had told them they were in breach of the law for using uncertified software, but Diebold continued to use the uncertified software anyway.

Heller is alleged to have come across these docs while temping as a word processor at Jones Day, and he is further alleged to have taken the docs and exposed them to the bright light of day. Now, after sitting on this for 2 years, the Los Angeles District Attorney, under pressure from Jones Day, is going after this whistleblower with 3 felony charges, each of which carries the potential of time in state prison.

So tell me is it a crime to report the commission of crime now? Apparently it is if the criminals include a large and powerful law firm like Jones Day.

Let's make this clear, folks. The docs Heller is accused of exposing were important evidence. First, they show that Diebold and their attorneys, Jones Day, conspired to mislead the California secretary of state, and that the lie they told was material, and resulted directly in the disenfranchisement of voters. Second, another document demonstrates that Diebold lied to the secretary of state when it represented that certain problems with its software were "fixed." This document, the release notes for the new software, showed that the problems were not fixed. Third, the documents showed that Diebold had been advised by Jones Day that what it had been doing with its uncertified software was illegal. Fourth, the documents show that Jones Day advised Diebold that it was subject to criminal prosecution. So in a nutshell, Diebold was defrauding the state government and taxpayers of California, and disenfranchising the voters of California. And the documents PROVE it.

The Huffpost article goes on to suggest that those who oppose the continued illegal certification of Diebold speak out in support of Heller. I concur. They suggest contact the relevant parties with the following talking points:

  • Don't prosecute Stephen Heller. He's a whistleblower, not a criminal, and he should not be prosecuted.

  • Diebold is the criminal here. Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed Diebold's criminal activity, and that makes him a whistleblower. He should not be prosecuted.

  • Diebold's election malfeasance strikes at the very heart of our democratic republic. Without clean elections, we don't have democracy anymore. Those who expose such crimes are whistleblowers and should not be prosecuted.

  • America has a long history of whistleblowers exposing criminal activity, and prosecuting them is wrong; it puts a chilling effect on others who might see criminal activity and want to expose it.

You can email the Los Angeles District Attorney's office at lada@co.la.ca.us.

And of course, "a good old fashioned snail mail letter is very powerful tool":

District Attorney's Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

Phone calls also help:

Telephone (213) 974-3512
Fax (213) 974-1484
TTY (800) 457-7778 (8:30am - 5:00pm M-F)

Vyan

Sunday, February 26

The Tipping Point

Today georgia10 posted a beautiful analysis of our situation in Iraq.

It drives home a point that simply can not be repeated too frequently -- we are at a cross roads, a tipping point in our efforts in the War.

Where we go from here will not only help determine the future of Iraq, it will determine the future of America.

While George Bush remains mired in his failed strategy to "Stay the Course", slowly sinking into Quicksand - Iraq shifts from a slow smolder to a raging inferno as increasing more militant Shia Clerics take control in the wake of the bombing of the Golden mosque.

Iraq's Defense Minister warns of an "endless civil war" and says he's ready to fill the streets with tanks. Meanwhile, Shi'ite and Sunni religious leaders took to the airwaves with an agreement to prohibit killings of members of each other's sects and to ban attacks on mosques and shrines.
What does George Commander-in-Chief Bush do while this is going on? Go to a fundraiser.

We have those nitwits on Faux News claiming that renewed violenced "proves Bush's strategy is working" and are seriously wondering if "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?"
These people are clearly addicted not just to oil, but apparently to mass chaos and death.

While some gung-ho chickenhawk conservatives are ready to run for the hills, Democrats actually have plan on the table. Democrats.org has the details for a Phased Redeployment.

From the Boston Globe:
Democratic Party leaders are beginning to coalesce around a broad plan to begin a quick withdrawal of US troops and install them elsewhere in the region, where they could respond to emergencies in Iraq and help fight terrorism in other countries.

The concept, dubbed "strategic redeployment," is outlined in a slim, nine-page report coauthored by a former Reagan administration assistant Defense secretary, Lawrence J. Korb, in the fall. It sets a goal of a phased troop withdrawal that would take nearly all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007...

Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, has endorsed Korb's paper and begun mentioning it in meetings with local Democratic groups. In addition, the study's concepts have been touted by the senator assigned to bring Democrats together on Iraq -- Jack Reed of Rhode Island -- and the report has been circulated among all senators by Senator Dianne Feinstein, an influential moderate Democrat from California.

This common sense plan puts Democratic ideas squarely at odds with the Republican three-year plan of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, a nifty public relations plan for success, and asking people to serve their country by placing U.S. Senate campaign bumper stickers on the back of cars. The current course staked out by President Bush, which completely ignores reality and military commanders' advice on troop levels, is no longer an option. That's why the majority of Americans now feel the war was a mistake and disapprove of the way the president has handled the prosecution of the effort. And that's to say nothing of the majority who also believe the president deliberately misled the American people on WMDs and Iraq in the run-up to the war.

We need to change course, that much is clear -- but that doesn't mean we need to "cut and run". We need a different approach, to reduce our footprint and presense in the region -- stop becoming the crutch for the Iraqi forces and finally push them out of the nest to fly or fall on thier own, but remain close by -- at the ready if we are needed for a big operation. We need to bring in a larger international level to the effort, involving countries that aren't tainted by our own actions of bad faith in starting and persuing this war under false pretenses.

Up to this point we've been the catalyst for Sunni insurgent to attacks against Shias, stemming from their nearly complete and total disenfranchisement from the political process. We have to do something different, because doing what we've been doing -- with the massive incompetence and malfeasance that has become all to familiar in the wake of Katrina -- simply isn't working.

We certainly could't make things any worse than they already are.

Bush will no doubt ignore this push by Democrats, but his further resistance to common sense and logic can and will be another lever to help sweep Republicans out of office this November. Many Repubs already see the writing on the wall, but the President is far too blind. We absolutely need to hammer this meme home - it's time to change course.

If the President and his Republican enablers won't do it - Democrats will.

Vyan