Saturday, March 25

Bush Ignores the Law - Again

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement
In addendum to law, he says oversight rules are not binding

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

(snip)

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2...


So why do we even have a congress... why do we even have Laws? Why doesn't Bush just grab a paper napkin and make up stuff...

Oh wait, never mind - he's already doing that.

Vyan

Diebold kicked out of Maryland

At least by the House of Delegates...

Diebold, the electronic voting machine maker, suffered another sharp setback recently, when Maryland's House of Delegates voted 137-to-0 to drop its machines and switch to paper ballots. The vote came in the same week that Texas held elections marred by electronic voting troubles. Maryland's State Senate should join the House in voting to discontinue the use of the Diebold machines, and other states should follow Maryland's lead.


Full Story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/23/opinion/23thu3.html

The likelyhood that this vote could begin be the example of a sweeping sea-change knocking Diebold out of other states is almost too much to hope for. I strongly suspect that in many states with Republican Secretary of States - like California and Ohio - it won't be easy at all.

Vyan

Censure moves to committee

Where many good ideas go to die a slow, tedious death of strangulation and neglect...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-led U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Friday it would hold a hearing next week on a call by a Democratic lawmaker to censure President George W. Bush for his domestic spy program.

In a one-sentence notice, the panel said the hearing would be held next Friday by the order of its chairman, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who has opposed censure.

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin introduced a resolution last week calling for a Senate censure of the president, charging that Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program was illegal. Revelation of the once-secret program has triggered a political uproar.

http://news.yahoo.com/...

AP Continued...

"Some Democrats in Congress have decided the president is the enemy and the terrorist surveillance program is grounds for censuring the president," Vice President Dick Cheney told a Republican fund-raiser in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, adding, "The American people have already made their decision. They agree with the president."

Although it's true that most of the country doesn't support Censure, yet -- I think they'll be a point in the not too distant future - um, like November -when Republicans will be kicking themselves for noting taking Feingold up this oppurtunity when they had the chance.

The chances of this resolution getting through the Republican dominated Intelligence committee as somewhere far short of slim and none. But a few hearings on the subject, where Feingold will have a few more chances to make his case -- and we get a wonderful oppurtunity to watch more Republican play "Rally round the President" for a few days.

Case in point...

Specter has questioned the legality of Bush's surveillance program but has argued that censure is not justified.

In Senate comments last week, Specter noted that experts had disagreed about whether the president has the constitutional power to conduct the program without court warrants.

Experts disagree? Is this anything like "experts disagree on Climate Change?" because if so it's more like "Most experts agree, except for a few howling wingbat shills clinging to the far right of reality.

What the law does and does not authorize is perfectly clear. It's also perfectly clear that Bush has not followed the law, and has admitted failing to do so. The only remaining question is whether the Congress will, or won't hold him accountable.


"When he (Feingold) comes to the resolve clause and speaks about censure and condemnation of
President Bush, I think he is vastly excessive," Specter said.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Feingold will have an opportunity at next week's hearing to debate Specter.

Feingold vs "Single-Bullet-Theory" Specter?

That should be a hum-dinger. I'm bringing popcorn.

There's nothing like having a ring-side seat to the death of democracy...

Vyan

Friday, March 24

RNC says Democrats have an Impeachment Agenda - They do?

In the latest mailing from the RNC, Ken Melhman claims that Democrats "secret agenda" is to Impeach President Bush after the November elections. [On no, our dasdardly plan to return the "Rule of Law" to the Nation has been discovered!]

The word is out. Their position is clear. Last week, Sen. Russ Feingold floated a reckless plan to censure the President, and some Democrat leaders have ecstatically jumped on Feingold's bandwagon.

They have? Since when?


And, if they gain even more power in November, they won't stop there.

...31 House Democrats are calling for a committee to look into impeachment. Their leader? John Conyers, who would become House Judiciary Committee chairman under Democrat control.

The Democrats' plan for 2006? Take the House and Senate, and impeach the President. With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want? [Money Pitch Edited Out]

<> What I have to say to this is, "Really now"? Because when I read the mailing from Democrats.org they say something completely different The DNC is certainly not waiting around for Democrats on the hill to gather up their torches and pitch forks and storm the White House... no. their focus is on the grass roots.

They want the American people to do the storming...


Impeachment Resolutions Sweep America!

From California to Vermont, from Wyoming to North Carolina, from New Hampshire to New Mexico, impeachment resolutions are sweeping America!

They are popping up in Town Meetings, City Councils, and Democratic Committees. And when they pass, they make headlines locally and even nationwide.
http://impeachpac.org/...

Let's turn this local activity into a nationwide grassroots movement! We've collected everything you need to know here:
http://pdamerica.org/...

On the issue of the Feingold Censure Resolution, the Dems in Congress aren't exactly jumping out of their seats with Joy and the DNC isn't exactly pulling punches about their behavior.


Support Feingold - Censure Bush - Stop Cowering!

It's been 10 days since Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a resolution to censure George Bush for illegally wiretapping American citizens. Just two Democrats have joined him: Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Polls show Americans support Feingold's censure by 48%-43% - including 29% of Republicans. Rightwinger Bill Kristol called it a smart move and says it helps Democrats. When the Republican Party ran attack ads against him in Wisconsin, Feingold got a standing ovation.

So why are the other 41 Democrats still cowering?

Technically I believe John Kerry has also expressed support for the Censure Resolution - so there are 3 Real Democrats in the Senate and 40 cowards.

If this language from the DNC sounds a lot like a DKos post, you haven't read the best part yet...


Call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and deliver a simple message:
"I urge you to support Senator Feingold's bill to censure George Bush."
And for Democratic Senators, add this:
"And stop cowering in fear of Republican thugs!"

If you have time, join Jane Hamsher in visiting the local office of your Senator:
http://www.firedoglake.com/...

Aye Carumba!, they're not asking for money or donations - which the RNC mailing does - they're asking people to get involved, call their Senator and go visit a blog!.

(Minor Tangent: I prefer calling the Capital Operator at 888-355-3588 - it's toll free and they'll connect you to anyone in the building. It's fast, easy and you don't have to keep a rolodex of Congressional Phone Numbers)

Oh and by the way -- it turns out that the RNC can't count.


33 Congress Members With Courage

Congressman Bob Filner from San Diego has signed onto H Res 635. There are now 33 Congress Members supporting Congressman John Conyers' bill to create an investigation into possible grounds for impeachment. Filner's name is not yet in the official list, because Congress is out of session this week, but Congressman Conyers' staff confirms that he has agreed to co-sponsor. Learn more and ask your representative to join the list:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/...

Again, no asking for money -- just asking for involvement. They even go so far as to include a link to a flyer, like an indie band trying to get people out to their latest gig.


Download the New Flyer from Afterdowningstreet.org.

Also in my mailbox I received a posting from Fact Check.org. The subject?

RNC Mischaracterized Feingold Censure Resolution

No, Really?

A GOP radio ad accuses Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin of proposing to censure President Bush "for pursuing suspected members of al Qaeda," which isn't true. Feingold has stated he supports wiretapping suspected terrorists. His measure would censure Bush for ordering wiretaps on US soil without a court warrant, for failing to notify all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, and for "efforts to mislead the American people" about the legality of the program.

...

When Feingold introduced his resolution to censure the president on March 13 he stated clearly on the Senate floor:

Feingold: No one questions -- no one questions -- whether the government should wiretap suspected terrorists. Of course we should and we can under the current law.

He also stated in a March 12 press release:

Feingold: This issue is not about whether the government should be wiretapping terrorists -- of course it should, and it can under present law.

The resolution would censure Bush for the way in which he ordered wiretaps, not for the wiretaps themselves. It would condemn him for "unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required " (emphasis added), and also for "failure to inform the full congressional intelligence committees," and for "his efforts to mislead the American people" about the legalities of the program.

...

Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats intend to impeach the President if they gain control of Congress. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said March 20 on CNN's Situation Room: "the [impeachment] talk originally came up from a number of different people, including John Conyers, a gentlemen who if the Democrats took control, would be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And what I think is important for people to understand is this is their agenda."

So this is their bold new strategy, grossly overstate Impeachment talk in Congress to scare the base into coughing up the cash - while the President has an approval rating that's been hovering in the mid-thirties ever since Katrina? (Bush's Currently at 36%- Newsweek 3/15)

Ya gotta be kidding me. But then again, maybe it's not so dumb after all.

Newsweek also polled several other questions which indicate that Mehlman may have a point to use this strategy :

  • Support for Feingold's Censure Motion : 42%+ / 50%- with 8% unsure
  • Is the Censure Resolution Simply Partisan or the Right thing to do: 53% Partisan/33% Right thing/14% Unsure
  • Should Congress take action to Impeach? : 26%+ / 69%- / 5% Unsure

Some of these numbers may be soft now, but the more they complain about it, the more the issues from Katrina to the NSA Taping, the Scooter Libby Trial and revelations that our soldiers still aren't receiving proper armor and are losing their benefits, not to mention the War Crimes! the more it's likely these issues will stay in the public consciousness right into November.

More from the RNC Mailing...
Democrat leaders' talk of censure and impeachment isn't about the law or the President doing anything wrong. It's about the fact that Democrat leaders don't want America to fight the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal. Your immediate action will send these reckless Democrats a message and help preserve our Republican majorities.

All they really want is preserve their Majority, period.

Do they actually continue to think banging on that old "Treason" drum is going to get out the vote with the Popularity of the War circling the drain?

  • Bush's Handling of Iraq : 29% Approve / 65% Disapprove-
  • Handling of Terrorism : 44% Approve / 50% Disapprove)
  • Not only that, the National Security Gap between Republicans and Democrats has shunken to just 5 points (Rep 45% / Dem 41%), which is up from a 30 point split (Rep 51% / Dem 19%) in 2002.
One thing is certain, Feingold's measure seems to be having the effect of turning November into a Referendum on Bush, at least in the eyes of the RNC and Ken (I'll-be-out-the-closet-any-minute-now) Mehlman. If they decide to use a National Strategy that attempts to hold Congress by defending this President -- I for one say "Bring it On, Bitch!".

Vyan

White House was warned that they violate War Crimes Act, and kept going...

Via Democratic Underground - Michael Isikoff from Newsweek reported this story originally on May 19, 2004.

May 17 - The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for "war crimes" as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue.

The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes--and that it might even apply to Bush adminstration officials themselves-- is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

So just a few months into the War on Terra, and over a year before the start of the Iraq invasion the White House was aware that their actions and tactics could be the subject of criminal prosecution?

Think that gave them any pause? Apparently not, since the infamous Bybee Torture memos which redefined "severe pain" as being "equivelent too organ failure" (or death) wasn't requested by Gonzales until August of that same year. In January, Gonzales had this to say...


In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes--defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions--such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners--was "undefined."

So technical definitions within the law and Geneva remain a bit hazy, at this point one would say this isn't an unreasonable position to point this out. But it's the next section that should raise the hackles on the back of our collective necks. Gonzales then wrote...


"It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441 [the War Crimes Act]," Gonzales wrote. The best way to guard against such "unwarranted charges," the White House lawyer concluded, would be for President Bush to stick to his decision--then being strongly challenged by Secretary of State Powell-- to exempt the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Geneva convention provisions.

"Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote.

So basically, the President's best defense was to deny the jurisdiction of Geneva over al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. All this time they've argued that letting terrorist who are without the sponsorship of a specific state have Geneva convention protections would "undermine" the power and validity of the conventions when in reality they were just engaging in a big game of Cover Your Collective Ass.

That argument has been made frequently and has completely ignored Article II of the Geneva Conventions...


    In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

    Under the provisions outlined in 1949, the Convention applies to all armed combat even if not all of the parties involved have declared a state of war.

    Further...

    The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

    The question of whether al Qaeda or the Taliban is covered by the convention is answered in Article 4.


    Section A. 1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

    Now to be fair it could be argued that so-called "Enemy Combatants" does not qualify under Section A.2.


    2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    Al Qaeda does not carry "fixed distinctive signs" nor do they "conduct operations in accordance with the law of war" , at least as far as I'm aware.

    However Section 6 states the following are covered.

    6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

    Ok, so wearing a "sign" isn't really neccesary if you are a citizen who responds to an invasion by taking up arms. But what about respecting the "law and customs of war?"

    Article 5 lays it out...

    Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

    So basically, the default position is "Included", even when it applies to terrorist "enemy combatants" such as members of al Qaeda, the Taliban or the Fedeyeen.

    [Update: Media Matters has also addressed this subject and indicates that the Fourth Geneva Convention provides protection for "Civilians" which would include "Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.: If that isn't pretty inclusive, I don't know what is.]

The Isikoff article continues...

The memo--and strong dissents by Secretary of State Colin Powell and his chief legal advisor, William Howard Taft IV--are among hundreds of pages of internal administration documents on the Geneva Convention and related issues that have been obtained by NEWSWEEK...

The memos provide fresh insights into a fierce internal administration debate over whether the United States should conform to international treaty obligations in pursuing the war on terror. Administration critics have charged that key legal decisions made in the months after September 11, 2001 including the White House's February 2002 declaration not to grant any Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters prisoners of war status under the Geneva Convention, laid the groundwork for the interrogation abuses that have recently been revealed in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Ya think? Follow the dots here people...

  • In January 2002 Gonzales argues that Geneva shouldn't apply to "Enemy Combatants" because it would make "U.S. Officials" vulnerable to Federal War Crimes violations.
  • In February, the Administration announces that al Qaeda and Taliban are "not included" in Geneva (although they conduct no tribunal as required by Geneva to determine this).
  • In August of that same year the Bybee memo is written which redefines what "Torture" is.
  • In October 2002 Gitmo commanders request “that additional techniques beyond those in the field manual be approved for use.”"
  • In December of 2002 SecDef Rumsfeld allows for "“stress positions,” hooding, 20-hour interrogations, removal of clothing, exploiting phobias to induce stress (e.g., fear of dogs), prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and forced grooming. These techniques soon spread to Afghanistan and later to Iraq." according to documents obtain by the ACLU.
  • Also in December the FBI begins complaining to the Defense Department about the conditions at Gitmo, and in Afghanistan some detainees are "killed during interrogation" at Bagram AFB.
Coincidence? I think not!

It wasn't until April of 2004 that the Abu Ghraib photos were first displayed on 60 Minutes II. Isikoff's article was published that following May.

Amnesty International has certainly been vocal and very definately convinced that Geneva and International Laws apply since they called for Bush and many of senior Adminstration Officials including Rumsfeld, General Sanchez, General Miller, George Tenet and Alberto Gonzales to be investigated, arrested, tried and prosecuted for War Crimes back in May of 2005.

During a statement on the release of it's annual report, Amnesty International President William Schultz called for the investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution of senior U.S. Officials - either by an Special Prosecutor or by foreign government prosecutors - who authored and authorized policies which lead to inhumane treatment and torture of persons held at Guantanemo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base. "The Government investigation must climb all the way to the top...", stated Schultz. Quoting former Secretary of State Colin Powell he went on to point out that permitting Torture by U.S. personnel "undermines the moral authority" and can allow such techniques to "spread like a virus" thruout the world.

Even before this announcement by AI, John Conyers (D-IL) had called for an investigation of possible War Crimes by President Bush in a letter cosigned by 50 of his fellow congressmen.

With this Jan 2002 Gonzales memo in mind, it just might be possible that the inhumane conditions and abuse at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force base and the recently revealed actions of the secretive and vicious Task Force 6-26 were the direct result of the Bush Administrations attempt to evade Geneva and the law. They just may have broken U.S. Law just to prove that International Law didn't apply to them.

Considering all the outrage that has been generated over illegal wiretaping, and Senator Feingold's Censure Motion, people should be going through the roof that the Bush Administration has consistently claimed the ability to detain, hold without trial indefinately, and torture even U.S. Citizens.

If reading through people's email is bad, and breaking into their homes is badder -- claiming the authority to physical assault detainees, including clearly innocent people, nearly to the point of organ failure is the absolute worst.

What has become of our Democracy?

Vyan

Wednesday, March 22

Bushco still banking on the Big Lie

In his dustup with Helen Thomas the other day, President Bush besides ignoring the obvious facts that his biographer has shown [That he did intend to invade Iraq long before he was even President, and that once sworn in spent his very first NSC briefing talking exclusively about Saddam - while ignoring Al Qaeda ] Bush yet again continued to perpetrate the Biggest Lie of his Administration.

Bush claims that Saddam Hussein failed to "disarm and disclose" in accordance with UN Resolution 1441.

Now, we all certainly know there were no WMD's in Iraq when we invaded -- but we seem to have completely forgotten that Hussein told us there were no WMD's three months before the War, and BushCo completely ignored him.

Transcript of the exchange with Helen on March 21, 2006


Q I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

Q Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

Q -- everything I've heard --

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true.

Ok, let's have a short reality break here...

Mickey Herskowitz who had struck a deal to ghost write Bush's autobiography said that...

    "He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency....

And we all know this claim was merely an echo of the 1998 PNAC letter to Bill Clinton on Iraq.

Bush v Helen continues...

My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

So his attitude changed on September 11th, did it? Then why did Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill state that from the very first meeting of the Bush's national Security Council in January 2001 he had Iraq on the brain.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

"From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime," says Suskind. "Day one, these things were laid and sealed."

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying `Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap."

Back to the Bushwacker...


Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

Q They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --

Q I'm talking about Iraq --

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

Ok, I think most of us agree that chasing down al Qaeda in Afghanistan was a reasonable choice. It's too bad Bush botched the job, let most of al Qaeda escape across the borders and let Bin Laden out of Tora Bora - but it was at least a step in the right directly. It's immediately after that, that things went off the rails.


I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --

Q -- go to war --

THE PRESIDENT: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Ok, this right here is the money quote. Most people have noted what I mentioned previously about PNAC, Herskowitz and O'Neill but this is the crucial LIE right here and it has two parts.


1) Saddam did not deny the inspectors.

    From the White House Press Briefing of November 26th, 2002.

    QUESTION: Ari, can I go back to the U.N. weapons inspectors? Tomorrow they're going to be actually doing the first of their inspections. Is there any message to the inspectors? Is there any message to the Iraqis?

    MR. FLEISCHER: The President's message to both the inspectors and the Iraqis is that the Iraqis need to disarm for the sake of peace. And the President is pleased that the United Nations has passed a strong resolution that will allow the inspectors to have more tools to do their jobs to verify that Saddam Hussein has disarmed. Iraq has until December 8th to list the weapons of mass destruction for the United Nations Security Council resolution, and after December 8th that will begin a process where we will find out whether the Iraqis told the truth or not. So they have this date that is approaching. After that date a process begins. And the President wants to make certain that process leads to two things -- one, the truth, and the truth must lead to disarmament.


2) Saddam did fully disclose!
    On December 7th, one day ahead of schedule, Iraq provided a full and complete declaration - as required by UN Resoution 1441 - on the status of their WMD Stockpiles and capabilites. The 12,000 page reported stated that their stockpiles were either depleted or destroyed and their programs for replenishing them were null and void.

    The President stated that the U.S. would "take some time" to review the declaration...

    Iraq is now required by the United Nations to provide a full and accurate declaration of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. We will judge the declaration's honesty and completeness only after we have thoroughly examined it, and that will take some time. The declaration must be credible and accurate and complete, or the Iraqi dictator will have demonstrated to the world once again that he has chosen not to change his behavior.

    At this point I also want to mention a another peice of hay that Bill O'Reilly has been pounding on. Namely a March 12th New York Times Report that three months before the invasion Saddam revealed to his Generals that they had no more WMD's. O'Reily has claimed that since Saddam's own generals didn't know - how could we expect the President to know, and those who've accused him of being a "Liar", including former President Jimmy Carter, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and Democratic Sens. Harry Reid (NV), Richard J. Durbin (IL), John Kerry (MA), Edward Kennedy (MA), Patrick Leahy (VT) and also entertainers like Will Smith, Chevy Chase, Johnny Depp, Ron Reagan Jr., Mike Farrell, and Barbra Streisand - should all apologize.

    Media Matters does a good job of shooting this bogus canard down, by pointing that out even without the NYT article, many of Bush's claims and statments just don't hold water - but there's more.

    The real problem with O'Reilly's argument is that through their December 7th Declaration Iraq told us exactly the same thing that he told his Generals ; they had no more WMD's. The Bush Administration just didn't listen.

    Here's what then NSA Director Condoleeza Rice said about the Declaration on January 23rd.

    And instead of full cooperation and transparency, Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie.

    For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United Nations in Iraq's accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons.

    Basically they used one lie, about the Niger Uranium, to call Saddam a liar? Jesus Jiminy Christmas.

    Here's more from Bush's 2003 State of the Union.


    The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

    The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

    Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq [Might one of these be Curveball?], in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

    But then we didn't really even need Saddam's declaration for proof, back in 1995 a defecting Iraqi General by the name of Hussein Kamel had claimed to have personally given the order to destroy Saddam's WMD stockpiles following the first Gulf War.

    When the inspectors arrived they stated that they weren't finding any weapons or evidence of a Nuclear program, some even going so far as to say that the U.S. provided intelligence was "garbage". After four months of searching in February of 2003 the UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors had found absolutely nothing - no mobile biological labs - zip. Just a set of al samoud missles which were outside the guidelines of 1441, which they destroyed, but no actually WMD.

So we have a declaration from Iraq that they have to WMD's, we have inspectors on the ground who say - "They have no WMD's", we have a defector who says "We destroyed the WMD's" and what does Bush do?

He ignores it and claims that "Iraqi operatives continue to play a shell game with inspectors, moving suspected prohibited materials to different locations every 12 to 24 hours".

Then on March 17th, he orders the invasion.

All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals -- including journalists and inspectors -- should leave Iraq immediately.

Ok, so the inspectors were still in Iraq until March 17th were they? That's interesting since so many of Bush's supporters like to claim that Saddam pushed out the inspectors. No, Bush made the decision. He set the timetable, the interrupted the inspection process which as we now know would have eventually confirmed the Iraqi Declaration just as the Dulfer Report eventually revealed.

Chemical Weapons: While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad's desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.

Biological Weapons: In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes. Indeed, from the mid-1990s, despite evidence of continuing interest in nuclear and chemical weapons, there appears to be a complete absence of discussion or even interest in BW at the Presidential level.

Nuclear: Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.

The fact is that the Iraqi Declaration - was absoluately correct. They had no WMD's and they told us so months before the War.

Bush supporters, the few that are left such as O'Reilly, Hannity and Gingrich, like to claim that "these mistakes are in the past"... but the truth is that these failures are the results of hubris and poor judgement. The facts were rigth in front of them, but they preferred to believe forged documents from Niger and Curveball instead.

These are the same types of mistakes we continue to see from this administration over and over again, from Katrina to Dubai. Ignoring mine safety, and muzzling Scientists while pushing forward the Intelligence Design agenda. These lies continue to poison the well of Democracy in Iraq with endless Bad Faith from this President and this Administration - leading it increasingly into a a Civil War which will continue to cost Iraqi and American lives and drain the U.S. Treasury.

And the lies just keep coming...

Vyan

Tuesday, March 21

Bradblog : New Diebold Suit in CA

The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that a legal action will be filed tomorrow morning in California's Superior State Court in San Francisco in response to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's recent re-certification -- in blatant violation of state law -- of Diebold's Electronic Voting Machines in the state.

VoterAction.org is announcing their intention to file their suit "aimed at halting the use or purchase of Diebold electronic voting systems," in the state.

According to VoterAction, the legal action is being filed because "Diebold's TSx touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law."

They also add that that "The Diebold system is difficult if not impossible to audit or recount, and has been proven vulnerable to malicious tampering in tests and studies. Diebold technology contains 'interpreted' code, which is easily hacked, and illegal for voting systems in the State of California."

The same group recently carried out a similar action in the state of New Mexico, in regard to the use of Sequoia Touch-Screen voting machines there. That suit ultimately led to the ban of use of such machines, and a bill which was recently signed by Gov. Bill Richardson requiring a paper ballot with every vote cast in the state...

The background of situation as BradBlog points out is essentially this.

In 2004 Diebold was de-certified in California by then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D) after revelations found in documents provided by Stephen Heller that Diebold was in violation of California State election law and that they fully intended to remain so.

Last December Diebold admitted that they were still had the interpreted code problem discovered by Ion Sancho in Leon Country Florida.

[And just to note that the impending e-voting meltdown is rapidly approaching, last week another E-Voting Whistle-blower came forward with documentation of series "glitches" in the Texas Primary and Ohio Presidential elections of 2004.]

Despite the fact that the tests performed in Leon Country displayed obvious security holes in Diebold Systems, California's new Ah-nold appointed Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson temporarily certified them anyway.

Since then Diebold has admitted [pdf] that their systems still contain interpreted code which has been banned Federally, and California Law requires that all voting systems meet Federal standards.

In their press release - VoterAction.org argues the following in their response to the actions of Secretary McPherson.


"The Secretary of State's conditions are new, untested, regulations that were adopted without the benefit of appropriate expert analysis and public hearing. These new regulations are not the cure for the acknowledged vulnerabilities built into this voting system," said Mr. Eichhorst.

As part of their case, the plaintiffs will present the expert testimony of computer security experts Douglas W. Jones of the University of Iowa and Dr. Aviel D. Rubin of Johns Hopkins University concerning the serious security problems inherent in the Diebold TSx technology.

This suit just might cause the decertification of Diebold machines until after the mid-terms -- which may be a crucial element to regaining Democratic Control of Congress as California remains a 2006 Battleground State.

Now, I happen to be a programmer and I can tell you that interpreted code in and of itself is not a problem if the proper security steps have been taken. But if not, It can be a problem when it isn't compiled, because it can be changed on the fly by anyone with access, even remote access, to the machine files using a simple text editing sofware - like MS Word. Certified testing results done before election day would go out the window if someone can make an on the fly edit. By comparison compiled programs can not be changed after the "Link-Edit" process is completed, however they can be "patched" and/or have modules replaced, even though that can be considerably more difficult to accomplish particularly without physical access to the system. It's still possible.

After 12 years experience working for a DOD Contractor in a Secure Enviroment, it's my opinion that a great many of these could be resolved by requiring C2 Level Security on all Electronic Voter Machines. C2 Security - when implemented properly - requires password authentication for all users, and includes an audit log for of all file accesses and updates - each and every one - whether they are interpreted, compiled, accessed locally or remotely. The implementation of C2 is done at the Operating System, rather than the applications level - so it shouldn't matter whether you're running voting software or running a microwave. But then of course you still need to address the issue of whether the voting software is actually counting accurately or not, and an audit trail of the votes themselves, which would be at the Applications level, is still a must. Systems manufacturers don't like to implement C2, it's costly -- but usually worth it and could be mandated Federally to pitch in my 2-cents on that...

Also, Bev Harris has a diary up on this from yesterday.

Vyan

Bush Admin let 9-11 Happen?

Ok, I know what you're thinking... this is one of the tin-foil hat diaries where all types of wild and unsubstantiated rumors are bandied about, like the idea that there were explosive planted inside the World Trade Center just to make sure it would come down and give the Bush Administration the justification it need to invade Iraq, thump the National Security drum into re-election, strip away our civil liberties and drain our treasury.

Well, you'd be wrong about everything except the explosives.

From the Associate Press.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - [Harry Samit] the
FBI agent who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui in August 2001 testified Monday he spent almost four weeks trying to warn U.S. officials about the radical Islamic student pilot but "criminal negligence" by superiors in Washington thwarted a chance to stop the 9/11 attacks.

More details of gross negligence and incompetence over the flip...


[During Samit's cross-examination Defense attorney] MacMahon displayed a communication addressed to Samit and FBI headquarters agent Mike Maltbie from a bureau agent in Paris relaying word from French intelligence that Moussaoui was "very dangerous," had been indoctrinated in radical Islamic Fundamentalism at London's Finnsbury Park mosque, was "completely devoted" to a variety of radical fundamentalism that
Osama bin Laden espoused, and had been to
Afghanistan.

The communication arrived Aug. 30, 2001. [ED. notibly after the August 8th PDB "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.] The Sept. 11 Commission reported that British intelligence told U.S. officials on Sept 13, 2001, that Moussaoui had attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. "Had this information been available in late August 2001, the Moussaoui case would almost certainly have received intense, high-level attention," the commission concluded.

Ya think?

No, actually I don't think. I think they would have ignored it just as they'd been ignoring Richard Clark's warnings for the previous 8 months.

But Samit told MacMahon he couldn't persuade FBI headquarters or the Justice Department to take his fears seriously. No one from Washington called Samit to say this intelligence altered the picture the agent had been painting since Aug. 18 in a running battle with Maltbie and Maltbie's boss, David Frasca, chief of the radical fundamentalist unit at headquarters.

They fought over Samit's desire for a warrant to search Moussaoui's computer and belongings. Maltbie and Frasca said Samit had not established a link between Moussaoui and terrorists.

Let me reiterate this point...Samit's FBI superiors wouldn't even ask a court for a warrant.... It's not that the the court wouldn't give it to them, it's not that they claimed they didn't need it - they didn't even fucking ask!.

Under questioning from MacMahon, Samit acknowledged that he had told the Justice Department inspector general that "obstructionism, criminal negligence and careerism" on the part of FBI headquarters officials had prevented him from getting a warrant that would have revealed more about Moussaoui's associates. He said that opposition blocked "a serious opportunity to stop the 9/11 attacks."

The FBI's actions between Moussaoui's arrest, in Minnesota on immigration violations on Aug. 16, 2001, and Sept. 11, 2001, are crucial to his trial because prosecutors allege that Moussaoui's lies prevented the FBI from discovering the identities of 9/11 hijackers and the
Federal Aviation Administration from taking airport security steps.

But MacMahon made clear the Moussaoui's lies never fooled Samit. The agent sent a memo to FBI headquarters on Aug. 18 accusing Moussaoui of plotting international terrorism and air piracy over the United States, two of the six crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2005.

Samit further testified that he had attempted to communicate his fears via "e-mails and letters to FBI's London, Paris and Oklahoma City offices, FBI headquarters, the CIA's counterterrorism center, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, an intelligence agency not identified publicly by name in court (possibly the National Security Agency), and the FBI's Iran, Osama bin Laden, radical fundamentalist, and national security law units at headquarters."

And the response?

Bupkis. Zip. Nada. Samit was even barred from sending a letter to FAA headquaters outlining his concerns.

That's the Bush Administration for ya, always willing and able to make a bad sitaution worse.

Vyan

Monday, March 20

Shock and Awe - Year 3

It's been three long years since the beginning of "Shock and Awe" and nearly as long since "Mission Accomplished" but exactly what has been shocking and what has been accomplished remains a very serious debate.


We in the blogosphere have fought long and hard to make the obvious failure of our Iraq policies known -- now it appears  that all you have to do is turn on the tv and read the paper to hear our own words coming back to us.




Chuck Hagel on "This Week" From Crooks and Liars.



     "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," Allawi told the BBC. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

                                      Video-WMP Video-QT


Hagel: I think the former Prime Minister is correct. I think we've had a low grade civil war going on in Iraq for the last six months maybe the last year-our own generals have told me that privately George, so that's a fact.


From the Los Angeles Times.

THREE YEARS AGO TODAY, Iraqis were "shocked and awed" by the power of the U.S. military. Today, Americans are shocked and awed by its limits. If the "cakewalks" of the 1980s and 1990s -- Grenada, the Gulf War, Kosovo -- restored America's belief in its omnipotence, so badly shaken in Vietnam, the occupation of Iraq has been a humbling letdown.


With a mere 38% of the public still thinking that the war is going well, and more than 2,300 U.S. troops dead, it's become fashionable for the war's initial supporters to have second thoughts. We opposed the decision to go to war. But we will resist the temptation to be fashionable and will take this opportunity to at least concede that the Bush administration's actions were rooted in a strain of American idealism most often identified with Woodrow Wilson. The decision to topple Saddam Hussein's regime was a Wilsonian attempt to preserve the notion of collective security; even more idealistically, it was an attempt to create an oasis of American-style democracy and prosperity that would alter the complexion of the entire region.


So much for the vision. The reality has been -- to use a term from another unpopular war -- a quagmire. Bush's messianic idealism was never justified, and in any event the administration's flawed execution would have undermined his purpose. The list of gaffes is by now distressingly familiar: the flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, the lack of sufficient troops, the tainted contracting process and so on.


Crooks and Liars has more...




John Murtha on Meet the Press:

Murtha appeared on MTP today and got the full body treatment from Timmy. Russert wailed away at John (who wouldn't like to see that same treatment with Condi or Cheney?) and threw everything and the kitchen sink at him, but Murtha was relentless in his feelings about the Iraq war. He admitted that he made a mistake with his vote and then slapped down Ken Melman. He also addressed the criticisms from the wingnuts about the media and their coverage of the war.


                                              Video-WMP Video-QT


Murtha: You can't win this with rhetoric. What the Republican chairman has no impact on me or anybody else as far as I'm concerned. This should not be political. When I go by the graveyard over there at Arlington, it doesn't say Democrat or Republican, it says American.


Russert: Some in the administration say the media is distorting the good news that's coming out of Iraq.


REP. MURTHA: Well, they said the same thing about Vietnam. They said the same thing over and over and over about Vietnam. They said, "We're winning the war in Vietnam." That-you could go back and get quotes from Vietnam, and you'd see the same kind of, of, of reports, "The media's the one that's distorting; everything's going fine in Vietnam." Well, everything's not going fine in Iraq...


Read the full transcript



George Will repeating Murtha - This is not Working".


Will announced today on THIS WEEK, that Iraq is not working. He repeats what John Murtha has been saying in this small sound byte.

   Video-WMP Video-QT


Firedoglake's Reddhedd on Washington Journal

Christy Hardin Smith (aka) Reddhedd from FireDogLake, was on the Washington Journal today with Paul Mirengoff from Powerline-discussing a variety of topics including Scooter Libby and Iraq.
;Video-WMP Video-QT





Ultimately the problem has not been with the idea of spreading liberty and freedom.  That is indeed a noble goal, the problem has been with the execution of reaching that goal.  If you were to imagine that instead of invading a sovereign nation under false pretenses we had decided to trash our neighbors car with the excuse that we we're looking for drugs, and when we didn't find them proclaimed that "well, you needed to excersize more anyway... so what we did was a noble cause" - we'd be committed.


If we then proceeded to promise to fix the car, but instead installed the wrong parts, overpaid for the parts by thousands upon thousands of dollars - and after three years the car still didn't work properly.  You could pretty much expect that the car owner would want to run us down with it.


That is exactly where we are now - three years after "Shock and Awe".


The solution to this problem, which almost no-one is bringing up is really to look to the past.  In our not very distant history we successfully dealt with a similar three-way ethic/religious/sectarian civil war of extreme violence.  


That War was in Bosnia.


As bad as the Reich-win often claims Saddam was -- Milosevic was far worse.  Bringing him down and creating a peaceful democrat state in the former Yugoslavia required a genuine coalition of equal forces from Russian, Europe and the U.S.  capable of keeping the peace and a diplomatic strategy based on good faith negotiations backed with a pin-point accurate bombing campaign.  It could be done again, but not by this President and this Secretary of Defense at this time.


It's long past time we reached out (as John Kerry has often suggested) to NATO, the UN and even the neighboring Arab States who are similarly threatened by al Qaeda and the violence of the insurgents to help give our tired forces some relief and the Iraqi Military time to stand up.  


What we need is new blood, willing to take us in a new reality-based direction.


Unfortunately, it's three more years until the next election - so either we wait until Year 6 or we remove this President ( by electing a Democratic Majority to Congres) in the meantime.  The choice is ours.


I vote for the latter - time's up George.  Shape up or ship out.


Vyan