Saturday, May 20

November 06: A Re-Defining Moment

2006 is looking to be a watershed year. The year when Democrats once again reemerge on the political stage, not as the red-headed step child to be soundly batted on the ear -- but as a serious force in our national government. Or will they?

From Today's Washington Post.

Some veterans of the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress see worrisome parallels between then and now, in the way once-safe districts are turning into potential problems. Incumbents' poll numbers have softened. Margins against their Democratic opponents have narrowed. Republican voters appear disenchanted. The Bush effect now amounts to a drag of five percentage points or more in many districts.

The changes don't guarantee a Democratic takeover by any means, but they are creating an increasingly asymmetrical battlefield for the fall elections: The number of vulnerable Democratic districts has remained relatively constant while the number of potentially competitive Republican districts continues to climb.

Despite the somewhat rosey projections of the WaPo, Democrats have no reason get get cocky, according to thereisnospoon they have completely failed to take a stand.

Some Democratic leaders have been bold (Conyers, Feingold, Boxer, Jackson-Lee and occasionally Kerry), others of the squishy DLC bent are far more cautious - akwardly straddling the middle -(Clinton), while a small minoritity have been little more than Republican-Lite (Leiberman).

But unlike the Lock-step manuever Republicans have perfected since the Attack of the Rowdy Gingrichites in '94, moving the Democratic Caucus in a single direction has frequently been like herding cats. Republicans are precise and clear on what they want. Lower Taxes. A Strong Military (In spending if not in actual practice). More Abortion Restrictions (But little effort for Pre-natal, Foster care or Adoption). Lower Taxes. More Acknowledgement of Faith in the public sphere. Fewer Gay Rights (If not fewer Gays, period). English First (And Only). Fewer illegals workers (but nice low prices for fruit and textiles products). Bigger Business. (Lower wages) Bigger Jails. More Oil (Less Breathable Air). Did I mention Taxes?

Even on sites such as this or DU, finding consensus on specific policy initiatives is not always easy.

Democratic thought is not monolithic, so when the question comes "What do Democrats want..." they invariably fumble it. When John Stewart asked Howard Dean this very question he showed him a door-hanger. A DOOR-HANGER (for voluanteers to leave behind as they canvas the neighborhood) with a list of the (Secret) Democratic Agenda. Which, in case you're wondering, can be found here at http://www.democrats.org/...

It contains six bullet points.

    Honest Leadership and Open Government We will end the Republican culture of curruptions and restore a government as good as the people it serves

    Real Security We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies

    Energy Independance We Will create a cleaner stronger America by reducing our dependance on foreign oil.

    Economic Prosperity and Educational Excellence We will create jobs that will stay in America by restoring oppurtunity and driving innovation.

    A Health Care System that works for Everyone We will join 36 other industrialized nations by making sure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.

    Retirement Security We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American.

Not exactly earth shattering stuff.

If you ask the RNC, they seem to know exactly what the Dems want -- to "Impeach George Bush and raise your taxes". Here's Brit Hume of Faux Gnus on the Dems taking Control.

Michigan Congressman John Conyers, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee should the Democrats retake the house, has already held a mock hearing on impeaching President Bush.

This "blistering" attack has already forced Conyers to back-peddle in the WaPo.

As Republicans have become increasingly nervous about whether they will be able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections, they have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority. Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

I will not do that.

Instead, Conyers promises to setup a bipartisan commission to study and investigate the various failures of the Administration. Again, not exactly earth shattering.

I think we as a nation have a right to expect more. Much more.

Should George W. Bush and Dick Cheney be impeached for gross malfeasance before, during and after 9-11, the Iraq War, the CIA Leak Scandal, Extra-odinary Rendition, Secret Prisons, Indefinate Detention, Torture, Hurricane Katrina, the growing NSA espionage scandal and pissing on 750 laws?

If you ask that question to most Democrats (not on Capital hill, actual Rank and File Democrats) the answer would be a resounding "HELL YES!"

Still, I think Conyers approach to this may be dead on target. If Democrats come screaming into Congress with pay-back for the last 6 years on their mind - they are destined to fail.

I'm not saying that they might not successfully Impeach and possibly even Remove President Bush from office -- I'm saying that if they do this without first successfully making the case to all the American people, Democrat and Republican alike, that this Administration and the Republican Caucas have become a veritable Criminal Enterprise intent on amassing power while raiding our treasury, and exploiting the blood and spirit of our military in the process - the entire effort will ultimately be for naught.

THIS. ADMINISTRATION. MUST. BE. STOPPED.

But we don't need to stage a partisan witch-hunt (ala the Starr/Clinton fiasco).

They must be stopped not because of what they've already done, they must be stopped because of the danger the precedent they've set. The checks and balances of our government must be repaired and restored simply because future administrations (Yes, possibly even Democratic ones) weilding the kind of power that Bush has claimed could destroy the very fabric of our nation.

The Unitary Executive Theory must be permenently quashed as a demented Constitutional aberration that dangerously tips the balance of power completely out of whack.

We are supposed to be a nation of laws, a nation of ideals which our bounded by the articles and amendments of our Constitution. Bush has turned our laws inside out and wiped his ass with the Constitution while this Republican Congress aided and abetted him. Genuflecting at his every abuse.

Ask any Republican friend of yours, if you still have any - would they "Want President Hillary Clinton or President Al Gore to have the kind of power that Bush is nowing claiming with the NSA and 750 signing statements directly contradicing Federal Law?"

If they answer the question honestly, I think they just might surprise even themselves. It's a defining question that goes beyond party affiliation, Red or Blue State, Left-Coast or Fly Over. The answer will determine exactly what kind of nation the United States will be for the next several generations.

If Democrats take over Congress - they've have to put this question to the nation. They'll have to create a Re-defining moment where the country makes a decision about where we are going to go from here -- are we going to continue to excuse and cover-up incompetence and malfeasance by the executive simply because he is the "Commander-in-Chief" and must be honored in a time (endless) of war? Or are we going to insist on something greater, something more noble - that our leaders actually be worthy of their role and duties, and that if they fail they are held accountable in order to protect the nation and the world from the chaos created by their incompetence and mendacity?

I think we can ask, no - demend, for nothing less. Our duty as citizens requires it.

That Re-defining Moment is not yet upon us. Democrats do not need to declare yet whether they are pro or against impeachment and removal - only that they support "Accountability" and restoring our Constitutional checks and balances.

But it's coming - and soon.

Vyan

Thursday, May 18

Hayden and the Closed Session Tango

During his hearings yesterday there were several times that DCI nominee Michael Hayden chose not to answer the question posed - and instead deferred to respond in Closed Session. Certainly we have to respect that certain things simply can't be discussed in public, but it is fascinating to note exactly which things isn't it? I mean if a Senate asked a question where the answer was clearly "No" - then basically the answer is "No", right? But if not - if the answer is possibly "Yes" or involves some more detailed explaination, then you get - Closed Session.

I admit this is a somewhat imperfection rule of thumb, but for the purposes of snark - I'm sticking with it.

So how many times and to which questions did Micheal Hayden respond this way during the public section of his hearing??

LEVIN: Is that the whole program?

HAYDEN: Senator, I'm not at liberty to talk about that in open session

LEVIN: I'm not asking you what the program is, I'm just simply saying, is what the president described publicly the whole program.

HAYDEN: Senator, all I'm at liberty to say in this session is what I was talking about, and I literally, explicitly said this at the press club, I am talking about the program the president discussed in mid-December.

LEVIN: And you're not able to tell us whether what the president described is the whole program?

HAYDEN: No, sir, not in open session. I am delighted to go into great detail in closed session.
Why can't he tell us whether the President is a bald-faced liar? Probably the fact that al Qaeda aren't the only targets - and the President is a bald-faced liar, but that just my opinion.
Translation: "There's much more to the Terrorist Surveillance Program than what the President has described so far."
Feinstein: Do you believe the Fourth Amendment contains a probable cause standard?

HAYDEN: It clearly contains a probable clause standard for warrants to conduct searches. There's the broader phraseology. And I've actually talked to some of my relatives who are in law school at the moment about the construction of the amendment, which talks in a broad sense about reasonableness, and then, after the comma, talks about the probable cause standards for warrants.

The approach we've taken at NSA is certainly not discounting at all, ma'am, the probable cause standard and need for probable cause for a warrant. But the standard that is most applicable to the operations of NSA is the standard of reasonableness -- you know, is this reasonable?

And I can elaborate a little bit more in closed session, but for example -- for example, if we have a technology that protects American privacy up to point X in the conduct of our normal foreign intelligence mission, it is reasonable, and therefore we are compelled, to use that technology.

Well, seeing as they aren't using those warrant things so much anymore -- why have probable cause when reasonableness will do? Exactly how the Fourth Amendment became a national security issue - I'm not entirely certain. Translation: "No."

FEINSTEIN: Has the administration sought -- or NSA sought Title 1 warrants from the FISA Court for the collection of telephone content? And has it sought pen register trap-and-trace device approval from the court for the collection of telephone records or transmittal information? HAYDEN: Ma'am, let me give you that answer in closed session. Just a slight discomfort. But I'll be happy to give it to you as soon as we get to closed session.
Translation: "Nope! We don need no stinkin' warrants!"

FEINSTEIN: Did individuals in the White House push for a broader and further-reaching surveillance program, including purely domestic calls without warrant... HAYDEN: No, ma'am...

FEINSTEIN: ... as was reported in last Sunday's New York Times?

HAYDEN: Yes, I understand. And I will give you just a touch more granularity in the closed session. But in open session, these were all discussions. Our views were -- NSA views -- were highly regarded, and there was never an argument over that issue.
Translation: "The issue was discussed with the administration - but NSA felt differently. The NSA lost. So did the American people."

FEINSTEIN: Is there a periodic review of what useful and actionable intelligence can be gathered through interrogations and debriefings of terrorists that have been held with no contact with Al Qaida or other groups for years? HAYDEN: Again, a more detailed in response in closed session. Let me just hold it for closed, ma'am. And I think..
The reality is some of these people will simply never be either released or tried - if they've been tortured their testimony is useless and prosecution impossible, and if they're high value targets they're far too dangerous to be released - particularly after they've been tortured. Translation: "Probably, but what does it matter?"

FEINSTEIN: On March 17th, 2005, Director Porter Goss stated to the Senate Armed Service Committee that waterboarding fell into, quote, "an area of what I will call professional interrogation techniques," end quote.

Do you agree with that assessment? Do you agree with Mr. Goss's statement that waterboarding may be acceptable?

If not, what steps have been taken or do you plan to take to correct the impression that may have been left with agency employees by Mr. Goss' remarks?

HAYDEN: Yes, ma'am. Again, let me defer that to closed session, and I would be happy to discuss it in some detail.


Feinstein just asked him a public relations question "how do you plan to correct the impression"- and he deffered to closed session? Translation: "Whether I correct the "impression" or not - it's Thumbs Up for Waterboarding!"

FEINSTEIN: Has the agency received new guidance from the Department of Justice concerning acceptable interrogation techniques since the passage of the Detainee Treatment Act? HAYDEN: Let me answer that in closed session, ma'am. But, again, I will be delighted to answer it for you.
This question was essentially asking have you updated your guidelines to eliminate torture since Congress Passed A Law requiring that you updated your guidelines to eliminate torture. Translation: "Not Bloody likely."

FEINSTEIN: The New York Times reported on November 9th, 2005, that in 2004, the CIA inspector general concluded that certain interrogation practices approved after the September 11th attacks did constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment as prohibited by the Convention Against Torture.

Do you agree with the I.G.'s conclusion? And what corrective measures, in any, have been instituted in response to the I.G.'s findings?

HAYDEN: Ma'am, again: More detailing in closed session. I would have to learn more about the I.G.'s findings.
He doesn't know what the CIA inspector general concluded based on a publically known law, but it's still a security issue just to comment on it? Translation: "Fuck the Convention Against Torture. It's just some quaint International Law, my good friend Abu told me so..."

FEINSTEIN: Ambassador Negroponte and other intelligence officials have estimated that Iran is some years away from a nuclear weapons capability. How confident are you of these estimates? HAYDEN: Again, I would be happy to give additional detail in closed session. But I do want to say more about this with an open. Iran is a difficult problem. We call it a hard target. But I think it unfair to compare what it is we believe we know about Iran with what it is we prove to know or not know about Iraq.
Translation: "Iran is gonna Get Nuked, whether they have their own nukes in the next ten years or not."

HATCH: Now, if we had this program, let's say a year before 9/11, what effect would it have been on 9/11, do you believe? HAYDEN: I've said publicly -- and I can demonstrate in closed session, how the physics and the math would work, Senator -- that had this been in place prior to the attacks, the two hijackers who were in San Diego, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, almost certainly would have been identified as who they were, what they were and, most importantly, where they were.
What do you mean "would have been identified?" They were living with an FBI Informant. We knew who they were - you just didn't do anything about it. Translation: "I'm an Ass."

WARNER: What is it, when you hit that deck, are you going to do that was not being done, in your judgment, either according to law or otherwise?

(After some hemming and hawing)

HAYDEN: Frankly, I just want to look forward. I'll assess the situation and move on.
WARNER: And we want to rest assured, when we do fill that vacancy, whatever omissions -- omissions or otherwise -- were taking place to justify this, are corrected. And you'll assure us that that will be done.

HAYDEN: Yes, sir.

WARNER: Perhaps in closed session, you can...

HAYDEN: OK.

Translation: "Non-sequitor. Anybody got a Diet Tab?"

WARNER: What can you tell us, in open, will be some of your initial step to strengthen that collection of intelligence as it relates to Iran?

HAYDEN: Yes, sir, and you chose the right word. It's strengthening, rather than some sharp departure. The ambassador has appointed a mission manager for Iran, Leslie Ireland. Leslie has that task as her full-time job.

And what she's doing is not just inventorying what we're doing as a community but actually redirecting our emphasis as a community.

And in closed session, I'll give you a few more details
Translation: "Not bloody much."

WARNER: Now, if I understand it, earlier in this testimony you said that you fully intend -- that is the agency -- to comply with the basic standard of not involving in any cruel or inhuman or degrading -- fine -- treatment. I understand that. But there's a whole manual out here guiding the men and women in uniform. Should there not be a companion manual guiding the civilians who will be performing much of this task?

HAYDEN: Senator, speaking in generalities now and perhaps more detail in a closed session, absolutely.

Translation: "Ah...yeah, but that doesn't mean that they can't perform cruel or degrading treatment on them by simply redefined it into something that isn't physically possible without killing the subject!"

HAGEL: But we're going to need some guidance from you. Here's an opportunity, General Hayden, to lay some of that out, if you care to give us some of your thoughts on how do we rewrite a law that does what you need to do and protects the interest of our country as well.

HAYDEN: Yes, sir. Let me not get into specifics. If we need to, we can share some ideas in closed session.

Translation: "Let's not give the evil-doers our playbook on national television, even if we're just debating the possibilities - not actually re-writing it."

FEINGOLD: But that's not my question. And that wasn't Senator Bond's question. It's whether it's ever happened that any Americans have been targeted who weren't associated with Al Qaida. As a matter of fact, has it happened, despite the cautions...

HAYDEN: Sir, I'll give you a detail in closed session, all right?

Clearly, I think logic would dictate that if you're using a probable cause standard as opposed to absolute certitude, sometimes you may not be right.

Oh SHIT! Translation: "Oh SHIT!"

BAYH: Let me ask you this question then, General. Isn't that also the same standard that would apply under FISA? HAYDEN: Yes, sir.

BAYH: So why not use FISA then?

HAYDEN: I can get into...

BAYH: Don't you have to meet the same burden of proof no matter what?

HAYDEN: Yes, sir. I can get into more detail in closed session and point out some additional difficulties.
Because FISA requires the probable cause standard and the International Surveillance program is using the "reasonableness" standard which means sometimes you "get it wrong" and you wouldn't want fix that problem wouldn't you? Translation: "Because, I'm a total ass."

[Update: Feel free to offer your own translations, mine are by no means ment to be conclusive.]

Vyan

Hayden admits Bush political leaders trumped up WMD Intel

The main focus on today's confirmation hearings for Gen. Michael Hayden as Director of Central Intelligence have ostensibly been on the various and sundry NSA Scandals which have recently emerged, but Thinkprogress points out one section of his testimony which apparently cuts the Bush Admin to the quick on pre-Iraq War WMD claims.

Ever since AG Gonzales hinted during his Senate testimony that Bush may indeed have spied on domestic calls, the NSA have been an explosion waiting to go off. But Hayden's testimony today shows that the fuse has been quite a bit longer than previously foreseen.

Transcript:

Sen. LEVIN: Secretary of Defense for Policy, Mr. Feith, established an intelligence analysis, so within his policy office at the Defense Department. While the intelligence community was consistently dubious about links between Iraq and al Qaeda, Mr. Feith produced an alternative analysis asserting that there was a strong connection. Were you comfortable with Mr. Feith's office approach to intelligence analysis?

HAYDEN: No, sir, I wasn't. I wasn't aware of a lot of the activity going on, you know, when it was contemporaneous with running up to the war. No, sir, I wasn't comfortable.

Further commentary by Thinkprogress

What Hayden makes clear is that, despite Bush's assertion that the pre-war intelligence process "broke down," the false intelligence about Iraq's connection to al Qaeda was intentionally fabricated by political leaders, not intelligence analysts. Feith, Wolfowitz, and others in the Pentagon set up a stovepipe "to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership" to make the case for war. Hayden and other intelligence experts got steamrolled when it mattered most.

As has been repeatedly noted it was not a case where intelligence analyst had to be "intimidated" into changing their view -- people like Feith were running their own independent intelligence operation through the Defense Intelligence Agency and portions of the State Department. These people were intent to find the evidence they wanted and use each an every scrap they located - no matter how dubious it might have been - to promote the story that Iraq was an imminent threat.

This yet again shows why Sen. Pat Roberts has been delaying the Phase II portion of the WMD/intelligence investigation for over two years. It's why both the Robb-Silberman Commission and previous Senate investigations were prohibited from asking this very question -- the Administration already knows the answer.

Whether the various and sundries Special Access NSA programs currently underway are legal or not remain a hot topic. AT&T's attorney argues that they received a Special Letter from the Attorney General which legally authorized their cooperation in lieu of a Warrant. This is quite interesting since it appears the NSA refused to do exactly the same thing for QWEST when they asked for it.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. Attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events

This diary here points out how the NSA actually already had a more effective and much more responsible Clinton era program in place prior to 9/11, but that program was shutdown by -- General Michael Hayden.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON // The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project -- not because it failed to work -- but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden White House expansion of the agency's surveillance powers, according to several intelligence officials.

The program the NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations. Sources say it bundled together four cutting-edge surveillance tools. ThinThread would have:

    * Used more sophisticated methods of sorting through massive phone and e-mail data to identify suspect communications.

    * Identified U.S. Phone numbers and other communications data and encrypted them to ensure caller privacy.

    * Employed an automated auditing system to monitor how analysts handled the information, in order to prevent misuse and improve efficiency.

    * Analyzed the data to identify relationships between callers and chronicle their contacts. Only when evidence of a potential threat had been developed would analysts be able to request decryption of the records.


An agency spokesman declined to discuss NSA operations.

Feel free to send any wingnut acquaintances you have this Baltimore Sun story whenever they claim - "We can't abide by the strict letter of the law and fight al Qaeda at the same time" or "Clinton did nothing to fight terrorism".

It may be very well that Hayden was "uncomfortable" with this decision just as he was with the actions of Feith et al in the pre-Iraq War run-up - but being a good little soldier, he did what he was ordered to do by his superiors (i.e. Cheney and Bush) He may be fairly candid now during his confirmation hearings, but he's also made it quite clear that he will do whatever it is that the Commander-in-Chief requires of him.

A pure "Yes, man" through and through - just like (General) Colin Powell who permanently shredded his own credibility for all time with his command performance before the UN in 2002.

Let us recall just another reason why Qwest was reluctant to participate in this program:

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information -- known as "product" in intelligence circles, -- with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

This naturally explains the thousands of bogus leads that the FBI was complaining about in January.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

FBI officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency, which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic, that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. Some FBI officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

So we have the scenario that prior to the Iraq War the Bush Administration threw out good intelligence (such as Joe Wilson's) in favor of bad intelligence, a fact that has also been confirmed by 27 Year CIA vet Ray McGovern, former Colin Powell Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, State Dept Intelligence Analyst Greg Theilman, former Pentagon Special Plans Aid Lt. Col Karen Kwaitkowski, former European CIA chief Tyler Drumheller and former CIA intelligence Officer Paul Pillar.

This is a clear and obvious pattern of behavior on their part and there no reasonable indication that it's going to end anytime soon. These issues (poor WMD intel and the avoidance of FISA) are linked by the same dangerous extralegal pathology.

In his response to the Hayden hearings so far, Christy at Firedoglake points to comments by Bruce Fein which seem to bear repeating.

The Bush Administration is doing everything it can to prevent any of the illegally collected data and information from being used in any courtroom context, because they do not want to have to face the consequences of a constitutional challenge to their failure to obtain a lawful warrant. Think about that for a moment -- Bruce Fein is no liberal, he is a very conservative Reagan Republican, having worked in the DoJ as Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration.

And he is saying, out loud, that the Bush White House is avoiding constitutional scrutiny because they know -- they KNOW -- they will be shown to be what they are. Lawbreakers.

They realize that everything they've done to skirt the law and bypass judicial scrutiny would present them with a massive fruits of the poison tree catastrophe in a court of law. If the NSA is sharing it's data with the FBI - and we know damn well they are - they can not present that evidence in court, or even acknowledge that they used illegally gathered evidence to target a specific individual without that case being tossed out of the court on it's ear.

This road only leads one direction.

They simply aren't going to take these cases to court, except for "show trials" like Moussuaoui. They're going to use the FBI to do surveillance - then if they decide on a whim that the situation is serious enough, perform a rendition followed by indefinite detention of that subject - even if they happen to be an American Citizen - to the secret military gulag of their worst nightmare for a little bit of the ole' waterboarding. Without judicial review. Without trial. Without appeal. Without oversight. Without hope.

This is not a hypothetical, there are strong indications that it's already been happening -- and if it did, the last thing that would happen would be a paper trail.

The likelihood of them doing this to the "right" person is about as strong as the possibility that we're going to finally find those mobile labs "North, South, East and West somewhat of Tikrit and Baghdad" almost three years after the fact.

They invaded the Wrong Fucking Country for Christ sake... you think they're really going to care if they capture the wrong terrorist suspects?

The sad part is that this is pretty much common knowledge at this point -- and the resulting outrage (outside of highly Democratic circles) is practically nonexistent. This is how the Wingnut Brigade fights terrorism - no holds barred and wiping their ass with the Constitution as they storm through, Jackboots akimbo.

What and who are they going to mistake for an imminent threat next?

And how many more innocent people will suffer for it while the real terrorist laugh at our continued ineptitude?

[Update: Even short of my admittedly worst case scenario of unchecked renditions of American Citizens above, there is also the very real danger of thousands of FBI Files that have been generated from this practice. Remember when the Clinton White House inadvertently gained access to a several hundred FBI files due to a Secret Service Screwup? (They had used an out of date White House Access List) Magnify that situation by the order of thousands! Filegate: dogged the Clinton's for years with allegations that they planned to use these files against their political rivals - well guess whose got the files now, and just who are their rivals? That's right kiddies - Quakers, Peace-Mongers, Greenpeace, War Protestors, Journalist, Congress, and y'know - US!)

Vyan

Tuesday, May 16

Right-Wing tossing Bush under the Bus on Immigration

Although the general response from the left on Bush's Immigration Speech last night has been tepid at best, apparently it has sparked a firestorm on the right.

As noted today by Glenn Greenwald


John "The Rocket" Hinderaker: "He had his chance and he blew it . . . President Bush is being destroyed by vicious people who hate him. So far, he hasn't seemed to notice. Apparently, he doesn't think he needs any allies. He certainly didn't win any with tonight's speech . . . . President Bush doesn't have many chances left to salvage his second term. After tonight, he might not have any."

Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff: "President Bush did wimp out, and fatally so I think, on his fourth point, i.e., what to do about illegals who are already here. . . . This means that Bush's proposal taken as a whole is probably self-defeating."

But wait, it gets worse -- there was even some talk on the right, just prior to the speech, about having the President Impeached for his lack of action on Immigration!?!

Other examples...

Ankle Biting Pundits: "Whether he likes it or not, the president did not carve out a 'centrist' position at all. He articulated one of the two conflicting positions in this debate. And by pretending to be a 'middle grounder' I believe he cheapened his argument."

Misha at Anti-Idotarian Rottweiler: "long on blather and emotion and amazingly short on actual solutions. . . . Take your 'virtual' fence and your hi-tech vaporware coupled with your amnesty plan and shove them up your ass, Jorge."

Wow, strong stuff that, eh?

First let's knock down the easy tenpins by pointing out that the likelyhood of the National Guard being able to close the Mexico-U.S. border is about as likely as their being able to close the Iraq/Syrian border or the Afghanistan/Pakistan Border. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

As Howard Dean pointed out on the Daily Show, "Guest Workers are Indentured Servants", period. That is besides the fact that we already have Foreign Worker Visa program in effect. The reason many companies higher illegals, and don't care if their documentation is forged is because they don't want to pay worker compensation, unemployment insurance, Healthcare or have anyone complain about the dumping of toxic waste products into the storm drains after-work. (Keep your mouth shut or I call "Le Migra") The likelyhood of Bush devising a program that allows these companies to ignore OSHA and IRS is pretty damn slim.

Bi-metric Id Card? Doesn't that sound a lot like Real ID (PDF)?

But none of that is what honks off the right. No, they want a freaking wall and they want all of these damn furrenurs out - and they want it now.

LeShawn Barber made the case.

I believe George Bush's failure to enforce immigration law and stop the foreign invasion, which he has the power and authority to do, warrants impeachment. Because of Bush, illegal invaders are emboldened, demanding that which they have no legal right to obtain.

While the invasion has caused incalculable physical and economic harm to legal citizens, the president proposes to offer amnesty and allow the harm to continue. To the detriment of those he swore to protect, Bush chooses instead to protect those he has no duty to protect. His actions are in violation of the Constitution.

Besides not understanding that there is no requirement in the Constitution that "only U.S. Citizens" are protected by it -- Barber also fails to realize that the strict language of the 14th Amendment requires the state to provide "all persons within the jurisidiction of the state... the equal protection of the laws". It doesn't stipulate how they came within U.S. juridicition largely because the Amendment was intended to provide equal rights and protections to former slaves. If we could give lowly slaves equal protection, we can certainly give it to voluantary migrant workers.

Such misunderstanding is not the surprising coming from the right. I wonder if this thing has made them so angry, they might even start comparing Bush to (gasp)... Clinton.

Yep, they did.

I can pretty much sum up what El Presidente is going to say in his Monday address. He's said it all before:

I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship.

Notice that Clintonian weasel word, "automatic." Notice his unique definition of "amnesty." "Undocumented workers" (or "illegal aliens" as they should properly be called) will not get "automatic" citizenship; therefore they're not getting amnesty.

And of course, let's not let Michelle (Bat-shit-crazy) Malkin get away without having center stage.

Here we go again.

President Bush is continuing the homeland security dog-and-pony charade in his quest to deliver a massive "guest worker" plan to the open-borders lobby. A few weeks ago, Bush's Department of Homeland Security put on a bogus performance of Get Tough Theater with a series of politically timed immigration raids...which, as I predicted, simply resulted in more catch and release of illegal aliens nationwide.

This new last-minute stunt to sprinkle National Guard troops on the border--temporarily of course, to appease Mexican President Vicente Fox--is more transparent than the Scotch tape used to hold together our dilapidated border fences. (That's only a slight exaggeration).

For all the new tough talk, these additional troops will be barred from actually doing what needs to be done: guarding the border. President Bush is already bowing and scraping to Mexico over the plan before he's even officially announced it.

Hey, somebody needs to fax these guys the memo that states - "Criticizing our Beloved Commander-In-Chief during a Time of War on Never-Ending-Terror undercuts our TROOPS and provides Aid and Comfort to the enemy". If our borders our indeed one of criticals lines of defense in the War on Terror™, people who dare to say such things should be arrested for treason.

Let me just let Pat Robertson sum it up...

one of the fundamental principles we have in America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason. I know we have an opportunity to express our points of view, but there is a time when we're engaged in a combat situation that carping criticism against the commander in chief just doesn't cut it

Take that, Malkin.

And I wonder, just how much of a crazy moonbat leftist and Democratic Embarassment all this Impeachment talk makes of - Rep. John Conyers! Et Tu Right-te?

Vyan

Monday, May 15

The Plague of Conservatism must be Eradicated

As I've stated before, Conservatism is a complete and total failure, but we have to realize that it's more than just bumbling and incompetent... it's dangerous.

Today's revelations that the Federal Government has been spying on Journalists (noted here and here) in a effort to capture leakers and whistle-blowers (most of whom are in fact revealing various illegal and frankly immoral activities of the Bush Administration) should not come as a surprise to most who've been paying attention as scandal after scandal comes tumbling down both ends of Pennsylvania Ave.

But is this enough to truly make people realize the depth of Conservative Malfeasance, or do we still need something even worse to happen before we finally wake up as a nation and reject this poisonous pathological affliction?

We have a goverment that started a War on false pretenses and to this very day continues to lie about it. The President still says that "Saddam refused to disclose and disarm" when he'd already done exactly that, meanwhile we have pathetically desperate Freepers claiming that their really were "Mobile Laboratories". Yeah, really.

WE. LET. AN. AMERICAN. CITY. DROWN.

And yet in mixed company you will still meet people who make excuses for this President's failure to act, and instead attempt to blame Louisiana for being hit by a Hurricane.

It's become high-time we realized that George W. Bush is not the problem - he's just a symptom of the disease. He's not the Decider, he's The Enabler. He's the guy that let Alberto Gonzales justify, and Don Rumsfeld get away with War Crimes. He's the guy that allowed Porter Goss to conduct a witchhunt through the halls of the CIA. He's the guy that let's Dick Cheney and his staff out a Covert CIA operative just to cover up their lies about Iraq's Nuclear ambitions. He's the guy that let Michael Chertoff eviscerate FEMA, not to mention the slow atrophy that's choked off the effectiveness of the FDA, EPA, SEC and every other Federal regulatory agency. He's the guy that allows his minions to try and pervert the very meaning of science in our classrooms, while teaching our children that "condoms are bad", but anal and oral sex are "ok" since it won't lead to an abortion (Never mind STD's, those are for dirty people only).

He's the Enabler who permits these conservative crazies to implement their strategy to remake America into their warped Ozzy and Harriet/Father Knows Best fantasies by unilaterially rejecting 750 Congressional passed Bills even as he signs them into Law. Piece by peice, recreating a world that never really existed. A world where domestic violence was not just common, it was expected if a Woman didn't know her "proper place". Where segregation backed by violent retribution and lynchings were the rule, not the exception. Where daring to be Gay was practically a death sentence. Where an unclean woman who died as the result of an abortion, was getting what she deserved for being a slut. A world where White People need to start having more babies, so they won't be outnumbered by the teaming brown masses assaulting our borders.

During the last six years a tide of opinion has slowly grown that George Bush needs to go. He's polling numbers have sunk to a sub-artic 29%. Senator Russ Feingold has callef ro this Censure. Congressman John Conyers has proposed investigations which may lead to impeachment proceedings. But that doesn't go nearly far enough.

Even without George Bush there still literally millions of staunch Conservatives who are more than willing to throw him under the Bus by proclaiming that his many failures where the result of his squishy "Liberalism" then continue their efforts to implement the True Conservatism of their radical and dangerously militarist, neo-facist, theocratic agenda.

Those sentiments should be truly chilling to anyone who genuinely beleives in the Bill of Rights.

It's not just about George Bush. We also have Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, "Duke" Cunningham, "Scooter" Libby, "Dusty" Foggo, James Gannon/Guckert and the conservative networking that has nurtured these people through the system for years.

No matter how satisyfing it may be to see each of these dominoes fall, no matter how much fun it might be to finally see Karl Rove frog marched out of the Whitehouse following his impendnig indictment, focusing on these people misses the point. What we have to battle is the Red-State of Mind.

Conservatism itself, as a viable ideology has to been stamped out. Pulled out by the roots, as both Marxism and Nazism were, totally discredited and destroyed. It's not something we can force, it has to happen on it's own. Just like the eventual destruction of Germany at the end of World War II, or the collapse of the Soviet Russian - it will only happen after a great catastrophe that can be likely directly to the policies and practices of that ideology.

Was that catastrophe 9/11? Was it Katrina? Will it be the impending collapse of the American dollar as our budget and trade deficits continues to explode out of control, or some unforeseen tragedy?

Some former Neo-cons such as Francis Fukuyama have already seen enough and turned a new leaf, but will most of Bush's current throng of followers catch a hint based on what has already occured?

I don't know.

As troubling as these many scandals from Fornigate to Traitorgate have been, they aren't enough to turn the tide. They aren't enough to make people let go of their pathological dependancy on party and ideological affiliation. It's not enough to break the fever, and end the plague. Not yet.

We can't argue and debate our way out of this. Logic, Common Sense, Facts, History, Evidence -- all of these have proven fruitless in arguing with the Conservative Faithful when it comes to the many errors of their ways. They are like addicts, who are unwilling to admit their problem and always quick to rationalize their continued actions.

Like an addict, they - and consequently we as a nation since they continue to control all branches of government - are going to need to completely bottom out before we begin to see the light.

"The first step to recover is reality that you (we) have a problem"

I pray that we reach that bottom soon, but also that we survive it as a nation mostly unscathed -- but I fear that hope may be in vain.

If Iraq isn't enough to turn us around - if Katrina isn't enough - that last final direction changing hit is going to hurt, badly.

God Save America, for it is most certainly in need of it.

[Update from Dkos Comments: I am not suggesting a great "Purge" ala McCarthyism - no, I'm talking about attacking the "isms" which plague us, not the "ists". It's the ideology itself that is the problem and will - must - be completely discredited in order to save this nation from itself]

Vyan