Friday, May 26

The CIA's War on Bush

The other day Faux Gnus Commentator Mort Kondracke wrote that Bush Hatred has become a Threat to National Security, arguing that...

ENOUGH already! It's harmful enough that ideological conflict and partisan politics are preventing this country from solving its long-term challenges on health care, fiscal policy and energy. Now it's threatening our national survival.

I do not exaggerate. Bush-hatred has reached such intensity that CIA officers and other bureaucrats are leaking major secrets about anti-terrorism policy and communications intelligence that undermine our ability to fight Islamic extremism.

What Kondracke fails to realize is that it was the Bush Administration that turned on the CIA First, not the other way around. Not only are we at War with insurgents in Iraq -the Bush Administration is at War with insurgents with in the CIA and other agencies.

And in both cases, the insurgents are winning.

Now just why would people at CIA be pissed beyond words at the Bush Administration? What ever could be under their craw? Could it be the fact that high ranking members of the Bush administration outed one of their NOC's (by the name of Valerie Plame-Wilson), and put every agent and asset linked to their WMD tracking operation Brewster-Jennings in grave mortal danger?

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.

Needless to say, rank and file members of the CIA felt this was a Serious Betrayal.

HEMMER: Larry, tell me, what's the damage, though. Be specific, as best you can right now. Have lives been lost? Have people been sacrificed?

JOHNSON: I don't know if lives have been lost yet, but we have to start with the damage to Mrs. Wilson. Her life has been put at risk. The people that she was working with overseas who were spies, they are potentially at risk. You could potentially have people dead because of this. But the odds of finding that out as far as the CIA coming forth and detailing it, we are not likely to hear that because they have to protect the sources and methods.

And then of course you had the attempt by the Administration scapegoat the CIA for the lack of WMD's in Iraq - there has even been an individual CIA agent who has sued the government for covering up the truth about Iraq's lack of WMDs.

WASHINGTON, July 31 - The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

Similar claims have since been brought forward by 27-year CIA vet Ray McGovern as he directly challenged Sec Def Rumsfeld.

QUESTION: You said you knew where they were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and -
QUESTION: You said you knew whe
re they were Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.
RUMSFELD: My words -- my words were that -- no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.

Also these same points have been made by former CIA European Chief Tyler Drumheller.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it's an intelligence failure. It's an intelligence failure. This was a policy failure," Drumheller tells Bradley.

Josh Marshall on Drumheller.

Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence. So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs? Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels. Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war?

And then there's CIA Officer Paul Pillar.

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

Kondracke is at least partially correct - current and former members of the CIA are in the midst of a veritable Jihad against the Bush Administrations and it's campaign of lies. And can you blame them?

Kondracke Continued...

Would newspapers in the midst of World War II have printed the fact that the United States had broken German and Japanese codes, enabling the enemy to secure its communications? Or revealed how and where Nazi spies were being interrogated? Nowadays, newspapers win Pulitzer Prizes for such disclosures. In Congress and in much of the media, the immediate reaction to news that the National Security Agency was intercepting international terrorist communications was not to say, "Good work - and how can we help?" Rather, it was to scream about a "domestic spying" scandal, as though Richard Nixon were back in the White House and tapping the telephone of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

John Dean's "Worse then Wategate" not withstanding, we don't need Tricky Dicky back from the grave since we now have Gen. Michael Hayden as our brand new just confirmed CIA director for that.

Before him we had Porter Goss, who during his short year and a half stint conducted a veritable witch-hunt for potential leakers (and anyone who disagreed with Bush Admin policy) and came up only with a retiring Inspector General Mary McCarthy who had no direct access to the information for which she was accused of leaking and fired. (I smell yet another wrongful termination suit in the offing...)

But no sooner than we have Goss plug up one potential leak (which apparent isn't a leak at all) just as he's rapidly ushered out the door - a hasty exit caused in all likelyhood due to his connections to "Dusty" Foggo and Fornigate - do we have further leaks springing from the NSA itself in the form of Russell Tice (who was scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committe Last Week and claims what we've heard so far is just the "Tip of the Iceberg") and from AT&T in the form of Mark Klein (whose information indicates that the NSA isn't just tracking phone calls, it's tracking Email and Website access too!)

Not to mention the revelation that President Bush Personally Ordered classified information to be leaked, simply to make political points and perpetuate a lie, which like the claims of links between Saddam and Al Qaeda had been disproven long before the War, but continued to appear in the President's statements and speeches.

If I had a score-card handy I would say that so far it's CIA/Leakers/Whistle-blowers Ten - Bush Admin Zero.

And the leaks are still coming - like a broken water main - while the Bush admin has so far caught no one. With Alberto Gonzales now threatening to prosecute Journalists for revealing classified information, the truth is that if they seriously go down that road they would have to start with ROBERT F-ing NOVAK, who was warned away from publishing the Plame Story by the CIA itself, and did it anyway.

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

In a column published Oct. 1, 2003, Novak wrote that the CIA official he spoke to "asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties' if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

Personal Note to Bob: If he'd told you that "her life would be in danger" he would have been admitting that she was a covert operative -- and that fact was classified! He told you "DON'T PRINT IT" - he shouldn't have had to draw you a freaking map, dumb ass! Couldn't Take a Hint, coudja?

The fact is if Gonzales is going to frog-march James Risen or Dana Priest - they he'd better be sharing a cell with Novak or Bushco will be shredded for making any such prosecutions partisan in the extreme! And if Novak goes down, how's 'ole Turd Blossom gonna hold up? How 'bout the Veep and his little notes in the margins on Plame?

They do this and they'll burn their own house down in the process.

The thing we have to remember is that if CIA and NSA agents and officers are the ones providing this information to the press and congress in order to put the breaks on the lawlessness of the Bush Administration - it's very unlikely that they're ever going to catch any of these people since it's their JOB to keep secrets and be able to share information without it being detected - even by each other.

Right now - my bets are all on the CIA guys (and gals) in this battle.

It's also heartening to note that many of these whistle-blowers, like Tice, are Republicans. They understand that this issue isn't one of partisanship - it's one of law and order.

If we do eventually succeed at winning the War on Terruh using the methods supported by Kondracke - if we succeed in shredding our own Constitution into confetti - doesn't it make our attempts to spread Democracy ultimately futile? If our Democracy can be so thoroughly currupted and flawed by the pressures of terrorism - how can the fledgling Pseudo-Democracy of Iraq or Afghanistan stand a chance?

The only thing that can protect and preserve the integrity of our Democracy, and even the Iraqi and Aghan Democracies - is for brave people to stand up and speak Truth To Power, regardless of the personal risks and consequences.

Such courage is what a Democracy is supposed to protect and nurture, not hunt down and destroy.

And we, here an d elsewhere, can let their efforts be ignored or allow them to be smeared by the likes of Kondracke and his Jackboot-licking ilk.

Vyan

Thursday, May 25

Tom Delay (hearts) Stephen Colbert. No, really!

As pointed out by Thinkprogress, the Tom Delay defense fund has sent out a mass mailing criticizing the new Robert Greenwald film "The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress". Greenwald appeared on Stephen Colbert for a mock grilling, and the Delay camp - not recognizing satire even when it's dripping on their shoes - have posted the video of the entire interview on the Official Defend Delay website claiming that Colbert "nailed" Greenwald during the interview.

How fucking dense can you get?

First, Texas lost the Dixie Chicks - now this? What's next?

From the Mass Mailing (emphasis mine, for comedic effect)...

Hollywood Liberal and Micheal Moore wannabe Robert Greenwald (known his attacks on Wal-mart and Fox News) crashed and burned on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report (watch it at http://www.defenddelay.com) when promoting his new attack on Tom Delay. He even admits their reason for producing the movie (and clearly Ronnie Earle's for participating) - to keep Republicans from gaining power in Congressional seats across the country. Tom Delay was successful in bringing legal and constitutional redistricting to Texas, and since Democrats couldn't win at the legislature or at the ballot box they used the only resources they had left - liberal Hollywood and a nutty, partisan DA knowledge of the facts and the law. The producers of this political mockumentary claim they are trying to put together a fair and balanced peice, yet what they put out is a peice of leftist propoganda with the cooperation of District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

When Stephen Colbert first question to Greenwald is "Who hates America more - you or Michael Moore?", the Delay camp actually think it's a serious question. Greenwald makes no pretense that his films aren't partisan. His documentary on Fox News (Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism) was partially funded by MoveOn.org. Far from being a "Hollywood Insider" Greenwald as about as much of an independant film-maker as you're ever likely to find. The Website Site for his film Wal-Mart: The High Price of Low Cost states the following:

While would-be Hollywood blockbusters book thousands of theaters months ahead of time jockeying for the best opening weekend, we're looking to book thousands of churches, family businesses, schools, living rooms, community centers, and parking lots. And we need your help to do it.

The only cost to you is $12.95 to purchase a DVD or VHS, and whatever you choose to spend on the screening/party yourself.

That's not exactly how MGM does it I think.

No Red Carpet. No appearance by Brangelina or the latest starlett of this quarter hour. And No appearance by D-lister Kathy Griffin making fun of them while Joan Rivers bitches them out for their tacky wardrobe. Nope. Nada. Zip.

Nearly all of Greenwald's films have been Direct to DVD releases, not screening at the Cinerama Dome opposite Cruisazy's MI:III!! And they've nearly all been partisan, particularly his film "Trilogy" Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, Unconstitutional: The War on our Civil Liberties and Uncovered: The War In Iraq

The reaction from the right to Greenwald's film is quite like the reaction to the Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth" . When asked if he would be watching it President Bush responded with "...Doubt it".

Right, the President shouldn't be informed or anything.

But let's not forget that Right-wing has plenty of stars to make intriuging movies. I mean, c'mon they've got Jessica Simpson. Yeah...uh ok. And they can expect plenty of nuanced political analysis from the next movies by Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Ah-nald. (just as soon as his ass gets kicked out of office) Y'know - political views like "Me Punch - you Fall Down!".

Nice, wholesome, balanced films.

In it's constant state of paranoia, the right sees every film or even every statement that doesn't support their worldview as an attack.

In his diary yesterday on the Anatomy of an Annoying Conservative codemorse hit the nail on the head when he pointed out:

Reason #2: Conservatives are always the embattled, underdog minority.

The conservatives are underrepresented in film! They don't control Hollywood the way that they control Washington! Something must be done!

There were at least four "liberal" films released last year and we were forced at gunpoint to see and discuss them! They must be destroyed!

Does that sound ridiculous to anyone else?

So embattled are they, that now they believe Stephen Colbert and his Comedy Show on Comedy Central is a legitmate ally?

If this is what the former "Hammer" has sunk to, latching on to imaginary supporters, I think things just might start to look up in DC-ville.

For more information about Robert Greenwald and his films and tv work (which includes the ACLU Freedom Files), visit http://www.robertgreenwald.org

Vyan

Tuesday, May 23

GAO Says: Snooping not just for Phone Records Anymore

Well, in the last couple weeks we've had quite a dust-up over the NSA data-mining phone numbers and call times from tens of millions of Americans. But really, what damage can having just a phone number cause without having any more information - like your name, address or credit report?

Just keep feeling that good about that for a few more seconds, it won't last. Business Week Reports.

The Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security spend millions annually to buy commercial databases that track Americans' finances, phone numbers, and biographical information, according to a report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Often, the agencies and their contractors don't ensure the data's accuracy, the GAO found.

But certainly are they're restrictions, like FISA or other warrants that would limit where and how the government can access our private information? Apparently not if they happen to have a blank check ready.

Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules. The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts how federal agencies may use such information and requires disclosure of what the government is doing with it. But the law applies only when the government is doing the data collecting.

"Grabbing data wholesale from the private sector is the way agencies are getting around the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and a member of the Homeland Security Dept.'s Data Privacy & Integrity Advisory Committee.

Oh, goodie. No more of that pesky Forth Amendment stuff.

I'm not sure If I'm more alarmed by their end-run around the Fourth, or that fact that various companies are willing to sell this information period. If they can sell it to the government they can sell it to telemarkers, or direct mail companies. Only in this case, you might wind up with the FBI at your door instead of Publishers Clearing House.

Let me just also point out that the NSA Datamining story itself is not just about phone records. Although no government agency or source has yet stepped forward to either confirm or refute the story reported by USA Today, it appears that Wired Magazine (as noted by this diary here) has decided to release a set of secret AT&T documents which indicated that the electronic snooping being done at their San Francisco Officers involve taps into their Internet Backbone, not their records of phone calls made.

Based on what we've seen, Wired News disagrees [with AT&T]. In addition, we believe the public's right to know the full facts in this case outweighs AT&T's claims to secrecy.

As a result, we are publishing the complete text of a set of documents from the EFF's primary witness in the case, former AT&T employee and whistle-blower Mark Klein -- information obtained by investigative reporter Ryan Singel through an anonymous source close to the litigation. The documents, available on Wired News as of Monday, consist of 30 pages, with an affidavit attributed to Klein, eight pages of AT&T documents marked "proprietary," and several pages of news clippings and other public information related to government-surveillance issues.

So we've got what - Phone, Finances, Biographical Data, Internet Sites and Email - anything left? It sounds like if you want to keep your private discussions with your doctor private you'll have to do with a carrier pigeon or else in person (like in a nice, dark secluded parking lot while wearing a stylish trench-coat and hat ensemble from the Abramoff Collection) from now on.

That is unless the Government decides to cut your Doc a cashiers check.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Other Breaking News of Note Today :

    New York Daily News - Two CIA Agents Claim that "Scooter" Libby Lied to the Grand Jury about Valerie Plame. The agents claim that Scooter was informed of Valeries CIA Status over a month before the New York Times Column by her husband Joseph Wilson, which disputed White House claims regarding Iraq appeared in July of 2003.

    Slate - A Federal Judge in Virginia threw out a case filed by German citizen, Khalid el-Masri, who claims he was mistakenly kidnapped, drugged, confined and tortured as part of the Bush Administration "Extradinary Rendition Program". The Judge claimed that the case infringed on the Government's Right to protect "State Secrets"!!! (This is exactly the scenario I predicted in my recommended Diary on General Hayden two days ago.

Both of these stories are relevant, they both show just how far those who blatantly violate the law under the guise of th Government will go, and just how much cover they might expect to receive from a friendly Federalist Judiciary.

Even though we now have this data from Business Week and Wired - it still might not ultimately amount to much unless these issues can get a fair hearing in court.

Vyan

Monday, May 22

One Consistent Meme for Victory in November

There are practically an avalanche of issues which the Bush Administration and Congress have created which should be all rights send them packing this year - but many of us felt that way in 2004 and look what happened?

Since then things have clearly grown worse. We have the various NSA scandals (which Bush supporters still consider a strength), we've had the Katrina disaster followed by the FEMA disaster. We've had the Terri Schiavo debacle. Scooter Libby's been indicted. Tom Delay has been indicted and left the Congress. Jack Abramoff indicted and convicted. Duke Cunningham indicted and convicted. David Safavian indicted and convicted. President Bush's polls have bottomed out at 29%, while Congress has been as low as 23% in recent months.

But it's still not enough, not nearly.

What do the polls say?

The American People are not happy with George W. Bush.

Newsweek: "Since George W. Bush was reelected to a second term in 2004, has your opinion of his performance in office gotten better, worse, or stayed about the same?" - Worse 48%- Same 47% - Better 4%

USA Gallup: "Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies or doesn't apply to George W. Bush. How about [see below]?"


    "Picks good people for key leadership positions" - Applies 41% -Doesn't Apply 56%

    "Is honest and trustworthy" - Applies 41% - Doesn't Apply %56

CNN : "Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies or doesn't apply to George W. Bush. How about [see below]?"


    "Competent" - Applies 47% - Doesn't Apply 47%

    "Strong and decisive leader" - Applies 46% - Doesn't Apply 51%

    "Honest and Trustworthy" - Applies 40% - Doesn't Apply 55%


But apparently not so unhappy that they yet want to see him removed from office (at least not according to Fox)

Fox News: "Regardless of how you plan to vote, if the Democrats win this year's congressional elections do you think it would be right for them to try to impeach President Bush over the Iraq war and weapons of mass destruction, or not?" - Not RIght 62% - Right 30%.

This would seem to indicate that making the November elections a referendum on impeachment, is not exactly the best path to follow. It might be possible after some intense investigation of what the bloody same hill has been going on in the White House the last fives years, but not yet. So far - thanks the the stonewalling, the case hasn't been made.

We have to realize that the ultimate solution to the lawlessness of George W. Bush will probably come from the courts, not from Congress. Particularly not from a Republican congress.

But what about Congress itself?


CNN: "Do you think the Republicans in Congress are more financially corrupt, or are the Democrats in Congress more financially corrupt?" - Republicans 40% - Democrats 15%

Newsweek: "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?" - Satisfied 23% - Dissatisfied 71% -

ABC : "Overall, which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years? - Democrats 50% - Republicans 36% -

This dissatisfaction doesn't seem to be pointed at any one particular issue, but instead is an overall indictment of how Congress has performed, particularly in reining in the President. They may not want him impeached, but neither do they want him to run-amok.

The one thing that Democrats need to drive home is the fact that this Republican Congress and President can not be trusted with control of our government.

Repeat it with me...

People Who Don't Believe In Government, can not be trusted to RUN it properly, except into the ground!

Democrats need to burn this into their forehead - they need to mention it in dairy after diary, blog after blog. Each and every Democratic Leader who goes on TV has to chant this like a mantra. "A Government can't be effectively run by people who hate Government". "Government is not the Problem, Believe that it is - is the problem". A prime tenet of post-Reagan Conservatism has been the idea that "Government is the Problem". Government is your enemy. Government must be stopped. Well, they've succeeded i stopping the government from being able to effectively prosecute the war on terrorism. We haven't caught Osama. We're losing control in both Afghanistan and Iraq. They stopped the government from doing what it could to protect the people of the gulf coast.

We have to recognize that we aren't just fighting George Bush, we aren't even just fighting the Republicans in congress - we're fighting the Doctrine that causes the government to breakdown in it's duty to serve the will and needs of the people..

Governement is by no means the solution to all problems, far from it. It is merely a tool - one that can be used wisely, that can heal and protect or one that can be used only as a weapon for destruction, fear-mongering and pain.

The latter is what the Conservatives who hold a strangehold on power have wrought. There are no two-ways about it, they control the Executive, Legislative and most of the Judicial Branches. Democrats and democratic ideals have had little to nothing to do with the results we've seen so far, and can only expect to get worse.

Democrats believe in a government that is effective, but not expensive or intrusive. It was only under Democratically passed budget of 1994 that the deficit finally began to be addressed and eventually led to a record surplus. It was only under a Democratic leadership that the total size of the Federal Government shrank by 10% while the rate of crime dropped by 15% and abortions by an even greater amount.

Are Democrats patriots? Do they not wish to fight terrorism with every (legal) means at our disposal? Of course they do.

Do they have an answer to every possible question and a response to every possible situation that might arrise? Of course not, anyone who thinks they have all the answers before even being asked the question is a fool or worse - a liar.

But one thing is for certain - they certainly can't make things any worse.

Vyan