Saturday, July 1

RFK Jr. Update and the MSM on War Crimes

It that appears the MSM has caught on to the implications of Hamdan which I wrote about yesterday.
The Hamdan decision may change a few minds within the administration. Although the decision's practical effect on the military tribunals is unclear — the administration may be able to gain explicit congressional authorization for the tribunals, or it may be able to modify them to comply with the laws of war — the court's declaration that Common Article 3 applies to the war on terror is of enormous significance. Ultimately, it could pave the way for war crimes prosecutions of those responsible for abusing detainees.

Common Article 3 forbids "cruel treatment and torture [and] outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." The provision's language is sweeping enough to prohibit many of the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration. That's why the administration had argued that Common Article 3 did not apply to the war on terror, even though legal experts have long concluded that it was intended to provide minimum rights guarantees for all conflicts not otherwise covered by the Geneva Convention.

But here's where the rubber really hits the road. Under federal criminal law, anyone who "commits a war crime … shall be fined … or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death." And a war crime is defined as "any conduct … which constitutes a violation of Common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva." In other words, with the Hamdan decision, U.S. officials found to be responsible for subjecting war on terror detainees to torture, cruel treatment or other "outrages upon personal dignity" could face prison or even the death penalty.

This article stops at the point where individual soldiers, CIA Officers or consultants directly involved in the interrogation of detainees who "go too far" are potentially subject to War Crimes prosecution. That in itself is not a huge bombshell as the Bush Administration has already been prosecuting many soldiers for those very acts, including at least 26 in-custody deaths of detainees at Abu Ghraib which are being investigated as being caused by "abuse".

What they don't look at is the trail of causality between the White House, Pentagon and actions in the field which have violated Geneva. Three months ago I outlined that causality link step by step.
  • 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.
If you follow these bread crumbs, they lead directly to George W. Bush.

So far analysis of actions high up in the chain of command have been largely ignored, or like in Colonel Karpinski's case - people who had no direct involvement in tragedy's such as Abu Ghraib have been scapegoated. What's needed here is a Special Prosecutor, there's no way that Alberto Gonzales is going to - or should - investigate himself for his involvement in War Crimes.

Right now, the strongest evidence against the President is coming from his own Administration as the ACLU files repeated FOIA requests that have led to their suit against Donald Rumsfeld.

Meanwhile, proving that no enormously courageous feat goes unpunished, the JAG Officer who succesfully argued the Hamdan case may have to start looking for a new gig.
Despite his spectacular success, with the assistance of attorneys from the Seattle firm Perkins Coie, [Lt Cmd. Charles] Swift thinks his military career is coming to an end. The 44-year-old Judge Advocate General officer, who was recently named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country by The National Law Journal, was passed over for promotion last year as the high-profile case was making headlines around the world
Maybe the ACLU is hiring?

It also appears that Rolling Stone has a follow up on the RFK Jr. Election Fraud report, indicating that did indeed have an impact.

Even Democrats who have been slow to question the election results were convinced by Kennedy's exhaustive report. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who serves as the party's chief deputy whip, took the extraordinary step of admitting her mistake. "I apologize for not taking seriously enough the allegations that the 2004 election was stolen," she confessed in a speech on June 14th. "After reading Bobby Kennedy's article in Rolling Stone -- 'Was the 2004 Election Stolen?' -- I am convinced that the only answer is yes." Schakowsky promised that the Democrats would move aggressively "to ward off a repeat performance."
And Kennedy isn't nearly done yet.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is preparing to up the ante on those he believes abetted the GOP's electoral theft. In July, the outspoken attorney plans to file "whistle-blower" lawsuits against two leading manufacturers of electronic voting machines. According to Kennedy, company insiders are prepared to testify that the firms knowingly made false claims when they sold their voting systems to the government -- misrepresenting the accuracy, reliability and security of machines that will be used by 72 million voters this November. "This is a unique way to try and stop these vendors," Kennedy tells Rolling Stone. "In both cases, our whistle-blowers are familiar with security problems that were well known by the vendors but concealed from election officials during the bidding process. Because we're relying on 'inside' knowledge, it is a far more frightening prospect to the company than a traditional lawsuit might be. And if we prove our case, we will hit the corporations the only place they feel it: in their pocketbooks."
The only realistic way for a Special Prosecutor to be assigned, or a serious Congressional Investigation into the War Crimes of President Bush will be a change in the Leadership of Congress in November. There is no way on earth that people like Pat Roberts, Arlen Specter or James Sensenbrener are going to address the subject, but Rep. John Conyers just might. (He's already sued Bush for signing a law that wasn't passed by both Houses of Congress). but even for him the prospect of attacking a sitting President for the way that he prosecutes a War - while that War is ongoing - remains a highly daunting political prospect.

Republicans know this, and we know that they know this. The signs are strong for a Democratic Victory in November.
Voters increasingly see Democrats as the party best able to handle the top problems confronting the U.S., as Republicans struggle to hold their congressional majorities in midterm elections little more than four months away. Registered voters favor Democrats over Republicans in contests in their congressional districts by 49 percent to 35 percent, a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll finds. Fifty-four percent want to see Democrats control Congress, while 34 percent prefer that Republicans stay in power.

But if the Conservatives who own the various voting machine companies can rig the game, all bets are off.


Friday, June 30

George W. Bush: War Criminal

In their 5-3 decision yesterday in the Hamdan v Rumsfeld (pdf) case, the Supreme Court may have just established a determination that Amnesty International has been long looking for and Albert Gonzales has worked hard to avoid.

They made it official : George W. Bush is a War Criminal.

Oh, he may at this time be unindicted, untried and unconvicted - but make no mistake - the court has made it clear that he is a criminal.

In the Majority Opinion Justice Stevens stated:
Because UCMJ Article 36 has not been complied with here, the rules specified for Hamdan ’s commission trial are illegal.

The military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949.
In his concurring opinion Justice Kennedy brought it home:
Article 3 of the Geneva Convention (III)Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,Aug. 12,1949, [1955 ] 6 U..S.T.3316,3318,T.I.A.S.No.3364. The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law.See id.,at 3316. By Act of Congress, moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered “war crimes,” punishable as federal offenses,when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel. See 18 U.S.C.§2441. There should be no doubt,then,that Common Article 3 is part of the law of war as that term is used in §821.
The core of the decision, as written by Stevens is here:
Hamdan is entitled to the full protections of the Third Geneva Convention until ad-
judged,in compliance with that treaty, not to be a prisoner of war; and that,whether or not Hamdan is properly classified as a prisoner of war,the military commission convened to try him was established in violation of both the UCMJ and Common Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention because it had the power to convict based onevidence the accused would never see or hear.
The Court did not find that Hamdan or other detainees would have to be tried in civilian court, only that the Special Secret Tribunals that have been setup by President Bush are not authorized under current U.S. Law (the UCMJ) and also violate our treaty as a member of the Geneva Conventions.

It is quite possible that Hamdan would have to be tried in a normal "Courts Marshal" styled Tribunal, or that Congress could amend the UCMJ to allow for the presentation of secret evidence with a new class of tribunals and carve out part of the UCMJ so as to be severed from Geneva, and thus make the current Tribunal structure established for Al Qaeda and Taliban members "legal" -- but that isn't the only hurdle to be crossed.

Much has been made of the arguement that Geneva is an international law, and supposedly unenforceable with the U.S. But that isn't strictly true as Article VI of the U.S. Constitution makes clear.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Under this article it could be argued that International Treaties made by the United States are in fact - U.S. Law. With or without this interpretation however, it is now clear that the President has indeed violated U.S. Law, specifically the 1996 War Crimes Act under 18 USC § 2441, which exists in supplement to the Geneva Conventions and states:
The law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty,"
The article defines "War Crimes" :
(1) as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.
Early on the War on Terror(tm) Alberto Gonzales had noted this law and as White House Council had advised President Bush to refuse to recognize that "Enemy Combatants" had standing under the Geneva Conventions, not simply because they weren't members or agents of a signatory state - but simply because doing so would put the President at risk for violations of this law. As Reported by Michael Isikoff for Newsweek.
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.
It is now clear that this artful dodge has failed, and the Supreme Court has fully established that persons such as Hamdan, who may not officially be "Prisoners of War" until such a determination is made via judicial proceeding, are indeed covered by the Conventions, and that their treatment is protected under the War Crimes Act.

Furthermore, these memos by Gonzales indicate premeditation of the intent to violate 18 USC § 2441, several months before his request for the Bybee Torture Memos, which the ACLU in their own suit against Donald Rumsfeld contends was the first link in a chain which has led systematic abuse of detainees at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram AFB in Afghanistan, Extra-odinary Rendition, Secret Prisons and the notorious Task Force 6-26.

In all these areas - BUSH. HAS. VIOLATED. THE. LAW.

If Congress intends to immunize Bush by changing the UCMJ, they will also have to change the War Crimes Act and possibly even de-ratify Geneva in order to make the Presidents current illegal conduct - legal.

But in addition to the War Crimes issue, there is also the NSA Domestic Spying issue - which the President and Justice Dept have claimed were given life by the Authorization to use Military Force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But SCOTUS would appear to have thrown some severely cold water on that idea.
Neither the AUMF nor the DTA can be read to provide specific,overriding authorization for the commission convened to try Hamdan. Assuming the AUMF activated the President ’s war powers, see Hamdi v.Rumsfeld ,542 U.S.507,and that those powers include authority to convene military commissions in appropriate circum stances,see,e.g.,id.,at 518, there is nothing in the AUMF ’ s text or legislative history even hinting that Congress intended to expand or alter the authorization set forth in UCMJ.
Without having specific and detailed authorization by Congress to try Hamdan outside of the standard proceedures of UCMJ and/or without an appropriate update to the UCMJ, the court has found the trial to be illegal. It only follows that they would also find the Presidents claim of authority to wiretap International calls without judicial review to be similarly illegal, particular since the 2002 Hamdi decision specifically required a role for the courts. In Hamdi...
JUSTICE O ’CONNOR,joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE,JUSTICE KENNEDY,and JUSTICE BREYER,concluded that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged in this case, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker.
The "neutral decisionmaker" would be a Judge (or judicial panel). The kind of judges that can also issue warrants, like the FISA Court.

The real issue and question is - will Bush even care? At this point in time, he has deliberately broken the FISA Statutes as well as the War Crimes Statute, so what does he have to lose by essentially ignoring the court? Is this Congress going to hold him accountable? Even though the NSA program has been openly revealed it continues on without any changes yet made by Congress to the existing law. Senator Russ Feingold suggests the rather mild remedy of a censure and it dies on the vine, and Bush hasn't even shifted his stride as he continues to trample on Civil Rights and ignore both the law and the courts. Senator (and part-time remote viewer) Bill Frist has already begun work on legislation to make the Secret Tribunals legal, so why should Bush do anything to bother abiding by the law, the Constitution or the Geneva Conventions?

Perhaps because this decision has opened the President up to a veritable avalanche of court challenges for his policy. In my original presumption and post before reviewing the detail of the case, I had worried that future cases of this type would not be able to be filed by Gitmo Detainees because of the Levin-Graham Amendment to the Anti-Torture Bill, but it appears that at the very top of their decision the Court Considered this question, and rejected it. This means that the door is wide open for future detainee suits. And unless Justice Stevens dies or retires, Bush is unlikely to win any of these challenges in the future.

At a certain point the realization that this President is a criminal will eventually begin to dawn on the American people - and they will have to force Congress's hand to take action (either through appointment of a Independant Council/Special Prosecutor or Impeachment Proceedings).

It may not happen in time for the end of his Presidency, but it's only a matter of time - hopefully, it won't be too late.

Update: Glenn Greenwald also has some excellent analysis of this decision from yesterday and today has an analysis I concur with; The President is quite likely to completely ignore the Court on this issue:

When asked about the Court's ruling yesterday, the President's answer seemed to suggest (albeit ambiguously) exactly that view:
    At any rate, we will seriously look at the findings, obviously. And one thing I'm not going to do, though, is I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. People have got to understand that.
Isn't the President saying here that no matter what the Court says, he is "not going to . . . jeopardize the safety of the American people"? Thus, if compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling would -- in the President's view -- impair his ability to defend the nation, isn't it quite likely that the President would simply refuse to comply with the ruling on the ground that the Court has no authority to impair his functions as Commander-in-Chief? And if he asserted that power, is there any doubt that his followers would trip over themselves with praise, wallowing in bravado fantasies of Andrew Jackson's heroic challenge to the Court's authority?
Oh, I'm sure they will - in fact the witchhunt for the heads of those crazed out-of-control Supreme Court Justices is already gearing up for full steam. It should be an interesting ride.


Thursday, June 29

Score Three for Liberty

In the last few days the Supreme Court has issued a pair of decisions which - coupled with a third from 2002 - have been significant blows to BushCo.

In 2002 while Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was still on the Court, the SCOTUS ruled in Hamdi V Rumsfeld that the President does not have unlimited war powers.
We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation ’s citizens. Youngstown Sheet &Tube ,343 U.S.,at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict,it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake. Mistretta v.United States, 488 U.S.361,380 (1989)(it was “the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that,within our political scheme,the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty ”);Home Building &Loan Assn.v.Blaisdell,290 U.S.398,426 (1934)(The war power “is a power to wage war successfully,and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation.But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties ”). Likewise,we have made clear that,unless Congress acts to suspend it, the Great Writ of habeas corpus allows the Judicial Branch to play a necessary role in maintaining this delicate balance of governance, serving as an important judicial check on the Executive ’s discretion in the realm of detentions.

This decision was one of the first major SCOTUS defeats by the Bush Administration, and many felt that with the retiring of Justice O'Connor and the appointment of Samuel Alito for her seat, things would begin to swing Bush's way -- but apparently not.

This week the Texas Gerrymandering by Tom Delay was found Unconstitutional. From Democratic Underground.

This case is significant, because it is one of the few instances in which the Voting Rights Act has been enforced in this country since W. took office. The Department of Justice under John Ashcroft and then Al Gonzales has chosen to pretend that the Voting Rights Act does not exist. Ashcroft did not prosecute Katherine Harris for using a felon's list in Florida which contained the names of tens of thousands of people entitles to vote (even though she was informed that the list was flawed in this way--a violation of the Act). He did not prosecute the thugs who crossed state lines to threaten and intimidate poll workers into stopping a lawful vote recount, even though that is clearly against the law. He did not step in when Diebold inserted an illegal patch called "" into the softwear of of its voting machines in 2002, resulting in surprise upset victories over Democratic incumbents who had double digit leads in the polls.

It's not by coincidence that the House has recently chosen not to vote on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Voter Suppression is their bread and butter, and so is authoritarian brutality.

Today the SCOTUS ruled in Hamdan v Rumsfeld against the use of both Military Tribunals for detainees as well as upheld the requirements to uphold the Geneva Conventions as a addendem to U.S. Law. Frontpaged on Kos.

In a 5-3 decision this morning (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld), the United States Supreme Court ruled that neither Congress's post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), nor the inherent powers of the President gave the President the authority to establish military tribunals on Guantanamo Bay to try and convict alleged enemy combatants in the war on terror. The Court found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention.

Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, supported in its entirety by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter. In a separate opinion, Justice Kennedy joined enough of it to count. Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas all dissented, with the Chief Justice sitting out because he ruled in this case when it was previously heard by the D.C. Circuit.

The core of this decision indicates that before setting up his own private personal kingdom of terror on Cuba, the President would have to first gain the approval of Congress. He can't just make shit up on the fly.

From Scotusblog

As I predicted below, the Court held that Congress had, by statute, required that the commissions comply with the laws of war -- and held further that these commissions do not (for various reasons).

More importantly, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"--including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. See my further discussion here.

This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes). If I'm right about this, it's enormously significant.

The downside is that further suits of this nature are unlikely to further clarify exactly what should be done with the estimated 400 detainees at Guantanemo who the government has shown no intention of charging with a crime (Not to mention the unknown number of "Ghost Detainees" still unaccounted for). The Levin-Graham Amendment of the McCain "anti-torture" ban included a prohibition for detainees - like Hamdi and Hamdan - to sue in civil courts over over their status or even if they were tortured.

Does this recent SCOTUS decision make that ridiculous amendment a moot point? We'll have to wait and see.

In addition to Levin-Graham the Justice Dept has previously claimed that the McCain doesn't even apply to Gitmo. From the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

If the McCain bill wasn't trying to prevent torture at Gitmo - where was it supposed to prevent torture, Scranton New Jersey? Will they now then claim that the SCOTUS doesn't apply to Gitmo either, even though this decision was specifically about Gitmo?

The one shining light in this tunnel is the fact that a increasing number of legal scholars are finding umbrage with BushCo in general, and their use of Signing Statments in particular.

In a hearing today, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on presidential signing statements, which Ranking Member Leahy called "a grave threat to our constitutional system of checks and balances." Recent reports have highlighted how Bush has issued these orders in record numbers and exercised unprecedented overreach by giving himself the authority to ignore certain parts of the laws he signs.

Because of the extralegal nature of the signing statements, there is nothing for Congress or the Supreme Court to actually overrule. Nevertheless, the statements are binding for policy implementation.

Bruce Fein, attorney and renowned legal scholar, told the committee that Bush has essentially given himself a line item veto power by declaring portions of new laws unconstitutional and offering his own revisions.

The Supreme Court has previously struck down the Actual Line-Item Veto power that was granted under President Clinton as extra-constitutional. There is little likelyhood that the Bush Administration could survive a direct challenge to his use of this authority before the SCOTUS, even with the presence of Samuel Alito on the court. If such a decision falls along lines similar to this one - it would still by 5-4 against the President.

His only hope of maintaining the power he has grabbed, is for Bush to push for a Line-Item Veto Amendment - which he's been doing vigorously. But since his re-election Bush hasn't been able to get a single one of his agenda items pushed through, other than the confirmation of Alito, and that was brutal dogfight. His chances of having a Line-Item Veto passed are somewhere south of slim and nil.

I'm sure the Bill O's of the world will claim that the "Far Left" and Activist Courts are undermining the Presidents ability to fight the War on Terror (tm)- and that we'll 'lose" if they had their way. I would argue that if we blithely toss aside who we are, if we ignore the true promise that this nation holds by shredding our own Constitution (particularly the 8th Amendment which clearly bans "Cruel and Unusual Treatment"), if we have to start using Saddam's Tactics -- even if we defeat the terrorist, we've still lost the war. We will have become them, which is exactly what they've been accusing us of being all along.

I think we need to take a more noble and principled path. Yes, it may be more difficult, but it will be well worth it.

As far as Bush goes it's going to take a common citizen or citizens group to look at some of the 750 signing statements the President has made and directly challenge them in court. Make him justify his attempts to circumvent the law and the Constitution, because the truth is - he can't, but he'll go down in flames trying just like he has on Hamdi and Hamdan.

I plan to bring marshmellows.


Update: Oh, and by the way -- if the AUMF didn't authorize Gitmo, torture or Military Tribunals, it didn't authorize the NSA Spying program either! Tee hee.

Update 2 Glenn Greenwald strongly agrees that this decision effectively demolishes BushCo justifications for the NSA Programs as being authorized by the AUMF, but points out that all it would take is for Congress to Change the Law to allow this type of action to continue. To invalidate Geneva, they would have to void the treaty - which is less likely, but we are talking about the "Rubber Stamp Congress" here. Just abot any wingbat bullshit is possible for them to try after Gay Marriage and Flag Burning - decertifying Geneva could be next before they get their asses handed to them in November.

Wednesday, June 28

BushCo Hath Become Chicken Little

This week we had the President and Vice President both breathlessly telling us that the New York Times report on the tracking of Bank Records has done great damage to our War on Terra (tm).

The Sky is Falling! The New York Times violated national securty. Now the terrorist know our game plan. Now they just might take their ball - and go home!

Wait a minute, isn't that a good thing?

And quite possibly if the Bush Administration hadn't already played the "National Security" card too many times for rather dubious causes - The New York Times, the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal just might have believed them this time.

And if they go after the Bill Keller for this, why don't they go after Novak for Plame?

Bush Says Bank Disclosure was Disgraceful

"Congress was briefed," Mr. Bush said. "And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America."

Cheney was incensed.

"What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago. "That offends me."

Official WH Press Shill Tony Snow jump feet first into the fray:

[T]he New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live, and whether in fact the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans.

Rep Peter King immediate rejects the legtimacy of any an all private enterprises as he attacks the Times.

[N]o one elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant elitest left wing agenda before the interests of the American people, and I'm calling on the Attorney General to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times -- its reporters, the editors who worked on this, and the publisher. We're in a time of war, Chris, and what they've done has violated the Espionage Act, the COMINT act.

And of course, it was only a matter of time before some of BushCo lackey's and boot-lickers started to throw around the "T" word. From Think Progress.

The right-wing echo chamber is taking the argument a step further. Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, talk show host Melanie Morgan said that New York Times editor Bill Keller is guilty of treason and that "Keller and his associates" should be thrown "in prison for 20 years.

So in the wake of this onslaught what does Bill Keller have to say for himself?

"I think it would be arrogant for us to pre-empt the work of Congress and the courts by deciding these programs are perfectly legal and abuse-proof, based entirely on the word of the government."

It is the place of Congress and the Courts to decide the legality of these issues - not the Press, and Not the President!

What Keller is betraying here is that once where the New York TImes was willing to hold a vital story for months without reporting it -- a story like say, the Illegal Wiretapping out Tens of Thousands of Americans which was held for over year, making it a non-factor in the 2004 elections -- but now, those days are long gone.

The protestations from the Bush Administration that "This is a Vital Program, that must remain covert" were a load of crap then, so why shouldn't the NYT presume they're a load of crap now?

Despite the protestations of Rep. King, the NYTimes did not neccesarily say that there weren't ANY legal or privacy issues with Bank Data program.

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

"The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "the potential for abuse is enormous."

But lets assume that, for once, the Bush Administration was actually doing it's job properly. Their argument now is that with this program disclosed it will be "harder for them" to catch terrorists. But what they ignore is that now that terrorist know they're finances can be tracked - they are less likely to use international banking sources they previuos thought were "Safe", and their ability to transfer money and actually conduct terrorist activities have been curtained by this disclosure!

Yes, they'll change tactics and possibly find other sources -- and the U.S. Government will just have to Keep up with them. It seems to me that this was exactly what the Patriot Act was all about wasn't it? In fact there are provisions right in the Act for this kind of tracking.

In 2002 the Security and Exchange Commission presented a speech on their review of anti-money laundering activities in accordance with the Patriot Act.

Screening Wire Transfers. We found that reviewing individual wire transfers -- in and of themselves -- in many cases did not constitute a meaningful exercise. Firms with more successful programs had well-trained firm personnel that were educated on what to look for when screening money movements, such as: rapid journaling of assets between related accounts, transaction patterns where no securities investments were made before funds were wired out of the account, and several ostensibly unrelated entities sharing addresses. One firm utilized a computer system that detected patterns in wire activity and flagged accounts with multiple transfers to an unrelated account and large wires in and out with little or no corresponding securities purchases or sales. In addition, the more successful firms had the capability to conduct a historical review of account activity before processing a wire transfer.

In 2005 the Justice Department trumpted the Patriot Acts Foreign Money-Laundering provisions with helping catch and deter potential terrorists.

Ban on Unlicensed Foreign-Money Transfers

Section 373 of the Patriot Act makes it illegal to run an unlicensed foreign-money transmittal business. Prosecutors say they used this provision to bring charges against Yehuda Abraham, an unlicensed money transmitter, for his role in helping to arrange the transfer of funds in a thwarted arms sale.

The Justice Department says Abraham's services were used by Hermant Lakhani, a British arms dealer. Lakhani was arrested in August 2003, after attempting to complete the sale of a shoulder-fired missile to a government cooperating witness who was posing as a member of a terrorist group.

The Justice Department says the Patriot Act allowed prosecutors to quickly bring a case against Abraham, bypassing the issues that have typically plagued similar cases in the past. Abraham pleaded guilty to running an illegal money-transfer company in March 2004.

So is the fact that the Government is tracking Foreign Money-Laundering really news? If the government call tell NPR about this -- why can't the NYTimes talk about it?

The obvious answer is that the scope and scale of this program was previously undisclosed - it was still a secret - but since it was so ripe for potential abuse, should it have been disclosed just so that some oversight by Congress and the Courts can be exercised?

Well, duh!

But naturally, the Bush Administartion doesn't see it that way. They seem to be out for blood, and Alberto Gonzales previous hints that he just might start prosecuting journalists for the NSA and Secret Prisons leak may not be empty threats.

But one wonders, if they weren't able to go after Scooter Libby under the Espionage Act when he revealed the ID of a Covert CIA operative to Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, how are they going to go after Bill Keller? Clearly the NYT received their information from people inside the Bush Administration, shouldn't those people be the primary targets for revealing classified information - and wouldn't any potentially investigation of them have to be handled by an Special Council just like - Patrict Fitzgerald?

Is that really what the White House wants?

Robert Novak was warned by the CIA not to reveal Plames identity, just as Keller and the NYT were warned off by administration officials, but he's not facing charges for violating the Intelligence Agents Identities Act -- what's the difference here, other that fact that the President wanted one illegal leak to occur but not the other?

Oh wait, maybe that's it right there, eh?

Just how close is that sky getting now Georgie?

Update: In addition to the Bank Tapping Reports I found, the Boston Globe has apparently found that the entirew Swift Program was previously disclosed - by the Bush Administration itself.

News reports disclosing the Bush administration's use of a special bank surveillance program to track terrorist financing spurred outrage in the White House and on Capitol Hill, but some specialists pointed out yesterday that the government itself has publicly discussed its stepped-up efforts to monitor terrorist finances since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But a search of public records -- government documents posted on the Internet, congressional testimony, guidelines for bank examiners, and even an executive order President Bush signed in September 2001 -- describe how US authorities have openly sought new tools to track terrorist financing since 2001. That includes getting access to information about terrorist-linked wire transfers and other transactions, including those that travel through SWIFT.

``There have been public references to SWIFT before," said Roger Cressey, a senior White House counterterrorism official until 2003. ``The White House is overreaching when they say a crime against the war on terror. It has been in the public domain before."



The Boss takes A Stand

From Thinkprogress:

In a recent interview, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked Bruce Springsteen (aka “The Boss”) about criticism he has received for taking a stand on political issues. Springsteen responded sarcastically, “Yeah, they should let Ann Coulter do it instead.” He added that there are “idiots rambling on on cable television on any given night of the week,” and called the idea that musicians shouldn’t speak up, “insane” and “funny.” Watch it:


O’BRIEN: In 2004 you came out very strongly in support of John Kerry and performed with him - your fellow guitarist, I think is how you introduced him to the crowd. And some people gave you a lot of flack for being a musician who took a political stand. I remember…

SPRINGSTEEN: Yeah, they should let Ann Coulter do it instead.

O’BRIEN: There is a whole school of thought, as you well know, that says that musicians – I mean you see it with the Dixie Chicks - you know, go play your music and stop.

SPRINGSTEEN: Well, if you turn it on, present company included, the idiots rambling on on cable television on any given night of the week, and you’re saying that musicians shouldn’t speak up? It’s insane. It’s funny. expand post »

The tradition of Entertainers speaking out on the issus of the day goes back to Will Rogers and beyond. The fact is that anyone whose given the oppurtunity to go before the public has an obligation to use that time well and wisely. The idea that that entertainers someone lose their first amendment rights simply because they happen to speak in verse and song isn't just insane - it's fucking facist. It's anti-American. This is the kind of thing you would expect from the Soviet Union or in Communist China.

I think Springsteen let Soledad O'Full-of-it off the hook much too easily.


Tuesday, June 27

Battered America Syndrome

It's occured to me that there is a reason America is in the sad and sorry shape it is today. Why is it that we can't shake-off juvenile "Cut and Run" antics of the right-wing, even when they are undermined by one of the President's own primary war archetects - Gen Casey?

From a logical standpoint, the Bush Administration and Republican Congress have done everything wrong. They were wrong to not to intervene when Enron and other energy companies were gutting California, wrong to ignore Al Qaeda, wrong to blame Saddam Hussein for 9/11 by linking him to Bin Laden, wrong to claim he had Nuclear and Biological Weapons programs, wrong to invade a sovereign nation on false pretenses, wrong to ignore the insurgency, wrong to violate the Geneva Conventions, wrong to spy on Americans without a warrant or probable cause, wrong to fail to leave Iraq when everyone from the American people, the Iraqi people and Iraqi government clearly want them to, wrong to ignore the pre-Katrina warnings, wrong to claim that Intelligent Design is "science", wrong to lie to the American people, wrong on the environment and Global Warming, wrong on voting rights, wrong about Terri Schiavo, wrong on Gay Marriage, wrong on Flag-Burning, wrong to try and prosecute journalists for speaking the truth, and wrong to teach our children that sexual ignorance is preferrable to sexual safety and responsibility.

They're batting 0 for 20.

But for some odd reason they aren't on the political ropes. For some odd reason Democrats and people of good common sense can't seem to make the case that these people can't be trusted to run a Quiky-Mart, let alone our government. We're like the repeatedly battered and abused spouse that after years of attacks and degradation just can't bring themselves to cut the strings.

We're suffering from Battered America Syndrome.

From Gail on Common Dreams:
Your man is no good. He treats you like crap, lies to you, abuses you, bullies you, exploits you, takes your money. As a friend I want to tell you that you deserve better. You deserve a person that treats you with respect, cares about your welfare, and your children’s welfare, but that’s not George and it never will be.

Do you tell yourself that he’ll stop, or that it won’t get worse? He won’t ever stop, every insult, injury and death he has caused are a line that once crossed will never be uncrossed. Forget the dream. You will never have the American dream with George. You have to forget about what might have been, what George might have been, and realise that at the end of the day you are what you do, and look at George’s track record.

YOU CAN DO BETTER! You are an amazing country, beautiful, interesting, funny, positively glamorous, you wouldn’t stay single for five minutes, you know that suitors would be competing for your affections and any one of them would be ten times better than George. And how can you stand his god-awful Stepford’s answer to Marie-Antoinette mother, piping up with another casual atrocity every time she opens her mouth.
But the truth is the abuse isn't going to stop, even if we do divorce George. George himself isn't the problem. He's not the only wingbat in this marriage. What do we do about Cheney? Rumsfeld? Frist? Sensenbrener? Not to mention the endless parade of teeth or over-stylized hair on Faux News that keeps telling so many of us that "staying the course" (to Hell!) is our only viable choice? From O'Reilly to Gibson, Hannity, Coulter and Malkin the refain is the same: Stay with us because those evil, godless, traitorous F-ing LIBERALS are out there, ready to pounce on you and our unsuspecting children, teaching them not to respect their elders, and that they don't have give their lives for a pointless, endlessly stupid, arrogant war.

Those Liberals teach them that they have rights, and stuff. No, no the Daddy party can't have that. This is DADDY's house.

Just look how these people behave, with their constant, even pavlovian Liberal Bashing. They don't miss a single oppurtunity to throw a verbal punch or jab, making sure that any Liberal is far too stunned and shell-shocked from the barage to respond. And if they do try to respond, they either cut them off in mid-sentence or start calling them names. They're the school-yard bully - all grown up and sophisticated, smarmy and chummy - but still a bully. They smile as they pummel and batter the kids, the neighbors, our friends, and we just sit back and let it happen. Hands on our laps, powerless.

Why? Because the truth is we're addicted to this bullshit.

No, I don't mean you - I don't mean the progressives, centrist, liberals and ex-conservatives who've finally began to see the light and now openly converse on places like this. I mean Joe and Janine Six-Pack.

They like the idea of having a Strong Protector as head of the household. Oh sure, they look the other way everytime Daddy has a little daliance with Jack Abramoff, Armstrong Williams, Gannon/Guckert and all those sex laborers in the Mariana's Islands. Daddy always comes back home. Daddy takes care of them. A little foundation does wonders for those bruise marks.

In the end, this abuse is secretly what they want. "Daddy beats on those dirty Liberal-Hippie-Faggots-Niggers and Camel-Jockey's worse than he beats on me" and they like that just fine. It makes them feel safe, wrapped in a cumfy cocoon of paranoia.

Meanwhile Democrats in congress are walking around punch-drunk, trying to figure out what happened to the nice, reasonable boyfriend they used to have living across the aisle. Sure, they had their rough edges - but they could always at least talk to them. They think if they just hang in their they can work it all out.

"Oh, George isn't all that bad, you just have to get to know him..."

But that's a crock. We do know him, and it's all "Cut and Run" and "Party of Death" from here on out. Bushco isn't going to play nice, ever. And it's well past time we reached that moment of clarity, that moment where we finally realize that Daddy is an Asshole. He's a Hater. A Racist. A Homophobe. A Xenophobe. Daddy doesn't give a shit about you, he just wants you to roll-over so he can ass-fuck some more tax-cuts for himself and his cronies out of you.

And all his friends are Dickheads too.

They have to go, each and every one of them. It won't be easy, they've got their hooks into everything. But they have to go.

One by one.

It's the only way to protect the children - and their children.


Monday, June 26

Why Iraqi Amnesty may be inevitable

Crossposted on Dailykos.

This week the Iraqi government has had an on again, off again, on again flirtation with granting Amnesty to (hopefully soon to be) Insurgents as part of a plan for U.S. Forces to leave.

It's an idea that has given polticians on both sides of the aisle conniption fits.

How could they...?

What a slap in the face to our troops...?

Even Russ Feingold has suggested that the idea of granting Amnesty to those who've killed Iraqis is "Ok", but those who killed Americans, "No, Way"?

Are you kidding me?

This Dkos diary here attempts to parrellel the suggestion of granting Amnesty to iraqi Insurgents is wrong because it doesn't match the method in which President Lincoln granted Amnesty and required a loyalty oath of the defeated Southern States following our own Civil War. Lincoln at Gettysburg:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

My problem with this is that:

It's not our Civil War, and it's not our Country. We are an unwanted third party in the conflict between the factions within the Iraqi nation - and lastly, it's not our decision. If Iraq is to form it's own government, it has to make it's own decision, even decision we might find aborhent like granting amnesty to people who fought and killed the people who invaded their country on false pretenses.

If we want the Iraqis to forgive and grant us Amnestry for the WMD and Nuclear threat lies, we're going to have to give up something. What exactly would be as valuable?

The end of all wars generally means the end of hostilities for all parties, including the end of any vendettas for any persons killed or attacked during the active portion of the war. Yes, there may be the surrender of persons for specfic War Crimes in preparation for trial, but if we wish to have the Iraqi Government support the idea of ex-insurgents being turned over in this manner -- then they would have the arguement that Amnesty International long ago stated that the following Americans should be investigated, arrested and tried for War Crimes as well.

Donald Rumsfeld: For approving a Sept 2002 Memorandum that permitted unlawful torture techniques such as stress positions, prolonged isolation, stripping and the use of dogs at Guantanemo Bay.

William Haynes - Department of Defense General Counsel : Who wrote that Memo.

Douglas Feith : Who was listed in the Sept 2002 Memo as concurring with it's conclusions.

Maj General Geoffrey Miller - Commander of Joint Task Force at Guantanemo : Whose subordinates used some of those same torture techniques (as approved by the Haynes Memo), and was then sent to Iraq where he recommended that prison guards - "soften up" detainees for interrogation.

George Tenet - former CIA Director : Whose organization kept "Ghost Detainees" off registration logs and hid them from members of the Red Cross, and whose operatives reportedly used such techniques as water-boarding, suffocation, stress positions and incommunicado detention.

Roberto Gonzales - Attorney General and former White House Council: Who called the Geneva Conventions "quaint and obsolete" in a Jan 2002 memo, and requested the "Bybee Memo" which fueled the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

Lt General Ricardo Sanchez - former commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq and his deputee: Who failed to ensure proper oversight at Abu Ghraib.

Capt. Carolyn Wood : Who oversaw interrogation operations at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan, which permitted the use of dogs, sensory deprovation and stress positions.

George W. Bush - President : Whose Administration has repeatedly justified it's interrogation policies as legitimate, under the Presidents powers as Commander-in-Chief, and President Bush also signed a Feb 2002 Memo stating that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees, and that their humane treatment should be contigent upon "Military Neccesity" - which clearly set the stage for the tragic use of torture by U.S. forces.

There is also the fact that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez specifically skirted the U.S. own War Crimes Laws by arguing that "Enemy Combatants" shouldn't be granted status under the Geneva Conventions - even though Geneva indicates that they should be included. From Newsweek.

[Gonzales then WH Council] 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.

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.

Rather than use the argument that has been since put forward by the likes of Senator Linday Graham, that granting Geneva protections to terrorist would "weaken Geneva" - Gonzales argued for a C.Y.A. approach to War Crimes.

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.

Last week Democrats put forward two seperate non-binding Amendments for a timetable to drawdown our troops from Iraq. The Iraqi government has asked us to leave. Our own military commanders including General Casey have begun to draw up plans for our departure -- it's going to happen, one way or another. The only real question is whether the violence and strife which has been increasing while we have been in Iraq will continue or whether the removal of our forces will itself end the primary point of contention between these forces?

Naturally many Americans, particular after the Brutal murders of two U.S. Soldiers are not pleased by this idea. But how can we ignore the fact that this War was persued under false pretenses? That nothing that was argued as the justification for the War has panned out, even the arguement that we are their to "spread freedom" is undercut by the War's biggest cheerleaders when they simultaneously argue that "We Should Run Iraq the same way that Saddam did".

If there is no Amnesty for insurgents, shouldn't the Iraqi Government be able to put the Haditha Marines on trial? Do we really want that?

Let me restate: It's not our Country, and It's not our Civil War. Time has come for Iraqi soldiers and the Iraqi Government to grow up, stand up and start running their own show.

Even if they make decisions we don't neccesarily like. They aren't a puppet state of the U.S.

Or are they?


Sunday, June 25

The Curveball Psy-Ops Campaign

A brand new report from the Washington Post details the story of "Curveball", an Iraqi defector held by German authorities who was the one and sole source for claims of WMD's still in Iraq.

Regardless of what Rick Sanitorium believes, these claims were false, and in a repeat of the events reported by Vanity Fair which led to the false "16 Words" in the President's 2003 State of the Union Address, even after attempts to have these incorrect claims scrubbed were made by top CIA officials - they returned stronger than before.

Coincidence? I think not.

Vanity Fair reported just a couple weeks ago that claims of Iraq reconstituting it's nuclear program by purchasing unprocessed uranium from Niger were not a "mistake", they were part of a deliberate and planned Psy-Ops Campaign against the American People and the World.

For more than two years it has been widely reported that the U.S. invaded Iraq because of intelligence failures. But in fact it is far more likely that the Iraq war started because of an extraordinary intelligence success--specifically, an astoundingly effective campaign of disinformation, or black propaganda, which led the White House, the Pentagon, Britain's M.I.6 intelligence service, and thousands of outlets in the American media to promote the falsehood that Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program posed a grave risk to the United States.

Now, this WaPo report indicates that the Niger claims may not have been the only gambit in this campaign. According to our old friend Tyler Drumheller, former Chief of the CIA Covert Operations in Europe, he personally removed references from Colin Powell's UN speach which came from the German held defector "Curveball".

In late January 2003, as Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to argue the Bush administration's case against Iraq at the United Nations, veteran CIA officer Tyler Drumheller sat down with a classified draft of Powell's speech to look for errors. He found a whopper: a claim about mobile biological labs built by Iraq for germ warfare.

Drumheller instantly recognized the source, an Iraqi defector suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar. The CIA officer took his pen, he recounted in an interview, and crossed out the whole paragraph.

A few days later, the lines were back in the speech. Powell stood before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 and said: "We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."

How similar is this to the event leading to the Niger/Uranium claims?

In addition, Vanity Fair has found at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union in which analysts at the C.I.A., the State Department, or other government agencies who had examined the Niger documents or reports about them raised serious doubts about their legitimacy--only to be rebuffed by Bush-administration officials who wanted to use the material. "They were just relentless," says Wilkerson, who later prepared Colin Powell's presentation before the United Nations General Assembly. "You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique--ruthless relentlessness."

But even Wilkerson didn't realize at the time that Niger claim wasn't the only false one that the Bush Administration was intent on pushing through no matter what.

From Wapo.

Drumheller, who is writing a book about his experiences, described in extensive interviews repeated attempts to alert top CIA officials to problems with the defector, code-named Curveball, in the days before the Powell speech. Other warnings came prior to President Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003. In the same speech that contained the now famous "16 words" on Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium, Bush spoke in far greater detail about mobile labs "designed to produce germ warfare agents."

The warnings triggered debates within the CIA but ultimately made no visible impact at the top, current and former intelligence officials said. In briefing Powell before his U.N. speech, George Tenet, then the CIA director, personally vouched for the accuracy of the mobile-lab claim, according to participants in the briefing. Tenet now says he did not learn of the problems with Curveball until much later and that he received no warnings from Drumheller or anyone else.

"No one mentioned Drumheller, or Curveball," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff at the time, said in an interview. "I didn't know the name Curveball until months afterward."

The new revelations by Drumheller are startling, from what I'd previously read and heard, only members of the DIA (Defense Intellignce Agency) had attempted to gain direct access to Curveball (taxi-driver-come-international-spy) through his German intelligence handlers and had been told "We think he's a fabricator". But it now seems that DIA wasn't the only one who heard this.

In late 2002, the Bush administration began scouring intelligence files for reports of Iraqi weapons threats. Drumheller was asked to press a counterpart from a European intelligence agency for direct access to Curveball. Other officials confirmed that it was the German intelligence service.

The German official declined but then offered a startlingly candid assessment, Drumheller recalled. "He said, 'I think the guy is a fabricator,' " Drumheller said, recounting the conservation with the official, whom he declined to name. "He said, 'We also think he has psychological problems. We could never validate his reports.' "

This diary here states that George Tenet knew that the Mobile Lab story was phony even when he personally vouched for it but it's not exactly that simple.

As we could clearly see with the Niger claims, when one career intelligence person would knock them down - others (usually political appointees, but not always) would prop them back up again.

Although no American had ever interviewed Curveball, analysts with the CIA's Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control believed the informant's technical descriptions were too detailed to be fabrications.

"People were cursing. These guys were absolutely, violently committed to it," Drumheller said. "They would say to us, 'You're not scientists, you don't understand.' "

Before you can claim that Tenet knew (or that he informed Powell) you have to note exactly what he was told. A request came down from CIA headquarter to Drumheller in Europe asking three quesions:

  • Could a U.S. official refer to Curveball's mobile lab accounts in an upcoming political speech?

  • Could the Germans guarantee that Curveball would stand by his account?

  • Could German intelligence verify Curveball's claims?

Drumheller asked Berlin and was told "There are no guarantees".

"They said: 'We have never been able to verify his claims,' " Drumheller recalled. "And that was all sent up to Tenet's office."

I hate to be a stickler for all those who wish to dump on Tenet and Powell, but that isn't exactly -- This Guy is a FUCKING L.I.A.R. -- language. Sometimes you really do have to shout "LIAR" in the crowded building, as the smoke and and flames start to rise.

When veteran CIA Officer Ray McGovern challenged Donald Rumsfeld a few weeks ago on the issue of Iraqi WMD's - Rumsfeld responded by using Powell and his integrity as a Human Shield.

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven't lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn't lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. the president spent weeks and weeks with the central intelligence people and he went to the american people and made a presentation. i'm not in the intelligence business. they gave the world their honest opinion. it appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

The highly interesting thing about Rumsfeld's claim here is the that the DIA - the Defense Intelligence Agency, HIS Intelligence Agency - was told the exact same thing about Curveball that Drumheller was told when he spoke to German Intellegence.

Jan 2000-Sept 2001: Curveball's statements are recorded in German, shared with a local Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) team, and sent to the US, where they are translated into English for analysis at the DIA's directorate for human intelligence in Clarendon, Va<. "This was not substantial evidence," one senior German intelligence official later recalls in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said." The reports are then sent to the CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC), whose experts analyze the data and share it with artists who use Curveball's accounts to render sketches.

Rumsfeld didn't just accidentally mention Powell, he knew - or should have known - that Powell was being lied too.

From Commondreams;

The CIA never had access to Curveball. Instead, he was controlled by Germany's intelligence service, which passed along the information it collected to the United States through the Defense Intelligence Agency, a Pentagon spy agency that handled information from Iraqi defectors.

Rumsfeld's Agency got the information first, then passed it on to CIA for further analysis.

And meanwhile at CIA the apparent break in the information flow coming from Drumheller at CIA Europe occurred downstream of both Tenet and Powell - at the Office of Dept CIA Director John McLaughlin. Alarmed by the use of Curveball's information Drumheller made a call.

Drumheller said he called the office of John E. McLaughlin, then the CIA deputy director, and was told to come there immediately. Drumheller said he sat across from McLaughlin and an aide in a small conference room and spelled out his concerns.


In responding to questions about Drumheller, McLaughlin provided The Post with a copy of the statement he gave in response to the [Robb-Silbermann] commission's report. The statement said he had no memories of the meeting with Drumheller and had no written documentation that the meeting took place.

"If someone had made these doubts clear to me, I would not have permitted the reporting to be used in Secretary Powell's speech," McLaughlin said in the statement.

Someone comes to you and tells you that your lone and singular source for Iraqi WMD allegations is a known fabricator and liar and you forget the entire conversation?

Is this anything like Stephen Hadley forgetting to leave the Niger claims out of the State of the Union even after the White House received multiple phone calls and faxes from George Tenet stating that the information shouldn't be used? From Vanity Fair:

According to his Senate testimony, [Tenet] told Hadley that the "president should not be a fact witness on this issue," because the "reporting was weak." The C.I.A. even put it in writing and faxed it to the N.S.C. But somehow, some magical way - the reference to Iraq and Uranium just kept popping back up.

"You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique--ruthless relentlessness."

You can say that again.

The one point which seems to hang Tenet, who had made assurances to Powell that he could "trust this one" peice of intellegence was a phone call between Tenet and Drumheller on the eve of the UN Speach.

On the eve of the U.N. speech, Drumheller received a late-night phone call from Tenet, who said he was checking final details of the speech. Drumheller said he brought up the mobile labs.

"I said, 'Hey, boss, you're not going to use that stuff in the speech . . . ? There are real problems with that,' " Drumheller said, recalling the conversation.

Drumheller recalled that Tenet seemed distracted and tired and told him not to worry.

Clearly Drumheller thought his previous warnings to McLaughlin had been filtered up the chain of command, and that this little reminder would be sufficient -- but Tenet had already made assurances on the accuracy of the information to Powell. It was far too little, far too late.

Since that time Tenet has adamantly claimed he wasn't informed about the weakness of Curveball as a source.

"Nobody came forward to say there is a serious problem with Curveball or that we have been told by the foreign representative of the service handling him that there are worries that he is a 'fabricator,' " Tenet said in his statement.

And I suspect that from his perspective, Tenet is probably right - nobody told him directly that Curveball was a fabricator, and Drumheller doesn't claim that he did. He told McLaughlin, and McLaughlin apparently told, no one.

This scenario is what happened with Niger Claims, what happened with the WMD claims and also the same problem existed with the claims of connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- all of which came from one source in U.S. Custody named Ibn Sheihk al-Libi. Whom the DIA said was - wait for it - a Fabricator.

From Newsweek last November:

The new documents also raise the possibility that caveats raised by intelligence analysts about al-Libi's claims were withheld from Powell when he was preparing his Security Council speech. Larry Wilkerson, who served as Powell's chief of staff and oversaw the vetting of Powell's speech, responded to an e-mail from NEWSWEEK Wednesday stating that he was unaware of the DIA doubts about al-Libi at the time the speech was being prepared. "We never got any dissent with respect to those lines you cite ... indeed the entire section that now we know came from [al-Libi]," Wilkerson wrote.

"You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique--ruthless relentlessness."