Friday, March 30

The Real Bloggers of Baghdad

This week President Bush choose to emphasis his favorite Right-Wing Talking Point, frequently echoed by his bestest BFF's John McCain and Joe Lie-ber-man that things are going swimmingly with The Surges ™ by quoting the words of two bloggers from Baghdad.
"They have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here."
And what have these two bloggers been saying, according to President ("I use The Google but not the E-mail") Bush?
"Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed."
Nevermind the fact that these quotes didn't just come from a pair of random blogs but rather a Wall Street Journal Op-ed based on posts that were already several weeks old at the time.

Nevermind the fact that these two random bloggers happen to be big fat Bushies who have actually visited the White House and the President. From Will Bunch on Attytood
It's true that the authors blog from Baghdad: Their names are Mohammed and Omar Fadhil, and their site is called Iraq the Model. The Fadhils are not really your typical bloggers, though. For one thing, they have actually met with Bush in the Oval Office, in 2004. I happen to know quite a few bloggers -- none of the ones I know have met with the president.
Nevermind the fact that in recent days we have seen reports from Iraq such as these:

100+ dead in Baghdad suicide bombings.

“Multiple suicide bombers struck in predominantly Shiite markets in Baghdad and in a town north of the capital, killing at least 104 people and wounding scores on Thursday - the day that new U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker took office.” March 29,2007
...Or this which indicates that things are so bad, it's not even safe in the "Green Zone" anymore.

Green zone attack kills 2 Americans.

“Two Americans, a contractor and a soldier, were killed in a rocket attack on the heavily guarded Green Zone on Tuesday, according to statements from the U.S. Embassy and the military. Five other people were wounded, one contractor who was seriously hurt and three with slight wounds. A second soldier also was wounded in the attack, but the military did not give a condition.” March 27, 2007
Despite all this the President and his incredibly shrinking pool of supporters for this war continue to argue that we should keep clapping for the Tinkerbell Troops who will just simply collapse to dust without our endless, unflinching, boundless, judgement-less, unconditional love and enthusiam as well as unrestricted truckloads of cold hard CA$H. (But of course, only limited funds for body armor, proper helmet linings, uparmored humvees, improved healthcare or anything ridiculous gouche like that. Pfft!)

You see, our problem is we just don't hear enough "Good News" from the Illegal Occupation of Iraq - er - War on Terror™ - so the President did his civic duty and decided to "Catapult the Propaganda" and bring us some in order to counteract the Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy © that's been deliberately lying to all of us this entire time just because they're terminally afflicted with BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome)!

There, wasn't that helpful?

Well it seems that at least one Bloggerista, the aforementioned Will Bunch, decided to do some random surfing through the Blogs of Baghdad just to take the temperature of the place.

Here's what he found on five randomly choosen blogs accessable through a new site called IraqSlogger and The Google.

Exhibit A. From Baghdad Burning.
It takes a lot to get the energy and resolution to blog lately. I guess it’s mainly because just thinking about the state of Iraq leaves me drained and depressed.
Continued.
Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
Exhibit B. Treasure of Baghdad
My aunt’s words are still in mind since that day. She is right. Iraq is destroyed. People are displaced. No more schools are open. No more jobs offered. Markets are no longer welcoming customers. Barbers are killed. There is no longer water and electricity. There is no safety. People sleep with guns next to their pillows. Is that what people were dreaming of?
Exhibit C. Healing Iraq.
Hometown Baghdad is a new website that features short, compelling video documentaries of the lives of several Iraqi youth in Baghdad. Filmed completely by Iraqis, it follows the lives of Adel, Ausama and Saif, three college students, and their families, as they brave the streets of Baghdad, people who have nothing to do with the conflict going on in the country but who were sucked up in the madness nevertheless. They are the people behind the headlines and the numbers you so often see in Iraq coverage (50 Iraqis killed, 100 Iraqis wounded, 600 thousand Iraqis dead, 3 million Iraqis displaced, etc). It is classic citizen journalism from the front in Baghdad, despite Adel's slightly annoying Americanised accent. One of them is a despairing dentist!
Exhibit D. Baghdad Chronicles.
It was another turning point to our group when D was kidnapped from his house. Thankfully he was returned back safely because at that time, a year ago, kidnapped people were delivered safely after receiving the ransom money. Nowadays they take the money and throw the body in Tigris. Yes in that Tigris which once was sparkling under our suspension bridge, the bridge which is taken away from us and is invaded now like everything else in our life by some weird people who have different language, different blood and different culture.
And finally Exhibit E. hnk's blog (Which is technically from Mosul, not Baghdad)
And BOOOOM that's what we heard, my mom jumped from her place and I was too busy watching my mom. my dad as usual did what he always does when we heard an explosion.

He went out of the house. At that time there was a shooting so I go after him and pleased him to come inside and when he came back he was followed by 3 women and a child. they were walking in the street and the explosion made them crazy so they ran into our house. They sat for a little while and then left after the shooting stopped.

the situation is always getting worse. one day ago, we heard about 2 big explosions each hour.
We didn't even fix the kitchen's window that broke last month. because every day we heard an explosion which is big enough to break the window over again.

Now I would never suggest that you should simply take these paltry five examples as being completely and totally representative of the current state of existence in Baghdad or greater Iraq. Why... that would be horribly irresponsible wouldn't it? No, I would rather suggest that you consider just how Wolf Blitzer and Keith Olberman managed to bribe and pay-off these ridiculous left-wing shills into supporting their pathological Bush Hating Sickness. I mean really, who leaves the kitchen window broken like that - it's just plain unsanitary.

And then once you've return to the Reality Based World after utterly failing at that rather daunting task of mental gymnastics, you just might possibly consider that things in Iraq right now could possibly be pretty much fracked up!

And also that it's all our Bush's doing.

Vyan

How Sampson Drove the Bus Over Gonzo!

In his Senate testimony yesterday, former DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson strove hard to be a "Loyal Bushie" and continually denied that the unprecedented mid-term firing of 8 U.S. Attorney's was for "political reasons" - but in doing so he may have damaged the credibility of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales beyond all hope of repair.

From the NYTimes.

Mr. Sampson flatly contradicted the attorney general’s claim that he did not participate in the selection of the prosecutors to be fired and never had a conversation about "where things stood." Mr. Sampson testified that Mr. Gonzales was "aware of this process from the beginning," and that the two men regularly discussed where things stood. Mr. Sampson also confirmed that Mr. Gonzales was at the Nov. 27 meeting where the selected prosecutors’ fates were sealed.


Under oath Sampson stated.

"I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate."

Just as a refresher, that would be this statement made by Gonzales on 3/12/07 that:

"I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on."

Yet According to Sampson Gonzales was apparently involved in five discussion of the Attorney firings. Via Atrios.

"So he (Gonzales) was involved in discussions in contrast to his statement" this month? Specter asked.

"Yes." Sampson replied.

Sen. Charles Schumer then asked about Gonzales also claiming that he saw no documents on this matter.

Sampson replied: "I don't think it's entirely accurate."

Schumer: "There was repeated discussions??

Sampson: "Yes...at least five."

Forgetting one single meeting most people could understand, maybe two - but five!? It seems to me where headed full bore for Libby-ville (where Scooter claims that he first heard about Valerie Plame-Wilsons' CIA connection from Tim Russert was contradicted by at least six seperate witnesses)

How's that grill taste Abu?

Still, Sampson probably felt little qualms about revealing Abu mis-statements since he continued to hold to the Administration line that the President has discretion to fire anyone at anytime for ANY REASON - but this time the reason certainly wasn't politics - oh - heaven forfend not!

NYTimes.

The administration insists that purge was not about partisan politics. But Mr. Sampson’s alternative explanation was not very credible — that the decision about which of these distinguished prosecutors should be fired was left in the hands of someone as young and inept as Mr. Sampson. If this were an aboveboard, professional process, it strains credulity that virtually no documents were produced when decisions were made, and that none of his recommendations to Mr. Gonzales were in writing.

Sampson claimed not to be able to fully explain the purge, since the final decision was made by Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales:

Mr. Sampson’s claim that he had only casual knowledge of these highly sensitive investigations was implausible, unless we are to believe that Mr. Gonzales runs a department in which the chief of staff is merely a political hack who has no hand in its substantive work. He added to the suspicions that partisan politics were involved when he made the alarming admission that in the middle of the Scooter Libby investigation, he suggested firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago who was the special prosecutor in the case.

Sampson also attempted to claim that Carol Lam was fired for her failure to pursue immigration cases, however Diane Feinstein wasn't going for it.

Feinstein told Sampson, "It is a real surprise to me that you would say here that the reason for her dismissal was immigration cases." She then revealed a letter of commendation to Carol Lam dated Feb. 15, 2007, signed by the director of field operations of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency. She read some excerpts to Sampson:

The letter concludes, "I speak for my entire staff when I say that we are honored to have had the privilege of working with you and your staff for the past four years. ... Again, thank you for your support; you will be missed."

Despites Sampsons unbelievable denials at least one former U.S. Attorney, Joseph Rich, has come out and flatly stated that the firings weren't just political, but were intended Fix The Vote.

From the LA Times.

I spent more than 35 years in the (Justice) department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

At least two of the recently fired U.S. attorneys, John McKay in Seattle and David C. Iglesias in New Mexico, were targeted largely because they refused to prosecute voting fraud cases that implicated Democrats or voters likely to vote for Democrats.

After six hours of testimony Sampson finally admitted that the firings, particularly of David Iglesias may have been a mistake. Hmmm. ya think?

From Thinkprogress.

SCHUMER: Do you still think David Iglesias deserved to be fired?

SAMPSON: Senator, looking back on all of this, I wish that we could do it over again.

SCHUMER: So you’re saying you think he shouldn’t have been fired?

SAMPSON: Senator, I don’t know. That was a decision that was made. In hindsight, in hindsight, I wish the Department hadn’t gone down this road at all, and I regret my role in it, and that’s one of the reasons I resigned.

SCHUMER: So if the choice were up to you, just thinking back on that fateful December 7, would you now — knowing what you know now — have put David Iglesias on a list, choice solely up to you if he should be fired?

SAMPSON: In hindsight, sitting here today –

SCHUMER: Correct.

SAMPSON: I would not.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda is not exactly the way to run a country. Particularly when one of the Attorney on the hit-list was Patrick Fitzgerald.

The Washington Post reported recently that Patrick Fitzgerald — the special prosecutor in the Libby trial — was given a poor ranking by the Bush administration despite being described by his colleagues as a "legal star":

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

The ranking was drawn up by Kyle Sampson, but the reference to Fitzgerald "is in a portion of the memo that Justice has refused to turn over to Congress."

Exactly how Abu intends to squirm his way out of this fine mess should be somewhat entertaining, but I for one think that his days are marked and numbered.

If this is how a tried and true "Loyal Bushie" treats him, the Senators who've been bullied by Bush for the last six years should greet him with a wide warm embrace when he testifies next month.

Oh yes, it will be old home week.

Vyan

Wednesday, March 28

The Impending White House Email Disaster

Yesterday my boss - who isn't the most net savvy guy in the world - got an email from Paypal claiming that there was a problem with his credit card, so he logged into his account and updated his information.

Today he discovered an unexplained withdrawal for $2,600 from his Checkccard account. This is just minutes after I'd taken a look at this suspicious email and discovered that it didn't come from Paypal at all and instead directed the user to a domain called dancesforlifes.com which featured a facimile of the paypal login and html code that directed his Id, Password and credit card information to a Gmail address.

Oh shit!.

All of this I mention just to point out that email security is not a joke and that many people will go to great lengths to get at the sensitive information we'd prefer to protect, on and it appears that much of the staff of the White House has switched to using personal email accounts.

From Thinkprogress.

Via Muckraker, U.S. News reports that "just a week after E-mails in the U.S. attorneys case became a main focus of congressional Democrats probing the firings, several aides said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence."

"We just got a bit lazy," said one aide. "We knew E-mails could be subpoenaed. We saw that with the Clintons but I don't think anybody saw that we were doing anything wrong."

But rather than use RNC accounts, "they have subsequently bought their own private E-mail system through a cellular phone or Blackberry server. When asked how he communicated, one aide pulled out a new personal cellphone and said, ‘texting.’"

As was pointed out in the Recommended Diary by citizen92 earlier this week, allowing their communications to be stored on unsecured non-government servers is security threat simply waiting to be exploited. All some needs to do is crack the password and their in.

The White House is a huge target for electronic espionage by friendly and hostile foreign powers. For those of you who may have visited Washington, this may be evident when you stroll by the various embassies scattered around the city -- with their unusual sculptures of antennas and wires on their roofs. The Russians have a compound just three blocks north of the White House.

The US Government spends undisclosed amounts on countermeasures to protect its critical information and its secure networks. And it has the experts to make sure that those countermeasures are working.

But what if someone in the White House chooses to not use those counter-measures (simply to avoid leaving a subpoena-able trail of bread-crumbs) and as a results gets their password jacked?

I personally know how easy this is to accomplish. Not simply because of what happened to my boss yesterday, but because once upon a time one of best friends was a hacker. Not just any hacker - The Hacker. Kevin Mitnick (who later spent several years on the run from federal authorities) and I went to High School together, and way back in the late 70's I got to see first hand how he used to create password phishing programs just like the one I described at the top of this post to access LAUSD, USC and UCLA logon accounts.

Ah, the classics never fade away it seems.

Besides the security issues, this also may blow WH claims of extended executive priveledge completley out of the water. From Josh Marshall.

"[T]his may have been too clever by half. If the president’s aides were using RNC emails or emails from other Republican political committees, they can’t have even the vaguest claim to shielding those communications behind executive privilege."

And they certainly can't use that claim to protect emails on their personal blackberry and cell phone now can they?

Oh, and by the way - other federal agencies have banned this practice for security reasons.

A reader who has a security role at a federal agency writes, "On the issue of using outside/unofficial e-mail address from official sites, the CIO at [redacted] has expressly forbade the practice for security reasons as it is all too easy to put sensitive information in an e-mail. ... Needless to say, hearing that the WH does not mandate that practice and lets [Rove] do 95% of his e-mailing from a blackberry, presumably with access to an unofficial address, is quite shocking. Still find it absolutely amazing that his clearance has not been revoked."

"Amazing" simply isn't the world for it.

Getting zapped for a couple grand is pretty bad, but just imagine how much of the nation's assets are being put a risk by these WH jackasses?

I think Fraking Criminally Negligent is a good set of words for it - how 'bout that?

Vyan

Monday, March 26

Huffpo: Impeach Gonzales Now!

Arianna Huffington's latest piece on HuffingtonPost makes the astute arguement that rather than allowing Bush to play beat the clock on the end of his administration, Congress should move toward Impeachment Hearings of Alberto ("Fredo") Gonzales now rather than later.

If the president continues trying to run out the clock on this scandal, Congress should immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Alberto Gonzales. It's the quickest way to the truth.

Appearing on CNN's Late Edition, [Vicky Toensing's Husband] Joe DiGenova said that if Congress insists on issuing subpoenas, the White House will surely contest them, and the ensuing litigation will last until the end of Bush's term. DiGenova's point was that Congress should go ahead and compromise, but my takeaway was just the opposite: if Bush's game is to stall, Congress should play the impeachment card since, as Robert Kuttner points out, "an impeachment inquiry could be completed in a matter of months."

Kuttner calls Gonzales the administration's "point man for serial assaults against the rule of law." And his sordid track record as White House counsel and AG bears this out: Guantanamo, the misuse of "national security letters," the abuse of the Patriot Act, the illegal spying on American citizens, and now his lies about his involvement in the U.S. Attorney firings.

Bush has 21 months left in office. That's far too long to continue with an Attorney General with such contempt for the law.

Although much of the question of "who really authorized the firings" has since shifted toward the Whitehouse and the 18-Day gap the question of Alberto's personal complicity in the firings and his false statements to congress.

Jan 18:

I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.

And

I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons

Problem is, there's more than circumstantial evidence that he did exactly that.

[Fired U.S. Attorney] John McKay of Washington state, who had decided two years earlier not to bring voter fraud charges that could undermine a Democratic victory in a closely fought gubernatorial race, said that White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy William Kelley "actually asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me."

McKay said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the question -- which he took as a challenge to his 2004 decision -- surprised him because the issue was reviewed by his office and supported by the FBI's office in Seattle. "We expected to be supported by people in Washington, D.C., when me make tough decisions like that," McKay said.

And so far has completely stood behind his decision.

Listen, we made a decision at the Department as to the appropriate way forward. There was nothing improper about the decision here ... There’s no evidence whatsoever, and it’s reckless and irresponsible to allege that these decisions were based in any way on improper motives.

Even if he claims he doesn't remember making it.

I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on ... That’s basically what I knew as attorney general.

With more and more information coming out from the various doco and email dumps, not to mention the testimony from Carlon Lam and David Iglesias that these firings were definately political...

"If [my firing] was performance based, there is no way they would have agreed to have allowed me to list them as a reference," he said. "In fact, they agreed, telling me that the true nature was political, not performance."

Congress already has more than enough information and evidence to force Gonzales out based on the numerous crimes he's either committed or aided with these firings including...

  • Misrepresentations to Congress (18 U.S.C. § 1505)
  • Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c))
  • Witness Tampering (18 U.S.C. § 1512 (b))
Rove and Miers can wait on the hook behind their phony "executive priveledge shield (which is supposed to only apply to direct conversations with the President rather than between those two) in the meantime. I for one prefer my Turdblossom's well sauteed and marinated in fear and guilt before the final slow roast on a Congressional Spit.

Gonzales himself, since he no longer works in the White House, has no "exective priveledge" to hide behind. They must subpeona him to explain himself, and if he continues to lie - or worse refuses the subpeona as he's threatened to do - I say "Impeach His Punk Ass".

Vyan

Sunday, March 25

Serving the President's Pleasure

Last Sunday during the penultimate episode of this season of Battlestar Galactica a prosecutor uttered the following phrase when asked by the Colonial President to persue Genocide charges against her predecessor based largely on a fleeting glimpse of of him during a hazy recovered memory.

I plan to prosecute on charges I can prove. But of course you can always fire me and have me replaced since I do serve at the pleasure of the President

The irony of that statement coming out at that particular moment in time by a prosecutor to the President - in the midst of Gonzales-Gate - to me was like a lightening bolt hitting the White House porch.

Was it just a coincidence, or were the people at BSG up to a little subversive mischief with a particular partisan bent?

To answer that question I reached out to a contact I had made on the show last year at an SC film festival and asked about the scene. He emailed me back and said:

That scene was shot in early December. It has to be a coincidence, right?

Yeah, ok fine. Gotta be.

From it's inception this show has been re-conceived from it's cheesy 70's origins into a provacative (and only slightly distorted) mirror of our own struggles with issues in the aftermath of a catastraphic mass murder such as 9/11. Just what barriers do you cross in persuit of the survival of your way of life? Do you use torture? Kangaroo Courts? Retaliatory Genocide? Rigged Elections? In the past my contact has told me how the shows producers take delicious glee in placing the words of George W Bush into the mouth of President Laura Roslyn knowing that the actress Mary McDonnel is an extreme "ultra liberal" who would freak if she realized what she was really saying.

Still in this case one conspiracy theory by Hollywood was shot down in flames, IMO it really was just a coincidence, maybe a slight flicker of the show "West Wing" which used that phrase quite often, not a wry indictment of the Bush Administration.

But then again as I look at today's New York Times it seem another conspiracy is growing by leaps and bounds.

WASHINGTON, March 24 — An accumulating body of evidence is at odds with the statements of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that he played little role in the deliberations over the dismissal of eight United States attorneys.

Mr. Gonzales has said he did not take part in any discussions of the dismissal effort, and left the planning and execution of the removals up to D. Kyle Sampson, his former chief of staff.

But e-mail messages and other documents released by the Justice Department in recent days suggest that Mr. Gonzales was told of the dismissal plan on at least two occasions, in 2005 when the plan was devised and again in late 2006 shortly before the firings were carried out.

Oops. Was that a little white-lie Mr. G? Didn't take part in any discussions? How about two discussions Mr. Attorney General, hm?

But what's even more interesting is that Gonzo (aka Fredo) might just be pulling a Libby and falling on the sword for ole Turdblossom.

The conflicts between the documentary record and Mr. Gonzales’s version of events have contributed to an erosion of support for him in Congress, where lawmakers from both parties have called for him to step down. They have also fed suspicions by some Democrats that the ousters, from the start, may have been orchestrated by the White House, and most particularly, by Karl Rove, the White House political adviser.

Although many of the right such as Tom Delay and Fred Barnes have claimed that this is a "Made up partisan scandal" - there is the very real possibiilty that a series of crimes may have indeed been committed as Adam Cohen outlined this week.

First there's Lying to Congress.

1. Misrepresentations to Congress. The relevant provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1505, is very broad. It is illegal to lie to Congress, and also to "impede" it in getting information. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty indicated to Congress that the White House’s involvement in firing the United States attorneys was minimal, something that Justice Department e-mail messages suggest to be untrue.

Second, Obstructing Justice.

2. Calling the Prosecutors. As part of the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms, Congress passed an extremely broad obstruction of justice provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c), which applies to anyone who corruptly "obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so," including U.S. attorney investigations.

David Iglesias, the New Mexico United States attorney, says Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, called him and asked whether he intended to bring indictments in a corruption case against Democrats before last November’s election. Mr. Iglesias said he "felt pressured" by the call. If members of Congress try to get a United States attorney to indict people he wasn’t certain he wanted to indict, or try to affect the timing of an indictment, they may be violating the law.

Hmm.. shades of President Roslyn?

Third - Tampering with Witnesses.

3. Witness Tampering. 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (b) makes it illegal to intimidate Congressional witnesses. Michael Elston, Mr. McNulty’s chief of staff, contacted one of the fired attorneys, H. E. Cummins, and suggested, according to Mr. Cummins, that if he kept speaking out, there would be retaliation. Mr. Cummins took the call as a threat, and sent an e-mail message to other fired prosecutors warning them of it. Several of them told Congress that if Mr. Elston had placed a similar call to one of their witnesses in a criminal case, they would have opened an investigation of it.

And Congress should also open an investigation...

The forth crime, is the juciest. It's the one that puts the lie to Tony Snow-job's "Serving at the Pleasure" canard. You see, the President can't improperly fire a U.S. Attorney for just any willy nilly reason - not if that firing is done to impeded an ongoing investigation.

4. Firing the Attorneys. United States attorneys can be fired whenever a president wants, but not, as § 1512 (c) puts it, to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding.

Let’s take the case of Carol Lam, United States attorney in San Diego. The day the news broke that Ms. Lam, who had already put one Republican congressman in jail, was investigating a second one, Mr. Sampson wrote an e-mail message referring to the "real problem we have right now with Carol Lam." He said it made him think that it was time to start looking for a replacement.

Also...

Congress has also started investigating the removal of Fred Black, the United States attorney in Guam, who was replaced when he began investigating the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Anyone involved in firing a United States attorney to obstruct or influence an official proceeding could have broken the law.

Just to put this in perspective, besides the fact the Scooter Libby was just convicted for Obstruction of Justice and False Statements - if we jump in the way-back machine and remember almost ten years ago, Four of the Eleven Allegations made by Ken Starr against President Bill Clinton recommending his impeachment were for - wait for it - Obstruction of Justice and a fifth was for Witness Tampering.

With this in mind, and with connections growing stronger between these firings and the White House (despite their quaasi-legal attempts to hide their email trail on non-government servers and the odd 18-day gap) President Bush just might come to regret one particular statement he made this week as much as Clinton regrets saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman..."

However, in Bush's case he didn't deny involvement - he actually endorsed the firings.

Mr. Bush, in his Saturday radio address, again came to the defense of Mr. Gonzales, his longtime friend and legal adviser. "I strongly support the attorney general in this decision" to remove the United States attorneys, President Bush said.

If these firings were engineered specifically as a result of attempts to improperly influence the U.S. Attorneys into questionable prosecutions against Democrats and to halt ongoing legitimate prosecutions against Republicans A Crime was Commited and the President may have just admitted Complicity in that Crime.

If so, the dueling House and Senate "Show Trials" which are begining to shape up just might rival Ringing Bros as one of the Greatest On Earth, as well as the ignoble end of the Bush Administration.

Vyan

P.S. Battlestar Galactica's Season finale airs tonight on Sci Fi (10pm), and it just might have a few more interestingly ironic nuggets for us neo-conspiracy buffs.