Saturday, July 7

Live Earth: The Lineup Non-Controversy

Today is 7-07-07 for the one an only time in this century.

Today is also Live Earth Day, with an unprecedented global concert taking place simutaneously on all seven continents to help raise awareness on the Global Climate Crisis.

To most people, except those in deep right wingernutville like Sen. Inhofe who tried to block the surprise opening show in Washington DC, this is not an issue to debate and argue about.

Leave it to Hannity and colmes to find some spittle to spew over a bunch of musicians trying to keep our world from going up in flames.

On last nights H&c the issue raised regardling Live Earth was the inclusion of Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) on the bill as a last minute addition.

Live Earth organizers today announced that music legend Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens), rapper, actor and television personality Xzibit, and electronica artist Kenna will be joining the blockbuster line-ups of performers at the Live Earth concerts in Hamburg, Tokyo and New York, respectively. Organizers also announced that a limited number of tickets are available for each show.


The Hannity talking-head stand-in claimed that it was inappropriate for Yusuf to be included in the concert because of his "terrorist connections", his being included on the "terrorist no-fly list", and his statements in support of radical muslims who had collect for the killing of author Salman Rushdie for his book "Satanic Verses."

colmes in his usual bumbling manner, managed to completely debunk the right-wing view and still somehow lose the arguement and get browbeaten even though he was right when he pointed out that Cat Stevens/Yusuf has completely renounced violence and publically denied supporting the fatwa against Rushdie.

On September 12th, 2001 he made the following public statment.

"I wish to express my heartfelt horror at the indiscriminate terrorist attacks committed against innocent people of the United States yesterday. While it is still not clear who carried out the attack, it must be stated that no right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: The Qur'an equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity. We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives in this unthinkable act of violence as well as all those injured; I hope to reflect the feelings of all Muslims and people around the world whose sympathies go out to the victims of this sorrowful moment.


That didn't stop the winger-guest who continued to claim that Yusuf has to "do more" to prove he isn't a terrorist sympatheser - claiming that Yusuf is part of a radical wahabbist Saudi sect of Islam that prohibits music.

This he said despite the fact that Yusuf came to the U.S. in October of 2001 and performed "Peace Train" at the Concert for New York in response to the 9/11 attacks.

This he said despite the fact that Yusuf has a new album out and has been very active in the music field in recent years.

In 2003, after repeated encouragement from within the Muslim world, Yusuf Islam once again recorded the song "Peace Train" for a compilation CD, which also included performances by David Bowie and Paul McCartney. He also performed "Wild World" in Nelson Mandela's 46664 concert with his former session player Peter Gabriel, for which he publicly performed in English for the first time in 25 years. In December 2004, he and Ronan Keating released a new version of "Father and Son". It debuted at number two, behind Band Aid 20's "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The proceeds of "Father and Son" were donated to the Band Aid charity. Keating's former group, Boyzone, had a hit with the song a decade earlier.


Could this be what he means by "Do More?"

Whether Yusuf is going to sing "Moonshadow" or not at the Live Earth concert isn't the biggest issue that concerns me. What bothers me, as a long-time musician and programmer of my own Live365 Radio Station which focuses specifically on protest and activist music, is not so much whose going to be at the show - it's who and what's Not Going to be on the Show.

I seriously doubt that we're going to see a moment like the muddy, lazy Sunday morning when Jimi Hendrix completely re-envision the Star-Spangled Banner through his Marshals, Wah-peddle, phaser and Stratocaster at Woodstock.

Besides the fact that just like Elvis, Hendrix is dead - neither he nor anyone even remotely like him is playing Live Earth (Except admittedly for Lenny Kravitz and frankly, that's a stretch. Just because Lenny's dark and wears a guitar around his neck doesn't make him Hendrix).

I serously doubt that we're going to see moment like that when Bono and U2 performed at the original Live Aid, bringing the house (actually Stadium) down into a the size of a living room with "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

U2 isn't Playing Live Earth

The Police are playing, but I really don't expect them to perform a song like "Message In a Bottle" with it's line "Seems I'm not alone in being alone..." in order to point out how so many of us are linked, and how we need to band together to fight to save our world and ourselves for potential extinction. I don't expect them to play "Synchronicity II" with it's line - "Another industrial ugly morning, the factory belches filth into the sky."

It's appropriate that Sheryl Crow is playing the show, since she had the big brass cojones to take on Karl Rove face to face over the Climate Crisis. Too bad she sings like a 12-year-old with the flu. (My opinion, I'm sticking with it)

There are many other groups who've been outspoken as part of their career or in recent years on issues of public policy.

Unfortunately...

Dixie Chicks are not playing Live Earth

As Armenian-American's the members of the group System of a Down, who've done songs such as "Boom" and "B.Y.O.B." have a understanding of the impact the global policies in the wake of the Armenian Genocide - but...

System of a Down are not playing Live Earth

Although they've recently reformed and the appropriateness of "Sleep Now in the Fire" being performed on this show can not be underestimated - Rage Against the Machine is not Playing at Live Earth - but curiously their former Audioslave bandmate Chris Cornell Is.

Linkin Park (whose performance I've just watched) and who in the past yet taken steps on thier own to address Tsunami Relief have a new song called "What I've Done" which is exactly on point in terms of the Global Crisis and related issues. They Didn't Play It (Update: It wasn't on Bravo, it was on Sundance)

Genesis could have included topical songs "Throwing it All Away" or "Land of Confusion" (which was recently covered by Disturbed) but they didn't do those songs (on Bravo!) - instead they played "Invisible Touch."

Some of the groups that are playing include Kelly Clarkson, Shakira, Black Eyed Peas and the Pussy Cat Dolls.

Now I like Kelly, she's a nice kid with a great voice - but has she ever written performed a song that wasn't about her last boyfriend or having been on American Idol?

Shakira, honey someone needs to tell you that a guitar is not a necklace. It serves a functional purpose (you can make stuff with it - like music) Just prancing with it like a big peice of bling bling is not gonna make you into either Lita Ford or Nancy Wilson.

P.S. You may be a Hot Chick &Trade, but You Don't Rock!

PCD - "Don't you wish your girlfriend was a FREAK like me?", certainly has become the anthem of the new age hasn't it?

I'm glad Madonna is on the show, because she's forgotten more about activism and using music to take on issues and make a point than the Pussycat Dolls, Britney, Kelly, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson are ever going to know.

But then, it's not like she's big with the spontenaity since everything she does it choreeographed in advance.

I really wasn't expecting much from the group that wrote and performed "My Humps, My Humps - My Lovely Lady Lumps - Check it Out", but I have to say the Peas actually did manage, via an improptu free-style rasta rap, to capture the spirit of the event before launching into "Let's Get it Started."

Maybe there's reason for a little hope that this even actually be somewhat more memorable than Live-8 almost exactly two years ago.

Anyone remember that?

Despite the issue of whether anyone likes a particular artist who was or wasn't included (obviously tastes vary greatly) it's a good thing that many of the people who are performing, even the Pussycat Dolls, have stepped up to the plate.

But one thing we shouldn't be freaked out about is whether Cat Stevens/Yusuf is gonna sing "Wild World" or not.

Vyan

P.S. Pearl Jam is Not Playing Live Earth

Update: Some of the songs I noted as missing were performed but not broadcast on all airings between Sundance, Bravo and others..

Friday, July 6

Consequences of LIbby Commute: A Free For All!

According to the New York Times the defense team for a suspected Hamas Operative filed a motion arguing that he should get - The Libby Treatment

And he's not the only one.

The New York times reported yesterday that Scooter Libby’s commutation has been a "gift" for defense attorneys, with many using the so-called "Libby motion" to argue, "My client should have got what Libby got, and here’s why." Subsequently, judges may have "reason to lighten sentences and undermining the goal of a more uniform justice system."

Y'know I hate to say "I Don't Told You So!"

Ok, that's a lie - NO I DON'T.

Just as I predicted 2 months ago concerning the consequences of the DOJ purge, defense attorneys are now using the probability that their clients were targeted for partisan reasons as justification for either tossing the cases or lighter sentences.

As noted by the LA Times.

Defense lawyers in a growing number of cases are raising questions about the motives of government lawyers who have brought charges against their clients. In court papers, they are citing the furor over the U.S. attorney dismissals as evidence that their cases may have been infected by politics.

Justice officials say those concerns are unfounded and constitute desperate measures by desperate defendants. But the affair has given defendants and their lawyers some new energy, which is complicating life for the prosecutors.

And we should certainly believe everything the Justice Department has to say about it, right?

Now in addition to that problem, and previous claims by defense attorneys that illegal evidence may have been used against them via NSA wiretaps, we have The Libby Treatment defense, but that hasn't phased the White House. Nope, not even a little bit.

In a USA Today Op-ed written by Snow Job himself, our erstwhile Press Secretary says that what the President did the other day - besides the fact that he's almost never done it before - was completely normal.

[Bush] believes it is important to respect the jury’s work. ... So the president left intact the felony convictions and two of the major punishments — the fine and probation.

President Bush commuted part of Lewis Libby's sentence because he considered a 30-month stretch in prison too severe. Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury; was fined $250,000; must serve two years probation; and will likely lose his license to practice law. That qualifies as a stern penalty for a first-time offender with a long history of public service.

Isn't it interesting that the Press Secretary has decided that he needs to temporarily return to being a member of the dreaded media by submitting an Oped on this issue? What's the matter Tony, weren't you able to catapult the propaganda sufficiently from behind the pulpit?

Of course he says nothing about Judge Reggie Walton's order which indicates the that probation is entirely moot, since Federal guidelines require that a defendant serve time before they can be placed on "supervised release."

Once you leave the psycho fantasy world of the Snowblind, things get a wee bit more interesting.

From the New York Sun.

[An] alleged Hamas operative is likely to be among the first criminal defendents to try to capitalize on President Bush’s commutation.” Mohammad Salah is scheduled to be sentenced next week on obstruction of justice charges, with a 22 year maximum sentence. “What the president said about Mr. Libby applies in spades to the case of Mohammed Salah,” said defense attorney Michael Deutsch.

"When Mr. Bush commuted that prison sentence on Monday, he made particular note of the alleged unfairness in how Libby’s sentence was calculated. “Critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury,” the president wrote."

It applies to an even greater extent in Mr. Salah’s case,” Mr. Deutsch said. “In our case, these allegations were presented to a jury and he was acquitted.”

Rather than lying to the FBI and a Grand Jury, Salah was convicted of lies not related to his criminal case, but instead of statements made on the stand during his defense against civil prosecution by families of victims of a deadly Hamas sponsored-bombing. So the associates of suicide bombers are now claiming they should recieve clemency based on the exact same arguements made by the President to save Libby from prison?

I wonder what Tony Snow might say to that? You think he might try spin this into an "Clinton did it too" arguement? Nah, he would never.

Think again.

The Constitution gives the president the power to grant clemency in a wide range of cases, at his discretion, with no restrictions. In the final hours of the Clinton administration, this unfettered authority was embodied in a mad rush to push through pardons with dizzying haste — 141 grants on Clinton's final day in office, part of 211 in the final nine weeks.

In contrast, no president in recent history has made more careful use of the pardoning power than George W. Bush: The president believes pardons and commutations should reflect a genuine determination to strengthen the rule of law and increase public faith in government.

.

See, Bush was just restoring faith and the "(d)rule of law" to government after that rotten Clinton guy messed everything up. Nothing to worry about.

Except possibly for the fact that ...

Susan James, defense attorney for former Governor Don Siegelman (R D-AL), who was convicted of corruption and obstruction of justice charges, plans to argue for the “Libby treatment” for Siegelman. “[Bush] has basically come in and said the sentence is too harsh,” James said. “I’ll find some way to weave that into our argument,” James said.

Isn't this when Scooby Doo usually goes "Ruh Roh"?

More from TPM Muckraker.

Siegelman was convicted on corruption charges stemming from appointing a healthcare CEO, Robert Scrushy, to a public board. Like Libby, he was also convicted of obstruction of justice charges, which were related to a $9,000 motorcycle transaction. But unlike Libby, who was give six to eight weeks to report to jail, Siegelman was taken into custody immediately after the judge announced his sentence. Before the commutation announcement this evening, Siegelman's lawyers had argued that he should have been allowed to remain free while awaiting his appeal.

"He doesn't want to be treated like Paris Hilton, but he does want to be treated fairly like Scooter Libby," said another one of Siegelman's lawyers, Vince Kilborn.

Isn't that great, everybody wants to get Scooter-fied.

Yep, That's a Heckuvajob you did there Bushie. Way to "Protect the Homeland" and "Fight Terrorism". Oh yeah, and that Faith in Government and Rule of Law thingee should be arriving on the South Lawn any minute now - like a flaming bag full of crap on Halloween.

It Burns - It BURNS!

And it stinks too.

Update: One thing about that should be pointed out with Fred "Flaw and Disorder" Thompson, Rudy Giuliani (who hasn't met a brutal cop he doesn't love) and Mitt Romney (who as Massachusetts governor refused to pardon an Iraq war veteran’s BB-gun conviction) all of whom have openly and enthusiastically supported the President's action regarding Libby - does this mean that any or all of them would be willing to make changes to various Manditory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines to allow more judicial flexibility in the light of "extenuating circumstances?"

Somehow, I think not.

Vyan

Thursday, July 5

Anthrax Attack on Congress may have been launched by Government Agency?

According to a report from a government Insider currently posted on AfterDowningStreet.org, the Anthrax attacks on Senators Daschle and Leahy in 2001, just weeks after 9-11, may have been launched not by foreign or even domestic terrorists, unless (like Rosie O'Donnel) you count members of the U.S. Government as potentential members such a group.

Francis A. Boyle, an international law expert who worked under the first Bush Administration as a bioweapons advisor in the 1980s, has said that he is convinced the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people were perpetrated and covered up by criminal elements of the U.S. government. The motive: to foment a police state by killing off and intimidating opposition to post-9/11 legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the later Military Commissions Act.

I admit I am wary of what might seem a bit of tin-foil habberdashery, but then again - we just had a President commute the sentence of someone who lied to protect the Vice President from possible Treason charges. We've seen our racial discrimination at the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Just how much lower can the Bush/Cheney Government go?

Based on what Dr. Boyle has to say it just might be that we haven't even begun to completely plumb the true depths of BushCo.

"At the time I myself did not know precisely what was going on, either with respect to September 11 or the anthrax attacks, but then the New York Times revealed the technology behind the letter to Senator Daschle. [The anthrax used was] a trillion spores per gram, [refined with] special electro-static treatment. This is superweapons-grade anthrax that even the United States government, in its openly proclaimed programs, had never developed before. So it was obvious to me that this was from a U.S. government lab. There is nowhere else you could have gotten that."

At the time of the attacks the Senate was contempating the original version of the Patriot Act, which at the time included a complete striping of Habeas Corpus. Senator Leahy was one of the leading opponents of the bill.

Following the attacks, much of that opposition faded and the bill - with some modifications - was passed. Leahy even voted for it.

Boyle who had worked for years on Bioweapons and had been responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which passed both Houses and was signed into law by George Herbert Walker Bush.

But wait, the plot sickens...

After realizing that the type and quality of the Anthrax used against Sen. Daschle indicated that it had to have been developed by U.S. Scientists, Boyle contacted the FBI and spoke with Agent Marion "Spike" Bowman.

Boyle and Bowman had met at a terrorism conference at the University of Michigan Law School. Boyle told Bowman that the only people who would have the capability to carry out the attacks were individuals working on U.S. government anthrax programs with access to a high-level biosafety lab. Boyle gave Bowman a full list of names of scientists, contractors and labs conducting anthrax work for the U.S. government and military.

Well, you'd expect that armed with this knowledge, trusty Agent Bowman would be after his man/men immediately? Well, not so much.

Bowman then informed Boyle that the FBI was working with Fort Detrick on the matter. Boyle expressed his view that Fort Detrick could be the main problem.

Fort Detrick recieves it's cultures for bioweapon analysis and development from Ames, Iowa - but not long after these events the cultures at Ames were ordered destroyed by ... wait for it ... the FBI.

The alleged destruction of the anthrax culture collection at Ames, Iowa, from which the Fort Detrick lab got its pathogens, was blatant destruction of evidence. It meant that there was no way of finding out which strain was sent to whom to develop the larger breed of anthrax used in the attacks. The trail of genetic evidence would have led
directly back to a secret government biowarfare program.

"Clearly, for the FBI to have authorized this was obstruction of justice, a federal crime," said Boyle. "That collection should have been preserved and protected as evidence. That's the DNA, the fingerprints right there. It later came out, of course, that this was
Ames strain anthrax that was behind the Daschle and Leahy letters."

It's not like Agent Bowman hasn't dropped the ball before. It was he along with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Maltbi who decided it wasn't even worth trying to file a FISA warrant the contents of Zacarias Moussaoui's computer hardrive.

The Judiciary Committee has been investigating FISA problems at the FBI, including holding closed hearings where Mr. Bowman and others were questioned about the Moussaoui case.

Mr. Grassley said a 26-page electronic communication from the Minneapolis agents contained information that "a reasonable person would have concluded" was sufficient to obtain a FISA warrant.

He said the application should have gone forward to the Justice Department and the FISA court.

Instead, he said, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Maltbie concluded there was not enough information and that Mr. Bowman agreed, although he was aware Mr. Maltbie had "removed certain information before making a presentation of questionable accuracy and length to the national security law unit."

Mr. Grassley said if the application had gone forward and a warrant issued, the agents would have found information in Moussaoui's belongings linking him both to a major financier of the hijacking plot and to an al Qaeda boss who met with at least two other hijackers while under surveillance by intelligence officials.

After his stellar work on the Moussaoui case, Bowman was naturally given a Presidential Rank of Meritorious Service award. I suppose a fresh new Medal of Freedom wasn't available at the time.

It should also be noted that there are others with a different opinion and view of the source of that Anthrax used in that fateful 2001 attack. From the WaPo Sept 2006

What was initially described as a near-military-grade biological weapon was ultimately found to have had a more ordinary pedigree, containing no additives and no signs of special processing to make the anthrax bacteria more deadly, law enforcement officials confirmed. In addition, the strain of anthrax used in the attacks has turned out to be more common than was initially believed, the officials said.

As a result, after a very public focus on government scientists as the likely source of the attacks, the FBI is today casting a far wider net, as investigators face the daunting prospect of an almost endless list of possible suspects in scores of countries around the globe. "There is no significant signature in the powder that points to a domestic source,"

You wonder if any of these people have ever watched an episode of CSI and know what DNA is? Whether cultures from the Ames lab were or weren't a source for the Anthrax is now only a matter of speculation and supposition since the originals have been destroyed. Preserving them would have gone a long way to helping establish that Ft. Detrick or any other U.S. lab as suspected by Dr. Boyle clearly were not involved in the Attack.

So if it wasn't "weaponsized" could it still have come from an Defense Lab or was it just run of the mill anthrax, the kind you find at your local Walmart? (More from Wapo)

Whoever made the powder produced a deadly project of exceptional purity and quality -- up to a trillion spores per gram -- but used none of the tricks known to military bioweapons scientists to increase the lethality of the product. Officials stressed that the terrorist would have had to have considerable skills in microbiology and access to equipment.

So who are the terrorist with "considerable skill in microbiology and access to equipment" - are they hiding out in the caves of Afghanistan or maybe thier somewhere North, South, East and slightly West of Tikrit by now? The lack of "additives" may not neccesarily mean that the Anthrax wasn't made at someplace like Ft Detrick, it simply means that additives that would have given it a more unqiue and distinctive signature weren't added (yet). Particular when the point of the Attack clearly wasn't to maximize leathality, it was to foment fear and help shift U.S. policy to a more fascist stance.

One may or may not believe Dr. Boyle, one may or may not feel that his cause for alarm and claims that this smacks of a "deliberate cover-up" are legitimate, I for one certainly have my doubts, but....

One thing is certain, in the wake of 5 Million Missing Emails, you just have to wonder...

UPDATE: As pointed out by a commenter - this doesn't have to be a "conspiracy" for Boyle to be largely correct about the possible source of the Anthrax. All it takes is one nutball with access to materials and the will to use them. Again from the WaPo.

"In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I'm one of them," said Richard O. Spertzel, chief biological inspector for the U.N. Special Commission from 1994 to 1998. "And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good."

Instead, suggested Spertzel and more than a dozen experts interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks, investigators might want to reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice.

Whether this was the act of one lone nut, followed by a botched investigation or something more sinister and deliberate - many questions remain and deserved to be answered.

Vyan

Wednesday, July 4

Olbermann: Bush, Cheney should Resign

Keith Olberman's Special Comment on the Libby Commutation. Bush and Cheney should resign.



I think Olbermann makes a great many statements here which for anyone who hasn't been specifically watching his show for the past year, or hasn't been following left-leaning blogs would seem on the surface quite outrageous.

President Bush lied us into a War? Oh, but didn't the Democrats who voted for it have the exact same intelligence he did?

No, they didn't.

I'm not sure that what he has said, like many of his previous Special Comments will be able to reach into the hearts of those who have allied themselves with this President and his party above the desperate needs of the American people who were devastated by Katrina, who have been devastated by the loss of loved ones (and/or thier limbs) in Iraq, and the loss of heathcare for 50 Million Americans.

The 23 Percenters will stand with Bush and Cheney until the bitter end, and buoyed the support of this ever increasingly slim yet increasingly rabid minority of boot lickers - Bush remains serene as he drives our ship of state directly into rocks of Dictatorship.

Bush and Cheney will not resign, they will only be stopped when Congress finally Nuts-Up and does their duty to Impeach and Remove them both.

Exactly when that will happen, if it ever does, remains to be seen.

Tuesday, July 3

Far Worse then just a Pardon

On the fourth anniversary of "Bring 'em On" and just hours after an highly unfavorable ruling by the appeals court which would have sent Irvin Lewis "Scooter" Libby to prison in just six weeks, George Walker Bush , the 43rd Resident of the White House, communted his sentence and completely obliterated all 30 months of jail time he would have served for perjury and obstruction of justice in a case that was tantamount to Treason During Wartime.

But that's not the worst part...

The public and the editorial pages across the nation are enraged.

The New York Times.

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.


The Washington Post

We agree that a pardon would have been inappropriate and that the prison sentence of 30 months was excessive. But reducing the sentence to no prison time at all, as Mr. Bush did — to probation and a large fine — is not defensible.


Chicago Tribune:

But in nixing the prison term, Bush sent a terrible message to citizens and to government officials who are expected to serve the public with integrity. The way for a president to discourage the breaking of federal laws is by letting fairly rendered consequences play out, however uncomfortably for everyone involved.


Dallas Morning News:

Nearly a decade ago, a GOP-led House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice in a civil deposition. Yesterday, a Republican president commuted the sentence of former top White House staffer Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of the same thing in a criminal investigation. Republicans are known for being tough on crime. Apparently there’s an exception when the criminal is a member of President Bush’s inner circle.


San Francisco Chronicle:

In commuting the sentence of former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, President Bush sent the message that perjury and obstruction of justice in the service of the president of the United States are not serious crimes.


And there's more on Thinkprogress.

We now know that Bush, as opposed to normal practice and procedures did not consult with the DOJ or the prosecutor prior to his decision. Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald was not silent on the matter.

It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.


Unfortunately that principle doesn't guide George W. Bush, who has quite possibly never before commuted a sentence of someone who has not even served a single day of jail time, not to mention the other normal requirements such as having exhausted all appeals, and having shown "remorse" for your actions.

Libby fits none of these.

We all know that justice is more equal for some than others, but isn't it amazing that not even Judith Miller or Paris Hilton weren't able to receive the "justice" afforded to Scooter Libby?

It's even possible that this action by Bush just might have push him past the tipping point eroding away the last vestiges of his public support in the same manner that the Saturday Night Massacre essentially doomed Nixon.

But then again there's Fred Thompson, who in 1998 voted to convict and remove Bill Clinton, but now sits as a member of the Scooter Libby Defense Fund.

I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children.

While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president’s decision.

This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.


"A Good American" you say?

Yes, certainly let him "resume his life" because it's not like Joe Wilson who risked his life to save other Americans in Iraq as the first Gulf War started is a "Good American", and it's not like Valerie Plame-Wilson who'se career as a covert CIA operative tracking weapons of mass destruction is a "Good American" or that hundreds of other agents and assets at Brewster-Jennings who were compromised by Libby's actions were "Good Americans" -- they're just F-ing HEROES is all.

But Fredrick isn't the worst thing - just listen to what Novakula has to say.

Bush is blamed by friends of Libby for losing control of the Plame investigation by putting it in the hands of a special prosecutor — the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald. In his decision sparing Libby jail time, Bush did not say a word of criticism about Fitzgerald.


Yeah, right... Bush should've fired Ashcroft (like Archibald Cox) for even suggesting a Special Counsel was needed. This is how they view things in the psychosis laden "no underlying crime" world of Toensing and fTucker. There was "no crime", Plame wasn't "covert" even though Judge Walton said she was, Patrick Fitzgerald said she was, and both General Hayden and Valerie herself said she was a covert operative and covered by the IIPA while under oath before Congress.

Since these guys consider fantasy to be me more valid than fact maybe someone should point out to them that even in the first episode of Alias (the only show on TV that's ever had every one of it's episodes approved by the CIA) Sydney Bristow walked right through the front doors at Langley. Even on ABC/GOP/TV, they know that CIA agents don't avoid Langley like it's the plague.

What could be worse is what Kagro X posits, that Bush could continue to use this strategy to void all possible threats and looming prosecutions against his key advisors such as Alberto Gonzales (who is currently at risk for Perjury over the NSA Wiretaps, as well s Obstruction and Witness Tampering with Monica Goodling) or Condoleeza Rice, Harriet Myers and Sara Taylor (who are at risk for Contempt of Congress for refusing to respond to congressional subpoenas).

But I don't think that's the worst - I think, as was discussed on Rachel Maddow last night, that the reason Libby wasn't pardoned outright was to further protect the Bush Administration from scrutiny. Y'see, if Libby had been pardoned he would no longer be able to evoke his fifth amendment priviledge against self-incrimination. He's already been incriminated.

All leverage that Fitzgerald might have had to find out what really went on in this case and what's really hidden in those big Mosberg Safes, such as a reduction in sentence in exchange for a proffer against the Veep (aka Fourthbranch) has been foreclosed.

Even though the House Judiciary Committe is already planning to look into the circumstances of his commutation with hearings, this move just might be Check and Mate for Shooter in his ongoing battle against the Rule of Law.

We're seriously looking at a situation where the President and Vice President could effectively evade any and all accountability for a failed policy that left us wide-open and vulnerable on 9-11 and has led us into an unneccesary, obscenely costly and pointless Civil War in Iraq.

At this point there's only one move left for Congress to make and hold this Administration Accountable.

Impeachment.

The only question is, without the ability to make subpoenas or Contempt of Congress Stick, or the ability to get a Special Prosecutor to look into the NSA Wiretaping and/or the DOJ Purge and produce hard incontrivertable evidence (as the Nixon tapes did so long ago) - how will Congress actually get the smoking gun that they still need (yes, I know many disagree that this is needed, but IMO and likely the opinion of both Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers it is) to bring formal Impeachment charges against Cheney or Bush directly?

Cheney being a Dick and jerking around the White House Staff is annoying, but as long as Bush lets him - not a crime. Bush commuting of even pardoning Libby is not a crime. Bush firing US Attorney's is not a crime. But there clearly have been crimes committed (War Crimes, Torture, Election Fraud) and the trick is how do you catch a major criminal mastermind (Cheney) in the act when he's running the government?

Vyan


P.S. Judge Walton's response to the commutation indicates that it is self-contradictory. Someone can not serve probation without first serving jail-time under federal guidelines, and LithiumCola points out that the judges encouragement to legal counsel to gain "clarification" from the White House on the meaning of Libby's non-status status just might unveil The Wizard of Cheney hard at work manipulating the levers behind the curtain.

Olbermann on the LIbby Commutation

George W. Bush get's Worse Person Dis-honors.




Interview with Amb Wilson on Libby.

"Bush Administration is corrupt from top to bottom."



David Shuster on the Libby Commutation.

Monday, July 2

Planet X at Old I in Sacramento

Here's some video of my old band Planet X which just showed up on Youtube, on you're basic nobody here but us crickets night at Old Ironsides in downtown Sacramento.



Brother that takes me back...

Vyan

Lewis Black - Rupert Murdock

Lewis Black on Rupert Murdock

Bill Maher - New Rules

Bill Maher - New Rules

Sunday, July 1

Why Al Gore Needs to be the Next President

Although he has so far refused to declare his candidacy Al Gore remains a very strong contender in various polls against the various Democrats who are currently running for President.

After his "loss" to George Bush in 2000 and the subsequent battle that went all the way the Supreme Court, Gore has remained a sympathetic high profile figure with his Academy Award winning film An Inconvenient Truth and his new best seller The Assault on Reason.

In a field full of strong candidates from H. Clinton to Edwards and Obama the drive for something and someone different in the field driving many proclamations of Gore's Imminent Entry into the Race is palpable - but none of these are reasons to support Al Gore as our next President.

Most of his own strongest supporters don't seem to even know just why we need him as desperate as we do.

It is true that Al Gore never voted for the Iraq War as did both Clinton and Edwards.

It's true Al Gore wouldn't have to explain why he "voted for the troop funding bill, before he voted against it."

It's true that by voting to take it from an internal government/university development project for protecting our vital assests and information from nuclear war to the world changing public information and publishing system - Al Gore really did help "create the Internet".

Vinton Cerf: Good evening, or whatever time zone you are in, hi!! While we're waiting for questions, I'd like to clear up one little item - about the Vice President ... He really does deserve some credit for his early recognition of the importance of the Internet and the technology that makes it work. He was certainly among the first if not the first in Congress to realize how powerful the information revolution would be and both as Senator and Vice President he has been enormously helpful in supporting legislation and programs to help further develop the Internet - for example the Next Generation Internet program.

It's true that Al Gore has been way out on the bleeding edge of telling truth to power with his speeches to Moveon.org four years ago on fact that 9/11 could have been avoided by good old fashion good police work rather than ever intrusive electronic surveillance and no knock warrants that have become so massively abused under the Patriot Act. (Not to mention Gitmo, Extraordinary Rendition and "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques")

* "In late August 2001, Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid Al-Midhar bought tickets to fly on American Airlines Flight 77 (which was flown into the Pentagon). They bought the tickets using their real names. Both names were then on a State Department/INS watch list called TIPOFF. Both men were sought by the FBI and CIA as suspected terrorists, in part because they had been observed at a terrorist meeting in Malaysia.
* Checking for common addresses (address information is widely available, including on the internet), analysts would have discovered that Salem Al-Hazmi (who also bought a seat on American 77) used the same address as Nawaq Alhazmi. More importantly, they could have discovered that Mohamed Atta (American 11, North Tower of the World Trade Center) and Marwan Al-Shehhi (United 175, South Tower of the World Trade Center) used the same address as Khalid Al-Midhar.
* With Mohamed Atta now also identified as a possible associate of the wanted terrorist, Al-Midhar, analysts could have added Atta’s phone numbers (also publicly available information) to their checklist. By doing so they would have identified five other hijackers (Fayez Ahmed, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alsheri, and Abdulaziz Alomari).
* Closer to September 11, a further check of passenger lists against a more innocuous INS watch list (for expired visas) would have identified Ahmed Alghandi. Through him, the same sort of relatively simple correlations could have led to identifying the remaining hijackers, who boarded United 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania)."

In addition, Al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhamzi, the two who were on the terrorist watch list, rented an apartment in San Diego under their own names and were listed, again under their own names, in the San Diego phone book while the FBI was searching for them.

It's true that Al Gore has blasted the Administration for ignoring the contrary information about the Niger forgeries and aluminum tubes and for concocting phony connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein (again way back in 2003 just one year into the Iraq War long before it was either fashionable or politically expedient to do so.

For example, according to the just-released Congressional investigation, Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of Sept. 11. Therefore, whatever other goals it served -- and it did serve some other goals -- the decision to invade Iraq made no sense as a way of exacting revenge for 9/11. To the contrary, the US pulled significant intelligence resources out of Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to get ready for the rushed invasion of Iraq and that disrupted the search for Osama at a critical time. And the indifference we showed to the rest of the world's opinion in the process undermined the global cooperation we need to win the war against terrorism.

In the same way, the evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama Bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction. So our invasion of Iraq had no effect on Al Qaeda, other than to boost their recruiting efforts.

And on the nuclear issue of course, it turned out that those documents were actually forged by somebody -- though we don't know who.

As for the cheering Iraqi crowds we anticipated, unfortunately, that didn't pan out either, so now our troops are in an ugly and dangerous situation.

Moreover, the rest of the world certainly isn't jumping in to help out very much the way we expected, so US taxpayers are now having to spend a billion dollars a week.

In other words, when you put it all together, it was just one mistaken impression after another. Lots of them.

Meanwhile Al Gore has gotten the correct impression. Lots of them.

But backseat quarter-backing the Bush Adminstration alone whether it be on his ineffectual response to 9/11 warnings or his failure to support and expand the Kyoto Treaties alone isn't a qualification for the Presidency.

Rather, there are two primary reasons why Al Gore is essentially needed as the next President lay in what he has already shown he is capable of accomplishing when he previously sat at heartbeat away from that position for 8 years.

Reason Number One: REGO

During that time President Bill Clinton placed Gore in charge of his Reinventing Government Program which during course of it's life saved $137 billion and reduced the federal workforce by 300,000 (Averaging 10% across all agencies, except the DOJ which increased personnel) and at the same time improving efficiency and responsiveness.

One of the key models that was used, amazingly, was FEMA.

During the 1990s, FEMA was routinely praised as one of the best-functioning federal agencies. Its response to the Midwestern floods of 1993, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and 1995's Oklahoma City terrorist attack are considered models of emergency response.

We now know that under Bush FEMA has been utterly destroyed, as have nearly each and every other major government function. Rather than responding to the needs of the people, they make excuses as they did with Governor Sibelius.

Rather than reducing the size and excessive influence of Government - Bush has overseen the most massive Federal Agency ever - The Department of Homeland Security.

And yet our ports still aren't properly protected or inspected.

Under Clinton and the direction of Al Gore, the government worked for the benefit of the people, not just for corporations or to implement a partisan agenda as we've seen with the Bush DOJ Firings, the "Faith Based Initiatives" and refusal to implement EPA regulations.

The mess that Bush has made of the Government is going to require someone with a vast level of experience to correct and no one in the current set of Democratic or Republicans Presidential hopefuls has this experience except for Al Gore.

Reason Two: Terrorism

The true test of a leader isn't the photo-ops you take after things have already blown-up and gone hell, it's what you do to prevent that sitaution from occuring in the first place.

As most of us know former NSC Counter-terrorism chief Richard Clark attempted to get a urgent meeting of the NSC Principles in place on the danger of Al Qaeda pretty much from the first minute Bush walked into office - and was brushed off.

January 25, 2001 Richard Clarke Memo:

"We urgently need . . . a Principals level review on the al Qida network.

Even after the midnight intervention on Condi Rice by Clarke, Tenet and Cofer Black in July of 2000, August PDB and personal meeting between Tenet and Bush in Crawford - there still wasn't even a single meeting until just a week before the attack on 9/11.

While planning counter-terrorism efforts in preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Clark found himself faced with a similar set of stalling, excuse making and buck passing. Considering the plot by Ramzi Yousef (the original World Trade Center bomber) to blow up nearly a dozen 747 simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean Clark asked the Special Agent in Charge at the Atlanta FBI Office... (Against All Enemies. page 106)

"What if somebody blows up a 747 over the Olympic Stadium, or even flies one into the stadium?!"

His response?

"Sounds like Tom Clancy to me," he sneered. "But if it happens well, that's an FAA problem."

In order to get some of the agencies planning for the Olympics to properly focus, Clarke made some phone calls.

One Week Later, Vice President Al Gore agreed to Chair the Counter-terrorism meeting himself.

He and Clarke made plans in the motorcade on the way to the meetihg.

"Here are some question you might like to ask, innocently." (The Same ones that Clarke had asked a week ago and received the run-around). "Then, after a awhile, you ought to look really mad."

"I do mad well." Gore smiled.

Once the meeting began he asked the questions, and got the same lame answers Clark had. He got mad, REAL Mad.

I know (then Joint Chiefs Chairman) General Shelton over there could probably personally scare away most terrorists, but we can't put Hugh on every corner. We need a better plan than this. Dick, I am going to ask you to pull that together, use whatever resoures these agences have that are needed. Anybody got any problems with that?

They didn't.

As a result Clark developed and implemented a comprehensive plan to look at all the various possible security issues involving the entire games and implemented it.

When Eric Robert Rudolph eventually did set off a backpack bomb at the Olympics all the emergency first responders were well primed and prepared, including hundreds of federal agents who roamed the games in plainclothes. Clarkes plan become known as the Atlanta Rules as were reused to help prevent the Millenium Bomb plot and protect numerous other threats.

After the crash of TWA Flight 800 Al Gore implemented an FAA Safety Commission, which attempted to improve the process of baggage screening, carry-on luggage checks and passenger screening.

In 1996 an oppurtunity arose to "snatch" bin Laden in Kharthoum shortly before he left Sudan for Afghanistan. Clarke's CSG made plans to implement a capture. A similar discussion of this had occurred in 1993 and had invovlement then President Clinton who after hearing and recounting both sides of the arguement (stopping a terrorist vs violating international law) Gore stated.

That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a cover action. The guy is a terrorist, Go grab his ass!"

Similar grabs had already been used to capture Ilych Sanchez (aka "Carlos the Jackel"), but in the 1996 situation it was the CIA and Special Forces who dropped the ball, then blamed Clinton for it when he'd given them the complete go ahead after listening to Gore's advice.

Like Ramsa Yousef, Bin Laden would have been brought back to the U.S. to stand trail - not GITMO - and in all likelyhood would have been convicted and imprisoned seven years before 9/11 if not for Tenet and the Pentagon Brass's cold feet after Somalia.

In both of these areas Gore is uniquely qualified and experienced to take the dismall situation we find ourselves in after 6 years of Bush Administration lies, cronyism, malfeasance and pandering to corporate profits internationally with the world's leading trade deficit, a crumbling national infratructure, dangerously over-extended and underequiped military and first responders, exploding deficit and government spending and dangerous loss of our moral authority around the world as we battle to win the hearts and minds of those who really would love to see all America stands for destroyed.

Over and above his committment to fight the Climate Crisis and to help return reasoned discourse to our social and political fabric via his books and movies, Al Gore can and has made the tough decisions when they needed to be made. He has placed the needs of his nation and the world above his own personal self-aggrandizement.

Al Gore needs to be the Next President Of the United States, for all of ours sakes.

America Needs Him. With luck and a healthy dose of begging, he just might heed the call.

Vyan