BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Son of Scalia!

A few things today.

1. Sca-lito.

Messrs Dobson, Bauer and Perkins are getting the nominee they wanted.
WASHINGTON - President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights.

*

In a political twist, Republicans who helped sink Miers' nomination rallied to Alito's side. A leading Democrat who backed Miers led the attack against Alito.

*

WITH NO SIGN OF IRONY, REPUBLICANS DEMANDED THAT ALITO GET A VOTE IN THE SENATE — SOMETHING THEY DENIED MIERS.
Did you get that?
"Let's give Judge Alito a fair UP OR DOWN VOTE, not left or right," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.
Spineless bastards all.
It was a challenge to Democrats, but it was Republicans who sank Miers' nomination without either a hearing or a vote.

Specter said HE WOULD NOT ASK Alito directly about whether he would overturn
Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights ruling.

"There is a lot more to do with a woman's right to choose than how you feel about it personally," he said.
Oh, really?
Specter cited adherence to legal precedent in view of a series of rulings over 30 years upholding abortion rights.

*

(Alito) favors more restrictions on abortion rights than either the Supreme Court has allowed or O'Connor has supported, based on a 1992 case in which he supported spousal notification.
Great.

2. Think Progress has a fairly simple run-down of some of Alito's past opinions:
ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980’s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]
I'd like to hear Dr. Dobson's thoughts on the nominee.
Asked if he had any contacts with the White House about the next nominee - reports of his conversation with Mr. Rove about the last one drew threats of subpoenas from the Senate - Dr. Dobson said that this time he was going to keep that to himself.
Damn.

Meanwhile...

3. The MSM is still going after Cheney & "Cheney's Cheney."

From Newsweek:
Now Fitzgerald's probe is aimed at the operational inner sanctum of Bush's "war presidency" — and, by extension, at Bush's anchoring view of what his administration has been about since the 9/11 attacks.

As he prosecutes "Cheney's Cheney" for perjury, false statements and obstruction, Fitzgerald will inevitably have to shine a light on the machinery that sold the Iraq war and that sought to discredit critics of it, particularly Joseph Wilson.

And that, in turn, could lead to Cheney and to the CHENEY-RUN EFFORT central battleground in the war on terror.

As if that weren't dramatic enough, the Libby trial—if there is one—will feature an unprecedented, high-stakes credibility contest between a top government official and the reporters he spoke to: Tim Russert of NBC, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine. Another likely witness: CHENEY HIMSELF.
Not gonna happen.
White House officials were admonished not to have any contact with Libby about the investigation. That presumably includes the vice president.

Just as the prosecutor's role has become familiar, so are the epigrams and questions that accompany his arrival on the scene, subpoenas in hand. Once again, it appears that the old cliche applies: IT'S NOT THE CRIME BUT THE COVER-UP.

And once again, the hoary "Howard Baker Questions" are being asked: WHAT DID HE KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?

This time, however, the target isn't the president, protected for now by his reputation as a rigorous delegator, but Cheney, viewed as the most powerful vice president in modern times.
Good stuff: Read the whole piece.

Finally...

4. Talking Points Memo takes a look at some of that "intelligence" that Cheney & Libby used to SELL THE WAR.

Intelligence...based on lies:
According to US government sources I spoke to in the course of my reporting, there was far more tying the forgeries to Italy than the mere fact that they had first emerged in Rome in October 2002.

Almost a year earlier, US suspicions about an illicit uranium trade between Iraq and Niger had begun with intelligence reports from Italy. Soon after the September 11th attacks, the Italian military intelligence agency SISMI sent its first report to the US government including details of an alleged Iraqi purchase of 500 tons of lightly-processed uranium ore from Niger.

Details of this and a subsequent SISMI report formed the basis of a reference to alleged Iraq-Niger uranium sales which was included in a CIA briefing Vice President Cheney received in early 2002.

It was that briefing that prompted Cheney's request for more information on the Iraq-Niger sale.

And that request led, in turn, to the CIA's decision to dispatch Joe Wilson on his trip to Niger. The Italian reports had set the whole process in motion.

But there was another key detail: The reports out of Italy were not a separate source of intelligence from the forgeries.

THEY WERE THE FORGERIES.

To be precise, the intelligence reports from Italy were actually text transcriptions and summaries of the forged documents.

The reports from Italy and the forgeries were one and the same. The distinction is rather like saying you haven't seen the PDF of a letter only the text from the letter that someone copied down from the PDF.

The fact that the Italian reports came from as-yet-to-be-revealed forgeries of course could not be known at the time.
Again, I encourage you to read the whole thing.

More later...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Meet the Press

HAPPY SUNDAY - Away from home - full blog on Monday - please check back - but here's another key moment from this past week:
Q: DOES THE VICE PRESIDENT ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

MR. McCLELLAN: YES.
ALWAYS --

"But we...have to address the question of where might these terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons?

And SADDAM HUSSEIN becomes a prime suspect in that regard because of his past track record and because we know he has, in fact, developed these kinds of capabilities, chemical and biological weapons.

We know he’s used chemical weapons. We know he’s reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War.

We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization.

*

We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

*

Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be GREETED AS LIBERATORS.


*

Our objective will be, if we go in, to defeat whatever forces oppose us, to take down the government of Saddam Hussein, and then to follow on with a series of actions such as eliminating all the weapons of mass destruction, finding where they are and destroying them, preserving the territorial integrity of Turkey.

*

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.

*

MR. RUSSERT: And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: They have so far.

Meet the Press, March 16, 2003.

And, THE LETTER the NEO-CONS sent to PRESIDENT CLINTON back in January of '98.

Excerpts:
Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.

In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat.

We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would SECURE THE INTERESTS of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world.

That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished.

*

It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.

*

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction.

In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.

In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.

That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

*

We urge you to act decisively.

If you act now to end the threat of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country.

If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.
"Weakness" and "drift" was working.

And gas was $1.67.

MORE TOMORROW.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Action

Saturday's are slow.

However...

Frist Calls for Hearings on Fuel Profits

"With Democrats making gas prices a campaign issue, more in the GOP are asking why oil industry earnings are breaking records."

Um, maybe because the price of gas is just below 3 bucks a gallon at the Mobil on La Brea & Sunset?
WASHINGTON — Oil industry executives will be summoned to Capitol Hill to explain why gasoline prices are so high — the latest effort by Republican lawmakers to head off political fallout from high fuel costs.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called Thursday for hearings into fuel prices, becoming the second congressional Republican leader this week to raise questions about the soaring profits of an industry that long has been a GOP ally.

*

"Our free market works best when all know and follow the rules of the road," Frist said in a statement on his request for hearings. "If there are those who abuse the free-enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans, they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed."
That, my friends, is liberalism 101.

Exposing those who abuse the free market system - coz we know they will.

(Gore Vidal calls them "men with an eye for opportunity.")

"Always be closing!"

Hey, wait a minute, did Bill Frist say, "If there are those who abuse the free-enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans, they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed?"

Ha! He oughta know!

He's made a few bucks doing just that.

And speaking of men with an eye for opportunity --

Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel

Papers that were, um, filled with lies:
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that ERRONEOUSLY CONCLUDED Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.


Cheney had been the foremost administration advocate for war with Iraq, and Libby played a central staff role in coordinating THE SALE OF THE WAR to both the public and Congress.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources.

The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.

*

Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.
And that simply could not happen.

It can happen now, though: That's why the intelligence agencies are swinging back at Cheney.
In April 2004, the Intelligence Committee released a report that concluded that "much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in Secretary Powell's [United Nation's] speech was overstated, misleading, or INCORRECT."
What did they have on Colin Powell?

Think, think, think.
In addition to withholding drafts of Powell's speech -- which included passages written by Libby -- the administration also refused to turn over to the committee contents of the president's morning intelligence briefings on Iraq, sources say. These documents, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, are a written summary of intelligence information and analysis provided by the CIA to the president.

One congressional source said, for example, that senators wanted to review the PDBs to determine whether dissenting views from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Department of Energy, and other agencies that often disagreed with the CIA on the question of Iraq's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were being presented to the president.
Survey says, "no."

More later...


*

THE PRESIDENT: "Today I accepted the resignation of Scooter Libby. Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country. He served the Vice President and me through extraordinary times in our nation's history.

Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious, and now the proceedings -- the process moves into a new phase. In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.


President George W. Bush speaks to the media on the South Lawn regarding the resignation Friday, Oct. 28, 2005, of Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby. White House photo by Paul Morse While we're all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country. I got a job to do, and so do the people who work in the White House. We got a job to protect the American people, and that's what we'll continue working hard to do.

I look forward to working with Congress on policies to keep this economy moving. And pretty soon I'll be naming somebody to the Supreme Court."

Bush World

(Please pass this blog on to one new person. Thanks.)

Bunch of stuff today.

"Down goes Libby! Down goes Libby!"

So -- here's a quick reminder re: Our Kid's thoughts on "official conduct":
January 20, 2001

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: Standards of Official Conduct

Everyone who enters into public service for the United States has a duty to the American people to MAINTAIN THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY in Government.

I ask you to ensure that all personnel within your departments and agencies are familiar with, and faithfully observe, applicable ethics laws and regulations, including the following general principles from the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch:

(1) Public service is a PUBLIC TRUST, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.

*

(11) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.
"But only if it happened during the Clinton Administration. Don't worry: Line (11) does not apply to us."
(14) Employees shall endeavor to AVOID ANY ACTIONS CREATING THE APPEARANCE that they are violating applicable law or the ethical standards in applicable regulations.
"Except for Karl Rove."
Executive branch employees should also be fully aware that their post-employment activities with respect to lobbying and other forms of representation will be bound by the restrictions of 18 U.S.C. 207.
Rrriiiggghhhttt.
Please thank the personnel of your departments and agencies for their commitment to maintain the highest standards of integrity in Government as we serve the American people.

GEORGE W. BUSH
Got that?

Now that Libby's gone down, let's turn our attention back to the bigger picture.

There's an interesting development in "The Case of the Phony Nigerian Documents."

F.B.I. Is Still Seeking Source of Forged Uranium Reports

The documents that ultimately led to this entire mess:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - A two-year inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has yet to uncover the origin of forged documents that formed a basis for sending an envoy on a fact-finding trip to Niger, a mission that eventually exploded into the C.I.A. leak inquiry, law enforcement and intelligence officials say.

A counterespionage official said Wednesday that the inquiry into the documents, which were intended to show that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear weapons program, had yielded some intriguing but unproved theories.

One is the possibility that associates of AHMAD CHALABI, the former Iraqi exile who was a leading champion of the American campaign to topple Saddam Hussein, had a hand in the forgery.
Ah, yes: Ahmad Chalabi.

The "George Washington of Iraq" (and Neo-Con ally) keeps popping up in the strangest of places, doesn't he?
A second hypothesis, described by some officials as more likely, is that the documents were forged at Niger's embassy in Rome, in a MONEYMAKING SCHEME.
"And if you can get the thing printed on letterhead from the Nigerian embassy, I can get you an extra MIL."

"Done and done."
The official said the matter was being investigated as a counterintelligence case, not a criminal one.

*

An Italian journalist handed the documents over to the United States government in October 2002, months after the Wilson mission to Africa, according to the review by the intelligence committee.

A month earlier, the deputy national security adviser at the time, STPEHEN J. HADLEY, met in Washington with the head of an Italian intelligence service, according to a report that was published this week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The White House has confirmed that the meeting took place, but a spokesman for Mr. Hadley described it as a courtesy call of 15 minutes or less.

"No one present at that meeting has any recollection of yellowcake being discussed or documents being provided," Frederick Jones, Mr. Hadley's spokesman, said Thursday, referring to a form of uranium.
Read the whole piece.

IN A RELATED MATTER...

Oct. 31, 2005: President Bush hosts ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER SILVIO BERLUSCONI at the White House for a meeting and lunch, Washington, DC.

Hey now!

Boy, do they have a lot to talk about!

Bet they're gonna pass out treats to the kiddies, too.

Wow.

In other news from Bush-world --

Exxon Mobil 3Q Profit Balloons to $9.92B

Still paying $2.91 (for the reg unl) at the MOBIL on Sunset & Fairfax.
IRVING, Texas - Exxon Mobil Corp. had a quarter for the record books.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company said Thursday high oil and natural-gas prices helped its third-quarter profit surge almost 75 PERCENT to $9.92 billion, THE LARGEST QUARTERLY PROFIT FOR A U.S. COMPANY EVER, and it was the first to ring up more than $100 billion in quarterly sales.
THE LARGEST QUARTERLY PROFIT FOR A U.S. COMPANY EVER, people.

Think they care about shenanigans in the White House?

The quagmire in Iraq?

Forged Nigerian documents?

Bears vs Lions on Sunday?

"Nope."

Survey says, "Ding!"

Oil Doesn't Want Focus on Big Profit

You're kidding?

From yesterday's WaPo:
Yesterday, British energy giant BP PLC reported a $6.53 BILLION third-quarter profit, up from $4.87 billion in the same period last year.

And tomorrow, analysts expect Exxon Mobil Corp. to show that it earned nearly $9 billion over the past three months -- the largest corporate quarterly profit ever.

Grumbling already has begun on Capitol Hill: Last month, one senator proposed a windfall-profit tax on oil conglomerates, and yesterday, House Republicans warned energy companies against price gouging.

TO DEFLECT THE DAMAGE, the energy industry is relying on an AD CAMPAIGN that was escalating even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita blitzed Gulf Coast petroleum refineries.

The print and television ads are designed to educate consumers and lawmakers with a "we're all in this together" tone.
Ha!

We are all in this together: We're still buying gas, and they're still f*ing us in the face.

Good times.

Can't wait for the feel good campaign: Bet it'll run like crazy during football.

More later...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Congratulations, White Sox

Gonna point out some right-wing talking points re: the 2,000 US Military deaths in Iraq.

But first --

Scoop Jackson covers the Sox-Cubs divide in Chicago:
In Wrigleyville, the bars are empty. Not literally, but not figuratively, either.

The parking lot across the street from Wrigley Field, which usually charges $35 for regular-season Cubs games, wants only 10 bucks tonight.

"When the Cubs were in the playoffs [in 2003], I was charging $150 a car to get in this lot," the attendant tells me as I drop Jackson on him and look for Hamilton as change.

"Do you know how much I'd get if the Cubs were playing tonight instead of the Sox?"
Don't drive to Wrigley - take the "L."
Inside the CUBBY BEAR, the world-famous bar that sits 10 yards away from Gate F, under the "Wrigley Field Home Of The Cubs" marquee, four doormen are on the clock (during regular-season games, it takes 15).

The place holds a capacity of 2,500; tonight, there are 80 inside.
Ouch.
The usual Wednesday Specials -- $2 well drinks, $10 buckets, $1 tacos and $1.50 Enchiladas are "un-specialed" for the night.
$2 well and $10 buckets?!

Booze it up!

The Cubby Bear is hell, BTW.

Not as bad as Gamekeepers, but still hell.
Reporters from the Chicago Tribune and ABC walk around unobstructed, and ask questions.
The Trib reporters were fishing for anti-Sox quotes.
Orders are low, noise is in short supply. As one patron says, "It's a damn shame that this city is so prejudiced that people in the Cubs' backyard can't come out and root for Chicago."
I agree.

Unfortunately, "our" fate is in the hands of the Tribune Company.

And say what you want about Jerry Reinsdorf ("He was so much shorter than the owner of the Astros!"), but dude has delivered 7 CHAMPIONSHIPS to the city of Chicago in the last 15 years.

Now --

The 2,000 US casualties in Iraq.

(Actually, it's up to 2,006 today, according to the "official" coalition website.)

How are we as a nation acknowledging this mark?

Let's check the right-wing talking points.

1. Military's Advice to Reporters: 2,000 Dead in Iraq 'Not a Milestone'

Excerpts:
NEW YORK CNN reported this morning that the U.S. death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000, and a little later The Associated Press confirmed this. AP said the 2,000th military fatality was an Army sergeant who was wounded by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad and died in Texas last weekend. He is Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas.

But the CHIEF SPOKESMAN for the American-led multinational force has CALLED ON THE MEDIA NOT TO CONSIDER the 2,000 number as some kind of MILESTONE.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. STEVE BOYLAN, director of the force's combined press center, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, "I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq.

The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an ARTIFICIAL MARK on the wall set by individuals or groups with SPECIFIC AGENDAS and ULTERIOR MOTIVES."
Actually, Lt. Col. it's a mark set by people who'd like to point out that "combat operations" have not "ended" and that we've yet to be "greeted as liberators."

2. U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Hits 2,000

"Antiwar protesters plan demonstrations, while the Bush administration asks for patience. One senator calls the number 'an ARTIFICIAL LANDMARK.'"

Obviously, the senator read the same MEMO as Lt. Col. Boylan:
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) called the moment "another tragic milestone in this costly war, in which too much blood has been spilled already."

But SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-Texas) said the figure was "an ARTIFICIAL LANDMARK. Of course we grieve over each one of those losses, but it's an artificial number that SOME ARE USING TO TRY TO UNDERMINE SUPPORT for our effort there. These are people without any constructive alternative; is cutting and running what we're supposed to do?"
Again, Lt. Col. Boylan: "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an ARTIFICIAL MARK on the wall set by individuals or groups with SPECIFIC AGENDAS and ULTERIOR MOTIVES."

And Sen. Cornyn: The figure is "an ARTIFICIAL LANDMARK. Of course we grieve over each one of those losses, but it's an artificial number that SOME ARE USING TO TRY TO UNDERMINE SUPPORT for our effort there."

God are they good.

Consistent. Always on message.

Do you get a fax machine if you register as a Republican?

I need one.

Hey, speaking of talking points:

No Announcement From Leak Counsel as Deadline Approaches

Quickly:
If Mr. Fitzgerald decides against an indictment on the core issue of the unmasking of a covert agent, he may still seek charges involving the mishandling of classified information, the making of false statements or obstruction of justice.

There are signs that REPUBLICANS PLAN A STRATEGY OF PLAYING DOWN ANY INDICTMENTS AS TRIVIAL and possibly political, though Mr. Fitzgerald has been widely described as a respected career prosecutor above from political machinations.
Listen for it: They've already started.

From the Daily Kos, an excerpt of David Brooks' appearance on This Week:
David Brooks: I think this is actually a story that is a NOT A POLITICALLY IMPORTANT STORY.

I've talked to a lot of House members this week about what people are asking about. It's never this.

The amount of American people who have heard about Karl Rove is small, let alone Scooter Libby. So this is going to be an important story for the Bush White House, `cause Rove...

George Stephanopoulos: So you're saying it's not important, even if Fitzgerald does indict?

Brooks: I really think that. In terms of the next election.
Ha.

Hannity's spinning, too.

From Media Matters:
HANNITY: Maryanne Marsh, let's get to some of the specifics. If The New York Times is right, and this is about a lack of a recollection of a conversation with Matt Cooper and Karl Rove, for example, from two and a half years prior, does that not seem legitimate to you?
Yep.

Still thinking about that fax machine.

More later...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The NEO-CON Letter

Good morning.

Simple article in Newsweek:

"Prelude to a Leak"

"Gang fight: How Cheney and his tight-knit team launched the Iraq war, chased their critics—and set the stage for a special prosecutor's dramatic probe."

The article gives a very simple account of Cheney & Libby's push for war...in light of all things Plame-gate...for the average bear:
At the time of Wilson's debunking, the VICE PRESIDENT was the Bush administration's leading advocate of war with Iraq.

Cheney had long distrusted the apparatchiks who sat in offices at the CIA, FBI and Pentagon.

He regarded them as dim, timid timeservers who would always choose inaction over action. Instead, the vice president relied on the counsel of a small number of advisers.

The group included Defense Secretary Donald RUMSFELD, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul WOLFOWITZ and two Wolfowitz proteges: I. Lewis (Scooter) LIBBY, Cheney's chief of staff, and Douglas FEITH, Rumsfeld's under secretary for policy.

Together, the group largely despised the on-the-one-hand/on-the-other analyses handed up by the intelligence bureaucracy.

INSTEAD, THEY WENT IN SEARCH OF INTEL THAT HELPED ADVANCE THEIR CASE FOR WAR.
One more time:
INSTEAD, THEY WENT IN SEARCH OF INTEL THAT HELPED ADVANCE THEIR CASE FOR WAR.
TRANSLATION: Cheney & Rumsfeld (et al) were gonna invade Iraq come hell or high water - and relied on, uh, shaky intelligence.

Like the intelligence they got from Ahmed Chalabi, an alcoholic named "Curveball," and FORGED ITALIAN DOCUMENTS that claimed that Saddam was looking to buy nuclear materials from Niger.

Back to Newsweek:
Central to that case was the belief that Saddam was determined to get nukes—a claim helped by the Niger story, which the White House doggedly pushed.
Please take a quick trip to Talking Points Memo for more on that disputed Niger story - and the documents that ultimately sent JOE WILSON to Africa:
"When foreign intelligence agencies met the documents with skepticism, Pollari used his own contacts in the Pentagon's OFFICE OF SPECIAL PLANS and an aide to the president's national security adviser to promote the dossier, La Repubblica said, without elaborating."
The Office of Special Plans is Rumsfeld's own little intelligence unit in the Pentagon, run by Neo-Con Douglas Feith.

An office that was designed to go around the CIA and SEARCH for INTEL THAT HELPED ADVANCE THEIR CASE FOR WAR.

(The "aide to the president's national security adviser" was...?)

You see how deep this goes?

Now...

The average bear is finally asking the question:

"Why did these dudes - the NEO-CONS - want to go to war so bad?"

Let's revisit the LETTER the NEO-CONS sent to PRESIDENT CLINTON back in January of '98.

Excerpts:
Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.

In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat.

We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would SECURE THE INTERESTS of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world.
"Secure the interests" is a nice way of saying "Take Saddam's kick-ass business opportunities, like oil."
That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished.

*

It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.

*

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction.

In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.

In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.

That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

*

We urge you to act decisively.

If you act now to end the threat of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country.

If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.
Needless to say, Clinton took a course that the NEO-CONS would describe as "weak and drfit."

But a course that was WORKING.

Because "Saddam" did not have "weapons of mass destruction."

That letter was signed by Messrs RUMSFELD, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Armitage, Kristol, Perle, Woolsey and Abrams (among others).

THE MEN WHO ARE RUNNING THE SHOW TODAY.

Think they were thinking about invading Iraq BEFORE the election in 2000?

And what do you think they'd do to someone who stood in their way?

Someone like...Joe Wilson.

Horse-head in bed.

More later...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Read the Previous Post!

Read the previous post, people.

(Key excerpts from today's WH press conference.)

But first...

Merry Fitzmas, you old building and loan!

Here's Scotty!

It's on:
Q: Scott, a couple of years ago, you told us that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove had nothing to do with the CIA leak. It appears that you may have gotten bad information before you made that statement. Now, today, we learn through extrapolation that when the Vice President said in September of 2003 that he didn't know who said Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate the claims that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake, that he was not speaking the truth. My question is: Can we be confident that when we hear statements from the White House in public that they are truthful?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can because you know that our relationship is built on trust, and I have earned that trust with you all. As you pointed out, you pointed back to some past comments that I gave and I've talked to you about the assurances that I received on that.

In terms of the investigation, it is an ongoing investigation. The policy of this White House has been to carry out the direction of the President, which is to cooperate fully with the special prosecutor. That means not commenting on it publicly from here at the White House. There is a lot of speculation that is going on right now. There are many facts that are not known. The work of the special prosecutor continues, and we look forward to him successfully concluding his investigation.

Q: But in terms of public trust, if it is true that Scooter Libby learned of Valerie Plame's identity from Vice President Cheney in June of 2003, would that not mean then that the Vice President made a false statement three months later when he said he didn't know who sent Wilson to Niger?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate that. A couple of things. One, the question you bring up is relating to a matter that is under investigation. And secondly, as I pointed out, there is a great deal of speculation that is going on right now, and I would urge you not to engage in that speculation. But certainly, you are pursuing this story as you should. We will wait to see what the special prosecutor does and learn more about the facts at that point.

Q: Are you not commenting on whether this report is accurate or not? Will you comment?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not going to comment because it's relating to an ongoing investigation; the story that you're referencing relates to an ongoing investigation.

Q: Given the fact that the Vice President did say publicly in September of 2003 that he never knew about Joe Wilson or who sent him, as John points out, and now there appears to be information to contradict that, how do you explain that contradiction?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there's an ongoing investigation. There are many facts that are not known. I would encourage you not to engage in speculation. And on top of that, if there's any additional information that the Vice President's Office wants to provide you, you can direct questions there. But the policy of this White House has been not to comment on this investigation while it's ongoing. And it has been that way for some time.

Q: Does that mean that if you had information that could help clear this up and perhaps make it look like something other than what it is, which is a contradiction, would you provide that, or would you hold that just because you don't want to --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I said -- I mean, if you want to ask any more from the Vice President's Office, you're welcome to do that, but --

Q: Have you done that?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- our policy has been that this is an ongoing investigation, we're not going to comment on it. The special prosecutor is the one that has been gathering the facts related to it. But just because I'm not commenting on it doesn't mean you should read anything into that one way or the other.

Q: Have you attempted to clarify it with the Vice President's Office?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is an ongoing investigation, and what the President directed us to do was to cooperate fully with the special prosecutor. And so, as part of doing that, we've been carrying out the President's direction from the White House. That means -- we're not doing that ourselves, the special prosecutor is doing that.

Q: So that's, no, you have not sought clarification?

MR. McCLELLAN: So, no -- no.

Q: DOES THE VICE PRESIDENT ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

MR. McCLELLAN: YES.
Right.

Like --

"But we...have to address the question of where might these terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons?

And SADDAM HUSSEIN becomes a prime suspect in that regard because of his past track record and because we know he has, in fact, developed these kinds of capabilities, chemical and biological weapons.

We know he’s used chemical weapons. We know he’s reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War.

We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization.

*

We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

*

Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be GREETED AS LIBERATORS.


*

Our objective will be, if we go in, to defeat whatever forces oppose us, to take down the government of Saddam Hussein, and then to follow on with a series of actions such as eliminating all the weapons of mass destruction, finding where they are and destroying them, preserving the territorial integrity of Turkey.

*

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.

*

MR. RUSSERT: And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: They have so far.

Meet the Press, March 16, 2003.

Back to the press conference:
Q: The President then stands by the Vice President's account in September of --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's a -- frankly, I think it's a ridiculous question, Terry, because --

Q: Well, no, we now have reports that there are documents that directly contradict the public statement of the Vice President of the United States.

MR. McCLELLAN: Reports. The Vice President, like the President, is a straightforward, plainspoken person.
"Go fuck yoursef." - Cheney to Sen. Pat Leahy, June 24, 2004.

Finally:
Q: Scott, last week there was a story in The New York Daily News, I think, that you -- the question is accuracy -- a question about -- or a story about the President dressing down Karl Rove. So it would not be inconsistent if you thought that The New York Times story was inaccurate for you to say that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm just not going to have further comment on an ongoing investigation, and I indicated that at that time, as well.

Q: Can you give us -- I have to ask -- do you know if the Vice President talked to the President about Plame, or if the President may have talked to Tenet, himself, about Plame?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I appreciate the question, and it's relating to an ongoing investigation. You need to direct questions to the special prosecutor.

Q: But can you clear this up, though? You said that the Vice President always was truthful with the American people; yet here we have the appearance of an untruthful statement, based on this reported memo.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's a ridiculous suggestion in the first place, John. That's what I was responding to.
It's on, people.

It's on.

More later...

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Establishment Strikes Back, Part Deux

Well -

Bob Novak (Jon Stewart's "Douchebag of Liberty") has, uh, flipped.

The info is buried within this article about Patrick Fitzgerald -

Inquiry as Exacting As Special Counsel Is

The info:
To exhaust all possibilities, Fitzgerald questioned a number of witnesses under oath even when he was confident they could add little to the grand jury's knowledge.

Legal sources say he studied inconsistencies and forgotten facts from witnesses, including Rove, whose early testimony differed from Cooper's recollections.

ROVE, who spoke to the grand jury four times, CHANGED HIS STORY after failing to mention that he discussed Wilson and his wife with the Time correspondent.
Well, well, well.

Whadayaknow? Karl "changed his story." (Funny: That was not the headline.)

Here's the Novak stuff:
A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of ROBERT D. NOVAK, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials."

Legal sources said NOVAK AVOIDED A FIGHT AND QUIETLY HELPED THE SPECIAL COUNSEL'S INQUIRY, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly.
Hey now.

"Cancel his membership."

"Yes, sir."

Moving on...

Good stuff re: Brent Scowcroft's attack on the NEO-CONS (as mentioned in yesterday's post) --

Aqui.

Excerpts:
The first Gulf War was a success, Scowcroft said, because the President knew better than to set unachievable goals.

"I'm not a pacifist," he said. "I believe in the use of force. But there has to be a good reason for using force. And you have to know when to stop using force." Scowcroft does not believe that the promotion of American-style democracy abroad is a sufficiently good reason to use force.

"I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes," he said. "You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neocons do it."

THE NEOCONSERVATIVES -- the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war -- BELIEVE IN THE EXPORT OF DEMOCRACY, BY VIOLENCE IF THAT IS REQUIRED, Scowcroft said.

"How do the NEOCONS bring democracy to Iraq? YOU INVADE, YOU THREATEN AND PRESSURE, YOU EVANGLEIZE."

And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism," he said.
"What consequences?"

1,997 US Casulaties to date.

"So?"

How about this?
Army Spc. Joseph Dwyer angled a mirror out the back window of his apartment in El Paso, Texas, trying to make out the Iraqis in the evening gloom. He couldn't see them, but he felt that they were out there somewhere, ready to attack.

Holding his 9-mm handgun tight, the 29-year-old medic from Mount Sinai phoned in an air strike using military code. He directed the fighter jets to his own street address.

Then he heard a noise from the roof -- maybe an Iraqi trying to get in? -- and that's when Dwyer began firing.

Nobody was hurt in the three-hour standoff Oct. 6 in which Dwyer, deep in a post-traumatic stress-induced delusion, barricaded himself into his apartment, fighting off an imaginary Iraqi attack.
"Well..."
Almost one in six soldiers returning from Iraq have symptoms of PTSD, major depression or anxiety, a study published in July of last year in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

If the study, led by Department of Defense researcher Col. Charles W. Hoge, is an accurate predictor, more than 25,000 of the 154,000 who have served in Iraq will have mental health problems.
"Damn."

That's right.

Back to Brent Scowcroft:
"THE REAL ANOMALY in the Administration IS CHENEY," Scowcroft said. "I consider Cheney a good friend -- I've known him for thirty years. BUT DICK CHENEY I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE."
Well, Brent, the REAL Dick Cheney "may have died" after heart attack 2 or 3.

This one's a robot - from the future - sent back in time - to destroy us all.
He went on, "I don't think Dick Cheney is a neocon, but allied to the core of neocons is that bunch who thought we made a mistake in the first Gulf War, that we should have finished the job.

There was another bunch who were traumatized by 9/11, and who thought, 'The world's going to hell and we've got to show we're not going to take this, and we've got to respond, and Afghanistan is O.K., but it's not sufficient.'"

Scowcroft supported the invasion of Afghanistan as a "direct response" to terrorism.
Youch.
A common criticism of the Administration of George W. Bush is that it ignores ideas that conflict with its aims. "We always made sure the President was hearing all the possibilities," John Sununu, who served as chief of staff to George H. W. Bush, said. "That's one of the differences between the first Bush Administration and this Bush Administration."
Again - my point yesterday - THE ESTABLISHMENT STRIKES BACK.
I asked Colin Powell if he thought, in retrospect, that the Administration should have paid attention to Scowcroft's arguments about Iraq. Powell, who is widely believed to have been far less influential in policymaking than either Cheney or the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said, pointedly, "I always listen to him. He's a very analytic and thoughtful individual, he's powerful in argument, and I've never worked with a better friend and colleague."

When, in an e-mail, I asked George H.W. Bush about Scowcroft's most useful qualities as a national-security adviser, he replied that Scowcroft "was very good about making sure that we did not simply consider the 'best case,' but instead considered what it would mean if things went our way, and also if they did not."
Read the whole piece.

More later...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Establishment Strikes Back

All of these articles about Cheney and Libby and Rove and the CIA have got me thinking.

I've been saying for some time now that our only hope in the battle against the NEO-CONS is an attack from THE ESTABLISHMENT.

Meaning, "they" have to decide if they're "done" with Darths Cheney & Rumsfeld, and then "they" have to take action.

It seems like they have.

Methinks that the NEO-CONS have taken too many cookies out of the cookie jar - and exposed the system.

(It's all about transferring Big $ to Big People.)

THE ESTABLISHMENT can't have that kind of "exposure" - and they can't have "the rabble" asking questions, either.

And so...it's time for the NEO-CONS to go.

(This is a snarky way of condensing Zinn & Chomsky. Hopefully, you understand my point.)

Evidence of this "attack"?
It's all over the mainstream media.

1. David Gergen's appearance on Lou Dobbs' show (as seen on Crooks & Liars).

2. Brent Scowcroft's "upcoming" comments in the New Yorker:

Old Bush vs. new

This article did not happen without a "wink and a nod" from the old man -- who probably wants to hit Cheney before "His Kid" gets another black eye:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The Bush administration is bracing for a powerful new attack by Brent Scowcroft, the respected national security ADVISER to the FIRST PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH.

A Republican and a former Air Force general, Scowcroft is a leading member of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, and his critique of both of the style and the substance of the Bush White House, is slated to appear in Monday's editions of the New Yorker magazine.
MEGA-Establishment, people.
The article also contains some critical comments on the handling of U.S. foreign policy by the current President Bush from his father, whose 1989-1993 presidency is hailed for deft management of the end of the Cold War, German unification, the first Gulf war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The new attack comes hard on the heels of the denunciation of "the CABAL AROUND CHENEY'S OFFICE" by Col. Larry Wilkerson, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell in a widely reported speech to the New American Foundation in Washington this week. Wilkerson said the national security decision-making process was effectively "broken."
Scroll down to Thursday's blog (10/20) for more on LARRY WILKERSON.
SCOWCROFT'S CRITICISMS WILL BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY at the highest levels of the Bush administration because he is seen as a mentor by some of its senior figures, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose political career began when she worked under Scowcroft as an adviser on Soviet affairs.
Maybe.

Methinks that "somebody" will go on Fox News this week -- just to call Scowcroft an old coot.

3. All of these articles in the MSM re: Cheney & Libby and Libby's role in Plame-gate.

Like this one:

Leak Case Renews Questions on War's Rationale

The fact that we're seeing the words "Question" and "War" in a NY Times article?

A miracle:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 - The legal and political stakes are of the highest order, but the investigation into the disclosure of a covert C.I.A. officer's identity is also just one skirmish in the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq.

That fight has preoccupied the White House for more than three years, repeatedly threatening President Bush's credibility and political standing, and has now once again put the spotlight on Vice President Dick Cheney, who assumed a critical role in assembling and analyzing the evidence about Iraq's weapons programs.

The dispute over the rationale for the war has led to upheaval in the intelligence agencies, left Democrats divided about how aggressively to break with the White House over Iraq and exposed deep rifts within the administration and among Republicans.
The Establishment cannot have this kind of dispute over the rationale for war.

Because the dispute exposes the system - and opens the door for continued questions.

Like...

"Who wanted this war and why?"

"Are they profiting from this war?"

"If so...how much money have they made?"
"The way in which the leak investigation is being pursued is becoming a symbol of who was right and who was wrong about the war," said Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. "The possibility of Libby being indicted, and the whole Cheney angle, is all about proving in some sense that they were wrong and therefore that those who opposed the war and never thought the intelligence was right have been proven correct."
Downing Street Memo. people.

Downing Street Memo.
"Iraq was at core a war of choice, and extraordinarily expensive by every measure - human life, impact on our military, dollars, diplomatically," said Mr. Haass, a former senior STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH.
ANOTHER ESTABLISHMENT DUDE.
"If this war was widely judged to have been necessary along the lines of Afghanistan after 9/11, I don't believe you would have this controversy. If the war had gone extremely well, you wouldn't have this controversy."
When it rains...it pours.

Scroll through Brandoland for more articles on Cheney, Rove, Libby, the CIA and Plame-gate. And remember --

"If you're in the business of war...you need war for business."

*

4. Finally, FRANK RICH is a must read today.

The NY Times has put his latest piece ("Karl & Scooter's Excellent Adventure") on its premium deal, but this dude posted the ENTIRE article on his blog.
There were no weapons of mass destruction.

There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11.

There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded.

WHY, EXACTLY, DID WE GO TO WAR IN IRAQ?

"It still isn't possible to be sure - and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war," writes the New Yorker journalist George Packer, a disenchanted liberal supporter of the invasion, in his essential new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq."

Even a former Bush administration State Department official who was present at the war's creation, Richard Haass, tells Mr. Packer that he expects to go to his grave "not knowing the answer."

Maybe. But the leak investigation now reaching its climax in Washington continues to offer big clues.

We don't yet know whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby or Karl Rove has committed a crime, but the more we learn about their desperate efforts to take down a bit player like Joseph Wilson, the more we learn about the real secret they wanted to protect: the "why" of the war.

To piece that story together, you have to follow each man's history before the invasion of Iraq - before anyone had ever heard of Valerie Plame Wilson, let alone leaked her identity as a C.I.A. officer.
Read the whole thing.

It's a masterpiece.

More later...

Go Steelers.

Friday, October 21, 2005

They'll Shoot the Death Star Down

Yo.

Gonna bring back "Curveball" today, the source for some of the NEO-CONS' most ridiculous claims in the run-up to war.

But first, another take on Darth Cheney. This time - from the L.A. Times:

Cheney, CIA Long at Odds

"I want a piece of paper that includes the words 'Saddam,' 'Bin Laden' and 'mushroom cloud.'"

"Once again, sir, with all due respect, those words do not go together."

"Be creative."
Cheney's skepticism of the CIA dates to the late 1980s, when the agency failed to predict the Soviet Union's breakup, according to a source familiar with Cheney's thinking.

*

"Libby's basic view of the world is that the CIA has blown it over and over again," said the source, who declined to be identified because he had spoken with Libby confidentially. "Libby and Cheney were [angry] that we had not been prepared for the potential in the first Gulf War."

*

AFTER President George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration, CHENEY immediately ESTABLISHED the vice president's office as a SEOND BASE OF FOREIGN POLICY AND INTELLIGENCE inside the White House, in addition to the National Security Council.
One more time:
After...Bush's inauguration...CHENEY immediately ESTABLISHED the vice president's office as a SEOND BASE OF FOREIGN POLICY AND INTELLIGENCE inside the White House.
Entiendes?
Cheney not only received a daily briefing from the CIA, he frequently sat in on the president's briefing and the "principals' meetings" held to assess serious foreign policy and national security issues.

Leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, CHENEY WORKED WITH Defense Secretary Donald H. RUMSFELD and Rumsfeld's then-deputy, Paul D. WOLFOWITZ, TO CHALLENGE CIA FINDINGS THAT COUNTERED THEIR EXPECTATIONS or that disagreed with information they had received through their own intelligence channels.
TRANSLATION: The NEO-CONS were going to invade Iraq...come hell or high water.

(Remember the Downing Street Memo?)
Cheney traveled from the White House to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., a dozen times, most often to discuss Iraq's possible links to nuclear weapons and terrorism.

Agency veterans have said that Cheney's visits were more frequent than those of any other president or vice president, including the first president Bush, a former director of the agency.

When Cheney visited the CIA, IRAQ WAS HIS MAIN FOCUS, particularly in the months BEFORE THE WAR.

Unlike Libby and others working with the vice president, Cheney was reportedly always polite.
Good cop, bad cop.
But in his quiet way, he was insistent, sometimes asking the same question again and again as if he hoped the answer would change, according to people familiar with his contacts with the CIA.
"Saddam has WMD's?"

"No, he doesn't. He's been...de-fanged, if you will."

"So, Saddam has WMD's?"

"Sir, he got rid of most of the weapons we sold him after -- ."

"So, Saddam has WMD's?"

"Sir -- "

"Great. Next."

Another key bit of info:
Cheney's visits perked up agency analysts who often worked anonymously, said one former official.

Many reportedly enjoyed the challenge of a smart questioner and appreciated his interest.

But Cheney's visits and his clinging to certain views became noticeable and drew expressions of concern, according to the former official.

For example, CIA officials repeatedly told Cheney and others in his circle that they did not think Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with Iraqi agents in Prague, Czech Republic, before the attacks.

Nonetheless, the agency continued to receive dozens of inquiries on the topic from top officials — several times from Cheney himself.
"When did he meet with them?"

"He didn't."

"When?"

"He didn't meet with them."

"Douchebagsayswhat?"

"Stop that!"
Despite the agency warnings, Cheney made reference to the Atta meeting as if it were a sure thing.

"It's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack," Cheney said Dec. 9, 2001, on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The allegation was not backed up with reliable intelligence, as Cheney and his staff had been repeatedly told, according to a former CIA official.

*

Nonetheless, the tensions between the vice president's office and the CIA increased as investigators failed to find weapons of mass destruction. White House staffers feared they would be blamed by the CIA for encouraging misleading intelligence estimates, one former official said.
Which brings us back to Plame-gate.

Alright.

We know now that during the run-up to the invasion the NEO-CONS were pushing Atta, Niger, and mushroom clouds.

Anything else?

How about...info from Ahmed Chalabi and "Curveball."

From the UK's Guardian, dateline April 3, 2005:

US relied on 'drunken liar' to justify war

"'Crazy' Iraqi spy was full of misinformation, says report"

Here we go:
An alcoholic cousin of an aide to Ahmed Chalabi has emerged as the key source in the US rationale for going to war in Iraq.

According to a US presidential commission looking into pre-war intelligence failures, the basis for pivotal intelligence on Iraq's alleged biological weapons programmes and fleet of mobile labs was a spy described as 'crazy' by his intelligence handlers and a 'congenital liar' by his friends.

The defector, given the code-name CURVEBALL by the CIA, has emerged as the central figure in the corruption of US intelligence estimates on Iraq.

Despite considerable doubts over Curveball's credibility, his CLAIMS WERE INCLUDED in the administration's case for war without caveat.

According to the report, the failure of US spy agencies to scrutinise his claims are the 'primary reason' that they 'fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's [biological weapons] programs'.

The catalogue of failures and the gullibility of US intelligence make for darkly comic reading, even by the standards of failure detailed in previous investigations. Of all the disproven pre-war weapons claims, from aluminium centrifuge tubes to yellow cake uranium from Niger, none points to greater levels of incompetence than those found within the misadventures of Curveball.

The Americans never had direct access to Curveball - he was controlled by the German intelligence services who passed his reports on to the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's spy agency.
That would be Darth Rumsfeld.
The commission concluded that Curveball's information was worse than none at all. 'Worse than having no human sources,' it said, 'is being seduced by a human source who is telling lies.'

Although the defector has never been formally identified, it appears he was an Iraqi chemical engineer who defected after UN inspectors left the country in 1998.
Like so many other stories that have been connected to Iraq, the story of "Curveball" has simply vanished from the discourse.

I bring it up again - because it seems to be a decent example of the way the NEO-CONS "used" any claim that fit their plan.

Again, according to the Downing Street Memo, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

And sometimes facts were, uh, not facts.

Capice?

IF YOU'RE IN THE BUSINESS OF WAR, YOU NEED WAR FOR BUSINESS.

More later...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Darth Cheney, Part II

Must read article today:

‘Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy’

Sith Lords:
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had HIJACKED the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the TOP AIDE TO former Secretary of State COLIN POWELL claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard CHENEY, and the secretary of defense, Donald RUMSFELD, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the CONSEQUENCES.”
"What consequences?"

26 Iraqis and 5 G.I.'s Killed; Reporter Missing

"Right."
The American military said three soldiers were killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb near the town of Balad. One soldier was killed and four were wounded in a vehicle fire near Tikrit, Mr. Hussein's hometown. A fifth soldier was killed and three were wounded by a roadside bomb near Iskandariya.

A British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb late Tuesday, the British defense ministry said.
1,987 soldiers to date.

Back to the FIRST article:
The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

? The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees.

“You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

? Condoleezza RICE, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”.

Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

? The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.
When it rains...it pours.

"Someone" is going after Cheney.

Don't you think?

Cheney's Office Is A Focus in Leak Case - Sources Cite Role Of Feud With CIA

Methinks that DICK made one too many visits to the CIA...demanding pro-war intelligence.

And "they" are swinging back.

Capice?
As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials.

The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.

*

Starting in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the vice president was at the forefront of a White House campaign to convince Congress and the American public that invading Iraq was central to defeating terrorists worldwide. Cheney, a longtime proponent of toppling Saddam Hussein, led the White House effort to build the case that Iraq was an imminent threat because it possessed a dangerous arsenal of weapons.

Before the war, HE TRAVELED TO CIA HEADQUARTERS for briefings, an UNUSUAL MOVE that some critics interpreted as an effort to pressure intelligence officials into supporting his view of the evidence.
"Where's that 'intelligence' I asked for?"

"Doesn't exist, sir."

"The fuck it doesn't!"
After the war, when critics started questioning whether the White House relied on faulty information to justify war, Cheney and Libby were central to the effort to defend the intelligence and discredit the naysayers in Congress and elsewhere.
Like Joe Wilson.
Administration officials acknowledge that Cheney was immersed in Iraq intelligence, and pressed aides repeatedly for information on weapons programs.

He regularly requested follow-up information from the CIA and others when a piece of intelligence caught his eye.
"I need a piece of paper that has the words 'Iraq,' 'Osama,' and 'nuclear' on it. Can you get that for me?"

"Those words don't really go together, sir."

"You'll figure it out."
Wilson's trip, for example, was triggered by a question Cheney asked during a regular morning intelligence briefing. He had received a Defense Intelligence Agency report alleging Iraq had sought uranium from Niger and wanted to know what else the CIA may have known. Cheney's office was not told ahead of time about the Wilson mission to investigate the claim.
Final bit of info:
In the Bush White House, Cheney typically has operated secretly, relying on advice from a tight circle of longtime advisers, including Libby; David Addington, his counsel; and his wife, LYNNE, and two children, including Liz, a top State Department official.
He's relying on advice from...Lynne?!

We're fucked.

"Art should be outlawed!"

"I'll get on it, dear."

"And books!"

More later...after the WH press conference.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Here's Scotty!

Once again -- Scott gave us THE SAME RESPONSE to all questions re: RovePlameCheney-gate today.

Here "it" is - in order - without those pesky "questions":
MR. McCLELLAN: Steve, I appreciate the question.

That's a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and I'm just not going to have further comment while that investigation is underway.

There are a lot of news reports out there and I've seen a lot of conflicting news reports, and we're just not going to comment any further on an ongoing investigation.

Well, there's a special prosecutor doing his work, (Helen), and we want him to come to a successful conclusion. And that's what we're doing, is cooperating -- cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

As you have known for sometime now, we've been saying that while this is an ongoing investigation what we're going to do from the White House is cooperate fully with that investigation and let the special prosecutor do his work.

We're not going to speculate or prejudge the outcome.

And I've already answered that.

Well, it's up to the special prosecutor to determine how he's going to proceed. What -- again, what we are doing from here is cooperating fully with that investigation at the direction of the President. And in terms of how he is going to proceed, I'm not going to try to speculate about that, or prejudge it.

We all would like to know what the facts are. We don't know what all the facts are. And I think all of us would like to know what they are and get to the bottom of this investigation.

Again, a couple of things. That's questions relating to an ongoing investigation. Those are questions you need to direct to the investigator. We're just not going to comment further.

That's a question relating to the investigation, so I'm going to pass on that.

Again, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and I've said all I'm going to say on it.
God, okay, we get it! It's an ongoing investigation.

Jesus.

Brief moment of comedy:
Q: Scott, two questions. This is a serious one. Since you raised Bono, is there --

MR. McCLELLAN: Those were serious, too.

Q: But this is serious about BONO. Is there a possibility he might be given a position in the administration? He's a big name.

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard that. I think he's enjoying the career that he has right now and doing all the good work that he does on behalf of people who are suffering in developing countries.

Q: But is he considered an advisor or supporter of the administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's someone who has a lot of influence and is committed to helping people who are in need, and lifting people out of poverty, and helping those who are suffering from AIDS.

And those are priorities that the President shares.

And so they've had some discussions over the last few years, and we appreciate the opportunity to visit with him.
"I threw a brick! I threw a brick through a window!"

"This is the Edge!"

"There's been a lot of talk about this next song. Maybe a little too much talk. This song is not a rebel song. This song is -- "

More later.

(Please read the previous post.)

Smokescreens

"Protect Our Kid!"

Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak

"We gotta keep him out of this mess!"

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo fame is really going after this story:
WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.
God, I wish he was still a "baseball owner."

He'd be a great commish, too.
"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a CLUMSY JOB in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
That's a nice way of saying, "The Rovians lied to the press to protect Our Kid."
"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and BUSH-league way," the source said.

None of these sources offered additional specifics of what Bush and Rove discussed in conversations beginning shortly after the Justice Department informed the White House in September 2003 that a criminal investigation had been launched into the leak of CIA agent Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak.

A White House spokesman declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of Fitzgerald's investigation.
Which they've done...a kajillion times.

Hey, while you were out:

Alaska Refuge Drilling OK'd in Committee

Surprise, surprise!
WASHINGTON - A SENATE committee voted Wednesday to include drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge in a massive budget proposal, assuring that drilling opponents won't be able to use the filibuster to thwart oil development there.

The Senate Energy Committee proposal, approved 13-9, calls for the Interior Department to put up for bid by Oct. 1, 2010 two oil leases in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Yes, that's ANWR.

Sneaky bastards.
By making the issue part of a complex budget reconciliation process, supporters will be able to keep opponents from resorting to a filibuster to block the measure.
Make no mistake: They're still taking care of business, people.

More later...after today's WH press conference.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Darth Cheney

CUE the "Darth Vader" themesong - here comes the VP.

Cheney may be target of probe

Duh duh duh, duh da duh duh da da:
WASHINGTON - A special prosecutor's intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday.

At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame affair.

In addition, at least SIX current and former Cheney staffers - most members of the WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP - have testified before the grand jury, including the vice president's top honcho, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and two top Cheney national security lieutenants.
Yes, there's that pesky White House Iraq Group again.

Sith Lords, methinks.

Speaking of:

CIA leak probe 'widening to include use of intelligence'

WHIG intelligence:
Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name to include questioning about the administration's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence.

According to the Democratic National Committee, a majority of the nine members of the WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP have been questioned by Mr Fitzgerald.

The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to “EDUCATE THE PUBLIC” about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.
One more time:
The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to “EDUCATE THE PUBLIC” about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.
"Educate the public" is a nice way of saying, "Spook the public...by lying about WMD's."

Back to the first article.
Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a SECRET SNITCH.
"From a what?"

"A 'secret snitch,' sir."

"Bullshit! You find him now! NOW!"

"Yes, sir."

"And bring him to me! I'll eat his face off!!!"
"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

*

Libby and President Bush's political mastermind Karl Rove remain the focus of the probe into whether Plame's cover was blown in a scheme to embarrass her husband, ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who debunked claims that Iraq tried to buy nuclear materials in Niger.

Libby is often described as "Cheney's Cheney," a loyal and discreet lieutenant who shares his boss's hard-line philosophy and bareknuckle attitude toward political enemies of the Bush administration.
"What do they call me?"

"Cheney's Cheney, sir."

(Pause)

"Okay then."
Cheney and Libby spend hours together in the course of a day, (CUTE) which causes sources who know both men very well to assert that any attempts to discredit Wilson would almost certainly have been known to the vice president.

"Scooter wouldn't be freelancing on this without Cheney's knowledge," a source told the Daily News.

"It was probably some off-the-cuff thing: 'This guy [Wilson] could be a problem.'"
No.

It went, "Who the fuck is this motherfucker and what the fuck do we fucking know about him?!"

"Sir -- "

"He's a fucking dead man! Aaaggghhh!!!"

(Heart attack #17. At this point, he feels no pain.)
The News reported in July that Libby was "totally obsessed with Wilson."

Whether that obsession amounts to criminal misconduct will be decided by Fitzgerald - but if Libby is indicted or implicated in wrongdoing, Cheney's reputation will suffer as well.
Okay.

Check back in a couple of hours - say 2 pm PST.

I'll have the key bits from the latest White House press conference by then.

HERE IT IS:
Q: Is the President confident that Cheney did not leak Valerie Plame's identity?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I appreciate any question on this, but as you know, Suzanne, our policy is not to comment on an investigation while it's ongoing. And that means any question relating to it.

And I'm just not going to comment on an investigation while it's ongoing. The President has directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation.

I would encourage you not to prejudge the outcome of the investigation and not to speculate about it.

What we have done is to make sure that we're cooperating fully with the special prosecutor. We want him to come to a successful conclusion, and he continues to do his work.

Q: You said that you were going to check to see if President Bush or either Cheney had been asked, once again, to go before the special prosecutor and answer questions after their initial hearing.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, the President has not. I provided you information when he was interviewed previously. And my understanding is the same applies to the Vice President.

Q Yes, Scott, you said that the President has directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. So can you tell us whether Harriet Miers, in her connection with the White House, has been involved in any way with the leak investigation, or whether she's testified before the Fitzgerald grand jury?

MR. McCLELLAN: She has been -- carried out the direction of the President, just like the rest of us here, to cooperate fully with the special prosecutor. She has been White House Counsel during part of the time that this investigation has been ongoing. I'm not going to comment on the investigation, though, beyond that.

Go ahead, Richard.

Q Yes, Scott, in the terms of the vetting process for Harriet Miers -- BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.
That was it.

Spineless bastards, all.

More later...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday, October Somethingth

(New stuff added at 2:00 pm PST - as a part of this first story.)

Judgment Call - Did Christian conservatives receive assurances that Miers would oppose Roe v. Wade?

Well...duh.
On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained.

According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.

The call was moderated by the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association. Participating were 13 members of the executive committee of the Arlington Group, an umbrella alliance of 60 religious conservative groups, including Gary Bauer of American Values, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and the Rev. Bill Owens, a black minister. Also on the call were Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court and Judge Ed Kinkeade, a Dallas-based federal trial judge.
That's a fun bunch: Messrs. Bauer, Perkins & Weyrich.

Actually, that's my definition of HELL.
Mr. Dobson says he spoke with Mr. Rove on Sunday, Oct. 2, the day before President Bush publicly announced the nomination. Mr. Rove assured Mr. Dobson that Ms. Miers was an evangelical Christian and a strict constructionist, and said that Justice Hecht, a longtime friend of Ms. Miers who had helped her join an evangelical church in 1979, could provide background on her. Later that day, a personal friend of Mr. Dobson's in Texas called him and suggested he speak with Judge Kinkeade, who has been a friend of Ms. Miers's for decades.

Mr. Dobson says he was surprised the next day to learn that Justice Hecht and Judge Kinkeade were joining the Arlington Group call. He was asked to introduce the two of them, which he considered awkward given that he had never spoken with Justice Hecht and only once to Judge Kinkeade. According to the notes of the call, Mr. Dobson introduced them by saying, "Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think."

What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."
Here comes the weird part of this column:
There are philosophical reasons for REPUBLICAN senators to oppose Ms. Miers.

In 1987, the liberal onslaught on Robert Bork dramatically changed the confirmation process. The verb to bork, meaning to savage a nominee and distort his record, entered the vocabulary, and many liberals now acknowledge that the anti-Bork campaign had bad consequences. It led to more stealth nominees, with presidents hoping their scant paper trail would shield them from attack.

President Bush has now gone further in internalizing the lessons of the Bork debacle. Harriet Miers is a "superstealth" nominee--a close friend of the president with no available paper trail who keeps her cards so close to her chest they might as well be plastered on it. If Ms. Miers is confirmed, it will reinforce the popular belief that the Supreme Court is more about political outcomes than the rule of law.
Hmm.

Soy confusado: This column, from the turbo-conservative Wall Street Journal, was penned by John Fund, a turbo conservative dude.

Further evidence that the strongest resistance to this nomination is coming from "the other side."

Really, really weird.

Fund is basically GIVING us "libtards" the Roe-bomb, and I haveta say, I don't know why.

"Why do they hate her so?"

Christ, part of my tiny dinosaur brain thinks, "If they hate her so much...she must be cool."

WTF???

NOW - FROM TODAY'S WH PRESS CONFERENCE:
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Jessica.

Q: JOHN FUND writes an article today saying that several people on a conference call assured religious conservatives that Harriet Miers would overturn Roe versus Wade. You were going to find out if any member of the White House staff was on that conference call.

MR. McCLELLAN: That was not a call organized by the White House, and as far as I've been able to learn, no one at the White House was involved on that call.

Q: And is it correct that Karl Rove was the person who asked those two people who made the assurances that she would overturn Roe versus Wade -- that Karl Rove asked them to join?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's well-known that Karl and Dr. Dobson spoke about the nomination and about the process. And they had a good discussion.

And Karl talked about individuals who know Harriet Miers well, like Justice Hecht, and said that they would be people that probably would be willing to talk about her.

Q: And did he say this knowing -- and is the White House aware that Harriet Miers would vote to overturn Roe versus Wade?

MR. McCLELLAN: Not at all.
Ha.
Q: I understand you have no litmus test. Do you still know that she would?

MR. McCLELLAN: We don't know what her positions will be on future cases because we don't have a litmus test, and we don't ask those questions.

What we do know is that she is someone who is deeply committed to strictly interpreting our Constitution and our laws.
Ha, ha.
Q: Does the President disapprove of this conference call and what happened on it?

MR. McCLELLAN: What happened?

I don't know about the conference call.

You'll have to ask those who organized the conference call.
What...a dick.

Let's wrap the collective brain around something that's...easier to digest.

Soldier Propagandist

Mediacitizen has exposed ANOTHER RINGER from last Thurday's "teleconference."
Intrepid MediaCitizen reader "lebkuchen" Googled some of the soldiers who were used as stooges before Bush and the cameras on Thursday and found another GI who didn't pass the smell test.

I've dug further into the history of First Lieutenant GREGG MURPHY of the 278th Regimental Combat Team and found that there's more to Murphy than meets the lens. His pro-Bush rhetoric is sprinkled throughout the media in articles dating back to 2003.

This begs the question: how could one soldier get so much face time?

Was Murphy like other soldiers, giving Americans a "sincere" assesment from the field -- as Scott McClellan claimed at his White House press briefing Thursday? Or could he be part of a larger scheme -- involving already outed Seargent-cum-shill Corine Lombardo -- to covertly stack the media deck with pro-war, pro-Bush propagandists?
Survey says, "propagandist."

Ding!
Murphy waves the flag in several other Times-Free Press stories. Most come from the pen of Edward Lee Pitts, the journalist who last December prompted a soldier to ask Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about the lack of armor for U.S. military vehicles in Iraq -- an exchange that became a global embarrassment for the administration.

Here's Murphy in action in a 2004 Lee Pitts story:

"Recruiters said their biggest promotional tools are combat veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, who are helping bolster the ranks by tapping into the South's tradition of patriotism.

Lt. GREGG MURPHY, of Chattanooga, is one of about 4,000 soldiers with the 278th Regimental Combat Team now in Iraq. He said in an e-mail that he would jump at the chance to 'set the record straight about Iraq' by telling 'the real story of soldiers, not the blood, guts and carnage.'

He said returning soldiers could counter the media's focus on the losses in Iraq by talking about ongoing humanitarian work there such as new schools, libraries and water projects."
HI-larious.

Click on the above mentioned link for the full story.

Tinfoil-hat time, yo. From the UK:

Senior military investigator found dead in Iraq

Shenanigans?
A senior British military police officer in Iraq involved in the investigation of alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians by soldiers has been found dead at a camp in Basra.
Oops.
The body of Captain Ken Masters, the commander of 61 Section of the Special Investigations Branch (SIB), was found in his bed at the airport at the weekend. The death is being investigated by the SIB.

Defence sources said the death was "not due to hostile action and also not due to natural causes".

However, it is believed that investigators have not found a suicide note, nor firearms related to the incident. Capt Masters was not receiving any medical or psychological treatment.
But he "was" investigating allegations of soldier abuse.
Despite being of middle-rank, Captain Masters was in charge of ALL SERIOUS INCIDENTS involving the British military in Iraq.

*

It was not immediately known which particular cases he had been personally involved in investigating. The British military is, however, looking into several dozen cases.

*

A spokesman for the British forces in Basra said: "The commanding officer of 61 Section, Special Investigations Branch, Capt Ken Masters, was found dead last night at a military establishment in Iraq.

"The matter is now under investigation and until this is completed it will be inappropriate for me to make any further comment. It was not due to any hostile action. It was not down to natural causes."

A military source said "This has come as shock to us. Ken was not suffering from depression or anything that indicated that he would take his own life."
Crazytown.

I'll have excerpts from today's WH Press conference...in a bit.

Peace out.