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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Throwing Cheney under the bus

Couple this story with those that I linked in the last post, and it becomes apparent that the strategy appears to be to throw Cheney under the bus on this one.
WASHINGTON - President Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebut Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, be the one to disseminate the information, an attorney knowledgeable about the case said Saturday.

Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him,

I think Dick may be developing health problems soon. But on the other hand, his popularity isn't really going to get any lower.

Plame Gossip - The conspiracy

Tell me this doesn't indicate to you that Cheney is the ultimate target of Fitzgerald's investigation. (WaPo - tomorrow)
As he drew back the curtain this week on the evidence against Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq.

Bluntly and repeatedly, Fitzgerald placed Cheney at the center of that campaign. Citing grand jury testimony from the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald fingered Cheney as the first to voice a line of attack that at least three White House officials would soon deploy against former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Fitzgerald has been ratcheting up the pressure over the last few weeks. C'mon, Karl. Take the deal! I just want to see it all laid on the table.

Also: The other key element in the WaPo and NYTimes stories tomorrow appears to be the "revelation" that the information they leaked was known to be disproved when they leaked it(WaPo) or the more diplomatic "in dispute" in the NYTimes.

In other words, the administration was cherry picking and releasing sentences that they knew for a fact to be wrong, and released that information solely for political impact. Short version, they lied to maintain support for the war.

Now, I know that we all already knew that, but now there's direct, concrete evidence of the telling of these lies being printed on the front page of the largest papers in the country. And that's a pretty big deal.

Today's Iraq

The NYTimes has an article about a report by embassy and military staff in Iraq which looks at the state of things province by province. The Times rdescribes it as "a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation."

For the quick version, just take a look at the graphic.

Picture of the Day - 2

Was the Bush "declassification" a leak coverup?

I just ran across this tonight in John Dean's weekly column at Findlaw, and, looking at the Fitzgerald filing, it offers an alternate timing of events around the President "declassifying" elements of the NIE which points in a very different possible direction for the Fitzgerald investigation.

When Libby raised the problem of discussing the NIE with Miller because of its classified status, the filing reports that Libby "testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized" Libby to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. (Emphasis added.)

The word "later" here, in the filing, is crucially ambiguous: Did the President authorize Libby's actions before Libby actually revealed the classified information to Miller, or afterward? The distinction may make a large difference in Libby's defense: If the authorization was retroactive, then Libby initially revealed classified information without permission to do so; thus, he would have reason to lie.

John Dean does not push this reverse sequence as the absolute truth, and
there's nothing giving this anymore validity that the current mainstream interpretation, but it does offer an interesting alternative sequence of events.

In this version, Libby REALLY leaked classified information to Miller on the 8th, and then, afterward, the Vice President realizing the mistake, got the president to declassify the previously leaked materials to fudge the illegality of Libby's leak. Now, if this is true, this would mean that the retroactive declassification by the President was, in many senses, a knowing effort by Cheney or Bush(or both) to cover up Scooter Libby's illegal leaks to Judy Miller.

And, suddenly, we're looking at a previously unknown conspiracy, involving posthumously declassifying classified materials, designed to protect Scooter Libby. That may explain why Libby has been so loyal to Cheney in refusing a plea deal and facing trial and significant jail time. Libby is just paying back loyalty to the man who tried to save him.

Now, that's interesting.

The Iran Drumbeat grows louder.

You're kidding me, right?

The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

"That's the name they're using," the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that "this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war."

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational," Hersh writes.

This may just be posturing to shape negotiations, but I doubt it. Sy Hersh, as one of the breakers of the Abu Ghraib story as well as others, is not the person they would over the board leak to if they were running a "pressurize Iran" operation. Certainly, it could have been done backchannel without his knowledge he was being used, figuring his credibility as an administration enemy would lend weight to the threat, but I'm still inclined to think that this may be real.

Also, c'mon guys. Hitler? I thought Saddam was Hitler. And then wasn't Osama like Hitler, Mao and Stalin?

Here is the original New Yorker piece. It's long and discursive, but it has a lot of inormation and is well worth the read.

Picture of the Day

"Yeah, back here in the back. I got a question."

Friday, April 07, 2006

Some details on warrantless wiretapping

I don't know how the "classified" side of these lawsuits against the telecoms are going to break down, but I think they may offer the best glimpses of what was/is really going on in the NSA warrantless spying.
AT&T provided NSA eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Picture of the Day - 3

Even the cheerleaders are walking away from the Bush administration.

(photo: AP - Ron Edmonds)

Representative no 3

Okay, so in all the Abramoff related documents released through indictment and plea deal, it has been the general consensus that Ohio Rep Bob Ney is "representative 1" and that Tom Delay is "representative 2." Let me just go ahead and make a nomination here for who will be "representative 3."
A wealthy Indian tribe once represented by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff said yesterday that it has decided to return a $3 million federal school-construction grant it received as a result of pressure exerted on Interior Department officials by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)

Excuse me, Sen. Burns, but we have the press on line two and they would like a comment.

Plame Gossip

This little section in Fitzgerald's brief Wed. night kinda got dropped among all the big political news.
Because the government does not intend at this time to call three of these individuals — Mr. Tenet, Mr. Hadley and Mr. Rove — defendant is not entitled to discovery based on the need to cross examine those individuals. (p. 9)

I pulled this section off Firedoglake, and I would agree with the analysis I have seen there and elsewhere that this does not bode well for Rove or Hadley as it is quite common for prosecutors not to call those they intend to indict. Now, Tenet, I don't know, but for the other two it is significant, especially tied to Jason's reporting a week or so ago that they are under imminent indictment threat.

If either Hadley or Rove are suddenly added to the witness list, we'll know a deal has been struck.

UPDATE: Did anybody see this question in the press conference? It went unanswered with McClellan vowing to "check into it."
QUESTION: Scott, on March the 30th, I believe, last Thursday, Mr. Libby was spotted at the White House Mess. It just seems unusual that he would be coming back to the White House in this situation. Any ideas why he --

Picture of the Day - 2

Iraqi men carry the body of a victim of a blast Friday April 7, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq. An explosion rocked a Shiite mosque in northern Baghdad after religious services Friday, killing at least 40 people, police said.(AP Photo/Assad Muhsin)

The polling reality

The AP/Ipsos poll is getting alot of blogging "ink" this morning (Bush approval 36/62,) but take just a minute to look at the broader picture either at Polling Report (a hundred polls back to Sept. '05) or Real Clear Politics(more polls included but only back to January.)

For six months the disapprove number has been over 50%, that, I think, could be called solid and unmoving opposition. These are long held ideas and it's not like those people are going to just suddenly switch back into the Bush camp.

US not on UN Human Rights panel

World opinion of the US has gotten so bad that we can't even strongarm our way onto the new UN Human Rights Panel. And forget that "we're opposing it on principal crap," if that were true, why would we be talking about applying for a seat next year?

If you didn't see this....

If you didn't see this NYTimes piece on the difficulties faced by the families of soldiers wounded and killed in Iraq, it's worth a read.
After Neil Santorello heard the news that his son, a tank commander, had been killed in Iraq, from the officer in his living room, he walked out his front door and removed the American flag from its pole. Then, in tears, he tore down the yellow ribbons from his tree.

Rather than see it as the act of a man unmoored by the death of his 24-year-old son, the officer, an Army major, confronted Mr. Santorello, saying,

"Don't be disrespectful," Mr. Santorello recalled. Then, the officer, whose job it is to inform families of their loss, quickly disappeared without offering any comfort.

Related: If you didn't see this either, the LATimes did a massive three part series over the last few days on the difficulties faced by those wounded in the Iraq war, and some of the tricks that are being used to get them off the books and out of the system. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Picture of the Day

Tomorrow's White House line.

"It's not a leak if I authorize it."

"I can tap your phone calls and internets without a warrant."

"And, we're gonna bomb Iran, too. Whatchya gonna do about it?"

"You can indict the Ohio election fixers, but it's too late."

"I have political capital and I intend to use it."

Two more thoughts

First, the headline story, Bush authorizing the leak, is the top story on the AP/Reuters/AFP/NYTimes/WaPo/CNN/MSNBC, but at Fox, Cynthia McKinney and the "Mafia Cops" get top billing with Bush/Libby third. Drudge has already relegated it to the small text third column.

Second, I'm guessing we may have seen the end of the "Bush taking questions from the audience" tour. And pity the poor McClellan. If only he had insulted Josh Bolten sooner, he could be back in Texas working on the Strayhorn campaign.

I'm expecting McClellan to launch into a long quibble over "if the president does it is it a leak" to try to control the language rather than answer the question.

Gonzales at the Senate Intel Committee today

Two clips from two different stories on Al Gonzales testifying before the Senate Intel Committee today. First, Al Gonzales contends that the President can monitor completely DOMESTIC calls under the authority they've claimed.

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said.

In the past, Gonzales and other officials refused to say whether they had the legal authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, and have stressed that the NSA eavesdropping program is focused only on international communications.

Now, take that and combine it with this,

The attorney general acknowledged that there had been disagreement about the monitoring inside the administration. But he took issue with published reports that detailed some of those disputes.

"They did not relate to the program the president disclosed," he said. "They related to something else and I can't get into that."

And what conclusions do you get? There are more controversial monitoring programs, formerly or currently in operation, than those that have been made public thus far. Are these two quotes telling me that this President is monitoring domestic calls without a warrant in the same type of broad net surveillance which has been outlined regarding the admitted program?

And after today's news which more or less confirms that Bush himself was involved in "manipulating" the intelligence leading us to Iraq, can they tell the American people once again to trust them?

This is not the America I was brought up to believe in. It has all gone so horribly wrong. This administration's greatest crime is that they knowingly played upon the fear and vulnerability of the American people in the wake of 9-11 to create this situation. They violated the faith of the American people.

There's no specific statute covering that, but that is their great crime.

Picture of the Day - 3

It's Fitzgerald's game now.

Plame Gossip - Bush Authorized Leaks - contined

After thinking about the bombshell Plame revelation this morning, that Bush authorized the release of classified NIE material to further the war propaganda, I've come to a couple of preliminary conclusions.

First, no one can claim that Dick Cheney was in any way distant from the Joe Wilson pushback. There's still no concrete public evidence directly linking him to the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, but there can be no question that he was certainly present in several other deliberations and discussions about all this.

Second, I'm assuming that the manner in which this came up was not voluntary by Libby. I would guess that Fitzgerald in the course of grand jury testimony asked Libby the general question, "did you tell journalists classified information?" When he answered yes, Fitz then followed with, "who authorized you to do so?"

My point is that all this coming public is not necessarily something Libby wanted. Libby's defense has tried to make this case much broader than simple perjury and obstruction, trying to pull in the classified info angle to confuse the case.

As this filing was from the Fitzgerald side, I have a hunch this was Fitzgerald's way of either warning Libby off of his current defense strategy by threatening further revelations or it's intended to force action from somebody else.

Because, even though today's revelation doesn't significantly impact Libby's defense, Fitzgerald included it in his filings, and I find it impossible to believe that he was unaware of its potential political impact.

Maybe it was designed to put pressure on Libby by showing that Fitzgerald knows more about Cheney's actions than anyone suspected, emphasizing that there's no point in Libby going to prison to protect Cheney if he's already cooked. Maybe this disclosure is designed to elicit a response from someone beyond Scooter Libby.

Or maybe this is a threat to the administration that Fitzgerald can sink them if they don't cooperate. I just don't know for sure.

So, mixing metaphors, I think Fitzgerald just played one of his big cards and fired a warning shot across the administration's bow. I think the hunt for Dick Cheney is back on, and some buckshot in the face may seem minor compared to what's coming down the pipe.

The play is now to you Bush administration. You know that Fitzgerald has a threatened Rove indictment in his hand and who knows what else. How do you want to respond to this?

UPDATE: The Pete Yost AP story now includes this. "But it(the Fitzgerald filing) points to Cheney as one of the originators of the idea that Plame could be used to discredit her husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson."

Fitzgerald points to Cheney, eh?

Also, what's the Republican talking point going to be? "Fitzgerald released this irresponsibly?" "For political motives?" Or maybe, "there is still no evidence that the president or vice president did anything wrong?"

Or maybe the ultimate reverse, "how can you believe Scooter Libby's testimony? He's currently under indictment for perjury?"

And, remember in all of this, that Libby is not on trial for anything to do with classified information. Libby is on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice because he lied to the grand jury about who told him about Plame's identity.

The Politics of Immigration vs. Outsourcing

Has anyone else noticed that with all the focus on immigration that nobody talks about outsourcing anymore? Not even Lou Dobbs.

We can argue about whether illegal aliens in the US are "doing jobs that nobody else wants to do," but in the case of outsourcing, whether its software, manufacturing, or call centers, these are jobs that not only did Americans want to do but they were, in fact, doing.

It's a very clever political shell game that the Republicans have pulled off through this immigration debate. The heat had been rising on the Republicans about the outsourcing of good paying US jobs overseas; even many on the working class and middle class right were beginning to question whether the Republicans truly represented their economic interests.

And, then along came immigration, a perfect vessel through which individual concerns about economic security could be transferred from the corporations who are shipping jobs overseas, to illegal immigrants in the US.

Do you see the beauty in that? No longer is the worker excercising his aggression over the loss of his job on the Republican-corporate structure, instead, that anger is focused upon a minority group whose illegal status greatly limits their access to media and their legal abilities to respond.

By tapping into an inherent racism, the Republicans have found a brownskinned scapegoat on which to pin all the blame for personal concerns over economic security. Brilliant.

See, because after all, it is Pedro busing tables at the Chilis that's the problem, not the complete hollowing out of US manufacturing.

Dear Leader Speaks

"And we're a country of deep compassion. We care. One of the great things about America, one of the beauties of our country, is that when we see a young, innocent child blown up by an IED, we cry. "

(Credit to Barker in Valencia with finding this quote in a Presidential Q&A from March 29.)

And, while I'm linking out, Fat Cat Politics has really funny post. It's funny because it's true.

Also, Did you know you can buy real "Bring them home now" stamps? (from Hapening Here?)

Picture of the Day - 2

Plame Gossip - Bush Authorized the Judy Miller Leak

Now, this isn't about Plame's identity, but in a court filing in his perjury and obstruction case, Scooter Libby's defense lets slip that his "leaks" of classified information to Judy Miller(see aluminum tubes) were made with the "specific permission" of President Bush.
A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

Now, technically, there is nothing illegal in this, it is in the president's prerogative
to declassify anything, anytime, but it's pretty damning when combined with Murray Waas's last National Journal article, which reported "that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true."

Now, there'll have to be some digging on the timeline, but this might just be a smoking gun that Bush knowingly and intentionally misinformed the American people about the Iraq threat.

I know, I know, everybody already assumed that, but this may be proof.

A little more context from the article.

"Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was ‘pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was ‘very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.

Mr. Libby is said to have testified that "at first" he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. Bush. "Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE," the prosecution filing said.

Also, the article makes it clear that Cheney, who was pushing for the leak, knew that it was destined for the NYTimes. This was the support he cited in the famous Meet the Press interview where he cited the NYTimes reporting as evidence, independent from the administration, that Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons.

UPDATE: At 11:10 central this morning on CNN, Jim Clancy broke into the newscast to report that George Bush authorized the leak of Plame's name based on an AP story. About 10 minutes later he issued a correction back down to this version of the testimony. The AP story in question has been lengthened and now includes that the Plame name wasn't part of the authorized leak.

So, after about ten breathless minutes, the story is the same as the above. The only difference is that with this CNN screwup, that this story, that the President of the United States authorized the leak of information known to him to be dubious, will probably get much more prominence and play.

Sorry for CNN, but good for News.

Picture of the Day

"So, why don't we lead the news tonight with a Katie Couric teaser, then start with Delay and Cynthia McKinney. Then, maybe on to the Duke Lacrosse Team. Wait. Where are we going to fit in the DHS sex scandals, and we probably ought to do a piece on immigration, people are talking about that....."

(photo: Reuters - Helmay al Azawi)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Iran Drumbeat

From the very sane Bill Arkin's column on national security issues:

Isn't it just a little transparent that a drumbeat of stories about the Iranian "threat" has begun?

In the world of threat manufacture, Iran has all the ingredients: a WMD-seeking, terrorist-sponsoring, military threat of a regime. With its torpedoes and naval mines and small boats and coastal artillery, Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz where a fifth of the world's oil transits daily. Iran could shoot its missiles at U.S. bases and oil refineries in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Iran's agents would attack at home. Iran is thought to already possess chemical and biological weapons. Iranian nuclear weapons, or so the story goes, lurk in the future.

No wonder to many in the administration, in the military, and in the Washington world of brilliant minds, armed confrontation with Iran is the necessary next step in the war against terrorism.

Sellout McCain on The Daily Show

If you didn't see it last night, John McCain went on The Daily Show last night and got blasted for his agreement to give the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in a couple of months.

It truly is a clash for McCain whose main campaign momentum in 2000 came from the young and urban. Now, in an effort to win the primary, Sellout McCain(soon to be Dr. Sellout McCain) is reaching out to "crazy-base world." So, he finds himself selling out to the fundies while at the same time trying to be "hip" on The Daily Show.

I think the results at both efforts will end up something like this interview. (Just watch him try to keep smiling as Jon Stewart rips into him.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Senators Obama, Feinstein, McCain, Lieberman, Kennedy.

(Lew's caption, "Lieberman is the Democratic to Republican translator.)

(Reuters - Larry Downing)

Chris Matthews sucking up to Delay in a commercial break

This is absolutely great! The Huffpo somehow has a clip from a commercial break of Hardball last night of Chris Matthews effusively thanking Tom Delay.

But more than that, it's a look at just how "tough" the modern "newsman" is on the subjects of their reporting. Also, they discuss polling showing Hillary polling badly to which Delay says, "There's nothing worse than a woman know-it-all."

Just a couple minutes and well worth the time.

Paul Kiel has a little more on the backroom bit of the Delay resignation. Apparently Delay has knowledge that Ed Buckham is may be about to plead as well.

While I'm playing catty politics, Holden at First Draft has a funny post on just how quickly Ed Doyle, the DHS press secretary arrested last night for soliciting sex with fourteen year old, has been scrubbed from government websites.


Blogger is slow, so I'm just gonna dump several in this post.

Josh Marshall finds in the WaPo confirmation of my belief that Delay was just hanging around to raise "reelection money" that can then be converted to a defense fund. Again to Cartledge's question yesterday, what legislator had the foresight to allow campaign funds to be converted to defense funds?

John Kerry has an oped in the NYTimes about Iraq. Short version: Form a government by May 15 or the US should withdraw all forces. This CSM story backs up Kerry's strategy. But, once again, "the Iraqi leaders shelved talks on forming a government."

Iraq's neighbors are meeting to discuss contingencies for a civil war. But notice, not fully described by CNN, that these talks are focused on "the implications on Arabs and Turkey of any "American-Iranian deal."" Is this the other coalition that is going to intervene against Iran's influence? By my count, that would make it a ten country war.

And, I finally found a mention of displacement camps that I was looking for a couple days ago. It sounds like right now the Red Crescent and Najaf residents are picking up the humanitarian needs, but there's no mention of security.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Everyday something worse in Iraq

This just dropped my jaw. Not only are the Shia not cracking down on their militias, now the Interior Minister is refusing to deploy any US trained Iraqi troops.
Iraq's interior ministry is refusing to deploy thousands of police recruits who have been trained by the US and the UK and is hiring its own men and putting them on the streets, according to western security advisers....

The interior ministry, which is controlled by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), has not deployed any graduates of the civilian police assistance training team (CPATT), a joint US/UK unit, for the past three months.

The British are on board, but the Saudis aren't

The British Defense Secretary "has called for sweeping changes to international rules of war to counter global terrorism" including altering the legal grounds for preemptive strikes and a review of the Geneva Conventions.

And the Saudis are still doing nothing to stop private funding of terrorists.

Eckels or Bettencourt to replace Delay?

This post is more for the locals at this point. Two names that have been thrown in the hat to run for "former congressman" Tom Delay's seat are Harris County Judge Robert Eckels(the top county official,) and Tax Assessor/Collector Paul Bettencourt. Now, both these guys are pretty conservative, but to my knowledge, neither of them are "movement conservatives."

From what I know about these guys, they're both grownups and neither pushes crazy fundie-christian gay marriage/prayer in school type crap, and with their relative popularity in the city and the Republican leanings of the district, I don't think they'll have to make issues out of the crazy stuff.

Bad news for Democratic challenger(?) Lampson, though.

Houstonians, am I wrong in my assessment?

Sellout McCain gets Union Busted!

I won't go into all of the reasons why, but as a spurned McCain supporter from 2000, this makes me smile.

Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.

"If you like, I will leave," McCain told the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.

"OK, then please give me the courtesy I would give you."

If anybody sees a video of this, let me know.

Picture of the Day (repost)

"Now Tom, I wanna' thank ya for all the good work you done sabotaging environmental legislation, stalling health care reform, and keeping big business out of the ..courts.. and uh.. uhh yea.. the.. well, don't let the door hit ya' in the ass."

I took this from Left of Center's comment. It's better than what I came up with. I just can't write funny very well.

(Repost from Jan, 10, 2006. I thought the reprint was fitting.)

(If you're looking for Delay pictures, here are some other Tom Delay pictures I've posted 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 )

Bush administration determined to attack Iran

I don't know how much stock to put in this, but the rumblings of a decision already made on Iran have been growing.
IRAN -- ANALYST SAYS SOME SENIOR U.S. OFFICIALS DETERMINED TO STRIKE IRAN: "For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran," Joseph Cirincione, director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment, writes in Foreign Policy magazine. "In the last few weeks, I have changed my view." Cirincione says his shift was partly triggered by "colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran." (The original Foreign Policy piece is behind a subscription wall.)

Cartledge asks the question.

Cartledge, one of the non-US readers here, asked a pretty good question in the comments about the ability of Delay, and other members of Congress, to transfer their election funds for use in a criminal defense.
Now let me get this straight; those who framed the 'Federal election rules' had the foresight to include a provision that campaign funds could be converted to legal defense funds?

I think that's a pretty good question, Cartledge. I don't know how to research it, but it would be interesting to know who, and under what circumstance, that was added.

While I'm chattering about Delay

The latest violence came after the U.S. military reported the deadliest day in almost three months for American service members in the Iraq war. Ten U.S. troops died, including five Marines killed in a vehicle accident in western Iraq. Two Marines and a sailor were still missing after the truck overturned near Asad air base.

Picture of the Day - 2 - Props

It's bad enough that Bush uses US soldiers as backdrop for his political speeches, but using a wounded soldier and a father who lost a son as props?

U.S. President George W. Bush hugs U.S. Sgt Paul Brondhaver (R), who was shot in Iraq and received a Purple Heart medal and Bronze Star With Valor, after Bush threw out the first pitch of the Cincinnati Reds opening day baseball game in Cincinnati, Ohio April 3, 2006. At left is John Prazynski, who lost his son Taylor, who was serving in the military in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Jason Reed

I mean, this poor guy's been back from Iraq for how long and Bush waits until the cameras are rolling for a photo op hug?

If you're "the Hammer" everything looks like you're nailed

So, last night's reporting understated Delay's action. He's actually resigning and becoming "former Republican Congressman" Tom Delay. Again, just another Republican example of the transition to "former" official before the crap officially hits the fan.

The WaPo has the video of Delay's 3 minute announcement. (running slow right now.)

Also, notice that he's not "spending more time with his family," and that his way off the ticket is to make his permanent residence in Virginia. I'm sorry, but as a Texan, you just don't do that.

But I think the WaPo hits on the real answer to the mystery.

DeLay also is entitled under federal election rules to convert any or all of the remaining funds from his reelection campaign to his legal expenses, whether or not he resigns, is indicted or loses the election. Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office.

As of Feb. 15, when his campaign filed its most recent report with the Federal Election Commission, DeLay had $1,295,350 on hand. But that was two weeks before the Texas primary in which DeLay bested three Republican rivals to win renomination, and the pot of money available to him now may be considerably less.

UPDATE: Holden at First Draft asks the question I should have thought of, with Delay having posted $100,000 bond to stay out of Texas's jail system, "Can he just up and move to Virginia whenever he pleases?"

WaPo also writes that his three ways off the ticket that allow a replacement Republican candidate are "under Texas law he must either die, be convicted of a felony, or move out of his district to be removed from the November ballot."

Otherwise, the (R) column on the ballot would either contain his name or no name. C'mon, Tommy, just take man's way out, the "convicted of a felony" route.

And why is the resignation effective in May/June? What does he have to do between now and then? What does he gain? Think he'll be taking campaign donations that can be converted to defense fund? I don't know.

Picture of the Day - Tom Delay won't run again!

I guess it's just no fun being Tom Delay anymore.

Delay to announce tomorrow that he will not seek reelection.

Funny how this comes just one business day and one long thoughtful weekend after former third in command Tony Rudy plead guilty to conspiracy charges Friday with Ed Buckham seemingly soon to follow. Just a coincidence I'm sure.

Incredible, he sees himself as a victim. (Photo - AP - David Phillp)

(Might I recommend "Dancing in the Streets" as you prance happily about the room, either the version by Detroit City Councilwoman Martha Reeves or the Van Halen cover.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

US military statistics from Iraq.

Gordon Mansfield the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs was on Hardball tonight, and he listed the following statistics.

Roughly 500,000 US personnel have rotated through Iraq.

145,000 of those have sought treatment upon their return (It wasn't clear whether the 17,000 physically wounded were included in that number or not. The topic was PTSD, so, I would say from the context that at least 123,000 Iraq veterans have sought treatment for psychological problems after their return.)

There have been 20,638 cases of PTSD serious enough to be diagnosed and recognized by the VA in vets returning from Iraq.

I just found the numbers interesting.

A good read

Copy Editor posted this link in the comments to a Time story by Michael Ware about the growing organization, influence and power of the militias in Iraq, underlining the argument for a lawless society in a civil war.

Picture of the Day - 3

A young girl plays in a displacement camp Monday April 3, 2006 in Diwaniyah, Iraq about 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad. Some 33,000 Iraqis, mainly Shiites, were displaced in Iraq following the Feb. 22 attack on an important Shiite shrine north of Baghdad, IOM (International Organisation for Migration) officials said. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

This is the first I've heard of "displacement camps." Certainly, there have been several reports of refugees, but this is the first I've heard of camps.

Who is servicing these with food, water, cooking fuel, etc? Who is protecting them? US? Iraqi army? Militias?

In previous civil conflicts of this sort, these camps became some of the most dangerous ground in the war. Civilians suffer deprivation, disease and criminal gangs thrive, and government, paramilitary, and militia groups attack them. This is not a good development.

Has anyone seen any other information on "displacement camps" in Iraq, or whatever other euphemism they want to use for refugee camps?

(And again, I credit this revelation to the use of local Iraqi cameramen and reporters, rather than westerners, by the wire services. As I've said several times before (Part I, Part II), it really has made a difference in the presentation of the war. I mean, Western photographers were not taking this picture of a dying child for the AP. (VERY GRAPHIC))

The President's pitch

I was just watching CNN and they cut to live and breathless coverage of the president throwing out the first pitch at the Reds game. Flipping around MSNBC had it, and Fox didn't.

But what grabbed me was that the CNN anchor, the same guy who was worried about who would tend his golf fairways when the illegals were protesting, made mention of the fact that Bush spent some time this weekend practicing his throws with Joe Hagin.

Iraq's in the crapper, New Orleans isn't rebuilding, but George Bush finds the time to go out and throw the ball around with his Deputy Chief of Staff so he doesn't embarrass himself.

Because apparently a bad throw is the only mistake he fears being held accountable for.

Plame Gossip - Fitzgerald Knew

Fitzgerald learned the source of the leak in the Plame case very early in 2004 according to the latest article by Jason Leopold. This article also fleshes out the letter Fitzgerald wrote to Comey to define the scope of his authority in regards to obstruction, perjury, destruction of evidence, and the other crimes of coverup.

Summarizing, Fitzgerald approached John Hannah(VP's office) who had "played a major role in the Plame Wilson leak," and threatened him with cooperation or jailtime. Hannah flipped, although no one in the administration seems to have known that, and started singing. It was shortly after this that Fitzgerald began developing perjury cases against Rove and Libby(Bush and Cheney's respective right hand men.)

This article really fleshes out the context and timeline of part of Fitzgerald's investigation. It reiterates the main point in Jason's last story,

However, Rove was actually a source for Novak and another reporter who wrote about Plame Wilson but failed to disclose that fact in nearly a dozen times he was questioned about his role in the leak.

Sources said that Fitzgerald is now preparing the paperwork to present to a grand jury outlining the charges against Rove in hopes of securing an indictment.

My only question would be, how does Hadley figure into this version of the story as the last reporting by Jason said Fitzgerald was preparing to indict Rove or Hadley? Obviously, a Rove indictment would fit that, but where does Hadley fit in? Is this telling me that Hadley agreed to cooperate so Rove went down, or that Fitzgerald had a case and was waiting to see whose name went on top? And is Rove truly the end of the investigation?

I don't know, but there's some piece missing here.

UPDATE: Talkleft makes a reasonable argument that Hadley was Novak's source, although the one Washington insider I know and some pretty good analysis elsewhere still point to Armitage. But a "Hadley as Novak's source" would meet all the requirements of the current reporting.

Bottom line, no matter my confusion over Hadley's role, the Rove indictment watch has started again.

Expect to see some sort of coordinated effort to attack Fitzgerald in the press to politically blunt the indictment, "he still hasn't found anything after two years," "nothing to do with the underlying crime," and our old favorite, "Plame wasn't covert."

I think that if Rove is indicted, it will have a moderate direct impact. Questions over this administration's honesty will be reinforced and, at least temporarily the polls will drop a little more. I just don't see an Ollie North "I did it for my country" defense flying on this one.

The real question is whether he'll go down alone or squeal to stay out of prison.

Picture of the Day - 2


Relegated to page A17, but still it goes on.

BAGHDAD, April 2 -- At least 50 people were killed Sunday in Iraq in a catalogue of violence that included a mortar attack, military firefights, roadside bombings and other explosions.

In addition, the U.S. military reported the deaths of six soldiers and airmen, including two who were killed when their helicopter apparently was shot down during a combat air patrol southwest of Baghdad on Saturday.

And, if the bombings have been mainly coming from the Sunni side, I think this says that the Shia are fighting back through their militias which often wear the uniforms of the police or army. Is it a civil war yet?
WASHINGTON -- Nearly eight times as many Iraqis died last month in execution-style sectarian killings as in terrorist bombings carried out by insurgents, new US military statistics show.

And the NYtimes has a story and a graphic on the huge increase in sales of small weapons in Iraq since the bombing of the mosque in Samarra. Average people, families are now arming up.

India Nuclear Deal Was Rice's Idea.

This explains alot. The recently struck Nuclear Deal with India which looks to be a longterm disaster in nonproliferation efforts around the world was Condi Rice's idea.

Apparently, the US decision to unfreeze the F-16 sale to Pakistan as reward for their cooperation(?) hunting Bin Laden angered the Indians, and as Rice went to smooth things over, she gave them practically everything. Now, Pakistan and China are obliged to increase their nuclear and other defense programs to match.

Perhaps it's a rephrase of the popular belief that the US nuclear buildup of the eighties is what destroyed the Russian economy, but this to me seems a significantly dangerous gamble, encouraging a nuclear buildup between India/Pakistan and India/China relationships that have spawned several recent wars.

I'm not arguing with the general conception of stronger ties with India, it does make some geopolitical sense, but, because of the significant regional risks, this is a very risky way to go.

Picture of the Day

This man has the ability to kill vitually all life on the planet.

See Next.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

US nuclear first strike?

I hadn't seen this article in Foreign Affairs magazine(the CFR publication) which makes a case that the current state of US nuclear primacy relative to Russia and China makes a nuclear first strike attack a reasonable option.

It's a little long, but I think it's justified. The three points that caught my eye were the modeling of a US first strike which completely incapacitates Russian nuclear response, the discussion of the bunker buster nukes which are not really for rogue states but for hardened missile silos, and the idea that since missile defense is only effective(their decription) against a few warheads, its only use would be in a first strike attack.

If it's a topic of interest, it's worth a read. It reads like the idealistic neocon ravings about the middle east, but there are obviously people pushing these ideas.

Water, Guns and Tuna

With hurricane season just a couple months away, I think I'm going to have to start stocking up.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Bush turned to Paulison after seven candidates for director or another top FEMA job said they had pulled themselves out of the running.

The candidates were said to be unconvinced that the administration was serious about fixing FEMA or that there was enough time to actually get it done before Bush's second term ends.....

The Times said that of the 30 most senior jobs at FEMA, 11 are filled by officials appointed on an acting basis. It said the search has gone on so long that Kentucky Republican Rep. Harold Rogers, chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the Homeland Security Department's budget, had threatened last week to hold up action on the budget bill until the top jobs at FEMA were filled.

More Sunday reading

This spring time change always messes me up, so I'm not, and won't be, 100% for a few days. So, instead of using my own jumbling words, I thought I'd just throw up a few interesting Sunday reads.

The LATimes had an interesting story a couple days ago about the difficulty biology teachers are now having in teaching evolution. I'm pretty seperate from any high school issues, but apparently there are fundies and their kids out there who are taking training and intentionally complicating the teaching of evolution. I just found it an interesting article.

Also, the WaPo today has a piece by Kevin Phillips, How the GOP Became God's Party. I disagree with some of the assumptions and conclusions, but I did find it thought provoking. Is the chaos in the mideast actually a selling point to Christians looking for their Jesus to come back? Also, the coopting of Christianity to support wars/national defense, and the war on science.

Last, and just as a weird one, in the murder trial around Abramoff associate Adam Kidan and Sun Cruz, the apparent "caterer" who was involved in the hit, Anthony Moscatiello, is revealed to have been an FBI informant. Not that I'm alleging anything on the part of those who want this to go away, but revealing Moscatiello as an informant on John Gotti might just be a convenient way to prevent any information coming out at trial. "I'm not saying anything, just that accidents happen."

Picture of the Day - 2


Katherine Harris has lost the rest of her campaign staff. The only one left seems to be her "spiritual advisor" Dale Borroughs from the Biblical Heritage Institute.

The Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota is talking about opening a women's clinic in the face of South Dakota's extreme new abortion law.

How much do you want to bet that this "new democrat" who has suddenly appeared to run against Hillary Clinton is being spotted by some big money folks on the right to try to kneecap her before 2008? Remember that it was a small collection of "former" Republican operatives who helped raise the majority of the early money for Sharpton in 2004. Even if there were no direct contributions to his campaign, there are other ways to get money to the guy. I guess after Republican challenger KT McFarland had a paranoid break at a recent campaign event, they had to do something.

Full credit to this AP reporter for pointing out that Bush's rhetoric about poverty in the wake of Katrina was just that, and that nothing has been done despite the momorable promises made in Jackson Square.

Lastly, I found this account of his own kidnapping by Phil Sands in Iraq very interesting reading.

Picture of the Day

This Iraqi man was questioned and then released.

(AP - Todd Pitman)