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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pushing out stories on the Bush scandals.

First, Both the AP and the NYTimes have the same story on the same night saying it was Cheney who told the CIA to withhold from Congress. So, somebody' out there shopping the anti-Cheney story.

Second, Both the AP and WaPo have virtually identical stories saying that AG Holder is looking likely to name a special prosecutor to look at torture.

Once again, the sourcing reads like officials around Holder are calling around trying to get this story planted.

(Later: Don't leave out Newsweek who got no fewer than "four knowledgeable sources" regarding Holder's mindset.)

Surveillance scandals

The IG report on the surveillance programs is spawning several shocking story lines.

(AP) "Not enough relevant officials were aware of the size and depth of an unprecedented surveillance program started under President George W. Bush, let alone signed off on it, a team of federal inspectors general found."

(AP) "The Bush White House pulled in a great quantity of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged..."

(AP) "Information gathered by the secret program played a limited role in the FBI's overall counterterrorism efforts, according to the report. Very few CIA analysts even knew about the program and therefore were unable to fully exploit it in their counterterrorism work, the report said."

(NYTimes) "The report also hinted at political pressure in preparing the so-called threat assessments that helped form the legal basis for continuing the classified program.... The initial authorization of the wiretapping program came after a senior C.I.A. official took a threat evaluation, prepared by analysts who knew nothing of the program, and inserted a paragraph provided by a senior White House official that spoke of the prospect of future attacks against the United States."

(NYTimes) "The report states that at the same time Mr. Bush authorized the warrantless wiretapping operation, he also signed off on other surveillance programs that the government has never publicly acknowledged. While the report does not identify them, current and former officials say that those programs included data mining of e-mail messages of Americans."

(NYTimes) "The report said that Mr. Yoo, of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, gave the White House his first legal opinion endorsing the wiretapping in November 2001, weeks after it had begun, and that his boss, Jay Bybee, was not even aware of the program’s existence."

(CNN) "The report said that Mr. Yoo, of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, gave the White House his first legal opinion endorsing the wiretapping in November 2001, weeks after it had begun, and that his boss, Jay Bybee, was not even aware of the program’s existence."

(Ambinder) "In a White House meeting after deputy A.G. James Comey had voiced concerns about the legality of some aspects of the PSP, Vice President Cheney suggested that the President reauthorize the program without the consent of the Department of Justice. This outraged FBI director Robert Mueller, who told Cheney that he couldn't agree to that. (pp. 22-23). The report details how President Bush re certified the program anyway, leading to resignation threats from senior Justice Department officials."

And, (TPM, Wash Independent) We also learned that George Bush himself was the one who ordered Gonzales to John Ashcroft's post surgery bedside looking for a signature of approval after Comey refused. Bush called Ashcroft's room. (Ashcroft's wife refused to let Bush speak with him, and said they should go through the properly empowered Comey. Bush then sent Gonzals to the hospital to try and pry a signature out of the drugged and struggling Ashcroft.)

David Brooks' creepy night

David Brooks on MSNBC yesterday,
I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.

He would not reveal the Republican Senator.

Drugged kids

In a NYTimes piece on those little 2.5 oz. caffeine laced "power drinks,"
Mr. Sporre and several others students said the shots worked well in combination with Adderall, a prescription drug for attention deficit disorder that is popular on college campuses. The Adderall helps them focus, they said, and the shot keeps them awake.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The "President's Surveillance Program"

When it hits the AP....
The Bush administration authorized secret surveillance activities that still have not been made public, according to a new government report that questions the legal basis for the unprecedented anti-terrorism program....

President George W. Bush authorized other secret intelligence activities — which have yet to become public — even as he was launching the massive warrentless wiretapping program, the summary said. It describes the entire program as the "President's Surveillance Program."

The report describes the program as unprecedented and raises questions about the legal grounding used for its creation.

Palin was McCain's canary in a coal mine.

Come to find out, "palling around with terrorists" was a line fed to Palin by the top of the McCain campaign. They wanted her to use it, and they had a campaign ad waiting to follow about a week behind her introducing that hard Ayers attack.

It appears that upon seeing the reaction, the McCain folks decided to pull back, leaving Palin twisting on the "terrorist" limb.

Of course, that's just one version of the story told by one side. (But it does explain the raging animosity the Palin folks have for Nicole Wallace.)


The John Ensign affair story just keeps getting weirder.

First we learn that he, too, like Sanford, was a member/resident of that weird secretive Christian group which it's members (and Congressional residents call C Street or The Family.

We also learn that members of The Family sat next to Ensign to be sure he wrote his breakup letter to his mistress. Then, unsure of whether he would actually mail the thing, they drove him to FedEx just to be sure.

They were right. Ensign then called the mistress to tell her to ignore the package/letter.

These are freaking Senators!


McClatchy's respected Joe Galloway doesn't forget, or forgive.
Beginning in 1965 and for nearly three years McNamara each year drafted into the military 100,000 young boys whose scores in the mental qualification and aptitude tests were in the lowest quarter — so-called Category IV's. Men with IQ's of 65 or even lower....

The young men of Project 100,000 couldn't read, so training manual comic books were created for them. They had to be taught to tie their boots. They often failed in boot camp, and were recycled over and over until they finally reached some low standard and were declared trained and ready.

They could not be taught any more demanding job than trigger-pulling and, so, all of them were shipped to Vietnam and most went straight into combat where the learning curve is steep and deadly. The cold, hard statistics say that these almost helpless young men died in action in the jungles at a rate three times higher than the average draftee.

McNamara's military even assigned the Project 100,000 men special serial numbers so that anyone could identify them and deal with them accordingly....

Thought for the Day

Countries which start wars generally don't have public healthcare.

Or, countries which have public healthcare don't generally start wars.

Second: It is often repeated (a little inaccurately) that in modern times, no two democracies have ever gone to war.

Have two public healthcare nations ever gone to war?

You don't hear Bill Kristol citing that....

You're missing the point.

I don't care about Pelosi and all the political point scoring about her briefings, I want to know what's the other "on agan off again" "collection" program that the CIA thought they had to intentionally hide from Congress for 8 years.

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama stands with Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi before a dinner at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, July 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Alessandro Bianch))

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Kurds in Iraq (rumble...)

I guess the Kurds are "creating a reality on the ground" before negotiations really get going.
With little notice and almost no public debate, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders are pushing ahead with a new constitution for their semiautonomous region....

The proposed constitution enshrines Kurdish claims to territories and the oil and gas beneath them. But these claims are disputed by both the federal government in Baghdad and ethnic groups on the ground, and were supposed to be resolved in talks begun quietly last month between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments...

This is the long awaited fracture point. This might just be a pressure tactic, to put a backside deadline on the negotiations, but it could also get really messy.

Picture of the Day - Bastardo

After crushing the US Soccer team in a huge comeback a week ago, the Brazilian President gives President Obama a jersey signed by the Brazilian team?

I know we're just a fly to them, but still....

Senatorial ATM

John Ensign's parents paid his mistress' family $96,000 in "gifts."

FoxNews - Preserving the master race since 1996

Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of Fox and Friends
"We are — we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other ... See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes .... Fins marry other Fins, so they have a pure society."


This isn't FoxNews' first on air venture into preserving the genes of the master race. John Gibson famously had that on air editorial telling white people "we need to make more babies." .

There have been alot of on air racist comments by various FoxNews folks, but when the hosts start talking genes and racial purity, we've passed from simple ignorant bigotry into "race war" territory.

That's a whole different ball of wax.

This should be a hugely bigger issue than it is.

From a story so long ago....

(AP) U.S. releases 5 Iranian diplomats detained in 2007 (in Iraq)

Remember that?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Picture of the Day - A dying man

(North Korean leader Kim Jong-il participates in the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, in this frame grab taken from footage released by KRT April 9, 2009. (REUTERS/KRT via Reuters))

Quickhits - The kid in the slow class is causing trouble again

(AP, NYTimes) South Korean intelligence claims that the attacks crippling some S. Korean and US websites are coming from "North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces in South Korea." (Asymmetric warfare. What's the response, shut down their horse carts?)

(AP) Kim Jong Il makes only his second appearance since last summer's suspected stroke, and he looked "thin," "gaunt," and had less hair. (Frankly, I hope the guy kicks soon so they can stop all the pre-transition posturing/hostility.)

(USAToday) "Undercover investigators sneaked bombs and detonators past security guards and into federal buildings occupied by the Homeland Security, Justice and State departments..." (Get ready for Joe Lieberman to get some media time...)

(WaPo) China will execute those it holds responsible for the recent ethnic clashes in Xinjiang.

(Guardian) British shock that MI-5 sort of used Pakistan's ISI to "outsource" torture.

(Reuters) Yet another US drone attack in the Pakistani tribal lands. Supposedly, 6 killed.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iran's still going on

A very interesting, if somewhat overstating, NYTimes article on the upper echelon struggles over Khamenei and the Guardian Council form of government.
Most telling, and arguably most damning, is that many influential religious leaders have not spoken out in support of the beleaguered president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Indeed, even among those who traditionally have supported the government, many have remained quiet or even offered faint but unmistakable criticisms.

According to Iranian news reports, only two of the most senior clerics have congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad on his re-election, which amounts to a public rebuke in a state based on religion.

Rove deposed

House Judiciary Committee lawyers deposed Karl Rove today in the US Attorneys firings investigation.

Notable detail: "Rove’s deposition began at 10 a.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m, with several breaks, Conyers said."

More than just a few routine questions....

Please welcome the most junior Senator in the chamber....

Meaningful to those who know.....

Sen.-elect Al Franken will use late Minnesota progressive Paul Wellstone's bible at today's swearing-in....

Looking for the next high....

Unless you want to talk about Sarah Palin ("Speaking in fishing waders from the town of Dillingham....",) or Marc Sanford ("the South Carolina Republican Party voted Monday night to censure Mark Sanford...",) there's not too much out there this morning.

So, to feed the blog. Palin: Those "ethics complaints" that she claims were so expensive for the state that she had to resign are the result of her own ethics reform legislation, a piece of law that she claimed as an early term signature.

Her second signature move, that hugely expensive natural gas pipeline, has been looking likely to fail as the oil companies are hesitating to sign up to commit to its use.

Sanford: It took 4 efforts to pass censure. So, I guess they're not calling on him to resign.

And, The WaPo has a decent piece on Palin's collapsing legacy in Alaska, and CNN gets the latest Palin interview, "I am not a quitter. I am a fighter..."

(I do wish I had something deeper and nobler to offer you....)

Picture of the Day

The surest way to appear not funny is to appear with Harry Reid.....

Monday, July 06, 2009

Thought for the Day

Yesterday evening, as I was driving around, I came across a woman whose car was festooned with those little plastic 99 cent American flags. On the back window, in shoe polish was an exuberant "Sarah Palin 2012."

Always nice to see my state's shame booed by his base......

Two bits on this one...
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn drew boos from a crowd outside the Texas Capitol this afternoon as he spoke at a “tea party” rally organized by the Texas office of Americans for Prosperity....

“You’re the problem,” a crowd member hollered.

First, of course I'm going to take some joy at Sen. Cornyn (and Gov. Perry) being booed by the Tea Party base.

Second, notice that the Tea Party rallies, even the local ones, are still being underwritten and organized by a big money think tank.

The essence of the man

...when the library for George W. Bush opens in 2013 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, visitors will most likely get to see one of his most treasured items: Saddam Hussein’s pistol....

Mr. Bush also showed Mr. Hegseth another item: a brick from the Iraq safe house where the Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by an American air strike in 2006.

To me, this sums up the "mission accomplished" side of George Bush's character. When it was his time, he avoided war with every trick and family string he could pull, but when someone else is doing the dying, he shows the war trophies proudly as his own.

Picture of the Day

(A security guard helps a bank employee to board up the bank's entrance before a demonstration by supporters of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in San Pedro Sula July 4, 2009.(REUTERS/Daniel LeClair))

(Supporters of ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, clash with soldiers in the surroundings of Toncontin international airport in Tegucigalpa. (AFP/Orlando Sierra))

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Thought for the Day

If John McCain had had the courage to stand up to the anti-abortion wng of his party to pick the respected and capable Tom Ridge as his VP choice, both the country and the Republicans would be in a better place.

Thought for the Day - 2

Hillary Clinton took more shit for more years than Sarah Palin can even imagine.

Thought for the Day - 3

I think we should elect Tina Fey to something.