October 31, 2005

As John Maxwell suggests, it's about time that the details of Cheney's secret task force on energy were made public, isn't it?
The war was not for spreading democracy- a concept foreign to the imaginations of the administration; it was not for improving the conditions of the Iraqi people; it was not even for safeguarding Israel. It was all about oil. Everything else was secondary, including humanity, history and civilisation...

And it may be useful to remember in all of this that freedom of the press is a public right. It does not belong to the press. It is meant to guarantee that the public gets all the information they need to make up their minds - the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth. They need to be able to rationally decide, for instance, whether they wish to have their children face death in a war to defend the remainder of their freedoms.

In this case, the press surrendered its responsibilities to people like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and lent them the confidence that they could walk on water and defy common sense, common decency, public opinion and the law. What they were walking on was the turf on the grave of democracy.
Arianna Huffington:
Ultimately, as Rich writes, the Libby indictment is just "one very big window" into what we've just begun to put together: "the full history of a self-described 'war presidency' that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well."

This is what this case is about, no matter how much White House apologists want it to be about a White House aide being busted for a "technicality." And they will no more be able to spin this away than they've been able to spin away the consequences of a disastrous war...
Looking Beyond Fitzgerald

So Libby has been indicted. Whoo hoo.

But like the Mercury News says, the major question is not whether the vice president's chief of staff lied to a grand jury, it's whether the Bush administration lied to the American people in justifying the invasion of Iraq (and then tried to intimidate its critics).

In other words, this whole scandal goes way beyond the boundaries of the Fitzgerald enquiry. All this talk about where the enquiry is headed or who Fitzgerald might indict next ignores the fact that very serious facts have already been placed on the table, in full public view. Don't ask what Fitzgerald is going to do about it - what are we going to do about it?

Today there are a handful of articles calling for Cheney to come clean about his own involvement in this scandal and resign. There are calls for Bush to "restore dignity to the White House" by sacking Rove and others who were clearly involved.

But what about Bush himself?

It's the same old story again: either Bush knew that Libby, Rove and others were working to discredit Wilson's claims by outing his wife, in which case he is complicit in the crime, or else Bush didn't know what his own staff were doing, in which case he is an incompetent man surrounded by criminals.

Similarly for the whole Saddam-WMD lie: either Bush knew that Cheney's Office of Special Plans was fabricating evidence, or else Bush didn't know what his own staff were doing, in which case he is once again an incompetent man surrounded by criminals.

An idiot, a criminal, or both? You decide.

Whatever the answer, the world cannot take another three years of this.

UPDATE: Libby's case is the first time in 130 years that such a senior White House aide has been charged (others have resigned before being charged). Juan Cole says it's now time for some more high-profile resignations:

1. Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney.

Dick Cheney told Irving Lewis Libby about Plame working for the CIA. Although both Cheney and Libby had security clearances, it is not the case that any two persons with such clearances may properly share any information at will. Classified information is disseminated on a need to know basis and for specific security-related purposes. For Cheney to bandy about classified information merely as a form of office gossip or for partisan political purposes, even with other government officials, is unethical and poor tradecraft at the very least, and would get any junior CIA case officer fired. So surely the same should apply to the vice president of the United States at a time of war.

2. Karl Rove.

The president's adviser clearly told Matt Cooper of Time Magazine, at the very least, about Valerie Plame Wilson working for the CIA. Since this information was classified, Rove learned it from someone with a clearance. If he did not double check as to whether the information was classified before he released it to the press, then he was criminally irresponsible. If he released it with the knowledge that it was classified, then what he did was highly unethical and possibly illegal. Either way, no one who behaves so cavalierly with national security-related information during a time of war has any place in the White House. Rove must resign. If Bush does not request and accept Rove's resignation, then he becomes an accessory after the fact to a possible crime, and should be impeached as such.

3. John Hannah.

Hannah, a key Cheney aide, also mentioned to Libby that Plame worked for the CIA. He should not have been bandying about this information without a serious national security purpose. He should go.

4. John Bolton.

Currently Ambassador to the United Nations. He has not been implicated in the outing of Plame yet, but he did visit implicated journalist Judith Miller in prison and is tightly connected to key figures in the crime. He has been a twenty-first century Goebbels of national security disinformation aimed at scaring the American public into pursuing a series of disastrous wars (beyond Iraq, he wants wars against Syria, Iran, and Cuba to start). He was not confirmed by the Senate. He is a serial liar or a serial incompetent. He has expressed himself vehemently against the existence of the United Nations and dismisses US international treaty obligations. He should not be representing the American people at the United Nations.

5. Elliot Abrams.

Abrams lied to the Congress assiduously over the Iran-Contra criminal proceedings. During this period, high Reagan administration officials illegally sold off high-poweered weapons like TOWs from Pentagon storehouses to the Ayatollah Khomeini. They then took the Iranian money paid for them and put it in secret bank accounts, using it to fund rightwing death squads in Central America. Abrams was part of this unconstitutional and criminal plot. He should be in jail, but was pardoned. W. appointed him to the National Security Council, where he was in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a while (he is, like Doug Feith, more ideologically so aligned to the far rightwing Israeli Likud Party as to be virtually a card-carrying member; so that was really a signal of US even-handedness!). Now he is said to be in charge of Iran! He should never have been allowed back in high office after lying to Congress and both houses should be ashamed that they did not block his appointment. No wonder there is all this criminality in the White House-- they are allowing criminals to be appointed!
For anyone still confused about it, this WaPo piece has some good background on the Italian connection:
The chain of events that led to Friday's indictment can be traced as far back as 1991, when an unremarkable burglary took place at the embassy of Niger in Rome. All that turned up missing was a quantity of official letterhead with "Republique du Niger" at its top.

More than 10 years later, according to a retired high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, a businessman named Rocco Martino approached the CIA station chief in Rome. An occasional informant for U.S., British, French and Italian intelligence services, Martino brought documents on Niger government letterhead describing secret plans for the sale of uranium to Iraq.

The station chief "saw they were fakes and threw [Martino] out," the former CIA official said. But Italy shared a similar report with the Americans in October 2001, he said, and the CIA gave it circulation because it did not know the Italians relied on the same source.

On Feb. 12, 2002, Cheney received an expanded version of the unconfirmed Italian report. It said Iraq's then-ambassador to the Vatican had led a mission to Niger in 1999 and sealed a deal for the purchase of 500 tons of uranium in July 2000. Cheney asked for more information.

The same day, Plame wrote to her superior in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division that "my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." Wilson -- who had undertaken a similar mission three years before -- soon departed for Niamey, the Niger capital. He said he found no support for the uranium report and said so when he returned.

Martino continued to peddle his documents, with an asking price of more than 10,000 euros -- this time to Panorama, an Italian magazine owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Panorama editor Carlo Rossella said his staff concluded the letters were bogus but in the interim sent copies to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October 2002. "I believed the Americans were the best source for verifying authenticity," he said. When the documents reached the State Department, according to a commission that investigated prewar intelligence this year, analysts there said they had "serious doubts about the authenticity" of the "transparently forged" documents.

By summer 2002, the White House Iraq Group assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white paper for public release, describing the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq's allegedly "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program. Wilkinson gave prominent place to the claim that Iraq "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." That claim, along with repeated use of the "mushroom cloud" image by top officials beginning in September, became the emotional heart of the case against Iraq.

President Bush invoked the mushroom cloud in an Oct. 7, 2002, speech in Cincinnati. References to African uranium remained in his speech until its fifth draft, but a last-minute intervention by Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet excised them.

Tenet's success was short-lived. The uranium returned repeatedly to Bush administration rhetoric in December and January. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice cited the report in a Jan. 23 newspaper column, and three days later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for a nuclear weapon?"

By the time Bush stated the case personally -- in the notorious "16 words" of his Jan. 28 State of the Union address -- the uranium had been thoroughly integrated into his government's case for impending war with Iraq.
George W. Bush: The Search For Truth

It's about time for George W. Bush to start planning his next White House Christmas Party. And what better way to do it than with another one of his hilarious videos?

In this year's episode, George is hunting around the Oval Office, searching for the truth. He looks under a stack of papers labelled "9/11 Commission".

"Nope, no truth there!"

He peeks behind the curtains and finds a stack of old New York Times newspapers, with Judith Miller's cover stories on Saddam's WMDs.

"No truth there, either!"

How about a pile of papers marked "McLellan Press Conference Transcripts"?

"Still no truth..."

Bush walks over to a framed photo on the wall, showing his 2004 US Presidential Debate withJohn Kerry. The outline of a wireless microphone is clearly visible under Bush's coat. He flips the photo around. The camera zooms in on a Skull And Bones insignia on the back.

"Dang! No truth there either!"

Meanwhile, as George tip-toes meekly around the office, there is a massive 800-pound gorilla sitting in the middle of the room.

And the sign on the President's desk, which once read "The Buck Stops Here", now reads: "Go F*ck Yourself".

October 30, 2005

What Next?

Watching the detectives...

This is a critical moment for US democracy. A great crime has been exposed at the highest levels of government. So what do we do? Dig deep and look for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Or start taking the same Brave New World Soma drugs as that ultimate embedded journalist, White House puppy Bob Woodward:
There's a lot of innocent actions in all of this but ... this is a junkyard dog prosecutor ... I don't see an underlying crime here... I don't know how this is about the build-up to the war...
Et tu, Bob?

The real reporters today are over at Knight-Ridder, chasing the unresolved questions of who forged the Niger intelligence and how it got into Bush's speech:
Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, and people close to it, repeatedly tried to shop the bogus Niger uranium story to governments in France, Britain and the United States. That created the illusion that multiple sources were confirming the story.

The CIA had begun receiving intelligence reports based on the same forgeries in October 2001, but they could not be confirmed. Copies of the fake documents suddenly surfaced at a critical point in the White House's fall 2002 campaign to take the country to war in Iraq.

The CIA eventually determined that the earlier reports were "based on the forged documents" and were "thus ... unreliable," a presidential commission on unconventional weapons proliferation said in March.

-State Department intelligence analysts and some in the CIA discounted the uranium story. But White House officials, working through a back channel to one CIA unit, seized on the tale, and it was included in Bush's case for war.
That "back channel" sounds like Cheney's link to the Office of Special Plans. And sure enough:
With the White House's public campaign against Iraq in full swing, Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, met with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley at the White House. Hadley later took the blame for including the false Niger allegation in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.
It seems clear that this is also the road that Pat Fitzgerald is now travelling with his ongoing investigations.

Karl "Official A" Rove still has a lot of explaining to do, of course, and the more serious charges could still be coming. But as things stand right now, this could all easily blow over and end with the ultimate insult, a Presidential Pardon for Libby.

So what does Bush do now? Walk away from his neo-conservative base and try to become the "non-partisan" President he always pretended he might be? Call a PRess conference and reveal everything he knows about the neo-con lies? Step down? Run away from the press for another three years? Pick up the phone and call Daddy? Or hang tight with the neo-cons and declare war on Syria? Bush still has three more years to plumb the depths, if that's what he chooses to do. Here's Robert Kuttner in the Globe:
Given all the temptations in this dangerous world, and all we've learned about the administration's cynicism in using the politics of fear and division to manipulate public opinion, one shudders to think what Rove, Cheney, et al. might dream up if Bush, in his present damaged condition, circles the wagons.
What does Fitzgerald do? Close the book and walk away? I don't think so... not unless he gets one of those mobster-like calls you can't refuse. Here's a good sign:
Mr. Fitzgerald was spotted Friday morning outside the office of James Sharp, Mr. Bush's personal lawyer.
What do the Democrats do? Admit their own complicity in the Bush war lies? Back Joe Wilson's call for some real answers from the President?
The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.

But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

The war in Iraq has claimed more than 17,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, many times more Iraqi casualties and close to $200 billion.

It has left our international reputation in tatters and our military broken. It has weakened the United States, increased hatred of us and made terrorist attacks against our interests more likely in the future.

It has been, as Gen. William Odom suggested, the greatest strategic blunder in the history of our country.

We anticipate no mea culpa from the president for what his senior aides have done to us. But he owes the nation both an explanation and an apology.
17,000 Iraqi dead is a very conservative estimate, of course. These people, and their families, deserve some real answers.

What do we do? Keep on blogging, I guess...

Oh, and by the way:
Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported on Thursday that profit rose 75 percent from a earlier, to $9.92 billion. Revenue rose 31.9 percent, to $100.7 billion.
Shell is up 68% and Marathon Oil is up 40%. So much for that oil crisis we keep hearing about (and paying for).

UPDATE: Silvio Berlusconi, one of Bush's closest military allies in Iraq, is on his way to Washington this week. Sounds like he wishes he wasn't:
I tried many times to convince the American president not to go to war," Berlusconi was quoted as saying by La7 television network, which recorded the interview.

"I tried to find other avenues and other solutions.. I have never been convinced that war was the best system to make a country democratic and help it escape dictatorship, even a bloody one.."
Tell it to the hand, Silvio. Meanwhile, Sismi intelligence agency chief Nicolo Pollari is due to address a closed-door Italian parliamentary panel on November 3. Could be interesting... Io vado buscare alcuni URLs per la prensa Italiana..!

October 29, 2005

Libby Indicted, Others Facing Sterner Charges?

So much for "bringing dignity back to the White House".

Irve Lewis Libby Jr. has resigned after being indicted on five counts: (2) perjury, (2) false statement, (1) obstruction of justice. This is more than just a case of Libby "throwing sand" in Fitzgerald's face. Text of indictment here.

Raw Story says that Rove's ass is still roasting on a skewer, Fitzy is empanelling a new grand jury, and now he is going after the whole damn gang:
The lawyers said that in the past month Fitzgerald has obtained explosive information in the case that has enabled him to pursue broader charges such as conspiracy, and civil rights violations against targets like Rove. Specifically, the lawyers said Fitzgerald is focusing on phony intelligence documents that led to the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity: the documents that claimed Iraq was attempting to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Niger.

A court filing posted on Fitzgerald’s website last week was the first such confirmation that the prosecutor has in fact decided to pursue the broader claims that intelligence the Bush administration used to build support for the Iraq war was flawed and, as a result, the reason many officials inside and outside of the White House went out of their way to out Plame, whose husband was a vocal critic of the Iraq war who was sent on a mission to Niger to investigate allegations that Iraq had attempted to buy Niger from the African country...

NATO sources told United Press International Monday that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.
Those forged documnets from Italy are going to be the key to this, linking the conspirators to Michael Ledeen and the neoconservatives.

And by the way, isn't it clever how Fitzgerald picked a quiet news day to release his indictment? I think he knows he needs as much public support as he can get for the bigger chanrges later, so he is building some PR momentum. All those leaks about "charges tomorrow... or the next day... or the next..." may have been intentionally designed to bluff the Bush team. So we got the Miers nomination, the Saddam beofre the cameras (finally) story, the Miers withdrawal... today all Bush has got is a lame speech about more of the same, in which he was heckled for promoting terrorism.

October 28, 2005

The Real Reason For The Miers Withdrawal

Miers - Gonzales - Torture. From SMH:
In her letter, Ms Miers cited the criticism by leading senators of the questionnaire she filled out in advance of the Senate confirmation hearings that were to take place on November 7. But she said the main reason for her decision was requests from the Senate Judiciary Committee for documents that revealed advice she gave Mr Bush during her time as White House counsel.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House - disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," she said.
And before y'all go celebrating, here comes another one, just like the other ones. Bush's Pentagon chief spokesperson nominee is a wingnut ideologue:
Mr. Smith, a former ABC News producer who has worked as an adviser in both Bush administrations, said in an article in The Wall Street Journal on April 25 that the Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera operated on behalf of terrorists and that American networks aided them by televising Al Jazeera's videotape.

"Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.," Mr. Smith wrote. "This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."

"Al Jazeera," he added, "has very strong partners in the U.S. - ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes."
Fox News is Al Jazeera's partner in terrorism? Only Bush would believe it...

October 27, 2005

It's Rove and Libby

For now... Raw Story says Rove and Libby are to be indicted:
Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.

Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent.

Libby’s attorney, Joseph A. Tate, did not return a call seeking comment.

October 21, 2005

In Case You Missed It: Bush, Cheney And The CIA
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.

-- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
First a bit of recent history from the archives:
A secret blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001. The blueprint for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.

The PNAC report also describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations'.

The Plan was published in unclassified form under the title Defense Strategy for the 1990s, (pdf) as Cheney ended his term as Secretary of Defense under the elder George Bush in early 1993.
Compare that with news this week from the Los Angeles Times, looking at Cheney's long war with the CIA.

Still with me? OK, now add to that mix the dark past of former CIA head, George H.W. Bush. For example:
In 1980, with the Republican Party desperate to regain power, then-vice presidential nominee Bush allegedly joined other senior Republicans in secret talks with the radical Iranian government, obstructing President Jimmy Carter's attempts to win the release of 52 American hostages then held in Iran.

Carter’s failure paved the way for Ronald Reagan's election, followed by the release of the hostages on Reagan's Inauguration Day.

Later, the elder Bush became enmeshed in other secret negotiations with Iran, the illegal Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scheme. But he was always careful to cover his tracks. When the Iran-Contra scandal broke in fall 1986, Bush asserted that he was "not in the loop." He then got help from Representatives Dick Cheney and Henry Hyde, who protected Bush’s political flanks as the investigation wound through Congress in 1987.

By the time the elder Bush secured the Republican nomination for president in 1988, his role in the Iran-Contra scandal had been carefully concealed from the voters and was treated as "old news" by much of the U.S. news media.

In 1992, Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh uncovered evidence that proved George H.W. Bush was very much in the loop on the arms-for-hostages operation and had misled the American people. But Bush stanched further disclosures about his secret involvement with Iran’s fundamentalist government by pardoning a half dozen Iran-Contra defendants on Dec. 24, 1992.
OK, now let's go way, way back... A real search for the connections between the Bush family and the CIA will take you right back to Allen Welsh Dulles, first head of the CIA, and his brother John Foster Dulles, who later became US Secretary of State. The Dulles brothers gained fame and fortune by acting as the key financial and legal link betwen rich US families and 1930's Nazi industrialists.

As the New York Times reported back on May 20th, 1933:
Within 5 months of Hitler achieving power, an agreement to coordinate all trade between Germany & America was reached in Berlin after negotiations between Hitler’s Economics Minister, Hjalmar Schacht and J F Dulles.

As a result of this, the Harriman International Co. - under Oliver Harriman (Averell’s first cousin) - formed a syndicate of 150 firms/individuals to conduct all exports from Germany to America. It should be noted here that the two Dulles brothers, partners in the corporate law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, had acted for many Nazi enterprises during and after this period, including I. G. Farben, developer of the nerve gas, Tabun; SKF, supplier of 60% of its bearings to Germany; and the Schroeder Banking house, of which Allen Welsh Dulles became a director of its New York branch, a post he held until 1944.
Here's the Bush family angle in all this:
Brown Brothers Harriman's affiliate Union Bank- of which Prescott Bush was director- invested huge sums of money into Thyssen Steel, the backbone of Nazi steel production...

In 1937, while director of Union Bank, Prescott Bush (George's grandfather) hired Allen Dulles to cloak his accounts. Allen obviously didn't do that great of a job because in 1942 the U.S. Alien Property Custodian froze Union Bank’s accounts. Coincidentally, Allen Dulles was appointed U.S. Intelligence Chief in post-war Germany while he was also the lawyer representing Thyssen's bank in Holland. This ensuing cover-up may have saved Prescott from further penalty stemming from proper investigation. In 1951, Prescott Bush reclaimed Union Bank from the U.S. Alien Property Custodian, and went on to represent Connecticut in the Senate.
Prescott Bush was later fined under the Trading With The Enemy act [as everybody knows, right???] after President Roosevelt, realizing Dulles was a traitor, had his New York "Office of Coordinator of Information" wire-tapped. Roosevelt also planned to charge Dulles with treason, but this plan failed when Dulles was warned by powerful friends and covered his tracks. Roosevelt's plan died with him.

Now do a Google search (click here) for "Brown Brothers Harriman" + Bush, then look at the name of the top Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq today, KBR or Kellog, Brown and Root. Get the idea now?

Browns, Walkers, Bushs, Harrimans... Mobsters dressed in suits and shiny shoes.

If all this is news to you, and you voted Bush in the last election or even the one before that, perhaps you should have educated yourself a bit better before you gave these bastards the key to the White House.

UPDATE: Here's a little timeline loop I have put together to show how these things work (info sourced here):

In 1962, Halliburton bought Brown & Root, a giant Houston-based construction company.

In 1991, while he was Secretary of Defense in the first Bush Administration, Cheney secretly hired Halliburton´s Brown & Root subsidiary to do a study on the privatization of military logistics operations. This study established the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, which gave its first general contract to—Brown & Root.

When George H.W. Bush left office in January 1993, Cheney spent some time at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, and then in 1995, joined Halliburton as president and chief executive. Cheney added chairman to his titles in 1996, and ran the company until August 2000, when he stepped down to run for Vice President. And during that 1995-2000 period, one dollar of every seven spent by the Pentagon, passed through what is now Kellogg Brown & Root!

In 1998, Halliburton bought Dresser Industries for some $7.7 billion. The deal was clinched by Dick Cheney.

Dresser Industries was founded by Solomon Dresser in 1880, and taken over in 1928 by W.H. Harriman & Company.

Dresser was a Skull & Bones shop, whose board included Bonesman and presidential father and grandfather Prescott Bush.

Both Roland Harriman and Prescott Bush were directors of Union Banking Corp. when it was raided by Federal agents in 1942, under the Trading With the Enemy Act, for its dealings on behalf of Nazi Germany.

Dick Cheney is not a Bonesman himself, having dropped out of Yale in his sophomore year, but the Skull & Bones roster contains at least nine Cheneys, more than nearly any other family.
Bush: A Headless Chicken?
In the corrupted currents of this world, offence's gilded hand may shove by justice, and oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself buys out the law.

- Shakespeare
The Bush White House has been looking increasingly incompetent ever since Cindy Sheehan went and camped in a ditch outside the Bush ranch. Hurricane Katrina followed soon after that, of course, and now the Fitzgerald enquiry is really turning up the heat.

There has been a lot of specualtion that Bush has had a falling out with Rove, or Rove and Cheney are now in opposite camps, or whatever. It's impossible to know what's really going in in the Oval Office these days, but it sure looks like the wheels are finally falling off the cursed Bush Machine behommeth.

Here's Josh Marshall musing on yesterday's highly unusual media leak to the NY Daily News:
According to knowledgeable sources, those White House officials behind that story were trying to help the president, not hurt him. The story, in their view, was about his unhappiness with what Rove had done but his loyalty to those who work for him.

Now, the first thing you have to say on this is that there are some folks in the White House who are pretty stupid. Even a cursory knowledge of where the live wires lay in this story would tell you that those bits of information would lead to someone getting a very big shock.

Ordinarily, such an elementary mistake just wouldn't happen.

This part is just inference, not reporting. But I suspect that what we're seeing here is an example of various players in the White House trying to manage damage control without central direction, perhaps without the requisite experience in some cases and even more likely without all the key facts at hand.

The limbs keep moving even after the head is severed, but not with the same coordination.
Meanwhile, in a "retrospective and prospective" piece of analysis, Ray McGovern says Cheney's chickens are coming home to roost as the Fitzgerald enquiry swells into mammoth proportions (we hope!):
The investigation has long since morphed into size extra large, which is the only size commensurate with the wrongdoing uncovered – not least, the fabrication and peddling of intelligence to justify a war of aggression.

The coming months are likely to see senior Bush administration officials frog-marched out of the White House to be booked, unless the president moves swiftly to fire Fitzgerald – a distinct possibility.
TPM Cafe looks at worst-case scenarios for the Bush cabal. There is a lot of talk about media and Democrat complicity, and how far the Bush cabal would go to hold on to power, and whether Daddy will come bail George out of trouble. One commenter:
We need our democracy purged. Give it an enema, Mr. Fitzgerald--high colonic--and let it rip!
Another comment reminisces on the Nixon resignation:
That night I was at the Kennedy Center watching the Bolshoi (Russian) ballet do a rare performance of Raymonda. During an intermission a huge screen came down in front of the stage and we all silently watched Nixon resign.

When he finished you could hear a pin drop. I wondered how those Russians must be feeling to see a democracy at work. I felt a little bit scared, but I had been watching the hearings every day, and I knew Nixon was going out one way or the other.

Then the screen rolled up, the music played and the ballet continued. The next morning the sun came up and we were a better country for what had just happened...
It would be great to see Bush resign, but it will take more than one sunrise to set things right!

Elsewhere, Chris Floyd suggests the fix is already in:
If anyone in the White House is actually indicted and convicted for the high crime of exposing the identity of an undercover agent -- in wartime, no less -- they will certainly be pardoned when George W. Bush finally limps away from the steaming, stinking, blood-soaked ruin of his presidency...

And even in the unlikely -- not to say inconceivable -- event that the entire pack of jackals gets herded into the hoosegow for the agent-outing conspiracy, it will not bring back the innocent dead murdered at their command. It will not restore the shattered families writhing in the pits of grief and loss, from Baghdad to Burbank. It will not be recompense for the pointless sacrifice of soldiers and reservists sent on a criminal errand, plunged into a brutal and brutalizing hell -- for nothing, for a chimera, for ideological lunacy, for the enrichment of cats already so fat they can barely stand up and waddle to the dish for another slurp of cream.
Over To You, George...

Mike Moore puts Bush on the spot:
George W. Bush is not a lame duck. He is a sitting duck. He is a waiting duck. He is a lonely duck.

Will he take "personal responsibility" for the actions of his White House or will he shirk it off?

Will he apologize, admit his mistakes, hold people accountable?

Or will he sit in his Oval Office all alone -- his advisers frog-marching into the sunset -- with the weight of the world on his shoulders and, for the first time, only his shoulders.

George should address the nation. He should tell us how his closest friends and advisers took the nation to war on a series of brutal and deadly lies. He should explain his role in these lies -- was he tricked by those he trusted or was he a part of the gag?

He should turn his lonely eyes to us and come clean.

Now, right now, George has a choice to make. He can take responsibility, fire the accountable, explain himself, or he can restore honor and dignity to the White House.

Mr. President, will you step up or step down?

(Remember, George: Richard Nixon was re-elected, too.)
The whole article wraps up the PlameGate story so far and includes some good URLs, for anyone playing catch-up.
Former Powell Aide Slams "Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal"

Today's top story is by Edward Alden from the Financial Times: Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy.
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.”


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”.
UPDATE: Dana Milbank at WaPo has more:
He said the vice president and the secretary of defense created a "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" that hijacked U.S. foreign policy. He said of former defense undersecretary Douglas Feith: "Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man." Addressing scholars, journalists and others at the New America Foundation, Wilkerson accused Bush of "cowboyism" and said he had viewed Condoleezza Rice as "extremely weak." Of American diplomacy, he fretted, "I'm not sure the State Department even exists anymore."

And how about Karen Hughes's efforts to boost the country's image abroad? "It's hard to sell [manure]," Wilkerson said, quoting an Egyptian friend.

The man who was chief of staff at the State Department until early this year continued: "If you're unilaterally declaring Kyoto dead, if you're declaring the Geneva Conventions not operative, if you're doing a host of things that the world doesn't agree with you on and you're doing it blatantly and in their face, without grace, then you've got to pay the consequences."
Schwarzenegger snubs Bush. Take that, bitch!
Heckuva Job, Browneye

Remember, that's Bush's man:
Bahamonde frantically e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands are evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote.

Less than three hours later, however, Brown's press secretary wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," wrote Brown aide Sharon Worthy.

"We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."
Even the Washington Times is now saying Bush's Al Quaeda letter was a fake!
The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

That's what James Moore at The Huffington Post calls it, and who could disagree?
If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis...

Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy...

We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic. Because far too many of us know and are aware of the crimes committed by our government in our name, we are unlikely to settle for a handful of minor indictments of bureaucrats... If the law cannot get to the truth of what has happened to the American people under the Bush administration, then we all may begin to hear the early death rattles of history’s greatest democracy.
I guess you could argue that the USA has been experiencing a protracted "Constitutional Crisis" since Bush stole the 2000 election, but whatever...

Moore also has a good wrap of the Michael Ledeen involvement:
Fitzgerald has reportedly asked for a copy of the Italian government’s investigation into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source of the forged documents. The blatantly fake papers, which purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get yellowcake uranium from Niger, turned up after a December 2001 meeting in Rome involving neo-con Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin, Harold Rhodes, and Niccolo Pollari, the head of Italy’s intelligence agency SISMI, and Antonio Martino, the Italian defense minister.

If Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that Ledeen was executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for invading Iraq? Ledeen has long ties to Italian intelligence agency operatives and has spanned the globe to bring the world the constant variety of what he calls “creative destruction” to build democracies. He makes the other neo-cons appear passive. He brought the Reagan administration together with the Iranian arms dealer who dragged the country through Iran-Contra and shares with his close friend Karl Rove a personal obsession with Machiavelli. Ledeen, who is almost rabidly anti-Arab, famously told the Washington Post that Karl Rove told him, “Any time you have a good idea, tell me.”

The federal grand jury has to at least consider whether Ledeen called Rove with an idea to use his contacts with the Italian CIA to hatch a plan to create the rationale for war. Ledeen told radio interviewer Ian Masters and his producer Louis Vandenberg, “I have absolutely no connection to the Niger documents, have never even seen them. I did not work on them, never handled them, know virtually nothing about them, don't think I ever wrote or said anything about the subject.” It is strictly coincidence then that some months after he and his neo-con consorts and Italian intelligence officers met in Rome that the Niger embassy was illegally entered and nothing was stolen other than letterhead and seals. And equally coincident that forged papers under those letterheads were slipped to Elisabetta Burba, a writer for an Italian glossy owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, and a backer of the Bush invasion scheme. Unfortunately for the pro-war neo-cons, even an Italian tabloid would not publish the fake documents and turned them over to the CIA and US government in Rome.

The other American attendees at Ledeen’s Roman Holiday are also worthy of scrutiny. Larry Franklin was recently arrested for leaking classified US government information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Ledeen sprang quickly to his defense but Franklin faces prosecution next year and is most probably cooperating with prosecutor Fitzgerald. Harold Rhode, the other American actor in this tragicomic affair, worked the Office of Special Plans (OSP) at the Department of Defense for Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Characterized as a “counter-intelligence shop,” OSP simply interpreted intelligence in a manner that fit the need for evidence that Iraq had WMD. If the CIA gathered data that said otherwise, OSP analyzed it differently or ignored the facts and then reported to the vice president precisely what he wanted to hear. Rhode also was the liaison between Ahmed Chalabi, the convicted embezzler the Bush administration was using to feed information to them and Judy Miller about the distortions and lies required to fuel the rush to war.

No great extrapolation is necessary to assume that OSP, sitting inside the CIA, got early word that Joseph Wilson was being dispatched to Niger to investigate the sale of low-grade uranium to Iraq. Rhode needed only to pick up the phone and call the vice president’s chief of staff Scooter Libby, who would tell his boss and Karl Rove.
Will Ledeen get pulled into the Fitzgerald web? If not, this case will only ever be half-done.

And that's the thing about this whole Bush Residency: it's been the worst of times, but it also gives the people of the USA an opportunity to clean up the mess of the last 50 years (of course, it wasn't cleaned up after WWii, or the JFK assassination, or WaterGate, or Iran-Contra, so what are the chances here?). Moore appeals to Fitzgerald:
There are many of us who are on the verge of losing faith in our democracy. We are convinced that there are people within the highest ramparts of American government who are willing to put our country at great risk to advance their geo-political vision. We want our country back. And all we have left is the power of the law. From what we know, you are the right man come forth at the right time.

Prove to us we still live in a democracy and a nation of laws.
Roy Carroll: the truth shall set you free.

October 20, 2005

Bush Hypocrisy Exposed

(The NYT is doing nobody any favours by keeping this story behind a firewall!)

The top Technorati story today:
Leading By (Bad) Example

Thomas L Friedman

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (Iraq News Agency) - A delegation of Iraqi judges and journalists abruptly left the U.S. today, cutting short its visit to study the workings of American democracy. A delegation spokesman said the Iraqis were "bewildered" by some of the behavior of the Bush administration and felt it was best to limit their exposure to the U.S. system at this time, when Iraq is taking its first baby steps toward democracy.

The lead Iraqi delegate, Muhammad Mithaqi, a noted secular Sunni judge who had recently survived an assassination attempt by Islamist radicals, said that he was stunned when he heard President Bush telling Republicans that one reason they should support Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court was because of "her religion." She is described as a devout evangelical Christian.

Mithaqi said that after two years of being lectured to by U.S. diplomats in Baghdad about the need to separate "mosque from state" in the new Iraq, he was also floored to read that the former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, now a law school dean, said on the radio show of the conservative James Dobson that Miers deserved support because she was "a very, very strong Christian [who] should be a source of great comfort and assistance to people in the households of faith around the country."

"Now let me get this straight," Judge Mithaqi said. "You are lecturing us about keeping religion out of politics, and then your own president and conservative legal scholars go and tell your public to endorse Miers as a Supreme Court justice because she is an evangelical Christian.

"How would you feel if you picked up your newspapers next week and read that the president of Iraq justified the appointment of an Iraqi Supreme Court justice by telling Iraqis: 'Don't pay attention to his lack of legal expertise. Pay attention to the fact that he is a Muslim fundamentalist and prays at a Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosque.' Is that the Iraq you sent your sons to build and to die for? I don't think so. We can't have our people exposed to such talk."

A fellow delegation member, Abdul Wahab al-Unfi, a Shiite lawyer who walks with a limp today as a result of torture in a Saddam prison, said he did not want to spend another day in Washington after listening to the Bush team defend its right to use torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfi said he was heartened by the fact that the Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban U.S. torture of military prisoners. But he said he was depressed by reports that the White House might veto the bill because of that amendment, which would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of P.O.W.'s.

"I survived eight years of torture under Saddam," Unfi said. "Virtually every extended family in Iraq has someone who was tortured or killed in a Baathist prison. Yet, already, more than 100 prisoners of war have died in U.S. custody. How is that possible from the greatest democracy in the world? There must be no place for torture in the future Iraq. We are going home now because I don't want our delegation corrupted by all this American right-to-torture talk."

Finally, the delegation member Sahaf al-Sahafi, editor of one of Iraq's new newspapers, said he wanted to go home after watching a televised videoconference last Thursday between soldiers in Iraq and President Bush. The soldiers, 10 Americans and an Iraqi, were coached by a Pentagon aide on how to respond to Mr. Bush.

"I had nightmares watching this," Sahafi said. "It was right from the Saddam playbook. I was particularly upset to hear the Iraqi sergeant major, Akeel Shakir Nasser, tell Mr. Bush: 'Thank you very much for everything. I like you.' It was exactly the kind of staged encounter that Saddam used to have with his troops."

Sahafi said he was also floored to see the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, declare that a Bush administration contract that paid Armstrong Williams, a supposedly independent commentator, to promote Mr. Bush's No Child Left Behind policy constituted illegal propaganda - an attempt by the government to buy good press.

"Saddam bought and paid journalists all over the Arab world," Sahafi said. "It makes me sick to see even a drop of that in America."

By coincidence, the Iraqi delegates departed Washington just as the Bush aide Karen Hughes returned from the Middle East. Her trip was aimed at improving America's image among Muslims by giving them a more accurate view of America and President Bush. She said, "The more they know about us, the more they will like us."

(Yes, all of this is a fake news story. I just wish that it weren't so true.)
The Knives Are Out... !

Rove stabs Libby in the back! Ouch! Take that, bitch!

If I were Pat Fitzgerald, I think I would ask for an extension. At this rate, the GOP will utterly demolish itself before any new extension expires. I don't know if Fitzgerald is doing it on purpose, but his current modus operandi is proving extremely productive. Bravo!

The Bush GOP leadership, which has always ruled by fear and intimidation, is itself now afraid and intimidated. Given what a tight ship Fitzgerald is running, the GOP's spontaneous leaks and rumours are providing us with fresh insights on a daily basis. The results are fascinating, as much for their public demonstration of the worst aspect of human nature as for their daily exposure of the worst aspects of Bush politics.

Of course, in all the excitement about RoveGate and Miller's jail time and Libby's poetic literature, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture.

They key issue here, as Newsweek reminds us, is "whether the administration accurately represented the nature of what the U.S. intelligence community knew, and didn’t know, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs before the nation went to war". Well, actually, no - it's not "whether", because anyone who has been paying attention (hellooooo Newsweek editors!) already knows that the Bush neocons did NOT accurately represent information from the CIA and other intelligence services. They cherry-picked it and manipulated it and delicately packaged it for public consumption.

The key issue, really, is whether these bastards will be caught out in their lies, forced to face a pre-9/11 version of US justice (if it still exists), and sent off to prison.

Today's big story comes from the New York Daily News:
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."


Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"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.

"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.
So Bush knew about Rove's involvement in outing a CIA agent. But what was he angry about? Not the fact that a CIA agent had been outed, nor the fact that his staff had lied to him (we assume) and to the public (repeatedly), but the fact that the "clumsy" lie had been publicly exposed!

And then, instead of sacking Rove, Bush himself lied to the press (again repeatedly), saying that he still wanted to get to the bottom of this case. But now we know why he changed his rationale from "if anyone in my administration has been involved" to "if anyone in my administration has committed a crime". And now why know why he started waffling like this:
I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth... I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out...
What's worse, however, is that Bush then went and lied to the Fitzgerald enquiry as well (which helps explain why Bush's lawyers insisted he would not testify under oath). As Murray Waas recently reported:
In his own interview with prosecutors on June 24, 2004, Bush testified that Rove assured him he had not disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and had said nothing to the press to discredit Wilson, according to sources familiar with the president's interview. Bush said that Rove never mentioned the conversation with Cooper.
Predictably, Josh Marshall is all over this story:
What did the president tell Patrick Fitzgerald? As a number of lawyers and former prosecutors have informed me this morning, not being under oath does not get President Bush out of legal jeopardy if he didn't tell the truth.
(Atrios supplies this handy law link).

Marshall ties up the key dates and quotes to show thatBush was still lying to the press after he had reportedly given Rove a good, stiff slap on the wrist.

Marshall also points out that the New York Daily News story's author, Tom DeFrank, is a reputable journo with very good access to senior members of the Bush team.

Meanwhile, Senator Schumer (D-NY) has written a letter to President Bush asking for an explanation of the DeFrank article. And Scotty McLellan is getting hammered... again.
Not Our Land, Not Our War

Kristina M. Gronquist says Bush's illegal war based on lies must be ended now:
We need to challenge the notion that Western, predominantly Caucasian/Christian U.S. citizens have any right at all to call the shots about what the future of the Iraqi people should be. We did not have that right initially when we went to war in violation of international law, and we do not we have that right now either...

From our armchairs, our meeting halls, our coffee shops, and our comfortable bomb-free environments, we have absolutely no preordained mandate to determine the future of Iraq. If it was not our right in 2002, before the war—as millions marched in opposition—how is it acceptable now in 2005 to try to determine Iraq's future? Those who are stating that U.S. troops need to pull out slowly, in a year, or two (or more) in order to "save Iraq" from itself insult the dignity and intelligence of the Arab and Muslim world, which does not need our interference in their affairs and can determine their futures on their own.
A Spanish High Court judge issued international arrest warrants on Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers who fired a shell from their tank into the Palestine Hotel where Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk were killed.
PlameGate: The Motivation

Cheney's long-time "War" with the CIA has been well documented. Today Juan Cole touches on Cheney's specific motivation for the Plame leak:
Cheney's circle saw Wilson's op-ed as treason and also appear to have believed that the CIA was out to make them the fall guys for the bad intel. So if they decided to send a signal to the CIA that its field officers were vulnerable and could be outed at will, that would make sense as a riposte.
Cheney is a true believer in his own madness. He has consistently been the last to abandon the out-and-out lies like WMDs and Saddam links to Al Quaeda. Why? Because facts and reality to him are just inconvenient obstacles: he is chasing a dream, a vision of complete US global supremacy (nothing less will do). It is a fantasy Cheney has nurtured through decades of secretive, clandestine struggle. To imagine how he might handle an indictment in the Fitzgerald case, think of Jack Nicholson screaming at Tom Cruise: "You can't handle the truth!"

Rumsfeld is made from the same mould, an old Cold War warrior who finally has the power (or so he thinks) to win the battles that ended (though he refuses to accept it) back in the early 1990's.

Lies? Hell, these people have been juggling multiple lies, secrets, half-truths and every other kind of deception for half a century!

As Laura Rozen writes:
One thing we know from the Fitzgerald investigation: the campaign to discredit Joe Wilson by saying he had only gotten the trip to Niger as a boondoggle from his wife, a CIA officer, was part of a larger, concerted effort by officials from the White House and the Vice President's office to construct an alternative narrative of who was to blame for the Iraq WMD intelligence fiasco. Not the White House, but the CIA. Rove and Libby weren't just telling reporters, 'Cheney doesn't know anything about Wilson's trip.' No. They created a fuller, alternative narrative: 'Cheney didn't know anything about Wilson's trip to Niger, because Wilson only got the trip as a boondoggle from his wife who works on unconventional weapons at the CIA.' It may seem like an almost random side note that has cost them considerable trouble. But it wasn't random at all. As we know from recent reports surrounding the Fitzgerald investigation, the Vice President's office was leading an all-out propaganda war -- every bit as choreographed as the pre-war propaganda campaign by the same officials -- to blame the CIA for the fact that there weren't any WMD to be found in Iraq after all, and the chief stated reason for the war was collapsing. And it enlisted not just leaks to reporters about Valerie Plame to conduct that war against the CIA. It also enlisted key Republican officials in Congress, to buck up its narrative, and literally divert attention from the role of the White House and executive branch offices in citing truly dubious Iraq intelligence - some, including the Niger yellowcake claims, not supported by the intelligence community at all.
Rozen fingers Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Select Intelligence committee, the committee that had promised to investigate how the US government got Iraq intelligence so wrong:
Roberts has literally been coordinating with Senate majority leader Frist and Cheney's office very closely on many aspects of the Senate Intelligence committee's supposed investigation of the intelligence, and in particular, working closely with Cheney's office on crafting the language defining the terms for the as-yet unfinished Phase II report. It hardly is surprising that Cheney took a big interest in what the Senate Select Intelligence committee might turn up in its investigation. But think about it. Here's the Congressional committee constitutionally mandated to provide oversight of all intelligence activities happening by the US government. And yet, here we have the Intelligence committee head coordinating to some degree with the Vice President's office, who we now know to be deeply involved in some of the most dubious of pre-war intelligence pronouncements, tasking, unconventional intel channels, and cherry picking, and at the forefront of a post-war campaign to slime Wilson and his CIA officer wife. When Congress is in cahoots with the administration in stifling oversight, who can investigate the investigators? Unfortunately, it's not in Fitzgerald's mandate.
Rozen has more here.
PlameGate: Rumours, Speculation, Leaks, Musings

Fleischer, Hannah, and now... a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has flipped. Via Raw Story:
Wurmser, Cheney's Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.

According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group's meetings...

Wurmser's cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney's office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)...

Wurmser was the lead author of a 1996 policy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." It called for removing Saddam from power in Iraq as part of a broad strategy to transform the region and remove radical regimes. Eight months before 9/11, Wurmser called for joint U.S.-Israeli air strikes on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya.

Hannah and Wurmser were first named as possible suspects in the Plame leak by Wilson, Plame's husband, in his book, The Politics of Truth.

"In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime," Wilson writes.

"John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president's office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak ... Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level," Wilson notes.
Jan Frel gets a leak "from a Democratic House member's staffer with tons of good dirt on the Plame investigation":
- Fred Flights, an assistant to John Bolton, is a named name who could be indicted.

-Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been suggested as replacements for Dick Cheney.

-Colin Powell told John McCain he showed the infamous memo with Plame's identity on it two just two people; Dick Cheney and George Bush.

-Fitzgerald is looking at the precedent set from the indictment of Tricky Dick's veep Spiro Agnew to pursue against Cheney.
Elswhere at AlterNet, Cenk Uygur asks:
What if the real purpose of outing Valerie Plame was to out Valerie Plame?

... Remember, there were dissenters inside the CIA on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. If Plame was one of those dissenters, removing her from her position would come in awfully handy. Out her and throw her husband’s objectivity into question – kill two birds with one stone.
And Howard Fineman muses on poetic justice:
Traits and tactics that lead to power lead to overreach, and ruin... Tightly-knit groups rise together, but they fall together. If the inner circle is small, it takes only one insider “flip” to endanger the rest.
After dancing in circles for days, Judith Miller finally falls on her face:
"All are entitled to anonymity if they are telling the truth and have something of importance to say to the American people."
PlameGate: Will We Ever Know The Truth?

NYT examines whether Fitzgerald will bring indictments, release a detailed public report, or just fold up shop:
The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said...

Under Justice Department regulations, it is not clear whether Mr. Fitzgerald has the authority to issue a final report, even if he wanted to, although he has operated under a broad delegation of authority, issued in a pair of letters by James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general. Those directives gave Mr. Fitzgerald virtually the same power as the attorney general to conduct criminal inquiries.

But even the attorney general is restricted in what information he can release publicly or present to Congress when it has been obtained, as Mr. Fitzgerald has gathered it, through extensive use of a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret. Even so, some lawyers have argued that Mr. Fitzgerald could issue such a report and have said there is general authority to report his findings if they are requested by Congress.

Without a report, it seems likely that questions about the case may remain unanswered and that a complete account of the administration's activities may never be known, including the details of testimony by the scores of administration officials who were interviewed in the inquiry.

The likelihood that crucial details might be kept secret would be increased if Mr. Fitzgerald brought charges that were narrowly focused on perjury, false statement or obstruction of justice counts involving misstatements by officials in their testimony. But he has also examined broader potential violations, among them whether there was an illegal effort, directed by senior officials, to disclose Ms. Wilson's identity.
The War On Malignancy

When will it end? What's the exit strategy? Condi Rice has no answers:
Several Democrats quizzed Rice over Bush administration efforts to broaden the Iraq mission to include the goal of spreading democracy to the Middle East. The original reason given for invading Iraq was to rid it of weapons of mass destruction, which were never found, they said, and not to embark on more missions in the Middle East.

Rice said the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States showed there was a "malignancy" in the Middle East.

"Unless we commit to changing the nature of that Middle East, and if we tire and decide that we're going to withdraw and leave the people of the Middle East to despair, I can assure you that the people of the United States are going to live in insecurity and fear for many, many decades to come."
Yeah, sure Condi... Whatever happened to those "mushroom clouds" anyway?

As Barbara Boxer pointed out, a War On Malignancy is "not what Congress voted for in either the resolution authorizing force in Afghanistan or Iraq".

Meanwhile, Simon Jenkins revisits Baghdad and says withdrawal strategies have lost all touch with reality:
Last week I returned to Iraq for the first time since the end of 2003. If the essence of "getting better" is security then things are incomparably worse. I could no longer walk the streets or visit friends. Anyone associating with foreigners risks execution. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, academics are fleeing abroad for fear of kidnap. The National Museum has closed. Visiting VIPs must go everywhere by helicopter. The Iraqi head of Baghdad's military academy must change into civilian clothes before leaving his base. After nearly three years of American rule, Baghdad is simply the most terrifying city in the world...

Iraq is a landscape of poverty atop a lake of wealth. It is dotted with military citadels whose maze of bunkers and anti-blast walls eerily mimic their medieval forebears. Within, all seems safe and English-speaking. Food is good and Jeeps park within white lines. Outside, so the occupiers believe, a human ammunition dump is ready to explode into civil war should the civilised west depart.

I believe this is a false, indeed a racist, analysis. All Iraq, probably the entire Middle East, is simply waiting for us to go...

An exit strategy is the management of retreat. The cabinet's refusal to adopt one not only betrays its befuddled mission in Iraq but outrages the reputation of the British army. The invasion was merely illegal. The occupation has been the most bafflingly inept venture undertaken by western powers in modern history...

Before leaving Baghdad I saw on television a desperate earthquake rescuer in Pakistan pleading for just one thing, helicopters, to save thousands from death in the mountains. Two hours' hop to the west, I was gazing on inert helicopters as far as the eye could see. Not one was saving lives - only political skins.
Will US Elections Be Stolen Again In 2006 and 2008?

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman say that "until the left faces the rot that defines the Democratic Party, there is no hope for a fair election in this country":
In other words: those who think the White House can be retaken in 2008, but refuse to face the theft of the vote in 2004, should prepare to be ruled by the likes of Jeb Bush, now and forever.
More at The Free Press.

Meanwhile, Dahr Jamail's latest piece shows the latest Iraqi Consititution referendum was also a sad sham:
Just before Saturday's so-called constitutional referendum vote in occupied Iraq, one of my close friends in Baghdad wrote me, "I would like to point out that we are three days away from the referendum, yet very large sectors of Iraqi people couldn't receive part of the five million copies [of the constitution] from the UN, ie- they will not know what the constitution contains. Subsequently, they will vote according to their backgrounds or religious or political preferences. Many people who will vote yes do not know why they will vote yes...what kind of vote is this?"
Real elections are anathema to those who promote fake Democracy.
In the UK, a senior judge has said that the Blair government was "driven to scrape the bottom of the legal barrel" to justify its invasion of Iraq:
Speaking at a Justice debate after his election as Lord Alexander's successor, Lord Steyn said: "After the recent dreadful bombings in London we were asked to believe that the Iraq war did not make London and the world a more dangerous place. Surely, on top of everything else, we do not have to listen to a fairy tale."

October 19, 2005

BushWorld: How Have The Mighty Fallen

Sorry, I can't help myself... It's gloating time!

Here are the site stats for the infamous US PsyOps blog Iraq The Model this year:

As you can see, nobody even seems to be remotely interested in the latest referendum, which is going to change absolutely nothing in Iraq.

Now I realise that I only get about 50 to 100 hits a day on this crappy little blog, but in this case, I suggest you back the underdog!

Now let's compare ITM's hit counter to... umm... how about Atrios?

Meanwhile, young Jeffrey Goldstein at the pro-Zionist Protein Wisdom site (bizarrely linked by ITM: who says Arabs and Jews can't get along, just like the fish and the men?) has a hangover. Ohhhh....!

P.S. I do get some bizzarre visitors via search engines, but this one has me baffled! "Big titted women southern oregon"???

JUST TO RUB IT IN: The latest from BradBlog:
Richard Keil wrote in a Bloomberg story yesterday that he had recently spoken to Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband, and Wilson "said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

"If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then- President Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time."
And yes, there is an historical precedent for VPs being indicted.
Attytood looks at another brewing scandal involving Judith Miller and Israeli interrogations:
Judy Miller goes places, like an interrogation room, and gets things, like a security clearance, that other reporters do not. And the odd thing is, she then doesn't write about them, at least not for her employer, the New York Times.
Is Hannah Talking?

So has Ari Fleischer flipped, or is it John Hannah? Or how about both???
Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell Raw Story that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.

Commercialisation Of Politics

From Think Progress:
According to a database search, every single television reference to the CIA leak scandal as the “criminalization of politics” in the last 30 days has been on Fox. Even more stunning: on every occassion, the phrase was introduced into the segment by a Fox News anchor or correspondent, never by a guest.
Why exactly is Rupert Murdoch so afraid of the Fitzgerald enquiry? What are his links with the Bush neocons and the Israeli government?

How about this, from Candour magazine in 1984:
Rupert’s father Sir Keith Murdoch attained his prominent position in Australian society through a fortuitous marriage to the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, née Elisabeth Joy Greene. Through his wife’s connections, Keith Murdoch was subsequently promoted from reporter to chairman of the British-owned newspaper where he worked. There was enough money to buy himself a knighthood of the British realm, two newspapers in Adelaide, South Australia, and a radio station in a faraway mining town,” Candour wrote in 1984. “For some reason, Murdoch has always tried to hide the fact that his pious mother brought him up as a Jew.
Or this resignation explanation by former Times reporter Sam Kiley, who calls Murdoch "a close friend of Ariel Sharon":
"Murdoch's executives were so scared of irritating him that, when I pulled off a little scoop by tracking, interviewing and photographing the unit in the Israeli army which killed Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12-year-old boy whose death was captured on film and became the iconic image of the conflict, I was asked to file the piece 'without mentioning the dead kid'. After that conversation, I was left wordless, so I quit."
Or this quote from Murdoch himself:
I have always believed in the future of Israel and the goals of the international Jewish community,” Murdoch said at a spring fund-raiser for the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust on April 29, 2001.

From the beginning, News Corp., his global media company, “has been supportive of the Jewish national cause,” Murdoch said.
Perhaps it's time some brave reporter asked Murdoch just what those "goals" are...?

PS: Again, I am not criticizing Murdoch for being Jewish, but for actively disseminating propaganda supporting the pro-Israeli neocon agenda while stifling dissent on the same subject. Quotes above sourced here: if any of them are not factual, please let me know.
BushWorld Sucks

Doug Soderstrom:
Now that I am well into my seventh decade of life and very near retirement, I have come to the conclusion that the world basically sucks, that there are few who seem to have the investigative courage to take a good hard look at things that, if discovered, would no doubt destroy one’s image of a land that can do no wrong, one that they believe has somehow received the eternal blessing of God. So I must ask: How is it that we have become such a mindless nation, a society populated by deadheads, folks who seem to have little desire to look beyond the thinly-veneered surface of life?
Iraq War Is The Real Crime

Michael Moore:
But the Plame Leak is not simply about the White House blowing the cover of a CIA official. It is the tale of the Iraq war itself.

From the beginning of the Bush presidency, war with Iraq was an inevitability. His administration let no fact -- however glaring -- stand in the way of the march to war.

Unable (or simply unwilling) to find Osama bin Laden, the Bush administration tied Iraq into the 9/11 attacks without a shred of evidence. They said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. They said there was no time to verify the existence of these weapons.

They said, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

They said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

It is this last lie -- rather than the totality of lies -- that may bring an end to this miserable regime.

The uranium from Africa charge was bogus yet the White House would not stop using it. And when the whistle was blown on the administration’s lie, the whistle blower was targeted. The Bush administration did what it does best, attacked, and in the process compromised the national security of the United States of America.

Really, the White House’s actions in the Plame leak mirror their overall policy in carrying out (or, failing to carry out) the Iraq war -- and that is the true crime.

From the first lie to the latest, Osama is still free, the weapons of mass destruction have never appeared, and nearly 2,000 American soldiers are dead...
US War Atrocities

US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.

"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."

The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam requires burial within 24 hours.

Under the Geneva conventions the burial of war dead "should be honourable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged".

US soldiers said they burnt the bodies for hygiene reasons but two reporters, Stephen Dupont and John Martinkus, said the explanation was unbelievable, given they were in an isolated area.

SBS said Australian special forces in Afghanistan were operating from the same base as the US soldiers involved in the incident, although no Australians took part in the action.

The incident is reminiscent of the psychological techniques used in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

October 18, 2005

How Dick Cheney blocked Iran-Contra.
How many years do you think YOU could stand, kissing the butt of an arrogant, incompetent, rich-boy, dumb-ass, hypocrite?

And how would you feel if your job was taken over by someone as vacuous, immoral and sneeringly self-deluded as Scott McLellan?

Welcome to Ari Fleisher's world of pain...

Oooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh, yeah!!!!
Flipping For Dick

Judy's testimony:
It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.

"Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby."
Guess what? Cheney lives in Jackson Hole.

Link courtesy of AfterDowningStreet.org, which also supplies the following story from New York Daily News:
... 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.

Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"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.


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