Archive for July, 2007

Because Our Values So Clearly Distinguish Us From Saddam Hussein

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Lindsay at Majikthise asks an interesting question: How many US-held prisoners are there in Iraq?

In his memoir Fear Up Harsh former army interrogator Tony Lagouranis explains that American forces routinely detain Iraqis indefinitely on the mere suspicion that they have information that might be useful to American forces. That is, not everyone who gets detained is even a suspected insurgent, or a suspected accessory. It’s enough to be suspected of knowing anything useful.

Some of these people are arrested during raids or on the basis of tips (often from tipsters whose own credibility is suspect). Others just happen to be in the vicinity of an insurgent attack. According to Lagouranis, many Iraqis are hauled in just because they are family members of known or suspected insurgents. It’s one thing to question the family of a suspect, it’s quite another to detain them with out charge in the hopes of extracting intel.

Contempt of Congress

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

If for no other reason, I have to post this for the title:

Gonzales to Schumer: Blow Me

Josh Marshall posts the telling Ashcroft-hospital-visit-question video clip, and points out what’s really wrong with this picture. This isn’t a congressional witch-hunt, or political theater, it’s congress doing their job, and Gonzales demonstrating that he — the Attorney General of the United States — simply doesn’t give a damn about pesky checks and balances. I think the only reason he even shows up to these hearings is because refusal to appear would create enough drama for CNN to write a headline that might actually get the public’s attention.

Josh says:

It really requires stepping back in this case to take stock of this exchange. Testifying before Congress is like being called to testify in court. You have to answer every question. Every question. You can fudge and say you don’t remember something and see how far you get. Or you can invoke various privileges. And it’s up to the courts to decide if the invocations are valid. But it’s simply not permitted to refuse to answer a question. It is quite literally contempt of Congress

And what does the Constitution say that we do when the Executive Branch is in contempt of Congress, class?

Greenwald on Bond on Iraq

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Really, why would anyone ever read anything else but Glenn Greenwald? From his latest piece: Kit Bond and the credibility of war supporters.

At its core, the history of the Iraq War has been authored by an indescribably deceitful and very intellectually limited political and media elite, perfectly symbolized by Kit Bond. These are people who spent four years hailing the Great Progress the Leader was making in Iraq, claiming we were “clearing and holding” neighborhoods of all the Terrorists, that Freedom was on the March, that anyone who questioned any of this was either brainwashed by the war-hating media or a Friend of The Terrorists.

And now, four years later, with the War plainly having been a failure, and their assurances all exposed as false, what are they doing? Hailing the Great Progress the Leader is making in Iraq, claiming we are “clearing and holding” neighborhoods of all the Terrorists, that Freedom is on the March, that anyone who questions any of this is either brainwashed by the war-hating media or a Friend of The Terrorists. Nothing ever changes. It just plods along with the same idiot slogans and the same people spouting them. And they do it with no shame, no acknowledgment of their own past behavior, and no loss of credibility.

Envy and Admiration

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I won’t say much about “Why Do They Hate Us?” — a really excellent piece by a man who is perhaps in the ideal position to answer that question — as I don’t want to bias your expectations. Just go read it, because sometimes the truth is simple.

Greenwald on Bush’s Magical Shield

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!

Ahem. Greenwald spake thusly: Bush’s magical shield from criminal prosecution.

This latest assertion of power — to literally block U.S. Attorneys from prosecuting executive branch employees — is but another reflection of the lawlessness prevailing in our country, not a new revelation. We know the administration breaks laws with impunity and believes it can. That is no longer in question. The only real question is what, if anything, we are willing to do about that.

Philosoraptor: OBL + GWB

Friday, July 20th, 2007

W is the best de facto ally al Qaeda ever had.

Bush: Oversight? What Oversight?

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

From the WaPo: Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings.

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

It’s really pretty remarkable, even for Bush. As Fein and Nichols would say, he’s asserting monarchical powers.

Impeachment has to go back on the table. Yes, I realize that the two-thirds majority of senators required to convict probably will not be findable. But Nancy Pelosi is wrong to view the process as a waste of time. It is her duty; as Patrick Leahy would say, her paramount duty. Nothing trumps preserving and defending the Constitution. If Bush and Cheney are not convicted, every senator voting to acquit who is up for re-election in 2008 will have to defend that vote. Podcast 21

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

If Podcast 21 were a person, it would be old enough to buy alcohol.

This show is dedicated to my mom.

Moyers, Nichols, and Especially Fein

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Thomas Nephew has written an excellent review of the even more excellent Tough talk on impeachment, from Bill Moyers.

Mission Creep (Revisited)

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

This item from Think Progress does an excellent job of summarizing Bush’s evolving position on a key issue: The Ever Changing Definition of ‘Mission’ In Iraq.

Blue America

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

I lost the site where I originally saw this map posted yesterday, but it makes for a nice contrast with all those “red and/or purple America” maps that were floating around after the 2004 presidential election:

Maybe Bush would consider playing president only in Utah for the next year and a half, with occasional trips to Idaho and Wyoming. Since those appear to be the only parts of the country that still want him.

Hargrave’s Shakes on a Plane

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yup. It’s time for a net.kooks break. Like this one, from John Hargrave of ZUG: Shakes on a Plane.

“Do you have any prosthetic or medical implants or accessories on your body?” he asked.

“I have a medical device.”


“In my pants.”

Neiwert on O’Reilly’s ‘Kabuki Correction’

Friday, July 13th, 2007

David Neiwert points out the ritualistic elements involved in someone like Bill O’Reilly “retracting” a bogus story while not actually retracting it: The Kabuki Correction.

– The feint. This is the “correction” itself, such as it is. Typically this requires the pundit to suggest that some minor transgressions, none of which even potentially affected the overall thrust of the reportage, occurred.

– The assurance. This involves the pundit assuring both his interlocutor and his audience that he is well-intended and decent, and therefore any minor errors that occur along the way are perforce inconsequential. (Typically delivered with a smarmy, thoroughly insincere sincerity.]

– The defense. Here, the pundit produces some kind of half-fact, mischaracterization, or non-sequitur that serves to stake the claim that the overall thrust of the reportage is perfectly accurate, no matter to what extent it was built upon the foundation of errors or falsehoods previously admitted. Indeed, the more the reportage was built on those errors, the more ferocious the defense. This part of the ritual is almost always delivered in a bullying, petulant, intimidating tone, which makes the previous smarminess all the more clearly phony.

– The attack: The interlocutor is at this point accused of engaging in the same kind of error and smear tactics, forcing him to defend a point that has nothing to do with the pundit’s own rotten journalism.

The particular false reporting in this case concerned O’Reilly’s claim that gangs of lesbians packing pink pistols were engaged in a nationwide crime wave. No, really.

Greenwald on Bush’s Recent al Qaeda Lies

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Glenn Greenwald wrote an interesting item today that talks about Bush’s increasing use of the lie that the people we’re fighting in Iraq are the same people who attacked us on 9/11, and how the media is covering that lie: Little outbursts of journalism — what causes them?

The Way Forward

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I watched Bush’s press conference in the shiny new press briefing room today. I’m not going to bother going point by point through the inanity. Go watch the video and draw your own conclusions.

At this point, Congress has a duty to rescue our country from the further damage that Bush, unchecked, is clearly going to do over the next year and a half. He’s demonstrated that he’s perfectly willing to use things like commutations (and presumably pardons) to block Congress from uncovering the truth about his Administration’s lawbreaking. With the support of Republican filibusters in the Senate, he’s prepared to veto any measure that seeks to compel him to end the war in Iraq. So it actually becomes a pretty simple formula for Congress. They can muddle around and play the percentages and take money from lobbyists; business as usual. Or they can actually live up to their oaths of office, and their obligations to the people who elected them, and do the following:

  1. Attach troop withdrawal provisions to every military funding bill. When Bush vetoes, put the pressure on Republicans to join in voting to override. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Bush can stamp his feet and hold his breath until he turns red, but he can’t pay for the war if Congress doesn’t approve the funding. So stop approving the funding. Yeah; he’ll play the patriotism card against you. Let him — and then don’t give him the money.
  2. Initiate impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney. You have the votes to pass articles of impeachment in the House. And yeah, you may not have the votes to actually convict him in the Senate. But the trial will make for great theater, and will provide an opportunity to shine a bright light into the dark lair Cheney’s been lurking in the last six and a half years. Make a simple, clear, compelling case against him, and then highlight the vote to convict/not convict by every Republican senator who’s up for re-election in 2008. Can you say “veto-proof majority in both houses?” I knew you could.
  3. Let’s say you manage to drive Cheney out. Great. Then you do the same thing for Bush.

As far as what to base the impeachments on, sweep it all up. Little things, like the obstruction of justice in the Plame outing investigation. Bigger things, like the warrantless wiretapping of US citizens. The cover-up of White House political involvement in the Justice Department firings. Signing statements. Denial of habeas corpus to Guantanamo captives. Black sites and extraordinary rendition. Violation of the Geneva Conventions. Torture. Knowingly making a false case for war, then pursuing that war with tragic ineptitude. The failure to live up to their oaths of office, in which they swore to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Yes, Bush has made a career out of deflecting responsibility. Like any criminal, he will behave like a cornered animal, saying and doing whatever he can think of to beat you. And like all good prosecutors, it will be your job to cut through that with actual evidence, to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the places he doesn’t want you to go.

Maybe you’ll fail, but at least you’ll have gone down swinging.

Get to work. You’re on the clock.

Update: The following made for fun reading: From back in March on The Next Hurrah: Dusting off “inherent contempt”. There’s also a comment from Kagro X at Daily Kos: Is inherent contempt pardonable? And finally from Thomas Nephew’s comment on a posting at Lawyers, Guns and Money: There’s already enough to begin impeachment…

Sigh. Of course, all this would be much more exciting if I lived in an alternate reality where the Democratic majorities in Congress were comprised of patriots, rather than fat cats.

Later update: Oh, and one more from Thomas Nephew: digby, what is the alternative to impeachment?

Wheeler on Bush’s Obstruction of Justice

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Marcy Wheeler, writing in her commentisfree blog: Just another obstruction of justice.

There are many unanswered questions about the roles of the president, the vice president, and Libby in the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. Did Bush really ask Libby to take the lead on all this? Did the president declassify Plame’s identity so Libby could leak it to the press? Did Cheney learn – and tell Libby – that Plame was covert? Those questions all point squarely at Bush and Cheney personally. But because of Bush’s personal intervention, he has made sure that Scooter Libby won’t be answering those questions anytime soon.

Olbermann on the Libby Sentence Commutation

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

I tired a while ago of the way Keith Olbermann does an impression of David Strathairn doing Edward R. Murrow; for me, Olbermann’s rants would be more powerful if he just did them straight, without all the sirs and Mr. Bushes and Mr. Cheneys. But with that quibble aside, this latest one, about Bush’s commutation of the Libby sentence, was pretty good: You ceased to be the President of the United States.

Libby Will Do No Jail Time

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Judith Miller sat in jail for 85 doing what she felt was right: protecting the identity of a confidential source. She was released only after her source, Scooter Libby, finally consented to her letting him name him. Libby was subsequently found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements (under oath) and sentenced to 30 months for his crimes, but he won’t be spending one day in Jail, because President Bush commuted his sentence for being “excessive

Where was Bush’s rubber stamp when Miller was in Jail? And if 30 months is too excessive for Libby’s crimes, how about serving 85 days he took away from Miller because he wasn’t man enough to step up and admit what he had done?