Saturday, November 12, 2005

Liar, Liar

The WaPo today pokes holes in Bush's speech that tries to refute his critics over the Iraq war.

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

In other words, LIARS!!!!

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered "the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence." He said that "those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen."

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

How convenient. Set up several investigative committees and tell them they are not authorized to look into how the administration used the intelligence, and then claim afterwards that those same investigations have exonerated you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Inept Republicans giving up on budget bill

Wow! The Republicans are really starting to miss The Hammer up on the Hill.

WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders scuttled a vote Thursday on a $51 billion budget-cut package in the face of a revolt by lawmakers over scaling back Medicaid, food stamp and student loan programs.

The development was a major setback for the GOP on Capitol Hill and for President Bush, who has made cuts to benefit programs a central pillar in his budget plan.

What a mess. Hopefully, by this time next year we will be able to see things set right again after the gavel is passed to Speaker Pelosi.

Frist’s values

This is really shameful.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is more concerned about the leak of information regarding secret CIA detention centers than activity in the prisons themselves.

No wonder Republicans are losing support all over the country. By embracing torture and secret prisons they have essentially abandoned the basic principles that underlie the U.S. system of justice. In other words, they don’t share our values.

The New York Times in today’s editorial gets it about right on the hypocricy of the GOP leadership suddenly demanding a new leak investigation.

In the last couple of days, the Republican leaders of Congress have been piously demanding a full investigation into the sources of a Washington Post article about the Central Intelligence Agency's chain of secret prison camps. These same leaders have spent 18 months crushing any serious look at the actual abuse of prisoners at those camps, and at camps run by the American military. And for more than two years, they have expressed no interest in whether the White House leaked the name of a covert C.I.A. operative to punish a critic of the Iraq war.

More happy news

The Alaskan Wildlife Refuge gets a last-minute reprieve.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday.

They also dropped from the budget document plans to allow states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts -- regions currently under a drilling moratorium.

The actions were a stunning setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil development, and a victory for environmentalists, who have lobbied hard against the drilling provisions.

President Bush has made drilling in the Alaska refuge one of his top energy priorities.

Bush’s unpopularity is starting to drag down his right-wing political agenda, just like it drug down Republicans in yesterday’s election.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Happy election news

The Democrats took home most all of the electoral prizes the other day including the governorships in Virginia and New Jersey.

President Bush proved to be so unpopular that a Democratic Mayor in St. Paul, Minnesota was soundly defeated (by another Democrat) because he had crossed party lines to endorse Bush in the last election.

And out in California, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger was rebuffed on every one of his political initiatives and now it looks like the one-time GOP rising star’s political fortunes may be taking a dive. Some folks have already taken to calling him the One-Term-inator.

Republicans really had very little to cheer about Tuesday unless you count Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election in New York City. Of course, anywhere outside of New York City and Bloomberg would be mistaken for a Democrat anyway.

Here in Texas, there are some GOPers who will no doubt try to console themselves with the lopsided approval of Prop. 2, the anti-gay marriage amendment. But this was in reality a strategic mistake by the right-wing. Prop. 2 is absolutely meaningless. Gay marriage is already illegal in Texas and the only way it would ever become legal here is if it is handed down through a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which would overrule the Texas Constitution anyway.
The only reason for these anti-gay amendments is to rally the religious right and get them out to the polls. But it is a one-shot deal and they used it here in Texas during an off-year election when there were no big races that could be affected by it. So next year, when we have a governor’s race they will not be able to use it and that is just as well.

The main reason I ventured to the polls yesterday was to support the Alamo Community College District (ACCD) bond initiative and I was happy to see that it passed this time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Leaky Republicans

You just can’t trust those Republicans with classified information.

Earlier today, Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leaker Bill Frist announced plans to probe an alleged leak of classified information that resulted in a Washington Post story about secret CIA-operated prisons where terrorism suspects are disappeared to.

But now it looks like they may have spoke too soon.

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) told CNN's Ed Henry Tuesday afternoon that he believed it was a Republican senator who gave information about secret CIA jails abroad to the Washington Post, RAW STORY can report.
Lott said that much of the information contained in the Post report -- which stated that the U.S. was holding terrorist suspects in secret CIA jails overseas -- was discussed at a meeting of Republican senators last Tuesday.

So by all means let’s get this investigation going!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hoist on his own petard

One of Josh Marshall's readers makes an excellent point about Tom DeLay's efforts to have his trial moved out of "liberal" Travis County.

Ronnie Earle should simply ask the judge, "If Travis County is too liberal for DeLay to get a fair trial, then why is it that 2 of 3 U.S. Representatives representing Travis County are Republicans? Why are both state school board members representing Travis County Republicans? If you lump in State Senators and State Reps, too, you get a total of 7 Republicans and 6 Democrats." I'd say it looks more than fair to Republicans.
Hoist him on his own petard, perhaps...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gurwitz flails and falls flat

Jonathan Gurwitz is really flailing around wildly in his latest column as he desperately tries to dismiss the ever escalating CIA Leak scandal that has landed squarely on the back of the Bush administration.

Gurwitz is usually pretty good about sticking to the facts when trying to make his case, but this time he falls flat and makes some blatantly false assertions in his column. For instance, take this passage:

The saga begins more than two years ago when former Ambassador Joseph Wilson mounted a public relations campaign against the Bush administration and its rationale to go to war in Iraq. Wilson also happened to be an adviser to presidential candidate John Kerry.

Reading this, one would assume that Wilson was working for the Kerry campaign when he "mounted his public relations campaign against the Bush administration" which consisted of writing one op-ed piece for the New York Times. But as you can see
here, Wilson did not sign on with the Kerry campaign until long after he authored the NYTimes article. In fact, you could say it was probably the Bush administration's vicious attacks on Wilson (that resulted in exposing his wife's role as a covert CIA agent) that drove him to join the Kerry campaign.

Gurwitz compounds this error later in the article stating:

That includes Wilson's own report from 2002, which — contrary to his later statements in the service of the Kerry campaign — tended to support the existence of uranium dealings.

No, Mr. Gurwitz. Wilson was not "in the service of the Kerry campaign" at the time that he first made those statements. Futhermore, only a warped reading of Wilson's report would lead anyone to conclude that it was supporting Iraqi uranium dealings with Niger.

I will compliment Gurwitz in that at least when he quotes from the section of additional comments by three Republican senators on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee he does not make the mistake of attributing it to the final report as so many other right-wing pundits have done. But that Republican slander against Joseph Wilson has nothing to do with the crime of exposing a covert CIA operation.

Neither does this ballyhoo the GOP has made that Valerie Wilson "proffered her husband for the Niger assignment."
There was absolutely nothing wrong with that! Nothing!! The CIA did not have to accept her suggestion if they did not want to. And, unlike Michael Brown, Harriet Miers, and half the flunkies populating the Bush administration, Joseph Wilson was extremely qualified for the assignment having served as ambassador to Iraq and having extensive contacts in Africa and Niger. Jeez!! What a ridiculous red herring this is! But the right-wingers keep bringing it up over and over again as if it were some kind of scandal. Are they just stupid? Or are they trying to intentionally throw up a smokescreen to distract people from the real crime that was committed here?

At least Gurwitz grudgingly acknowledges that the charges against Scooter Libby are serious.

..members of the intelligence community must know that the law will protect them when or if political functionaries do not.

I agree wholeheartedly.

But then Gurwitz goes off on an unrelated tangent against the media for first supporting NYTimes lier, I mean reporter, Judith Miller for her efforts to cover up for the lying Libby.

Then he tops it off with this outrageously slanderous statement:

For partisan purposes, liberals who don't care a whit for the CIA, its people, its front companies or its mission are now duplicitously arguing for an outrageously broad interpretation of statutes that protect its clandestine operations.

Excuse me!?!? I happen to care more than just a whit for the people who risk their lives everyday to keep our nation secure. I am outraged because it was the Bush administration, for partisan purposes, that ruined the career of one of those agents, exposed a covert operation and a CIA front company and may have done untold damage to our ability to gather vital intelligence information in the future.
Outrageously broad interpretation?? How about an interpretation that simply does what it is supposed to do and protects our covert agents by punishing officials who are trusted with classified information and then cavalierly misuse that information?

This was a truly sad column coming from Mr. Gurwitz. I usually expect better of him. I would have to say that the quote he borrowed from the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would best summarize this particular column:

"(He) gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated and misleading."