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    24 December 2005

    Calls for impeachment... In the WSJ??

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    Thomas Donlan (not a liberal wacko) has authored an editorial calling for the impeachment of President Bush. It was written for Barron's Online and will appear in the Wall Street Journal Monday. Unless the WSJ has joined the so-called liberal media, unlikely since these types think with their pocketbooks and not their brains, this is huge.
    ...Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.

    Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.

    Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

    It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.

    Merry Xmas!

    Posted by Geoff

    23 December 2005

    Republican 'Cut 'n Run' | more on 'Snoopgate'

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    - When Murtha proposed a troop redeployment in Iraq to pull the troops to the fringes and let the Iraqi troops stand up to the terrorists and insurgents, Republicans raised Holy Hell and went through several political maneuvers to attack and divide the Dems in the Senate. Weeks later the Republican leadership is beginning their own form of 'cut 'n run' in Iraq. Instead of ignoring domestic politics and attempting to finish the job, or salvage what's left, in Iraq; the Republicans have begun the withdrawal en mass. Rummy, and Bush, have ignored post election developments and seem to believe that the 'peaceful' elections indicate some sort of victory. They also seem content with the increasing possibility of, and almost assured alliance with Iran. I've never been a fan of the 'bring them home' rhetoric because it would mean several thousand men and women will have lost their arms, legs, or lives fighting or another democratic theocracy like Iran. Our troops fought hard and don't deserve to have their brave efforts washed away in anticipation of November 2006. But that's democracy I guess. How is it that the administration can say that Iraq will be a partner against terror? How is it that a percentage higher than the roughly 20% of die hard pro-Bush Americans can be falling for this crap? Maybe some of them need to go back to school or read a book instead of taking everything that their favorite politician or pundit says as fact. I sure don't.

    - The Boston Globe is reporting
    The National Security Agency, in carrying out President Bush's order to intercept the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of links to Al Qaeda, has probably been using computers to monitor all other Americans' international communications as well, according to specialists familiar with the workings of the NSA.

    The Bush administration and the NSA have declined to provide details about the program the president authorized in 2001, but specialists said the agency serves as a vast data collection and sorting operation. It captures reams of data from satellites, fiberoptic lines, and Internet switching stations, and then uses a computer to check for names, numbers, and words that have been identified as suspicious.

    "The whole idea of the NSA is intercepting huge streams of communications, taking in 2 million pieces of communications an hour," said James Bamford, the author of two books on the NSA, who was the first to reveal the inner workings of the secret agency.

    "They have a capacity to listen to every overseas phone call," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which has obtained documents about the NSA using Freedom of Information Act requests.

    Illegal? Not really so long as it (the untargeted peoples communications) isn't read by a human, but that is shakey logic and you can bet that this was exploited by the administration to look at potential troublemakers in the process (that's my opinion).

    As Cafferty speculates
    "You know what? He's in big trouble, and I can't wait for the hearings to start."

    In a just world that might be, that world does not exist in America anymore.

    - A
    judge concluded
    in a case that "the continued detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is 'unlawful'" But since we have King George and his loyal SS types in control, he concludes that the court is powerless to enforce the decision and order their release.

    - The Most outrageous statements of 2005 are in (via dKos). Here's my favorite:
    Pat Buchanan: "Our guys" in Iraq "have got every right to have good news put into the media and get to the people of Iraq, even if it's got to be planted or bought." [MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, 12/1/05]

    and the most sickening:
    Rush Limbaugh (a tie)on the kidnapping of peace activists in Iraq: "I'm telling you, folks, there's a part of me that likes this." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/29/05]

    Radio host Glenn Beck: "[Y]ou know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 9/9/05]

    Who the hell is Glenn Beck??

    Note: This may be my final post before Christmas, sooooo a great big 'Merry Christmas' to all my regulars and anyone else who might read this. May the second half of this decade turn out better than the first. Be safe everybody!

    Posted by Geoff

    22 December 2005

    NSA officer pleas for congressional audience | SC FOX is naughty

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    - A former National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence analyst and action officer has requested an audience with congress to discuss what he calls "probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts..." involving "...the Director of the National Security Agency, the Deputies Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense."

    In a letter sent to both chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees Russ Tice writes (dated Dec 18th)
    These probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts were conducted via very highly sensitive intelligence programs and operations known as Special Access Programs (SAP)s. I was a technical intelligence specialist dealing almost exclusively with SAP programs and operations at both NSA and DIA.

    Due to the highly sensitive nature of these programs and operations, I will require assurances from your committee that the staffers and/or congressional members to participate retain the proper security clearances, and also have the appropriate SAP cleared facilities available for these discussions.

    Mr. Tice is a member of the year old National Security Whistleblowers Coalition and has had a sorted past with this administration and I'd expect the Right will throw a shit storm at this guy. It will be surprising if he gets a legitimate audience after Karl Rove and the right-wing noise machine commence in their "2 minutes of hate" (note: 1984 reference).

    [UPDATE] I'm currently waiting for a response from a 'friend' with conections in the NSA and DIA re. this development. I'll update or repost if the response is meaningful.

    Anyway, here's another apparent Bush 'flip-flop' from a June 2005 so-called 'fact sheet'
    The Patriot Act extended the use of roving wiretaps, which were already permitted against drug kingpins and mob bosses, to international terrorism investigations. They must be approved by a judge. Without roving wiretaps, terrorists could elude law enforcement by simply purchasing a new cell phone.
    Wiretaps and search warrants require a high level of proof and permission from a judge. The tools in the Patriot Act are fully consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

    Congress created a Civil Liberties Board to ensure the Patriot Act and other laws uphold civil liberties. The Patriot Act protects America and defends American liberties.

    Now you understand why I call it a 'so-called fact sheet.'

    - Then Senate Majority leader, Tom Daschle, claims that congress did not grant the president authority to operate outside the established law in the authorization to use force in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. In his words he "...suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution."
    The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, established a secret intelligence court and made it a criminal offense to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant from that court, "except as authorized by statute."
    "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."

    Stay tuned...

    - After week's of Republican loyalists calling the Democrats "obstructionist" for forcing changes in the so-called USA PATRIOT ACT the Republicans engage in some of the same with an intelligence bill. The bill passed through committee with the blessing of Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the Senate intelligence panel. However, "[a]n anonymous Republican placed a hold on the bill and prevented the Senate from working its will" and "[a]s a result, the bill can't go forward." Republicans reject three amendments that call for congressional access to both President Clinton and Bush's (43rd) Presidential Daily Briefs that focus on or include the subject of Iraq and a request for information on the CIA secret prisons in Europe. pure obstructionist politics form the Republicans. Add this to the long list of claims Repubs can no longer make in order to smear Democrats.

    - Neocon darling Ahmed Chalabi gets humiliated in Iraqi polls, getting less than one per cent of the vote in Baghdad.
    Out of almost 2.5 million voters in Baghdad, only 8,645 voted for Chalabi.

    In the Shiite city of Basra, the results indicate he had an equally dismal showing of 0.34 percent of the vote.

    In the violent Sunni province of Anbar, 113 people voted for him.

    No word from Kurdistan yet. I'm pretty sure this guy (and his group) gets a quarter of a million dollars a month from your taxes. Not sure of that, I'll leave it up to the reader to verify that.

    - The Kurdish state exports Beer to Turkey.

    - More rings are found around Uranus. (he he)

    - The global struggle for resources (oil) takes eight more lives in Nigeria; halts Shell's production. This is the second in the last few days, officials put the loss at 180,000 barrels of oil per day.

    - A local FOX affiliate promotes a white supremacists group/web site (stormfront.org - where the fascists get their hate literature), and then scrubs it from the website. First pointed out by Jesus' General and brought to my attention by Raw Story. The original page was cached by Goolge. This is an outrage but given it is a FOX outfit and in the backward state of South Carolina, this is typical.

    - The USA PARTIOT ACT was given an extension by the House Thursday. They had no choice given the Senate's reject yesterday of the Act and the 31 December renewal deadline. But the House Republicans had to find something to whine about and limited the extension to just over a month. This may not work out as wanted for the USA PATRIOT ACT supporters. Given the heightened debate about domestic espionage, the Act has soured in the eyes of many. Let's hope a few more Senate Republicans get an earful from their constituents over recess.

    - Katrina has been demoted to a Cat. 3 storm. This was a no-brainer to someone who has extensive knowledge of the system that categorizes hurricanes. But it wasn't the storm the flooded NO; at least not directly. It was a levee failure; levees which failed to live up to their expectations.

    Posted by Geoff

    Drilling in ANWR blocked, PATRIOT ACT extended

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    - A budget bill passed the Senate yesterday, but only with VP Cheney breaking a tie. The new budget will "allow states to impose new fees on Medicaid recipients, cut federal child-support enforcement funds, impose new work requirements on state welfare programs and squeeze student lenders...". This measure did not include a provision to open up ANWR to the oil companies. This is good news, but not great news. Congress seems unable to comprehend the seriousness of the decline of oil and unable to form a new approach to take our country into the 21st Century. Gal Luft, of the Set America Free Coalition, corectly states that if "[w]e don't make any progress. The only thing that changes is the level of dependence -- it increases every year."

    - The GOP is repeating the same lies debunked yesterday. This is a pretty pathetic showing on a serious matter. One judge has resigned from the secret surveillance court, and others have expressed concerns; threatening to disband the court since the President now claims the power to bypass the court. To U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah; "The questions are obvious ... What have you been doing, and how might it affect the reliability and credibility of the information we're getting in our court?"

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) remains skeptical of the program and vows to start hearings next month after the Scalito battle. Click here to petition for hearings to begin before rather than after the SCOTUS confirmation.

    Here is today’s quote from Bush assuring everyone that a court order is required and gotten in all domestic espionage events...

    Columbus, Ohio - 9 June 2005 Bush said:
    One tool that has been especially important to law enforcement is called a roving wiretap. Roving wiretaps allow investigators to follow suspects who frequently change their means of communications. These wiretaps must be approved by a judge, and they have been used for years to catch drug dealers and other criminals.

    This part's especially ironic...
    Finally, we need to renew the critical provisions of the Patriot Act that protect our civil liberties. The Patriot Act was written with clear safeguards to ensure the law is applied fairly. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role. Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, a federal judge's permission to track his calls, or a federal judge's permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools. And these standards are fully consistent with the Constitution of the U.S.

    So much for that.

    - Scott McClellan has been mute on many things so far this term as the presidents spokesman. stating, over and over again, that he will not comment on ongoing investigations (unless it will help the president and his friends). He's taking the same tone when asked to comment on 'Snoopgate' only the investigation hasn't started yet. Anyway, I highly recommend reading this diary of Scotty's press briefing yesterday; be ready to laugh.

    - The President and the 911 Commission have been using a myth as fact. the WaPo calls them out on it.

    - Senate Republicans caved to a Democratic led, but bipartisan, filibuster of the PATRIOT ACT and passed an extension of six months to keep the act on the books while the disparate parties negotiate a deal. The President has said that he would veto an extension but that is just Texas tough-talk. IU doubt he would do such a thing, but if he does, good I hate the act and think we should write a new one now that all the hype of 11 September 2001 is behind us. But the president has a point when he says that we can’t go days, weeks, months without these safety measures. Let’s just cut out the Orwellian parts.

    - The case of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla was slamed by an appeals court yesterday rejecting "the administration's move to avoid another Supreme Court review of its powers of detention." The statement continued by declaring that the government’s actions have ruined "its credibility before the courts." This case is weak and based partly on the waterboarding (aka torture) of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Here is the short version

    - Sunni and secular voices have found common ground in Iraq. They feel that the recent elections were fraudulent. They threaten to boycott the new parliament.

    - Kevin Drum looks at the powers held by wartime presidents.

    - Jack Abramoff is coming closer to a plea agreement (tip to Atrios)
    Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist under indictment for fraud in South Florida, is expected to complete a plea agreement in the Miami criminal case, setting the stage for him to become a crucial witness in a broad federal corruption investigation, people with direct knowledge of the case said.
    At the same time, prosecutors in Washington have been sifting through evidence of what they believe is a corruption scheme involving at least a dozen lawmakers and their former staff members, many of whom worked closely on legislation with Mr. Abramoff and accepted gifts and favors from him. Although Mr. Abramoff is also in negotiations in that case, it is unclear whether a settlement can be reached in time for both agreements to be announced at once.

    Posted by Geoff

    Drinking Liberally - Charleston, SC

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    Well, it looks as though Snoopgate isn't taking a holiday, so Drinking Liberally won't either. If there's anybody in town Thursday, make a stop at Voodoo and we'll talk about what's hot. And maybe what's not.

    And here's a thought for getting more lib love in the new year: BOWLING LIBERALLY! Larry Carter Center, one of our newest Charleston D-Libbers, wants to get a Bowling Liberally on the roll. He loves to bowl - but not with the typical bowling crowds we have 'round these parts (checked your neck lately?) - and he loves liberals. What better combination than a liberal bowling league/team? If you're interested, let Larry know at lcartercenter at yahoo dot com or catch him one Thursday at Voodoo.

    If you're traveling for the holidays, please drive carefully. We want to see you again at Voodoo. If you're in town, come on by.

    Voodoo Lounge
    15 Magnolia Road
    West Ashley
    Every Thursday Evening
    5:30 until 'round 8 or 9 or so

    21 December 2005

    Judge on surveillance court resigns in protest and more...

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    - A honorable protest
    U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

    This is big. It might be time to let lawyers other than those loyal to the administration sort this out. I'd imagine that Bush and friends will fight this tooth and nail; their political life is on the line.

    Here is another oopsy from Bush in 2004
    For years, law enforcement used so-called roving wire taps to investigate organized crime. You see, what that meant is if you got a wire tap by court order -- and, by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example.
    In other words, terrorists could switch phones and we couldn't follow them. The Patriot Act changed that, and now we have the essential tool. See, with court approval, we have long used roving wire taps to lock up monsters -- mobsters. Now we have a chance to lock up monsters, terrorist monsters. (Laughter and applause.)

    Both parties are upset about this, mostly the Dems though with their conscience and all. This is an important point, as my mom pointed out, if you just listened to Bush and Cheney you would think only a few Dems were outraged. That, of course, is not the case.
    Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine joined Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Dianne Feinstein of California and Ron Wyden of Oregon in calling for a joint investigation by the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees into whether the government eavesdropped "without appropriate legal authority."

    They forgot my Senator Lindsey Graham (SC).

    I wish they (the president and his men) would stop 'protecting' me. Because they have done nothing but fuck up the great qualities of this country. Please keep the ridiculous 'but we haven't been attacked' argument to your self.

    - The WaPo is reporting Scalito has the support of the majority, Fox News refutes that. I'm confused. In honesty I'd say the Fox poll is in error. Only 35% sounds awfully low. I doubt Fox News has these results on its site still, I can't find it.

    - Back to 'snoopgate,' one talking point for Republicans is to say that Clinton and Carter spied on Americans. Acting responsibly, Think Progress actually looks at the law most right-wingers are citing and finds that in both cases the law clearly states that the surveillance will not contain "the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." So no U.S. citizens were involved. Nice try boys and girls.

    - 4 pesky Senators are 'blocking' the PATRIOT ACT, 4 GOP Senators.

    - Secular's and Sunni's demand new vote in Iraq. This is impossible under the new Iraqi constitution, but would probably be a good idea less we give Iraq to the Iranians.

    - Bye-Bye Republicans (and, yes, some Democrats), Abramoff is seeking a plea deal.
    Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, facing trial on fraud charges Jan. 9 in Florida, is negotiating a possible deal with the Justice Department, in which he would agree to plead guilty and cooperate in the wide-ranging political corruption investigation focused on his dealings with members of Congress and executive branch officials, people familiar with the talks said last night.

    Abramoff would provide testimony about numerous members of Congress and their staffs if he and the Justice Department reach an agreement, the sources said. Negotiations have been ongoing for several months, people knowledgeable about the discussions said, but pressure is mounting because of the pending trial.

    - A huge defeat was handed down to the intelligent design crowd yesterday, along with ammo for coming cases for the evolution (truth) bloc.

    - Evo Morales, Bolivia's new president, called President Bush a "terrorist." I agree.

    - Seven states went around Bush and his ignorance when it comes to anything to do with the atmosphere by introducing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Led New York Gov. George Pataki, the initiative will "curtail CO2 emissions and spur development of new technologies to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil." This is an oil mans worst nightmare. Membership is open and group includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont.

    Posted by Geoff

    20 December 2005

    "Give me liberty or give me death"

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    - Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a Republican mess, went on the offensive today re. the domestic spying case; dubbed 'snoopgate'. He said, "None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead." A shameful statement that was quickly neutralized by Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) who quoted Patrick Henry of the American Revolution in response: “Give me liberty or give me death.” He went on to add that Cornyn’s comments were “a retreat from who we are and who we should be.”

    I had a similar encounter with a cousin of mine during the lead up to the War on Iraq. In response to an email I sent to my family, a cousin replied a typical ill-informed response telling me to shut up and that dissent never helped anything. I replied, simply, "what about 'no taxation without representation'?" That was the last I heard from him on the matter. We can only hope for the same from Cornyn.

    (note: I love and respect my cousin very much. This isn't a personal attack or anything. You would know when if I was attacking you.)

    - Think Progress takes care of the only right-wing talking point re. 'snoopgate' that, as usual, tries to blame Clinton.

    - Brendan Nyhan spells out multiple contradictions of the Bush machine re. court approved warrants to spy via the FISA. The best one being from a 'discussion' about the PATRIOT ACT in 2004
    Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

    No you don't Mr. Bush.

    - More questions about the timing...

    - The 'C' word, censure, hit the House floor today. (more) This was in no way related to 'snoopgate,' I'd imagine that's on the way.

    - The reason that censure is its way is because most people, beyond wingnuts, the Washington Post hacks, and the AEI, think what has been reported is a serious matter and at least needs to be investigated in a bipartisan fashion. People like Alan Dershowitz.

    - Woodward says Novak is wrong and the leak source isn't in the White House.

    - The first church of the NeoCon

    - Col. Lang backtracks on his hypothesis surrounding deals between the occupation and secular groups including insurgents that I mentioned below (previous post).

    - Factchect.org looks at torture and the bush denial. Focusing on this quote
    The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand.

    - Current and former Intel officials weigh in on 'snoopgate' including views from both sides of the spectrum. hint: They are not happy.
    "It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."

    Another, who's generally very pro-Administration, emphasized that the operation at least started with people that had Al-Qaeda connections -- with some mass-spying master list.
    But this call chain could very well have grown out of control, the source admits. Suddenly, people ten and twelve degrees of separation away from Osama may have been targeted.

    - Jerome a Paris weighs in on Iraqi oil and who is benefiting from our War on Iraq (must read).

    Posted by Geoff

    more spying, a poll, and more crap this Tuesday morning

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    - More domestic spying, this time on behalf of the FBI. Bush is amazing, he can't decide what his legacy will be; torture, treason, cronyism, domestic espionage... Of course, what will probably happen is he'll become the worst president ever. That fits. One strange point, this started before 11 September so imagine how bad it is now after the attack.
    The papers offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years, including an animal rights conference in Washington in July 2000, a community meeting at an Indiana college in spring 2003 and a planned August 2004 protest of a celebrity fur endorser.

    The documents show the FBI cultivated sources such as a "well insulated" PETA insider, who attended the 2000 meeting to gain credibility "within the animal rights/Ruckus movements." The FBI also kept information on Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the papers show.

    Cheney was quoted saying
    It’s the kind of capability [that], if we’d had before 9/11, might have led us to be able to prevent 9/11.

    We had two 9/11 terrorists in San Diego prior to the attack in contact with al Qaeda sources outside the U.S. We didn’t know it. The 9/11 Commission talks about it. If we’d had this capability, then we might well have been able to stop it.

    So why didn't you do it. There is nothing illegal about this, what is illegal is doing this without a court order. Since 1970 only a handful of these requests have been rejected, most people have criticized FISA as to easy. So this is more BS from the mouth of a man who has repeatedly lied to Americans.

    - Speaking of lying, Bush continues to master the art of lying by omission.
    President Bush is making selective use of an opinion poll when he tells people that Iraqis are increasingly upbeat.

    The same poll that indicated a majority of Iraqis believe their lives are going well also found a majority expressing opposition to the presence of U.S. forces, and less than half saying Iraq is better off now than before the war.

    Bush frequently talks in general terms about millions of Iraqis "looking forward to a future with hope and optimism," as he put it in a news conference Monday. The previous evening, he was more specific in his televised address when he declared, "Seven in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going well — and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve even more in the year ahead."

    The results without the administration spin:
    *More than two-thirds of Iraqis surveyed face-to-face opposed the U.S. presence, but only one-quarter of respondents wanted American troops to leave right away.

    *44 percent said their country is better off than before the war.

    *More than six in 10 said they feel safe in their neighborhoods, up from four in 10 in June 2004.

    *Half said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was wrong, up from 39 percent in February 2004.

    *More than two-thirds said they expect things to get better in the coming months.

    - Senators are coming down hard on the President and his monarch fantasies of an Orwellian World. Senator Jay Rockefeller made public a letter written to the VP expressing concerns about the new spying policy. This was so secret at the time he had to write it himself because the policy was to sensitive for his staff to know. If this is the administrations idea of oversight then we've entered a dark phase.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has floated the 'I' word to several 'presidential scholars.' Of course they all replied, 'of course he could be impeached.' Then she told them about the admission to illegal spying, for 'presidential scholars' heads exploded yesterday.

    U.S. Rep. John Lewis (Ga) has expressed his concerns over the policy. He stated he would sign a bill of impeachment if one is drawn up and if the action was illegal.

    Senator Barbara Mikulski's (D-MD)captures the gist in one sentence
    "The President seems to have admitted that he secretly eliminated this entire legal process."

    she also asks
    Are there any other secret orders relating to spying on U.S. citizens?

    Of course there are Senator. We are dealing with the party of neo-McCarthyism.

    My Senator, Lindsey Graham (SC), had this to say on Face the Nation Sunday
    Sen. GRAHAM: Here's what I reject. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, I reject the ability of any president during a time of war to make findings to set aside the torture statute and give blanket immunity to people out in the field because that could come back and hurt our own troops in different scenarios. I reject the idea that any president can sit down with a handful of congressman and deal the courts out if the law requires the court to be involved. It is about the process. It's not about the politics.

    It is about winning the war, adhering to the values that we're fighting for and you can't set those values aside in the name of expediency.

    My other Senator, Jim DeMint is still trying to figure out what espionage means. He also spends most of his free time torturing homosexual school teachers in his basement.

    - Jonathan Alter fills us in on Bush's desperate plea the NYT to stop the printing of the Spying story a year after they (the NYT) first learned of the program. He points out that the President did not fear the damage to domestic security then, but was more concerned about the hot water below
    ...Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had "legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force." But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing "all necessary force" in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

    - The Shiite alliance is leading in the polls in Iraq. A strong showing by the religious Shiite's would lead most to believe that Iraq is slowly entering Iran's orbit. Col. Lang talks about this development, focusing on the release of some former scientists and weapon experts of Saddam's government (Dr Germ and Mrs. Anthrax). Lang sees a deal in the works
    The US has now decided that it can not afford to see a long term political victory and control of the Iraqi government by the Shia religious parties (SCIRI, Dawa, Sadrists). What is the solution for us? It is to try to promote a coalition between the secular nationalists under Ayad Allawi and the non Jihadi insurgents and their Baathi and "rejectionist" supporters in the political world (read Sinn Fein here).

    Lang thinks this is a good thing, and it may be, provided the Shiite militias don't have a problem with it; which they will. If the case, we'll be fighting the Shiite militias again before this is all over. We'll also have a secular strongman in power in Iraq just like it had before this whole misguided adventure began years ago, only this government will be friendlier to the Kurds. Which is better, the latter probably.

    - Fox poll: 35% support Scalito Alito, down from 46% a month ago. (pdf)(oops! This link is broken, will try to update later if fixed.)

    - The Washington Post is a great newspaper, and their use of Technorati is sweet. But no one is allowed to call WaPo a paper with liberal bias ever again. According to them Bush's approval is soaring
    Bush's overall approval rating rose to 47 percent, from 39 percent in early November, with 52 percent saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job. His approval rating on Iraq jumped 10 percentage points since early November, to 46 percent, while his rating on the economy rose 11 points, to 47 percent. A clear majority, 56 percent, said they approve of the way Bush is handling the fight against terrorism -- a traditional strong point in his reputation that nonetheless had flagged to 48 percent in the November poll.

    Sounds to me like he bottomed out in November, he'll ride a brief incline in the aftermath of the elections in Iraq and his attack on the declining support for the war, but as soon as an insurgent kills a handful of our soldiers or something worse things will settle back down.

    In addition, this CNN poll directly contradicts the polling above
    A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll conducted over the weekend found his approval rating stood at 41 percent, while more than half, or 56 percent, disapprove of how the president is handling his job. A majority, or 52 percent, say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, and 61 percent say they disapprove of how he is handling Iraq specifically. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    I'll take either one, this president is dead weight.

    - Right-wing pundits and bloggers (two g’s or one?) have been busy attacking Canada, calling them stalkers and Americas retarded cousin. Trivial for sure, this will likely help the liberal parties in Canada in the coming election cycle. Few in Canada have much respect for American politicians and their operatives. I'd like to say that I love Canada, and for more reasons than politics. It is a beacon of hope in an America that is approaching becoming a theocracy lead by a retarded president and religious fundamentalists.

    - Armando is a must read this morning.

    Posted by Geoff

    19 December 2005

    Dems set to provide a damning critique of the War on Iraq

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    - Dems plan to release a lengthy analysis of the war, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers (MI) and the House Judiciary Committee. It is called "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War." Will post on complete report asap (to be released Tuesday).

    - Speaking of the war and Bush's attempts to justify it, he made the careless mistake of mixing UBL with Saddam Hussein. But was this careless? Or is it a way to link the two yet again? The only way that the two could be linked is in this way; by mistake.

    - Plamegate Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is the 2005 Lawyer of the Year. Politics and my hatred for traitors aside, I think he deserved it.

    - Teens are smoking less, that's good. But popping more pills. Way to go War on Drugs!

    - Bush calls the blockage of the PATRIOT ACT "inexcusable." Senators everywhere shrugged and continued to actually do somewhat productive work rather than rape the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Mr. Bush, shut your mouth!

    - I just ordered the Arabic English version of Mao Tse-Tung's The Little Red Book. We'll see if the Feds pay me a visit. As they have done before.

    Posted by Geoff

    Bush needs to shut the fuck up

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    Bush keeps saying things like this
    "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is discussing the enemy"

    But he didn't say anything when his administration, through the FBI, gloated about intercepting cell phone conversations between al Qaeda. Had the White House not gone public about that, who knows what other important info we could have had. Michael Scheuer had a lot to say about this in his book. The only reason Bush is attacking those who made this info public is because it hurts him politically; regardless of the legality of his actions. That is all.

    Posted by Geoff

    A crime, a speech, and a stroke... Good morning World

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    - On Meet the Press Sunday Condi was quick to absolve Bush of any crime, b u t . . .

    She was unable to explain why.

    This must have snuck up on the Republicans. How dare a newspaper cover their crimes without consulting them first?

    - Bush spoke Sunday evening (full text from the WaPo) in a fashion that is alien for him or most Republicans for that matter. The gist of it was: "I tricked you all, and now we're there and there is nothing you can do about it. Cha-Ching!" He, however, shelved the 'Iraq is going great' BS but stood firm on the 'stay the course' rhetoric. This will be the case until after we have pulled out because we aren't going to stay there if it affects domestic politics. That's where we're weak.

    During his entire speech a 15 year old Arab boy bent over backward as Bush's chair. After the speech they proceeded to pull out the finger and toe-nails of the Arab boy. During the torture session Bush paused and expressed regret that Cheney wasn't there for the fun, but quickly remembered that they have a country full of Arab boys to play with. Numerous times Bush's handlers had to tell bush not to put the nails into the mouth, apparently Bush was cleaning them off. Bush used the nails to make a Holiday card for Barb.

    - Speaking of Cheney, he had a round table discussion with a number of troops in Iraq. The group of troops appears to have been real (I mean not picked to be biased towards Cheney) and not some staged event, as we've seen.
    "From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains," said Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren, the first to question Cheney in a round-table discussion with about 30 military members. "We're looking at small-picture stuff, not many gains. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain - how Iraq's looking."

    Cheney replied that remarkable progress has been made in the last year and a half.

    "I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we'll see that the year '05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq," the vice president said. "We're getting the job done. It's hard to tell that from watching the news. But I guess we don't pay that much attention to the news."

    But the best part
    Shouts of "hooah!" from the audience interrupted Cheney a few times, but mostly the service members listened intently. When he delivered the applause line, "We're in this fight to win. These colors don't run," the only sound was a lone whistle.

    Troops are mad, as they should be. This isn't the fault of the anti-war crowd, it is a result of a failed policy and its dishonest, corrupt, scumbag supporters.

    - Walter Pincus fills us in on the growth of the Pentagon's surveillance.

    - The Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, suffered a minor stroke and is said to be lucid. Since he is in the news, I'll talk a little bit about him. I'll start by stating that I don't like him. Not for what he has done recently, but for his conduct in the Sinai Campaign (1956). Furthermore, I don't like his party, Likud. They stem from right-wing terrorist groups who terrorized the Arabs, British, and at times the Hagana during the British Mandate of Palestine. That said, I truly hope that he recovers fully, a shock like the loss of your leader wouldn't be good for Israel and, I doubt, for the region; in one way or another.

    - The citizens of Congo got their first vote in several decades Sunday.

    - Evo Morales won Bolivia's presidential election with a strong showing. This man is a leftist and, as he says, a "nightmare" for Washington. We can soon expect the return of Washington backed death squads to emerge in Central and South America. It's the American way; spread democracy only when it benefits us. Otherwise kill it.

    I welcome this outcome and any leader that has the will of the people; left or right. Washington be damned.

    - Juan Cole is great this morning, as usual
    I hate al-Qaeda. Its "values" are the diametric opposite of virtually everything I stand for. I would like to see al-Qaeda and all the little al-Qaeda wannabes planning out the killing of innocent civilians broken up, their members arrested and put away for a very long time.
    But you can't get at al-Qaeda by having an auto-da-fe for the US Constitution, and even if you could, it would be a hollow victory, because it is the values of the Bill of Rights that al-Qaeda would like to see subverted.

    There is a vicious playfulness in Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in this regard. They consider the US to have been a bulwark of heavy-handed authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world that have summarily arrested Muslim activists, tossed them in jail without proper trials (or via courts-martial), tortured them, and executed them with no due process. They knew very well that an event like September 11 would provoke the US government to close off civil liberties for Americans, because they had seen similar things happen in the Middle Eastern countries they had tried to subvert. Bin Laden said after 9/11, "We have caused them to taste a little bit of the calamities that have been befalling the Muslims for the past 80 years" or words to that effect. Part of what he was referring to was the authoritarian states, like those of Attaturk and Abdul Nasser, that were founded after the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate in 1924.
    ...it may well be that Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, whom Bush doesn't seem very interested in capturing, have had the last laugh. Their monstrous "theatrical" terrorism on a large scale has paralyzed the US political and judicial elite in the face of Cheney's and Bush's New American Empire, an Empire in which the US Constitution has been turned into a dead letter.

    Always good. Go read it here.

    - More alleged violations of human rights by Americans.

    - John, over at a lie a day, has a scoop on the education debate in SC. Looks like we might join the ranks of backward states that hate science and think a carpenter and a fictional book will get the children through life.

    Posted by Geoff

    18 December 2005

    More on Bush's Fumbles | The war on Xmas goes International

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    - All of the recent revelations about torture and domestic spying a growing bi-partisian group of congressmen and women are moving for more oversight of presidential activities.

    On Friday bush so much as admitted that he doesn't get it and is lost in some parallel neocon world dreamed up by the likes of Orwell
    "Decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people"

    Classic Rove, turn it around. Speaking of Rove, while most lawmakers understand the problems Bush and friends have brought into our country, several operatives remain and they clearly care not for the public but for power and maintaining it at any costs.
    A Republican senator on Saturday accused The New York Times of endangering American security to sell a book by waiting until the day of the terror-fighting Patriot Act reauthorization to report that the government has eavesdropped on people without court-approved warrants.

    "At least two senators that I heard with my own ears cited this as a reason why they decided to vote to not allow a bipartisan majority to reauthorize the Patriot Act" said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

    Well Cornyn, that won't work anymore and the PATRIOT ACT would have been blocked NYT story or not. We had the votes, you didn't. Now why don't you and your anti-constitutional cronies get back to work and settle on a new PATRIOT ACT that both protects us while preserving our rights.

    A reader posted this in the comments:
    I've got a report I did a few years ago
    regarding the NSA spying on us domestically.

    It includes a treatment of how they perform Internet email monitoring, by way of my describing how I monitored the emails of more than 7000 employees on Wall Street.


    - Cheney visited Iraq today and there he was praised by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
    Talabani, his finger still stained purple as proof that he had voted three days earlier, thanked Cheney profusely for coming and called him a "hero of liberating Iraq." Cheney said even though final results are not in, he is encouraged by preliminary figures showing a jump in turnout in areas such as Al-Anbar province with large populations of Sunni Muslims, who have been the backbone of the insurgency.

    Since Cheney is so popular to the ruling elite in Iraq, I move that they keep him. America doesn't want him.
    "The terrorists know that as freedom take hold the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal," Cheney told the troops.

    OK, so you've supposedly neutralized the terrorists. They are a small part of the problem, what about the insurgency?

    Juan Cole reminds us what the real situation in the Sunni heartland
    Since Bush is going to say Sunday that the Sunni Arab participation in the elections suggests a near end of major guerrilla violence, let me just repeat what I said Thursday: the history of guerrilla insurgencies is replete with groups that simulaneously fought on both the political and paramilitary fronts. Listen to how angry the Sunni politicians are, as they speak out in the wake of the elections, both at Bush and at the Shiites, and you get a sense of how detached the Bush administration remains from reality.

    A major Sunni leader whose list (the National Dialogue Council) seems to be doing well, Salih Mutlak, just came on Arabic satellite television and gave a strident anti-American speech. He addressed Bush, warning him not to believe that a fair election had just occurred in Iraq, and denounced the continued US military occupation of his country. He also lashed out at Shiite politicians. Mutlak is a secular Arab nationalist who still praises the Baath Party. Mutlak's emergence as a likely power broker in the Iraqi parliament is good news for Bush?

    In reality, bigger problems are ahead in Iraq, this article points out the trivial problems. There are more though.

    As said, the attacks have resumed in Iraq.

    - Bill O'Reilly's war on Xmas opened a new front in New Zealand
    A gang of drunken "Santas" caused merry hell across central Auckland yesterday, robbing stores, tagging buildings and assaulting security guards.

    Three men were arrested on a variety of drunk and disorderly charges, and two security guards had to be treated for cuts after being hit with beer bottles.

    The group of 40 men - mostly in their mid-20s and dressed in ill-fitting Santa costumes - began their "Santarchy" shortly after 2pm. First stop was the Victoria St motorway overbridge where they smashed beer bottles and urinated.

    - Powell says
    Mr Powell said the recently highlighted practice of moving people to places where they are not covered by US law was neither "new or unknown" to Europe.

    he adds
    "Well, most of our European friends cannot be shocked that this kind of thing takes place... The fact that we have, over the years, had procedures in place that would deal with people who are responsible for terrorist activities, or suspected of terrorist activities, and so the thing that is called rendition is not something that is new or unknown to my European friends."

    It sounds like he's all for extraordinary rendition.

    - Think progress caught Alberto Gonzales in a lie. In a response to Sen. Russ Feingold
    MR. GONZALES: Senator, this president is not — I — it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.

    Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, lie, L i a r!

    - Democracy in action in the Middle East. However if we don't like the results then we (the West) ignore it.
    The European Union's foreign policy chief warned Sunday that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians if the militant Hamas group wins next month's Palestinian elections and fails to renounce violence.

    The threat by Javier Solana reflected growing international concern that Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and remains committed to
    Israel's destruction, could win the Jan. 25 parliamentary vote.

    The EU warning came after the House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday stating that American support for the
    Palestinian Authority would be at risk by any Hamas participation in government.

    - The new Iraqi government will have final say on US and Coalition (which doesn't exist anymore, like it ever really did) troop levels.

    - more from Cole
    By the way, the assertion Bush keeps making that the political developments in Iraq will influence the rest of the Middle East is ridiculous to anyone who actually talks to anyone from the region. Arabs mostly believe that Iraq is laboring under an oppressive foreign military occupation. You can't bring up Iraq without them saying, "The Americans are doing such horrible things there." They think of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, and of the Ministry of Interior's secret torture cells, not of parliamentary debates. Few think the Iraqi elections are aboveboard, and few are very interested in them. In Beirut, the newspapers have been putting a short article on the elections below the fold every day since Wednesday, and that is about it. It isn't even really positioned as important news; the New York Times puts it higher on the page than most Arab newspapers.

    An American living in Egypt who was teaching out in the provinces in a major city told me about recently witnessing a student demonstration that included a skit. Thousands of students had come out, and some grade schoolers were there in the front row. On the steps of an academic hall, Islamist students enacted a play about an Iraqi suicide bomber blowing up US troops, to enormous glee and applause. That's what most Arabs think about Iraq, on the outside. They don't want to emulate an American-occupied country. Bush's naive conviction that his project is exemplary reminds me of the way the Communists in Russia initially thought that all the factory workers in the West would want immediately to imitate their worker's paradise. Of course, few wanted to give up their unions and consumer lifestyle so as to become the wards of a one-party state. Likewise, American Imperial "democracy" strikes most Arabs as paternalistic and hypocritical, masking a police state of a sort they are all too familiar with.

    Posted by Geoff


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