.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

CHB&OEN: Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack

Published by Capitol Hill Blue & OpEd News -- by Doug Thompson

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.

"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington.

"Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.

“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.

Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community.

But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims. "I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says. "I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody." Villaraigosa also said he has twice requested meetings with Bush to discuss security issues for Los Angeles and was turned down both times.

Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”

“A lot of buzz circulated in the months following the September 11, 2001, attacks,” says an NSA operative. “Snippets here and there were true but most were just random information that could never be confirmed. One thing we do know about al Qaeda is that they seldom use the same technique twice. They tried a car bomb to bring down the World Trade Center and it failed. Then they went to planes. The next time will be something different because we’ve geared up to prevent hijacking planes and using them as flying bombs.”

In August 2004, just as the Presidential campaign was about to heat up, the Bush White House raised the terror alert, claiming attacks were imminent on major financial institutions. The alert, apparently timed to steal thunder from Democrat John Kerry’s nomination for President, was withdrawn after administration officials admitted it was based on old information from a discredited informant. The discredited information dated back to the same period when intelligence agencies began receiving reports of a planned attack against Los Angeles. Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge admits the U.S. raised terror alerts for the wrong reasons and now says he often disagreed with the timing of such alerts but was overruled by the White House. "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge says. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert. There were times when the White House was really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' We often lost the argument."

Ridge left DHS in February 2005 and Bush replaced him with Michael Chertoff who agrees with the “cry wolf” strategy of the White House. “Chertoff is a lackey,” says Kevin Riley, a retired New York City Detective who knew Chertoff during his days as a U.S. Attorney in New York. “He’ll do whatever Bush tells him to do.”

Intelligence pros at established Washington agencies laugh at DHS operatives, calling them “Keystone Kops” and “overpaid rent-a-cops,” saying they lack any real expertise in dealing with terrorism.

“DHS is a political police force,” says a retired CIA agent. “They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That’s all they’re good for and they’re not very good at that.”

Originally published at and © Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue.


Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: Iraqi Shiites stumble on PM selection - Feb. 11

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer -- Saturday, 1 hour, 1 minute ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shiite politicians failed Saturday to select a new prime minister as rivalry within their alliance forced a delay in the balloting. An Iraqi army spokesman was assassinated in Basra, a southern city plagued by Iraqi soldiers pray over the casket of the Army spokesman Capt. Makram al-Abbasi who was killed in a hail of gunfire from a civilian car, in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006. Capt. al-Abbasi was shot dead in British-controlled Basra, a southern city that had been also been noted for its relative stability, but has seen renewed violence, in part fueled by rival Shiite militias and local opposition to the coalition troop presence. (AP Photo/Nabil Al-Jurani)lawlessness and violence by Shiite militias. Iraqi soldiers, right, pray over the casket of the Army spokesman Capt. Makram al-Abbasi who was killed in a hail of gunfire from a civilian car, in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006. Capt. al-Abbasi was shot dead in British-controlled Basra, a southern city that had been also been noted for its relative stability, but has seen renewed violence, in part fueled by rival Shiite militias and local opposition to the coalition troop presence. (AP Photo/Nabil Al-Jurani)

Members of the Shiite alliance who won seats in parliament in the December election gathered in Baghdad to discuss their choice for prime minister but postponed a vote for at least a day at the request of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's faction.

Shiite officials who attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the delay was due to last-minute differences between al-Sadr's faction and another group within the alliance.

Choosing a new premier, and in turn forming a long-term government, are key steps in Iraq's sluggish political process that the United States -- and many Iraqis -- hope will lead to an end to the bloodshed and an improvement in the daily lives for this country's 27 million people.

But the violence underscored the worsening sectarian nature of the country's conflict and the dangers facing Iraqi security forces, which the United States hopes will be able to control the insurgency so U.S.-led forces can go home.

An Iraqi tribal leader, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan, said his followers have seized more than 1,400 "terrorists" in a three-month counterinsurgency operation that began about a month ago along the Iraq-Syria border.

Full AP-Yahoo News story. D.H.: It's good to see the mainstream media use the word "terrorists" in quotes, because for some time I have felt there is substantial dispute over the proper use of this term. Why is it that sometimes the supposed anti-terrorists are more violent (large smart bombs dropped on hospitals, schools and weddings, for example) than the so-called "terrorists" who blow themselves and other up with small suicide bombs?

Another question I have is -- with the much-touted growth of the foothold of democracy in the middle-east, why are the Shiites, with their overwhelming victory at the polls, having a hard time selecting a prime minister?

And while I'm at this business of asking pesky questions, how have we improved the situation when Saddam Hussein is locked up, but "radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr" has enough clout that he can hold up a vote for Prime Minister?

It helps me to sleep at night to know that while I might not have answers to these difficult questions, our president and his intelligence advisors do. Or if they don't, they are wiretapping the phones and emails of those who do.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog:
http://demlog.blogspot.com


 

NYT: Brownie does a heckuva job faulting White House on Katrina

Michael D. Brown, former FEMA chiefWASHINGTON -- Michael D. Brown, left, the former federal emergency management chief who became a ridiculed symbol of the Bush administration's flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, returned in anger to Capitol Hill on Friday and lashed back at his former superiors.

Mr. Brown said that he told a senior White House official early on of the New Orleans flooding, and that the administration was too focused on terrorism to respond properly to natural disasters.

Testifying before a Senate committee, Mr. Brown said he notified a senior White House official -- who he said was probably Joe Hagin, the deputy White House chief of staff, but might have been Andrew H. Card Jr., the chief of staff -- on the day the hurricane hit to report that it had turned into his "worst nightmare" and that New Orleans was flooding.

It was the first public identification of any White House official who was said to have directly received reports of extensive flooding on Monday, Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina hit.

In the aftermath of the storm, administration officials said they were caught by surprise when they were told of the levee breach on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Mr. Hagin was the senior staff member with President Bush on the day the hurricane hit, when Mr. Bush was traveling in California.

Mr. Brown's politically charged appearance before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs quickly divided the panel's members by party.

Several Republican senators peppered him with hostile questions and suggested he was trying to deflect the blame from his own failures.

In contrast, Mr. Brown drew a gentle, even warm response from Democrats who said he had unfairly been made a scapegoat by the administration, though last year it was frequently Mr. Brown himself who drew the most fire from Democrats in Washington.

In contrast to low-key statements in the past, Mr. Brown, who resigned under pressure on Sept. 12 as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was aggressively on the defensive, saying he was "sick and tired" of his remarks or e-mail messages being taken out of context or hearing that he lacked the leadership skills for his job.

Mr. Brown said it was "baloney" for Department of Homeland Security officials to claim they did not know of the extent of the flooding until Tuesday, because he and other FEMA officials had notified them the day before.

In response to questioning, Mr. Brown also said he believed he told the White House on Monday that a breach had occurred in the 17th Street Canal levee, passing on observations made by one of his staff members on the ground in New Orleans that day.

"Everything that we had planned about, worried about, that FEMA, frankly, had worried about for 10 years was coming true," Mr. Brown said he told the White House aide.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said Friday morning while the hearing was under way that the administration already knew the city was being flooded. Regardless of the call from Mr. Brown, there were conflicting reports about whether a levee had been breached, Mr. McClellan said.

"The top priority at that time was on saving lives; it was on search and rescue operations," Mr. McClellan said.

Mr. Brown said that he could not recall if he personally called the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, to relay the account of the levee breach. Even if he had, Mr. Brown said, it would have been a waste of time because FEMA's role within the Homeland Security Department had been subordinated to fighting terror. As a result of that, he said, he was unable to quickly get the kind of action he needed, unless he called the White House staff.

The Bush administration, as a whole, he said, did not seem to care enough about natural disasters and had relegated natural disasters to a "stepchild" of national security.

"It is my belief," Mr. Brown told the senators, that if "we've confirmed that a terrorist has blown up the 17th Street Canal levee, then everybody would have jumped all over that and been trying to do everything they could."

Page 2 of this New York Times story.

D.H.: Yeah, Brownie, as our president once said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune Sept. 7, 2005, and many other sources, "you're doing a heckuva job." 

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Friday, February 10, 2006

 

AP: Bush in secret meeting is on the defensive about warrantless wiretaps

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer -- Friday, 25 minutes ago

President Bush gestures as he speaks to supporters at the House Republican Conference, Friday, Feb. 10, 2006 in Cambridge, Md. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)CAMBRIDGE, Md. - President Bush, right, defended his warrantless eavesdropping program Friday, saying during what he thought were private remarks that he concluded that spying on Americans was necessary to fill a gap in the United States' security.

"I wake up every morning thinking about a future attack, and therefore, a lot of my thinking, and a lot of the decisions I make are based upon the attack that hurt us," Bush told the House Republican Caucus, which was in retreat at a luxury resort along the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The president's comments on the NSA eavesdropping came after six minutes of remarks intended for public consumption. In them, Bush stroked lawmakers with thanks and gave a gentle push for his 2006 priorities in a scaled-back version of last month's State of the Union address.

Reporters then were ushered out — "I support the free press, let's just get them out of the room," Bush said — so the president could speak privately to his fellow Republicans.

"I want to share some thoughts with you before I answer your questions," said Bush, unaware that microphones were still on and were allowing those back in the White House press room to eavesdrop on his eavesdropping defense. "First of all, I expect this conversation we're about to have to stay in the room. I know that's impossible in Washington."

That was not to be — and it was telling that the president chose the controversial NSA program as the first topic to raise out of reporters' earshot. Even so, there was no substantive difference between those statements and the series of public speeches he has given recently on the program.

The eavesdropping program has come under fire from Republicans as well as Democrats. They argue that Bush already has the authority to monitor such communications through existing law that requires a warrant from a secret court set up to act quickly, or even after the fact. Bush has argued that the system isn't nimble enough.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas -- lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info

 

Cagle: What's the fuss about Muhammad cartoons?

by Dave Haigler*

Cartoonist Daryl Cagle has a newsletter (subscribe here) in which today's edition puts the fuss about the Danish Muhammad cartoons in perspective. First, he has a link in which he displays the Danish cartoons in full, which I'd not seen before. Some of them were in Danish, which I cannot read. Some were in Arabic, which I also cannot read.

No more virgins!One, though, left, was in English, and I was able to read and understand it. (Click on any image to enlarge.) I must admit, I have frequently fantasized, not about the virgins, but about saying just that to the Muslim terrorists, if I ever were to meet one. I have strained to understand how the promise of 72 virgins could ever motivate anyone to self-destruction; but I read somewhere the explanation that in some deprived cultures, marriage is delayed so long and men are so frustrated that they will believe, well, whatever.... I hate to ridicule anyone's religious beliefs, as I assume some of my friends think mine are ridiculous as well.

Fairrington's MuhammadSecond, I learned from Cagle's newsletter that there is now a market in cartoons about the Danish cartoons, and here is a sample of that, right, by a cartoonist named Fairrington. Notice to terrorists: I did not write this cartoon. I do not know this guy. I do not like this at all. I no longer live in my house. I have moved to the mountains of Afghanistan; come bomb me there.

Fairrington's JesusThirdly, to be evenhanded about all this, which, unlike FOX News, I always try to do, I took to heart this final sample, left, from Cagle's newsletter, since I suppose any religion could profit from a little self-examination. Disclaimer: Cagle says this one was not really by Fairrington, but by someone who pirated him. But they say imitation is the best form of flattery. Notice to Christian terrorists: I no longer live in my house. I'm sure your mother loves you. I have moved to Virginia Beach and am hanging out on the set of the 700 Club, if you want to bomb me there. I'm sure it would be an expression of God's anger at some of the inanity emanating out of there recently.

*Dave Haigler, of Abilene, Texas, is the Democratic County Chair there, and an attorney-mediator-arbitrator.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

CNN: Libby says White House 'superiors' authorized leaks

Prosecutor Says Scooter Libby, below left, Shared Classified Intelligence With Media

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration’s defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in the summer of 2003. The NIE is a report prepared by the head of the nation’s intelligence operations for high-level government officials, up to and including the president. Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance.

In a January 23 letter to Libby’s lawyers, Fitzgerald said Libby also testified before the grand jury that he caused at least one other government official to discuss an intelligence estimate with reporters in July 2003.

“We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors,” Fitzgerald wrote.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to comment. “Our policy is that we are not going to discuss this when it’s an ongoing legal proceeding,” he said.

William Jeffress, Libby’s lawyer, said, “There is no truth at all” to suggestions that Libby would try to shift blame to his superiors as a defense against the charges.

Libby, 55, was indicted late last year on charges that he lied to FBI agents and the grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity and when he subsequently told reporters. He is not charged with leaking classified information from an intelligence estimate report.

On Thursday, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said Cheney should take responsibility if he authorized Libby to share classified information with reporters.

“These charges, if true, represent a new low in the already sordid case of partisan interests being placed above national security,” Kennedy said. “The vice president’s vindictiveness in defending the misguided war in Iraq is obvious. If he used classified information to defend it, he should be prepared to take full responsibility.”

Full CNN story.

J.P. comment: Will 'Scooter' rat out George & Dick to save his own hide? Time will tell. My fondest wish would be "YES".

 

Spier: Bush-Cheney preposterous posturing to fear

By Bill Spier, right

Last night on the Jim Lehrer News Hour, V.P. Cheney claimed that Americans would have been killed if the administration had not eavesdropped on terrorist conversations.

Remarkably, he spent nearly a half an hour tossing bull on the failure of Iraq reconstruction, gurgling about his statement eight months ago that the insurgency was in its “last throes”, and positing non-existant Presidential perogatives, etc. Looking down, he kept saying we have a plan. The bull was so incredible that the White House sent Bush out today to give an example a lifesaving intelligence success. Here it is:

The president said that a 2002 plot to hijack a plane and fly it into a Los Angeles skyscraper was uncovered and scuttled.
Bush said the hijacker planned to blow up the cockpit door with a shoe bomb.

I could not make this kind of stuff up even if I tried.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

DH: Abilene recognizes LULAC week - Feb. 9

Ben, left, with Mayor ArchibaldAbilene, Tx -- The City Council, by Mayor Norm Archibald, 2nd left, this morning recognized Ben Gonzales, Abilene LULAC president, left, with a proclamation setting next week as "National LULAC Week" and recognizing the educational, civil rights and economic contributions of the U.S. LULAC in its 77th year.  (Click on any picture to enlarge.)
 
Tia Dora recognized by City CouncilThe City Council recognized and applauded other LULAC members present, including parliamentarian and senior advisor Dora Martinez, right, the matriarch of LULAC Council 605. 
 
Anna, Ben & Dora at City CouncilThree of the Council 605 officers, Secretary Anna Vedro, President Ben and Parliamentarian Dora, left, are shown just outside the City Council chambers admiring the proclamation.
 
Abilene's Council 605 of LULAC is holding its 77th Birthday Community Celebration Dinner on Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m., at Civic Plaza Hotel, 505 Pine St., Abilene.  Tickets are $20.  Contact Anna Vedro - 695-1868.
 
Council 605 is also in need of new members who are committed to the cause of civil rights and economic advancement for all, Hispanic or otherwise.  The LULAC membership application can be downloaded here.
 
Dave Haigler, LULAC member & Council 605 mediator/advisor, Abilene, Texas.

 

AP: Obama & McCain chummy at Rules Committee hearing after spat

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer -- Thursday, 15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Two leaders in current efforts to reduce special interest influence on Congress once again appeared to be fighting on the same side Wednesday, two days after an unusually fiery falling out.

Obama with McCain, rightSens. John McCain, right, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, 2nd right, D-Ill., testified together at a Senate hearing on lobbying and ethics overhaul. With a pat on the back and an exchange of compliments, they publicly put in the past an angry letter from McCain charging that Obama was more interested in scoring political points than in working together on the ethics issue.  When Obama walked into the hearing room, he put his arm on McCain's shoulder and posed for photographers.

"I'm particularly pleased to be sharing this panel with my pen pal, John McCain, and look forward to working with him," Obama said at the Senate Rules Committee hearing.

McCain told the committee that he and Obama "are moving on and are continuing to work together and I value his input."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.  D.H.: Two days ago, DemLog blogged a Chicago Tribune story summarizing the flareup between the two.  McCain had invited Obama to a confidential bi-partisan meeting in McCain's office on lobbying reform.  After the meeting, Obama wrote McCain saying he preferred a Democratic proposal over McCain's bipartisan proposal.  McCain, who was attending a conference in Europe at the time of Obama's letter, wrote a public letter on his return rebuking Obama as a freshman senator for allegedly using the reform issue for "posturing."  Obama politely responded that he had no idea what set McCain off.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

AP: Bush agrees to brief Congress on warrantless wiretaps

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer -- Thursday, 2 hours, 6 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Reversing course, the White House has agreed to brief congressional intelligence committees on highly classified details of President Bush's controversial monitoring program as part of a newfound openness with lawmakers.

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, speaks to the media during a press conference on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, in Washington. Breaking with the White House, Wilson who chairs the panel that oversees the National Security Agency wants Congress to change a 1978 foreign intelligence law following the disclosure of President George W. Bush's eavesdropping program. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)The shift came as Rep. Heather Wilson, left (news, bio, voting record), R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

"I don't think the White House would have made the decision that it did had I not stood up and said, 'You must brief the Intelligence Committee,'" Wilson said at a news conference as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Gen. Michael Hayden, the nation's No. 2 intelligence official, briefed the full Intelligence Committee.

Sen. SpecterThe shift also came as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, right, R-Pa., announced he was drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the administration's monitoring of terror-related international communications when one party to the call is in the United States.

Senior Bush administration officials spent weeks insisting they would not provide the program's details to more than a select group of eight lawmakers. Briefing the full intelligence committees, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a recent PBS interview, is "not a good way to keep a secret."

But the administration changed direction, offering new operational details to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. A comparable Senate briefing was scheduled for Thursday.

When asked what prompted the move to give lawmakers more details, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration has stated "from the beginning that we will work with members of Congress, and we will continue to do so regarding this vital national security program."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas -- lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

 

DVO: Van Os commits to make Bush accountable

The Constitutional Crisis Continues

Haigler, left, & Van Os visit SheehanBy David Van Os
, seen in this picture last August with Cindy Sheehan & Dave Haigler, left

The argument that George Bush's puppet Alberto Gonzales uses to defend illegal wiretapping to the United States Senate boils down to the outrageous assertion that neither the Congress nor the courts have any authority to place limits on whatever the president decides the Constitution means or an act of Congress means. Gonzales and his master have made it as plain as day that they do not consider themselves restrained by anybody's version of the law other than their own. As far as they are concerned, there are no checks and balances, and they are the law. This is a trait of dictatorship, not democracy.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights belong to Texans just as much as to any other Americans. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took an oath to uphold the Constitution when he accepted the office. Where is his voice in this crisis? Why has he not spoken up on behalf of the Constitutional rights of his clients, the people of Texas? He sure can't say that he has no authority to intervene, when he is intervening in Georgia federal court right now on behalf of inserting creationist doctrine in place of science in Georgia school textbooks. Fellow Texans, there is a simple reason why Greg Abbott follows the Bushites' power-grabbing ultra-right wing party line to the hilt. He is one of them.

Fellow Texans, are you familiar with the name John Colyandro? You may know that Colyandro was a central figure in the Tom DeLay-Republican Party money-laundering plan that placed huge sums of illegal corporate dollars in the hands of Texas Republican candidates in the general election of 2002. But did you know that during that same 2002 general election campaign Colyandro was a senior staff member in Greg Abbott's campaign for Attorney General?

And are you familiar with the name Bob Perry of Perry Homebuilders? You may know that Bob Perry is one of the biggest financial contributors to Rick Perry and to various ultra-right wing campaigns. You may know that Bob Perry was the primary financier for the lying insults the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans" hurled at the honorable John Kerry. But did you know that Greg Abbott is one of Bob Perry's favorite candidates? Since 2001 Bob Perry and his wife have contributed over $570,000 to Abbott's campaign accounts. In the month of December 2005 alone, Perry gave Abbott $50,000 in a single payment.

Bush and his puppet attorney general Gonzales will probably still be defying the Constitution and the rule of law and spying on American citizens in January 2007 when I take office as Texas Attorney General. As your new Attorney General, I will file the lawsuits against the federal government and federal officials, including the president and attorney general, which individual Texans do not have the means to file on their own to stop this headlong rush to trash our Constitution. And today, I challenge Greg Abbott to fulfill his oath of office to the people of Texas and file those lawsuits now. The people will be waiting.

 

TP: Abramoff invokes Bush friendship, religious scruples

by ThinkProgress:

Abramoff coming out of court in MiamiJack Abramoff, right, Describes Relationship With President Bush

ThinkProgress has obtained emails written by Jack Abramoff in which the fallen lobbyist personally describes his relationship with President Bush. They depict a relationship far more extensive than has been previously reported.

The emails written by Abramoff were addressed to Kim Eisler, the national editor of Washingtonian magazine. The Washingtonian recently reported on the existence of several photographs showing Abramoff and Bush together. Eisler is also the author of Revenge of the Pequots, a book about tribal politics for which Abramoff was interviewed.

In the emails, Abramoff describes meeting Bush "in almost a dozen settings," and details how he was personally invited to President Bush's private ranch in Crawford, Texas, for a gathering of Bush fundraisers in 2003. Abramoff did not attend, citing a religious observance.

Abramoff emailed Eisler about his invitation to Crawford and his decision not to attend:

NO, IT WAS THAT I WOULD HAVE HAD TO TRAVEL ON SATURDAY (SHABBOS). YES, I WAS INVITED, DURING THE 2004 CAMPAIGN. IT WAS SATURDAY AUGUST 9, 2003 AT THE RANCH IN CRAWFORD.

The White House has continually downplayed the relationship between Abramoff and President Bush. At a January 26 press conference, President Bush said "You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."

But according to Eisler, Abramoff told him that the two have met almost a dozen times, shared jokes, and spoke about details of Abramoff's family:

HE HAS ONE OF THE BEST MEMORIES OF ANY POLITICIAN I HAVE EVER MET. IT WAS ONE IF [sic] HIS TRADEMARKS, THOUGH OF COURSE HE CAN'T RECALL THAT HE HAS A GREAT MEMORY! THE GUY SAW ME IN ALMOST A DOZEN SETTINGS, AND JOKED WITH ME ABOUT A BUNCH OF THINGS, INCLUDING DETAILS OF MY KIDS. PERHAPS HE HAS FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING. WHO KNOWS.

Check back with ThinkProgress for more details about Abramoff's relationship with Bush and other high-profile figures.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: 4 dead over Muhammad cartoons in Afghan mob

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 1 hour, 23 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's top Islamic organization on Wednesday called for an end violent protests over drawings of the Afghan police officer beats a protester outside the Danish embassy during a protest demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuseday, Feb.7, 2006.  Rioters clashed with police and NATO peacekeepers across Afghanistan on Tuesday in demonstrations against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in mostly Western press, officials and witnesses said. Several people were wounded and detained.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)Prophet Muhammad, as an Afghan police officer, left, beats a protester outside the Danish embassy and as police shot four protesters to death to stop a crowd from marching on a U.S. military base in the southern part of the country.

"Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," senior cleric Mohammed Usman told The Associated Press. "We condemn the cartoons but this does not justify violence. These rioters are defaming the name of Islam."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Reuters: Presidents attend King funeral

Bushes & ClintonsU.S. President George W. Bush (2nd L), and former President Bill Clinton (L) are joined by their wives, First Lady Laura Bush (2nd R) and former First Lady and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) (R) as they attend a memorial service for Coretta Scott King at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, February 7, 2006.

(Larry Downing/Reuters)

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Israel to keep west bank settlements, Jerusalem

By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 1 hour, 17 minutes ago

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reviews a map of the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement block as he begins a tour of the area in the West Bank Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2006 by looking from an overview from a forest in Aminadav, near Jerusalem. Israel media reported that in an interview to be aired Tuesday Olmert said that he intends to hold on to all of Israel's major settlement blocs and smaller ones on the border with Jordan. (AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)JERUSALEM - Israel will retain its main West Bank settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem when its permanent borders are drawn, but will give up parts of the West Bank where most Palestinians live, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, said.

Olmert's interview Tuesday on Channel 2 TV was his first since taking power a month ago after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke and went into a coma. Olmert staked out the center ahead of Israel's general election on March 28, with the Kadima Party he inherited from Sharon holding a solid lead in the polls.

"We will disengage from most of the Palestinian population that lives in Judea and Samaria," Olmert said, using the biblical names for the West Bank. "That will obligate us to leave territories under Israeli control today."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

 

Pettit: Bushite new lies obscure old

By P.M. Carpenter Blogs

Scott McClellan said this morning that al Qaeda is a “very sophisticated enemy,” while implying that this very sophisticated enemy would have been unaware of government surveillance had it not been for the New York Times’ “unauthorized disclosure” of the surveillance program.
Later, at the Judiciary hearings, Attorney General Gonzales refused to concede to Senator Russ Feingold that previous questions about a “hypothetical situation” involving surveillance were anything but hypothetical. He repeated it several times, and with a straight face.

And while Gonzales was spinning wildly, a news item crawled along the bottom of the screen: “Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says U.S. considering military options against Iran” – followed by the news that “Britain will begin troop withdrawal from Iraq in May.”

So the old lies will soon be forgotten as the Bushies unilaterally distract from present abominations by launching new ones.

The Bush administration is on to something here that even George Orwell couldn’t imagine: No circumstances are so bleak that they can’t be improved by making them worse.


J.P.: Comments:

Surpassing George Orwell's 1984. WOW! What a legacy, Duh-bya!!

 

ChiTrib: McCain accuses Obama of posturing

Arizonan letter's harsh tone stuns Illinois senator

By Jeff Zeleny, Washington Bureau -- Published February 7

Sen. McCainWASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain, right, (R-Ariz.) delivered a sharp scolding Monday to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), accusing the freshman Democrat of exploiting ethics and lobbying reform for political gain rather than trying to achieve a bipartisan solution to limit the influence of money in politics.

"I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party's effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman senator and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness," McCain wrote. "I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn't always a priority for every one of us."

In a two-page letter, which contained atypically harsh and sarcastic words from one senator to another, McCain expressed regret for inviting Obama to join the bipartisan group he convened last week to discuss lobbying reform legislation.

Sen. ObamaObama, left, who has become a leading spokesman for the Democratic Party on ethics reform, responded Monday evening that he was puzzled and had "no idea what has prompted" the letter.

"Let me assure you that I am not interested in typical partisan rhetoric or posturing," Obama wrote in response. "The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable, but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem."

Full Chicago Tribune story.


Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog:
http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Spier: Wesley Clark Challenges Democrats

by Bill Spier

Impatient with Democrats who let Republicans dominate the propaganda war on who is best able to protect Springfield, Missouri, from Islamic bombers, Wesley Clark, right, told blogger Armando that Democrats have to get in the face of the GOP on security. Clark has not been silent since the 2004 election. Very quietly he has been punching holes in Republican illusions; and he has done it before red state audiences. Unlike Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, Clark does not dance around the Iraq issue. Clark certainly has the credentials to debunk the propaganda emanating from the White House. No one can accuse him of not having the will to pull the trigger when called for, as he did in Serbia.

Expect a more visible Clark as the 2006 elections near. If he, or anyone else, is to make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, they will need the momentum of a subpoena-empowered Democratic Congress to set the stage. Republicans know that a loss of either house will doom any candidate of theirs in 2008.

Clark: “The Democrats need to make that the focus of their being; that the Republicans, who have so completely sacrificed the security of this nation through incompetence and willful indifference have not only failed to secure America, they have unified our enemies, depleted our resources and stretched our military to the brink. All before the watchful eyes of the world and our enemies. Enemies that will now see America as more vulnerable in the inability of our leadership to succeed.”

As noted by Glenn Greenwald before the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Monday, Democratic senators should be attacking Gonzales on the above issue. They did. Wes Clark is being heard. He is the real thing.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

Reuters: Bush hosts Harlem dancers while cutting domestic spending

Bushes enjoy the show as he cuts domestic spendingWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush (R) watch as Arthur Mitchell (C) introduces dancers from his Dance Theatre of Harlem in the East Room of the White House in Washington February 6, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Theiler.

On the same day, President Bush proposed to boost defense spending, slow Medicare's growth and cut a host of domestic programs in a $2.77 trillion budget that sought to soothe Republican frustrations over high deficits.  Full Reuters-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
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AP: Carter says wiretapping illegal, rebukes Gonzales - Feb. 7

By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Associated Press Writer -- Tue, 1:12 AM ET

HENDERSON, Nev. - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program Monday and said he believes the president has broken the law.

Jimmy Carter with his son, Jack Carter, a candidate for U.S. Senator from NevadaFormer President Jimmy Carter is seen with his son Jack, right, during a campaign kickoff in Henderson, Nev., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2006. Jack Carter announced Monday that he will run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate representing Nevada. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision -- we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Carter told reporters. "And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act."

The former president also rebuked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for telling Congress that the spying program is authorized under Article 2 of the Constitution and does not violate the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed during Carter's administration. Gonzales made the assertions in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which began investigating the eavesdropping program Monday.

"It's a ridiculous argument, not only bad, it's ridiculous. Obviously, the attorney general who said it's all right to torture prisoners and so forth is going to support the person who put him in office. But he's a very partisan attorney general and there's no doubt that he would say that," Carter said. "I hope that eventually the case will go to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt that when it's over, the Supreme Court will rule that Bush has violated the law."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog:
http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Digby: How We Will Win The War On Terror

by digby, from digbysblog

The oceans no longer protect us. The terrorists are coming over any minute to kill us all in our beds. They are a ruthless enemy who hide in caves until they suddenly decide to strike without mercy. But they have an achilles heel. They are all suffering from serious memory problems. Unless they see it in the paper they forget that we are tapping telephones. Then they slap themselves in the forehead and say "Oh no! I've been calling my friend Mohammed in LA planning that awesome terrorist attack and like, totally fergot that the infidels are listening in. Fuck. Man, Zawahiri is gonna be
so pissed."

This is why it was so horrible that that the NY Times revealed the program. It jogged the terrorists' memories and now they won't use their phone and e-mail accounts anymore. Until they forget again, that is. So, shhhh. Loose lips sink ships.

So says Alberto Gonzales
.


Source: Digbysblog.


JP Comments:


At first glance, it may appear that Digby is merely engaging in satirical commentary. Sadly not. It is really a very cogent summary of the actual policy of the Preznitwit who must not be named. The Dementors really ARE in charge.


(Apologies to J.K. Rowling)




Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


 

AP: Senators skewer Gonzales on warrantless wiretapping

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer -- Tue, 1:08 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Senators raised doubts about the legal rationale for the Bush administration's eavesdropping program Monday, forcing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, below left, to provide a lengthy defense of the operations he called a vital "early warning system" for terrorists.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales answers questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee on whether President Bush, and others in the executive branch, acted illegally in permitting domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 6, 2006. He insisted that President Bush is fully empowered to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants as part of the war on terror and he cautioned Congress not to end or tinker with the program.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in raising questions about whether President Bush went too far in ordering the National Security Agency's monitoring operations. The senators were particularly troubled by the administration's argument that a September 2001 congressional resolution approving use of military force covered the surveillance of some domestic communications.

"The president does not have a blank check," said Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who wants the administration to ask the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the program.

"You think you're right, but there are a lot of people who think you're wrong," Specter told Gonzales. "What do you have to lose if you're right?"

Gonzales didn't respond to Specter's proposal directly. "We are continually looking at ways that we can work with the FISA court in being more efficient and more effective," said the former Texas judge.

Under Bush's orders, the ultra-secret National Security Agency has been eavesdropping -- without warrants -- on international communications of people in the United States whose calls and e-mails may be linked to Muslim extremists.

During the daylong committee hearing, Gonzales and the senators reached as far back as eavesdropping ordered by President Washington and delved into court decisions surrounding presidential powers and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Gonzales repeatedly defended the current program as lawful, reasonable and essential to national security. He said the president's authority was strongest in a time of war, and he called the monitoring operations an "early warning system designed for the 21st century." He said no changes in law were needed to accommodate the monitoring.

"To end the program now would be to afford our enemy dangerous and potential deadly new room for operation within our own borders," he said.

Democrats pressed Gonzales for details about the program and other similar operations, almost all of which he would not provide. They've asked Specter to file subpoenas for classified legal opinions on the subject.

Leahy"The president and the Justice Department have a constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws," said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, right (news, bio, voting record), the committee's top Democrat. "Nobody is above the law, not even the president of the United States."

Leahy asked if the administration has authorized the opening of U.S. citizens' mail. Throughout the hearing, Gonzales chose his words carefully. "We're only focused on international communications where one part of the communication is al-Qaida," he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., asked if the Bush administration had issued "any other secret order or directive" that would be prohibited by law. Said Gonzales: "The president has not authorized any conduct that I'm aware of that is in contravention of law."

Republicans, too, were skeptical. Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, said Bush's power -- and the country -- would be stronger if he came to Congress for statutory authorization.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Monday, February 06, 2006

 

AAS: Bankruptcy judge blisters Congress over unfair law

Legal world abuzz about tirade calling act inane, confusing

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF, Monday, February 06, 2006

FREDERICKSBURG -- Alfonso Sosa, a house painter here who made about $20,000 last year, filed for bankruptcy the morning of Dec. 6, hoping to avoid the foreclosure on his family's mobile home scheduled for later that day. Judge Frank Monroe of Austin rejected the case 16 days later -- with a bang.

In his ruling, Monroe said the new federal bankruptcy law is full of traps for consumers, calling some of its provisions "inane," "absurd" and incomprehensible to "any rational human being."

He stopped just short of accusing Congress of being bought and paid for, dryly noting, "Apparently, it is not the individual consumers of this country that make the donations to the members of Congress that allow them to be elected and re-elected and re-elected and re-elected."

Ordinarily, a case such as the Sosas', which primarily concerns a mobile home and land valued at $32,840, would quietly disappear into court archives.

But Monroe's order has caught fire in the world of bankruptcy and consumer law. It's being debated on law blogs and circulated across the country.

JakubowskiSteve Jakubowski, left, a bankruptcy specialist in Chicago and creator of the Bankruptcy Litigation Blog, said Monroe's unusually strong language represents "the pot boiling over" in frustration at the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which took effect Oct. 17. "It's the kind of thing people know but that you don't write down."

The law makes it harder for individuals to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which lets them erase much of their debt, and forces them to file for Chapter 13, which means they face longer court-ordered repayment plans. It also requires debtors to seek credit counseling before they file.

Alfonso Sosa said he didn't know about the requirement, so he and his wife, Melba, didn't seek counseling. He said he was just trying to keep his house.

Monroe's order said the law left him no choice but to disallow the Sosas' petition. He called the counseling requirement "one of the more absurd provisions of the new (bankruptcy) act."

In an interview last week, Monroe said that if Congress really wanted to help debtors, it would have required rigorous credit counseling before they can emerge from bankruptcy.

Instead, the act requires a few hours of counseling before filing. "That serves no purpose," he said.

Full Austin American Statesman story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Spier: Scott McClellan Gives Me the Creeps

by Bill Spier

While we were watching or listening to the charade Sen. Arlen Specter orchestrated today interviewing the Attorney General on the rationale for warrantless wiretaps, octogenerian Helen Thomas, dowager of the White House press corps, right, was skewering Scott McClellan at a "news" briefing. In case you don't know, Helen was demoted to back chair status in the press corps last fall. Thankfully though, Helen cannot be denied. In my lifetime, I remember a few (basically decent) press secretaries who who were asked to blabber pathetically for their bosses, and you cringed with them. McClellan, however, is truly loathsome. You wish he would just disappear forever. I don't know about you, but there could be no payoff big enough for me to lie day in and day out for the likes of Cheney and Bush, as McClellan does. He give me the creeps.

For amusement, here is the repartee between Scotty and Helen Thomas today:

Q: Does the president think he should obey the law? He put his hand on the Bible twice to uphold the Constitution. Wiretapping is not legal under the circumstances without a warrant.
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I guess you didn't pay attention to the attorney general's hearing earlier today, because he walked through very clearly the rationale behind this program.
Q There is no rationale --
MR. MCCLELLAN: And Helen, I think you have to ask --
Q -- (inaudible) -- the law.
MR. MCCLELLAN: I think you have ask are we -- well, he's not -- are we a nation at war.
Q That's not the question.
MR. MCCLELLAN: No, that is the issue here.
Q The question is, the point is, there are means for him to go to -- get a warrant to spy on people.
MR. MCCLELLAN: Enemy surveillance is critical to waging and winning war. It's one of the traditional tools of war.
Q But he says he doesn't have running room --
MR. MCCLELLAN: The attorney general outlined very clearly today how previous administrations have used the same authority --
Q That doesn't make it legal.
MR. MCCLELLAN: -- and cited the same -- and cited the very same authority.
Q (Inaudible) -- they broke the law, that's too bad.
MR. MCCLELLAN: And we're going to continue doing everything we can --
Q You know what happened to Nixon when he broke the law. (my emphasis)
MR. MCCLELLAN: -- within our power to protect the American people.
This is a very different circumstance, and you know that.
Q No, I don't.

White House Transcript of this press briefing.

Loathsome.


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WaPo: Handful of Races May Tip Control of Congress

By Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, Washington Post Staff Writers -- Monday, Page A01

Santorum with Sen. McCain, leftIn Pennsylvania, Sen. Rick Santorum (R), seen with Sen. McCain, left, has been running behind his challenger for months. In Montana, Sen. Conrad Burns (R), linked to the Jack Abramoff (below left) scandal, is on the defensive. In Ohio, Sen. Mike DeWine (R) is struggling to overcome a toxic environment of scandals that have tarnished the state Republican Party.

Not since 1994 has the party in power -- in this case the Republicans -- faced such a discouraging landscape in a midterm election. President Bush is weaker than he was just a year ago, a majority of voters in recent polls have signaled their desire for a change in direction, and Democrats outpoll Republicans on which party voters think is more capable of handling the country's biggest problems.

AbramoffThe result is a midterm already headed toward what appears to be an inevitable conclusion: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the House and in the Senate for the first time since 2000. The difference between modest gains (a few seats in the Senate and fewer than 10 in the House) and significant gains (half a dozen in the Senate and well more than a dozen in the House) is where the battle for control of Congress will be fought.

The contest begins with Republicans holding 231 House seats and Democrats holding 201, with one Democrat-leaning independent and two vacancies, split between the parties. Democrats need to gain 15 seats to dethrone the GOP majority. In the Senate, Republicans hold 55 seats to the Democrats' 44, with one Democrat-leaning independent. Democrats need six more seats to take power.

What makes the year ahead compelling is the tension between two powerful factors: the broader political environment plainly favors Democrats, but the on-the-ground realities of many races give Republicans an advantage as they seek to preserve their majorities.

Full Washington Post story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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