Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bushites Are Playing By Their Own Rules, STILL!.

Congress and the Judiciary are all that stands between us and a uniquely American fascism.

Seems, this is just the kind of situation our founders had in mind when they created a government of three, equal co-branches.

They had had a gut full of King George.

Well, so have we!

We saw it with Yaser Hamdi and then Jose Padilla. We saw it with the military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay. And we are seeing it again with the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.

Over the past few years, whenever the White House has seen or sensed trouble looming for its most controversial and tenuous positions in the legal war on terrorism, it has suddenly changed course, altered the playing field, or unilaterally declared itself beyond the purview of the prevailing rule of law. No legal defeats for this administration, no explicit concession of limits on its authority, just a series of tactical or strategic retreats that allow it to show to the world a visage of supreme executive branch power-- while at the same time allowing it at some future date to advance the same losing arguments.

And all of it is done in secret, under the cloak of national security, so as to hide not just true secrets but embarrassing facts and legal opinions.

Why this three-card-monte tactic? Because once the Supreme Court formally limits White House power on domestic surveillance, or once the Justices or Congress declare the President's "enemy combatant" designations unconstitutional as they apply to U.S. citizens (like Padilla and Hamdi), the executive branch will have a much harder time regaining those powers at a future date than they would without those explicit setbacks. I think of it this way: when the White House sees that it is losing the match, it simply walks off the field and starts a new game, somewhere else, with different rules.

With Hamdi, the feds suddenly released him from custody as an "enemy combatant" when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. After years of calling him a terror suspect too dangerous to even talk with his own attorneys, Hamdi was suddenly free and back home. With Padilla, the feds voluntarily (and almost overnight) moved him out of "enemy combatant" status when it appeared clear that the Justices would force them to do so. Padilla now stands trial in civilian court on relatively minor charges in Florida. When the Supreme Court last year declared illegal the government's plans to try the Guantanamo Bay detainees, the White House simply bullied Congress into approving a new set of plans that still contain significant legal deficiencies.

And now this: the government now is asking the federal courts to throw out a challenge to the NSA spy program because, the feds say, the program now is being supervised by the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court and thus is no longer the program that the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged. Moreover, the White House now argues, it didn't voluntarily change the nature of the spy program by asking the FISA court to get involved and evaluate surveillance requests, the court unilaterally did so. This is legally significant because of a legal doctrine called "voluntary cessation" which allows plaintiffs to continue their court cases against the government if the government simply (and perhaps temporarily) halts the challenged action as a result of the lawsuit.

Of course, we don't really know how the whole change in the program came about because, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told legislators last week, he wasn't sure he could share those details with Congress (never mind the ACLU). Same as it ever was. Knowing that the program was constitutionally suspect, and knowing that a Democratic Congress was closing in, the feds ducked and now are covering. The courts should keep the NSA challenge alive and determine the constitionality of the program, then and now. We deserve more answers than we have so far received.

By Andrew Cohen January 26, 2007; 10:30 AM ET

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

An Open Letter To Congress

This week will go down in history, for a number of reasons. Mainly, it will be seen, in retorspect, as the week that determined whether or not our political system will work or if, we, the people, must step in and make it work.

This week will mark the first time that any Congress has said or done anything official about the debacle in Iraq since October, 2002, when another Congress voted to give this president authority to wage war, as a last resort, which he then misused and abused. The only official action of Congress, since then, has been to keep authorizing one war supplemental after another with no real oversight, resulting in a depleted treasury, huge debt, as far as the eye can see, war-profiteering, eye-popping mismanagement and fraud, run amok.

Since that fateful vote in 2002, much has happened and much has changed. Just to recap a little:

  • Let us recall, while Bush was making public statements that war would be a last resort, the decision to go to war had long since been made. (Ref.; the Downing Street Minutes, Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, The Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neil with Ron Suskind, just to name a few sources) Intelligence was being fixed around the intention to invade Iraq. U.N. Arms inspectors were allowed into Iraq (though Bush has stated on three different occasions that they were not) and were getting some cooperation, before they had to leave or get their butts blown off by "shock and awe." Furthermore, we have it on good authority (Paul O'Neil) that regime change in Iraq was on the table in the first NSC meeting in February, 2001, long before 9/11/01.
  • A plan for re-drawing of the middle-east and surrounding areas, to favor U.S. corporate interests were included in a document put out by PNAC and shopped to President Bill Clinton. He turned it down.
  • The whole world now knows that the case for war was built on deception of a particularly egregious sort. The lies that members of this administration told the American people were specifically designed to do two things: 1) T0 cause fear in an already vulnerable population 2) To stir the hateful desire for vengeance in those so prone and, what's worse, against a people who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.. Visions of mushroom clouds, rising over American cities, were painted, along with fairy tales told about Iraqi drones spraying the eastern seaboard with one plague or the other. Dick Cheney convinced an astonishingly huge number of Americans that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were in cahoots; about as likely as Pat Robertson and Madonna teaming up for a music video.
  • This administration has brought out so many whistle blowers, they have had to form their own support group. We should get to hear from some of these people before Mr. Bush gets one more life or dime for his war, other than the monies necessary to keep the troops, already there, from being the last man or woman to die for a lie. (Don't make the error in thinking that the debacle in Iraq was a mistake. A mistake is something I make regularly while balancing my checkbook. What has transpired under this administration is far more serious than a mistake and everyone with a grain of sense knows it.)
  • There are documented cases of wide-spread war-profiteering, fraud and abuse in Iraq, not to mention billions in tax-payers' money simply lost.
  • This administration, it is clear, has deceived this nation into the mother of all war crimes, a war of aggression, which has led to crimes against humanity; torture, extraordinary renditions, rape, religious and sexual humiliation, just to name a few horrors, committed in our name and with our blood and treasure.
  • This administration has cost this country in ways that cannot be assessed in dollars and cents; the blood of our young people in uniform as well as civil service employees and contract workers. Many thousands have suffered life-altering physical injuries and thousands will never be the same in a psycho-emotional sense. Its actions have alienated friends and cost us our credibility the world over, making Americans less safe at home and abroad.
  • What moral authority we enjoyed before the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq is now gone. It may take generations to regain it, if ever.
  • A very unique American City was left to literally drown by this administration and very little has been done to restore it. What has been done, once again, involves total incompetence or out-right callousness and disaster profiteering.
  • Our regular military and National Guard are stretched to the breaking point, families are disintegrating as a result of long and repeated deployments, and no one has ever been given a reasonable explanation, though we have been given a litany of false excuses.

These are but a few of the revelations and happenings since this insane war began.

So, we, the people, ask you, our elected officials of a new Congress and a new majority, what are you going to do about it?

Last November, we voted for change. Need we remind you that you work for us?

We have waited patiently through the holidays, the swearing in of the newly elected Congress and, now, the SOTUS. We have waited long enough.

Now is the time. There will be no other.

You are being tested by the bullies in the administration, with this perfectly useless surge, escalation, augmentation, whatever the buzzword of the day is. If you allow this foolishness to go forward, you are signalling the White House that you will do nothing of any consequence if the escalation becomes an expansion, which could easily lead to WWIII, the nuclear edition.

Are you paying attention to the Libby trial? You should be. We are.

There are criminals in the White House.

Do you understand that we are facing a national, constitutional crisis unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes, including Watergate? Are you going to accept your responsibility, as members of the Legislative Branch, and carry out your duty of holding the Executive accountable for their actions? We ask because we know that this nation, this union, cannot surive more forgiveness without accountability. Not this time. Too much harm has been done.

That is what we elected you to do. We acted, in historic numbers, in a Democratic, legal way to stop the insanity. It appears that we are going to have to demand, now, that the people we voted for, to have the courage of our convictions, as the administration has not heard us.

Now, you must act, or we will, for the good of our country and our progeny. We will have no choice, if we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a country, even vaguely resembling the country of our youth.

We pray you, our public servants and fellow citizens, do our bidding with all due haste and wisdom. Our nation is in peril. We will come to its aid if we must.

Time has run out.

Wes Clark Gets Caught Up In Bizarro Rules

We do not want any more pre-emptive attacks on other nations just because they might have nuclear ambitions or programs and spout hatred for America.

How much less do we want our military conducting pre-emptive attacks to protect another nation, we do not give a hoot in hell what other nation.

Wes Clark is right and it's a damn shame that American politicians have to walk on egg-shells where Israel is concerned. I hope the day is soon coming when that is not the case.

Retired General Wesley Clark is, like me, concerned that the Bush administration is going to launch a war with Iran. Arianna Huffington spoke to him in early January and asked why he was so worried the administration was headed in this direction. According to Huffington's January 4 recounting of Clark's thoughts, he said this: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

This, of course, is true. I'm Jewish and I don't think the United States should bomb Iran, but Thursday night I was talking to a Jewish friend and she does think the United States should bomb Iran. The Jewish community, in short, is divided on the issue. It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country. Furthermore, it's true that major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war. And, last, it's true that if you read the Israeli press you'll see that right-wing Israeli politicians are anticipating a military confrontation with Iran. (For example, here's an article about the timing of the selection of a new top dog in the Israeli Defense Forces; Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted as saying that the new leader "will have to straighten the army out, rebuild Israel's deterrence and prepare the defenses against threats, first and foremost, against Iran.")

Everything Clark said, in short, is true. What's more, everybody knows it's true. The worst that can truthfully be said about Clark is that he expressed himself in a slightly odd way. This, it seems clear, he did because it's a sensitive issue and he worried that if he spoke plainly he'd be accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism. So he spoke unclearly and, for his trouble, got ... accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism.

James Taranto, who writes the hack "Best of the Web" column for the online version of The Wall Street Journal's hack editorial page, likened Clark's views on this to the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Scott Johnson of the influential and moronic right-wing Power Line blog argued that "Clark's comments are not simply 'anti-Israel,'" and asked "[i]s it a only a matter of parochial concern to American Jews that they are now to be stigmatized without consequence in the traditional disgusting terms -- terms that used to result in eviction from the precincts of polite society -- by a major figure in the Democratic Party?"

Needless to say, Clark did not stigmatize American Jews. Indeed, he went out of his way to note that the American Jewish community is divided on the issue. Michael Barone's sneering attack on Clark also managed, almost incidentally, to reveal Barone's own understanding that Clark's remarks are substantially correct. Barone observed that it's "interesting to see a Democratic presidential hopeful denounce 'the New York money people,' people whom Clark spent some time with in 2003-04."

And, indeed, it is interesting, for demonstrating the bizarre rules of the road in discussing

America's Israel policy.

If you're offering commentary that's supportive of America's soi-disant "pro-Israel" forces, as Barone was, it's considered perfectly acceptable to note, albeit elliptically, that said forces are influential in the Democratic Party in part because they contribute large sums of money to Democratic politicians who are willing to toe the line. If, by contrast, one observes this fact by way of criticizing the influence of "pro-Israel" forces, you're denounced as an anti-Semite.

Needless to say, the increasingly ridiculous Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, was swiftly located in order to ply his trademark tactic of accusing people of anti-Semitism that he knows perfectly well aren't anti-Semites. As The Jewish Week reported, "The ADL leader told Clark that he had 'bought into conspiratorial bigotry' that increasingly sees Israel, Jews and American Jewish organizations as the driving force behind U.S. involvement in Iraq and Iran." What's more, "Foxman said Clark’s comments are particularly worrisome because of the context, coming in the wake of," among other things, "a book by former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who accused Israel of pushing for war with Iran."

The context, I would say, is worrisome. "Israel" is not a unitary actor, but clearly some Israelis are pushing for war with Iran. More to the point, many American Jewish organizations are pushing for war with Iran. And before Foxman comes to lock me up, he might want to check out his own outfit's website, complete with a section on "The Iranian Threat." Meanwhile, over on AIPAC's site we can learn about the "escalating threat" from Iran. A group called The Israel Project has an Iran Press Kit page, linking only to alarmist takes on the Iranian nuclear issue and to a hawks-only set of expert sources. (Shockingly, none of these organizations are especially concerned that Israel won't join the Non-Proliferation Treaty Framework.)
For another example, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs gave Senator John McCain its "Scoop" Jackson Award in December; in his remarks accepting the award, McCain argued that "[t]he path to future success for Israel will not be an easy one, and there will be a number of difficult issues. Foremost on many minds, is, of course, Iran." He characterized "Tehran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons" as "an unacceptable risk" -- language clearly designed to lay the groundwork for war.

With this last bit, we not only see the accuracy of Clark's remark, but, once again, the stunning hypocrisy of the anti-anti-Semitism brigades. It's clear that McCain, just like Clark, sees American Jewish organizations as key players in the Iran-hawk movement in the United States, and also that he sees concern for Israeli security as motivating those groups. Nobody, however, is going to label McCain a Jew-hating conspiracy theorist -- because, of course, McCain wants to help these groups push the United States into a military confrontation with Iran. Thus, McCain gets an award, and Clark gets called an anti-Semite.

Since Clark would like to have a future in the politics game, he ended up backing down from his remarks, explaining he didn't mean what he said. Mission accomplished for those who smeared him. But would I ever suggest that Democrats have been unduly timid on the Iran issue because they fear crossing powerful "pro-Israel" institutions? Never. Only anti-Semites think stuff like that.

Copyright © 2007 by The American Prospect, Inc. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to

Matthew Yglesias is a Prospect staff writer.

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

It Is Time For Acountability! Now!

By E&P Staff Published: January 24, 2007 4:00 PM ET updated Thursday

NEW YORK: In an online chat at on Wednesday afternoon, Carl Bernstein, the famed Watergate reporter at that paper and now writing articles for Vanity Fair, took several hard shots at the current Bush administration -- almost every time he was asked about the Nixon era.

It came just as news of the death of former Watergate ringleader, E. Howard Hunt. was circulating widely. After a long explanation of how the American system "worked," eventually, with Watergate, Bernstein said:

In the case George W. Bush, the American system has obviously failed -- tragically -- about which we can talk more in a minute. But imagine the difference in our worldview today, had the institutions -- particularly of government -- done their job to ensure that a mendacious and dangerous president (as has since been proven many times over, beyond mere assertion) be restrained in a war that has killed thousands of American soldiers, brought turmoil to the lives of millions, and constrained the goodwill towards the United States in much of the world.

Later, asked if the Nixon administration was unique in hiring disreputable characters, he replied: "Until the Bush-43 administration, I had believed that the Nixon presidency was sui generis in modern American history in terms of your question..."In terms of small-bore (but dangerous) characters like Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy with their schemes, I doubt that any presidency approaches the criminality of the Nixon White House. But the Watergate conspiracy--to undermine the constitution and use illegal methods to hurt Nixon's political opponents and even undermine the electoral system--was supervised by those at the very top.

In the current administration we have seen from the President down --
especially Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld -- a willingness to ignore the great constitutional history of the United States -- to suspend, really, many of the constitutional guarantees that have made us a nation apart, with real freedoms unknown elsewhere, unrestricted by short-term political objectives of our leaders.

Then there are the Geneva conventions: Who would have dreamed that, in our lifetime, our leaders would permit their flagrant abuse, would authorize torture, 'renditions' to foreign-torture chambers, suspension of habeus corpus, illegal surveillance of our own citizens.... "But perhaps worst, has been the lying and mendacity of the president and his men and women--in the reasons they cited for going to war, their conduct of the war, their attempts to smear their
political opponents.

Nixon and his men lied and abused the constitution to horrible effect, but they were stopped.

The Bush Administration -- especially its top officials named above and others familiar to most Americans -- was not stopped, and has done far greater damage. As a (Republican) bumper-sticker of the day proclaimed, 'Nobody died at Watergate.' If only we could say that about the era of George W. Bush, and that our elected representatives in Congress and our judiciary had been courageous enough to do their duty and hold the President and his aides accountable.

"Bernstein was also asked about the CIA leak case and the leaking of Valerie Plame's name, which he called "a truly Nixonian event, a happenstance, not atypical of the take-no-prisoners politics of the Bush presidency.

But it pales in comparison to the larger questions of the Constitution, of life and death, of the Geneva conventions, of the expectation that our leaders -- from Condoleeza Rice to Dick Cheney, to the attorney(s) general to Paul Wolfowitz and on down and up the line speak truthfully to the American people and the Congress. They have consistently failed to do so."

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

About Those Blackwater Dudes

Blackwater, as well as other so-called "security firms" with U.S.government contracts, combine to form a bad moon rising over this country.

Sociopaths and functional psychotics should never be paid for practicing their pathology!

Now they are patrollong te streets of New Orleans?

Erik Prince (AKA Erik D. Prince)

Born: 1970

Birthplace: Holland, MI

Gender: Male

Religion: Born-Again Christian

Race or Ethnicity: White

Sexual orientation: Straight

Occupation: Business, Military

Nationality: United States

Executive summary: Blackwater USA mercenary firm

Military service: Navy SEAL Team Officer (1993-96)

Erik Prince is a billionaire right-wing fundamentalist Christian from a powerful Michigan Republican family. A major Republican campaign contributor, he interned in the White House of President George H.W. Bush and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992.

He founded the mercenary firm Blackwater USA in 1997 with Gary Jackson, another former Navy SEAL.

Father: Edgar (d. 1995, billionaire, started Family Research Council with Gary Bauer)

Mother: Elsa

Sister: Betsy DeVos (former chair, Michigan Republican Party)

Wife: Joan (four children, d. 2003, cancer)

High School: Holland Christian High School, Holland, MI

University: Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI

Blackwater USA Co-Founder and CEO (1997) Family Research Council Intern

Do you know something we don't? Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Libby Trial; a word about the witnesses

From Jane Hamsher of posted to

Finally, a word about witnesses. Neither the government nor the defense gets to select its witnesses out of central casting. As is so often the case in any criminal matter, people involved on all sides of the case come to the witness stand carrying their own sets of baggage -- that is true for the defendant, and for every witness on both sides who will be placed under oath. In criminal matters especially, you find that there is an awful lot of taint to a number of the people who testify -- as a former colleague of mine in the prosecutor's office used to say, "You don't find swans swimming in sewers."

In the Libby matter, there is already a growing sense of the level of infighting, nastiness, egotism, and backbiting that is going on within the Bush Administration and between the various segments of our national security apparatus, the highest levels of the executive and among the diplomatic and military wings. To be completely honest, it is a wonder that these people have managed to cobble together anything that functions at all and -- frankly -- looking at the mess that is Iraq and our burgeoning deficit, an argument can be made that it is not even functioning in any real sense of the word.

This case, and the testimony elicited therein, is lifting up an awful lot of uncomfortable rocks. And what we are all seeing squirming underneath them is not pleasant for anyone in the courtroom. And it is only going to get worse the further down the road of testimony that we go. Tomorrow, we will finish the testimony of Craig Schmall and move on to Cathie Martin, whose testimony will be key in so many ways. Much more to come from the Libby trial.

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

A Memorial Dirty Trick?

This is just really too much.

Of course, Mr. Hunt could not predict or control when he would leave this sicko-planet. The people who started the Hillary-Obama bruhaha coulld not have known that Hunt was about to cack-off.

Yet, one bit of psychotic nastiness cannot help but remind us of another

We can only come to the conclusion that the coinkidinky was a message from the Great Spirit of the Spaghetti flying thing, or whatever.: "This is far worse than Watergate, you idiots. Bush and Cheney are going to blow up the world and blame it on me!"

Jan. 26, 2007 As the 2008 presidential campaign began last week, there was something inauspicious and even spooky in the political atmosphere, with strange echoes of ugly deeds committed more than 35 years ago.

On Tuesday, Watergate felon E. Howard Hunt passed on into history at the age of 88. But even while he lay dying in Miami, not far from the late President Nixon's Florida retreat, Hunt's spiritual heirs were orchestrating a classic Watergate-style dirty trick against both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not coincidentally, the perpetrators included certain veterans of the old Nixon gang, whose baneful influence on American politics has only grown over the decades.

At first glance, the trick was merely an ordinary right-wing smear, twisting a small fact torn from context into a sinister accusation. Almost 40 years ago, little Barry Obama -- who would grow up to become a stellar law student, a bestselling author, a U.S. senator and a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination -- spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. During those years he attended an elementary school run by Muslims, long before the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and then as an adult joined a Christian church in Chicago.

Yet on the far right, poisonous propaganda can be concocted from the most innocent ingredients. That is precisely what the Unification Church's Insight magazine proceeded to do on Jan. 19, with the eager assistance of Fox News Channel and right-wing Web sites such as Insight portrayed the Indonesian school as a "madrassa," suggesting the Saudi-financed institutions that allegedly train Wahhabi terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere, indicated, to incite religious prejudice, that Obama had been "raised Muslim" -- and then attributed these fabrications to political operatives in the Clinton camp.

These false claims lacked any sourcing, but that didn't prevent the usual media miscreants from broadcasting them, from John Gibson on Fox's "The Big Story" and Rush Limbaugh down to Melanie Morgan and her sidekick at San Francisco's KSFO radio station. Just the usual modus operandi of the noise machine -- except for that telltale twist of smearing Clinton with responsibility for the attack.

Where could they have gotten that brilliant idea?

Performing a dirty trick on one Democratic presidential candidate in a way that would reflect blame on another Democrat was the specialty of the Watergate crew led by Hunt, which back in the early '70s included G. Gordon Liddy and Donald Segretti, as well as a host of lesser goons and spies such as the ingénue Lucianne Goldberg.

According to "Nightmare: Underside of Nixon Years," the definitive book on the Watergate scandal, by the late, great journalist J. Anthony Lukas, Goldberg filed gossipy espionage reports from George McGovern's press plane on "who was sleeping with whom, what the Secret Service men were doing with the stewardesses, who was smoking pot on the plane -- that sort of thing." Or so she told him.

Meanwhile, Segretti and company had been putting out nasty smear stories about certain Democratic candidates and attributing the smears to other Democrats, in order to divide the opposition and destroy Nixon's potential competitors.

During the Florida primary campaign, reported Lukas, the Nixon gang printed up fliers attacking Sen. Edmund Muskie's position on Israel and placed them under the windshield wipers of cars parked outside Miami Beach synagogues. Those scurrilous fliers were designed to look as if they had been distributed by New York Mayor John Lindsay, also running for president as a Democrat.

Around the same time, on stolen Citizens for Muskie stationery, a letter went out attacking Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson. "We on the Sen. Ed Muskie staff sincerely hope that you have decided upon Senator Muskie as your choice. However, if you have not made your decision you should be aware of several facts." Those supposed facts were that Sen. Jackson, as a high school senior in 1929, had fathered an illegitimate child with a teenage girl -- and then had been arrested on charges of homosexuality in Washington in May 1955 and October 1957. The charges were all lies, as was the claim in the same letter that former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey had been arrested for drunken driving in December 1967 with a prostitute in his car. The bogus letter was intended not only to encourage rumors about Jackson and Humphrey, both of whom were potential candidates against Nixon, but to create chaotic civil war among the Democrats.

As one of Hunt's operatives later explained, "The idea was to get the candidates backbiting each other and possibly starting doing it to each other outside our activities."

It is worth pointing out that Goldberg is not the only contemporary propagandist whose sordid roots trace back to Tricky Dick. Fox News is the creature of Roger Ailes, the jolly face of the Nixon gang, and Gibson and all of the other spewing heads on that network are his minions and nothing more. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon was among the last and most bitter defenders of Nixon, whose brainwashed "Moonies," just as obedient as any Fox anchor, stepped lively whenever they were ordered to demonstrate against impeachment on the steps of the Capitol.
Despite the right-wing regression to such ugly tactics against Clinton and Obama, there was a moment of hope as well. Rather than simply repeat the charges and rebuttals as if each bore equal weight, CNN sent an actual reporter to Obama's old school, who demolished the tale -- and at the same time, the news network emphasized that there was no evidence whatsoever linking Clinton to the attack. If such old-fashioned journalism is the template for campaign coverage this year and next, the dirty tricksters could soon face the unforgiving scrutiny they have always deserved.

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About the writer
Joe Conason writes a weekly column for Salon and the New York Observer. His new book is "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush."

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

STOP BUSH! They are gonna "do" Iran.

These people are really delusional. They are going to kill us all, or make us wish we were dead!

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, January 24, 2007

Dissident News

Anyone, including those in Iranian political circles, who cherished the illusion that the Cheney-Bush cabal was not committed to a new war in Southwest Asia, has had to abandon such dreams in the wake of George W. Bush’s Jan. 10 speech on his “new” policy for Iraq. The so-called “surge” in troop strength for Iraq which Bush announced, was recognized, correctly, by all in the region, as a commitment to open a new war front, this time against Iran or Syria. This analysis, which EIR had been circulating for weeks, including during a visit to Tehran in late November-early December, was finally embraced as the correct reading.Bush said that he would not only deploy 21,500 more troops to Iraq, but that he would pursue foreign elements working with the insurgency (read: Syria and Iran). Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad both echoed the new policy. Not only would the U.S. forces now pursue Iranian and Syrian elements inside Iraq, suspected of working with the insurgency, but they would also engage in “hot pursuit” into Iran itself. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, whether he thought the Administration did not have the authority to engage in cross-border incursions into Iran, said, “I didn’t say that.”

Thus, what is “new” in the crazy line emanating from the White House, is not the number of troops to be beefed up in Iraq. What is “new” is the propaganda line being spread to justify military action against Iran. Due to the fact that the U.S. has not succeeded in producing any smoking gun to show that Iran’s nuclear program were military, and in fact, could not do so, it is difficult for Washington to present the nuclear program as a casus belli, even despite the unfortunate UN Security Council’s December resolution, calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment activities. The new indictment against Iran is therefore that it has been feeding the anti-U.S. resistance in Iraq with men and matériel.‘Sheer Insanity’

Combined with the highly visible increase in U.S. military deployments to the Persian Gulf, the President’s announcement has led to a dramatic escalation of activity opposing military action against Iran on Capital Hill, and in other quarters. Leading Senators, including Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) have come forward to assert that the President has no authority to do something as insane as to attack Iran. Legislation on that precise point has already been introduced by a group of Republicans and Democrats in the House, and can be expected to be pursued in the Senate as well. Columnists are also warning about the potential of a provocation being carried out by the U.S. forces in the area, which could serve as a “Gulf of Tonkin” pretext for war.

Retired military figures have also upped their profile in opposing action against Iran. These include retired Generals Barry McCaffrey, Joseph Hoar, and William Odom, who testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 18, primarily against the Iraq “surge” policy. Most blunt was McCaffrey, who said the public threats against Iran by the Administration were “sheer insanity,” and that if the plan for military action went ahead, “this is truly the most significant blunder in strategic thinking we will have seen since World War II.”

Internationally, initiatives have been taken by French President Jacques Chirac, who is sending a special envoy to Iran, and by Russian officials, who are blowing the whistle on U.S. plans. As for the Arab states in the region, who are being wooed to support the plan, they have coolly recommended to the Administration that it carry out talks with Iran. They have been rebuffed.
Overall, a certain degree of fatalism pervades the capitals of Europe and Asia, vis-à-vis being able to stop the British-crafted, but Bush/Cheney initiated plans to hit Iran. They rightly look to the United States for the decisive action. For that to be effective, the timetable will have to be moved rapidly indeed, but the aggressive intention to prevent such a disaster is palpable on Capital Hill.

War Preparations Ongoing

Col. San Gardiner (USAF ret.), who has an excellent track record regarding military operations in the Southwest Asia theater, issued a new warning on Jan. 16, entitled “Escalation Against Iran.” After noting the fact that a second carrier strike group was leaving the U.S. on Jan. 16, Gardner listed a number of steps he expects the U.S. will take, if indeed it is on the warpath. First, he said to expect a barrage of articles in the media, planted by a National Security Council staff-led group, commissioned to produce “outrage” against Iran.

Then, he wrote, expect some European-based missile defense assets to be deployed to Israel, plus additional U.S. Air Force fighters deployed into Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan. He wrote that some of the “surge” troops sent into Iraq will be sent to the Iranian border. Then, “As one of the last steps before a strike, we’ll see the USAF tankers moved to unusual places, like Bulgaria. These will be used,” Gardiner writes, “to refuel the U.S.-based B-2 bombers on their strike missions into Iran. When that happens, we’ll be only days away from a strike.”

Gardiner’s forecast of a massive media campaign has already been confirmed. Arabic media in the region have begun denouncing Iran’s nuclear program as being dangerous, and claiming that Hezbollah, Hamas, et al., are Iranian agents committed to destabilizing the region. British and other Western press organs have been working overtime to paint the picture of the looming Iranian threat, which, they claim, is poised to take over security, political, and oil installations in Basra, for example, as soon as British troops leave.

Gardiner is one of the most competent analysts in the field, but not the only one to blow the whistle. Former CIA and Bush Administration National Security Council senior official Flynt Leverett wrote in the Washington Note after Bush’s Jan. 10 speech, that the aircraft carrier groups deployed to the region must be there “to provide the necessary numbers and variety of tactical aircraft” for attacks against Iran, because land-based assets could not be used for political reasons. Furthermore, Leverett wrote, the only reason Bush would deploy Patriot batteries to the Persian Gulf, is to deal with Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, “the only missile threat in the region.”

A full-page article in the Jan. 13 Le Figaro made the same point, stressing that the second aircraft carrier group being sent in, the USS Stennis, “will not only be deployed to make a show of force, but will be involved in combat operations.” A most telling sign of a move toward a conflict came in a report issued by the ING bank in the Netherlands, which forecast the impact on financial flows of a military confrontation with Iran.

And from Russia, former Black Sea Fleet Commander Adm. Eduard Baltin said on Jan. 9 that the presence of so many U.S. nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf waters points to the likelihood of a U.S. attack against Iran. He emphasized that currently there is a group of up to four submarines in the area. “The presence of the submarines indicates that Washington has not abandoned plans to launch a sudden attack against Iran,” the Admiral said. He blamed the Jan. 8 collision between a U.S. submarine and a Japanese oceanliner near the Strait of Hormuz on the fact that U.S. submarines needed to operate at a relatively higher level than their usual depths, to get clearer vision enabling them to zero in on likely targets.
Baltin noted that, in previous conflicts, U.S. submarines “clean up the road” for air strikes by destroying enemy air defense installations.

Facts, Not Words

Bush’s threat to go after suspected Iranian elements inside Iran, is backed up by ongoing action. Already, at Christmastime, the U.S. forces in Iraq had seized two Iranians on charges they were planning military attacks. The move was protested by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s office which stated the two were “invited by the President to Iraq … within the framework of an agreement between Iran and Iraq to improve the security situation.” Then, on Jan. 11, U.S. troops raided an Iranian consulate office in Irbil, arresting six staffers and seizing computers and documents. U.S. helicoptors had landed on the roof and soldiers had broken down the doors. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Hosseini charged the raid was in violation of international law. Other protests came from the Iraqi government, the Kurdish regional government, and the Russian Foreign Ministry, because the persons detained were diplomats.
Furthermore, Washington-based sources have told EIR there are plans ready to launch aerial strikes against a key Iranian Revolutionary Guard site in the suburbs of Tehran, the headquarters of the al-Quds Brigade. Such an insane option is reportedly being hotly debated in Administration circles, as some relatively sane elements recognize this would trigger a regional explosion.

On the diplomatic level, Secretary of State Rice’s visit to the region only underlined the threat of military action. Rice met in Kuwait with her counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, and Jordan (GCC+2), and attempted to mobilize them against Iran. Although she succeeded in getting the participants to sign a joint declaration accepting the U.S.’s “commitment” (through the surge policy) to “defend security of the Gulf, the territorial integrity of Iraq,” etc., the Saudis openly declared they supported only the stated “goal,” with reservations about the means. And, most significantly, the Kuwaiti Emir told Rice that if she wanted peace in the region, she should talk to the Iranians and Syrians. Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, told Rice it was important to have a “dialogue with Syria, in particular, and with Iran in the interest of Gulf security in general.”

Iran Responds

The most recent speech by Bush has erased any remaining doubts in Iran that Washington is bent on confrontation. One of the many Iranian political figures whom EIR met in December in Tehran, summed up the mood there in an e-mail message: “Bush and [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair have practically declared war on Iran and have definitely turned up the heat against Iran to the level of a devastating military clash between the Christian West and the Muslim East. I am very disturbed by the prospect of this new development.”

On the official level, the government responded by preparing for an assault. Mohammed Saeedi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said that, though he deemed it “highly improbable” that the country’s nuclear installation would be bombed, they were being protected by special precautions. At the same time, Iran invited members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, from the Non-Aligned, G77, and Arab League, to travel to Iran to visit its nuclear sites.
On the diplomatic level, Ali Larijani, head of the Supreme National Security Council and chief negotiator on the nuclear issue, travelled to Saudi Arabia for talks with the leadership there. He delivered letters from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Saudi King Abdallah, in which Iran offered collaboration to stabilize the situation in Iraq, in particular. The response, said Ahmadinejad, “generally, was positive.” Reports (later denied by the Iranians), had it that the letter suggested the Saudis try to intervene with the United States, to prevent the worst.

Chirac Steps In

Just as tensions were reaching a fever pitch, a report appeared of a bold initiative by French President Jacques Chirac, to stave off the war threat. As reported in Le Monde on Jan. 16, Chirac wanted to send his Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to Tehran, to reestablish direct contact, a move which would contrast with the declared Bush-Cheney approach. The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Jan. 16 that a high-level emissary would be sent to discuss matters pertaining to the Middle East, Lebanon, etc. Iranian sources reached by EIR said the Chirac initiative was very important, but could give no details.

According to an account in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Jan. 17, the secret diplomacy has been going on for some time. In July, Paris sent Jean-Claude Cousseran, former head of foreign intelligence; in September, Chirac received an envoy of Ahmadinejad; in October, diplomatic advisor Maurice Gourdault-Montagne met the Iranian advisor in Geneva. Gourdault-Montagne then met Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in Bahrain, at a conference last month.

Then the idea emerged to invite Douste-Blazy. He was to go in January, but the trip was cancelled two days before.

The line in the French press is that Chirac wants to open talks with the Iranians, to get them to rein in Hezbollah, so that Chirac’s planned donor conference (Paris III) on Jan. 25, with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, will be a success. Given the current drive for military aggression against Iran, it is far more likely that Chirac is hoping to avert a war.

Condi Rice was not pleased, to say the least. When apprised of the French move, she said she thought, “We all need to stay focussed” on Iran’s alleged violations of the Security Council. She made clear she did not accept the notion that France could violate U.S. policy on Iran: “I think that at this point in time” (referring to the Security Council resolution of December), “that this is not the time to break a longstanding American policy of not engaging with the Iranians bilaterally.”

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Friday, January 26, 2007

None Dare Not Call It Treason; if they know what's good for them.

Cheney is covering up far more than cooked Intel...... More like Intel made from scratch and then cooked.

Pat Roberts and company are accessories after the fact.

Do you smell something burning? It's Cheney had his co-conspiratots in Congress. They are not just toast, but burnt toast.

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, the panel's Democratic chairman charged Thursday.

In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia also accused President Bush of running an illegal program by ordering eavesdropping on Americans' international e-mails and telephone communications without court-issued warrants.
In the 45-minute interview, Rockefeller said that it was "not hearsay" that Cheney, a leading proponent of invading Iraq, pushed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to drag out the probe of the administration's use of prewar intelligence.

"It was just constant," Rockefeller said of Cheney's alleged interference. He added that he knew that the vice president attended regular policy meetings in which he conveyed White House directions to Republican staffers.

Republicans "just had to go along with the administration," he said.

In an e-mail response to Rockefeller's comments, Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea McBride, said: "The vice president believes Senator Roberts was a good chairman of the Intelligence Committee."

Roberts' chief of staff, Jackie Cottrell, blamed the Democrats for the investigation remaining incomplete more than two years after it began.

"Senator Rockefeller's allegations are patently untrue," she said in an e-mail statement. "The delays came from the Democrats' insistence that they expand the scope of the inquiry to make it a more political document going into the 2006 elections. Chairman Roberts did everything he could to accommodate their requests for further information without allowing them to distort the facts."

"I'm not aware of any effort by the vice president, his staff or anyone in the administration to influence the speed at which the committee did its work," said Bill Duhnke, who was Roberts' staff director.

Rockefeller's comments were among the most forceful he's made about why the committee failed to complete the inquiry under Roberts. Roberts chaired the intelligence committee from January 2003 until the Democrats took over Congress this month.

The panel released a report in July 2004 that lambasted the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for erroneously concluding that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was concealing biological, chemical and nuclear warfare programs. It then began examining how senior Bush administration officials used faulty intelligence to justify the March 2003 invasion.
Robert promised to quickly complete what became known as the Phase II investigation. After more than two years, however, the panel published only two of five Phase II reports amid serious rifts between Republican and Democratic members and their staffs.

Rockefeller recalled that in November 2005, the then-minority Democrats employed a rarely used parliamentary procedure to force the Senate into a closed session to pressure Roberts to complete Phase II.

"That was the reason we closed the session. To force him" to complete the investigation, he said.
The most potentially controversial of the three Phase II reports being worked on will compare what Bush and his top lieutenants said publicly about Iraq's weapons programs and ties to terrorists with what was contained in top-secret intelligence reports.

In the two reports released in September, the panel said that the administration's claims of ties between Saddam and al-Qaida were false and found that administration officials distributed exaggerated and bogus claims provided by an Iraqi exile group with close ties to some senior administration officials.

Rockefeller said it was important to complete the Phase II inquiry.

"The looking backward creates tension, but it's necessary tension because the administration needs to be held accountable and the country . . . needs to know," he said.

Rockefeller said that he and the senior Republican member of the committee, Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., have put the frictions behind them and agree that the committee should press the administration for documents it's withholding on its domestic eavesdropping program and detainee programs.

Under the eavesdropping program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans' international telephone calls and e-mails without court warrants if one party was a suspected member or supporter of al-Qaida or another terrorist group.

Rockefeller charged that Bush had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to obtain permission to eavesdrop on Americans from a secret national security court.

For five years he's (Bush) has been operating an illegal program," he said, adding that the committee wants the administration to provide the classified documents that set out its legal argument that Bush has the power to wiretap Americans without warrants.

Rockefeller is among a handful of lawmakers who were kept briefed on the program after it started following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he told Cheney in a handwritten note in July 2003 that he was deeply concerned about its legality.

In the interview, Rockefeller said the committee needs more details about how the program worked before it considers amending the eavesdropping act to give the administration the flexibility it says it requires to be able to track terrorists.

"How do we draw something up if we have no idea about what the president sent out in the way of orders to the NSA? What about the interpretation of the Department of Justice?" he asked. "Americans . . . should want us to discern what the facts are, what the truth is."

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Libby Trial Heats Up

It is clear to me that the VP and his staff were out to get Wilson. What is not so clear is why there was such and over-the-top reaction to one critic, when there had been quite a few.

The IAEA had already stated publicaly that the Niger documents were crude forgeries. So, everyone knew that the Niger claims were false. What wasn't known, and still isn't known, by most of the public, is who forged the documents and why.

By Carol D. Leonnig and Amy GoldsteinWashington Post Staff WritersThursday, January 25, 2007; A03

A former high-ranking CIA official testified yesterday that, when Vice President Cheney's agitated chief of staff called him out of the blue in June 2003 to ask what he knew about a CIA-sponsored trip to Niger, he jumped to get answers.

Summoned out of a meeting with the CIA director to take I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's urgent call later that same afternoon, then-Associate Deputy Director Robert Grenier said he relayed all he had learned about former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, the man behind news reports of the trip that had Libby so concerned.

Yes, Wilson had gone on a CIA-sponsored mission to check out intelligence that Iraq was trying to buy uranium for nuclear arms and had concluded that the tip was unfounded, Grenier testified he told Libby. And, he told Libby, it appeared that Wilson's wife, a CIA officer, had suggested Wilson for the trip.

The timing of Grenier's response and Libby's anxiety over Wilson are central to the prosecution's allegation that Libby lied to investigators when he said that he believed he first learned CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity from NBC's Tim Russert a month later. Grenier is one of three government officials to testify, so far, that they held conversations with Libby about
Wilson's wife weeks before Libby contends he learned her name.

Libby has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts during the investigation of how Plame's identity was disclosed to the news media. His defense maintains that he got confused about details of conversations with reporters amid the crush of his work on urgent national security issues.

The second day of trial testimony continued to throw back the curtain on a Bush administration beset with rivalries, self-interested alliances and attempts at blame-shifting. Those efforts were particularly intense during the summer of 2003, with U.S. troops in Iraq still unable to find the weapons of mass destruction that President Bush had cited to justify a preemptive war.

Fleshing out the finger-pointing inside the administration is important for both the defense and the prosecution. Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has argued that Plame was the victim of an internal administration scramble as the vice president sought to discredit Wilson. Fitzgerald has alleged that Libby lied to conceal his and Cheney's efforts, as well as Libby's discussions about Plame with reporters.

Grenier said that Libby was fixated on one set of facts that Grenier relayed. He asked, would the CIA release to the news media the information that Wilson's trip was supposed to answer questions raised not just by Cheney's office, but by the State Department and the Defense Department as well?

Yesterday, defense attorneys sought to raise doubts about several of Libby's former administration colleagues, who are now witnesses for the prosecution, by attempting to show that they had flawed memories of events -- and that they had allegiances or other motives that would bias them against Libby. The defense also asserted that, after a criminal investigation into the leak began in the fall of 2003, the White House tried to protect presidential adviser Karl Rove and seemed willing to sacrifice Libby.

Defense attorney Theodore V. Wells Jr. pressed former undersecretary of state Marc Grossman, the prosecution's first witness, to acknowledge his close friendship with his boss at the time, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, an internal critic of the war and of Libby.

Wells suggested that Grossman had a "fishy" meeting with Armitage just before Grossman was interviewed by the FBI and has given conflicting accounts of events over time.

Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary who is expected to testify for the prosecution, also has a motive to help the prosecution, Wells has said. Fleischer had demanded immunity before he would talk about his conversations with Libby, then had admitted to government prosecutors that he had spoken to several reporters about Wilson's wife in the days before he left his job.

In questioning Grenier, defense attorney William H. Jeffress Jr. emphasized the rift between the CIA and the White House.

Grenier said he remembered reading a report in The Washington Post on June 12, 2003, the day after he tried to answer Libby's questions, that quoted anonymous administration sources as saying that the CIA never told Cheney that his questions were the impetus for Wilson's trip or about Wilson's findings.

"Wasn't this embarrassing to the CIA?" Jeffress asked Grenier. "Didn't you tell the FBI that you thought the White House was trying to shift blame to the CIA?"

Grenier testified that he did surmise that White House officials were pointing a finger at the CIA for not alerting them about Wilson's findings.

"The administration was trying to suggest that had they only known about the eminent Ambassador Wilson's [information] . . . it would have somehow stopped the White House from continuing on its errant path to war," Grenier said. "I think they were trying to avoid blame for not providing [the truth] about whether or not Iraq had attempted to buy uranium."

Weeks later, Grenier said he saw Plame's name revealed in Robert D. Novak's syndicated column and figured that it was the work of the White House. In fact, Armitage and Rove have acknowledged that they were Novak's sources. Jeffress also sought to undermine Grenier's testimony by pointing out that Grenier initially told FBI agents and a grand jury that he did not remember whether he had told Libby that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Only later, Jeffress said, did Grenier notify investigators that he had mentioned that she was an employee. "Do you find your memory gets better the further away from an event you are?" Jeffress asked pointedly.

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Why do Republicans hate the working poor?

It's a sure bet that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has a lot of bottled-up frustration from years of fighting the Republican party to get a simple minimum wage increase for America's families and it boiled over on the floor of the Senate Thursday night.

Angry about Republican filibustering of the minimum wage increase that easily passed the House of Representatives two weeks ago, Kennedy erupted on the Senate floor, demanding of the other side of the aisle "When does the greed stop?"After listing many of the unrelated and pricey amendments for business that the GOP has tried to join to a minimum wage hike, Kennedy blasted Republicans and demanded to know how they can be as cruel as they are to the working poor in America.

"We have now had amendments that have been worth over 200 billion dollars… Amendments that have been offered. We've had amendments on education of 35 billion dollars. We've had health-savings amendments that will benefit people with average incomes of $112,000… We've had those kinds of amendments and we're looking at the Kyl amendment at 3 billion dollars. But we still cannot get two dollars and fifteen cents -- over two years. Over two years!"

What is the price, we ask the other side? What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring?"

When does the greed stop, we ask the other side? That's the question and that's the issue."

Kennedy, upset about the noises Republicans made just three weeks ago about their renewed bipartisan spirit and seeing them already blocking simple legislation that is favored by the vast majority of Americans, angrily chided them for the ridiculous number of amendments they have offered on a bill that went untouched through the House."Make no mistake about it -- they have on the Republican side, 70 more amendments. 70 more amendments!" said Kennedy. "We have none. We're prepared to vote now. 70 more amendments… 'Oh yes, we want an increase in the minimum wage, we want this, we want that but… let's have some other kinds of amendments that have virtually nothing to do with this.'"

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Cheney Unhinged

Is Cheney on too much heart medication or is he simply evil?

By Peter BakerWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, January 25, 2007; A01

Vice President Cheney said yesterday that the administration has achieved "enormous successes" in Iraq but complained that critics and the media "are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure" that they are undermining U.S. troops in a war zone, striking a far more combative tone than President Bush did in his State of the Union address the night before.

In a television interview that turned increasingly contentious as it wore on, Cheney rejected the gloomy portrayal of Iraq that has become commonly accepted even among Bush supporters. "There's problems" in Iraq, he said, but it is not a "terrible situation." And congressional opposition "won't stop us" from sending 21,500 more troops, he said, it will only "validate the terrorists' strategy."

The defiant tenor contrasted sharply with Bush's speech Tuesday night, when the president congratulated Democrats on their election victory, offered to work with them on a variety of domestic policies, and told skeptics of his latest Iraq plan that he respects their arguments even as he asked them to give him one more chance to win the war. Bush acknowledged deep troubles in Iraq and made little effort to paint it a success. In a recent interview, Bush said his old policy was heading for "slow failure."

Cheney, on the other hand, rejected the idea that there has been any failure and gave voice to the aggravation many in the White House feel as Democrats step up their attacks on the administration. As leading Democrats lace their rhetoric with words such as "blunder" and "reckless," the White House has tried to calibrate how hard to push back. On a day when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution denouncing Bush's troop increase, Cheney decided not to hold back.

"The pressure is from some quarters to get out of Iraq," he told CNN. "If we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorists' strategy that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task, that we don't have the stomach for the fight."

Cheney said the administration would disregard the nonbinding resolution opposing the troop increase and suggested it undermines soldiers in a war zone. "It won't stop us," he said. "And it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops."

Cheney has been criticized in the past for presenting what some called an overly rosy view of the situation in Iraq, most notably in 2005 when he said the insurgency was in its "last throes." The view he expressed yesterday seemed no less positive, and he sparred repeatedly with "Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer, telling him "you're wrong" and suggesting he was embracing defeat.

When Blitzer asked whether the administration's credibility had been hurt by "the blunders and the failures" in Iraq, Cheney interjected: "Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash."

In fact, Cheney said, the operation in Iraq has achieved its original mission. "What we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do," he said. "The world is much safer today because of it. There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically elected government. Saddam has been brought to justice and executed. His sons are dead. His government is gone."

"If he were still there today," Cheney added, "we'd have a terrible situation."

"But there is," Blitzer said.

"No, there is not," Cheney retorted. "There is not. There's problems -- ongoing problems -- but we have in fact accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that's been here for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off." He added: "Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes."

Cheney said Blitzer was advocating retreat. "What you're recommending, or at least what you seem to believe the right course is, is to bail out," the vice president said.

"I'm just asking," Blitzer objected.

"No, you're not asking."

Blitzer has been in the Cheney doghouse since October, when he interviewed the vice president's wife, Lynne, and asked about steamy scenes in a novel she wrote. The subject came up because James Webb, a Democrat then running for Senate from Virginia, had cited her novel in trying to defend explicit scenes he had written. Lynne Cheney angrily rebuffed Blitzer, and her husband later congratulated her for what he called "the slapdown."

Yesterday, the CNN host mentioned that Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, has become pregnant and asked whether he wanted to respond to conservatives who have criticized her.

"I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf," Cheney said. "And obviously, I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question."

Blitzer tried to defend himself: "I think all of us appreciate --" Cheney cut him off: "I think you're out of line."

"We like your daughters," Blitzer replied. "Believe me, I'm very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was a question that's come up, and it's a responsible, fair question."

"I just fundamentally disagree with you," Cheney said.

Cheney was terse, too, about leading Democrats. Asked whether he thinks Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) would make a good president, Cheney said simply, "No, I don't."


"Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint."

And how did it feel to sit next to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the first woman to serve as House speaker?

"I prefer Dennis Hastert."

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Plame-gate Plot Thickens, like Molasses in Winter

Far worse than Watergate!

By Robert Parry January 24, 2007

In the opening statements at the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, new evidence emerged pointing toward a criminal conspiracy at the highest levels of George W. Bush’s White House.

Libby’s defense attorney Theodore Wells described a conversation from 2003 between Vice President Dick Cheney and Libby, his chief of staff, at which a worried Libby complained that “they’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb.”

According to Wells, Libby then told his boss, “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected,” referring to Bush’s top political strategist who now holds the post of deputy White House chief of staff.

Wells also cited meeting notes written by Cheney suggesting that Libby had been tasked with the job of countering accusations from former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had publicly charged that Bush “twisted” intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to help deceive the American people into supporting the invasion of Iraq.

“Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder,” Cheney’s notes read, according to Wells.

In September 2003, when a criminal investigation was launched into whether administration officials had leaked the name of Wilson’s wife, covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, the White House issued a statement clearing Rove and other officials, but didn’t initially include Libby on the list.
Libby’s lament, as described by his lawyer, indicates that the Cheney aide believed the White House was trying to protect some officials involved in leaking Plame’s identity while leaving Libby exposed as “the sacrificial lamb.”

Based on the public record, it now appears Libby was part of an administration conspiracy involving at least seven officials, including Bush and Cheney, seeking to discredit Wilson, one of the first Washington insiders to challenge the President’s misuse of intelligence to justify the preemptive war against Iraq.

The record already reveals that three senior administration officials – Libby, Rove and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage – had discussed Plame’s CIA identity with journalists amid the campaign to undermine Wilson. As part of that tearing down of the former ambassador, administration officials claimed that Wilson’s wife had helped him get the assignment to check out reports that Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger, suspicions that Wilson and others concluded were unfounded.

Two other unnamed officials who traveled with Bush on a state visit to Africa in July 2003 reportedly encouraged a Time magazine correspondent to ask about the circumstances behind Wilson’s trip, pointing him in the direction of Plame. At the top of the operation to counter Wilson were Bush, who approved the partial release of a CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD, and Cheney, who dispatched Libby to meet with reporters.

Why Rove?

One of the unanswered questions about the Wilson-Plame story is why Bush would have involved his chief political operative Rove in discussions that involved the identity of a covert CIA officer, normally considered one of the most sensitive secrets in the U.S. government shared only with officials who have a strict need to know.

Yet, instead of treating Plame’s identity with care, senior Bush administration officials appeared to have bandied the information about, giving it to political operative Rove and then sharing it with journalists, one of whom – right-wing columnist Robert Novak – published a column outing Plame and thus exposing her overseas spy network.

The administration behavior suggests that it put protecting Bush’s political flanks ahead of guarding sensitive national security secrets.

Based on the opening defense statement in the Libby trial on Jan. 23, the White House then made saving political guru Rove a higher priority than defending Cheney’s chief of staff who had been a central figure in developing the Iraq War policies.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, in his opening statement, outlined the case in support of five felony counts against Libby for allegedly lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Fitzgerald said Libby had been part of a fierce campaign by the Bush administration to beat back Wilson’s early criticism of its case for war in Iraq.

In his defense, Libby apparently intends to present himself as the administration’s fall guy hung out to dry while other officials ran for cover and got protection. But that argument suggests that the White House was engaged in a conscious cover-up, with Bush apparently playing a lead role.
Bush intervened publicly on the Plame-gate case on Sept. 30, 2003, when he announced – disingenuously as it turned out – that he wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.

“If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,” Bush said. “I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”

Yet, even as Bush was professing his curiosity and calling for anyone with information to step forward, he was withholding the fact that he had authorized the declassification of some secrets about the alleged Iraqi nuclear program and had ordered Cheney to arrange for those secrets to be given to reporters.

Bush’s behind-the-scenes role came into clearer focus later with the release of a court document citing testimony from Libby, who claimed Bush approved the selective release of intelligence in July 2003 to counter growing complaints that Bush had hyped evidence about Iraq’s pursuit of yellowcake uranium in Niger.

Libby testified that he was told by Cheney that Bush had approved a plan in which Libby would tell a specific New York Times reporter about the CIA’s secret analysis, according to a court filing by special prosecutor Fitzgerald.

“Defendant’s [Libby’s] participation in a critical conversation with [Times reporter] Judith Miller on July 8 [2003] occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE,” the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, the filing said.

In other words, though Bush knew a great deal about how the anti-Wilson scheme got started – since he was involved in starting it – he uttered misleading public statements to conceal the White House hand and possibly to signal to others that they should follow suit in denying knowledge.

During the opening remarks of Libby’s trial, the spotlight landed on Bush’s closest political adviser, Karl Rove, but the alleged sacrifice of Libby to spare Rove only makes sense if the President had some involvement in orchestrating how the cover-up was supposed to play out.
[For more details on the Plame-gate case, see’s special report, “Scooter Libby’s Time-Travel Trial.”]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
To comment at Consortiumblog, click
here. To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Sit Down and Shut the Hell Up!

Ever felt like you would like to grab up certain world leaders, by the naps of their necks, and shake them 'til their teeth rattle?

Well, we do.

Reading news reports these past few days has been enough to convince us that some of the most powerful people in the world need a huge time-out (actually, we have been thinking so for quite some time.)

I forget what nutso thing Ahmadinejad has said recently, but we trust that he said something, to add his long list of loony-toon statements,. Chavez is telling "gringos" to go to hell, not sure if he means all of us, or just those intent on killing him/overthrowing him/whatever. Bush and Cheney are delusional as hell and they keep opening their mouths and removing any doubt of it. The president of Israel is telling everyone to eff-off and is apparently taking his own advice. Other Israeli officials keep mouthing off about how they are going to take care of Iran, if Bush and Cheney don't. We even got a new audio from the Goof-ball Egyptian Doc, Zawahiri. who decided that blowing people to smithereens is better than helping to heal people.

Don't you sometimes wish, as we do, that you had a megaphone big enough to tell them all to sit down and shut the hell up! Put a sock in it, for awhile!

Actually, it might be a good idea for everyone to sit down and shut up; just for three days; that's right, the entire world. politicians, journalists, pundits, elected leaders, heads of state, kings, princes, tribal leaders and, yes, especially religious leaders, as well as ordinary citizens of our global community.

Three days of quiet and contemplation: No work, no yapping, no news, no consuming.

Three days of silent retreat, with our focus on solutions to problems w all face.

Three days of listening to music that lifts your spirit reading that which educates, informs and gives you hope, spending time in a place that inspires you, fills your soul with goodness and joy and/or doing whatever you have found in life that opens you to your own essence.

Three days of quiet and stillness....Imagine...

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

A Closer Look at the CIA Leak Timeline

There have been a number of missteps and false assumptions (or is it complicity?) by the news media and the press, including the NYT and the WaPo, since the Libby indictment. Two of those false assumptions are extremely important ones:

1) That the cover-up in this case was, like others in the past, worse than the crime.

That piece D.C. common wisdom/pundit pap is far from the truth when it comes to the big picture of the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity.

Joe Wilson was far from the only critic of the administration's rush to war and not the only person who openly questioned the evidence the administration was presenting as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq. As is pointed out in this article, the over-the-top, continuing attack on Wilson was, at that time, very different from the Bushites MO up to that point. They had rolled over everyone, brushing critics off like dandruff off their suit coats. So, what did Wilson do, really, to put such a bee in their collective bonnet.

We don't think that it was Wilson's criticism of the use of the 16 words about Yellow-cake, Iraq and Niger in the SOTUS of 2003 that put administration panties in a wad They were afraid he knew even more than he was saying or that, perhaps, Mrs. Wilson did.

By the time Joe Wilson wrote his oped for the NYT, "What I Did Not Find in Africa," the IAEA had long since revealed that the Niger documents, which had given Cheney and others an excuse to ride the CIA for more cooperation in the push for war, were crude forgeries. The question was and still is, who forged those documents and why?.

The administration has been noticeably disinterested in finding out who "hoodwinked" them with forged documents, which they claim they fell for. Could it be that their disinterest comes from the fact that they already knew, that they were not at all taken in by the crude forgeries, but they were afraid that Wilson might have knowledge regarding the forgers and their motives.

2) That Richard Armitage had no ax to grind about the war, is just a silly old gossip who gossiped a bit too much, but had no close connections to anyone inside the White House, with whom he would have been conspiring to discredit Wilson. WRONG!

Seems that some press folks and some pundits owe Joe Wilson and Patrick Fitzgerald an apology, not to mention the American people!

Read On..........

By Robert Parry (A Special Report) January 17, 2007

The trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is being billed by the Big Media as a case study of a favorite Washington cliche – “it’s not the crime but the cover-up” – a smugly delivered line suggesting that Libby committed no real offense beyond trimming a few facts when questioned by overzealous investigators.

But the major U.S. news media is again missing the point. The real significance of the Libby trial is that it could demonstrate how far George W. Bush went in 2003 to shut down legitimate criticism of his Iraq War policies as well as questions about his personal honesty.

In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush.

Though many Iraq War skeptics – from the Dixie Chicks to longtime U.S. allies in Europe, such as France – were punished for disagreeing with Bush, Libby’s most notable target was former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Wilson attracted the White House’s wrath in mid-2003 because he was one of the first Washington insiders to question the official consensus about Bush’s wisdom, courage and integrity.

Just months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as Bush basked in stratospheric poll numbers, Wilson went public with first-hand evidence that Bush had “twisted” intelligence to frighten Americans about the prospects of Iraq developing a nuclear bomb.

The former ambassador’s heresy was countered by administration officials who leaked the identity of Wilson’s wife, covert CIA officer Valerie Plame. They also enlisted Bush’s defenders in both the right-wing and mainstream media to wage an unstinting attack on Wilson’s credibility.

That campaign of vilification continues to this day, even though Wilson’s criticism of Bush’s honesty has long since been vindicated. Every time I write about Wilson, I get a flurry of e-mails repeating administration-inspired canards about Wilson “the liar.”

Ugly Tale

This ugly back story of the Libby trial dates to early 2002 when Vice President Dick Cheney expressed interest in dubious reports that Iraq had sought to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger, presumably for a revived nuclear weapons program.

Senior CIA officials asked Plame, who was working on WMD issues, to approach her husband about a fact-finding trip to check out the Niger-yellowcake claims. Wilson, who had served as a U.S. diplomat in both Africa and Iraq, accepted the unpaid assignment, traveled to Niger and reported back that the allegations appeared to be false, a conclusion later confirmed by other U.S. investigations.

But the White House kept looking for ways to slip the alarming suspicions into its public statements, most notably when Bush inserted 16 words about the yellowcake accusation into his State of the Union address in January 2003. Gripped by fear of mushroom clouds, many Americans supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

After toppling Saddam Hussein’s government in April 2003, however, the U.S. military couldn’t find Iraq’s supposed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, nor did they find evidence that
Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program.

As this reality began to sink in, Wilson told his Niger story anonymously to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote an article about the yellowcake inquiry. Figuring out the identity of Kristof’s source, the White House prepared to retaliate.

In his memoir, The Politics of Truth, Wilson cited sources as saying that a meeting in Cheney’s office led to a decision “to produce a workup” to discredit Wilson.

Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, asked Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, a neoconservative ally in the State Department, to prepare a memo on Wilson. Dated June 10, 2003, the memo referred to “Valerie Plame,” a CIA officer, as Wilson’s wife. [NYT, July 16, 2005]

CIA Director George Tenet also divulged to Cheney that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA and had a hand in arranging Wilson’s trip to Niger – information that Cheney then passed on to Libby in a conversation on June 12, 2003, according to Libby’s notes as described by lawyers in the case. [NYT, Oct. 25, 2005]

The administration shaped those two facts – Plame’s work for the CIA and her minor role in Wilson’s Niger trip – into key attack points against Wilson. On June 23, 2003, Libby briefed New York Times reporter Judith Miller (who was considered close to the administration’s neoconservative wing) about Wilson and may then have passed on the tip that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA.

About the same time as the Libby-Miller meeting, conservative columnist Robert Novak received a surprise call from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s office offering an interview, Novak later recalled.

“During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview,” Novak wrote in a Sept. 14, 2006, column. “I tried to see him in the first 2 ½ years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me – summarily and with disdain, I thought.
“Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage’s office said the deputy secretary would see me.”

Novak dated the call from Armitage’s office at about two weeks before Wilson went public with his Niger story via a New York Times Op-Ed on July 6, 2003, entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” In other words, Armitage's outreach to Novak and Libby's briefing of Miller came at virtually the same time.

Cheney’s Notes

As Cheney read Wilson’s article, a perturbed Vice President scribbled down questions he wanted pursued.

“Have they [CIA officials] done this sort of thing before?” Cheney wrote. “Send an Amb[assador] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?”

Though Cheney did not write down Plame’s name, his questions indicated that he was aware that she worked for the CIA and was in a position (dealing with WMD issues) to have a hand in her husband’s assignment to check out the Niger reports.

“Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op-Ed acutely focused the attention of the Vice President and the defendant – his chief of staff [Libby] – on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in his article, and on responding to these assertions,” special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald later wrote in a court filing.

That same eventful day – July 6, 2003 – Armitage called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, at home and asked him to send a copy of Grossman’s memo to Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to a former department official interviewed by the New York Times.

Since Powell was preparing to leave with Bush on a state visit to Africa, Ford forwarded Grossman’s memo to the White House for delivery to Powell, the former official told the Times. [NYT, July 16, 2005]

The next day, July 7, 2003, Bush left for Africa with Powell and other senior officials. But administration officials who stayed behind in Washington stepped up their efforts to counteract Wilson's Op-Ed.

On July 8, 2003, Libby gave Judith Miller more details about the Wilsons. Libby said Wilson’s wife worked at a CIA unit responsible for weapons intelligence and non-proliferation. Miller wrote down the words “Valerie Flame,” an apparent misspelling of Mrs. Wilson’s maiden name. [NYT, Oct. 16, 2005]

That same day, Novak had his interview with Armitage. Novak later recalled that Armitage divulged Plame’s identity toward the end of an hour-long interview.

Armitage “told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA’s Counter-proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband’s mission,” Novak wrote, adding that Armitage seemed to want the information published.

Armitage “noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson’s role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column – implying to me that it [the column] continued reporting Washington inside information,” Novak wrote. [Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2006]

Feeling encouraged by Armitage to disclose the Plame connection to Wilson’s trip, Novak contacted Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove, who confirmed the story as Novak’s second source.

“I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me,” Novak later told Newsday, adding that Bush administration officials “thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.” [Newsday, July 22, 2003]

Out of Africa

Meanwhile, senior officials in Bush’s traveling party to Africa were trying to plant the same anti-Wilson stories.

To the administration’s dismay, the Niger-yellowcake deceit was dogging Bush’s Africa trip. At every stop, questions were asked about how the infamous “16 words” on Niger’s yellowcake ended up in the State of the Union speech.

Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer was finally forced to concede that the yellowcake allegation was “incorrect” and should not have been included in the speech. On July 11, 2003, CIA Director Tenet took the fall for the State of the Union screw-up, apologizing for not better vetting the speech.

“This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches,” Tenet said.

The admission was one of the first times the Bush team had retreated on any national security issue. Administration officials were embarrassed, incensed and determined to punish Wilson.

Time magazine correspondent John Dickerson, who was on the Africa trip, said administration officials urged him to pursue the seemingly insignificant question of who had been involved in arranging Wilson’s trip.

While Bush was meeting with the president of Uganda, one “senior administration official” pulled Dickerson aside and told him that “some low-level person at the CIA was responsible for the mission” and Dickerson “should go ask the CIA who sent Wilson.”

Later, Dickerson discussed Wilson with a second “senior administration official” and got the same advice. “This official also pointed out a few times that Wilson had been sent by a low-level CIA employee and encouraged me to follow that angle,” Dickerson recalled.

“At the end of the two conversations I wrote down in my notebook: ‘look who sent.’ … What struck me was how hard both officials were working to knock down Wilson.

Discrediting your opposition is a standard tactic in Washington, but the Bush team usually played the game differently. At that stage in the first term, Bush aides usually blew off their critics. Or, they continued to assert their set of facts in the hope of overcoming criticism by force of repetition.” [See Dickerson’s article, “Where’s My Subpoena?” for Slate, Feb. 7, 2006]

Back in Washington on July 11, 2003, Dickerson’s Time colleague, Matthew Cooper, was getting a similar earful from Rove, who tried to steer Cooper away from Wilson’s information on the Niger deception and toward the notion that the Niger trip was authorized by “Wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency [CIA] on WMD issues,” according to Cooper’s interview notes. [See Newsweek, July 18, 2005, issue]

Cooper later got the information about Wilson’s wife confirmed by Cheney’s chief of staff Libby, who was peddling the same information to Judith Miller.

On July 12, 2003, in a telephone conversation, Libby and Miller returned to the Wilson topic. Miller’s notes contain a reference to a “Victoria Wilson,” apparently another misspelled reference to Wilson’s wife, Valerie. [NYT, Oct. 16, 2005]

The Novak Column

Two days later, on July 14, 2003, Novak – having gotten confirmation about Plame’s identity from Rove – published a column, citing two administration sources outing Plame as a CIA officer and portraying Wilson’s Niger trip as a case of nepotism.

The disclosure of Plame’s identity effectively meant the end of her CIA career and put the lives of her overseas contacts in jeopardy. But the White House counterattack against Wilson had only just begun.

On July 20, 2003, NBC’s correspondent Andrea Mitchell told Wilson that “senior White House sources” had called her to stress “the real story here is not the 16 words [from Bush’s State of the Union speech] but Wilson and his wife.”

The next day, Wilson said he was told by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says and I quote, ‘Wilson’s wife is fair game.’”

However, CIA officials, angered by the damage done to Plame’s spy network, lodged a complaint with the Justice Department about whether the leaks amounted to an illegal exposure of a CIA officer.

But the initial investigation was under the direct control of Attorney General John Ashcroft. So, Bush and other White House officials confidently denied any knowledge of the leak.
Bush even vowed to fire anyone who leaked classified material.

“The President has set high standards, the highest of standards, for people in his administration,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on Sept. 29, 2003. “If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.”
Bush personally announced he wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.

“If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,” Bush said on Sept. 30, 2003. “I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”

Yet, even as Bush was professing his curiosity and calling for anyone with information to step forward, he was withholding the fact that he had authorized the declassification of some secrets about the Niger uranium issue and had ordered Cheney to arrange for those secrets to be given to reporters.

Bush’s legal danger came into clearer focus later with the release of a court document citing testimony from Libby, who claimed that Bush approved the selective release of intelligence in July 2003 to counter growing complaints that Bush had hyped evidence on Iraq’s pursuit of uranium.

Libby testified that he was told by Cheney that Bush had approved a plan in which Libby would tell a specific New York Times reporter about the CIA’s secret analysis, according to a court filing by special prosecutor Fitzgerald.

“Defendant’s [Libby’s] participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 [2003] occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE,” the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, the filing said.

In other words, though Bush knew a great deal about how the anti-Wilson scheme got started – since he was involved in starting it – he uttered misleading public statements to conceal the White House role and possibly to signal to others that they should follow suit in denying knowledge.


Privately, some administration officials acknowledged that the Plame disclosure was an act of retaliation against Wilson for being one of the first mainstream public figures to challenge Bush on the WMD intelligence.

In September 2003, a White House official told the Washington Post that at least six reporters had been informed about Plame before Novak’s column. The official said the disclosure was “purely and simply out of revenge.”

Bush’s cover-up might have worked, except in late 2003, Ashcroft recused himself because of a conflict of interest, and Fitzgerald – the U.S. Attorney in Chicago – was named as the special prosecutor. Fitzgerald pursued the investigation far more aggressively, even demanding that journalists testify about the White House leaks.

Yet, from 2003 to 2005, as the Plame case grew into a political embarrassment for Bush, Republican operatives and their right-wing media allies stepped up efforts to transform Wilson – a private citizen – into a national bete noire.

The Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee made misleading and derogatory claims about Wilson’s honesty in a WMD report.

The Republican National Committee posted an article entitled “Joe Wilson’s Top Ten Worst Inaccuracies and Misstatements,” which itself used glaring inaccuracies and misstatements to discredit Wilson. [For details, see’s “Novak Recycles Gannon on ‘Plame-gate.’”]

Rather than thank Wilson for undertaking a difficult fact-finding trip to Niger for no pay – and for reporting accurately about the dubious Iraq-Niger claims – the Bush administration sought to smear the former ambassador.

But Bush’s strategy did not entirely succeed. In October 2005, Fitzgerald indicted Libby on five counts of perjury, lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. Libby resigned from Cheney’s staff.

In a court filing on April 5, 2006, Fitzgerald added that his investigation had uncovered a “concerted” effort by the White House to “discredit, punish or seek revenge against” Wilson because of his criticism of the administration’s handling of the Niger evidence.

Still, the cost to the Wilsons was high. Sidelined by the notoriety from the scandal and faced with the destruction of her spy network, Plame eventually quit the CIA. (It was later revealed that Plame’s operation was focused on obtaining intelligence about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, another flash point that could boil over into a new war.)

Even then, the public punishment of Wilson wasn’t over.

In late summer 2006, authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn promoted an angle in their book, Hubris, that identified the State Department’s Armitage as Novak’s original source on the CIA identity of Valerie Plame.

The Isikoff-Corn disclosure was quickly cited by the mainstream Washington press corps as vindication for the Bush administration and yet another reason to dump on Joe Wilson.
The Armitage Mistake

Since the “conventional wisdom” held that Armitage wasn’t part of the administration’s neocon inner circle and was a skeptic about the Iraq War, the major news media jumped on the story as evidence that there never had been a White House conspiracy to punish Wilson by outing his wife.

“It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House – that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity – is untrue,” a Washington Post editorial declared on Sept. 1, 2006.

While acknowledging that Libby and other White House officials were not “blameless,” since they allegedly released Plame’s identity while “trying to discredit Mr. Wilson,” the Post still reserved its harshest condemnation for Wilson, blaming his criticism of Bush’s false State of the Union claim for Plame’s exposure.

“It now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson,” the Post editorial said. “Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming – falsely, as it turned out – that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials.

“He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.”

The Post’s editorial, however, is at best an argumentative smear and most likely a willful lie.

Along with other government investigators, Wilson did debunk the reports of Iraq acquiring yellowcake in Niger and those findings did circulate to senior levels, explaining why CIA Director Tenet struck the yellowcake claims from other Bush speeches.

(The Post’s accusation about Wilson “falsely” claiming to have debunked the yellowcake reports apparently is based on Wilson’s inclusion in his report of speculation from one Niger official who suspected that Iraq might be interested in buying yellowcake, although the Iraqi officials never mentioned yellowcake and made no effort to buy any. This irrelevant point has been a centerpiece of Republican attacks on Wilson.)

In shifting the blame for exposing Plame’s identity away from the White House and Novak and onto Wilson, Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt also absolved himself since he published Novak’s column revealing Plame’s identity in the first place.

Contrary to the Post’s assertion that Wilson “ought to have expected” that the White House and Novak would zero in on Wilson’s wife, a reasonable expectation in a normal world would have been just the opposite.

Even amid the ugly partisanship of today’s Washington, it was shocking to many longtime observers of government that any administration official or even an experienced journalist would disclose the name of a covert CIA officer for such a flimsy reason as trying to discredit her husband.

And only in this upside-down world would a major newspaper be so irresponsible and so dishonest as to lay off the blame for exposing a CIA officer on her husband because he dared criticize lies told by the President of the United States, deceptions that have led the nation into a military debacle and to the deaths of more than 3,000 American soldiers.

The day after the Post’s editorial, the New York Times took a slightly different tack in defending the White House. The Times article suggested that special prosecutor Fitzgerald was the real villain for having pursued the Plame investigation for more than two years after Armitage had admitted in secret grand jury testimony that he was Novak’s firstl source. [NYT, Sept. 2, 2006]

Armitage-Rove Connection

But these major news outlets had missed another key fact. They assumed that Armitage – as Colin Powell’s well-liked deputy – had no significant connection to the White House political machinations.

That was not the reality, according to a well-placed conservative source who spoke with me. An early supporter of George W. Bush who knew both Armitage and Rove, the source told me that Armitage and Rove were much closer than many Washington insiders knew.

Armitage and Rove developed a friendship and a close working relationship when Bush was lining up Powell to be his Secretary of State, the source said. In those negotiations, Armitage stood in for Powell and Rove represented Bush – and after that, the two men provided a back channel for sensitive information to pass between the White House and the State Department, the source said.

The significance of this detail is that it undermines the current “conventional wisdom” among Washington pundits that Armitage acted alone – and innocently – in July 2003 when he disclosed Plame’s covert identity to Novak, who then turned to Rove as a secondary source confirming the information from Armitage.

The revelation from the conservative source as well as Novak’s version of how he got the story – “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me” – suggest that Armitage and Rove were collaborating on the anti-Wilson operation, not simply operating on parallel tracks without knowing what the other was doing.

The mainstream media’s assumption that Armitage “inadvertently” let Plame’s identity slip out almost as gossip also was challenged by my conservative source. When I asked him about that scenario, he laughed and said, “Armitage isn’t a gossip, but he is a leaker. There’s a difference.”
Also forgotten in the mainstream news coverage was the fact that in 1998, Armitage was one of the 18 signatories to a seminal letter from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century urging President Bill Clinton to oust Saddam Hussein by military force if necessary.

Armitage joined a host of neoconservative icons, such as Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, William Kristol, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Many of the signers, including Donald Rumsfeld, would become architects of Bush’s Iraq War policy five years later.

Nevertheless, the Armitage-as-innocent-gossip version of events was embraced by leading Washington pundits as the final proof that Rove and the White House had gotten a bum rap on the Plame affair.

In a Sept. 7, 2006, article, entitled “One Leak and a Flood of Silliness,” veteran Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote that publications which had made allegations about White House wrongdoing “owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts.”

But David Broder, Fred Hiatt and the other see-no-evil pundits appear to be the ones ignoring facts in favor of a more pleasant “conventional wisdom” about well-meaning Bush aides who would never think about smearing some Iraq War critic.

As the Libby case finally gets underway, the trial will offer another opportunity for the major news media to climb back into that time machine and travel back to the happier era when everyone who mattered in Washington just knew that George W. Bush was always right and anyone who thought otherwise must be a “conspiracy theorist.”

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.