Saturday, July 7, 2007

Virginia May Spurn GOP in '08 -

Independents and disaffected conservatives will push Democrats to a landslide victory in 2008, barring another "new Pearl Harbor," and maybe because of one.

Bush may well have already destroyed the GOP for generations to come.

Virginia May Spurn GOP in '08 -

Virginia, usually a reliably Republican state in presidential elections, may become a key battleground in the 2008 election as broadly negative views among independents of President Bush and the war in Iraq have altered the presidential race.

Mirroring the national mood, Virginians' approval of Bush and support for U.S. policies in Iraq have eroded as the war has dragged on. Bush is the worst of the past nine presidents, say Virginia's independent voters, who helped him win in 2004 but now say they are more likely to prefer that a Democrat rather than a Republican be the next president.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Did Libby Defense Team Put The Screws To Cheney

We think so.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 3 - Countdown with Keith Olbermann -


The Indictment of Bush and Cheney

Calling All Judges!!

The Existentialist Cowboy: The Indictment of Bush and Cheney:

It's time for Bush to go and it is time for the people to act.

An indictment against George W. Bush has been prepared by a former Federal Prosecutor of some 20 years experience in that role. All that is needed now is a courageous Federal Judge to empanel a Grand Jury. If such a judge should read this blog, please consider this post and the following 'indictment' a people's appeal that you empanel a Grand Jury to consider these charges. Readers of this blog, please forward this article to every judge you know and to everyone you know who may know such a judge.


It has been for sometime. Bush and Cheney just make it more obvious and clear for all but the most retarded to see.


Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. (FDR: message to Congress proposing the monopoly investigation, 1938)

Time for a new grand jury

Court is where this case belongs, not before the spineless Congress

Waiting for Fitz:

So, let us list the circumstantial evidence that might lead Fitzgerald to be suspicious that Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence was the culmination of a conspiracy to obstruct justice -- that the fix was in for Libby from day he was charged:

'Keep your mouth shut and you'll be taken care of.'

1. We know that Dick Cheney was at the center of administration efforts to discredit former US ambassador, Joe Wilson after Wilson blew the whistle on the administration's uranium from Niger fraud.

2. We know that Libby met with Cheney the day before he started leaking like a rusty bucket to Judy Miller and other select lap dogs in the media.

3. We know Libby lied like a rug when he testified before the grand jury, refusing to implicate the vice president, or any other administration officials in what was clearly a concerted, pedal to the metal effort to discredit Wilson by outing his CIA operative wife.)We know that administration friends circled the financial wagons around Libby, paying the millions required to pay his legal team, and raising money to pay his $250,000 court fine.

4. We know that through all that, Libby has remained as silent as the Sphinx.

5. We know that the same day a Republican appointed appeals court panel refused to stay Libby's prison sentence during his appeals, the president commuted that sentence.

Ohio Secret Ballot Compromised - Methodology Exposed

If something isn't done about this kind of crapola, we will never regain our Democracy.

Ohio Secret Ballot Compromised - Methodology Exposed - Fair Elections NOW! -

Privacy expert James Moyer and data analyst Jim Cropcho have discovered a critical flaw in Ohio’s election system that represents a severe threat to the privacy rights of Ohio voters. Using public records, Moyer and Cropcho can demonstrate how to retrieve an individual’s cast ballot in several affected Ohio counties.

“The existence of this vulnerability represents a betrayal of Ohioans, who deserve to vote in security and confidence, free from concerns that secret ballots can become public knowledge,” Moyer said.

The technique takes advantage of the time stamps found on voting machine paper tapes in conjunction with the serial numbers assigned to the voters, which are recorded by the poll workers in the poll books.

Larry Johnson's letter to David Brooks

Go get him, Larry!

NO QUARTER: Letter to a Neighbor:

Received a copy of David Corn's latest brilliance. He takes NY Times columnist David Brooks to task and schools him. What David Corn did not know is that Mr. Brooks lives about 250 feet from my front door. So I took the opportunity to pen the following note, welcoming him to the neighborhood, and giving him a copy of Mr. Corn's excellent work. Here is my letter, which I dropped off tonight:

When the 'Bleed-Out' Begins

Just as everything else surrounding 9/11, including America coming together to support a president who would never earn our support or respect, in the days, months and years following that day, another terrorist attack will show and further blow apart the deep divisions that president has managed to create in America, with much help from the gas bags in pundit-land and in Congress.

It was all built on the quicksand of deadly lies.

David Ignatius - When the 'Bleed-Out' Begins -

America's political disharmony is scary. But so is the lack of practical preparation for the next attack. With all the emotional discussion of Sept. 11 -- all the commissions and studies and new federal agencies -- you might expect that we had gotten that part right. But we haven't.

Despite spending billions of dollars on supposed bio-defense, the United States is still woefully unprepared for a biological attack. If you doubt it, listen to Dr. Tara O'Toole, director of the Center for Biosecurity in Baltimore and one of the nation's leading experts on the problem. 'More than five years after the anthrax mailings, the U.S. still lacks a coherent plan for conduct of operations to guide the health-care sector's response to mass-casualty care in the event of a bio-terrorist attack or other large-scale catastrophe,' she told a House committee in March.

John Fabian Witt - A Declaration The President Ignores

Bush will pay not attention to rights, liberties nor the rule of law, until his rights and liberty are threatened

He has made this apparent to even the dimmest of bulbs among us..

John Fabian Witt - A Declaration The President Ignores -

As we gather around picnic tables and backyard barbecues today, we should pause to consider a forgotten dimension of the occasion -- one that is as important now as it was on July 4, 1776.

We all know that the Declaration of Independence announced the United States' freedom from the British Empire. We all remember that it declared certain truths to be self-evident. But what you probably haven't heard is that the declaration also advanced an idea about war. The idea was that war ought to be governed by law.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Something's in the air :: Northwest Arkansas' News Source:

Growing restiveness about the White House’s open-ended commitment to the Iraqi slaughterhouse among Senate Republicans like Richard Lugar of Indiana and John Warner of Virginia makes it likely that, come September, Bush will be forced to confront the fact that although he’s commander-in-chief, the United States is not a military dictatorship.

Meanwhile, congressional investigations into the politically motivated firings of U. S. attorneys and the National Security Agency’s legally debatable wiretapping under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Security Act have the potential to re-educate Americans about their imperiled liberties. White House defiance of Senate subpoenas seems guaranteed to keep the phrase “cover-up” in the news for months.

Libby is not a Left/Right Issue: It is a matter of law or no law

We are independents and we find the commutation of Libby's prison sentence, especially only hours after the appeals court agreed with Judge Reggie Walton that Libby would have to go to prison, pending his appeal, a continuing obstruction of justice by the White House and we are furious; much more than we thought we would be.

This is the Saturday Night Massacre all over again. It is time for the people to speak and speak loudly, as soon as this holiday is over and other people are listening.

Published on Wednesday, July 4, 2007 by Huffington Post

Memo to the Media: Libby Outrage is Not Confined to “the Left”
by Arianna Huffington

Here we go again. No sooner had President Bush commuted the sentence of Prisoner 28301-016 (”Cheney’s Cheney” to his pals), and the champagne begun to flow at Mary Matalin’s house, than the media launched into its usual, knee-jerk attempt to analyze the response to the decision in terms of right vs left.

Airwaves and news pages were quickly filled with talk of “outrage from the left,” “criticism from the left,” and how the commutation “will further drive the left crazy.”

It’s positively Pavlovian. Ring the issue bell, and reporters start to drool about right vs left.

Even when the facts show that the Libby commutation — like the war in Iraq, like the war on drugs, like global warming — is not an issue that splits along right/left lines.

In a SurveyUSA poll taken immediately after the commutation was announced, 60 percent of those surveyed said they disagreed with the decision, including 35 percent of conservatives.

And, in an earlier Time magazine/SRBI poll, 72 percent said they would disapprove of a pardon. So unless “the left” has recently had an incredible growth spurt, a lot of people on the so-called “right” are feeling outraged too.

And if this was so clearly a right/left issue, how come only Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback offered an unequivocal “Yes” during the New Hampshire debate when asked if they would pardon Libby (the other candidates either said “No,” or took a wait-and-see stance)?

Is it really that hard for the media to address this issue without the left/right crutch? Or, if journalists and pundits insist on hobbling along using that musty terminology, can they at least do a little research and see that there are plenty on “the right” who aren’t exchanging high-fives over Libby dodging the prison bullet?

All they’d have to do is click on this post from conservative blogger Patterico, who said “You do the crime, you do the time… This wasn’t right.” (Double entendre intended) Or they could have checked out Orin Kerr, a conservative law blogger who used to clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy (and we saw how liberal he is this Supreme Court term). Kerr wrote: “I find Bush’s action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received.”

And that’s the point. Bush’s imperial chutzpah — commuting Libby without even consulting with the Justice Department — isn’t a matter of right vs left, it’s a matter of right vs wrong.
Anyone who believes in the rule of law, who believes that cronyism is wrong, who believes that all citizens should “stand before the bar of justice as equals.” and who believes that juries should be overruled only in the most extraordinary cases, knows that this decision was flat wrong. (You know, someone like George Bush, who, as Governor of Texas, said: “I don’t believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair.” And none of those exceptions applied in this case.)

Can someone please alert the media: not every issue fits your cherished right/left paradigm. Indeed, that way of looking at the world is becoming less and less relevant — and more and more absurd.

Arianna Huffington is the editor of The Huffington Post and the author of many books, including her most recent, On ‘Becoming Fearless….in Love, Work and Life‘.

© 2007 The Huffington Post

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.
What about Limited Immunization?

Essentially saying that anything Libby says in testimony before Congress or, hopefully, another Grand Jury, can in no way way be used against him, by any court, including the court of appeals, who cannot consider new evidence anyway, except to provide him a new trial if the evidence is in his favor and was not brought up at trial

Published on Wednesday, July 4, 2007 by

The High Cost of Libby’s Silence
by Amy Goodman

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” says the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Unless, of course, you are a friend of the president. By commuting “Scooter” Libby’s sentence, President Bush is also protecting himself and Vice President Dick Cheney.

I asked former Ambassador Joe Wilson what he thought about the commutation. It was his 2003 opinion piece that refuted Bush’s claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa. In retaliation, the White House leaked the name of his wife, Valerie Plame, and her CIA identity. Wilson said, “It casts a cloud of suspicion over the president and begs the question whether the president is participating in an ongoing obstruction of justice and cover-up of criminal activity within the White House.” I asked him how: “By ensuring that Libby will have no incentive to talk with the special prosecutor.”

Prisoners often cooperate with government prosecutors in exchange for leniency. With the prison sentence gone, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald loses his leverage over Libby. While Bush and his subordinates stress that Libby still faces a $250,000 fine, the Libby Legal Defense Trust was set up to help him out.

Among the listed trustees are former senator, TV actor and likely Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, and former CIA director and Iraq war booster James Woolsey. Woolsey’s firm lobbied for the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi’s CIA-funded group that provided faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the war. Woolsey was also a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and involved with the Project for the New American Century, two influential groups that helped provide intellectual cover and political muscle for the invasion of Iraq. Given the power and wealth represented on his fundraising team, Libby will do just fine with his fine.

Blogger Marcy Wheeler, who followed the Libby trial closely, told me: “In some ways, commutation is worse [for the cause of justice] than a pardon. With a commutation, Scooter Libby retains his Fifth Amendment rights.” If Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., for example, were to call a hearing, Libby could still plead the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, remaining silent. Had he been pardoned and been completely cleared of any wrongdoing, then he would have a harder time refusing to answer questions. Libby’s continued silence protects Bush and Cheney.

The commutation also allows the Bush administration to remain silent. As Bush said, “I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted.”

So the commutation ensures that Libby will not cooperate with Fitzgerald, and will not cooperate with Congress. Why does this matter? Because this case is not about obstruction of justice, it is not about perjury. Ultimately, this case is about war.

The Bush administration’s case for war depended on false claims about weapons of mass destruction. President George H.W. Bush hailed Wilson as “a true American hero” for his role as acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. But when Wilson publicly debunked the George W. Bush administration’s claim about African uranium, he was attacked, his wife was outed, her career ruined. Her job: an undercover CIA operative investigating weapons of mass destruction. This week, the United Nations formally closed down its weapons search program in Iraq, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. So much for WMD.

Thompson released a statement after the commutation, saying, “This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.” Good Americans sent to war, and who died, now number close to 3,600. They will not be getting on with their lives. And let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. More than 20,000 Americans are wounded, some with limbs lost, some blinded, some brain-damaged. They have no choice but to get on with their lives, but without a star-studded fundraising committee.

The Declaration of Independence speaks of unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also says that when a government “becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.”

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

© 2007 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

It is up to the Congress and, ultimately, the People

Published on Wednesday, July 4, 2007 by MSNBC

I Accuse You, Mr. Bush…
by Keith Olbermann

“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”That-on this eve of the 4th of July-is the essence of this democracy, in 17 words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those 17 words-improbably enough-was the actor John Wayne. And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.

“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier, but there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice: The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world-but merely that we may function.

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne, is an implicit trust-a sacred trust: That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and earlier than most.
And in circumstances more tragic and threatening. And we did that with which history tasked us.

We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected-indeed those who did not believe he had been elected-willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison-at the Constitutional Convention-said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish-the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens-the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics. The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing-or a permanent Democratic majority-is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our Democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove. And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government. But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment. The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and quaint.

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws. The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable fairness of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously.

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

And in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate-instantaneously-became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law of insisting-in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood - that he was the law.

Not the Constitution. Not the Congress. Not the Courts. Just him.

Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, of your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy. These are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.
But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush-and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal-the average citizen understands that, Sir.

It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one-and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency. And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history. Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush. And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney. You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday. Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters. Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.

But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them-or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them-we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time-and our leaders in Congress, of both parties-must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach-get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone-anyone-about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

And the cover-up continues, along with obstruction of justice.

But, pray tell, the cover up of what, exactly? We all know that the excuses for war in Iraq were bogus and/or delusional.

Anyone who serously doubts that, cannot be convinced of anything other than by Bush and Cheney, and we see what their poll numbers are. Not many people believe them about anything anymore, let alone the Iraq Lies.

What's really being covered up here?

Follow us, for a moment, though the article........

Published on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 by
Libby: One More Twist in the Yellowcake Road
by Michael Winship

So much for, “No man is above the law.”

The chief prosecutor, jury, trial judge — a Republican he himself appointed to the bench. The federal appeals panel. The majority of public opinion. All ignored.

I know, I know. The president was within his constitutional rights commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. Article Two, Section 2 and all that. He claimed Libby’s two-and-a-half-year prison sentence was “excessive.”

But Bush’s action does violate the official Department of Justice’s Standards for Considering Commutation Petitions (”Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding.”)

And keep in mind, this is a man who famously pledged during the 2000 campaign, “In my administration, we will ask not only what is legal, but what is right; not what the lawyers allow, but what the public deserves.”

Nor was the announcement of Libby’s commutation exactly what you’d call a Profile in Courage. President Bush didn’t come out and make a public statement to the media and the country he’s supposed to lead. Instead, a brief press release slithered out as he returned to Washington after his Kennebunk meet with Vladimir Putin.

That’s the kind of guy this president is. You just know that if the Internet had been around when Dubya was in school he would have broken up with a girl via e-mail rather than tell her face-to-face.

Yes, it’s a sop to George Bush’s conservative base at a time when part of the reason for his basement-level approval ratings is vast right-wing dissatisfaction (Even the coquettish Ann Coulter called President Bush a “nincompoop” last week. Monday’s Washington Post described him as “a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation… No modern president has experienced such a sustained rejection by the American public.”).

But that’s not the real story. Nor is the story the crimes for which Libby was going to prison. It’s not even the original outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent by Libby, Karl Rove and others.


It’s the continuing effort to hide the truth behind the Iraq war; that we had no overwhelmingly compelling reason to invade that country, especially when so much remained — and remains — to be done against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The accusations that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden were false. And long before war began, the reported existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was known to be a sham.

Who doesn't already know that? Even the whipped Cabal news crowd has reported that. Every one , with the usual exception of the 20 - 30 % of the loyal and delusional, know that the case for war was bogus. Even some of them do, though they won't admit it publicy. How can it possible be more bogus than already proven, time and time again,

The visit of Valerie Plame’s husband Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate allegations that the African country was selling yellowcake uranium to Iraq was just part of the unraveling of the WMD hoax. That’s why the administration sought to hide his findings and discredit him, leading Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, to leak Plame’s name and then lie about it.

Is that the only reason they outed Plame, just because of Joe, when there were already many, many doubts out there, in the public domain?

In the current New York Review of Books, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and espionage expert Thomas Powers uses a spate of recent memoirs to dismantle the notion that the belief in the existence of Iraqi WMD’s was just an honest intelligence mistake. He writes that according to Tyler Drumheller, former chief of the CIA’s European division, as early as the evening after 9/11, David Manning, foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair, said to CIA director George Tenet, “I hope we all can agree that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq.”

Tenet replied, “Absolutely. We all agree on that. Some might want to link the issues but none of us wants to go that route.”

But Cheney did and so did Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Libby and the other members of the neocon gang. George Bush quickly was on board, too.

Bush had been on-board, since before we was (s)elected in 2000. Iraq was brought up in the first cabinet meeting, according to Paul O'Neil. Bush said, "find me a way to do it." (attack Iraq, that is). Someone apparantly did. Osama? Was he in that cabinet meeting?

When the vice president’s attempts to prove a link between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence proved unsuccessful, they ramped up the WMD wardrums with stories of aluminum tubes for centrifuges, mobile weapons labs and yellowcake. Powers writes, “The claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger was not only weak but was based, if that is the word, on evidence, if that is the word, that was fabricated in so obvious a manner that the CIA claims not to have seen the documents till very late in the day.”

In fact, the yellowcake story had been dismissed as bogus by European intelligence agencies even before 9/11, and when shown some documents in the spring of 2002, the French spy in charge of WMD investigations said, “All it took was a glance. They were junk. Crude fakes.” Joe Wilson’s fact-finding trip to Niger provided further evidence of the scam.

Why do we still not know who faked those documents? Seems to me that would be a high priority, but not to the Bush administration. Kind of like the anthrax attacks, eh?

Powers reports, “The yellowcake story didn’t stand up for long, but it didn’t need to stand up for long. An echo effect put it into play after Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, included it in the list of scary signs that Saddam was preparing trouble for the world: ‘The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.’”

By the time Secretary of State Colin Powell eliminated the yellowcake story from his February 2003 speech before the UN, the damage was done. And it was better if Joe Wilson and his wife’s reputations were besmirched than to have the true story believed.

How do we know that Joe was the only target. Valerie was a WMD counter-proliferation expert. She knew they were lying, possibly about more than just Iraq.

In his official statement, President Bush says believes it’s Libby’s reputation that has been “forever damaged,” adding, “his wife and young children have also suffered immensely.”

Nearly 3600 American men and women and an estimated more than 70,000 Iraqi civilians are dead in Iraq. Their families suffer immensely. Scooter Libby, aka Federal Inmate No. 28301-016, walks free.

And alive, unmaimed and with many job offers on the horizon, probably on K-street, if not AEI or some other nest of crooks and nazis.

We still believe that this is continuing obstruction and it isn't just about Iraq.

Michael Winship, Writers Guild of America Award winner and former writer with Bill Moyers, writes this weekly column for the Messenger Post Newspapers in upstate New York.
© Copyright 2007 Messenger Post Newspapers

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Corruption On Steroids

July 3, 2007 at 08:14:22

Political Corruption On Steroids
by Stephen Crockett Page 1 of 1 page(s)

Corruption and dirty politics is nothing new in America. However, the level and scope of dirty politics within the Republican Party at this point in American history seems to be unprecedented! It increasingly looks like the Republican leadership has become a kind of mafia-style criminal gang pretending to be a political party.

Both elections that put the Bush-Cheney ticket in the White House in 2000 and 2004 were questionable at best. Millions of votes were not counted. Millions of Americans were denied their voting rights. The Bush vs. Gore ruling by partisan Republican judges on the Supreme Court was blatantly unjust and stopped a legal statewide recount in Florida ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

Republican statewide election officials misused their offices to tilt election outcomes to favor the Republican ticket. Republican judges provided legal cover. Corporate controlled media (therefore Republican controlled media since corrupt corporations are the dominant force behind Bush Republicanism) feed the public a much distorted view of the process by hiding the extent of the corrupted electoral process.

The Bush-Cheney White House was born in a corrupt process and remains to this day completely corrupted. The Republican Party was already deeply corrupt before 2000. The “get Clinton” movement that forced thru the trumped-up impeachment of President Bill Clinton clearly demonstrated the unethical and often illegal behavior of the national Republican leadership. The Republicans never accepted the reforms needed to purge political corruption after the Nixon scandals of Watergate.

It is unfortunate that President Ford pardoned Nixon. If Nixon had gone to jail, reformers would likely have won control of the Republican Party and the current situation been prevented. America needed to see Nixon tried and convicted. He was not the only source of Republican corruption. Americans often forget that some super wealthy citizens and corporations helped finance Nixon’s illegal political activities.

Many current Republican leaders cut their political teeth as part of the Nixon machine. It was no accident that some of the top players in the Iran-Contra scandal were part of the Nixon machine. Others from the Iran-Contra scandal are now players in the Bush-Cheney machine.

Iran-Contra was much more serious than the public generally realized. The White House knowingly and intentionally ignored the law to impose their illegal policies. The Reagan White House claimed nonexistent Presidential powers. The current White House routinely does the same. The main lesson that the Bush-Cheney seems to have learned from both Watergate and Iran-Contra is that the US Department of Justice and the federal courts must be politicized and corrupted for Republican politicians to get away with ignoring the rule of law.

The various corruption scandals involving powerful Republican members of Congress from Tom Delay to Duke Cunningham to all the Abramoff characters can be closely connected to the Republican culture of corruption resulting from this mindset. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George W Bush have criminalized the political mindset of the national Republican leadership. They all seem to believe that they are more powerful than the rule of law. They are routinely hiding illegal and shameful behavior under the veil of secrecy, claiming powers that would make them virtual dictators.

The political prosecution of Governor Siegelman in Alabama on trumped-up charges seems to be connected to the Abramoff scandal, Karl Rove and possible election fraud concerning the questionable defeat of Siegelman by now Republican Governor Riley. Many observers believe that massive, politically-motivated illegal activity was involved in pushing for the prosecution of the Democratic candidate, Siegelman.

The Alabama prosecution looks to be a blatant and successful attempt to destroy the career of a popular Democratic figure in Alabama. It reminds this writer of the Clinton impeachment effort. It also shows the importance of investigating the US Attorneys firing scandal. It is vital to our democracy to investigate and prosecute the politicization and corruption of law enforcement. I hope Congress investigates the Siegelman prosecution aggressively. The next Democratic President should pardon Siegelman.

Legal corruption and lying on political issues is bad enough. The recent vote and statements by Republican Senators on the Employee Free Choice Act were definitely unethical but not really illegal. Republican Senators blatantly lied that workers were being denied their voting rights by adopting card check unionization by a majority of workers. The card check system is just another kind of voting but not one easily subject to employer intimidation and manipulation.

The current system is rigged against workers but Republicans simply lied about that fact with the notable exception of Senator Specter.

This kind of corruption demonstrated by all the other Republican Senators can just be dealt with at the polls. The kinds of corruption demonstrated, in the current White House abuses of office, calls for more aggressive tactics and punishment.

All aspects of corruption and abuse of office connected to the Bush-Cheney White House needs to be investigated including the Cheney Energy Task Force, White House involvement in the California electric price-gouging scandal, lying about WMD’s in Iraq, torture, secret prisons, wiretapping of American citizens without court orders, election manipulation, gutting civil rights enforcement, no-bid contracting and more. If needed, we should impeach federal judges whose rulings condone illegal behaviors or grant un-Constitutional powers to officeholders. America cannot tolerate corruption on steroids by any public officials!
Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Yes, we are calling it a pardon!

It is, for all practical purposes, a pardon.

Gooper felons can always find a job in Washington. Just look around at the Bush administration and/or K-street.

Libby hasn't lost a damn thing worth noting.

His law licence?

Oh, puleeze! He can make a lot more money on K-street.

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

Libby Fallout

Is it really radioactive?

Not unles we make it so.

Can Bush limit Libby fallout?
July 3, 2007 - 8:51am.
Attempt to have it both ways isn't selling

President Bush's decision to spare former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from going to prison — but not pardoning him — may have been an attempt to have it both ways. If so, it appears to have proved only partially successful.

Democrats still slammed Bush's commuting of Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence for obstructing a CIA leak investigation. And while some Republican conservatives applauded the decision, others grumbled that Libby should have been granted a full pardon.

Calling Libby's sentence "excessive," Bush on Monday spared the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney from having to go to prison. But he left in place Libby's conviction, two years probation and a $250,000 fine.

Bush acted just hours after a federal appeals court rejected Libby's request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals. That meant Libby soon would have been called to begin his sentence, putting added pressure on the president.

"It is another piece of bad news for the president in the sense that the appeals court forced his hand," said Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

Commuting Libby's sentence but without pardoning him was Bush's "way of having his cake and eating it too," Light said. "He'll get some boost from his conservative base — and it removes a topic of conversation for the 2008 Republican presidential campaign."

In a GOP debate last month, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former prosecutor, said the sentence was excessive and "argues in favor of a pardon." Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he would keep "that option open." Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California both said flat out that they would pardon Libby.

Conservatives had recently ramped up pressure on Bush to pardon Libby.

With Bush's approval ratings in the 30 percent range, he could little afford to further alienate this core of his support, already angry about his immigration proposals.

Conservatives characterized the prosecution of Libby by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald as a witch hunt. They also groused that Sandy Berger, who was national security adviser in the Clinton administration, got no jail time for illegally sneaking classified documents out of the National Archives — while Libby received a 30-month sentence.

Greg Mueller, a conservative GOP strategist, said Bush will "get a lot of points from people in the conservative movement for doing something so bold when his approval ratings are so low."
Still, Mueller said, "there are a lot of conservatives who say that they'd just pardon him outright. There are a lot of people who feel that Libby shouldn't even had any kind of punishment whatsoever."

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Bush's decision to commute Libby's sentence "stands in contrast to his prior history in his first 6 1/2 years" in office.
During that period, Tobias said, Bush was very circumspect in issuing pardons and commuting sentences, using strict standards and doing it relatively rarely.

Bush has pardoned more than 100 people, but none of them were prominent.

Other presidents have issued pardons for which they were heavily criticized. President Ford's pardon of former President Nixon may have cost Ford the election in 1976.

President Clinton pardoned 140 people on his last day in office, including fugitive financier Marc Rich. On Christmas Eve in 1992, just before he left office, the first President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and a CIA official as they awaited trial on Iran-Contra charges, as well as four other administration officials who had pleaded or been found guilty in the scandal.

But the elder Bush and Clinton were on the verge of leaving office. Bush still has 18 months to go.

Furthermore, the commutation of Libby's sentence comes at a time when the administration is embroiled in accusations of political cronyism in last year's dismissals of U.S. attorneys.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Bush's decision on Libby "betrayal of trust of the American people," representative of the sharp criticism leveled in general by Democrats.
While some Republicans may cheer Libby's commutation, "the general public will believe that Bush is taking care of one of his and Cheney's own," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said.

Polls have shown roughly two out of three Americans opposed pardoning Libby. There is no polling data on commuting his sentence.

At the heart of the case was the outing in 2003 of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband, retired diplomat Joseph Wilson, was an outspoken Iraq war critic.

Bush initially vowed to fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked classified information. It can be a federal crime to deliberately disclose the name of a covert CIA agent.
Testimony at Libby's trial showed that a number of administration officials had passed along information on Plame to reporters, including Libby; and that both Bush and Cheney took steps to discredit Wilson. Cheney even told Libby to speak with selected reporters, testimony showed.

Fitzgerald has said that the obstruction of justice that prosecutors claim Libby engaged in made it impossible for them to determine whether the leak itself violated the law.

After Libby's sentencing in early June, both Bush and Cheney had kind words for Libby. Cheney called him a friend and "a fine man." Bush said, "My heart goes out to his family."

On Monday, Bush had the final say on Libby's sentence: "With the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision."

Tom Raum has covered Washington for The Associated Press since 1973, including five presidencies.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

Bush had nothing to lose and everything to gain

But that does not apply to the GOP in general.

While Bush and Cheney continue Libby's obstruction on justice and try to save their own skins, this could be one more "car bomb explosion" for the GOP.

Bush commutes Libby prison sentence
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press WriterMon Jul 2, 7:44 PM ET

President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak investigation Monday, delivering a political thunderbolt in the highly charged criminal case. Bush said the sentence was just too harsh.
Bush's move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term. That meant Libby was likely to have to report soon, and it put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Bush's decision enraged Democrats and cheered conservatives — though some of the latter wished Bush had granted a full pardon.

"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's decision showed the president "condones criminal conduct."

Unlike a pardon, which would have wiped away Libby's criminal record, Bush's commutation voided only the prison term.

The president left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for his conviction of lying and obstructing justice in a probe into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. The former operative, Valerie Plame, contends the White House was trying to discredit her husband, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy.

Bush said his action still "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby."
Libby was convicted in March, the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.

Testimony in the case had revealed the extraordinary steps that Bush and Cheney were willing to take to discredit a critic of the Iraq war.

Libby's supporters celebrated the president's decision.

"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby," said House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

"That's fantastic. It's a great relief," said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who helped raise millions for Libby's defense fund. "Scooter Libby did not deserve to go to prison and I'm glad the president had the courage to do this."

Already at record lows in the polls, Bush risked a political backlash with his decision. President Ford tumbled in the polls after his 1974 pardon of Richard M. Nixon, and the decision was a factor in Ford's loss in his bid for re-election.

White House officials said Bush knew he could take political heat and simply did what he thought was right. They would not say what advice Cheney might have given the president.

On the other hand, Bush's action could help Republican presidential candidates by letting them off the hook on the question of whether they would pardon Libby.

A message seeking comment from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's office was not immediately returned.

Bush said Cheney's former aide was not getting off free.

"The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged," Bush said. "His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting."

A spokeswoman for Cheney said simply, "The vice president supports the president's decision."

The White House said Bush came to his decision in the past week or two and made it final Monday because of the ruling of the appeals panel, which meant Libby would be going to prison soon.

The president's announcement came just as prison seemed likely for Libby. He recently lost an appeals court fight that was his best chance to put the sentence on hold, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had already designated him inmate No. 28301-016.

Bush's statement made no mention of the term "pardon," and he made clear that he was not willing to wipe away all penalties for Libby.

The president noted Libby supporters' argument that the punishment did not fit the crime for a "first-time offender with years of exceptional public service."

Yet, he added: "Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable."

Bush then stripped away the prison time.

The leak case has hung over the White House for years. After CIA operative Valerie Plame's name appeared in a 2003 syndicated newspaper column, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald questioned top administration officials, including Bush and Cheney, about their possible roles.
Nobody was ever charged with the leak, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage or White House political adviser Karl Rove, who provided the information for the original article. Prosecutors said Libby obstructed the investigation by lying about how he learned about Plame and whom he told.

Plame believes Libby and other White House officials conspired to leak her identity to reporters in 2003 as retribution against her husband, Joseph Wilson, who criticized what he said was the administration's misleading use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Attorney William Jeffress said he had spoken to Libby briefly by phone and "I'm happy at least that Scooter will be spared any prison time. ... The prison sentence was imminent, but obviously the conviction itself is a heavy blow to Scooter."

A White House official notified the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, of the decision. Walton, a Bush appointee who served in the White House under the president's father, had cited the "overwhelming" evidence against Libby when he handed down his sentence. A courthouse spokesman said Walton would not comment.
Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

As Bush Commtes Libby Sentence, Pols React

But will be people re-act?

Reaction to Bush's Libby decision
By The Associated PressMon Jul 2, 9:23 PM ET

Some reaction to President Bush's decision Monday to commute the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.
"In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing." — Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
"When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules — one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law." — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." — Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.
"Accountability has been in short supply in the Bush administration, and this commutation fits that pattern." — Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby. The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime." — House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.
"This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years." — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"After evaluating the facts, the president came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct." — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world." — former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
"The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own vice president's chief of staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law." — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice." — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
"The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed." — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"It is time for the American people to be heard — I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law." — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.
"President Bush's 11th-hour commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence makes a mockery of the justice system and betrays the idea that all Americans are expected to be held accountable for their actions, even close friends of Vice President Cheney." — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
"By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, the president continues to abdicate responsibility for the actions of his administration. The only ones paying the price for this administration's actions are the American people." — Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.
"This decision sends the wrong message about the rule of law in the United States, just as the president is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How can we hold the line against injustices in other countries when our own executive branch deliberately sets out to smear its critics, lies about it and then wriggles away without having to pay the price in prison?" — Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.
"The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking. Will the president also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?" — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

A Terrorist Spectacular For Summer....

Perhaps Americans should stay home this summer, save fuel, don't drive or fly; rather, make a family project of creating a more energy efficient home and lifestyle.

Secret Document: U.S. Fears Terror 'Spectacular' Planned
Official Cites Resemblance to Warnings and Intelligence Before 9/11
July 1, 2007 — ABC News

A secret U.S. law enforcement report, prepared for the Department of Homeland Security, warns that al Qaeda is planning a terror "spectacular" this summer, according to a senior official with access to the document.

"This is reminiscent of the warnings and intelligence we were getting in the summer of 2001," the official told

U.S. officials have kept the information secret, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said today on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that the United States did not have "have any specific credible evidence that there's an attack focused on the United States at this point."

As reported, U.S. law enforcement officials received intelligence reports two weeks ago warning of terror attacks in Glasgow and Prague, the Czech Republic, against "airport infrastructure and aircraft."

The warnings apparently never reached officials in Scotland, who said this weekend they had received "no advance intelligence" that Glasgow might be a target.

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff declined to comment specifically on on the report today, but said "everything that we get is shared virtually instantaneously with our counterparts in Britain and vice versa."

Unlike the United States, officials in Germany have publicly warned that the country could face a major attack this summer, also comparing the situation to the pre-9/11 summer of 2001.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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

Tenet: Full of It. Unaswered questions

Published on Friday, June 29, 2007 by

Thomas Powers

This essay, which considers At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA by George Tenet with Bill Harlow (HarperCollins, 549 pp., $30.00) appears in the July 19th, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books and is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.

How we got into Iraq is the great open question of the decade but George Tenet in his memoir of his seven years running the Central Intelligence Agency takes his sweet time working his way around to it. He hesitates because he has much to explain: the claims made by Tenet’s CIA with “high confidence” that Iraq was dangerously armed all proved false. But mistakes are one thing, excusable even when serious; inexcusable would be charges of collusion in deceiving Congress and the public to make war possible. Tenet’s overriding goal in his carefully written book is to deny “that we somehow cooked the books” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. If he says it once he says it a dozen times. “We told the president what we did on Iraq WMD because we believed it.”

But repetition is not enough. Tenet’s problem is that the intelligence and the war proceeded in lockstep: no intelligence, no war. Since Tenet delivered the (shockingly exaggerated) intelligence, and the President used it to go to war, how is Tenet to convince the world that he wasn’t simply giving the boss what he wanted? Tenet naturally dislikes this question but it is evident that the American public and Congress dislike it just as much. Down that road lie painful truths about the character and motives of the President and the men and women around him.

But getting out of Iraq will not be easy, and the necessary first step is to find the civic courage to insist on knowing how we got in. Tenet’s memoir is an excellent place to begin; some of what he tells us and much that he leaves out point unmistakably to the genesis of the war in the White House — the very last thing Tenet wants to address clearly. He sidles up to the question at last on page 301: “One of the great mysteries to me,” he writes, “is exactly when the war in Iraq became inevitable.”

Hans Blix, director of the United Nations weapons inspection team, did not believe that war was inevitable until the shooting started. In Blix’s view, reported in his memoir Disarming Iraq, the failure of his inspectors to find Saddam Hussein’s WMD meant that a US invasion of Iraq could certainly be put off, perhaps avoided altogether. For Blix it was all about the weapons. Tenet’s version of events makes it clear that WMD, despite all the ballyhoo, were in fact secondary; something else was driving events.

Tenet’s omissions begin on Day Two of the march to war, September 12, 2001, when three British officials came to CIA headquarters “just for the night, to express their condolences and to be with us. We had dinner that night at Langley,….as touching an event as I experienced during my seven years as DCI.” This would have been an excellent place to describe the genesis of the war but Tenet declines. We must fill in the missing pieces ourselves.

The guests that night were David Manning, barely a week into his new job as Tony Blair’s personal foreign policy adviser; Richard Dearlove, chief of the British secret intelligence service known as MI6, a man Tenet already knew well; and Eliza Manningham-Buller, the deputy chief of MI5, the British counterpart to the FBI. Despite the ban on air traffic, Dearlove and Manningham-Buller had flown into Andrews Air Force Base near Washington that day. But David Manning was already inside the United States. The day before the attack on the World Trade Center, on September 10, he had been in Washington for a dinner with Condoleezza Rice at the home of the British ambassador, Christopher Meyer. Early on September 11 Manning took the shuttle to New York and from his airplane window on the approach to Kennedy Airport he saw smoke rising from one of the World Trade Center towers. By the time he landed the second tower had been struck.

It took a full day for the British embassy to fetch Manning back to Washington by car, and he arrived at Langley that night carrying the burden of what he had seen. It was a largish group that gathered for dinner. Along with the three British guests and Tenet were Jim Pavitt and his deputy at the CIA’s Directorate for Operations; Tenet’s executive secretary Buzzy Krongard; the chief of the Counter Terrorism Center, Cofer Black; the acting director of the FBI, Thomas Pickard; the chief of the CIA’s Near East Division, still not identified; and the chief of the CIA’s European Division, Tyler Drumheller.

Tenet names his British guests, but omits all that was said. Tyler Drumheller, barred by the CIA from identifying the visitors in his own recent memoir, On the Brink, reports an exchange between Manning and Tenet, who were probably meeting for the first time. “I hope we can all agree,” said Manning, “that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq.”

“Absolutely,” Tenet replied, “we all agree on that. Some might want to link the issues, but none of us wants to go that route.”

Manning already understood that people close to President Bush wanted to go after Iraq, and Tenet of course knew it too. Conspicuous among them, in his mind that night, was the neo-conservative agitator and polemicist Richard Perle, an outspoken advocate of removing Saddam Hussein by military force. On the very first page of Tenet’s memoir, he tells us that he had run into Perle that very morning — September 12 - as Perle was leaving the West Wing of the White House. They knew each other in a passing way, as figures of note on the Washington scene. As Tenet reached the door Perle turned to him and said, “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.”

This made a powerful impression on the director of the CIA:

“I was stunned but said nothing…. At the Secret Service security checkpoint, I looked back at Perle and thought: What the hell is he talking about? Moments later, a second thought came to me: Who has Richard Perle been meeting with in the White House so early in the morning on today of all days? I never learned the answer to that question.”

The meeting with Perle and the dinner with Manning and Dearlove took place on Wednesday. On Saturday, Tenet was at Camp David where President Bush was weighing the American response to the attacks of September 11. During the discussion, arguments for removing Saddam were pressed by Paul Wolfowitz, another neoconservative and longtime friend of Perle who was the deputy secretary of defense under Donald Rumsfeld. “The president listened to Paul’s views,” Tenet writes, “but, fairly quickly, it seemed to me, dismissed them.” The vote against including Iraq “in our immediate response plans” was four to zero against, with Rumsfeld abstaining. Tenet adds, “I recall no mention of WMD.”

Four days later, at a meeting in the White House, Bush made a request of Tenet. Through a video hookup Vice President Dick Cheney was in the room as well. “I want to know about links between Saddam and al Qaeda,” said the President. “The Vice President knows some things that might be helpful.”

What the Vice President thought he knew was that one of the September 11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had met in Prague earlier in the year with an official of Iraqi intelligence. Tenet responded within days to say that evidence from phone calls and credit cards demonstrated that Atta was in the United States at the time of the alleged meeting, living in a Virginia apartment not far from the CIA. A proven link between Saddam and September 11 would have ended the debate about “regime change” right there. None was ever established, then or later, but Cheney and his personal national security adviser, I. Lewis Libby, known by his nickname as Scooter, argued and reargued the case for the link until the eve of war. Often they went to the agency personally, bringing fresh allegations acquired from their own sources, and pressing CIA analysts to “re-look” the evidence.

Under continuing White House pressure the agency treated their claims respectfully. Analysts conceded that “cooperation, safe haven, training, and reciprocal nonaggression” were all discussed by al-Qaeda and Iraqi officials. “But operational direction and control?” Tenet asks. “No.”

The Vice President did not take no for an answer. He often cited the link in public and he wanted the CIA to back him up. In June 2002, the deputy director for intelligence, Jami Miscik, complained to Tenet that Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz would not let the subject drop.

Tenet reports that he told Miscik to “just say ‘we stand by what we previously wrote.’” But six months later, in January 2003, Stephen Hadley at the National Security Council summoned Miscik to the White House for yet another revision of a “link” paper. Infuriated, Miscik went to Tenet’s office and told him she would resign before she would change another word. Tenet says he called Hadley. “‘Steve,’ I said, ‘knock this off. The paper is done…. Jami is not coming down there to discuss it anymore.’”

Ron Suskind tells the same story but quotes Tenet differently on the phone to Hadley: “It is fucking over. Do you hear me! And don’t you ever fucking treat my people this way again. Ever!”

Even that was not the end.

In mid-March 2003, less than a week before the U.S. launched its attack, Cheney sent a speech over to the CIA for review making all the old arguments that there was a “link.” Tenet tells us that he telephoned Bush to say, “The vice president wants to make a speech about Iraq and al-Qa’ida that goes way beyond what the intelligence shows. We cannot support the speech, and it should not be given.”

Why did Cheney press this point so relentlessly? Tenet tells a story that helps to explain the motives behind the struggle over “intelligence” between September 11 and the day American cruise missiles began to land on Baghdad, eighteen months later. Only a few days after September 11, Tenet writes, a CIA analyst attended a White House meeting where he was told that Bush wanted to remove Saddam. The analyst’s response, according to Tenet:

“If you want to go after that son of a bitch to settle old scores, be my guest. But don’t tell us he is connected to 9/11 or to terrorism because there is no evidence to support that. You will have to have a better reason.”

The better reason eventually settled on by President Bush was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The evidence for WMD turned out to be even weaker than the evidence for “the link,” but Cheney, with the full backing of the White House and the National Security Council, hammered without let-up on the horrific consequences of error — discovering too late that Iraq had nuclear weapons meant that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud. It was vaguely believed at the time, by the public and foreign intelligence services alike, that the CIA must have learned something new; why else in early 2002 had Saddam Hussein suddenly become a threat to the world?

In fact only one thing had changed — the American frame of mind, something clearly understood by advisers to Britain’s Tony Blair, who had decided immediately after September 11 that he was going to back the American response, whatever it was. David Manning’s hope, expressed at his dinner with Tenet, that the Americans would settle for the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban was soon dashed. A week later Tony Blair himself was at the White House. Bush took him immediately by the elbow, according to the British ambassador, Christopher Meyer, and moved the prime minister off into a corner of the room.
Don’t get distracted, Blair told the President; Taliban first.

“I agree with you, Tony,” Bush replied. “We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.”

The Taliban were in retreat by the end of the year; on March 1, Robert Einhorn, an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, testified in Congress that Bush had come back to Iraq: “A consensus seems to be developing in Washington in favor of ‘regime change’ in Iraq, if necessary through the use of military force.”

As it happened, it took a year to get from point A to point B — from developing consensus to war. During that year George Tenet’s CIA played an indispensable part in raising fears of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but in his memoir Tenet is reluctant to approach the Iraq problem. He writes proudly of the agency’s success in removing the Taliban — which was in fact a marvel of the light touch, especially in retrospect — and insists he was slow to recognize that Iraq was next:

“My many sleepless nights back then didn’t center on Saddam Hussein. Al-Qa’ida occupied my nightmares…. Looking back, I wish I could have devoted equal energy and attention to Iraq…. Iraq deserved more of my time. But the simple fact is that I didn’t see that freight train coming as early as I should have.”

When did war become inevitable? When did Tenet see the freight train coming? Does he really hope to convince us that it took him longer than the British, who signed on for war at a meeting with Bush at his Texas ranch in April 2002?

What we know about the extraordinarily close British-American relationship in the run-up to war comes mainly from a series of high-level British government papers known collectively as “the Downing Street memos.”5 An unknown person gave them to the British newspaper correspondent Michael Smith — a first batch of six, in September 2004, when Smith was working for the Telegraph; and two more the following May after Smith had moved over to the London Times. These documents reveal British plans in a language of bald directness and candor. There is no fudge; there is no evasion of awkward fact; there is frank admission of where they want to get and how they plan to get there.

The British had no objection to overthrowing Saddam by military means but feared that the American willingness to go it alone would undermine the case, anger the world, and make it impossible for Britain to take part. The solution was to cast Saddam as the villain, and the British saw promise in his serial rejection of UN resolutions. If he could be coaxed to defy one last and final offer to disarm, worded carefully to make UN demands sound fair, then the world might come around to seeing war as reasonable. This was the strategy the British hoped to sell to the Americans in the spring of 2002. In a first step, David Manning in mid-March flew again to Washington where he met twice with the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. He reported in a memo to Blair on March 14:

“These were good exchanges, and particularly frank when we were one-on-one at dinner…. Condi’s enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties…. From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions: how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified;… what happens on the morning after?”

Blair was in a strong position, in Manning’s view. “Bush will want to pick your brains,” he told the prime minister in his memo. “He also wants your support.” The price of that support, Manning told Rice, would be recognition of British concerns:

[I]n particular: the UN dimension. The issue of the weapons inspectors must be handled in a way that would persuade European and wider opinion that the US was conscious of the international framework, and the insistence of many countries on the need for a legal base. Renewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument.

A few days after Manning’s dinner with Rice, Christopher Meyer invited Paul Wolfowitz to lunch at the ambassador’s residence. He reported the result to Manning on March 18: “I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week.” Yes, Britain supported regime change but the world had to be brought along. Wolfowitz wanted to talk about Saddam’s crimes and his connections to al-Qaeda — “did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting” of Mohamed Atta with the Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague? Meyer stuck to the script: “I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UNSCRs [Security Council Resolutions]….”

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, expanded on this argument in his options paper for Blair at the end of the month. Making the case, in Straw’s view, meant going back to the UN:
“That Iraq is in flagrant breach of international legal obligations imposed on it by UNSC provides us with the core of a strategy…. I believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors is essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.”

Straw appended a memo from the Foreign Office political director, Peter Ricketts, who described the immediate challenge as explaining why Iraq, and why now?

“The truth is that… even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up…. We are still left with a problem of bringing public opinion to accept the imminence of a threat from Iraq. This is something the Prime Minister and President need to have a frank discussion about.”

Blair met with Bush in Crawford, Texas, on April 6 and promised to join a military campaign for Saddam’s removal, but only, Blair stressed, after “the options for action to eliminate Iraq’s WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.” Bush did not say yes to this at the time and as spring of 2002 moved into summer the Vice President argued against any return to the UN. Cheney feared that Baghdad would renew its cat-and-mouse game with inspectors, the process would drag on, and the administration’s determination to invade and occupy Iraq would gradually erode, leaving a defiant Saddam still in power.

The British made a final effort to convince Bush to obtain a UN resolution in July, beginning with a trip to Washington by MI6’s director, Richard Dearlove, to check the temperature of American thinking. On Saturday, July 20, Dearlove and other British intelligence officials visited the CIA in Langley, where George Tenet took Dearlove aside for a private talk that lasted an hour and a half. On July 23, back in London, Dearlove reported on his frank discussions in Washington.

But first let us consider Tenet’s account of this episode in his memoir. It is deceptive in the extreme. “In May of 2002,” he writes, Dearlove came to Washington and met with Rice, Hadley, Scooter Libby, and Congressman Porter Goss, then chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Three years later the documents leaked to the British press quoted Dearlove describing his findings in Washington at a cabinet meeting. Tenet writes, “Sir Richard later told me that he had been misquoted.”

May of 2002? Tenet is off by two months. I suspect that Dearlove really did come in May as well, and that Tenet cites the earlier visit to muddy the waters about his meeting with Dearlove on July 20 — neither denying it took place nor lying about what was said. After May 2005 — a full year after Tenet had left the CIA — Dearlove “told me that he had been misquoted.” Tenet knows what he told Dearlove; does he think his views were misrepresented by Dearlove’s report to the cabinet, as recorded in the minutes? Tenet does not say. He adds that Dearlove “believed that the crowd around the vice president was playing fast and loose with the evidence.” In short, Tenet is trying to put a country mile of daylight between Dearlove’s unvarnished report to the British cabinet and Tenet’s ninety-minute, private conversation with Dearlove at the CIA only three days earlier.

We may assume that the whole of Dearlove’s remarks as reported in the cabinet meeting minutes were colored by what Tenet told him:

“C [the traditional designation for the chief of MI6] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

Tenet has done his utmost — short of lying — to hide his role as Dearlove’s informant, but every point the MI6 director made was something Tenet was uniquely positioned to tell him.
The danger from Blair’s point of view was a bull-headed American drive to war which the British would find it politically impossible to join. He told the cabinet that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.” The cabinet agreed that a strategy to “wrongfoot” Saddam through the UN was crucial. Jack Straw “would send the prime minister the background on the UN inspectors and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.” Early in August Straw made a secret visit to argue Blair’s case for the UN gambit with Secretary of State Colin Powell in the latter’s house; Powell then pressed the point about the UN hard with Bush at a private White House dinner and Bush at last agreed. Tenet attended a final meeting on the issue at Camp David on Saturday morning, September 7:

Colin Powell was firmly on the side of going the extra mile with the UN, while the vice president argued just as forcefully that doing so would only get us mired in a bureaucratic tangle with nothing to show for it other than the time lost off a ticking clock. The president let Powell and Cheney pretty much duke it out.”

But the decision had already been made. Blair was also present at Camp David that day. He had been urging a UN resolution for months and had not crossed the ocean to be told no. According to Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, Bush told Blair that the United States would bring the question of Saddam’s WMD to the UN one more time before going to war, but war would probably still follow in the end. Thus the stage was set for a UN melodrama starring a defiant Saddam before armies crossed borders, but nothing worked as the British had imagined. Saddam accepted unconditionally the Security Council’s demand on November 8 for intrusive new inspections. While the report he submitted on Iraq’s destruction of its WMD was rejected as obfuscating, the UN was able to resume inspections at the end of November. Hans Blix’s inspectors scoured the country inspecting hundreds of sites but found nothing, and Blix infuriated the White House by refusing to declare Iraq in material breach of Resolution 1441 demanding that he disarm.

As a ploy for war, “wrongfooting” Saddam was a bust. With each passing week he seemed less of a threat. Cheney’s clock was ticking; American military plans, hoping to avoid the brutal Iraqi summer, called for fighting to begin in March at the latest. Bush was determined and Blair was willing to go forward with war, but since the UN gambit had generated no just cause for war, the Americans were compelled to make the case before the UN themselves. The date was set for February 5, and Colin Powell was chosen to present the evidence — the fruits of many months of work by the collectors and analysts of George Tenet’s CIA. Everything seemed to rest on the strength of Powell’s argument — the onset of war, the Bush policy to remake the Middle East, the American reputation in the world. This was the moment when the intelligence and the war fell completely into lockstep; no intelligence, no war. If Tenet is to be vindicated as an honest man this is where he must convince us the intelligence was genuinely believed and honestly presented.

“My colleagues,” Powell said in the speech, “every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Visible behind Powell as he placed his public reputation on the line was George Tenet, arms folded and filling his seat with bearlike bulk. Tenet had personally guaranteed Powell that every claim he made was on firm ground.

“It was a great presentation,” Tenet writes of Powell’s speech, “but unfortunately the substance didn’t hold up.”

The substance, in fact, was wrong in every particular, as is now well known. Tenet does not linger on that. He argues instead that it didn’t matter: Bush didn’t go to war because the CIA told him Saddam Hussein had WMD — the dead-certain “slam dunk” he used to describe the evidence in a White House meeting in December 2002. And maybe the WMD claims in the agency’s National Intelligence Estimate “were flawed,” he writes, but didn’t Congress have an obligation at the very least to read the whole of the ninety-page paper before voting to authorize war? Should their negligence be blamed on him? “The intelligence process was not disingenuous,” he insists, “nor was it influenced by politics.” This is the whole of his defense: we were wrong, but it was an honest error.

This is not the place for an exhaustive reexamination of the agency’s long-exploded claims, but no plea of honest error can survive even a quick look at the facts in three disputes — what Iraq intended to do with aluminum tubes, how the agency knew about Iraq’s mobile biological warfare labs, and why a report that Iraq was trying to buy uranium “yellowcake” in Niger made its way into one official speech after another until it finally appeared — the infamous “sixteen words” — in Bush’s state of the union speech in January 2003. None of these claims was robust when first encountered by the CIA. All were “processed” by CIA analysts in a manner intended to disguise shaky sources, minimize doubts, exclude alternative explanations, exaggerate their significance, and inflate the confidence level with which they were believed. None passes the “honest error” test.

After the seizure of a shipment of aluminum tubes bound for Iraq in the summer of 2001, a CIA analyst argued that they were intended for use in the building of centrifuges for separation of fissionable material, a claim rejected by experts for the Department of Energy when they learned of it. Analysts for the State Department also found the argument implausible. The CIA’s view was leaked to a New York Times reporter in September 2002 and then cited the same day on a Sunday-morning talk show by Condoleezza Rice as proof sufficient of Saddam’s nuclear plans unless we waited for “the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

The National Intelligence Estimate given to Congress at that time ignored Department of Energy objections and printed the State Department’s footnote of protest sixty pages away from the bald claim that “all intelligence experts agree… that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program.” Only an elastic interpretation of the word “could” rescues this statement from being a bald lie. After a year of exhaustive postwar investigation, the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the tubes were intended for use as battlefield rockets, as other experts and the Iraqi government had claimed all along.

In describing the Iraqi threat at the UN, Colin Powell laid it on thickest in his description of Iraq’s mobile labs for the production of biological weapons, first reported by an Iraqi engineering student who defected to Germany in 1998 and was given the codename Curveball. German intelligence officials routinely passed on his claims to the Defense Intelligence Agency, which then circulated them to other American intelligence organizations in 2000 and 2001. Immediately after September 11 these reports became a major building block in the case for Iraqi WMD, but the Germans refused access to Curveball, and later told the European Division chief, Tyler Drumheller, that Curveball was mentally unstable, that his reports had never been corroborated by anyone else, and that some German intelligence officials thought he was a fabricator.

In December 2002, while compiling evidence for Powell’s speech to the UN, the CIA formally asked the Germans for permission to use Curveball’s information. The German intelligence chief, August Hanning, wrote back on December 20 granting permission, but repeating what had been said to Drumheller two months earlier — Curveball’s claims had never been corroborated. Tenet in his memoir denies that he saw Hanning’s letter or was ever informed about the analysts’ knockdown arguments over Curveball’s claims. In one session, according to Drumheller, a Curveball believer insulted a Curveball doubter who responded, “You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window.” Drumheller comments, “It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.”
But Tenet insists that word of the ruckus never reached him. Only a week before Powell’s speech to the UN, the CIA’s chief of station in Berlin cabled headquarters to say yet again that the Germans could not verify Curveball’s claims, and adding:

“Defer to headquarters but to use information from another liaison service’s source whose information cannot be verified on such an important, key topic should take the most serious consideration.”

Tenet has insisted that he never saw that cable either. Nor does he remember a last-minute warning from Drumheller the night before Powell’s speech. Tenet had called Drumheller seeking a phone number. “As long as I’ve got you,” said Drumheller on the phone, “there are some problems with the German reporting.” Drumheller writes that he tried to tell Tenet that Curveball was worthless. Tenet remembers the phone call, but not the warning. What Curveball said was found by the Iraq Survey Group to be wrong in every detail.

The claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger was not only weak but was based, if that is the word, on evidence, if that is the word, that was fabricated in so obvious a manner that the CIA claims not to have seen the documents till very late in the day. First notice of the Iraqi-Niger connection reached the CIA shortly before September 11, probably from Italian intelligence officials passing on a two-year-old Telex which reported plans of the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican to visit Niger. Two Italian journalists who have investigated the case, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D’Avanzo, note that the only significant Niger export is uranium ore. So this was an item of interest.

The uranium mines in Niger are under the control of a French company and the export of uranium ore is closely monitored by French intelligence, which answered a routine CIA query in the summer of 2001 by saying that nothing was amiss. The following spring the CIA was again “knocking on our door,” according to Alain Chouet, the director of the French intelligence branch which monitors WMD matters. Chouet told Bonini and D’Avanzo, as they report in their book Collusion: International Espionage and the War on Terror, that there was now “an undeniable urgency” to American questions, which were no longer vague, but full of detail. Again the French investigated; again the answer to the CIA was that nothing was amiss. But the Americans pressed the matter and now, for the first time, sent Chouet some documents. “All it took was a quick glance,” said Chouet. “They were junk. Crude fakes.”

At about the same time — June 2002 — a sometime Italian intelligence operative named Rocco Martino tried to sell the French a sheaf of documents reporting a secret Iraqi purchase of five hundred tons of uranium yellowcake. Chouet had them checked against the material sent him by the Americans. “The documents were identical.” A great deal more might be said about these documents, which had already been passed to the British in late 2001, according to Bonini and D’Avanzo. The Germans, too, were given a crack at them. “The Germans asked our advice,” Chouet said, “and we told them they were trash.”

What is clear is that the documents, which were fabricated with materials stolen from the embassy of Niger in Rome, were given or at least offered to the British, the Americans, the French, and the Germans — all by the summer of 2002, when the US had decided on war to remove Saddam Hussein and was building a case that he threatened the world with WMD. It should be noted here that intelligence services trying to bolster a weak case will sometimes pass a report under the nose of a foreign intelligence service to create an echo effect. Were the yellowcake documents the basis of British claims in an intelligence report released on September 24, 2002, that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa? As “the dodgy dossier,” that report — allegedly “sexed up” by aides to Blair — later became the subject of a major inquiry by Parliament. The British insist that they have other credible information on the yellowcake story but refuse to say what it is.

The Italian intelligence service concedes that its man — Rocco Martino, the sometime operative — was the one who circulated the yellowcake documents, but insists that he did it simply for the money. Bonini and D’Avanzo don’t believe it, and point out that Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, wanted a central role in Bush’s coalition to fight the war on terror. A report in Rome’s La Repubblica on October 25, 2005, says that Berlusconi pressured his new intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari, to provide the Americans with intelligence that would inflate Italy’s role.

Who dreamed up the yellowcake stratagem? So far Americans — public and Congress alike — don’t seem to care, choosing to lump the Niger documents with all the other phony, exaggerated reports under the category of “intelligence failures.” The yellowcake story didn’t stand up for long, but it didn’t need to stand up for long. An echo effect put it into play after Bush, in his 2003 state of the union speech, included it in the list of scary signs that Saddam was preparing trouble for the world: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Tenet makes much of the fact that he twice blocked use of the yellowcake claim by Bush — once in September 2002 and again a few weeks later — but his argument was a narrow one: the President should not be a “fact witness” on the yellowcake story because the facts were too iffy. But not too iffy, in Tenet’s view, to include the yellowcake story in the National Intelligence

Estimate of October 2002 that persuaded Congress to vote for war. Nor did Tenet protest when the State Department accused Iraq in December of leaving the yellowcake story out of its WMD declaration, when Bush repeated the charge in a report to Congress, when Condoleezza Rice cited it as an example of Iraqi duplicity in an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times in January 2003, when Powell cited it a few days later in a speech in Switzerland, and when Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld cited it at the end of January.

The yellowcake story would have appeared in Powell’s UN speech as well if Powell had not drawn the line and tossed it out. That left the secretary of state with a lot of atmospheric intelligence rigmarole and two factual claims — the aluminum tubes proved that Saddam was going for nuclear weapons and the mobile biological weapons labs proved that he was a threat to the region and possibly the world. Powell’s speech was all smoke and mirrors, but it was enough. Bush turned his back on the UN and prepared to go to war.

Hans Blix, meanwhile, had been undergoing a kind of slow awakening. Blix never answered reporters’ questions about his “gut feelings” on WMD, but he had them, and in the beginning they were roughly what everybody else believed — despite Saddam Hussein’s cease-fire pledge to give up WMD at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Blix believed that he retained some and was trying to build more. But gradually the failure to find anything eroded Blix’s confidence that his gut was correct. When the inspections resumed in November 2002, American experts suggested to Blix that the inspectors begin with Iraqi government ministries, seize computers, and look for names and addresses on the hard drives. Blix thought this a lame idea; the inspectors had tried it before, but the Iraqis were too sophisticated to leave incriminating clues in such an obvious place. “I drew the conclusion,” Blix writes in Disarming Iraq, “that the US did not itself know where things were.”

Between late November and mid-March 2003, Blix reports, the UN inspectors made seven hundred separate visits to five hundred sites. About three dozen of those sites had been suggested by intelligence services, many by Tenet’s CIA, which insisted that these were “the best” in the agency’s database. Blix was shocked. “If this was the best, what was the rest?” he asked himself. “Could there be 100-percent certainty about the existence of weapons of mass destruction but zero-percent knowledge about their location?”

By this time Blix was firmly opposed to the evident American preference for disarmament by war. “It was, in my view, too early to give up now,” he writes. Tony Blair in late February tried to convince Blix that Saddam had WMD even if Blix couldn’t find them — the French, German, and Egyptian intelligence services were all sure of it, Blair said. Blix told Blair that to him they seemed not so sure, and adds as an aside, “My faith in intelligence had been shaken.” On March

5, Blix on the phone with Rice asked her point-blank if the United States knew where Iraq’s WMD were hidden. “No, she said, but interviews after liberation would reveal it.”

Two days later, Mohammed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a report to the Security Council, decisively undermined the two principal American arguments that Saddam was illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons: the aluminum tubes which the CIA insisted were for use in a centrifuge to manufacture fissionable material were actually for conventional rockets, ElBaradei said, and the documents used to “prove” that Saddam was trying to buy uranium yellowcake in Niger were, in ElBaradei’s diplomatic words, “not authentic.” Only people paying close attention to the details understood at once that he meant the documents were fakes, fabrications, forgeries. ElBaradei’s experts had reached this conclusion in one day.
In that meeting of the Security Council both ElBaradei and Blix reported their continuing plans for further inspections, and both said that outstanding issues might be resolved within a few months. This was not what the United States wanted to hear. In mid-February, President Bush had derided efforts to give Iraq “another, ‘nother, ‘nother last chance.” Blix had pleaded in a phone call about the same time to Secretary of State Colin Powell for a free hand at least until April 15. “He said it was too late.”

But three weeks later Blix soberly argued in his report to the Security Council for more time. “It would not take years, nor weeks, but months,” he said. France, Russia, China, and other council members favored the idea and proposed a new resolution which the Americans agreed to discuss but loaded with difficulties. “Nevertheless, I thought, here on March 7 there was something new,” Blix wrote in his memoir, “a theoretical possibility to avoid war. Saddam could make a speech; Iraq could hand over prohibited items.”

The resolution went nowhere but Blix did not give up hope even when President Bush flew to the Azores on March 16 to talk war with his allies, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar López. “Most observers felt the war was now a certainty,” Blix wrote, “and, indeed, it came. Although I thought the probability was very high, I was also, even at this very late date, aware that unexpected things can happen.”

Three years later, in a speech to the Arms Control Association, Blix reflected on that moment in his office at the UN — the afternoon of March 16 — when the State Department’s John Wolf called to say that the time had come to pull the inspectors out of Iraq. “My belief is that if we had been allowed to continue with inspections for a couple of months more, we would then have been able to go to all of the sites which were given by intelligence,” he said. “And since there were not any weapons of massive destruction, we would have reported there were not any.” An invasion might have taken place anyway, Blix concedes; the Americans and British had sent several hundred thousand troops to Kuwait and could not leave them sitting in the desert indefinitely. “But it would have been certainly more difficult,” Blix said. Even so, in Blix’s view, something important had been achieved. “The UN and the world had succeeded in disarming Iraq without knowing it.” Blix guessed that Saddam hid his compliance so Iran wouldn’t think him weak, but it was the Americans who were deceived.

That in outline is how we got into Iraq. When Tony Blair’s UN gambit failed to provide an excuse for war, Colin Powell made the American case, putting in the scary stuff — the “product” of Tenet’s CIA — which Hans Blix’s inspectors had failed to find. No one paying serious attention was convinced. The French, German, and Canadian intelligence services were appalled by the weakness of Powell’s case — what could the Americans be thinking? Periodically over the following year Powell would tell his assistant, Larry Wilkerson, that George Tenet had telephoned to say that the agency was formally withdrawing another pillar from his UN speech.

“He took it like a soldier,” said Wilkerson, “but it was a blow.”

Tenet in his memoirs says almost nothing about UN inspections. The names of Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei do not appear in his book. Tenet nowhere betrays genuine surprise that the CIA got everything wrong; maybe, he concedes, “reports and analysis…were flawed, but the intelligence process was not disingenuous.” What shocked Tenet was the brutal manner in which the White House blamed him for the infamous “sixteen words,” and even for the war itself, which never would have happened, the President’s men implied, if Tenet had not assured them that the case for Saddam’s WMD was a “slam dunk.” When Tenet read the phrase in The Washington Post he seethed for a day and then called Andrew Card at the White House to say that leaking the “slam dunk” phrase to reporter Bob Woodward was “about the most despicable thing I have ever seen in my life.” Card said nothing.

Thus George Tenet broods about his hurt feelings. In the flood of his many parting thoughts he never returns to his original question about the moment when war became inevitable, which was in any case rhetorical. More to the point would have been answerable questions, the kind any fair historian would put to him: When did Tenet first hear the President talk about “regime change”? When did he realize that Iraq was next on the President’s agenda? When did he understand that WMD were to be the heart of the argument for war? And when did he know that without Curveball and without the aluminum tubes, Colin Powell would have been left standing in front of the UN with nothing?

[The footnotes that accompany this piece can be found in the July 19th issue of the New York Review of Books.]

Thomas Powers is the author most recently of Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda. He would like to thank the American Academy in Berlin, where this essay, in the latest New York Review of Books, was written.
This article appears in the July 19th issue of the
New York Review of Books.
Copyright 2007 Thomas Powers

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