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THE BUSH LIES ARCHIVES

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MAKE ROOM ON RUSHMORE....

Yesterday, Fred Barnes made the case for George W. Bush's greatness, creating a list of "great achievements" from the last eight years. That some of these "accomplishments" are actually evidence of failure -- torture, power grabs, environmental neglect -- apparently doesn't matter.

Jon Swift, apparently inspired by Barnes' insightful perspective, thinks there may be something to this.* He has a great new list highlighting the brilliance of Bush's presidency.

* After Hurricane Katrina President Bush kept our cities safe.

* After the October 2008 stock market correction there have been no Great Depressions.

* After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.

* After the District Attorney firing scandal, the outing of Valerie Plame and other scandals, President Bush restored integrity to government.

* After divisive elections President Bush united our country.

* After Abu Ghraib, President Bush reaffirmed America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions and against torture.

* After 9/11 President Bush kept America safe from terrorist attacks on American soil.

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Bush Aides Push for Rule to Hamper Worker Health Protections
RAW STORY

Bush administration aides are rushing to pass a safety rule which would make government regulation of workers' exposure to toxic chemicals more difficult; a rule President-elect Barack Obama opposes.

Public health officials worry the decreased protections will result in additional, unnecessary deaths.

It is just one of about 20 controversial Labor Department proposals being pushed by large business interests, according to a published report.

Other proposals would allow power plants to be built closer to parks and wildlife preserves, and further limit the role of environmental and animal experts in determining where major infrastructure projects may be carried out.

President-elect Obama has long been critical of the Bush administration's removal of workplace protections. During the campaign, Obama co-sponsored legislation which would prohibit this specific deregulation.

While presidents have the authority to unilaterally repeal their predecessor's executive orders, the process to remove or add regulations is more complicated and takes longer. Obama has already undertaken a review of President Bush's executive orders, with the stated goal being the repeal of those he deems to be unconstitutional.

"I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country,” said John Podesta, co-chair of Obama's transition team. "I think that’s a mistake.”

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Federal Judge oOders Cheney to Preserve VP Records
By PETE YOST
Associated Press

A federal judge on Saturday ordered Dick Cheney to preserve a wide range of the records from his time as vice president.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is a setback for the Bush administration in its effort to promote a narrow definition of materials that must be safeguarded under by the Presidential Records Act.

The Bush administration's legal position "heightens the court's concern" that some records may not be preserved, said the judge.

A private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is suing Cheney and the Executive Office of the President in an effort to ensure that no presidential records are destroyed or handled in a way that makes them unavailable to the public.

In a 22-page opinion, the judge revealed that in recent days, lawyers for the Bush administration balked at a proposed agreement between the two sides on how to proceed with the case.

Cheney and the other defendants in the case "were only willing to agree to a preservation order that tracked their narrowed interpretation" of the Presidential Records Act, wrote Kollar-Kotelly.

The administration, said the judge, wanted any court order on what records are at issue in the suit to cover only the office of the vice president, not Cheney or the other defendants in the lawsuit. The other defendants include the National Archives and the archivist of the United States.

In response to the ruling, Cheney spokesman James R. Hennigan said that "we will not have any comment on pending litigation."

The lawsuit stems from Cheney's position that his office is not part of the executive branch of government.

This summer, Cheney chief of staff David Addington told Congress the vice president belongs to neither the executive nor legislative branch of government, but rather is attached by the Constitution to Congress. The vice president presides over the Senate.

The lawsuit alleges that the Bush administration's actions over the past 7 1/2 years raise questions over whether the White House will turn over records created by Cheney and his staff to the National Archives in January.

In 2003, Cheney asserted that the office of the vice president is not an entity within the executive branch.

Two historians and three groups of historians and archivists joined CREW in filing the suit two weeks ago.

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Attorney General Pulls Immunity Trigger, Denies 'Dragnet' Surveillance
By David Kravets
September 20, 2008
 
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Saturday denied that the Bush administration -- in conjunction with the nation's telecommunication companies -- devised a "dragnet" electronic surveillance program that funneled Americans' communications to the National Security Agency without court warrants.

But the attorney general also insisted that defending his claim in court would harm national security.

"Specific information demonstrating that the alleged dragnet has not occurred cannot be disclosed on the public record without causing exceptional harm to national security," Mukasey wrote in a federal court filing in San Francisco. "However, because there was no such alleged content-dragnet, no provider participated in that alleged activity."

It was the first time Mukasey, as the nation's top law enforcement official, provided an emphatic and wholesale written courthouse denial of allegations contained in lawsuits accusing the Bush administration of widescale domestic spying in the years following the 2001 terror attacks. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, issued a similar courthouse denial in a 2007 court document (.pdf).

Despite Mukasey's denial, contained in a court filing (.pdf) made public Saturday, Mukasey asked a federal judge to grant immunity to the nation's telecommunications companies accused of assisting with the alleged surveillance dragnet. It is the first time the government has invoked the immunity legislation (.pdf) Congress approved July 9,  which was signed by President Bush the next day.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the immunity bill and helped block a filibuster. Republican rival John McCain supported the measure, but did not vote.

 The lawsuit was brought in 2006 by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF's lawsuit includes documents from a former AT&T technician that the EFF claims describe a secret room in an AT&T building in San Francisco that is wired up to share raw internet traffic with the NSA.

The attorney general's statements were provided to U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in addition to the government's motion (.pdf) to grant the telcos immunity. Walker, of San Francisco, is overseeing three dozen lawsuits accusing U.S. telecommunication companies of taking part in the government's alleged "dragnet" surveillance program.

According to the immunity bill, Congress authorized Mukasey to inform Judge Walker via classified and non-public documents about why the government is seeking immunity on behalf of the communication companies. According to the legislation, Walker has little power to deny Mukasey's request.

Still, Mukasey's filing did acknowledge the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The so-called TSP authorized the NSA to intercept, without warrants, international communications to or from the United States that the government reasonably believed involved a member or agent of al-Qaeda, or affiliated terrorist organization. Bush acknowledged the program after the New York Times disclosed its existence in 2005.

Mukasey, as part of his court filing, sought immunity for the telecoms that participated in the TSP program. The TSP has now been legalized by Congress.

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Mukasey Won’t Pursue Charges in Hiring Inquiry

Mukasey Says public opinion of those involved worse than being Charged for Misconduct

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey on Tuesday rejected the idea of bringing criminal charges against former Justice Department employees who improperly used political litmus tests in hiring decisions, saying he had already taken strong internal steps in response to a “painful” episode.

Two recent reports from the Justice Department inspector general and its internal ethics office found that seven department officials — all but one now gone — had systematically rejected candidates with perceived “liberal” backgrounds for what were supposed to be nonpolitical jobs and instead picked conservative lawyers.

In a speech Tuesday morning to the American Bar Association in Manhattan, Mr. Mukasey condemned the political abuses in his most forceful language to date, saying “the system failed.” He also acknowledged that some critics and commentators had called on the Justice Department to take what he called “more drastic steps,” including prosecuting those at fault and firing those hired through flawed procedures. But he rejected both those approaches.

“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he said. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.”

As last month’s report from the inspector general acknowledged, the hiring abuses by former Justice Department officials represented a violation of federal Civil Service law, but not of criminal law, he said.

“That does not mean, as some people have suggested, that those officials who were found by the joint reports to have committed misconduct have suffered no consequences,” Mr. Mukasey said. “Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity.”

“Their misconduct has now been laid bare by the Justice Department for all to see,” he said, adding that “I doubt that anyone in this room would want to trade places with any of those people.”

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Unfit for Publication

One of the most vile smear peddlers of the 2004 election has found a new target.

Jerome Corsi just published a new book full of rehashed distortions and the same old lies about Barack Obama, and the right-wing noise machine is in full gear promoting it.

In 2004, Corsi helped launch the Swift Boat smear campaign with a book of distortions and lies he wrote about John Kerry.

It’s up to you to spread the truth, so here it is. We’ve posted some of the facts about Corsi and his desperate fabrications on this page, but there’s even more in our PDF: Unfit for Publication.

A LITTLE RESEARCH DISPROVES EVEN CORSI’S MOST BASIC CLAIMS

LIE: “The year 1995 was a banner one for Obama. He had just married Michelle and the couple bought a Hyde Park condo, the first home Obama ever owned.”[p 145]

REALITY: OBAMAS MARRIED IN 1992 AND BOUGHT A CONDO IN 1993

10/3/92 Obama And Michelle Robinson Were Married. [Chicago Sun-Times, 10/3/07]

1993 Obama Bought a Condo for $277,550. [Chicago Sun-Times, 1/22/06]

NONE OF CORSI’S DIVISIVE, REHASHED CLAIMS CHECKS OUT, EITHER

LIE: “Senator Obama could claim to be a citizen of Kenya, as well as of the United States. Obama can trace his heritage back to his mother, who was born in the United States and was an American citizen when he was born, and to his father, who was born in Kenya and was a Kenyan citizen when Obama was born.” [p 103]

REALITY: OBAMA CANNOT CLAIM KENYAN CITIZENSHIP

Kenya Does Not Allow Dual Citizenship Applications for People Over 21 Years of Age. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management writes of Kenya, “DUAL CITIZENSHIP: Not recognized except for persons under 21 years old.” The Kenyan Constitution writes, “A person who, but for the proviso to section 87 (1), would be a citizen of Kenya by virtue of that subsection shall be entitled, upon making application before the specified date in such manner as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament, to be registered as a citizen of Kenya: Provided that a person who has not attained the age of twenty-one years (other than a woman who is or has been married) may not himself make an application under this subsection, but an application may be made on his behalf by his parent or guardian.” [U.S. Office of Personnel Management; Kenyan Constitution]

Even if Obama Had Applied for Dual Citizenship Before He Was 21—Which He Did Not—It Would Have Expired.

”A person who, upon the attainment of the age of twenty-one years, is a citizen of Kenya and also a citizen of some other country other than Kenya shall, subject to subsection (7), cease to be a citizen of Kenya upon the specified date unless he has renounced his citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance and, in the case of a person who was born outside Kenya, made and registered such declaration of his intentions concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.” [Kenyan Constitution]

CORSI CAN’T EVEN RECOGNIZE REAL RESEARCH WHEN HE SEES IT

LIE: “Christopher Hitchens noted on Salon.com that Michelle announces in her Princeton thesis that she has been influenced by the definition of ‘black separatism’ given by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton in their 1867 book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America.” [p 232]

REALITY: USING A DEFINITION IS NOT THE SAME THING AS HAVING INFLUENCE

The Thesis Used Carmichael And Hamilton’s Definition Of Black Separationism In Her Study But Did Not Suggest She Was “Influenced” By It.

Michelle Obama wrote in her thesis, “Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s (1967) developed definitions of separationism in their discussion of Black Power which guided me in the formulation and use of this concept in the study…Thus, Carmichael and Hamilton define separationism as a necessary stage for the development of the Black community before this group integrates into the “open society”. The idea of creating separate social structure and cultural structures as suggested by these authors serves to clarify definitions of separationism/pluralism as they function in the dependent variable which tries to measure the 26 respondents’ ideologies concerning political and economic relations between the Black and White communities.” [Michelle Obama’s Thesis]

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Excerpts from Bush's 2000 Republican Convention Speech

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Bush Claims Executive Privilege On CIA Leak
By LAURIE KELLMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush has asserted executive privilege to prevent Attorney General Michael Mukasey from having to comply with a House panel subpoena for material on the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

A House committee chairman, meanwhile, held off on a contempt citation of Mukasey — who had requested the privilege claim — but only as a courtesy to lawmakers not present.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, rejected Mukasey's suggestion that Vice President Dick Cheney's FBI interview on the CIA leak should be protected by the privilege claim — and therefore not turned over to the panel.

White House Asserts Executive Privilege On Cheney 
By Joey Michalakes and David Matthews 

The White House asserted executive privilege Wednesday and refused to turn over FBI reports of its interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney on the leaking of a covert CIA operative’s identity to the media.

At issue are reports on interviews the FBI conducted with Vice President Cheney during its investigation of who leaked former CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the media

“It is now clear that the vice president knew when the interview was conducted that its contents could be made public in a criminal trial,” he said in the July 8 letter, adding that “executive privilege cannot be asserted over the contents of communications voluntarily disclosed outside the White House.”

Rove Defies Congress Subpoena
He refuses to testify about several allegations
By Ben Evans
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Former White House adviser Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former Democratic governor of Alabama.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, chairman of a House subcommittee, ruled with backing from fellow Democrats on the panel that Rove was breaking the law by refusing to cooperate — perhaps the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress.

The White House has cited executive privilege as a reason he and others who serve or served in the administration should not testify, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify. Rove says he is bound to follow the White House's guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case — but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.

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Problems - Solutions
By Distressed American

Problems:

The Bush administration is STILL covering up its pre-war intel manipulation

The Bush administration is STILL covering up the lengths of its domestic spying

The Bush administration is STILL covering up its rendition and torture programs

The Bush administration is STILL covering up the outting of a CIA agent for political gain

The Bush administration is STILL covering up the illegal storage and apparent “loss” of 4 million White House e-mails

The Bush administration is STILL covering up its involvement in the political firing of U.S. Attorneys

The Bush administration is STILL covering up tons of shit

Solutions:

Impeachment of George Bush

Impeachment of Dick Cheney

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Senate Committee: Bush Knew Iraq Claims Weren't True
Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials promoted the invasion of Iraq with public statements that weren't supported by intelligence or that concealed differences among intelligence agencies, the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday in a report that was delayed by bitter partisan infighting.

A second report found that a special office set up under then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld conducted "sensitive intelligence activities" that were inappropriate "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department." That report revealed that Pentagon counterintelligence officials suspected that Iran might have tried to use the group to influence administration policymakers.

Committee chairman John D. Rockefeller, D-W. Va., said the administration's actions went far beyond simply being misled by bad intelligence.

"There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence," Rockefeller said in a statement. "But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate."

"Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced," Rockefeller said. "Unfortunately, our committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence."

The White House dismissed the main report as a partisan rehash of what's already known about erroneous U.S. intelligence on Iraq.

SENATE REPORT

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Bush's Former Mouthpiece Tells All

In his "scathing" new memoir, which will be released next week, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan accuses his former colleagues in the Bush administration of not being "open and forthright on Iraq," arguing that they engaged in a "political propaganda campaign to sell the war to the American people."

President Bush "signed off on a strategy for selling the war that was less than candid and honest," writes McClellan, "not employing out-and-out deception but by shading the truth."

McClellan, who is "the first longtime Bush aide to put such harsh criticism between hard covers," also claims in his book that former Bush adviser Karl Rove and former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney Scooter Libby "allowed" and even "encouraged" him to "repeat a lie" about their involvement in the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.

In one shocking revelation, McClellan "suggests that Libby and Rove secretly colluded to get their stories straight at a time when federal investigators were hot on the Plame case."

The White House reacted with indignation last week, calling McClellan "disgruntled about his experience at the White House." Though current White House Press Secretary Dana Perino initially said Bush was not likely to comment on the book, she later told CNN that Bush "didn't recognize the same Scott McClellan that he hired and worked with for so many years."

On background, White House aides were even more blunt, telling MSNBC's Kevin Corke that McClellan is a "traitor."

LOYAL BUSHIES STRIKE BACK

Bush was only one voice in a "chorus" of current and former Bush administration officials pushing back against McClellan's explosive allegations, often in very personal terms. "This now strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional," former Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend said on CNN. Rove, whom McClellan describes in the book as willing "to push the envelope to the limit of what's permissible ethically or legally," responded on Fox News by calling McClellan "irresponsible," adding that he "sounds like a left-wing blogger."

Former White House Counselor Dan Bartlett called allegations in the book "total crap," saying that in hearing McClellan's criticisms, "it's almost like we're witnessing an out-of-body experience."

McClellan's predecessor, Ari Fleischer, told NPR that he was "heartbroken" by the harsh tone of the book. Interviewing Fleischer for the CBS Evening News last night, Katie Couric noted that the former Bush administration officials now criticizing McClellan all sound like they "are operating out of the same playbook" by claiming "this doesn't sound like the Scott McClellan they knew."

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MEDIA -- CNN'S YELLIN SAYS NETWORK EXECUTIVES PUSHED PRO-WAR STORIES

Last week, Jessica Yellin, a CNN journalist who covered the White House for ABC News in 2002 and 2003, said that during the lead-up to the Iraq war, "the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the war in a way "that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings."

She said that "the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives." "They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes," Yellin added.

Last September, Katie Couric said she felt "corporate pressure" from NBC executives to "not rock the boat," particularly after a tough interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Former MSNBC pundit Phil Donahue, on last year's award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, said, "Our producers were instructed to have two conservatives for every liberal."

Salon's Glenn Greenwald emphasizes that, though there was in fact a vigorous debate about the war in 2002 and 2003, journalists "ignored it and silenced it because their jobs didn't permit them to highlight those questions."

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Government Asks Court To Block Wider Testing For Mad Cow
By SAM HANANEL
Associated Press
 
The Bush administration on last Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease, but a skeptical judge questioned whether the government has that authority.

The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.

Less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows are currently tested for the disease under Agriculture Department guidelines. The agency argues that more widespread testing does not guarantee food safety and could result in a false positive that scares consumers.

"They want to create false assurances," Justice Department attorney Eric Flesig-Greene told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

But Creekstone attorney Russell Frye contended the Agriculture Department's regulations covering the treatment of domestic animals contain no prohibition against an individual company testing for mad cow disease, since the test is conducted only after a cow is slaughtered. He said the agency has no authority to prevent companies from using the test to reassure customers.

"This is the government telling the consumers, `You're not entitled to this information,'" Frye said.

Chief Judge David B. Sentelle seemed to agree with Creekstone's contention that the additional testing would not interfere with agency regulations governing the treatment of animals.

"All they want to do is create information," Sentelle said, noting that it's up to consumers to decide how to interpret the information.

Larger meatpackers have opposed Creekstone's push to allow wider testing out of fear that consumer pressure would force them to begin testing all animals too. Increased testing would raise the price of meat by a few cents per pound.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. Three cases of mad cow disease have been discovered in the U.S. since 2003.

The district court's ruling last year in favor of Creekstone was supposed to take effect June 1, 2007, but the Agriculture Department's appeal has delayed the testing so far.

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AFTER 14-DAY SILENCE ON ISSUE, PERINO LIES TO THE PRESS AND DENIES TORTURE EVER OCCURRED

During the White House press briefing last week, reporter Helen Thomas broke the press corps' 14-day silence on the ABC News story reporting that top White House officials -- including President Bush -- signed off on the use of torture on detainees.

Yet when Thomas pressured White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, Perino flatly denied it, insisting, "The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror." Perino pointed to CIA Director Michael Hayden for support. But in a Feb. 5 Senate hearing, Hayden said outright that "waterboarding has been used" on at least three detainees.

Moreover, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified yesterday that the FBI "reached out to DoD (Department of Defense), in terms of activity that we were concerned might not be appropriate." Mueller said that "some of the FBI's concerns dated back to 2002, when top al Qaeda detainees were waterboarded by CIA interrogators."

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JUSTICE -- ROVE BACKTRACKS FROM PLEDGE TO TESTIFY ON SIEGELMAN CASE

Last week, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI), joined by members Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Artur Davis (D-AL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), wrote to former White House aide Karl Rove and requested that he testify before the committee about the politicization of the Justice Department, including the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.

On April 7, MSNBC's Dan Abrams reported that when he asked Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, if Rove would agree to testify to Congress, Luskin said "Sure."

A few days later however, Roll Call reports that Rove's lawyer has reversed his position. "'Whether, when and about what a former White House official will testify...is not for me or my client to decide,' but is part of an ongoing negotiation between the White House and Congress over executive privilege issues, Luskin said." Rove has denied his alleged ties to the Siegelman case, calling it "a lie."

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FEINSTEIN ASKS MUKASEY TO EXPLAIN DECISION TO DISBAND L.A. PUBLIC CORRUPTION UNIT

Last week, the U.S. Attorney for the central district of California in Los Angeles Thomas O'Brien disbanded his office's public corruption unit. O'Brien claimed, to increase the number of public corruption investigations, but current and former lawyers from the office disagreed with that reasoning and were asked not to dispute it publicly.

The L.A. U.S. Attorney's office is handling the ongoing investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis's (R-CA) ties to a lobbying firm and earmarks its clients have received. The Hill reports that yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) "called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to explain the decision to eliminate the public corruption unit."

In a letter to Mukasey, Feinstein "demanded a detailed explanation of why the decision was made, saying it "raises serious questions about the future of public corruption cases and whether they will be vigorously pursued in the central district of California especially given all of the turnover and disruption that has occurred."

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935 False Statements (Lies and Misdirection))From the Whitehouse Preceded War
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL
Associated Press

 
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.

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SENATORS SAY WHITE HOUSE PLANNING TO ELIMINATE FOIA OFFICE

On New Years Eve, facing "congressional pushback against the Bush administration's movement to greater secrecy," the President signed legislation toughening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The legislation aimed to "address sluggishness by imposing a process for prodding agencies to respond more quickly to records requests."

Office of Management and Budget officials "have told committee staff that they plan in the president's FY09 budget to park within the Justice Department all the funding authorized by the new law for a Government Information Services Office within the National Archives and Records Administration." "But by shifting the funding to the Justice Department, OMB would effectively eliminate the office, because it appears no similar operation would be created there," according to an aide to Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT).

Leahy and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that they "deliberately located the new office outside of Justice" to ensure independence from political pressure. "Putting it in DOJ would essentially obviate what Leahy and Cornyn did with the legislation," said Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org.

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FBI Denies File Exposing Nuclear Secrets Theft
Filed by RAW STORY


The Sunday Times has obtained a document that confirms that a file, which the FBI denied existed, could contain information about American officials stealing nuclear secrets for Turkish and Israeli spies, who would then sell the secrets to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, 37, approached the Times about "explosive" communications she discovered between high-up American officials and Turkish and Israeli spies. A FOIA request to the FBI, for case number 203A-WF-210023, was answered with a claim that the case number did not exist.

"I can tell you that that file and the operations it refers to did exist from 1996 to February 2002," says Edmonds.

One high-ranking official, identified by RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna as Marc Grossman, Ambassador to Turkey from 1994 to 1997. Grossman is said to have warned his cohorts not to do business with Brewster Jennings, a front company set up by the CIA. Brewster Jennings was also the "employer" of CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose cover, with Grossman's help, was blown in what is widely believed to be a political hit job by the Bush Administration on her husband, Ambassador and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson.

READ COMPLETE STORY IN THE SUNDAY TIMES

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Wexler Calls For Cheney's Impeachment
By John Bresnahan-The Politico

 
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) is urging the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney, despite opposition from House Democratic leaders.

Wexler, who first gained national attention for defending former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment in 1998, said Cheney has to be ousted in order to restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, which in his view, has been eroded by an ever-expanding claim of authority under Cheney and President Bush.

"There's a litany of issues that need to be heard," Wexler said. "This administration has abused the power of executive privilege. This administration has completely avoided testifying before Congress on any one of a host of six, seven, eight issues.

“Whether we are talking about the manipulation of intelligence on Iraq,” he went on, “whether we are talking about the outing of a covert CIA agent, whether we're talking about the illegal use of torture, whether we're talking about the potentially unlawful firing of U.S. prosecutors - on all of these issues, the administration has thus far successfully used the power of executive privilege."

But impeachment hearings would be different, Wexler said, since the White House could not raise a privilege claim in order to avoid answering questions from lawmakers.

"In an impeachment hearing, the administration does not have the power of executive privilege," Wexler said, noting that the secret tapes that helped bring down President Richard Nixon did not surface until the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings.

The House voted on Nov. 6 on a resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to bring articles of impeachment against Cheney for pushing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, repeatedly suggesting that there ties between al Qaeda and the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and advocating military action to overthrow Iran.

When Republicans, in a bid to embarrass House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, voted for the measure, the House was thrown into a brief deadlock. The measure was eventually approved and sent to the Judiciary Committee, where Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has declined to take action, despite pressure from Wexler and liberal activists outside Congress.

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Congress Will Defy Justice Dept. On Destroyed CIA Tapes
Filed by Mike Sheehan and David Edwards


Despite the Justice Department's objections, a Congressional panel will press ahead with its investigation into destroyed CIA interrogation tapes, according to a key Republican on the panel.

"I think we will issue subpoenas," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the House Intelligence Committee's ranking Republican, on Fox News Sunday (video below). "And once these witness appear in front of the committee, then I think we'll have to make the decision as to whether we're going to provide them with immunity or not. But our investigation should move forward."

As RAW STORY reported earlier, the Justice Department has refused outright to hand over any information about interrogation tapes destroyed by the CIA two years ago.

"The CIA did not tell us about the existence of these tapes," Hoekstra argued. "They did not tell us that they were going to be destroyed. ... [T]here's a Constitutional responsibility for them to keep Congress informed and they have not and we need to hold them accountable."

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), a top Democrat on the panel, says, "I am worried. It smells like the cover-up of the cover-up. ... Congress does absolutely need to exercise its Constitutional responsibility. We're an independent branch of government and we can do this very well."

Of White House stonewalling on the investigation, Harman says, "We have a system of checks and balances and it's broken. We're in Constitutional crisis because of the arrogant view of some in this administration that they can decide what the policy is, write the legal opinions to justify that policy and be accountable to no one."

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Bush Vetoes Kids...Again

For the second time in three months, President Bush last week vetoed bipartisan legislation that "would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) program "by $35 billion over five years and would have boosted its enrollment to about 10 million children."

It was the seventh veto of Bush's presidency and the second veto of a children's health bill. In an October press conference, Bush explained that he will continue vetoing bills simply to "ensure that I am relevant. That's one way to ensure that I'm in the process.

"Similar to his last rejection of SCHIP two months ago, Bush vetoed the bill "in private."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded, "This is indeed a sad action for him to take, because so many children in our country need access to quality health care."

"In case there was any doubt that President Bush's priorities could not be farther from those of the American people, he has vetoed yet another bipartisan bill to renew the successful State Children's Health Insurance Program," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, adding, "We will not rest until the President joins us."

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PERINO DEFENDS BUSH'S NIE LIE: 'THE PRESIDENT WAS BEING TRUTHFUL!'

Last week, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino attempted to defend President Bush's lie about when he first learned that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

On Wednesday night last week, Perino conceded he was told in August that Iran's program "may be suspended." Perino first tried to claim that when Bush said he didn't know what the information was, he actually meant that "he didn't get any of the details of what -- what the information was, in terms of what the actual raw intelligence was."

Perino added, "I can see where you could see that the president could have been more precise in that language. But the president was being truthful."

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh said that Bush spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about the NIE on Monday, Nov. 26.

CNN's Ed Henry asked Perino, "How could he brief Olmert on Monday about a report that he found out about on Wednesday?" Perino responded, "I don't -- I will check...it's possible that he knew that there was information coming."

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GOVERNMENT SECRECY PROVISION BURIED IN SPENDING BILL

Last year, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) worked to ensure that "budget justifications" for appropriations bills are made "available to the public at the same time they were made available to appropriators."

But in the just released House and Senate Conference report for the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development spending bill, a provision has been slipped in that "would ban the public from having timely access to budget information for the Transportation Department."

The secrecy language "was not included in either the House or Senate versions of the bill," but the conference report "prohibits the public release of that information until several months after appropriators have received it." 

"The public has a right -- and a need -- to know not only what the administration is proposing in its budget but what agencies have proposed and their arguments for doing so," said Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org. The "result is that many spending bills may be marked up before the public ever has a chance to examine an agency's detailed justifications and descriptions of its budget requests."

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Right Wing Viciously Attacks a 12-Year Old Boy and his Family

On Sept. 22, President Bush used his weekly radio address to lambaste Congress for its efforts to increase five-year funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). In the address, Bush threatened to veto the bill, which he eventually did on Oct. 3.

A week later, in an effort to change Bush's mind, the Democratic Radio Address featured a 12-year old boy named Graeme Frost, who had received life-saving care through Maryland's CHIP program after his family was in a car accident.

"I don't know why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP," said Frost in the address. "All I know is I have some really good doctors...and I'm glad I could see them because of the Children's Health Program."

Conservatives, like House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), were quick to complain about Frost's impassioned plea for presidential compassion. "To use an innocent young child as a human shield...is, frankly, beyond the pale," said a spokesman for Boehner.

The Weekly Standard's William Kristol called Frost's address "pathetic." Boehner and Kristol's disparaging complaints were mild, however, compared to the attacks on Frost and his family that soon developed on conservative blogs and talk radio over the past week.

THE ANATOMY OF A SMEAR

On Saturday, Oct. 6, a poster at Free Republic propagated information alleging that Frost was actually a rich kid being pampered by the government. Among other bits of information, the post by the Freeper "icwhatudo" asserted that Graeme and his sister Gemma attend wealthy schools that cost "nearly $40,000 per year for tuition" and live in a well-off home.

The Freeper smear, which distorted the facts with innuendo, was soon picked up across the conservative blogosphere. The National Review, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang, Powerline, the Weekly Standard blog and others all used the Freeper's claims to launch assaults on the Frost family.

"The boy is fair game," said National Review's Mark Steyn. One blogger at RedState suggested that "a team of PIs" should be hired to investigate the Frost family's finances in order to "destroy their lives with that info."

Instead of hiring a team, Malkin investigated the Frosts herself, visiting Mr. Frost's business and driving to the family's home. On Monday, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh picked up the story, claiming that Democrats "filled Graeme's head with lies just as they have some of these soldiers."

Though congressional conservatives are staying officially silent on the smear campaign, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) office is intently tracking the story while one Senate GOP aide told the Politico, "We're going to ride this story."

MYTH -- THE FROSTS ARE RICH

As The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, a health care reporter, notes, the Freeper's charges amount to little more than the fact that the Frosts "have jobs, make a decent living, and own their home." "One house in the Graeme's neighborhood has recently sold for half a million dollars, they reported," writes Cohn. "Graeme's father, Halsey, owned his own business and had his own commercial property.

Graeme and his sister went to an elite private school where tuition was some $20,000 a year." While these assertions by the Freeper are correct, they omit crucial context that directly undermines the conclusions fueling the conservative histrionics.

Together, the Frosts "earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year," which makes them "eligible for Maryland's Children's Health Program." Though Graeme does attend the private school, the Frosts only pay $500 a year due to a scholarship.

Because of injuries sustained in her accident, his sister Gemma attends another private school that costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost. As for their "lavish home," the Frosts bought it in 1990 for $55,000, at a time when the neighborhood was less safe.

Including Halsey's workplace, the family "is still paying off the mortgages on both properties" they own. In her investigation of the family, Malkin spoke to a friend of Halsey's, who said the family is "struggling," but she refused to believe it.

FACT -- SCHIP HELPS WORKING FAMILIES

The fact that families like the Frosts can "have jobs, make a decent living and own their homes" but still not be able to afford health insurance is exactly what SCHIP seeks to address.

"SCHIP finances basic, usually private health insurance for children in families with too much income to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford coverage on their own," write former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that at any given time, about 5.4 million children are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, yet remain uninsured. The SCHIP bill passed by Congress, but vetoed by Bush, would extend coverage to four million children. "We stood up in the first place because S-chip really helped our family," Bonnie Frost told the New York Times. "And we wanted to help other families."

For her desire to extend the help her family has received to others in need, Ms. Frost and her family are now being targeted by conservatives with an ideological axe to grind.

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CONGRESS -- GOP SENATOR PUTS SECRET HOLD ON BILL RESTORING PUBLIC ACCESS TO PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS

In Nov. 2001, President Bush signed an "unprecedented" executive order that "would turn the 1978 Presidential Records Act on its head by allowing such materials to be kept secret 'in perpetuity.'"

In March, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with Reps. Russell Platts (R-PA), Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Dan Burton (R-IN), introduced a bill that would "nullify Bush's 2001 order" and "restore public access to presidential records." The bill passed the House with a 333-93 vote and the Senate Government Affairs Committee agreed in June to move its version to the floor for a vote, but the bill was stalled when an anonymous Republican senator put a hold on it.

"Suspicion for the hold initially focused on three senators -- Ted Stevens of Alaska, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and George Voinovich of Ohio." But "aides to Sens. Stevens and Voinovich said Wednesday that their bosses are not blocking the bill. Coburn aides didn't respond to inquires." If Coburn is the Senator blocking the bill from coming to a vote, it wouldn't be the only bill that he is currently blocking.

Last month, Coburn placed a hold on a suicide prevention bill for military veterans that was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). 

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Dean: Two Years Later, Bush Administration Incompetence Remains

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of America. In the weeks and months following the disaster, the Bush White House and Republican-led Congress did little to help the survivors of Katrina, despite Democratic efforts to do so. Democrats took action just seven months after taking control of Congress, working to make sure the people of the Gulf Coast had the resources needed to rebuild the region. The reconstruction efforts are far from over, and Democrats are committed to getting the people of Louisiana and Mississippi the resources they need to finish the job.

On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement:

"Two years ago, while President Bush strummed a guitar at a California fundraiser and Heck-of-a-Job Brownie had his back turned, the people of Louisiana and Mississippi stood on their roofs and fought for their lives," said Dean. "Americans watched the Bush Administration's inaction after Katrina with horror, not believing that our government was capable of this kind of incompetence and indifference.

"Yet two years later, people are still suffering, and the Bush White House's incompetence remains. Just a few weeks ago we learned that the Bush Administration knowingly left Katrina survivors in toxic trailers. When does this stop? The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast deserve better and are still waiting for help.

"Democrats are fighting for those who have suffered after Katrina and won't stop until all survivors are able to rebuild their lives. But the struggle is far from over, and electing a Democratic president in 2008 is the only way to ensure the federal government makes the people of Gulf Coast a priority and that our government never lets our citizens down like this again."


CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR THE GULF COAST AND SURVIVORS OF HURRICANE KATRINA

Ever since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, Democrats have tirelessly fought for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Democrats Sent $6.4 Billion To The Region In The First Seven Months In The Majority. In the first seven months with a Democratic majority, Congress has sent more than $6.4 billion to the region - $3 billion more than President Bush's request - for significant initiatives such as helping schools recover, bolstering levees, and maintaining health facilities. [http://democraticwhip.house.gov/new_direction_gulf_coast/]

Democrats Waived Requirement For Local Matching Funds.
The Democratic Congress has "waived the local matching requirement under the Stafford Act...saving the region $1.9 billion and allowing work to begin on 20,000 stalled projects." [http://democraticwhip.house.gov/new_direction_gulf_coast/]

Democrats Asked Hard Questions And Initiated Oversight Hearings. Congress, under a Democratic majority, has held more than 30 hearings to ask the hard questions about the response to and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. [http://democraticwhip.house.gov/new_direction_gulf_coast/]

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Max Cleland: Americans are rejecting 'Karl Rove politics'

Filed by David Edwards

A chuckling former Democratic Senator Max Cleland responded to a question by CNN's Wolf Blitzer this morning about claims by Karl Rove made in reference to the 2002 election 'dirty tricks'.

"Well, you know he's lying when his lips are moving." Cleland summed up succinctly, momentarily confusing Blitzer.

"Is that it? Is that what you want to say?" asked Blitzer.

"That's it." responded Cleland with a big smile on his face.

The transcript of the interview on Fox News Sunday 8/19/07 is here.

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Max Cleland: Americans are rejecting 'Karl Rove politics'

Filed by David Edwards

A chuckling former Democratic Senator Max Cleland responded to a question by CNN's Wolf Blitzer this morning about claims by Karl Rove made in reference to the 2002 election 'dirty tricks'.

"Well, you know he's lying when his lips are moving." Cleland summed up succinctly, momentarily confusing Blitzer.

"Is that it? Is that what you want to say?" asked Blitzer.

"That's it." responded Cleland with a big smile on his face.

The transcript of the interview on Fox News Sunday 8/19/07 is here.

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FBI CHIEF CONTRADICTS GONZALES TESTIMONY, CONFIRMS NSA PROGRAM WAS SUBJECT OF HOSPITAL VISIT

Speaking with the House Judiciary Committee , FBI director Robert S. Mueller contradicted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's sworn Senate testimony from Tuesday. Mueller confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's testimony that the "terrorist surveillance program" run by the National Security Agency (NSA) was the subject of discussion during Gonzales's controversial visit to former Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital bed.

Gonzales testified that it was about "other intelligence activities" and that there was "no serious disagreement" about the legality of the NSA's domestic wiretapping program.

Despite Mueller clearly refuting Gonzales's testimony, a Justice Department spokesman defended the attorney general, saying that "Gonzales's testimony and statements about the NSA program have been accurate," but adding, "confusion is inevitable."

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether Gonzales's "confused" testimony constitutes perjury.

 

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Expanding Claim Of Executive Authority, White House Official Tells Paper Staff Can't Be Charged
Filed by John Byrne


A senior Bush Administration official unveiled a new strategy in Friday's Washington Post -- anonymously -- to combat Democrats in Congress who are clamoring to file contempt charges against officials who refuse to talk about the firings of nine US prosecutors.

In sum, this strategy amounts to, "once we say no, we can't be charged."

Ironically, President Bush's new legal argument hinges on whether one of his own US prosecutors can file charges against his staff.

According to the Post, "Administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts."

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," a senior official told the Post, which granted the official anonymity because 'he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.' "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

Under law, a contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to Washington, D.C. US attorney, who then brings the charge to a grand jury.

"It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys," the anonymous Bush official added.

George Mason University professor of public policy Mark J. Rozell called the administration's stance "astonishing" in the article.

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell told the reporter. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

The White House did not inform Democrats of the plan, which the Post called a "bold new assertion of executive authority."

Reached for comment, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the paper it was "an outrageous abuse of executive privilege" and said: "The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

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Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised

WASHINGTON — Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

When asked after the hearing if that “prominent family” was the Kennedys, Dr. Carmona responded, “You said it. I didn’t.”

In response to lawmakers’ questions, Dr. Carmona refused to name specific people in the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones. He said, however, that they included assistant secretaries of health and human services as well as top political appointees outside the department of health.

Dr. Carmona did offer to provide the names to the committee in a private meeting.

Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the administration disagreed with Dr. Carmona’s statements. “It has always been this administration’s position that public health policy should be rooted in sound science,” Mr. Hall said.

Complete Story Here

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US intelligence watchdog silent for over five years under Bush/Cheney

07/15/2007 @ 10:23 pm

Filed by RAW STORY

The Washington Post reports that the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, put in place to monitor intelligence abuses, was silent for 5 1/2 years under the Bush Administration, according to the Justice Department. For the first two years of the Bush/Cheney reign, the board was vacant.

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"It's now apparent that the IOB was not actively employed in the early part of the administration," says Anthony Harrington, the board's chairman during the Clinton administration. "And it was a crucial period when its counsel would seem to have been needed the most."

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EXCERPTS:

The President's Intelligence Oversight Board -- the principal civilian watchdog of the intelligence community -- is obligated under a 26-year-old executive order to tell the attorney general and the president about any intelligence activities it believes "may be unlawful." The board was vacant for the first two years of the Bush administration.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) added: "It is deeply disturbing that this administration seems to spend so much of its energy and resources trying to find ways to ignore any check and balance on its authority and avoid accountability to Congress and the American public."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday that "the president expects every single person working in counterterrorism and intelligence strictly to follow the law -- and if there are instances where that has not occurred, either intentionally or non-intentionally, he expects it promptly to be corrected." She said the White House relies on the presidentially appointed director of national intelligence to monitor problems.

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READ THE ENTIRE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE HERE

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'SHADOW GOVERNMENT' OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS EXPLODES UNDER BUSH

A new report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concludes that, under the Bush administration, the "shadow government of private companies working under federal contract has exploded in size.

Between 2000 and 2005, procurement spending increased by over $175 billion dollars, making federal contracts the fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending." These big government contractors make huge profits at the expense of taxpayers. According to the report, federal spending to Halliburton "increased over 600% between 2000 and 2005."

The Government Accountability Office recently found that the government has wasted at least $2.7 billion to Halliburton on "overpriced contracts or undocumented costs." Federal contracts to companies like Halliburton have grown five times faster than the overall inflation rate and almost twice as fast as the growth in other discretionary federal spending.

A record level of "nearly 40 cents of every discretionary federal dollar now goes to private contractors." Unfortunately, the enormous increase in federal contracts has not been paired with increased oversight or accountability.

According to the Washington Post, "the number of federal procurement workers responsible for overseeing spending has not kept pace" with the increase in federal contracts, resulting in contracts soaring "far beyond approved estimates."

A 115 percent increase in noncompetitive contracts has further added to the accountability problem. As Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Scott Lilly said in a recent report on the issue: "Contractors play a central role in the delivery of critical government services. ... Corrupt and ineffective management of government purchasing therefore places all of the government's responsibilities at risk."

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KATRINA -- FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEVER IMPLEMENTED 'CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE' RELIEF PLAN TO MITIGATE DAMAGE, LOSS OF LIFE

The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released a new report detailing the "failures by [Federal Emergency Management Agency] FEMA and the federal government...at nearly every stage of preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina."

Specifically, CREW found that FEMA failed to implement the "Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan," designed to "evacuate residents and position resources pre-hurricane; provide power, water and ice to hurricane victims; and provide short-term shelter and longer-term temporary housing."

CREW notes that the day before Katrina hit, FEMA Deputy Director Patrick Rhode sent an e-mail to Director Michael Brown's assistant with the subject line, "copy of New Orleans cat plan," stating, "I never got one -- I think Brown got my copy -- did you get one?"

Such accounts of incompetence echo the findings of other recent reports. A Government Accountability Office report revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency publicly downplayed the risk of asbestos inhalation -- which is often released during home demolition -- to New Orleans residents and failed to deploy air monitors in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

Separately, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that "federal agencies responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita doled out more than $2.4 billion in contracts that guaranteed profits for big companies."

Congress is working to address some of these issues, with the House voting to limit the use of cost-plus contracts. That bill is currently stalled, awaiting action by Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

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Democrats To target Funding For Cheney

House Democrats, responding to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is exempt from certain national-security disclosure requirements, said Tuesday they will try to cut off the $4.8 million needed annually to run Cheney's office and home.

Cheney set off protests from Democrats when he declared that because the vice president also serves as president of the Senate, his office was exempt from a presidential order that executive-branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., sponsor of the amendment, noted that five years ago Cheney claimed executive privilege in refusing to release details about his meetings with oil industry executives to discuss energy policy. "Now when we want to know what he's doing as it relates to America's national security in the lead-up to the war in Iraq and after the fact, the vice president has declared he is a member of the legislative branch."

Therefore, Emanuel said, "we will no longer fund the executive branch of his office and he can live off the funding for the Senate presidency."

Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn retorted, "I think it is sad that Congressman Emanuel would rather focus on partisan politics than the serious issues facing our country."

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TOP WHITE HOUSE AIDES SUBPOENAED IN U.S. ATTORNEY PROBE

Last Thursday, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees issued subpoenas to former White House counsel Harriet Miers, "who first suggested a mass firing of prosecutors after the 2004 elections," and former White House political director Sara Taylor, who figured prominently in efforts to name Karl Rove-protege Tim Griffin as U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

"Let me be clear: this subpoena is not a request, it is a demand on behalf of the American people for the White House to make available the documents and individuals we are requesting to help us answer the questions that remain.

The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania," said House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI). The White House has continued to insist that it is willing to make officials available only for private interviews with no transcripts. But as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) notes, "The White House cannot have it both ways -- it cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, while claiming nothing improper occurred."

Taylor's lawyer said that he would accept the Senate Judiciary Committee's subpoena. But this move does not mean that Taylor will testify, because the "White House appears likely to assert executive privilege try to block the subpoena."

If the White House refuses the subpoenas, "Leahy and Conyers could move to hold the White House in contempt, then forward those citations to the full House and Senate for approval."
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At First, Seizing Scalia Tapes Called OK
Associated Press


Federal marshals broke no laws when seizing tape recordings from reporters from The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American during a 2004 speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an initial agency investigation found.

The marshals service's general counsel "reviewed the allegations and determined that there were no violations of the laws," according to a summary report of the April 2004 investigation, published Thursday in the Hattiesburg newspaper.

Later that year, the Marshals Service acknowledged in a lawsuit settlement that it violated the federal Privacy Protection Act, which protects journalists from having their work product seized by the government.

The conflict began in April 2004 when a deputy marshal demanded that the two reporters erase recordings of Scalia's remarks at Presbyterian Christian School. The reporters had not been told before the speech that they could not use tape recorders, and their news organizations sued the agency.

The lawsuit ended in September 2004 with the Marshals Service acknowledging the law violation and saying it had created new procedures for working with the media. Under the new policy, marshals have "no role or responsibility regarding photography, audiotaping and videotaping at such events except when the personal security and safety of the federal judicial officer is believed to be in jeopardy."

The newspaper had requested the investigation report and other documents in 2004 under the Freedom of Information Act, but the Marshals Service had refused. The Justice Department ordered the papers released last month.

Leonard Van Slyke, the newspaper's attorney, said the documents don't say whether disciplinary action was taken in the case.

"I would have expected there to be some kind of disciplinary action taken against the marshal or her supervisor because they failed to understand their duty," Van Slyke said.

During Scalia's speech, the deputy marshal, Melanie Rube, took a digital recorder from AP reporter Denise Grones when Grones resisted her demand to erase recordings of the justice's remarks. Grones then showed her how to erase the recording. Hattiesburg American reporter Antoinette Konz then surrendered her tape and, after the speech, got it back only after erasing it in front of the marshal.

The marshal said she acted at the direction of Scalia.

The exchange occurred in the front row of the school auditorium while Scalia spoke on the Constitution. Scalia later apologized and said he would make it clear in the future that recording his remarks for the use of the print media would not be a problem.

Also among the documents are copies of apologies that Scalia sent to Konz and Grones.

The release of the documents is a victory for the newspaper and the public, Van Slyke said.

"I think it's important that the record be complete and the public have access to what actually happened and the statements people made," Van Slyke said.

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NATIONAL SECURITY

Shady Surveillance

Last month's dramatic testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has prompted renewed attention and focus on the administration's warrantless domestic spying efforts.

Describing the shocking lengths that the White House went to in order to gain legal sanction for its surveillance program, Comey revealed that President Bush called then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's wife to seek permission for former chief of staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to visit a debilitated and hospitalized Ashcroft at his bedside.

The White House orchestrated the hospital visit in March 2004, one day after a meeting between Vice President Dick Cheney and Comey in which Justice Department officials announced their staunch opposition to certifying the program. Cheney tried to skirt Comey's authority by seeking Ashcroft's approval, but Ashcroft demurred as well.

The White House then reauthorized the spying program "without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," prompting at least eight top Justice officials to threaten their resignation.

Bush finally backed down, altering the program in order to get the Justice Department's sign-off. The saga over the White House's travails to get legal approval underscores the serious questions that surround the program -- questions that remain largely unresolved to this day.

ALBERTO GONZALES' DISSEMBLING:

Testifying before Congress in Jan. 2006, Gonzales claimed, "There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed."

In light of Comey's dramatic retelling of a showdown that almost led to a mass resignation at the Justice Department in 2004, Gonzales's claim appears extremely difficult to square with the facts.

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Peter Swire explained that there are two possibilities that stem from the differing accounts. Either Comey and Gonzales were referring to the same program, in which case Gonzales lied under oath about the legal disagreements that surrounded the spying program, or Comey's objections applied to a different domestic wiretapping program, suggesting that the administration's spying efforts are broader than the public has been made aware.

Gonzales appeared to resolve this dilemma, stating this week that he and Comey were referring to the same program. "Comey's testimony related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago," he said.

If Gonzales is now telling the truth, that can only mean he failed to tell the truth in 2006.

SHOWDOWN OVER DOCUMENTS:

In order to better understand the legal nature of the administration's warrantless spying program, Jameel Jaffer, a national security analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Congress to subpoena documents relating to the program, including court orders and opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Members of a House Judiciary subcommittee last Thursday threatened to issue such subpoenas after Steven Bradbury, a principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, told the panel that the department would not turn over the documents because of their confidential nature.

The New York Times writes that the confrontation over the documents "could set the stage for a constitutional showdown over the separation of powers."

With respect to the separation of powers issue, Bradbury famously remarked in July 2006 during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that "the president is always right."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) refused to back down over the committee's request for documents. "This committee created the FISA statute and the FISA court, yet the President believes we are not entitled to know what he or the court are doing."

Nadler continued, "Many have begun to conclude that the shroud of secrecy thrown over these activities has less to do with protecting us from terrorism and more to do with protecting the Administration from having its lawbreaking exposed."

SHROUD OF SECRECY:

Citing a policy announced by Bush in Jan. 2007, Bradbury said last week that the warrantless wiretapping program hasn't been reauthorized for "several months," and "any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the program is now subject to the approval" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

But Bradbury's comments contradict Bush's explanation of his own policy. In January, Bush said, "Nothing has changed in the program except the court has said we've analyzed it and it's a legitimate way to protect the country."

While details of the administration's actions remain "sketchy," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said earlier this year, "The administration’s action is not acceptable to me... simply because I can't trust what they say."

Indeed, Bush has lost the public's trust. Prior to the revelation of the NSA spying program, Bush had assured the public in 2004 that "a wiretap requires a court order.Nothing has changed."

Bruce Fein, a legal veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, said that the administration's shroud of secrecy suggests they have more to hide. "Delphic remarks by the attorney general and other Bush Administration officials indicate that other foreign intelligence spying programs are ongoing and generally unknown by either the Congress or the American people," Fein said.

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SHILLING FOR JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, SEN. KYL PLACES SECRET HOLD ON OPEN GOVERNMENT ACT:

Two weeks ago, a bill called the OPEN Government Act, which is a "bipartisan effort to update the seminal Freedom of Information Act to make the government more open and accountable," was prevented from reaching a vote on the Senate floor because of a secret hold. When Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) tried to bring the bill to a vote on the floor, "the vote was blocked by 'Senator Anonymous.'

Some Republican senator called the Minority Leader's office and objected to a vote on the bill, but asked for anonymity and did not publicly state a reason for the hold."

Thursday, the man behind the hold finally revealed himself: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Kyl claimed that he placed the hold on the bill because then Justice Department opposes several provisions that "could force them to reveal sensitive information.

In a statement Thursday, Kyl said the agency's 'uncharacteristically strong' opposition is reason enough to think twice about the legislation, and he will block a vote until both sides can work out the differences."

Kyl's water-carrying for the Justice Department is untenable. The OPEN Government Act overwhelmingly passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Similar legislation in the House passed in March by 308 to 117. Over 100 organizations have written in support of it. As Leahy put it, "This is a good government bill that Democrats and Republicans alike can and should work together to enact. It should be passed without further delay."

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GONZALES ALLOWS KARL ROVE-PROTEGE TO REMAIN AS U.S. ATTORNEY, EVEN THOUGH HIS TERM HAS EXPIRED:

On Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he never intended to take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows the President to appoint "interim" U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period of time, without Senate confirmation.

He promised that "with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney."

Similarly, on Dec. 15, 2006, Gonzales personally assured Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) that Karl Rove-protégé Tim Griffin would face Senate confirmation.

Before the Patriot Act was changed in 2005, the Attorney General could appoint interim U.S. attorneys to serve for a maximum of 120 days. After that time period, they needed to receive Senate confirmation or the federal district court in the vacant office's district would name a replacement.

Griffin's 120 days were up on April 20, yet the Bush administration has not named a replacement candidate. In early March, Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) said that he was "interviewing candidates to recommend as replacements for Griffin." The Progress Report spoke with Boozman's office, which confirmed that on March 30, the congressman submitted three names to the White House to replace Griffin. His office said that it has not heard from the administration on the state of the process.

Griffin remains as the U.S. attorney in Arkansas and has stated that he is ready and willing to serve until the end of President Bush's term. If Gonzales had been serious about installing "a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney," he would have replaced Griffin by now. Evidently, he instead plans to "gum to death" the process.

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WHITE HOUSE REDISCOVERS CONSTITUTION, ACKNOWLEDGES CONGRESS HAS OVERSIGHT ROLE:

Last month, the White House adopted talking points that reflected a truly radical interpretation of the Constitution: Congress has no oversight responsibility over the White House.

White House spokesman Tony Snow repeatedly claimed that "Congress doesn't have any legitimate oversight and responsibilities to the White House," in response to congressional requests for President Bush's aides to testify concerning their role in the U.S. attorney purge.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino echoed Snow, asserting, "The Congress does not have oversight over the White House." But last Thursday, when asked about a recently passed subpoena on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Perino reversed her position: "We understand that the Congress has a role to play, which is oversight over the executive branch. I believe that this administration has been responsive to Congress, as we've worked with the new majorities as well, that we've been responsive."

The claim that Congress has no oversight responsibilities is false. As the Congressional Research Service states in its Congressional Oversight Manual, "The Constitution grants Congress extensive authority to oversee and investigate executive branch activities."

As for the White House's reversal, it may well be a coordinated political decision. But it seems just as likely that Congress's oversight responsibilities are so astoundingly obvious that Perino simply forgot her month-old talking points and said what she actually believes to be true.
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RICE 'NOT INCLINED TO COMPLY' WITH CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENA:

Earlier this week, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her failure to adequately respond to his multiple requests for information on "the Bush administration's prewar claims about Saddam Hussein's seeking weapons of mass destruction."

A defiant Rice said last week she is "not inclined to comply" with the subpoena, claiming a precedent of executive privilege and that she has already sufficiently answered Waxman's inquiries.

"I addressed these questions, almost the same questions, during my confirmation hearing. This is an issue that has been answered and answered and answered. ... There is a separation of powers and advisers to the president under that constitutional principle are not generally required to go and testify in Congress," she said.

But there is no such precedent. Under President Clinton, 31 of his top advisers appeared in 47 different testimonies in front of Congress. Rice's predecessors, including Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, and Warren Christopher, have each testified during their tenures as Secretaries of State.

Furthermore, Rice has hardly responded sufficiently to Waxman's inquiries. In his letter, Waxman clearly outlines the questions Rice has failed to answer concerning her knowledge of the fabricated intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.

"The gist of Rice's responses is that the Secretary either didn't know about the forged evidence or forgot what she knew. Her staff has also suggested that the Secretary is too busy to answer these questions. ... There has been no inquiry about what went wrong inside the White House.

There was one person in the White House who had the primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right: and that was Secretary Rice," Waxman said.
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Tenet says 'Slam Dunk' Comment on Iraq Distorted

Story Highlights
• Administration twisted his meaning, former CIA director tells CBS
• Term referred to making a case for war, not presence of WMDs, he says
• Tenet says he resents White House's ongoing misinterpretation of comment
• CIA director resigned post under fire in July 2004


NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A former U.S. spy chief accused President Bush's administration of ruining his reputation by misusing a "slam dunk" comment he made during a White House meeting ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Former CIA Director George Tenet told CBS Television's "60 Minutes" that the administration leaked his comment as opposition to the war grew when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

"You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me," Tenet said in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Tenet said his comment did not refer to whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but related to what information could be used to make a public case for the war.

The "slam-dunk" comment first surfaced in journalist Bob Woodward's 2004 book, "Plan of Attack," which portrayed Tenet as assuring Bush that finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be a virtual certainty.

"We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant," Tenet told "60 Minutes."

"I'll never believe that what happened that day informed the president's view or belief of the legitimacy or the timing of this war. Never!" said Tenet, whose memoirs "At the Center of the Storm" are due to be published next week.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she had not seen the book and would not comment on it.

The expression "slam dunk," used originally to describe a basketball move, has come to mean something that can be done with near certainty.

The 2003 Iraq invasion was justified largely by intelligence that Hussein had such weapons. No such weapons were found, and the prewar intelligence effort has since been condemned by a presidential commission as one of the most damaging failures in recent U.S. history.

Tenet, who served under Bush and former President Bill Clinton, resigned in July 2004 amid widespread criticism over intelligence lapses that also involved the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Tenet had been appointed in 1997.

Tenet -- whom Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award, in December 2004 -- said he does not know exactly who leaked his comment, but that "it's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me."

He said the most difficult part was continuing to hear senior administration officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refer to his comment as though they had to hear him "say 'slam dunk' to go to war with Iraq."

"You listen to that and they never let it go. I mean, I became campaign talk. I was a talking point. 'Look at the idiot (who) told us and we decided to go to war.' Well, let's not be so disingenuous," Tenet said.

"Let's everybody just get up and tell the truth. Tell the American people what really happened," he said.

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RNC Resists Democratic Demands for Database Access
By Paul Bedard

 
The Republican National Committee will work with the White House to turn over E-mails related to the congressional probe into the firings of federal prosecutors but won't give in to demands that the Democratic-chaired House and Senate committees get access to the party's database.

"We are drawing a line in the sand on this," said a party executive. "For the first time, we are saying that we are not going to put up with this."

While the RNC isn't breaking with the cooperation promised to Democrats by the White House, it is limiting just how far it will open its records. The RNC spelled out its concerns in letters to the House and Senate probers and balked at suggestions that it was trying to hide something. The House and Senate Judiciary committees are probing the alleged political firing of several prosecutors and are seeking E-mails from top White House and administration officials to build a paper trail.

Some involved, like Bush political adviser Karl Rove, used outside E-mail systems, one of which was provided by the RNC. However, the RNC has said that some of those messages are lost and has worked to rebuild the system. The party today said that the effort has yielded some successes.

But it said in the letters that it won't do more than provide those E-mails and certainly will fight any bid by Democrats to mine the larger party database.

"The RNC believes that any search of those systems raises serious First Amendment concerns," the RNC said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We trust the committee recognizes this concern, particularly where, as here, there is a genuine danger that political partisans may seek access to the RNC's information technology systems for political advantage."

In its letter to the House Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, the RNC took offense at Democratic reaction to its plan to have the White House first review retrieved E-mails before providing them to the committee.

"You suggested in your letter that permitting the White House to review E-mails sent or received by White House employees to determine whether executive branch privileges apply would be viewed by the committee 'potentially as an obstruction of our investigation.' The RNC takes strong exception to this unfounded and inflammatory suggestion," the party said in the letter. It also rejected demands for internal communications.

"To the extent that the committee seeks purely internal RNC communications, this would be highly intrusive and raise profound First Amendment issues. We therefore construe your request not to cover such internal communications."

Both letters were sent from Robert Kelner, the party's lawyer with Covington & Burling.

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Kucinich to Launch Cheney Impeachment Push on April 25
Filed by Michael Roston
RAW STORY

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the former mayor of Cleveland who is seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination for president for the second time, has selected a date to introduce articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney.

A source who asked to remain anonymous told RAW STORY that the articles of impeachment would be introduced next week.

"The Congressman plans to introduce the articles on Wednesday, April 25th," the source told RAW STORY.

The Congressman's office responded in an e-mail Thursday afternoon to RAW STORY by saying "No comment" when asked if the report was true.

Mary Ann Akers reported at her blog, The Sleuth, on Monday that the Congressman had sent a "dear colleague" letter to fellow Members of Congress informing them of his plan to introduce the articles of impeachment against the Vice President. However, he had postponed the plan in the wake of the killing of 32 students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech on Monday.

Multiple congressional offices confirmed to RAW STORY that they had received the letter, but none had been apprised of the impeachable offenses with which the Ohio Democrat would charge the Vice President.

Additionally, a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, which would receive and consider Kucinich's charges against the Vice President once they are filed, was not yet aware of them.

Vice President Cheney's office would not comment to the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the reports about the charges because they had not yet seen the articles.

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Presidential Records Evasion

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) -- 44 U.S.C. section 2203 -- reads, "Through the implementation of records management controls and other necessary actions, the President shall take all such steps as may be necessary to assure" that the activities of the White House "are adequately documented."

Passed in 1978 by Congress to counteract Richard Nixon's attempts to seal and destroy some of his papers, the PRA was intended to make Executive Branch leaders accountable by ensuring eventual public access to White House decision-making.

In recent weeks, through the congressional investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, more evidence has come to light suggesting that senior White House officials have been using political e-mail accounts provided by the Republican National Committee (RNC), apparently in an effort to evade the PRA.

This week, the RNC informed House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) that it had destroyed all e-mail records from White House officials in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

"In 2004, the RNC exempted White House officials from its policy of purging all e-mail," but the RNC claims the system still allowed individual users, like Karl Rove, to personally delete such records.

"The White House has not done a good enough job overseeing staff using political e-mail accounts to assure compliance with the Presidential Records Act," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. As a result, Stanzel noted that "we may not have preserved all e-mails that deal with White House business."

WHITE HOUSE POLICY:

The White House now says that roughly 50 White House officials, including 22 current aides, used e-mail accounts controlled by the RNC to send messages, including some related to the prosecutor firings. In a letter addressed to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Last Thursday, Waxman revealed disturbing information he obtained from private briefings from the White House and RNC regarding the extensive volume of e-mails that may have been destroyed.

Waxman said that RNC counsel Rob Kelner told him that the earliest e-mail records the RNC retains are from 2004, and the Committee only has e-mail records for 35 of the 50 White House officials that had political accounts.

Moreover, Waxman said that White House officials retained the ability to delete e-mails from RNC accounts even after a policy was instituted in 2004 to retain the records.

One government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, reported yesterday from confidential sources that the Executive Office of the President had lost over five million e-mails generated between March 2003 and October 2005.

ROVE WAS A SPECIAL CASE:

Even though the RNC claims it began archiving e-mails in 2004, the Committee said there appear to be no records from White House senior political adviser Karl Rove until 2005, leaving open "the possibility that Rove had personally deleted the missing e-mails."

Rove -- a Blackberry addict who does "about 95 percent" of his e-mailing on RNC accounts -- received special attention from the RNC in 2005. According to Kelner, the Committee took action specifically and singularly against Rove in 2005 to keep him "from deleting his e-mails from the RNC server."

The automatic archive policy specifically targeted at Rove raises questions about his intent to intentionally evade compliance with the Presidential Records Act and escape accountability.

MORE WHITE HOUSE CREDIBILITY ISSUES:

At a March 27, 2007, press briefing, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino claimed that only a "handful" of White House staffers had political e-mail accounts.

Thursday, Perino was forced to admit that it was actually "a very large handful." Speaking in her own defense, Perino offered, "When I said a 'handful,' I was asked based on something that I didn't know."

In that same March 27 briefing, Perino also claimed the RNC had been archiving e-mails and that the system was "something that was in place" for years.

Amidst revelations that RNC emails had not been retained, Perino backed off that statement and said, "We have developed a better understanding of how the RNC archived or did not archive certain e-mails."

The White House's inconsistent statements have raised questions about whether the e-mails did actually disappear as it claims. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questioned the White House's credibility: "They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that. You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers." Leahy added, "This sounds like the administration's version of the dog ate my homework. ... Just when this administration is finally subjected to meaningful oversight, it cannot produce the necessary information."

Data-recovery experts say "erasing an e-mail message beyond hope of retrieval is not easy." ABC News reported that wiping data from a hard drive or tape backup often requires special software designed explicitly to cover any trace of deleted information.

CLINTON V. BUSH:

On May 5, 1993, then-Assistant to President Clinton and Staff Secretary John Podesta wrote a memo to all presidential staff explaining that the PRA required all staff members to maintain all records, including e-mails.

"Podesta stated that the use of external e-mail networks was prohibited because records would not be saved as required." CREW reports that the Bush administration has refused to make public its own record-keeping policy.

Stanzel said, "We don't share internal White House memos." In Stanzel's press call with reporters this week, he acknowledged that the handbook given to all White House staffers reads, "Federal law requires the preservation of electronic communications sent or received by White House staff. ... As a result, personnel working on behalf of the EOP [Executive Office of the President] are expected to only use government-provided e-mail services for all official communication."

Washington Post online columnist Dan Froomkin, who was on the call, reported, "Stanzel refused to publicly release the relevant portions of the White House staff manual and denied my request to make public the transcript of the call." Said Podesta of the Bush White House, "At the end of the day, it looks like they were trying to avoid the records act...by operating official business off the official systems."
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Katrina Evacuees Lose Ruling
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS, -- Authorities did not violate a couple's constitutional right to travel by stopping them from crossing the Mississippi River Bridge to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a federal judge has ruled.

Hundreds of people who tried to flee New Orleans for safety after the Aug. 29, 2005, storm were not allowed to cross the bridge. They said police from suburban Gretna forced them to turn around. Police later said they blocked the evacuees because there were no supplies or services for them on the other side of the river.

Tracy and Dorothy Dickerson filed a lawsuit against Jefferson Parish, but U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon ruled in a decision made public Tuesday that "although the right to interstate travel is clearly established by our jurisprudence, the United States Supreme Court has not decided the question of whether the Constitution protects a right to intrastate travel."

A trial on the remaining issues in the case -- including whether police used excessive force and whether the Dickersons' freedom-of-assembly and equal-protection rights were violated -- is set for early next year.

Attorneys for the Dickersons did not return phone calls Tuesday.

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BUSH TO NOMINATE ANTI-REGULATORY LOBBYIST TO OVERSEE CONSUMER PROTECTION:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from dangerous consumer products. Currently, the three-person commission has a vacancy. Media reports indicate that President Bush will likely fill the position with Michael Baroody, "executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation" and "has called for weakening the Consumer Product Safety Commission."

While at NAM, Baroody repeatedly lobbied for looser business regulations, at the expense of public safety. In 2000, NAM successfully killed a bill in the Senate that would have helped reduce safety risks to motorists by requiring tire manufacturers to report accident data and potential defects to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Board.

It also opposes tougher rules regulating asbestos and in 2003, teamed up with the asbestos industry and spent $180,000 opposing asbestos reform legislation.

NAM's official position states that scientific data have "not confirmed evidence of global warming that can be attributed to human activities" and calls for "voluntary" measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It "opposes any federal or state government actions regarding climate change that could adversely affect the international competitiveness of the U.S. marketplace economy."

In 2001, Baroody wrote to Bush and personally thanked him for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol. Bush has repeatedly attempted to weaken regulations that protect the American public. Recently, he issued a directive that would give the White House greater control over federal regulations.
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ADMINISTRATION -- CONSERVATIVES URGE BUSH TO BYPASS CONGRESS WITH EXECUTIVE ORDERS:

 

President Bush is "struggling for relevancy in the same way many other second-term presidents have. But Bush's burden seems much harder than other presidents in recent memory."

 

Seventy-one percent of Americans see Bush as a "lame duck" president, and 58 percent "wish the Bush presidency were simply over."

 

With Bush "unable to get much traction so far in moving his agenda through Congress," conservatives are looking for new ways to "jump-start his final two years, including issuing executive orders to get things done without having to ask for support" from Congress.

 

"He should get a list of the executive orders for the last 200 years, as a guide, and choose what he wants to do," one White House adviser told U.S. News. 

 

The right wing is reportedly telling Bush that even if he were to work with the Congress, the legislation "wouldn't be very good," "so he should go the executive-order route and bypass Congress altogether."

 

Bush has already begun to implement the strategy. Last month, Bush signed Executive Order 12866 to put political appointees in charge of regulatory agencies and "give the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy."
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IRAQ -- ROCKEFELLER SAID CHENEY EXERTED 'CONSTANT' PRESSURE ON PAT ROBERTS TO LIE FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION:

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV) said in an interview that Vice President Dick Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on the former chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq.

The so-called Phase II report on the administration's use of pre-war intelligence was delayed for over two years. Two of its five portions were finally released in Sept. 2006.

Rockefeller said that he knew that the Vice President attended regular policy meetings in which he conveyed White House directions to conservative Capitol Hill staffers.

They "just had to go along with the administration," he said. During the course of the Phase II investigation, Roberts made numerous contradictory statements, stating early on, "It is a priority. I made my commitment and it will get done."

Later, he said it would be "a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further."

In Nov. 2005, Roberts said the report would soon be released. But the former chairman delayed the release for nine more months before it was public.

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Louisiana governor lashes out at Bush
 
Gov. Kathleen Blanco angrily criticized President Bush on Wednesday for not mentioning 2005's destructive hurricanes in his State of the Union speech, and said Louisiana is being shortchanged in federal recovery funding for political reasons.

"I guess the pain of the hurricane is yesterday's news in Washington," Blanco said at a news conference.

Last week, Michael Brown, who was director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during Hurricane Katrina, accused some in the White House of playing politics in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

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Judge Orders Release of Cheney's Logs Sought By 'Wash Post'


WASHINGTON A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election season debate over lobbyists' White House access.

The Washington Post asked for two years of White House visitor logs in June but the Secret Service refused to process the request. Government attorneys called it "a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency."

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled Wednesday that, by the end of next week, the Secret Service must produce the records or at least identity them and justify why they are being withheld.

The newspaper sought logs for anyone visiting Cheney, his legal counsel, chief spokesman and other top aides and advisers.

The Secret Service had no comment on the ruling Thursday. In court documents, government attorneys said releasing the documents would infringe on Cheney's ability to seek advice.

"This case is about protecting the effective functioning of the vice presidency under the Constitution," attorneys wrote.

A lawsuit over similar records revealed last month that Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, key figures in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal landed more than 100 meetings inside the Bush White House.

The Post cited those records, which were released to the Democratic Party and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, as evidence that the documents should be released.

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NATIONAL SECURITY -- CONGRESS PASSES PROGRESSIVE MEASURES TO HOLD ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE:

The defense appropriations bill passed last week includes several provisions designed to increase oversight and improve the effectiveness of the Bush administration's stalled policies towards North Korea and Iran.

The measures require the administration to appoint a North Korean policy coordinator to conduct a "comprehensive interagency review" of U.S.-North Korean policy, and requires the President to report to Congress twice a year with the latest intelligence estimates on North Korean nuclear and missile capabilities.

Citing the accelerating Korean nuclear crisis, Senate Manority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "President Bush has not done what is necessary to halt the growing North Korean nuclear threat.

This legislation compels the President to change course and take the necessary steps to keep America safe."

The bill also requires the President to prepare a comprehensive report on his Iran policy for Congress and demands that National Intelligence Director John Negroponte provide an updated comprehensive national intelligence estimate on Iran.

In the nearly five years since Bush's Axis of Evil speech, U.S. policy towards Iran has been plagued with missed opportunities and clumsy brinksmanship.

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ADMINISTRATION -- BUSH ISSUES SIGNING STATEMENT CITING AUTHORITY TO IGNORE FEMA LAW:

Last  week, President Bush issued a signing statement, claiming executive authority to disregard a new law establishing "minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

The White House sought to divert attention from the signing statement by waiting to release the document on its website until 8 p.m. Wednesday, after most reporters had gone home.

Congress included the law in the appropriations bill "as a response to FEMA's poor handling of  Hurricane Katrina" and to shield FEMA from cronyism by requiring the President to select an agency director who has "a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and "not less than five years of executive leadership."

In his signing statement, Bush claimed that "under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions."

A 27-page report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said the Bush administration is using these signing statements "as a means to slowly condition Congress into accepting the White House's broad conception of presidential power, which includes a presidential right to ignore laws."

The report also indicated that, under most interpretations of the constitution, "the legal assertions in Bush's signing statements are dubious."

Since taking office, Bush has issued a record 750 signing statements.

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SENATORS: CIA DISMISSED SADDAM-AL QAEDA TIES BEFORE WAR
Story Highlights•Senate intelligence committee investigated prewar intelligence on Iraq

Ř  •Anti-Saddam group fingered for providing inaccurate information

Ř  •White House downplays report as "nothing new"

Ř  •Democrats say report shows administration-misrepresented intelligence

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al Qaeda associates, according to a Senate report on prewar intelligence on Iraq. Democrats said the report undercuts President Bush's justification for going to war.

 

The declassified document being released Friday by the Senate Intelligence Committee also explores the role that inaccurate information supplied by the anti-Saddam exile group the Iraqi National Congress had in the march to war.

 

The report comes at a time that Bush is emphasizing the need to prevail in Iraq to win the war on terrorism while Democrats are seeking to make that policy an issue in the midterm elections.

 

It discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates," according to excerpts of the 400-page report provided by Democrats.

 

Bush and other administration officials have said that the presence of Zarqawi in Iraq before the war was evidence of a connection between Saddam's government and al Qaeda. Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. air strike in June this year.

 

White House press secretary Tony Snow played down the report as "nothing new."

 

"In 2002 and 2003, members of both parties got a good look at the intelligence we had and they came to the very same conclusions about what was going on," Snow said. That was "one of the reasons you had overwhelming majorities in the United States Senate and the House for taking action against Saddam Hussein," he said.

 

Democrats call report 'devastating'

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, a member of the committee, said the long-awaited report was "a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration's unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts" to link Saddam to al Qaeda.

 

The administration, said Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, top Democrat on the committee, "exploited the deep sense of insecurity among Americans in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, leading a large majority of Americans to believe -- contrary to the intelligence assessments at the time -- that Iraq had a role in the 9/11 attacks."

 

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said it has long been known that prewar assessments of Iraq "were a tragic intelligence failure."

 

But he said the Democratic interpretations expressed in the report "are little more than a vehicle to advance election-year political charges." He said Democrats "continue to use the committee to try and rewrite history, insisting that they were deliberately duped into supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime."

 

The panel report is Phase II of an analysis of prewar intelligence on Iraq. The first phase, issued in July 2004, focused on the CIA's failings in its estimates of Iraq's weapons program.

 

The second phase has been delayed as Republicans and Democrats fought over what information should be declassified and how much the committee should delve into the question of how policymakers may have manipulated intelligence to make the case for war.

 

The committee is still considering three other issues as part of its Phase II analysis, including statements of policymakers in the run up to the war.

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HOMELAND SECURITY -- RAIL SECURITY FUNDING BLOCKED IN SENATE:

One day after the Mumbai mass transit bombings left 190 people dead, the Senate voted against an increase in funding for rail security.

The rejected proposal, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), would have provided an extra $1.1 billion to secure America 's rail network, including $250 million for general security upgrades for freight rail operators and $25 million to hire 200 new security officers.

(Also rejected "on votes that split largely along party lines" were a $790 million amendment for homeland security grant programs by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and a $300 million amendment for mass transit security by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).)

Although "every serious intelligence report on terror has identified mass transit and rail systems as now the prime target for Al Qaeda and others," the Bush administration spends "most of its homeland security money into aviation, $9 per passenger in the air, as opposed to one penny per passenger on trains."

Meanwhile, more than one year after a federal judge found that the administration has no "consistent and comprehensive federal policy addressing the risks of terrorism on our interstate rail system," the 11.3 million people who use rail transit every weekday remain woefully unprotected.

The government's first version of its National Strategy for Transportation Security lacked "the necessary detail to make it an effective management tool" and has not yet been properly updated, three months past the legislated deadline.

A recent poll found that 60 percent of surveyed rail employees remained "untrained in emergency preparedness and response," and a government investigation, which had previously found that proposed security precautions "may do more harm than good," concluded that current practices "warrant further examination."

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It's Bush's Way or the Highway on Guantanamo Bay

By Dana Milbank


As Congress opened hearings yesterday on the treatment of terrorism detainees, the Bush administration's view was neatly summarized by Steven Bradbury, the Justice Department lawyer serving as lead witness. "The president," Bradbury said, "is always right."

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court rebuked the administration by rejecting military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and forcing President Bush to get approval from Congress. But the officials who came before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday -- Bradbury and Pentagon lawyer Daniel Dell'Orto -- were unrepentant.

"Surprising and disappointing . . . without historical analogue" was Bradbury's view of the high court's ruling on the Hamdan case.

Rather than regard it as a defeat, Bradbury said it presents Bush with an "opportunity to work together" with Congress.

The ranking Democrat, Patrick Leahy (Vt.), fished for any admission that the administration's legal view had been wrong. Bradbury retorted: "It was completely reasonable."

When Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested a framework for future tribunals, Dell'Orto cut him down. "I have many concerns about taking that approach," he said.

The witnesses were even dismissive of the new Pentagon memo applying the Geneva Conventions to all detainees for the first time. "It doesn't indicate a shift in policy," Dell'Orto said.

And in a veiled warning, Bradbury told Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) that Bush still didn't need Congress. "The court did leave open the theoretical possibility that the president could come back on his own," he said.

It was an aggressive performance for an administration that wants Congress to create a new legal system to deal with the 1,000 terrorism suspects in custody. But administration officials are confident that the legislative branch will do the White House's bidding -- in part because lawmakers who oppose Bush's wishes can be accused of coddling terrorists.

At the center of this calculation is Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who introduced legislation on the subject and called the hearing almost immediately after the Hamdan decision. "The Constitution is explicit," he declared at the start of the hearing, "that the Congress has the authority, responsibility to establish the rules of trials on capture on land or sea."

But Specter, while known for such tough talk, has been repeatedly thwarted by the administration or Republican congressional leaders on wiretapping, immigration, abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The administration lawyers didn't show much fear of Specter yesterday, either, when the chairman asked them to provide thoughts on his legislation within two weeks.

"Only the president has the decision to introduce legislation," Bradbury reminded Specter. "I cannot commit as I sit here now that the administration will submit a particular bill."

Specter made a tight smile. "How much evidence should be presented to key people detained in Guantanamo in enemy combatant status?" he queried.

"That's a policy question," Bradbury rejoined, sitting on the edge of his chair.

Specter, irritated, furrowed his brow. "What's your recommendation to Congress to establish the policy?"

Bradbury replied that the matter "should be left up to the Department of Defense."

This prompted a harangue from the chairman. "We're not going to leave it to the Department of Defense or give the Department of Defense a blank check," he said.

Specter should have known he was in trouble when Bradbury ignored the five-minute time limit for opening statements, prompting the chairman to ask, "How much longer will you require?" In the end, Specter let the witnesses have the last word; he had been summoned to the White House. "I'm going to have to excuse myself," the chairman said less than two hours into the proceedings, handing the gavel to Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Specter did get one measure of revenge. Early in the session, two women from the left-wing group Code Pink raised signs in the press section demanding: "CLOSE GUANTANAMO." Police stepped in to remove the activists, but Specter whispered instructions to an aide, who told the cops to stand down.

Still, the administration may be correct that lawmakers won't defy Bush on the tribunals. Democrats seemed more eager to talk about other things. Russell Feingold (Wis.) spoke about the wiretapping program, while Joseph Biden (Del.) announced his seventh trip to Iraq. "I'm telling you guys, things ain't good in Happy Valley," he said. Leahy snuck in the word "cockamamie," while Charles Schumer (N.Y.) countered with "lollapalooza."

But Bradbury and Dell'Orto may also have noticed that they were getting less than a full defense from the GOP side. When Bradbury rejected Graham's approach to the tribunals, Graham issued a warning. "If you fight that approach, it's going to be a long, hot summer," he told Bradbury.

When Dell'Orto repeated Bradbury's defiance in a later round of questions, Graham raised his voice. "You didn't consult with us when you created the military commissions," he said. "I'm not going to respond to some product that was enacted without any consultation."

Hatch, wielding Specter's gavel, quickly ended the session and dismissed the witnesses. Graham shook his head and rolled his eyes.

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ADMINISTRATION -- BUSH EXPECTED TO PICK ANTI-REGULATION ZEALOT FOR PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICE:

President Bush is expected to nominate Susan Dudley as the next head of an obscure but “super-powerful office that oversees many business regulations.”

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs holds sway over federal regulatory agencies like the EPA and helps set regulatory policy for a wide range of issues, from workplace safety to water quality.

The most recent head, John Graham, “demonstrated consistent hostility to protections for public health, safety and the environment over his career.”

And according to Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, Dudley “makes John Graham look like Ralph Nader.” As the director of regulatory studies at the industry-backed Mercatus Center she has worked to oppose vital public health regulation as a “hidden tax” that hinders profits.

A few lowlights: Dudley opposed EPA plans to set tougher public health standards for smog; opposed lower-polluting cars and SUVs and the use of cleaner gasoline; opposed requiring air bags in cars, preferring to leave public safety decisions "to the market place"; and opposed stronger regulations for arsenic in drinking water, claming that there “is a wide range of uncertainty in the science surrounding the health effects of arsenic in U.S. drinking water supplies.”

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SCIENCE -- CONFRONTATION NEARS ON STEM CELL RESEARCH:

NPR reports, "Congress may be nearing a confrontation with the White House over stem cell research."

Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced that he will schedule a vote as early as this month on a series of bills relating to embryonic stem cell research.

One of the bills (HR 810) the Senate will consider -- known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which has been approved by the House -- would allow funding for research using stem cells derived from embryos that would never be implanted and would otherwise be discarded.

The bill seeks to amend a policy, announced by President Bush on Aug. 9, 2001, that restricts federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to those stem cell lines created on or before that date.

Bush has threatened to veto the bill should it pass the Senate.

Conservative opponents of stem cell research have already begun mobilizing opposition to the bill by sparking unjustified fears that it will open the door to human cloning.

But one of the bill's key proponents -- former First Lady Nancy Reagan (who celebrates her 85th birthday today) -- explained that preventing human cloning and expanding stem cell research can go hand-in-hand.

Reagan wrote Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently, urging that the promise of stem cell research needs to be realized: "For those who are waiting every day for scientific progress to help their loved ones, the wait for United States Senate action has been very difficult and hard to comprehend."

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IRAQ -- RUMSFELD CALLED OUT ON WMD LIES:

Speaking in Atlanta last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was sharply questioned about his 2003 claims about WMD in Iraq. (Watch the video.)

Ray McGovern, a CIA veteran of 27 years, confronted Rumsfeld with his 2003 claim about WMD:

"We know where they are." Rumsfeld falsely claimed he never said it. McGovern then read Rumsfeld's quote back to him, leaving the defense secretary nearly speechless: "My words -- my words were that -- no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute."

During Rumsfeld's speech, three protesters were removed by security and a fourth protester stood in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest. Guards attempted to remove McGovern as well.

Rumsfeld also received sharp questioning from a woman whose son was killed in Iraq. She is now raising her grandson alone and asked if the government could provide any help. "Rumsfeld referred her to a website listing aid organizations."

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TORTURE -- SENATE DEMANDS DEFINITION OF TORTURE FROM ADMINISTRATION:

Last Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee called for the Bush administration to provide it with a "legal definition of inhumane treatment of military detainees as it pressed the Bush administration to comply with a law banning mistreatment of such prisoners."

The move is meant to pin down the "administration's stance on whether techniques such as forcing an inmate to wear women's underwear or simulating the sensation of drowning complied with the law passed last year barring cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners."

The hearing showcased the growing "bipartisan dissatisfaction" senators have with the repeated delays in carrying out the actions prescribed by the McCain torture amendment, which President Bush has claimed he has the power to ignore.

Meanwhile, State Department lawyers defended the administration's treatment of detainees to a U.N. committee that is investigating "U.S. compliance with the Convention against Torture for the first time since 2000."

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347 Days and Counting

On May 25, 2005, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would set aside restrictions on embryonic stem cell research imposed by President Bush.

Specifically, the legislation would allow federal funding to support research on embryonic stem cell lines developed after 2001.

Such reform is necessary because, according to scientists, "many if not all of the previous [pre-2001] lines are now contaminated and unusable."

The day after the legislation was passed, Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) sent a letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) urging the Senate to vote on the House bill "without amendment as soon as possible."

Three hundred and forty-seven days later, Frist has failed to schedule a vote, despite his explicit promises to do so. (The move is seen as an effort by Frist, who claims to support the measure, to provide political cover for President Bush, who has threatened to veto it. The bill enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate and is very likely to be approved if a vote is held.)

In the meantime, the full benefits of embryonic stem cell research -- which many scientists believe could one day lead to treatments for serious medical conditions like Alzheimer's, strokes, brain injuries, Parkinson's, and diabetes -- are being impeded.

While there is no substitute for federal action, several states have stepped up to fill the leadership gap.

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SECRECY -- PENTAGON SEEKS BROAD FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT EXEMPTION FROM WMD DOCUMENT REQUESTS:

The Federation of American Scientists reports that the Department of Defense "is seeking a broad new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for unclassified information relating to weapons of mass destruction."

The Pentagon has proposed legislation that lays out its plans: "Examples of such information could include...formulas and design descriptions of lethal and incapacitating materials; maps, designs, security/emergency response plans, and vulnerability assessments for facilities containing weapons of mass destruction materials." 

The proposal is "puzzling because most such information, including that which is not classified, is already exempt from the FOIA."

But the proposed language is so broad, says the National Security Archive's Meredith Fuchs, that it could "potentially sweep everything related to any chemical facility into the exemption

There is nothing in here that explicitly protects the public's need to know some things about these facilities, e.g. violations of the law, lack of required certifications or licenses."

Fuchs suggests the language should be narrowed to be "focused on what they actually are trying to protect, which I think is vulnerability information DOD learns of regarding private facilities."

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NATIONAL SECURITY -- ADMINISTRATION MADE SECRET AGREEMENT TO HIDE RECLASSIFICATION EFFORTS:

In February, the New York Times revealed that "thousands of declassified documents had been reclassified by executive branch agencies and removed from public access in questionable circumstances."

The Federation of American Scientists declared the reclassification "a threat to the integrity of the entire national security classification and declassification program," and warned that the efforts would reduce the National Archives to a "mere repository of officially-sanctioned history."

Most recently, the non-profit National Security Archive, located at George Washington University, exposed how the reclassification scheme came about.

According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) obtained through a Freedom of Information request, "The National Archives and Records Administration secretly agreed to a covert effort, led by the Air Force, the CIA, and other still-hidden intelligence entities, to remove open-shelf archival records and reclassify them while disguising the results so that researchers would not complain." 

As part of the secret agreement, the National Archives "agreed that the existence of the program was to be kept secret as long as possible" and that "the withdrawal sheets indicating the removal of documents would conceal any reference to the program and 'any reason for the withholding of documents.'"

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Our job is to confront problems and not pass them on to future Presidents and future Congresses.-Remarks by President Bush at Chocola for Congress Reception Feb. 23, 2006

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That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq.
Press Conference, Bush was asked: Will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq? March 21, 2006

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Bush Administration Secrets and Lies

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a landmark law that opened the government's records to public scrutiny and is being celebrated today -- National FOI Day.

Ruth Rosen, former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, called FOIA "one of our greatest democratic reforms...allowing ordinary citizens to hold the government accountable by requesting and scrutinizing public documents and records."

Yet now, approaching its 40th year, FOIA -- and open government in general -- is under attack.

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has stalled or ignored an increased number of FOIA requests, classified a record number of documents, stepped up punishment for whistleblowers, and tightened secrecy in the name of national security.

Meredith Fuchs, general counsel at the National Security Archive, explained that 9/11 has become "an excuse for secrecy, rather than a need for secrecy."

Fifty-nine percent of the American public believe there is now "too much secrecy" in the federal government.

From refusing to release information about detainees at Guantanamo Bay, to keeping lawmakers and the public in the dark about an illegal, warrantless, domestic wiretapping program, "the administration's preference for secrecy is less about winning the war on terrorism than simply avoiding public scrutiny."

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IRAQ -- MORE EVIDENCE EMERGES THAT BUSH MISLED NATION INTO WAR:

The National Journal reports that two classified intelligence briefs delivered directly to President Bush prior to the Iraq war "cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq."

The first report, delivered to Bush in October 2002, stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that Iraq's aluminum tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view contradicting Bush's statement that the aluminum tubes were being used to enrich nuclear weapons.

A second report informed Bush that "U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States -- except if 'ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime.'"

This report contradicts claims by administration officials at the time that Iraq was a "grave and gathering threat."

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KATRINA -- TO DEFEND AGAINST TAPES, WHITE HOUSE RELEASES TRANSCRIPT IT PREVIOUSLY SAID 'DIDN'T EXIST':

Responding to new video in which President Bush is warned about the likely severity of Hurricane Katrina, the White House "suddenly sent around a transcript that it previously said didn't exist, from a conference call on the following day."

The transcript includes a second-hand account of Bush's activities from ex-FEMA director Michael Brown "describing the president as engaged, watching TV and asking questions."

For months, the White House had said it couldn't turn over the transcript to congressional investigators, "with officials initially telling Capitol Hill that someone at FEMA or Homeland Security forgot to push the button on a tape recorder."

On Wednesday morning, however, when it was apparently determined that making the transcript public would help politically, the White House "unexpectedly e-mailed the transcript to Newsweek...—initially without explaining that it was the missing transcript."

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ABRAMOFF HAS PHOTOS WITH BUSH ON DISPLAY IN HIS HOME:

According to Kim Eisler, the national editor of Washingtonian magazine, Jack Abramoff has several photos with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in his house, "just sitting in his office."

Bush said flatly of Abramoff, "I don't know him." According to Eisler, however, Abramoff said that Bush "SAW ME IN ALMOST A DOZEN SETTINGS, AND JOKED WITH ME ABOUT A BUNCH OF THINGS, INCLUDING DETAILS OF MY KIDS."

McClellan has previously said if photos of Bush with Abramoff exist, they are shots taken at "widely attended" Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002.

That's not what Eisler saw in Abramoff's home office. He reports that none of the photos at Abramoff's house were from holiday parties.

One photo at Abramoff's home depicts Bush shaking hands with Abramoff inside the Old Executive Office Building. Another shows Bush with Abramoff at what appears to be the Corcoran Gallery of Art. A third photo, which has not previously been disclosed, is of Abramoff's wife with Laura Bush.

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TERRORISM -- BUSH SPEAKS ON OLD TERROR PLOT TO DIVERT NATION'S ATTENTION:

In the face of growing opposition to his domestic spying program, President Bush last week tried to turn the nation's attention to successes in the war on terror by unveiling minor new details about an old report of a failed Los Angeles terror plot.

The White House has engaged in a public relations push to argue that the terror plot is new information. In fact, just four months ago, Bush specifically pointed to the thwarted attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

Bush did not suggest that the warrantless surveillance program helped to prevent the Los Angeles attack, and "Frances Fragos Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, declined to comment about whether the NSA eavesdropping helped to uncover the plot."

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Bush Administration Deceives Public with Fake News

The New York Times reported this weekend on the Bush administration's extensive abuse of public funds and trust in producing television propaganda.  Over the past four years, at least 20 different federal agencies have been involved in producing hundreds of fake TV news segments, many of which were "subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production,"  according to the Times.   

  • The Bush administration has spent one quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds to produce phony government PR.  Since President Bush took office in 2001, the White House has spent at least $254 million on fake "news" segments and other public relations schemes.  In a now-infamous segment by the Department of Health and Human Services, a PR official named Karen Ryan posed as a reporter interviewing then-Secretary Tommy Thompson. The Government Accountability Office found the agency "designed and executed" her segments "to be indistinguishable from news stores produced by private sector television news organizations," according to the Times.

  • The administration willfully violates government restrictions on "covert propaganda."  The non-partisan Government Accounting Office, the non-partisan investigative branch of Congress, has forbidden federal agencies from creating prepackaged news reports "that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience that the agency was the source of those materials." The administration's response? The NY Times reports that on Friday, "the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget circulated a memorandum instructing all executive branch agencies to ignore the GAO findings."

  • Congress or the courts should immediately intervene to stop the Bush administration’s corrupt use of taxpayer funds. The legislative or judicial branches of government should exercise its constitutional duties to immediately force the executive branch to stop deceiving the public.  This abuse of executive power is an affront to all Americans and violates basic tenets of our democracy.   If President Bush won't put his money where his mouth is on "spreading democracy" by adhering to it at home, the other branches of government should step in to give him a reminder.

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Abramoff appears in photo of Bush greeting tribe leader

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

STILL UNREPORTED: THE PAY-OFF IN THE AIR GUARD FIX

BUSH-CHENEY LINKED TO LIES COMING FROM THE 'SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR TRUTH'

GENERAL BROKE RULES WITH 'SATAN' SPEECHES

THE REPUBLICAN WAR AGAINST VIETNAM VETERANS

BUSH USING DRUGS TO CONTROL DEPRESSION, ERRATIC BEHAVIOR

BUSH FLIPS OFF TEENAGERS WHILE ON HIS TOUR BUS

 

 

PENTAGON LIES ABOUT THE NUMBER OF WAR WOUNDED, 30,000 NOT 6,000

BUSH'S KISS OF DEATH

BUSH MEDICARE CHIEF THREATENED ACTUARY TO WITH HOLD TRUE COSTS TO CONGRESS, ASHCROFT SAYS THAT IT'S NOT A CRIME

PENDING DRAFT TARGETED FOR SPRING 2005 $28 MILLION HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE 2004 SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM

CHENEY IS RUNNING A SHADOW GOVERNMENT, CLAIMS FORMER NIXON AIDE JOHN DEAN

SCALIA WAS CHENEY HUNT TRIP GUEST; ETHICS CONCERN GROWS

POWELL CASTS DOUBT ON IRAQ WMDS US SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL HAS CONCEDED THAT IRAQ MAY NOT HAVE POSSESSED ANY STOCKS OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION BEFORE THE WAR LAST YEAR.

WHITEHOUSE WMD INSPECTOR, DAVID KAY, SAYS THAT IRAQ DID NOT HAVE ANY STOCK PILES OF WMD'S, THAN QUITS.

BUSH USES STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS TO LAUNCH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

BUSH LIES FOR WAR IN IRAQ EXPOSED

BUSH AND HIS AIDES BROADCAST MEDIA HATE

HOMELAND SECURITY AND DOE AID TERRORISTS IN ASSEMBLY OF DIRTY BOMBS.

WILL THE U.S. BRING BACK THE DRAFT?

AMERICAN-UNILATERALISM ALIENATES ALLIES, ISOLATES US by Walter Cronkite

JUDICIAL NOMINEES: WHAT THE REPUBLICANS WON'T SAY. 168 OUT OF 172 APPROVED

HOW THE WHITE HOUSE DELETES THE TRUTH

WHITE HOUSE COVER UP: BUSH SAYS YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHO LEAKED THE CIA OPERATIVES NAME

ARNOLD WINS, BUSH EYES CALIFORNIA

CIA LEAK SUSPICION CENTERS ON LEWIS LIBBY, CHENEY'S CHIEF OF STAFF

T4: 'RISE OF THE DIEBOLD VOTING MACHINES'

THEY TELL LOUD LIES, THEN WHISPER APOLOGIES

DIEBOLD TO DECIDE ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS, INCLUDING CALIFORNIA

BUSH TELLS TRUTH FOR THE FIRST TIME ON LINK BETWEEN SADDAM HUSSEIN AND 9/11

TEXAN LASHES OUT AT BUSH IN SPEECH

DIEBOLD CEO IS COMMITTED TO DELIVERING OHIO TO BUSH

RUMSFELD: CRITICISM OF BUSH GIVES AID TO THE ENEMY

CIA AND DOD TRY TO PLANT WMD'S IN IRAQ-BUT FAIL

DID CHENEY'S SECRET ENERGY MEETINGS SET STAGE FOR WAR WITH IRAQ?

PRESIDENT BUSH SIDE STEPS U.S. SENATE, BYPASSES DEMOCRACY

U.S. JUSTIFICATION FOR WAR: HOW IT STACKS UP NOW

COMPUTER VOTING IS OPEN TO EASY FRAUD ,EXPERTS SAY

THE CANCELLATION OF DEMOCRACY

9-11 REPORT SHOWS COVER-UP BY WHITE HOUSE

AIDE SADDAM DID GET RID OF IRAQ WMD'S

29 LIES

WOLFOWITZ: WMD'S SECONDARY ISSUE IN IRAQ

PRESIDENT BUSH, WHAT ABOUT THESE WORDS FROM THE 'STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH'?

THE IGNORANCE IN AMERICA

WHITE HOUSE ADMITS TO USING FALSE INFORMATION FOR WAR

NO WMD'S CREATES PROBLEM FOR BUSH

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S LIES

BUSH ORDERS EPA TO LIE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGES

BUSH'S WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION

AMONG THE DECEIVERS

WHITE HOUSE LIED ABOUT IRAQI WMD'S

WHERE ARE THE REAL PATRIOTS WHILE BUSH RAPES AND TRASHES AMERICA?

RUMSFELD...OH WELL MAYBE THERE ARE NO WMD'S

OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB BUSH WEAVES

PHOTO OP LIES

MANIPULATIONS OF A PENTAGON MOUTHPIECE

HAWKS SET SIGHTS ON IRAN AND SYRIA

BUDGET GLICH SHORTCHANGES AMERICORPS

REPUBLICANS SOFTEN ETHICS RULES

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