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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Senator Wants Court to Oversee Spy Program

NAACP Wants New Orleans Election Delayed

The Associated Press
Saturday, February 18, 2006; 5:13 PM

NEW YORK -- The Department of Justice should postpone upcoming elections in New Orleans until displaced voters have been located, NAACP officials said Saturday.

"We're worried about the voting rights of our people in New Orleans who are not, for the most part, in New Orleans," said Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP president. "People should still have a say in what happens in the communities that were ravaged by Katrina."

Last week, Gordon asked U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to make sure election procedures are fair. The Voting Rights Act allows federal officials to scrutinize election changes that may hurt minorities.

"If it requires us to take legal action, we will fight this," Gordon said.

A Justice department spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.

Officials of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, speaking at the organization's annual board meeting, also called on Congress to renew parts of the Voting Rights Act that are due to expire next year and criticized the recent selection of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Alito is a "radical judicial activist, a man hostile to civil rights and women's rights," said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP.

Last week, Louisiana lawmakers approved plans to set up satellite voting centers in 10 state parishes and allow evacuees to vote by absentee ballot in the April 22 city elections. NAACP officials said that date is too soon.

Barely one-third of residents have returned to Orleans Parish, which was two-thirds black before Hurricane Katrina, according to estimates from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Tens of thousands of displaced people are still without permanent housing and mail delivery is delayed.

"Protecting voting rights is going to depend on the absentee ballot process," said John H. Jackson, NAACP chief policy officer. "The state has the burden of showing that they have accurate information for locating them. We don't want to have those ballots go out and have them never connect with individuals."

Kwame I. Asante, president of the NAACP's Baton Rouge branch, said: "We've received many calls from people who are asking, 'Where do we go? How do we register to vote?' ... It's too soon for many people."

Link Here

GOP's Medicare Plan Threatening To Turn Seniors Against Them...

New York Times ROBIN TONER February 18, 2006 at 09:06 PM

Older voters, a critical component of Republican Congressional victories for more than a decade, could end up being a major vulnerability for the party in this year's midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties. Paradoxically, one reason is the new Medicare drug benefit, which was intended to cement their loyalty.

During next week's Congressional recess, Democrats are set to begin a major new campaign to highlight what Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, describes as "this disastrous Republican Medicare prescription drug plan."


Va. Detectives No Longer Allowed To Pay And Receive Sex In Prostitution Stings...

Associated Press February 18, 2006 at 10:52 AM

The sheriff said Friday he will no longer allow detectives to receive sexual services while investigating suspected prostitution after they spent $1,200 at massage parlors last month and sparked a public outcry.

Spotsylvania County Sheriff Howard Smith defended the practice as necessary to obtain a conviction but told his department he was suspending it.


Prosecutors Urge 10-Year Sentence For Convicted Gop Rep. Cunningham For "Unparalleled Corruption"...

Washington Post Charles R. Babcock February 18, 2006 at 12:49 PM

Convicted former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) should be sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison because of "unparalleled corruption" that included a "bribe menu" on congressional letterhead telling a defense contractor what payments were required for different levels of federal funding, federal prosecutors said in court papers yesterday.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to bribery-related and tax-evasion charges of accepting $2.4 million from two contractors and two other men in return for steering defense work to them. The pre-sentencing memo filed by prosecutors in San Diego yesterday offered new details on the extent of his crimes and efforts he made to cover them up.


Iraq War Propelled Iran To Apex Of Middle East Power...

Hell yeah, we can blame Georgie and his bunch of Goons for this situation also, they played right into Osama, and Iran hands.

LA Times Megan K. Stack and Borzou Daragahi February 18, 2006 at 01:08 PM
READ MORE: Saddam Hussein, Iraq

The Islamic government in neighboring Iran watched with trepidation in March 2003 when U.S.-led troops stormed Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and start remaking the political map of the Mideast.

In retrospect, the Islamic Republic could have celebrated: The war has left America's longtime nemesis with profound influence in the new Iraq and pushed it to the apex of power in the region.

Read the whole story here.

AP: Cheney Shooting Filled With Discrepancies...

Associated Press CALVIN WOODWARD and NANCY BENAC February 18, 2006 at 08:10 AM
READ MORE: Dick Cheney, Halliburton

Vice President Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly -- and often still wrong.

The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation.


White House Joins Texas Redistricting Case

The Associated Press

Friday 17 February 2006

Washington - The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Bush administration's request to join Texas in defending a Republican-friendly congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay.

The administration will share time with Texas lawyers on March 1, when the court holds a special afternoon session to consider four appeals that stem from the bitter dispute over Texas congressional district boundaries.

Justices are considering whether the Republican-controlled Legislature acted purely for partisan gain in 2003 when it threw out district boundaries that had been used in the 2002 elections, and whether the new map violated a federal voting rights law.

The Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights. The Bush administration asked the high court last week for permission to participate in the case, supporting Texas.

The redistricting helped Republicans win 21 of Texas' 32 seats in Congress in the last election, up from 15.

The congressional districts were redrawn after Republicans took control of the state House in 2002. DeLay, R-Texas, has been indicted on money laundering charges stemming from his efforts to aid Republicans in state legislative elections that year.

DeLay stepped down as U.S. House majority leader because of the charges but denies any wrongdoing.

The cases are League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 05-204; Travis County v. Perry, 05-254; Jackson v. Perry, 05-276; GI Forum of Texas v. Perry, 05-439.

Link Here

Fitzgerald: Libby Seeks to Thwart Criminal Case

Prosecutor Says Libby Seeks to Thwart Criminal Case
By Neil A. Lewis
The New York Times

Saturday 18 February 2006

Washington - A federal prosecutor has said I.Lewis Libby Jr., former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is trying to sabotage the criminal case against him by insisting through his lawyers that he be given sensitive government documents for his defense.

In a court filing on Thursday night, the prosecutor said requests by Mr. Libby's lawyers for documents, including the daily intelligence briefs given to the president for nearly a year, were "a transparent effort at 'graymail.' "

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said the requests for a large amount of sensitive information beyond what they had been given was unjustified. Mr. Fitzgerald told the federal judge hearing the case that defendants like Mr. Libby had an incentive to derail their trials by asking for sensitive documents that the government might not want discussed openly.

Graymail is the practice of discouraging a prosecution from proceeding by contending that a defendant may need to disclose classified or sensitive information as part of a full defense. Such an approach can force the government to choose between dropping the prosecution or allowing the information to be disclosed at a trial.

Before 1980, some officials escaped prosecution by threatening to disclose unspecified secrets in open court. Congress enacted the Classified Information Procedures Act in 1980 to ensure that the government was not surprised by any disclosures at trial.

If the defense intends to use classified information, it has to inform the government, and then the two sides argue before a judge in secret on whether the information is needed for full defense. If a judge decides that the defendant is entitled to the information, the government has to decide whether to accept the likelihood that the information may be disclosed in a trial or drop the prosecution.

John D. Cline, a lawyer in San Francisco and an authority on the classified-procedures law who is representing Mr. Libby, challenged the accusation that the defense was engaging in graymail. Mr. Cline said the 1980 law made graymail impossible because the government knew exactly what information the defense was seeking, and a judge must rule on whether it is necessary to the defense case.

"We are working lawfully and properly through the C.I.P.A. procedures to obtain documents essential to Mr. Libby's defense," he said. "All we want is a limited number of key documents that Mr. Libby either wrote or reviewed during the most critical period in this case."

Mr. Libby is charged with five felony counts, accusing him of lying to investigators about his role in the disclosure of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson. His lawyers have said they intend to mount a defense built on the idea that he was dealing with issues far more momentous than the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity to reporters. To that end, they have asked Mr. Fitzgerald to turn over many documents from the vice president's office and the C.I.A.

Mr. Libby's lawyers have asked Mr. Fitzgerald to give them the President's Daily Brief for 277 days beginning in May 2003. They have said those documents "are material to establishing that any misstatements he may have made were the result of confusion, mistake and faulty memory resulting from his immersion in other, more significant matters, rather than deliberate lies."

Mr. Fitzgerald called the request "breathtaking" and noted that the daily brief was "an extraordinarily sensitive document." He said the disclosure of part of the Aug. 6, 2001, daily brief to the Sept. 11 commission was the sole instance of a daily brief's being publicly disclosed.

In addition, the lawyers have asked Mr. Fitzgerald to provide information that he obtained from reporters about other officials who might have spoken to them about Ms. Wilson.

Link Here

FOCUS | 2 Marine Helicopters Crash; 10 Missing

2 Marine Helicopters Crash Off Djibouti; 10 Missing
By Josh White
The Washington Post

Saturday 18 February 2006

Two U.S. Marine Corps helicopters crashed off the coast of northern Djibouti yesterday, and rescuers were searching for 10 missing crew members last night, according to U.S. military officials in the Horn of Africa.

Investigators were looking into the cause of the crash, which officials said happened during a training mission over the Gulf of Aden near Ras Siyyan. A spokeswoman for the military's task force in the Horn of Africa said it was unclear whether the helicopters collided, and she did not have further details of the crash or weather conditions at the time.

Djiboutian military near where the helicopters hit were able to respond immediately and rescued two crew members from the water, according to a U.S. Central Command news release. Those two crew members sustained injuries and were in stable condition at Camp Lemonier, a U.S. base in Djibouti.

Military officials in Washington said two CH-53 helicopters had crashed with 12 crew members aboard between them. Djibouti, U.S. and French officials were searching for possible survivors in the area, but the fates of the other crew members were unknown as of last night. The military was withholding the names of the crews pending notification of their families.

"The helicopters were on a training mission in the vicinity of Gordoria Range, which is used by CJTF-HOA for training purposes," the Centcom release said, referring to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The release said the crash was reported at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time yesterday.

The U.S.-led task force in Africa has been focusing on training African nations to improve regional security, hoping to deter terrorist recruitment and to prevent extremists from gaining sanctuary in northern Africa. It is part of a long-term push to counter terrorist networks that have been making inroads on the continent.

The CH-53 helicopter is a heavy-lift aircraft that can carry equipment and personnel and usually has three to eight crew members.

Link Here

Repub. Senator On Cheney: "If He'd Been In The Military, He Would Have Learned Gun Safety"...

They're all COWARDS

Associated Press NEDRA PICKLER February 18, 2006 at 01:21 PM
READ MORE: Tom DeLay, Halliburton, Fox News, Dick Cheney

[...] And Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican and Vietnam war veteran, told The Omaha World-Herald, "If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety."

Cheney told his story in an interview Wednesday with Fox News Channel; it was his only public statement on the accident. Cheney said it was "one of the worst days of my life," while accepting full blame for the accident and defending his decision to delay the public disclosure until the next day.

Whole story here.

PoliticsSee other Politics Articles
Title: Cheney's Five Draft Deferments During the Vietnam Era Emerge as a Campaign IssueSource: New York TimesURL Source:

WASHINGTON, April 30 — It was 1959 when Dick Cheney, then a student at Yale University, turned 18 and became eligible for the draft.

Eventually, like 16 million other young men of that era, Mr. Cheney sought deferments. By the time he turned 26 in January 1967 and was no longer eligible for the draft, he had asked for and received five deferments, four because he was a student and one for being a new father.

Although President Richard M. Nixon stopped the draft in 1973 and the war itself ended 29 years ago on Friday, the issue of service remains a personally sensitive and politically potent touchstone in the biographies of many politicians from that era.

For much of Mr. Cheney's political career, his deferments have largely been a nonissue.
In an increasingly vituperative political campaign, Mr. Cheney this week again questioned the credentials of Senator John Kerry and his ability to be commander in chief. Mr. Kerry, who was decorated in Vietnam and has made his service there a central element of his campaign, fired back.

Putting Mr. Cheney's record in the spotlight, Mr. Kerry said that he "got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do."

Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, dismissed the criticism, saying that Mr. Kerry was delving into a subject that he had said he would not touch. Mr. Schmidt said that Mr. Kerry was trying to divert attention from what the spokesman said was Mr. Kerry's reversals on other topics.

While Mr. Cheney's deferment history was briefly an issue when George W. Bush picked him as his running mate in 2000, the Democrats did not focus on it after Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, who had served in Vietnam, picked as his running mate Senator Joseph Lieberman, who also had not served.

The issue also received little attention during Mr. Cheney's Senate confirmation hearings as defense secretary in 1989 under the first President Bush, largely because the Armed Services Committee had just completed a bitter and protracted battle over the president's original choice, John G. Tower. Mr. Tower had faced questions about philandering, drinking and conflicts over defense contracts before he was rejected.

Senators of both parties were so eager to confirm Mr. Cheney quickly that they were relatively undemanding, not pressing him on the draft but merely asking him if he had anything to say about it.

He said he "never served" because of deferments to finish a college career that lasted six years rather than four, which he attributed to subpar academic performance and the fact that he had to work to pay for his education.

He added that he "would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called."

Away from the hearing room, he told the Washington Post that he had sought his deferments because "I had other priorities in the 60's than military service."

"I don't regret the decisions I made," he added. "I complied fully with all the requirements of the statutes, registered with the draft when I turned 18. Had I been drafted, I would have been happy to serve."

But others contend that Mr. Cheney appeared to go to some length to avoid the draft.
"Five deferments seems incredible to me," said David Curry, a professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who has written extensively about the draft, including a 1985 book, "Sunshine Patriots: Punishment and the Vietnam Offender."

"That's a lot of times for the draft board to say O.K.," Mr. Curry said.

In February 1962, when Mr. Cheney was classified as 1-A — available for service — he was doing poorly at Yale. But the military was taking only older men at that point, and like others who were in college at the time, Mr. Cheney seemed to have little concern about being drafted.
In June, he left Yale. After returning home to Casper, a small city in east-central Wyoming, he worked as a lineman for a power company.

At that point, the Vietnam War was still just a glimmer on the horizon. In 1962, only 82,060 men were inducted into the service, the fewest since 1949. Mr. Cheney was eligible for the draft but, as he said during his confirmation hearings in 1989, he was not called up because the Selective Service System was taking only older men.

But by 1963, ferment in Vietnam was rising. Mr. Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963 — he turned 22 that month — and sought his first student deferment on March 20, according to records from the Selective Service System. After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, he sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963.

On Aug. 7, 1964, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which allowed President Lyndon B. Johnson to use unlimited military force in Vietnam. The war escalated rapidly from there.

Just 22 days later, Mr. Cheney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne. He sought his third student deferment on Oct. 14, 1964.

In May 1965, Mr. Cheney graduated from college and his draft status changed to 1-A. But he was married, which offered him some protection.

In July, President Johnson announced that he was doubling the number of men drafted. The number of inductions soared, to 382,010 in 1966 from 230,991 in 1965 and 112,386 in 1964.
Mr. Cheney obtained his fourth deferment when he started graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.

On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Mr. Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. On Jan. 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

In January 1967, Mr. Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.

Of the 26.8 million men who were eligible for the draft between 1964 and 1973, only 2.2 million were drafted while 8.7 million joined voluntarily, according to "Chance and Circumstance: the Draft, the War, and the Vietnam Generation," a 1978 book by Lawrence M. Baskir and William A. Strauss. Mr. Cheney was among the vast majority of 16 million men — about 60 percent of those eligible — who avoided the draft by legal means.

The deferment process proved controversial, discriminating against men who were black or poor, and a lottery was introduced in 1969. President Nixon did away with student deferments in 1971 and the draft ended in 1973.

But the deferments left such a bitter after-effect that the Selective Service says on its Web site (www.sss.gov) that if a draft were reinstituted, it would be conducted much differently and there would be fewer excuses for people to get out of it.

At the time of his confirmation hearings as defense secretary, Mr. Cheney said that he had not taken any action either for or against the military during the Vietnam War. But, he told an interviewer at the time, "I think those who did in fact serve deserve to be honored for their service."

Of American involvement in Vietnam, he said: "Was it a noble cause? Yes, indeed, I think it was."

Top 11 things that prove Dick Cheney is not a coward. - 08/18/04

11. Cheney relentlessly pursued four educational deferments even while dropping out of college multiple times.

10. Courage under fire: "earned" expectant father deferment with child born exactly nine months and two days after that deferment was instituted.

9. During Picture Day on the Senate floor, Cheney told Patrick Leahy to, "go @#$%! himself" with only a 51-48 Republican majority.

8. Has had sex with Lynne Cheney. At least twice.

7. The "other priorities" Cheney cited on his military deferment applications included: slaying dragons, tracking the wolfman and keeping Dracula out of Wyoming.

6. Sure, he only hunts birds, but what would prevent a wounded duck from charging?

5. When Satan calls, Dick Cheney doesn't just let the machine get it.

4. Cheney has the fortitude to say no to corporate contributors when their demands are not in the public interest. He just chooses not to.

3. Have you ever eaten a baby? It's not a delicacy for the squeamish.

2. His heart is purple.

1. Getting five deferments isn't cowardly. Ask John Ashcroft about his seven deferments.

Omg.. What in the hell...?

In N.C., GOP Requests Church Directories

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Link Here

The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.

"Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.

The tactic was roundly condemned by religious leaders across the political spectrum, including conservative evangelical Christians. Ten professors of ethics at major seminaries and universities wrote a letter to President Bush in August 2004 asking him to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign," and calling on both parties to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."

Officials of the Republican National Committee maintained that the tactic did not violate federal tax laws that prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office, and they never formally renounced it. But Land said he thought the GOP had backed down.

"I heard nothing further about it, so my assumption was that it stopped, at least at the national level," he said.


--That is TOTALLY creepy.--

Art For Everyone


What happened to my favorite French commentor..?

I miss you man.

I'm sorry about the Napolean joke.

He wasn't even French.

Come back, I promise I will play nice.

Condi would use bi-polar excuse, except already used it on McCains' wife.

In your dreams, Condi

Link Here


'...but I never had cause to doubt her ability to reason. Now, I do.

Confronted by ABC's George Stephanopoulos with the news that fiery Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi militia has twice engaged in fierce armed conflict with U.S. troops since the 2003 invasion, was the kingmaker in the selection of Iraq's next prime minister, Rice replied sanguinely: "Iraq is a complex place. There's a lot of voices."

But as Stephanopoulos pointed out, the voice in question happens to have been used to effectively ally Iraq with Iran..' Continues

--What a skank.

I swear I hate that crackheaded Soviet-wannabe.--

"Executive Order 13292 is real evidence of real power in the vice president's office."

Dick IS running the show

The Order that gave him the power comes to light.

Posted by Evan Derkacz
Link Here

Many, if not most of us, have suspected Cheney of being the de facto president of the U.S. -- sub-30% approval rating and all.

From the most unlikely of sources comes this analysis of the power Bush gave Cheney back in 2003. The National Review's Byron York dissects the Executive Order that essentially hands Buckshot Dick the keys to the castle, concluding: "Executive Order 13292 is real evidence of real power in the vice president's office."

The Order essentially takes extant Executive Orders regarding classified material and the declassification thereof and replaces "and the Vice President too!" wherever it says "president." It was discovered, ironically enough, via Scooter Libby's testimony.

Libby, eager to save his own arse, told prosecutor Fitzgerald that he'd been authorized "by his superiors" to declassify information and hand it to the press. Ahh, now we're getting somewhere...


--Big fat bloody HMMMMM---

Let us put this in the box labled, "If You Can Not Beat Them..'

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Bomber.

Women are increasingly taking a leading role in conflicts by becoming terrorists--specifically, by becoming suicide bombers.

Link Here

The woman known as Dhanu stood waiting for former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was May 21, 1991. She wore thick glasses that obscured her face and clutched a sandalwood garland; the bulge beneath her orange salwar kameez (a traditional Hindu dress) bespoke her apparent pregnancy. As Gandhi strode toward the podium at the political rally where he was to speak, he acknowledged well-wishers lined along the red carpet. He clasped Dhanu's hand, and she respectfully kneeled before him. With her right hand she activated an explosive device strapped to her belly with a denim belt and embedded with 10,000 steel pellets. Gandhi, his assassin, and 16 others were killed.

Later it was revealed that a policewoman had attempted to prevent Dhanu--an assassin allegedly dispatched by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)--from reaching the prime minister. But Gandhi had intervened, saying something like, "Relax, baby"--quite possibly the last words he ever spoke.


Has anyone checked on Spain lately...?

NY Times Sticks A Fork In Dick

Mr. Vice President, It's Time to Go

by Bob Herbert
The New York Times
February 16, 2006

It's time for Dick Cheney to step down -- for the sake of the country and for the sake of the Bush administration.

Mr. Cheney's bumbling conduct at the upscale Armstrong Ranch in South Texas seemed hilarious at first. But when we learned that Harry Whittington had suffered a mild heart attack after being shot by the vice president in a hunting accident, it became clear that a more sober assessment of the fiasco at the ranch and, inevitably, Mr. Cheney's controversial and even bizarre behavior as vice president was in order.

There's a reason Dick Cheney is obsessive about shunning the spotlight. His record is not the kind you want to hold up for intense scrutiny.

More than anyone else, he was fanatical about massaging and distorting the intelligence that plunged us into the flaming quagmire of Iraq. He insisted that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was hot on the trail of nukes. He pounded away at the false suggestion that Iraq was somehow linked to Al Qaeda. And he spread the word that the war he wanted so badly would be a cakewalk.

"I really do believe," he told Tim Russert, "that we will be greeted as liberators."

Well, he got his war. And while the nation's brave young soldiers and marines were bouncing around Iraq in shamefully vulnerable Humvees and other vehicles, dodging bullets, bombs and improvised explosive devices, Mr. Cheney (a gold-medal winner in the acquisition of wartime deferments) felt perfectly comfortable packing his fancy 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun and heading off to Texas with a covey of fat cats to shoot quail.

Matters went haywire, of course, when he shot Mr. Whittington instead.

That was the moment when the legend of the tough, hawkish, take-no-prisoners vice president began morphing into the less-than-heroic image of a reckless, scowling incompetent who mistook his buddy for a bird.

This story is never going away. Harry Whittington is Dick Cheney's Monica. When Mr. Whittington dies (hopefully many years from now, and from natural causes), he will be remembered as the hunting companion who was shot by the vice president of the United States. This tale will stick to Mr. Cheney like Krazy Glue, and that's bad news for the Bush administration.

The shooting and Mr. Cheney's highhanded behavior in its immediate aftermath fit perfectly with the stereotype of him as a powerful but dangerous figure who is viewed by many as a dark force within the administration. He doesn't even give lip service to the idea of transparency in his public or private life. This is the man who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his White House meetings with energy industry honchos as secret as the Manhattan Project. (Along the way he went duck hunting at a private camp in rural Louisiana with Justice Antonin Scalia.)

This is also the man whose closest and most trusted aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice as a result of the investigation into the outing of a C.I.A. undercover operative, Valerie Wilson.

Mr. Cheney is arrogant, defiant and at times blatantly vulgar. He once told Senator Patrick Leahy to perform a crude act upon himself.

A vice president who insists on writing his own rules, who shudders at the very idea of transparency in government, whose judgment on crucial policy issues has been as wildly off the mark (and infinitely more tragic) as his actions in Texas over the weekend, and who has now become an object of relentless ridicule, cannot by any reasonable measure be thought of as an asset to the nation or to the president he serves.

The Bush administration would benefit from new thinking and new perspectives on the war in Iraq, the potential threat from Iran, the nation's readiness to cope with another terror attack, the development of a comprehensive energy policy and other important issues.

President Bush's approval ratings have dropped below 40 percent in recent polls. Even Republicans are openly criticizing the administration's conduct of the war, its response to Hurricane Katrina and assorted other failures and debacles.

Dick Cheney is a constant reminder of those things the White House would most like to forget: the bullying, the intelligence failures, the inability to pacify Iraq, the misuse of classified information and the breathtaking incompetence that seems to be spread throughout the administration.

Mr. Cheney would do his nation and his president a service by packing his bags and heading back to Wyoming. He's become a joke. But not a funny one.

The Enemy

William Rivers Pitt

We hear a great deal about enemies these days, writes William Rivers Pitt, both real and contrived. It is difficult to imagine, however, a more perilous enemy than the one operating out of Washington today. The difference between the enemies we hear about and the one in Washington is simple and deadly: only the enemy in Washington can annihilate the constitutional government we have enjoyed for more than two centuries.

Link Here


However, what has been all but completely ignored in his canned love-in with Fox News' Brit Hume is as follows:

Question: Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a vice president has the authority to declassify information?

Cheney: There is an executive order to that effect.

Question: There is.

Cheney: Yes.

Question: Have you done it?

Cheney: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order-

Question: You ever done it unilaterally?

Cheney: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president.

Translation: So what if I outed a covert CIA operative who specialized in WMD and may have been a crucial intel asset in Iran. I'm not only above the law, I am the law.

Wait, there's more...

Cheney: One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets. And it costs us, in terms of our relationship with other governments, in terms of the willingness of other intelligence services to work with us, in terms of revealing sources and methods. And all of those elements enter into some of these leaks.

There are plenty of reasons to pick apart Dick Cheney's flimsy shooting story

The leaker in chief has the arrogance to wag his gnarled finger at leakers. One can only presume that he's talking about our National Security Agents, Analysts and Operatives who rejected the hideous NSA spying programs that take away our liberties each time we phone home, surf the web or write an email.

Meanwhile, HIS leaking caused an entire CIA operation, a brass plate company known as Brewster Jennings to become inoperable, useless and maybe even caused agents like Valerie Plame and others to lose their valuable assets and perhaps even their lives to protect the politically powerful from the bright light of harsh justice.

The nerve of these people is endless. SICK!


Karl Rove's “I take responsibility" PR stunts in action...

Of course, the "responsibility" comes with zero consequences and only after they've blamed everyone else.

"And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."- George W. Bush - Sept 13, 2005

"I'm accountable and accept responsibility for the performance of the entire department."- Michael Chertoff - Feb 15, 2006

Hume: Who -- what caused this? What was the responsibility here? Cheney: Well, ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry.- Fox News - Feb 15, 2006

Great, so now that we know who was responsible for Katrina's victims we can throw open the courtroom doors and hear the negligent homicide cases and wrongful death awards going to the good people of New Orleans right?

Yeah...That will happen right about the time Dick Cheney gets strapped to a polygraph and asked, "How freaking drunk were you when you mistook your acquaintance for a bird, Mr. Cheney?"


Thanks for listening!

Iranian foreign minister demands immediate withdrawal of U.S., British tro

Iranian Foreign Minister Manushehr Mottaki demanded on Friday the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and British forces in Iraq, accusing British forces in Basra of destabilizing Iraq's second largest city.

Wrapping up a three-day visit to Lebanon, Mottaki said Iran supported the "current political process in Iraq," but he urged the incoming government to control the "escalating terrorism" targeting Iraqi civilians and to push for an immediate pullout of U.S.-led multinational forces.

"We believe that the presence of the British forces in Basra has destabilized security in this city and has had some negative effects in the form of threats against southern Iran recently," Mottaki said.

Link Here

Previously Iran has accused Britain of involvement in the bombings and riots in Ahvaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province which lies across the border from southern Iraq.

Britain has denied any connection to the unrest. A militant group of Iranian Arabs claimed responsibility for two bomb blasts in Ahvaz.

Venezuelan Opposition Case Thrown Out of International Criminal Court

Caracas, Venezuela, February 17, 2006—The International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected an appeal by Venezuelan opposition groups to prosecute the Venezuelan government for human rights violations. Chief Prosecutor for the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said the charges had a, “lack of precision as well as internal and external inconsistencies in the information.”

Charges were first brought to the court in 2003 by Venezuelan lawyers representing Venezuelans associated with the opposition. The lawyers argued that they had suffered crimes against humanity at the hands of the Venezuelan government.

Most of the crimes they say they suffered were during the April 2002 coup, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his government were briefly removed from power before being restored days later by the military and popular protests.

On February 9, the ICC issued a statement saying the court was unable to move forward with a formal investigation. This was because the information provided did not match the allegations.

Link Here

US warns against Chavez 'danger'

Hell Condi not doing to well around the world batting at zero, they think you suck, dont you think its time to bow out.

US warns against Chavez 'danger' Ms Rice deplored Venezuela's close relations with Cuba Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is one of the biggest dangers facing Latin America, Washington has said. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said Mr Chavez was trying to influence others away from democracy, and called for a united front against him.

President Chavez responded by accusing the US of aggression, saying "world opinion is with Venezuela".

Addressing a congressional hearing on Thursday, Ms Rice accused Mr Chavez of leading a "Latin brand of populism that has taken countries down the drain".

Link Here

Rice warns Iran, Mideast states not to finance Hamas-led PA

Now is Hamas a diplomatically elected Govt or not? so democracy doesn't work, unless it is to Georgie and his bunch of Goons liking Hmmmmmm, some friking democracy. Sheeeees what a bunch of Hypocrits, and they talk of democracy in the Middle East to bad Georgie, looks like the Middle East thinks you brand of democracy sucks.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned Iran and other Middle East powers on Friday of the consequences for the region of giving money to a Palestinian government led by Hamas.

She also expressed doubt that the militant Islamic group could raise badly needed international financing unless it changes its policies.

"I would hope that any state that is considering funding Hamas, a Hamas-led government, would think about the implications of that for the Middle East" and for the goal of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Rice said.

Go Buy shoes Condi that is all your good for, and wiping Georgies ass.

Link Here

Errors cost thousands of South Florida residents Medicare coverage

Medicare HMO members, perhaps numbering in the tens of thousands, were mistakenly dropped from their medical coverage when they signed up for the government's new prescription drug plan -- a problem hitting hard in South Florida, officials and advocates say.

Medicare recipients in managed care were expected to have an easy time joining the new drug coverage plan, but because of their own signup errors or enrollment mistakes by HMOs, many instead have been left without insurance for physician care or medicine.

"I can't go to a doctor. I need a couple prescriptions that I don't have," said Delray Beach retiree Allan Cooper, 66, who was among those dropped by Humana Health Plans. "What happens if … I have to go to a hospital? That's kind of scary."

Although no one has a complete count of those erroneously dropped from HMO rolls, the national advocacy group Medicare Rights Center estimated that tens of thousands are affected, in most states. Advocates think the problem is pronounced in South Florida, where about one-third of 825,000 Medicare recipients are in HMOs, compared to 11 percent nationally.

Link Here

Hearing set on whether to toss DeLay charge

Feb. 17, 2006, 11:46PM
Hearing set on whether to toss DeLay charge

Associated Press

AUSTIN - A state appeals court will hear arguments from attorneys March 22 about whether a conspiracy charge against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay should stand.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin notified lawyers in the case Thursday that oral arguments had been set before a three-judge panel.

Prosecutors appealed to the court after Judge Pat Priest in December threw out a charge against the former House majority leader and two associates that alleged conspiracy based on a supposed plan to violate the Texas election code.

The charges against DeLay, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis involve donations to DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee. The defendants are accused of funneling $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Texas committee and an arm of the National Republican Committee to seven GOP legislative candidates in 2002.

Link Here

US Democrats plan bill to block Dubai-US port deal

WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Two U.S. Democratic senators said on Friday they would introduce legislation aimed at blocking Dubai Ports World from buying a company that operates several U.S. shipping ports because of security concerns.

Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York said they would offer a measure to ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations.

"We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either," Menendez said in a statement.

P&O (PO.L: Quote, Profile, Research), the company Dubai Ports World plans to buy for $6.8 billion, is already foreign-owned but the concern is that the purchaser is backed by the United Arab Emirates government.

The UAE company would gain control over the management of major U.S. ports in New York and New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami, sparking national security concerns.


It's about damn time! Link Here

Seattle tells GOP thanks but no thanks

ANOTHER city tells the GOP to go Cheney itself.

The GOP is eyeing Seattle as a possible site for the 2008 Republican National Convention....

Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley said thanks but no thanks this week. Chicago wants to focus on a possible bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

San Diego sounded a similar note. Mayor Jerry Sanders, in a statement, said, "The city has other important priorities."

As for Seattle? The city is taking a pass, too, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Nickels said Friday. "There's the question of whether we even have a facility to hold such a convention," spokesman Marty McOmber said. "And the issue of having enough hotel rooms. We're not going to bid for it."

Link Here

White House to help protect GOP-drawn Texas map

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today granted the Bush administration's request to join Texas in defending a Republican-friendly congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay.

The administration will share time with Texas lawyers on March 1, when the court holds a special afternoon session to consider four appeals that stem from the bitter dispute over Texas congressional district boundaries.

Justices are considering whether the Republican-controlled Legislature acted purely for partisan gain in 2003 when it threw out district boundaries that had been used in the 2002 elections, and whether the new map violated a federal voting rights law.

The Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights. The Bush administration asked the high court last week for permission to participate in the case, supporting Texas.

link Here

Gonzales Withholding Plame Emails

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Report

Wednesday 15 February 2006

Sources close to the investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson have revealed this week that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has not turned over emails to the special prosecutor's office that may incriminate Vice President Dick Cheney, his aides, and other White House officials who allegedly played an active role in unmasking Plame Wilson's identity to reporters.

Moreover, these sources said that, in early 2004, Cheney was interviewed by federal prosecutors investigating the Plame Wilson leak and testified that neither he nor any of his senior aides were involved in unmasking her undercover CIA status to reporters and that no one in the vice president's office had attempted to discredit her husband, a vocal critic of the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence. Cheney did not testify under oath or under penalty of perjury when he was interviewed by federal prosecutors.

The emails Gonzales is said to be withholding contained references to Valerie Plame Wilson's identity and CIA status and developments related to the inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Moreover, according to sources, the emails contained suggestions by the officials on how the White House should respond to what it believed were increasingly destructive comments Joseph Wilson had been making about the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.

Gonzales, who at the time of the leak was the White House counsel, spent two weeks with other White House attorneys screening emails turned over to his office by roughly 2,000 staffers following a deadline imposed by the White House in 2003. The sources said Gonzales told Fitzgerald more than a year ago that he did not intend to turn over the emails to his office, because they contained classified intelligence information about Iraq in addition to minor references to Plame Wilson, the sources said.

He is said to have cited "executive privilege" and "national security concerns" as the reason for not turning over some of the correspondence, which allegedly proves Cheney's office played an active role in leaking Plame Wilson's undercover CIA status to reporters, the attorneys said.

Aside from the emails that have not been turned over, there are also emails that Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor investigating the case, believes were either "shredded" or deleted, the attorneys said.

In a court document dated January 23, Fitzgerald says that, during the course of his investigation, he had been told that some emails from the offices of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had not been saved. His letter does not claim that any member of the Bush administration discarded the emails, but sources close to the probe say that is what Fitzgerald has been alleging privately.

"In an abundance of caution," Fitzgerald's January 23 letter to Libby's defense team states, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."

Spokespeople for Gonzales and the White House would not comment citing the ongoing investigation. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Fitzgerald, also wouldn't comment. A spokesman for Cheney did not return calls for comment nor did Cheney's criminal attorney, Terrence O'Donnell.

Cheney testified for a little more than an hour about his role in the leak in early 2004. What he told prosecutors appears to be identical to testimony his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, gave before a grand jury during the same year. Libby was indicted on five-counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and lying to investigators related to his role in the Plame Wilson leak.

Two weeks ago, additional court documents related to Libby's case were made public. In one document, Fitzgerald responded to Libby's defense team that Libby had testified before a grand jury that his "superiors" authorized him to leak elements of the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate to reporters in the summer of 2003 that showed Iraq to be a grave nuclear threat, to rebut criticism that the administration manipulated pre-war Iraq intelligence.

News reports citing people familiar with Libby's testimony said Cheney had authorized Libby to do so. Additionally, an extensive investigation during the past month has shown that Cheney, Libby and former Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley spearhead an effort beginning in March 2003 to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the administration's intelligence related to Iraq, who had publicly criticized the administration for relying on forged documents to build public support for the war.

Cheney did not disclose this information when he was questioned by investigators.

Cheney responded to questions about how the White House came to rely on Niger documents that purportedly showed that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country. Cheney said he had received an intelligence briefing on the allegations in late December 2003 or early January 2004 and had asked the CIA for more information about the issue.

Cheney said he was unaware that Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return, which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.

However, these attorneys said that witnesses in the case have testified before a grand jury that Cheney, Libby, Hadley, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department, the FBI, and other senior aides in the Office of the Vice President, the President, and the National Security Council had received and read a March 9, 2002, cable sent to his office by the CIA that debunked the Niger claims.

The cable, which was prepared by a CIA analyst and based on Wilson's fact-finding mission, did not mention Wilson by name, but quoted a CIA source and Niger officials Wilson had questioned during his eight-day mission, who said there was no truth to the claims that Iraq had tried to purchase 500 tons of yellowcake uranium ore from Niger.

Several current and former State Department and CIA officials familiar with the March 9, 2002, cable said they had testified before the grand jury investigating the Plame Wilson leak that they had spoken to Libby and Hadley about the cable, and that they were told Cheney had also read it.

Cheney told investigators that when Wilson began speaking to reporters on background about his secret mission to Niger to investigate Iraq's alleged attempts to purchase uranium, he asked Libby to contact the CIA to "get more information" about the trip and to find out if it was true, the attorneys added.

Furthermore, Cheney told prosecutors that before he learned of Wilson's trip, his office simply sought to rebut statements made by Wilson to reporters and the various newspaper reports that said the Bush administration knowingly relied on flawed intelligence to build a case for war.

Moreover, Cheney said that he and his aide were concerned that reporters had been under the impression that Cheney chose Wilson for the Niger trip, the attorneys said. Cheney testified that he instructed Libby and other aides to coordinate a response to those queries and rebut those allegations with the White House press office.

"In his testimony the vice president said that his staff referred media calls about Wilson to the White House press office," one attorney close to the case said. "He said that was the appropriate venue for responding to statements by Mr. Wilson that he believed were wrong."

Cheney told investigators that he first learned about Valerie Plame Wilson and her employment with the CIA from Libby. Cheney testified that Libby told him that several reporters had contacted him in July to say that Plame Wilson had been responsible for arranging her husband's trip to Niger to investigate the Niger uranium claims.

Cheney also testified that the next time he recalled hearing about Plame Wilson and her connection to Joseph Wilson was when he read about her in a July 14, 2003, column written by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's electricity crisis as Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. Jason has spent the last year cultivating sources close to the CIA leak investigation, and is a regular contributer to t r u t h o u t.
Link Here

Can Cheney be His Own Declassification Machine?

In my view, the law says "No". . .but I have little doubt Alberto Gonzales and his minions will construct a rationale that says otherwise.

But I have run across some interesting information -- and have some questions that we should all pose to those at the helm in the White House.

Executive Order 12958 on "Classified National Security Information" was promulgated by President Clinton on April 17,
This Executive Order "prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information."

In this 1995 Executive Order, the VICE PRESIDENT is mentioned only one time -- and only in such a way that the automatic, 25-year declassification of historically important documents can be preempted if declassification would "impair the ability of responsible United States Government officials to protect the President, the Vice President, and other individuals."

Now, let's move to the March 25, 2003 Executive Order by President Bush, No. 13292, that amends President Clinton's Executive Order on National Security Information.

The Vice President's "presence" in the Executive Order increased by 1000%. Instead of just one mention in the Executive Order, Cheney's office is referred to eleven times.

This hyping of Cheney's and his staff's role in the management of secrets is a further testament to the historically unique power that Cheney's vice-presidency amassed in the period after 9/11/2001.

Briefly, in the amended Executive Order, Dick Cheney and presumably future VPs are affected by this National Security Information presidential order in the following ways:

1. The Vice President, in the context of his duties, has the authority to "classify" information;

2. The Vice President, in the context of his duties, can give a "top secret" classification to information;

3. The Vice President can give a "secret" or "confidential" classification to information;

4. Like in the previous 1995 Executive Order, the automatic, 25-year declassification of national security information can be preempted if it would impair the ability to "protect" the Vice President from physical harm;

5. Mandatory declassification review (by a designated process) is required of information originating from the Vice President;

6. Mandatory declassification review is required from the Vice President's staff;

7. Access to certain national security information can be provided to individuals who occupied policy-making positions appointed by the Vice President (or President of course)

8. Rules barring access to certain classified national security information will be waived for the Vice President;

9. Waivers to rules of access to classified national security information will only apply to Vice Presidential appointees in areas of their policy work while working as an Executive Branch appointee;

10. This mention of the VP only relates to the above line saying that access to classified national security information will only be provided to Presdidential and Vice Presidential appointees in the area of his or her policy work that was done during the tenure of that respective President or Vice President;

11. "'Original classification authority' means an individual authorized in writing, either by the President, the Vice President in the performance of executive duties. . ." This is a definitional item in the Executive Order.

There is NOTHING HERE that indicates that the Vice President has any embedded authority to be a declassification machine unto himself.

This matter is important because Vice Presdident Cheney slipped into his interview with Brit Hume yesterday his belief that he has the ability to declassify national security information -- and implying that there is an Executive Order that allows him to do it.

Here is the exchange:

Q Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.

Q There is.


Q Have you done it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order --

Q You ever done it unilaterally?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.

Vice President Cheney is right that he has the ability to classify materials; that is clear from the Executive Order.

It is also clear, however, that the rules and processes for CLASSIFYING national security information are completely different than DECLASSIFYING information. That is evident from reading the structure of the Executive Order itself.

So, Cheney is engaged in Executive Branch over-reach again, implying he has a power that is not designated.

This is the issue that the nation should be focused on -- and in TWN's view, it is far more important than Cheney's hunting accident and even his obsession with making the White House opaque to this country's citizens.

If Cheney authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified national security secrets, then Cheney broke the law and should be investigated. GOP presidential hopeful George Allen agrees.

One lucid observer shared with me the thought this morning that there may, in fact, be "classified" aspects to the March 2003 Executive Order that we mere members of the public are not privy too.

But let's warn the White House now: Secret Orders that give the President or Vice President secret new powers are not consistent in any way with democracy and this nation's heritage.

TWN doubts that the authority to classify or declassify information would have been issued in a secret way -- as it is clear that one of the purposes of the 2003 Executive Order amendment was to give Vice President Cheney and his office much more presence in the management of secrets -- and the White House wanted to make VP Cheney's role overt, not hidden.

-- Steve Clemons
(Ed. note: Many thanks to GP for sending the EO links.)

Update: Here is an excellent link to thoughtful commentary whether the VP has declassification authority to out covert agents or to release classified sections of the national intelligence estimate.

Here are two links -- link one & link two -- that add a bit more information about the empowerment of the Vice President's role in the executive orders on national security information.

One other factoid is that President Clinton did amend his Executive Order to give the Vice President "original classification authority," but this is still not relevant to "declassification authority." Just want to have all the correct information out there.

More later.
Link Here

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friends Do Not Let Friends War For Lies

Bring Them All Home.

Just For The Hell Of It, A Poetry Thread

A Dream fit for a Queen

Chapter 1

Last night I dreamed of rolling hills,
A lush Island far away.
I met, I swear, a golden hare,
Who thought that dance was play.

He teased, tickled and ran about,
He twisted with his mirth.
We jumped and twirled and flew away,
Floating above the earth.

The wrap I wore, were strangers robes,
The mind was not my own.
We talked of strings, clocks and kings,
We found a golden throne.

Certain of anonymity,
We laughed and danced and sang,
We found the meaning of life itself.
We understood the rain.

But time did touch the gentle slopes,
And sleep did find us there.
An enchanting mist, curled like a fist,
There in the mighty chair.

A dream with sleep, touched my eyes,
A rest that stirred the soul.
But dreams, it seems, can hide some things,
The heart don't want to know.

Pulled I was, from one dream,
Back into another,
The hare, it seems, had other things,
On which he had to suffer.

Alone, I was, or so I thought,
Cried and looked about,
I searched and watched and looked again,
And finally called out.

A silent dream stirred in the breeze.
Mist cleared the gentle wood.
The birds called back, I could not react,
For there a hunter stood.

A golden collar in his hand,
Brandy in his belt.
He stood like age, with eyes of rage,
And asked me how I felt?

I scolded him for startling me.
And told him to go away.
He stood and stared, like I was scared,
And secretly I prayed.

His eye did probe my stranger’s robes,
His gentle face was fair.
It broke into a drunken smile,
Leaving him a jolly air.

His eyes, indeed, filled with a need.
He showed a merry wit.
"You little lass, don't be an ass,
"How soon you do forget!"

"We talked of strings, clocks and kings."
"Though I'm not the king of Rome,"
"This land is mine, is it so divine,
"That you would take my throne?"

The golden collar became a crown.
He threw it at my feet.
"I must confess, it is a test,
"Tis the conquer that is sweet."

I turned and ran down rolling slopes,
Took to the fields in flight.
Scared to death, and out of breath,
I tried to calm my fright.

There I found an odd vortex,
A fairy ring of stone.
And there again, the hare, my friend,
Said he would guide me home.

He sat with me inside myself,
And told me to achieve,
A higher truth about myself,
I need only too believe.

The circle turned, slow at first,
Then faster at my bidding.
The more belief, the more relief.
That rabbit was not kidding.

He danced, then jumped, into a light,
I swear, I never saw
A glowing being, with misty seams,
Was he ever there at all?

I walked myself into that light,
Returned to a troubled sleep.
I awoke and swear I choked,
A crown lay at my feet.


Dick Cheney on "Collateral Damage"

The Fox News Interview: Dick Cheney on "Collateral Damage"

Link Here

Hey Guys our Christy Girls OP/ED is now posted on MWC News A Site Without Borders

Go check it out, Her writing is excellent as usual, Here is the link.

Christy Cole is an associated editor in MWC. She can be reached at Christy@mwcnews.net

Vintage For Ally

'This photo is not one of the five photos referred to in the February Washingtonian story...'

Lobbyist Abramoff Describes Pictures of a “Bearded, Fatter Me” With President Bush

Link Here
[Editor’s note: A version of this story was posted briefly on Monday of this week. Within an hour, Jack Abramoff contacted the author, Washingtonian national editor Kim Eisler, and asked that the report be deleted from the Washingtonian.com Web site because public disclosure of his communications would damage his status as a witness and undermine his plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Abramoff has pleaded guilty to three felonies and could receive 31 years in prison for his part in the lobbying scandal. US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle will decide the length of Abramoff’s prison term. The link was taken down while Mr. Abramoff’s concerns were investigated, but Mr. Eisler found no confirmation that publication of the item would damage any aspect of the wide-ranging probe. Thus we are posting this updated story.]

Time magazine published a photograph that showed Jack Abramoff in a scene with President Bush. This photo is not one of the five photos referred to in the February Washingtonian story that revealed the existence of pictures of the two men together. One of the photos referred to in the Washingtonian story was taken at the same event as the photo published by Time; in it the President and Abramoff are shaking hands. The Time photo showed Abramoff in the background.

In January Washingtonian national editor Kim Eisler was allowed to see the photos he reported on, but Abramoff would not release them for publication. Several of the pictures had hung prominently in Abramoff’s office and had been seen by many visitors, including Eisler, who first met Abramoff while working on a book, Revenge of the Pequots, about Native American casinos.

When newspapers reported that the White House was in a “desperate frenzy” to find photographs of Abramoff and Bush together, Eisler described in his February Washingtonian Power Players column the ones he had seen.

Before publishing the item, Eisler contacted Abramoff to get details about the circumstances in which the photos were taken. The White House has repeatedly claimed that Bush did not know Abramoff and that the pictures must have been taken at a White House holiday party, when the President shakes hands with hundreds of people he doesn’t know. None of the photographs seen by Eisler matched that description.

In various January communications with Eisler, Abramoff confirmed that he and President Bush had met in “almost a dozen settings.” Abramoff said the President had “joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows.”

In the photograph taken at the same event as the one published by Time, Abramoff said he and the President were discussing working out with weights.

Other photographs included a picture of Bush and Abramoff standing together with “Cheshire cat grins”; pictures of Bush and what Abramoff characterized as the “bearded fatter me”; a picture of Bush chatting with Abramoff’s twin daughters (“Oh, you are twins; I have twins,” Abramoff quoted Bush as saying); a picture of Bush, House speaker Dennis Hastert, and Abramoff’s children; and a picture of Laura Bush with Abramoff’s wife, Pam, and the twin girls, who had led the Pledge of Allegiance at the event (said Abramoff: “Laura went ga-ga over their being twins”).

A frustrated Abramoff, who feels he has been abandoned by many of his conservative friends, added, “They will come up with excuse after excuse as to how and why he did not know me. I could have spent four months alone with him in Bolivia and he would not know me.”

Unclaimed Territory

Friday, February 17, 2000
by Glenn Greenwald

The Long Hard Slog
There are lots of people who appear to be morbidly depressed -- to the point of conceding defeat -- as a result of yesterday’s unilateral obstruction by the incomparable White House shill Sen. Pat Roberts of the long-planned and long-promised investigation into the operational aspects of the NSA program by the Senate Intelligence Committee. That defeatist reaction and the borderline-self-pitying sentiments which accompany it are, for literally countless reasons, completely unwarranted.

First, nobody ever thought that a just resolution of this scandal was dependent upon an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, dominated, as it is, by the mewling, slavish and indescribably dishonest Pat Roberts. The notion that this scandal has come to an end all because Roberts blocked, for the moment, hearings that were to be held by that Committee is nonsensical. Thankfully, this scandal never depended upon the integrity of Pat Roberts, and hearings in front of that Committee were merely one of the many ways to compel a real investigation, but it was hardly the only or even primary way.

Moreover, the Committee did not vote against an investigation. Instead, Roberts merely invoked a procedural device as Chairman to prevent a vote, for now, from taking place. (Incidentally, what happened to the Republican mantra that procedural maneuvers ought not be used to block up-or-down votes? It seems that principle only applies to matters where they know they will prevail on the vote. Here, there were clearly Republican members of the Committee who did not want to go on record – and who may have been unwilling to go on record – voting to oppose an investigation. As a result, no vote was held).

And, one must remember that there are numerous other branches of this scandal which are alive, well, and growing. The investigation of the Senate Judiciary Committee continues, with disputes raging between the Republican Chairman and the Attorney General over the scope of further witnesses testimony and the DoJ’s obligation to disclose documents. The House Intelligence Committee voted yesterday to launch its own investigation and hold its own hearings, and Republicans on that Committee are already feuding with one another over the proper scope of that investigation. And, as I posted about yesterday, the judiciary is now involved in this scandal and is beginning to assert its institutional role in our democracy.

In sum, there are numerous governmental processes underway far beyond the Senate Intelligence Committee which are engaged in serious and potentially fatal investigations of this scandal. And beyond those, what will ultimately determine whether the Bush Administration is held accountable for its law-breaking are two components which neither Dick Cheney nor Pat Roberts can shut down – the investigative work of the press and the opinion of the public.

Some perspective is necessary and critically important here. The NSA scandal has only existed for two months. It arose in an environment where the President’s party controls not only the Executive Branch, but has transformed Congress into a compliant, obedient, impotent tool of the Administration. The Administration has successfully manipulated terrorism fears for quite some time, and the Administration begins with a rhetorical advantage with any measures that ostensibly involve counter-terrorism efforts. And large parts of the media are captive to the Bush world-view and resistant to the premise that the Administration may have been corrupt or acted illegally.

Thus, this scandal was never going to be the downfall of the Administration after a few weeks, and anyone who expected this was operating with wildly unrealistic expectations. It is going to take hard, focused, patient work to bring about a just resolution to this scandal. It is an uphill battle that will have to overcome substantial and formidable efforts on the part of the Administration to block investigations and they will do everything in their considerable power to ensure that they will be immunized from consequences. All of that has to be expected. None of it should come as a surprise.

There is nothing surprising – and nothing even remotely fatal – about the fact that someone like Pat Roberts engaged in slimy maneuvering in order to comply with Dick Cheney’s decree that there be no investigation by that Committee into this scandal. If that little stunt is enough to make people say that the whole thing is over and the Administration won, then it means that we weren’t prepared to fight very hard over this matter.

The reality is that the more the Administration fights to suppress investigations and conceal relevant facts, the more fuel is added to this fire. Every presidential scandal in history has been exacerbated by the cover-up component. Opponents of the Clinton Administration had some of their most compelling political P.R. victories when the Administration invoked precepts of "Executive privilege" in order to block interrogation and to avoid the disclosure of documents.

Rather than viewing each obstructionist step by the Administration as some sign of our inevitable defeat and doom, we ought to see it and use it as what it is -- a sign that, contrary to their bravado, the Administration is petrified of this scandal and is doing everything possible to prevent Americans -- through their Congress and the courts -- from discovering the truth.

During the Watergate scandal, the Nixon Administration engaged in all sorts of subterfuge designed to derail the Watergate investigation. The notorious Saturday Night Massacre occurred when the President ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire the Special Prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal (Archibald Cox), and when both Richardson and his Deputy refused to fire Cox, Nixon fired them and then found someone next in line at the Justice Department (Robert Bork) who was willing to fire Cox, which Bork then did.

When that happened, Americans who stood opposed to Nixon's law-breaking didn’t throw up their hands and moan that the Watergate investigation was over and concede defeat to the President. If anything, those obstructionist efforts fueled the scandal even more and emboldened Nixon’s opponents to create other ways to ensure that he and his Administration were held accountable for their law-breaking. In fact, public opinion was so inflamed by that obstruction that it was shortly thereafter that articles of impeachment were introduced for the first time.

The Watergate scandal took 2 1/2 years from the time it began until the time Nixon left office because of it in disgrace. The NSA scandal has been with us for 2 months. Watergate resulted in Nixon’s downfall not due to one large smoking gun revelation, nor was it because the country heard about the break-in and then stormed the streets demanding Nixon’s impeachment.

Nixon began that scandal as an immensely popular President - infinitely more popular than the unpopular Bush is now. And when the Watergate scandal began, the mere notion that it could lead to Nixon’s downfall was fantasy. And the scandal unfolded as a slow, grinding process which was the result of tenacious, relentless investigative work and a slow transformation of public opinion. And the Administration fought the investigation every step of the way, doing what they could to obstruct it at every turn.

It is highly instructive to recall the evolution of public opinion with regard to this Mother of all Presidential Law-breaking Scandals:

[I]t is worth remembering that Watergate, as a case against a presidency, was not built in a day, and the decision of most Americans to abandon their support of Nixon was not made overnight.

Shafts of light fell on Nixon's dark side in June 1972, when burglars were caught bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel-office complex. The few newspeople who went after the story began piecing it together that summer and fall: the program of dirty tricks and the illegal cash financing, the efforts to silence potential witnesses and shield the president.

While the revelations accumulated, the rest of the country tuned out. That November, Nixon carried 49 states in winning re-election. More than two months later, as the first Watergate defendants were going to court in January 1973, Nixon's numbers in the Gallup Poll were among the most robust of his presidency: 68 percent approval to 25 percent disapproval. . . .

Of course, that was before Nixon began talking about invoking executive privilege to prevent White House aides from testifying about an alleged cover-up. When that key phrase, "executive privilege," became part of the discussion, Nixon's numbers started their descent.

In February, the Senate voted 70-0 to empanel an investigating committee of its own. Nixon's approval rating in the first week of April stood at 54 percent in the Gallup Poll. Most Americans were still withholding judgment. Even after the April 30 speech in which Nixon announced the resignation of his closest aides, many Republicans continued to rally around the president.

The Senate Republican leader, Hugh C. Scott of Pennsylvania, said the speech had proved that the president was "determined to see this affair thoroughly cleaned up." The governor of California, Ronald Reagan, said the Watergate bugging had been illegal but that "criminal" was too harsh a term because the convicted burglars were "not criminals at heart."

That same month, Republican state party chairmen meeting in Chicago adopted a resolution blaming "a few overzealous individuals" for Watergate and lending unequivocal support to the president.Vice President Spiro T. Agnew accused the press of using "hearsay" and other tactics that were "a very short jump from McCarthyism." The same comparison was picked up by the man who had succeeded McCarthy in the Senate, Democrat William Proxmire of Wisconsin, who said the media had been "grossly unfair" to Nixon.

By then, however, the bleeding in the Gallup Poll had dropped Nixon to just 48 percent approval in the first week of May -- a drop of 20 percentage points since January. And that rating would keep on falling through the 25 percent level before Nixon's resignation in August 1974.

The Bush Administration isn’t going to just roll over at the first whiff of a scandal. But enormous strides have been made in public opinion. And there are already multiple Congressional investigations, lawsuits, raging and growing disputes within the President’s own party, and at least some important journalists who have shown a rare journalistic hunger over this story.

And most important of all, there has been no real campaign to convince Americans of what is truly at stake with this scandal. Most Democrats can barely get themselves to utter the fact that the President broke the law, and yet half of all Americans have already reached that conclusion on their own.

There is enormous potential for this scandal to grow, but that will only happen if people who believe that Presidential law-breaking is a serious threat remain resolute about making it grow and believe that they can contribute to its growth. Dick Cheney lobbied so hard to prevent the Intelligence Committee from investigating precisely because they want to create the appearance that this scandal is dying. That will happen only if people allow it to die, only if Bush opponents internalize the notion that they will inevitably lose because everything is against them and there is no way to change that.

Link Here

You have GOT to be fucking kidding me?


According to a Baptist Minister, the U.S. Constitution prevents Hillary Rodham Clinton - or any woman - from serving as President. He says that contrary to what feminists think, the 19th Amendment did not de-gender the nation's highest office. Article II, Section 1 declares 16 times the President will be a man.

That's right, men only. Women need not apply.

Continues, if you can keep your skin from crawling off....

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--This is becoming tedious, and intolerable.--

His star fallen, DeLay sees his pet project fade $500m oil-gas plan slashed

By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff February 17, 2006
WASHINGTON -- When Tom DeLay was the most powerful man in the House of Representatives, Congress and the president devoted $500 million over 10 years for an oil and gas project lawmakers expected to go to a firm in DeLay's hometown.

But just a month after the embattled former House majority leader announced he would not try to keep his leadership job, the Bush administration cut funding for the project from its 2007 budget, and announced in the fine print of its 1,220-page fiscal blueprint that it would seek legislation to kill the program outright.

A Department of Energy spokesman said the decision this month merely reflects President Bush's desire to weed out ineffective programs. But in political circles, lawmakers and analysts saw the cut as a slap against a man who no longer has the political muscle to hit back.

''No way" would the administration suggest eliminating the program if Delay, the Texas Republican, were still majority leader, said Tyson Slocum, an energy specialist at Public Citizen, a lobbying group that opposed the project. ''He carried way too much clout. This program clearly was identified with Tom DeLay."

Representative Ralph Hall, a fellow Texas Republican who fought for the energy project, said he would appeal the matter to Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, but acknowledged that DeLay's troubles gave supporters less leverage.

DeLay is under indictment, accused of laundering campaign contributions to fund Texas legislative races. His ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who recently pleaded guilty to defrauding clients, have also drawn scrutiny.

Facing a difficult election year, many Republicans have distanced themselves from their former leader and from his intricate network of supporters who were often rewarded with federal funding for pet projects.

The energy project funds research and development into ''ultra deepwater" drilling for oil and gas. The project, included in the sweeping energy bill Bush signed into law last year, was heralded as a critical step in shaping a national energy policy and making the country less dependent on foreign oil.

While the legislation does not specify who would receive the program money, energy specialists and Democratic critics said the language of the bill virtually ensured it would go to the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, a nonprofit consortium based in DeLay's Sugar Land, Texas, district. Hall was the sponsor of the proposal, but DeLay was an active and powerful promoter of it.

House Democrats were incensed last year when the research and development project, which was not included in the printed version of the energy bill, was inserted in the legislation overnight by four leading negotiators on the bill.

While two Democrats knew of the addition, other Democrats complained that they had no chance to debate the provision.

''It was snuck in at the last minute as a giveaway to the most profitable companies in the history of the world," said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden, referring to the oil companies in the consortium.

Markey praised the Bush administration for proposing to kill the project, but said he didn't think the administration would have done so if DeLay were still majority leader.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog, considered the project ''the worst provision in the energy bill," said the group's vice president for policy, Keith Ashdown.

''Behind the scenes, the reason why it happened was because DeLay put his shoulder into it."

Sticking the provision into the bill at the last moment, in part to shield its powerful supporters from scrutiny, makes it ''the poster child for what's wrong with Congress," Ashdown said.

DeLay's office did not respond to requests for comment, but Brian Nick, a spokesman for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, defended DeLay as a passionate advocate for his district.

''Clearly, someone with the experience of getting things done in Congress and who still serves on the very powerful Appropriations Committee is very beneficial to his constituents at home," Nick said.

John Grassner, a spokesman for the Department of Energy, said the effort to eradicate the proposal had nothing to do with DeLay, but with the program itself.

The research and development project was to be funded by an oil and gas leasing program the administration also wants eliminated, he said, so the money wouldn't be there to pay for it.

He said that the oil and gas programs were ''not demonstrating clear results," and that the administration was determined to eliminate ineffective programs to pare the budget.

Melanie Kenderdine, spokeswoman for the energy consortium that stood to benefit from the program, defended the funding.

''It's in the interest of consumers for there to be additional gas supplies, because that will lower prices," she said.

Hall, the initial House sponsor, said he was ready to fight for the project on its merits.
While DeLay has snagged a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, it is unclear whether he will be able to persuade fellow lawmakers to save the project.

The 11-term House veteran faces a Republican primary in a few weeks, and, if he wins, might also face a well-known Democratic challenger and a conservative-leaning Independent candidate in the general election.

Michael Franc, a congressional specialist with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the new House leadership may try to salvage the program to help DeLay beat back his challengers, fearing that Republican control of the House could hinge on DeLay's race.

But most House members are not eager to be associated with their former boss.

''It's kind of the law of political gravity. The velocity of your fall increases with the recognition that your former power seems to be ebbing," said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University.

''Gratitude is the most perishable commodity in Congress. 'Save yourself first' has always been the operational code."

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