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Friday, June 27, 2008

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Keith Olbermann, Glenn Greenwald Feud Over FISA

A war of words has broken out between two of the progressive blogosphere's most beloved figures: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and blogger/author Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com.
In a
post yesterday, Greenwald charged that Olbermann's "blind devotion to Barack Obama" had let him to excuse and defend Obama's support of the FISA 'compromise' legislation. Greenwald noted that Olbermann has previously condemned the idea of giving immunity to telecom companies that spied on Americans, calling it a "shameless, breathless, literally textbook example of Fascism" and comparing it to the actions of the Third Reich.
"But," Greenwald wrote, "[n]ow that Barack Obama supports a law that does the same thing -- and now that Obama justifies that support by claiming that this bill is necessary to keep us Safe from the Terrorists -- everything has changed."
Last night, Olbermann invited Newsweek's Jonathan Alter onto his show to discuss Obama's support for the FISA and telecom amnesty bill (video of the segment is here). There wasn't a syllable uttered about "immunizing corporate criminals" or "textbook examples of Fascism" or the Third Reich. There wasn't a word of rational criticism of the bill either. Instead, the two media stars jointly hailed Obama's bravery and strength -- as evidenced by his "standing up to the left" in order to support this important centrist FISA compromise. [...]
Grave warning on Olbermann's show that telecom amnesty and FISA revisions were hallmarks of Bush Fascism instantaneously transformed into a celebration that Obama, by supporting the same things, was leading a courageous, centrist crusade in defense of our Constitution.
There's much more -- you can read Greenwald's
full post here. And Olbermann responded with a post last night on Daily Kos.
He explained his segment by citing former Nixon aide (and frequent Countdown guest) John Dean's argument that the FISA compromise "clearly did not preclude future criminal prosecution of the telecoms - it only stopped civil suits." (He added, "I think John Dean is worth 25 Glenn Greenwalds (maybe 26 Keith Olbermanns)."
More Olbermann:
Thus, as I phrased it on the air tonight, obviously Obama kicked the left in the teeth by supporting the bill. But anybody who got as hot about this as I did would prefer to see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, instead of seeing a Senator Obama engender more "soft on terror" crap by casting a token vote in favor of civil litigation that isn't going to pass since so many other Democrats caved anyway.
When Markos was on (Monday? Again, blurs) he made the simple but essential point that if this is Obama's rationale for this, maybe he should explain it. I think it can be argued that if he's caught the same hole in the bill that Dean has, his best course is actually to shut up and take the criticism and hope the Republicans don't see the loophole.
I don't know much about Mr. Greenwald and I didn't read his full piece, but I do know that the snippet he's taken out of the transcript of my conversation with Jon Alter last night makes it sound like I was saying defying the left was a good thing. I was actually contrasting it to not cowering to the Republicans, simply as a different thing.
I do think Mr. Greenwald's suggestion of some kind of betrayal on my part is simplistic and childish. I'll take the Dean interpretation of this. If it isn't the Senator's game plan, he'll catch hell from me about it later.

Quick Poll
Who's right?
Glenn Greenwald ============ 46.1%
Keith Olbermann ============ 48.75%

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Conyers to Yoo: Could President Order Suspect Buried Alive?

By Kate Klonick - June 26, 2008, 11:14AM
David Addington is going to say as little as possible to the House Judiciary Committee today. The Vice President's chief of staff
didn't submit testimony today or make an opening statement, and he successfully stonewalled the first round of questioning from subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). He did submit 10 exhibits to the committee as evidence, but it's not yet clear what they consist of.
But then it was Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) turn to ask questions. And he went toe to toe with Yoo, the former DOJ attorney and torture-memo author extraordinaire:
Conyers: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?
Yoo: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don't think I've ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive. . .
Conyers: I didn't ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.
Yoo: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don't think a President . . . no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
Conyers: I think we understand the games that are being played.
Here's the video from the hearing:

Conyers and Yoo: "The Games That Are Being Played"

Monkey Said

BUSH- The insult to primates

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two U.S. occupation force soldiers killed as Iraqi Council Member Opens Fire After Meeting:

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded Monday when a council member opened fire on them after a meeting in a small town south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Dori Smith, WHUS Radio, University of Connecticut Francis A. Boyle on the case against Bush and potential war with Iran

By Francis A. Boyle
George W. Bush could be indicted at the state level for murder with malice aforethought, that according to internationally recognized legal expert Francis A. Boyle of the School of Law at the University of Illinois.
According to Boyle, President Bush deceived US soldiers about the reason for sending them to Iraq. Thus, he argues, the 4100 US soldiers who have died in Iraq thus far were murdered. Professor Boyle sees a variety of cases that could be brought and he believes it would take just one indictment and the whole house of cards would fall.

The Coming Catastrophe?

By David DeBatto
Just after the first waves of U.S. bombers cross into Iranian airspace, the Iranian Navy, using shore based missiles and small, fast attack craft sinks several oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, sealing off the Persian Gulf and all its oil from the rest of the world.
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
"The Iraqi-U.S. agreement contains several items that impinge upon the sovereignty of Iraq, including the right of the U.S. forces in Iraq to attack any nation and raid any Iraqi house and arrest people without prior permission from the Iraqi government," Khalaf al-Alyan, a member of parliament from the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).

Demand the Steering Committee remove Joe Lieberman's position within the Democratic Caucus.

Lieberman Must Go!
We CANNOT tolerate a leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus who supports George Bush and McCain's War in Iraq. We CANNOT tolerate a Democratic chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee who endorses and stumps for McCain. We call on the Senate Democratic Steering Committee to strip Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship and his leadership role.
Lieberman’s Revenge
by Michael Brendan Dougherty
Joseph Lieberman was once at home in the Democratic Party. He won his Connecticut state senate seat in 1970 as a Democrat, rising to majority leader. Then he won the attorney generalship in 1982, where he stayed until his U.S. Senate victory. His friends still argue that he was robbed of the vice presidency in 2000.
Even after losing the 2006 Senate Democratic primary to the antiwar Ned Lamont, Lieberman promised to remain faithful to his party. He announced that he would caucus with the Democrats and stand with them on procedural votes if elected, though he owed his seat to the GOP: 70 percent of Connecticut Republicans cast their ballots for Lieberman, compared to only 33 percent of Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed him to keep his seniority and his committee positions. And Lieberman told colleagues that he wished to see a Democrat elected president in 2008.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Feingold: 'Farce' FISA deal may hide impeachable offenses

The battle to protect Americans from warrantless wiretaps and hold telecommunications companies accountable is all but lost, Sen. Russ Feingold, a leading critic of President Bush’s likely illegal surveillance programs, said Monday.
The “farce” of a surveillance law deal heralded by House Democratic leaders last week could permanently hide evidence of an “impeachable offense” on the part of President Bush, the Wisconsin Democrat said.

Feingold spoke at the New America Foundation in Washington about the nation’s intelligence needs. He panned an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that quickly passed in the House last week. The Senate is expected to follow suit this year, officially putting the Democratic-controlled Congress’s seal of approval on an administration backed gambit to essentially legalize Bush’s warrantless surveillance program while at the same time letting off the hook phone companies that critics say facilitated the contravention of current law.
“I do think this is a total farce with regard to the immunity [for telecommunications companies]. It basically guarantees the immunity,” Feingold said. “It doesn’t simply have the impact of potentially allowing telephone companies to break the law. It may prevent us from ever getting to the core issue … which is the president ran an illegal program that could’ve been an impeachable offense.” >>>cont


Congress taking WH to court over subpoena roadblock

Lawyers for the White House and Congress are headed to court Monday in a dispute over whether top aides to President Bush must provide evidence in a House investigation.
The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee is demanding documents and testimony from the president’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former lawyer, Harriet Miers, about the firing of federal prosecutors. The White House says Congress can’t do that because of the separation-of-powers doctrine.
A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m.
The Bush administration wants the court to stay out of this fight, but lawmakers say the court is obligated to help enforce a congressional subpoena.
When Miers refused to show up for a Judiciary Committee hearing last year, the committee set out an empty chair in her place.

McCain Adviser: Another Attack On U.S. Would Be "Big Advantage" For McCain

Fortune Magazine is running a profile on John McCain titled, "The evolution of John McCain." McCain's chief advisor, Charlie Black, is interviewed in the piece. Below is a choice quote from Black on why he thinks another terrorist attack on US soil would help McCain win the presidency.
On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

McCain responded to Black's quote during a press conference today. The Senator told reporters, "I strenuously disagree":

Another Big Oil President?

John McCain has raised over $1 million from his Big Oil friends. And now he's returning the favor.
Standing before a room of oil company executives, McCain reversed his position and called for coastal oil drilling.

The Sierra Club is sounding the alarm--they've asked MoveOn members to sign this petition against drilling.
Last week, Sen. John McCain reversed his longstanding opposition to offshore drilling. The Arizona Senator and his campaign surrogates framed the move as a much-needed effort to combat energy costs in the wake of record high gas prices - political action to Sen. Barack Obama's inaction.
"Floridians are suffering, and when you're paying over $4 a gallon for gas, you have to wonder whether there might be additional resources that we might be able to utilize to bring that price down," said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who also changed his stance on the policy.
But is there one credible economist or energy analyst who actually believes that offshore drilling could have a short-term impact on the market dynamics?

White House Blocking Army's Plan To Overhaul Contracting System

WASHINGTON — The Army's march to overhaul its tarnished contracting system has been slowed by an unlikely foe: the White House.
The Office of Management and Budget, President Bush's administrative arm, has shot down a service plan to add five active-duty generals who would oversee purchasing and monitor contractor performance.
The boost in brass was a key recommendation from a blue-ribbon panel that last fall criticized the Army for contracting failures that undermined the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, wasted U.S. tax dollars, and sparked dozens of procurement fraud investigations.
As the Army's contracting budget ballooned _ from $46 billion in 2002 to $112 billion in 2007 _ it had too few experienced people negotiating and buying equipment and supplies, according to the panel. Worse still, there wasn't a single Army general in a job with contracting responsibilities. That meant the profession had little clout at a critical time.
Senior officers are needed to make sure past mistakes are not repeated, said the panel, chaired by former Pentagon acquisition chief Jacques Gansler.
"If a contracting person has to say to a general that they have to follow the rules, it's easier if you have your own general who will back you up," says David Berteau, a panel member and a former Defense Department official. >>>cont


Selma Voting Rights March Commemoration

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Law School Wants to Hang Bush — Literally

Insider Report from Newsmax.com
The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is holding a conference in September to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other administration officials for war crimes.
“This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred,” Lawrence Velvel, dean of the school, said in remarks reported by the OpEdNews Web site.
“It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the earth.”
Velvel goes on to say, even more outrageously, “We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice. And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war criminals in the 1940s.”
He asserted that following the prosecution of German and Japanese leaders after World War II, those nation’s leaders changed their countries’ “aggressor cultures,” and said: “For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders.”
Yoo served from 2001 to 2003 in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. He contributed to the Patriot Act and wrote memos in which he advocated the possible legality of torture.
The conference will explore such issues as which high-level officials are chargeable with war crimes, and which foreign and domestic tribunals can prosecute them, according to OpEdNews.
The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover was established in 1988 to provide a legal education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income families.
How Many Dead?

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq


George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress

CQ reports (sub. req.) that "a final deal has been reached" on FISA and telecom amnesty and "the House is likely to take up the legislation Friday." I've now just read a copy of the final "compromise" bill. It's even worse than expected. When you read it, it's actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and legalized George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program with the "Protect America Act," so it shouldn't be hard to believe at all. Seeing the words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is: >>>cont

"The Army was under a lot of pressure to graduate scouts at the time, and even now … no matter how competent or incompetent,"

‘He Should Never Have Gone to Iraq’
More borderline troops are being sent to the front, sometimes with tragic results.
In Too Deep: 'He wasn't really all there,' his squad leader says, but the Army needed more scouts, so that's the job they sent him in to do

Torture from the Top Down

Scott Horton
In a series of hearings, Congressional leaders are trying to get to the bottom of a few simple questions: Who initiated the use of torture techniques in the "war on terror"? What was the process by which it was done? On whose authority was it done? The use of torture techniques became a matter of public knowledge four years ago. In response to the initial disclosures, the Bush Administration first decided to spin the fable of a handful of "rotten apples" inside of a company of military police from Appalachia and scapegoated a handful of examples in carefully managed and staged show trials...
Mora: Abu Ghraib and Gitmo Lead To U.S. Deaths In Iraq

"Right now I feel hatred that will not fade," said Ahmed. "It grows every day."

Why do they hate us?
Haditha victims' kin outraged as Marines go free
HADITHA, Iraq — Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War.
Eight Marines were charged in the case, but in the intervening years, criminal charges have been dismissed against six. A seventh Marine was acquitted. The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed.
"We put our hopes in the law and in the courts and one after another they are found innocent," said Yousef Aid Ahmed, the lone surviving brother in the family. "This is an organized crime."
No one disputes that Marines killed 24 men, women and children in this town in four separate shootings that morning. Relatives said the attack was a massacre of innocent civilians that followed a roadside bomb that killed one Marine and injured two. Marines say they came under fire following the bomb.
Nonetheless, military prosecutors filed charges that ranged from murder to covering up a crime. Three Marines were relieved of their duties then, and U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine, famously called the incident "murder" on television.
One by one, the cases fell apart. American and Iraqi witnesses provided conflicting accounts. The investigation began months after the incident, and many Iraqis who could have testified were unable to travel to the United States. Furthermore, several Marines were granted immunity.
Last week, a judge dismissed charges of dereliction of duty and failure to investigate filed against the highest ranking officer implicated, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani. The Marine Corps plans to appeal.
The dismissals have deepened the victims' relatives' grief. Many say they feel deceived after having collaborated with U.S. investigators who came into their homes, collected evidence, took testimony, and ultimately failed to hold the Marines accountable.
"Right now I feel hatred that will not fade," said Ahmed. "It grows every day." Charges against two Marines who allegedly killed his brothers were dropped in August 2007.
All charges of murder in this case were dropped and at least seven Marines were given immunity to allow them to testify against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad leader. His charges now include voluntary manslaughter of at least nine people. >>>cont


McCain’s Boeing Battle Boomerangs

McCain's Battle Against Boeing Exposes More Lobbyist Connections
One of John McCain's most celebrated achievements in recent years was his crusade to block a Pentagon contract with Boeing for a new fleet of midair refueling tankers. Incensed over what he denounced as a taxpayer "rip-off," McCain launched a Senate probe that uncovered cozy relations between top Air Force officials and Boeing execs. A top Air Force officer and Boeing's CFO ended up in prison. Most significantly, the Air Force was forced to cancel the contract—saving taxpayers more than $6 billion, McCain asserted.
But last week, McCain's subsequent effort to redo the tanker deal was dealt a setback. Government auditors ruled that the Air Force made "significant errors" when it rebid the contract and awarded the $35 billion project to Boeing's chief rival, partners European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (or EADS) and Northrop Grumman. It's likely the Air Force will have to redo the bid yet again, which analysts say will delay the replacement of the fleet's 1950s-era refueling tankers. The auditors' ruling has also cast light on an overlooked aspect of McCain's crusade: five of his campaign's top advisers and fund-raisers—including Tom Loeffler, who resigned last month as his finance co-chairman, and Susan Nelson, his finance director—were registered lobbyists for EADS.
Critics, including some at the Pentagon, cite in particular two tough letters McCain wrote to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England in 2006 and another to Robert Gates, just prior to his confirmation as Defense secretary. In the first letter, dated Sept. 8, 2006, McCain wrote of hearing from "third parties" that the Air Force was about to redo the tanker competition by factoring in European government subsidies to EADS—a condition that could have seriously hurt the EADS bid. McCain urged that the Pentagon drop the subsidy factor and posed a series of technical questions about the Air Force's process. "He was trying to jam us and bully us to make sure there was competition by giving EADS an advantage," said one senior Pentagon official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a politically sensitive matter. The assumption within the Pentagon, the official added, was that McCain's letters were drafted by EADS lobbyists. "There was no one else that would have had that level of detail," the official said. (A Loeffler associate noted that he and Nelson were retained by EADS after the letters were drafted.)

I Wanna Be Number Two: Joe Lieberman

In the latest in our on-going series of possible vice presidential candidates, today: Joe Lieberman. He's been attached to John McCain at his (still unbroken, knock on wood) hip, and, as Walter Shapiro wrote in Salon this week, "it is not hard to pick up Republican whispers that the wild-card Lieberman speculation is grounded in reality rather than water-cooler fantasy."
Sure, he used to be a Democrat, but on the other hand he is
willing to say anything, and next to John McCain, he's almost charismatic. Plus, in the GOP's southern base, his religion is less despised than Mitt Romney's.
Whose Flag Is This, Anyway?
Gary Hart, 06.16.2008
Here's a modest proposal: all of us who support Barack Obama for president should now wear flag pins. This will signal that we are all just as patriotic as anyone on the right.

Edging Away From Air Force, Army Adds Air Unit

Published: June 22, 2008

WASHINGTON — Ever since the Army lost its warplanes to a newly independent Air Force after World War II, soldiers have depended on the sister service for help from the sky, from bombing and strafing to transport and surveillance.
But the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan have frayed the relationship, with Army officers making increasingly vocal complaints that the Air Force is not pulling its weight.
In Afghanistan, Army officers have complained about bombing missions gone awry that have killed innocent civilians. In Iraq, Army officers say the Air Force has often been out of touch, fulfilling only half of their requests for the sophisticated surveillance aircraft that ground commanders say are needed to find roadside bombs and track down insurgents.
The Air Force responds that it has only a limited number of those remotely piloted Predators and other advanced surveillance aircraft, so priorities for assigning them must be set by senior commanders at the headquarters in Baghdad working with counterparts at the Air Force’s regional command in Qatar. There are more than 14,000 airmen performing tasks on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Air Force civil engineers replacing Army construction engineers.
But now in Iraq, the Army has quietly decided to try going it alone for the important surveillance mission, organizing an all-Army surveillance unit that represents a new move by the service toward self-sufficiency, and away from joint operations.

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