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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Victims' Lawsuit Claims JPMorgan Aided Madoff's Fraud

The accusation was made in a lawsuit filed late Thursday in federal court in Manhattan by lawyers representing one of the latecomers to Mr. Madoff’s scheme, a Florida partnership that deposited $12.8 million with him between October and early December.
A spokesman for the bank denied the accusation. “The allegations in this lawsuit are false and misguided and we look forward to swift vindication in court,” said Brian Marchiony, after the bank’s legal staff reviewed the complaint. LinkHere

'100-year' Storm

Post-Katrina levees too weak: Panel
$14 billion job only up to withstanding '100-year' storm, leaves city at risk.

Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area early morning August 29, 2005. The storm surge breached the city's levees at multiple points, leaving 80 percent of the city submerged, tens of thousands of victims clinging to rooftops, and hundreds of thousands scattered to shelters around the country. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita reflooded much of the area. The devastation to the Gulf Coast by these two hurricanes has been called the greatest disaster in our nation's history. » See the original reporting

Guerra Family Video After Hurricane Katrina

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reclaiming America’s Soul

By Paul Krugman
Never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. "This government does not torture people," declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it. LinkHere

Gaza, Remember?

By Gideon Levy
The world once again has to clean up Israel's mess. But Israel is setting more and more political conditions for providing emergency humanitarian aid ? empty excuses to leave Gaza in ruins and not offer aid that Gaza deserves and desperately needs. LinkHere
Gaza: The Killing Zone - Israel/Palestine

See full film here: http://www.booserver.com/projects.php?ProjectID=3198 May 2003 life in Gaza is a constant gauntlet of Israeli sniper fire, military rockets and army bulldozers. No one is safe. In light of the escala...
Gaza Massacre In Pictures - December 28 , 2008

Harman's Wiretap Woes and the AIPAC Cabal

By Marcy WinogradWho else has AIPAC colluded with on the Hill? If the tapes are out there, Harman got caught, but isn't this a much larger story than just one woman bedazzled by men with money in their pockets and nuclear warheads in their backyards. It is time AIPAC register as a foreign lobbyist LinkHere

By Philip WeissThe lobby has won through White House access of the sort Harman allegedly boasted of in the wiretapped call; and those who are critical of a Jewish state or its policies have been excluded and smeared, as antisemites. LinkHere

David Brooks: How Obama Seduced Me

An Honest Conservative. "Hallelujah"

Very Interesting Thoughts

I've heard it said that President Barack Obama's tactical game proves that he may be the best student of counter-insurgency strategy among the civilian class. His modus operandi is classic COIN: engage the opposition, peel off the persuadables, marginalize the dead enders, and make it look like the refuseniks missed out on the deal of the century. Then, sit back and watch the public sentiment shift in your direction.
From a political standpoint, it's paid dividends -- the GOP, in the public eye, is the party of "No," of Limbaugh, of Michael Steele's hip-hop jams, of incoherent Tea Parties. Naturally, outside the realm of the purely political, that will only get you so far. Putting the opposition in check doesn't mean that this will have any practical effect on the efficacy of policy.
And none of that means that it will have any alteration on the media terrain, either. Everyone's still playing their old roles. Critics of the President reflexively accuse the press of being "in the tank," as they will forever and ever. The press will fight off the criticism by wildly overcompensating and picking fights with the White House that are increasingly pointless and picayune. And the Obama White House will continue to treat the press as they always have, since the campaign began -- as a largely dispensable annoyance that's no longer the primary vector of "messaging."

SHOCK: VA Hospital Error Infects 4 Patients With HIV

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Thousands of veterans were at first shocked to learn they should get blood tests for HIV and hepatitis because three hospitals might have treated them with unsterile equipment. Now, just a couple of months after the Department of Veterans Affairs issued the dire warnings, veterans are growing frustrated by the lack of information from the tightlipped federal agency.
Nearly 11,000 former sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines could have been exposed to infectious diseases because three VA hospitals in the Southeast did not properly clean endoscopic equipment between patients. On Friday, the VA revealed that another patient had tested positive for HIV, bringing the total to four such cases among patients who got endoscope procedures at hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga.
The agency also said a new hepatitis case had been discovered, increasing the number of positive tests to 26. More than 4,270 veterans still have yet to get test results.
Beyond those skimpy facts, the VA has said little else, citing an ongoing investigation. LinkHere

Freed Pirate Hostage Slams "Disgusting" Rush Limbaugh

Murphy, called Limbaugh a purveyor of "hate speech."
Shane Murphy, second-in-command aboard the ship seized by Somali pirates this month, is happy to be home. But he's not happy to be sharing turf with land-lubber Rush Limbaugh, who politicized the pirate affair by referring to the pirates as "black teenagers."
"It feels great to be home," said Murphy in an interview with WCBV in Boston. "It feels like everyone around here has my back, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh, who is trying to make this into a race issue...that's disgusting."
Limbaugh made the remark to suggest why President obama might have appeared preoccupied at church on the day of the operation to rescue the ship's captain, who was taken hostage by the pirates until Navy SEAL snipers shot them in a daring rescue effort.
"He was worried about the order he had given to wipe out three teenagers on the high seas,"Limbaugh said. "Black Muslim teenagers."
"You gotta get with us or against us here, Rush," Murphy said. "The president did the right thing...It's a war.... It's about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It's hate speech. I won't tolerate it." LinkHere

Kerry: Abuse Photos Could Be "Propaganda Tool"

"Propaganda Tool"

Detainee Photos Could Be Terrorist Propaganda, But Truth Is Important

"Gitmo-izing" of Iraq

Part 1

Soldier Who Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed.
Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a "non-hostile weapons discharge."
A "non-hostile weapons discharge" leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials "said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian." And that might have ended it right there.
But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, not satisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told me in late 2006 (there's a chapter about it in my book on Iraq and the media, So Wrong for So Long). He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here's what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston worked, reported:

Part 11

Soldier Who Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture


'Too big to fail' is a fundamental philosophy,"
Fed says gov't ready to save stress-tested banks
WASHINGTON — The government signaled Friday that some distressed banks will need to raise more cash to meet stricter standards it has set for the 19 financial firms that took its "stress tests" and suggested it's ready to step in with more federal help.
Federal Reserve officials held top-secret meetings with bank executives to give them preliminary findings of how each bank would fare if the recession got much worse. It reinforced the Fed's view that major financial firms are "too big to fail," and that the government must do whatever is necessary to save them.
"It appears 'too big to fail' is a fundamental philosophy," said Mark Williams, a finance professor at Boston University and former Fed examiner.
Fed officials told reporters that all 19 banks will be required to keep an extra buffer of capital reserves beyond what is required now in case losses continue to mount. That means some banks will likely have to raise additional cash. LinkHere

Obama To Nelson: We're Going Around You

It might not be the most glamorous hill, but it's the one that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has vowed to die on. President Obama, however, isn't going to give him that chance.
Nelson is perhaps the Senate's fiercest protector of subsidies for student lending institutions, which, not coincidentally, are an engine of job growth in Nebraska. He has vowed to block any effort to reduce those subsidies. And given that Democrats have 58 members and generally need 60 to break a GOP filibuster, he can enforce his will on his colleagues.
UPDATE: An important comment from a reader e-mail:
I think the public needs to know exactly what the current student loan program does and why it is such a giveaway to the banks. I think people don´t know, probably because most of the news coverage is about whether or not a bill will pass rather than what it means.
Simply, the current system forces all student loans to be made through banks. The banks charge a medium range of interest--not terribly high, but not terribly low, either. The government GUARANTEES the loans so there is absolutely no risk for the banks.
During Clinton´s term, the student loan plan allowed universities to offer much lower loans by borrowing directly from the government. Students did not have to go through a bank and this shaved 2 or 3 percentage points off the cost of the loan. Neither did it cost the government anything since the money was repaid. But when the Bushies came in, they forced all loans to go through banks, jacking up the interest rates and guaranteeing a profit with no risk for the banks. The government still backed all the loans.
It is a classic example of how lobbying creates direct subsidies for businesses who win their
lobbying efforts. LinkHere

Wrong Answer Robert,Wher is the JUSTICE for all the innocent dead?

Atta girl Helen, you ask the question.

For the fourth time this week, the White House press briefing was dominated by questions over the president's stance -- seemingly souring -- on the idea of a "truth commission" to investigate the use of torture during the Bush years.
Only this time, instead of demanding to know whether Obama was contradicting himself or bowing to pressures from the "right" or the "left," there was at least some inquiry into the efficacy of a commission itself. The sharpest line of questioning came from the veteran of the bunch, Helen Thomas, who demanded to know whether the president learned from history and labeled the White House's "look-forward-not-back" line Bush-esque.
From the transcript comes this exchange:

Palin Fundraising Firm Calls It Quits

Obama Repeatedly Reminds House GOP Of Their Zero Stimulus Votes

In a meeting with House Republicans at the White House Thursday, President Obama reminded the minority that the last time he reached out to them, they reacted with zero votes -- twice -- for his stimulus package. And then he reminded them again. And again. And again.
A GOP source familiar with the meeting said that the president was extremely sensitive -- even "thin-skinned" -- to the fact that the stimulus bill received no GOP votes in the House. He continually brought it up throughout the meeting.
Obama also offered payback for that goose egg. A major overhaul of the health care system, he told the Republican leadership, would be done using a legislative process known as reconciliation, meaning that the GOP won't be able to filibuster it.
Congress has until October 15 to pass health care or student lending reform under the normal process. If it doesn't, reconciliation can be used to eliminate the 60-vote requirement.
Democratic aides said that Obama made clear to the GOP leadership that he would continue to work in a bipartisan way, but that they didn't have veto power over health care policy. GOP aides, however, said that Obama was pretty clear that reconciliation would be used. "From what was told me, it sounded more like he would almost definitely use reconciliation for healthcare. I don't think he hedged much," said one.
Another GOP aide said that Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a back-and-forth about the zero votes. Obama argued that House Republicans had made a "strategic decision" to oppose the stimulus, while Boehner countered that Obama hadn't accepted House Republican input on the bill. LinkHere

Dem Wins US House Seat In NY After Republican Concedes

Lest we forget ... Australians will pause today to remember fallen soldiers including a moving ceremony at dawn in Afghanistan

When Indignation Was Righteous Republicans Once Wanted To Investigate The Past Administration

It is hardly rare for a politician to argue two sides of same issue during the course of a career in Washington. But as the current Congress contemplates investigating the use of harsh, even illegal interrogation techniques by Bush administration officials, the readjustment in political sensibilities has been somewhat remarkable. Once hell-bent on looking into the slightest hint of malfeasance during the Clinton years, Republicans inside and out of government are now responding with disgust to suggestions that even an independent commission be set up to look into the authorization and use of torture. LinkHere

GOP Rep Gets Schooled By Obama's Energy Secretary

I have to think that one of the reasons it can be difficult to get smart people to work in the government is because you regularly encounter people who are shockingly dumb, decrying efforts at educational attainment as "elitism" and wearing idiocy as a badge of honor. It's pathetic, but true. Consider this video, via Wonkette, of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's encounter with Joe Barton, Representative from Texas.
Barton basically asks Chu to take six seconds to explain HOW ALL THAT THERE OIL GOT UNDER ALASKA. Chu, who momentarily laughs, because Barton is a full grown man and...my God, this is the sort of question a CHILD would ask, the sort of question that would call upon the answerer to stare with beatific grace into the eyes of a SMALL, DUMB, CHILD, all the while attempting to remind oneself, that THIS CHILD can be taught...THIS CHILD need not wander the earth in simpleminded confusion forever and ever, ceaselessly stumbling into a crushing wind of stupidity.
So Chu explains, correctly, that oil is formed through complex geological processes. And Barton is basically like: SO HOW'D IT GIT UNDER ALASKA, ARE THERE MAGIC TEXAS OIL PUMPS. And Chu basically says, no, there's this thing called PLATE TECTONICS. And then Barton's like, "WHOA, PLATES? THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE WHAT JESUS WOULD DO?" LinkHere

The Tortured Logic of the Torture Superfans

On average, the same number of Americans who were killed on September 11 will die from cancer over the next two days. 40,000 people this month. More than half a million throughout the course of the year.
Your chances of being killed at the hands of a terrorist, on the other hand, are comparatively remote. Some estimates show the odds at one in 9.3 million.
Why, then, are Republicans -- from the very serious moderates to the buggy-eyed Glenn Beck spasmodics -- embracing the broadly condemned and immoral act of government sponsored torture, while, often in the same talk radio segment, predicting the end of the world due to government plans guaranteeing that Americans will be able to afford healthcare? Somehow, irrational fear wins the day once again over a very rational desire to be treated for an illness without, you know, going broke.
Without explanation or logic, and following months of screeching about tea parties and tyranny and big government, the usual suspects on the right appear to be demanding that the government retain the power to do anything -- anything! -- in order to protect us from a terrorist attack. This, naturally, includes torture, but from what I'm hearing, there's no limit to what they'd allow. Whatever it takes, right? As FOX & Friends' Brian Kilmeade remarked on Monday: "It feels good" that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in a single month. And here I thought only shiny jingly objects made Kilmeade feel good.
But it's not just Bush administration officials they're defending here. Extrapolating what the torture superfans are suggesting, they appear to believe that in light of the threat of terrorism, any administration should be able to torture, including the current president. In other words: they're simultaneously accusing President Obama of being an oppressive and tyrannical "fascist," while also insisting that he should exercise the power to do whatever he wants in order to prevent another terrorist attack. Put yet another way: unchecked government power is awful, unless Sean Hannity is scared. Then it's excellent. Put a third way: WTF?
Meanwhile, your very real fear of bankruptcy, homelessness and illness is not "my problem."You liberal pinhead you.
As closely as I've been following the wingnut right lately, their ability to contradict themselves never ceases to confound. Stir into the mix a resurgence of irrational fear harkening back to 9/11 and the incongruities multiply faster than Newt Gingrich's wives.
For example, Rush Limbaugh this week both underscored the so-called efficacy of the Bush administration's torture policy, while also downplaying it by slapping himself in the face(ostensible with the same flappy arm gesticulations he used to mock a guy's Parkison's symptoms). He's wheeled out this argument before, most memorably after the Abu Ghraib photographs went public. Downplay the severity. Torture? Feh. It's nothing! Smack-smack. Splash-splash.
But if it's nothing more than slapstick and some splashy water antics then how effective can it really be, Rush? How could something so innocuous (as described by Limbaugh and others) be even the slightest bit effective -- not to mention a crucial weapon in America's anti-terrorist arsenal? It can't be both. Either the torture methods described in the Bush Office of Legal Counsel memos were harsh enough to create adequate anguish so as to elicit actionable intelligence (as is falsely claimed by Bush Republicans) or the techniques were nothing more than
comfy chairs and soft cushions.
The reality is that the Bush torture methods were both horrifying and ineffective. The procedures we've read about in the OLC memos were clearly forms of torture as have been previously defined by America's own standards (you might recognize waterboarding from such famous torturers as the Khmer Rouge, Imperial Japan and North Korea), and by most accounts they're absolutely ineffective at acquiring decent information. And in fact, asMcClatchy reported on Tuesday, the Bush administration used these torture techniques to gather intentionally false information about a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. LinkHere

New DNC Ad Calls Out "Party Of No"

"100 Days Of No"
"In the next 100 days and beyond, we strongly encourage the Republicans to set aside their tired partisan games and work with the President to reform our health care system, make America energy independent, and lay the foundation for long-term growth in the 21st Century," Woodhouse said. LinkHere

NYT: Cheney Is Ranking Republican Speaking Out Against Obama

U.S. to reveal alleged prison abuse photos

We Don't want retribution, we want "JUSTICE"
Defense Department officials worry that the Bush-era images will prompt a backlash in the Middle East.
By Peter Wallsten, Julian E. Barnes and Greg Miller April 24, 2009
Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuses at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush White House.The decision will make public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Forty-four photos that the American Civil Liberties Union was seeking in a court case, plus a "substantial number" of other images, will be released by May 28.
Wonder what happened to the videos?

You got the balls Hannity? Lets see what happens now. A Big Fat Nothing That's For Sure

Hannity agreeing to subject himself to waterboarding to benefit a charity for the families of U.S. soldiers.
Olbermann laid out his offer: "For every second you last, a thousand dollars -- live or on tape, provided other networks' cameras are there. A thousand dollars a second, Sean, because this is no game. This is serious stuff. Put your money where your mouth is, and your nose. Oh, and I'll double it when you admit you feared for your life, when you admit the horrible truth -- waterboarding, the symbol of the last administration, is torture." LinkHere

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shepard Smith Uncensored: "We Are America, We Do Not F**king Torture!"

Fox News viewers witnessed a rather incredible scene on Wednesday as anchor Shepard Smith and Fox contributor Judith Miller (of CIA leak infamy) repeatedly and passionately condemned torture, with Smith declaring at one point, "We are America, we don't torture! And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train! This government is of, by, and for the people -- that means it's mine. That means -- I'm not saying what is torture, and what is not torture, but I'm saying, whatever it is, you don't do it for me! I want off the train when the government starts -- I want off, next stop, now!" LinkHere

Ed Schultz: "Cheney Wants This Country To Get Hit Again For Political Gain"

"I think Cheney is that mean."
MSNBC's newest host Ed Schultz isn't afraid to lob fastballs at Dick Cheney, especially now that the former veeps's new-found career appears to be attacking the Obama administration.
Schultz took it to another level on Tuesday night when he looked straight into the camera and declared that Dick Cheney is "mean" enough to wish a new attack on the US for "political gain." Schultz says this about two minutes and fifty-nine seconds into the interview. Watch it below:
"I think that Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit again for political gain. I believe that he thinks, in his mind, that if we can think, make them think - the enemy - that if we're weak, because Obama can't stand up for us, we're gonna get hit. And then of course we can paint the picture that the Democrats just can't get the job done on national security. I think Cheney is that mean." LinkHere

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Rick Reyes, The New John Kerry: Afghanistan Vet Speaks Out Against War Before Congress

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday hosted a hearing of compelling politics and historical parallels, as an Afghan war veteran offered critical testimony of that war in front of a committee chairman who had done the same during Vietnam.
The similarities between the situation that retired Marine Corporal Rick Reyes finds himself in today and that which confronted Sen. John Kerry in April 1971 are obvious. At 28 and a few years removed from combat, Reyes has chosen to go public with reservations about the scope and direction of the military strategy his government is pursuing in a difficult terrain. Having supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election, he now is deeply skeptical about the president's decision to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
"We were basically destroying innocent lives and creating more enemies," he said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "That is exactly what is happening. The escalation and occupation in Afghanistan is counterproductive to what we want to accomplish and the Senate and the president should to rethink Afghanistan."
Nearly 38 years earlier, John Forbes Kerry was in a similar spot. Called before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the three-time recipient of the Purple Heart declared that an "attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy."
It was a scathing rebuke from an experienced soldier, one that thrust Kerry into the political spotlight. And, as the cause-and-effect of history goes, it led in a way to his current position as chair of the foreign relations where he oversaw Thursday's "Afghanistan War Experiences" hearing and Reyes' testimony. LinkHere

Right On!!!!!!

Meghan McCain, serving as a co-host of "The View" today, wasted little time before getting in a shot at former Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. McCain, who had previously written about how she found Karl Rove following her on Twitter "creepy," complained that Cheney and Rove are still trying to be seen as the face of the Republican Party. Last week McCain observed that the GOP leadership is "scared shitless" of the changing political landscape.
McCain mentioned disapprovingly Cheney's repeated public criticisms of Obama--which he voiced again on Fox News this week--and referred to the DNC ad released this week portraying Cheney, Rove and Gingrich as the 'new face of the GOP.' She pointed out that it's "very unprecedented for someone like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney to be criticizing the President." Her advice to them: "Go away." LinkHere

Jon Stewart Diagnoses Rove, Cheney With 'Balzheimer's'; Dispatched John Oliver to 'Bizarro Washington'

Jon Stewart took a few minutes at the top of Wednesday night's show to marvel at the way Dick Cheney and Karl Rove had become, for the first time ever, advocates for such concepts as accountability, and transparency, and not telling the American people to go and suck it, every single day of their lives. "It seems the classifiers have become the declassifyees," an attitude that contrasted distinctly with about every clip of the two men the Daily Show had in their archives.
So, what gives? An acute inflammation of partisan hackery? Actually, the diagnosis was Balzheimer's Disease:
STEWART: Balzheimer's is a terrible illness, that attacks the memory, and gives its victims the balls to attack others for things that they themselves made a career of. There is no known cure. But it can be treated, with body art.
That's when things got pretty disturbing. LinkHere

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Balzheimers Disease
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And in what sort of world do Dick Cheney and Karl Rove decry partisanship and passionately declare their support for government transparency? The only explanation is Bizarro Washington, to which correspondent John Oliver was dispatched. "It's here and only here where this news makes sense. There, he discovered that up is down, Barney Frank is straight, and the Dick Cheney is a "merry old soul" who the children call "Saint Dickolas." Wow. I bet in bizarro Washington, theWhite House Press Corps break all sorts of vitally important stories, as well!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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Pelosi: Bush Administration Never Briefed Congress On Waterboarding

The Bush administration did not inform Congress that it had waterboarded detainees in classified briefings, after the agency had already done so, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged Thursday.
Pelosi told reporters that the administration officials only told her and those in a classified briefing in the fall of 2002 that they believed they had the legal authority to do so, based on Office of Legal Counsel memos which have recently been released by the Obama administration.
"In that or any other briefing...we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," said Pelosi. "What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel...opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."
Pelosi said that the officials promised to inform Congress if they ever did waterboard a detainee, but never did so. Her assertion contradicts a recently released Senate committee report that cited CIA records to claim that senior members of Congress in both parties were briefed on the waterboarding, which had already been done to detainee Abu Zubaydah. Pelosi, in the strongest terms should could conjure, said the report was untrue and that she never approved, tacitly or otherwise, the waterboarding of detainees.

Dran Jon Stewart you where wrong, now where is the apology, Hmmmmmm?

Pelosi hits back at Jon Stewart: You’re wrong, I’m no hypocrite
By Bob Cusack
Posted: 04/22/09 08:12 PM [ET]
Republicans in Congress are petrified of offending conservative talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn’t scared of taking on left-leaning Jon Stewart. The Comedy Central “Daily Show” host recently called Pelosi out for being hypocritical on budget reconciliation rules (which must be the only time in history that budget reconciliation and comedy have been intertwined).The reconciliation rules would allow Democrats to pass healthcare reform with only 51 Senate votes, stripping the GOP of its filibuster rights.

Stewart aired video clips ostensibly showing Pelosi embracing the partisan budget maneuver this year but condemning it when Democrats were in the minority.A smirking Stewart noted the irony of Pelosi’s contrasting statements.Asked for comment this week, Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami fired back.“She was not talking about reconciliation in that clip — it was about judicial nominations and the nuclear option. This has nothing to do with reconciliation ... Jon Stewart had it wrong (shocking, I know),” Elshami wrote.As Stewart would say — Oh, snap!We don’t want to get in the way of a good fight, but a review of newspaper articles and transcripts shows that Pelosi is dead on and Stewart is dead wrong.Will Stewart apologize? ITK contacted Stewart’s flack, but Stewart is apparently in bunker mentality, declining to respond to what surely will become known as DailyShowgate.Pelosi appeared on Stewart’s show a week after he had mocked her. The reconciliation topic didn’t come up (but the tension was palpable).
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People were tortured, FOR THE SAKE OF "SPIN."

Via Media Monitor Brian C. comes this segment from last night's Rachel Maddow Show, which began with the host stressing the need to "disambiguate" the various streams of new information coming to light about torture and policy in the Bush administration. But as it went on, the segment did more than elucidate connections. As far as torture goes, a recent report from the Senate Armed Services committee shows that similar interrogation instructions were getting passed to both the military and the Central Intelligence Agency along the same critical time frame. But, more importantly, with the recent news that detainees were being frenziedly pressed to offer up some connection between al Qaeda and Iraq, a unified field theorem of foreign policymaking becomes stunningly clear.
Guest Ron Suskind, author of The One-Percent Doctrine, spoke to this directly:

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Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed.

Clinton on Cheney: ‘It won’t surprise you that I don’t consider him a particularly reliable source.’

In testimony today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that she did not view former Vice President Cheney as a "particularly reliable source" on matters related to detainee torture and mistreatment. Rohrabacher had asked Clinton whether she supported the release of documents that Cheney recently claimed documented the "successes" that came out of the Bush administration's torture program:
ROHRABACHER: This goes to the heart of as far as I can see of whether or not we can expect to have transparency and openness in this administration? Or are you going to just refuse to answer the question? ... What will be your recommendation?
CLINTON: I am not going to share that with you because I don't know any facts that support what you're describing. LinkHere

Rohrabacher defends Dick Cheney

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) appeared on Fox New's Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss his exchange earlier today with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which Clinton took a shot at Dick Cheney's credibility. Cavuto lauded Rohrabacher as being a "pretty gutsy guy" for defending Cheney "in a packed room that everyone made a laughing stock of the [former] Vice President." Cavuto then asked Rohrabacher why other Republicans aren't sticking up for Cheney:
CAVUTO: [S]ome Republicans have been oddly silent in defending him or not. You took the fight on. Do you think that the vice president has been misrepresented here?
ROHRABACHER: I think that there's a lot of people in this town that don't have any courage, when someone is being belittled and they're under attack, to stand up and say, 'wait a minute, this person did some very good things.' LinkHere

Ensign Calls Senate Armed Services Committee Report A ‘Democrat Partisan’ Document »

Today, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) went on MSNBC to attack the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the Bush administration's treatment of detainees. When host Chris Matthews asked Ensign whether he was shocked that our interrogation practices were based on those used by Chinese Communists to elicit false information from U.S. troops, the senator criticized him for being "inflammatory."
When Matthews insisted that he wasn't being inflammatory because he was reading directly from the report, Ensign tried to discredit the entire document by saying it was a "Democrat partisan" report: LinkHere

Wasserman Schultz on Bybee’s future: ‘It doesn’t look good.’

This afternoon on MSNBC's Hardball, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) endorsed House Judiciary Committee Chariman John Conyers' pledge to hold hearings into the torture techniques authorized by the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel. Asked by host Chris Matthews if she believed Judge Jay Bybee "should go" because of his role in authoring the OLC torture memos, Wasserman Shultz said that she believed the government needed to take a "first things first approach," but said "it doesn't look very good":
MATTHEWS: Should we ask Jay Bybee to retire form the court out at the 9th circuit? He's one of the ones who approved it and sits on the federal bench. Should he go?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think we need to take a first things first approach, taking a look at who exactly was responsible for these memos. Where was it initiated. We need to go through the process. And you're still innocent until proven guilty in America, but it doesn't look very good.
Wasserman Schultz also said she would not rule out prosecuting former President Bush or Vice President Cheney. LinkHere

Obama announces plan to lease federal waters for clean energy

Source: CNN
NEWTON, Iowa (CNN) -- President Obama marked Earth Day Wednesday by announcing a new initiative to lease federal waters for the purpose of generating electricity from wind and ocean currents.
The president announced the initiative, to be administered by the Interior Department, while reiterating his pledge to push for a comprehensive energy plan that encourages the development of alternative fuel sources, cuts dependence on foreign oil, addresses climate change, and creates new jobs.
Wind power can generate 20 percent of the country's electricity by 2030 and support 250,000 jobs, Obama said during a visit to a wind turbine tower manufacturing plant.
It is part of "beginning a new era of energy exploration," he said.
Contrary to the assertion of some critics, the country does not have to choose between protecting the environment and expanding the economy, Obama said. The real choice is between "prosperity and decline." Link Here

Former AGs seek review of Ala. gov's conviction (Siegelman)

Source: AP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A bipartisan group of 75 former state attorneys general from across the country has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
They want Holder to conduct an investigation similar to the one that led the Justice Department to drop its case against former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Holder asked a judge to toss out Stevens' corruption conviction because prosecutors withheld evidence from his defense team during the trial.
The attorneys general say in their letter that if similar misconduct is found in the Siegelman case, the once-popular Democrat's corruption conviction should be dismissed. Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in prison and is free on bond while he appeals.

Abu Ghraib Head: We Were Scapegoated

Source: CBS News
Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who ran Iraq prisons in 2003, including the notorious Abu Ghraib prison was insistent that all orders on interrogation practices came from the top down during the Bush administration on CBS News’ The Early Show this morning.
“These soldiers didn't design these techniques on their own…we were following orders,” Karpinski told Harry Smith. “We were bringing this to our chain of command and they were saying whatever the military intelligence tells you to do out there you are authorized to do."
Karpinski argued that there was a “clear” line between the techniques condoned by top level administration officials and the practices condemned in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
“The line is clear,” she said. “It went from Washington, D.C. From the very top of the administration with the legal opinions through Bagram to Guantanamo Bay and then to Iraq via the commander from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And the contractors who were hired to do those things.”
Karpiniski was insistent that she and the soldiers prosecuted were “scapegoated” by superiors in the administration. LinkHere

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turley: 'God help us' if torture only gets a '9/11 commission'

The recent release of Bush administration torture memos has given rise to calls for prosecution of the Justice Department lawyers who wrote those memos. However, law professor Jonathan Turley believes that this may represent a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the other high Bush administration officials who ordered the torture.

"That's the really strange thing," Turley told MSNBC's David Shuster on Tuesday. "In the last week or so, we've seen an effort to define a potential investigation in terms of the lawyers who wrote these memos. ... A war crime investigation does not look at the people who drove the trains -- they look at the people who told the trains to roll."

"George Bush and Vice President Cheney, the CIA director, the attorney general ... implemented, in full knowledge that it was a war crime, the torture program," Turley emphasized. "The effort to define it in terms of lawyers is something of a Beltway shift. That is, it's setting us up for failure." LinkHere

'The torture memo lawyer no one is mentioning'

The torture memos recently released by the Obama administration have focused interest on three of their authors: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury. However, there's another lawyer involved in the creation of the torture memos whose name hasn't yet come into the discussion -- Timothy Flanigan.Flanigan did not work for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel like the others. He was a deputy to then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales in 2001-02, when he helped craft some of the earliest justifications for the use of waterboarding and other forms of tortureFlanigan's career is particularly intriguing because of the odd manner in which he left the White House at the end of 2002 and went to work as the general counsel for Tyco International, where he engaged in what appear to have been deeply corrupt dealings with Jack Abramoff. I wrote up much of that story here a couple of months ago.It was primarily the relationship with Abramoff that scuttled Flanigan's nomination in 2005 to serve as Deputy Attorney General under Alberto Gonzales -- but some extremely embarrassing information about his rule in the torture memos was brought forward at that time as well, particularly in a July 2005 letter from the ACLU to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate reveals 5 new 'torture memos'

New Senate report acknowledges existence of more secret docs.

Lawrence O'Donnell Rips Into GOP Strategist Over Torture


Via Media Monitor LaRay B., comes video of a segment between Phil Musser and Lawrence O'Donnell, hosted by Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC. The discussion centered on the torture memos, with Lawrence O'Donnell explaining how the pursuit of al Qaeda-Iraq links is a classic example of the sorts of fallacies that underpin the logic of those who think torture is effective. Musser, for his part, defended the leadership and judgment of Dick Cheney. And then, Musser's line of thought veered very sharply into the scarily phrenological. LinkHere

Cheney, Rice Signed Off

DNC Pushes Gingrich, Rove And Cheney To Head Of GOP Class

Meet The New GOP, Same As The Old GOP.
The DNC, in what is starting to feel like the nostalgic campaign days, is out with its second web ad in as many days. This time, the committee is going after Republicans for recycling the same group of widely unpopular leaders who spurred the GOP's recent downfall in the first place.
Titled "Meet The New GOP" the spot hits at perhaps the most telling hindrance for Republicans to date: the lack of a popular, galvanizing leader to take the stage from the current boogeymen Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and New Gingrich LinkHere

Sarah Palin Blames Bloggers

In an interview with the Juneau Empire, Governor Sarah Palin blamed the lies of the blogosphere and e-mails from members of the public (also known as constituent voices) for the defeat of Wayne Anthony Ross for Attorney General.
The vote was the first in state history to defeat an AG appointee and went down 35-23 last Thursday. Not only was Ross the first AG to not be confirmed, according to Legislative Research Services, it was the first time in state history a head of a state agency has failed to be confirmed by the Legislature. At the time of the vote, Palin was pandering, attending an anti-choice fundraiser in Indiana. LinkHere

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Palin Over Involvement In SarahPAC

Stephen Colbert is pissed, pissed I tell you.

Republican senator Orrin Hatch just released a patriotic album "Amazed by America," and Stephen Colbert is pissed, pissed I tell you. This is just another example of a right-winger biting on Colbert's originality, which you would know had you purchased Stephen's "Blown Away by the USA" or "Stunned by the States." LinkHere

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