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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington, beside brothers

(AP Photo/Doug Mills, Pool)
WASHINGTON — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was laid to rest Saturday night alongside slain brothers John and Robert on hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery, celebrated for "the dream he kept alive" across the decades since their deaths.
Crowds lined the streets of two cities on a day that marked the end of an American political era – outside Kennedy's funeral in rainy Boston where he was eulogized by President Barack Obama, and later in the day in humid, late-summer Washington.
With flags over the Capitol flying at half-staff, his hearse stopped outside the Senate where he served for 47 years. His widow, Vicki, embraced former staff members in the crowd.
Later, at a graveside enveloped in deepening darkness, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick offered sympathies to Kennedy relatives and "an extended family that must probably include most of America."
A squad of seven riflemen fired three volleys in a traditional military funeral ritual, and a bugler sounded taps. Lightning flickered across the sky. LinkHere

Murdoch's Son: BBC Expansion Is "Chilling," A Threat To Independent Journalism

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- The son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch has called the British Broadcasting Corp. a threat to independent journalism.
James Murdoch, the 36-year-old executive in charge of News Corp.'s businesses in Europe and Asia, spoke late Friday at the Edinburgh International Television Festival -- 20 years after his father delivered a keynote speech at the same event.
"In this all-media marketplace, the expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision, which are so important for our democracy," Murdoch said.
The BBC is subsidized by the British government and funded, in part, by television licenses that consumers must pay if they use a television.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. controls British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, one of the BBC's main competitors in Britain.
"As Orwell foretold, to let the state enjoy a near-monopoly of information is to guarantee manipulation and distortion," Murdoch said, referring to George Orwell's book, "1984."
He said broadcasting policy had failed to keep pace with changes, relying on regulation and intervention from the state rather than empowering consumers.
Story continues below

Obama Marks Katrina Anniversary: "No More Turf Wars"

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. — President Barack Obama marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday by pledging to make sure that turf wars and red tape don't slow the pace of the continuing recovery.
He also said he would visit New Orleans by years' end.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted that the Bush administration's response to the killer storm raised questions among people in the U.S. about whether the government "could fulfill its responsibility to respond in a crisis."
He said he wanted to ensure "that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come."
Since taking office, Obama has sent 11 members of the Cabinet to the region to inspect progress and to hear local ideas on how to speed up repairs.
"Our approach is simple: Government must keep its responsibility to the people, so that Americans have the opportunity to take responsibility for their future," Obama said in his address, released during his vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.
Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, killing more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi and leaving behind more than $40 billion in property damage. Hurricane Rita followed almost a month later, with billions of dollars in additional damage and at least 11 more deaths.
Obama acknowledged that recovery has not come at an acceptable pace. LinkHere
Obama wins praise for Katrina
Jindal and Rainwater said the previous administration often wouldn't recognize new information or acknowledge there were real disputes. Sometimes, Rainwater said, Bush officials seemed blind to the devastation around them and said they had to be good stewards of public money. LinkHere

Why The GOP Is Gunning For Grandma

Death, Republican Style
It's the GOP that's out to get Granny.

The republicans charge that Democratic health care reform would, in Sen. Charles Grassley's words, "pull the plug on Grandma." According to Sen. Jon Kyl, the bills before Congress would ration medical treatment by age. Rep. John Boehner says they promote euthanasia. Sarah Palin has raised the specter of "death panels." Such fears are understandable. It's not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make an early exit. After all, that's been the Republican policy for years.
It was Grassley himself who devised the "Throw Mama From the Train" provision of the GOP's 2001 tax cut. The estate-tax revision he championed will reduce the estate tax to zero next year. But when it expires at year's end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley's exploding tax break has an entirely foreseeable, if unintended, consequence: it incentivizes ailing, elderly rich people to end their lives—paging Dr. Kevorkian—before midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. It also gives their children an incentive to sign DNR orders and switch off respirators in time for the deadline. This would be a great plot for a P. D. James novel if it weren't an actual piece of legislation.
This is not merely hypothetical. Serious economists take the possibility seriously. In a 2001 paper entitled "Dying to Save Taxes," economists from the University of Michigan and the University of British Columbia examined 13 changes in U.S. tax law since 1917 and concluded that benefactors die in greater numbers just before tax hikes and just after tax cuts. A 2006 study done in Australia, which abolished its inheritance tax in July 1979, reached the same conclusion. Statistics showed that more than half the people who would ordinarily have died in the last week of June 1979—and whose heirs would have been subject to the tax—managed to avoid it by surviving into July. Republicans in Congress have created a similar inducement for Grandma not to die before January 2010, but to make sure she is gone by January 2011.
Other GOP policies promote death for senior citizens with more modest incomes. Take George W. Bush's failed plan to privatize Social Security—a program that has driven life expectancy up and death rates down since it was instituted. It has an especially pronounced impact on suicide rates for the elderly, which have declined 56 percent since 1930. Had Bush prevailed, those who gambled on the stock market and lost would be less able to afford medicine, food, and heating for their homes. In aggregate, they'd likely die younger and commit suicide more often. LinkHere

Liberal lion ... President Barack Obama, three former presidents and the nation's elite gather to attend the funeral of US Senator Edward Kennedy

PRESIDENT Barack Obama, three former presidents and the nation's elite have gathered at a grand Catholic funeral for Edward Kennedy, America's legendary political patriarch.
Delivering the eulogy at Boston's Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mr Obama called Kennedy a "champion for those who had none, the soul of the Democratic Party, and the lion of the US Senate".
He said Kennedy - whose elder brothers John F Kennedy and Robert were assassinated in the 1960s - had triumphed over "more pain and tragedy that most of us will ever know".
The eulogy was delivered before a who's who of the country's movers and shakers, including much of the US Congress, crammed into the pews of the historic Boston church.
Kennedy's coffin was then to be flown to Washington for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, alongside his slain brothers.
Kennedy's widow Vicki and three generations of the famed Irish-American clan, all dressed in black dresses or dark suits, fought tears as a priest told them that in Catholic faith "sadness is softened with hope".
But the tears flowed freely when Kennedy's son, Ted Kennedy Jr, gave a moving address about his father's tenderness to him during childhood when he had a leg amputated because of cancer.
"He taught us that even our most profound losses are survivable," Kennedy Jr said.
Recounting how his father helped him climb an icy hill with his new prosthetic leg, Kennedy Jr said: "He taught me that nothing is impossible."
"He was not perfect, far from it. But my father believed in redemption and he never surrendered, never stopped trying to right wrongs - be they his own failings, or ours," Kennedy Jr said. LinkHere

Edward Kennedy Memorial Service John Culver 1 2, Irish Eyes

Hear the Liberal lion's roar and get healthcare passed

To conservatives who believe that a government run healthcare system would include a ‘death panel', again, I say nonsense. Just look at how private insurance agencies who profit will at times deny claim benefits to realize that they are truly the active ‘death panel'.
To conservatives who believe that a government run healthcare system would include a ‘death panel', again, I say nonsense. Just look at how private insurance agencies who profit will at times deny claim benefits to realize that they are truly the active ‘death panel'. LinkHere

Now why doesn't that surprise me, after all USA has Faux News.

Sibel Edmonds Testimony Makes News Worldwide, Except Mainstream US Media
Apparently American nuclear secrets, stolen by "moles" at America's most sensitive nuclear installations, sold on the black market with the help and protection of highly placed American officials, which then found their way into the hands of America's enemies, is not notable news to Americans. According to the American corporate mainstream media, anyway. We suppose they're all too busy fighting the War on Terror in New Hampshire or something.
One might suspect this huge scandal would be all over the mainstream media [at least YouPorn]. It is not. It is not a good idea to admit the media and the government betray the nation in fundamental ways.
Conservative Mag: 'Sibel Edmonds Speaks, But No One is Listening'
That is, nobody in America is paying attention.
Good news! The bombshell report on the front page of London's Sunday Times on charges made by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, has finally led to press coverage by the mainstream media! LinkHere

Friday, August 28, 2009

Forces That Killed Dr. Tiller Plan Campaign to Terrorize Dr. Carhart & His Clinic

For OpEdNews: Kevin Gosztola - Writer
In Bellevue, Nebraska, pro-choice and pro-women advocates have gathered to support Dr. Carhart and his abortion clinic, as right wing forces begin to escalate a campaign against him.
Nearly 100 people from across the United States, from over 16 states in the US, are in Nebraska to defend Dr. Carhart and his clinic from the anti-abortion movement that has recently designated Dr. Carhart and his clinic as target #1. They are moving to Bellevue Nebraska, site of Dr. Carhart's clinic because the previous number one target, Dr. George Tiller was murdered.
Several organizations, including the Abortion and Contraception Clinic of Nebraska (ACCON,) National Organization for Women (NOW,) the Feminist Majority Foundation, the World Can't Wait and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado are here from Friday through Saturday to engage in clinic defense and counter-demonstration.
"We intend to show our support for the legal services that Dr. Carhart provides. Our intention is to have a peaceful presence in order to let people know that attempts to harass and intimidate physicians like Dr. Carhart, who provide an important service to women, will not go unchallenged, " says Nebraska NOW president, Erin Sullivan, "We want to show our support for a woman's right to choose, for Dr. Carhart's work, and to show that ACCON should stay open."
Ryan Swanek, director of development for ACCON, has a slogan for what people are coming together this weekend to state, "Trust women, this slogan champions Dr. George Tiller and Dr. Carhart is at the center of our work. We trust women to make the right decisions. We trust women to know what is best for their bodies. We trust women to know that the freedoms awarded to us as citizens of this country are not to be taken lightly. We must stand up, be strong and speak out. We trust women."
When pro-choice and pro-women advocates come out to say they "trust women" we are sending a message to those who would create a climate of violence, fear and shame for women seeking abortion. They are saying they will not let forces come and harass people who are just doing their job and who are conducting a procedure that is protected by law. LinkHere

Town Halls and the Radical Right

How the GOP is fueling extremist paranoia.
Nativism is on the rise, but with a twist—fear of America's first black president.
Tue August 25, 2009 4:00 AM PST
Across the nation this summer, unknown numbers of people are hunkering down and arming up for what they believe is an imminent battle for the soul of America. Town halls and tea parties provide just a small glimpse of the rage, fear, and paranoia fomenting on front porches and in Internet chat rooms, in the conservative heartland and beyond. While the details may vary, the visions in such forums share a common theme: In one way or another, a fight to the death is coming, and coming soon.
These deep-seated fears explain at least some of the vitriol, the violent scuffles, and death threats bubbling up in town hall protests against health care reform. It's all too easy for certain right-wing activists to accept that the president's plan will create death panels or mandate taxpayer-funded abortions. Because some of these people don't just believe that Obama wants to destroy capitalism and kill their granny and their unborn child—they believe he wants to kill them, too.
At a town hall meeting with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin in Hagerstown, Maryland, on August 12, one attendee carried a sign that read "Death to Obama," and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids." Another sign at the same event compared Obama to Hitler. At least some of the Obama-Hitler iconography originates from followers of perennial whack-job Lyndon LaRouche, but the comparison has been disseminated by Rush Limbaugh to a wider audience of hardline conservatives.
That’s not the only insidious comparison making the rounds: One protester who attended a raucous town hall with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter told a Village Voice reporter that Obama was a "21st-century Marxist" who would adopt the same methods Hugo Chavez used to take power in Venezuela: "infiltration of the education system, political correctness, class warfare ideology, voter fraud, brainwashing through the mainstream media." LinkHere

The Secret History of Hurricane Katrina

There was nothing natural about the disaster that befell New Orleans in Katrina's aftermath.
Fri August 28, 2009 4:00 AM PST
Confronted with images of corpses floating in the blackened floodwaters or baking in the sun on abandoned highways, there aren't too many people left who see what happened following Hurricane Katrina as a purely "natural" disaster. The dominant narratives that have emerged, in the four years since the storm, are of a gross human tragedy, compounded by social inequities and government ineptitude—a crisis subsequently exploited in every way possible for political and financial gain.
But there's an even harsher truth, one some New Orleans residents learned in the very first days but which is only beginning to become clear to the rest of us: What took place in this devastated American city was no less than a war, in which victims whose only crimes were poverty and blackness were treated as enemies of the state.
It started immediately after the storm and flood hit, when civilian aid was scarce—but private security forces already had boots on the ground. Some, like Blackwater (which has since redubbed itself Xe), were under federal contract, while a host of others answered to wealthy residents and businessmen who had departed well before Katrina and needed help protecting their property from the suffering masses left behind. According Jeremy Scahill's reporting in The Nation, Blackwater set up an HQ in downtown New Orleans. Armed as they would be in Iraq, with automatic rifles, guns strapped to legs, and pockets overflowing with ammo, Blackwater contractors drove around in SUVs and unmarked cars with no license plates.
"When asked what authority they were operating under,'' Scahill reported, "one guy said, 'We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.' Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, 'He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.' The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck.''
The Blackwater operators described their mission in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods," as if they were talking about Sadr City. When National Guard troops descended on the city, the Army Times described their role as fighting "the insurgency in the city." Brigadier Gen. Gary Jones, who commanded the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, told the paper, "This place is going to look like Little Somalia. We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control."
Ten days after the storm, the New York Times reported that although the city was calm with no signs of looting (though it acknowledged this had taken place previously), "New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers." The local police superintendent ordered all weapons, including legally registered firearms, confiscated from civilians. But as the Times noted, that order didn't "apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property…[who] openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles." Scahill spoke to Michael Montgomery, the chief of security for one wealthy businessman who said his men came under fire from "black gangbangers" near the Ninth Ward. Armed with AR-15s and Glocks, Montgomery and his men "unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. 'After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.'" LinkHere

Huckabee: Kennedy Was Fighting Cancer To Deny Cancer Patients Ability To Fight The Disease

Today, in an attempt to criticize Democrats for using Ted Kennedy’s legacy to pass health care reform, Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) argued during a radio segment on ABC Radio Networks that Kennedy would have died sooner under health care reform:
It was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to just consider taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them. Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He choose an expensive operation and painful follow up treatments. He saw his work as vitally important and so he fought for every minute he could stay on this earth doing it. He would be a very fortunate man if his heroic last few months were what future generations remember him most for.” LinkHere

Thomas Paine v. the Right's Torture Defenders

What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report
(updated below - Update II)
August 26, 2009 "Salon"
By Glenn Greenwald
August 26, 2009 "Salon" -- - GOP Congressman Peter King -- the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee -- had this rancid outburst today in Politico regarding Eric Holder's decision to investigate whether laws were broken by the Bush administration's torture:
"It’s bullshit. It’s disgraceful. You wonder which side they’re on. [It's' a] declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense. . . . When Holder was talking about being 'shocked' [before the report's release], I thought they were going to have cutting guys' fingers off or something -- or that they actually used the power drill. . . "
Pressed on whether interrogators had actually broken the law, King said he didn't think the Geneva Convention "applies to terrorists."

In Plea Deal, Ex-Stanford CFO Tells Of Blood Oaths, Bribes And Fake Profits

HOUSTON (AP) -- The former finance chief for jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford said his boss created a business empire where blood oaths were taken to secure loyalty, bribes were paid from a secret Swiss bank account and investor profits were more fiction than financial genius.
New details about how Stanford allegedly bilked investors out of $7 billion were made public Thursday after James M. Davis, Stanford's former chief financial officer, became the first person to plead guilty in the case.
Davis pleaded guilty in Houston federal court to three counts: conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; mail fraud; and conspiracy to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. The plea is part of a deal Davis, who has been helping prosecutors, made with the Justice Department in exchange for a possible reduced sentence.
His plea came hours after Stanford was taken from the privately run prison where he is being held outside Houston to a local hospital with an irregular heartbeat and high pulse. Stanford had been set to appear in the same courtroom for a hearing on whether he can get a new attorney. U.S. Marshals spokesman Alfredo Perez said Stanford was undergoing tests at the hospital but declined to give more details.
Davis, 60, only made a brief statement after his hearing.
"I did wrong. I'm sorry. I apologize. I take responsibility for my actions," he told reporters outside the courthouse. LinkHere

Town hall crowd jeers ‘death panel’ pushing GOP congresswoman

If you want evidence of the Dumbing Down of the United States, just listen to this woman talk for the nine minutes in the first clip. An absolutely astonishing lack of gravity, compassion, logic and honesty.
This woman is not a fool. However she is either, by definition, deranged... or she's a conscious and consistent liar.
1 of 10 Bachmann Healthcare Town Hall 8-27-09 Lake Elmo, MN

Here’s the complete video from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s healthcare town hall meeting. I stayed up until 2 a.m. cutting it, converting it and throwing it up on YouTube, so you damn well better watch it.
Please excuse the random moving around and strange camera angles. As the discussion got more heated and more people started to yell at Bachmann it became necessary to move around the auditorium, which was already quite packed. The first clip is here and everything else is after the jump. You’re not going to want to miss her stupid Brett Favre joke!

George H.W. Bush refuses to attend Kennedy's funeral

Elder Bush refuses to attend Kennedy's funeral
David Feldman
Maybe GHWB is afraid the funeral will help him remember
where he was on Nov. 22, 1963?


Son attending is enough, Bush I says
Former President George H. W. Bush, who has enough stamina to sky-dive each year on his birthday, apparently doesn't have the stamina to attend Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) funeral.
The elder Bush's spokesman told the AP Friday that the 43rd president decided not to attend when he learned that his son would be going.
A spokesman for Bush said Friday that he and his wife, Barbara, decided not to attend Kennedy's funeral after learning their son, former President George W. Bush, would attend.
Spokesman Jim McGrath quipped that Bush Sr. feels his son's presence will "amply and well represent" the family at Kennedy's funeral Saturday.
In a statement released following Kennedy's passing, the elder Bush released a statement saying that he "always respected" Kennedy.
"While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service," Bush said in a statement.
Kennedy "was a seminal figure in the United States Senate - a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history," he added.
Bush released a condolence statement on behalf of him and his son immediately after Kennedy's death. It was part of a stream of fond remembrances issued by Republicans.
All other living presidents -- President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Jimmy Carter -- will be attending. LinkHere

'Inartfully worded...'

GOP hints Dems would deny Republicans health care
Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The national Republican Party has mailed a fundraising appeal suggesting Democrats might use an overhaul of the health care system to deny medical treatment to Republicans.
A questionnaire accompanying the appeal says the government could check voting registration records, "prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system."
It asks, "Does this possibility concern you?"
Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the question was "inartfully worded." LinkHere

Ohio soldier made 2 calls to mom telling of abuse (before committing suicide)

Source: AP
WILLARD, Ohio — The mother of a soldier whose suicide in Iraq led to cruelty charges against four men says her son made two final phone calls to tell her of abuses he was suffering in his platoon.
Kathe Wilhelm has told The Associated Press that her son, Pvt. Keiffer Wilhelm, called her the day before he died and said he was being forced to run for miles with rocks in his pockets that smashed against his knees.
She says he also said his belongings were disappearing and he had no one to turn to for help.
Wilhelm grew up in Ohio. He had been in Iraq with a new unit for 10 days when he killed himself Aug. 4.
Four soldiers have been charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates. LinkHere

Man do we remember, the 24 hr propaganda on Faux, CNN and on and on you would have thought he was God.

Conservatives Warning Against Politicizing Kennedy's Death, Did Just That For Reagan
Conservatives accusing Democrats of trying to reap political advantage from the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) are conveniently ignoring the politicization of former president Ronald Reagan's death by Republican more than four year's earlier.
Just two days after Kennedy lost his yearlong struggle with brain cancer, conservative media personalities are already decrying Democrats for using his death to jumpstart health care reform's passage.
The main criticisms have come from the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who have warned of another "Wellstone effect" -- a reference to the partisan fracas that followed former Sen. Paul Wellstone's highly political memorial service in 2002, after his death in a plane crash.
But when the shoe was on the other foot, Republicans went to great lengths to use the death of a conservative icon to validate their candidates and policies. Four years before he accused Democrats of using Kennedy's death "as a sympathy ploy to advance a health care bill," Limbaugh was drawing direct lines between Reagan's legacy fighting communism and the need for further U.S. engagement in the war in Iraq.
"Back then," the conservative radio host said, following Reagan's death on June 5, 2004. "[Strategic Defense Initiative] was regarded much as the whole war in Iraq is today. SDI was treated was treated as a joke; SDI was dangerous; SDI was going to blow up the world; SDI was impossible. It was typical liberalism: greatness couldn't be done. Greatness can't happen."
"Reagan was right just as George W. Bush is today," Limbaugh concluded, "and I really believe that if Reagan had been able he would have put his hand on Bush's shoulder and say to him, 'Stay the course, George.' I really believe that."
Reagan's death was also used as a campaign tool for conservative pushing for Bush's re-election.
"[N]o one wants to politicize the death of a recent president," the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, bluntly declared during a July 13, 2004, appearance on Fox News Sunday. "But you know what? The Bush campaign should. And, in my view, they should go out with an ad next week, a very respectful ad about President Reagan and say, We have a disagreement. George W. Bush is a Reaganite. John Kerry thought the Reagan presidency was a period of moral darkness."

Justice Dept-CIA Clash Threatens To Distract Obama

WashPost: CIA Will Cover Legal Expenses Of Officers Caught Up In Probe
WASHINGTON — With the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate detainee abuses, long-simmering conflicts between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department burst into plain view this week, threatening relations between two critical players on President Obama’s national security team.
The tension between the agencies complicates how the administration handles delicate national security issues, particularly the tracking and capturing of suspected terrorists overseas. It also may distract Mr. Obama, who is trying to move beyond the battles of the Bush years to focus on an ambitious domestic agenda, most notably health care legislation.
The strains became evident inside the administration in the past several weeks. In July, Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, tried to head off the investigation, administration officials said. He sent the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry.
Mr. Preston presented what was, in effect, a closing argument in defense of the C.I.A., contending that many potential cases against intelligence operatives were legally flawed and noting that they had already been investigated, some more than once. In none, he said, had prosecutors found grounds for charges.
But the Justice Department was unmoved, officials said. Despite the C.I.A. pressure and the stated desire of the White House not to dwell on the past, Mr. Holder went ahead with an investigation that will determine whether agents broke the law in their brutal interrogations.
The officials interviewed for this article spoke anonymously so that they could discuss debates over classified matters. LinkHere

WorldHolbrooke, Karzai Have "Explosive Meeting" Over Afghan Election

The US special envoy to Afghanistan has held an "explosive" meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the country's election, the BBC has learnt.
Richard Holbrooke raised concerns about ballot-stuffing and fraud, by a number of candidates' teams, sources say.
The US envoy also said a second-round run-off could make the election process more credible, the sources said.
Concerns have already been raised about Afghanistan's election, although final results are not due until September.
A number of senior sources have confirmed the details of a meeting between Mr Holbrooke and Mr Karzai held on 21 August, one day after the election.
The meeting was described as "explosive" and "a dramatic bust-up".
Mr Holbrooke is said to have twice raised the idea of holding a second round run-off because of concerns about the voting process.
He is believed to have complained about the use of fraud and ballot stuffing by some members of the president's campaign team, as well as other candidates.
Mr Karzai reacted very angrily and the meeting ended shortly afterwards, the sources said.
However, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Kabul denied there had been any shouting or that Mr Holbrooke had stormed out.
She refused to discuss the details of the meeting. LinkHere

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CIA probe must go to highest level-UN rights boss

Uncle Joe
When they commit and promote war crimes, hell yes!
There are six billion people living on this planet, the United States makes up 5% of that population if we can't learn to coexist and honor the treaties we signed then we have no right projecting our justice or sense of indignation on any one else.
If humanity can't learn to live by some rule or law other than that of the jungle, we will surely end up with World War III, lest you forget the U.N. came in to being because we had already fought two World Wars, we can't afford a third.

Source: Reuters
GENEVA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. prosecutor's investigation into alleged criminal CIA interrogation techniques must go right to the top political level, the chief U.N. rights official said on Thursday.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, 67, in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters, urged European and other countries to resettle Guantanamo detainees so that President Barack Obama can close the U.S.-run prison in Cuba by year-end.
She also called for credible investigations into killings of journalists and aid workers in Russia and voiced concern at the fate of detainees arrested in Iran in post-election protests.
The former United Nations war crimes judge, who marks her first year in office next Tuesday, said she has used an "instinctive" blend of quiet diplomacy and public condemnation to highlight violations worldwide. LinkHere

Kennedy haunted bearer of torch

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama wins praise for Katrina

Jindal and Rainwater said the previous administration often wouldn't recognize new information or acknowledge there were real disputes. Sometimes, Rainwater said, Bush officials seemed blind to the devastation around them and said they had to be good stewards of public money.
Source: Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged to right the wrongs he said bogged down efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Seven months into the job, he's earning high praise from some unlikely places.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., says Obama's team has brought a more practical and flexible approach. Many local officials offer similar reviews. Even Doug O'Dell, former President George W. Bush's recovery coordinator, says the Obama administration's "new vision" appears to be turning things around.
Not too long ago, Jindal said in a telephone interview, Louisiana governors didn't have "very many positive things" to say about the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But Jindal said he had a lot of respect for the current FEMA chief, Craig Fugate, and his team. "There is a sense of momentum and a desire to get things done," the governor said.
Added O'Dell: "I think the results are self-evident." LinkHere

AARP Poll: (79%) 8 in 10 Back Public Option

AARP Poll: 8 in 10 Back Public Option
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 02:49:10 PM EST
A new survey commissioned by the AARP asks respondents to what degree they support or oppose "Starting a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can't afford private plans offered to them" -- a public option, in other words. The results are interesting, though not necessarily surprising to those who have been closely following the debate.
All: 79 percent favor/18 percent oppose
Democrats: 89 percent favor/8 percent oppose
Republicans: 61 percent favor/33 percent oppose
Independents: 80 percent favor/16 percent oppose
Not only does a public option enjoy strong support (AARP finds 37 percent strongly supporting such a choice), it enjoys broad support -- a finding based not only in this new survey but also in SurveyUSA polling released last week. Indeed, a supermajority of even Republicans supports a federal program to provide individuals with a choice for their health insurance coverage, with just a third of the party membership opposing such a plan.
So why, again, are supporters of a public option finding such difficulty in Congress?

"What don't you understand?"

Steele Gets Testy With NPR: Says Reporter Is Doing "A Wonderful Little Dance"
Challenged to explain his inconsistent view of the appropriate government role in health care, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele accused his interviewer of being "cute" and doing a "wonderful little dance."
In an exchange that grew testy quickly, Steele told NPR Thursday morning that there was nothing contradictory about accusing the president of raiding Medicare while also insisting that the government-run program is a financial failure.
And when host Steve Inskeep called Steele out for promoting government involvement in regulating the private health care insurance market, things grew heated - certainly by NPR standards - culminating in a frustrated Steele asking Inskeep "What don't you understand?" LinkHere

Lamont Hits Lieberman: He's Echoing GOP's Health Care Talking Points

Nine months after the Democratic leadership voted to allow Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) to retain his chairmanship of a key committee and continue caucusing with the party, the Connecticut Independent continues to rankle progressives.
Democrats who expected the Senator to tussle with President Barack Obama on foreign policy matters have watched with a mix of irritation and horror as the two have butted heads on the year's key domestic item instead.
"He is playing right into the Republican talking points" on health care, said Ned Lamont, the Connecticut Democrat who defeated Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic Senate primary, but lost to him in the general election after Lieberman ran as an independent.
"I don't think Republicans have any interest in a good bill or a bad bill. I just don't think they want Obama to move the agenda forward on health care. And it just so happens that yet again Senator Lieberman is playing into all the Republican talking points and it can fundamentally jeopardize another generational opportunity to change how we deliver health care in our country."
Lieberman hasn't shied away from expressing concerns about the policy specifics of Obama's agenda. His opposition to a public option for insurance coverage, for instance, has been known for several months.
But the Senator took the criticism to a new level this past Sunday, when he urged the White House to consider passing three quarters of the reform package while saving the rest for better economic times. He also spoke out against the use of reconciliation, which would allow the passage of legislation with 50 votes.
"It's frustrating and of course disappointing," said Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist and confidant of former DNC Chair Howard Dean. "Guaranteed healthcare for every American is a core Democratic Party value. As a Democratic Party Vice Presidential nominee he made a promise to our country to fight for those values. So he of all people should be working to help pass real reform. In fact, he should be leading the charge." LinkHere

Senator Kennedys motorcade departure on C Span now.

Sen. Kennedy motorcade arrives at JFK Library
An honor guard carries the casket of Sen. Ted Kennedy into the JFK library where a public viewing will be held.
Crowds gather for Kennedy motorcade

Anti-Health Care Reform Group Pulls Ads, Citing Respect For Kennedy

jemborg Wow! I'm a freedom loving Aussie and I find this paranoia over decent pubic health care amazing.
We've had it for almost 30 years.
I've expounded on this in many of Huffo's threads but let me simply say... America you deserve better, do not believe the Conservative lies.
NB: It took two goes in my country to get universal Medicare established. The Conservatives got rid of it when they got voted back in. The Labor Party re-established it at the next election after that. And although they have undermined it every time they got back into power the Conservatives don't dare try to get rid of it again. What I am getting at here is you have to push HARD for it- it's NOT going to happen through bi-partisanship

The reprieve may be brief, but gives the administration a chance to catch its breath. Scott, whose hospital chain was convicted of defrauding the government, won't stay down for long, however.
One of the most vociferous opponents of Democratic health care legislation, led by former hospital executive Rick Scott, has pulled its anti-health care ads, saying that it wanted to respect the death of Edward Kennedy.
The well-funded group, Conservatives for Patients' Rights, has been a polarizing force in the debate. Its most recent ads mocked President Obama for going on vacation.
"With the sad news of Senator Kennedy's passing Conservatives for Patients Rights is immediately suspending our ad campaign for health care reform out of respect to the Kennedy family as well as the Senator's colleagues and supporters, to whom we extend our condolences," said Scott in a statement.
The move may have not just be about class, since it also saves the group a chunk of money it can deploy in the fall.
Kennedy's passing has the potential to lower the temperature of the health care debate, which heated up in August at town halls and has descended into dueling conference calls, with both parties accusing the other of negotiating in bad faith. (One party, however, admits to negotiating in bad faith, so at least one of the charges is fair.) LinkHere

"Hey ho! Hey ho! The status quo has got to go!"

hipichick7 I attended this rally.
One of the speakers, I believe it was Rep. Sinema, ended her speech with "this is the real straight talk express"! to a roar of approval.
Just a note. On the 'anti-reform' side of the street, one of the "protesters" had a confederate flag. Go figure.
Next Door To McCain Town Hall, Obama's Field Team Kicks Off National Tour
PHOENIX, AZ -- It was 2008 all over again Wednesday night as Organizing for America (OFA), formerly Obama for America, launched their cross-country "Reform Health Care Now: Let's Get It Done Tour" from Arizona, a state that has becoming a focus of the Democratic Party.
The event had all of the trappings of a political campaign rally. Songs from Obama's 2008 presidential campaign blared from a PA system as more than a thousand Obama supporters filed in. Dozens of volunteers roved the crowd signing up new volunteers to phone bank, knock on doors, and do visibility in the street. The Obama logo and health care reform slogans were everywhere -- on the bus, on rally signs, on tee shirts, even on a dog sweater.
Meanwhile, just around the corner (less than a mile away), Obama's former presidential campaign rival, Senator John McCain, hosted a town hall for a raucous crowd that alternated between booing and cheering. One protester had to be forcibly removed when she kept interrupting the town hall by shouting. The crowd was divided between those who adamantly support health care reform (about one-third of the crowd) and those who adamantly oppose it (about two-thirds of the crowd), and both sides were vocal throughout the town hall.
Across the street from the OFA bus tour kickoff rally, about 25 anti-reform protesters gathered on the sidewalk to sound off against health care reform, and on the sidewalk on the rally side of the street, about 50 of the rally-goers lined up to chant lines like, "Hey ho! Hey ho! The status quo has got to go!" Several police officers were stationed between the groups, and the two sides bantered back and forth, but both sides stayed calm and kept the busy street between them.

"Kennedy's passing only increased the need for outrageous distractions"

Republicans Announce Plans to Honor Senator Kennedy
"So far," Mr. Gingrich explained, "we have distracted the American people with outrageous lies, stoked fringe paranoids into a violent rage to break up town meetings, and fomented a nationwide atmosphere of hysteria that makes every decent citizen wonder if the country has gone to Hell."
"We've completely stolen the conversation," Gingrich said. "So part of it is, we are so close to putting a stake through the heart of this thing, we cannot afford to stop."

The Republican Party announced today that it will honor the legacy of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy by continuing its campaign to defeat any prospect of health care reform.
"Senator Kennedy was a great humanitarian," said Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, "who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the least fortunate because he understood how easy offering such help can be. We, the Republican party, will honor his memory by continuing our scorched-earth campaign to ensure that not one single uninsured resident of our country ever receives access to health care."
Former Representative Newt Gingrich explained the thinking behind the Republican strategy.
"So far," Mr. Gingrich explained, "we have distracted the American people with outrageous lies, stoked fringe paranoids into a violent rage to break up town meetings, and fomented a nationwide atmosphere of hysteria that makes every decent citizen wonder if the country has gone to Hell."
"We've completely stolen the conversation," Gingrich said. "So part of it is, we are so close to putting a stake through the heart of this thing, we cannot afford to stop."
"But also," Gingrich continued, "now is the time to take our dissembling hypocrisy to the next level. You thought death panels, Obama-Hitler posters, and gun-wielding citizens at town meetings were brazen, and possibly insane? Wait until we honor Senator Kennedy by bludgeoning his most cherished legislative dream into oblivion."
Some Republican Senators, speaking off the record, said their party's strategy may be reprehensible, but they have no choice but to go along.
"It breaks my heart to stand mute as our party operatives honor Senator Kennedy by sabotaging health care reform," one Republican senator said, "but you should see the campaign donations I received from drug and insurances companies in the last cycle. Jesus, it was unbelievable."
Other Republican strategists explained that Kennedy's passing only increased the need for outrageous distractions, and that as far as outrageous distraction were concerned, this one would take the cake.
"We cannot afford to have the passing of America's foremost proponent of public health care create a somber moment in which the national conversation turns to the merits of reform," one strategist said. "That's a game-changer for us. It's the Hail Mary pass that beats us in the last second."
"That's why we're going to, again, manipu -- er, direct the conversation in the way we have to this point," he said. "In these situations, you go big. You go bold."
Republicans denied that their plan to honor the Massachusetts Senator by killing his greatest legislative dream was insensitive, irrational, hypocritical, or insane. LinkHere
McCain Evicts Angry Woman From Town Hall
PHOENIX — Sen. John McCain met with an angry crowd at a town-hall meeting about health care reform Wednesday, sometimes having to fight to talk and telling one woman who wouldn't stop yelling that she had to leave.
The Arizona senator hadn't yet opened up the meeting at McCain's central Phoenix church to questions when one audience member continuously yelled over him.
"You're going to have to stop or you're going to have to leave," McCain told the woman. When security guards approached to escort her out, he told her "Goodbye, see ya" to a round of applause.
After McCain opened it up to questioning, one man angrily pointed at him and asked the senator why he deserves a better health care plan than him.
"I'm trying to get it for you," McCain told him. "We'll do it for you. We'll make it affordable and available to you."
Other audience members in the crowd of 2,000 told McCain about their medical problems, such as HIV and multiple sclerosis.
McCain urged them he would fight for health care reform but reiterated his opposition to President Barack Obama's plan to create a government option to compete with private insurers, arguing that it would be the eventual end of private insurers in the U.S.
Obama and most Democrats say a government option would serve to balance the power of private insurers. But insurance companies see it as a step toward a government takeover, and many business groups agree.
When McCain was trying to answer questions from reporters after the town hall, one audience member yelled at him that he gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance companies every year.
In a voice of feigned surprise, McCain said "Really? I didn't know that." LinkHere

Blue Dogs Rolling In Health Industry Money

WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration and Democrats wrangled over the timing, shape and cost of health care overhaul efforts during the first half of the year, more than half the $1.1 million in campaign contributions the Democratic Party's Blue Dog Coalition received came from the pharmaceutical, health care and health insurance industries, according to watchdog organizations.
The amount outstrips contributions to other congressional political action committees during the same period, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit watchdog organization. The Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally conservative lawmakers, successfully delayed the vote on health care overhaul proposals until the fall.
"The business community realizes that (the Blue Dogs) are the linchpin and will become much more so as time goes on," former Mississippi congressman turned lobbyist Mike Parker told the organization's researchers.
On average, Blue Dog Democrats net $62,650 more from the health sector than other Democrats, while hospitals and nursing homes also favor them, giving, respectively, $5,680 and $5,550 more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks the influence of money in politics.
The contributions came at a time when health care and pharmaceutical companies were mounting a campaign against a government-run public health insurance option, fearing cost controls and an impact on business. The Blue Dogs' windfall also came at a time when the 52-member coalition flexed its muscle with both the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives as an increasingly influential bloc in the health care overhaul debate.
At the same time, many Blue Dogs were also rubbing shoulders with health care and insurance industry executives and their lobbyists at fundraising breakfasts and cocktail receptions that cost upward of $1,000 a plate, according to public information compiled by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation, which advocates greater government transparency. Since 2008, more than half the Blue Dogs have either attended health care industry fundraising receptions or similar functions co-sponsored by lobbyists representing the health care and insurance industries. LinkHere

Obama To Deliver Eulogy At Kennedy's Funeral

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. — A White House official says President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy at Sen. Edward Kennedy's funeral Mass.
The funeral will take place Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica – commonly known as the Mission Church – in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston. Kennedy will be buried the same day at Arlington National Cemetery near his slain brothers.
The White House official spoke with The Associated Press on Martha's Vineyard, the island resort south of Boston where the first family is vacationing. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Kennedy family had not yet made an announcement. LinkHere

BOSTON — The push for swiftly naming an interim successor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy intensified Wednesday in the wake of his death, with Gov. Deval Patrick coming out strongly in favor of the idea and other top state lawmakers indicating they were reluctant to leave the seat vacant for months.
Mr. Kennedy, concerned about the loss of a Democratic vote during the fevered effort to pass a national health care overhaul — his most cherished legislative goal — had asked state leaders in a letter last week to make such a change possible.
Wednesday, Democrats in Washington stepped up pressure on the governor to see Mr. Kennedy’s wish fulfilled, and state legislative leaders said they would immerse themselves in the issue after a mourning period for Mr. Kennedy.
Under current law, a special election could not take place until at least 145 days after a Senate seat opens, in this case, mid-January. Mr. Kennedy’s proposal would let Mr. Patrick, a Democrat, appoint a temporary replacement sooner.
The governor said he would sign a change in the law if the legislature approved it. He said it was important for Massachusetts to have two voices in the Senate as Congress prepares to vote on overhauling the health care system — contentious legislation whose passage may well require every Democratic vote. LinkHere
Senator Kennedy passed legislation creating the national community health center program.
Senator Kennedy was a strong supporter of the school reforms in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the first comprehensive federal aid for public schools.
Senator Kennedy gives his first speech calling for national health insurance for all Americans.
Senator Kennedy amended the Voting Rights Act to lower the voting age to 18, laying the basis for a constitutional amendment moving the voting age from 21 to age 18. He was also a leader in enacting the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect workers on jobs and the Older American Community Service Employment Act.
Senator Kennedy champions the Meals on Wheels Act, which offers nutritional meals to homebound senior citizens and the Women, Infants. Kennedy was also a key supporter of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which protects women from discrimination in educational institutions and increases opportunities for women to participate in college sports.
After the CIA-backed military coup that toppled democratic government in Chile and brought General Pinochet to power, Senator Kennedy leads the fight to cut off U.S. military aid to Chile.
Senator Kennedy was an original cosponsor of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which later became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and requires a free and appropriate public education for children with disabilities in every state.
Senator Kennedy led the successful effort to deregulate the airline industry, enabling airlines to set competitive rates and reduce costs for consumers. His constitutional amendment to grant full voting rights to citizens of the District of Columbia was approved by Congress, but was not ratified by the states. He was also a principal sponsor of the Civil Rights Commission Act Amendments, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Commission to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination.
Senator Kennedy is the chief sponsor of the Voting Rights Act Amendments, which led to increased minority representation in Congress and state legislatures nationwide. He also sponsors the Job Training Partnership Act to educate and train the nation's front-line workforce and reinstates the Summer Job Program. With Senator Mark Hatfield, he proposed a Nuclear Freeze Resolution to halt the nuclear arms race.
Senator Kennedy sponsors legislation requiring polling stations to provide accessibility for physically disabled and elderly people to vote in federal elections. He is also a strong supporter of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act and its major reform of federal sentencing standards to end widespread disparities in the sentences of similar offenders.
1985 Senator Kennedy introduces the Anti-Apartheid Act to impose economic sanctions against South Africa in response to pressure that government to end legalized racial discrimination in that country.
The Accomplishments Of Senator Ted Kennedy, 1962-2009
Senator Kennedy has authored more than 2,500 bills throughout his career in the United States Senate. Of those bills, several hundred have become Public Law. Below is a sample of some of those laws, which have made a significant difference in the quality of life for the American people.
*Note: For bills introduced prior to 1973, Senate records do not list cosponsors. From 1973 to 2009, 552 items cosponsored by Senator Kennedy became Public Law. LinkHere
Healthcare Reform Named After Ted Kennedy Must Not Suck
If they're going to name the final healthcare reform bill after Senator Kennedy, we ought to be demanding with voices as powerful and booming as the late senator's...
The bill must not suck.
But if it does, perhaps they should name it after Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley. The Blame Baucus and Grassley for This Sucky Act. Or maybe borrow the name of the House bill, the America's Affordable Health Choices Act, which, by the way, reminds me more of a frozen diet meal than a robust healthcare reform bill (the final House bill is actually pretty robust -- it's just a ridiculous name).
On this day of national mourning, we're reminded that Senator Kennedy's political legacy has been inextricably bound to the cause of universal healthcare. Affordable, portable, reliable healthcare.
It's difficult to know for sure, but I can't imagine, had he not been stricken with cancer, that the senator would be lending his unmistakable baritone to the awfulness, equivocation and bipartisan hackery that's on display within the ranks of the Max Baucus 'Gang of Six'. It goes without saying that left to their own spineless and corrupt devices, these six senators will absolutely deliver a terrible healthcare reform bill, one that would only serve to besmirch the Kennedy legacy.
So what exactly does a sucky healthcare bill look like? LinkHere

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dream Shall Never Die

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American...will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.
— Ted Kennedy LinkHere

A Mean Streak in the US Mainstream

The US tolerates more inequality, deprivation and suffering than is acceptable here
August 25, 2009 "The Independent" -- When we Europeans – the British included – contemplate the battles President Obama must fight to reform the US health system, our first response tends to be disbelief. How can it be that so obvious a social good as universal health insurance, so humane a solution to common vulnerability, is not sewn deep into the fabric of the United States? How can one of the biggest, richest and most advanced countries in the world tolerate a situation where, at any one time, one in six of the population has to pay for their treatment item by item, or resort to hospital casualty wards? LinkHere

Powerful Iraqi Shia Leader Dies In Iran

BAGHDAD — Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the scion of a revered clerical family who channeled rising Shiite Muslim power after the fall of Saddam Hussein to become one of Iraq's most influential politicians, died Wednesday in Iran, the country that was long his key ally. He was 59.
The calm, soft-spoken al-Hakim, who died of lung cancer, was a kingmaker in Iraq's politics, working behind the scenes as the head of the country's biggest Shiite political party.
But for many in Iraq's Shiite majority, he was more than that – a symbol of their community's victory and seizure of power after decades of oppression under Saddam's Sunni-led regime. Al-Hakim's family led a Shiite rebel group against Saddam's rule from their exile in Iran, where he lived for 20 years, building close ties with Iranian leaders.
After Saddam's 2003 fall, al-Hakim hewed close to the Americans even while maintaining his alliance with Tehran, judging that the U.S. military was key to the Shiite rise.
Political leaders from all sects offered condolences and raised concerns that his death leaves a vacancy at the helm of Iraq's biggest Shiite party with just five months to go before parliamentary elections.

Major Media Outlets Ignore News That CIA Documents Fail To Back-Up Cheney’s Torture Claims

Documents Fail to Exonerate 'Enhanced Interrogation' Techniques

In April, Vice President Cheney received extensive media coverage when he called on the Obama administration to release two CIA memos allegedly showing evidence that the Bush-era interrogation policies saved lives. His request came in response to critics who lambasted the Bush administration’s program and said it actually hurt U.S. efforts. From Cheney’s interview with Sean Hannity on April 20:
HANNITY: And secondly, why is it important that those interrogations took place? I mean, the ones they were talking about were sleep deprivation, waterboarding, putting insects into small, confined areas and telling them they were deadly insects. [...]
CHENEY: It worked. It’s been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives, preventing another mass casualty attack against the United States. … And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.
Yesterday, the CIA released two of those memos from 2004 and 2005, which had been secret until now. As Spencer Ackerman notes, these memos do nothing to back up Cheney’s claims: LinkHere

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Turley: Will special prosecutor have ‘courage’ to go after those who ordered war crimes?

Fox News’ Shep Smith debunks McCain’s charge that reconciliation would be a ‘drastic change.’

Flashback:::: Media Matters
In an appearance on Fox News last night, Sen. McCain said that the use of reconciliation would set a "terrible precedent" that would "blow up" the Senate. However, in March, he admitted that Republicans had already set that precedent when they were in power.

This afternoon in his town hall, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he is “unalterably opposed” to using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform. “It would be a drastic change in the way that the United States Senate does business.” Fox News’ Shep Smith fact-checked McCain’s claim immediately upon the conclusion of the town hall. “The truth is Republicans used this in 2001, 2003, and 2005 to pass then-President George Bush’s tax cuts,” Smith said. Armed with some research, he then reported this quote from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH):
“Reconciliation is a rule of the Senate (that) has been used before for purposes exactly like this on numerous occasions.” … “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so. … The point, of course, is this: If you have 51 votes for your position, you win.”
Smith concluded that if Democrats “were to take health care and put it in under reconciliation, they could do that.” Watch it:

Update Matt Finkelstein has more
McCain attacks White House solicitation of PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin’s support — which he solicited in ‘07.
At a town hall today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attacked the controversial deal supposedly struck between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry on health care reform. According to McCain, the deal was an example of the “special interests” getting “a seat at the table.” “The lobbyist for the drug companies, a guy named Tauzin who makes over a million dollars a year went to the White House and he was quoted, he was quoted across this country when he says, and I quote: ‘We assured, we need somebody to come in first, if you come in first, you will have a rock solid deal.’” Watch it:

The deal with PhRMA, which has been heavily criticized by the left, does raise questions, but it is odd to hear McCain criticize someone for soliciting the support of Billy Tauzin. In 2007, Tauzin contributed to McCain’s presidential campaign. When The Hill reported on the contribution in April 2008, Tauzin’s spokesman said, “Sen. McCain put out a call for help and Billy…answered it.” LinkHere

"It Was Never About Him"

‘The Cause of My Life’
Inside the fight for universal health care.
A Lifelong Passion
A look at Ted Kennedy's legislative—and personal—health-care battles
President Obama issued the following statement:
Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.
For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.
I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.
An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.
And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.
Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family. LinkHere

Biden's Emotional Kennedy Tribute: "It Was Never About Him"

Did Waterboarding Actually Work?- Just-released CIA documents don't back up Dick Cheney's claims.

Source: Newsweek
Did Waterboarding Actually Work?
Just-released CIA documents don't back up Dick Cheney's claims.
By Mark Hosenball Newsweek Web Exclusive
Aug 25, 2009 Updated: 6:01 p.m. ET Aug 25, 2009
Internal CIA reports released by the Obama administration on Monday suggest that former vice president Dick Cheney was right about one thing: the CIA's interrogations of suspected terrorists provided U.S. authorities with precious inside information about Al Qaeda's leadership, structure, personnel, and operations. In fact, the newly released evidence—some of which Cheney had pushed to make public—suggests that detainees provided so much detailed information, CIA personnel conducting the interrogations were under pressure to squeeze prisoners even harder in hopes of getting more.
What the newly declassified material does not convincingly demonstrate, however, is that Cheney is right when he insists that it was the agency's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques"—including sleep deprivation, stress positions, violent physical contact, and waterboarding—that produced this useful information. In fact, though two of the newly released CIA reports offer examples of the kind of details that detainees surrendered, the reports do not say what information came as a result of harsh interrogation methods and what came from conventional questioning.
Another key document released Monday was a long-suppressed CIA inspector-general report on possible detainee abuse. It claims, with only vague details, that in the cases of three of the earliest "high value" Qaeda suspects subjected to CIA questioning, the use of "enhanced" methods got results. For example, the document says that the number of intelligence reports generated from the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an early CIA captive, "increased" after the detainee was waterboarded 83 times. But the report doesn't say precisely what information he gave up before or after being harshly interrogated. So, based on this evidence, it is impossible to tell whether waterboarding and other brutal methods really were more effective than nonviolent techniques in extracting credible, useful information from Abu Zubaydah or other detainees.
Likewise, supporters of the harsh techniques have repeatedly pointed to the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as an example of the effectiveness of harsh methods. The inspector general's report says that Mohammed "provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard," and much of it was outdated or wrong. Bush administration officials have claimed that after Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, he started to talk and gave interrogators a wealth of credible information that helped thwart other attacks. In July 2004 the agency's analytical branch issued a secret report titled "Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al-Qaeda." It names alleged Qaeda operatives, inside the U.S. and overseas, whom KSM identified to U.S. authorities, and enumerates specific plots that KSM told interrogators he was planning. But the paper, which was one of the documents released this week, offers no breakdown of which pieces of this information KSM provided before or after being subjected to waterboarding and other rough treatment.LinkHere
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