Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Welcome to the World's First Murdochracy
"I think Fox News might be the meanest sorority in the world."
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Health Care: The Ultimate Last Final Push|
Thursday, March 11, 2010
TRMS investigates: Who are the Stupak dozen?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Investigation into Dubai Assassination
Settlement decision a rejection of U.S. Policy
In Rebuke To GOP, House Votes 416-0 To Ban Misleading 'Census' Mailers
Under the bill, co-sponsored by two House Republicans as well as several Democrats, mailers marked "census" will have to state the name and address of the sender, along with an unambiguous disclaimer that it's not affiliated with the federal government. It will be taken up by the Senate soon.
The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee have both sent out mailers recently that were designed to look like they came from the Census Bureau.
Paul Lindsay, an NRCC spokesman, denied to TPMmuckraker that a recent mailer from his group that read "You are one of a carefully selected group of Republican leaders nationwide receiving the enclosed CENSUS DOCUMENT containing your 2010 Census of America's Republican Leadership," was misleading. He added: "The NRCC remains opposed to misleading mailers, which is why we will continue to comply with the law."
Doug Heye, an RNC spokesman said: "Just as it has done in the past, the committee will continue to comply with the law."
The measure was co-sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Recently, both men slammed the mailers. "Nothing could be more wrong," said Issa.
The effort to crack down on the mailer comes as the Census Bureau gets set to mail out real census surveys. The Bureau has said it's concerned that the misleading mailers could cause people to believe that they've already filled out their survey, reducing response rates, and thereby forcing the bureau to spend more money by sending survey-takers to people's homes.
"Someone's getting invited on a quail hunt,"
Marc Thiessen, Jon Stewart Argue Over Detainee Policy, Interview Etiquette
We SHOULD waterboard people because it works well. They should NOT waterboard US, because we have laws.....
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 1|
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 2|
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 3|
As you know, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has carved out a mini-industry as a leading defender of the Bush-Cheney torture program, arguing that it may have been the greatest triumph in the history of the CIA and that Obama has put us in grave danger by dismantling it.
Guess who disagrees with Thiessen: A leading CIA historian and longtime Pulitzer-Prize winning national-security reporter.
I checked in with Tim Weiner, the author of a history of the CIA called “Legacy of Ashes,” and he tore into Thiessen’s interpretation of history, saying Thiessen has it all wrong.
Thiessen made a splash last week by saying that the interrogation program may have been the “single most successful and important intelligence program” in “the history of the CIA.” Thiessen even argued that the Obama approach to terrorism — supposedly in use in the 1990s — helped bring about 9/11. He’s made variants of this case far and wide.
But it just isn’t so, says Weiner.
“It was not the most successful intelligence program in the history of the CIA by a long shot,” he emails. Weiner added that by the long view of the CIA’s history, there is no more debate.
“The debate’s over,” he said. “Torture stained the honor of the United States.”
Weiner also strongly contested the notion that Obama’s approach represents a dialing back to a pre-9/11 mentality. “The Obama administration has some pretty robust programs going on, killing suspects all over Afghanistan and Pakistan with armed drones,” he said.
Weiner also contested another Thiessen chesnut: That the Obama administration is killing too many terrorists, rather than subjecting more of them to enhanced interrogation. Weiner dismissed Thiessen’s case as tantamount to arguing that targeting terrorists abroad “more closely resembles treason than counterterrorism.”
Who you gonna believe: A Pulitzer-Prize winning CIA historian, or a former Bushie and torture-dead-ender? LinkHere
Beck out of his depth with this loser.
Gibbs Fires Back At Chief Justice Roberts Over Obama Criticism
In a statement sent to reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the only troubling thing was the 5-4 ruling by the court, which said that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money advocating on behalf of candidates in elections. Roberts leads the court.
"What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections - drowning out the voices of average Americans," Gibbs said. "The President has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response."
The push back against the Supreme Court header from the White House seems almost unprecedented in its directness, though White House officials claim previous administrations expressed equally public criticisms of the court. Undoubtedly, it's bound to spur another round of debates over what constitutes proper decorum between the two branches. LinkHere
Monday, March 08, 2010
As Obama Nominees Languish, Committee Schedules Vote On Right-Wing McConnell Nominee
Because the government includes several agencies and boards whose members are required by law to be bipartisan, however, the party-out-of-power’s Senate leader traditionally gets to make a few nominations of his own. One such McConnell nominee is Sharon Browne, a nominee to the Legal Services Corporation’s board who fundamentally disagrees with the Corporation’s mission of providing legal services to the poor. Browne has spent most of her career with a right-wing litigation shop that repeatedly fought to cut off funding for indigent legal services; and she was a plaintiff in a court case which claimed that a method of funding legal services for poor Californians violated that state’s law. In other words, McConnell has selected someone to help lead the Legal Services Corporation who is committed to destroying the Legal Services Corporation.
Yet despite Browne’s obvious unfitness for this job, and despite the fact that her patron has fought tooth and nail to prevent President Obama’s nominees from even receiving a Senate vote, Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) scheduled a committee vote on Browne’s nomination this Wednesday. Not one Democratic senator has taken a serious step to slow down Browne — such as placing a hold on the nomination — and she appears to be on track for confirmation.
Of course, it remains to be seen how Wednesday’s vote will go. Maybe HELP Committee Democrats will do the right thing and kill Browne’s nomination outright. It’s also possible that the HELP Committee members will lack sufficient spine to do so, but a minority of Senate Democrats will block Browne’s nomination by subjecting it to a McConnell-style filibuster. Or maybe Browne’s nomination will simply be rejected by the full Senate. Should the Senate majority allow Browne to be confirmed, however, they will send a clear message to Mitch McConnell and his ilk: “keep on blocking President Obama’s nominees, because there will be no consequences whatsoever if you do so.”
'I Was Disgusted,' Says Former Bush Official About Liz Cheney Ad
Nine former Bush administration officials who played major roles in shaping counterterrorism policies today released a statement condemning as “shameful” recent attacks by Liz Cheney’s advocacy group on Justice Department lawyers who had previously represented Guantánamo detainees.
The statement—whose signers include top lawyers at the Bush White House, Justice Department, and Pentagon—was in response to an inflammatory Web ad by Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, that demanded to know the identities of those it called “the Al Qaeda 7”—a reference to Obama Justice Department lawyers who had done pro bono work on behalf of Guantánamo detainees.
The ad, which Liz Cheney has vigorously defended on TV, even showed a frame with a headline referring to Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department as the “Department of Jihad.” The narrator asks in ominous tones about the lawyers: “Whose values do they share?” More
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Liz Cheney's Impeccable Timing
Cheney and her small but highly vocal group Keep America Safe know how to prey on people's worst fears and prejudices. So I'm not all that surprised by their attack on lawyers like Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor, now Principal Deputy Solicitor General, who previously argued that the Bush administration's military commissions were unconstitutional -- and convinced a conservative U.S. Supreme Court that he was right.
But there's another reason Cheney's latest attack should not have come as a surprise. Consider the timing: late on Friday, February 18, the Department of Justice released a long-delayed report that set out the details of how two Justice Department lawyers, in close contact with the Vice President's office, wrote a series of legal memos that grossly perverted existing law and longstanding legal precedent to justify some of the most heinous acts of torture and institutionalized abuse of U.S. prisoners in American history. Although a career official at the Justice Department ultimately decided that the department's internal ethics rules were too unclear to recommend sanctions, the facts of the underlying report remain a damning indictment of attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee, among others, who gave the legal green light to criminal and immoral conduct.
What better time for Liz Cheney to change the subject?
Sure enough, a little more than a week later, and just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Justice Department's ethics report, Keep America Safe on March 2 released its video on "The Al Qaeda 7" -- seven lawyers in the Justice Department with some connection at some point in their careers to the defense of a Guantanamo detainee.
Immediately, the media shifted gears: it was no longer John Yoo we cared about, now it was the "Al Qaeda 7" -- mysterious Justice Department lawyers who pal around with terrorists. Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
Sure, the argument came to look kind of silly after The Huffington Post unearthed a 2007 article by Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson in which he specifically stood up for those detainees' defense lawyers, saying they represented the best of American values and were the real patriots. And then several prominent conservative lawyers, such as former DOJ officials John Bellinger and Peter Kiesler, publicly criticized the Cheney attack ad as "unfortunate" and "wrong."
But maybe none of that really matters. After all, it wasn't like the Al Qaeda 7 had actually done anything wrong or were at risk of any criminal or professional censure. On the contrary, they'd done exactly what the legal profession requires them to do: zealously defend their clients. But Cheney's attack conveniently shifted the spotlight away from other former Justice Department officials who actually are at risk of professional and criminal sanction.
The Office of Professional Responsibility's final report provides ample evidence former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee intentionally wrote legal memos that were blatantly wrong. It also suggests that White House officials were intimately involved in that process. The fact that John Yoo's e-mails were "deleted" and unavailable to the ethics investigators is no small matter either, both for what additional evidence those e-mails might have contained and because destroying federal records is a crime -- as is obstruction of justice.
Liz Cheney may have managed to temporarily distract the news media from the subject of her father's role in developing illegal policies that authorized torture. But let's hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to press its probe, for there are many observers out there, both at home and abroad, who have not so easily forgotten. LinkHere
Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion
March 06, 2010 "CounterPunch" March 03, 2010 - Public outrage at the Gaza invasion did not come out of the blue but rather marked the nadir of a curve plotting a steady decline in support for Israel. As polling data of Americans and Europeans, both Gentiles and Jews, suggest, the public has become increasingly critical of Israeli policy over the past decade. The horrific images of death and destruction broadcast around the world during and after the invasion accelerated this development. “The increased and brutal frequency of war in this volatile region has shifted international opinion,” the British Financial Times editorialized one year later, “reminding Israel it is not above the law. Israel can no longer dictate the terms of debate.”
One poll registering the fallout from the Gaza attack in the United States found that American voters calling themselves supporters of Israel plummeted from 69 per cent before the attack to 49 per cent in June 2009, while voters believing that the U.S. should support Israel dropped from 69 per cent to 44 per cent. Consumed by hate, emboldened by self-righteousness, and confident that it could control or intimidate public opinion, Israel carried on in Gaza as if it could get away with mass murder in broad daylight. But while official Western support for Israel held firm, the carnage set off an unprecedented wave of popular outrage throughout the world. Whether it was because the assault came on the heels of the devastation Israel wrought in Lebanon, or because of Israel’s relentless persecution of the people of Gaza, or because of the sheer cowardice of the assault, the Gaza invasion appeared to mark a turning point in public opinion reminiscent of the international reaction to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in apartheid South Africa.
In the Jewish diaspora official communal organizations with longstanding ties to Israel predictably lent blind support. But, at the same time, newly minted progressive Jewish organizations distanced themselves to a lesser or greater degree. Whereas in the past mainstream Jews actively supported Israeli wars, most registered ambivalence during the invasion, apart from a contracting older minority that came out swinging in Israel’s defense, and an expanding younger minority that scathingly denounced it. Between the increasing estrangement of younger Jews from Israeli bellicosity and the increasing qualms of Jews generally about supporting it, the Gaza massacre signaled the break-up of hitherto blanket Jewish support for Israeli wars. In addition, whereas the antiwar demonstrations in most Western countries were ethnically heterogeneous (including significant numbers of Jews), the “pro”-Israeli demonstrations were composed almost exclusively of Jews. The fact that active opposition to Israeli policy, say, on college campuses, has spread beyond the Arab-Muslim core towards the mainstream, whereas active support for Israel has shrunk to a fraction of the ethnic Jewish core, is a telling indicator of where things are headed. The era of the “beautiful” Israel has passed, it seems irrevocably, and the disfigured Israel that in recent years has replaced it in the public consciousness is a growing embarrassment. It is not so much that Israel’s behavior is worse than it was before, but rather that the record of that behavior has, finally, caught up with it. LinkHere
American Companies Issued Debit Cards to Alleged Dubai Assassins
Some of the alleged assassins of a Hamas leader in Dubai obtained debit cards through two U.S. financial companies—one of them headed by a former member of the Israeli special forces—according to a statement by one of the companies released Tuesday.
The company, MetaBank of Storm Lake, Iowa, confirmed that it had provided "prepaid" debit cards to a number of the suspects being sought by Dubai police for the alleged asphyxiation of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
But MetaBank said it had no direct contact with any of the alleged assassins who were using its debit cards. Instead, the firm said, the cards were issued through a New York contractor, Payoneer, which serves as "program manager" for its cards. As The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, Payoneer's chief executive, Yuval Tal, described himself as a former Israeli special-forces soldier during an appearance as a commentator on Fox News during the 2006 Lebanon war. More
Investigators from the Australian passport office and the country’s Federal Police are on their way to Israel to look into what Stephen Smith, the Australian foreign minister, described as a “serious abuse” of three Australian passports. Smith told a press conference that it was not yet clear whether the Australian passports used by suspected members of the hit squad that allegedly suffocated Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh were forgeries or whether they were real documents obtained under false pretenses. He did say that the misused passports were issued in 2003, before security improvements were made to the Australian passport design.
Smith added that the three Australian nationals whose identities were apparently stolen were presently residing in Israel. He also said that Australian government representatives had been in contact with either the real passport holders or their family members. Smith said that while Australia was presently unable to make any conclusions as to whether Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, was behind the Dubai killing, it expects full Israeli cooperation for its passport inquiry. He added that he had advised Israel’s ambassador to Australia that “if we didn’t receive that cooperation, then we would potentially draw adverse conclusions.”
McConnell On RNC Fundraising Presentation: 'I Don't Like It'
Asked about the document -- which outlines how "ego-driven" wealthy donors could be persuaded to take out their checkbooks -- the Kentucky Republican called it "certainly not helpful" to the Republican cause.
"I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," McConnell added. "Typically the way parties raise money is because people believe in the causes they advocate. I think the way we raise money from donors across America is to stand for things that are important for the country."
Appearing on ABC's This Week, McConnell was asked whether someone at the RNC should resign over the fundraising snafu, which was first reported by Politico's Ben Smith.
The Senate leader didn't take the bait.
"Well look, I don't run the RNC," he said. "That's up to them. But I don't like it and I don't know anybody else who does." LinkHere
A prominent Evangelical figure and Republican donor says he will end his contributions to the organized Republican Party in reaction to the leaked fundraising presentation that advised using "fear" to solicit contributions and displayed an image of President Obama as the Joker from Batman.
Mark DeMoss, who heads a major Christian public relations firm in Atlanta and served as a liaison to the Evangelical community for Mitt Romney in 2008, wrote Chairman Michael Steele yesterday that he was "ashamed" of the presentation, calling depictions of Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid "shameful, immature and uncivil, at best."
"I’m afraid the presentation is representative of a culture and mindset within the Republican National Committee," DeMoss, a past member of the RNC's "Eagle" program for top donors who gave the party $15,000 in 2008, wrote in the letter to Steele, which he shared with POLITICO. (DeMoss hasn't given this cycle.) "Consequently, I will no longer contribute to any fundraising entity of our Party—but will contribute only to individual candidates I choose to support."
The letter was copied to House and Senate Republican leaders, whose campaign committees DeMoss said he'd also stop supporting.
Courts finally catching up to texting jurors
Courts finally catching up to texting jurors
By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer Paul Elias, Associated Press Writer – Sat Mar 6, 11:29 am ET
SAN FRANCISCO – Enough with the tweets, the blogs, the Internet searches.
That's the message being communicated by courts across the country as jurors using their portable electronic devices continue to cause mistrials, overturned convictions and chaotic delays in court proceedings.
Last year a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed 600 potential jurors after several acknowledged going online to research the criminal case before them.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon challenged her misdemeanor embezzlement conviction after discovering five jurors "friended" one another on Facebook during the trial.
And a federal judge in Florida declared a mistrial after eight jurors admitted Web surfing about a drug case. LinkHere
House Appropriations defense subcommittee member James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) works hard at fundraising: Two to three times a week, he telephones contributors to ask for more. Yet, according to the account he supplied to the Office of Congressional Ethics last year, he is unaware of "who made donations" or how much they gave, and so that information plays no role in his earmarking -- the systematic granting of public funds for mostly private purposes. LinkHere
New John McCain v Old John McCain?
Obama's 'America's Most Wanted' Anniversary Interview
Torture Lawsuit Against Rumsfeld Clears Hurdle, Allowed To Proceed
U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven their claims, including that they were tortured after reporting alleged illegal activities by their company. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.
Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."
Andersen did throw out two of the lawsuit's three counts but gave former contractors Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel the green light to go forward with a third count alleging they were unconstitutionally tortured under procedures personally approved by Rumsfeld.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said by telephone only that the department, which is representing Rumsfeld in the suit, "is reviewing the court's decision."
Vance and Ertel were described by their attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Chicago, as being in their early thirties. He said the two Americans went to Iraq in the fall of 2005 to work for the Iraqi-owned contracting firm of Shield Group Security.
The suit filed in 2006 alleges that while working for the company they saw fellow employees making payments to "certain Iraqi sheikhs" and dealing in armaments in a way they believed would not be approved by the U.S. military.
According to the suit, Vance contacted an FBI official in Chicago with his suspicions and the two men eventually shared their concerns with three U.S. Embassy officials in Baghdad.