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July 23, 2005
War of the Words
The information plaintiffs have requested are matters of significant public interest. Yet, the glacial pace at which defendant agencies have been responding ... shows an indifference to the commands of FOIA, and fails to afford [the] accountability of government that the act requires.
The Department of Defense is working to find ways to ... better inform the public of our many and varied activities on their behalf. And like other large unwieldy bureaucracies, we are doing this through a process of trial and error, and, therefore, imperfectly.
Pictures of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound detainees during mock executions were destroyed after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq to avoid another public outrage, Army documents released Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union show.
When a government official is found to have put out information that is not exactly correct or fully complete ... it plays into the hands of our enemies, who seize on any fault to try to harm the American system.
Government lawyer Sean Lane argued that releasing pictures [from Abu Ghraib], even in redacted form, would violate Geneva Convention rules on prisoner treatment by subjecting detainees to additional humiliation or embarrassment.
I have long believed in the importance of granting the public greater access to information about their government -- the good and the bad.
Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about ... The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.
In the Middle East we have an enemy that is using the various types of media to try to poison the minds of people in that region ... We see it in purposely misleading broadcasts that say, for example, that U.S. forces target civilians.
A judge has ordered the government to release four videos from Abu Ghraib prison and dozens of photographs from the same collection of photos that touched off the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal a year ago ... Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the 144 pictures and videos can be turned over in edited form to protect the victims' identities.
As more citizens gain access to new forms of information ... it will be that much more difficult for governments to cement their rule by holding monopolies on news and commentary.
Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material.
I have no doubt that free and well-informed people can and will sift through the increasing volumes of information and over time develop a balanced view of our government, our Armed Forces, and our values and principles.
At the eleventh hour [the government] filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos: They are now requesting a 7(f) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals.
The American system of openness works and I know our country will ultimately benefit, as we always have, from being on the side of freedom.
July 22, 2005
Biden Their Time
This really is beyond pathetic. Karen Hughes, the president's right brain lobe, appeared today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be rubber stamped into her new job as America's "public diplomat" to the Arab world, or some such propaganda bullshit.
Anyway, the Democratic Senators on the panel had promised to grill her on her involvement in the Plame scandal. I even read about it the papers this morning -- the Wall Street Journal, I think.
But Think Progress (which at the moment seems pretty futile, if you're a Democrat) tells us what actually happened:
Senate Democrats must have gotten lost on the way to the hearing. Not one showed up. Instead, according to the Associated Press:ďA scaled-back Senate Foreign Relations Committee showered praise Friday on Karen Hughes and put the former political adviser to President Bush on a fast track to confirmation as the State Departmentís top public relations official.Ē
No biggie. Hughes, a prime architect of the White House's Iraq invasion propaganda blitz, was only fingered in The New York Times today as one of the several thousand White House officials called to testify in front of Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury. Not enough for any of the Dems to justify getting up in the morning, I guess.
This is like the little scene after the outfielder and the second baseman let the ball drop between them:
"I thought you had it!" "I thought you had it!"
Or, as Think Progress aptly titles its post: Excuse me, but do you ENJOY being in the minority??
Apparently so. It beats working for a living, anyway.
All this would be bad enough, but Think Progress (which really should get some kind of public service award for trying to help the poor, pitiful Dems) goes on to describe the love letter that Joe Biden submitted in lieu of a personal appearance:
I am particularly interested in and supportive of the nomination of Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy ... I believe that she is highly qualified because of her professional background, and, importantly, enjoys the full confidence of the president and the secretary of state.She will bring new energy and creativity to our public diplomacy efforts. I commend the president for choosing her and persuading her to return to Washington, and I look forward to working with her for the next three years on this important foreign policy priority.Ē
Glad we cleared that up. I had been under the misimpression that Biden was preparing to run for president as a Democrat. But I can see I was mistaken. Nobody, not even Joe Biden, is stupid enough to believe that giving wet, slobbering kisses to the other half of Bush's reptilian brain trust is a smart way to go after Democratic primary voters.
They haven't all had lobotomies yet -- unlike so many of their Senate "leaders."
Joe must think he can grab the Republican nomination away from McCain and Rudy. It's an interesting idea, but it's going to be hard to pull off without going viciously negative.
Hell, Joe should make Karen an offer. Who knows? Maybe she can bring Karl along.
Apparently Thomas Friedman is unfamiliar with the concept of slippery slopes:
More than just put up walls. We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others...
I understand that Friedman believes that such a list would only be used for good and not evil, shining a spotlight on those who actively encourage young Muslims to become suicide bombers--but Friedman is an idiot. Look, there are plenty of conservatives who equate any dissent whatsoever with active support for terrorism--anyone who's paid any attention to the right over the past four years understands this. And I promise you, in some people's minds it's a very short journey from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to Noam Chomsky, and not much further from there to, well, Tom Tomorrow.
And then it's just a hop, skip and a jump to Thomas Friedman.
July 21, 2005
I've been busy travelling around my little corner of the world for a couple of days with a visiting friend, so I haven't had time to comment on the accelerated announcement about Roberts--obviously intended to bump Karl's problems off the front page. But via Kos, it looks like that little strategy didn't work as well as they might have hoped:
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.
Time to Burn Some Sources
Atrios is so right about this one. The fact that the White House was clearly feeding bullshit through the press about the nomination of Edith Brown Clement yesterday is an outrage. Looking back at the Bush's press conference that morning, his wink and a nod to the question about Clement seems to indicate that the plan to decieve the public went all the way to the top. Any reporter who still thinks their anonymous sources deserve protection after having their trust exploited like this is an ethically bankrupt hack. This isn't about whistleblowers, it's about a bunch of media elites too cowardly to do the right thing if it means the possiblity of losing any access.
Another Gau Heard From
"We donít know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever... Oh, yeah...we know he's argued cases before the supreme court. big deal; so has Larry Flynt's attorney."So declares conservative columnist Ann Coulter in a new dispatch set for release.Coulter continues: "It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:" 'In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States.' "
I guess Frau Koch has never heard of the concept of "plausible deniability."
I know Ilse's just trying to stand out in a crowd here, which isn't as easy as it used to be, now that nuking Mecca has gone mainstream. But even for her comparing Roberts to O.J.'s lawyer is a little over the top:
"This would have been the legal equivalent, after O.J.'s acquittal, of Johnnie Cochran saying, 'hey, I never said the guy was innocent. I was just doing my job.' "
I mean, we're not talking about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton here. Roberts is a made guy in the Bush Family. And if Ilse doesn't know what happens to street soldiers who wack made guys, she needs to go watch Joe Pesci's final scene in Goodfellas.
But I have to admit: Attacking her fellow wing nuts from the right is a clever gimmick -- even if it does earn Ilse a date with a trash compactor. It also opens up some interesting possibilities. In fact I would strongly urge Frau Koch to take a harder look at some of her other conservative colleagues. They also may not meet her strict quality control standards.
Coulter: Yeah, and thanks to Reagan, the pinko faggots are running the country. Commie bastard.
In this case, though, I do think she's overacting a bit. Yes, Roberts has shown some disturbing hints of compassion for the less fortunate:
"From the theater of the absurd category, the Republican National Committeeís 'talking points' on Roberts provide this little tidbit: In the 1995 case of Barry v. Little, Judge Roberts arguedófree of chargeóbefore the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of a class of the neediest welfare recipients, challenging a termination of benefits under the Districtís Public Assistance Act of 1982.I'm glad to hear the man has a steady work record, but how did this make it to the top of his resume?"
Personally, I wouldn't read too much into that -- the RNC, after all, has to operate in the real world, which requires making the occasional gesture to those members of the underclass who have not yet been turned into lampshades. They still have the vote, you know.
But Frau Koch's slam on Judge Roberts has given me a germ (so to speak) of an idea. Since the guy is probably giong to be confirmed anyway, maybe the Dems should praise him instead of slamming him. Talk about his tolerance and his respect for diversity. Congratulate Bush for picking such a moderate, fair-minded jurist -- one who has already testified that Roe v Wade is "settled law." Tell the world they're overjoyed the president selected a nominee who can reach across the partisan divide, instead of some extremist skin job with a radical religious agenda. Smother Roberts in some hot, juicy Demo love.
Say that kind of stuff often and loud enough, and it might plant some seeds of doubt in those tiny wing-nut minds: "If the filthy 'rats like him so much, he mus' be some kinda librul."
Who knows? If enough of the "base" starts talking like Frau Koch, it might even force Roberts and his GOP support team to drop the warm and cuddly spin, and demonstrate just how much of a hardliner the guy really is -- thereby stripping some of the radar cloaking off the Stealth nominee. But frantic efforts to polish up Roberts's ultaright credentials might further feed wing nut paranoia about the guy: "If he's one of us, how come they gotta keep defendin' him alla time? And why don' his forehead slope down like ourn?"
Maybe I'm reaching here. But if it worked, it would be a very clever use of political jujitsu -- a variation (at least from an extreme right wing point of view) on Lyndon Johnson's alleged suggestion that his campaign spread a rumor that his opponent enjoyed carnal relations with his barnyard animals.
"But Lyndon," his shocked campaign manager supposedly replied, "nobody will believe that!" (This was before Rick Santorum's time.)
"Yeah," Johnson is said to have replied. "But let's make the sumbitch deny it."
July 20, 2005
Everything You Need To Know About John Roberts
The most enlightening thing you can read about the upcoming confirmation hearing for John Roberts is this transcript (huge PDF warning) of his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee two years ago. (via How Appealing) Since the focus seems to be on Roe v. Wade lately, here are some exchanges that might shed some light on where Roberts stands.
Senator DURBIN. So, in 1991, you are in the Solicitor Generalís Office, and in Rust v. Sullivan, you end up signing on to a brief which calls for overturning Roe v. Wade, one of the more controversial Supreme Court cases of my lifetime. When we asked repeatedly in questions of you what your position is on Roe v. Wade, you have basically danced away and said, "No, no, my personal views mean nothing. I am just going to apply the law."Not exactly music to the ears of Roberts' Operation Rescue defenders. Care to elaborate a little further Mr. Roberts?
Mr. ROBERTS. Roe v. Wade is an interpretation of the Courtís prior precedents. You can read the opinion beginning not just with Griswold, which is the case everybody begins with, but going even further back in other areas involving the right to privacy, Meyer v. Nebraska, pierce v. Society of Sisters, cases involving education. And what the Court explained in that case was the basis for the recognition of that right.So, based on his appearance before the Senate, Roberts isn't quite the hardliner that Bush promised and we feared. Then again, when pressed on his judicial philosophy, he wasn't exactly forthcoming :
Senator DURBIN. I found your answer evasive. When I look at what you had to say about your philosophy, you said, "In short, I do not think beginning with an all-encompassing approach to constitutional interpretation is the best way to faithfully construe the document," and then you went on to say I am not going to draw any conclusions on the Supreme Court decisions.Again and again, when pressed to state his personal preferences, John Roberts obfuscated, reminding the Senators that the role of an appellate judge is to apply Supreme Court precedents, not to question them. You'll be hearing a lot on the right about how John Roberts has already been confirmed once, but it bears repeating that the answers that Roberts gave in his previous testimony aren't applicable to a Supreme Court confirmation. He shouldn't be allowed to stonewall again on questions of judicial philosophy.
Needless to say, Roberts' mealy-mouthed answers give me a lot of reservations about what kind of jurist he'd be. My continuing hesitancy can be summed up by this statement by Ted Kennedy earlier in the transcript :
President Bush ran on a platform of selecting judges who will be like Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas. We all understand that meant judges who will be activists in reducing the power of Congress to protect peopleís rights. You must understand, as everyone else does, that you were selected because those at the White House and the Justice Department knew your record and assured the President your decisions would please President Bush.Since the President made sure to cover all his bases by picking someone who has very little experience on the bench and a lifetime of opinions that he can blame on his clients (whether fairly or not), our best bet is to research the hell out of this guy and be prepared for some serious grilling.
Just to put things in perspective, my website is older than the judicial career of the man George Bush chose to put on our highest court. Not that his inexperience means that the President has any doubts about how John Roberts is going to rule on issues like abortion. You don't pluck somebody from the mailroom to be CEO unless you know what you're getting. With a resume light on jobs that require a black robe, the Roberts pick is less about picking the right man for the job and more about screwing the American people out of the ability to adequately evaluate the President's choice. I'll keep my fingers crossed until the hearings, but I'm not gonna get my hopes up.
You also have to wonder how seriously the President takes this appointment when it's been hastily announced in a transparent attempt to deflect attention away from the Plame matter.
July 19, 2005
Wow. A conservative white male for the Supreme Court? I dunno if America is "ready" for that.
July 18, 2005
Network of the Living Dead
CNN executives announced today that they will not bury the badly decomposed corpse of columnist and on-air personality Robert Novak, despite complaints from producers that the stench of his putrifying flesh is making it difficult to book guests for the network's talk shows.
"We realize some viewers may be unsettled by the sight of a rotting pile of maggot-infested tissue on their living room TV sceens," explained CNN/US president Jonathan Klein. "But Novak has a contract, and we feel that as long as we can squeeze a little more free publicity out of his legal and ethical problems, we have no choice but to keep him on the air."
Klein refused to comment on a recent outbreak of typhus at CNN studios in Washington that left five of Novak's makeup artists dead and 23 hospitalized, citing pending litigation. He also declined comment on the alleged involvement of Novak's personal chef in an interstate graverobbing conspiracy.
"Those charges are under investigation by the police, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this tiime," Klein said. "But I can assure you that anyone convicted of a crime and sentenced to a lengthy term in a federal prison will be fired from this network -- just as soon as the appeals process has been completed."
Industry insiders say that CNN, which badly lags rival Fox News in the ratings wars, is desperately seeking a long-term replacement for Novak, but so far hasn't found a reanimated corpse willing to accept the job.
"Most zombie journalists have higher standards than that," explained one network source, speaking on quadruple super duper secret sauce background. "And the others are either in jail or have already been signed by Fox."
The source, who I am now at liberty to reveal is Wolf Blitzer, disclosed that Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly rejected a CNN offer after lengthy negotiations. "His Fox contract includes an all-the-production-assistants-you-can-eat clause," Blitzer said. "Klein wanted to top it, but the highest corporate would go was an unlimited supply of dead Iraqis. And O'Reilly said they give him gas."
One industry insider speculated that CNN would use advanced refrigeration technology to try to keep Novak's corpse from completely falling apart while it waits for Larry King to pass over into the undead state. Others disagreed, however.
"They've been waiting a long time for that to happen," one informed source said. "But I think King has already made his own deal with the network down under -- and I don't mean the Australia Broadcasting Corporation."
Israeli and Saudi studies agree: Bush's war is creating legions of new terrorists
New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank -- both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States -- have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.
Bottom line: Bush's Iraq war -- which has nothing to do with fighting Al-Qaeda and never did -- is making another attack here more likely, not less.
At least according to the wild-eyed liberals in, um, Saudi Arabia. (And hey, what experience could Israelis possibly have with terrorism?)
One simple question for Rove's defenders
If everything he did was aboveboard and beyond reproach, why has the administration consistently lied about it for two years?
(Occam's razor is a useful tool, though rightwingers often seem unaware of its existence.)
Good to see the FBI has them:
WASHINGTON, July 17 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.
There are two possibilities here. One, the FBI is engaging in domestic surveillance of the president's political adversaries. Two, some pigeon-brained Freeper at the FBI genuinely believes that the ACLU is a terrorist organization. In either case, they've obviously wasted substantial resources which might otherwise have been used to, oh, I don't know, track actual terrorists. Someone should lose their job, but probably won't.
That loud noise you hear...
...is the sound of last week's Republican talking points crashing to the ground:
Mr. Cooper said in his article that Mr. Rove did not mention the name of Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, or say that she was a covert officer. But, he wrote: "Was it through my conversation with Rove that I learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and may have been responsible for sending him? Yes. Did Rove say that she worked at the 'agency' on 'W.M.D.'? Yes.
Stay tuned for this week's newly retooled efforts.
...on the same topic: here's an adaptable fellow. Chocolate rations are up!
Just something I noticed while sitting here in my Levisô brand blue jeans, sipping a delicious Coca Colaô soft drink
A craigslist posting, forwarded by a reader:
We Need Blog Writers
The most creative Karl Rove defense -- or at least, the most creative one I've seen -- comes from Rep. Roy Blunt -- the DeLay crony who keeps the People's Deputies whipped into line:
Blunt said many people in Washington understood that Plame worked at the CIA and went to its headquarters every day.It "certainly wouldn't be the first time that the CIA might have been overzealous in sort of maintaining the kind of top-secret definition on things longer than they needed to," Blunt said. (emphasis added)
So Turdblossom's leak, you see, was actually a courageous act of civil disobedience -- a protest against excessive government secrecy!
Karl Rove: Republican, conservative, freedom of information zealot.
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