Tuesday, July 31, 2007

8 million Iraqis require emergency aid

8 million Iraqis require emergency aid
by Chris in Paris · 7/30/2007 03:49:00 AM ET

And to think the Iraqi people aren't impressed with Bush-style democracy. Go figure.
About 8 million Iraqis — nearly a third of the population — need immediate emergency aid because of the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, relief agencies said Monday.

Those Iraqis are in urgent need of water, sanitation, food and shelter, said the report by Oxfam and the NGO Coordination Committee network in Iraq.

The report said 15 percent of Iraqis cannot regularly afford to eat, and 70 percent are without adequate water supplies, up from 50 percent in 2003. It also said 28 percent of children are malnourished, compared with 19 percent before the 2003 invasion.

"Basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people," said Jeremy Hobbs, the director of Oxfam International. "Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty."
Maybe they will somehow be distracted by the soccer victory, which is oddly receiving so much media attention in the US. So much attention, in fact, that one might even get suspicious about the miracle on the pitch against Saudi Arabia.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Crude Awakening

A Crude Awakening

C&L July Film of the Month: A CRUDE AWAKENING The Oil Crash

Documentary by Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack

“Oil is our God. I don’t care if someone says they worship Jesus, Buddha, Allah, whoever – they actually worship petroleum.”
Mathew David Savinar, Lawyer and Founder of Lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

If An Inconvenient Truth could be considered The Wizard of Oz of environmental documentaries, then A Crude Awakening would have be considered the Rosemary’s Baby of that same genre.

Global warming. So what? Melting polar icecaps? Call me later. A Crude Awakening paints a picture so much grimmer than anything Americans have seen in their lifetimes. Or in the movies this summer, for that matter. It is dark. It is primordial. It is terrifying. It is - The end of oil, as we know it.

While technically speaking, oil is running out, for it to go bone dry will take a few lifetimes. But do not dare exhale a sigh of relief. That fact is not relevant to this splendid documentary. It seems there is a bigger problem. One that is arriving faster than Netflix. That problem is global peak oil. Say it over and over, folks. Say it until your tongue gets used to saying it. Write it down. Tell your children. Open the windows of your Ford Explorer and scream it out into the dark abyss. You will be seeing and hearing about it for the rest of your lives – possibly beginning today.

Written, produced and co-directed by Basil Gelpke, from Switzerland and Ray McCormack, from Ireland, A Crude Awakening will scare the living Bush out of you and at the same time leave you dumbfounded. If you’re like me, you’ll be grasping at straws for a logical way out of this oncoming runaway train that some experts have already dubbed the “post-industrial stone age.”

Now that, my friends, is an inconvenient truth. It is a truth so scary, so inconvenient, that few will even utter its name. Once again, for the record, its name is Peak Oil. And no one seems to have the slightest idea what to do about it.

You might not know about it but THEY do. The heads of the ‘Seven Sisters’ oil companies. The Saudis. OPEC. Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force. Bill and Hillary – they ALL know about Peak Oil. Everybody but YOU! Maybe its time YOU found out? Huh? Curious? End of the World? Saving for your toddler’s college education? Uh, sorry, that won’t be necessary.

The world as we know it is coming to an end soon.

That doesn’t come from a religious cult like the Moonies or conspiracy lunatics with tin foil hats in Idaho. Rather it is the uncontested scientific conclusion of the world’s most widely respected geologists, physicists, oil executives, bankers and politicians.

Gelpke, with a background in anthropology and economics, worked as a war correspondent before becoming a scientific filmmaker. His partner, McCormack who has a history in corporate filmmaking also holds an Honors Degree in Environmental Policy and Management. These guys know their stuff, are extremely serious and bring on-camera expertise to back them up. A parade of renowned academics, scientific experts and corporate advisors from across the political and economic spectrum enter and re-enter this shocking film. Each time they reappear they bring with them overwhelming amounts of irrefutable evidence that the world as we know it is about to go through some very savage changes.

And they mean NOW.

I don’t want to alarm anybody but you should be afraid. VERY AFRAID. Not of bin Laden. Not of AIDS. Not of global warming. Not of George Bush. But of global Peak Oil and what that represents.
For the uninitiated, in order to understand this movie one has to understand peak oil. It is not very difficult.

Peak Oil, also known as Hubbert’s Peak was named for the Shell Oil geologist, Dr. Marion King Hubbert. In 1956, M.K. Hubbert accurately predicted that America’s domestic oil production would peak in 1970.
His peers laughed at Hubbert at the time.

He had successfully examined the amount of new discoveries of oil in the United States from the 1930s onward. Those rose and fell like a bell curve. After a huge spike, they were simply running out of places in the U.S. that held oil fields. He figured that if the discovery of oil supplies formed a bell curve, then the production of the oil would form a matching bell curve soon afterwards.

He was dead right.

By 1970, U.S. oil production had peaked and the decline was in rapid freefall. Using the same extrapolations for the entire world, Hubbert predicted that world oil production would be peaking by 1995. It would have been spot on accurate, had the politically motivated oil embargoes of 1973 and 1979 not been enacted, setting back world oil peak by just 10-15 years.
In other words…NOW.
“The United States had been the largest oil producer on earth for nearly 100 years and nobody thought it would ever end,” explains Mathew Simmons an energy investment banker and advisor to president George W. Bush.
The last new frontiers in oil discovery were in the Alaskan North Slope, Siberia and the North Sea. That was in 1967, 1968 and 1969 respectively. All have peaked since then. The North Sea oil finds were indeed massive and quite unknown at the time. A huge discovery. It peaked in 40 years. Next year Britain will actually have to import oil for the first time since the discovery.

The world has been so thoroughly explored with massive new technological devises that most experts feel there is no new oil out there. In fact, advanced engineering technology has created in effect, “super straws” to suck all known oil out of the ground faster than ever before believed possible.

The desperation of the oil companies have led them to oil shale fields in Canada and steaming old well sites for the very last drops of “the devil’s excrement.”

Two thirds of the known oil fields today are in the Persian Gulf. In 1978, Iran was producing 6 million barrels a day. Today? 3-3 ½ million barrels a day. This is indicative of the downward slope of oil production following a peak. The Saudis have found only one new oil field since 1967. They pump 12 million barrels a day yet each year they claim their reserves are exactly the same. How is this possible? It’s not. In the late 80’s all the OPEC countries simply increased their “known” oil reserves by 50% for political reasons and quota busting.

With the massive industrialization of India and China already underway, it is becoming quite obvious that oil production will not be able to keep up with demand. In fact, we already see this happening with the doubling of our own gas prices in just the past few years. Experts believe that those same prices will rise steadily and quickly to $15 per gallon.
And that’s when things will really and finally get hairy. Once oil peaks, the downward crash is fast and furious as the entire world scrapples for the remaining apples.

Our entire civilization has been built on cheap oil. Not only are we reaching the end of the artificial American dream, peak oil experts also feel we are on the precipice of a massive worldwide Age of Depression. We have become the victims of our own success. Huge population booms have occurred due to the mid-century “green revolution” in farming that produced enough cheap food to feed the entire world. Our cities and society grew at staggering rates because of the use of the cheapest fuel source ever discovered.

“One barrel of oil for $100, will produce as much energy as you would get from 12 people working all year,” says Roscoe Bartlett a scientist and U.S. Republican Congressman from Maryland.

But the times they are a changin’.

Ten or fifteen years ago, the per capita income of the average Saudi was $28K. Today its down to $6K. There has been a huge drop in the standard of living for the average Saudi. Strap yourselves in folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. We’re next.

There seems to be two solutions:

1) Multinational resource wars. Militarize our population to allow them to continue to drive SUVs. Tell them what the stakes and go for it. Invade till the last drop.
2) Begin to prepare for the end of cheap oil and adjust to available alternatives as soon as possible. As bleak as they may seem.

Just so you understand what we’re up against.

If we hybridized every stinking car on the road today, we would still be consuming the same amount of gasoline as we are now in just 5-7 years. With each year demand grows enormously. With no end in sight.
The alternative fuels everyone has been jabbering about lately don’t cut it. If you added all the alternative fuel sources up, that is if they were even ready and functioning at massive levels, it wouldn’t even make a dent in the loss of oil.

Oil is that cheap.

We pay more for a bottle of drinking water than we do for a gallon of gasoline,” explains David L. Goodstein, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology.

If you went nuclear alone, we would need 10,000 new nuclear plants immediately and then the damn uranium would run out in 10 years anyway. Unless you’re France. Their entire country is powered by nuclear power. Just watch were you put the trash, Jacques.

The most fascinating chapter of the film is entitled, Life After The Peak. This shows us the other side of the Hubbert Peak. The downward slope. Ouch. We got a snippet of it in 1973, when OPEC turned off the U.S. oil spigot because of the Israeli War. Cars lined up for miles to get the last drop of gas. Everyone freaked, but quickly forgot about it when the man hooked them up again with the Persian Black.

In the near, near future, driving cars and flying by plane will be a luxury reserved only for the Super Rich. The financial markets will shrink due to the elimination of petro dollars. The stock markets will collapse worldwide. Populations will shrink immensely as hunger and starvation sweep the globe.

An apple will cost $7.

Hydrocarbon Man’s days are severely numbered.

Oh, and if you think hydrogen is gonna save you, think about this: It currently takes 3 – 6 gallons of gasoline to make enough hydrogen to drive a car the equivalent distance that one gallon of gasoline would drive it.

Coal? Too dirty. We’ll choke to death. Wind power? Keep blowing. Hydroelectric? Every river is already dammed. Biomass? Too much energy to create it.

In fact, the only science that seems to have any chance in hell is solar. How ironic. But there is a catch. A huge catch. It would take a field of solar panels half the size of California to power the country. The sun. Of course. How could we miss it?

When Jonas Salk found the cure for polio, he was asked if he had filed a patent on his new vaccine. Salk looked quizzically at the reporter and famously said, “No. After all, could you patent the Sun?”

Hey, New Mexico. Let’s go. Everybody out! That means you.

See A Crude Awakening before there are no more petrochemicals left to even make DVDs.

A screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert is the Senior Film and Book Reviewer for CrooksandLiars.com. As a filmmaker he has produced numerous documentaries for HBO. Groubert is also the former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he has written for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications. He is currently at work on his memoirs…or so he says.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iraqi Prime Minister Asks Bush To Give General Petraeus The Boot

Iraqi Prime Minister Asks Bush To Give General Petraeus The Boot

wirq128.jpg Via The Telegraph:

Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general’s moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa’eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general’s signature strategy to be scrapped. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias,” said the official. “Bush told Maliki to calm down.”

At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: “I can’t deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you.” Read more…

Calm down? President Bush armed Maliki’s enemies in a bloody civil war and now he wants him to calm down. Nobody could have predicted this outcome. Howie has more on this. Apparently, Saudi Arabia refuses to work with Maliki and accuse him of being an agent of Iran. The thlot pickens…

Answering to No One

Answering to No One

By Walter F. Mondale
Sunday, July 29, 2007; B07

The Post's recent series on Dick Cheney's vice presidency certainly got my attention. Having held that office myself over a quarter-century ago, I have more than a passing interest in its evolution from the backwater of American politics to the second most powerful position in our government. Almost all of that evolution, under presidents and vice presidents of both parties, has been positive -- until now. Under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it has gone seriously off track.

The Founders created the vice presidency as a constitutional afterthought, solely to provide a president-in-reserve should the need arise. The only duty they specified was that the vice president should preside over the Senate. The office languished in obscurity and irrelevance for more than 150 years until Richard Nixon saw it as a platform from which to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 1960. That worked, and the office has been an effective launching pad for aspiring candidates since.

But it wasn't until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency that the vice presidency took on a substantive role. Carter saw the office as an underused asset and set out to make the most of it. He gave me an office in the West Wing, unimpeded access to him and to the flow of information, and specific assignments at home and abroad. He asked me, as the only other nationally elected official, to be his adviser and partner on a range of issues.

Our relationship depended on trust, mutual respect and an acknowledgement that there was only one agenda to be served -- the president's. Every Monday the two of us met privately for lunch; we could, and did, talk candidly about virtually anything. By the end of four years we had completed the "executivization" of the vice presidency, ending two centuries of confusion, derision and irrelevance surrounding the office.

Subsequent administrations followed this pattern. George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle and Al Gore built their vice presidencies after this model, allowing for their different interests, experiences and capabilities as well as the needs of the presidents they served.

This all changed in 2001, and especially after Sept. 11, when Cheney set out to create a largely independent power center in the office of the vice president. His was an unprecedented attempt not only to shape administration policy but, alarmingly, to limit the policy options sent to the president. It is essential that a president know all the relevant facts and viable options before making decisions, yet Cheney has discarded the "honest broker" role he played as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff.

Through his vast government experience, through the friends he had been able to place in key positions and through his considerable political skills, he has been increasingly able to determine the answers to questions put to the president -- because he has been able to determine the questions. It was Cheney who persuaded President Bush to sign an order that denied access to any court by foreign terrorism suspects and Cheney who determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rather than subject his views to an established (and rational) vetting process, his practice has been to trust only his immediate staff before taking ideas directly to the president. Many of the ideas that Bush has subsequently bought into have proved offensive to the values of the Constitution and have been embarrassingly overturned by the courts.

The corollary to Cheney's zealous embrace of secrecy is his near total aversion to the notion of accountability. I've never seen a former member of the House of Representatives demonstrate such contempt for Congress -- even when it was controlled by his own party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every congressional request for information has been stupefying -- it's almost as if he denies the legitimacy of an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held accountable by the people who elected him.

Whatever authority a vice president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow, not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush -- including, apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio -- but he also pursues his own agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.

Three decades ago we lived through another painful example of a White House exceeding its authority, lying to the American people, breaking the law and shrouding everything it did in secrecy. Watergate wrenched the country, and our constitutional system, like nothing before. We spent years trying to identify and absorb the lessons of this great excess. But here we are again.

Since the Carter administration left office, we have been criticized for many things. Yet I remain enormously proud of what we did in those four years, especially that we told the truth, obeyed the law and kept the peace.

The writer was vice president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Ashcroft and Data Mining

Ashcroft and Data Mining

I'm as perplexed as everyone else in trying to decipher the White House's latest explanation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' seemingly inconsistent statements in his sworn testimony on what was at issue regarding the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program when he and Andy Card went to visit former Attorney General John Ashcroft in the hospital in March, 2004.

A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

....Mr. Gonzales insisted before the Senate this week that the 2004 dispute did not involve the Terrorist Surveillance Program “confirmed” by President Bush, who has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants but has never acknowledged the data mining. If the dispute chiefly involved data mining, rather than eavesdropping, Mr. Gonzales’ defenders may maintain that his narrowly crafted answers, while legalistic, were technically correct.

Big Tent Democrat argues that the TSP program and the data-mining program were one and the same -- data mining was part of the TSP program. While there are many data-mining programs run by a host of different agencies, that seems right in this context.

I'd like to examine it from a different angle: Was John Ashcroft ever opposed to data-mining? If not, how could that be the basis of the need to go to the hospital and twist his arm in reauthorizing the NSA's TSP program?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Senators Call For Appointment Of Special Counsel To Investigate Gonzales For Perjury

Senators Call For Appointment Of Special Counsel To Investigate Gonzales For Perjury

At a news conference this afternoon, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Alberto Gonzales on perjury charges.

Sens. Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Russ Feingold, and Sheldon Whitehouse explained in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement that “it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee. They wrote:

We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.

Yesterday, the AP revealed documentary evidence that contradicted Gonzales’ sworn testimony regarding the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Gonzales had said a White House intelligence briefing in 2004 were in regards to “other intelligence activities.” Then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte confirmed in a May 2006 memorandum that the meeting was in fact about the NSA program.

Yesterday on MSNBC’s Countdown, Sen. Patrick Leahy urged Gonzales to look back at the transcript of his testimony and correct the record. Instead, Gonzales and the White House have refused to concede any errors. On Wednesday night, the Justice Department said Gonzales “stands by” his Senate testimony. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “The attorney general was speaking consistently. The president supports him.”

At a press conference this afternoon, Schumer said Gonzales has violated his constitutional oath:

He took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he tells the half truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth. And he does it not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. His instinct is not to tell the truth, but to dissemble and deceive.

Watch it:

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) previously suggested the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the U.S. attorney scandal.

UDPATE: A copy of the letter can be found here.

UPDATE II: Sen. Feingold: “Based on what we know and the evidence about what happened in terms of the gang of eight and what he said in that sworn testimony in the committee, I believe it’s perjury.”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bush's Martial Law Plan Is So Shocking, Even Congress Can't See it

Bush's Martial Law Plan Is So Shocking, Even Congress Can't See it
Executive über alles as member of Homeland Security Committee barred from viewing post-terror attack provisions

President Bush's post-terror attack martial law plan is so shocking that even sitting members of Congress and Homeland Security officials are barred from viewing it, another example of executive über alles and a chilling portent of what is to come as constant reminders of the inevitability of terror attacks reverberate.

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D - OR) was asked by his constituents to see what was contained within the classified portion of the White House's plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

Since DeFazio also sits on the Homeland Security Committee and has clearance to view classified material, the request would have appeared to be routine, but the Congressman was unceremoniously denied all access to view the documents, and the White House wouldn't even give an excuse as to why he was barred. "I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio told the Oregonian on Friday.

"We're talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee."

"Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio concluded.

The article also quotes Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who told the paper he "cannot think of one good reason" to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House," Ornstein said.

The only plausible reason DeFazio was barred access to the documents is that the plans for a post-terror attack continuity of government scenario are so abhorrent that to reveal their true nature would cause a public outcry and lead to a major repeal of what is contained in the documents.

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D - OR)

What we already about Bush's recent spate of executive orders, and in particular PDD 51, is bad enough - the provisions outline preparations for the implementation of open martial law in the event of a declared national emergency.

New legislation signed on May 9, 2007, declares that in the event of a "catastrophic event", the President can take total control over the government and the country, bypassing all other levels of government at the state, federal, local, territorial and tribal levels, and thus ensuring total unprecedented dictatorial power.

It is important to understand that, although these powers have been on the books for previous presidents, Bush is the first to openly brag of the fact that he will utilize them and officially become the supreme emperor of the United States in the aftermath of a catastrophe that the government itself has said will happen on innumerable occasions.

According to columnist and author Jerome Corsi, the power grab assures that "The president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over."

The Internet leader in activist media - Prison Planet.tv. Get access to hundreds of special video reports, audio interviews, books and documentary films. Subscribers also get instant access to our hugely popular forum where you can network with like-minded people, meet up and get active! Click here to subscribe.

Also in May, it was reported that a high-level group of government and military officials has been quietly preparing an emergency survival program named "The Day After," which would effectively end civil liberties and implement a system of martial law in the event of a catastrophic attack on a U.S. city.

Last year we also exposed the existence of a nationwide FEMA program which is training Pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to "obey the government" in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.

The documents that Congressman DeFazio was blocked from seeing likely interlock with both these programs and detail the overarching agenda to effectively nullify what's left of the U.S. Constitution and firmly ensconce George W. Bush as a supreme dictator.

Only by putting enough pressure on the media and in turn the White House to be transparent about what the secret martial law provisions are can we lead an effort to repeal them before the next terror attack, whether real or manufactured, takes place.

How The White House Will Manipulate Events and Emotions to Maintain GOP Executive Branch Control in 2008

How The White House Will Manipulate Events and Emotions to Maintain GOP Executive Branch Control in 2008


Okay, let’s look at some Bushevik assaults on democracy this last week:

Bush and Cheney Make the Novel and Totalitarian Assertion that the Department of Justice is Prohibited from Investigating a Congressional Contempt Citation Over Anyone (Even if They are No Longer Working for the Government) Asserting Executive Privilege

Bush’s PR Operation Claims to Issue a New Document Forbidding Torture, When the Details Actually Just Reconfirm the Right of the CIA to Continue Renditions and Torture

A Bushevik Partisan Hack Judge Throws Out the Plame Civil Suit Against the Bush Administration, Just as the Same Bush-Appointed Judge Has Made Partisan Decisions Before that Favor Bush

A Pentagon Official Who is a Former Cheney Aide Accuses a Sitting U.S. Senator (Hillary Clinton) of Being a Traitor for Exercising Her Rights to Receive Military Readiness Information

Bush Accuses the Dems of Holding Up Funds and Safety Equipment for Our Troops When the White House Told the GOP to Sink a Bill Last Week That Would Have Mandated Proper Preparedness, Proper Training, Adequate Rest, and Adequate Protective Gear. The Republicans, Under White House Orders, Defeated the Bill that Would Have Supported Our Troops.

That’s a lot to swallow in just one week, and those are just some egregious examples of the slow creep into fascism that never seems to halt no matter how badly Cheney and Bush fare in the polls, and no matter how strongly Americans oppose the Iraq War.

The Democrats MUST remember this most important axiom about Bush, Cheney and Rove: Their interest is not necessarily to stay in Iraq forever; it is to ensure that the Republicans can hold onto power indefinitely.

The quagmire in the battle against terror, in which the Busheviks have prima facie failed by being unable to beat back a relatively small hardcore Al-Qaeda movement, is really only a strategy from which they see opportunities to maintain power, not defeat. (Even if the NIE this past week stated another offense for which Bush and Cheney should be removed from office: After years of lies, hundreds of thousands of lives of Iraqis and Americans lost, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever. What Bush and Cheney have done, through their failure, is make Al Qaeda into some sort of "Superman" Force. In short, the perception of Al Qaeda is strengthened by the Bush Administration’s ineptness in dealing with them.)

But the failure of the Bush Administration’s "war on terror," which was mounted to achieve goals having nothing to do with halting terror, is not causing the Bush Administration – as the partial list of last week’s actions indicate – to back off from their assault on the American Constitution?


It would be a mistake to think that Bush’s ongoing chipperness and indifference to public opinion can be attributed to his sociopathology alone. It would also be an error to think that Dick "Dr. Evil" Cheney is simply becoming more hunkered down in his delusions that he is the power behind the throne, the rabble in the Congress be damned.

So why are the Busheviks continuing to proceed full steam ahead in seizing absolute powers and barreling ahead in Iraq?

BuzzFlash speculates that one of the reasons relates to their confidence in their ability to continue to manipulate events and emotions. Although the mainstream media has started to expose more of the reality of the utter debacle of the Iraq War, it still is more likely than not to give a White House spin to headlines and stories, as it did in Bush’s completely hypocritical and mendacious attack on Democrats for allegedly not legislatively "supporting our troops."

In a crisis, moreover, the mainstream media, which surfs the news cycles without a nano-second of historical context, is likely to completely hop aboard the White House propaganda express again, as it did post-9/11 – and is it did for nearly four years of a record of failed declarations and promises in the Iraq War.

Rove knows that one big event that is perceived as a military challenge to America can erase all the accumulated negative perceptions of Bush for enough time to ride the next Republican presidential candidate through an election cycle (or according to the worst fears of some, suspend the elections based on Executive Branch emergency powers that Bush has been incrementally accumulating through executive orders and with the consent of Congress.)

So what might these precipitated "rally round the president" crisis events be?

Here are three options – and they are not the only possible ones – that we are sure that Rove and Cheney and others are mulling over:

1) A short-term military assault on the Pakistani "tribal lands," bordering Afghanistan, where the Saudi dominated Al-Qaeda has allegedly been living openly and freely --- and where Osama bin Laden has possibly been ensconced for several years. If Bush were able to score a real or propaganda hit on Al- Qaeda, the Democrats would have little alternative but to congratulate him for doing what they have been advocating all along. The mainstream media would applaud Bush for finally accepting a need for recalibrating the "War on Terror."

Potential risks of this action: Rove would be worrying that it could backfire if they don’t come up with significant Al-Qaeda members. There is also the very real risk that a U.S. incursion into Pakistan (remember the impact of Kissinger’s secret bombing of Cambodia leading to the emergence of the Khmer Rouge) could result in an Islamic fundamentalist overthrow of the Musharraf regime. Finally, because of the strain on forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, there might not be a sufficient special force capability to launch such an attack.

2) An air attack, likely employing nuclear weapons, on Iranian nuclear facilities. Cheney and his Neo-Con cheerleaders are just dying to pull this one off. It would precipitate a right wing echo chorus of the need to rally behind the president in a time of war and that only traitors wouldn’t support our troops in combat. It would further bolster the "U.S.A. # 1" empire contingent and play to the wounded egos of Americans who don’t like to lose wars, as is the case in Iraq. Also, the Iranian Prime Minister has made himself especially unlikable, so the Busheviks have another bogeyman to demonize.

Potential risks of this action: All Hell would break loose in the Middle East. Hezbollah and Hamas would probably launch a full-scale assault on Israel, backed by Iran. The Iranians would start to directly engage U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Syria would probably be drawn into a full-scale Middle East war. The strong pro-democracy movement within Iran would be suppressed almost immediately, as Iranians patriotically rally around their leadership, however, distasteful, just as Americans would rally around Bush. Iranians would probably launch surrogate terrorist attacks against American interests.

3) A 9/11 repeat attack on U.S. soil. Despite the fact that such an attack would make a mockery of the often stated Bush mantra that "we are fighting them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here," the Republicans would – in their usual disciplined message point fashion – quickly blame the Democrats for not supporting the Iraq War. The mainstream media would disseminate the Republican message points pretty much intact. Bush would be positioned as having been right "all along" about the ongoing terrorist threat and seen as a seer and leader, who was wrongfully scorned. In fact, more than one Republican leader has implied that they would welcome a terrorist attack on the U.S., because – as their twisted and destructive desire to hold power dictates – it would "validate" the Bush/Cheney war strategy.

Remember, it can be completely illogical, but the Republicans, under Rove in particular, know how to ride the power of emotional reactions to events as seen through the prism of a mainstream media that surfs the emotional tug of unfolding events. Of course, the debate on to what extent the Bush Administration is responsible for not preventing 9/11 rages on, with their being guilty of malfeasance – at a minimum – because Bush and Rice were warned in August of 2001 of impending terrorist hijackings and did not one thing to warn airports or intelligence agencies to take preventive actions.

But anyone who has been in politics knows that there are people in the White House secretly hoping for another 9/11 type of attack on the "Homeland." Remember, the goal of the Bush Administration is to hold onto Executive Branch power for the Republicans indefinitely. Sometimes, such Neo-Con fanatics believe that Americans have to die for the larger good of ensuring that the steering wheel of government isn’t handed over to the Democrats.

Potential risks of this action: It could be a large-scale attack so devastating that it could create a political upheaval in the United States. If the attackers are again primarily Saudi members of Al-Qaeda, the calls for clamping down hard on Saudi Arabia may rise to a frenzy. The U.S. military, already stretched to the breaking point, might not have the ability to retaliate successfully. There is the slight chance that rationality might emerge from the ashes and that Bush would be blamed for getting sidetracked in Iraq, but that is not how the media and demagoguery work. In all likelihood, this would be the most desirable option for the White House, because it would result in renewed calls for "getting even with someone," which helps Bush and Cheney string out the endless war.

In short, while we concentrate on ending the Iraq War, the White House is kicking the ball down the field trying to figure out which of the above three scenarios (and others) might be the best diversion from the Baghdad conflict, while boosting Bush’s ratings in one fell swoop – and recharging the hopes of a Republican candidate for president.

The bottom line is that the White House has its eyes on continuing the march toward consolidating Executive Branch and Federal Court Republican control over any efforts by Congress to assert their Constitutional powers.

Manipulating world events and renewing fear with a new "terrorist event" or "terrorist prevention attack" are what’s on the table right now.

They are just stalling for time to make a decision on the least risky alternative.

It is the White House that continues to be a dangerous threat to the national security of Americans, because their interest is the accumulation of power, not our well-being as a nation.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sheep to the Slaughter

Surprise! Bush's approval rating is cratering and suddenly administration officials are emitting ominous warnings about the imminence of another 9/11. Knowing these loathesome people as we by now do, can there be any doubt that they would see such an event as their salvation, the thing that would send Bush's numbers rocketing, just as the original attack did six years ago, when, a mere seven months after his inauguration, he was already widely perceived as an ignorant, arrogant, in-over-his-head failure? And, can there be any doubt that a panicked nation would rally around the flag and his numbers would indeed soar?

So, every Democrat running for president -- no, to every Democrat in the House and Senate -- I say, Why isn't a single one of you pointing out IN ADVANCE, so people can take it in and understand it IN ADVANCE, before post-disaster hysteria obliterates actual reasoning, that any such attack would be NO ONE'S FAULT BUT BUSH'S? That the man who responded to a memo headlined "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S." by telling the deliverer, "All right, you've covered your ass now" has made us not safer but EXPONENTIALLY LESS SAFE by invading a non-threatening country to settle a personal grudge ("he tried to kill my daddy") instead of protecting the nation from its actual enemy, thus allowing that enemy to regenerate itself to the point where more horror is inevitable. That rallying around this incompetent, insane criminal, who would then have allowed this kind of mass carnage TWICE, would be suicidal madness.

What are these Democrats so afraid of? George W. Bush is increasingly understood to be the worst president ever, if you can call someone who stole two elections "president" -- personally, I can't. He epitomizes so many negative human qualities that a majority of the country now feels his odiousness viscerally, yet no one dares take him on. Does Karl Rove have pictures of each and every one of them in bed with animals or underage children?

To employ a metaphor of the moment, the Democrats are like the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, refusing to acknowledge -- let alone trumpet -- the reality of how much evil is in the air for fear that, by pointing it out, they will be blamed for it. Hey, Dems, guess what? People already know. They're waiting for you to catch up and lead the fight against it. There's a reward, not a punishment, for anyone with the guts to tell the truth, in all its ugliness, about these monsters who every sentient being knows are DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY. Is no one willing to speak out with the appropriate OUTRAGE about how much damage they've done, how much damage they're still doing, how much damage, given the opportunity, they will yet do? To point out just how vulnerable they've made us? No? Well, then, when the next attack comes and you see your hopes for regaining the White House evaporate in a frenzy of Republican fear-mongering, you contemptible wimps will have gotten just what you deserve.

And let's not overlook this. This is not a parody. This is real. What it basically means is that Bush and Cheney can decide that anyone who dares to criticize them -- which is to say, any or all of us -- is threatening the peace and stability of Iraq, and can therefore have all their money and possessions confiscated. Have you heard a great Democratic hue and cry -- or even a bleat -- about this stunningly brazen presumption of power? Are the Germany-in-the-'30s comparisons still over the top? Sheep to the slaughter, every useless one of them.

Oh, and Nader, thanks again, you smug, self-righteous egomaniac. Think Gore would have let all of this happen?

Russ Feingold Will Introduce Censure Resolution Against Bush This Week

July 22nd, 2007
Russ Feingold Will Introduce Censure Resolution Against Bush This Week
Cheney, Gonzales May Also Be Included -->
Guest blogged from DC by Margie Burns

Listening to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for fifteen minutes is worth a week of the para-discourse from elsewhere on national television. Feingold said on Meet the Press this morning that he will introduce a resolution to censure President Bush “in a few days.”

The censure resolutions will focus on two huge issues:

• The president’s getting us into the war in Iraq, including misleading statements and misuse of intelligence before the war; and• “the outrageous attack on the rule of law,” including illicit electronic surveillance and other surveillance, and administration approval of torture. “This administration has assaulted the constitution,” Feingold said briskly.

Feingold said that he has talked with the Democratic leadership about the resolution, adding that it might provide an opportunity as well for Republicans uncomfortable with the administration but unwilling to use impeachment.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Expanding claim of executive authority, White House official tells paper staff can't be charged

Expanding claim of executive authority, White House official tells paper staff can't be charged

John Byrne
Published: Friday July 20, 2007

A senior Bush Administration official unveiled a new strategy in Friday's Washington Post -- anonymously -- to combat Democrats in Congress who are clamoring to file contempt charges against officials who refuse to talk about the firings of nine US prosecutors.

In sum, this strategy amounts to, "once we say no, we can't be charged."

Ironically, President Bush's new legal argument hinges on whether one of his own US prosecutors can file charges against his staff.

According to the Post, "Administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts."

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," a senior official told the Post, which granted the official anonymity because 'he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.' "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

Under law, a contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to Washington, D.C. US attorney, who then brings the charge to a grand jury.

"It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys," the anonymous Bush official added.

George Mason University professor of public policy Mark J. Rozell called the administration's stance "astonishing" in the article.

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell told the reporter. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

The White House did not inform Democrats of the plan, which the Post called a "bold new assertion of executive authority."

Reached for comment, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the paper it was "an outrageous abuse of executive privilege" and said: "The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

Read the full article here.

The Company Presidency; Enron and the Bush family have boosted each other up the ladder of success. But have their ties created a Teapot Dome?

The Company Presidency; Enron and the Bush family have boosted each other up the ladder of success. But have their ties created a Teapot Dome?
From: The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Feb 10, 2002; KEVIN PHILLIPS


In retrospect, it's unclear whether the [George W. Bush] dynasty built Enron or vice versa. In 1985, when Enron was formed, the Bushes were an important political family. George Bush, as vice president, headed the Reagan administration's task force on energy policy. But in terms of Texas oil money and stature, the Bushes were third echelon. When George W. ran for governor of Texas in 1994, Ann Richards, the Democratic incumbent, joked that of the oil companies he had started or been involved with, none had made a profit. Enron's rise, with the Bush family's help, in the 1990s rearranged the energy power structure in Texas and the nation, and put the Bush entourage in clover. The question now is whether what went up together will come down together.

From 1988 to 1992, Bush the elder collected hefty political contributions from Enron. When president, it was his ambassador in Buenos Aires who had pushed for favorable tax treatment for Enron in Argentina. Bush asked Enron chief Kenneth L. Lay to co-chair a host committee for the July 1990 G-7 economic summit in Houston and appointed him to his Export Council in late 1990. A year earlier, Bush energy officials began work on the 1992 Energy Policy Act. Its provisions obliged utility companies to carry and transmit Enron- generated electricity, which contributed to the company's subsequent huge growth. In 1992, Lay was named co-chairman of the Bush reelection campaign and chairman of the host committee of the Republican National Convention in Houston.

Enron boosters who landed government jobs are Patrick H. Wood III, the former Texas Public Utilities Commission chairman who now heads the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and Nora M. Brownell, a former pro-Enron public-utilities commissioner in deregulated Pennsylvania, who is also a FERC member. White House personnel chief Clay Johnson, a former energy lawyer in Houston; Army Secretary Thomas E. White, a former Enron senior executive; Commerce Department general counsel Ted Kassinger, a former Enron advisor and trade lawyer with Vinson & Elkins; Montana ex-Gov. Marc Racicot, the former Enron lobbyist recently named Republican National Committee chairman by Bush.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Best Quote Ever

Best Quote Ever

Column: I told you so: Bush's damage staggering

Column: I told you so: Bush's damage staggering

Dave Zweifel 7/18/2007 12:21 pm

When George W. Bush was surprisingly re-elected president in November 2004, I predicted that in a couple of years -- just like after the re-election of Richard Nixon -- you'd have problems finding people who would admit having voted for him.

It's unfortunate, but that is in fact the case in 2007 as even longtime Republicans are counting the days left until this administration is history.

Indeed, there are many Republicans joining the growing chorus that wants to impeach Bush and Dick Cheney and get rid of these two guys now before they do even more damage to this great country of ours.

Frankly, it's remarkable how total the damage has been. The lies to get us into a war with Iraq and then the incompetence in handling it were bad enough. But the war is just a piece of the utter devastation that this administration has caused in everything from the administration of justice to the stewardship of our national parks, from the reputation of the Food and Drug Administration to the nation's ability to respond to emergencies.

If shortsighted ideology didn't get in the way of working for the common good, incompetent cronies did.

Instead of putting experienced foreign affairs people in jobs to handle the Iraqi transition from Saddam Hussein to some form of democracy, the administration filled those jobs with inexperienced, mostly young people, whose only qualification was that they were doctrinaire Republicans. It was the same sort of nonsense that prevailed at Homeland Security, where the completely unqualifed Michael "you're doing a heckuva job" Brown turned FEMA into a national laughingstock.

Now comes the news that even the surgeon general's office -- a federal agency whose sole purpose is to promote the public's health -- was manipulated by the Bush team.

Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona testified before a congressional committee recently that the administration repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

According to a New York Times story, Dr. Carmona told the committee that he wasn't allowed to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education or prison, mental health and global health issues. Whenever he gave a speech, he was instructed to make sure Bush's name was mentioned at least three times on every page.

Plus, he was discouraged from attending the Special Olympics because of the charitable organization's long ties to a "prominent family." He wouldn't give the name on the record, but he was obviously referring to the Kennedys, who have long been associated with the Olympic events for the disabled.

Bill Clinton may have had some personal defects, all of which led to his being impeached by a partisan House of Representatives. Like Alex Rodriguez of baseball fame, he may cheat on his wife, but he hit home runs when they mattered.

The Bush crowd is straight out of the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

If lying about sex gets you impeached, what do we do with an administration whose lies have led to a world calamity and whose ideology trumps even common sense? The answer couldn't be more clear.

Dave Zweifel is editor of The Capital Times.


Unless the Democrats Realize That They are Dealing with a Sociopath (Bush) and Dr. Evil (Cheney), They Will Continue to be the Subject of Absurd, Deceitful Bushevik Attacks: "Bush, ratcheting up a fight with Congress over Iraq, accused Democrats on Friday of conducting a political debate on the war while delaying action on money to upgrade equipment and give troops a pay raise." Remember that Bush Has Underequipped, Undertrained and Sent Our Troops Off to Die, While His Corporate Supporters Have Profiteered Billions of Our Tax Dollars.

Court Tells U.S. to Reveal Data on Detainees at Guantánamo

July 21, 2007

Court Tells U.S. to Reveal Data on Detainees at Guantánamo

A federal appeals court ordered the government yesterday to turn over virtually all its information on Guantánamo detainees who are challenging their detention, rejecting an effort by the Justice Department to limit disclosures and setting the stage for new legal battles over the government’s reasons for holding the men indefinitely.

The ruling, which came in one of the main court cases dealing with the fate of the detainees, effectively set the ground rules for scores of cases by detainees challenging the actions of Pentagon tribunals that decide whether terror suspects should be held as enemy combatants.

It was the latest of a series of stinging legal challenges to the administration’s detention policies that have amplified pressure on the Bush administration to find some alternative to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where about 360 men are now being held at the United States naval base.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington unanimously rejected a government effort to limit the information it must turn over to the court and lawyers for the detainees.

The court said meaningful review of the military tribunals would not be possible “without seeing all the evidence, any more than one can tell whether a fraction is more or less than half by looking only at the numerator and not the denominator.”

Advocates for detainees have criticized the tribunals since they were instituted in 2004 because the terror suspects held at Guantánamo have not been permitted lawyers during the proceedings and have not been allowed to see much of the evidence against them.

P. Sabin Willett, a Boston lawyer who argued the case for detainees, called the ruling “a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to hide the truth.”

A Justice Department spokesman, Erik Ablin, declined to comment on the decision, saying the department was “reviewing the decision’s implications and evaluating our options.”

The ruling came in the first case under a 2005 law that provides for limited appeals court review of the military’s Guantánamo hearings, known as combatant status review tribunals.

One of the legal challenges facing the administration is that the Pentagon efforts to try a small number of detainees for war crimes have been stalled since early June, when two military judges ruled there were defects in the procedures that had been followed in declaring the men to be enemy combatants.

Then, later last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from detainees claiming a right to challenge their detentions in federal courts through habeas corpus cases, a contention the administration has fought with some success in the courts and Congress.

The cases in the appeals court and the Supreme Court are both efforts by lawyers for the detainees to challenge the military’s decisions to hold the men.

The lawyers are pursuing habeas corpus rights because such cases would give federal judges far more power to review Pentagon decisions than the appeals court has to review the military tribunal actions. The lawyers have argued that in a 2005 law, Congress so limited the review permitted by the federal appeals court that the detainees need access to federal courts through habeas cases to get a fair review of their detentions.

When the Supreme Court said it would hear the Guantánamo case last month, its order made clear the justices would be carefully watching the appeals court decision as they consider broader Guantánamo issues. In an unusual comment, the Supreme Court’s order in June said, “it would be of material assistance” for the justices to receive arguments from the lawyers that take into account the appeals court ruling setting the rules for the review process.

The case in which the decision came yesterday involved requests by eight detainees for review of decisions by military tribunals.

The ruling also included significant victories for the government, including a decision allowing the Pentagon to limit the subjects that the lawyers can discuss with detainees and authorizing special Pentagon teams to read the lawyers’ mail and remove unauthorized comments.

The decision noted that Congress said the appeals court’s review of the combatant status hearings was limited to determining whether the Pentagon followed its own procedures, and whether an enemy-combatant finding was supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

But it rejected the Justice Department assertion that the court should be able to examine only the information included in the combatant status hearing, not the more expansive information the government might have collected on a detainee.

The ruling was written by Douglas H. Ginsburg, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit..

“In order to review compliance with those procedures,” Judge Ginsburg wrote, “the court must be able to view the government information.”

Detainees’ lawyers have argued that the military officials running the hearings may not have collected information that might support the detainees’ cases. But detainees’ lawyers also said the ruling created the likelihood of fresh legal battles over what information in the government’s vast intelligence files was covered, and whether the government in fact produces all its information dealing with specific detainees.

The decision allowed the government to file its information with the court for review if the government argues the contents are too important to be released. It also defined government information as including only that which is “reasonably available.”

Throughout the legal battles over Guantánamo, detainees’ lawyers have argued that the government has used such rules to limit their effectiveness by maintaining control over information.

Wells Dixon, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York who represents detainees, said that pattern was likely to be repeated. “Once again,” Mr. Dixon said, “we are left to rely on the government to produce all of the information that it says exists.”

Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state

Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state
Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday July 19, 2007

Thom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.

He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

"I don't actually think they're very strong," said Roberts of his words. "I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face."

Roberts said that because of Bush's unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why "the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's election."

However, Roberts emphasized, "the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling." Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.

"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."

Hartmann asked what we as the people can do if impeachment isn't about to happen. "If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it," Roberts replied. However, he added, "I don't think these wake-up calls are likely to be effective," pointing out the dominance of the mainstream media.

"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."
Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."

Roberts final suggestion was that, in the absence of a massive popular outcry, "the only constraints on what's going to happen will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may have had enough. They may not go along with it."

The full audio of Thom Hartmann's interview with Paul Craig Roberts can be found here.


Olbermann slams Bush after Hillary blamed for losing Iraq

07/19/2007 @ 8:56 pm

Filed by David Edwards and Josh Catone

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann began tonight's Countdown program with a special comment. The unusual move to open his show with the comment, which is almost always reserved for the closing of the program, added gravity to his words.

"It is one of the great, dark, evil lessons of history," begins Olbermann, "that a country, a government, a military machine can screw up a war seven ways to Sunday; it can get thousands of its people killed; it can risk the safety of its own citizens; it can destroy the fabric of its nation; but as long as it can identify a scapegoat, it can regain, or even gain, power."

The Bush administration, says Olbermann, has found its scapegoat for Iraq in presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Olbermann referred to a letter Pentagon number two Eric Edelman sent to Clinton admonishing her for calling for a withdrawal in Iraq.

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq," wrote Edelman, "much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia."

A spokesman for Clinton called Edelman's letter "outrageous and dangerous," which Olbermann feels "may actually understate the risk the Edelman letter poses to our way of life."

By choosing Hillary Clinton as his scapegoat, says Olbermann, Bush has consigned himself to "that remarkably small group of Americans whom Americans can not forgive. Those who have sold this country out, and who have willingly declared their enmity to the people, at whose pleasure they supposedly serve."

"A scapegoat, sir, might be forgivable," Olbermann continued, addressing President Bush, "if you had not just happened to choose a prospective presidential nominee from the opposition party."

Olbermann concludes that the Bush contention that withdrawal is abandonment is fallacious and that everyone already knows that the US is leaving Iraq, even if it means impeaching the president to do it.

The following video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast on July 19.

"Almost Nixonian"?

"Almost Nixonian"?

Posted by Mark Kleiman

No. More than Nixonian. Nixon eventually admitted that even he had to obey the law.

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

I'm not even sure this is a smart move tactically. By taking the courts entirely out of the picture, Bush is daring the Congress to use its powers of self-help: arrest of individuals and seizure of documents by the Sergeants-at-Arms. Of course, Reid and Pelosi will have to pick their shots; the last thing you want is prisoner who could be made into a sympathetic victim. But that's not true of Rove or Gonzales or Cheney..

Even without a physical arrest, issuing an order to one of the Sergeants-at-Arms to arrest any of those figures would make him into a sort of fugitive. Cheney, for example, could not preside over the Senate.

If that's too radical a step, what's Plan B? Congress could use the power of the purse to bring the Bush machine — but not the government — to a grinding halt.

Defund the non-essential (and dangerous) parts of the Executive Office of the President: the press office, the political office, the White House Counsel's office. None of those has any Constitutional standing; they exist only insofar as Congress appropriates money for them.

Cut the immediate office of the Attorney General back to one secretary. Forbid details.

Clinton won his confrontation with Gingrich because Gingrich tried to shut down the government. Punishing and crippling Bush doesn't require shutting down any activity the public cares about.

And since this is all part of the appropriations, the relevant provisions are (1) not subject to filibuster and (2) subject to veto only by vetoing the appropriation itself. If Bush vetoes the General Government appropriation (which includes the appropriation for the Executive Office, then it's Bush, not Congress, who is shutting down pieces of the government. (And Congress could fund the essential bits, like the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, either in a separate bill or as part of some other appropriations measure, and dare Bush to veto that.)

I haven't used the term before, but this is really a Constitutional crisis. If the Democrats handle it correctly — which means, above all, stressing the insult to the rule of law and the threat to the Constitutional order — they'll have the public on their side, along with the bulk of elite opinion. (Who knows? Maybe even the editorial page of the Washington Post.)

And I suspect that a combination of institutional self-respect and electoral self-preservation will lead a substantial number of Republicans to desert the President. They've been looking for an excuse, and he just handed it to them.

What will be really delicious is watching the Republican Presidential candidates squirm. The bulk of the remaining Republican primary electorate is effectively royalist, but it's hard to see how a candidate who promises another term of a lawless executive is going to carry the independent vote in the general.

Footnote Whatever gun they're hiding must be really and truly smoking. What Bush and Fielding have been smoking is a different question.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran

Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran

· Military solution back in favour as Rice loses out
· President 'not prepared to leave conflict unresolved'

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Julian Borger
Monday July 16, 2007
The Guardian

George Bush, right, with Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice
While Dick Cheney, left, favours military threats, Condoleezza Rice, centre, prefers diplomacy. George Bush, right, has sided with Cheney. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."

The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week.

Nick Burns, the undersecretary of state responsible for Iran and a career diplomat who is one of the main advocates of negotiation, told the meeting it was likely that diplomatic manoeuvring would still be continuing in January 2009. That assessment went down badly with Mr Cheney and Mr Bush.

"Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact," said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively. They are also reluctant for Israel to carry out any strikes because the US would get the blame in the region anyway.

"The red line is not in Iran. The red line is in Israel. If Israel is adamant it will attack, the US will have to take decisive action," Mr Cronin said. "The choices are: tell Israel no, let Israel do the job, or do the job yourself."

Almost half of the US's 277 warships are stationed close to Iran, including two aircraft carrier groups. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise left Virginia last week for the Gulf. A Pentagon spokesman said it was to replace the USS Nimitz and there would be no overlap that would mean three carriers in Gulf at the same time.

No decision on military action is expected until next year. In the meantime, the state department will continue to pursue the diplomatic route.

Sporadic talks are under way between the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, on the possibility of a freeze in Iran's uranium enrichment programme. Tehran has so far refused to contemplate a freeze, but has provisionally agreed to another round of talks at the end of the month.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that there are signs of Iran slowing down work on the enrichment plant it is building in Natanz. Negotiations took place in Tehran last week between Iranian officials and the IAEA, which is seeking a full accounting of Iran's nuclear activities before Tehran disclosed its enrichment programme in 2003. The agency's deputy director general, Olli Heinonen, said two days of talks had produced "good results" and would continue.

At the UN, the US, Britain and France are trying to secure agreement from other security council members for a new round of sanctions against Iran. The US is pushing for economic sanctions that would include a freeze on the international dealings of another Iranian bank and a mega-engineering firm owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Russia and China are resisting tougher measures.