Yesterday, ThinkProgress attended a Yahoo-sponsored Citizen 2.0 event in Washington, DC, at which Karl Rove discussed the intersection of politics and the Internet. Rove lamented the loss of civility in politics on the web, but then proceeded to use his speech as a partisan bashing of the netroots. According to Rove, bloggers are “nutty,” “vitriolic,” and “kooks.” The Washington Times reported on his remarks:
“The Web has given angry and vitriolic people more of a voice in public discourse,” said Mr. Rove, who served as one of President Bush’s top strategists until he resigned this past summer, and is a noted technology nut.
“People in the past who have been on the nutty fringe of political life, who were more or less voiceless, have now been given an inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox, a blog,” Mr. Rove said during a speech about politics and the Web at the Willard InterContinental, a hotel just blocks from his former place of employment.
“I’m a fan of many blogs. I visit them frequently and I learn a lot from them,” Mr. Rove said. “But there also blogs written by angry kooks.”
He also claimed that liberals use more “bad words,” comparing sites like DailyKos and Democratic Underground to Townhall and FreeRepublic. The “netroots often argue from anger rather than reason, and too often, their object is personal release, not political persuasion,” said Rove.
– When Bush ran against Democratic Texas governor Ann Richards in 1994, Rove was connected to a rumor that Richards was a lesbian.
– A former Rove staffer said that during the 1996 Alabama Supreme Court race, the campaign of Harold See — run by Rove — “initiated a whisper campaign” that See’s opponent “was a pedophile.”
– “Political operatives” have charged that Rove orchestrated a “widely disseminated rumor that John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, had betrayed his country under interrogation and been rendered mentally unfit for office.”
During the Q & A session, Rove admitted that despite the coarseness of the political debate, he hopes the netroots “keep at it” because it helps Republicans. If only the blogosphere were as civil as Karl Rove.
UPDATE: Looks like Rove took some time out to get his picture taken with some of those crazy netroots activists.
UPDATE II: Atrios highlights one of Rove’s oh-so-civil quotes: “We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!”
UPDATE IV: The Washingtonian writes that Rove later IMed MoveOn’s Tom Matzzie, admitting he criticized him:
Rove criticized MoveOn.org’s Tom Matzzie for boasting that an antiwar group would end the war. Later, the two IM’d on a T-Mobile Sidekick provided by Clay Johnson, a Democratic Internet consultant and friend of the antiwar leader. According to Clay, Rove wrote to Matzzie: “This is rove and I did take your name in vain.” He then mysteriously added, “Have enjoyed listening to your [MoveOn?] calls!”
Michael Bassik at TechPresident and Ari Melber at The Notion have more. Danny at Beltway Blogroll notes that “the fact that Rove clearly only likes bloggers who help his cause or share his views shows that he, like too much of official Washington, still doesn’t appreciate the medium. What a shame.”
Bush Sr. Attacks Iraq Regime Change Critics, Earlier Warned Of ‘Incalculable Human And Political Costs’
In an interview with USA Today, President George H.W. Bush sticks up for his son’s disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq, attacking Iraq war critics as defenders of Saddam’s regime:
“Do they want to bring back Saddam Hussein, these critics?” the elder Bush told USA TODAY in a rare interview. “Do they want to go back to the status quo ante? I don’t know what they are talking about here. Do they think life would be better in the Middle East if Saddam were still there?“
Bush Sr.’s disingenuous attempts to paint Iraq war critics as coddlers of Saddam Hussein are an insult to his own intelligence. After all, Bush Sr. has offered the most cogent explanations for why regime change was a poor strategic decision. In his book, A World Transformed, Bush Sr. argued “incalculable human and political costs would have resulted from an Iraq invasion in 1991:
“Incalculable human and political costs” would have been the result, the senior Bush has said, if his administration had pushed all the way to Baghdad and sought to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. “We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect rule Iraq,” Bush wrote.
“The coalition would have instantly collapsed. … Going in and thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. “Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different - and perhaps barren - outcome.”
In 1996, Bush Sr. wrote, “Removing [Saddam] from power might well have plunged Iraq into civil war, sucking U.S. forces in to preserve order. Had we elected to march on Baghdad, our forces might still be there.”
In Jan. 1996, Bush delivered an eloquent speech, arguing the “reason we didn’t go after Saddam is that our forces could well have bogged down in an urban guerrilla conflict in the streets of Baghdad.” “We would have instantly handed Saddam a victory out of the jaws of a humiliating defeat,” he said.
USA Today reports, “Bush dismissed a question about whether his son should have used similar reasoning before invading Iraq in 2003.” The Iraq war has validated Bush 41’s original concerns about an Iraq war. By now covering for his son’s failures, Bush Sr. is only serving to undermine his own record.
DHS immigration chief Julie Myers yesterday met with senators about an employee’s racially offensive Halloween costume that she lauded. She claimed ignorance about the fact that the man, dressed in a dreadlocks wig and prison outfit, had also been wearing make-up to darken his skin: “I was surprised and mortified to learn the day after the event that the employee’s true skin color was not as it had appeared.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) also revealed that the employee had been wearing the costume all day:
“He was dressed in this costume during his entire shift at work all day, which means that in the workplace there wasn’t a manager that said, ‘You need to change, you need to leave,’” McCaskill said.
Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) reiterated his call for President Bush to “pursue an offer of direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with Iran.” Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton criticized Hagel this morning, telling CNN: “I don’t think Iran is going to be chit-chatted out of its nuclear weapons.” Hagel, also appearing on CNN, quipped in response, “Well, our current strategy has been working so well, don’t you think?” Watch it:var flvhagelcnniran32024017512 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/11/hagelcnniran.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvhagelcnniran32024017512', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvhagelcnniran32024017512.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvhagelcnniran32024017512.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvhagelcnniran32024017512.write('flvhagelcnniran32024017512');
Hagel added, “We can’t dictate. We can’t say we don’t like your government, therefore you’re going to have to change your government because you’re going to have to play by our rules. That’s gotten us into a lot of trouble. … You engage. You find common denominator interests.”
“Rudy Giuliani refused to say if he’d consider pardoning his old friend Bernie Kerik - who was indicted Thursday on federal corruption charges - if elected President.” “It wouldn’t be fair to ask that question at this point,” Giuliani said.
Michael Hirsh writes in Newsweek, “Condoleezza Rice is, by her own admission, not ‘that self-reflective.’ But in an interview in her office on Thursday the secretary of state took a moment to contemplate the improved security situation in Iraq.” “I’m sure there are lots of things we might have done better,” she said.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the “economy was going to get worse before it got better, a message that received a chilly reception from both Wall Street and politicians.” He said the economy was about to “slow noticeably,” adding inflation was likely to “increase overall.”
“House leaders are pressing the Senate Democrats to force Republicans to stage more filibusters” when they use procedural maneuvers to block passage of bills. “That is the only way you can give Americans a clear view of who is obstructing change,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said. (more…)
Amount former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will receive to speak at the University of Florida later this month. It will be Gonzales’s first speaking appearance since his departure from the Bush administration.
Barry Richard, the lawyer who “achieved fame for his successful representation of George Bush in the Bush v. Gore recount suits, is set to give a speech blasting the Bush administration Saturday night” at the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys’ (NAFUSA) annual conference. There will also be a panel discussion featuring two of the ousted U.S. attorneys. The National Law Journal reports:
“I’m sure people will see my name on the program and expect I will be defending the administration,” said Richard, a Tallahassee, Fla., lawyer.
“But I’m a constitutional lawyer. I am concerned with the Bush administration’s assault on American liberties … how the administration deals with habeas corpus and the administration’s posture on electronic surveillance. This administration has gone farther than any other.”
Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service reports that Vice President Cheney has been thwarting the release of a long-overdue National Intelligence Estimate on Iran because it doesn’t deliver the casus belli for war:
A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.
The current dispute over the Iran NIE bears striking resemblance to the controversies that played out over pre-war Iraq intelligence in at least two important ways:
1) Administration Stifling Dissent
NOW: According to IPS, the draft Iran NIE was reportedly completed a year ago, but the White House rejected it because it contained dissenting views. A former intelligence officer said, “They refused to come out with a version that had dissenting views in it.”
THEN: Prior to the Iraq war, the Air Force, Energy Department, and State Department all issued dissenting views on the state of Iraq’s progress towards a nuclear program. Those dissenting views later turned out to be correct, and in the process, greatly undermined the administration’s credibility. The lesson learned by the White House apparently is that this time they need to demolish dissent.
2) Administration Pressuring Analysts
NOW: Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi told IPS that “intelligence analysts have had to review and rewrite their findings three times, because of pressure from the White House.” The draft Iran NIE, for example, did not conclude that there was confirming evidence that Iran was arming the Shiite insurgents in Iraq, according to Giraldi.
THEN: Prior to the Iraq war, Cheney and his chief of staff Scooter Libby visited the CIA headquarters approximately a dozen times to engage the CIA analysts directly on the issue of Iraq’s nuclear development, “creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration’s policy objectives.”
The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh has reported that, despite there being very little evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb, the White House is “stovepiping” intelligence and hiding information from the CIA that makes a case for war.
In February, the intelligence community released a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that reported Iran was not “a major driver of violence” inside Iraq, disputing administration claims to the contrary. Former CIA officer Giraldi says the the White House is looking for “a document that it can use as evidence for its Iran policy.” Fortunately, not all analysts are willing to “fix the facts around the policy.”
On November 3, 2007, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule in Pakistan, citing a need to curb terrorism and restrict activist judges. His decision came a few days before Pakistan’s Supreme Court was set to rule on a series of cases that would have challenged his legitimacy to hold the post of president and chief of military simultaneously.
The Provisional Constitutional Order that followed the emergency declaration put Pakistan’s 1973 constitution into abeyance and suspended all fundamental rights, including: Article 9 (security of person), 10 (safeguard as to arrest and detention), 15 (freedom of movement, etc.), 16 (freedom of assembly), 17 (freedom of association), 19 (freedom of speech, etc.) and 25 (equality of citizens) shall remain suspended.
The suspension of fundamental rights is already producing convictions, as four men accused of treason have been jailed for making anti-government speeches. Pakistan’s private TV stations were all blacked-out and sale of satellite dishes was halted. Hundreds of lawyers and activists around the country were detained or put under house arrest, and the most recent estimate is that around 2,500 people are in jail.
The White House has been playing a quiet double game in its dealings with Musharraf — publicly appearing critical of him while privately lending him support.
On Wednesday, President Bush announced that he finally made a telephone call to Musharraf, reportedly urging him to “return Pakistan to civilian rule“:
President Bush telephoned General Musharraf for the first time since the crisis began and bluntly told him that he had to return Pakistan to civilian rule, hold elections and step down as chief of the military, as he had promised. Mr. Bush called him from the Oval Office at 11:30 a.m. Washington time, and spoke for about 20 minutes, according to the White House.
But reputable Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir reported on Geo TV — Pakistan’s largest private cable news station — that the U.S. gave the green-light for Musharraf to go ahead and call the emergency. According to Mir, the U.S. supported Musharraf because it regarded the ousted “Chief Justice as a nuisance and ‘a Taliban sympathizer.’” That may explain why President Bush’s demands are so light:
Bush administration officials are unanimous in saying that American financial support for Pakistan will continue regardless of whether General Musharraf reverses course.
Moreover, military expert Aysha Siddiqa reports that American diplomats in Pakistan have information suggesting the upcoming elections may be rigged.
The Bush administration has to take a more direct line with Musharraf, ensure honesty and fairness in the elections for all parties, and not merely engage in window dressing.
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ABC News is reporting that a “federal grand jury has voted to indict ex-N.Y. city police commissioner Bernard Kerik on charges stemming from tax evasion and corruption allegations.” Mic Check Radio has a rundown of Kerik’s history:
— Allegedly traded $165,000 worth of renovations on his house from a contractor who wanted a license from the city.
– Quit his post training a new Iraqi police force in 2003 after just four months on the job, telling reporters “he needed a vacation.” [Washington Post]
– Used the apartment donated for weary Ground Zero rescue workers into his own personal love nest to use with his mistress. [NY Times]
– Was named in a civil suit in 1999 as “the architect of a system to force prison guards to work for Republicans in their off-hours.” [Newsweek]
– Had mob ties that include the best man in his wedding, Lawrence Ray, who was indicted in 2000 along with other organized crime figures in a scheme to manipulate the stock market. [Washington Post]
– Is now being sued for stiffing the law firm that kept him out of jail for more than $200,000. [NY Daily News]
Speaking today at the Johns Hopkins Center for Politics and Foreign Relations, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) accused “left-wing blogs” of making up “conspiracy theories” about the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which passed the Senate last month. It designated part of the Iranian army a terrorist organization. Lieberman called opponents of the amendment “politically paranoid” and “hyper-partisan.”
He also claimed that the “amendment contained nothing” that could be seen “as a green light” for war:
These were absurd arguments. The text of our amendment contained nothing–nothing–that could be construed as a green light for an attack on Iran. To claim that it did was an act of delusion or deception.
On the contrary, by calling for tougher sanctions on Iran, the intention of our amendment was to offer an alternative to war.
Lieberman’s argument is the only “deception” going on. It didn’t take “conspiracy theories” to realize that the amendment would move America closer to war with Iran. In the original version of the bill, which was only changed after pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), language was included that explicitly endorsed the use of “military instruments” against Iran:
(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies.
Even after the “military instruments” language was removed from the amendment, the final bill still shifted America into a more war-prone posture. As Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) noted at the time, just labeling Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp as “a foreign terrorist organization” could “mandate” the military option against Iran:
It could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war. What do we do with terrorist organizations? If they are involved against us, we attack them.
Given the language of the bill and Lieberman’s previous calls for “aggressive military action” against Iran, progressive blogs were hardly “delusional” in warning against the dangers of the amendment. But Lieberman would rather lash out at straw men caricatures of “left-wing blogs” and “hyper-partisans” than deal with legitimate criticism.
The U.K. Times reports that military sources in Washington fear that Iran’s nuclear development may precipitate an Israeli attack. “The Pentagon is reluctant to take military action against Iran, but officials say that Israel is a ‘different matter.’ … Concern about Israel’s intentions has been heightened by its recent air strike on a suspected nuclear plant in Syria.” Meanwhile, “U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran’s nuclear aims.”
Yesterday, John Coleman, a founder of The Weather Channel, wrote an article for the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, a right-wing climate change skeptic site, claiming man-made global warming is just a “scam“:
It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create in allusion of rapid global warming.
As proof that the scientific consensus is a hoax, Coleman writes:
I say this knowing you probably won’t believe a me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. … I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct.
The conservative blogosphere is pushing Coleman’s junk science today. Matt Drudge links to Newsbusters’ “marvelous” take on Coleman this morning. Red State, Qando, Sister Toldjah, and the Free Republic also join in by approvingly linking to Coleman’s piece.
The right wing should check Coleman’s credentials before touting his “scientific” work. As Coleman admits, his “expertise” is in weather — not climate change science. In fact, he “has been a TV weatherman since he was a freshman in college in 1953.”
Coleman came up with the “idea” for a 24-hour channel devoted to weather, but he ran the station for only one year. Since then, the Weather Channel has prominently embraced the fight against global warming:
“If The Weather Channel isn’t talking about climate change and global warming, who is?” said Kaye Zusmann, the vice president for program strategy and development for the network. “It’s our mandate.”
The Weather Channel is unlikely to hire its founder today. Heidi Cullen, the channel’s climate change expert, wrote last year that the American Meteorological Society should not give its “seal of approval” to any meteorologist who “can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change.”
Although Coleman still refers to The Weather Channel as his “baby,” he recognizes that he’s no longer welcome there: “The bad guys took it away from me, but they can’t steal the fact that it was my idea and I started it and ran it for the first year.”
UPDATE: Kevin at DeSmogBlog has more.
Spencer Ackerman writes that, during today’s House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on torture, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) offered an “an intellectually stimulating comparison of torture to abortion.” Franks questioned why the committee isn’t concerned about abortion, even though he claims some abortion techniques purportedly torture the woman:
FRANKS: And not once during this term have we even considered the personhood and protection of unborn children. And yet last Congress, we had a bill before the Congress that said that, if torturous techniques were used to abort a child, that the mother would be offered anesthetic for the child. And most of the members of this committee that voted on that voted against it, against allowing anesthetic for procedures that, if done to an animal, would be illegal.
Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a former Navy instructor of prisoner of war and terrorist hostage survival programs, told a House Judiciary subcommittee today. Nance described the experience as a “slow motion suffocation” that provides enough time for the subject to consider what’s happening: “water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel(ing) your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs.” “The victim is drowning,” Nance said. Lt. Col. Stuart Coach was supposed to testify but was prevented from doing so by the Pentagon.
At 5:00 PM (EST) tonight, voting will close in the fifth annual Weblog Awards, “the world’s largest blog competition.” In the competition, participants are allowed to “vote once every 24 hours in each poll.”
Climate Audit is run by Stephen McIntyre, a Canadian and “former mining executive” who has become the darling of climate skeptics by challenging the conclusions of Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann and NASA’s James Hansen.
McIntyre’s criticisms of Mann, which appeared in the non-peer reviewed conservative journal Energy & Environment, have themselves been challenged for “overstat[ing]” their case. Even McIntyre himself has admitted that “the significance of things has been misstated by [Rush] Limbaugh and people like that.”
But the right blogosphere has made Climate Audit’s shot at the Weblog Award a cause celebre and are using postings and “endorsements” to rally their support to push for a skeptic to be named “Best Science Blog”:
Newsbusters: “We encourage voting for Stephen McIntyre’s Climate Audit as Best Science Blog.”
Junk Science: “We’d like to suggest you consider a vote for ClimateAudit.”
Small Dead Animals: “Science blog- Climate Audit of course!!!”
Free Republic: “Please Freep this Poll. Vote for Climate Audit. Fighting Global Warming nonsense.”
UPDATE: Science Progress has more on why the claims of sites like Climate Audit should not “detract from the overwhelming consensus of scientists” that climate change is real and caused by humans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today said that the House will vote as early as Friday on legislation that would spend $50 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but require that President Bush start bringing troops home.” AP reports:
The bill would set the requirement that troop withdrawals begin immediately and that soldiers and Marines spend as much time at home as they do in combat.
The measure also sets a goal that combat end by December 2008. After that, troops left behind should be restricted to a narrow sets of missions, namely counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets. […]
Pelosi said the bill also would require that the government rely on an Army field manual when conducting interrogations. The field manual makes no mention of waterboarding, a harsh technique that simulates drowning and is believed to have been used by the CIA.
“Congress on Thursday overturned President George W. Bush’s veto last week of a popular water projects bill, marking the first time Congress has mustered enough votes to override Bush.” The House of Representatives did the same on Tuesday ensuring the measure’s passage into law.
UPDATE: Veto overrides occur very rarely.
Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee is holding an oversight hearing on the “effectiveness and consequences of ‘enhanced’ interrogation.” The Committee had invited Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, a former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor, to testify about his experiences. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Asked last week to appear before the panel, Col. Couch says he informed his superiors and that none had any objection.” But Counch’s appearance was blocked by Cheney-backed Pentagon counsel William Haynes:
Yesterday, however, [Couch] was advised by email that the Pentagon general counsel, William J. Haynes II, “has determined that as a sitting judge and former prosecutor, it is improper for you to testify about matters still pending in the military court system, and you are not to appear before the Committee to testify tomorrow.“
Haynes has been a forceful advocate and key architect for the administration’s harsh interrogation techniques. Couch’s potential testimony posed a serious danger to Haynes’ work.
As a Gitmo prosecutor, Couch had been assigned to prosecute accused al Qaeda operative Mohamedou Ould Slahi, one of fourteen “high value” prisoners. “Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands,” Couch said of Slahi. Yet Couch determined he could not prosecute Slahi because his incriminating statements “had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.”
In a lengthy Wall Street Journal profile published in March, Couch revealed evidence of torture he witnessed at Guantanamo Bay — images that captured his conscience and forced him to become a critic of the administration’s interrogation system. Couch reported that Slahi “had been beaten and exposed to psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated.” Here’s what happened when Couch announced his decision not to prosecute:
In May 2004, at a meeting with the then-chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bob Swann, Col. Couch dropped his bombshell. He told Col. Swann that in addition to legal reasons, he was “morally opposed” to the interrogation techniques “and for that reason alone refused to participate in [the Slahi] prosecution in any manner.”
Col. Swann was indignant, Col. Couch says, replying: “What makes you think you’re so much better than the rest of us around here?”
Col. Couch says he slammed his hand on Col. Swann’s desk and replied: “That’s not the issue at all, that’s not the point!”
An impassioned debate followed, the prosecutor recalls. Col. Swann said the Torture Convention didn’t apply to military commissions. Col. Couch asked his superior to cite legal precedent that would allow the president to disregard a treaty.
On his first day in Guantanamo, Couch said he saw treatment of a prisoner that “resembled the abuse he had been trained to resist if captured.” Couch’s willingness to tell the truth posed such a threat to the administration that they have prevented him from speaking to Congress. The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said he would consider seeking a subpoena for Couch if the Pentagon maintained its stand.