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U.S. Attorney Paulose Dresses Down Employee Using Terms ‘Fat,’ ‘Black,’ ‘Lazy,’ And ‘Ass’

Tue, 2007-09-18 07:24

Eric Black at the Minnesota Monitor writes that the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Rachel Paulose, is under investigation. The federal Office of Special Counsel is looking into allegations that she “mishandled classified information, decided to fire the subordinate who called it to her attention, retaliated against others in the office who crossed her, and made racist remarks about one employee.”

Highlights of the charges:

– Paulose mishandled classified information. Black writes that Paulose regularly received “status updates on the war on terror” from intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The “secret” reports were supposed to be locked up, but Paulose “regularly left the reports loose in her office, sometimes unattended.”

– Paulose threatened to fire an employee who raised concerns about the material. Then-First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti spoke to Paulose about safeguarding the classified materials and “as required by regulations, filed a report with the national office that oversees U.S. attorneys.” Paulose began “threatening” to fire Marti and “bad-mouthing” him to other colleagues. He eventually resigned.

– Paulose repeatedly retaliated against employees suspected of “disloyalty.” Paulose “allegedly said that she would make the woman so miserable that she would want to quit. In some instances, Paulose allegedly ordered those in charge of performing job evaluations to downgrade the reviews of those she considered disloyal.”

– Paulose called employees racial epithets. “Paulose allegedly denigrated one employee of the office, using the terms ‘fat,’ ‘black,’ ‘lazy’ and ‘ass.’”

In April, four top staffers to Paulose voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of her “highly dictatorial style” of managing. She also “earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.”

A look at Paulose’s background indicates that she was handpicked by the Justice Department because of her personal connections, rather than her professional qualifications. She was a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and was best buds with Monica Goodling, who infamously admitted to considering “party affiliation in screening applicants to become immigration judges.”

Paulose also created controversy when her lavish swearing-in ceremony in March included a professional photographer, a color guard, and a choir.

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Leahy: No hearings until White House hands over records.

Tue, 2007-09-18 07:10

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is demanding the White House turn over information necessary to complete a number of Judiciary Committee investigations into Alberto Gonzales’ tenure at the DoJ. “All I want is the material we need to ask some questions about the former attorney general’s conduct, on torture and warrantless wiretapping, so we can legitimately ask, ‘Here’s what was done in the past, what will you do?”‘ Leahy said. The White House appears unwilling to compromise:

“No” was the answer one senior adviser gave when asked whether the White House is willing to tie the nomination to the production of such documents.

Poll: Americans unhappy with Bush policy after Iraq speech.

Tue, 2007-09-18 06:44

In a new CBS poll released yesterday, most Americans “say the plan President Bush announced last week for troop reductions doesn’t go far enough. … Nearly half want Mr. Bush to remove even more troops by next summer than he proposed in his address. Forty-seven percent say the plan to bring troop numbers down to pre-surge levels next year should go even further.”

Additionally, just 31 percent say escalation “has made things in Iraq better, while more than half (51 percent) say it’s had no impact. Eleven percent say it’s made things worse.”

ThinkFast: September 18, 2007

Tue, 2007-09-18 06:06

The White House has “told nearly a dozen Cabinet secretaries to send letters to Capitol Hill” rejecting Congress’s proposed new funds for their agencies. The “carefully scripted letters” warn lawmakers that their moves would harm “agency operations” and the “integrity of the budget process.” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) responded that he was “disappointed” in their “rhetoric.”

A week after he told U.S. lawmakers about “progress” in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus will be in Britain today, briefing Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), who previously “has not supported Congress using its ability to stop war payments in order to force President Bush to change direction,” said yesterday that Congress should look at cutting off funds. “If it could be done then I think we ought to take a look at it,” Salazar said.

Thirteen senior House members “have been served with subpoenas from defense attorneys representing Brent Wilkes, the former defense contractor charged with bribing imprisoned ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.). None of the lawmakers will comply with the subpoena.”

The Senate will vote today on a bill to provide the District of Columbia with voting rights. The legislation, which has passed the House, would give D.C. a full voting member of the U.S. House while also providing Utah an additional seat. (more…)

WH’s ‘furious attempt’ to sell Mukasey to conservatives.

Mon, 2007-09-17 19:54

The New York Times reports that over the weekend, the top aides to President Bush “made a furious attempt” to sell Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey to the right wing, “inviting at least six leading conservative thinkers to the White House for meetings with Mr. Mukasey. Participants said a range of issues were discussed, from Mr. Mukasey’s views on national security matters to his Republican pedigree.” Nevertheless, as ThinkProgress reported earlier, many on the right wing are “deflated” by Bush’s choice.

Sen. Reed’s Democratic Response Beats Bush Speech In Cable Ratings On Fox And CNN

Mon, 2007-09-17 17:02

In what was billed as a major televised address on Iraq, President Bush last week “recycled tired rhetoric” and “mumbo jumbo” about staying the course. Sen. Jack Reed delivered a direct response, pledging the Democratic leadership would “exercise our Constitutional duties and profoundly change our military involvement in Iraq.”

In case any more evidence was needed that the American public has tuned Bush out and is anxious to hear ideas for a responsible exit strategy from Iraq, we received it today. On both Fox and CNN, more viewers watched the Democratic response than they did the Bush speech. And on MSNBC, only a narrow sliver separate the viewership of the two speeches. Courtesy of TVNewser:

Network Time Program Viewers FOX 9:00 Bush  745,000 FOX 9:19 Dem. Response 813,000
  MSNBC 9:01 Bush 455,000 MSNBC 9:20 Dem. Response 446,000 CNN 9:00 Bush 454,000 CNN 9:20 Dem. Response 507,000

In January, in the lead-up to Bush’s speech announcing the escalation, Tony Snow claimed, “My sense is that the American people want to hear what the President has to say.” Bush decided not to listen to the public, so the public has increasingly decided not to listen to Bush.

Matthews laughs up prospect of bombing Iran with McCain.

Mon, 2007-09-17 16:30

In April, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked his policy on Iran, and he began by singing “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann. Today on Hardball, host Chris Matthews jokingly asked McCain: “Are you still for the Beach Boys lyric on that one?” McCain responded, “You don’t want me to sing it again do you?” To which Matthews answered, “No I don’t want you to sing it. … I think though the lyrics were somewhat scary. You don’t really wanna bomb Iran do you?” McCain demurred on answering the question, but instead claimed, “You gotta have some humor.” Rather than pressing McCain, Matthews said:

I agree, I appreciate that. You’re a great guy. … We love you here at Hardball. We consider you one of our own even though that hurts you on the right.

Watch it:

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Dodd, Leahy reintroduce Habeas Corpus Restoration Act.

Mon, 2007-09-17 15:35

In an e-mail to supporters, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that they were reintroducing the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act as an amendment to a defense authorization bill today. Last fall’s Military Commissions Act stripped detainees charged as enemy combatants of their right of habeas corpus. Watch Dodd introduce the bill on the Senate floor today:

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Learn more about restoring habeas here.

Three more lawmakers take food stamp challenge.

Mon, 2007-09-17 15:06

Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Keith Ellison (D-MN) have agreed to take the food stamp challenge. They will “limit their spending to $1 per meal for a week” in an effort to “highlight inadequacies with the current food stamp program.” This past summer, four lawmakers first took the food stamp challenge. Read more about their experiences here.

Fallon denies conflict with Petraeus.

Mon, 2007-09-17 14:17

Military Times writes that CentCom Commander Adm. William Fallon is calling reports of a sour relationship with Gen. Petraeus “just absurd”:

“I agree with what’s going on,” said Fallon, who spoke with the Military Times newspapers Sept. 14 just prior to a flight to the Middle East. “The thing that’s important right now is that we’re on the right glide slope.” […]

Fallon was clearly irked by the stories about his supposed disagreements with Petraeus over the pace of that withdrawal and all-around disdain for the Army general published in outlets ranging from The Washington Post to various blogs.

Fallon did acknowledge, however, an internal military debate on Iraq. “Everybody’s going to have a difference of opinion,” Fallon said. “We are where we want to be right now. How we got there is our business.”

Rove investigation in jeopardy due to funding.

Mon, 2007-09-17 13:30

In April, the Office of Special Counsel launched a six-member task force examining “the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities.” The task force is in now jeopardy. “Without a last-minute infusion of nearly $3 million, the special task force may be unable to pay its staff and buy the kind of technical equipment it needs” for the investigation, according to Jim Mitchell, the office’s spokesman. But the funds may be hard to come by:

The cost of the task force for 2008 would be $2.89 million, according to OSC estimates. But Bloch started the probe long after he submitted his 2008 budget request. And now he’s having a hard time convincing those holding the nation’s purse strings to loosen up and give him some last-minute extra funding.

Sally Field uncensored.

Mon, 2007-09-17 13:01

Although Fox censored actress Sally Field from finishing her anti-war sentence — “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no god-damned wars in the first place” — at the Emmy Awards last night, Canadian television allowed her remarks to air. Watch them HERE.

Cheney On Secrecy: ‘If You Don’t Want Your Memos To Get You In Trouble, Don’t Write Any’

Mon, 2007-09-17 12:14

On Friday, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke in Grand Rapids, MI to pay tribute to his former boss, President Gerald Ford, telling the audience that he learned “early on” how to evade oversight:

This Museum, and the Ford Library in Ann Arbor, mean a great deal to me — not just personally but from the standpoint of history, because I was chief of staff in the Ford White House.

I’m told researchers like to come and dig through my files, to see if anything interesting turns up. I want to wish them luck — (laughter) — but the files are pretty thin. I learned early on that if you don’t want your memos to get you in trouble some day, just don’t write any.

Watch it:

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Cheney was referring to attempts to gather information using the Presidential Records Act (PRA), passed in 1978 after Watergate “to underscore the fact that presidential records belong to the American people, not to the president.” His admission on Friday reflects the great lengths he has gone to under President Bush to avoid record-keeping and deflect oversight:

Cheney lawyer told Secret Service not to keep visitor logs: A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September 2006 “to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence.”

Exempted himself from executive order protecting classified information: Since 2003, Cheney’s office has failed to provide data on its classification and declassification activities as required by Executive Order 12958, which President Bush has endorsed. “Cheney’s office provided the information in 2001 and 2002, then stopped.”

Attempted to dodge Information Security Oversight Office: In 2004, Cheney’s office specifically intervened to block an on-site inspection by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which is a requirement of an executive order from the President.

Sidestepped travel disclosure rules. Cheney and “his staff have been unilaterally exempting themselves from long-standing travel disclosure rules followed by the rest of the executive branch, including the Office of the President,” reported the Center for Public Integrity in 2005.

Ditching the rule of law is no joking matter, despite what Cheney would like to think.

Second warmest August ever.

Mon, 2007-09-17 12:10

The National Climatic Data Center, a division of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, reports that last month was the second warmest August on record. Moreover, at the end of August, drought affected approximately 83% of the Southeast and 46% of the contiguous US. Climate Progress breaks down the key facts.

Chemerinsky re-hired by UC-Irvine.

Mon, 2007-09-17 11:52

Last week, controversy erupted when the University of California at Irvine fired the inaugural Dean of its new law school, constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, because his “political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives.” This morning, Chemerinsky and UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake announced that they had reached an agreement enabling Chemerinsky to return to his previous position.

McCain Falsely Claims Jones Report Doesn’t Say Political Reconciliation Is ‘Key’ To Progress In Iraq

Mon, 2007-09-17 11:01

Yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about Maj. Gen. James Jones’s report to Congress, which concluded that the U.S. presence in Iraq currently is conveying the impression of being an “occupying force.” It also questioned the administration’s approach of trying to achieve security before political progress:

RUSSERT: [Gen. Jones] said the current administration’s thinking is that you cannot have political reconciliation without first having security. He says it’s the opposite, that you cannot have security…

McCAIN: He doesn’t say it’s the opposite.

RUSSERT: …unless you have political reconciliation.

McCAIN: Tim, I’ve known Jim Jones for 30 years. It’s not what he’s saying. What he’s saying is we have to have now political progress; and he, like all of us, are very frustrated by the lack of political progress, that the Maliki government has not done the things we want them to do.

Watch it:

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McCain may have a long relationship with Jones, but apparently he didn’t bother to read Jones’s report, which found:

Political reconciliation is the key to ending sectarian violence in Iraq. … [T]he single most important event that could immediately and favorably affect Iraq’s direction and security is political reconciliation focused on ending sectarian violence and hatred. Sustained progress within the Iraqi Security Forces depends on such a political agreement.

Additionally, on last week’s edition of Meet the Press, Jones stated that while “both” security and political gains are important, “reconciliation” is “more critical” and “absolutely the key to measurable and rapid progress.”

The White House and its right-wing allies have recently attempted to dismiss attempts to evaluate progress based on political benchmarks. Last week, outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow claimed that they were “something that Congress wanted to use as a metric.” Actually, as The New York Times noted, it was “the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades.”

Transcript: (more…)

Viguerie angered over Mukasey nomination.

Mon, 2007-09-17 10:49

Richard Viguerie, a right-wing political operative, expresses his great disappointment with Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to head the DoJ. “The fact that President Bush caved in shows even more political weakness considering his willingness to claim and flaunt executive powers of questionable constitutional authority in other circumstances,” he writes. “This nomination is an invitation to liberal Democrats to run rough-shod over the remainder of Bush’s politically weakened presidency. Bush is now the lamest of lame ducks.”

UPDATE: More anger, this time from Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel:

Whenever Senator Schumer from New York not only recommends this individual as an attorney general, but also, a few years ago, put forth his name as a possible person to go on the United States Supreme Court, that ought to automatically give everyone pause.

Right Wing ‘Deflated,’ Concerned Over Bush’s Attorney General Nominee

Mon, 2007-09-17 09:45

Earlier today, President Bush officially nominated retired federal judge Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as the nation’s Attorney General. Fearing an outcry on the right, the Bush administration first leaked word of Mukasey’s nomination to necon ally Bill Kristol, who cautioned conservatives to “hold their fire” and “support the president.”

Though most are “holding their fire,” some prominent voices in the conservative movement are vocally expressing skepticism about Bush’s choice:

- “Michael B. Mukasey: The Second Coming of Harriet Miers?,” said a headline on the Jawa Report today.

- “It also isn’t obvious that he has the management or political skills to run an institution as big and unwieldy as DoJ - the same shortcoming that arguably led to Judge Gonzales’ difficulties,” a conservative lawyer told the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

- Kathy at HangRightPolitics wrote “I feel somewhat deflated over the choice. Why is it that every time I see the word consensus used by a liberal I read ’surrender?’”

- “I am not prepared to delude myself into believing that Mukasey was the best choice,” wrote the Corner’s Mark Levin today.

- A right-wing Catholic group, Fidelis, “voiced serious concerns” about Mukasey, citing his “1994 denial of asylum for a Chinese man who said his wife had been forced to have an abortion under that country’s one-child law, which they say indicates he’s weak on pro-life issues.”

- The AP reports that “some legal conservatives and Republicans have expressed reservations about Mukasey’s legal record and past endorsements and said some groups have been drafting a strategy to oppose him.”

The extreme right appears concerned that Mukasey may not be as willing to tow the Bush administration line as Alberto Gonzales or perhaps Ted Olson. Given the the urgent need to repair a disheveled Department of Justice in the wake of Gonzales’ departure, Mukasey is a sound pick that should engender bipartisan support.

Progressives, however, should press hard to demand that Mukasey practice true independence at the Justice Department. During his confirmation hearing, his opinions on torture, wiretapping, and the role of politics at the DoJ should all be put under serious scrutiny. A central question must be would he have said “NO” where Alberto Gonzales said yes?

Vicente Fox: Bush is the ‘cockiest guy I have ever met.’

Mon, 2007-09-17 09:21

In his new book out Oct. 4, former Mexican President Vicente Fox calls President Bush “the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life.” He also rates Bush’s Spanish skills as “grade-school” level and writes, “I can’t honestly say that I had ever seen George W. Bush getting to the White House.”

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El Baradei Fights Off Drumbeat For Iran War, Warns Pre-War Iraq Failures Are Being Repeated

Mon, 2007-09-17 08:39

By all accounts, there is an increasing clamor in recent weeks from the right-wing for military action against Iran. U.S. News writes that calls for “stronger actions are intensifying, including among some U.S. officials.” Last week, Fox News reported that German officials were giving up on new sanctions against Iran, helping push the U.S. closer to a decision on a military strike.

Even French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner is now warning the world to prepare for a war against Iran, arguing that an atomic weapon in that country’s hands would represent “a real danger for the whole world.” The leading voice of restraint thus far has been Mohamed El Baradei, the head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Today, Baradei chastised Kouchner, saying “I would not talk about any use of force” except as a last resort. Recall, Baradei was one of the largely-ignored voices in the lead-up to the Iraq war. He warned there was “no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.” He was later smeared by the administration, but ultimately vindicated as the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for getting it right.

Now, Baradei is sounding the alarms about an impending Iran war based on false intelligence. Here are some statements he has made in recent days that have been largely ignored in the U.S. media:

“I have made it very clear that I don’t see today a clear and present danger in regard to the Iran nuclear programme. [Link]”

“We haven’t received any smoking gun,” ElBaradei said. … ElBaradei said the talk of bombing made him “shudder” because the rhetoric was reminiscent of the period before the Iraq war. [Link]

“Based on the evidence we have, we do not see … a clear and present danger that requires that you go beyond diplomacy.” … [H]e called for an end to the pounding of the “war drums from those who are basically saying ‘the solution is bomb Iran.’” [Link]

To compound matters for Baradei, he is again having to fight off false intelligence reports. The BBC reports that the IAEA is calling a congressional report on Iran’s nuclear activity “erroneous” and “misleading” for asserting Iran was further ahead in its development that it really is. “There are rules on how to use force, and I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 70,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons,” he said.

If Baradei is able to stave off U.S. attempts to make the sale for war against Iran on nuclear grounds, the administration appears ready to claim that Iran’s cross-border activity in Iraq may justify military action. The Guardian reports, “The growing US focus on confronting Iran in a proxy war inside Iraq risks triggering a direct conflict in the next few months.”

UPDATE: On Friday, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent a letter to President Bush on Iran telling him that the 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force does not cover any military actions against Iran. Dodd called on Bush to appoint a special envoy to Iran to invigorate US diplomacy.