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Rove Lies Again, Claims Daschle Wanted Pre-Election Iraq War Vote As Much As Bush Did

Sun, 2007-12-02 09:40

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Karl Rove reiterated his false claim that Democrats in Congress — not the Bush administration — forced a war vote prior to the 2002 midterm elections. Despite having being contradicted by former Chief of Staff Andrew Card and former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Rove continued to press his make-believe story about how the Iraq war vote occurred.

On the Charlie Rose Show a little over a week ago, Rove said that “the administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002.” This morning, he changed his tune, saying that it is not true that Bush “was the only person” pushing Congress to vote on the war resolution:

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Now you’ve tried to suggest, and revise history here, clearly things have not gone right in Iraq, and you have tried to revise history and suggest that the Congress got ahead of the President on the Iraq war resolution.

KARL ROVE: No, that’s not what I said. What I said was that the general conventional wisdom was that the President was the only person pushing the Congress to vote on the war resolution before the November election, and that’s simply not true.

Rove then cherry-picked old quotes from former Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) that he claims support his point. Watch it:

None of the quotes that Rove used suggested Daschle was desperately trying to force a war authorization vote. A look back at the events in early Sept. 2002 — just prior to the vote — clearly demonstrates Daschle was interested in delaying the vote:

– “In order to ensure that there isn’t any charge of politicization in such a sensitive international and national matter, I think it is critical that we take great care that timing and all other issues are taken into account,” [Daschle] said. [Roll Call, 9/5/02]

– Majority Leader Tom Daschle, S.D., told reporters Thursday that “we’ve got to be very careful about politicizing a war in Iraq or military efforts.” [Baltimore Sun, 9/10/2002]

– “[Daschle] reiterated his fear that having a vote too close to the Nov. 5 midterm elections could warp the debate. ‘I think that in an election, accusations and doubts are raised about senators’ motives and statements … that could jeopardize a thoughtful and deliberative debate,’ Daschle said.” [CQ, 9/12/02]

Daschle said on September 10, 2002, that he was following the President’s lead regarding congressional action on Iraq:

QUESTION: What will you do if the president insists on a vote on the Iraq resolution before the election?

DASCHLE: Well, I don’t think we have much choice but to respect the decision — the request of any president, including this one. But as I say, I think that’s a deliberative judgment that hopefully will be made in concert and not dictated to the Congress.

Bush was quite clear that he wanted the vote before the election, saying in a September 2002 press conference that “we’ve got to move before the elections.” His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said, “The President does not think that wait until next year is an answer.”

Military overmedicating U.S. troops.

Sat, 2007-12-01 16:12

A June Defense Department Task report found that the military system lacks resources to “adequately support the psychological health of service members.” A new investigation by ABC News finds that many counselors and therapists believe that instead, “too often the U.S. military is trying to medicate the problem away.” “Pretty much every person in my caseload is medicated, heavily medicated,” said Andrew Pogany of Veterans for America. “There’s potential for them to become addicted.”

Bush administration cites ‘secrecy’ in Abramoff lawsuit.

Sat, 2007-12-01 14:54

In a court filing submitted yesterday evening, Bush administration lawyers claimed “that the Secret Service has identified a category of highly sensitive documents that might contain information sought in a lawsuit about Abramoff’s trips to the White House.” The AP reports:

The Justice Department, citing a Cold War-era court ruling, declared that the contents of the ”Sensitive Security Records” cannot be publicly revealed even though they could show whether Abramoff made more visits to the White House than those already acknowledged. […]

”This is an extraordinary development and it raises the specter that there were additional contacts with President Bush or other high White House officials that have yet to be disclosed,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that filed the suit. ”We’ve alleged that the government has committed misconduct in this litigation and frankly this is more fuel for that fire.”

Fleischer Contradicts Rove: We ‘Determined The Timing,’ Karl ‘Just Has His Facts Wrong’ On Iraq

Sat, 2007-12-01 12:06

On the Charlie Rose show a little over a week ago, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove attempted to re-write the history of the Iraq war, claiming that “the administration was opposed” to holding the pre-war Iraq vote just ahead of the 2002 elections. “We didn’t think it belonged within the confines of the election,” Rove told Rose.

As ThinkProgress has documented, key leaders in both the House and the Senate were asking Bush in 2002 to delay the Iraq war vote, but were rebuffed when Bush told then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) that “we just have to do this now.” On MSNBC yesterday, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card disputed Rove’s account, saying “that’s not the way it worked.”

In the Washington Post this morning, Rove’s revisionist history is further discredited by then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who says flatly that Rove is wrong:

Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary at the time, said Daschle had pressed Bush over the summer to bring the matter to Congress but for consultation, not necessarily a vote. Bush decided to seek a vote authorizing force, Fleischer said. “It was definitely the Bush administration that set it in motion and determined the timing, not the Congress,” he said. “I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong.”

Despite the fact that multiple members of the administration have now disputed his account, Rove is still clinging to his false claims. In an interview with the Post yesterday, he said it was “disingenuous” for “Democrats to suggest they didn’t want to vote on it before the election”:

Rove repeated his assertion in an interview yesterday, pointing to comments made by Democrats in 2002 that they wanted a vote. “For Democrats to suggest they didn’t want to vote on it before the election is disingenuous,” he said. The vote schedule, he said, was set by lawmakers. “We don’t control that.”

As the Politico’s John Bresnahan, who covered Congress in 2002, wrote yesterday, “Rove’s assertion that Congress was pushing for a quick vote on the use-of-force resolution is just not credible at all.”

Bush issues first signing statement since ‘06 elections.

Sat, 2007-12-01 10:30

Earlier this month, President Bush issued his first signing statement since his party lost control of Congress in the 2006 election, “reserving the right to bypass 11 provisions in a military appropriations bill under his executive powers.” Throughout his presidency, Bush has “quietly claimed the authority to disobey” hundreds of laws passed by Congress with signing statements, but with his party no longer controlling Congress, the president appears to have struck “a less aggressive tone” in an effort to avoid further controversy:

Analysts said the president’s less aggressive tone may be an effort to avoid reigniting a controversy that erupted last year after it came to light that Bush had used signing statements to challenge more laws than all previous presidents combined - including a torture ban. Congress held hearings about signing statements and the American Bar Association called for an end to them.

“They have clearly edited themselves,” said Christopher Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio who first analyzed the new statement on his blog Thursday. “They’ve taken out all the rhetoric about executive power.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto denied any “public relations” motivation behind the tone change, claiming that shorter signing statements are “just easier.”

FLASHBACK: Huckabee Claimed Jesus ‘On The Cross’ Supported The Death Penalty

Sat, 2007-12-01 09:00

At Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate, a questioner asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee “what would Jesus do” on the death penalty. He replied:

You know, one of the toughest challenges that I ever faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty. I did it more than any other governor ever had to do it in my state. As I look on this stage, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person on this stage that’s ever had to actually do it. […]

Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That’s what Jesus would do.

Huckabee dodged the question that time. But in 1997, Huckabee claimed that Jesus would have agreed with him on supporting the death penalty. Shortly before a triple execution in Arkansas in Jan. 1997, a caller called into Huckabee’s show on Arkansas Educational Television Network and asked how he squared his Christian teachings with his support for the death penalty. As the Arkansas Times reported on Jan. 22, 1997:

“Interestingly enough,” Huckabee allowed, “if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, ‘This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency’.”

Jesus, though, did not ask for clemency. Therefore, according to Huckabee’s logic, Jesus must have been in favor of capital punishment.

Huckabee also believes God supports Republicans. As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, Huckabee interrupted his speech to the Republican Governors Association in 2004 to answer his cell phone. He proceeded to have a three-minute conversation with God about President Bush’s re-election:

We’re behind [Bush], yes, sir, we sure are. Yes, sir, we know you don’t take sides in the election. But, if you did, we kind of think you’d hang in there with us, Lord, we really do.

Matt Taibbi has more on Huckabee’s religious zealotry.


Sat, 2007-12-01 07:36

Number of American flags on the National Mall this weekend, as part of a “3-day salute” honoring the “12,000 members of the United States military who have been discharged under the practice of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” Marking the law’s 14th anniversary, 28 retired generals and admirals yesterday sent a letter urging Congress to repeal the legislation.

Global AIDS Epidemic Hits Home In Washington D.C.

Fri, 2007-11-30 16:37

There are 33.2 million people in the world currently infected with HIV, and 2007 saw 2.5 million new infections. But as Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, notes: “Here in the United States, the attitude of so many within our own community is that there’s not a lot more to be done.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) states, “Recently reported increases in both new HIV infections and new AIDS cases in the United States call out for stronger leadership domestically as well.” Right outside the U.S. Capitol, a “modern epidemic” is raging.

City health officials report that Washington, D.C. has the highest rate of AIDS infection in the country, with HIV continuing to be transmitted at an epidemic pace. Some startling statistics:

– “One in 20 city residents is thought to have HIV and 1 in 50 residents to have AIDS.”

– “At the end of 2006, there were 8,368 reported cases of people living with AIDS in the District, a 43% increase from 2001.”

– “The number of women living with AIDS has increased by more than 76% over the past six years.”

– Black residents, which represent 57 percent of the city’s population of 500,000 or so, “account for 81 percent of new reports of H.I.V. cases and about 86 percent of people with AIDS.”

To mark tomorrow’s World AIDS Day, President Bush delivered a speech highlighting the important role of faith- and community-based organizations in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. His reliance on faith-based organizations in the past, however, has meant that “a full two-thirds of the money for the prevention of the sexual spread of HIV” goes to abstinence-only programs, which have failed to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

GlobalHealthFacts provides a map of the people living with HIV or AIDS across the globe:

Top businesses demand action on global warming.

Fri, 2007-11-30 15:11

“Officials from more than 150 global companies - worth nearly $4 trillion in market capitalization - have signed a petition urging ’strong, early action on climate change’ when political leaders” meet in Bali, Indonesia for talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

UPDATE: AFP reports, “Bush clings to anti-Kyoto stance ahead of climate talks.”

Hostages at Clinton campaign office reportedly free.

Fri, 2007-11-30 13:42

“Several news organizations are reporting that two volunteers who were held hostage are now free.” Though it is “unclear if there were any more inside,” police on the scene told Fox News that “you could deduce that all the hostages are gone.” People are now reportedly negotiating the hostage taker’s surrender.

UPDATE: “Local police are believed to be negotiating with a man described as a well-known local resident with a history of emotional problems who told his son to ‘watch the news today.’”

Rice ‘Planted’ Question With ‘Friendly Journalist’ To ‘Help Erase’ Pre-Iraq War Legacy

Fri, 2007-11-30 13:07

In 2003, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice helped push America into war with Iraq. She disregarded at least two CIA memos and a personal phone call from CIA Director George Tenet stating that the evidence behind Iraq’s uranium acquisition was weak. She infamously said, “[W]e don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

In an interview with C-SPAN’s Washington Journal today, Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler, author of Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, revealed that after President Bush promoted her to Secretary of State, Rice mounted a “public relations” campaign to distance herself from the pre-war fiasco.

As part of this PR campaign, she directed an aide to “plant a question” asking if she would run for President, in order to help “negate American memories of her very direct role” in invading Iraq:

She had a very deliberative public relations strategy when she became Secretary of State to help erase the images of how ineffective she had been as National Security Adviser. And I describe how one of her aides even planted a question with a friendly journalist to ask whether she would be interested in running for president — to give her the aura of someone who might have presidential aspirations, make her seem more powerful than she was.

And that all helped negate American memories over her very direct role in the invasion of Iraq.

Watch it:

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In October, it was revealed that FEMA clumsily staged a “fake” press conference where agency employees posed as journalists. Condi, however, has fake press conferences down to a fine art.

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Hostages held at Clinton’s NH campaign office.

Fri, 2007-11-30 11:52

AP reports:

An armed man took people hostage Friday at a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign office in New Hampshire, police said.

The incident happened at about 1 p.m. Friday at 28 North Main St. in Rochester. Officials said that a man is holding people hostage at the office, but it is unclear how many people are being held.

UPDATE: MSNBC is reporting that the two hostages being held are Clinton campaign volunteers. The hostage-taker, who reportedly is demanding to speak with the senator, has already released a woman and a child.

UPDATE II: Bill Shaheen, a top state campaign official, said that the “man had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to himself.” The AP reports that workers “for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign office in Rochester also were evacuated, a campaign spokesman said. The office is four doors away from Clinton’s. Staffers in John Edwards’ office, a few buildings away, evacuated as well.”

UPDATE III: Clinton, who is in DC, canceled her speech to the DNC after news of the NH situation broke.

UPDATE IV: The Clinton campaign has put out this statement:

There is an ongoing situation in our Rochester, NH office. We are in close contact with state and local authorities and are acting at their direction. We will release additional details as appropriate.

UPDATE V: WMUR in New Hampshire reports that another “one of the hostages, a woman, was released at about 3 p.m.

2007 deadliest year ever for news media.

Fri, 2007-11-30 11:42

With “at least 171 journalists and other news media staff” killed “as a result of their work around the world so far this year,” 2007 has become “the bloodiest year on record for the industry.” “The all-time high of 168 deaths” in 2006 was eclipsed on Tuesday “when at least three editorial staff were killed in Sri Lanka.” With 64 deaths this year, Iraq is by far “the most murderous country” in the world for news media.

(HT: Greenslade)

UPDATE: The United States, Britain, and France today publicly pledged to “take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of journalists in war zones.” AP reports:

The three countries became the first signatories of the Geneva Conventions to accept a new nonbinding accord on protecting correspondents in conflict, said the International Committee of the Red Cross, which oversees compliance with the 1949 treaty on the rules of war. […]

Media rights campaigners cautiously welcomed the pledge, but said its effectiveness would be measured by what the countries did in practice.

Disgraced Kerik vouches for Rudy’s character.

Fri, 2007-11-30 10:59

Earlier this week, Politico reported that as New York City mayor, Giuliani “billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons.” In a New York Times article today, disgraced Bernie Kerik, formerly Giuliani’s police commissioner, defended his friend:

Bernard B. Kerik, who was Mr. Giuliani’s police commissioner when some of the charges were billed, said in an interview yesterday that the security detail’s travel expenses would normally come out of the Police Department’s budget.

“There would be no need for anyone to conceal his detail’s travel expenses,” said Mr. Kerik, who was indicted earlier this month on unrelated federal tax fraud and corruption charges. “And I think It’s ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the mayor or his staff attempted to do so.

Earlier this month, a federal grand jury indicted Kerik on 14 counts, including conspiracy, making false statements, “mail fraud and wire fraud in the theft of honest services,” and more.

Ashcroft On Waterboading: ‘It’s Not Something I Can Make A Decision On’

Fri, 2007-11-30 10:10

Last night, John Ashcroft delivered an address on the Cornell University campus “in the face of shouting dissenters and shrouded protesters.” At his last appearance on a student campus, Ashcroft was asked whether he would be willing to be subjected to waterboarding. “The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do,” he said.

Last night, Cornell University kept the heat on Ashcroft, repeatedly confronting him about his views on waterboarding.

Prior to his speech, Ashcroft answered students’ questions in the lounge of a resident house on campus where a small reception was held for him. One student in the adjoining dining hall (which shares a common window with the lounge) “taped a piece of paper to a window…asking Ashcroft why waterboarding was not considered torture.” The Cornell Sun reports that Ashcroft “merely stared at the piece of paper without comment.”

The Sun adds that it later followed-up on the question with Ashcroft:

In an interview with the Sun conducted just prior to his speech at Statler Hall, Ashcroft did address the question when it was again posed to him.

“The question of whether or not waterboarding is torture is defined by statute. It’s not something I can make a decision on,” Ashcroft answered. “There are laws about what is torture and what isn’t.”

Ashcroft told the Cornell students “I have no regrets” about his tenure as attorney general, adding “and I have done some crazy things.”

Ashcroft’s dodge on waterboarding is much like the answer former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) tried to give during the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday night. Romney claimed he can’t say specifically whether waterboarding is torture or not. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ripped his equivocation:

McCAIN: I am astonished that you would think such a — such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our — who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that’s not torture. It’s in violation of the Geneva Convention. It’s in violation of existing law. And, governor, let me tell you, if we’re going to get the high ground in this world and we’re going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We’re not going to torture people.

We’re not going to do what Pol Pot did. We’re not going to do what’s being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.

After the debate, McCain reminded people that Japanese soldiers were tried and hanged for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding.

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FEMA fake ‘journalists’ get promotion.

Fri, 2007-11-30 09:23

In October, while the California wildfires raged, FEMA staged a notorious “fake” press conference where FEMA employees posed as journalists and lobbed “softball” questions to a FEMA administrator. Today, Al Kamen reports that two of those fake “journalistshave been promoted:

On Oct. 23, the day of FEMA’s now infamous phony news conference, the agency’s former external affairs chief, Pat Philbin, announced plans to promote a number of people in the shop as part of an effort to build a “new FEMA.”

Cindy Taylor, deputy director of public affairs, was to become head of a new Private Sector Office, Philbin said in his e-mail to staff members. And Mike Widomski would move up to replace Taylor as deputy director of public affairs. […]

They’ve received the promotions they were in line to get.

Doolittle aide leaves for prison job.

Fri, 2007-11-30 09:03

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has appointed Gordon Hinkle, a top communications aide to Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) as deputy press secretary for the state prison system. In September, Hinkle received a subpoena “from a Washington grand jury investigating Doolittle for his ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He was asked to turn over documents but was not required to testify.” TPMmuckraker’s Paul Kiel notes:

For those curious at home, if Doolittle, who is under investigation for his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, were in fact convicted of bribery charges, he’d end up in a federal penitentiary, not one in the California state system, so the two aren’t likely to be reunited. Oh, well.

Chris Rock: Bush put out CA fires ‘with Katrina water.’

Fri, 2007-11-30 08:15

At the Apollo in Harlem last night, comedian Chris Rock “compared the way the federal government handled its response to the wild fires in California to the emergency response in Katrina“:

“This is how [Bush] dealt with catastrophe. The fires in LA he was there the next day,” Rock said. “White people burning he was there. Black people drowning he don’t care… He was putting out the fires with Katrina water!”

Watch it:

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ThinkFast: November 30, 2007

Fri, 2007-11-30 07:30

The social networking site Facebook has “modified a controversial service that broadcast details of its users’ online activities outside the site to their friends, following complaints about its privacy implications.” Facebook will now give greater control to users over what information they want advertised. MoveOn, which had mounted an online campaign to pressure Facebook to change its policy, said the policy could be a “huge step in the right direction.”

Marking the 14th anniversary of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” program, “28 retired generals and admirals plan to release a letter” today “urging Congress to repeal the law.” The letter will include “data showing that 65,000 gay men and lesbians” are currently serving in the military.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s (R-AR) moderate position on immigration compared to the stances of his rivals is causing anger in right-wing circles. “He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor,” said Roy Beck, president of the conservative group NumbersUSA.

“Without a serious effort at national conciliation, American troops are just holding down the lid on a pressure cooker. Iraq’s rival militias, the insurgents, the bitter sectarian resentments and the meddling neighbors haven’t gone anywhere,” writes The New York Times in an editorial today.

51 percent: College students who say “where a candidate stands on the environment would be very important to their vote,” according to a survey conducted by American University students. (more…)

Card Rejects Rove’s Claim That Congress Pushed Bush To War: ‘His Mouth Gets Ahead Of His Brain’

Fri, 2007-11-30 06:05

Karl Rove asserted on the Charlie Rose show recently that it was Congress that pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq. “The administration was opposed” to voting for a war resolution in the fall of 2002, Rove claimed. “It seemed it make things move too fast,” he argued.

As ThinkProgress documented, key leaders in both the House and the Senate — including then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) — were asking Bush in 2002 to delay the Iraq war vote. But as Daschle recalled, when he asked Bush to delay the vote, Bush “looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: ‘We just have to do this now.’”

This morning, former White House chief of staff at the time, Andrew Card, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and completely discredited Rove’s argument:

SCARBOROUGH: We have to start with something that we all are talking about a couple of days ago where Karl Rove went on Charlie Rose and he blamed the Democrats for pushing him and the president into war. Is that how it worked?

CARD: No, that’s not the way it worked.

Card went on to explain that sometimes Rove’s “mouth gets ahead of his brain”:

SCARBOROUGH: Is that just Karl spinning beyond the White House? …

CARD: Well, Karl is very smart. He’s — sometimes his brain gets ahead of his mouth. And sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain.

Watch it:

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UPDATE: The Politico’s John Bresnahan adds:

As someone who covered the 2002 vote on Iraq for Roll Call, Rove’s assertion that Congress was pushing for a quick vote on the use-of-force resolution is just not credible at all.

The White House pushed to hold that vote in October, just a month before the mid-term elections, and Democrats were forced to support it or risk losing their re-election campaigns.

It was a bare-knuckled political power play by President Bush and GOP leaders in Congress, and it worked very, very well. Republicans ended up winning back the Senate that fall, and the GOP picked up more House seats.

Transcript: (more…)