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Rumsfeld book greeted with ‘tepid’ interest.

Fri, 2007-08-17 08:28

A “well-placed industry source” tells the New York Post that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “has received only tepid interest from a handful of publishers.” Rumsfeld is re-tooling the book, and “he now plans to make it a full-blown autobiography rather than simply a treatment of his six years in the cabinet.”

Deck the halls with Ronald Reagan.

Fri, 2007-08-17 08:20

During a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told former first lady Nancy Reagan “that he is working with other senators who want to erect a statue of President Reagan” in the U.S. Capitol. “There could be no more fitting recognition than to welcome his likeness to the halls of Congress,’” McConnell told Mrs. Reagan. Ironically, Reagan never actually served in Congress.

On Iraq Regime Change, 2007 Cheney Contradicts 2000 Cheney While Dismissing 1994 Cheney

Fri, 2007-08-17 07:15

Earlier this week, a video from 1994 of Dick Cheney discussing why the first Bush administration didn’t move “into Baghdad” during the Gulf War surfaced on the internet and spread like wildfire. In the video, Cheney said disposing Saddam Hussein would have created a “quagmire” and suggested it would not be worth the loss of American life to conduct regime change:

How many additional dead Americans was Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many, and I think we got that right.

Watch it:

A local CBS affiliate in San Francisco reached the Office of the Vice President for comment, but his office dodged the substantial contradictions between Cheney’s 1994 position and his position as Vice President:

“He was not Vice President at the time, it was after he was Secretary of Defense,” a spokesperson told CBS 5 San Francisco. “I don’t have any comment.”

But even after Cheney departed as Secretary of Defense, he still held strongly to his views that regime change in Iraq was not a strategically sound risk to take. He was the Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 when he reaffirmed his views that it wasn’t worth going into Iraq.

In 2000, Tim Russert asked Vice Presidential nominee Dick Cheney, “Do you regret not taking Saddam out nine years ago?” Here’s how Cheney responded:

CHENEY: I don’t, Tim. It was–and it’s been talked about since then. But the fact of the matter is, the only way you could have done that would be to go to Baghdad and occupy Iraq. If we’d done that, the U.S. would have been all alone. We would not have had the support of the coalition, especially of the Arab nations that fought alongside us in Kuwait. None of them ever set foot inside Iraq. Conversations I had with leaders in the region afterwards–they all supported the decision that was made not to go to Baghdad.

They were concerned that we not get into a position where we shifted instead of being the leader of an international coalition to roll back Iraqi aggression to one in which we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world taking down governments. So I think we got it right, so suppose it’s one of those things that’ll be debated for some time. But I thought the decision was sound at the time, and I do today. [Meet the Press, 8/27/00]

Desperate to run from his previous statements, Cheney is offering excuses that don’t stack up. Cheney must answer why he told Americans in 2003 that we would be “greeted as liberators” when he had previously expressed concern that we would be perceived as an “imperalist power” that would get stuck in a “quagmire.”

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ThinkFast: August 17, 2007

Fri, 2007-08-17 06:13

Despite claiming he was at Ground Zero “as often, if not more” than 9/11 rescue workers, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral archive reveals that from Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001, “he was there for a total of 29 hours.” In that same period, “many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.”

171,000: The number of U.S. troops that could be in Iraq by this fall — a record high for the war.

The FBI investigation into Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R-AK) home renovation pay-to-play was officially acknowledged yesterday when a National Science Foundation spokesman confirmed newspaper reports “that the FBI was looking into $170 million in contracts” that Stevens steered to an Alaskan oil company.

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to Bush asking that he provide all documents and other information sought by the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in order to conduct oversight of the implementation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The State Department’s “$5 billion construction efforts abroad have come under increasing strain.” In a cable sent this summer, “U.S. diplomats complained of building delays and shoddy workmanship, underscoring problems with State’s one-size-fits-all approach to building.” The IG is now probing the use of sole-source contracts at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. (more…)

Coalition death toll in Iraq hits 4,000.

Thu, 2007-08-16 19:55

The “number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000,” with the majority of the fatalities — 3,702 — suffered by U.S. soldiers. Forty-four U.S. troops have died this month.

Fact-checking the latest global warming denial campaign.

Thu, 2007-08-16 19:15

When NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently announced that it was revising its temperature data, right-wing bloggers leaped at the news to propel its global warming denial campaign. James Hansen — head of the NASA center — sets the record straight. He writes that the “corrected and uncorrected curves are indistinguishable,” adding that the “deceit” propagated by the right “has a clear purpose: to confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change.”

Leading Home Mortgage Loan Company On The Verge Of Bankruptcy Still Running Ads

Thu, 2007-08-16 18:43

Countrywide Financial, the nation’s leading mortgage lender, is suffering a liquidity crunch as a result of doling out risky subprime loans in the past few years. The company announced today that it will borrow $11.5 billion in order to keep making home loans. “The announcement sent its stock tumbling about 11 percent and prompted one credit rating agency to downgrade its rating to near-junk bond status.”

A Countrywide spokesman said, “Management is completely focused on running the business in a changing environment.” Unfortunately, Countrywide isn’t taking the necessary steps to prioritize its spending and maintain its solvency.

This afternoon, CNBC ran a report on Countrywide which stated the company was “suffering a perfect storm of bad news.” Moments after that piece aired, a Countrywide commercial appeared on the CNBC network. “Homeowners, wanna refinance and get cash? Countrywide has a great reason to do it now,” the ad blared. Watch it:

Countrywide made one out of every six home loans in the U.S. in the first half of this year. If the company were to declare bankruptcy, “it would be a huge shock to the U.S. housing system and the mortgage system as perceived around the world.” If Countrywide is serious about surviving the market downturn and ensuring the stability of its loans, it should stop wasting much-needed funds on TV ads.

UPDATE: Media Biz notes that Countrywide is also going on an internet ad spending spree.

Pentagon paid $998,798 to ship two 19-cent washers.

Thu, 2007-08-16 18:26

The Pentagon paid a small South Carolina parts supplier about $20.5 million over six years “for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas. The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq.”

FBI, CIA employees editing Wikipedia entries.

Thu, 2007-08-16 17:13

“People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.” It was not known whether changes were made by an official representative of an agency or company, a CIA spokesman said, but it was certain the change was made by someone with access to the organization’s network.

UPDATE: Steve Benen notes Fox News has been editing Wikipedia entries too. And now that they’ve been caught, Fox News is turning its guns on Wikipedia.

Laura predicted Jenna and fiancé would not be serious.

Thu, 2007-08-16 16:45

The White House announced today that Jenna Bush, one of President Bush’s twin daughters, is engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend, Henry Hager. This must come as a shock to Laura Bush, given that in 2005 she publicly proclaimed that Jenna and Henry were not in a “serious” relationship. Here’s how the Washington Post reported it:

Former White House aide Henry Hager may be flying high, considering he’s dating the president’s daughter, but maybe he shouldn’t get too comfortable with Jenna Bush on his arm. Yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Charlie Gibson broached the topic of the twins’ dating with Laura Bush, noting: “I’ve read in the social pages that one of your daughters has a new boyfriend.”

The first lady, referring to the 26-year-old Hager, who has been seen regularly in Jenna’s company, said: “This is not a serious boyfriend — I hate to have to be the one to say it on television. But he’s a very nice young man.”

UPDATE: Newsbusters hits us for posting on this, and ThinkProgress responds.

Bush’s Veto Threat Rejected By His Own Experts; Cancer Panel Calls For Higher Tobacco Taxes

Thu, 2007-08-16 16:07

When the Congress passed legislation this month raising tobacco taxes to fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), President Bush threatened a veto. Defending the health insurance and tobacco industries, Bush said, “If Congress continues to insist upon expanding healthcare through the SCHIP program — which, by the way, would entail a huge tax increase for the American people — I’ll veto the bill.”

But in a direct rebuke, the President’s Cancer Panel today recommended that Bush no longer “acquiesce to the demands of the industries that encourage” the “disease and death caused by tobacco use.” Specifically, the panel recommended that the federal government raise taxes on tobacco and more heavily regulate the tobacco industry to “weaken” its influence. CQ reports (sub. req’d):

In its report to President Bush, the panel said that “policymakers at all levels of government have an obligation to enact legislation to eliminate disease and death caused by tobacco use and environmental tobacco smoke exposure. The panel recommends foremost that the influence of the tobacco industry — particularly on America’s children — be weakened through strict federal regulation of tobacco product sales and marketing.” […]

The cancer panel pointedly noted that all “the issues discussed in this report have suffered to varying degrees from politicization that continues to derail or limit progress toward a healthier population that is less burdened by cancer. We cannot continue to fund tobacco- and obesity-related research, thinking it will solve the problems caused by cancer risk-promoting behaviors and products, and also acquiesce to the demands of the industries that encourage those behaviors and produce those products.”

According to the American Medical Association, “for each 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, youth smoking is reduced by 7 percent, and overall consumption by 4 percent.” Furthermore, the public overwhelmingly supports raising tobacco taxes, by a margin of 67 percent to 28 percent.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee recently approved a bill “that would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco.” Today, Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-MA) welcomed the panel’s recommendations.

The recommendations eloquently reaffirm what is widely recognized throughout the public health community; that giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products is the most important step Congress can take to reduce smoking and the immense toll of illness and death it causes. It is absolutely essential to reduce smoking, especially among the nation’s youth.

In addition to top medical scientists, the three-member panel includes Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor. Will Bush listen to his own appointed experts?

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Former Ney staffer avoids prison time in Abramoff scandal.

Thu, 2007-08-16 15:44

Convicted ex-congressman Bob Ney’s former chief of staff Will Heaton has been spared prison time in his conspiracy case. He will serve two years of probation and pay a $5,000 fine. Heaton has admitted to “accepting favors and numerous items of value, and attempting to use his official position to help disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a foreign businessman in their business ventures.” Heaton had aided the investigation by wearing a hidden wire during conversations with Ney.

Will the White House allow Petraeus’ open testimony?

Thu, 2007-08-16 15:00

Today, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe dismissed a report by the Washington Post that claimed Bush aides were resisting the open testimony of Gen. David Petraeus. “General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will testify to the Congress in both open as well as closed sessions prior to the September 15th report,” he said. “That has always been our intention.” Apparently, that message hasn’t been communicated to Congress:

[A]ides to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said negotiations between congressional leaders and the administration to open the hearings were still ongoing.

“We are in talks with the administration now,” Levin’s aide said, adding that Levin had been pushing for an open hearing but no agreement had been reached.

An aide to Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana said his committee staff was communicating directly with Petraeus’ staff to discuss how the general’s views would be shared with members of Congress.

Lugar’s staff was not coordinating its efforts with Levin’s office, according to the aide, but neither office was under the impression that the White House had agreed to open testimony before Johndroe spoke.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars notes that Chris Matthews called the “Petraeus report” for what it actually is — the White House report.

Poll: Americans distrustful of ‘Petraeus report.’

Thu, 2007-08-16 14:45

According to a CNN poll released today, 53 percent of Americans said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.

CBS’s Plante: ‘Asking Questions Should Not Be Dependent On What The White House Thinks’

Thu, 2007-08-16 14:01

Reporters were forbidden from asking questions during Karl Rove’s farewell press conference on the White House lawn with President Bush on Monday. But CBS correspondent Bill Plante ignored the embargo, shouting “If he’s so smart, how come you lost Congress?

For having the gall to disrupt the White House’s scripted moment, Plante’s off-the-cuff query became a lightning rod for right-wing criticism and abuse.

Newsbusters called it “disgraceful. Powerline called his “conduct…almost unbelievable.” According to Plante, there was much more venom personally directed at him:

Judging by some of the reaction, you’d think I had been shouting obscenities in church!

“Unprofessional;” “Inappropriate;” “Unbecoming;” “Doesn’t show much class;” “you are a total idiot;” “Shill for the liberal Democrats.

Plante commented on his now-famous question in an interview with CBS’ Public Eye today. Plante said that “asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be”:

Anytime you challenge or appear to challenge the president — and I don’t care if the president is a Republican or a Democrat — there are people who will take issue with it and tell you it’s inappropriate. And you kind of expect that. I knew that was I did on Monday was smart-assed, but I think that that’s beside the point.

Our asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be. And the fact that they say ‘no questions’ or don’t allow time for questions really has nothing to do with it. They don’t have to answer, but I think we need to preserve and aggressively push our right to ask.

Plante is right. The problem with the traditional media today isn’t that reporters have neglected to show proper decency towards the White House, but rather that they’ve shown much too much deference.

Leahy asks DOJ Inspector General to probe Gonzales.

Thu, 2007-08-16 13:06

This morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) “asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) to investigate potentially false or misleading testimony given by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during his appearances before various congressional committees.” Leahy highlights several contradictory statements made by the Attorney General on the NSA’s spy program, the use of National Security Letters, and his role in the U.S. attorney purge:

Consistent with your jurisdiction, please do not limit your inquiry to whether or not the Attorney General has committed any criminal violations. Rather, I ask that you look into whether the Attorney General, in the course of his testimony, engaged in any misconduct, engaged in conduct inappropriate for a cabinet officer and the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, or violated any duty — including the duty set out in federal regulations for government officials to avoid any conduct which gives the appearance of a violation of law or of ethical standard, regardless of whether there is an actual violation of law.

Read the full release.

‘The most trusted name in news.’

Thu, 2007-08-16 12:40

In a battle of breaking stories, CNN chooses Jenna Bush’s engagement to a Karl Rove intern over the Jose Padilla conviction.

Former enemy combatant Jose Padilla found guilty.

Thu, 2007-08-16 12:16

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who had been arrested in 2002 as an enemy combatant, has been found guilty in a Miami court on all charges of supporting terrorism. The Washington Post wrote that the administration’s detention of him had been “bruising to liberty.” The Bush administration had claimed that Padilla, who was held in a military brig for more than 3 years, could be detained indefinitely and without access to a lawyer. Ultimately, the federal courts forced the administration to provide Padilla access to the courts. The verdict today affirms the merits of a judicial system that provides both due process and due punishment. Padilla’s attorneys are expected to appeal.

Mueller’s Notes Detail White House’s Craven Attempts To Take Advantage Of Sick Ashcroft

Thu, 2007-08-16 11:23

In a July hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed that he took notes of the infamous White House visit to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital room because the events were so “out of the ordinary.”

Chairman John Conyers wrote to Mueller after the hearing to request access to his notes. Today, Conyers’ office put out a statement explaining that the Judiciary Committee has taken a look at Mueller’s notes, which were “heavily-redacted.” Yet, even from the amount the Committee was able to read, Conyers reported that it is clear there was a craven effort to take advantage of “a sick and heavily-medicated Ashcroft“:

Director Mueller’s notes and recollections concerning the White House visit to the Attorney General’s hospital bed confirm an attempt to goad a sick and heavily medicated Ashcroft to approve the warrantless surveillance program,” said Conyers. “Particularly disconcerting is the new revelation that the White House sought Mr. Ashcroft’s authorization for the surveillance program, yet refused to let him seek the advice he needed on the program.

“Unfortunately, this heavily redacted document raises far more questions than it answers. We intend to fully investigate this incident and the underlying subject matter that evoked such widespread distress within the Department and the FBI. We will be seeking an unredacted copy of Director Mueller’s notes covering meetings before and after the hospital visit and expect to receive information from several of the individuals mentioned in the document.”

Former Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales rushed to Ashcroft’s bedside to get his sign-off for the administration’s NSA warrantless surveillance program because then-Acting Attorney General James Comey refused to authorize it.

Mueller’s notes indicate Ashcroft was “feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.” Moreover, Mueller’s notes indicate Ashcroft “was in no condition” to see visitors, much less decide whether to authorize the program. Nevertheless, Ashcroft articulated the fact that he did not have the proper legal guidance he needed to make a determination on the program. See Mueller’s redacted notes here. See a key snippet below, courtesy of The Gavel:

Tony Snow Signals His Resignation, Plus ‘A Couple’ More ‘Coming Up In The Next Month’

Thu, 2007-08-16 10:12

After the recent resignation of Karl Rove, media outlets speculated on what the rest of President Bush’s term will look like without “the Architect.” The President is “fighting lame duck status,” reported the AP. In response, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow shot back: “As the president has said many times, he’s going to sprint to the tape.”

But even Tony Snow doesn’t want to be around for that sprint. In an interview with the conservative Hugh Hewitt show, Snow signaled that he will not stay until the end of the term. He also mentioned that there are “probably a couple” of other high-level resignations “coming up in the next month or so.”

HEWITT: Are there any other resignations upcoming, Tony Snow?

SNOW: I think that probably…as Josh said the other day, he thinks there are probably a couple coming up in the next month or so. […]

HEWITT: Your intention to go the distance, Tony Snow?

SNOW: No, I’m not going to be…I’ve already made it clear I’m not going to be able to go the distance, but that’s primarily for financial reasons. I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.

Snow’s upcoming departure makes him one of a bevy of top administration officials who, since November, have left their posts. ThinkProgress has compiled a list of some of the key resignations:

- White House Senior Political Adviser Karl Rove
- White House Counselor Dan Bartlett
- White House Budget Director Rob Portman
- White House Counsel Harriet Miers
- White House Political Director Sara Taylor
- White House Director of Strategic Initiatives Pete Wehner
- White House Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch
- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty
- Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer
- Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
- Army Secretary Francis Harvey
- Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Peter Pace
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson
- U.N. Ambassador John Bolton
- USAID Director Randall Tobias

With so many key staff departures, the AP reports that “Bush has decided he might get more done in his final months by going it alone,” making increased use of executive orders and veto power.

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UPDATE: Former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta writes on this subject. From this morning’s Washington Post: “Did the edict from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten that anyone still working by Labor Day was expected to stay until the end really influence Rove’s decision to leave? That’s an edict I did not and would not issue, because I assumed that the people who gave 110 percent every day wanted to be there to make a difference, not because of obligation.”