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Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

White House mocks Michael Moore.

Sat, 2007-07-28 09:08

On Thursday, Michael Moore announced that the Bush administration had issued him a subpoena for his trip to Cuba to help sick 9/11 rescue workers receive free medical care. Noting that many celebrities visit Cuba with no repercussions, Moore noted, “I didn’t go there like Cameron Diaz to get a tan. … I was there to help them.” In a briefing yesterday, White House spokesman Dana Perino responded to Moore’s tan comment by mocking his appearance: “That’s probably a visual we don’t need.”

Strained relations between Maliki and Petraeus.

Fri, 2007-07-27 19:15

A key aide to to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that “relations with U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington to withdraw the well-regarded U.S. military leader from duty here. The Iraqi foreign minister calls the relationship ‘difficult.’”

Darrell Hammond: My Blitzer impression needs work.

Fri, 2007-07-27 17:00

Saturday Night Live comedian Darrell Hammond said his most popular impersonation thus far has been a rude and randy version of actor Sean Connery. That people enjoy it means, “I’m hitting the mark,” said Hammond. The one with which he is least satisfied: “Wolf Blitzer. It’s not where I want it to be. I find myself falling into Chris Matthews,” Hammond said. Watch one of Hammond’s Blitzer impressions:

Time For President To Come Clean On Tillman Cover-Up

Fri, 2007-07-27 15:00

Our guest blogger is Jon Soltz, chairman of and veteran of the Iraq war.

The worst way you can further exacerbate the pain survivors of a fallen soldier feel, is to keep them wondering why and how their loved one died. Now past three years since former NFL star Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, his mother, Mary Tillman, and her family do not have answers. Unfortunately, documents meant to put the investigation into his death to rest are only bringing up more painful questions, rather than calming them. What’s worse is that the case could start to have serious repercussions with internal confidence in the Armed Forces.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that among the files on the case that the news agency obtained were details of Army medical examiners being unable to convince the military to look into whether Tillman was intentionally killed. According to the documents, the wounds they found were inconsistent with the government’s original official story that Tillman was cut down by Afghan fighters and looked more like he was killed by an American M-16 just a mere 10 yards away.

After an investigation, the government changed the story — that Tillman was a victim of friendly fire, an honest mistake, because he was mistaken for the enemy. The recent revelations now cast this conclusion into serious doubt. You don’t mistake someone from 10 yards away. But, was it murder or negligence? Was this a deliberate homicide?

President Bush is not helping at all. With these new details, and his decision to invoke executive privilege in the Tillman investigation, the President is certainly sending the signal that he has something to hide.

It is inevitable, then, that unless the President comes clean, rumors about Tillman’s death will take hold. By stonewalling, there is no way to stop people from wondering, “Was the man the White House used to promote the war ordered to be killed because he was becoming increasingly critical of the war in Iraq?” It was well known that Tillman was critical of the decision to go to war, and had often read and quoted Noam Chomsky. I don’t personally believe such a conspiracy to be the case, but until the President comes clean, rumors like that will continue to grow. Every officer knows that if a soldier in their command is killed they must write the family and tell them the truth, for exactly that reason. Why can’t the man who sent Pat Tillman to war, and used his death for political gain, have the courage to tell a family what happened to their son? (more…)

Edelman to testify on Pentagon redeployment plans.

Fri, 2007-07-27 14:26

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on contingency plans for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. A source “close to the committee” expects testimony from Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, who recently told Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that “public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda.” Last week, Edelman was a “no-show” for a House Armed Services Commitee hearing because the administration felt he should “lower his profile” for awhile.

Bush insider says administration is out of control.

Fri, 2007-07-27 14:05

A senior administration official tells U.S. News, “‘The real problem for Bush now is that it looks like he doesn’t have control over the government.’ … White House officials say Bush will emerge from the doldrums as he begins to confront the Democrat-controlled Congress with vetoes of spending bills that he considers excessive.”

Chickenhawk Congressman Smears Military Expert

Fri, 2007-07-27 13:20

Center for American Progress military expert Lawrence Korb testified before the House Armed Services Committee this morning, challenging escalation proponents to have the courage of their convictions and call for a draft if they would like the surge to continue indefinitely.

One right-wing Ohio Congressman, Michael Turner, desperately tried to smear Korb during his question and answer period. Turner started off his smear attacks against Korb by questioning his credentials to speak before the panel:

TURNER: I was looking at your bio…that incorrectly I believe referred to you as Doctor Korb. And you do not have a PhD.

KORB: I do.

TURNER: You do have a PhD?

After humiliating himself once, Turner next turned his guns on Korb’s prepared written testimony. “I’ve not seen citations like this before the committee,” Turner said, noting that Korb referenced research sources in his statement. Korb said he provided the citations for the lawmakers as a reference point for more information. He noted that Gen. Jack Keane, a co-panelist, “did not have any footnotes. His were all opinions.”

After falling flat in his numerous stabs at Korb, Turner moved onto the next smear. Taking a comment made by Korb completely out of context, Turner asserted that you’ve told us “you’re not a military expert.” Korb responded:

I’ll put my record in terms of scholarship, in terms of analysis of war in terms of military issues up against anybody.

Watch it:

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After propagating his false smears, Turner refused to allow Korb time to answer and attempted to flee the committee room quickly. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) told Turner to sit down and listen to Korb’s response.

ThinkProgress contacted Turner’s office for comment on the incident. Andy Bloom, communications director for Turner, told us that Turner has never served in the military and has no substantive military experience. Asked if Turner was participating in a coordinated effort to smear Korb, Bloom said, “I can’t be certain.”

Turner is a classic “chickenhawk,” a term used to refer to strident war proponents who have never personally experienced war. Korb, on the other hand, is a Navy captain who served in Vietnam. He has served in the Pentagon, taught at the Naval War College and Coast Guard Academy, and has twice traveled to Iraq. He recently returned from a 10-day visit to Baghdad (see his dispatch here).

If you wish to contact Turner’s office, you can do so here.

UPDATE: Commenter Midwest Product fine-tunes the definition of “chickenhawk”: “A chickenhawk is someone who ascribes the bravery of soldiers in wartime to themselves because they take a pro-war position.”

WH gives talking points to right-wing bloggers.

Fri, 2007-07-27 12:58

Seeking “to promote its message on the subject of executive privilege,” the White House held a conference call with conservative bloggers this morning where they sought to “familiarize the blogosphere with the legal and political arguments on which the administration will rely” to respond to contempt citations from Congress in the U.S. attorneys probe.

Iraqi government ‘in the midst of the worst crisis.’

Fri, 2007-07-27 12:00

“Iraq is in the throes of its worst political crisis since the fall of Saddam Hussein with the new democratic system, based on national consensus among its ethnic and sectarian groups, appearing dangerously close to collapsing, say several politicians and analysts.”

Escalation Architect Says Calling The Army Broken ‘Is One Of The Most Offensive Statements To Make’

Fri, 2007-07-27 11:10

During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee today, the Center for American Progress’ military expert and co-author of Strategic Reset, Lawrence Korb, challenged Congress to address the growing crisis of troop morale and readiness in the U.S. forces as a result of the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq. Korb argued the Army is “broken” and in need of immediate repair:

I say to those people who want to keep up this surge indefinitely, if you have the courage of your convictions, then call for reinstatement of the draft. Because our volunteer Army was not designed, as Gen. Abizaid said, for the long war.

Escalation architect ret. Gen. Jack Keane and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) tag-teamed in an effort to downplay the diminished strength of the military. Keane said calling the Army broken “is one of the most offensive statements we can make.”

Hunter, ignorant of the views of numerous national security experts, said to Korb, “I don’t think that any of those people you’ve quoted — did Gen. McCaffrey ever say, ‘the Army is broken?’” Korb responded, “I will give you the exact quote, ‘The ground combat capability of the U.S. Army forces is shot.’” Watch it:

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Keane and Hunter are not only callously ignorant of the reality of the situation in Iraq and the condition of U.S. forces fighting there, but are also ignorant of the judgments of other military experts:

- Gen. Colin Powell: The “active Army is about broken,” Powell said. Even beyond Iraq, the Army and Marines have to “grow in size, in my military judgment,” he said, adding that Congress must provide significant additional funding to sustain them. [LINK]

- Lt. Gen. James R. “Ron” Helmly: In a “memo to other military leaders [Helmly expressed] “deepening concern” about the continued readiness of his troops, who have been used heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan, and warning that his branch of 200,000 soldiers “is rapidly degenerating into a ‘broken’ force.”" [LINK]

- Former Defense Secretary William Perry: The Bush administration has “failed adequately to assess the size of force and equipment needed in post-invasion Iraq, creating “a real risk of ‘breaking the force’.” [LINK]

- Chief Of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker: “Over the last five years, the sustained strategic demand … is placing a strain on the Army’s all-volunteer force,” Schoomaker told the commission in a Capitol Hill hearing. “At his pace … we will break the active component” unless reserves can be called up more to help, Schoomaker said. [LINK]

JetBlue: Radical left?

Fri, 2007-07-27 10:29

Last week, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly attacked Jetblue for working with “the radical left” by sponsoring the upcoming YearlyKos convention, eventually forcing the company to remove its banner from the convention’s website. Yesterday, Public Citizen’s revealed that JetBlue founder David Neeleman is a bundler for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He also sits on Romney’s Connecticut statewide finance committee.

Baghdad Residents Receiving Just One Hour Of Electricity Per Day

Fri, 2007-07-27 09:30

In Sept. 2003, President Bush promised that he would help Iraqis “restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security.”

Before the war, Baghdad residents received 16-24 average hours of electricity each day. But on July 19, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said that residents of Baghdad are now receiving just one or two hours of electricity each day — the lowest level of the war:

The hard fact is, Senator, the availability of electricity — (off mike) — in Baghdad is still at very low levels — an hour or two a day. It’s better in much of the rest of the country, but — (off mike) — Baghdad in the middle of summer. There are a lot of reasons for it, and the main reasons have to do with continued attacks by insurgents against the electrical transmission lines and against the fuel pipeline that provide the — (inaudible) — that you need to generate electricity. It’s one more in a long series of problems, but it’s a very real problem for many, many Iraqis.

But as the LA Times notes, “that piece of data has not been sent to lawmakers for months because the State Department, which prepares a weekly ’status report’ for Congress on conditions in Iraq, stopped estimating in May how many hours of electricity Baghdad residents typically receive each day.” Instead, the State Department is just reporting electricity levels nationwide, which “does not indicate how much power Iraqis in Baghdad or elsewhere actually receive.”

Crocker’s excuse that it’s “the middle of the summer” is not an explanation for the abysmally low electricity levels. Last year in July — before Bush’s surge — Baghdad received seven hours/day (data compiled by The Brookings Institution):

Earlier this month, Crocker told CBS News that electricity “is more important to the average Iraqi than all 18 benchmarks rolled up into one.”

Editor’s Note: We left June off the chart because no State Department data is available. July is based on Crocker’s remarks.

UPDATE: On June 14, 2006, Bush spoke about ways to measure progress in Iraq, stating, “You can measure progress in megawatts of electricity delivered.”

Digg It!

Giuliani and Romney avoiding YouTube debate.

Fri, 2007-07-27 08:40

“So far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate” in the Sept. 17 CNN/YouTube debate for the Republican presidential field. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, “both with dozens of videos on their YouTube channels,” have indicated they will not attend. Yesterday, Romney confused YouTube with Myspace, saying, “YouTube is a website that allows kids to network with one another and make friends and contact each other.”

Specter breaks Air Force One rules.

Fri, 2007-07-27 08:00

Guests of President Bush aboard Air Force One are not supposed to “mingle” with the press corps or criticize the President and his team. But yesterday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) “violated both points of decorum“:

According to a pool report of the encounter, Mr. Specter expressed anew his criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales but said he saw no signs that Mr. Gonzales would be forced to resign. Mr. Specter attributed Mr. Gonzales’s job security to Mr. Bush’s “personal loyalty” to him.

Mr. Specter spoke derisively of Mr. Gonzales’s appearance Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he faced accusations that he misled Congress last year when he said there had been no disagreement within the administration over the National Security Administration’s domestic surveillance program. […]

Mr. Specter also waded into another uncomfortable subject, the Congressional demands for testimony from Karl Rove, the presidential adviser, and Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, among others.

According to the New York Times, “White House officials seemed none too pleased with Mr. Specter’s remarks.”

Novak’s heaven: A ‘place where there are no blogs.’

Fri, 2007-07-27 07:37

“I’m 76 years old, and pretty soon I’m going to a place where there are no blogs,” said conservative pundit Robert Novak at an American Spectator breakfast on Thursday morning. Speaking of the land beyond, Novak added, “All presidents look better after they’re dead, and George W. Bush can count on that.”

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Bush Administration Subpoenas Michael Moore

Fri, 2007-07-27 06:52

For the filming of his documentary SiCKO, Michael Moore took sick 9/11 workers to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to help them obtain free medical care. “The (rescue workers) just want medical attention!” Moore shouts into a loudspeaker in the movie, in a futile attempt to win over the security guards. “The same kind Al Qaeda is getting!” In May, Moore announced that the Treasury Department launched an investigation into his trip, examining “whether he had violated restrictions on travel to Cuba.”

Last night on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Moore announced that “the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me, going after me for helping these 9/11 rescue workers.” Moore said that the subpoena was unwarranted, since journalists are allowed to travel to Cuba, and “this was a work of journalism.” “I was there to help them and now I’m going to face this further harrassment from the Bush people,” said Moore. “Aren’t they busy with something else?” Watch it:

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In May, Moore received a letter from Dale Thompson in the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, claiming, “OFAC has information indicating that you claimed to qualify under the provision for general license for full-time journalists.”

Moore also announced that on Aug. 11, The Weinstein Company, which distributes SiCKO, will donate 11 percent of the box office receipts to help 9/11 rescue workers who need medical care.

Digg It!

Transcript: (more…)

LaHood: 110th Congress has been successful.

Fri, 2007-07-27 06:31

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), who has a reputation for sometimes “tell[ing] the truth, unvarnished,” offered his assessment of the new Congressional leadership:

They’ve had a pretty strong quarter… They can send their members home crowing about their accomplishments, and they’ve done it in a bipartisan way, which is exactly what they promised to do.

LaHood also announced he will not be seeking re-election.

ThinkFast: July 27, 2007

Fri, 2007-07-27 06:08

Army Secretary Peter Geren is likely to recommend that a retired three-star general and six others Army officers be demoted for their roles in providing misleading information about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The AP reveals new documents suggesting that Tillman may have been murdered.

450: Number of points the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell yesterday, the biggest drop of the year, before it closed down 311 points.

“The Senate approved antiterrorism legislation late Thursday that grew out of the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission after voting overwhelmingly for a measure allocating $40 billion for domestic security in the coming year.”

Steven Spielberg, under pressure from Darfur activists, may quit his post as artistic adviser to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, unless China takes a harder line against Sudan.”

Despite the “high stakes,” the Iraqi parliament is “deliberating at a pace to rival plodding legislative bodies around the world.” At yesterday’s session, half of the parliament members were missing, including “the speaker, the former speaker and two former prime ministers.” The meeting convened for just 30 minutes and was only the 50th time the body had met this year. (more…)

Conyers seeks copies of Mueller’s notes.

Thu, 2007-07-26 18:19

During the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller today, Rep. Arthur Davis (D-AL) asked Mueller whether he retained notes of his March 2004 conversation with Ashcroft in the hospital. Mueller said he did take notes because the events were so “out of the ordinary.” Chairman John Conyers wrote to Mueller after the hearing requesting access to those notes. “I write now to formalize that request, and ask that you provide the Committee with copies of the notes to which you referred in your testimony,” Conyers said. The notes will likely provide further evidence that Alberto Gonzales misled Congress when he said those 2004 discussions were about “other intelligence activities.”

‘The most trusted name in news.’

Thu, 2007-07-26 17:00

Last night on the Letterman Show, host David Letterman noted CNN’s Jack Cafferty voicing his anger on-air recently for having to report on Lindsay Lohan. Watch it:

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