Syndicate content
Updated: 1 hour 35 min ago

Breaking: Judge dismisses Plame’s civil suit.

Thu, 2007-07-19 12:00

The AP reports:

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal.

Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband’s criticism of the administration.

Read more on the leak scandal here.

UPDATE: Full opinion is HERE.

UPDATE II: Flashback — Judge John D. Bates, the judge who dismissed today’s suit, also dismissed the lawsuit over Dick Cheney’s energy task force records:

Judge John D. Bates of Federal District Court found that Comptroller General David M. Walker, the head of the General Accounting Office, did not have sufficient standing to sue the vice president.

Mr. Walker had asked the judge to order the White House to reveal the identities of industry executives who helped the administration develop its energy policy last year.

In declining to do so, and in dismissing Mr. Walker’s suit, Judge Bates said that granting the G.A.O. chief’s request “would fly in the face of the restricted role of the federal courts under the Constitution.”

UPDATE III: In a statement, Melanie Sloan, legal counsel for the Wilsons, promised to appeal the dismissal:

“While we are obviously very disappointed by today’s decision, we have always expected that this case would ultimately be decided by a higher court. We disagree with the court’s holding and intend to pursue this case vigorously to protect all Americans from vindictive government officials who abuse their power for their own political ends.”

Digg It!

Pentagon: ‘Public Discussion’ Of Iraq Withdrawal ‘Reinforces Enemy Propaganda’

Thu, 2007-07-19 11:14

On May 23, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging him to “prepare plans for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces.”

Given the express will of the Congress to implement a phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq and the importance of proper contingency planning to achieve that goal, I write to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress - including the Senate Armed Services Committee - with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, please provide an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.

Clinton said she conveyed similar concerns in a private meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace, and has publicly warned the administration that redeployment is “complicated” and “If they’re not planning for it, it will be difficult to execute it in a safe and efficacious way.”

On Monday, Clinton received a “biting reply” from Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, who told Clinton that “public discussion” of withdrawal is inappropriate:

Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. … [S]uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.

Edelman is directly contradicted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who testified that debate over Iraq redeployment has been “helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government.” Additionally, these “very same Iraqi allies” aren’t unnerved by talk of redeployment, but overwhelmingly favor it — 71 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. troops to withdraw within a year.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress has obtained Edelman’s letter HERE.

Digg It!

Right-Wing ‘Path to 9/11′ receives 6 7 Emmy nominations.

Thu, 2007-07-19 10:40

ABC’s miniseries The Path to 9/11 has now been nominated for six seven Emmy awards. This “docudrama” was rife with historical inaccuracies that blamed President Clinton for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while heaping praise on President Bush. It was written by avowed conservative Cyrus Nowrasteh, who once spoke on a panel entitled: “Rebels With A Cause: How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood’s Next Paradigm Shift.”

Murdoch Was ‘The 24th Member Of The Blair Cabinet’

Thu, 2007-07-19 09:51

New documents show that media magnate Rupert Murdoch had a direct line to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. The British government, which had blocked the release of the documents for years, “backed down in a surprise change of heart the day after Mr Blair resigned last month.” The Independent reports:

Yesterday the Cabinet Office said there were six telephone discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch in 20 months, all at crucial moments of his premiership. The subject of their calls was not revealed.

In 2003, Mr Blair phoned the owner of The Times and The Sun on 11 and 13 March, and on 19 March, the day before Britain and the United States invaded Iraq. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch-owned newspapers around the world. The day after two of the calls, The Sun launched vitriolic attacks on the French President Jacques Chirac. The Government quoted him as saying he would “never” support military action against Saddam Hussein, a claim hotly disputed by France.

The diaries of Blair’s communications chief Alastair Campbell, reveal that Blair was afraid that the press would find out about Murdoch’s influence on him: “[Blair] said he didn’t fear [the press] coming at him about me, but about the relationship with Murdoch. … It was faintly obscene that we even had to worry what [he] thought.” Campbell’s deputy, Lance Price, called Murdoch “the 24th member of the [Blair] Cabinet.”

These revelations are especially troubling coupled with the news that Murdoch, who currently ranks first in the UK press and publishing world, may acquire the Wall Street Journal. He has consistently slanted coverage in his publications to benefit his political and business interests. For example, in 1997, he endorsed Tony Blair as prime minister and “gave him favorable coverage.” As the New York Times reported, this move ensured “that the new government would allow him to keep intact his British holdings.”

Murdoch infamously owns Fox News, but he also controls other right-wing publications such as the Weekly Standard and the New York Post. Wall Street Journal reporters are already saying that they find the thought of Murdoch’s takeover “devastating.”

Attacks on Gore backfire.

Thu, 2007-07-19 09:34

Yesterday, conservatives across the blogosphere, citing a People magazine article and a poorly-researched Austrailian Daily Telegraph article, smeared Al Gore by claiming that he ate Chilean Sea Bass — a threatened species – at a rehearsal dinner for his daughter’s wedding. Attempting to paint Gore as an environmental hypocrite, BlogsForBush, NewsBusters, and others expressed outrage over the hypocrisy. But, as the Telegraph reports today, “Al Gore’s fish dinner turns out green“:

[T]he fish enjoyed by the Gores were not endangered or illegally caught.

Rather, the restaurant later confirmed, they had come from one of the world’s few well-managed, sustainable populations of toothfish, and caught and documented in compliance with Marine Stewardship Council regulations.

More information about how to live an environmentally sustainable lifestyle is available HERE.

Tony Snow: ‘The Al Qaeda Of 2001 No Longer Exists’

Thu, 2007-07-19 08:56

On Tuesday, the administration released its latest National Intelligence Report, asserting that al Qaeda has “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability” and is leveraging “the contacts and capabilities” gained via the Iraq war.

In today’s USA Today, White House spokesperson Tony Snow pens an op-ed denying the intelligence report’s conclusions, making disingenuous and historically false claims about the war in Iraq. Below is a rebuttal of his key myths:

SNOW: “We never argued that [Hussein] played a role 9/11; political opponents manufactured the claim.”

FACT: The resolution authorizing force stated,”[m]embers of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks…that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.”

SNOW: “The most astonishing argument is the claim the United States (or the Bush administration) is responsible for this terror wave.”

FACT: As the new NIE notes, the Iraq war has spawned al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as the “most visible and capable affiliate” of the original terrorist group. The 2006 NIE stated that the “American presence in Iraq has helped spread radical Islam by providing a focal point for anti-Americanism.”

SNOW: “The al-Qaeda of 2001 no longer exists.”

FACT: The al Qaeda of 2001 is based in Afghanistan and is regenerating — while U.S. forces are mired in Iraq’s civil war. A new threat assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center is titled “Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West,” showing that al Qaeda has resurged in “operational levels” in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

SNOW: “More than anything, al-Qaeda wants the United States to leave Iraq.

FACT: Al Qaeda leadership supports Bush’s escalation as it gives them more opportunity to launch attacks on U.S. troops. In fact, top al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri opposes withdrawal because, as he stated, it “will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap.”

Snow writes, “Politics sometimes manages to muddle the obvious.” So does Tony Snow.

Digg It!

Young: ‘Those who bite will be killed too.’

Thu, 2007-07-19 08:12

Perturbed with Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)’s effort to cut one of his earmarks from an appropriations bill, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) took to the House floor yesterday with an impassioned speech “shaming” his fellow lawmakers:

If we continue this, we will be called biting one another, very much like the mink in my state that kill their own. There is always another day when those who bite will be killed too, and I am very good at that.

Watch the entire speech:

var flvYoungMink32024014885 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=', 'em-flvYoungMink32024014885', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvYoungMink32024014885.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvYoungMink32024014885.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvYoungMink32024014885.write('flvYoungMink32024014885');

Young even suggested Garrett should be voted out of office. “If there is a guilt here, it’s because I’ve been able to better represent my state than New Jersey. I would suggest that New Jersey ought to elect some new Congressmen,” he said.

Washington Times Propagates False Headline: ‘Senate Rejects Iraq Pullout’

Thu, 2007-07-19 07:29

In today’s paper, the Washington Times blatantly mischaracterizes yesterday’s Senate vote that failed to end the conservative filibuster over the Levin/Reed Iraq redeployment bill. In a front-page blaring headline, the Times reports: ‘Senate Rejects Iraq Pullout‘:

The headline is false and misleading for a couple of reasons.

– First, the vote taken by the Senate yesterday was not a “rejection” of the Iraq redeployment bill because the bill was not a vote on redeployment. Instead, it was a vote to end the conservative filibuster. Having failed to receive the necessary 60 votes, the Senate was unable to move to a final vote on whether or not to pass the Iraq redeployment legislation.

– Second, a majority of the Senate voted in favor of proceeding with the Levin/Reed bill. The final tally was 52-47. That’s hardly a rejection of an “Iraq pullout.”

Only the Washington Times would be brazen enough to say a majority of the Senate voting to proceed with a bill to change course in Iraq was actually the “Senate rejecting Iraq pullout.”

Atrios, Media Matters, and David Kurtz have caught other media distortions of the Senate’s action.

DeLay: Abortion linked to undocumented immigration.

Thu, 2007-07-19 06:54

At a College Republicans gathering, former congressman Tom DeLay attempted to blame abortion for undocumented immigration:

“I contend [abortion] affects you in immigration,” DeLay told the Washington-area gathering. “If we had those 40 million children that were killed over the last 30 years, we wouldn’t need the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today. Think about it.”

See the video HERE.

Digg It!

ThinkFast: July 19, 2007

Thu, 2007-07-19 06:06

Rupert Murdoch’s potential takeover of Dow Jones, parent company of the Wall Street Journal, is worrying many employees. “There’s a real culture of passion for the truth, for shining lights in dark places,” said a reporter. “The overwhelming view here is that under Murdoch, that gets compromised from Day One, and that idea is devastating, heartbreaking, to people.”

“While Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic bid to force a vote on U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq,” a new CBS/NYT poll finds that 61 percent of Americans say “the war should be funded only if there’s a timetable for withdrawal.”

International wildfire crews could be called to help fight blazes in the bone-dry West as U.S. officials boosted the nation’s wildfire alert to its highest level” after dry lightning “blasted and sparked dozens of new blazes in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah, where firefighters have been stretched thin by nearly 70 fires bigger than 100 acres burning in 12 states.”

“As part of a new White House offensive to enlist support on Iraq, all senators and select House members (100 to 150) have been invited to the Pentagon today for a pair of videoconference briefings by Army Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S ambassador to Iraq.”

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said yesterday that a feared Iraqi insurgent Omar al-Baghdadi “never existed.” “General Bergner told reporters that a senior Iraqi insurgent captured this month said that the elusive Mr. Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose declarations on audiotape were read by a man named Abu Abdullah al-Naima.” (more…)

Google’s neocon publicist.

Wed, 2007-07-18 20:04

Valleywag points out that Google’s spokesman, Australian Rob Shilkin, penned several pieces four years ago praising the Iraq war. From a June 20, 2003 article:

Yet the members of Australia’s anti-war brigade still refuse to accept that this has all happened. Ever since the fall of Baghdad, they have been bitterly carping from the sidelines. The current furore over Iraq’s “missing” weapons of mass-destruction is the latest effort from among their ranks.

This particular issue has been dressed up as a debate on flawed intelligence reports. But no one could sensibly assert that the West fabricated Saddam’s WMD ambitions.

Valleywag adds, “Google, more than ever, needs brassy PR people who aren’t afraid to assert boldly that black is white, ignorance is freedom, and evil is good.”

Matthews: I ’sympathize with Scooter Libby.’

Wed, 2007-07-18 15:43

On MSNBC’s Hardball this evening, host Chris Matthews briefly spoke to former New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her role in the “Scooter” Libby trial. At the end of the conversation, Matthews remarked “You can’t talk about the case, I completely understand that. I sympathize with you. And I sometimes even sympathize with Scooter Libby.” Watch it:

var flvMatthewsMiller32024014874 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=', 'em-flvMatthewsMiller32024014874', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvMatthewsMiller32024014874.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvMatthewsMiller32024014874.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvMatthewsMiller32024014874.write('flvMatthewsMiller32024014874');

Bush’s Agencies Of Mass Politicization

Wed, 2007-07-18 14:56

This week’s report that officials in the Office of National Drug Control Policy made politically motivated appearances in the months leading up to the 2006 elections are only the latest example of the Bush administration’s misuse of federal employees.

For example, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2003 that Karl Rove or his top aide, Ken Mehlman, “visited nearly every agency to outline White House campaign priorities, review polling data and, on occasion, call attention to tight House, Senate and gubernatorial races that could be affected by regulatory action.”

Partisan campaign or electoral activities on federal government property are illegal. This prohibition, however, has not stopped the Bush administration from politicizing virtually every agency under its control. Below is a quick review of the extent of the White House’s efforts to politicize the federal agencies:

Office of Faith Based Initiatives: The office was “used almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and traditionally Democratic minorities. The office’s primary mission, providing financial support to charities that serve the poor, never got the presidential support it needed to succeed.” [MSNBC, 10/13/06]

General Services Administration: After a GSA meeting during which White House deputy director of political affairs Scott Jennings gave a PowerPoint presentation that included slides listing Democratic and Republican seats the White House viewed as vulnerable in 2008, a map of contested Senate seats and other information on 2008 election strategy, GSA Administrator Lurita Doan asked how GSA could help “our candidates.” Special Counsel Scott Bloch has since advised the President that Doan should “be disciplined to the fullest extent for her serious violation of the Hatch Act.” [Congress Daily, 6/12/07]

Department of Justice:


Several top Bush officials ‘would like to leave.’

Wed, 2007-07-18 14:31

In his political report today, Robert Novak hints that other members of President Bush’s Cabinet would like to follow the example of VA Secretary Jim Nicholson and resign:

The sudden resignation by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson came as a huge surprise in Washington. Nicholson says he is feeling his age at 70 years, and there are a number of cabinet members who would like to leave. He has no political plans.

Kyl, McCain Obstruct Defense Bill, Then Dishonestly Blame Reid For Not Funding The Troops

Wed, 2007-07-18 13:59

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) raced to the television cameras this afternoon to offer hyperbolic attacks against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following Reid’s decision to pull the entire Defense Authorization bill from consideration. McCain and Kyl were quick to dishonestly politicize Reid’s maneuver, after obstructing passage of the bill over opposition to an Iraq redeployment amendment:

MCCAIN: What have we done by not passing the Defense Authorization bill? We are not allowing a 3 1/2 percent pay raise to men and women in the military. We’re not modernizing their equipment, including MRAP. We are not passing the wounded warriors legislation, which we all know is vitally needed to care for our wounded veterans. We have placed the care of our wounded veterans in a lower priority than a debate over Iraq.

KYL: It’s an act of petulance, it seems to me. But it’s also a very wreckless and irresponsible action because the troops depend upon the Defense Authorization bill passing. That’s what the bill authorizes…the care that they get, the weapons that they get, the training and all the other things they need to carry out the mission.

“It’s a commentary on where the priorities are of those who brought down this bill,” fumed McCain. “It clearly cannot be the welfare and benefit and arming and training of both of our active duty military and the medical care for our veterans,” he added. Watch it:

var flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=', 'em-flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860.write('flvMcCainKylDefense32024014860');

McCain and Kyl’s argument that Reid’s maneuver will deny pay raises, equipment, and medical care to American troops is false on its face. Here are the facts:

1) The troops have all the funding they need. The defense authorization bill being debated in the Senate is for fiscal year 2008, which begins on October 1. Funding for the troops — including emergency appropriations — has already been earmarked through September 30th, 2007.

2) Conservatives are responsible for stalling passage of the bill. While McCain claims that Reid “brought down this bill,” in fact, Reid only resorted to pulling the bill after McCain and other pro-war senators blustered and stalled, refusing to allow an up-down vote on the Levin-Reed Iraq redeployment amendment. In fact, in his floor speech this morning, Reid specifically names McCain as one of “a handful of dedicated obstructionists” using procedural moves to block the vote.

New deputy attorney general named.

Wed, 2007-07-18 13:14

Craig S. Morford, currently the U.S. attorney in Nashville, has been named to replace Paul McNulty as acting Deputy Attorney General. Morford is “best known for his case against former Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat convicted in 2002 of accepting bribes and gifts from businessmen in exchange for intervening with government agencies.”

After Years Of Misleading Excuses, Pentagon Finally Seeks Lifesaving Vehicles For Troops In Iraq

Wed, 2007-07-18 12:01

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked Congress for more funds for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), which are “designed to withstand the underbelly bombs that cripple the lower-riding Humvees,” such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), “the No. 1 killer of U.S. forces” in Iraq.

Gates’ request for the vehicles “comes about 2½ years after Marines in the field made an urgent plea for” MRAPs. Last month, Gates claimed that he had only recently learned about the benefits of MRAPs from reading a newspaper article, even though the technology was developed in the 1970s and the Pentagon had tested them in 2000.

Gates’s announcement follows similarly misleading excuses from high-ranking Pentagon officials, including then-Marine commandant Michael Hagee and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B. Myers:

Hagee: “Instead of granting the February 2005 request, then-Marine commandant Michael Hagee decided that June to buy more armored Humvees,” according to a USA Today report. Hagee ingnored the commanders’ request because “IEDs…were not a pronounced threat at the time.” But Newsweek has reported that, in 2004, President Bush said that “the military spent $150 million to defeat IEDs,” and Central Command figures show that “in 2004 there were 5,607 IED attacks [and] in 2005, there were 10,953.”

Myers: Myers has said buying MRAPs “was not on the radar screen when I was chairman,” between Oct. 2001 and Oct. 2005. E-mail records, however, show that “As early as December 2003…Pentagon analysts sent detailed information about the superiority of the vehicles to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” In fact, one Pentagon analyst complained to a colleague that it was “frustrating to see the pictures of burning Humvees while knowing that there are other vehicles [MRAPs] out there that would provide more protection.”

As Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Kit Bond (R-MO) pointed out in a letter to Gates last month, if the Pentagon had stopped making excuses and starting producing MRAPs, “621 to 742 Americans” killed in IED attacks might still be alive.

Jordan Grossman

Did WH politicize capture of top al Qaeda leader?

Wed, 2007-07-18 11:47

Today, the Bush administration announced that it has arrested the “highest-ranking Iraqi leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.” The announcement comes just one day after the release of the National Intelligence Estimate. Interestingly, as TPM notes, “the capture took place two weeks ago but was not announced until today.”

Townsend: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Al Qaeda Was In Iraq Before The War

Wed, 2007-07-18 11:04

Yesterday’s National Intelligence Estimate concluded that al Qaeda remains strong in Iraq and has been energized by the Iraq war. It stated:

Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. […]

In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

Today in an interview with NPR, Homeland Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend argued that the NIE’s findings strengthen the administration’s argument to stay the course. “Al Qaeda’s resources are focused in Iraq because that’s where we are capturing and killing them every single day, so it drains their resources there,” she said. “[T]hey are very much tied down because we are keeping them tied down fighting them in Iraq.”

NPR host Steve Inskeep challenged Townsend, pointing out that al Qaeda had “no capability in Iraq before the war.” Townsend refused to answer the question, stating, “I don’t know — I wasn’t at that briefing.” She then added, “I’m going to rely on the intelligence community. … I would refer you to them.” Listen here:


It is widely known that al Qaeda was not operating in Iraq before 9/11. The Senate Intelligence Committee found that Saddam “did not trust al-Qa’ida or any other radical Islamist group and did not want to cooperate with them.”

Rather than tying down and draining al Qaeda’s resources in Iraq as Townsend said, the war has lured the the network to that country. The last NIE found that the “Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists,” “shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.” Additionally, a new government threat assessment concludes that “Al-Qaeda has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since the summer of 2001,” and with strengthened capabilities to attack the United States.

Transcript: (more…)

60 percent:

Wed, 2007-07-18 10:43

Number of readers (the nation’s largest military and veteran membership organization) who “believe the US should withdraw troops from Iraq now or by the end of 2008. … More than 40 percent of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because ‘we’re wasting lives and resources there.’” The results “stand in sharp contrast” to a June 26 poll in which 60 percent of respondents “agreed the surge should be given more time.”