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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Tue, 2007-07-10 17:30

faced a new firestorm on Tuesday sparked by a report he may have misled lawmakers in 2005 about civil liberty violations by the FBI.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler “called for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the prima facie case that Gonzales provided false statements to Congress, noting that misleading Congress is a serious crime.”

“Attorney General Gonzales has shown an apparent reckless disregard for the rule of law and a fundamental lack of respect for the oversight responsibilities of Congress,” said Rep. Nadler. “The man entrusted with enforcing our nation’s laws must also abide by them — and Mr. Gonzales has apparently failed in that duty. Providing false, misleading or inaccurate statements to Congress is a serious crime, and the man who may have committed those acts cannot be trusted to investigate himself. A Special Prosecutor is necessary to investigate this and the countless other violations of the law apparently committed by this Executive Branch.”

Webb: ‘I Don’t Know Where Lieberman Gets His Opinions About How Well We’re Doing’

Tue, 2007-07-10 16:20

On the Senate floor this morning, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said that proposals to withdraw troops and restore the strength of the armed forces are “legislating a defeat” in Iraq.

This afternoon on CNN, responding to Lieberman’s criticisms, Webb reminded the public that he was warning in September 2002 that we were “heading for trouble” if we went to war in Iraq:

I was warning about the consequences of invading and occupying Iraq well before we went in. … I don’t know where Sen. Lieberman gets his opinions about how well we’re doing. […]

You have a government in Iraq that has no power. It has very little power — it cannot compel action and it’s surrounded by armed factions that retain the power. That is not a situation we’re going to resolve without the interaction of all the countries in the region in a positive, proactive diplomatic way. And that’s what I’ve been saying for three years.

Watch it:

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Webb is sponsoring an amendment that would restore the strength of the military by requiring every soldier who is deployed overseas to receive at least the same amount of rest when they return home. Senate conservatives have announced that they will filibuster the bill.

In a statement for ThinkProgress, Center for American Progress senior fellow Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense, said:

Regardless of whether a member supports a phased withdrawal of American forces from Iraq or continues to support President Bush’s latest escalation, he or she should support the Webb-Hagel amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill.

It takes two full years at home or after a one year deployment for a unit to become fully combat ready. Spending a year at home after a year in the combat zone is barely enough time to get themselves marginally ready physically and mentally for the next deployment. Giving them last time would mean sending units and individuals into battle who are not combat ready.

Members cannot vote against Webb-Hagel and claim they support the troops. Sending people back for another tour without the same amount of time at home as the length of their tour is wrong strategically and morally.

Senate panel cuts off funds for Cheney’s office.

Tue, 2007-07-10 15:01

AP reports:

A Senate appropriations panel chaired by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president’s budget until Cheney’s office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.

At issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. That information is to be provided to the Information Security Oversight Office at The National Archives.

Cheney’s office, with backing from the White House, argues that the offices of the president and vice president are exempt from the order because they are not executive branch ”agencies.”

The funding cut came as the appropriations panel approved 5-4 along party lines a measure funding White House operations, the Treasury Department and many smaller agencies.

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66 percent:

Tue, 2007-07-10 14:32

The percentage of Americans who believe President Bush should not have commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, according to a new Gallup poll.

Giuliani enlists Norman ‘bomb Iran’ Podhoretz.

Tue, 2007-07-10 13:58

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced his foreign policy team today, and included on the list as a senior foreign policy team member is Norman Podhoretz, who recently admitted with glee that his plan to bomb Iran would “unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we’ve experienced so far look like a lovefest.

Leahy, Specter to introduce habeas legislation.

Tue, 2007-07-10 13:40

On Friday, Sens. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) plan to introduce an amendment restoring the habeas corpus protections stripped as a result of last year’s Military Commissions Act. The legislation would restore basic civil liberties to roughly 12 million legal permanent residents of the United States. From Leahy’s statement:

Last year, Congress committed an historic mistake by suspending the Great Writ of habeas corpus — not just for those confined at Guantanamo Bay, but for millions of legal residents in the United States. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing in May on this bill illustrated the broad agreement among people of diverse political beliefs and backgrounds that the mistake committed in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 must be corrected. This Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 has 25 cosponsors, and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed it last month on a bipartisan basis.

Habeas corpus was recklessly undermined in last year’s Military Commissions Act. Like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the elimination of habeas rights was an action driven by fear, and it was a stain on America’s reputation in the world. This is a time of testing. Future generations will look back to examine the choices we made during a time when security was too often invoked as a watchword to convince us to slacken our defense of liberty and the rule of law.

Contact your senators and urge them to support the Habeas Restoration Act.

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REPORT: Six Months Later, Time’s Up For Escalation Proponents

Tue, 2007-07-10 12:55

Six months ago today, on January 10, 2007, the President announced his policy of escalation in Iraq. He claimed that “if we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.”

A host of administration officials and media pundits quickly embraced Bush’s call, and asked that the American public give it a chance to succeed. Building off the work that has been done by Atrios and others, ThinkProgress has compiled a list of administration officials and media pundits who promised a reassessment after giving the surge a chance. Some examples:

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: So it’s not as if there is a date, at six months we’ll know and then we have to do something dramatic. [Time Magazine, 1/12/07]

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I think we ought to give him and the president the benefit of the doubt, give them six months and see if it can be controlled. [Fox News, 1/12/07]

BILL O’REILLY: We can’t force these people to stop killing each other. They’re either going to do it or they’re not, but now they know. Now they know. They’ve got six months and that’s it. [The O’Reilly Factor, 1/24/07]

Six months later, the cycle of violence in Iraq continues. Since Bush announced the escalation, 590 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died. Military assessments suggest that “the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal” and “no progress has been made on the political benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to have met already.”

Bush’s escalation has failed, and time is up for the following list of people. Read the report HERE, and let us know if there’s someone we missed.

Domenici: I Want My Involvement In The Attorney Scandal To Be Over

Tue, 2007-07-10 12:12

On MSNBC earlier today, correspondent Andrea Mitchell asked Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) about “the controvesy over the firing of the U.S. attorneys, in particular David Iglesias,” who the senator infamously called soon before he was asked to resign. “Would you testify if called by your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee?” Mitchell asked.

“I wouldn’t testify unless I am supposed to under our rules or unless I have to,” replied Domenici. “From my standpoint, I’m not going to talk about it because I want mine over with, if six senators can pass on it.”

“It has little or nothing to do with this case,” added Domenici, in reference to the President’s invocation of executive privilege yesterday to prevent his aides from testifying before Congress about the scandal. Watch it:

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As much as Domenici may want to believe that he “has little or nothing to do” with the attorney scandal, in reality, he is central to it.

Iglesias’ name did not appear on the Bush administration’s prosecutor hit list until Domenici talked to President Bush in a call presumably arranged by Karl Rove. Additionally, one of the aides whose testimony Bush is blocking, Harriet Miers, is also implicated in firing Iglesias at Domenici’s behest.

On December 7, 2006, the day the attorneys were fired, Miers’s deputy, William Kelley, wrote an email to Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying that Domenici’s chief of staff “is happy as a clam” about Iglesias being removed.

UPDATE: Emptywheel has more here.

Military officers endorse Webb amendment.

Tue, 2007-07-10 12:11

Yesterday on CNBC, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) attacked Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) amendment that would require troops to rest for as much or more time as they are deployed, claiming that it hurts the troops. But today the Military Officers Association of America — the largest and most influential association of military officers — sided with Webb and endorsed the bipartisan amendment. (More on the Senate’s Iraq debate in today’s Progress Report.)

Stevens Gives Earmarks To Developers Who Made Him A Millionaire

Tue, 2007-07-10 11:26

Most lawmakers break off their ties with business entities while serving in the Senate. Not Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). He is the only member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who has disclosed a direct business relationship between himself and “an entity that receives federal funds.”

Stevens continues to invest in JLS Properties LLC, owned by developers Leonard Hyde and Jonathan Rubini. Today, Roll Call reports that Hyde and Rubini have profited financially from their relationship with Stevens:

In 2004, two business partners of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) sold an empty lot in Anchorage to the National Archives and Records Administration for just over $3.5 million, more than doubling their year-old investment in the property. […]

According to a review of federal, state and local records and interviews with Hyde and federal officials, the project in Anchorage resulted in the two developers netting $2 million in profits from the sale of land they had purchased weeks before Stevens inserted the first earmark into an appropriations bill in 2002.

The money for the purchase, according to Stevens’ office, came from two earmarks worth $6 million that Stevens had included in funding bills in 2002 and 2003.

There is no evidence that Stevens received “direct benefit” from this particular deal. But his seven-year relationship with the developers has “turned him from one of the Senate’s least wealthy Members into a millionaire.” In 1997, Stevens invested $50,000 in JLS Properties; by 2003, he had earned millions. Similarly, Hyde and Rubini have “received more than $7 million in rental payments from the federal government.” Stevens and Hyde are also co-owners of a racehorse.

Similarly, the senator continues to have a relationship with executives at the Veco Corp., an Alaskan oil company, who recently pleaded guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges. The FBI is now scrutinizing Stevens’s relationship with Veco. In 2000, one of the executives hired a contractor to help Stevens remodel his house, even though “Veco was not in the business of residential construction or remodeling.”

Former Surgeon General Was Muzzled, Censored By Bush Administration

Tue, 2007-07-10 10:32

Richard Carmona served as President Bush’s first Surgeon General from 2002-2006. Today he spoke before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and revealed that political appointees in the Bush administration muzzled him on key issues such as “stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration’s embrace of ‘abstinence-only’ sex education”:

[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as “the nation’s doctor,” the reality is that the nation’s doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.

Watch it part of Carmona’s testimony:

Carmona revealed that when he tried to explain the science of stem cell research to the American public, he was “blocked at every turn, told a decision had already been made, stand down, don’t talk about it.” Additionally, political appointees were specifically assigned to “vet his speeches” and “spin [his] words in such a way that would be preferable to a political or ideologically pre-conceived notion that had nothing to do with science.” He was also barred from speaking freely to reporters.

The politicization of “America’s doctor” fits with broader White House efforts to politicize faith-based initiatives, global warming, contraceptives, and the Justice Department.

On Thursday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to be the next Surgeon General. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bush has this time nominated someone who has repeatedly put ideology over sound science, peddling views of homosexuality that have been rejected by the medical community.

The Gavel has more.

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U.S. lawmakers prevented from leaving Green Zone.

Tue, 2007-07-10 10:01

A six-member congressional delegation recently returned from a seven-day trip that included stops in Ireland, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait and Iraq. While in Iraq, security conditions prevented them “from meeting any Iraqis, leaving the Green Zone or staying in Iraq overnight.” Additionally, the “congressional members were required to wear full body armor, including Kevlar helmets, during the entire trip.”

Tony Snow: ‘New Way’ On Iraq = Stay The Course On Escalation

Tue, 2007-07-10 09:16

Today, President Bush is scheduled to deliver a major speech on Iraq policy, offering “his vision for the post-surge.” The New York Times speculated yesterday that the Bush administration would be changing course in Iraq, potentially offering a drawdown of troops in the near future. Tony Snow vigorously denied the report.

Today, the Washington Post reports that the White House is not talking about a real strategy change, but instead, a “political strategy” to “shift [Bush’s] message.”

This morning, White House spokesperson Tony Snow unveiled the new message. Making the rounds on the morning shows, Snow repeatedly claimed Bush was embracing a “new way.”

Some want us to take a new look at the way we’re doing things, which is exactly what’s taking place.

This is not the beginning of the end, it’s the beginning of a new way.

That’s why we’re coming up with a new strategy.

In reality, this “new way” message is simply more of the same old escalation policy. When Fox News asked Snow if Americans could anticipate a new strategy, Snow answered, “No. What we’re really trying to report on is the new way that started about six months ago.” Watch a compilation:

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Transcript: (more…)

Bush disapproval rivals Nixon.

Tue, 2007-07-10 08:44

Chris Bowers writes, “Today Bush reached a historic milestone. His current disapproval rating in the latest Gallup poll, 66%, equals Richard Nixon’s highest Gallup disapproval rating of 66%, registered the week before he resigned from office.”

Sen. Alexander’s Doublespeak: Wants ‘New Strategy’ In Iraq, Continues To Support ‘Surge’

Tue, 2007-07-10 08:05

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was one of many conservatives breaking ranks with Bush’s Iraq policy.

“It should be clear to the president that there needs to be a new strategy,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. “Our policy in Iraq is drifting.”

This morning on CNN, Alexander undercut his own stated desire to change course. While announcing his support for an amendment that would adopt the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, Alexander said, “The surge can be within this larger strategy of the Iraq Study Group.”

Watch it:

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Alexander appears more interested in maintaining the surge than in embracing a “new strategy.” The bill Alexander supports does not set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Moreover, the Iraq Study Group report specifically argued against sending more troops to Iraq:

Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, “all the troops in the world will not provide security.”

Alexander’s right that our Iraq policy is “drifting.” But his rhetorical tap-dance will do little to correct it.

Vitter Flashback: Clinton should resign.

Tue, 2007-07-10 07:23

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) first got his start in Congress after replacing former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), who “abruptly resigned after disclosures of numerous affairs” in 1998. At the time, Vitter argued that an extramarital affair was grounds for resignation:

“I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess,” he said. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 12/20/98]

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Six-month anniversary of escalation in Iraq.

Tue, 2007-07-10 06:46

Six months ago, on Jan. 10, President Bush announced his plan to send more than 20,000 more troops into Iraq. The Gavel has highlights of what has happened since that time:

590 U.S. soldiers have died and 3,575 have been wounded in Iraq since January 10, 2007. [, 1/10/07-7/9/07]

At least 13,463 civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces have died since January 2007, according to media reports. []

According to an internal military assessment, the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal. Fewer than one-third of Baghdad’s neighborhoods are under the control of U.S. and Iraqi forces. [New York Times, 6/4/07]

No progress has been made on the political benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to have met already. Oil sharing legislation, the reversal of deBaathification, new election laws, scheduling of provincial elections, amending the constitution and efforts to disband the militias are all languishing either in parliament or in negotiations among the three parties. [Washington Post, 7/8/07]

UPDATE: The Washington Post reminds us that the administration “initially envisioned a troop increase lasting six to eight months,” but is now anticipating “keeping the extra troops in place until next spring and then beginning to pull them back, one brigade at a time.”

UPDATE II: Atrios has quotes by various pundits from one Friedman ago.

ThinkFast: July 10, 2007

Tue, 2007-07-10 06:01

On April 27, 2005, during a hearing on the PATRIOT Act, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified to Congress, “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.” Six days earlier, the FBI had sent Gonzales “one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations” of the PATRIOT Act committed by FBI agents, new documents show.

President Bush “plans to lay out what an aide called ‘his vision for the post-surge’ starting in Cleveland today to assure the nation that he, too, wants to begin bringing troops home eventually.” Bush “decided against” actually withdrawing troops, “but he and his team concluded that he needed to shift his message” to “show that he shares the goals” of the American people.

62: Percentage of Americans who “say the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq,” according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, “the first time that number has topped 60 percent.” Bush’s approval rating reached an all-time low: 29 percent.

The Army missed its recruiting goals in June for the second straight month, as rising casualties in Iraq and a strong economy at home kept the service from enlisting enough new soldiers, Pentagon officials said.”

In an 83-4 vote, the Senate yesterday “confirmed as a federal judge a woman who attended a same-sex commitment ceremony, overwhelmingly rejecting the concerns of a Republican senator running for the White House.” Last year, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) blocked her nomination, “citing her attendance at the event.” (more…)

Sen. Vitter on D.C. madam list.

Mon, 2007-07-09 19:47

“Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for ‘a very serious sin in my past‘ after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called ‘D.C. Madam.’” Vitter released the following statement:

This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there-with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.

In 2005, Vitter attacked “the Hollywood left” for “redefining the most basic institution in human history.”

Lieberman: Congress ’sniping’ at troops.

Mon, 2007-07-09 18:00

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) appearing on CNBC this afternoon expressed his opposition to an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), which would require troops to rest for as much or more time as they are deployed. “Give the American soldiers a break,” Lieberman said. “It’s as if the American troops have the enemy on one side and Congress is sniping at their heels on the other side.” He added that Congress is advocating a “defeat, retreat strategy.” Watch it: