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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

Senators Say They Will Call On Patrick Fitzgerald To Testify

Sun, 2007-07-08 14:43

Today on CNN’s Late Edition, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Arlen Specter (R-PA), the committee’s top Republican, announced that they were interested in calling Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify about the CIA leak investigation.

Specter said he wanted Fitzgerald to appear so he could press him to justify the CIA leak investigation. “Why were they pursuing the matter long after there was no underlying crime on the outing of the CIA agent?” Specter said, echoing the common right-wing talking point. “Why were they pursuing it after we knew who the leaker was?”

Leahy, on the other hand, is apparently more interested in learning more about Fitzgerald’s interviews with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Watch it:

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As for calling Scooter Libby to testify, Leahy said it was a dead end. “It would do no good to call Scooter Libby. His silence has been bought and paid for,” he said, referring to Bush’s commutation, “and he would just take the fifth.”

Transcript: (more…)

Kristol: Bush Timed Clemency To Get Political Cover By Attacking Clinton

Sun, 2007-07-08 09:15

This morning, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol — who accurately predicted the President’s decision to commute Libby’s sentence — suggested the order was timed to provide political cover for the decision by attacking President Clinton.

“Here’s why the president acted the way he did. He knew Bill Clinton was joining Hillary in Iowa on July 4th. No, I’m serious,” Kristol said. “So on July 2d, Ed Gillespie, who’s a very canny Republican operator, said, Let’s pardon Libby. Clinton will rise to the bait, and we could spend the last half of the week debating the unbelievable Clinton pardons against the defensible Bush pardon.”

Kristol concluded, “I regard this as an extremely clever Machiavellian move by the president. It cheers me up about the Bush White House, and I’m really heartened.” Watch it:

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The Libby case is not comparable to anything President Clinton ever did. Libby was spared prison time because he was “charged with activities that involve knowledge of what his superiors in the White House did.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said this kind of relationship in a commutation has “never existed before.”

If Kristol’s theory is correct that politics played a large role in the timing of Libby’s commutation, that provides yet another issue for Congress to delve into when it begins hearings on Bush’s abuse of clemency powers this week.

Transcript: (more…)

Truck bomb marks second deadliest bombing in Iraq.

Sun, 2007-07-08 09:07

A massive truck bomb killed 150 people in a northern Iraqi town and “fresh attacks in and around Baghdad killed 31 others.” The truck bomb devastated the Shiite town of Tuz Khurmato. “I just visited the scene. It looks like an earthquake happened there,” Shalal Abid al-Ahmed, a member of the Salahuddin provincial council, told Reuters.

The death toll of 150 makes it the second deadliest insurgent bombing in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In March, a truck bomb attack also blamed on al Qaeda killed 152 people in the northern town of Tal Afar.

Conyers Raises Specter Of Impeachment, Highlights Support For Removing Bush And Cheney

Sun, 2007-07-08 08:22

This morning on ABC’s This Week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) highlighted the new American Research Group poll showing that nearly half of Americans want the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush, and 54 percent favor impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Conyers today about new reports that the White House will refuse new congressional requests for documents about the U.S. Attorney firings.

Conyers decried the administration’s stonewalling, adding, “We’re hoping that as the cries for the removal of both Cheney and Bush now reach 46 percent and 58 percent [sic - 54 percent], respectively, for impeachment that we could begin to become a little bit more cooperative, if not amicable, in trying to get to the truth of these matters.” Watch it:

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Stephanopoulos responded, “I’m surprised you put impeachment on the table there. Are you open to pursuing that?” Conyers said he was not putting it “on the table,” merely pointing out the views of the American people.

Transcript: (more…)

Conyers: Bush Should Waive Exec. Privilege, ‘Do What Clinton Did’ And Explain Commutation

Sun, 2007-07-08 08:00

This Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers will hold a hearing on the use and misuse of presidential clemency power, looking specifically at whether President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence was an abuse of power.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Conyers said there exists a “suspicion that if Mr. Libby went to prison, he might further implicate other people in the White House.” Conyers noted “there was some kind of relationship here that does not exist in any of President Clinton’s pardons… [and] it’s never existed before.”

Conyers said he is requesting Bush waive executive privilege and “do what President Clinton did — namely to bring forward any of his pardon lawyers or anyone that can put a clear light on this and put this kind of feeling that is fairly general to rest.” Watch it:

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Conyers was also asked about subpoenas that he has issued to the White House for information relating to the U.S. Attorney’s purge. The Washington Post reports this morning, “The White House has decided to defy Congress’s latest demand for information regarding the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys, sources familiar with the decision said yesterday.”

Conyers said the White House had failed to communicate with him about its intent to defy Congress. “Well, I’m glad The Post finds out about what the president plans to do before anybody just gives us a call. We’re going to pursue our legal remedies to press forward with the subpoenas.”

Asked by host George Stephanopoulos if “that means holding the White House in contempt of Congress?” “Well, yes,” Conyers responded. “It means moving forward in the process that would require him to comply with the subpoenas like most other people.”

Transcript: (more…)

NYT: ‘Leave Iraq.’

Sun, 2007-07-08 07:03

In an editorial this morning, the New York Times writes:

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.

Like many Americans, we have put off that conclusion, waiting for a sign that President Bush was seriously trying to dig the United States out of the disaster he created by invading Iraq without sufficient cause, in the face of global opposition, and without a plan to stabilize the country afterward. […]

This country faces a choice. We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.

UPDATE: Steve Benen has more.

UPDATE II: E&P previously noted “many American newspapers have long been harshly critical of the conduct of the war in Iraq, but very few major papers have ever called for a U.S. withdrawal any time soon.”

‘I tried to avoid this war.’

Sun, 2007-07-08 06:20

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell revealed that he spent 2.5 hours “vainly trying to persuade President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by U.S. forces. ‘I tried to avoid this war,’ Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. ‘I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.’” In terms of the current situation in Iraq, Powell said: “It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States.”

Right Wing Launches Dishonest, Misinformed Attacks Against Live Earth

Sat, 2007-07-07 17:00

Right now, the Live Earth concert series is ongoing in each of the seven continents. Spearheaded by Vice President Al Gore, the event “marks the beginning of a multi-year campaign…to drive individuals, corporations and governments to take action to solve global warming.”

With more than 2 billion people in 100 countries across the globe expected to tune in, the concerts are “an unprecedented opportunity to ask for the world’s attention long enough to deliver an SOS and then to begin delivering information about the solutions to every single person,” says Gore.

But the right-wing is pushing back against the concerts in an effort to protect the interests of the oil lobby. Leading the charge is the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a think tank funded by both the oil and auto industries. On MSNBC’s Tucker yesterday, Myron Ebell, the director of energy and global warming policy at CEI, said Gore “makes this stuff up” about global warming and “there is no scientific support for his claims.” Watch it:

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After downplaying concerns about global warming, Ebell switched tones and began criticizing the concerts “because they just use too much energy.” In fact, Live Earth organizers worked hard to minimize the energy usage of the entire event.

For example, the Live Earth organizers intentionally organized the concerts in such a way that a minimum of jets would be used. “In the planning stages, all air travel has been put through a rigorous approval process and trips deemed necessary” are being offset through carbon credits and investments in renewable energy, John Picard, leader of the event’s sustainability team, told the Associated Press.

Additionally, “several staffers are dedicated entirely to helping artists minimize the environmental impact of getting to and playing the shows, and each artist is given a ‘Green Handbook’ of touring tips.” In fact, “this is going to be the greenest event of its kind, ever,” according to Gore “The carbon offsets and the innovative practices that are being used to make this a green event, I think, will set the standard for years to come.”

For more on Live Earth, check out Climate Progress’s live blogging of the event.

BREAKING: White House To Block Testimony Of Former Rove Aide

Sat, 2007-07-07 14:52

Early last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to former Karl Rove aide and former Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs, Sara Taylor, for her involvement in the “unprecedented firings of several prosecutors and politicization within the Department of Justice.” Taylor — despite White House refusals to surrender documents related to her subpoena — agreed to testify before the Judiciary Committee as required on July 11, 2007.

Today, however, Taylor’s attorney W. Neil Eggleston, delivered a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) explaining that Taylor expects that the White House will attempt to block her testimony, citing executive privilege:

Ms. Taylor expects to receive a letter from [White House Counsel Fred] Fielding on behalf of the President directing her not to comply with the Senate’s subpoena. These contrary directions undoubtedly create a monumental clash between the executive and legislative branches of government. This clash may ultimately be resolved by the judicial branch.

[Taylor] is unquestionably loyal to and committed to the President and his agenda. …

Absent the direction from the White House, Ms. Taylor would testify without hesitation before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has participated in no wrongdoing. She will assert no personal privileges.

[Taylor] faces two untenable choices. She can follow the President’s direction and face the possibility of a contempt sanction by the Senate, with enforcement through the criminal courts, an action that regardless of the outcome, will follow her for life. Or, she can attempt to work out an accommodation with the Senate, which will put her at odds with the President, a person whom she admires and for whom she has worked tirelessly for years.

In response, Leahy issued a statement:

The White House continues to try to have it both ways — to block Congress from talking with witnesses and accessing documents and other evidence while saying nothing improper occurred. I hope the White House stops this stonewalling and accepts my offer to negotiate a workable solution to the Committee’s oversight requests, as so many previous White Houses have.

You can read the full text of the letter HERE.

Ryan Powers

UPDATE: Raw Story has more.

Ohio State Rep. To Bush: If You Want To ‘Coddle Criminals,’ Then Pardon Traficant

Sat, 2007-07-07 12:27

As soon as President Bush commuted the prison sentence of his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, attorneys across the country immediately began arguing that their clients deserve “the Libby treatment.”

Yesterday, Ohio State Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) sent a letter to President Bush, claiming that his standards for Libby should be applied to another criminally-challenged political figure: former U.S. Congressman James Traficant, who was convicted in 2002 on bribery and racketeering charges. Hagan says that Traficant deserves the same leniency that Libby received:

“If the President is going to coddle criminals in his Administration because he believes they have suffered enough, the least he can do is apply equal justice and release all of those whose crimes had far less impact on the public good than Libby’s,” Rep. Hagan said.[…]

“Libby lied to the FBI and a grand jury about the Valerie Plame cover-up, which undermined the nation’s intelligence operations,” Hagan argued. “Add to that his role as Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff in promoting false reasons for going to war in Iraq - and it all outweighs anything Mr. Traficant has done. […]

“Libby is the first sitting White House official to be indicted in 130 years, and yet he walks away without paying his deserved debt to society.”

Hagan, who previously waged a primary challenge against Traficant, doesn’t actually want President Bush to commute Traficant’s sentence. “They both deserve to be in jail,” Hagan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

He has a history of making satirical statments to prove his points. In 2006, when conservatives introduced a bill to ban gay couples from adopting children, Hagan “asked fellow senators to co-sponsor a bill to ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children.” Similarly, this past year, when new regulations for strip clubs were debated, “Hagan drafted an amendment to ban lobbyists from touching lawmakers.”

President Bush has yet to respond to Hagan’s request for clemency for Traficant.

Professor retracts Mr. Rogers smears.

Sat, 2007-07-07 09:00

Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that Fox News was participating in an effort to “blame Mr. Rogers” for the “sense of entitlement” among some children today. The criticism of Mr. Rogers stemmed from Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University. Chance later contacted Fox News to issue a statement retracting his attacks:

The reference to Mr. Rogers was just a metaphor. I have no professional qualifications to evaluate the real problems or propose solutions. Mr. Rogers was a great American. I watched him with my children and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I had young children.

Chance’s lack of “professional qualifications” didn’t prevent from the mainstream media from catapulting his propaganda. Watch it:

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Lindsey Graham: Escalation ‘Is Working Beyond My Expectations’

Sat, 2007-07-07 07:30

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), returning from a visit this week to Iraq along with his pro-escalation partner Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), offered the following assessment of the situation in Iraq:

“The military part of the surge is working beyond my expectations,” Graham said. “We literally have the enemy on the run. The Sunni part of Iraq has really rejected al-Qaida all over the country. We’re getting more information about al-Qaida operations than we’ve ever received.”

Graham isn’t the only proponent of the military surge who is now desperately spinning reality in order to maintain the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) also contended recently that the escalation has the enemy “on the run.”

Even while parts of Baghdad are calmer today than a few months ago, “the death toll among civilians does not appear to have immediately fallen since the [surge] began. From June 20 to Thursday, 472 civilians died in attacks in Baghdad, a dip of 2 percent from the previous 16-day period, according to a tally collected by the Associated Press from daily reports by Iraqi security and hospital officials.”

As the events in Iraq have demonstrated time and again over the past four years, temporary lulls are always followed by greater spikes in violence. Today, for instance, Reuters reports from Baghdad:

Car bombs and mortar attacks killed 50 people in Iraq, police and local officials said on Saturday, while the U.S. military said six of its soldiers had been killed in the past two days. … The fresh violence follows a lull in Iraq, where tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops are on the offensive against insurgents in a bid to halt a slide into sectarian civil war.

In his last trip to Iraq, Graham offered this sign of success in Iraq. “We went to the market and were just really warmly welcomed. I bought five rugs for five bucks. And people were engaging,” he said. His comedic analysis was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.

Safer since 9/11?

Sat, 2007-07-07 07:14

The AP reports, “Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the number of [embassy] posts deemed too dangerous for U.S. diplomats to bring families has doubled, from 10 to 21.” Americans posted to embassies face lockdowns and severe travel restrictions. “The policy we have for diplomatic security actually makes us less secure as a nation because it limits our ability to carry out our mission in critical environments,” said former senior Foreign Service officer Patrick Fine.

Live earth concerts underway.

Sat, 2007-07-07 06:30

Watch them here. MSNBC and affiliated NBC networks are providing coverage throughout the day. Climate Progress is live-blogging the New York concert.

UPDATE: The concerts are barely underway, but the National Review’s Mark Steyn has already declared the event a failure. “The way this thing’s going it looks like, thanks to Al Gore, all-star charity galas will be joining the polar bears on his endangered species list.”

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin offers her insights on the concerts: “Who are these people and what on earth are they doing?”

Gallagher: All ‘Muslim Doctors’ Should Be ‘Suspended’ From Entering United States

Sat, 2007-07-07 05:37

The eight suspects connected to the recent London terror plots were Muslim men who were doctors or medical professionals. Yesterday on Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, right-wing radio host Mike Gallagher argued that there is “nothing wrong with suspending the opportunity for Muslim doctors to enter the United States until…we sort this thing out.” He also advocated the practice of racial profiling because “all the terrorists are Muslim.” Watch it:

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Gallagher refused to answer Cavuto’s question about whether engineers and accountants — who have been involved in previous terrorist plots — should also be banned from entering the United States. Cavuto’s other guest, Sasha Burns, responded that Gallagher’s suggestion was “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.”

As a result of the London terror attempt, “Muslim doctors here [in the U.S.] say they are trying to be more vocal in denouncing terrorism. They condemned the ‘crazies’ who are ‘misguided’ and did those acts,” while “British Muslims are leading a new campaign condemning the recent attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.” Gallagher, however, is not interesting in building solidarity on this cause, but rather in creating greater divisions between us.

Transcript: (more…)

Iraq war costs could top $1.4 trillion.

Fri, 2007-07-06 17:37

According to a new report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, “in the first half of this fiscal year, the Defense Department’s “average monthly obligations for contracts and pay is running about $12 billion per month, well above the $8.7 billion in FY2006.” Additionally, depending on troop levels, total funding could reach “about $980 billion to $1.4 trillion by 2017.”

Shuster Rips Neoconservative Ajami For Comparing Scooter Libby To Fallen U.S. Soldiers

Fri, 2007-07-06 15:15

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, neoconservative scholar Fouad Ajami compared Scooter Libby to “fallen soldiers” in Iraq. “[Libby] can’t be left behind as a casualty of a war our country had once proudly claimed as its own,” he wrote.

MSNBC’s David Shuster confronted Ajami about this comparison today on Hardball. “Mr. Ajami, do you really believe Mr. Libby is like the 3,600 soldiers killed in Iraq?” he asked. “I don’t need to be lectured on the soldiers killed in Iraq,” Ajami said. “You have to be able to handle metaphors, this really was a metaphor.” Schuster noted, “The word ‘metaphor’ is nowhere in your column.”

Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said of Ajami’s comparison:

I think it’s absurd. It’s a new low and an act of desperation here to defend a man by comparing him to fallen soldiers. … Part of the soldier’s creed is to uphold the Army values and live the Army values. Those values include honor, integrity, and personal courage. They don’t include lying and breaking the law. So I think it’s really an absurd analogy.

Shuster asked Rieckhoff, “If someone was convicted of four felonies, would they even be entitled to serve in the military?” “No, they’d be in a military prison right now.” replied Rieckhoff. Watch it:

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During the segment, Shuster repeatedly corrected Ajami’s falsehoods about the Libby case. When Ajami tried to claim that Libby wasn’t a leaker of Plame’s identity, Shuster quickly debunked him, noting that it came out at trial that seven different people in the administration revealed Plame’s identity in a concerted campaign to out her. “Why did Libby lie to the FBI?” Schuster asked. A flummoxed Ajami could only falsely claim, “I don’t know that he did.”

“Would you like to apologize for your position on the Iraq war?” David Shuster asked. “No, not at all, I think it was a noble war,” Ajami responded.

Digg It!

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has video of the full segment.

Lieberman Recycles Iraq Talking Points To Justify War With Iran

Fri, 2007-07-06 14:16

Last month, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) argued on CBS’s Face the Nation, that the U.S. should “be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.” “If there’s any hope” of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, “we can’t just talk to them. … We’ve got to use our force and to me that would include taking military action.”

Today in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Lieberman writes, “[E]very leader [in Washington] has a responsibility to acknowledge that…the Iranian government…has all but declared war on us and our allies in the Middle East.” He argues that the use of force against Iran is needed for one primary reason — to temper Iran’s “expansionist” desires to “dominate” its neighbors:

Iran is acting aggressively and consistently to undermine moderate regimes in the Middle East, establish itself as the dominant regional power and reshape the region in its own ideological image.

…[Iran] hopes to push the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan, so that its proxies can then dominate [neighboring] states. Tehran knows that an American retreat under fire would send an unmistakable message throughout the region that Iran is on the rise and America is on the run. That would be a disaster for the region and the U.S.

Lieberman, however, used nearly identical talking points to retroactively justify the U.S invasion of Iraq. In the spring of 2004, after the search for WMDs proved fruitless, Lieberman argued that without U.S. intervention, Iraq would have embarked on its own campaign to dominate the “Arab world”:

I believe that [Iraq] developed [weapons of mass destruction] to use them against their neighbors. I’m talking about the Iraqis, their neighbors in the Arab world and the Persian Gulf.

Remember that Saddam was very clear that he had a plan. And the plan was to become the emperor, if you will, of the Arab world, to make Baghdad the capital of the Arab world.

Now, of course, that would have been terrible for the Arab world, and it would have been terrible for us. And, I think, in the short run his neighbors in the Persian Gulf and the Arab world are probably more significantly safe today than they were before, almost equal to our increase in safety as a result of our victory.

Lieberman was wrong in his solution for how to deal with Iraq and he’s wrong today about the consequences of U.S. military action against Iran. Fortunately, Lieberman is standing increasingly alone — according to a recent poll, 72 percent of the American public “favor diplomacy to pressure with Iran.”

Ryan Powers

Digg It!

UPDATE: Carpetbagger has more.

Fox News: ‘Blame Mr. Rogers!’

Fri, 2007-07-06 13:44

This morning, Fox and Friends asked, “Why is it at the end of every term, these kids who on the bubble…they come in and beg for extra credit so they can get an A?” Citing a report by a university professor, Fox speculated one possible answer: “Blame Mr. Rogers! Because Mr. Rogers had an optimistic message where everyone was special even if they didn’t deserve it.” During the segment, one chyron read: “Mr. Rogers’ Mixed Message: ‘You’re Special.’” Another chyron asked: “Is Mr. Rogers Ruining Kids?: Sense of Entitlement.” Watch it:

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The late Fred Rogers was the highly acclaimed host of the children’s television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and was a tireless advocate for children. Fox’s Brian Kilmeade said “that man unintentionally did a whole generation or two a disservice.”

69 percent:

Fri, 2007-07-06 13:22

Number of voting Americans who “disapprove of President George W. Bush commuting the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.”