Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) “signed legislation Friday that made New Hampshire the first state to repeal a law requiring that a parent be notified before a minor receives an abortion.”
“U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Taliban militants who had attacked NATO forces slammed into civilian homes in southern Afghanistan, killing or wounding at least 30 people including women and children, a local official said Saturday.”
On Friday, London was “gripped by a terrorist threat” when “police found two Mercedes sedans packed with gasoline, nails and gas canisters.” The New York Times notes that the “idea of a multiple attack using car bombs — a departure from the backpack suicide attacks of the London bombings of July 2005 — raised concerns among security experts that jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda may have imported tactics more familiar in Iraq.”
This week, Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and George Voinovich (R-OH) joined a growing chorus of conservative voices dissenting from the administration on the war in Iraq. Lugar said that victory in Iraq is “almost impossible.” Voinovich predicted that “many of us are going to look at legislation that will limit the number of troops.”
But while conservative lawmakers are dissenting in greater numbers, the White House is still insisting that we are making progress in Iraq. As recently as June 18, Tony Snow maintained that President Bush is “impressed and reassured by the progress [Iraq is] making on political, security and economic reforms.” Despite these rosy assessments however, recent public opinion polls suggest that most Americans aren’t buying what the President is selling.
According to an analysis of public opinion polls by American Progress fellow Ruy Teixeira, 54 percent of Americans believe that the situation in Iraq has gotten worse and only 29 percent believe that the United States is winning the war on terrorism:
CNN reports, “Normally VIP visits to Iraq are kept under wraps, at least until the day of the trip. But Senator John McCain Friday night said he’s going to Iraq next week.” In April, the last time he visited in Iraq, McCain claimed Americans were “not getting the full picture” of the situation in Iraq. On that same visit, McCain was escorted through a Baghdad market with 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters, and 2 Apache gunships. Here’s the video from that visit:var flvmccainstroll32024014435 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/mccainstroll.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvmccainstroll32024014435', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvmccainstroll32024014435.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvmccainstroll32024014435.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvmccainstroll32024014435.write('flvmccainstroll32024014435');
“A Justice Department official who was eyed as a possible replacement for one of several fired U.S. attorneys announced her resignation Friday. Rachel Brand, the assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, will step down July 9, the department said in a statement.” Last week, Steve Benen recounted three other DoJ officials who have recently announced their resignations on Fridays.
UPDATE: Reuters reports Brand became “the seventh official to quit the department since the Democratic-led Congress launched an investigation in March into the firing of nine federal prosecutors.”
On Wednesday, Pete Evich, the former legislative director for scandal-plagued Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), said “he was recently contacted by federal investigators in their probe of Doolittle’s ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.”
Evich is currently a lobbyist representing Sierra College. CQ reports today that perhaps not coincidentally, Doolittle requested a $300,000 earmark for Sierra College in the 2008 Financial Services appropriations bill.
Rep. John T. Doolittle, who’s been caught up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, has requested a substantial earmark for a college represented by one of his former aides, who, coincidentally, has just been contacted by the FBI.
Pete Evich, a lobbyist and Doolittle’s legislative director until 2002, has been representing Sierra College, which could end up receiving $300,000 if the congressman’s request is approved.
Doolittle, R-Calif., asked for the money to be included in the 2008 Financial Services appropriations bill (HR 2829). It’s intended for a “mechatronics workforce training initiative,” according to the House Appropriations Committee.
Doolittle repeatedly accepted large sums of money and expensive gifts from Abramoff and his clients. In return, he routed $400,000 to the lobbyist’s client and championed Abramoff’s interests to federal officials.
Evich is the second Doolittle aide to acknowledge their contacts with the feds, suggesting “prosecutors are widening their investigation in the wake of an FBI raid on Doolittle’s home in April that led him to give up his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.”
TPMmuckaker also points out that Doolittle is now claiming that “he has no problem with his former aides talking to prosecutors because he thinks it might hasten his dismissal as a focus of the Abramoff probe.” “I’ve always believed that the truth vindicates us,” he said. “I am glad they are going to delve more into it.”
Former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz — who resigned last month after being embroiled in a corruption scandal at the World Bank — announced that he has found a comfortable landing pad from which to continue to disseminate his right-wing ideology:
Paul Wolfowitz vowed to continue in political life after he steps down as president of the World Bank this weekend following an internal revolt. … He said he would be joining the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, as a visiting scholar, which would allow him to continue influencing public policy.
Prior to his recent government service, Wolfowitz served as a member of AEI’s Council of Academic Advisors.
Before the Iraq war, AEI helped spawn the administration’s regime change plans. Several Iraq war architects — such as Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and Doug Feith — previously worked at AEI before their service in the administration. In February 2003, President Bush delivered a major policy speech to AEI, mapping out his war plan, “thanking them [AEI] for their service” and support for the invasion.
To this day, AEI “has the President’s ear” on national security issues. Bush’s escalation plan is largely based on a November 2006 paper by AEI analyst Frederick Kagan, who argued that the U.S. should “re-enter [Iraq] in large numbers.”
AEI offered a rigorous defense of Wolfowitz, despite his corrupt practices at the Bank. Said one AEI scholar: “The coordinated effort to harm him has revealed to polite society in Washington that something at the World Bank is seriously wrong.” Another placed the blame on Bank employees, slandering them as “militant staff.”
With his return to AEI, Wolfowitz said he continues to hold out hope of one day “rejoining the government.”
Earlier this week, ThinkProgress reported that this Sunday’s edition of NBC’s Meet the Press will include a journalist roundtable featuring David Brody, a blogger and news correspondent for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Meet the Press has now confirmed its Sunday roundtable lineup:
Senior National Correspondent, Christian Broadcasting Network
Host, PBS’s Tavis Smiley
Host, PRI’s The Tavis Smiley Show
Moderator, PBS’s All-American Democratic Forum
Political Director, NBC News
Senior Correspondent, PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
The White House has refused to take a position on Dick Cheney’s exemption from President Bush’s executive order, claiming that Cheney has “legislative and executive functions.” Today, GovExec reported several more instances of the White House acknowledging Cheney’s executive branch status:
On April 9, 2003: Cheney lauded a recent court ruling, stating, “I think it restored some of the legitimate authority of the executive branch, the president and the vice president, to be able to conduct their business.
On April 14, 2004: speaking in China, Cheney explained that President Dwight Eisenhower first gave the vice president an office “in the executive branch,” adding “since then the responsibilities have gradually increased.”
In 2001, Bush stated: “[w]e know the difference between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch, but I do believe the President and the Vice President can play a part, a strong part, in helping advance an American agenda.”
The White House website notes: “To learn more about the executive branch please visit the president’s Cabinet page on the White House web site.” A click on the “Cabinet page” reveals Cheney to be a member of the Cabinet.
The Senate also disagrees with the White House’s ambiguous position. Its website states: “During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the vice president’s role has evolved into more of an executive branch position, and is usually seen as an integral part of a president’s administration. … He presides over the Senate only on ceremonial occasions.”
During a press conference last week, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace said that “the recent rise in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq is the ‘wrong metric‘ to use in assessing the effectiveness” of the U.S. military in Iraq. “So it’s not about levels of violence,” he explained. “It’s about progress … in the minds of the Iraqi people.”
Today, Pace made similar remarks. He called the measuring the level of violence in Iraq a “self-defeating approach to tracking results” and added, “What’s most important is do the Iraqi people feel better about today than they did about yesterday, and do they think tomorrow’s going to be better than today?” When asked if he actually knew how the Iraqi people currently feel about the U.S. occupation of Iraq he conceded, “I do not have that in my head.” Watch it:var flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/pacegatesiraqis.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424.write('flvpacegatesiraqis32024014424');
If Pace did consult the Iraqis about whether they “feel better about today than they did about yesterday,” the answer would be a resounding “no.” As a recent ABC News/BBC News poll found, “The optimism that helped sustain Iraqis during the first few years of the war has dissolved into widespread fear, anger and distress amid unrelenting violence“:
- 39 percent of Iraqis said they feel their lives are “going well,” compared to 71 percent in November 2005.”
- 40 percent of Iraqis said the situation in Iraq will be “somewhat or much better” a year from now, compared to 69 percent in November 2005.
- 26 percent of Iraqis said they feel “very safe” in their neighborhoods, compared to 63 percent in November 2005.
- 82 percent of Iraqis said they “lack confidence” in coalition forces.
- 69 percent of Iraqis said coalition forces make “the security situation worse.”
Whether one measures results in Iraq based on “how the Iraqi people believe they are today,” or on the increasing levels of violence, it is clear the United States is not succeeding in the war.
The Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee announced that the confirmation hearing for Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, who has repeatedly pushed homophobic, scientifically inaccurate statements, has been set for July 12. This month, Holsinger has “quietly been making courtesy calls” to senators.
Read the press release: (more…)
The AP reports: “A federal appeals court said Friday it would release some of the documents it reviewed when deciding to force journalists to testify in the CIA leak investigation. The ruling followed a request by The Associated Press and Dow Jones, which asked for the release of the sworn statements Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald gave to justify subpoenas for New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2005.”
Under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. special operations became a “giant killing machine,” according to former Army colonel Douglas Macgregor, who anticipates a change when Navy Vice Adm. Eric Olson takes the helm of the operations. “The emphasis will be on, ‘If you have to kill someone, then for God’s sakes, kill the right people,’” Macgregor said. “That’s been lost over the last several years.”
Early this morning, British police “discovered an explosive device in a car laden with gasoline, nails, and gas canisters” in central London. British authorities have not said who may be responsible for the attempted attack, but Jacqui Smith, Britian’s new homeland secretary, characterized the incident as attempted “international terrorism.” The BBC noted that the timing may be significant as the incident comes as “the second anniversary of the 7 July bombings approach[es].”
Despite counterterrorism officials having “no prior intelligence information indicating” this attack might be imminent, Britain’s increased risk of “international terrorism” has long been attributed to British involvement in the war in Iraq by numerous national security experts:
Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament:
“Britons are more - not less - likely to be the target of terrorist attacks as a result of the war in Iraq.” [BBC News, 2/2/2004]
Britain’s Joint Terrorist Analysis Center:
“[E]vents in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK.” [Financial Times, 7/19/2005]
Former chief of the British intelligence service MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller:
“UK foreign policy … in Iraq and Afghanistan” has inspired a “violent threat” to the UK that will persist for “more than a generation.” [The Independent, 11/11/2006]
David Cameron, leader of Britain’s Conservative Party:
“It is clear that over the last few years decisions that have been taken, the difficulties there have been in Iraq, clearly have had a wider effect” and “the threat to Britain was now greater as a result of the war [in Iraq] was ‘a statement of fact.’” [ABC News, 12/18/2006]
Dr. Jonathan Eyal, the director of international security at the Royal United Services Institute:
The “terrorist threat facing Britain from home-grown al-Qaeda agents is higher than at any time since the September 11 attacks in 2001.” He faulted the “wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and western government’s inability to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. [The Telegraph, 2/25/2007]
The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Iraq “has become the ‘cause celebre‘ for jihadists.” The State Department has acknowledged the war in Iraq “has been used by terrorists as a rallying cry for radicalization and extremist activity that has contributed to instability in neighboring countries.” The longer the occupation in Iraq continues, the more it serves as a recruiting and propaganda tool for terrorists. Ultimately — as British experts understand — the Iraq war leads to greater insecurity around the globe.
Today, a bipartisan group of 145 members of the House sent a letter to President Bush urging him to close Guantanamo Bay and move the detainees to military prisons in the United States. From their letter:
The global war on terror cannot be won through military might alone. It is a war of ideas and philosophies. A liability of our own creation, the existence of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay is defeating our effort to ensure that the principles of freedom, justice and human rights are spread throughout the world. We look forward to working with you on what we hope is a shared objective to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
Today, the U.N. Security Council voted (14-0, with Russia abstaining) to “immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein — a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close ‘an appalling chapter’ in his country’s history.”
Yesterday’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in a landmark racial desegregation case, which instructed local authorities “that they cannot take modest steps to bring public school students of different races together,” marked a fitting yet disappointing conclusion to the first full term of President Bush’s two Supreme Court appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Noting the Court’s rapid rightward slide, Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissenting opinion, “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.” For Roberts and Alito, the Court’s turn marks a radical departure from the false promises they made in their nomination hearings before Congress. Here’s what they said then:
ROBERTS: “I have no agenda. … Saying a judge is result-oriented…[is] about the worst thing you can say, because what you’re saying is you don’t apply the law.”
ALITO: “I think the judiciary has to [interpret broad principles of the Constitution] in a neutral fashion. I think judges have to be wary about substituting their own preferences, their own policy judgments for those that are in the Constitution.”
Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky writes in today’s Los Angeles Times that “the testimony given by John Roberts and Samuel Alito at their confirmation hearings just months earlier was a lot of baloney.” Their short activist records already demonstrate the following:
– Alito and Roberts have shown little independence, siding with one another approximately 90 percent of the time.
– They have voted together in 21 of the 23 cases that have divided the Court 5-4 this year.
– Their decisions have come to be marked by an alarming lack of respect for precedent, irreverence for the democratic process, and disregard for constitutional history.
Slate’s Emily Bazelon writes, “And yet some liberal and moderate lawyers and academics didn’t predict this at all. These members of the legal literati urged Roberts’ nomination, promising that he would be a model of restraint and principle and modesty. Why did they think that then? And how do their arguments on his behalf look now?”
The lesson for the Senate, according to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, is not to take the false assurances of Bush or any potential nominee at face value. Should another vacancy occur, Dionne said, “The Senate should refuse even to hold hearings on Bush’s next Supreme Court choice…unless the president reaches agreement with the Senate majority on a mutually acceptable list of nominees.”
More in today’s Progress Report.
This morning, Fox News reporter Laura Ingle was conducting an interview about the iPhone on the streets of New York City. In the middle of the interview, a passerby came up and yanked her microphone away from her. He then ran away, yelling expletives, before being tackled by members of the Fox News crew. Watch it:var flvfoxmic0632024014406 = new SWFObject('/wp-content/plugins/flvplayer.swf?file=http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/foxmic06.320.240.flv&autoStart=false', 'em-flvfoxmic0632024014406', '320', '260', '6', '#ffffff'); flvfoxmic0632024014406.addParam('quality', 'high'); flvfoxmic0632024014406.addParam('wmode', 'transparent'); flvfoxmic0632024014406.write('flvfoxmic0632024014406');
One of the Fox hosts explained, “Clearly people sometimes have disputes with the media; that’s not the way to handle the situation.”