Saturday, July 30, 2005

CIA Analyst Roasts Bush

...

In Falls Church Sunday, McGovern said his group is nearing the conclusion of an independent investigation of the source of what is widely held to be a forged document attributed to the government of Niger in 2001. The document indicated there was a deal to deliver yellow cake uranium to Iraq. He said indications already point to the fact that the forgery was produced in the U.S., perhaps from among circles of former U.S. government officials that were involved in the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s. He said some damning evidence and conclusions could be made public within a few months. “It was an inside job,” he charged, arising in the aftermath of the sudden assertion on August 26, 2002 by Vice President Cheney that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons along with its other phantom so-called “weapons of mass destruction.” That speech was the first “call to arms” that led to the invasion of Iraq the following March.

Then CIA Director George Tenet told his analysts, McGovern said, that the White House did not want any intelligence estimate of Iraq, but when Congressional pressure arose, he told them to do an estimate that agreed with Cheney’s claims. “Thus, we got the worst intelligence estimate in U.S. history. It was demonstrably false, matched only by the CIA assessment in 1962 that there were no Soviet missiles in Cuba. But that was an honest mistake,” McGovern said. “This one was dishonest from the get-go.”

He said there was “enough ambiguity” in the sanitized version of the estimate that the Congress saw to prevent more doubts from being raised at the time, he said.

,,,

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Military, Bush team clashed on questioning -report

Senior U.S. military lawyers strong disagreed in 2003 with an administration legal task force's conclusion that President Bush had authority to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the New York Times reported.

Citing newly disclosed documents, the Times said in its Thursday editions that despite the protests, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law. The reason was the special character of the fight against terrorism.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

OH-2: Swift Boating of Hackett Kicks Into High Gear

Eric Minameyer was just the beginning. I knew it was important when I got a call saying, "We need the bloggers now more than ever, and this has nothing to do with money."

Eric Minameyer, an advisor to Jean Schmidt, was just the beginning of the "swift boating" of Paul Hackett in what appears to be a coordinated effort by her campaign. Upon arriving at Hackett HQ this morning to take some photos and videos, I was shocked to hear that the deplorable tactics have been taken to a new level in the past 24 hours.


Do what you can to help Hackett. Vist Chris Bower's site, at the above link, and send Hackett a few bucks. This special election is huge, and Schmidt's tactics are disgusting.

Majority of Americans Now Believe Bush Lied

It looks like the people are starting to get it.

For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for invading. The administration's credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003.

By 58%-37%, a majority say the United States won't be able to establish a stable, democratic government in Iraq.

More On Traitorgate

A lot of rehash, some new stuff from Wilson's book, but I found this gem:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified information.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More Frat Pranks From Abu Gharib

According to Rush Limbaugh, the torture at Abu Gharib was "sort of like hazing, a fraternity prank. Sort of like that kind of fun." - August 4, 2004 A recently obtained document from General Taguba's report to the Pentagon:

"I saw [name redacted] fucking a kid; his age would be about 15 - 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad, and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then, when I heard the screaming, I climbed the door, because on top it wasn't covered, and I saw [name redacted], who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid's ass.... And the female soldier was taking pictures."


More on this story:

Pentagon Blocks Release of Abu Ghraib Images: Here's Why

...

In the same period, reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: “Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men….The women were passing messages saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.’

“Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.”

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Framing Wars

This lengthy NY Times Magazine piece on George Lakoff and framing, gives an excellent overview on his linguistic ideas (I have two recommended books by him on the right side bar). What struck me about the criticism is the point they missed, i.e. why do Americans vote against their self interest?

In his books, Lakoff goes into detail on the concept of cognitive framing that people do, with supporting studies He explains how we are persuaded with identification and conventional wisdom over compelling rational argument. In fact, Luntz, his biggest critic, also knows this. In the past, Luntz himself even told Republicans to use certain words, even when they didn't add to any context of the argument.

The article also suggests that Lakoff is viewed as some kind of twelve step guru. While some may believe this, I see his contribution as another piece to the forensic puzzle. It's a piece that can't be ignored. It's not a substitute for ideas and policy. But if we can't better frame our ideas and policy in a way that is easy to grasp by those millions who continually vote identity, rather than self interest and national interest, we're doomed to stay the minority party.

In any case, the article is a good read. I also have links to Rockridge, Longview, and Frameshop on the right, which will provide more information.

Update: There's also a follow-up to Bai's original article with questions and answers

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hearing on Security Implications of Revealing Covert Agent's Identity

This hearing is well worth your time. You'll find the hearing under the "Recent Programs" heading.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bloomberg to reveal Rove, Libby gave false testimony

Interesting development.

Bloomberg News has slotted a story alleging that senior Bush advisor Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff 'Scooter' Libby provided false testimony to the special prosecutor to a Washington-based grand jury, RAW STORY has been told.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the Chicago special prosecutor appointed to investigate the outing of former covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson, may also be looking at whether other crimes -- such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information -- were committed.

It's breaking tonight or tomorrow AM, sources say. Bloomberg has been among the head of the pack in breaking elements of the CIA leak scandal; they recently hired former Wall Street Journal editor Al Hunt.


Update:



Think Progress has the Bloomberg story up

Plame's Identity Marked As Secret

It looks like another excuse goes up in smoke.

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

...

Coulter Caught Cribbing

Too funny....

A column penned by the doyenne of right-wing rhetoric Ann Coulter has come under fire for alleged plagiarism, RAW STORY has learned.

Much of Coulter's Jun. 29, 2005 column, “Thou Shall Not Commit Religion,” bears a striking resemblance to pieces in magazines dating as far back as 1985—and a column written for the Boston Globe in 1995.

A RAW STORY examination found Coulter's work to be at worst plagiarism and at best a cut-and-paste repetition of points authored by conservative religious groups in the early 1990s. These groups sought to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts, detailing projects paid for by the NEA they dubbed “obscene.”

...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Move Over Martha Stewart

Murray Waas is reporting that Karl Rove may have lied by ommission to the FBI in a 2003 interview.

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Cointelpro Redux?

It's been over 30 years since Nixon used the FBI as a political weapon. Cointelpro was a program that infiltrated dissent groups like the NAACP, kept files on people like Martin Luther King for blackmail purposes, and performed agitprop functions in many of the antiwar organizations.

According to this NY Times story, it looks like the Bush administration is once again using the FBI against organizations dissenting against various policies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.

The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a
federal court in Washington.

...

More Irony

"I want Congress to hear loud and clear, it is unacceptable behavior to leak classified information when we have troops at risk." - Bush, October 10, 2001

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for shaking loose the cobwebs.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Of Note:

Step back from Plamegate for a moment and ask yourself a broader question: why did the White House react so violently to Joe Wilson's suggestion that the story about Saddam Hussein trying to procure uranium from Niger was false?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Let's Keep It Simple

It's About National Security...Stupid!!!



The public debate about the public disclosure of Valerie Plame has become lost in word parsing, factual accuracies of Joe Wilson's report, legal hair splitting and weasel wording, and who said what to whom. The Republican National committee has even issued a set of talking points to keep the debate and focus off what should be a central issue: what damage did this disclosure do to our national security.

Novak's disclosure, that Valerie Plame "is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction," started databases churning in every intelligence service over the globe. Just to make the work of our enemies easier, Novak subsequently published an article stating that Plame worked for Brewster-Jennings & Associates, which it turns out, was a CIA cover company.

Lost in the inside-the-beltway, eye-glazing analysis, by Sabbath Gasbags, talk radio pontificates, and access party hopping journalists, is what were the outcomes of these disclosures.

We know that Jennings Brewster is a cover company for the CIA, and now so do our enemies.

We know that JBA's cover was as an energy consulting firm with ties in the most volatile area of the globe, the middle east. One writer claims that BJA worked with ARAMCO, the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company. We know that BJA agents worked on intelligence and operations surrounding weapons of mass destruction. We know that proliferation of WMDs is our greatest national security threat. We know that various terrorist groups are trying to get their hands on WMDs, including nuclear weapons and components.

We know that the CIA agents working under this cover did so with No Official Cover (NOC). They don't have the black diplomatic passports that provide many in the intelligence community with a get out of jail free card. NOC agents are subject to arrest, imprisonment, and even execution, when they are captured on foreign soil.

We know that the Justice Department launched the investigation at the request of the CIA. ""If she was not undercover, we would have no reason to file a criminal referral," the CIA official said."

The questions that need to be answered:

What missions were compromised as a result of this disclosure?

What, if any, increase in risks are we now facing from trafficking in WMDs? Were there active missions that were making it more difficult for our enemies to acquire WMDs?

What assets were lost due to this disclosure? Have agents or informants been arrested, deported, or executed? Were ties between BJA severed? What was the value lost by exposing BJA as a CIA cover?

When we get down to what's really at issue here, it's not about a political game. It's about the increased danger this political dirty trick put us, and the damage to our intelligence assets.

Related:

Naming agent endangers lives, experts decide

The Big Lie About Valerie Plame

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The War Is Finally Over For James Stockdale

-Bryan



James Stockdale, RIP or “Who Was I? Where Did I Go?”

James Stockdale is probably best remembered as Ross Perot’s running mate during the 1992 election. Hired as a placeholder for a ‘real’ vice presidential candidate, Stockdale found himself the de facto VP candidate after Perot’s temporary campaign hiatus failed to produce a new running mate. Since Stockdales’ patriotism was beyond question, his selection was seen only as upside by campaign managers. They must have never factored that James Stockdale might speak and render an opinion on current events or policy.

Stockdale is best remembered for his quizzical VP debate against Dan Quayle and Al Gore. Since Stockdale never was expected to be the eventual VP candidate for Perot he wasn’t adequately prepped for a debate on the level and importance of the vice presidential slot, and gawd did it show. He came across as a deranged POW, filtering everything through his experience as a Vietnamese prisoner of war.

The opening line of “Who Am I? Why Am I Here?” could have worked. But after a few minutes of Stockdale rambling, it became all too apparent that those were probably very real, very earnestly asked questions. Stockdales performance is probably best remembered as the beginning of the end for Ross Perot’s presidential bid.

Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey did a priceless bit with Hartman as Stockdale and Carvey in his great Perot imitation. Perot takes Stockdale on a ride, “jus’ goin’ out in the country for a lil’ drive” and tries to abandon him out in the sticks like an unwanted Dalmatian. Stockdale alllllllllmost falls for it too.

The point being, military service and all is great, and I don’t mean to sully the reputation of a highly decorated military veteran. Stockdale was the lead man during Gulf of Tonkin incident, and he knew it was a fraud when it was happening. A truly great man would have let it be known far and wide that his country was being taken to war on lies, which Stockdale knew.

James Stockdale was a dutiful man. He held his tongue and went along with the lie, even spending 7 years as a POW. He was, however, not a great man. A great man would have stood up to a lie and put his country over orders. His rank of Vice Admiral was achieved virtually because of his POW status, feel good punting upstairs. No, if James Stockdale were a great man, he would have called bullshit when he saw bullshit.

"[I] had the best seat in the house to watch that event, and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets -- there were no PT boats there.... There was nothing there but black water and American fire power." – James Stockdale

Instead, Stockdale chose to publish letters he wrote to his wife.

RIP Admiral Stockdale.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

This is just too funny to pass up.



Shamelessly using from Al Franken's blog I found this too ironic to pass up:

Folks, don’t forget this, Alberto Gonzales is the first Hispanic American ever nominated to be Attorney General, just as Miguel Estrada was the first Hispanic American to ever be nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. These liberal, white Democrats are trying to now smear a second Hispanic. Never let that escape your mind. The people who claim to be open-minded, non-discriminatory, tolerant and all of that are themselves, racists, in addition to everything else they’re being. Liberal, white Democrats trying to smear a second Hispanic.


That was Rush Limbaugh on his January 5, 2005 show. His wannabe, Sean Hannity on January 24, 2005, where he said,

There seems to be a pattern whenever there are advancing African-Americans, Hispanics-Americans, they are always attacked by liberals who like to say that they have a monopoly on helping minorities.


Aside from the blatant ignorance of the real facts that support the premise, there's a big nine job opening, and the speculation that Gonzalez in on the short list, here's the current talking point:

Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said he had told administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are considered suspect by religious conservatives, would fracture the president's conservative backers.


It'll be interesting as to who's ass gets kissed over the next few weeks.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth



IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Of Note:



Gaylord Nelson, Former Senator Who Founded Earth Day, Dies at 89

A Livable Shade of Green

Newly released data show that Portland, America's environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions. It has reduced emissions below the levels of 1990, the benchmark for the Kyoto accord, while booming economically.

What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a greener city, and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide.


FBI Whistle-Blower to Run for Congress

42% of voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Turd Blossom Dirty Trick Goes Up In Plume Over Plame

-Augie



"Houston we have a problem." The second high ranking source of the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity has been confirmed by Time reporter, Matt Cooper. It's none other than the senior political advisor, affectionately called "Turd Blossom" by the president, Karl Rove.

Valerie Plame was a senior CIA operative, who ran an undercover operation to track the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In addition to blowing her cover, the disclosure also put at risk employees of the cover company she had run, as well as any missions were active at the time. Who knows what intelligence, sources, or operations were compromised by this?

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.) makes it a felony to disclose "information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent," punishable by fines up to $50,000, up to ten years imprisonment, or both. Other crimes under 50 U.S.C 421 include conspiracy, misprision of felony, aiding and abetting such disclosure.

We now have the two sources responsible for this. Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, and the President's Senior Political advisor. To say this wasn't a well coordinated dirty trick is implausible. Can this level of decision making happen without the knowledge of higher ups? Would any reasonable person believe that their strategy didn't have approval? This wasn't a leak. This was a coordinated effort of political revenge against the wife of Ambassador Wilson, who was being punished for telling the American people that the documents, used by President Bush to make his sale of nuclear material to Iraq claim, were forgeries, and poorly done forgeries at that.

Watergate or Iran Contra pale in comparison when the risk to the security of the United States is considered. John Walker and Aldrich Ames compromised our security for financial gain. Libby and Rove, with probable knowledge higher-ups put our security at risk for a cheap political gain. The acts were the same. No difference. The only remaining question was whether Vice President Cheney or President George Bush had foreknowledge of these acts or participated in any cover-up.

Updates:

I shook loose a few of the cobwebs, and dug up this March, 2004 article. If this has legs, add perjury to the charges.

Josh Marshall poses an interesting question. ...Fitzgerald shouldn't be pressing matter of jailing journalists unless he thinks he's on his way to prosecuting a serious crime.

So just a question: Would Fitzgerald have pushed to get Cooper and Miller in the slammer if some other party in the White House weren't in a lot of trouble?

Irony

- Bryan



One of the most effective tools the mujahadeen used to break the backs of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan were CIA supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Shoulder fired, easily transportable, short learning curve, and extremely lethal, the 500 or so CIA supplied Stingers were reportedly behind the downing of over 300 Soviet aircraft, mostly helicopter gunships. Their threat was a constant concern for the Soviets, who never really were able to successfully defend themselves from the fire and forget Stinger.

The recent downing of a Chinook in Afghanistan is suspected to have been with an SA-16, a Russian shoulder fired missile similar to the Stinger. It also is ideal for shooting down helicopter gunships. The Russians are hungry, for arms exports and probably aren’t turning down anybody with hard currency.


Flush with cash from the revitalized opium trade, it’s more likely than not various elements in Afghanistan will have increasing access to weapons like the SA-16.

I’d like to think was a fluke, a lucky one time shot. Unfortunately, the recent history Chechnya and Iraq being flooded with Russian arms predicts this will be increasingly common.

In less than 20 years we go from supplying SAM’s to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, to US troops being attacked with Russian SAM’s, all in the same territory with many of the same indigenous actors. There is irony in there somewhere.

Related:

Juan Cole provides an excellent analysis of the military implications of this development

Of Note....


MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case

What happens if more conservative justice replaces Justice O'Connor?

Supreme Court: What You Can Do RIGHT NOW