Friday, July 08, 2005

After Downing Street (AFD)

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/ ('ADS is a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war . . .')

More on Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

THE centerpiece of the Bush administration's economic policy has been large federal income tax cuts aimed mainly at top earners. These tax cuts account for much of the $2 trillion increase in the national debt projected to occur during the Bush presidency. They prompted a large group of Nobel laureates in economics to issue a statement last year condemning the administration's "reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation."

Read the entire New York Times article

Bush falls off his bike again

From Fairfax Digital:
US President George W Bush hit a police officer while he was riding a bike on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland.
Bush is at the resort for the G8 summit.
Bush suffered scrapes on his hands and arms when he fell off the bike and the police officer, who was patrolling the grounds, was taken to a hospital as a precaution, White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
It was raining at the time and Bush slid on the road.
His wounds were bandaged by the White House physician, McClellan said.
The extent of the officer's injuries was not known, but he might have an ankle injury, McClellan said.
The fall did not affect the president's schedule.
He went ahead with a dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth at the annual G8 summit.
The officer is a member of the Strathclyde police department.

From the Washington Post:
President Bush's European trip started with a nasty fall.
Bush, an avid and aggressive mountain biker, collided with a local police officer Wednesday during an afternoon ride at a golf resort here, scraping his hands and arms when he hit the asphalt.
Bush, who was wearing a helmet and traveling at what a spokesman called a "pretty good speed," quickly dusted himself off. But the officer, on foot at the time, was taken to a local hospital with an ankle injury. He was released when tests revealed no fracture.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush's scrapes were "mild to moderate" and did not interfere with the president's diplomatic schedule for the day. Bush appeared later in a tuxedo for dinner with Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The bike, McClellan said, fared worse. It was unclear who was to blame for the crash.
Bush talked with the officer, a member of the local police department, and asked White House physician Richard Tubb to monitor his condition. Bush later called to check on him, McClellan said. "The president wished the officer well and said he was glad to hear he was doing okay," McClellan said. "The officer was reached on his cell phone while he was on his way home. The call lasted just a few minutes. They had a very pleasant conversation."
Bush, who turned 59 on Wednesday, prides himself on his physical fitness. He is no stranger to the dangers of biking. About a year ago, he wiped out while riding his bike at his Crawford, Tex., ranch, suffering cuts and bruises. Bush took up hard-core bicycling a few years ago after a knee injury forced him to quit running. His pace was known to leave even some well-conditioned Secret Service agents huffing.

Bush also fell off his Bike in May, 2004:
The president was 16 miles (26km) into a 17-mile ride on his ranch when he hit some loose soil while riding downhill. In addition to a military aide and Secret Service agent, Mr Bush was with his doctor, who treated him on the spot and has pronounced him "fine".
Mr Bush suffered "minor abrasions and scratches" during the fall, Trent Duffy told reporters.
He was wearing a bike helmet and mouth guard, he said.
"It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose," Mr Duffy said.
"You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."
Mr Duffy added that the president had refused an offer to drive back to the house, and had cycled home.
In January 2002, he grazed his cheek after choking on a pretzel and fainting.
And in June 2003, he fell off his hi-tech Segway scooter.

Larry Chin claims Iran hostage/president "scandal" is propaganda

Here is the Online Journal article on conspiracy and deception:

As part of the propaganda pretext towards a full-scale US military attack on Iran (covert operations and military preparations have have been ongoing for months) the Bush administration, the Associated Press, and a handful of former US hostages (all former CIA and US military officers) have accused Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being one of the 1979 hostage-takers.
The former hostages, Chuck Scott, William Daugherty, Don Sharer and David Roeder declared to the AP that they have "no doubt" that Ahmadinejad was a hostage-takers after seeing the Iranian president-elect on TV. Scott, a former US Army Colonel, declared: "This is the guy. There's no question about it. You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him." Daughtery was a CIA officer, Sharer was a US Navy attaché, and Roeder was a deputy Air Force attaché. Two other ex-hostages, William Gallegos and Kevin Hermening, reached the same conclusion after looking at photos.
It is telling that the accusations were first brought to light by the Associated Press (which itself is connected to the White House, functioning as part of the Bush administration machine). It is even more telling that the uncorroborated, unconfirmed, and unproven speculations and suspicions of former US military and CIA personnel (whose own roles in Iran in the 1970s deserve to be investigated) have immediately been made world news headlines without factual corroboration, and without cross-examination of the accusers.
Hot off of Bush's speech at Fort Bragg, the Bush/Rove machine is running with it. The hostage crisis myth—"America held hostage"—is being reignited and milked for yet another generation—Iran as fundamentalist "terrorist" hotbed, led by a "terrorist hostage taker," Ahmadinejad. Expect old blindfolded hostage footage, and reels of "fanatical Iranian street demons" to be dusted off and looped endlessly, shown alongside photos of Ahmadinejad, the new enemy of the hour.
In an interview with foreign reporters, Bush uttered what sounded like an idiot's gibberish, but was actually a surgical and calculated line, directly out of the Karl Rove playbook. Bush said: "I have no information, but obviously his involvement raises many questions." While denying having "information," Bush made sure that the accusation of Ahmadinejad "involvement" stuck, and spreads like wildfire all over the world. (Condoleeza Rice pulled an identical stunt last week, claiming to have no "information" on Syrian involvement in the recent political assassinations in Lebanon, while still accusing Syria of "involvement.")
Mark Bowden, author of the notorious Blackhawk Down (the whitewash of US operations in Somalia), is one in a growing legion of hawkish voices pushing the insinuation that the Iranian president-elect was indeed a hostage taker. Bowden said: "Ahmadinejad is just the most recent of the central players in the takeover of the American Embassy to arise to positions of power in the Iranian government." In a marvelous display of mind reading, Bowden has also concluded that Ahmadinejad is lying: "[Ahmadinejad] very assiduously denies he was involved. Probably smartly, because it doesn't help him now that he's a national figure, and it doesn't do him any favors in dealing with the rest of the world." Bowden's version of the hostage crisis, Guests of the Ayatollah, is scheduled for publication next year (perhaps timed to coincide with the US attack or concluded conquest of Iran).
While coverage within the United States has already turned the former hostages' claims into a targeted Swift Boat-type propaganda weapon, more balanced reporting from the rest of the world casts serious doubts on the accusations.
In "Bush Takes Iran Allegations Seriously" from the Guardian (UK), the actual leaders of the hostage takers deny that Ahmadinejad was part of the operation:
"Abbas Abdi, the leader of the hostage-takers, said Ahmadinejad definitely did not take part in the seizure. Abdi has since become a leading supporter of reform and sharply opposed Ahmadinejad. 'He was not part of us,' Abdi said.
"Another of the hostage-takers, Bijan Adibi, said Ahmadinejad 'was not involved. There was no one by that name among the students who took part in the U.S. Embassy seizure.'
"Adibi said it's clear from photos, which show a blindfolded American hostage next to a bearded man of about the same height, that the man could not be Ahmadinejad, who stands at 5 feet 2 inches.
"'Look at every picture of Ahmadinejad today and he is at least a head shorter. In this picture this man is the height of the American,' Adibi said."
The Guardian account also reported that not all former hostages are going along with the story. One, Air Force Colonel Thomas Schaefer said he does not believe that the man in the photos is Ahamdinejad. Other former hostages also aren't sure.
In an ideal world, Ahmadinejad's past would be a matter of simple, sober, and quick clarification. And regardless of the findings, Ahmadinejad is still the president-elect of Iran—like it or not, and in spite of the Bush administration's bellicose (and humorous) accusations of election-rigging.
In an ideal world, one would also look upon this controversy as an opportunity to revisit the deep political facts and Eurasian geostrategy surrounding the 1970s-1980s hostage crisis itself. An objective examination would expose and condemn US foreign policy and covert operations in the Middle East since World War II, including: 1) creation of "Islamic fundamentalism" and jihadist "terrorist" fronts, which remain key components of a US military-intelligence operations and foreign policy; 2) the US-British overthrow of Mossadegh, and the reign of the Shah; 3) CIA operations in the Middle East;4) oil; 5) US manipulation of both sides in the Iran-Iraq war; 6) all aspects of Iran-Contra and the "October Surprise;" and 7) CIA narcotrafficking, arms trafficking and other criminal activities . It would also delve into the exact roles played by US intelligence personnel in Iran in the 1970s who became hostages—including the current accusers.
But in this post-9/11 world, facts mean nothing, and fabrications, lies, twisted half-truths, fiction, disinformation, and brute force are everything. The Bush war machine manufactures what it wishes.
More importantly, time has run out. Or, more accurately, the Bush administration has blown up the clock, not even allowing it to tick. The attack on Iran is already underway (see Planned US-Israeli attack on Iran, Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression, and Target: Iran).
As Scott Ritter noted in US War With Iran Has Already Begun: "Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003 [the official start of the Iraq war]. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its programme of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran."
The "he was a hostage taker" propaganda is one of hundreds of tell-tale signs of mushrooming crisis. We are not blind.

Where Has All The Money Gone?

On 12 April 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Erbil in northern Iraq handed over $1.5 billion in cash to a local courier. The money, fresh $100 bills shrink-wrapped on pallets, which filled three Blackhawk helicopters, came from oil sales under the UN’s Oil for Food Programme, and had been entrusted by the UN Security Council to the Americans to be spent on behalf of the Iraqi people. The CPA didn’t properly check out the courier before handing over the cash, and, as a result, according to an audit report by the CPA’s inspector general, ‘there was an increased risk of the loss or theft of the cash.’ Paul Bremer, the American pro-consul in Baghdad until June last year, kept a slush fund of nearly $600 million cash for which there is no paperwork: $200 million of this was kept in a room in one of Saddam’s former palaces, and the US soldier in charge used to keep the key to the room in his backpack, which he left on his desk when he popped out for lunch. Again, this is Iraqi money, not US funds.

Read More at ZNet

Huck Gutman calls Bush the "worst U.S. President ever"

MR Bush has not been kinder to American people, nor secured their well-being as their elected leader is supposed to do. He has redistributed wealth from the middle class upward — to the very wealthiest families in America. Two tax cuts which give the biggest benefits to the top one per cent — those who earn more than $337,000 annually — have raised the tax burden on the middle class.

This past year, for instance, President and Mrs Bush earned $784,219 and Vice-President and Mrs Cheney earned $2,173,892. (Yes, they are both clearly in the top one per cent of income earners). The Bush-enacted tax cuts slashed their tax bills, 12 per cent for Mr Bush, 18 per cent for Mr Cheney so that they paid $110,182 less than they would have paid had the legislation not been enacted.

Meanwhile, in the longer run the only way to pay for these tax cuts — which turned a federal surplus into an enormous deficit that the Bush administration projects at $521 billion in this year alone — will be to reduce government spending on the programmes which underwrite the quality of life for poor and middle class Americans: food and income support for the poor, education and health care and pensions for the middle class. Thus, the massive tax cuts to the wealthy will be paid for by hacking away at, bankrupting and terminating programmes that support the working people of America.

Read the Complete Article

Missing Rice

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's decision to skip a Southeast Asian security meeting in Laos this month could further hurt the United States' credentials in the region, analysts said.

It will be the first time in about two decades that a US secretary of state has not attended the annual Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) foreign ministers' summit and the ARF, Asia's only official forum on security issues.

Rice, who is expected to visit Africa during the ARF meeting, will be represented by her deputy, Robert Zoellick.
Amitav Acharya, an analyst with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in Singapore, said some Southeast Asian countries will view Rice's absence as a US snub.

"It will send concerns on the level of US engagement, especially in the US support for the war on terror in Southeast Asia," Acharya told AFP.

"After all, the US called Southeast Asia the second front in the war on terror. If you call something the second front and you don't show up to defend it, then you are sending a different signal."

Ernest Bower, a partner with Washington-based consultancy BrooksBowerAsia and a former US-ASEAN Business Council president, said Rice's absence was bad diplomacy that would mask the United States' deep engagement in the region.

"The Americans suffer from bad public relations -- and having the deputy secretary of state attend the ARF and PMC (post-ministerial conference) will add to that perception problem," he said.

"Sadly, not having the secretary of state attend the... meetings will be perceived as a lack of top level US engagement in Southeast Asia.

"So, for the United States, the question remains -- is perception reality? If so, perhaps deploying Secretary Rice would be the right move."

Bower said Zoellick was an old Asia hand who is "virtually a co-secretary of state when it comes to Asia outside of Korea".

"(But) Zoellick cannot fully replace Rice. In truth, the impact is potentially greater on the US than on ASEAN," he said.

IDSS security analyst Andrew Tan said Rice's absence should not come as a surprise because President George W. Bush's unilateral-focused administration had downgraded the importance of multilateral forums like the ARF.

"It's more reflective of the preferences of the current administration in Washington which is, after all, not seeing multilateral institutions in very high regard," Tan told AFP.

From the AFP

Strange Story from Iraq

Cyrus Kar's family says his passion for a documentary film he was making about an ancient Persian ruler brought him to Iraq in May. Potential bomb parts found inside a taxi hired by the filmmaker have kept him there, locked up in a U.S. military jail outside Baghdad.

Now relatives of the 44-year-old Iranian-American have sued the U.S. government to gain his freedom. They contend his detention tramples his constitutional rights, and that FBI officials have cleared him of suspicion.

"I'm here to beg President Bush ... to release an innocent boy," Kar's aunt, Parvin Modarress, said at a news conference Wednesday to announce the filing of the lawsuit in Washington, D.C. "He went to Iraq to do his dream work, to make a documentary."

Born in Iran, Kar became as thoroughly immersed in American culture as any native-born citizen after immigrating here as a child, according to his family.

The Los Angeles resident served in the Navy for several years. He studied marketing at San Jose State University, business at Pepperdine University, and worked in the computer industry during Silicon Valley's tech boom.
And several years ago Kar decided to try his hand at filmmaking.

With help from independent director-producer Philippe Diaz, he began working on a documentary about Cyrus the Great, a Persian king during the 500s B.C.

He interviewed experts and scholars and shot up to 60 hours of footage at archaeological sites in Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan, according to his family and Diaz.

Diaz, chairman of the Los Angeles studio Cinema Libre, said Kar had spent close to $90,000 in savings and loans so far to shoot the film. The studio had paid about $10,000 and planned to put up another $100,000 or more in post-production.

Diaz thought Kar's detention was a mistake. A staunch supporter of the Iraq war, Kar was far more right of center than many left leaning colleagues and relatives, Diaz said.

"It was always a joke because Cyrus is much more conservative," Diaz said. "He always believed in everything which is American."

Among Kar's final tasks was shooting in and around the ancient city of Babylon, one of Cyrus the Great's conquests.
On May 17, officials and family say, he was traveling with an Iranian filmmaker after leaving a Baghdad hotel when their taxi was stopped at a checkpoint.

Iraqi security forces allegedly seized several dozen washing machine timers found in the taxi - components frequently used in terrorist bombs.

"I think most people would agree that's somewhat suspicious," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. John Skinner. "All of the facts need to be thoroughly questioned. ... These are life and death situations, and when it comes to issues of security you need to be extremely cautious."

Kar's relatives say that FBI agents searched his home and that Agent John D. Wilson in Los Angeles told them weeks ago that Kar's story had checked out.

The agent allegedly told the family that Kar had passed a polygraph test, been cleared of any charges, and that the washing machine timers belonged to the taxi driver, who was transporting them to a friend.

FBI spokeswoman Cathy Viray declined to comment.

Kar is among five Americans detained for suspected insurgent activity by the U.S. military in Iraq, according to his family and government officials. Others include three Iraqi-Americans and a Jordanian-American.
Incarcerated at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad International Airport, Kar spoke several times with his family during monitored 10-minute conversations.

He sounded tired in the first call in May, irate in the second. He was frustrated that the military could hold him, saying "they had all the power," according to his family.

When his aunt asked why he was detained, Kar said, "It's because of the taxi driver," when an eavesdropping American official told him not to discuss the case.

"I'm hurt by our government," said Kar's cousin Shahrzad Folger. "I'm hurt that they would do this to one of their own citizens, to one of their veterans."

From FindLaw/AP

DeLay Corruption Unending

A company indicted in a Texas campaign fundraising case says it was told that by giving a Tom DeLay political committee $25,000, company officials would get access to the U.S. House majority leader to influence legislation.

In court documents, Westar Energy of Kansas says that to meet with Mr. DeLay in 2002, company officials "were told they needed to write a check for $25,000" to Texans for a Republican Majority, known as TRMPAC.

From the Dallas News

The Myth that Corporate Tax Breaks Create Jobs

The St. Petersburg Times point out this fallacy with Motorola as an example:

In a state whose government prides itself on being stingy, Motorola Inc. has found the gift that just keeps giving. It is labeled "economic development," and for all the oversight the government provides, one would think these handouts were play money. They are not.

As Times writer Sydney P. Freedberg reports, Motorola has provided an awkward return for nearly three decades worth of multi-million-dollar government investment. The company, which reported $1.5-billion in worldwide earnings last year, has closed one of its two Florida manufacturing plants and reduced the overall state workforce from 6,500 in 1995 to roughly 3,000 today.

Still the checks keep coming, and Scott Openshaw, spokesman for the governor's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, offers an almost robotic assessment: "Without question, these incentives have been a good investment for the state." Without question? What, exactly, would constitute a bad investment?

Global economic pressures have forced many companies to re-evaluate and downsize, and Motorola is no exception. But the point in Florida is whether state and local governments can keep showering tax money on a select few of the state's 1.5-million businesses without regard for the results. How can lawmakers justify tax breaks for companies that are losing jobs or filling them with foreign workers on permanent work visas? What is the purpose?

The lack of accountability in economic development programs is almost breathtaking. One month after the state agreed to give Motorola $4.5-million to create 1,000 new jobs at its Plantation plant in 1995, the company turned around and offered buyouts to 1,000 workers at its Boynton Beach plant. When a state bureaucrat threatened to end the tax breaks in 1999, the company challenged the job-creation numbers the state was using and the state simply backed down. Three months after a Broward economic official complained about Motorola transferring jobs to Japan, the state approved another refund in 2001. Only weeks later, another county official wrote that "I have no confidence the state is actually tracking this." The next year, another refund was approved.

For this fiscal year alone, Florida will spend almost $1-billion on economic development - most of it in the form of tax breaks. Some people question whether such incentives are fair because they grant competitive advantage to a few companies, either new or politically connected, at the expense of others. Others question whether such breaks play any significant role in attracting new businesses, noting that retail giants such as Wal-Mart choose to build wherever they can find customers.

Whether such incentives are good public policy or not, they ought to at least be handed out carefully and the results measured judiciously. But that's not the way Florida does business, which is why Motorola gets tax money as it lays off workers.

California Guard Spy Unit

Military authorities yesterday began investigating whether a California National Guard unit was created to spy on citizens, as dozens of demonstrators confronted Guard officials while armed soldiers stood by.

The federal probe of the nation's largest National Guard force involves the Army's inspector general, the federal National Guard Bureau's inspector general, and the National Guard Bureau's legal division.

The unit has raised concern among peace activists that the Guard is resorting to the same type of civilian monitoring that helped fuel protests during the Vietnam War. During the 1960s and '70s, the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans. Such monitoring, while not illegal, would be a departure for the Guard.

Under scrutiny is a California National Guard unit with a tongue-twisting name: the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management, and Intelligence Fusion program. It was established last year and came to public light after a recent story in the San Jose Mercury News.

From the Boston Globe

Plame, Miller, Novak, & Rove

The American Progress published the following rundown of the "Plame Affair" and it's Karl Rove:

We Do The Research So Reporters Don't Have To
Stunningly, no member of the White House press corps has asked press secretary Scott McClellan about Karl Rove's role in outing former CIA operative Valerie Plame since Rove's lawyer admitted on Saturday that Rove was one of Time reporter Matt Cooper's sources. Below are ten vital facts that the media needs to communicate -- and that Americans deserve to know -- about PlameGate. (Click here to get the email addresses of your local media outlets, and let them know they're missing out on a serious story.)

THE PLAME LEAK IS OF VITAL IMPORTANCE: Commenting on the remarks of the federal judges who have ruled on Cooper/Miller case, Lawrence O'Donnell today pointed out that "All the judges who have seen the prosecutor's secret evidence firmly believe he is pursuing a very serious crime, and they have done everything they can to help him get an indictment." And remember, it was George W. Bush's father who, speaking at CIA headquarters in 1999, said, "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors." Likewise, when asked whether exposing Valerie Plame's identity would be "worse than Watergate," President Bush's close colleague Ed Gillespie said, "Yeah, I suppose in terms of the real world implications of it," adding that "to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative -- it's abhorrent, and it should be a crime, and it is a crime." Those who try to play down the importance of PlameGate are deceiving themselves.

KARL ROVE HAS NOT YET ANSWERED WHETHER HE IS A SUBJECT OF THE INVESTIGATION: Rove's attorney Robert Luskin acknowledged over the weekend that Karl Rove has testified "two or three times" before the grand jury. These multiple visits prompted one lawyer "representing a witness sympathetic to the White House" to tell Newsweek that there is "growing 'concern' in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove." Luskin has insisted in several recent interviews that Rove is not a "target" of Fitzgerald's investigation. But this leaves open the possibility that Rove is a "subject" of the investigation. The difference? While a "target" is a "putative defendant" according to the U.S. Attorneys' Manual, a "subject" is a person not yet thought to have committed a crime but "whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation" (these two definitions are distinct from the third possible status, a mere "witness"). Lawrence O'Donnell, who broke the news of Rove's contacts with Time reporter Matt Cooper, notes: "Three trips to the same grand jury is frequently an indicator of subject status." So, Mr. Rove, if you're not a target, are you a witness or a subject?

ROVE HAS NEVER DENIED LEAKING THE IDENTITY OF WILSON'S WIFE: The public statements by Karl Rove and his attorney Robert Luskin regarding Rove's role have been worded vaguely, in such a way that leaves unclear whether Rove is denying that he ever revealed (in any way) the true identity of Joseph Wilson's wife, or whether he is merely denying that he revealed the specific name -- Valerie Plame (also her maiden name) -- that she used only while carrying out her covert work. Rove's attorney told Newsweek that Rove "did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA"; he told the Los Angeles Times that Rove "absolutely did not identify Valerie Plame." And in August 2004, Rove denied knowing Plame's name: "Well, I'll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." Under a strict interpretation, these statements confirm only that Rove did not leak Plame's name, not whether he revealed her role as a covert operative.

ROVE'S DISCLOSURE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION IS UNCLEAR: As several commentators have noted, Rove's attorney has almost uniformly stated that Rove never "knowingly" disclosed classified information (although on one occassion, Luskin did apparently say to Bloomberg News that Rove "did not reveal any confidential information," leaving off the word "knowingly"). As Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out: "Not coincidentally, the word 'knowing' is the most important word in the controlling statute (U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent "knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." So, did Rove ever unknowingly disclose classified information? Moreover, a legal memo obtained by Hill reporter Josh Marshall interpreted the relevant laws to hold that "a government insider, with access to classified information, such as Rove is also prohibited from confirming or further disseminating the identity of a covert agent even after someone else has leaked it." According to today's New York Times, "Cooper's decision to drop his refusal to testify followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Mr. Cooper and Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser, according to a person who has been officially briefed on the case." Did Rove ever confirm or disseminate classified information?

ROVE COULD COME CLEAN AT ANY TIME: A simple, clear statement by Rove would do much to end speculation about his role in any potential wrongdoing. Yet Rove is refusing to answer questions about the case, and, more suspiciously, his attorney is justifying his silence with the specious claim that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has "asked us not to talk about what Karl has had to say." As O'Donnell points out, "Prosecutors have absolutely no control over what witnesses say when they leave the grand jury room. Rove can tell us word-for-word what he said to the grand jury and would if he thought it would help him." The only thing that prevents him from doing so, O'Donnell adds, is "a good lawyer who is trying to keep him out of jail."

BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS COULD KEEP MILLER OUT OF JAIL: Whether one supports or opposes Judith Miller's refusal to reveal her source, the fact remains that she never had to face this fate. At any time, the Bush administration officials who leaked Valerie Plame's identity could step forward and relieve Miller of her difficult circumstances. As Joseph Wilson noted last night, "The sentencing of Judith Miller to jail for refusing to disclose her sources is the direct result of the culture of unaccountability that infects the Bush White House from top to bottom. ... Clearly, the conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security." Likewise, John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon during the Watergate controversy, said on Tuesday: "Whoever it is, he or she is a huge coward. And the fact that they would let somebody [go to prison] -- this is the sort of thing that Mafia people do, that drug kings do, not somebody who's serving in the White House as a public servant."

ROVE AND NOVAK HAVE A TRACK RECORD: Karl Rove and Robert Novak apparently have a history of spreading damaging information. In January 2003, Ron Suskind reported in Esquire that "Sources close to the former president [George H.W. Bush] say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted."

AT LEAST ONE WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL HAS BEEN CAUGHT IN A LIE: Rove's acknowledgement of his role in spreading information about Wilson and Plame seems to clearly contradict a claim in October 2003 by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who said that "those individuals [Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams, and Lewis Libby] assured me they were not involved with this." So, did Karl Rove and his White House colleagues deceive Scott McClellan, or did Scott McClellan deceive the American people?

AN APPARENT DISCREPANCY EXISTS IN THE TIMELINE OF ROVE'S CONTACTS WITH JOURNALISTS: Though Rove's involvement in spreading information about former ambassador Wilson and his wife is now known, the timeline remains unclear. Recent statements from Rove's lawyer have only muddied the picture. In October 2003, Rove reportedly admitted to the grand jury "that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding [Plame] with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists," part of an "aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife." According to investigative journalist Murray Waas, Rove told the grand jury that "he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in [Robert] Novak's column." But according to Rove's attorney Robert Luskin, "Rove spoke to Cooper three or four days before Novak's column appeared." What's the real story here?

PRESIDENT BUSH'S THOUGHTS ARE UNKNOWN: For well over a year, the White House line has been that "no one wants to get to the bottom of [this investigation] more than the President of the United States." Considering his great interest, it seems surprising, then, that President Bush has had nothing to say about Saturday's revelation that his own top advisor, Karl Rove, apparently did indeed participate in the coordinated campaign to smear former ambassador Joe Wilson. This fact alone speaks volumes about the character of this White House.

Ingrid Betancourt Update

A Colombian judge Wednesday sentenced leaders of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in abentia to 40-year prison terms for the 2002 kidnapping of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who remains in captivity.
The seven suspects include top FARC leader Pedro Marin, whose nickname is "Sure Shot", Edgar Devia and Jorge Briceno.
The FARC leaders were accused of hostage taking, kidnapping, terrorism and rebellion.
Betancourt, who holds both Colombian and French nationalities, was abducted on February 23, 2002 as she travelled in a rebel-controlled region shortly after peace talks broke down and government troops were ordered into the safe haven.
She was running for the presidency on the ticket of a tiny Green party. Her running mate was also kidnapped by FARC.

LINK to story

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Miller goes to jail

News Links

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rove & the "Plame Affair"

Rove's lawyer told Newsweek that his client 'never knowingly disclosed classified information.' Knowingly.

"Not coincidentally, the word 'knowing' is the most important word in the controlling statute ( U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent 'knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States.'"