Saturday, July 4, 2009

DC Delusions, Denials. Deceptions And Dereliction Of Duty

DC Delusions, Denials. Deceptions And Dereliction Of Duty

Dick Morris: Palin Took Big Risk in Quitting Office | By: Tim Collie

Reacting to Gov. Sarah Palin’s stunning resignation announcement Friday, political analyst and best-selling author Dick Morris said the former vice presidential candidate is likely freeing herself up for a run for the U.S. Senate next year or the presidency in 2012.

But Morris, a Newsmax columnist and one of the leading political minds in the United States, said he would not have advised Palin to resign in the middle of her term. It opens her up to charges that she is a quitter and reinforces an image of her as “flaky” in the mainstream media.

Morris declined to speculate what effect this could have on the GOP, which he said should be focusing on stopping President Barack Obama’s policies in healthcare and other areas. Palin is a formidable figure, he said, and if the GOP mounts a strong defense against Obama she’ll be one of many promising candidates in 2012.

“I think she felt too moored to Alaska and she had to get out of there to solidify her national and international credentials,’’ Morris said. “But that opens yourself up to the attack that you’ve only served half your term, two years. What kind of basis is that to think you could be president?

“I think it would have been better to serve out her term – I think it’s better to get that experience under your belt,” Morris said.

Still digesting the surprising news Friday just after Palin’s announcement, Morris offered four possibilities behind Palin’s reasoning:

Palin could be preparing to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2010. Palin defeated Murkowski’s father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the 2006 Republican primary.

She’s fed up with politics because of “all the personal garbage she’s been subject to” and could be looking at a career as an author or even TV personality.

She wants to run full-time for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Now is simply not a good time to be governor because every state is facing shortfalls and Palin is dealing with a hostile legislature and Democratic critics who have showered her with unfounded ethics complaints.

“And then of course there’s the possibility of something we don’t know about, and in that case, we’ll just have to see,” Morris said.

But Morris was perplexed over how resigning in the middle of her term would help her in a presidential run, and who would have given her such advice among political professionals.

“I don’t see how this helps her other than to take her out of the line of fire as a governor, but she did need all the experience she can get,” Morris said. “She’s been the mayor of a town of 7,000 people except for two and a half years as governor.

“It’s not at all clear how this helps her.”

Morris said he was aware through contacts close to Palin that she was very sensitive about using her office to increase her national exposure. She was always bothered that she wasn’t given enough time to Alaska’s issues, a problem she hinted at in her short statement Friday.

Palin was also up against the insurmountable fact of Alaska’s geography – every political trip or conference would mean more days away from her state than the average governor would face in the lower 48.

“She was getting a lot of criticism about being out of state too much,’’ Morris said. “It’s not like the governor of New York where you can just hop down to Washington for a few hours and be back in the evening.

“I think maybe she was being too tied to the governorship and not being able to develop her image as a national person or develop credentials in foreign affairs,’’ Morris said.

© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.-

Advocacy Groups Should Halt Attacks on Moderate Democrats, Obama Says

President Obama, strategizing yesterday with congressional leaders about health-care reform, complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation.

In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to “true” health-care reform.

“We shouldn’t be focusing resources on each other,” Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. “We ought to be focused on winning this debate.”

Specifically, Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for “advancing legislation” that fulfills his goal of expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system.

In the call, leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August.

For his part, the president vowed to use his strong approval rating with voters to continue making the case for sweeping reform, according to one congressional staffer with knowledge of the conversation. Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats, according to the source, who did not have permission to speak on the record about the discussion.

The White House had no comment on the president’s call.

In recent weeks, liberal bloggers and grass-roots groups such as, Democracy for America, Service Employees International Union and Progressive Change Campaign Committee have targeted Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).

A fundraising video produced by Democracy for America suggests Landrieu is a “sellout” because she has received $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the health-care industry and has yet to endorse the concept of a government-run health insurance plan to compete against the private companies. The public-option concept, which Obama supports, has become a litmus test for many pro-reform activists who accuse the insurance industry of failing to deliver affordable, accessible care.

“Tell Senator Landrieu to support the people of Louisiana, not insurance companies,” the spot concludes.

Founded by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, Democracy for America argues that inclusion of a Medicare-style public option in health-care legislation is “non-negotiable.”

MoveOn, a Web-based political action committee that works to elect “progressive” leaders, intended to run commercials over the Fourth of July holiday criticizing Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) for her silence on the public option. But after she endorsed legislation crafted by Democratic colleagues on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that includes that provision, the group dropped its plans.

Bush-Cheney Linked To CIA Leak Case | By Jason Leopold | July 3, 2009

In early fall 2003, as the scandal over leaking a covert CIA officer’s identity was exploding, President George W. Bush claimed not to know anything about the leak and called on anyone in his administration who had knowledge to come “forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”

How disingenuous the President’s appeal was has been underscored again by a new Justice Department court filing sketching out the contents of the 2004 interview between special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Though the Obama administration continues to balk at releasing the full contents of the Cheney interview, it did reveal that Bush and Cheney were in contact about the scandal, including what is described as “a confidential conversation” and “an apparent communication between the Vice President and the President.”

The filing in a federal court case also makes clear that Cheney was at the center of White House machinations rebutting criticism from former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who charged in summer 2003 that the Bush administration had “twisted” intelligence to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. While seeking to discredit Wilson, administration officials disclosed to reporters that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

Bush and his subordinates then sought to deny a White House hand in the leak. White House press secretary Scott McClellan later apologized for his role in the deception in his 2008 book, What Happened, saying that Bush and four other high-ranking officials caused him to lie to the public in clearing Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis Libby of any responsibility for the Plame leak.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information,” McClellan wrote. “And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, Vice President Cheney, the president’s chief of staff [Andrew Card], and the president himself.”

Eventually, the cover-up led to the prosecution of Libby, who was found guilty in 2007 of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, but Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence.

When Fitzgerald’s investigation came to a close with only that one prosecution, questions were raised about his reasoning for not bringing legal action against Bush, Cheney or other senior officials implicated in the leak and cover-up. Those questions led to congressional requests for the Bush-Cheney interviews and to the current Freedom of Information court case.

In its new court filing, the Obama administration opposed release of the Cheney interview, but described the topics discussed. Besides the contacts with Bush, the filing referenced Cheney’s questions to the CIA about its decision to send Wilson to Africa in 2002 to investigate – and ultimately refute – suspicions that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger.

Cheney also was asked about his role in arranging a statement by then-CIA Director George Tenet taking responsibility for including a misleading claim about the African uranium in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, and Cheney’s discussions with Libby and other White House officials about how to respond to inquiries regarding the leak of Plame’s identity, the court filing said.

Fitzgerald also questioned Cheney about his participation in the decision to declassify parts of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s alleged WMD. It ultimately fell to Bush to clear selected parts of the NIE so they could be leaked as part of the White House campaign to disparage Wilson.

Obama’s Resistance

A public interest group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is seeking access to Fitzgerald’s interview with Cheney under the Freedom of Information Act and now has confronted refusals from both the Bush administration and the Obama administration.

Though President Obama declared a new era of openness when he entered the White House in January, he has recently had his administration’s lawyers resist releasing information about the secret dealings of the Bush administration.

In the CIA leak case, Justice Department lawyers claimed that disclosing Cheney’s interview might discourage future government officials from cooperating with criminal inquiries.

“In any such investigation, it will be important that White House officials be able to provide law enforcement officials with a full account of relevant events,” said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the criminal division.

“Baseless, partisan allegations that, easily could be investigated and dismissed through voluntary interviews now may have to be investigated through the specter of the grand jury process. In addition, if law enforcement interviews are routinely subject to public disclosure, there could be a significant risk of politicization of law enforcement files and investigations, which could undermine the integrity and effectiveness of, and public confidence in, those investigations.”

Last month, during a court hearing on the case, Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith told the judge that release of the transcript might open Cheney to ridicule from late-night comics and thus could discourage other White House officials from cooperating with government prosecutors.

"If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren't going to cooperate," Smith said during a court hearing. "I don't want a future Vice President to say, 'I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for The Daily Show.' "

When asked by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan whether the Obama administration was standing behind the refusal of Bush’s Justice Department to release the transcript, Smith answered, “This has been vetted by the leadership offices. … This is a department position.”

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said, “It is astonishing that a top Department of Justice political appointee is suggesting other high-level appointees are unlikely to cooperate with legitimate law enforcement investigations. What is wrong with this picture?”

Fitzgerald told a congressional committee last year that the interviews he conducted with Cheney and Bush in 2004 were not protected by grand jury secrecy rules, nor were there any pre-arranged agreements to keep the interview transcripts secret.

The insistence on keeping the interviews secret arose late in the Bush administration when Congress sought the transcripts. Bush’s Justice Department cited executive privilege and national security in refusing to turn them over, as well as the speculation about the effect on future White House cooperation with investigations.

The Obama administration has now taken up that banner while also adding concerns about possible comic use of the transcripts.

More CIA Delays

The CIA leak case was only one of two examples this week of the Obama administration going back on its word about government transparency.

On Thursday, the Justice Department said it would not release until the end of the summer a CIA inspector general’s report that was believed to have been sharply critical of the Bush administration’s torture program. Even then, the Justice Department said there is no guarantee that any part of the report would be declassified.

The announcement was made following several previous delays in the long-running court case between the CIA and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to gain access to the report and other documents related to the treatment of prisoners.

The Justice Department, acting on behalf of the CIA, previously told U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the agency would reevaluate whether the report's contents could be at least partially released by June 19. The CIA then requested two extensions – to June 26 and then July 1.

"The Report poses unique processing issues,” the Justice Department said in a letter Thursday. “It is over 200 pages long and contains a comprehensive summary and review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

"The Report touches upon the information contained in virtually all of the remaining 318 documents remanded for further review. Although the Government has endeavored in good faith to complete the review of the Special Review Report first, as we have gone through the process, we have determined that prioritizing the Report is simply untenable. …

“We have determined that the only practicable approach is to first complete the review of the remaining 318 documents, and then apply the withholding determinations made with respect to the information in those documents to the Special Review Report. ... One month into that process, we have concluded that we must review all of the documents together, and that the review will take until August 31, 2009.”

ACLU Objections

The ACLU, in a letter to Hellerstein, said it “strenuously” opposes the two-month delay, which would amount to “a fourth extension” of the original deadline.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, said the CIA "has already had more than five months to review the inspector general's report, and the report is only about two hundred pages long."

"We're increasingly troubled that the Obama administration is suppressing documents that would provide more evidence that the CIA's interrogation program was both ineffective and illegal," Jaffer said. "President Obama should not allow the CIA to determine whether evidence of its own unlawful conduct should be made available to the public. The public has a right to know what took place in the CIA's secret prisons and on whose authority."

Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney who has been working on the case, said it's "apparent that the CIA report is not being delayed for legitimate reasons, but to cover up evidence of the agency's illegal and ineffective interrogation practices. …

"It is time for the President to hold true to his promise of transparency and once and for all quash the forces of secrecy within the agency. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name."

Jason Leopold has launched his own Web site, The Public Record, at

Editor’s Note: Many Americans seem to have forgotten the spirit of integrity, the courage – and the sense of outrage over the British Crown’s abuses of power – that led to the founding of the Republic. Instead, we have seen a lazy acquiescence to the many crimes of another imperious prince, George W. Bush, and the courtiers who surrounded him.

This is fine creative writing but the question remains: What are people prepared to do about it?

In this “Declaration of Indictment,” David Swanson of adapts the outrages of President Bush to the style of the Declaration of Independence:

The unanimous Declaration of the fifty united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with a gang of lawless thugs and insist on the appointment of a special prosecutor to enforce the laws of the land even against those until recently holding the reins of Power, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Prosecution.

We hold these truths to be the foundation of our Constitution and therefore of the U.S. Code of law, that all men and women are considered equal, that they are given by the laws they have created certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men and Women, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever the high officials of any Government become destructive of these ends, and when that Government refuses to correct itself through impeachment, expulsion, and other checks and balances, it is the Right of the People to demand the prosecution of the criminals and to refuse subservience to that Government until this Demand is met, and thereby to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that high Government officials should not be charged for light and transient causes, nor should amorous affairs enter the consideration of responsible governance; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that humankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government by prosecuting the chief offenders, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

— Such has been the patient sufferance of these fifty states; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to insist upon the appointment of an independent Counsel to prosecute the following criminal acts. The history of the recent rule of George W. Bush, abetted if not directed by Richard B. Cheney, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden the Congress to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws.

He has made Judges and Prosecutors dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of foreign imperialism but domestic peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us as well as in bases garrisoning the globe at great cost in blood and treasure:

For protecting soldiers and mercenaries, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit:

For imposing Taxes on us to fund illegal wars and massive transfers to private bankers without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us and others in our name beyond Seas to be detained without charge and tortured for pretended offences:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Form of our Government:

For effectively suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He has transported large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens to become the executioners of their fellow human beings, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury, silence, and the mockery of a Congress and a Justice Department terrified of asserting Power. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be free and unindicted for his Criminal Trespasses.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our attorneys general. We have warned them from time to time of treaty requirements to enforce the Laws of the land. We have reminded them of the circumstances of the crimes committed and openly confessed to. We have appealed to their native justice and decency, and we have conjured them to disavow these usurpations.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in Lawlessness, in Duty and Justice Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the sovereign People of this nation for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these fifty states, solemnly publish and declare, That these united states are, and of Right ought to be committed to the rule of law, not the rule of men or women, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Bush-Cheney cabal or their protectors in the administration of Barack Obama, and that all political connection between them and this recently departed group of tyrannical abusers is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent People, they have full Power to end War, create Peace, enforce laws, establish Justice, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do.

— And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the American People and our friends and allies around the world, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. You can pre-order it for a discount price

Top CIA Officials Appear Before Jury Over Destruction Of Al-Qaida Tapes

92 Video Tapes May Have Been Illegally Destroyed | London Station Chief Included In Inquiry

Chris McGreal in Washington |, Friday 3 July 2009 17.17 BST

Article history

Senior Central Intelligence Agency officials, including the London station chief, have been brought before a grand jury in Virginia investigating the potentially illegal destruction of 92 video tapes recording the torture and interrogation of al-Qaida detainees.

A special prosecutor, John Durham, has called the CIA officials as part of an 18-month-long criminal probe in to the destruction of evidence of the agency's interrogators using waterboarding and other forms of torture against Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri who are described by the Americans as "high value" detainees now held at Guantánamo Bay.

Those ordered to testify include the former CIA chief, Porter J Gross. Another is a woman who is not publicly named who heads the agency's London station. She previously worked as the chief of staff for the head of the CIA's clandestine branch, Jose Rodriguez, who is the focus of the investigation.

The New York Times reports that former CIA officers have identified the woman as having helped carry out Rodriguez's order to destroy the tapes which had been kept in a safe in at the agency's station in Thailand where the torture and interrogations were carried out.

Rodriquez is reported to have been concerned that agents might have been identified and endangered if the tapes leaked.

But the CIA will also have been concerned that some of its agents may have been open to prosecution under domestic and international laws against torture besides the enormous damage to its already battered reputation if video were made public of the extended torture and brutal techniques used against the captives. The impact is likely to have been much greater than the outcry caused by the pictures of abuse by US soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

President Obama has since pledged not to prosecute individual agents for their part in torture and interrogations because they were assured by the Bush administration that their actions were legal.

The investigation was launched because the destruction of the tapes may amount to a criminal offense because it was evidence that could have been used in any prosecutions for torture. Robriquez has told colleagues that he received legal guidance from CIA lawyers who told him he had the authority to order the destruction of the tapes.

However it remains open to question whether anyone will be brought to trial for that or other alleged offenses given the Obama administration's desire to reassure CIA agents that they will not be pursued over past crimes.

The existence of the tapes was only made public after they were destroyed.
On Thursday, the Obama administration said it will delay until the end of next month the release of a 2004 CIA report detailing the torture and other abuse of prisoners held in clandestine prisons oversees.

The Book Of Sarah (Palin) | Strafing The Palin Record

By Wayne Barrett

THE $12.5 MILLION sports complex and hockey rink that is the lasting monument to Palin's two terms as Wasilla mayor is also a monument to the kind of insider politics that dismays Americans of both parties. Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city awarded nearly a half-million-dollar contract to design the biggest project in Wasilla history to Kumin Associates. Blase Burkhart was the Kumin architect on the job—the son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a "mentor" of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party (his wife, June, who also advised Palin, is the national committeewoman). Asked if the contract was a favor, Roy Burkhart, who contributed to her campaign in the same time frame that his son got the contract, said: "I really don't know." Palin then named Blase Burkhart to a seven-member builder-selection committee that picked Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent. Formally awarded the contract a couple of weeks after Palin left office, Nugent has donated $4,000 to Palin campaigns. Two competitors protested the process that led to Nugent's contract. Burkhart and Nugent had done at least one project together before the complex—and have done several since.

A list of subcontractors on the job, obtained by the Voice, includes many with Palin ties. One was Spenard Builders Supply, the state's leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other "pre-engineered components." In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin's snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office. Spenard actually filed a notice "of its right to assert a lien" on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard's name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.

Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as "buddies." As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the "buddies" were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that's also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.

Dorwin and Joanne Smith, the principals of complex subcontractor DJ Excavation & Development, have donated $7,100 to Palin and her allied candidate Charlie Fannon (Joanne is a Palin appointee on the state Board of Nursing). Sheldon Ewing, who owns another complex subcontractor, Weld Air, has donated $1,300, and PN&D, an engineering firm on the complex, has contributed $699.

Ewing was one of the few sports-complex contractors, aside from Spenard, willing to address the question of whether he worked on the house as well, but he had little to say: "I doubt that it occurred, but if it did indirectly, how would I know anyhow?" The odd timing of Palin's house construction—it was completed two months before she left City Hall and while she and Todd Palin were campaigning statewide for the first time—raises questions, especially considering its synergy with the complex.

Salon's David Talbot recently visited the complex, which, he said, resembled "a huge airplane hangar" so far away from the city's center that kids can't bike or walk there. It's adorned by a plaque commemorating Palin. Even as a governor, she is still such a champion of the complex—which loses money every year—that she just steered state funding for a new kitchen to it.

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 Next Page

Palin Signed For Victim-Pays Rape Kits, Backed Chief Who Endorsed Them

Will The Antichrist Be a Homosexual?

Limbaugh: Obama Laying Groundwork for Third Term

Rush Limbaugh is suggesting that President Barack Obama and his political operatives already are laying the groundwork for a third term.

“You have to wonder if Obama is just trying to lay a foundation for not being a hypocrite when he tries to serve beyond 2016,” Limbaugh told his national radio audience. “I wouldn't be at all surprised if in the next number of years there is a move on the 22nd Amendment.”

Limbaugh has a point.

Upon Obama's taking office, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., introduced legislation in the House to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which limits presidents to two consecutive terms or 10 years in office. Serrano’s justification for the bill is that, until 1951, nothing prevented a president from serving more than two terms.

Additionally, a grass-roots movement is under way to make Obama's third term possible. A Web site,, is dedicated to abolishing the 22nd Amendment and is asking supporters for donations to make it happen.

"We are wise enough to choose our own leader and to decide how long that leader will serve," the Web site states, noting there was nothing in the original Constitution of 1787 that barred a third or fourth term for presidents.

"With our current crises, the American People need to take back their right to elect the leader of their choice. The task is too large and the risk is too great. We must act now!"

Limbaugh acknowledged that Obama may not try to repeal the amendment on his own.

“He may not openly try to change the Constitution. But there might be this movement in the country from his ‘cult-like’ followers to support the notion that a democratically-elected leader who is ‘loved’ and ‘adored’ has carte blanche once elected — just serve as long as he wants because the people demand it, because the people want it, because the people love it.”

Limbaugh said Obama has sympathy for dictators; he relates to them. He inherited his father's Marxism.

“I wouldn't put it past Obama to be plotting right now how to serve beyond 2016, and I think [that’s the reason for the] way he's reacting to what's happening in Honduras. They've got a constitution. They’re a democratically elected set of officials down there, and you had a guy running the country, Mel Zelaya, who was just going to basically rip that country's democracy to shreds and the country moved in to stop him from doing it. And Obama sides with the guy who wanted to rip up the constitution.”

Limbaugh said Obama sides with other dictators in the region, as well, and “is nothing if not a hardcore liberal, always more sympathetic, appearing to side with the bad guys on the world stage.”

Limbaugh described Obama's followers as a “cult-like bunch” whose “attachment to him is not political, it's not ideological, it is not issue-wise. It is cultish. It includes a wide percentage of minorities who, for different reasons, will come to think that he simply cannot be replaced.

“[If he] succeeds with amnesty, for example, and all the illegal aliens are instantly made citizens — he'll be too important. Just like right now — he's too big to fail as far as the drive-bys are concerned; he's too important to be replaced. No one else can lead the nation, they will say.”

During a news conference Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked whether Obama supports Serrano’s House Joint Resolution No. 5, which, if passed, could lead the way for an Obama run at a third term. It was noted that Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also supports repeal of the amendment.

“You're going to find I tend to get it mixed up with House Joint Resolution Four and Six,” Gibbs said, to laughter from the press corps.

“I think the president is firmly in support of an amendment that would limit his time in the presidency to eight years if he's given that awesome responsibility by the American people.”

But Limbaugh disagrees.

“Anybody who thinks [Obama] intends to just constitutionally go away in 2016 is nuts. I think that's what all this ACORN stuff is all about. I think given ACORN money and fraudulent voter registration — whatever it's going to take — these are people who seek power for reasons other than to serve. They seek to rule.”

NY Growth Besieges Revolutionary Patriots' Graves

FISHKILL, N.Y. -- Ed Spaeth was researching his family tree when he discovered an 18th-century ancestor likely was buried in the woods just down the hill from his Hudson Valley home.

Although he can't pinpoint Francois Martin-Pelland's grave, historical evidence has led Spaeth to the nearby grove believed to be the final resting place of hundreds of other Revolutionary War soldiers posted here when Fishkill was the main supply source for Gen. George Washington's northern army.

Today, commercial development has whittled the wooded parcel down to about 12 acres hemmed in by roads, a shopping mall, a gas station and a Mexican restaurant. A group of preservationists, history buffs and civic leaders has mustered in this Dutchess County town to try to save what could be the nation's single largest-known burial site of Revolutionary War soldiers.

"They didn't fight and die for this cause just to have a mall built on top of them," said Spaeth, a 64-year-old retired school librarian.

From 1776 until 1783, the Fishkill Encampment and Supply Depot was a bustling military post. Several thousand Continental Army regulars and militiamen toiled year-round, carrying out the logistical tasks that allowed America's first army to fight. Many, perhaps more than 1,000, died and were buried in the depot's cemetery, 60 miles north of New York City.

The Fishkill depot's complex of huts, barracks, storehouses and workshops was known to have included a cemetery during the war. But its exact location wasn't confirmed until the fall of 2007, when an archaeological survey conducted for the property's owner found several old graves in a wooded area across from the Dutchess Mall, built in the 1970s.

At the recommendation of state archaeologists, another study was done last year. Ground-penetrating radar indicated several hundred grave sites in the southern tip of the property.

"We really don't know how many are there," said Douglas Mackey, an archaeologist for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites.

Backed by the latest findings, town officials and preservationists are seeking government funding to buy the land and protect it from development. One idea is to turn the site into the first national Revolutionary War cemetery. Some have taken to calling the Fishkill site "New York's Valley Forge."

"This is the founding of our country," said Mara Farrell of Fishkill Historical Focus. "There's so much about this site that needs to be revealed."

Retired Army Col. James Johnson , a 1969 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a former military history professor there, notes that the closest the Fishkill depot came to fighting was when a British force ventured up the Hudson River from Manhattan and burned a nearby village. Nevertheless, the food, clothing and armaments the depot provided to Washington's soldiers helped them keep the redcoats from gaining control of the strategic Hudson Highlands.

Historians say disease and starvation claimed most of the soldiers who died here, although some died from wounds suffered in battles fought elsewhere.

Few major battlegrounds from the war, including Yorktown and Saratoga, have sizable marked cemeteries. After Yorktown in 1781, the 156 Americans who died were buried in a mass grave in nearby Williamsburg, Va. Americans killed during two battles at Saratoga, N.Y., in 1777 were buried in unmarked mass graves or simply covered with thin layers of dirt, leaving the remains susceptible to scavengers.

"These burials were done pretty darn quick," said Joe Craig, a ranger at Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater. "In garrison areas, they'd have a little more time."

Even at Valley Forge, Pa., there's no single marked cemetery for the estimated 1,700 soldiers Washington lost to disease and illness while his army was encamped outside Philadelphia during the winter and spring of 1777-1778. Ranger Bill Troppman at Valley Forge National Historical Park said stricken soldiers were transported to field hospitals in nearby communities, where the dead were buried singly or in small groups.

"It surprises people that the death rate was so high here and that there's no mass burial area," he said.

The only other remnant from Fishkill's supply depot days is the old Dutch homestead American officers used as a headquarters. Washington was a frequent visitor when his army encamped at nearby New Windsor.

In June, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed legislation to make the Fishkill cemetery site eligible for federal preservation funds currently used only for Civil War battlefields.

Fishkill Town Supervisor Joan Pagones, whose Army captain son has served in Iraq, said officials hope funds will be made available to buy the site from the developers.

"I certainly, as the mother of a soldier, realize that this is sacred ground and something has to be done to preserve it," she said. "There's also the side of the people who own it and they've been paying taxes on it."

Property co-owner Scott Jerutis said his company will sell the whole parcel for at least $6 million and would sell just the section where the graves are located.

The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization, is also working with all the parties to help reach an agreement.

"We've done it in a lot of Southern states with Civil War sites and this would be a great addition,"said Matthew Shurtleff, project manager for the trust's New York office.

Other Revolutionary War sites also face development pressures.

Land adjacent to the Princeton, N.J., battlefield where Washington's army won a key victory on Jan. 3, 1777, was recently named one of New Jersey's most endangered sites.

At Valley Forge, a conservation group successfully battled a proposed American Revolution museum planned for 78 acres of private land nearly surrounded by the national park. Museum officials announced last week they would locate instead in downtown Philadelphia, about 25 miles away. In 2003, Congress earmarked $2.5 million to buy private land in the park from a developer who was planning a neighborhood of luxury homes.

For Spaeth, a Yonkers native who moved upstate more than 30 years ago, settling just uphill from his ancestor was pure happenstance. A genealogy buff since his teens, he found out in the 1980s that Martin-Pelland, a Quebecois who fought for the Americans, had died of smallpox while at Fishkill in October 1778.

When Spaeth moved into a house built near a natural spring where soldiers from the Depot fetched their water, he had no idea his ancestor was buried in an unmarked grave nearby.

"The stars must have been aligned just right," said Spaeth, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran. "One truly feels that one is walking on the hallowed grounds of one's ancestors."-

Grand Jury Inquiry on Destruction of C.I.A. Tapes | Top of Form

Bottom of Form


Published: July 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — Current and former top Central Intelligence Agency officers have appeared before a federal grand jury in Virginia as part of an 18-month investigation into the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes depicting the brutal interrogations of two Qaeda detainees.


U.S. Says It Will Preserve Secret Jails for Terror Case (July 3, 2009)

The witnesses recently called by the special prosecutor, former government officials said, include the agency’s top officer in London and Porter J. Goss, who was C.I.A. director when the tapes were destroyed in November 2005.

The grand jury testimony of C.I.A. officers is further evidence that, despite President Obama’s pledge not to punish agency operatives for their role in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, the shadow of the controversial program still looms over the agency’s daily operations.

The court appearances are tied to a criminal investigation led by John L. Durham, whom the Justice Department appointed in January 2008 to investigate the destruction of the tapes. The tapes had shown C.I.A. officers using harsh interrogation methods, includingwaterboarding, on two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Mr. Durham has shrouded his investigation in a level of secrecy rare even by the normally tight-lipped standards of special prosecutors, and after 18 months it is still difficult to assess either the direction or the targets of his investigation.

Current and former intelligence officials say the tapes were ordered destroyed by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine branch. Mr. Rodriguez had worried that the tapes might be leaked and put undercover operatives in legal and physical jeopardy.

One top C.I.A. officer who recently appeared before Mr. Durham’s grand jury is the agency’s station chief in London, who had worked with Mr. Rodriguez when he led the agency’s Counterterrorism Center and who eventually became his chief of staff at the clandestine branch.

Because she remains undercover, The New York Times is not publishing her name. She is said by former agency officers to have helped carry out Mr. Rodriguez’s order to destroy the tapes.

The tapes had been kept in a safe at the C.I.A. station in Thailand, the country where the interrogations took place.

Mr. Goss, whom President George W. Bush removed from the C.I.A in May 2006, is said by several former C.I.A. officials to have opposed the destruction of the tapes.

Mr. Rodriguez has not yet testified before the grand jury, two former C.I.A. officers said.

In a court filing last year, Mr. Durham indicated he planned to wrap up interviews for the investigation by late February, but Obama administration officials have indicated more recently that Mr. Durham could continue his work through the summer. One reason for the pace of the investigation, officials said, is that the grand jury convenes only once a month to hear testimony.

The current and former government officials interviewed for this article all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a continuing criminal investigation.

Besides the question of who at the C.I.A. and White House might have authorized the destruction of the tapes, Mr. Durham is investigating the legal guidance Mr. Rodriguez received before giving the order. One issue is whether the agency might have broken the law by destroying tapes that could have been introduced as evidence in federal trials.

Mr. Rodriguez told colleagues at the time that two lawyers inside the agency’s clandestine branch, Steven Hermes and Robert Eatinger, had advised him that there was no legal impediment to destroying the tapes and that he had the authority to give the order.

But the advice of the two lawyers was careful, the former officials said, and they never gave official approval for the tapes’ destruction.

The C.I.A. never disclosed the existence of the tapes to either the Sept. 11 commission or federal courts that had been hearing the cases of Qaeda suspects in American custody.

At the time the tapes were destroyed, lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot, were seeking information from the Bush administration about the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah that might have pertained to Mr. Moussaoui’s role in the 2001 attacks.

Some legal experts said Mr. Durham might have trouble building a criminal case around the role of the C.I.A. lawyers.

“It seems difficult to prove that lawyers had criminal intent,” said John Radsan, a former C.I.A. lawyer and federal prosecutor who now teaches at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, “and they didn’t have Rodriguez’s personal interest in getting rid of the tapes.”

“Incompetence does not equal obstruction of justice,” Mr. Radsan said.

As Mr. Durham’s investigation proceeds, the Obama administration has also been forced under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make public a number of top-secret documents related to the C.I.A. detention program.

On Thursday, the Justice Department sent a letter to a judge in New York saying that it would need until Aug. 31 to produce a copy of a 2004 report by the agency’s inspector general detailing a number of abuses at C.I.A. prisons overseas.

Franken victory sparks conservative media panic-fest

This week, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Al Franken be officially certified as the winner of last fall's U.S. Senate election in the state. Shortly after the decision came down, former Sen. Norm Coleman conceded defeat, making it clear he wouldn't launch additional legal efforts to stop Franken from being seated.

Conservatives in the media were beside themselves. Franken, after all, made a handsome living sparring with the likes of Fox News, Limbaugh, and, perhaps most notably, Bill O'Reilly (still must see TV after all these years.)

Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade -- or "brown-haired guy who isn't Steve Doocy," as Stephen Colbert would say -- epitomized the conservative media's response to the official Franken victory. First, he was "in denial," describing Franken as someone who "is barely sane." Then he confessed that "it hurt" to call Franken "a senator from Minnesota" and wondered about "who's safe now." He wasn't done quite yet -- he would go on to call Franken an "embarrassment," "hateful," "maniacal," "angry, evil," and a "bitter partisan."

Kilmeade was hardly alone at Fox. It seems the entire network was "in denial." Saying a lot more about himself than Franken, Glenn Beck said, "This is like having me in the Senate. ... [I]t shows that we've lost our minds."

Limbaugh wasn't too happy with Franken's win, either. He compared the Iranian recount to the Minnesota Senate recount and called Franken a "genuine lunatic" to boot. Clear Channel's Jim Quinn shared Rush's assessment, saying Franken had "stolen" the election while pegging ACORN as a likely culprit. Is there anything media conservatives won't blame on ACORN?

Proving once again that the real joke during this hyper-extended campaign was not the fact that a former comedian might win, but the way the media covered the long legal battle, Politico's Mike Allen claimed Franken prevailed because "[h]e shut his mouth, and when you are Al Franken, that's not easy to do," while MSNBC's Mike Barniclesaid that it was "kind of a surprise" that Franken "behaved like a responsible adult."

John Bolton Won't Shut Up About Bombing Iran
By Steve Benen, Washington Monthly
And for some reason, major newspapers seem compelled to keep publishing his thoughts on the subject. Read more »

Sleazy Newspaper Scheme Exposed: Washington Post Offers Lobbyists Access to Lawmakers for Cash
By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet
The story was leaked by a health lobbyist, who felt the move breached the Post's journalism ethics. Read more »

Celebrate Immigration and Diversity This Independence Day
By Staff, Immigration Impact
America is now -- and has always been -- nation of immigrants. Read more »

Jeb Bush Tests Water for 2012 Presidential Bid?
By Deeky, Shakesville
Recent robocalls in Iowa would suggest yes. Read more »

Official Unemployment Hits 9.5% (Reality Even Worse)
By Meteor Blades, Daily Kos
The official count -- known as U3 and dutifully reported by most of the media -- fails to show the true extent of the wreckage. Read more »

Gay Sailor Found Dead on Military Base in a Suspected Homicide
By Matt Corley, Think Progress
The sailor, August Provost, said he was being harassed, but didn't report the harassment because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Read more »

The Religious Right Strangely Silent on Sanford's Sordid Sex Drama
By Steve Benen
Strange -- they usually have so much to say about other people's sex lives.Read more »

Old Fossil Takes On Darwin
By PZ Myers, Pharyngula
The old fossil is Pat Buchanan, who has published a freakishly antiquated diatribe against Darwin. Read more »

Can Engaging with a Radical Religion Help Save Progressives from Self-Indulgence?

By Robert Jensen, Soft Skull Press. Posted July 3, 2009.

To imagine a just and sustainable world, we need not just a politics but a theology that can help us face our delusional arrogance.

The following is an excerpt from the new book All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice by Robert Jensen from Soft Skull Press.

To imagine a just and sustainable world, we need not just a politics but a theology that can help us face the delusional arrogance and disastrous self-indulgence of humans, especially we humans of the modern industrial era. These qualities have put us on a collision course with natural forces more powerful than we can ever hope to understand fully or control much at all.

There's a chance -- with no guarantee, of course -- that we can draw on the best of our traditions and find the strength within ourselves that will be required to alter that course and create a world that is both just and sustainable. If we cannot create such a world, we will need that deepest strength to cope with the grim realities we will face in a future that we cannot now imagine.

These are the end times, of a sort. I am not talking about Rapture and tribulation, but about rupture and triangulation. The challenge isn't to anticipate the return of Christ but to face the reality that we modern humans have created unsustainable social and ecological systems that have ruptured the world, and we need the insights of all our best traditions to triangulate from multiple viewpoints and devise new ways to live.

We are facing the end of an era of irresponsible human domination of the planet, which cannot -- and will not -- continue much longer. I do not fear the apocalypse as it is imagined by end-time Christians (a dramatic finish with the saved being lifted up and the damned left behind), but rather a steady erosion of the conditions that make possible a minimally decent human existence in the context of respect for other forms of life.

With those realities, threats and challenges in mind, I offer the following thesis:

There is no God, and more than ever we all need to serve the One True Gods.

All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice is an attempt to make sense of that apparently nonsensical sentence with its deliberate singular/plural confusion. In proposing this idea to those who are religious, I have to defend vigorously the first clause in the sentence, the assertion that there is no God. That task wouldn't be quite so difficult if we would keep reminding ourselves of one simple reality:

Humans created religion; religion did not create humans.

Whatever one believes about the nature of the divine, it clearly was humans who developed the doctrines and ceremonies to express spirituality. That means we can change and update those traditions as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

To those who are secular, the second clause -- the assertion that "we all need to serve the One True Gods" -- needs considerable explanation. But the statement wouldn't seem so obscure if we could keep reminding ourselves of another fundamental reality:

Inanimate matter created life; life did not create inanimate matter.

At a point when human activity is threatening to undermine the capacity of the ecosystem to sustain human life as we know it, it's crucial that we keep our arrogance in check and remember that we are not a creator but instead a part of Creation.

Taken together, these two simple reminders suggest that when we look to the spiritual realm and religion for insights into how we should live in this world, we must remember that religion is our creation. Likewise, when we look to the secular realm and science for insights into how the world works, we must remember our place in Creation.

I want to articulate a conception of theology, and argue for its importance, in a way that may provoke some folks on all sides -- religious fundamentalists and relativists, as well as secular fundamentalists and relativists.

Although I have a deep contrarian streak in me, that instinct is not the motive force here. I have spent most of my 50 years studiously ignoring theological debates, which seemed annoying and irrelevant. I still often find them annoying, but I no longer feel I have the luxury of opting out of theological conversations. After a period of listening to the conversations of others, I have concluded that two important things must happen if we are to move forward. Stated provocatively, by design:

To the fundamentalists on both sides: Grow up. To the moderates on both sides: Buck up.

Both religious and secular fundamentalists tend to be convinced that they really know what they claim to know, which makes them unrealistically confident in their judgments based on those knowledge claims. These are childlike claims; respectfully, I will argue that people who make them need to grow up.

Moderates, both religious and secular, typically are less insistent about the absolute truth of what they claim to know, and as a result often are hesitant to judge. These are irresponsible positions; respectfully, I will argue that people who take them need to buck up.

Although these two "requests" are formulated in what could be seen as harsh language ("grow up" and "buck up" typically are instructions to the immature and the weak-willed), they are not meant that way. It is not difficult to understand why so many people seek certainty in a complex and confusing world, nor is it hard to understand the desire to avoid making judgments about others when one is aware of the limits of one's own knowledge. The crucial work of theology today is to help us abandon any pretense of secure knowledge, but at the same time provide the confidence and courage to judge -- and act on those judgments -- despite the inevitable risks that come with human limits.

It's time to face questions for which we have no answers, to address problems for which there may be no solutions. We have to accept the radical uncertainty of our lives, yet meet the challenges that life puts in front of us.

To help us cope, what kind of theology -- what ideas about what it means to be a human being at this moment in time -- will we need?

Assume The Postion by Robert Wuhl « The BackChannel Blog
By Brian In NYC
Just as guilty as Pelosi who took impeachment off the table and allowed the continuation of War Crimes and Acts of Treason against our country by Adolph Bush and Heinrich Himmler Cheney. But that's just my opinion and I could be wrong. ...The BackChannel Blog -

No comments:

Post a Comment

Fair Use Notice: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.