The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Frank Rich - Is Condi Hiding the Smoking Gun?

Is Condi Hiding the Smoking Gun?

By FRANK RICH

IF, as J.F.K. had it, victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan, the defeat in Iraq is the most pitiful orphan imaginable. Its parents have not only tossed it to the wolves but are also trying to pin its mutant DNA on any patsy they can find.

George Tenet is just the latest to join this blame game, which began more than three years ago when his fellow Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Tommy Franks told Bob Woodward that Douglas Feith, the Pentagon’s intelligence bozo, was the “stupidest guy on the face of the earth” (that’s the expurgated version). Last fall, Kenneth Adelman, the neocon cheerleader who foresaw a “cakewalk” in Iraq, told Vanity Fair that Mr. Tenet, General Franks and Paul Bremer were “three of the most incompetent people who’ve ever served in such key spots.” Richard Perle chimed in that the “huge mistakes” were “not made by neoconservatives” and instead took a shot at President Bush. Ahmad Chalabi, the neocons’ former darling, told Dexter Filkins of The Times “the real culprit in all this is Wolfowitz.”

And of course nearly everyone blames Rumsfeld.

This would be a Three Stooges routine were there only three stooges. The good news is that Mr. Tenet’s book rollout may be the last gasp of this farcical round robin of recrimination. Republicans and Democrats have at last found some common ground by condemning his effort to position himself as the war’s innocent scapegoat. Some former C.I.A. colleagues are rougher still. Michael Scheuer, who ran the agency’s bin Laden unit, has accused Mr. Tenet of lacking “the moral courage to resign and speak out publicly to try to stop our country from striding into what he knew would be an abyss.” Even after Mr. Tenet did leave office, he maintained a Robert McNamara silence until he cashed in.

Satisfying though it is to watch a circular firing squad of the war’s enablers, unfinished business awaits. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is not in the past: the war escalates even as all this finger-pointing continues. Very little has changed between the fourth anniversary of “Mission Accomplished” this year and the last. Back then, President Bush cheered an Iraqi “turning point” precipitated by “the emergence of a unity government.” Since then, what’s emerged is more Iraqi disunity and a major leap in the death toll. That’s why Americans voted in November to get out.

The only White House figure to take any responsibility for the fiasco is the former Bush-Cheney pollster Matthew Dowd, who in March expressed remorse for furthering a war he now deems a mistake. For his belated act of conscience, he was promptly patronized as an incipient basket case by an administration flack, who attributed Mr. Dowd’s defection to “personal turmoil.” If that is what this vicious gang would do to a pollster, imagine what would befall Colin Powell if he spoke out. Nonetheless, Mr. Powell should summon the guts to do so. Until there is accountability for the major architects and perpetrators of the Iraq war, the quagmire will deepen. A tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting, not to mention a catharsis.

That accounting might well begin with Mr. Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice. Of all the top-tier policy players who were beside the president and vice president at the war’s creation, she is the highest still in power and still on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is also the only one who can still get a free pass from the press. The current groupthink Beltway narrative has it that the secretary of state’s recidivist foreign-policy realism and latent shuttle diplomacy have happily banished the Cheney-Rumsfeld cowboy arrogance that rode America into a ditch.

Thus Ms. Rice was dispatched to three Sunday shows last weekend to bat away Mr. Tenet’s book before “60 Minutes” broadcast its interview with him that night. But in each appearance her statements raised more questions than they answered. She was persistently at odds with the record, not just the record as spun by Mr. Tenet but also the public record. She must be held to a higher standard — a k a the truth — before she too jumps ship.

It’s now been nearly five years since Ms. Rice did her part to sell the Iraq war on a Sept. 8, 2002, Sunday show with her rendition of “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Yet there she was last Sunday on ABC, claiming that she never meant to imply then that Saddam was an imminent threat. “The question of imminence isn’t whether or not somebody is going to strike tomorrow” is how she put it. In other words, she is still covering up the war’s origins. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” she claimed that intelligence errors before the war were “worldwide” even though the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Mohamed ElBaradei publicly stated there was “no evidence” of an Iraqi nuclear program and even though Germany’s intelligence service sent strenuous prewar warnings that the C.I.A.’s principal informant on Saddam’s supposed biological weapons was a fraud.

Of the Sunday interviewers, it was George Stephanopoulos who went for the jugular by returning to that nonexistent uranium from Africa. He forced Ms. Rice to watch a clip of her appearance on his show in June 2003, when she claimed she did not know of any serious questions about the uranium evidence before the war. Then he came as close as any Sunday host ever has to calling a guest a liar. “But that statement wasn’t true,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. Ms. Rice pleaded memory loss, but the facts remain. She received a memo raising serious questions about the uranium in October 2002, three months before the president included the infamous 16 words on the subject in his State of the Union address. Her deputy, Stephen Hadley, received two memos as well as a phone call of warning from Mr. Tenet.

Apologists for Ms. Rice, particularly those in the press who are embarrassed by their own early cheerleading for the war, like to say that this is ancient history, just as they said of the C.I.A. leak case. We’re all supposed to move on and just worry about what happens next. Try telling that to families whose children went to Iraq to stop Saddam’s nukes. Besides, there’s a continuum between past deceptions and present ones, as the secretary of state seamlessly demonstrated last Sunday.

On ABC, she pushed the administration’s line portraying Iraq’s current violence as a Qaeda plot hatched by the Samarra bombing of February 2006. But that Qaeda isn’t the Qaeda of 9/11; it’s a largely Iraqi group fighting on one side of a civil war. And by February 2006, sectarian violence had already been gathering steam for 15 months — in part because Ms. Rice and company ignored the genuine imminence of that civil war just as they had ignored the alarms about bin Laden’s Qaeda in August 2001.

Ms. Rice’s latest canard wasn’t an improvisation; it was a scripted set-up for the president’s outrageous statement three days later. “The decision we face in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday, “is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it’s whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11.” Such statements about the present in Iraq are no less deceptive — and no less damaging to our national interest — than the lies about uranium and Qaeda- 9/11 connections told in 2002-3. This country needs facts, not fiction, to make its decisions about the endgame of the war, just as it needed (but didn’t get) facts when we went to war in the first place. To settle for less is to make the same tragic error twice.

That Ms. Rice feels scant responsibility for any of this was evident in her repeated assertions on Sunday that all the questions about prewar intelligence had been answered by the Robb-Silberman and Senate committee inquiries, neither of which even addressed how the administration used the intelligence it received. Now she risks being held in contempt of Congress by ducking a subpoena authorized by the House’s Oversight Committee, whose chairman, Henry Waxman, has been trying to get direct answers from her about the uranium hoax since 2003.

Ms. Rice is stonewalling his investigation by rambling on about separation of powers and claiming she answered all relevant questions in writing, to Senator Carl Levin, during her confirmation to the cabinet in January 2005. If former or incumbent national security advisers like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski could testify before Congress without defiling the Constitution, so can she. As for her answers to Senator Levin’s questions, five of eight were pure Alberto Gonzales: she either didn’t recall or didn’t know.

No wonder the most galling part of Ms. Rice’s Sunday spin was her aside to Wolf Blitzer that she would get around to reflecting on these issues “when I have a chance to write my book.” Another book! As long as American troops are dying in Iraq, the secretary of state has an obligation to answer questions about how they got there and why they stay. If accountability is ever to begin, it would be best if those questions are answered not on “60 Minutes” but under oath.

GOP Convention Papers Ordered Opened

GOP Convention Papers Ordered Opened

LARRY NEUMEISTER | AP | May 5, 2007 02:27 AM EST

NEW YORK — The city cannot prevent the public from seeing documents describing intelligence that police gathered to help them create policies for arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention, a judge said Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV made the ruling regarding documents about information the New York Police Department says it used.

The city had contended that the documents should remain confidential, saying opening them would jeopardize the city's rights to a fair trial. Lawsuits allege that the city violated constitutional rights when it arrested more than 1,800 people at the convention.

The judge stayed his ruling for 10 days. Peter Farrell, a city lawyer, said the city is considering an appeal.

"The decision is a vindication for the public's right to know and a total rebuff of the Police Department's effort to hide behind the cloak of secrecy when it comes to its surveillance activities," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of some of those arrested.

The convention was policed by as many as 10,000 officers from the 36,500-member department, the nation's largest. They were assigned to protect the city from terrorism threats and to cope with tens of thousands of demonstrators.

More than 1,800 people were arrested at the four-day convention at Madison Square Garden, where President Bush accepted his party's nomination for a second term in office.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20070505/convention-arrests

NEWSWEEK Poll: Bush Hits All-Time Low

NEWSWEEK Poll: Bush Hits All-Time Low
George W. Bush has the lowest presidential approval rating in a generation, and the leading Dems beat every major ’08 Republican. Coincidence?
WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Marcus Mabry
Newsweek
Updated: 9:31 a.m. CT May 5, 2007

May 5, 2007 - It’s hard to say which is worse news for Republicans: that George W. Bush now has the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation, or that he seems to be dragging every ’08 Republican presidential candidate down with him. But According to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, the public’s approval of Bush has sunk to 28 percent, an all-time low for this president in our poll, and a point lower than Gallup recorded for his father at Bush Sr.’s nadir. The last president to be this unpopular was Jimmy Carter who also scored a 28 percent approval in 1979. This remarkably low rating seems to be casting a dark shadow over the GOP’s chances for victory in ’08. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds each of the leading Democratic contenders beating the Republican frontrunners in head-to-head matchups.

Perhaps that explains why Republican candidates, participating in their first major debate this week, mentioned Bush’s name only once, but Ronald Reagan’s 19 times. (The debate was held at Reagan’s presidential library.)

When the NEWSWEEK Poll asked more than 1,000 adults on Wednesday and Thursday night (before and during the GOP debate) which president showed the greatest political courage—meaning being brave enough to make the right decisions for the country, even if it jeopardized his popularity —more respondents volunteered Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (18 percent each) than any other president. Fourteen percent of adults named John F. Kennedy and 10 percent said Abraham Lincoln. Only four percent mentioned George W. Bush. (Then again, only five percent volunteered Franklin Roosevelt and only three percent said George Washington.)

A majority of Americans believe Bush is not politically courageous: 55 percent vs. 40 percent. And nearly two out of three Americans (62 percent) believe his recent actions in Iraq show he is “stubborn and unwilling to admit his mistakes,” compared to 30 percent who say Bush’s actions demonstrate that he is “willing to take political risks to do what’s right.”

Former New York City major Rudolph Giuliani receives the highest marks for having shown political courage in the past among the current major candidates from either party (48 percent of registered voters say he has), followed by Hillary Clinton at 43 percent, John McCain at 42, John Edwards at 33 and Barack Obama at 30. Mitt Romney comes in last among the six leading candidates at 11 percent.

Clinton receives the highest marks for showing political courage in the current campaign, though, with 34 percent of voters saying she has, followed by 33 percent for Obama, 30 percent for Edwards, 28 for McCain, 25 for Giuliani and 11 for Romney.

Obama is seen as the most optimistic candidate (a consistent measure of electability) in either party: 51 percent of registered voters say the Illinois senator is optimistic, compared to 47 percent who say Edwards is, 46 percent for Clinton, 45 percent for Giuliani, 40 percent for McCain, and 27 for Romney.

While the poll has some high marks for Clinton, it’s not all good news. Though the New York senator and former first lady aims to project an aura of inevitability that she will win the Democratic nomination, Obama beats the leading Republicans by larger margins than any other Democrat: besting Giuliani 50 to 43 percent, among registered voters; beating McCain 52 to 39 percent, and defeating Romney 58 percent to 29 percent.

Like Obama, Edwards defeats the Republicans by larger margins than Clinton does: the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee outdistances Giuliani by six points, McCain by 10 and Romney by 37, the largest lead in any of the head-to-head matchups. Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton wins 49 percent to 46 percent against Giuliani, well within the poll’s margin of error; 50 to 44 against McCain; and 57 to 35 against Romney.

Where Clinton remains the undisputed champ is among Democrats. When matched against her main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Clinton is the choice of 51 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters over Obama’s 39 percent; and she defeats Edwards 57 percent to 38 percent. Obama has not substantially narrowed Clinton’s lead since the early March NEWSWEEK poll, where he trailed Clinton by 14 points. Edwards has narrowed Clinton’s lead over him though. Back in March Edwards trailed Clinton by 31 points; now her lead is down to 19 points.

Giuliani, the Republican frontrunner, might want to look over his shoulder too. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, Giuliani leads McCain 56 percent to 41 percent (15 points). But two months ago in the NEWSWEEK Poll, Giuliani held a 25-point lead. Both candidates trounce Romney, despite his placing first in the first-quarter fundraising sweepstakes. Giuliani holds a staggering 51-point lead over Romney and McCain holds a 41-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor.

With 38 percent of Republicans dissatisfied with their party’s field, things could get interesting if former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson joins the race; 46 percent of Republicans who are dissatisfied with their candidates say he should (34 percent say he shouldn’t). Of the much smaller 14 percent of Democrats who are dissatisfied with their candidates, 60 percent say they want former vice president and Democratic nominee Al Gore to join the fray. Current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat who changed parties shortly before running for mayor, receives unenthusiastic support from both Republicans and Democrats: 18 percent of dissatisfied Democrats would like to see Bloomberg join the Democratic field, and an even more anemic 14 percent of Republicans would like to see him join theirs.

All of the candidates can perhaps take some solace in Americans’ dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the United States at this time (only 25 percent are satisfied; 71 percent dissatisfied). American dissatisfaction ratings last hit 71 in the NEWSWEEK poll in May 2006, at the height of the scandal over secret government wiretapping inside the United States. The last time that even half of our survey respondents were happy with the direction of the country was in April 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq war. With that many unhappy Americans, the nation should have a strong appetite for new leaders and new ideas.

The NEWSWEEK Poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International May 2-3. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,001 adults, age 18 and older; the overall margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The margin of error for questions asked only of Democrats and Democratic leaners is plus or minus 7 percentage points; for Republicans and GOP leaners, 8 percentage points.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18505030/site/newsweek/

Goodling Shed Tears Before Revelations About Firings (Update1)

Goodling Shed Tears Before Revelations About Firings (Update1)

By James Rowley

May 4 (Bloomberg) -- A former U.S. Justice Department official and central figure in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys tearfully told a colleague two months ago her government career probably was over as the matter was about to erupt into a political storm, according to closed-door congressional testimony.

Monica Goodling, at the time an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, sobbed for 45 minutes in the office of career Justice Department official David Margolis on March 8 as she related her fears that she would have to quit, according to congressional aides briefed on Margolis's private testimony to House and Senate investigators. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity.

Margolis's description of the emotional scene in his office sheds new light on divisions that were developing in the Justice Department's Washington headquarters as the Democratic-controlled Congress was demanding documents that might show White House involvement in the dismissals.

Goodling, 33, who was Gonzales's White House liaison, resigned April 6 and has invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to refuse to answer lawmakers' questions about her role in the firings. Her lawyers cited accusations by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty that Goodling and others had misled him about the firings as a basis for refusing to testify.

Compelled Testimony

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to compel her testimony by granting limited immunity from prosecution. Goodling may have signaled in a letter yesterday -- sent by her lawyers to the Justice Department -- that she is eager to tell Congress her side of the story.

The letter noted that the Justice Department, which is conducting its own inquiry into whether Goodling improperly considered the political affiliation of applicants to be prosecutors, is powerless to block the congressional grant of immunity.

D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's chief of staff, resigned March 12, the day before documents disclosing that the White House initiated the dismissals were turned over to Congress. The revelation intensified calls among lawmakers for Gonzales to resign. The attorney general held a March 13 press conference to acknowledge ``mistakes'' for failure to supervise Sampson's handling of the firings.

Gonzales blamed Sampson for not keeping him informed. Democrats accused Gonzales of trying to make Sampson a scapegoat. On March 29, Sampson contradicted his former boss in testimony to Congress, saying the attorney general was wrong in minimizing his own role in the firings.

Consoling Goodling

Margolis testified in private that he tried to console Goodling and listened to her discuss her personal life, a congressional aide said. He recalled telling a colleague that he was concerned about Goodling's emotional state, the aide said.

Jeffrey King, one of Goodling's lawyers, declined to comment on the episode.

Three hours before Goodling visited his fourth-floor office, Margolis told House and Senate investigators that Sampson dropped by to say he had information Margolis needed to know, one congressional aide said.

Margolis recounted that Sampson read his e-mail exchanges with White House aides that showed the decisions on firing the prosecutors were closely coordinated with members of the president's staff, the aide said.

Stunned Reaction

Margolis recalled that he was stunned to learn the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals, congressional aides said. Margolis testified that preparation for McNulty's Senate testimony -- which took place more than a month before his meetings with Goodling and Sampson -- was based on the assumption that the White House only became involved at the end of the firing process, the aide said.

McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6 that the White House's only involvement was that presidential aides were informed of the decision before the U.S. attorneys were told. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat leading the Senate investigation into the dismissals, has since said that he believes McNulty may have been misled by Sampson.

Margolis testified that Sampson didn't explain why he hadn't disclosed the consultations with White House Counsel Harriet Miers and other White House aides nor did Margolis ask him, the aide said.

Margolis testified that he believed Sampson informed him of the e-mails because the two had enjoyed a cordial relationship, the aide said. Margolis told investigators he believed Sampson felt a need to inform McNulty and Gonzales because the two had endured criticism for the firings, the aide said.

After Sampson left his office, Margolis testified that he went toward McNulty's office to inform his boss and stopped because Sampson had already gone into the room carrying the binder filled with White House e-mails, the aide said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net .

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=a2E0Xyb65axc&refer=home

GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics

GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics
Doan Denies 'Improper' Use of Agency for GOP

By Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 26, 2007; A01

Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.

With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections.

When Jennings concluded his presentation to the GSA political appointees, Doan allegedly asked them how they could "help 'our candidates' in the next elections," according to a March 6 letter to Doan from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman said in the letter that one method suggested was using "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country."

On Wednesday, Doan is scheduled to appear before Waxman's committee to answer questions about the videoconference and other issues. The committee is investigating whether remarks made during the videoconference violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes. Those found in violation of the act do not face criminal penalties but can be removed from their jobs.

Waxman said in the letter that the remarks made during the videoconference have been confirmed by "multiple sources." Congressional investigators have taken statements from GSA employees and others in recent weeks.

The planned hearing is part of an expanding examination by Waxman's committee of Doan's tumultuous 10-month tenure as administrator of the GSA. The government's leading procurement agency annually handles about $56 billion worth of federal contracts.

The committee is also expected to question Doan about her attempt to give a no-bid job to a friend and professional associate last summer. In addition, the committee plans to look at Waxman's charge that Doan "intervened" in a troubled technology contract with Sun Microsystems that could cost taxpayers millions more than necessary.

In the Senate, Doan is facing a similar line of questioning in letters from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Also examining Doan are the GSA's Office of Inspector General and the independent federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates allegations of Hatch Act violations.

In several recent statements, Doan has said she did nothing wrong. She said her troubles are the result of retaliation by the inspector general over her efforts to rein in spending and balance the GSA budget. Doan, a wealthy former government contractor who sold her company before taking over the GSA last May, has hired three law firms and two media relations companies at her own expense to handle inquiries from the federal investigators and the news media.

"Ever since I made the decision to restore fiscal discipline to all divisions within GSA, I have had to face a series of personal attacks and charges," Doan said in a March 7 statement.

Doan did not respond to questions for this article. She said in the statement that she looks forward to facing the oversight committee.

"I am eager to have the chance to set the record straight and provide a full and complete record to Congressman Waxman and the Committee and refute these allegations," Doan said.

Waxman's investigation began in response to a Jan. 19 story in The Washington Post about a no-bid job Doan tried to give to firms run by Edie Fraser, a veteran Washington public relations executive who had served as a paid consultant to Doan. Waxman's investigators concluded that the two women had "a long-standing business relationship" that was not "previously disclosed," according to Waxman's letter.

Between 2003 and 2005, Fraser billed Doan as much as $20,000 a month in consulting fees to "generally promote attributes" of Doan and her company, New Technology Management Inc., according to invoices obtained by The Post. In all, Doan paid at least $417,500 to companies affiliated with Fraser before Doan took over the GSA, according to Waxman's investigators.

Last year, Fraser helped prepare Doan for her GSA confirmation and lined up political support for her, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Post.

On July 25, two months after Doan took office, she took the unusual step of personally signing the no-bid arrangement with Diversity Best Practices and Business Women's Network, firms then run by Fraser, to produce a report about GSA's use of businesses owned by minorities or women. The GSA's general counsel at the time, Alan R. Swendiman, told Waxman's investigators he was "alarmed" that the project was not competitively bid.

Last month, in a letter to Waxman's committee, a senior GSA official called the no-bid arrangement a "procedural mistake." Doan told The Post that she submitted a service order for the work through normal GSA contracting channels and did not focus on it afterward.

But Swendiman, now a special assistant to President Bush, told Waxman's investigators that he "immediately and repeatedly" advised Doan to terminate the arrangement. When he was unable to persuade her, Swendiman directed a GSA contracting officer to terminate the arrangement. The investigators found evidence indicating that Doan continued to try to find ways to award the project to her friend.

The committee's examination of the Jan. 26 videoconference could raise questions about the role of Jennings, the White House official who works for Rove.

Jennings's name has recently surfaced in investigations of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys around the country. He communicated with Justice Department officials concerning the appointment of Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide, as U.S. attorney in Little Rock, according to e-mails released this month. For that exchange, Jennings, although working at the White House, used an e-mail account registered to the Republican National Committee, where Griffin had worked as a political opposition researcher.

Jennings is a longtime political operative from Kentucky. He served as political director for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2002 before joining the White House.

After Jennings and Doan spoke during the videoconference, one regional GSA administrator offered the suggestion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could be excluded from the opening of an environmentally efficient federal courthouse in San Francisco, which Pelosi represents, according to Waxman's letter. GSA manages the nation's federal courthouses.

The letter cited evidence that Doan then raised questions about "the upcoming opening of a courthouse in Florida," based on statements from participants in the videoconference. Doan noted that President Bill Clinton had suggested he might attend, and she "stated that an effort should be made to get Senator Mel Martinez, the General Chairman of the Republican National Committee, to attend," Waxman said in his letter to Doan.

"It would be an obvious abuse if you suggested to agency officials that the activities of the agency be manipulated to provide political advantages to Republican candidates," Waxman told her in the letter.

In a March 13 letter to Waxman, Doan wrote that "there were no improper political actions that occurred during or as a result of the January 26 teleconference."

Jennings declined to comment Friday and referred questions to the White House media affairs office. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Jennings did not ask GSA officials to help Republican candidates and described Jennings's presentation as "a factual assessment of the political landscape."

Waxman's committee also plans to question Doan about her alleged involvement last year in a technology contract with Sun Microsystems. The GSA, which collects a small percentage of the value of the contracts it handles, was at risk of losing substantial fees from the Sun contract if it was not renewed.

Two GSA contracting officers had balked at renewing the deal, citing findings by the GSA's inspector general that Sun was allegedly overcharging taxpayers, not giving discounts to the government that were made available to private companies.

Waxman's letter alleged that Doan "intervened" in the matter and that she suggested one of the contracting officers was too "stressed" and might be replaced. Days later, the agency brought in a new contracting officer, who approved the deal within two weeks.

That officer was later granted a previously denied transfer to an agency field office in Denver.

In a statement, Sun Microsystems said it cooperated with the audit.

"We are honored to be a government contractor, and our current contracts with GSA represent the culmination of over two years of very active negotiations," the statement said. "Any suggestion that GSA gave Sun special treatment during the negotiation process simply does not fit the facts."

Grassley, the senator questioning Doan, said in a statement Friday that Doan and her subordinates should have heeded warnings by the agency inspector general's office that problems with the Sun contract had been discussed with Justice Department officials.

"The allegations alone should have been a showstopper, but they instead chose to turn a blind eye, failed to take corrective action, and allowed a bad contract to move forward that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars," Grassley said. "It's unacceptable."

Doan has told Grassley and Waxman that she did nothing improper.

"There was no undue influence in the award of the Sun Microsystems renewal contract," she wrote to Waxman. "I had no role whatsoever in any personnel actions involving anyone involved in those contract negotiations."

Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/25/AR2007032501048_pf.html

Friday, May 04, 2007

Jeff Gannon, Former WH Stringer, Returns As Spokesman for Bible Event

Jeff Gannon, Former WH Stringer, Returns As Spokesman for Bible Event

By E&P Staff

Published: May 04, 2007 11:55 AM ET

NEW YORK James Guckert -- a.k.a. Jeff Gannon, ex-White House correspondent and former male escort -- turned up in the pages of The Washington Post again today, this time as a promoter of a Bible reading event outside the Capitol.

Dana Milbank covered it his Post column. An excerpt follows.
*

Let us pray that, on next year's National Day of Prayer, there is better attendance at the "Bible Reading Marathon" on the West Front of the Capitol.

Organizers put out 600 folding chairs on the lawn -- the spot where presidents are inaugurated -- and set up a huge stage with powerful amplifiers. But at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, not one of the 600 seats was occupied. By 11 a.m., as a woman read a passage from Revelations, attendance had grown -- to four people. Finally, at 1 p.m., 37 of the 600 seats were occupied, though many of those people were tourists eating lunch.

Where was everybody?

"This isn't that kind of event," explained Jeff Gannon, spokesman for the host, the International Bible Reading Association. Gannon, actually a pseudonym for James Guckert, had earned fame in 2005 representing a conservative Web site at White House briefings until it was revealed that he posted nude pictures of himself on the Web to offer his services as a $200-an-hour gay escort.

Let us pray for the power to understand how Gannon made his way from HotMilitaryStud.com to the International Bible Reading Association.

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003581115

Eugene Robinson - Lost in the Fog With Commander Guy

Lost in the Fog With Commander Guy

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, May 4, 2007

Is George W. Bush even trying to make sense anymore?

On Wednesday, speaking to the Associated General Contractors of America, Bush gave himself a new nickname. Responding to a question from the audience, he asked rhetorically whether "the Congress or the commanders" should decide how many U.S. troops are needed in Iraq.

"And as you know," he went on, "my position is clear -- I'm the Commander Guy."

That leaves me somewhat confused. If he's now the Commander Guy, does that mean I have to stop calling him The Decider? Or does he spend some days deciding and other days commanding?

Maybe there were further clues to the president's decision-making style in the rambling talk he gave a couple of weeks ago at Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City, Ohio. He recalled that just before his inauguration in 2001, the head usher at the White House called and asked what color rug he wanted in the Oval Office. He delegated the task of designing a new presidential rug to his wife, Laura.

"But I said, I want it to say something -- the president has got to be a strategic thinker and I said to her, make sure the rug says 'optimistic person comes to work.' Because you can't make decisions unless you're optimistic that the decisions you make will lead to a better tomorrow." The result, he said, is "this fantastic rug that looks like the sun. And it just sets the tone for the Oval Office."

While discussing the situation in Iraq, Bush told the Tipp City audience that "I happen to think there will be an additional dividend when we succeed -- remember the rug?"

Does that make the rug an Assistant Decider? Will the rug get a Medal of Freedom, just like George Tenet?

That Ohio appearance generated so many new Bushisms that it's hard to know where to begin. Asked about the polls showing the unpopularity of the war and his own low approval rating, Bush said, "I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times." Asked about immigration, Bush said, "There are jobs Americans aren't doing. . . . If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."

Um, sure, Mr. President, we follow you. All the way to the chicken factory.

Those in the crowd at Tipp City also learned from the president that Iraq is definitely not another Vietnam. But the president added, "There are some similarities, of course -- death is terrible."

Okay, I know that most of the president's off-the-wall locutions are dangerous only to the English language. But to the extent that carelessness of speech reflects carelessness of mind, much more is at stake. The Commander Guy's rationale for sending more U.S. troops to fight and die in Iraq is as elusive as his reason for starting the war in the first place. He says his goal is victory, but he can't explain coherently what victory would look like, much less how to get there.

In Tipp City, just before his reminder about the Oval Office rug, Bush said success in Iraq would be defined as "a country that is stable enough for the government to work, that can defend itself and serve as an ally in this war on terror, that won't be a safe haven, that will deny the extremists and the radicals."

But that doesn't necessarily mean an end to bloody suicide bombings, he added. "Think about that: If our definition is no more suiciders, you've just basically said to the suiciders, go ahead."

Speaking to the contractors' group Wednesday, the president elaborated: "Either we'll succeed or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve."

What is the man talking about? What "parts of our own country" experience violence remotely comparable to that in Iraq? Is he serious?

President Bush now says that even after "success" in Iraq -- after more American and Iraqi deaths -- there will still be sectarian violence and there will still be suicide bombers killing innocent civilians. Which is the situation right now. So why stay in Iraq even one more day, except to validate the unwise decisions of our ineloquent Commander Guy?

Justice Official Says He Was Directed To Call Fired Prosecutors

Justice Official Says He Was Directed To Call Fired Prosecutors

By Murray Waas, National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, May 3, 2007



The chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has told congressional investigators that phone calls he placed to four fired U.S. attorneys -- calls that three of the prosecutors say involved threats about testifying before Congress -- were made at McNulty's direction.

Michael Elston, the chief of staff, told congressional investigators in a closed-door session on March 30 that McNulty specifically instructed him to make the phone calls after the Justice Department's No. 2 official learned that the fired prosecutors might testify before Congress about their dismissals.

A transcript of Elston's confidential interview with the congressional investigators was made available to National Journal.

The U.S. attorneys have said that Elston, in effect, told them that if they kept quiet about their dismissals, the Justice Department would not suggest that they had been forced to resign because of poor performance.

At least one member of Congress has questioned whether the phone calls might constitute obstruction of justice.

In his interview with congressional investigators, Elston adamantly denied that he ever tried to discourage the prosecutors from testifying before Congress. He said that he was directed by McNulty to tell the fired U.S. attorneys that the Department of Justice did not have a formal position as to whether they should testify.


At least one member of Congress has questioned whether the phone calls might constitute obstruction of justice.


Elston said that McNulty directed him to place calls to fired U.S. attorneys Paul Charlton of Arizona, Bud Cummins of Arkansas, and John McKay of Seattle, all of whom said they felt pressured to keep quiet. Elston also placed a call to federal prosecutor Kevin Ryan of San Francisco, as directed, but did not speak to him. The calls were placed between January and March of this year -- before details about the political motivations for the firings became public.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee made public formal correspondence from three fired prosecutors who said they thought that Elston was trying to intimidate them into keeping quiet.

In an interview with National Journal, McKay, reacting to Elston's disclosure that McNulty directed him to make the calls, said, "Because [Elston] was the chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, I always assumed that the phone call was authorized and directed by the DAG. If Elston is telling the truth, it is all the more troubling."

McKay, who was the first of the prosecutors whom Elston called, described Elston's message to him: "The attorney general was not going to disclose that I or the other U.S. attorneys were fired or forced to resign.… 'We have no intention of naming people.'"

McKay said that Elston never specifically suggested an explicit quid pro quo whereby Justice officials would not say that McKay had been fired for cause or poor performance if McKay did not talk to the media or Congress about his firing. However, McKay said, "a reasonable person would have felt both offended and threatened" by Elston's call.

McKay said that the message he took away from the conversation was, "If you remain silent, we will not out you as someone who was forced to resign."

McKay said that he made contemporaneous notes of his conversation with Elston, and dated them -- something, he said, that was not his ordinary practice. He did so because of his concerns about what Elston was telling him, according to McKay.

Charlton said he got a similar phone call from Elston on the same day. In formal response to written questions posed to him by the House Judiciary Committee, Charlton said, "I believe that Elston was offering me a quid pro quo agreement: my silence in exchange for the attorney general's."

Cummins testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 6, at which time a contemporaneous e-mail he wrote within an hour of his phone call with Elston was released. In the e-mail, which he sent to five of his fellow prosecutors, Cummins said that the "essence of [Elston's] message" was that if any of the fired U.S. attorneys had pressed their case in the media or before Congress, senior aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might "feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off" and accuse the prosecutors of ineptitude or poor management.

Cummins also wrote in his e-mail that Elston had called him because he was upset about comments Cummins had made in the press about his firing. "[Justice officials] feel like they are taking unnecessary flak to avoid trashing each of us," Cummins said in the e-mail to his fellow prosecutors. "I also made it a point to tell him that all of us have turned down multiple invitations to testify. He reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying, and it seemed clear that they would see this as a major escalation of the conflict meriting some kind of unspecified form of retaliation."

McKay, one of the prosecutors who got the e-mail, said: "[Cummins] wanted to send a message to all of us. We got that message, loud and clear: If you talk to the press or go to Congress, the Department of Justice will not consider you a friend. I considered it an act of intimidation."

In his interview with congressional investigators, Elston said that he called Cummins and the other U.S. attorneys "at the deputy attorney general's direction" and "to reassure them that the attorney general was not going to name names."

Elston said that McNulty only wanted him to tell Cummins that the department had no position on whether he should testify: "[McNulty] also told me to be very careful when I called Bud back and to make it very clear to him the Department of Justice had no position on whether he testified or not. And that he could testify if he wanted to, or not testify. It was entirely up to him.

"And that conversation sticks in my mind because the deputy attorney general was very earnest and being very careful. And having no experience on Capitol Hill... I followed his instruction."

Congressional investigators asked Elston about an e-mail in which Gonzales's then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, wrote to other Justice Department officials that he did not think it was a good idea for Cummins to testify. Elston also told investigators, "The deputy attorney general [McNulty], I think, concurred with that."

During the interview with investigators, Elston also said that in his February 20 phone call to Cummins it was the prosecutor who expressed a desire to remain loyal to the department and to not testify. "[Cummins] said a number of things, but one of them was, 'I still want to be on the team, and I don't have any hard feelings,' " Elston testified. " 'I would like to be a federal judge someday, and I didn't think the Democrats are going to nominate me.'"

In an interview, Robert Driscoll, Elston's attorney, said that the U.S. attorneys might have been mistaken in their accounts of their phone calls with his client. "From the information I have seen, none of the fired U.S. attorneys quote Mike as making any type of explicit threats, and each one focuses more on their interpretation of the conversation than [on] what Mike actually said. Their interpretations appear in some instances to be unjustified, based on their own descriptions."

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse disputed the notion that Elston’s phone calls to the fired prosecutors could have been viewed as an attempt to keep them from testifying before Congress. At the time the first phone calls were made in January, Roehrkasse said, the issue of the prosecutors' dismissals had attracted so little attention that it would have been highly unlikely that any of prosecutors would have thought that they might be called upon to appear before Congress.

The stakes are high for McNulty if key members of Congress or investigators believe that he directed Elston to discourage any of the U.S. attorneys from testifying.

At the March 6 Senate Judiciary hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Cummins and three others U.S. attorneys what they would have done in their capacity as federal prosecutors had they learned that an interested party in one of their investigations had tried to discourage a witness from providing information or testifying. All four said that they would have investigated the matter to determine a possible obstruction of justice.

"Mr. Cummins, let me ask you first. I'd like to ask you to put your U.S. attorney hat back on," Whitehouse said. "You're still in office, and think of a significant grand jury investigation that you led as United States attorney in your district. And consider that a significant witness in that grand jury investigation has just come into your office to relate to you that prior to his grand jury testimony he was approached about his testimony and [told]... essentially exactly the words that Mr. Elston approached you. What would your next step be as United States attorney?"

Cummins responded: "We take intimidation of witnesses very seriously in the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney's office, so we would be very proactive in that situation."

Attempting to moderate his statement, he added: "I would qualify that by saying that at the time this discussion was had, we weren't under a subpoena; the idea of testifying was just kind of a theoretical idea out there. And I would say … to the extent we talked about testimony at all, it was the idea that running out and volunteering to be part of this would not be viewed charitably by the people that it would affect."

Whitehouse pressed Cummins: "But if that sort of approach had been made to a witness in an active proceeding that you were leading, and you were extremely proactive about it, that would lead you where?"

"Well, we'd certainly investigate it and see if a crime had occurred."

"And the crime would be?"

Cummins responded: "Obstruction of justice. I think there are several statutes that might be implicated -- but obstruction of justice."

Whitehouse posed the same question to John McKay, the fired U.S. attorney from Washington state.

McKay responded: "I would be discussing it with the assigned prosecutor and federal agents."

"With regard to?"

"With regard to possible obstruction of justice."

Whitehouse next put the question to David Iglesias, the fired U.S. attorney from New Mexico:

Iglesias replied: "Same answer, sir. I would contact the career [assistant U.S. attorney] and probably the FBI and talk about what's the evidence we have to maybe move forward on an obstruction investigation.

Finally, Whitehouse looked toward Carol Lam, the fired U.S. attorney from San Diego.

She answered without hesitation: "Fundamentally the same answer: witness intimidation."

-- Click here for more coverage of the Justice Department from Murray Waas.

http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/070503nj1.htm

The U.S. Attorney, the G.O.P. Congressman and the Timely Job Offer

Editorial Observer
The U.S. Attorney, the G.O.P. Congressman and the Timely Job Offer
By ADAM COHEN

There is yet another United States attorney whose abrupt departure from office is raising questions: Debra Wong Yang of Los Angeles. Ms. Yang was not fired, as eight other prosecutors were, but she resigned under circumstances that raise serious questions, starting with whether she was pushed out to disrupt her investigation of one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress.

If the United States attorney scandal has made one thing clear, it is that the riskiest job in the Bush administration is being a prosecutor investigating a Republican member of Congress. Carol Lam, the United States attorney in San Diego, was fired after she put Randy Cunningham, known as Duke, in prison. Paul Charlton, in Arizona, was dismissed while he was investigating Rick Renzi. Dan Bogden, in Nevada, was fired while he was reportedly investigating Jim Gibbons, a congressman who was elected governor last year.

Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Ms. Lam and most of the other purged prosecutors were fired on Dec. 7. Ms. Yang, in a fortuitously timed exit, resigned in mid-October.

Ms. Yang says she left for personal reasons, but there is growing evidence that the White House was intent on removing her. Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staff member in charge of the firings, told investigators last month in still-secret testimony that Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, had asked him more than once about Ms. Yang. He testified, according to Congressional sources, that as late as mid-September, Ms. Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign. Mr. Sampson reportedly recalled that Ms. Miers was focused on just two United States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, a Republican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.

It is hard to see what put Ms. Yang on the White House list other than her investigation of Mr. Lewis, which threatened to pull in well-connected lobbyists, military contractors and Republican contributors. Ms. Yang, by all accounts, had a strong record. Alberto Gonzales hailed her as “one of the most respected U.S. attorneys in the country.”

The new job that Ms. Yang landed raised more red flags. Press reports say she got a $1.5 million signing bonus to become a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a firm with strong Republican ties. She was hired to be co-leader of the Crisis Management Practice Group with Theodore Olson, who was President Bush’s solicitor general and his Supreme Court lawyer in Bush v. Gore. Gibson, Dunn was defending Mr. Lewis in Ms. Yang’s investigation.

Several issues bear investigating. First, did Ms. Yang know or suspect that she might lose her job, and jump ship to avoid being fired? That is not hard to believe because Ms. Miers and Mr. Sampson were exchanging e-mail about dismissing her in mid-September, and she announced her departure in October. Ms. Yang served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which Mr. Gonzales has called “a small group of U.S. attorneys that I consult on policy matters.” That may have put her in a position to be tipped off in advance.

A second possibility is that Gibson, Dunn dangled a rich financial package before Ms. Yang to get her out, and to disrupt the investigation of Mr. Lewis. Ms. Yang, who says she left her job purely for personal reasons, may not have known she was being lured away by people with close ties to Mr. Lewis and the White House, who were hoping to replace her with a more partisan prosecutor.

Another possibility is that the timing of her departure was coincidental. That would make her lucky indeed: after more than 15 years of working for government, she decided to take a private sector job precisely when the White House counsel was apparently trying to fire her.

It is impossible to know how much of a setback Ms. Yang’s departure was to the investigation of Mr. Lewis. It could be that it slowed down after she left. It could also be that it is going forward just as it would have had she stayed. If it has not been affected, that could be because the close attention Congress and the press are paying to United States attorneys has prevented the White House from installing a “loyal Bushie,” in Mr. Sampson’s famous phrase.

United States attorneys serve, as the White House likes to point out, at the pleasure of the president. But if Ms. Yang, or any of the others, was pushed out to prevent justice from being done in a pending criminal matter, it would be a serious misuse of executive authority. It could also be obstruction of justice.

Congress is conducting closed-door interviews with Justice Department officials. That is important, but hardly enough. It is looking more and more as if the United States attorney dismissals were managed out of the White House. The way to put to rest the questions about Ms. Yang’s suspicious departure, and the firings of the other prosecutors, is to require that Ms. Miers, Mr. Rove and other White House officials tell what they know, in public and under oath.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/opinion/04fri4.html?ei=5090&en=9697872f8b81f953&ex=1335931200&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Isikoff: How Rove Shaped Testimony on Prosecutor Firings

Isikoff: How Rove Shaped Testimony on Prosecutor Firings

Two months ago, he helped coach Justice Department officials on how to testify about the U.S. attorneys’ firings. Was that a harmless part of his job, or an inappropriate attempt to mislead Congress?
WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Michael Isikoff
Newsweek
Updated: 8:23 p.m. CT May 3, 2007

May 3, 2007 - Deputy chief of staff Karl Rove participated in a hastily called meeting at the White House two months ago. The subject: The firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year. The purpose: to coach a top Justice Department official heading to Capitol Hill to testify on the prosecutorial purge on what he should say.

Now some investigators are saying that Rove’s attendance at the meeting shows that the president’s chief political advisor may have been involved in an attempt to mislead Congress—one more reason they are demanding to see his emails and force him to testify under oath.

At the March 5, 2007 meeting, White House aides, including counsel Fred Fielding and deputy counsel William Kelley, sought to shape testimony that principal associate deputy attorney general William Moscella was to give the next day before the House Judiciary Committee.

Although the existence of the White House meeting had been previously disclosed by the Justice Department, Rove’s attendance at the strategy session was not—until both Moscella and deputy attorney general Paul McNulty talked about it in confidential testimony with congressional investigators last week. Portions of their testimony were read to Newsweek by a Democratic aide who asked not to be identified talking about private matters.

According to McNulty’s account, Rove came late to the meeting and left early. But while he was there he spoke up and echoed a point that was made by the other White House aides: The Justice Department needed to provide specific reasons why it terminated the eight prosecutors in order to rebut Democratic charges that the firings were politically motivated. The point Rove and other White House officials made is “you all need to explain what you did and why you did it,” McNulty told the investigators.

The problem, according to the Democratic aide, is that Rove and Kelley never told Moscella about the White House’s own role in pushing to have some U.S. attorneys fired in the first place. Moscella followed the coaching by Rove and others—and made no mention of White House involvement in the firings during his March 6, 2007 testimony to House Judiciary. “They let Moscella come up here without telling him the full story,” said the Democratic staffer.

Moscella at one point even appeared to specifically deny that Rove pushed to have one of his former aides, Timothy Griffin, installed at a top job at Justice. “I don’t know that he played any role,” Moscella said when asked by one committee member what Rove played in recommending Griffin to Justice. Since then, the Justice Department turned over to Congress a department email that showed Griffin was installed as U.S. attorney in Arkansas because it was viewed as “important” to Rove and then White House counsel Harriet Miers.

A White House spokesman dismissed the significance of the March meeting, saying it was not surprising that a deputy White House chief of staff like Rove would participate in internal discussions about the firings of presidential appointees. “It’s perfectly natural that he would be there,” said deputy press secretary Tony Fratto. Asked specifically whether Rove had withheld pertinent information to Moscella, and therefore participated in an attempt to mislead Congress, Fratto replied: “The White House’s role was very limited. I'm not commenting about any meetings. If the Committee wants to learn about it, they can accept our offer” to permit Rove and other White House aides to be privately questioned by Capitol Hill investigators. (Democratic leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committee have both rejected that offer, saying they want Rove and other White House officials to testify in public and under oath.)

At his March 6 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Moscella followed the advice of Rove and others and for the first time talked about specific “performance-related” problems that purportedly led to the prosecutors being dismissed. Moscella’s comments about the “deficiencies” of particular U.S. attorneys—such as their failure to provide “effective leadership” or follow the policy priorities of the Justice Department—infuriated the U.S. attorneys, prompting them to publicly defend themselves against what they saw as an arbitrary and highly politicized process.

At least three participants in the March 5 meeting—Rove, Kelley and Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—were aware of the White House role in pushing to have U.S. attorneys fired, according to another Justice Department official who attended the meeting but asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. But the subject of the White House role in the firings never came up, the official said, because at that point, it had not become a prime focus of congressional interest. "Quite frankly, those weren’t the questions that Congress was asking at that point," said the official.

Since then, the subject has moved front and center, as has interest in Rove’s role. Justice Department emails show that it was Rove in January 2005 who first inquired about whether the department planned to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys or just some of them. Later testimony has revealed that last fall he passed along complaints about some prosecutors—including fired U.S. attorney David Iglesias—to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoeanaed the Justice Department to turn over all emails in its possession from Rove—including his computer hard drive, which was turned over to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak case. The new disclosure about his participation in the March 5 strategy session is likely to fuel the committee’s determination to keep the heat on.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18479265/site/newsweek/

Strained VA hands out five-figure bonuses

Strained VA hands out five-figure bonuses



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Months after a politically embarrassing $1 billion shortfall that put veterans' health care in peril, Veterans Affairs officials involved in the foul-up got hefty bonuses ranging up to $33,000.

The list of bonuses to senior career officials at the Veterans Affairs Department in 2006, obtained by The Associated Press, documents a generous package of more than $3.8 million in payments by a financially strapped agency straining to help care for thousands of injured veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among those receiving payments were a deputy assistant secretary and several regional directors who crafted the VA's flawed budget for 2005 based on misleading accounting. They received performance payments up to $33,000 each, a figure equal to about 20 percent of their annual salaries.

Also receiving a top bonus was the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who helps manage a disability claims system that has a backlog of cases and delays averaging 177 days in getting benefits to injured veterans.

The bonuses were awarded even after government investigators had determined the VA repeatedly miscalculated -- if not deliberately misled taxpayers -- with questionable methods used to justify Bush administration cuts to health care amid a burgeoning Iraq war.

Annual bonuses to senior VA officials now average more than $16,000 -- the most lucrative in government.

The VA said the payments are necessary to retain hardworking career officials.

Several watchdog groups questioned the practice. They cited short-staffing and underfunding at VA clinics that have become particularly evident after recent disclosures of shoddy outpatient treatment of injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

"Hundreds of thousands of our veterans remain homeless every day and hundreds of thousands more veterans wait six months or more for VA disability claim decisions," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. "The lavish amounts of VA bonus cash would be better spent on a robust plan to cut VA red tape."

Sen. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said the payments pointed to an improper "entitlement for the most centrally placed or well-connected staff."

Seeking an explanation from Secretary Jim Nicholson, Akaka also asked the department to outline steps to address disparities in which Washington-based senior officials got higher payments than their counterparts elsewhere.

"Awards should be determined according to performance," said Akaka, D-Hawaii. "I am concerned by this generous pat on the back for those who failed to ensure that their budget requests accurately reflected VA's needs."

A VA spokesman, Matt Burns, said the department was reviewing Akaka's request. Burns contended that many of the senior officials had been with the department for years, with an expertise that could not be replicated immediately if they were to leave for the more profitable private sector.

"Rewarding knowledgeable and professional career public servants is entirely appropriate," he said. "The importance of retaining committed career leaders in any government organization cannot be overstated."

In 2006, the VA officials receiving top bonuses included Rita Reed, the deputy assistant secretary for budget, and William Feeley, a former VA network director who is now deputy undersecretary for health for operations and management.

Also receiving $33,000 was Ronald Aument, the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who helps oversee the strained and backlogged claims system that Nicholson now says is unacceptable.

The bonuses are determined by the heads of the VA's various divisions, based in part on performance evaluations. All requests are submitted to Nicholson for final approval.

In July 2005, the VA stunned Congress by suddenly announcing it faced a $1 billion shortfall after failing to take into account the additional cost of caring for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The admission, months after the department insisted it was operating within its means and did not need additional money, drew harsh criticism from both parties and some calls for Nicholson's resignation.

The investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, determined the VA had used misleading accounting methods and claimed false savings of more than $1.3 billion, apparently because President Bush was not willing, at the time, to ask Congress for more money.

According to the White House Office of Personnel Management, roughly three of every four senior officials at the VA have received some kind of bonus each year. In recent years, the payment amount has steadily increased from being one of the lowest in government -- $8,120 in 2002 -- to the most generous -- $16,713 in 2005.

In contrast, just over half the senior officials at the Energy Department in 2005 received an average bonus of $9,064. Across all government agencies, about two-thirds of employees received bonuses, which averaged $13,814 in 2005, the most recent data available.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said the VA bonuses appeared to reflect a trend in government where performance bonuses were increasingly used to reward loyal associates and longtime employees.

Put in place shortly after the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, executive bonuses were designed to increase accountability in government by tying raises more closely to performance. But while bonuses can help retain key employees, damage can be done when payments turn into an automatic handout regardless of performance, Ellis said.

"Simply put, people who nearly shortchanged our veterans shouldn't get a bonus check at the end of the year," he said.

Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the nation's largest veterans groups, agreed. His organization is awaiting Nicholson's explanation, saying that the budget shortfall was partly to blame for backlogs and other problems today.

"No one joins the government to get rich, and the bonus may be used as a retention tool to keep the best and the brightest, but it must be performance-based in award to be fair and impartial," Davis said. "Anything else could be viewed as favoritism."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/05/03/vet.care.bonus.ap/index.html?eref=rss_politic

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

2006 Missouri's election was ground zero for GOP

2006 Missouri's election was ground zero for GOP

By Greg Gordon
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Accusations about voter fraud seemed to fly from every direction in Missouri before last fall's elections. State and national Republicans leaders fretted that dead people might vote or that some live people might vote more than once.

The threat to the integrity of the election was seen as so grave that Bradley Schlozman, the acting chief of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and later the U.S. attorney in Kansas City, twice wielded the power of the federal government to try to protect the balloting. The Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly also stepped into action.

Now, six months after freshman Missouri Sen. Jim Talent's defeat handed Democrats control of the U.S. Senate, disclosures in the wake of the firings of eight U.S. attorneys show that that Republican campaign to protect the balloting was not as it appeared. No significant voter fraud was ever proved.

The preoccupation with ballot fraud in Missouri was part of a wider national effort that critics charge was aimed at protecting the Republican majority in Congress by dampening Democratic turnout. That effort included stiffer voter-identification requirements, wholesale purges of names from lists of registered voters and tight policing of liberal get-out-the-vote drives.

Bush administration officials deny those claims. But they've gotten traction in recent weeks because three of the U.S. attorneys ousted by the Justice Department charge that they lost their jobs because they failed to prove Republican allegations of voter fraud. They say their inquiries found little evidence to support the claims.

Few have endorsed the strategy of pursuing allegations of voter fraud with more enthusiasm than White House political guru Karl Rove. And nowhere has the plan been more apparent than in Missouri.

Before last fall's election:

-Schlozman, while he was acting civil rights chief, authorized a suit accusing the state of failing to eliminate legions of ineligible people from lists of registered voters. A federal judge tossed out the suit this April 13, saying Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan couldn't police local registration rolls and noting that the government had produced no evidence of fraud.

-The Missouri General Assembly - with the White House's help - narrowly passed a law requiring voters to show photo identification cards, which Carnahan estimated would disenfranchise 200,000 voters. The state Supreme Court voided the law as unconstitutional before the election.

-Two weeks before the election, the St. Louis Board of Elections sent letters threatening to disqualify 5,000 newly registered minority voters if they failed to verify their identities promptly, a move - instigated by a Republican appointee - that may have violated federal law. After an outcry, the board rescinded the threat.

-Five days before the election, Schlozman, then interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, announced indictments of four voter-registration workers for a Democratic-leaning group on charges of submitting phony applications, despite a Justice Department policy discouraging such action close to an election.

-In an interview with conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt a couple of days before the election, Rove said he'd just visited Missouri and had met with Republican strategists who "are well aware of" the threat of voter fraud. He said the party had "a large number of lawyers that are standing by, trained and ready to intervene" to keep the election clean.

Missouri Republicans have railed about alleged voter fraud ever since President Bush narrowly won the White House in the chaotic 2000 election and Missouri Republican Sen. John Ashcroft lost to a dead man, the late Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, whose name stayed on the ballot weeks after he died in a plane crash.

Joining the push to contain "voter fraud" were Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., who charged that votes by dogs and dead people had defeated Ashcroft, Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, whose stinging allegations of fraud were later debunked, and St. Louis lawyer Mark "Thor" Hearne, national counsel to Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, who set up a nonprofit group to publicize allegations of voter fraud.

Many Democrats contend that the efforts amount to a voter-suppression campaign.

"The real problem has never been vote fraud," said Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo. "It's access to the polls. In the last 50 years, no one in Missouri has been prosecuted for impersonating someone else at the polls. But thousands of eligible voters have been denied their constitutional rights. . . . It's sickening."

However, Jessica Robinson, a spokeswoman for Blunt, said a report he'd authored in 2001 as secretary of state "documented credible instances of fraud." She said Blunt wanted the legislature to take another shot at passing a photo ID bill as "a reasonable step . . . to help stamp out" such abuse.

The Republican-dominated legislature is considering the bill again this year, along with a resolution asking voters to pass a constitutional amendment so the measure can withstand court challenges.

In a separate assessment of alleged voter fraud in Missouri, Lorraine Minnite, a Barnard College professor, found scant evidence of it. The study was undertaken for the nonpartisan policy-research group Demos, which despite its name isn't affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Minnite, who's writing a book on the issue of voter fraud, said successful drives to register poor people and minorities in recent years had threatened to "tip the balance of power" to Democrats, so it was understandable that the Republican Party would seek restrictions that "disproportionately hinder the opposition."

It's difficult to capture the emotional debate over the issue of voter fraud in Missouri without considering the Election Day tumult in St. Louis on Nov. 7, 2000. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of voters were turned away because their names weren't on official lists, and many of them converged on the city's election board seeking assistance.

Responding to the bedlam, Democrats won an emergency court order that kept some polls open beyond their scheduled 7 p.m. closings. That outraged Republicans, and Hearne, the Bush campaign lawyer, in turn won an emergency appeals-court ruling that shut the polls within an hour.

In the ensuing days, Bond blamed Ashcroft's defeat on "a criminal enterprise."

The following summer, then-Secretary of State Blunt alleged in a 47-page investigative report that the use of affidavits to allow more than 1,000 "improper ballots . . . compels the conclusion that there was in St. Louis an organized and successful effort to generate improper votes in large numbers."

But an investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, launched before Ashcroft settled in as U.S. attorney general in 2001, found the reverse. In a 2002 court settlement with the department's Voting Rights Section, St. Louis election officials acknowledged that they'd improperly purged some 50,000 names from voter lists before the 2000 elections and had failed as required by federal law to notify those people properly that they'd been placed on inactive status. No one knows how many eligible voters were denied their right to cast ballots.

Missouri's Rep. Clay charged in a recent interview that Blunt's report was an attempt "to violate the voting rights of certain Missourians."

Things didn't heat up again until 2005, when Schlozman authorized a Justice Department suit naming the newly elected Missouri secretary of state - the daughter of the late governor - as the defendant. It alleged that her office had failed to make a "reasonable effort" to remove ineligible people from local voter-registration rolls.

A federal judge dismissed the suit last month, saying the government had provided no evidence of fraud.

Speaking on behalf of Schlozman, who's now with the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, agency spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We are disappointed with the court ruling."

Separately, Hearne helped establish the nonprofit Center for American Voting Rights in February 2005, which issued lengthy reports alleging voter fraud in states across the country, including Missouri. One director of the supposedly nonpartisan group was Brian Lunde, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee who switched his allegiance in 2000 and headed Democrats for Bush in 2004.

Barnard's Minnite said the center's summary on Missouri consisted of "a litany of overblown allegations of fraud appearing in newspapers, most of which turn out to be minor problems or no problem at all."

Republican state Sen. Delbert Scott of Lowry, Mo., chief sponsor of the photo-ID bill last year, said Hearne had helped draft it and served as a key adviser.

Hearne didn't respond to several requests for comment. His organization closed down its Internet site in March and has disappeared from view.

Last fall, with Missouri's new voter-ID law thrown out by the court, allegations of fraud arose over registration drives among Democratic-leaning minorities in St. Louis and Kansas City by the Democratic-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN).

Brian Mellor, a Boston lawyer for ACORN, said many of the accusations surrounded the submission of duplicate or multiple registration forms for the same voters. Such duplication would be caught by election officials and wouldn't enable anyone to vote twice, he said.

But officials at St. Louis' Board of Elections took the unusual step of alerting the FBI to those and other irregularities, Mellor said, and he wound up turning over copies of 40,000 St. Louis-area registration forms to bureau agents.

Facing the FBI scrutiny, Mellor said, ACORN reviewed its forms in Kansas City and found several with similar handwriting, suggesting that they were bogus. He said the group turned over evidence involving four workers to a county prosecutor in mid-October.

That same month, at the initiative of a Republican appointee, the St. Louis Board of Elections sent letters warning 5,000 people who'd registered through ACORN that their voting status was in question. They were given one week to return signed copies of the letter and confirm personal identifying information or they'd lose their registration status.

ACORN attorneys charged that the notice "appears to be an unlawful attempt to suppress and intimidate voters of color." The board sent another mailing withdrawing the threat.

Meanwhile, the evidence against the four ACORN workers ended up with the FBI.

Five days before the election, U.S. Attorney Schlozman got another voter-fraud headline, announcing the indictments of the four workers. The indictments charged that six applications that ACORN had submitted were fraudulent.

"ACORN abhors fraud," Mellor said. He said the timing of the indictments seemed to be aimed at hurting Democrats.

Justice Department spokesman Boyd said the policy that prosecutors "refrain from any conduct which has the possibility of affecting the election" didn't bar pre-election indictments and was intended to ensure that investigators didn't intimidate voters during an election.

But Joseph Rich, who headed the department's Voting Rights Section from 1999 to 2005, said the timing of the indictments "flies in the face of long-standing policy. . . . There was no need to bring cases on the eve of the election."

McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Margaret Talev contributed to this report.

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/17168096.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

Glenn Greenwald - The right's explicit and candid rejection of "the rule of law"

The right's explicit and candid rejection of "the rule of law"
Glenn Greenwald

Salon.com

(updated below)

The Wall St. Journal online has today published a lengthy and truly astonishing article by Harvard Government Professor Harvey Mansfield, which expressly argues that the power of the President is greater than "the rule of law."

The article bears this headline: The Case for the Strong Executive -- Under some circumstances, the Rule of Law must yield to the need for Energy. And it is the most explicit argument I have seen yet for vesting in the President the power to override and ignore the rule of law in order to recieve the glories of what Mansfield calls "one-man rule."

That such an argument comes from Mansfield is unsurprising. He has long been a folk hero to the what used to be the most extremist right-wing fringe but is now the core of the Republican Party. He devoted earlier parts of his career to warning of the dangers of homosexuality, particularly its effeminizing effect on our culture.

He has a career-long obsession with the glories of tyrannical power as embodied by Machiavelli's Prince, which is his model for how America ought to be governed. And last year, he wrote a book called Manliness in which "he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness" -- which means that "women are the weaker sex," "women's bodies are made to attract and to please men" and "now that women are equal, they should be able to accept being told that they aren't, quite." Publisher's Weekly called it a "juvenile screed."

I'll leave it to Bob Altemeyer and others to dig though all of that to analyze what motivates Mansfield and his decades-long craving for strong, powerful, unchallengeable one-man masculine rule -- though it's more self-evident than anything else.

But reading Mansfield has real value for understanding the dominant right-wing movement in this country. Because he is an academic, and a quite intelligent one, he makes intellectually honest arguments, by which I mean that he does not disguise what he thinks in politically palatable slogans, but instead really describes the actual premises on which political beliefs are based.

And that is Mansfield's value; he is a clear and honest embodiment of what the Bush movement is. In particular, he makes crystal clear that the so-called devotion to a "strong executive" by the Bush administration and the movement which supports it is nothing more than a belief that the Leader has the power to disregard, violate, and remain above the rule of law. And that is clear because Mansfied explicitly says that. And that is not just Mansfield's idiosyncratic belief. He is simply stating -- honestly and clearly -- the necessary premises of the model of the Omnipotent Presidency which has taken root under the Bush presidency.

This is not the first time Mansfield has expressly called for the subordination of the rule of law to the Power of the President. In January of 2006 -- in the immediate aftermath of revelations that President Bush had been breaking the law for years by spying on the telephone conversations of Americans without warrants -- Mansfield went to The Weekly Standard and authored a truly amazing article, which I wrote about here (see item 2).

Unlike dishonest Bush followers who ludicrously claimed that Bush's eavesdropping was not illegal, Mansfield embraced reality and candidly argued that President Bush possesses the power to break the law in order to fight The Terrorists. The headline of that article presented the same mutually exclusive choice as the WSJ article today: The Law and the President -- in a national emergency, who you gonna call?

In that article, Mansfied claimed, among other things, that our "enemies, being extra-legal, need to be faced with extra-legal force"; that the "Office of President" is "larger than the law"; that "the rule of law is not enough to run a government"; that "ordinary power needs to be supplemented or corrected by the extraordinary power of a prince, using wise discretion"; that "with one person in charge we can have both secrecy and responsibility"; and most of all:

Much present-day thinking puts civil liberties and the rule of law to the fore and forgets to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply.
"Law does not apply" -- that is Mansfield's belief, and the belief of the Bush movement. I didn't think it was possible, but Mansfield, with today's article in The Wall St. Journal, actually goes even further in advocating pure lawlessness and tyranny than he did in that remarkable Weekly Standard screed. He begins by describing "the debate between the strong executive and its adversary, the rule of law." He then says: "In some circumstances I could see myself defending the rule of law," but "the rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule."


The rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule. That is what is on the Op-Ed page of The Wall St. Journal this morning. The article is then filled with one paragraph after the next paying homage to the need for a Great Leader who stomps on the rule of law when he chooses -- literally:

The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason--one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli's expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli's prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant. . .
The president takes an oath "to execute the Office of President" of which only one function is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the military, makes treaties (with the Senate), and receives ambassadors. He has the power of pardon, a power with more than a whiff of prerogative for the sake of a public good that cannot be achieved, indeed that is endangered, by executing the laws. . . .

In quiet times the rule of law will come to the fore, and the executive can be weak. In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong.

In the course of explaining how the rule of law applies only in "quiet times," Mansfield also argues that "civil liberties are subject to circumstances," not inalienable, and that "in time of war the greater dangers may be to the majority from a minority." Thus, he explains -- in what might be my favorite sentence -- "A free government should show its respect for freedom even when it has to take it away."
I'm not going to spend much time rebutting the notion that the American President has the power to act as a Prince and override the rule of law when circumstances supposedly justify that. For one thing, given that this belief has governed our country since the 9/11 attacks, I've made the argument many times before, including here and here, as well as in my book.

But more so, one would hope that no response is really necessary, since most Americans -- outside of the authoritarian cult that has followed George W. Bush as Infallible War Leader -- instinctively understand that America does not recognize such a thing as a political official with the power of "one-man rule" that overrides the rule of law. That we are a nation of laws, not men, is so basic to our political identity that it should need no defense.

And for those with any lingering doubts about how repugnant Mansfield's vision is to the defining American political principle, I would simply turn the floor over to the great American revolutionary Thomas Paine (.pdf), writing in Common Sense:


The point here is not to spend much time arguing that Mansfield's authoritarian cravings are repugnant to our political traditions. The real point is that Mansfield's mindset is the mindset of the Bush movement, of the right-wing extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and governed our country completely outside of the rule of law for the last six years. Mansfield makes these arguments more honestly and more explicitly, but there is nothing unusual or uncommon about him. He is simply expounding the belief in tyrannical lawlessness on which the Bush movement (soon to be led by someone else, but otherwise unchanged) is fundamentally based.

This is why he is published in The Weekly Standard and The Wall St. Journal -- the two most influential organs for so-called "conservative" political thought. All sorts of the most political influential people in our country -- from Dick Cheney to Richard Posner to John Yoo and The Weekly Standard -- believe and have argued for exactly this vision of government. They literally do not believe in our constitutional framework and our most defining political values. They have declared a literally endless War which, they claim, not only justifies but compels the vesting of unlimited power in the President -- "unlimited" by Congress, the courts, American public opinion and the rule of law.

That continues to be the central political crisis we have in this country. It is an encouraging development that Congress is exercising aggressive oversight and investigative powers, but the administration is stonewalling completely, and will continue to, because they do not recognize any duty to respond, to answer questions, to be subject to scrutiny or accountability. We live in stormy times, and thus, as Mansfield says: "In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong."

That is why -- as jarring as it is -- it is actually necessary to ask presidential candidates whether they intend to exercise the power to imprison American citizens with no charges of any kind. The dominant political movement in this country believes in that power and has defended and exercised it. Mansfield's beliefs may be twisted and tyrannical and radical and profoundly un-American. But they are also the beliefs that have propelled our government for the last six years and -- absent some serious change -- very well may continue to propel it into the future.

UPDATE: I just want to add one related point here. Much of the intense dissatisfaction I have with the American media arises out of the fact that these extraordinary developments -- the dominant political movement advocating lawlessness and tyranny out in the open in The Wall St. Journal and Weekly Standard -- receive almost no attention.

While the Bush administration expressly adopts these theories to detain American citizens without charges, engage in domestic surveillance on Americans in clear violation of the laws we enacted to limit that power, and asserts a general right to disregard laws which interfere with the President's will, our media still barely discusses those issues.

They write about John Edwards' haircut and John Kerry's windsurfing and which political consultant has whispered what gossip to them about some painfully petty matter, but the extraordinary fact that our nation's dominant political movement is openly advocating the most radical theories of tyranny -- that "liberties are dangerous and law does not apply" -- is barely noticed by our most prestigious and self-loving national journalists. Merely to take note of that failure is to demonstrate how profoundly dysfunctional our political press is.



http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/05/02/mansfield/index.html

STUDY: Bill O’Reilly Uses Derogatory Names ‘More Than Once Every Seven Seconds’

STUDY: Bill O’Reilly Uses Derogatory Names ‘More Than Once Every Seven Seconds’

A new study by Indiana University media researchers finds that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly calls “a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.”

The study documented six months worth, or 115 episodes, of O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” editorials “using propaganda analysis techniques made popular after World War I.” Researchers found that O’Reilly “was prone to inject fear into his commentaries and quick to resort to name-calling. He also frequently assigned roles or attributes — such as ‘villians’ or downright ‘evil’ — to people and groups.

Some findings from the study:

– Fear was used in more than half (52.4 percent) of the commentaries, and O’Reilly almost never offered a resolution to the threat. For example, in a commentary on “left-wing” media unfairly criticizing Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales for his role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, O’Reilly considered this an example of America “slowly losing freedom and core values,” and added, “So what can be done? Unfortunately, not much.”

– The researchers identified 22 groups of people that O’Reilly referenced in his commentaries, and while all 22 were described by O’Reilly as bad at some point, the people and groups most frequently labeled bad were the political left — Americans as a group and the media (except those media considered by O’Reilly to be on the right).

– Left-leaning media (21.6 percent) made up the largest portion of bad people/groups, and media without a clear political leaning was the second largest (12.2 percent). When it came to evil people and groups, illegal aliens (26.8 percent) and terrorists (21.4 percent) were the largest groups.


The techniques used by Indiana University researchers to study O’Reilly were also “used during the late 1930s to study another prominent voice in a war-era, Father Charles Coughlin. His sermons evolved into a darker message of anti-Semitism and fascism, and he became a defender of Hitler and Mussolini.” The researchers note, “O’Reilly is a heavier and less-nuanced user of the propaganda devices than Coughlin.”

UPDATE: O’Reilly, 2/27/06: “I don’t do personal attacks here.”

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/05/02/oreilly-derogatory/

Halliburton’s Very Dark Secret

Halliburton’s Very Dark Secret

by kavips (dailykos)
Wed May 02, 2007 at 03:58:14 AM CDT

Two days ago, Halliburton was called before Sen. Dorgan’s committee to testify in it’s dealings with Iran. Sherry Williams, vice president and corporate secretary gave testimony for Halliburton. At her table, also invited by the committee was the N Y comptroller and one of our investigators who tracks terrorist money trails wherever they may lead around the world.

With so much news happening, this hearing will get no press. That would be a shame. For the give and take not only gave insight into the motives and operations of Halliburton, but they also through implication, gave ominous insight into the Machiavellian machinations of the Vice President.

Recently Halliburton announced its headquarters were to move to Dubai. But in the hearing today, it slipped out that the Dubai office was originally opened so that Halliburton could engage the country of Iran in business. At that time there were US sanctions against dealing with Iran. But Halliburton did not break the law; instead they called the company Halliburton Parts and Services, established a Delaware type charter in Dubai, and as a foreign subsidiary, it was legally allowed to make multi million deals with the very country that was engaged in supplying Iraq’s insurgents, or so we were told.......

Under questioning, Ms Williams admitted that the profits from Iran were the majority of the profits earned by the Dubai subsidiary, which incidentally was a subsidiary of the Cayman island branch of Halliburton. The profits were transferred to the Texas office effectively, if not legally, thereby allowing Halliburton to profit from selling to Iran, without "selling to Iran." Currently Halliburton is under investigation by US Attorney’s office in Texas for dealings like these. Incidentally, to clarify this trail of deceit, 100 per cent of the profits of the Grand Cayman branch of Halliburton, came from Iran. Those of us trained to read between the lines know that this means that these shell companies were, despite appearances otherwise, set up to do business with Iran. It was not a case of... "we are so big, we can’t help what our subsidiaries are doing......"

What does this have to do with Cheney? He retired years ago. Yes, on paper but mentioned in this hearing, I believe by Senator Lautenberg, Cheney’s stock options do not expire until 2009, well after his term in office has expired.

This means that he benefits whenever Halliburton benefits. Example: let us give Halliburton a no bid contract........." ka ching, ka ching." Let’s increase profits by taking government money and then, not providing the troops the service for which we were paid......"ka ching: ka-ching. Let’s keep the war going in Iraq so we can continue to secretly drill in southwest Iraq and sell the oil through Saudi pipelines......"ka ching, ka ching." Let’s do business with Iran, despite the fact that it is supplying the very IED’s that killed a couple of Delawareans......"ka-ching, ka-ching." Let’s send two carrier groups, instead of one into the Persian Gulf, to shake up the price of oil...."ka-ching, ka-ching........."

When asked what they were thinking as they did business with Iran, their response? If we didn’t move in, the French would do it....

Just curious, does anyone else see the irony of the very cabal (the vice president’s office) who demonized the French people with "Freedom Fries" and Franco-bashing 24 hours a day on Fox News, is now, through a subsidiary under fire, using the French to justify their own nefarious actions?

History will no doubt forever glorify Halliburton. That is what usually happens to outlaws who have balls. Many profiteers have gotten rich off suppling their country’s armies. But Halliburton breaks new ground, by being the first corporation to profit by supplying BOTH sides of a conflict that their country is engaged in, allowing them to be used by each other, against each other. And it was all done out of the Vice President’s office..............

Hmmm. Could he turn out to be the "other rumored" Sith Lord?

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/2/44758/29763