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, November 24, 2007

Did McClellan Accuse Bush of Lying to Federal Prosecutors?

Did McClellan Accuse Bush of Lying to Federal Prosecutors?

Scott Horton

Bush press secretary Scott McClellan unleashed a new storm about the Valerie Plame investigation last week. McClellan’s publisher is about to release his new book, What Happened, and he picked what promised to be the juiciest morsel from the work to attract media attention. McClellan noted that he had “unknowingly passed along false information” that designed to throw investigators off the scent of the Preisdent’s senior political counselor, Karl Rove and Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby, who were subsequently revealed by the investigation to have been the leaker of the secret identity of a covert CIA agent. McClellan writes that “five of the highest ranking officials in the administration. . . Rove, Libby, Cheney, [Andrew] Card, and the president himself” had been involved in the conspiracy to out the CIA agent as a petty act of reprisal against her husband for authoring a New York Times op-ed which laid bare the intentional misstatements contained in the president’s State of the Union Address concerning a phony plot by Saddam to secure yellowcake uranium from Niger.

Imagine a president’s press secretary saying that his boss, the president, lied in connection with a criminal investigation. The news was sensational, but it was greeted by the mainstream media with a loud yawn. In the meantime, McClellan, who no doubt got a menacing phone call or two (wouldn’t you like to know the content of those calls?), scrambled to avert questions about the matter. McClellan’s publisher, Peter Osnos, ultimately reversed course, saying that McClellan didn’t believe Bush had asked him to lie. In the eyes of the American media, the genie had been put back in the bottle. Scandal? What scandal? There is no story here. Just move along.

But indeed, lawyers and judges are trained to look with particular care when an actor on the public stage makes a statement against his interest. It tends to be true. And there is every reason to scrutinize the McClellan statements very carefully, because they stack up very well against the information which emerged from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s examination.

In fact, Fitzgerald interviewed President Bush on June 24, 2004, close to a year after Robert Novak betrayed the identity of Valerie Plame, the end result of a lengthy White House plot that involved Rove, Libby, Cheney. . . and President Bush. And on the date of that meeting, Scott McClellan appeared before the White House press corps and told them of the meeting without revealing any of its content. The substance of Bush’s statement to Fitzgerald was revealed only in July 2006 by Murray Waas:

President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed [Cheney] to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president’s interview.

Bush also told federal prosecutors … that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.

But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed [Libby] to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes.

Bush also said during his interview with prosecutors that he had never directed anyone to disclose the identity of then-covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife. Bush said he had no information that Cheney had disclosed Plame’s identity or directed anyone else to do so.

The McClellan quote suggests very strongly that the final statement, which would have been the question that Fitzgerald put to Bush, was false. If Bush’s statement was a conscious effort to mislead a federal prosecutor on questions focal to his inquiry, this is a very big deal. Pensito Review puts the matter this way:

In fact, lying to the feds is a criminal act, even when the person being interviewed is not under oath.

To cite one recent example of this, in March 2004 Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in federal prison for, among other charges, making false statements to federal investigators. Another more salient example: In October 2005, Scooter Libby was charged with two counts of making false statements when interviewed by agents of the FBI, along with one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of perjury in testimony to a federal grand jury.

The criminality of lying to investigators could come into play now if McClellan’s version of what Bush’s role in the apparent conspiracy differs from what Bush told U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald during an Oval Office “interview” — not under oath — on the morning of June 24, 2004, 11 months after Novak betrayed Agent Wilson’s identity.

The notion of Bush’s involvement in the plot to out Valerie Plame has been raised repeatedly. And it has some basis in the documents that prosecutors introduced in the Libby trial. Here’s a handwritten note by Dick Cheney:


The text reads: “not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy this Pres. asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.” However, the words “this Pres.” Have been struck through and replaced with “that was.” Thus in the original text, Cheney appears to be implicating Bush directly in a cover-up plan. And so does the McClellan disclosure.

This is certainly not conclusive evidence that Bush lied to Fitzgerald. But it provides another basis to suspect that he did. And if he did, his decision to pardon Scooter Libby has to be seen in an entirely different light. Bush was using the pardon power to protect himself by sweeping the entire affair under the carpet.

Public opinion polling now shows that 64% of Americans believe that Bush has abused his authority as president, and that 55% believe that his abuses rise to the level of specific offenses which would justify his impeachment and removal from office under the Constitutional standards. If McClellan’s original statement is to be credited, then two of those impeachable offenses would be making false material statements to a prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation and issuing a pardon as a part of an on-going cover-up of criminal acts. This is a presidency for the recordbooks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Resurgent Taliban in control of half of Afghanistan.

Resurgent Taliban in control of half of Afghanistan.

According to a new report, “The conflict in Afghanistan has reached ‘crisis proportions,’ with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul.” A separate Oxfam report states that spending on aid for Afghans is only a tiny fraction of military expenditure:

“As in Iraq, too much aid is absorbed by profits of
companies and subcontractors, on non-Afghan resources and on high
expatriate salaries and living costs,” said the report. “Each full-time
expatriate consultant costs up to half a million dollars a year.”

Meanwhile, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights, said civilian casualties caused by military action is “eroding support among the Afghan community for the government and international military presence.”

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20,000 vets' brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally

20,000 vets' brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally

least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during
combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain
injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA

The data, provided by the Army, Navy
and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many
troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the
Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the
Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

number of brain-injury cases were tabulated from records kept by the VA
and four military bases that house units that have served multiple
combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

base released its count of brain injuries at a medical conference. The
others provided their records at the request of USA TODAY, in some
cases only after a Freedom of Information Act filing was submitted.

The data came from:

Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany, where troops
evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan for injury, illness or wounds are
brought before going home. Since May 2006, more than 2,300 soldiers
screened positive for brain injury, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw

• Fort Hood, Texas, home of the 4th
Infantry Division, which returned from a second Iraq combat tour late
last year. At least 2,700 soldiers suffered a combat brain injury, Lt.
Col. Steve Stover says.

• Fort Carson, Colo.,
where more than 2,100 soldiers screened were found to have suffered a
brain injury, according to remarks by Army Col. Heidi Terrio before a
brain injury association seminar.

• Marine
Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where 1,737 Marines were found to have
suffered a brain injury, according to Navy Cmdr. Martin Holland, a
neurosurgeon with the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

VA hospitals, where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been screened
for combat brain injuries since April. The VA found about 20% of 61,285
surveyed — or 11,804 veterans — with signs of brain injury, spokeswoman
Alison Aikele says. VA doctors say more evaluation is necessary before
a true diagnosis of brain injury can be confirmed in all these cases,
Aikele says.

Soldiers and Marines whose
wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the
official casualty list, says Army Col. Robert Labutta, a neurologist
and brain injury consultant for the Pentagon.

"We are working to do a better job of reflecting accurate data in the official casualty table," Labutta says.

Most of the new cases involve mild or moderate brain injuries, commonly from exposure to blasts.

than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat, says
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., founder of the Congressional Brain Injury
Task Force.

"I am wary that the number of brain-injured troops far exceeds the total number reported injured," he says.

About 1.5 million troops have served in Iraq, where traumatic brain injury can occur despite heavy body armor worn by troops.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Iraq's foreign militants 'come from US allies

Iraq's foreign militants 'come from US allies'Peter Walker
Thursday November 22, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past
year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to files seized by
American forces at a desert camp.

files listed the nationalities and biographical details of more than
700 fighters who crossed into Iraq from August last year, around half
of whom came to the country to be suicide bombers, the New York Times
reported today.

all, 305, or 41%, of the fighters listed were from Saudi Arabia.
Another 137, or 18%, came from Libya. Both countries are officially US
allies in anti-terrorism efforts.

contrast, 56 Syrians were listed and no Lebanese. Previously, US
officials estimated that around a fifth of all foreign fighters in Iraq
came from these two countries.

officials have also long complained about Iranian interference in the
affairs of its neighbour, accusing Tehran of shipping weapons for
militants over the border. However, any assistance does not appear to
extend to people, the paper said, reporting that, of around 25,000
suspected militants in US custody in Iraq, 11 were Iranian. No Iranians
were listed among the fighters whose details were found.

information came from files and computers seized in September when US
forces raided a camp in the desert near Sinjar, a small town in
north-west Iraq, close to the Syrian border. It was believed the camp
was the base for an insurgent cell responsible for smuggling the vast
majority of foreign fighters into Iraq.

files also gave details of 68 Yemeni nationals, the third-biggest
source. There were 64 fighters from Algeria, 50 from Morocco, 38 from
Tunisia, 14 from Jordan, six from Turkey and two each from Egypt and

to the newspaper, US officials believe the raid stemmed the flow of
foreign militants into Iraq, which dropped to around 40 in October,
down from a peak of more than 100 a month in the first half of this

month there were 16 suicide bombings in Iraq, sharply down from a peak
of 59 in March. According to the report, the US military believes 90%
of such attacks are carried out by foreigners.

US officers fear this effect may be temporary. "We cut the head off,
but the tail is still left," a senior military official told the
newspaper. "Regeneration is completely within the realm of possibility."

US has previously estimated the nationalities of fighters crossing over
the Syrian border into Iraq, but the seized files give a more complete

Saudi Arabia is a long-term US ally, its nationals form the nucleus of
al-Qaida; 15 of the 19 September 11 attackers were from the country.

while Libya was listed by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, it
was removed last year after the countries restored full diplomatic

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Happy Thanksgiving 2

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George Bush, Traitor and Liar in Chief

George Bush, Traitor and Liar in Chief

Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 10:59:24 AM PST

By L C Johnson (bio/blog)

Former Presidential spokesliar, oops, I mean spokesman, Scott
McClellan, reminded us this week that the fish rots from the head.
McClellan drops the truth bombshell that implicates George Bush and
Dick Cheney in the sordid outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
CNN reports that:

Amid a swelling controversy about the leak of Valerie Wilson's name,
McClellan went to the White House podium in October 2003 and told
reporters that Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, and
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, had not been involved.
. .

There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes in his new
book, "What Happened," which is to be released in April. "I had
unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest
ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so:
Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the
president himself."

knew about Rove and Libby. But now we can add the names of George
Bush, Dick Cheney, and Andy Card to the list of people who helped
create the lie, i.e., that no one at the White House was involved in
leaking the name of Valerie. We no longer have to wonder if any damage
was done. We have the revelations in Valerie's book, Fair Game,
describing in detail her job as the operations chief for the Iraq Task
Force and her mission of tracking down and eliminating weapons of mass

If outing a CIA intelligence officer collecting intelligence on our
enemy during a time of war is not treason, then what is? George Bush
commuted the prison sentence of Scooter Libby to help buy his silence.
Why? McClellan's revelation blows the cover on that sham. Bush was
involved. Of course we will now witness the spectacle of Republicans,
who delighted in castigating Bill Clinton for his confusion about the
meaning of sex, themselves doing verbal gymnastics as they search for
what the meaning of "involved". Horseshit! This is an impeachable
offense. George Bush not only helped obstruct justice, but continues
to obstruct justice. The President is no longer an idle bystander. He
is a participant in a cover up. He knew that Rove, Libby, Card, and
Cheney were involved in leaking Valerie's name. Yet the coward, the
man who failed to complete his Reserve duty, went AWOL on his staff.
He sent Scott McClellan out to lie to the press.

We already knew that Bush was neither honorable nor a man or his
word. Despite his vow to remove anyone involved in leaking the name of
Valerie Plame Wilson, he kept Card, Rove and Libby safe in the White
House until Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald blew the whistle.
And even then, Bush refused to do the right thing. He acted immorally
and illegally. Why should Scooter come clean when he knows his
co-conspirator will get him off? And he did.

Now the ball is in the court of the Congress. Will the Democrats
find their spine and enforce the law? I doubt it. They want the perks
of power without being willing to bear the burden of upholding justice
and and enforcing the law. Will the Republicans voice outrage at this
betrayal? Not likely. Men of the character of Howard Baker, who
called out Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, no longer lead
that party.

George Bush may be genial, but now we know he is scum. Facilitating
the cover up of the crime of outing a CIA operative in a time of war
puts blood on his hands. It is that simple.

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McClellan ‘unknowingly passed along false information’

McClellan ‘unknowingly passed along false information’

the Plame leak scandal broke, and Americans first began to learn that
the White House has outed an undercover CIA agent during a war, it was
then-press secretary Scott McClellan who had to lie. He told reporters
(and the nation) that leaks of classified information just wasn’t “how
this White House operates,” and more specifically, that Karl Rove and
Scooter Libby “were not involved.”

We now know, of course, that McClellan’s assurances were completely
wrong. We don’t, however, know the details of why McClellan said what
he did. In a new book, to be published in April, the former press
secretary will reportedly offer his personal take on his White House
experiences, including what transpired during the Bush gang’s Plame

Yesterday, McClellan’s publisher released a three-paragraph teaser from “What happened.”

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me
to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the
failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the
White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg
lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of
the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the
highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my
doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of
staff, and the president himself.

It’s hard to know, in just six sentences, exactly where McClellan is
going with this. Was he outraged about having been lied to? Did Bush
and Cheney approve of the lies? Why didn’t McClellan resign after
realizing how the Bush White House operates included leaking classified
information for political gain?

I suppose we’re expected to buy the book to find out.

For what it’s worth, in its promotional material posted at and elsewhere, the publisher describes the book like this:

“In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written with no
agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the
benefit of history, McClellan provides unique perspective on what
happened and why it happened the way it did, including the Iraq war,
Hurricane Katrina, Washington’s bitter partisanship, and two
hotly-contested presidential campaigns. He gives readers a candid look
into who George W. Bush is and what he believes, and into the
personalities, strengths, and liabilities of his top aides.

“Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this
presidency offers the American people as we prepare to elect a new

Given McClellan’s track record, I find it rather hard to believe he
simply cares about “the benefit of history.” He was one of Bush’s
longest-serving aides, and a blind loyalist. I hope no one’s expecting
a provocative tell-all that makes the White House or the president look

I have a hunch his book will be a lot like his press briefings — shallow and oblique, with a healthy dose of self-serving spin.

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