Archive for October, 2006

Attorneys: No backstory in CIA leak case

WASHINGTON – Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby agree on something: keeping Libby’s perjury trial in the CIA leak case focused solely on his actions. The two are separately asking a federal judge not to allow three years of politically charged backstory in the case to seep into Libby’s trial starting in January.

In new court documents, Fitzgerald argued that he shouldn’t have to explain why Libby was charged while others, including the source of the leak, escaped prosecution. Libby said jurors shouldn’t hear about New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s 85-day jail term for refusing to discuss her conversations with him.

The court documents, filed late Monday, are an effort to keep the trial focused on whether Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, lied to investigators about his conversation with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Libby’s supporters have accused Fitzgerald of singling him out while not charging the source of the leak, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Fitzgerald wrote Monday that discussing that issue would be irrelevant.

“If Mr. X was investigated for leaking classified information, the government’s decision not to charge Mr. X should have nothing to do with the jury’s role as the finder of fact in Libby’s case,” Fitzgerald wrote.

The prosecutor is trying to prevent Libby’s attorneys from making the argument that Libby had no reason to lie because, if he had leaked classified information, prosecutors would have charged him with it.

Similarly, Libby’s attorneys said it would be unfair for prosecutors to discuss Miller’s refusal to testify or the lengthy court fight involving other reporters. Miller cooperated with investigators after serving 85 days in jail.

“The introduction of these issues would undoubtedly cause jurors to wonder whether Ms. Miller went to jail in an effort to shield Mr. Libby from liability, and whether Mr. Libby is to blame for her incarceration,” defense attorneys wrote.

If such testimony is allowed at trial, defense attorneys said they might have to call Fitzgerald as a witness to discuss his role in getting Miller and others to testify.

Plame believes her identity was leaked as retribution for her husband’s criticism of the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence on Iraq. Defense attorneys also asked a federal judge to block discussions about whether Plame’s CIA status was classified or whether releasing that information jeopardized her safety or national security.


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Hossam Shaltout, a former political adviser to Saddam Hussein’s son, said today that before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, Saddam expressed his intent to yield to all American demands, but that the Bush administration refused his offers, according to a press release on Yahoo News.

Shaltout is a Canadian citizen who claims he was beaten repeatedly by U.S. officers while in an Iraqi detention camp, under suspicion of once having been a “right hand man” for Saddam Hussein.

“Saddam was willing to yield to all American demands, announced and unannounced, to reach peaceful resolution,” said Shaltout, “but the Bush administration, including Elizabeth Cheney, undersecretary of State, David Welch, the U.S. ambassador in Egypt, and Gene Cretz, his political attache, did not respond to his offers.”

Shaltout claims that in March of 2003, just as he was to read the Iraqi government’s official reply to the Bush ultimatum on Al-Jazeera, the broadcast was interrupted and “the plug was pulled on the transmission.” He also maintains that later, when the Americans arrived in Baghdad, he offered his assistance to U.S. military officials, but instead was arrested by Marines who went to his hotel suite and took his documents.

Left unmentioned in the press release are Shaltout’s claims that he was tortured and abused during his imprisonment.

In May of 2004, Shaltout told his story to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
“I was there to convince Saddam Hussein to step down, and I was in the last hours working on this peace agreement,” Shaltout said. “And I wanted him to keep the agreement that he agreed to step down only 15 minutes before the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of this ultimatum. That was what I was doing there.”

Shaltout claimed that he was beaten and tortured while held in the Iraqi prison in order to extract a false confession that he was once Hussein’s “right-hand man.”

“They wanted me to confess because they found the speech I was going to say and said that I‘m the speechwriter of Saddam Hussein, which I wasn’t,” Shaltout said. “And they want me to confess I am his right-hand man.”
The ACLU has a pdf link which contains Shaltout’s written claims to the U.S. Department of the Army.

According to his Web site, Rights And Freedom International, Shaltout is currently running for President of Egypt.


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Money trails lead to Bush judges

A four-month investigation reveals that dozens of federal judges gave contributions to President Bush and top Republicans who helped place them on the bench. A Salon/CIR exclusive.

Oct. 31, 2006 At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments. Some gave money directly to Bush after he officially nominated them. Other judges contributed to Republican campaign committees while they were under consideration for a judgeship.

Republicans who received money from judges en route to the bench include Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Gov. George Pataki of New York.

There are no laws or regulations prohibiting political contributions by a candidate for a federal judgeship. But political giving by judicial candidates has been a rarely scrutinized activity amid the process that determines who will receive lifelong jobs on the federal bench. Some ethics experts and Bush-appointed judges say that political giving is inappropriate for those seeking judicial office — it can appear unethical, they say, and could jeopardize the public’s confidence in the impartiality of the nation’s courts. Those concerns come as ethics and corruption scandals have roiled Washington, and on the eve of midterm elections whose outcome could influence the makeup of the federal judiciary — including the Supreme Court — for decades to come.

The CIR investigation analyzed the campaign contribution records of 249 judges appointed by Bush nationwide since 2001. The money trail leading from Bush judges to influential politicians runs particularly deep through the political battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.


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101 Americans die in Iraq during October

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The American death toll for October climbed past 100, a grim milestone reached as a top White House envoy turned up unexpectedly in Baghdad on Monday to smooth over a rough patch in U.S.-Iraqi ties. At least 80 people were killed across Iraq, 33 in a Sadr City bombing targeting workers.

A member of the 89th Military Police Brigade was killed in east Baghdad Monday, and a Marine died in fighting in insurgent infested Anbar province the day before, raising to 101 the number of U.S. service members killed in a bloody October, the fourth deadliest month of the war. At least 2,814 American forces have died since the war began.

Upon arriving on an unannounced visit, National Security Adviser
Stephen Hadley went straight into meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his security chief, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, telling them he “wanted to reinforce some of the things you have heard from our president.”

The White House said Hadley was not on a mission to repair ragged relations, accounts of which it said had been “overblown” by the news media.

“Absolutely not,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington. “This is a long planned trip to get a first hand report of the situation on the ground from the political, economic and security fronts.”
But the timing of the visit argued otherwise.

Last week Al-Maliki issued a string of bitter complaints — at one point saying he wasn’t “America’s man in Iraq” — after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad unveiled adjustments in America’s Iraq strategy.


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Newspapers Across Country Support Dem Candidates…


CT: New York Times Calls Lamont “By Far the Better Candidate.”

MN: Pioneer Press Knows Klobuchar Will Be Independent in Washington.

MN: Duluth News-Tribune Says Minnesotans Would Be Well-Served By Klobuchar.

MO: Kansas City Star Says McCaskill Will “Bring Needed Change.”

MT: Great Falls Tribune Calls Some of the Attacks on Tester “Laughable.”

NJ: Star-Ledger Chooses Menendez Based on Issues and Experience.

NJ: The Record Worries That Kean Jr. Is “An Enigma” On the Issues.

PA: Times-Tribune Says Casey Is “Exactly What the Senate Needs.”

PA: Patriot News Concludes That Santorum “Has Too Many Wrong Answers.”

PA: Morning Call Commends Casey’s Work As Auditor General and State Treasurer.

VA: Roanoke Times Opts For Independent Webb Over Bush Rubberstamp Allen.

VA: Daily Press Chooses Webb For His Positions on Iraq.


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Shreddin’ With Dick

Spotted on 10/19, by an eagle-eyed Wonkette reader: The Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck making its way up to the Cheney compound at the Naval Observatory.

Fun fact: Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services has been contracted by the Secret Service for our Executive Branch’s record-not-keeping needs.

The present contractor providing Pickup & Destruction of Sensitive Waste Material services is Mid Atlantic Shredding Services and the current rate is $0.095 cents per lbs.

You better get crackin’, Dick — that evidence won’t destroy itself!


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GOP, Democratic leaders spar on Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON – The No. 2 leader in the House on Sunday said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is “the best thing that’s happened to the
Pentagon in 25 years,” sparking a debate with Democrats who said the comments show why the GOP should be voted out of power.

Rumsfeld’s leadership of the bloody mission in Iraq has become a divisive issue in the Nov. 7 elections. Many Democrats and a few Republicans are calling for his resignation, but President Bush repeatedly has defended him. So did House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing that’s happened to the Pentagon in 25 years,” Boehner said. “This Pentagon and our military needs a transformation. And I think Donald Rumsfeld’s the only man in America who knows where the bodies are buried at the Pentagon, has enough experience to help transform that institution.”

Rep. Charles Rangel (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., said voters will have their chance to show if they agree with Boehner on Election Day.
“It’s true President Bush may not be on the ballot, but people like Boehner and people who support Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush, they’re on the ballot,” Rangel said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“And that’s why we only get two years. You don’t have to wait to get the president. This is a referendum on the war and the incompetency of the Bush administration.”

Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), head of the Democratic effort to win control of the House, quickly e-mailed a statement to reporters objecting to Boehner’s comments and including quotes from seven military leaders criticizing the defense secretary.

“Congressman Boehner’s defense of Donald Rumsfeld makes it crystal clear that we need change in Washington from the rubber stamp Republican Congress and their blind adherence to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld’s stay the course policy in Iraq,” Emanuel’s e-mail said.


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Tipping Point for War’s Supporters?

As the fighting in Iraq swerved toward civil war in February, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) expressed “a high degree of confidence” that a new government would take charge and that by the end of the year the conflict “won’t be the same.”

As October opened, Warner returned from Iraq with a far grimmer assessment. “The situation,” he said, “is simply drifting sidewise.” His judgment gave voice to Republican doubt that had been suppressed in a campaign season. Lawmakers who had vowed to “stay the course” called for change. One GOP senator declared Iraq “on the verge of chaos.” By last week, President Bush was saying he too is “not satisfied” and is looking for a fresh approach.

October 2006 may be remembered as the month that the U.S. experience in Iraq hit a tipping point, when the violence flared and shook both the military command in Iraq and the political establishment back in Washington.

Plans to stabilize Baghdad collided with a surge in violence during the holy month of Ramadan. Sectarian revenge killings spread, consuming a town 50 miles from the capital. U.S. officials spoke of setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government to take on more responsibility, only to have the Iraqi prime minister call that suggestion election-year grandstanding. Bush compared the situation to the 1968 Tet Offensive — often seen as a turning point in the Vietnam War — and urged Americans not to become disillusioned.


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The Constitution

The Constitution

Thank You GEF!

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