Archive for June, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 6:40 PM MST

DOJ to Oversight: DENIED

Two weeks ago, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas for FBI paperwork regarding interviews with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

And now the Justice Department has responded: Think again, Henry.

In the latest subpoena denial from the administration, Attorney General Mukasey informed the Committee that it will not be issuing documents to comply with the congressionally issued subpoena.

But Waxman is giving them one last chance. In a letter to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald on Friday, he informed Fitzgerald that the DOJ has until July 3rd to release the requested documents.

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GEF @ 5:18 PM MST

“The Patriot Act: The Most Abominable, UnConstitutional, Hatefull Law from the Point of Freedom since the Alien & Sedtion Act of 1798!”


Judge Napolitano: Why The Patriot Act is Unconstitutional.(Sept 2007)


CNN – June 22, 2008


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By- Suzie-Q @ 5:00 PM MST

McCain aide: Reporters ‘have to earn’ special interview area seat on new ’straight talk’ airplane

Think Progress

By Ben at 4:14 pm

The Washington Post reports that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is now traveling in a new “Straight Talk Express” campaign airplane. It “features a special area” with “a couch and two captain’s chairs” where “McCain will conduct group interviews with the press.” But not all reporters covering McCain can enjoy this new lap of luxury. Top McCain aide Mark Salter said “‘only the good reporters’ would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. ‘You’ll have to earn it,’ he said.” So how can these reporters “earn” a seat? Never challenge the Senator, as McCain biographer Matt Welch explained in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times:

[McCain is] very open to people. You can come on the bus, everything is great but if he knows or if his team knows that you have a hostile line of questioning or you have a long and well documented critique, they’re not going to talk to you. […]

As a human, he’s haunted by the notion of honesty and about honor and truth. He wishes that he could speak the truth all the time. He doesn’t. I don’t think he speaks the truth any more than any other politician really, no more, no less.

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Cheney and Condi Clashed Hard On North Korea!

GEF @ 4:08 PM MST

Dick Cheney ‘tried to block North Korea nuclear deal’

Last updated: 6:51 PM BST 28/06/2008

Vice President Dick Cheney fought furiously to block efforts by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to strike a controversial US compromise deal with North Korea over the communist state’s nuclear programme, the Telegraph has learned.

“The exchanges between Cheney’s office and Rice’s people at State got very testy. But ultimately Condi had the President’s ear and persuaded him that his legacy would be stronger if they reached a deal with Pyongyang,” said a Pentagon adviser who was briefed on the battle.

Mr Cheney’s office is believed to have played a key role in the release two months ago of documents and photographs linking North Korea to a suspected nuclear site in Syria that was bombed by Israeli jets last year.

Six months later than promised, Pyongyang last week handed over details to China of its plutonium stocks and invited US officials to witness the symbolic destruction of an already disabled cooling tower at its Yongbyon plutonium plant.

But the declaration gave no information about its programme to enrich uranium or its sharing of nuclear technology with other rogue states – two demands that Washington had previously insisted were non-negotiable if a deal was to be reached.

This was a significant backdown in America’s approach to a state that Mr Bush once described as part of the “axis of evil”.

Dr Rice acknowledged that the US had gone ahead with the pact although North Korea had not answered Washington’s suspicions about uranium enrichment and nuclear technology proliferation.

“Thus far we don’t have the answers we need on either,” she said during a visit to South Korea. But she insisted that the US was committed “to the abandonment of all programmes, weapons and materials”.

Mr Cheney was so angry about the decision to remove North Korea from the terrorism blacklist and lift some sanctions that he abruptly curtailed a meeting with visiting US foreign experts when asked about it in the White House last week, according to the New York Times “I’m not going to be the one to announce this decision. You need to address your interest in this to the State Department,” he reportedly said before leaving the room.

The surprise deal was condemned by both neoconservative hardliners and mainstream Republicans who argued that it left North Korea with nuclear weapons and rewarded Pyongyang’s intransigence.

“Usually the word ‘meltdown’ applies to a nuclear reactor. In this case it applies to Bush administration diplomacy which once aimed to halt the North Korean programme and has now become an abject failure,” Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon defence policy board in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, told the Telegraph.

Danielle Pletka, vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute think-tank that was closely associated with first-term Bush administration policy, argued the deal would encourage nuclear proliferation. “The evolution of the administration’s approach to North Korea has been an object lesson in muddled diplomacy, a ‘how-not-to’ guide for handling rogue states,” she said.

The deal received surprisingly harsh comment from the leading Republicans on two key committees in the House of Representatives.

“Lifting sanctions and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism flies in the face of history and rewards its brutal dictator for shallow gestures,” said Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

It also prompted criticism from some independent foreign policy experts and leading Democrats who argued that the Administration’s switch from a hardline refusal to negotiate to a willingness to compromise had given Pyongyang the time to acquire enough material for several nuclear bombs.

“There are some big big holes in this which are going to attract criticism inevitably,” said Michael Green, an East Asia expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “The North Koreans have whittled us down to where we are, which is essentially we’re giving them everything we’ve promised at this stage in exchange for just the plutonium piece.”

Mr Bush and Dr Rice argued that verification was still crucial as North Korea would have to show international monitors that it was dismantling its nuclear facilities for the deal to be implemented. Dr Rice persuaded the president to take a new approach after Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in 2006, a move which she argued had changed “the rules of the game”.

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New GI Bill Signed into Law

by- Paul Rieckhoff @ 5:34 PM (EST)

This morning, President Bush signed the new GI Bill into law. With that signature, college became affordable for the 1.7 million troops we sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a promise we made to the veterans of World War II: that those who defend our country should be able to take advantage of America’s opportunity. This legislation again fulfills that promise, and will do nothing less than change the course of an entire generation.

There were many different forces that worked together to produce the new GI Bill — it’s a history that deserves its own book. Sadly, President Bush mentioned only two of the four leading sponsors in the Senate, and then thanked the three Senators who had joined the administration in vigorously opposing the GI Bill legislation. That kind of logic is nothing new for this White House, but it’s an ungracious ending to what could have been a positive piece of this administration’s legacy.

I’d like to take the opportunity to correct the record. Here are a few of the people we worked with at IAVA to make the new GI Bill possible:

• The bipartisan coalition of combat veterans in the Senate — Webb, Warner, Hagel, Lautenberg, and Akaka — was the backbone of the fight to get this bill passed. They were joined by Representatives Mitchell, Scott, King, and Brown-Waite in the House.

• The Senate and House leadership deserve real credit for making this a priority. And special thanks to the folks who write the checks — in particular Representatives Murtha, Edwards and Obey on the Appropriations Committee — who understood that supporting our veterans is a cost of war.

• Thanks to the vast majority of Congress who rallied behind the GI Bill. In the end, the legislation had 58 cosponsors in the Senate and 303 cosponsors in the House. That kind of support is generally limited to resolutions honoring Mother’s Day. (You can personally thank your Senator or Representative here.)

• None of this would have been possible without the united front of the Veterans Service Organizations. Veterans of all generations stood together to ensure that those coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan would get the educational benefits they deserved. Without the dedication and unity of purpose of the VFW, the American Legion, the Student Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America and others, this bill could not have been written, much less passed.

Of course, the real force behind the movement for a new GI Bill was Iraq and Afghanistan veterans themselves, advocating in their communities across the country, and the patriotic citizens who joined them in asking their representatives to do the right thing. For all those who contributed time, energy, and effort to help us accomplish this feat, we owe our gratitude. As our nation comes together to celebrate this 4th of July, we can all be extremely proud of this victory.

cross posted at Huffington Post

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By- Suzie-Q @ 2:30 PM MST

McCain Sticks It To Organized Labor: Visits Company That Refused To Pay Minimum Wage

Think Progress

By Ali at 3:25 pm

Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) visited Worth & Co., a contracting company in Bucks County, PA, where he held a town hall. The visit is a slap in the face to the state’s unions, since Worth & Co. has been investigated by the state Department of Labor and Industry for “intentionally failing to pay the predetermined minimum wage” to its employees. The Intelligencer reports:

McCain, who has already drawn the ire of union leaders throughout this country, will be visiting a company that earlier this year was under investigation by the state’s Labor and Industry Department over employee wages. At the time of the investigation, company founder Stephen Worth said he was being targeted by union interests who were going after his non-union shop. Union members plan to protest McCain’s visit.

Part of the state’s investigation focused on a subcontractor Worth had hired, that ultimately admitted to having underpaid its employees by nearly $26,000.

McCain’s visit fits squarely within his anti-labor record. The AFL-CIO emphasizes that “there is nothing moderate about McCain,” who they call “a loyal ally of Bush who has consistently and perniciously voted against the interests of working families in his decades-long career in Washington.” Highlights of that long career:

Helped block minimum wage hike in 2005 with John Kyl [LINK]

Voted to filibuster minimum wage hike in 2007 [LINK]

Compared unions to monopolies, during a presidential debate [LINK]

Voted to block the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007, allowing workers to form unions [LINK]

Skipped the vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2008, which would have made it easier for women workers to sue for equal pay [LINK]

Just last week, McCain didn’t even bother to show up to vote on a war supplemental that extended unemployment benefits. He was the only senator besides Sen. Ted Kennedy — who is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor — who didn’t vote on the measure.

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Preparing the Battlefield

anthony @ 22:16 BST

The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

Seymour M. Hersh | New Yorker | July 7, 2008

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said. (more…)

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Wes Clark on McCain’s Heroism

anthony @ 19:00 BST

Truthdig | Posted on Jun 30, 2008

It seems a critique cannot be leveled against John McCain without first paying homage to his time as a prisoner of war. Even Barack Obama is careful not to offend. So it was somewhat surprising on Sunday to hear another veteran, Gen. Wesley Clark, rebuff McCain’s war heroism: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Clark’s comments came after some prodding from Bob Schieffer, who suggested specifically that getting shot down was somehow an experiential plus, and the general was careful to smooth things over with some hero talk.

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U.S. Advised Iraqi Ministry on Oil Deals

anthony @ 18:53 BST

By ANDREW E. KRAMER | NYT | Published: June 30, 2008

A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.

The disclosure, coming on the eve of the contracts’ announcement, is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism.

In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said. (more…)

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By- Suzie-Q @ 10:00 AM MST


The US Federal Reserve.


The Shrinking Influence of the US Federal Reserve

By Gabor Steingart in Washington

Humiliation for Mr. Dollar: Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Bank, faces a general investigation by the International Monetary Fund. Just one more example of the Fed losing its power.


The United States Federal Reserve Bank, or Fed, seems as much a part of America as Coca-Cola or Pizza Hut. But at least one difference has become apparent in recent days. While the pizza chain and soft-drink maker are likely to expand their scope of influence in the age of globalization, the US central bank is finding that its power is shrinking.

No Fed chief in US history has been forced to submit to the kind of humiliation that Ben Bernanke is facing.

This is partly down to circumstances. Inflation is going up and up, and this year’s average will likely top 4 percent. But this time Mr. Dollar is also Mr. Powerless. He can raise interest rates in the fall, or he can pray, which would probably be the better choice. At least prayer would not prevent the US economy from growing, a highly likely outcome if interest rates go up.

After years of growth, the United States is now on the brink of a recession, one that is more likely to be deepened than softened by a tight money policy. Investments will automatically become more expensive, consumer spending will be curbed and economic growth will slow down, immediately affecting unemployment figures and wages.


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