Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Obstruction? Lindsay Graham and the GOP

After Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused congressional demands for information Friday, the Justice Department filed late-night court documents urging a federal judge not to begin his own inquiry.
...Congressional inquiries and criminal investigations frequently overlap and it is not uncommon for the Justice Department to ask lawmakers to ease off. The request for the court to stand down is more unusual. Judges take seriously even the suggestion that evidence was destroyed, but they also are reluctant to wade into political debates.

Kennedy ordered the administration in June 2005 to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay."
Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos, which involved suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

...[Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey S.] Bucholtz argued that the tapes were not covered by Kennedy's court order because Zubaydah and al-Nashiri were not at the Guantanamo military prison in Cuba. The men were being held overseas in a network of secret CIA prisons. By the time President Bush acknowledged the existence of those prisons and the prisoners were transferred to Guantanamo, the tapes had been destroyed.

...Even if Kennedy agrees that the government did not violate his order, he still could schedule a hearing. He could raise questions about obstruction or spoliation, a legal term for the destruction of evidence in "pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation."

Speaking of obstruction, Senator Lindsay Graham is becoming the new Arlen Specter. The House passed a bill that bans waterboarding yesterday and Graham blocked it from being voted upon in the Senate. So even though he believes waterboarding violates the Geneva Convention ("I don’t think you have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates Geneva Convention common article three, the War Crimes statutes...") and plainly was pissed off at Brigadier General Hartmann during a Senate Judiciary Commitee hearing on Guantanamo detainees, he still protects the Worst President Ever and prevents Bush from having to veto a bill banning waterboarding.

Just like Specter, Graham is all talk, talk, talk and then continues to tow the party line. Heckuva job, Grahamy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lee Stranahan Videos!

Where have I been? Lee Stranahan has been putting together some great videos. Here's one on the latest National Intelligence Estimate spin. You can visit his blog at Stranahan dot com. He'll be an instant favorite.

Mike Huckabee Parody

This is a great parody commercial on Huckabee! Enjoy.

Mukasey Rejects Senate

In his first major decision since his confirmation as Attorney General of the United States, Michael Mukasey waved his middle finger at the Senate today as he rejected Congress' demands for details into the Justice Department's inquiry regarding the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes.

"At my confirmation hearing, I testified that I would act independently, resist political pressure and ensure that politics plays no role in cases brought by the Department of Justice," Mukasey wrote. "Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry, and the relevant law applied."
Would that be the same confirmation hearing where you decided not to classify waterboarding as torture and actually tried to give the impression that you didn't even know what waterboarding was, Mr. Mukasey?
The three letters [in response to letters sent by Senators Patrick Leahy, Alren Specter and Dick Durbin] represent an attempt by Mukasey to push back against growing pressure from lawmakers, primarily Democrats, who have showered the Justice Department with demands for investigations or information on topics ranging from the baseball steroids scandal to allegations of rape by a former military contractor employee.

The letters also are an assertive move by the new attorney general, who was confirmed last month with the lowest level of Senate support in the past half century because of his refusal to say whether a form of simulated drowning known as waterboarding amounts to torture under U.S. law.
Mukasey doesn't want to open an investigation into the destruction of the CIA torture tapes that Mukasey himself used in signing a warrant for the detainment of Jose Padilla based on the information gathered from the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah on those videos.

This is sickening.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Republican Humor

First it was Fox News Channel's 1/2 Hour News Hour, and now this. Another pathetic attempt and proof positive that Republicans have no sense of humor (and no talent either).

A Sad Day For Baseball

NY TIMES: “For more than a decade there has been widespread anabolic steroid use,” Mr. Mitchell said in a news conference announcing the results of a 20-month investigation he led at the behest of Major League Baseball. He said the use of performance-enhancing substances “poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game.”

The players named in the investigation:

The following players were connected to steroids, either use or possession, in the report:

Lenny Dykstra
David Segui
Larry Bigbie
Brian Roberts
Jack Cust
Tim Laker
Josias Manzanillo
Todd Hundley
Mark Carreon
Hal Morris
Matt Franco
Rondell White
Andy Pettitte
Roger Clemens

Chuck Knoblauch
Jason Grimsley
Gregg Zaun
David Justice
F.P. Santangelo
Glenallen Hill
Mo Vaughn
Denny Neagle
Ron Villone
Ryan Franklin
Chris Donnels
Todd Williams
Phil Hiatt
Todd Pratt
Kevin Young
Mike Lansing
Cody McKay
Kent Mercker
Adam Piatt
Miguel Tejada
Jason Christiansen
Mike Stanton
Stephen Randolph
Jerry Hairston
Paul Lo Duca
Adam Riggs
Bart Miadich
Fernando Vina
Kevin Brown
Eric Gagne

Mike Bell
Matt Herges
Gary Bennett
Jim Parque
Brendan Donnelly
Chad Allen
Jeff Williams
Exavier "Nook" Logan
Howie Clark
Paxton Crawford
Ken Caminiti
Rafael Palmeiro

Luis Perez
Derrick Turnbow
Ricky Bones
Ricky Stone

The following players were cited under "Alleged Internet Purchases of Performance Enhancing Substances By Players in Major League Baseball."

Rick Ankiel
David Bell
Paul Byrd
Jose Canseco
Jay Gibbons
Troy Glaus
Jason Grimsley
Jose Guillen
Darren Holmes
Gary Matthews Jr.
John Rocker
Scott Schoeneweis
Ismael Valdez
Matt Williams
Steve Woodard

The following players were linked through BALCO:

Benito Santiago
Gary Sheffield

Randy Velarde
Jason Giambi
Jeremy Giambi

Bobby Estalella
Barry Bonds
Marvin Benard

Read the Mitchell Report here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rep. Steve King Goes Batty

Rep. Steve King was on... wait for it... FOX NEWS today to rip into the nine Democrats that voted no on his Christianity resolution; the same Steve King that voted against a resolution for Ramadan and Diwali. It was a classic Fox hit job with the host "mm-hmm"ing and "yeah"ing every word uttered by Congressman Christmas.

Check out the video at Think Progress.

Funny that King didn't mention the 10 other members who voted "present" because they could care less about the meaningless resolution and the 40 other members who didn't even bother to vote. Interesting how the crackerjack host didn't bring up the fact that more Democrats voted for the resolution than Republicans (a fact I'm not proud of). Ah, good ol' Faux News spreading the Christmas cheer.

In response to King's challenge on wanting to know why the liberal nine voted no, Rep. Alcee Hastings ripped King a new one regarding the resolution as “another sad attempt by conservative Republicans to skew the line between church and state” and said this:

America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone in between. Our diversity is our strength and those who seek to use religion as a litmus test are doing a disservice to all of us.

As for the “assault on Christianity,” all someone has to do is visit a shopping mall, turn on the radio or TV or look at the Christmas trees sitting on the front lawns of the White House and the United States Capitol to realize that no such assault is underway.

Rep. Steve King: another in the growing list of losers that need be ousted from office.

Bob Cesca on Torture

Great new post by Bob Cesca on Huffington Post:

...given our extraordinarily enormous and expensive military-industrial and intelligence establishment, the ultimate safety of our citizens and cities is coming down to... what? Torture? Sorry, no. If the shopping list for preventing a terrorist attack is a wooden plank, a hanky and a jug of water, I want my goddamn money back.

The reality is that the cost of doing business as a democracy is a certain level of danger. Freedom and liberty are, by their very nature, porous.

That's why, in the face of terrorism, we can't allow ourselves to acquiesce to unchecked executive power; invasions of privacy; torture; illegal searches; or warrantless eavesdropping in order to ameliorate the inherent dangers of a free and open society. This is non-negotiable and it's disgraceful that these authoritarian policies of the Bush administration have become, as John Kiriakou said, a matter of "national debate."

Waterboarding Is Like Swimming

Missouri's Senator Kit Bond is the ranking REPUBLICAN on the Senate intelligence committee... and he thinks waterboarding is like swimming. But he wouldn't use it. Maybe the good Senator can't swim.

GOP = Grand Obstructionist Party

Ever wonder why Congress is supposedly getting nothing done?

With the president warning repeatedly that he will veto any budget package he dislikes and the Democrats short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate, the Republican minority is in an unusually strong bargaining position — and not just in the budget negotiations that are the top priority in Congress these days.

Mr. McConnell and his fellow Republicans are playing such tight defense, blocking nearly every bill proposed by the slim Democratic majority that they are increasingly able to dictate what they want, much to the dismay of the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and frustrated Democrats in the House.

In fact, the Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the
alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later.
By the way, this 110th Democratic led Congress has done more work in its first year than the Republican led 109th Congress did in its previous two years.
Mr. McConnell, of course, said it was up to the Democrats to work things out, whether on spending or any other measure, in a way that Republicans would accept. “They are in the majority,” he said. “But in the Senate, to do most things, it requires 60..."
Fuck you, McConnell. It didn't take 60 votes to approve anything while the Rethuglicans were in control, and now the abuse of the filibuster is at an all time high. I can't wait for this putz to be thrown into the street on his ear come next election.

Same Prez, New Excuse!

Looks like the new Bush excuse is "I didn't know." First he tries to lie out of knowing that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 by saying he hadn't learned about the NIE report until the week before it was released, even though he told Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even before then during his fake peace summit. And now Bush is trying to use the same excuse in the destruction of the CIA torture videos.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz Reports: In an exclusive interview with ABC News President Bush said Tuesday he did not know about the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations.
The President said he was told just a few days ago.

Is he incompetent or lying? In either case, this loser has to go.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I, Steve King, a Psychotic Am

One of the major reasons the Democrats have given for not persuing articles of impeachment is the fact that it would take too long, and Congress would get little to nothing else done in the process. Well I'm glad that they have time for this little resolution because I don't know how the American people have gotten by without it so far.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) plans to take the House floor today and introduce a bill (HR 847) recognizing the “importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”

A spokesman for King told ThinkProgress that the bill was introduced in response to previous resolutions recognizing the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Hindu Diwali.
I shit you not. This is an actual resolution brought to the floor by a religious nutbag who couldn't stand the thought of other religious observances getting an offical resolution (also idiotic) in a country that has a federal holiday on December 25th, where some form of Christianity accounts for over 75% of the religious denominations and where 1/3 of the entire world is Christian. Do we really need a resolution to say Christmas is good? What a taxpaying waste!

The votes are in:
The House passed this bill today. The vote, surprisingly, was 372-9, with 10 members also voting "Present," meaning they took no position on the legislation, and 40 not voting. One of the "Present" votes was cast by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). More Democrats -195 - voted for the bill than Republicans, 177.

The nine members who voted against the bill - God bless them! - are Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Bobby Scott(D-Va.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.).

Well, that's a relief. Since we can't get these bastards to go after the criminal syndicate occupying the White House, I suppose I'll petition for Kwaanza to be next. I wonder how that vote will go?

Ex-CIA Agent: White House Authorized Torture

They're finally starting to revolt.

Former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who witnessed the waterboarding of top al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaida, has said that the practice is indeed torture and “a policy made at the White House, with concurrence from the National Security Council and the Justice Department.” Kiriakou added during an interview with NBC that the destruction of video evidence of the technique was “a terrible mistake.”

How many more agents and former agents are going to come out of the woodwork? Perhaps this is a little payback for blaming the intelligence agencies for the failed Iraq occupation and for the outing of Valerie Plame.

Time Magazine's Top 10 Editorial Cartoons of 2007

... and this was number 1.

The Brothers Krongard

Howard "Cookie" Krongard, the embattled State Department inspector general who has been accused of impeding a Justice Department investigation of Blackwater Worldwide and other inquiries, announced his resignation on Friday.

Cookie resigned on the slowest news day of the week, as all cowards are wont to do.

You may remember Cookie in the investigation of the $740 million Iraq US Embassy that has yet to open. On September 18, 2007, House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman charged Krongard with actively impeding probes into waste and corruption related to the Iraq War and other matters. Waxman informed Krongard that allegations of witness intimidation had been made against Krongard's staff. Aides to Krongard threatened two U.S. State Department investigators with retaliation, including termination of their jobs, if they cooperated with the investigations into Blackwater USA and Krongard, according to a report released by the U.S. House of Representatives.Krongard directly interfered with federal prosecutors when they asked his office for help with investigating possible Blackwater arms smuggling.

When asked what relationship his brother and former CIA official Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard had with Blackwater, Cookie stated, "I can tell you, very frankly, I am not aware of any financial interest or position he has with respect to Blackwater. When these ugly rumors started recently, I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true that he is a member of the advisory board that you stated. And that's something I think I need to say."

Well, right in the middle of the investigation, Cookie said this after a recess. "During the break, I did contact my brother. I learned that he had been at the advisory board meeting yesterday. I had not been aware of that. And I want to state on the record right now that I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater."

Buzzy quit advising Blackwater two days later.

Did anyone see this on Fox News?