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Posts from the ‘Tom Friedman’ Category

All The President’s Men

“These guys and gals make ordinary criminals feel squeamish”

By John S. Tully

The New York Herald Sun
October 27 2005

On one of the final episodes of HBO’s remarkable Six Feet Under, a character named Vanessa gently consoles the grieving sister of an Iraqi war veteran who has just committed suicide after losing many limbs. She tells the woman of watching her kids; sleeping; just being. Right then and there it seems to take the woman’s pain and turn it to something beautiful. There’s 2000 dead soldiers, sailors and Marines, thousands more injured for life, and countless dead and injured Iraqis.

It’s just getting to be too much for the American people.

America tortures and kills prisoners of war, lies about its soldiers’ deaths, allows its citizens to starve for days after a hurricane and produces its own news.
Meanwhile the press breaks a collective arm patting itself on the back for its gut-check Katrina coverage.

Too little and too late.

While we’re at war, a cadre of cowards has brazenly robbed the Treasury blind, mortgaging our great-grandchildren’s future as the last five years has been a cash-grab of epic proportions for the fat Republican-only lobbyists in Washington D.C.. As Mr. Bush completely alienated the rest of the free world, the un-free world got more dangerous. The Cowboy President didn’t want to use diplomacy when he could with North Korea so now they want their own reactor. Unfortunately, the intelligence agencies are in shambles, and Donald Rumsfeld’s “lighter, quicker, faster” military is decimated, demoralized and stretched dangerously thin. Meanwhile, China and Japan own much of our debt.

There is still a lack of adequate equipment for our troops on the ground in a war done so completely nearsightedly and on the cheap that families have to send goggles and boots to their children in Iraq and taxpayer-paid mercenaries/private contractors from companies like CACI make four times as much as the enlisted man. Meanwhile, Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown and Root and American oil companies are reaping windfall profits while heating-oil bills double for that widow in Detroit. Up on Capitol Hill, the Republican Senate leader Bill Frist is in serious legal trouble and House leader Tom Delay has now stepped down after being indicted in Texas… twice. The chief purchasing official for the United States of America you ask? Why, he’s just been frog-marched from his office in handcuffs for multiple counts of fraud on the federal government. During a so-called War on Terrorism the Federal Emergency Management chief gets his important job because he is a buddy of the old chief. The criminalization of politics?
These guys and gals make ordinary criminals feel squeamish.

So many troubling occurrences have in fact already gone down the memory hole so far this year that these cold winds of autumn will surely blow more truth away; too many stolen billions, too damn many lives. Somebody in The White House is going to jail for revealing a CIA agent’s identity or lying about it to investigators. The great New York Times helped to sell this war on stories by a reporter named Judith Miller who had sources like a fellow named Curveball, well known by international intelligence agencies to be a fabricator, Jordanian-convicted criminal and American advisor Ahmed Chalabi and the Vice-President’s chief advisor Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Mr. Chalabi was issued an arrest warrant last year by the Iraqi government but now he’s firmly in place again as leader of a Shiite Iraqi coalition. Curveball was last seen fleeing from a prison in Iraq and Ms. Miller went to jail for 89 days for not revealing her source to Independent Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. She was released after reaching a deal and revealed that Mr. Libby was one of her sources for the information about Mr. Wilson’s wife. She claims to have written it in her notes as Valerie Flame.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

This foul mess is greased by a Mainstream Media who butter Americans with a steady
diet of Paula Abdul-Tryst /Brain-Dead Woman /Missing Blond-Girl stories. Lately the press has been hammering home the notion that this leak of a C.I.A. agent’s name is a very complicated story. It’s not but one can understand why, to journalists like Andrea Mitchell and Tim Russert, it must seem complicated, because so many of them are such active participants in the Wink-Wink Washington Game that it completely clouds their judgment. The leak story is simple. It’s about the dirty politics of war.

Between President Bush telling Americans in a State Of The Union speech that Iraq was seeking uranium, and Condoleeza Rice talking that nuclear nonsense about not wanting to wait until we had a “mushroom cloud” in our skies, the deal was sealed to go to war.
In the end, this main reason for invasion, the imminent nuclear threat posed by Saddam and Iraq, was fabricated. Ambassador Joseph Wilson called the administration on this lie and they ruined his wife’s career in the C.I.A for revenge. Mr. Wilson had been sent by the C.I.A. to Niger Africa to see if Iraq had actually tried to get the specialized yellowcake uranium to make a nuclear bomb. He found no evidence of this, neither has anyone else, and he wrote an op-ed piece to this effect. The Bush Administration, in order to punish Mr. Wilson for revealing their big war lie, told some journalists on the White House beat that he had been sent there by his wife, C.I.A. agent Valerie Wilson, who had been undercover for years under the alias of Plame, and was now at headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

They were sure to get some so-called fair journalists like Evan Thomas of Newsweek to backhandedly trash Joseph Wilson’s integrity on John Donald Imus’ program and some politicians to label it simple partisanship. Don’t forget the Drudge/Rush/Freepers, they’re almost as mean and nasty as their heroes in the Oval Office, where wishful thinking and self-delusion rule the day; get in their way and you’ll pay. They’ll turn on anyone who disagrees with them. Ask Richard Clarke, Gen. Shinseki or Paul O’Neill.

Don’t worry, here comes mealy-mouth media-darlings David Brooks and Tom “Pakistani Cabdriver” Friedman to tell us a nice story that will make us feel better.

But now, even the administration’s personal water-carriers are starting to criticize the President over this latest Supreme Court debacle.

The president nominated an unqualified, lightweight, personal friend and advisor Harriet Meirs to the highest court in the nation and the right-wing is absolutely crushed. Like little children who aren’t getting what they thought had been promised, columnists George Will, Bill Kristol and the Republican activists are fuming and furious and beginning to go off-message.

Egads!

Their loyalty to this administration’s consistent and constant shenanigans is finally wearing thin. The very machine that keeps the disinformation going is breaking down.
It’s hard work these days for the White House to cover its tracks and they can’t even blame the Democrats. The first Court crisis began this presidency and this week’s indictments, the Meirs mistake, and the mess in Iraq signals the end.

Leandre Rice, a newly returned soldier from Iraq, came home with a skull fracture, vicious burns all over his body and no more eyesight. He’ll never see his twins born two months ago.

It’s too much for the American people; too many mistakes and too many lies.

As Mr. Libby wrote in a letter to Judy Miller while she was in jail: “It is fall now. … out West, where you vacation, the Aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them..”

Many of the the President’s men are starting to turn and it’s not going to be pretty.

© 2005 THE NEW YORK HERALD SUN

John Tully | Tullycast Memo

Judge Rules White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s top advisers must honor subpoenas issued by Congress, a federal judge ruled on Thursday in a case that involves the firings of several United States attorneys but has much wider constitutional implications for all three branches of government.

“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court here.

Unless overturned on appeal, a former White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, and the current White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, would be required to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the controversial dismissal of the federal prosecutors in 2006.

While the ruling is the first in which a court has agreed to enforce a Congressional subpoena against the White House, Judge Bates called his 93-page decision “very limited” and emphasized that he could see the possibility of the dispute being resolved through political negotiations. The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling.

It was the latest setback for the Bush administration, which maintains that current and former White House aides are immune from congressional subpoena. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Karl Rove, a former top political adviser to President Bush, be cited for contempt for ignoring a subpoena and not appearing at a hearing on political interference by the White House at the Justice Department.

Although Judge Bates did not specifically say so, his ruling, if sustained on appeal, might apply as well to Mr. Rove and his refusal to testify.

The House has already voted to hold Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten in contempt for refusing to testify or to provide documents about the dismissals of the United States attorneys, which critics of the administration have suggested were driven by an improper mix of politics and decisions about who should, or should not, be prosecuted.

Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.

Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, citing legal advice from the White House, have refused for months to comply with Congressional subpoenas. The White House has repeatedly invoked executive privilege, the doctrine that allows the advice that a president gets from his close advisers to remain confidential.

In essence, Judges Bates held that whatever immunity from Congressional subpoenas that executive branch officials might enjoy, it is not “absolute.” And in any event, he said, it is up to the courts, not the executive branch, to determine the scope of its immunity in particular cases.

“We are reviewing the decision,” Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said. Before the decision was handed down, several lawyers said it would almost surely be appealed, no matter which way it turned, because of its importance.

Democrats in Congress issued statements in which they were quick to claim victory in the struggle with the administration over the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and other occurences in the Justice Department, and that they looked forward to hearing from the appropriate White House officials.

“I have long pointed out that this administration’s claims of executive privilege and immunity, which White House officials have used to justify refusing to even show up when served with congressional subpoenas, are wrong,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Leahy’s House counterpart in the House had a similar reaction.

“Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law,” said Representative John D. Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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