Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Race is ON!

TPM Needs YOU to Comb Through Thousands of Pages

Josh and I were just discussing how in the world we are ever going to make our way through 3,000 pages when it hit us: we don't have to. Our readers can help.

So here's what we're going to do. This comment thread will be our HQ for sorting through tonight's document dump.

And to make it efficient and comprehensible, we'll have a system. As you can see on the House Judiciary Committee's website, they've begun reproducing 50-page pdfs of the documents with a simple numbering system, 3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-1, then 1-2, then 1-3, etc. So pick a pdf, any pdf and give it a look. If you find something interesting (or damning), then tell us about it in the comment thread below.

Please begin your comment with the pdf number and please provide the page number of the pdf.

So, for instance, a comment might read:


Hey, there's an email here on page 27 from Kyle Sampson where he says, "I'm thinking that we should make up bogus justifications for the firing of all eight U.S. attorneys in order to cover up our true, political motivations. Judge says it's a great idea, so does Karl. What do you think, Mr. President?"

If you want to be a trailblazer and read through a virgin pdf, then you should be able to see which pdfs haven't been looked at by scrolling through the comment thread. Have at it!

OK you guys,(Chicks) I have to work but the call has went out far and wide for help.

Be sure to post any findings here too!

Have at it!!!


º¿carol said...

Huh? Wade thru a bunch of PDFs?

Think I'll go read my Detroit Free Press now. §º¿º§

DEN said...

I have perused the PDF files a bit and find there are more BS pages than actual 'evidence' pages.

Looks like the thing was 'stuffed' with insignificant pages to represent a 'full' disclosure which it is NOT.

Knowing the Gov't and their extensive use of paperwork, it is quite disturbing but at the same time typical 'shuck and jive' from the Gonzoid monster.

DEN said...

It should be obvious to everyone reading the released documents, there is a lack of any document specifically involving Gonzo.

My guess is he will plead ignorance and blame everything on underlings.

With no direct evidence linking him directly, Gonzo stands a good chance of escaping the noose.

Sounds intentional to me.

Alan said...

Senate ends Gonzales' power to fill vacancies

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors.
With a 94-2 vote, the Senate passed a bill that canceled a Justice Department-authored provision in the Patriot Act that had allowed the attorney general to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. Democrats say the Bush administration abused that authority when it fired the eight prosecutors and proposed replacing some with White House loyalists.

Alan said...

This was pretty awesome in today's H-town paper...

Looking back
Reasons for avoiding Iraq war clear four years ago.

Editor's note: The following Chronicle editorial, which questioned the need for a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, was first printed on Jan. 26, 2003. As the war in Iraq enters its fifth year, the Chronicle reprints the editorial as a reminder that the reasons for avoiding a war in Iraq were apparent beforehand.

Robert Gates, cited in the editorial, was president of Texas A&M University in 2003. He recently succeeded Donald Rumsfeld as U.S. secretary of defense.
THE winds of war, and the manpower and machines to unleash them, are gathering rapidly in the Persian Gulf region.

President Bush, evidently on the verge of launching an attack on Iraq, has a moral responsibility to make a strong case for that path, a task he has not yet accomplished.

Debatable on its face, the case that a pre-emptive strike will make us safer in the long run simply has not been made.
It's a nice read, click here to see the rest of it

micki said...

...don't want to read too much into it, but...

The Gonzales hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday has been postponed. He had been previously scheduled to appear at a budget hearing.

Dump, dump.

Alan -- do you know who the two nay votes were? Egads.

micki said...

White House Offers Interview With Rove --
White House Offers to Make Rove, Miers Available for Interview in Attorneys Probe -- BUT NOT UNDER OATH!!!!

micki said...

...rats leaving the sinking ship?

Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Littleton, CO, Republican, today said Gonzales should step down. "Alberto Gonzales has repeatedly shown that he is unwilling to enforce the law and unable to effectively manage the department," said Tancredo...

micki said...

oops...the above according to M.E. Sprengelmeyer, writing for the Rocky Mountain News

º¿carol said...

Chuck Hagel voted no??? Egads is right.

Carey said...

Good reporting work Den. The PDFs have to be gone through, every miniscule step, cuz the last huge batch did yield some evidence.

Just ran across this, I know you'll all want to particpate in it:

Sibel Edmond: Last Chance to Put Perle, Feith and Hastert in Orange Jumpsuits

Today is the final day of our Let Sibel Edmonds Speak campaign where we have been asking people to call Henry Waxman's office (202-225-3976, Capitol switchboard 800-828-0498) to demand public hearings into the case of former FBI translator and whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds.

Sibel guarantees that if we have public hearings, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Marc Grossman, and Dennis Hastert will go to prison for a long time. If any of that appeals to you, for any reason, call Waxman today. Please.

Carey said...

This was just issued for the evening news broadcasts. You can just see his stupid jaw setting. "They want a showdown, I'll give 'em one."

Bush Warns Dems to Take Offer in Firings

WASHINGTON - President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides testify about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath, or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.

Carey said...

Happy first day of Spring!

Looking forward, aren't we all, to one hell of a summer. Let's have a competition to see who goes up in flames first from the heat.

DEN said...

Bush said his White House counsel, Fred Fielding, told lawmakers they could interview presidential counselor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies — but only on the president's terms: in private, "without the need for an oath" and without a transcript.

What country does the C-in-C think he is in? Chimpyland? All monkey business all the time?

If there is any false flag event it will be soon, these bastards refuse to be challenged for power.

Wise up America, these people are NOT your friends.

DEN said...

Pouring rain now, great, just in time for my commute home, YECHH!

Morons-O-Plenty jamming up the freeways.

Nothing burning up here yet.

Alan said...

Carey, I hope Sibel Edmonds gets to testify openly about any and everything. I seen her 60 Minutes segment before she was gagged so I've known all along what her firing was about. There's one particular person on the other blog that insists it's about 9/11, but it isn't. Sibel never mentioned anything even remotely close to anything about 9/11.
In the article, I don't believe that part about the Taliban and al Qaeda being supported by their drug running. The Taliban banned opium farming when they were in control in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda is supported by donations from Sunni Muslims worldwide, but mostly in Saudi Arabia.
But yeah, go Sibel.

ò,óarol said...

Bush said he would aggressively fight in court any attempt to subpoena White House aides.

"If the staff of a president operated in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss internal deliberations, the president would not receive candid advice and the American people would be ill-served," he said. "I'm sorry the situation has gotten to where it's got, but that's Washington, D.C., for you. You know there's a lot of politics in this town."

They SHOULD operate in constant fear! Then maybe they'd do the right thing and not just the king's bidding. This is OUR country. This is OUR government.

Everything he said in that paragraph is wrong. If his minions knew they would be grilled you can bet Bush would get good advice and We the People wouldn't be ill-served by that!

I am SOOOO pissed! Can you tell?

Carey said...


I'm pretty sure we're all in the same state of rage.

Just f*#king unbelievable.

micki said...

Yeah, and today that f&!king bastard cheney went to the hospital again for his bum leg but was released. The docs said it was nothing to worry about. Darn.

I really don't like those creeps.

Carol, I don't blame you for being on fire!

DEN said...

I will be happy when they are all tucked into their little beds in their respective jail cells.

Maybe then I could get some decent sleep.

Hard to sleep knowing there is a monkey at the controls.

David B. Benson said...

Den --- Please do not insult monkeys!

DEN said...

Ok, how about neo-con death cult tool?

Or, follower of the Marques De Sade with bombs.

Jeez, I'm scaring myself!

ò,óarol said...

When I saw the blurb on CNN about Cheney's leg bothering him, I told the TV, "Too bad a clot doesn't let lose and hit your brain."

MICKI said...

Right. Don't insult monkeys.


March 20, 2007
Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.

Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.

The original call to battle was sounded by the biologist Edward O. Wilson more than 30 years ago, when he suggested in his 1975 book “Sociobiology” that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.” He may have jumped the gun about the time having come, but in the intervening decades biologists have made considerable progress.

Last year Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, proposed in his book “Moral Minds” that the brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, a universal moral grammar similar to the neural machinery for learning language. In another recent book, “Primates and Philosophers,” the primatologist Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes.

Dr. de Waal, who is director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, argues that all social animals have had to constrain or alter their behavior in various ways for group living to be worthwhile. These constraints, evident in monkeys and even more so in chimpanzees, are part of human inheritance, too, and in his view form the set of behaviors from which human morality has been shaped.

Many philosophers find it hard to think of animals as moral beings, and indeed Dr. de Waal does not contend that even chimpanzees possess morality. But he argues that human morality would be impossible without certain emotional building blocks that are clearly at work in chimp and monkey societies.

Dr. de Waal’s views are based on years of observing nonhuman primates, starting with work on aggression in the 1960s. He noticed then that after fights between two combatants, other chimpanzees would console the loser. But he was waylaid in battles with psychologists over imputing emotional states to animals, and it took him 20 years to come back to the subject.

He found that consolation was universal among the great apes but generally absent from monkeys — among macaques, mothers will not even reassure an injured infant. To console another, Dr. de Waal argues, requires empathy and a level of self-awareness that only apes and humans seem to possess. And consideration of empathy quickly led him to explore the conditions for morality.

Though human morality may end in notions of rights and justice and fine ethical distinctions, it begins, Dr. de Waal says, in concern for others and the understanding of social rules as to how they should be treated. At this lower level, primatologists have shown, there is what they consider to be a sizable overlap between the behavior of people and other social primates.

Social living requires empathy, which is especially evident in chimpanzees, as well as ways of bringing internal hostilities to an end. Every species of ape and monkey has its own protocol for reconciliation after fights, Dr. de Waal has found. If two males fail to make up, female chimpanzees will often bring the rivals together, as if sensing that discord makes their community worse off and more vulnerable to attack by neighbors. Or they will head off a fight by taking stones out of the males’ hands.

Dr. de Waal believes that these actions are undertaken for the greater good of the community, as distinct from person-to-person relationships, and are a significant precursor of morality in human societies.

Macaques and chimpanzees have a sense of social order and rules of expected behavior, mostly to do with the hierarchical natures of their societies, in which each member knows its own place. Young rhesus monkeys learn quickly how to behave, and occasionally get a finger or toe bitten off as punishment. Other primates also have a sense of reciprocity and fairness. They remember who did them favors and who did them wrong. Chimps are more likely to share food with those who have groomed them. Capuchin monkeys show their displeasure if given a smaller reward than a partner receives for performing the same task, like a piece of cucumber instead of a grape.

These four kinds of behavior — empathy, the ability to learn and follow social rules, reciprocity and peacemaking — are the basis of sociality.

Dr. de Waal sees human morality as having grown out of primate sociality, but with two extra levels of sophistication. People enforce their society’s moral codes much more rigorously with rewards, punishments and reputation building. They also apply a degree of judgment and reason, for which there are no parallels in animals.

MICKI said...


Religion can be seen as another special ingredient of human societies, though one that emerged thousands of years after morality, in Dr. de Waal’s view. There are clear precursors of morality in nonhuman primates, but no precursors of religion. So it seems reasonable to assume that as humans evolved away from chimps, morality emerged first, followed by religion. “I look at religions as recent additions,” he said. “Their function may have to do with social life, and enforcement of rules and giving a narrative to them, which is what religions really do.”

As Dr. de Waal sees it, human morality may be severely limited by having evolved as a way of banding together against adversaries, with moral restraints being observed only toward the in group, not toward outsiders. “The profound irony is that our noblest achievement — morality — has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior — warfare,” he writes. “The sense of community required by the former was provided by the latter.”

Dr. de Waal has faced down many critics in evolutionary biology and psychology in developing his views. The evolutionary biologist George Williams dismissed morality as merely an accidental byproduct of evolution, and psychologists objected to attributing any emotional state to animals. Dr. de Waal convinced his colleagues over many years that the ban on inferring emotional states was an unreasonable restriction, given the expected evolutionary continuity between humans and other primates.

His latest audience is moral philosophers, many of whom are interested in his work and that of other biologists. “In departments of philosophy, an increasing number of people are influenced by what they have to say,” said Gilbert Harman, a Princeton University philosopher.

Dr. Philip Kitcher, a philosopher at Columbia University, likes Dr. de Waal’s empirical approach. “I have no doubt there are patterns of behavior we share with our primate relatives that are relevant to our ethical decisions,” he said. “Philosophers have always been beguiled by the dream of a system of ethics which is complete and finished, like mathematics. I don’t think it’s like that at all.”

But human ethics are considerably more complicated than the sympathy Dr. de Waal has described in chimps. “Sympathy is the raw material out of which a more complicated set of ethics may get fashioned,” he said. “In the actual world, we are confronted with different people who might be targets of our sympathy. And the business of ethics is deciding who to help and why and when.”

Many philosophers believe that conscious reasoning plays a large part in governing human ethical behavior and are therefore unwilling to let everything proceed from emotions, like sympathy, which may be evident in chimpanzees. The impartial element of morality comes from a capacity to reason, writes Peter Singer, a moral philosopher at Princeton, in “Primates and Philosophers.” He says, “Reason is like an escalator — once we step on it, we cannot get off until we have gone where it takes us.”

That was the view of Immanuel Kant, Dr. Singer noted, who believed morality must be based on reason, whereas the Scottish philosopher David Hume, followed by Dr. de Waal, argued that moral judgments proceed from the emotions.

MICKI said...


But biologists like Dr. de Waal believe reason is generally brought to bear only after a moral decision has been reached. They argue that morality evolved at a time when people lived in small foraging societies and often had to make instant life-or-death decisions, with no time for conscious evaluation of moral choices. The reasoning came afterward as a post hoc justification. “Human behavior derives above all from fast, automated, emotional judgments, and only secondarily from slower conscious processes,” Dr. de Waal writes.

However much we may celebrate rationality, emotions are our compass, probably because they have been shaped by evolution, in Dr. de Waal’s view. For example, he says: “People object to moral solutions that involve hands-on harm to one another. This may be because hands-on violence has been subject to natural selection whereas utilitarian deliberations have not.”

Philosophers have another reason biologists cannot, in their view, reach to the heart of morality, and that is that biological analyses cannot cross the gap between “is” and “ought,” between the description of some behavior and the issue of why it is right or wrong. “You can identify some value we hold, and tell an evolutionary story about why we hold it, but there is always that radically different question of whether we ought to hold it,” said Sharon Street, a moral philosopher at New York University. “That’s not to discount the importance of what biologists are doing, but it does show why centuries of moral philosophy are incredibly relevant, too.”

Biologists are allowed an even smaller piece of the action by Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina. He believes morality developed after human evolution was finished and that moral sentiments are shaped by culture, not genetics. “It would be a fallacy to assume a single true morality could be identified by what we do instinctively, rather than by what we ought to do,” he said. “One of the principles that might guide a single true morality might be recognition of equal dignity for all human beings, and that seems to be unprecedented in the animal world.”

Dr. de Waal does not accept the philosophers’ view that biologists cannot step from “is” to “ought.” “I’m not sure how realistic the distinction is,” he said. “Animals do have ‘oughts.’ If a juvenile is in a fight, the mother must get up and defend her. Or in food sharing, animals do put pressure on each other, which is the first kind of ‘ought’ situation.”

Dr. de Waal’s definition of morality is more down to earth than Dr. Prinz’s. Morality, he writes, is “a sense of right and wrong that is born out of groupwide systems of conflict management based on shared values.” The building blocks of morality are not nice or good behaviors but rather mental and social capacities for constructing societies “in which shared values constrain individual behavior through a system of approval and disapproval.” By this definition chimpanzees in his view do possess some of the behavioral capacities built in our moral systems.

“Morality is as firmly grounded in neurobiology as anything else we do or are,” Dr. de Waal wrote in his 1996 book “Good Natured.” Biologists ignored this possibility for many years, believing that because natural selection was cruel and pitiless it could only produce people with the same qualities. But this is a fallacy, in Dr. de Waal’s view. Natural selection favors organisms that survive and reproduce, by whatever means. And it has provided people, he writes in “Primates and Philosophers,” with “a compass for life’s choices that takes the interests of the entire community into account, which is the essence of human morality.”