Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bush Burning

Angry senators suggested a special prosecutor should investigate misconduct at the Justice Department, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday of deceit on the prosecutor firings and President Bush's eavesdropping program.

Democrats and Republicans alike hammered Gonzales in four hours of testimony as he denied trying, as White House counsel in 2004, to push a hospitalized attorney general into approving a counterterror program that the Justice Department then viewed as illegal.

Gonzales, alternately appearing wearied and seething, vowed anew to remain in his job even as senators told him outright they believe he is unqualified to stay.

He would not answer numerous questions, including whether the Bush administration would bar its U.S. attorneys from pursuing contempt charges against current and former White House officials who have defied congressional subpoenas for their testimony.

"It's hard to see anything but a pattern of intentionally misleading Congress again and again," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told Gonzales during the often-bitter Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "Shouldn't the attorney general of the United States meet a higher standard?"

"Obviously, there have been instances where I have not met that standard, and I've tried to correct that," Gonzales answered.

The hearing rekindled a political furor that began with last year's firings of nine U.S. attorneys and led to disclosure of a Justice Department hiring process that favored Republican loyalists. Gonzales has soldiered on with Bush's support, despite repeated calls for his resignation and questions about his role in a hospital room confrontation with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft over whether to renew a classified but potentially illegal national security program.


The absurd notion of Justice continues unabated at the IN-Justice Department as the head monkey digs himself a deeper hole.

Will any action be taken to relieve our ailing country of the scourge by the name of Gonzales?

One can only hope the curtain will be opened to reveal the phony wizard pulling the controls in the land called D.C. However I will not be holding my breath.

It was Congressman Conyers that prior to having Cindy Sheehan and others arrested there was not enough votes for impeachment. I'm pretty sure that includes ANY repug. currently pillaging The Constitution, (or whats left of it) including speedy.

Our country is being sacrificed on the funeral pyre, with The Constitution being used for kindling.


micki said...

Report on the basis for the resolution that the House Judiciary Committee is voting on this morning re Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress

It is long. Will someone please read it and report back to me? ;-))

micki said...

HELEN THOMAS is laughing today! Doonesbury strip

Worth a quick look, if you didn't see it in your hometown newspaper!

micki said...

Lying to Congress has always been understood to be an impeachable offense.

After yesterday's circus, it appears -- with certainty -- that the Attorney General of the United States lied to Congress.

If Alberto Gonzales doesn't have the brains and decency to resign, Congress should impeach him. Pronto! Article II of the Constitution grants Congress the power to impeach “the president, the vice president and all civil officers of the United States.”

“Civil officers” includes the members of the cabinet.

Impeach the lying SOB. Set an example.

micki said...

William Belknap, Secretary of War, was impeached in 1876

micki said...

Last week, McClatchy newspapers reported that, according to the U.S. military's own statistics, "U.S. soldiers have killed or wounded 429 Iraqi civilians at checkpoints or near patrols and convoys during the past year. ... The statistics don't include instances of American soldiers killing civilians during raids, arrests or in the midst of battle with armed groups, and it remains unclear how the U.S.
military tracks such information."

carey said...


DEN said...

TOO funny:

"Network anchors rolling in cash
Top three anchors made $37 between them; Oprah netted $260m."

@ Raw Story

Man those guys work cheap!

DEN said...

Big booms in Dallas as a welding supply store explodes sending tank of gas flying hundreds of feet!


micki said...

Let's hope that the Dems stay on message if the WH refuses to negotiate a reasonable accommodation -- i.e. giving Congress the requested documents and allowing aides to testify.

The contempt citations require approval by the full House of Representatives.

Keep your fingers crossed. Light a candle. Say a bead (or more). Toss some salt over your left shoulder. Or K.Y.S.A.G.B. as you know it.

DEN said...

DOOlittle sez:

Lesson learned in Angora Fire

The recent Angora fire near Lake Tahoe should have opened everyone’s eyes as to the need for better forest management. While this fire devastated the lives of the people who lost their homes, and has damaged the fragile ecosystem, it could have been much worse. It was through the magnificent efforts of the firefighters and other public safety personnel, paired with the removal and management of forest fuels that prevented this forest fire from becoming a much worse catastrophe. Now that the fire is 100 percent contained, and the imminent threat is diffused, we must look toward the future, because the long-term threat still remains.
While many of the extreme environmentalists manipulate the facts and claim that proper forest management is really pillaging nature, reality simply contradicts this assertion. Fire experts, including those on the front lines of fighting this fire have consistently stated, "You can see where responsible forest fuels management was done and where it was not", meaning where the fire could be managed versus where it ravaged neighborhoods.

Several years ago, I sponsored with Sen. Feinstein and the Tahoe Congressional delegation from the State of Nevada the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton on November 13, 2000. This bill authorized $300 million over ten years for environmental restoration in the Tahoe Basin, including activities to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The language of the bill specifically noted that "Approximately 40 percent of the trees in the Lake Tahoe basin are either dead or dying, and the increased quantity of combustible fuels has significantly increased the risk of catastrophic forest fire in the Lake Tahoe basin." Recognizing this reality, I specifically placed fire risk reduction activities in the list of priorities to be considered in allocating funding authorized in the new law. The bill also required that the Forest Service coordinate with state and local agencies, including local fire departments and volunteer groups to conduct these activities, described as "prescribed burning, mechanical treatment, road obliteration or reconstruction, and other activities…the Secretary determines to be appropriate."

Environmental groups have been preventing for years the necessary use of mechanical thinning in stream environment zones and in zones near urban areas. The ash and soot from the Angora fire are real examples of the kind of pollutants that have become possible in the streams since proper thinning was not done. I witnessed this pollution first-hand in my recent visit to the site. All the efforts by the likes of various environmental groups have clearly resulted in one giant mess and created a problem far worse than what their ill-conceived policies intended to protect against. Filthy char-filled streams are now pouring out of the South Lake Tahoe mountains into our lake in great part due to their interference with proper maintenance. It is completely appropriate that they be held accountable. They need to be more reasonable towards mechanical thinning efforts going forward. To his credit, Executive Director Harold Stinger of the often controversial Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, realizes this and has admitted that it is in the stream zones that the Angora fire found its primary path and that "he wants to learn from that and see if there is something he was doing to hamper with fire prevention efforts." It is my hope that officials at the TRPA may wish to reevaluate their policies in light of what we have learned from the fire as well. I think the hundreds who lost their homes in the fire, would likely agree that maybe the area’s popular slogan should be changed to, "Keep Tahoe Safe and Blue." And we can have a safer and more beautiful Tahoe by conducting the thinning more aggressively in the future.

Looking at a beautifully-managed forest you will see aged trees, healthy new growth, and an overall vigorous forest, which is much better than a charred, burnt and ecologically-damaged area for the next 20 years. This fire is certainly not the last one that we shall see, and the real questions is, are we going to wake up and take notice and make proper forest management a real priority. The Lake Tahoe region is one of the most beautiful and highly-visited areas in the nation, and we must be responsible stewards to protect this unique area from future forest fires.

Those darn Environmentalists!

How dare they interfere with the woods.

DEN said...

The plan is intended to maintain governmental control in the wake of terrorist attacks, or an overwhelming natural disaster, in the United States. It reportedly envisions 15 crisis scenarios, and shifts doomsday planning for the first time from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to officials inside the White House.

Not surprisingly, the plan has generated plenty of buzz among both legal scholars and conspiracy-minded bloggers on the Internet. Given the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy and history of favoring the steady expansion of presidential powers, some have suggested the policy may be written in such a manner that makes it too easy to invoke presidential powers such as martial law.

Democrats not invited to see the "secret plan".

Well isn't that interesting?

carey said...

The contempt citations require approval by the full House of Representatives.

Oh. Guess I was moving too fast this morning and was distracted. Of course. Just turned on CSPAN 3 and there it was, surprisingly quick after yesterday's hearing.

I'm going for a long and terribly needed eye checkup. I have a cataract. Finally taking care of it. It's dangerous otherwise. I'll read your links afterwards Micki. Yours too Den.

A quick quote of Michael Moore's from the 7/23 Hardball.

Benefits! Healthcare, this is an interesting word. You know we're the only western country that uses the word "benefits" when it comes to healthcare? Every other country calls it a human right. We call it a "benefit". That's a crazy term.


This needs to be emphasized over and over when people do not understand the concept behind the use of taxes to pay for universal healthcare.

DEN said...

JULY 24, 2007

Three months ago, when Attorney General Gonzales last appeared before this Committee, I said that the Department of Justice was experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its history. Unfortunately, that crisis has not abated. Until there is independence, transparency and accountability, it will continue. The Attorney General has lost the confidence of the Congress and the American people. Through oversight we hope to restore balance and accountability to the Executive Branch. The Department of Justice must be restored to be worthy of its name. It should not be reduced to another political arm of the White House. The trust and confidence of the American people in federal law enforcement must be restored.

With the Department shrouded in scandal, the Deputy Attorney General has announced his resignation. The nominee to become Associate Attorney General requested that his nomination be withdrawn rather than testify under oath at a confirmation hearing. The Attorney General’s chief of staff, the Deputy Attorney General’s chief of staff, the Department’s White House liaison and the White House Political Director have all resigned, as have others. I would joke that the last one out the door should turn out the lights, but the Department of Justice is too important for that -- we need to shine more light there, not less.

The investigation into the firing for partisan purposes of United States Attorneys, who had been appointed by this President, along with an ever-growing series of controversies and scandals have revealed an Administration driven by a vision of an all-powerful Executive over our constitutional system of checks and balances, that values loyalty over judgment, secrecy over openness, and ideology over competence.

The accumulated and essentially uncontroverted evidence is that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States Attorneys last year. Testimony and documents show that the list was compiled based on input from the highest political ranks in the White House, that senior officials were apparently focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions, on whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases, and that the reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover up.

What the White House stonewalling is preventing is conclusive evidence of who made the decisions to fire these federal prosecutors. We know from the testimony that it was not the President. Everyone who has testified has said that he was not involved. None of the senior officials at the Department of Justice could testify how people were added to the list or the real reasons that people were included among the federal prosecutors to be replaced. Indeed, the evidence we have been able to collect points to Karl Rove and the political operatives at the White House. The stonewalling by the White House raises the question: What is it that the White House is so desperate to hide?

The White House has asserted blanket claims of executive privilege, despite officials’ contentions that the President was not involved. They refuse to provide a factual basis for their blanket claims, have instructed former White House officials not to testify about what they know, and then instructed Harriet Miers to refuse even to appear as required by a House Judiciary Committee subpoena. Now, anonymous officials are claiming that the statutory mechanism to test White House assertions of Executive privilege no longer governs. In essence this White House asserts that its claim of privilege is the final word, that Congress may not review it, and that no court can review it. Here, again, this White House claims to be above the law.

My oath, unlike those who have apparently sworn their allegiance to this President, is to the United States Constitution. I believe in checks and balances and in the rule of law.

Despite the stonewalling and obstruction, we have learned that Todd Graves, U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Missouri was fired after he expressed reservations about a lawsuit that would have stripped many African-American voters from the rolls in Missouri. When the Attorney General replaced Mr. Graves with Bradley Schlozman, the person pushing the lawsuit, that case was filed and ultimately thrown out of court. Once in place in Missouri though, Mr. Schlozman also brought indictments on the eve of a closely contested election, despite the Justice Department policy not to do so. This is what happens when a responsible prosecutor is replaced by a “loyal Bushie” for partisan, political purposes.

Mr. Schlozman also bragged about hiring ideological soulmates. Monica Goodling likewise admitted “crossing the line” when she used a political litmus test for career prosecutors and immigration judges. Rather than keep federal law enforcement above politics, this Administration is more intent on placing its actions above the law.

The Attorney General admitted recently in a video for Justice employees that injecting politics into the Department’s hiring is unacceptable. But is he committed to corrective action and routing out the partisanship in federal law enforcement? His lack of independence and tendency to act as if he were the President’s lawyer rather than the Attorney General of the United States makes that doubtful. From the infamous torture memo, to Mr. Gonzales’ attempt to prevail on a hospitalized Attorney General Ashcroft to certify an illegal eavesdropping program, to the recent opinion seeking to justify Harriet Miers’ contemptuous refusal to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department has been reduced to the role of enabler for this Administration. What we need instead is genuine accountability and real independence.

We learned earlier this year of systematic misuse and abuse of National Security Letters, a powerful tool for the Government to obtain personal information without the approval of a court or prosecutor. The Attorney General has said he had no inkling of these or other problems with vastly expanded investigative powers. Now we know otherwise. Recent documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits and reported in The Washington Post indicate that the Attorney General was receiving reports in 2005 and 2006 of violations in connection with the PATRIOT Act and abuses of National Security Letters. Yet, when the Attorney General testified under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in April 2005, he said that “[t]he track record established over the past three years has demonstrated the effectiveness of the safeguards of civil liberties put in place when the Act was passed.” Earlier this month, in responses to written questions I sent to the Attorney General about when he first learned of problems with National Security Letters, he once again failed to mention these reports of problems.

Only with the openness and honesty that brings true accountability will the Department begin to move forward and correct the problems of the last few years. Instead, we have leadership at the Department of Justice whose expressions of concern and admissions that mistakes were made only follow public revelations and amount to regrets that their excesses were uncovered.

In the wake of growing reports of abuses of National Security Letters, the Attorney General announced a new internal program. This supposed self-examination, with no involvement by the courts, no report to Congress, and no other outside check, essentially translates to “trust us.” With a history of civil liberties abuses and cover-ups, this Administration has squandered our trust. Earlier internal reviews, like the Intelligence Oversight Board and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board have been ineffective and inactive, failing to take action on the violations reported to them. Only with a real check from outside of the Executive branch can we have any confidence that abuses will be curbed and balance restored.

A tragic dimension of the ongoing crisis of leadership at the Justice Department is the undermining of good people and the crucial work that it does. Thousands of honest, hard-working prosecutors, agents, and other civil servants labor every day to detect and prevent crime, uncover corruption, promote equality and justice, and keep us safe from terrorism. Sadly, prosecutions will now be questioned as politically-motivated and evidence will be suspected of having been obtained in violation of laws and civil liberties. Once the government shows a disregard for the independence of the justice system and the rule of law, it is very hard to restore the people’s faith. This Committee will do its best to try to restore independence, accountability, and commitment to the rule of law to the operations of the Justice Department.

Mighty powerful words, we can only hope they will do as the last sentence says.

DEN said...

In two separate letters, Chairman Waxman asks when the White House Counsel's office learned about White House officials' use of nongovernmental e-mail accounts for official purposes, and what steps, if any, it took to preserve these records and prevent violations of the Presidential Records Act. A staff report issued by the committee's majority staff in June found that the White House Counsel's office under Alberto Gonzales may have known about officials' use of these accounts as early as 2001 and done nothing to prevent continued use of the accounts for official business. Chairman Waxman asks Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Fred F. Fielding, the current White House Counsel, for information and documents.

The Committee on Oversight

DEN said...

Didn't Ms. Goodling already admit to using RNC e-mails for govt. business?

Maybe they missed that little tidbit.

DEN said...

Looking for a few good snitches,

All you need is a drivers license and a desire to snoop.

Isn't fascism wonderful?

º¿carol said...

Doc, you were right. Libya let the jailed medics go.

º¿carol said...

The heat wave in Europe has caused wildfires, of which some in Macedonia and Greece have exploded shells from old wars. THAT must be exciting! Yeow!

º¿carol said...

I read about this book in last week's Newsweek. If I read books I would surely read THIS one, Doc. I hope my library gets the audio book version. Check out the author's website for the book. I love the intro! Make sure to click on the two slide shows: New York without us & Your house without you.

The World Without Us

Well, once again I can't HTML a link. I'll have to put the actual link here then.

copy/paste this in your browser.

David B. Benson said...

Carol --- Thanks. There was a short bit about NYC without us in last month's Scientific American.

But it won't be like that.

Becuase in the intervening climate wars, nu-ku-lar bombs will be used.

So NYC will be flat glass. Well, lower Manhattan will. The rest will just be flat.

But dictator-of-the-world Bush-Cheney will be fine on his (their?) hilltop in Uruguay, surrounded by his Black Watch.

Or whatever they are called...

(My, I am gloomy today. And I didn't even see a squirrel.)

Gerald said...


Dear Posters:

I am at my computer and I am looking out the window. I recall some recent posts that I have shared with you. The most disturbing post was the realization that on July 24, 2007 I came to grips with the fact that it is all over for our democracy and our republic. We are now an enslaved banana republic in the hands of a despotic dictator. I can only say to my country, THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.

Bush says that we are at war. He wants to impose his will on us and he is succeeding. The wait for a police state is over because the police state is upon us.

I want to apologize to all the posters. I only wish that I could have done more to stop the Nazi takeover of my country. All I can do now as the last man leaving the room is to turn off the lights. Once again I will say to my country, THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.


Gerald said...

I forgot to mention to Salain, "Welcome back." Like me Saladin opposes gun control. I am more of a maverick than she is. I believe that Americans should be able to purchase all kinds of weapons in order to protect a person's family and property. Americans should be able to purchase uzies, hand grenades, bazookas, missile launchers with missiles, guns, rifles, cluster bombs, etc. The cluster bombs would be planted around the house to discourage would-be thiefs and goons from Bush's cabal. Of course they could blow up my home but no one lives forever.

Gerald said...

Oil Junkies for Jesus

Gerald said...

In the meantime, Hubbert's Peak is not a Soap Opera. It does, rather, explain why Bush and Dick Cheney (Halliburton) may have --as has been published and reported now in an increasing number of sources --threatened Afghanistan with "carpet bombs" before 9-11. It also explains Bush's one time love of Putin. Bush didn't see Putin's soul; he saw his oil! It also explains why they have since fallen out. The US was "negotiating" pipeline rights with the Taliban; dying for God and country is one thing --but for Halliburton?

DEN said...

Dear Gerald,

We are indeed at the end of a gentle era, the direction tends toward totalitarian rule.

However we do not know what is in our future, could be bad, could be good.
I don't mean tomorrow or even next month but long term.

It's not all gloom and doom.

You still have like minded friends to share your thoughts right here.

Vigorous discussion keeps one energized.

We have to keep on until they shut us off for good.

David B. Benson said...

Den --- Sorry, we do (or should) know what is in our future.

Global warming. Unstoppable.

Won't be good...

Gerald said...

Bullshit Rising

Gerald said...

Mr. Bush called the two similarly named groups “an alliance of killers,” and said, “No enemy is more ruthless in Iraq than Al Qaeda.”

Bush, I say to you in disgust, "Bullshit!" Iraq was never ruthless to America. You are a total liar! You made Iraq a haven for Al Qaeda with your endless lies about Iraq. Liar, liar pants on fire! Georgy, porgy pudding and pie, he kissed the nuclear weapons and he made the world cry!

Gerald said...

Bush is a murderer and a war criminal!!!!!

DEN said...

Him and many others.

carey said...

As if the losing battle against global warming wasn't depressing enough. The wars, economic upheavals and extreme chaos that will come with it, well, I keep forgetting to fret about that Dr.B.


Here's where I'm supposed to put one of those smiling faces things like in Micki's first post. I can't for the life of me figure out how one types that. I tried.

Now, Den, is this the same emergency plan that might lead to martial law that Thom Hartmann brought up the other day? I know you don't know that but I'm fairly sure. It was signed July 17th.

My thinking processes are still dawdling somewhat. I catch things half-assed alot right now like the contempt citations mistake.

Randi Rhodes had on a legal expert she goes to for all her questons who writes for The Hill. He's been around Congress as a legislative aid to Lloyd Bentson for mucho years and worked in intelligence. Didn't catch the name but he has a great background and credibility.

He felt Congress & Leahy were going at this in stages. I heard Leahy speak today and it comprised similar phrases and intentions as his statement Den. He felt they were going to hold back on "inherent contempt" until a little later and then kind of surround them with it. He was optimistic that things are going in a right direction with all of this.

I think they are too. Micki, you're not only going to see Gonzo gone, he's going to be ground to dirt.

And don't he deserve it folks? The little mafia hatchet man. Lifelong perjurer.

Dr. B,

Beyond that icky part, the global warming and death of most species part, then the future is indeed a mystery.

It just doesn't look very good.

carey said...

Shoot. I miswrote.

Leahy didn't feel that way about Congress' progress on Gonzo, the lawyer Rhodes interviewed did. He felt they were going after the wiretapping thing most of all.

That's what I get for trying to rush.

•¿•arol said...

Doc, you said Bush/Cheney would be safe in Uruguay. Remember what Jared Diamond said in "Collapse", the rich would be the last to die. So, they'll get theirs, they'll just be the last to go. And while they're waiting to go there won't be any peasants to wait on them! Ha! "Go look for your OWN firewood! Go look for your OWN food, you mumble, mumble."