Saturday, May 26, 2007
The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the KingdomLink (with raw data).
By Greg Palast
Created May 25 2007 - 10:24am
This Monica revealed something hotter -- much hotter -- than a stained blue dress. In her opening testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice Liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One....And the Committee members didn't even know it.
Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004.
Huh?? Tim Griffin? "Caging"???
The perplexed committee members hadn't a clue -- and asked no substantive questions about it thereafter. Karl Rove is still smiling. If the members had gotten the clue, and asked the right questions, they would have found "the keys to the kingdom," they thought they were looking for. They dangled right in front of their perplexed faces.
The keys: the missing emails -- and missing link -- that could send Griffin and his boss, Rove, to the slammer for a long, long time.
Kingdom enough for ya?
But what's 'caging' and why is it such a dreadful secret that lawyer Sampson put his license to practice and his freedom on the line to cover Tim Griffin's involvement in it? Because it's a felony. And a big one.
Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet - except the USA - only because America's news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d'etat that chose our President in 2004.
Here's how caging worked, and along with Griffin's thoughtful emails themselves you'll understand it all in no time.
The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked "Do not forward" to voters' homes. Letters returned ("caged") were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and -- you got to love this -- American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren't these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation -- and the soldiers were overseas. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote. Mission Accomplished.
How do I know? I have the caging lists...
I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can't be found. I have the emails. 500 of them -- sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.
Here's what you need to know -- and the Committee would have discovered, if only they'd asked:
1. 'Caging' voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony.
2. Griffin wasn't "involved" in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin, Rove's right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It's in the email I got. Thanks. And it's posted below.
3. On December 7, 2006, the ragin', cagin' Griffin was named, on Rove's personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became prosecutor.
The committee was perplexed about Monica's panicked admission and accusations about the caging list because the US press never covered it. That's because, as Griffin wrote to Goodling in yet another email (dated February 6 of this year, and also posted below), their caging operation only made the news on BBC London: busted open, Griffin bitched, by that "British reporter," Greg Palast.
There's no pride in this. Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet -- except the USA -- only because America's news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d'etat that chose our President in 2004.
And now, not bothering to understand the astonishing revelation in Goodling's confessional, they are missing the real story behind the firing of the US attorneys. It's not about removing prosecutors disloyal to Bush, it's about replacing those who refused to aid the theft of the vote in 2004 with those prepared to burgle it again in 2008.
Now that they have the keys, let's see if they can put them in the right door. The clock is ticking ladies and gents...
Friday, May 25, 2007
U.S. intelligence agencies warned senior members of the Bush administration in early 2003 that invading Iraq could create internal conflict that would give Iran and al Qaeda new opportunities to expand their influence, according to an upcoming Senate report.Link.
And by the by, this istel seems to have been borne out which is far more than can say about any of the intel cooked up for to justify the invasion.
Meanwhile, the Dems blink and the vox populi say:
Americans now view the war in Iraq more negatively than at any time since the invasion more than four years ago, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.[More].
Sixty-one percent of Americans say the United States should have stayed out of Iraq and 76 percent say things are going badly there, including 47 percent who say things are going very badly, the poll found.
Still, the majority of Americans support continuing to finance the war as long as the Iraqi government meets specific goals.
None of Our Leaders' policies conform with the people's opinion....
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Amidst the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush and Giuliani saddled up their bullhorns and raced down to the smoldering World Trade Center to shout out a single "patriotic" demand: re-open the stock market!Link.
And to hell with the health of the good citizens doing the clean-up. Ditto the rest of us down wind.
The public health outcome has now become visible: those brave and caring people who marched onto the site to do what needed to be done are starting to die in droves.
The New York Times says less than a third of them were wearing respirators. Giuliani is getting a long overdue bashing for letting this happen. With all his swagger, Rudy imposed a single demand above all: the financial district must re-open. That people would die doing it was known but never mentioned. Giuliani had his priorities.
Bush's Environmental Protection Agency knew full well that the airborne fallout from the smoldering the World Trade Center was absolutely lethal.
Then headed by the "green" nuclear power advocate Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA knew the cancerous clouds pouring out of the site were a toxic brew of lethal chemicals, the likes of which the world had not seen since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
The WTC towers were among the last buildings to be lined with large quantities of asbestos, an infamous agent of lethal lung diseases, including cancer.
But they also contained countless computer screens, light fixtures, calculators, telephones, network servers, paging systems, copy machines and much more high-tech office equipment laden with mercury, lead, arsenic and too many other toxic metals to list here. The chlorine-laden plastics, carpeting, concrete, chemical cleaners, furniture, metal struts, window glass---all were pulverized and vaporized into a horrific cloud of murderous dioxins, furans, powdered glass and noxious soot whose killing powers were hideous.
Whitman, Giuliani and Bush were told all that---and then waged a conscious campaign to make sure the rest of us didn't find out. Our callous, corrupt, corporate-controlled media of course complied.
The upshot was a rapid "clean-up" of this horrific site. The first whirlwind we now reap is an escalating rate of sickness and death among those who did the work.
Contrary to law and common sense, most of the clean-up crews were allowed to work without protective garments and breathing devices. Years of investigations must now probe how available (and effective) this equipment really was, not only for those doing the grunt labor amidst the ashes, but also for the tens of thousands of good souls who came downtown to bring them food, coffee and consolation.
As the tragedies spread, so will the lawsuits. Whatever millions of private dollars might have been saved by the rapid re-opening of the financial district will be paid for many times over with billions of public dollars to compensate the health costs of official negligence.
But there is far far more. For all those who labored amidst the WTC rubble, thousands more proceeded to live their lives in Manhattan and elsewhere downwind with no warning of how dangerous it really was to merely breath the air there.
Whitman's EPA knew the particulate fallout that blanketed the region was extremely lethal. Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and public buildings were coated in toxic ash.
At very least, all downwind buildings should have been intensely monitored. Many should have been fitted with advanced filtration units. All carpeting, furniture, walls and fixtures should have been repeatedly tested and cleaned. And then cleaned again. And then cleaned yet again.
Some buildings might never have reopened. And the stock market might have stayed shut longer. Such things cost money.
But who can tell us now how many automobiles, subway cars, public buses, offices, living rooms, bedrooms, public spaces and infants' cradles were saturated with poisonous WTC powders? How many pregnant women breathed in nano-particles that crossed the placenta into the bodies of children now five or six years old?
What will become of these innocent victims of the Bush-Giuliani-Whitman decision to not warn the public of what was in our air, water and food?
In fact, the sick and dying WTC clean-up crews constitute the mere tip of a public health disaster made unforgivably worse by this willful and malicious official neglect.
The diseases and deaths now surfacing from the immediate WTC area are the barest of beginnings. They indicate that far more people will likely die from the toxic 9/11 fallout than perished in the buildings that horrible day.
Characteristically, soon after the WTC attacks, Bush attacked the Clean Air Act on behalf of Republican utility investors who would contribute his 2004 war chest.
And now Whitman pushes a "renaissance" of nuclear power plants. Reactor fallout is one of the few substances even more lethal than what spewed into New York amidst her criminal silence. Had those 9/11 jets crashed into the Indian Point reactors 45 miles north of the WTC, would she also have hidden the ensuing death toll?
Whatever the answer, she now peddles her EPA "credential" to push still more of those infernal, infinitely vulnerable machines, as if 9/11 never happened.
And Rudy Giuliani, the super patriot who put re-opening the stock market so far ahead of the health of his fellow Americans, wants to follow Bush into the White House. Perhaps those who find themselves in his presence should don respirators. Better late than never.
Bush, Giuliani and Whitman have built careers around their "patriotic" responses to 9/11/2001.
But countless New Yorkers---and other downwind Americans---now suffer and die as a direct result of their irresponsible, self-serving negligence. It is a public debt that can never be repaid.
The entire government has failed us on Iraq
For the president, and the majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal
By Keith Olbermann
May 23, 2007
A Special Comment about the Democrats’ deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq—and to do so on his terms:
This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.
Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:
Get us out of Iraq.
Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:
The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning... is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.
And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult... hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.
Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.
“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”
That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?
Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.
Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.
And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening?
See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?
Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.
The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.
For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.
Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats... have failed us.
They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
Mr. Bush and his government... have failed us.
They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.
With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.
They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.
Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq...
The people have been ahead of the media....
Ahead of the government...
Ahead of the politicians...
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.
Our politics... is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
As Rudolph W. Giuliani runs for president, his image as a chief executive who steered New York through the disaster of Sept. 11 has become a pillar of his campaign. But one former member of his inner circle keeps surfacing to revisit that history in ways that are unflattering to Mr. Giuliani: Jerome M. Hauer, New York City’s first emergency management director.Link.
In recent days, Mr. Hauer has challenged Mr. Giuliani’s recollection that he had little role as mayor in placing the city’s emergency command center at the ill-fated World Trade Center.
Mr. Hauer has also disputed the claim by the Giuliani campaign that the mayor’s wife, Judith Giuliani, had coordinated a help center for families after the attack.
And he has contradicted Mr. Giuliani’s assertions that the city’s emergency response was well coordinated that day, a point he made most notably to the authors of “Grand Illusion,” a book that depicts Mr. Giuliani’s antiterrorism efforts as deeply flawed.
Mr. Hauer does not disparage Mr. Giuliani’s overall effort at emergency preparedness or appear to have actively sought out a role as a Giuliani scold. But he has emerged as one in several settings where his frank, often blunt, answers to questions have offered a rare view inside the often-insular Giuliani administration.
Mr. Hauer was once part of the coterie of high school chums, fellow former prosecutors and City Hall aides who remain the nucleus of Mr. Giuliani’s tight-knit set of advisers. From that perch, he helped Mr. Giuliani confront some of New York City’s most disquieting predicaments, like the West Nile virus and a potential millennium meltdown.
He emerged from four years of service to Mr. Giuliani as one of the country’s better known emergency preparedness experts and a frequent guest on television news programs.
One of Mr. Hauer’s first tasks was to find a home for an emergency command center to replace the inadequate facilities at police headquarters. Mr. Hauer suggested an office complex in downtown Brooklyn as a “good alternative” in a memorandum.
But Mr. Hauer said the mayor insisted instead on a site within walking distance of City Hall. Given that concern and others, Mr. Hauer said he decided that offices on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, next to the twin towers and just a few blocks from City Hall, seemed the best choice.
The site was immediately controversial because it was part of the trade center, which had already been the location of a truck bomb attack in 1993. City officials, though, including Mr. Hauer, have long defended their decision, even after the command center had to be evacuated during the 2001 terror attack.
Last week, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Giuliani again faced questions about the site. He put responsibility for selecting it on Mr. Hauer.
“Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected.”
Mr. Hauer took immediate exception to that account in interviews. “That’s Rudy’s own reality that he lives in,” he said. “It is not, in fact, the truth.”
Mr. Hauer has also expressed concern about the level of support he felt from Mr. Giuliani, in particular when he tried to bridge the divide between the city’s Police and Fire Departments, two disparate emergency response cultures that battled over turf.
Mr. Hauer said he ended up in something of a feud with the police commissioner at the time, Howard Safir, which came to a head in 1998 when, he said, he offered to help both departments prepare for a chemical disaster drill.
Police officials declined help, Mr. Hauer said, but then sent detectives to follow him and photograph his meeting with fire officials. During a subsequent meeting with the mayor, Mr. Safir held up the photographs, Mr. Hauer said, as triumphant evidence that Mr. Hauer favored the Fire Department.
“Any man worth his salt would have been outraged that the Police Department followed one of his closest commissioners,” Mr. Hauer said. “It was disgraceful.”
But Mr. Hauer said that when he complained to Mr. Giuliani, all he got was a blank stare.
Mr. Lhota, speaking for the campaign, said he was unaware of such an incident. Mr. Safir did not return a call for comment.
Mr. Hauer left his city job in 2000. A year later, Mr. Giuliani called him back into service after the terror attacks. He was assigned to help prepare for possible biological or chemical attacks and to help set up an assistance center for victims’ families.
Mr. Giuliani’s wife, Judith, who was then his companion, also had a role in setting up the center. But last week Mr. Hauer told New York magazine that the campaign’s depiction of her role was “simply a lie.”
As president, Mr. Carter managed to alienate nearly every major country in the world and did so without asserting American power in ways that might justify that alienation. No other president has crammed as many foreign policy debacles into a four-year period. The Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua and the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis are but two examples of many. Near the end of his term, it should be remembered, Mr. Carter's approval rating fell to 21%, the lowest in the history of polling.Link.
Of course, the reason Mr. Carter, and others, rank President Bush at the bottom is the Iraq war. Mr. Carter himself did not get the country into a war during his presidency, likely because he lacked the fortitude. If we want a useful comparison with presidents who did get us into a difficult war, we need look no further than the two men who put the United States into its last protracted conflict, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Kennedy commands much admiration among the literati, in part because his Vietnam decisions have been misunderstood. Four-and-a half decades after Kennedy dramatically deepened America's commitment to South Vietnam, we are just now learning critical facts about his actions. This alone might cause us to beware of sweeping pronouncements about a president and his place in history while he is still in office.
New evidence shows that Kennedy reluctantly allowed Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge to instigate the disastrous coup against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963, the event that did the most to draw the U.S. into the war. Lodge, a liberal Republican, favored a coup because Diem was not handling South Vietnamese dissidents the way an American politician would. During October 1963, in violation of presidential orders, Lodge secretly encouraged a group of South Vietnamese generals to revolt, igniting the conspiracy that produced the coup three weeks later.
Lodge did not notify Washington of his actions, but one week before the coup, top administration officials caught wind of it. Although Kennedy was incensed, he did not stop Lodge. In the summer of 1963, Kennedy had appointed Lodge, a prominent Republican with presidential aspirations, to be ambassador to Vietnam to shield himself from Republican criticism if the situation in Southeast Asia worsened. But this maneuver shackled Kennedy. The president couldn't fire or rein in Lodge for fear that in 1964, a presidential candidate Lodge would accuse him of mismanaging the crisis. Like too many Democrats today, Kennedy put a higher priority on undermining Republicans than on advancing America's interests abroad. The coup went ahead and the South Vietnamese went from winning the war to losing it because of the ineptitude of the new rulers.
Historians have always heaped blame on Lyndon Johnson for Vietnam, but not always for the right reasons. Like Kennedy, Johnson assigned a higher priority to his re-election than the good of the country. In the late summer and fall of 1964, fearing that warlike behavior and words could erode his lead over Barry Goldwater in the polls, Johnson rejected the military's recommendations for powerful retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam. Portraying himself as the candidate of peace, he said that he would not send American boys to do what Asian boys could do for themselves.
We now know, thanks to new sources from the communist side, that Johnson's conduct in the summer and fall of 1964 convinced Hanoi that the Americans would not intervene if North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. This deduction, combined with the deterioration of the South Vietnamese government, led the North Vietnamese to invade the South at the end of 1964. The invasion in turn compelled the United States to begin sending hundreds of thousands of combat troops to Southeast Asia.
President Bush obviously made decisions on Iraq that have had unforeseen and unfortunate consequences. We know he received some inaccurate intelligence and that some of his subordinates provided faulty advice on how to deal with post-invasion Iraq. But we are far from knowing all of the information that was available to him or the full content of his discussions with his advisers. At this point, it appears that the Iraq war resulted from decisions that the president sincerely believed would benefit the U.S. and the peoples of the Middle East. If that is what history concludes, President Bush won't be considered the "worst" American president -- he will certainly deserve more respect than war presidents who undermined the American cause by putting re-election before the national interest.
I will, in the wingnuts' defense, point out the obvious: On any scale, Iraq is no Viet-Nam -- yet.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
How were They to Know that Going into Iraq would be abd would Create a Disaster? A Rhetorical Question
Assessments Made in 2003 Foretold Situation in IraqLink.
Intelligence Studies List Internal Violence, Terrorist Activity
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 20, 2007; A06
Two intelligence assessments from January 2003 predicted that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and subsequent U.S. occupation of Iraq could lead to internal violence and provide a boost to Islamic extremists and terrorists in the region, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials familiar with the prewar studies.
The two assessments, titled "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq" and "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq," were produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and will be a major part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's long-awaited Phase II report on prewar intelligence assessments about Iraq. The assessments were delivered to the White House and to congressional intelligence committees before the war started.
The committee chairman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and the vice chairman, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), announced earlier this month that the panel had asked Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to declassify the report for public release. Congressional sources said the two NIC assessments are to be declassified and would be part of a portion of the Phase II report that could be released within the next week.
The assessment on post-Hussein Iraq included judgments that while Iraq was unlikely to split apart, there was a significant chance that domestic groups would fight each other and that ex-regime military elements could merge with terrorist groups to battle any new government. It even talks of guerrilla warfare, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials.
The second NIC assessment discussed "political Islam being boosted and the war being exploited by terrorists and extremists elsewhere in the region," one former senior analyst said. It also suggested that fear of U.S. military dominance and occupation of a Middle East country -- one sacred to Islam -- would attract foreign Islamic fighters to the area.
The NIC assessments paint "a very sobering and, as it has turned out, mostly accurate picture of the aftermath of the invasion," according to a former senior intelligence officer familiar with the studies. He sought anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about still-classified assessments.
The former senior official said that after the NIC papers were distributed to senior government officials, he was told by one CIA briefer that a senior Defense Department official had said they were "too negative" and that the papers "did not see the possibilities" the removal of Hussein would present.
A member of the Senate committee, without disclosing the contents of the studies, said recently that the release will raise more questions about the Bush administration's lack of preparation for the war's aftermath.
In his book, "At the Center of the Storm," former CIA director George J. Tenet discussed the NIC assessments as well as prewar intelligence analyses his own agency prepared on the same issues. Some of the language in the CIA reports that Tenet describes are similar to judgments in the NIC assessments because the agency is a major contributor to such papers, according to present and former intelligence analysts.
While Tenet admits that the CIA expected Shiites in southern Iraq, "long oppressed by Saddam, to open their arms to anyone who removed him," he said agency analysts were "not among those who confidently expected coalition forces to be greeted as liberators."
Tenet writes that the initial good feeling among most Iraqis that Hussein was out of power "would last for only a short time before old rivalries and ancient ethnic tensions resurfaced." The former intelligence analyst said such views also reflected the views in the NIC paper on post-Hussein Iraq.
The NIC assessments also projected the view that a long-term Western military occupation would be widely unacceptable, particularly to the Iraqi military. It also said Iraqis would wait and see whether the new governing authority, whether foreign or Iraqi, would provide security and basic services such as water and electricity.
Tenet wrote that the NIC paper on Iraq said that "Iraqi political culture is so imbued with norms alien to the democratic experience . . . that it may resist the most vigorous and prolonged democratic treatments."
The senior intelligence official said that the prewar analysis of challenges in post-Hussein Iraq contained little in the way of classified information since it was an assessment of future situations and was almost all analysis. The assessment of regional consequences of regime change in Iraq would require deletions since it contains "comments on the policies and perspectives of some friendly governments."
The committee focused on the two NIC assessments -- rather than analyses by the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency or the State Department -- because they were written under the supervision of national intelligence officers and coordinated with all intelligence agencies. Such papers are similar to more formal National Intelligence Estimates except they are not finalized and approved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board, made up of the heads of the agencies.
OTOH, Gonzo is obviously Our Leader's choice. But then, since the goal of Justice isn't justice, any inept hack would qualify so why would Cheney need bother to get involved?
John Dean assesses Gonzo:
This week, Gonzales was again shown to have lied to Congress; his ineptitude as Attorney General has resurfaced in litigation that is going to damage the government; and after ignoring a subpoena from the Senate, he made a belated but insufficient response following an angry letter from the Senate.
It's been clear for a while - and is becoming ever clearer - that the Attorney General ought to resign, or to be fired. Now, it seems that Congress is determined to force Gonzales from office or send him to jail, whichever they can do first.
This is plainly the right move - and anyone who does not understand why Congress is insisting on getting rid of Gonzales, does not appreciate the important and sensitive role the Department of Justice has in our government.
The Latest Developments
Here, in summary, is the behavior by Gonzales that came to light this week:
In May 2006, Gonzales gave the go-ahead to the FBI to raid a Congressional office under a search warrant. Notwithstanding many previous Justice Department criminal investigations of members of Congress, never before -- in over 200 years -- had there been such a tactic employed by an Attorney General.
Rather, longstanding procedures govern what occurs when the Justice Department is seeking documents from a member of Congress, and they most certainly do not include a raid. Yet Gonzales a man with no Washington experience before coming to town with George W. Bush and apparently little common sense, ignored those procedures, and the important separation-of-powers concerns that lie behind them. Despite the respect due from one branch to another, he treated a Congressman like a common criminal.
The result has been that Gonzales has tied his own Department's investigation into knots, because he did not understand what he was doing. On May 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments in the case of Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2133 v. United States, the ongoing appeal emanating from the raid.
Also on May 15, Attorney General Gonzales stiffed the Senate Judiciary Committee when it followed traditional procedures in asking him for documents. Previously, the Committee had asked Gonzales informally to produce documents relating to the White House's involvement in the firing of United States Attorneys. It received no response.
Then, on May 2, the Committee issued a subpoena for the documents, requesting that Gonzales either appear on or before May 15 to explain why no documents were being produced, or submit the requested documents. Gonzales simply ignored the subpoena -- providing no response at all to the committee, even an indication of why he was not complying.
The Chairman and ranking Republican then wrote a "We've got contempt of Congress on our minds" type letter to Gonzales, which resulted in a token production of documents which are almost as insulting as his non-response.
Finally, also on May 15, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the extraordinary activities of President Bush, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and then-White House Counsel Gonzales in their effort to thwart Comey's rightful insistence that the Administration comply with a federal statute.
Comey - who was serving as acting attorney general - withheld approval for the White House scheme to ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's prohibitions against domestic electronic surveillance. But Bush, Card, and Gonzales overturned his ruling, deciding simply to flout Congress's law, rather than even deigning to seek its modification.
Comey's testimony was not only damning in its own right, but it also put the lie to Gonzales's earlier testimony on this subject. And members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have called Gonzales on the clear conflict.
Each of these instances of Gonzales's misconduct deserves to be flushed out a bit further, in order to explain the damage this man is doing to the government. I am going to focus on the Attorney General's remarkable ineptitude in authorizing a raid on Congress, but will comment on his other behavior as well.
The culmination of Gonzales's incompetence, dissimulation, and hubris is shocking. The fact that Bush keeps him is testimony to Bush's own incompetence, dissimulation and hubris which are no longer shocking, but rather standard procedure.
Gonzales's Pattern of Condescending Behavior
Severing as White House Counsel, Washington government rookie Gonzales was politically baptized in the atmosphere of the first six years of the Bush Administration, when Republicans controlled the Congress. The job of Attorney General, then filled by John Ashcroft, must have looked easy to Gonzales -- with the GOP congressional leaders running Capitol Hill as if they were all on the executive branch payroll. The Republican Congress simply did whatever the White House requested.
Gonzales watched how Vice President Cheney and his "Lets see how we can trump Congress today" counsel David Addington sent the Government Accountability Office (GAO) back up to the Hill with its tail between its legs, after it had attempted to undertake oversight of executive branch activities. Cheney refused to provide GAO with information about his task force, which was developing the nation's energy policy in a way largely dictated by the energy industry. Congressional Republicans refused to back up GAO's efforts to litigate the scope of its investigative powers and the Republican judges that dominate the federal judiciary backed Cheney up, all the way to the Supreme Court.
Although the Democrats have taken control of Congress, the Administration is proceeding as if nothing has changed - and Gonzales is clearly aware of that. The Administration resists providing any information requested, almost without exception. Letters from the chairs of Congressional committees are treated like junk mail and ignored. Gonzales sends low-level witnesses to testify before Congress, and they provide minimal if not misleading information. Administration witnesses are uncooperative, and have even been known to walk out of hearings when asked to remain for further questioning.
But Gonzales's ingenuousness, his polarization of the Department of Justice, and his dissembling are all coming back to haunt him now.
Gonzales Ordered the FBI's Historic Rayburn Building Raid
At dusk on a Saturday in May 2006, at about 7:15 p.m., and operating under the personal approval of Gonzales, not less than fifteen FBI agents wearing business suits arrived at the main entrance of the Rayburn House Office Building to exercise a court- approved search warrant. The FBI agents demanded entrance to Room 2133, the offices of Louisiana Congressman William J. Jefferson, and the Capitol Hill Police, who guard the building, let them in. Eighteen hour later, at about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, the agents departed with an estimated 19,000 pages of documents and digital copies of computer drives.
Congressman Jefferson was, it appears, in deep trouble: He had been videotaped taking a $100,000 bribe in $100 bills from an FBI informant (of which $90,000 was later found in the freezer at his home). Yet what was done to him set a baleful precedent, and Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were understandably outraged. Neither Attorney General Gonzales, nor anyone else in the Department of Justice or FBI, had even deigned to inform the Speaker of these actions.
"The Justice Department was wrong to seize records from Congressman Jefferson's office in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers, the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, and the practice of the last 219 years," Mr. Hastert and Ms. Pelosi declared. It is possibly the only thing that they have ever agreed upon, and their colleagues on both sides of the House were with them.
Aggrieved by this executive branch invasion of the legislative branch's territory, Speaker Hastert must have given President Bush an earful when they were together a few days later, for a speech in Chicago. Afterward, the President ordered that the seized documents be sealed and placed in the safe-keeping of the Solicitor General until the matter was resolved. This, however, did little to please the Congress about the tactics that had been employed by the FBI and Gonzales's Justice Department - and it brought the investigation of Jefferson to a halt.
Was the raid actually a constitutional violation? Probably not - but it was an important violation of tradition. A reporter for the Washington Post, after talking with experts, described the raid as "an aggressive tactic that broke a long-standing political custom," and concluded that "while it might violate the spirit of the Constitution, it might not violate the letter of the document."
At issue is the Speech and Debate Clause. "An official legislative act is immune, but interference with anything beyond that is not covered by the constitutional provision," Michael J. Glennon, a former legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told the Post. The Post then added, "the taboo against searching congressional offices was a matter of tradition, not black-letter constitutional law." "It's really a matter of etiquette," Yale law professor (and FindLaw columnist) Akhil Reed Amar added.
Delaying the Investigation of Jefferson by Testing the Speech and Debate Clause
If Gonzales had looked at the prosecution guidelines for U.S. Attorneys, or if he had been properly briefed, he would have understood that it was all but certain that resorting to the FBI raid would impose tremendous delay in the investigation. It should have been clear from the start that the target of the investigation, Congressman Jefferson (who won reelection in November 2006 - thanks to Gonzales's actions), was certain to contest the FBI's actions under the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. Had Gonzales simply called Speaker Hastert to explain the situation, surely some arrangement could have, and would have, been worked out. No member of Congress, after all, believes that any Congressperson, William Jefferson included, is above the law. And it was well understood that Jefferson was hardly the first member of Congress to be investigated by the FBI and Justice Department while in office. In the past, there have been many investigations into offenses similar to Jefferson's, and many convictions. But never before Alberto Gonzales arrived in the Attorney General's office had the Department authorized a raid on a Congressional office, particularly a raid without first seeking the cooperation of Congressional leaders in an attempt to obviate the need for such a radicial tactic.
Gonzales's violation of tradition gave Congressman Jefferson powerful allies in his fight. A Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, composed of the House leadership, filed an amicus brief to join Jefferson in contesting the action. Moreover, the presiding judge -- Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Thomas Hogan -- recognized that the "unprecedented search of Congressman Jefferson's office has raised questions of serious constitutional magnitude that directly implicate the fundamental workings of the federal government." Nonetheless, Judge Hogan - correctly, I suspect -- ruled on July 10, 2006 that the Speech and Debate Clause did not protect the Congressman's papers from the FBI raid.
Because the ruling implicates separation-of-powers issues, and represents an institutional loss for Congress, when Jefferson appealed, he still had high-powered allies. That appealed was argued on May 15, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Joining in an amicus brief were former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich and Democratic Speaker Tom Foley. Abner Mikva - a former Congressperson who later became a D.C. Circuit judge -- also joined an amicus brief. The upshot is that, thanks to Gonzales's gross miscalculation, William Jefferson has powerful allies helping maintain his freedom - even though his guilt seems quite plain in light of overwhelming evidence inculpating him, which he has never explained.
When the D.C. Circuit hands down its ruling, I will revisit the larger issues involved. For now, I'll simply say that I fully anticipate that the court will support the executive branch's actions. A petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court will likely follow, as Gonzales has created a situation where much more is at stake than Congressman Jefferson's freedom.
The raid should never have happened, and the case should never have come to court. Under any other Attorney General, it would not have.
Blowback from Rayburn House Office Building vs. United States
What will happen when Congress loses in Rayburn House Office Building vs. United States - which I believe they will? It's very likely they will enact into law the informal understanding on this matter that has existed for over two hundred years. These are the kind of problems that are better left to the tradition of informal resolution, but Gonzales's actions have precluded that option in the future.
This longstanding tradition was described by former Solicitor and Deputy General Counsel of the House form 1984 to 1995, Charles Tiefer, -- now a University of Baltimore law professor -- when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Professor Tiefer explained a number of investigations undertaken by the Justice Department of members of Congress (he mentioned a half dozen members, as well as the ABSCAM sting by the FBI). However, he also noted the Gonzales raid "had all the elements of unconstitutional executive intimidation. It breached … a previously sacrosanct constitutional tradition without … a showing of unique necessity." He said it ignored "the House's protocols," because, among other things, it was preceded by "no prior notice to the House leadership, nor any kind of consent of consultation."
Members and Leaders of both parties have expressed a determination to codify these procedures, in order to protect the separation of powers, lest the executive branch treat its co-equal as less than what it is. Thus, Gonzales's approval of this raid, in the end and ironically, has provoked a battle that the Justice Department will lose. In the future it will be much more difficult to get the institutional cooperation of Congress with such investigations. This will hurt the government because it will hamper the Justice Department and not make the Congress look good. But Congress must protect the separation of powers which Gonzales has simply ignored.
If Congress Operated Like Gonzales
Recently, Gonzales's refused to fully comply with the subpoena for Karl Rove's emails regarding his involvement in the firing of the U.S. Attorneys. His refusal caused me to mull what it would be like if Congress were to proceed as Gonzales has -without a shred of respect for the other branches of government.
Congress could hold Gonzales in contempt by a simple majority vote (and that would not be difficult to obtain, given the feelings in both chambers about this Attorney General). It could hold him in contempt for his failure to respond to the subpoena he virtually ignored, or for his lies to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I will explain shortly.
Congress has two routes to travel, once it holds any person in contempt. It can proceed by the statutory route, which requires the Department of Justice to handle the prosecution. But since the Attorney General could block that route, the Congress would have good reason to use its inherent powers and procedures, instead.
Thus, Congress could --taking a page from Gonzales's playbook -- send fifteen plainclothes Capitol Hill police officers to arrest the Attorney General and take him into custody. Either the House or Senate, alone, would have the power to hold him until the end of the 110th Congress. In truth, a majority of either chamber of Congress has more power than a president, the Department of Justice, and federal courts to take summary actions against those who refuse to honor its processes.
Of course, this is not likely to happen. Congress has the power to do so if it so chooses. But because most of those in Washington with experience do not think like Gonzales, they will exhibit respect for interbranch customs instead of simply jailing the Attorney General.
Did Comey's Testimony Show that Gonzales Lied to Congress?
As noted above, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on May 15, that in March 2004, while Gonzales was still serving as White House Counsel, Gonzales aggressively attempted to undermine the Department of Justice's well-grounded position on the illegality of warrantless wiretaps relating to the war on terror.
Comey testified that, at the time, Attorney General John Ashcroft had been hospitalized and was recovering from emergency surgery, and Comey was acting attorney general. Comey refused to certify the legality of Bush's eavesdropping program, based on the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel. So Gonzales - apparently at the direction of President Bush - went to the hospital to get Ashcroft to overturn Comey's decision. However, Ashcroft, who was still in intensive care recovering, reminded Gonzales that Comey was acting attorney general, rebuffing the effort.
In a May 16 letter from Democratic Senators Feingold, Schumer, Kennedy, and Durbin, Gonzales was asked, "In light of Mr. Comey's testimony yesterday, do you stand by your 2006 Senate and House testimony, or do you wish to revise it?" The Democratic Senators pointed out that Comey's testimony appeared to contradict Gonzales's account in February 2006, when he told two congressional committees that there had "not been any serious disagreement about the program" within the Administration.
A Justice Department spokesman, responding to media inquiries, said that Gonzales' testimony "was and remains accurate." The spokesman also added a remarkable spin: "While the attorney general provided this testimony in an unclassified setting [referring to the testimony mentioned in the letter], it is important to consider that the fact and nature of such disagreements have been briefed to the intelligence committees."
Apparently, the spokesman was suggesting that it was fine for Gonzales to make a false statement before Congress if he believed true statements on the same matter were being made in a classified setting. However, I cannot find any such exception in the false statements statute, which simply says: "Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully-- (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; [or] (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation…."
It strikes me, then, that the Justice Department has effectively admitted that the Attorney General lied. It further strikes me that Gonzales's repeated dissembling has earned him a Special Counsel investigation. But, unfortunately, that is an appointment the Attorney General himself would have to make. And currently, there is no deputy attorney general. As an interium action, it appears that the U.S. Senate may pass a resolution of "no confidence" in the Attorney General, so members of the Senate can go on record that they do not approve of Gonzales's behavior even if President Bush does.
It is painful to watch this implosion at the Department of Justice. If the Senate does not at minimum adopt a no confidence resolution, I wonder how much longer the career attorneys in the Department will stand for it, before they organize enough support, among themselves, to tell Gonzales that either he goes, or they go - which would simply shut down the Department of Justice.
Any death arising from the Iraq fandango is per se tragic as the whole thing is so pointless and was unnecessary had Our Leaders not been crazy.
Combine the two and you get this.
More here and here.
So here are some true believers who believe that Falwell was not a good Christian (I understate their position, actually):
And here's his greatest hits. We report, you decide -- whether he's a scumbag or what (of course, Falwell goes way back to the Nixon years...:
March 1980: Falwell tells an Anchorage rally about a conversation with President Carter at the White House. Commenting on a January breakfast meeting, Falwell claimed to have asked Carter why he had “practicing homosexuals” on the senior staff at the White House. According to Falwell, Carter replied, “Well, I am president of all the American people, and I believe I should represent everyone.” When others who attended the White House event insisted that the exchange never happened, Falwell responded that his account “was not intended to be a verbatim report,” but rather an “honest portrayal” of Carter’s position.Link.
August 1980: After Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith tells a Dallas Religious Right gathering that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” Falwell gives a similar view. “I do not believe,” he told reporters, “that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew.” After a meeting with an American Jewish Committee rabbi, he changed course, telling an interviewer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “God hears the prayers of all persons…. God hears everything.”
July 1984: Falwell is forced to pay gay activist Jerry Sloan $5,000 after losing a court battle. During a TV debate in Sacramento, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches “brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” When Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if he could produce it. Sloan did so, Falwell refused to pay and Sloan successfully sued. Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the Jewish judge in the case was prejudiced. He lost again and was forced to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and court fees.
October 1987: The Federal Election Commission fines Falwell for transferring $6.7 million in funds intended for his ministry to political committees.
February 1988: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a $200,000 jury award to Falwell for “emotional distress” he suffered because of a Hustler magazine parody. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, usually a Falwell favorite, wrote the unanimous opinion in Hustler v. Falwell, ruling that the First Amendment protects free speech.
February 1993: The Internal Revenue Service determines that funds from Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour program were illegally funneled to a political action committee. The IRS forced Falwell to pay $50,000 and retroactively revoked the Old Time Gospel Hour’s tax-exempt status for 1986-87.
March 1993: Despite his promise to Jewish groups to stop referring to America as a “Christian nation,” Falwell gives a sermon saying, “We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours.”
1994-1995: Falwell is criticized for using his “Old Time Gospel Hour” to hawk a scurrilous video called “The Clinton Chronicles” that makes a number of unsubstantiated charges against President Bill Clinton — among them that he is a drug addict and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas. Despite claims he had no ties to the project, evidence surfaced that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000 paid to a group called Citizens for Honest Government (CHG). CHG’s Pat Matrisciana later admitted that Falwell and he staged an infomercial interview promoting the video in which a silhouetted reporter said his life was in danger for investigating Clinton. (Matrisciana himself posed as the reporter.) “That was Jerry’s idea to do that,” Matrisciana recalled. “He thought that would be dramatic.”
November 1997: Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University’s financial woes.
April 1998: Confronted on national television with a controversial quote from America Can Be Saved!, a published collection of his sermons, Falwell denies having written the book or had anything to do with it. In the 1979 work, Falwell wrote, “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Despite Falwell’s denial, Sword of the Lord Publishing, which produced the book, confirms that Falwell wrote it.
January 1999: Falwell tells a pastors’ conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist prophesied in the Bible is alive today and “of course he’ll be Jewish.”
February 1999: Falwell becomes the object of nationwide ridicule after his National Liberty Journal newspaper issues a “parents alert” warning that Tinky Winky, a character on the popular PBS children’s show “Teletubbies,” might be gay.
September 2001: Falwell blames Americans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
November 2005: Falwell spearheads campaign to resist “war on Christmas.”
February 2007: Falwell describes global warming as a conspiracy orchestrated by Satan, liberals, and The Weather Channel.
The 10 Craziest Things Rev. Jerry Falwell Ever SaidLink.
10. "The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."
9. "The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews."
8. "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
7. "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers ... AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."
6. "Nothing will motivate conservative evangelical Christians to vote Republican in the 2008 presidential election more than a Democratic nominee named Hillary Rodham Clinton - not even a run by the devil himself ... I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate. She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." --at a "Values Voter Summit"
5. "Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them."
4. "Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America."
3. "He is purple — the gay-pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay pride symbol." –from a "Parents Alert" issued in Jerry Falwell's National Liberty Journal, warning that "Tinky Winky," a character on the popular PBS children's show, "Teletubbies," may be gay
2. "You've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord."
1. "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" --on the 9/11 attacks
And Frank Rich's obit for Falwell is here.
Finally, a discussion of Falwell's Christian acts (not):
Like other prominent Republican figures, Falwell entered into a behind-the-scenes alliance with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon even as the self-proclaimed Messiah was denouncing America as “Satan’s harvest” and vowing to incorporate the United States into a worldwide theocratic empire that would eradicate all individuality.
Falwell sought to conceal his relationship with Moon, sometimes denying (falsely) that he had benefited from Moon's financial help or that he had been photographed with the cult leader. Other times, Falwell sought to justify his acceptance of Moon’s largesse.
“If the American Atheists Society or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an unrestricted gift to any of my ministries,” Falwell said in response to a question about Moon’s financial assistance, “be assured I will operate on Billy Sunday’s philosophy. The Devil’s had it long enough, and quickly cash the check.” [See “Moon-Related Funds Filter to Evangelicals,” Christianity Today, Feb. 9, 1998]
Falwell’s acceptance of Moon’s mysterious money was first disclosed at Consortiumnews.com in fall 1997. In a pattern common to Moon’s financial operations, the Korean cult leader stepped in when a leading American conservative, in this case Falwell, was facing potential financial ruin.
In 1995, the jewel of Falwell’s life’s work – Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia – was facing bankruptcy. Then, seemingly out of the blue, money became available through a small non-profit organization to buy up a large chunk of the school’s debt.
On Jan. 28, 1995, a beaming Rev. Falwell told his Old Time Gospel Hour congregation news that seemed heaven sent. Falwell hailed two Virginia businessmen as the financial saviors of debt-ridden Liberty University.
"They had to borrow money, hock their houses, hock everything," Falwell said. "Thank God for friends like Dan Reber and Jimmy Thomas." Falwell's congregation rose as one to applaud. The star of the moment was Daniel Reber, who was standing behind Falwell. Thomas was not present.
Reber and Thomas earned Falwell's public gratitude by excusing the fundamentalist Christian college of about one-half of its $73 million debt. In the late 1980s, that flood of red ink had forced Falwell to abandon his Moral Majority political organization and the debt had nearly drowned Liberty University in bankruptcy.
Reber and Thomas had come to Falwell's rescue in the nick of time. Their non-profit Christian Heritage Foundation of Forest, Virginia, had bought a large portion of Liberty's debt for $2.5 million, a fraction of its face value. Thousands of small religious investors who had invested in church construction bonds through a Texas company were the big losers.
But Falwell shed no tears. He told local reporters that the moment was "the greatest single day of financial advantage" in the school's history. Left unmentioned in the happy sermon was the identity of Falwell’s real guardian angel, the person who actually was protecting Falwell's financial interests.
Falwell’s secret benefactor was Rev. Moon, who is controversial with many fundamentalist Christians because of his strange Biblical interpretations and his brainwashing tactics that have torn thousands of young people from their families. By the mid-1990s, Moon also had grown harshly anti-American.
So, covertly, Moon helped bail out Liberty University through one of his front groups which funneled $3.5 million to the Reber-Thomas Christian Heritage Foundation, the non-profit that had purchased the school's debt.
I discovered this Moon-Falwell connection while looking for something else: how much Moon's Women's Federation for World Peace had paid former President George H.W. Bush for a series of speeches in Asia in 1995. I obtained the federation's Internal Revenue Service records but discovered that Bush's undisclosed speaking fee was buried in a line item of $13.6 million for conference expenses.
There was, however, a listing for a $3.5 million "educational" grant to the Christian Heritage Foundation. A call to the Virginia corporate records office confirmed that the foundation was the one run by Reber and Thomas.
In a subsequent interview, the Women Federation's vice president Susan Fefferman confirmed that the $3.5 million grant had gone to "Mr. Falwell's people" for the benefit of Liberty University. "It was Dan Reber," she said. But she could not recall much else about the grant, even though it was by far the largest single grant awarded by the federation that year.
For details on the grant, Fefferman referred me to Keith Cooperrider, the federation's treasurer. Cooperrider was also the chief financial officer of Moon's Washington Times and a longtime Unification Church functionary. Cooperrider did not return several phone calls seeking comment. Falwell and Reber also failed to respond to my calls.
But I was able to learn more about the secret Falwell-Moon relationship from a civil lawsuit that was on file in the Circuit Court of Bedford County, a community in southwestern Virginia. That evidence suggested that Falwell had solicited Moon’s help.
Two of Reber's former business associates alleged that Reber and Falwell flew to South Korea on Jan. 9, 1994, on a seven-day "secret trip" to meet "with representatives of the Unification Church."
The court document said Reber and Falwell were accompanied to South Korea by Ronald S. Godwin, who had been executive director of Falwell's Moral Majority before signing on as vice president of Moon's Washington Times.
Reber, Falwell and Godwin also had discussions at Liberty University in 1993 with Dong Moon Joo, one of Moon's right-hand men and president of The Washington Times, according to the court records.
Though Reber was queried about the purposes of the Moon-connected meetings, he settled the business dispute before responding to interrogatories or submitting to a deposition. He did deny any legal wrongdoing.
But Moon's secret financial ties to Falwell raised sensitive political questions. For instance, did the $3.5 million from Moon's front group give Falwell the means to become a national pitchman for "The Clinton Chronicles" and other conspiracy-mongering videos which fingered President and Mrs. Clinton in a wide range of serious crimes?
During the period of the Liberty bail-out, Falwell was using his expensive TV time to hawk the conspiracy videos. Many of the lurid right-wing conspiracy theories were later discredited, including allegations connecting the Clintons to the death of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster.
But the Falwell-promoted videos did feed a Clinton scandal fever that helped the Republicans seize control of Congress in 1994. The Clinton-scandal impetus eventually contributed to Clinton’s impeachment in the House in 1998 and ultimately created the conditions for George W. Bush’s hard-fought ascension to the presidency in 2001.
Moon's largesse was suspect, too, because Moon has never publicly accounted for his mysterious sources of wealth. Much of the money apparently comes from Asian and South American businesses with links to drug trafficking, money laundering and other criminal enterprises.
Falwell also may have been shy about disclosing his secret alliance with Moon because the Korean's theology upsets many Christians. Moon asserts that Satan corrupted mankind by sexually seducing Eve in the Garden of Eden and that only through sexual purification can mankind be saved. In line with that doctrine, Moon says Jesus failed in his mission to save mankind because he did not procreate.
Moon sees himself as a second Messiah who will not make the same mistake. He has engaged in sex with a variety of women over the decades, including some as part of sexual purification rituals. The total number of his offspring remains a point of debate inside his Unification Church.
Moon’s continuing practice of selecting the spouses of his followers and strictly controlling their sexual activities derives from Moon’s earlier more hands-on practices. [See Robert Parry, Secrecy & Privilege.]
In the 1990s, Moon's rhetoric also turned stridently anti-American, another problem for U.S. conservatives.
On May 1, 1997, for instance, Moon told a group of followers that "the country that represents Satan's harvest is America." In other sermons, he has vowed that his victorious movement will "digest" any American who tries to maintain his or her individuality.
Still, despite his controversial remarks, Moon continued to buy friends on the American Right – as well as others among African-American religious figures – by spreading around lots of money.
The totals are estimated in the billions of dollars, with much of it targeted on political infrastructure: direct-mail operations, video services for campaign ads, professional operatives and right-wing media outlets. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The GOP’s $3 Billion Propaganda Organ.”]
Through The Washington Times and its affiliated publications -- Insight magazine and The World & I -- Moon not only showcased conservative opinions, but he created seemingly legitimate conduits to funnel money to individuals and companies that he sought to influence.
In the early 1980s, for instance, The Washington Times hired the New Right's direct-mail whiz Richard Viguerie to conduct a pricy direct-mail subscription drive. The business boosted Viguerie's profit margin.
Another element of Moon's strategy was to approach a conservative leader who was in financial trouble. Moon quietly infused money, gaining the leader's gratitude.
Again, Viguerie was an example of that tactic. When he fell on hard times in the late 1980s, Moon directed more business his way and had a corporation run by Moon's lieutenant, Bo Hi Pak, buy one of Viguerie's properties for $10 million. [ Orange CountyRegister, Dec. 21, 1987 / Washington Post, Oct. 15, 1989]
With Moon's timely intervention, Viguerie survived financially and remained an important fixture in conservative political campaigns. For some smaller enterprises, Moon-connected business represented a huge percentage of total income.
That was the case with Falwell's friends, Dan Reber and Jimmy Thomas, who – besides their non-profit – ran a small for-profit company called Direct Mail Communications. According to court records, $5 million – more than one-third of its income in one year – came from a direct-mail subscription drive for Moon's Insight magazine.
From time to time, Moon's penetration of conservative ranks raised red flags among Republicans. In 1983, the GOP's moderate Ripon Society charged that the New Right had entered "an alliance of expediency" with Moon's church.
Ripon's chairman, Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, released a study which alleged that the College Republican National Committee "solicited and received" money from Moon's Unification Church in 1981. The study also accused Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media, an aggressive press watchdog group, of benefiting from low-cost or volunteer workers supplied by Moon.
Leach said the Unification Church has "infiltrated the New Right and the party it [the New Right] wants to control, the Republican Party, and infiltrated the media as well."
Leach's news conference was broken up when then-college GOP leader Grover Norquist accused Leach of lying. (In the nearly quarter century since then, Norquist emerged as a powerful right-wing lobbyist with close ties to leading Republicans, including White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.)
For its part, The Washington Times dismissed Leach's charges as "flummeries" and mocked the Ripon Society as a "discredited and insignificant left-wing offshoot of the Republican Party."
Despite periodic fretting over Moon's influence, conservatives continued to accept his deep-pocket assistance.
When President Ronald Reagan and White House aide Oliver North were scratching for support for the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s, The Washington Times established a contra fund-raising operation. Moon's international group, CAUSA, also dispatched operatives to Central America to assist the contras.
By the mid-1980s, Moon's Unification Church had carved out a niche as an acceptable part of the American Right. In one speech to his followers, Moon boasted that "without knowing it, even President Reagan is being guided by Father [Moon]."
Yet, Moon also made clear that his longer-range goal was the destruction of the U.S. Constitution and America's democratic form of government.
"History will make the position of Reverend Moon clear, and his enemies, the American population and government will bow down to him," Moon said, speaking of himself in the third person. "That is Father's tactic, the natural subjugation of the American government and population."
Though Moon's money sources remained shrouded in secrecy, his cash gave the Right an important edge in attacking its enemies and defending its friends.
After the Iran-Contra scandal exploded in 1986, The Washington Times and other Moon operations battled aggressively to protect Reagan's White House and its key operative Oliver North.
Godwin, the link between Falwell's Moral Majority and Moon's Washington Times, raised funds for North through a group called the Interamerican Partnership, which was a fore-runner to North's own Freedom Alliance. [ Common Cause Magazine, Fall 1993]
Another Moon-connected group, the American Freedom Coalition, also went to bat for North and later George H.W. Bush. According to Andrew Leigh, who worked for a Moon front called Global Image Associates, AFC broadcast a pro-North video, "Ollie North: Fight for Freedom," more than 600 times on more than 100 TV stations.
Leigh quoted one AFC official as saying that AFC received $5 million to $6 million from business interests associated with Moon. AFC also bragged that it helped put George H.W. Bush into the White House in 1988 by distributing 30 million pieces of political literature. [Washington Post, Oct. 15, 1989]
Direct Mail Communications, the firm owned by Reber and Thomas, also aided North in building his mailing lists. The firm did direct-mail work as well for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican National Committee, and the National Rifle Association, The Roanoke Times & World News reported Nov. 2, 1994.
The Falwell-connected story of Direct Mail Communications, a small company based in a strip-mall shopping center off Route 221 in rural Forest, Virginia, further underscored how intertwined Moon's operations were with American conservatism.
Reber and Thomas founded the company in September 1989, roughly the same time that Falwell's Liberty University began trying to refinance its worsening debt. Also, in 1989, Charles P. Keith, Roger M. Ott and Ronald Godwin – all Washington Times executives – created another firm called Mail America.
According to court records, Godwin introduced Keith and Ott to Reber and Thomas. The get-to-know-you quickly led to a deal. Keith, Ott and Godwin – executives on Moon’s payroll – bought Direct Mail Communications [DMC] for $2.5 million on Oct. 6, 1989, even though the company had existed for only one month. Reber and Thomas were retained to run the business.
Inside the firm, however, tensions grew. In 1991, Godwin left, selling his share of the business to Keith and Ott.
Reber, who was getting a salary of $1,000 a day or $365,000 a year, spent too much time on discount work for conservative causes, Keith and Ott later complained. In one court filing, they alleged that a paid DMC staffer was sent to help a conservative Republican named Gene Keith run for Congress in Florida.
Falwell's Liberty University, Old Time Gospel Hour and Liberty Alliance also got discounts on their direct-mail solicitations, the owners charged. "Reber and Thomas never even collected an amount sufficient to pay all of DMC's actual postage expenses," Keith and Ott stated.
By summer 1993, Reber began long absences from DMC while working on the bail-out of Liberty University, according to the court papers. Keith and Ott alleged that Falwell, Reber and Godwin met with The Washington Times' publisher Dong Moon Joo in Lynchburg in 1993 and flew to South Korea in January 1994 for other meetings with Moon's representatives.
Reber's travels took him to "South America, Montana, Europe, Russia and the Republic of Korea," Keith and Ott said. Meanwhile, DMC was sliding into "extreme financial distress."
So, after Reber returned from the South Korean trip, Keith and Ott fired him. That prompted Reber to file a wrongful termination suit in Bedford Country Circuit Court on July 20, 1994. Keith and Ott countered by filing a fraud case against Reber and Thomas in Roanoke federal court in September 1994.
In Moon’s Orbit
For his part, Falwell, who once boasted that he had spurned a $1 million speaking fee from Moon in the mid-1980s, now found himself caught in Moon's orbit.
On July 26, 1994, Falwell prominently sat at the head table for Moon's inauguration of yet another front group, the Youth Federation for World Peace. Falwell posed for a group photo with Moon and other dignitaries. Next to Falwell stood Ronald Reagan's daughter, Maureen.
Despite the DMC court battles, Oliver North still sent the direct-mail company some business during his 1994 Senate campaign. According to FEC records, North paid DMC $138,561 for its direct-mail work.
DMC also extended North the most credit of any vendor. When the $19 million campaign ended with North's narrow defeat, his largest single debt – $89,033 – was to DMC.
At about that same time, in January 1995, Reber and Thomas were completing their purchase of about one-half of Liberty University's debt, much of it for a fraction of the face value.
The big losers included 2,500 bondholders who invested in the Texas-based Church & Institutional Facilities Development Corp., which had owned $12 million of the school's debt. Reber and Thomas scooped up the bonds at a bankruptcy fire sale for about 20 percent of their value, or $2.5 million.
Many bondholders were "mom and pops cashing in their IRA money because their local minister and Falwell's letters said they'd be doing God's work," said Doug Hudman, a lawyer in the case. "The true victims are the mom-and-pop believers who think their money was going to a good cause. All it was doing was going to fund Mr. Falwell's continued indebtedness. It's kind of sickening."
But Falwell told reporters that it was just a question of luck. "When the bankruptcy trustee called in all the notes and put them up for sale, anyone could have bought them," Falwell said. "That was fortunate for us."
After months of complicated legal maneuvering, Dan Reber also seemed fortunate enough to win out in the DMC power struggle. He took over the direct-mail factory in Forest, Virginia, under the name, "Mail America."
But behind the good fortune that blessed the Rev. Falwell and his friends was a timely contribution of $3.5 million from the Rev. Moon's Women's Federation for World Peace.
No one who actually knew what was going on could possibly think terribly well of Rudy. He is total and complete trash. (Don't mean that in absolute terms, on a human being scale, but on the lower politico scale.)
In 1993, Giuliani rode to power on the wave of a racist backlash against African American Mayor David Dinkins. Once in office, Giuliani was unapologetic in appealing to racist stereotypes to drive through his policies. During his time as mayor, Giuliani led a racist war on working and poor New Yorkers that slashed social services, threw women and children off welfare, attacked union rights and spurred an epidemic of police brutality.Link.
Giuliani has made it clear that he intends to carry this "tough on crime" agenda--now repackaged as "tough on terrorism"--into the presidential campaign.
In a recent New Hampshire appearance, he took a page out of Dick Cheney's book, suggesting that the U.S. would be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack if the Democrats were elected.
"If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense," he said. "We've got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We're going to wave the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we'll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense."
Another carryover from the Giuliani years in New York City is his blatant appeal to racism. While campaigning in the South, this "social moderate" defended flying the Confederate flag as an issue of "state's rights"--the rallying cry of the Jim Crow South 40 years ago.
As for his supposedly liberal credentials on social issues, Giuliani has shown that he is willing to shift positions to appease a right-wing audience.
For example, while he has long been known as a supporter of abortion rights, Giuliani recently backed the Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure misnamed "partial birth abortion" by the right. Giuliani says that if he were president, he would appoint "strict constructionist" judges--a phrase that many consider code for overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
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IF ANYONE wants to know what a Giuliani presidency would really look like, they should go back to his years as mayor of New York during the 1990s.
Giuliani is credited with an urban renewal in NYC that cut crime rates and revived the economy and tourism. While he did create a Disneyland version of NYC, complete with a redeveloped Times Square and booming Wall Street, the reality of what happened to working-class and poor New Yorkers during his time in office is a much darker story.
Giuliani came to power in the context of a racially divided city. During his election campaign, he spoke at a police "protest" --in reality, a drunken brawl of white cops--held on the steps of City Hall against the establishment of a civilian complaint review board. Complete and unapologetic support for the NYPD became a hallmark of his tenure.
As soon as he took office, Giuliani announced a "quality of life" campaign, claiming that by going after small-time offenses, the city would be able to root out more violent crimes.
The symbol of this campaign was Giuliani's plan to drive "squeegee men"--homeless people who wiped windshields at traffic stops for money--from NYC streets. Giuliani's cops went after them with a ruthlessness that foreshadowed much greater brutality to come. As the campaign got underway, an off-duty cop shot and killed an unarmed "squeegee man"--and defended his actions on the basis that the man was a "criminal."
Treating misdemeanors as equal to more serious crimes meant ratcheting up the level of violence and repression in poor, minority communities. The underlying assumption of the new "stop and frisk" policy was that all Blacks and Latinos were potential criminals. A report by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer found that Latinos were stopped 39 percent more often than whites under the policy, and Blacks were stopped 23 percent more often.
The year before Giuliani took office, 720 people were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana-related offenses; by 2000, the number had jumped to 59,495--an increase of 4,549 percent. During a 10-month period in 1996, 50,000 people detained on misdemeanors were strip-searched by the Department of Corrections.
These kinds of aggressive policies gave a green light to the NYPD to terrorize Black and Latino communities.
When unarmed cousins Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega were shot in the back and killed while they lay face down on the floor in 1995, Giuliani called the officers and congratulated them on their performance. When Anthony's mother, Margarita Rosario, began organizing in protest, Giuliani told her that her son died because she was a bad mother.
This attitude was exemplified most starkly when cops tortured and sodomized Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station in 1997. Even after the killing of Amadou Diallo--shot 41 times in the hallway of his building in 1999--Giuliani maintained his defense of the police and his opposition to any kind of reform of the NYPD.
Giuliani and his supporters defended these actions by claiming that "tough on crime" policies were crucial to a decline in crime statistics. But a look at the statistics shows that the drop in crime began 36 months before Giuliani took office--while Dinkins was still mayor. In fact, the 1990s saw a national reduction in crime, due largely to demographic and economic changes.
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IN REALITY, the dramatic escalation of repression was needed to manage a city that saw an expansion of economic and social polarization during the Giuliani era.
Despite the Wall Street boom of the 1990s, living standards for working class and poor New Yorkers actually declined. By 2000, one in four New Yorkers lived in poverty--basically the same rate as during the 1989-1992 recession a decade before, and nearly double the national average. That same year, New York's homeless population reached its highest point since 1989, and the city had a shortfall of 390,000 affordable housing units for low-income renters.
These statistics were the result of deliberate policies on the part of the Giuliani administration. Throughout successive budgets, Giuliani cut funding for municipal employees, schools and other social services, while cutting taxes for the wealthy and Wall Street.
Some of the most devastating attacks came through Giuliani's restructuring of the local welfare system.
In one of the most sweeping attacks on recipients, Giuliani converted welfare offices to "job centers," introduced "workfare" requirements, cut funding and actively discouraged and prevented poor people from getting the benefits they were entitled to. In 1994, 27 percent of applicants were rejected from welfare. By November 1999, 75 percent of job center applicants and 52 percent of applicants overall were rejected. In the four years following welfare reform, the food stamp rolls were reduced by 35 percent.
These figures weren't the result of recipients moving off welfare into new jobs. In fact, of the first 5,300 people to enter the city's job search program, only 265 people were placed.
Instead, people were forced off the rolls and into the Work Experience Program (WEP) to perform previously unionized jobs at sweatshop wages. Thus, between 1991 and 1999, the WEP workforce in the Parks Department grew from 170 to 2,389, while regular Parks employees dropped from 4,285 to 2,101. WEP workers in the Parks Department made $1.80 an hour--compared to an average wage for Parks employee of $8.65.
At the same time, 13,000 students in the CUNY public education system were forced out of college and into workfare programs.
Numerous investigations uncovered the cruel methods used to cut the rolls. At one point, a scandal erupted when it was discovered that welfare centers were "losing" food stamp applications--thus, making it impossible for recipients to apply.
Giuliani's treatment of the homeless was equally callous. At one point, he housed homeless applicants for emergency shelter--including children--in a former jail. During his administration, spending on affordable housing was cut by 44 percent, and the creation of apartments for the homeless declined by 75 percent. At the same time, police conducted aggressive sweeps to keep the homeless off city streets and out of view.
The real legacy of "Giuliani time" is a city where Wall Street executives celebrate enormous bonuses with spectacular meals, washed down with trophy wines--while the poor are increasingly pushed to the margins. A city whose tourist centers glitter while service cuts leave garbage to accumulate on the streets of working-class neighborhoods. A city where the NYPD's thugs in blue continue to terrorize minority communities.
At a time when a majority of Americans believe that the war in Iraq should end and more money should be spent on vital social services, Giuliani would represent a return to the heyday of the "Republican Revolution": a war on the poor that threw women and children into the streets, civil liberties gutted, and "tough on crime" policies that devastated Black and Latino communities.
And look look look! Rudy's very latest lie!