Why Is the State Department “Hunting” for Deals for Bush’s Oil Buddy?

Man, Condi Rice has got to be tired of getting damning letters from Henry Waxman.

This one shows that, despite very specific denials from the Bush Administration that they knew anything about Bush buddy and uber-donor Ray Hunt scoring one of the first oil deals with Kurdish Iraq, the State Department was in fact very well informed about the deal.

Documents obtained by the Committee indicate that contrary to the denials of Administration officials, advisors to the President and officials in the State and Commerce Departments knew about Hunt Oil’s interest in the Kurdish region months before the contract was executed.

The documents show:

  • On June 12 and 15,2007, Hunt Oil officials met with officials from the U.S. Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) for the Kurdistan region, located in Erbil, "to investigate investment prospects" in the Kurdish region.6 During the June 15 meeting, the Hunt Oil officials "specifically asked if the [U.S.] had a policy toward companies entering contracts with the KRG.7 According to notes taken by Hunt Oil officials, they were told the "U.S. has no policy, for nor against."8 Synopses of these meetings were sent to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as part of weekly situation reports on June 14 and 21,2007.9
  • On July 12,2007, Ray Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Oil, sent a letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, of which he was a member, making clear his intentions to pursue oil exploration in Kurdistan. Mr. Hunt disclosed that Hunt Oil was "approached a month or so ago by representatives of a private group in Kurdistan as to the possibility of our becoming interested in that region."10 He went on to describe the visit of an oil survey team and stated that "we were encouraged by what we saw. We have a larger team going back to Kurdistan this week."11
  • In August 2007, Hunt Oil representatives exchanged e-mails with State Department personnel discussing their return to Kurdistan in late August to "assess business opportunities in Kurdistan. 12
  • On August 30, 2007, Ray Hunt sent a second letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board informing the board that he would be traveling to Kurdistan during the week of September 3,2007, to meet with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government, including the President, Prime Minister, and Oil Minister. 13
  • On September 5, 2007 – three days prior to the contract’s execution – Hunt Oil’s general manager informed the RRT in Erbil that "Hunt is expecting to sign an exploration contract" with the Kurdistan Regional Government.14 That same day, the RRT leader sent an e-mail summary of the meeting to the Embassy in Baghdad and the State Department headquarters in Washington.15 A second synopsis of the meeting was sent to the Embassy in Baghdad in a situation report the following day. 16

That’s all bad enough. But I’m particularly interested in why someone from the State Department is busy tipping off Hunt Oil to other oil and gas deals in Iraq?

Other correspondence provided by Hunt Oil also casts doubt on the State Department’s claim that it disapproved Hunt Oil’s deal with Kurdistan. Five days after the announcement of that contract, on September 13, 2007, a State Department official in southern Iraq made contact with a Hunt Oil representative to suggest another business opportunity in Iraq, in this case a project to develop a liquefied natural gas refinery in southern Iraq, writing: "This seems like it would be a good opportunity for Hunt. … If you all are not aware of this and would like some more information … let me know." 21 A Hunt Oil official forwarded the State Department e-mail to Ray Hunt, the head of Hunt Oil, noting: "This is really good for us…. I find it a huge compliment that he is ‘tipping’ us off about this. He certainly doesn’t have to…. This is a lucky break. 22 [my emphasis]

Since when did our diplomatic corps turn into the business development wing of one of the company of one of Bush’s best donors?

Don’t answer that.

When this deal first went through, I tried to imagine WTF the Bush Administration was thinking when it let this deal go forward.

What I don’t know is how to interpret the deal. Perhaps it means nothing more than that Ray Hunt, having reviewed BushCo’s plans and the real underlying intelligence personally, is sufficiently comfortable that Kurdistan will exist as a viable entity, with the oil laws in Iraq remaining as they are, with sufficient security, to conduct oil exploration over the long term (and this is oil exploration, so we are talking a long term indeed). Or perhaps Hunt has signed this deal as a favor to Bush, to push other, publicly held oil companies (which might–out of concern for shareholder value–hesitate before signing such a deal) to invest in Iraqi oil. The NYT article suggests both may be factors in this deal.

Despite Iraq’s vast oil reserves, major international companies have sat on the sidelines, not only for security reasons but because of the absence of legislation governing the industry and offering protection for investments.

A draft oil law for all of Iraq has been bogged down for months, in part because of disputes over who will control the proceeds.

In August, however, the Kurdish self-governing region in northern Iraq enacted its own law governing foreign oil investments. The move angered the central government in Baghdad, but the Kurds are determined to push ahead with oil exploration.

Most interestingly, this deal suggests those close to Bush believe the US will retain its ties with Kurdistan, as a distinct entity, for some time.

I still don’t know the answer to that question. But I’d say that the State Department approval of the deal sure suggests they don’t give a damn about Iraq’s so-called "sovereignty."

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  1. FormerFed says:

    I am amazed at how people think the Bushies/Chenies are going to change their spots just because they only have less than 7 months remaining in office.

    I had a conversation with my wife (a moderate Repub – one of the few left) over Iran and the Bushies. I was stating my concern over the Hersh story and she said “Yes they were bad for the country, but they are almost gone. We shouldn’t worry about them doing anything else. You (hubby) just read too many liberal blogs.”

    Believe me, they will continue making deals and trying to change the landscape to their liking until they are carried out of the White House.

    • klynn says:

      Have your wife listen to the fresh air broadcast from Monday. Gross’ interviw with Hersh just might help. It helped my mod Rep friend who said the same to me about Bush Cheney almost gone, don’t worry you D blog reader.

      Got an apology call the next day and was asked what can they do to bring change>

    • PetePierce says:

      Their goal is to get this country nuclear bombed before November. You’re 100% right that they want to have an irreversible, indelible, permanant legacy and the more horrific the better. If they could drag the broken military into Iran with just as chaotic an effort they would.

      One of their legacies is that they have done an admirable job of missing AQ’s threat in 2001 and in rebuilding it into a stronger and more vibrant threat than ever.

      It’s not just their shameless fear mongering; it’s that thir total security incompetence has left the US more vulnerable to attacks than ever and efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Iraq a total waste of money and lives.

  2. MichaelDG says:

    Yup, they just cannot not lie about anything. Surreal.
    And, caught at it, deny that they lied.
    Nope. Just Cannot Not Do It.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Iraq is as sovereign in its decision making as a supplier who sells 80% of what it makes to Wal-Mart.

  4. maryo2 says:

    This is MY speculation.

    Monday March 17, 2008 – VP Cheney met with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi

    Wednesday March 19, 2008 – Mehdi withdrew his objection to the guidelines for provincial elections (my understanding in U.S. history terms is he is a “states rights” advocate versus others who are in favor a strong federal government. In particular, he wanted states to sign their own oil deals.)

    Earlier on that same day, American forces accidentally killed three Iraqi police officers, including a Lt. Abdul Amir Hamid Salih, in a suspicious manner.
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi…..read_1.php

    And wiki tells us that the Chair of the Iraqi Oil & Energy Committee is a Kurd with the last name “Salih.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barham_Salih

    Was Barham Ahmad Salih a relative of Abdul Amir Hamid Salih? Did the US kill the police Lt as a message to Mehdi? I don’t know. As far as I know the name Salih is as common as Johnson in Iraq.

    More background information:
    http://articles.latimes.com/20…..fg-maliki8

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Iraq is as sovereign in its decision making as a supplier who sells 80% of what it makes to Wal-Mart.

    BTW, one of the State Department’s formal duties is “to improve” economic ties between the US (ie, its private businesses) and foreign nations. That’s supposed to mean by industry and economic sector, not individual matchmaking of the kind implied here, though it’s gone on routinely in many administrations.

    What’s different with Bush, as in all things, is the extremes to which he and Cheney bend existing formal and informal norms – and the extent to which they exclude and punish their rivals, be they federal bureaucrats or corporations that don’t play ball or rival states.

    Terrorists? They seem as useful as they are dangerous, a commodity that can be manipulated like J. Edgar Hoover’s Ten Most Wanted, a status one rarely achieved until shortly before Hoover’s G-men were about to make an arrest. Good for his stats.

    • skdadl says:

      I remember that. At one point people were walking into retail shops here and clearing out their supplies of sterling cutlery (whether they needed the last seventeen forks in the store or not). Made me think of the tulip craze. Why did this take so long to come to trial?

  6. JohnLopresti says:

    That’s an interesting wayback Ag glance, given its current longterm plateau and Au’s energetic climb, I long have regretted an Ag buy recommendation I made during that Reagan era beginning of the Au climb. Ag still around $30.USD

    My historical refresh about Hunt brought returns to the Waxman missing emails grid, for neoPFIAB which seems to have ‘lost’ emails beginning Wednesday February 11, 2004 thru Sunday March 14, 2004, @p 10/23. PFIAB’s current membership list surely is on WH website.

    • bobschacht says:

      My historical refresh about Hunt brought returns to the Waxman missing emails grid, for neoPFIAB which seems to have ‘lost’ emails beginning Wednesday February 11, 2004 thru Sunday March 14, 2004, @p 10/23. PFIAB’s current membership list surely is on WH website.

      Is there a statute of limitations for obstruction of justice?

      Bob in HI

  7. brendanx says:

    emptywheel:

    Sorry to go back to the topic of a prior thread, but people are scratching their heads over why McCain is going to Colombia and Mexico. Why he is ostensibly there:

    He said he would be in Colombia only one day, in Mexico only one day and that the issues of free trade and drug trafficking were important enough to warrant his visit.

    Weird and coincidental in light of news today from Colombia in this article:

    Colombia said its military rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three U.S. military contractors and 11 other hostages from leftist rebels on Wednesday.

  8. WilliamOckham says:

    I know Hunt Oil is into LNG, but when your friends try to get you involved in an LNG refinery in a war zone (not to mention the aging and decrepit infrastructure around Basra), you need to get some new friends. I’m a little surprised these guys where happy about that tip.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Commerce and State overlap considerably when it comes to promoting “economic competitiveness”, aka promoting US business deals offshore. Nominally, it’s limited to trade promotion, eg, hawking US exports and facilitating importing vital commodities. In fact, such generic work often subsidizes promoting specific deals, something the Brits are more open (if equally cynical) about.

    In a peaceful developed country, I would expect Commerce to have the lead role. In a war torn, would be colony like Iraq, I’m not at all surprised that State’s Economic Affairs section would have the lead. But that’s a formality that this administration disdains. Here, I suspect it hides the strongly political overtones — and involvement of State’s political section and probably the ambassador personally — of any landmark deal on such a worldwide hot button issue such as US firms getting preferential or exclusive access to Iraqi oil. And this one involves a Texas and Justice Department legend (the family that illegally attempted to corner the commodities market in silver), one of whom is a personal friend of and major contributor to Cheney and Bush.

    No one in State is unaware of Cheney and Bush’s keen personal interest in oil, and in aggressively pushing oil above all other energy sources as fundamental US policy. As you know, it’s what American ME policy has been about since Lawrence left Arabia to become Aircraftman Shaw. Cheney went to the Supreme Court and won, for bloody sake, in order to hide his personal involvement in shaping that energy policy.

    What’s laughable on its face is Condi Rice’s State Department claiming no or limited knowledge or involvement in the matter. Your citations alone suggest a considerable involvement. But if true, it would be because government support for Hunt, like government control of Special Forces Ops, is run directly out of the White House. It’s simply not credible that such a well-connected Texas oil player did this on his own or that it doesn’t fit into Cheney’s still secret grand plan for oil. How many days of the Condor was it?

    • darclay says:

      Well what do you think they built that huge embassy for? So the big oil executives could have a safe base to run their companies out of. Paid for by the taxpayer and profits made off the tax payer who are buying their overpriced oil. Why else would we go to the expense of building this gargantuan embassy if we were going in and setting up a “Democracy” unless it would help Bushies big donors and buddies. Lord knows Molly would have loved this shit.

  10. JohnLopresti says:

    It is a patronage mechanism at work. Consider, ~OT, the instance of the Gene Pratter swapout in PA judgeships. Leahy compromising on her 2004 nomination at a time when Republicans were emerging from long refusal to process Clinton PA judgeships. Nan Aron AFJ has urged Specter and Leahy to block this WBush nomination, Bush having nominated 1/3 of the PA judges already; but Bush reportedly maybe thinking about acquiescing in a trade for more conservatives while excluding Pratter redux.

  11. behindthefall says:

    EW, you must be well up there on the list of this gov’t’s worst nightmares!

  12. bobschacht says:

    Sovereignty, schmovereignty. Who cares? The only sovereignty that matters is OURS! We are the Uber-race! The only remaining world power! Who dares stand against us! /s

    Boy, does it make me sick to write stuff like that. It makes me even sicker to realize that there are people who think like that.

    Bob in HI

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      I had the good fortune to hear a little Glenn Beck radio today. He claims that God had a special purpose for America, and his proof is all the extraordinarily beautiful spots here. Bryce, Grand Canyon, etc. God favors us and “spent an extra 15 minutes” making sure that our part of the earth was extra special. We’re better people because of it.

      We’re God’s favorite people! So forget that Philly editorial about how we ought to pass on 4th of July this year just because we torture.

      • MarieRoget says:

        We’re God’s favorite people! So forget that Philly editorial about how we ought to pass on 4th of July this year just because we torture.

        I think a quote from Col. Pat Lang’s latest post @ Sic Semper Tyrannis sums up why I’ll have dinner w/friends, but no July 4th celebrations for me. Enjoy going to the fireworks show over @ Marina del Rey, but I’ve no stomach for that stuff this year:

        Guantanamo and the SERE schools

        “…Clearly, some sadist or group of sadists with a vivid imagination took advantage of the national trauma of 9/11 to use the old communist enemies’ methods as a model.
        Whoever did that inflicted a grave injury and disgrace on the United States. The culprits should be punished as an example to future generations of sadists.”

  13. sailmaker says:

    Since when did our diplomatic corps turn into the business development wing of one of the company of one of Bush’s best donors?

    Don’t answer that.

    ‘) my non answer: Chiquita Banana/terrorist-payoffs-with-cocaine-money-from-the-US-not-prosecuted-by-Chertoff-Company comes to mind. Whenever corporate interests want to get out of the payoffs-for-protection-from-prosecution-for-exploiting-locals -in-a foreign-country- they go crying to the (underpaid) diplomatic corps who sooner or later bring in U.S. troops. Think of it. Worked in English Hawaii, Chile, Central America, and so on.

    On the other – how could the State Department NOT know about the Hunt/Kurdish oil deal, when their mouth piece the

    Some of the recent signing activity may have begun when Dallas-based Hunt Oil, whose chief executive Ray L. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major contributor to Bush’s campaigns, signed a contract in September. Smaller U.S. companies have followed suit.
    .
    .
    The Hunt contract upset the State Department, which has been pressing Iraq to adopt a petroleum law that would delineate the division of authority between the central and regional governments.
    .
    .
    In a Sept. 28 meeting with the Washington representatives of major oil companies, two State Department officials insisted that the Bush administration’s policy was that U.S. companies should not sign separate deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government without approval from the central government in Baghdad.

    Oh. Silly me. They don’t open their emails, so it follows they don’t open their papers, even to see what their own State Department Officials have to say. Great Governance.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      They don’t open their emails, so it follows they don’t open their papers, even to see what their own State Department Officials have to say. Great Governance.

      I think you may be too hasty — those emails should have been deleted.
      Also, all voice messages, visitor logs, and written communications should have been expunged.

      Perhaps you were expecting the pre-streamlined version of ‘governance’?
      Sorry, but that outdated version of ‘governance’ is no longer supported.
      The updated version of ‘governance’ will be sold as ‘Strategery -6.0′. It drops most key features, is bug-riddled, and full of PR bloat.
      Expect the first bug releases sometime early next week.

  14. rosalind says:

    ot: from s.f. chronicle:

    A federal judge in San Francisco appeared to close the door today on an attempt to prove President Bush acted illegally in 2001 when he ordered the wiretapping of phone calls between Americans and suspected foreign terrorists without court approval.”

    “To stay in court, the judge said, Al-Haramain must provide independent evidence that it was the target of surveillance. He said his dismissal was not final and gave lawyers 30 days to produce any such evidence.”

      • bmaz says:

        Doesn’t hurt, and i have not read the decision yet, but in the framework of a dismissal on a separate basis (evidence of foundational damage), and considering that this is likely merely a District Court memorandum decision, this does not do a whole lot for precedence. Helps with public argument and posturing though. In fact, getting that little language out may be why Walker issued this decision now before the FISA vote. All unformed rambling speculation on my part….

      • PetePierce says:

        It’s only a matter of time until the Ninth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit en banc grabbing a 3 judge panel’s opinion affirming Walker, or the cowed and compliant 5-4 Unitary Executive Five Alito, Roberts, Scumbaggalia, puppy dog Thomas (Ah too dumb to ask queshuns at oral orgument–mah best oral arguments were attempted with coke bottles and Anita Hill) and easily maliable swinger Kennedy use State Secrets to piss on Walker’s parade.

        • cboldt says:

          It’s only a matter of time until [various courts] use State Secrets to piss on Walker’s parade.

          They already did. “State secrets” is what is used to prevent submission of evidence that one was under surveillance. See the 9th Circuit decision on the papers that al Haramin wanted to use for evidence.

          Walker’s conclusion, that FISA can “pierce state secret,” is hollow in practice – but it certainly undercuts some of the arguments for a Congressional grant of civil immunity.

          • Ishmael says:

            Agreed – the real power of the assertion of the “state secret” privilege is the desire of the judiciary for inter-branch comity as a corollary of federalist principles, and the extent to which the reviewing judge will trust the executive assertions. In a rational, self-correcting system, that the Constitution envisions the past 8 years should result in a more critical view of the privilege, but I frankly don’t see that happening with the politicization of the federal judiciary.

  15. PetePierce says:

    In keeping with EW’s post, I think the idiot Rice and Bush have good laughs over

    a)Dishing over Pissing and Dissing Waxman
    b)Dishing over Pissing and Dissing Cheney
    c)Dishing over Pissing and Dissing Conyers
    d)Dishing over Pissing and Dissing Leahy

    On the oil front, what will happen is that

    Oil Demand Will Grow, Despite Prices, Report Says

    During the Obama administration you will learn to trade in that SUV, or enjoy paying between $8-$12 a gallon–and this has nothing to do with Barack–he’s powerless to stop this juggernaut–we have been setting it in motion for 25 years. We’re not the only country to blame–just the major offender.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, the equation is raising oil prices exponentially.

    Marcy’s observations last year were of course right on the money.

    Committee Questions State Dept. Role in Iraq Oil Deal

    The company, Hunt Oil of Dallas, signed the deal with Kurdistan’s semiautonomous government last September. Its chief executive, Ray L. Hunt, a close political ally of President Bush, briefed an advisory board to Mr. Bush on his contacts with Kurdish officials before the deal was signed.

    In an e-mail message released by the Congressional committee, a State Department official in Washington, briefed by a colleague about the impending deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, wrote: “Many thanks for the heads up; getting an American company to sign a deal with the K.R.G. will make big news back here. Please keep us posted.”

    The release of the documents comes as the administration is defending help that United States officials provided in drawing up a separate set of no-bid contracts, still pending, between Iraq’s Oil Ministry in Baghdad and five major Western oil companies to provide services at other Iraqi oil fields.

    In the no-bid contracts, the administration said it had provided what it called purely technical help writing the contracts. The United States played no role in choosing the companies, the administration has said.

    Disclosure of those contracts has provided substantial fuel to critics of the Iraq war, both in the United States and abroad, who contend that the enormous Iraqi oil reserves were a motivation for the American-led invasion — an assertion the administration has repeatedly denied.

    Congrats to Exon Mobile, Shell, Total, BP and Chevron, who secured no-bid contracts with the help of a State Department when Iraq can’t secure a resolution to oil rights division or most other key decisions after 6 years.

    although Iraq has now decided to play head fake with Condie and the engineering of no bids

    Iraq may lack backbone, but not Big Oil and I wonder who will pay at the pump.

    People frustrated and reaching for “solutions” remember that term from the sniper dodging candidate, continue to wildy blame speculators and the Tri-LOL upon LOL-Lateral Commission.

    I had an email from my scientist friend showing you can earn advanced degrees and still be politically retarded saying:

    1) He’s voting for anyone who will drill (I asked him if he plans to use his puppy to dig or go down there with his own shovel since there are no ships available to drill and there wouldn’t be a drop if any is there for ten years) and asserting he knows (from Ashleigh the lap dancing fortune teller) that off shore would yield 260 million barrels a day.

    2) He’s not voting for Obama because there is too much “stuff swirling about Obama and his wife” and he’ll be damned if he’s voting for a Muslim to be President (although of course he asserts he has nothing against Muslims).

    3) The damn speculators and Trilateral Commision are the cause of his gas pump missery (I suggested he exercise his newly reenforced NRA rights to own firepower while running away from any milita like most Republicans and go out to the garage and shoot the hell out of the SUVs that bave been robbing him).

    In the category of millionaires and billionaires who are a shining light in the Bannana Republic of the USA, I’d like to give a big shout out to Sam Israel III, a hedge fund crook who surrendered after faking his own suicide–I’m thinking the hundreds of thousands he pays to his attorneys will go towards plea efforts, and a big shout out to Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle jet mouseketeer Jeffery Epstein the Billiary cronie and contributor to the Library Fund and Clinton foundation who will advance the cause of women everywhere including Obama’s daughters by serving 18 months far from Worth Avenue in the Palm Beach County jail for a conviction for soliciting prostitution.

    What is it with these millionaires and billionaires who can’t get laid without ending up in jail? That’s not exactly a seamless chain of orgies and Zanadu–but hey Bill will get to use the black book while Jeffrey is in the slam, and the ratio for Ron and Bill and the honies on the Gulfstream will just be better.

    Financier Starts Sentence in Prostitution Case

    “I respect the legal process,” Mr. Epstein, 55, said by phone as he prepared to leave his 78-acre island, which he calls Little St. Jeff’s. “I will abide by this.”

    It is a stunning downfall for Mr. Epstein, who grew up in Coney Island and went on to live the life of a billionaire, only to become a tabloid monument to an age of hyperwealth. Mr. Epstein owns a Boeing 727 and the largest town house in Manhattan. He has paid for college educations for personal employees and students from Rwanda, and spent millions on a project to develop a thinking and feeling computer and on music intended to alleviate depression.

    But Mr. Epstein also paid women, some of them under age, to give him massages that ended with a sexual favor, the authorities say. Federal prosecutors initially threatened to bring him to trial on a variety of charges and seek the maximum penalty, 10 years in prison. After years of legal wrangling, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges.

    What Epstein means is that he respects the legal process, and after 18 months he’ll be more careful to check the ID of the honies with Bill and Ron on the Burkle jet just like the porn film makers in the San Fernando Valley do and then everything will be Xanadu all over again.

    He has to register as a sex offender in the US but that’s not going to crimp his style since his partying goes on in planes and on islands that aren’t part of the US where he doesn’t have to worry about residing within 1000 feet of a school or a church as he would in many of the states whose laws don’t differentiate between concensual teen age sex and predatory sex.

    Fund Manager Who Faked His Suicide Surrenders

  16. kspena says:

    OT-This is too good not to share from Rich Perlstein via dday’s “Hersh’s Gambit” at Hullabaloo.

    “Here’s a little tidbit from the archives dug up by Sean Wilentz in his new book The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008: it’s May, 1975, and Seymour Hersh of the New York Times has just broke the story of a secret submarine mission inside Soviet territorial waters.

    Here’s Dick Cheney’s handwritten notes on how the Ford administration might proceed next: “go after Hersh papers in his apt.”

  17. BayStateLibrul says:

    I had a 2nd Amendment discussion with my Repub neighbor, after we ran five miles, and settled in with a few frosties.
    In researching the issue, I came across this Declaration.
    Hmmmm. This makes sense to me… armies are dangerous to liberty.
    Wonderful, it made my day. Also, you can’t trust the Generals. Petreaus (sp) doesn’t tell the Prez, it’s vicey versa.
    Where have we gone wrong?

    MASSACHUSETTS Declaration of Rights, Article 17
    . The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.

  18. BayStateLibrul says:

    OT – final rant

    Fucking Delcarmen.
    Our bullpen sucks.
    Francona’s understatement.
    Yankees next?

    “The Rays, trailing, 4-1, scored six times in the seventh, reliever Manny Delcarmen’s failure to cover first base on an infield hit touching off an avalanche of base runners. “When you see me out in the field that much,” said Francona, who made three trips to the mound to change pitchers that inning, while the Rays sent 11 men to the plate, “you know something’s not going right.”

  19. Neil says:

    High-level administration officials say the Court’s decision dramatically changes the legal landscape–and raises questions about whether the government has solid evidence to present to federal judges to justify ongoing detentions.

    That evidence, much of it classified and obtained by military and CIA personnel on the battlefield, is not the standard kind of proof judges are accustomed to seeing in regular criminal cases here, administration officials say. The documents do not contain the kind of detail—or include sources of that information—that’s typical in criminal cases, sources say. LINK

    If I’m not mistaken, Jan Crawford Greenburg is telling us the US government doesn’t have sufficient evidence to hold many of the prisoners in Gitmo and habeas corpus hearings would bear that out. Bush may make a decision about Gitmo this week.

  20. Neil says:

    The administration fears that’s a sign of things to come—in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling giving other detainees even broader habeas corpus rights to challenge their detentions in court, sources tell ABC News.

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Either the government can or cannot show cause to detain a prisoner and the idea that there is a full range of habeas rights which the court could confer upon prisoners is bunk but I put it out here for the legal beagles to explain. To me, it sounds like the blame game and not a construct supported by how the law works.

  21. skdadl says:

    Michael Mukasey is apparently determined that the FBI will not be allowed to learn from others’ failures or its own successes (early warnings about interrogation techniques):

    Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons — like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated — to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious [sic: they mean “suspect”].

    Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person’s race or ethnicity.

    At one point, one of the sources starts to channel Rumsfeld:

    The change, which is expected later this summer, is part of an update of Justice Department policies known as the attorney general guidelines. They are being overhauled amid the FBI’s transition from a traditional crime-fighting agency to one whose top mission is to protect America from terrorist attacks.

    We don’t know what we don’t know. And the object is to cut down on that,” said one FBI official who defended the plans.

    So it still isn’t safe to buy the fixings for falafels after all, and beware of those vegan pot-luck parties during the Republican convention.

    • Ishmael says:

      So. now they are openly admitting that they are trying to transform the FBI into a domestic CIA? And now they come right out and say that they are using racial profiling as a “predictive measure”? Gives a whole new meaning to “Minority Report”!! (apologies to Philip K. Dick!)

      How far are they from proposing internment camps for Muslims as a “preventive measure”? Of course, angry white guys with guns, like Tim McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Ted Kazcynski, the Minutemen, will likely escape the profiling.

      • skdadl says:

        Yes. The FBI was the one agency that was arguably not broke, so what do they decide to do with it? And “actionable intelligence” is so much sexier than, y’know, boring old evidence.

        I should have bolded this phrase too:

        after mining public records and intelligence

        “Mining” … such an interesting term. I wonder what they mean by “public records,” though.

  22. prostratedragon says:

    OT: Cognitive Dissonance Today report:
    Texas Realtors Launch Campaign To Protest Rove’s Upcoming Speech At Statewide Convention

    Derr, Melott, and other area Realtors have “launched an e-mail campaign to persuade the association’s leaders to strike Rove from the speaker lineup.” “What kind of message are we sending to the public we seek to serve by our very invitation to such an infamous politico?” Melott said in a letter to association leaders.

    Another associate noted Rove’s inability to meet the Reators’ ethical standards and stated his intention to protest Rove’s presence at the convention …

    This has been Cognitive Dissonance Today.

  23. klynn says:

    O/T

    Thought this from the Guardian irt the special ops build-up for Iran…

    http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/ne….._iran.html

    Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, has warned that an Israeli strike on Iran could prove “extremely stressful” for his forces.

    Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us. That doesn’t mean we don’t have capacity or reserve but that would really be very challenging, and also the consequences of that are sometimes very difficult to predict.

    He said an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be a high-risk move that could destabilise the whole of the Middle East.

    Here’s a more detailed article on this:

    http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm…..0080703_69

    In a sign of intensifying American concern, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, flew to Israel at the weekend. Back from his trip, he made clear the solution to the Iran crisis still lies in diplomacy rather than in military confrontation.

    The official Israeli line remains that the government supports the diplomatic process and that Iran is a problem for the world, not only for Israel.

    “If you want to do it you don’t talk about it,” says one Israeli official. The same official also says Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has “adamantly requested that we all shut up”.

    And this on rise in saber rattling:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..id=topnews

    • klynn says:

      Should read:

      Thought this from the Guardian irt the special ops build-up for Iran was interesting…

      Oh for the joy of first cuppa to hit the brain to remind me to remember proofreader…is my friend…

  24. cboldt says:

    I’m scanning through Judge Walker’s opinion (tidying up a plaintext version of it), and this is a fair summary of the situation, in his own words.

    A host of obstacles, however, make section 1810 a mostly theoretical, but rarely, if ever, a practical vehicle for seeking a civil remedy for unlawful surveillance.

    • PetePierce says:

      I appreciate your accurate comments. I’m cynical but did not mean to imply the District Court’s opinion is completely insignificant. I have seen the Ninth Circuit and other Circuits quickly and sua sponte trash a panel opinion (we don’t have one yet but we will) by taking it en banc themselves without waiting for an en banc hearing motion

      Greg Craig and Obama’s purported for public consumption take on the FISA bill is to me an unfortunate travesty–particular when you contrast this meme or theme of Hope and Be All You Can Be from the Obama campaign when they are trying to feed the public and placate the liberal blogs with “This FISA Bill was the best we could do and the “we couldn’t let FISA expire” fiction.

      I remember well the day that happened to Judge Arnold’s brave opinion (with his law clerk) in the Eight Circuit in
      Anastasoff v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. 2000)

      Had Anastasoff stood, it would have remedied one of the dirty little secrets the public has little appreciation for since they are doing damn well to understand there are trial courts and there are appellate courts and they aren’t the same place where they go to argue their traffic tickets.
      Glenn’s The Al-Haramain ruling and the current Congress

      That dirty little secret is that every federal appellate court has a complement of lawyers that their hiring process doesn’t consider as talented and elite as the law clerks who regular miss a large number of precedents anyway (Good help is damn hard to find fresh out of law schools).

      These staff attorneys screen cases that are deemed fortunate enough to get oral argument. In the Eleventh Circuit for example that number is 17.5% currently that make the cut. The vast majority of opinions due to the moronic drug laws that still exist and fail to make a significant dent in any way shape or form, are 3 sentence per curiams and you never know what the hell the reasoning was on the opinions by any panel regardless of what’s at stake.

      I think Professor Howard J. Bashman’s article and the issue is worth reproducing:

      The Unconstitutionality of Non-Precedential Appellate Rulings

      By Howard J. Bashman
      Monday, December 11, 2000

      Federal appellate courts violate the United States Constitution when they deny precedential effect to their unpublished opinions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, based in St. Louis, Missouri, reached this unanticipated conclusion on August 22, 2000 when it issued its ruling in Anastasoff v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. 2000). The ruling portends significant consequences that require the immediate attention of the Philadelphia-based United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit currently uses unpublished opinions — decisions issued to the parties’ attorneys and the trial judge that never appear in the court’s official case law reporter — to decide more appeals than ever.

      In the Anastasoff case, the plaintiff sued the federal government to challenge its refusal to refund federal income tax that she had overpaid. The trial court ruled in favor of the government, and Ms. Anastasoff then appealed to the Eighth Circuit. In its brief on appeal, the government noted that the Eighth Circuit had rejected in an earlier unpublished opinion the precise argument that Ms. Anastasoff was raising. In her reply brief, Ms. Anastasoff contended that the appellate court’s earlier unpublished ruling was irrelevant for two reasons. First, she observed that the Eighth Circuit’s own rules declare that unpublished opinions lack precedential value, requiring the three-judge panel deciding her appeal to disregard the unpublished decision. Second, she argued that the result the unpublished opinion reached was wrong and, therefore, the opposite result should be reached in her case.

      Ms. Anastasoff’s appeal thus squarely presented the question whether federal appellate courts may, in the words of the Eighth Circuit, “choose for themselves, from among all the cases they decide, those that they will follow in the future, and those that they need not.” The Eighth Circuit reasoned that if it upheld its rule denying precedential effect to unpublished opinions, it would be declaring: “We may have decided this question the opposite way yesterday, but this does not bind us today, and, what’s more, you cannot even tell us what we did yesterday.” After conducting a detailed historical examination of the U.S. Constitution and of the judicial function both at common law and at the time of the Constitution’s framing, the Eighth Circuit ruled unanimously that the Constitution prohibits federal appellate courts from issuing non-precedential opinions. The Eighth Circuit thus renounced its prior creation of “an underground body of law good for one place and time only” and held that its earlier unpublished decision rejecting the very same argument that Ms. Anastasoff was raising required a ruling in the government’s favor. To remove any ambiguity about the breadth of its holding, the Eighth Circuit also declared unconstitutional the provision in its Local Rules of Appellate Procedure stating that unpublished opinions are non-precedential.

      Circuit Judge Richard S. Arnold, who wrote the Eighth Circuit’s opinion in Anastasoff, has in that decision presented an impeccably reasoned explanation of why the U.S. Constitution prohibits federal appellate courts from denying precedential effect to their opinions. If you doubt the soundness of that ruling, which admittedly came as quite a surprise to many appellate judges and practitioners, those doubts will disappear once you review the opinion, which may be accessed online, free of charge, at the Eighth Circuit’s Web site (http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/).

      The Third Circuit has yet to react noticeably to the Eighth Circuit’s ruling in Anastasoff. Like the Eighth Circuit, the Third Circuit has its own rule that purports to deny precedential effect to its unpublished opinions. To complicate matters further, the Third Circuit now issues a greater number of unpublished (and therefore supposedly non-precedential) opinions than at any time in its history. Next month’s column will address the reasons for, and the consequences and desirability of, the Third Circuit’s recent proliferation of unpublished opinions. For present purposes, however, it is sufficient to observe that the Third Circuit today is regularly engaging in the constitutional violation that Anastasoff identifies. Finally, and perhaps most distressingly, the Third Circuit is one of only a few federal appellate courts that refuses to post its unpublished opinions on its Web site (http://pacer.ca3.uscourts.gov/) and refuses to permit its unpublished opinions to appear on Westlaw or Lexis.

      Even if all agree with the validity of the Eighth Circuit’s ruling in Anastasoff, the decision’s consequences are unlikely to be warmly received by federal appellate judges. Federal appellate courts did not adopt local rules denying precedential effect to unpublished opinions to retain the unfettered, and arguably unlawful, discretion to decide a question one way today and then precisely the opposite way tomorrow in a different case. Indeed, the Third Circuit’s internal rules recommend that opinions should only be designated as unpublished if they appear to lack precedential value and are likely to be of consequence only to the parties and the trial judge. Unpublished opinions also take less time to prepare and, in most instances, receive less-intensive review from the non-authoring judges on the panel. And, whereas the Third Circuit will not issue a for-publication panel opinion until after every active judge on the court has the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed decision, unpublished opinions can often be issued after having been reviewed only by the other two judges on the panel.

      In the more than eleven years that I have been involved in working on appeals, the first two years of which were spent clerking for a Third Circuit judge, I have observed no instance in which any federal appellate court has issued an unpublished opinion because the parties in a given appeal deserved to be treated differently than would parties in a hypothetical, later appeal presenting exactly the same facts and issues. Many appeals that the Third Circuit decides either make no new law or involve questions of state law as to which a state’s supreme court is the definitive arbiter. Yet, notwithstanding how very smart they are, federal appellate judges would need to be clairvoyant to anticipate accurately whether today’s seemingly unique or unimportant decision will provide decisive precedent for an appeal arising months or years from now.

      The Anastasoff decision recognizes the practical concerns at stake: “It is often said among judges that the volume of appeals is so high that it is simply unrealistic to ascribe precedential value to every decision. We do not have enough time to do a decent enough job, the argument runs, when put in plain language, to justify treating every opinion as a precedent.” The opinion concludes that these concerns are insufficient to allow federal appellate courts to engage in the unconstitutional practice of denying precedential effect to unpublished opinions. Instead, according to the Eighth Circuit, the remedy “is to create enough judgeships to handle the volume, or, if that is not practical, for each judge to take enough time to do a competent job with each case. If this means that backlogs will grow, the price must still be paid.”

      To address this problem here at home, the Third Circuit should take the immediate step of providing all newly-released unpublished opinions to Westlaw and Lexis and, as soon as practicable, should begin issuing newly released unpublished opinions on its Web site. For all the many reasons explained in Anastasoff, the Third Circuit should also rescind its rule that purports to deny precedential effect to its unpublished opinions.

      The many thousands of unpublished opinions that the Third Circuit has previously issued may give rise to a logistical nightmare, for they too must be recognized as having precedential value, if they have not been overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court or by the Third Circuit sitting en banc or rendered irrelevant by more recent legislative or state law developments. Today this vast body of unpublished Third Circuit law is all but inaccessible to litigants, lawyers and trial judges. If at all possible, the Third Circuit through its Clerk’s Office should compile all prior unpublished opinions and release them to Westlaw, Lexis and any other publisher, person or entity willing to purchase them.

      Until these steps occur in the Third Circuit and in other federal appellate courts, Anastasoff provides a compelling basis for lawyers to cite and rely on unpublished federal appellate opinions as controlling precedent when arguing their cases in federal court, notwithstanding local rules to the contrary. In Anastasoff’s aftermath, federal appellate courts will retain the discretion to decide which opinions are important enough that they should be officially published, but they will no longer have the ability to issue rulings that purport to bind only the parties to a particular appeal but not the court or litigants in future cases.

  25. cboldt says:

    That realization or admission makes the same point that I’ve stated more than a few times. The law is a charade – it’s objective is to fool the public, not inform it, and certainly not to give a judicially-enforcible remedy.

  26. Leen says:

    No Blood for Oil….Right. Our nation is swimming in the Iraqi people’s blood and the whole world knows it.

  27. JThomason says:

    Its the no bid aspect and the lack of transparency in the process that moves against principle. In this respect the arrangement is not truly contractual. I have harped a lot about the corporate constituency the last month. In my own personal ideology I have long used the Constitution and the concept of human rights under international law as a kind of fire wall to avoid seeing the obvious. But I am not sure what the obvious is at this point. My core reaction to the utter scope at efforts at moneterization of every facet of life has been a kind of retreat to nature at least as a gesture or a bias falling back on what I have thought to be timeless principles.

    But what I am seeing is that the demographics and economic concerns not only on a national scale but also a global scale have out run the scope of a constitution applicable to a revolutionary, highly individual frontier society with virtually limitless resources. In this context the coercion of social nuance was not so critical. If every politician were a Ghandi we wouldn’t be in such a stew, but you know that is really asking too much, isn’t it?

    So I see the problem of a clearly and a narrowly interested, morally depraved group of materialists who hope to wrest security by winning the monetary game and introducing more coercive violence into the social fabric having seized the mechanisms of government here, but the problems of the EU are equally challenging, not to mention the Far East. And really I am not up to thinking that policies that try and slice and dice the dialectic pitting the “nanny state” against “gun-toting” libertarians, while it might make for good political theater ultimately contains any viable answers.

    Those who are able to feast, or at least subsist, on the surplus value the economy renders have the luxury to observe, complain and posture. And even though I may be out of sync with the numbers I certainly avail myself of this luxury.

    Never know what good going meta does, but I am so disoriented at this point all that is left to me is an attempt to think out of the box. And I am sure this speaks to my challenges in adaptation. Let the wake begin, a new language is being born.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      But what I am seeing is that the demographics and economic concerns not only on a national scale but also a global scale have out run the scope of a constitution applicable to a revolutionary, highly individual frontier society with virtually limitless resources.

      America has a ‘frontier mythology’, but if you look at the actual US population, those who moved out West were actually a small percentage of the larger East Coast population. The notion that resources were ‘unlimited’ is deeply and perilously flawed. Most of the West is scrub land that didn’t grow much of anything before irrigation. And irrigation leads to other issues with soil stability and nutrient content. So the ‘endless resources’ is a dangerous illusion; these are marginal ecosystems that needed far better management than they’ve received and many are now biologically seriously depleted/threatened.

      However, your point that the US Constitution (and institutions) are being savaged and overwhelmed by globalization seems to be a theme that repeats throughout these threads. EW’s assessment of a kind of ‘neo feudalism’ in a global sense seems quite apt. It’s a matter of whether enough of us refuse to accept a Mad Max future.

      FWIW, my 53 was a response to Ishmael’s 46.

      • JThomason says:

        Current circumstances show that the perception of the “limitless frontier” to have been a relative assessment, but a perception that established context. It was this relative dimension of expansion that informed social and legal development. My realization, like yours, is that the paradigm is not holding. Still in as much as the emergence of corporate constituency has been too a temporal development I think it is natural to assume that competing constituencies will emerge but to think that they will quickly emerge to check the ability of the current globalist hegemony is a more difficult proposal.

        What I was acknowledging was my struggle with the relevant categories in making critical decisions especially if new factors are emergent. Neo-feudalism may be apt in the context of economic relations but the social context, including the context of feudal sexual privilege, is radically altered. And I say this without any intention of diminishing existing issues of gender equality and the significance of the Clinton ‘08 presidential campaign. Mass production has changed much.

        Not to get too bogged down in the socio/literary principles of the Santa Cruz approach that are subtextual here in the references to Frederick Jameson and the otherwise occult dependence on the work of N.O. Brown that has affected my thinking, but issues of an emergent, sustainable, temporally, identified nurturing socio-economic context has much to do with creative survival. And that is really the point in looking at the Constitution as narrative. From a systems theory perspective without some kind of effective regulatory input run-away catastrophe is in the offing. And I don’t mean “government” regulation. I am talking about the forces of creativity regulating a failing context. “Meta” analysis is a framing tool. What I am confessing to is taking a step back for perspective where traditional analytic habits are failing in the struggle to frame critical focus and action.

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    What a disaster. There are too many highly skilled ’non white guys’ needed, respected, and employed by high tech firms in U.S. Expect serious pushback from those in the research and professional classes against this kind of moronic stupidity.