Condi’s Pissing Contest with Moqtada al-Sadr

Siun and Spencer make what I believe to be the most important point about Condi’s taunt of Moqtada al-Sadr.

“I know he’s sitting in Iran,” Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr’s latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the message; his followers can go [to] their deaths and he’s in Iran.”

Here’s Siun:

Hmmm … am I missing something here? Aside from the fact that it is only the U.S. military that keeps claiming al Sadr is always in Iran, I had not noticed the redeployment of the Bush White House and State Department to the streets of Iraq. Occasional drop-ins at the Green Zone, less occasional speed tours of locations outside the GZ (complete with air cover and hundreds of military escorts), sure, but … when did George and Condi move to Baghdad?

And here’s Spencer:

So Sadr is a coward for making threats from Iran… and Condoleezza Rice is a stateswoman for blustering Sadr into making a move that carries the potential of killing American soldiers. Why is this woman respected again?

Once again, this Administration’s claims of manlihood are so much empty fluff.

But I’d like to point out something else about Condi’s taunt. Back when Dick Cheney snuck off to Iraq to meet with Nuri al-Maliki, it remained unclear whether or not Cheney’s visit had some causal relationship with what came next: Maliki’s ill-fated offensive into Basra. It seemed like a pretty telling coincidence, but the Administration barely admitted the US was providing air support, much less admit that Dick at least approved–if not incited–the offensive.

I submit we will have no doubts about what comes next. Condi has made it very clear she owns–we own–whatever atrocities are about to happen in Sadr City.

Update: Here’s Scarecrow making the same point. He also notes that, by inciting more civil war, the US seems to be engaging in an effort to further empower Iran.

The Administration wanted this fight, and Petraeus’ first duty is to protect the Green Zone from rocket attacks. His only tactical complaint was his claim — which now appears disingenuous — that the Iraqis tried to move against Basra before US forces were ready. He blamed al Maliki’s impatience for the initial stumbles, but as soon as the offensive stalled, the Americans (and British) bailed out the Iraq Army with their fire power and embedded forces. The offensive now appears to be succeeding in establishing Iraq Army control of Basra, due in part to the Iranians, who arranged al-Sadr’s withdrawal and seem willing to have the Government in control of Southern Iraq.

There have been other reports that suggest Iran is willing to allow the al-Maliki government to consolidate control, preferring that to the less controllable — by Iran — elements of Sadr’s more nationalist militia. That means the Bush Administration and John McCain are engaged in a massive bait and switch about who we’re fighting and why.

[snip]

With McCain’s nonsense providing the cover (reinforced by the Pentagon’s propagandists embedded in the media), US forces are providing the critical military difference in a civil war to solidify the political and military power of the most pro-Iranian elements in Iraq — the parties of al-Maliki and his Shia allies — all of whose leaders have strong ties to Iran. But by identifying al-Sadr’s resistance fighters in Sadr City with Iran, and attributing US deaths to Iranian weapons and Iranian trained fighters, (recall Lieberman’s questions to Petraeus) Bush and McCain are unmistakably keeping the door open for a possible military strike against Iran.

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131 replies
  1. PetePierce says:

    The closest Condi, Bush, and Cheney get to harm’s way in their massive stimulus project for Dover Coffins (the only economic stimulus package that’s working in this Administration) is a potential foodfight at the rehearsal dinner in Crawford Texas in May. Their is no clue as to planning nor to the consequence of impulsive childish pre-teen mouthing off by Condi, Bush, and Cheney.

    • Leen says:

      The war against Iran is well on its way!

      The Iran Plans
      http://www.newyorker.com/archi…..417fa_fact

      Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

      Last month, in a paper given at a conference on Middle East security in Berlin, Colonel Sam Gardiner, a military analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from the Air Force, in 1987, provided an estimate of what would be needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Working from satellite photographs of the known facilities, Gardiner estimated that at least four hundred targets would have to be hit. He added:

      I don’t think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical-production plants. We would hit those. We would want to hit the medium-range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq. There are fourteen airfields with sheltered aircraft. . . . We’d want to get rid of that threat. We would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise-missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines. . . . Some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units.

      One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz, which is no longer under I.A.E.A. safeguards, reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. That number of centrifuges could provide enough enriched uranium for about twenty nuclear warheads a year. (Iran has acknowledged that it initially kept the existence of its enrichment program hidden from I.A.E.A. inspectors, but claims that none of its current activity is barred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.) The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.

  2. cbl2 says:

    Madness, Madness, Madness –

    When I hear people say “they’re gonna take care of Sadr”, I shiver, because that would send Iraq into a frenzy. It is literally the stupidest fucking move possible. Is he crazy, maybe, but he’s outfoxed everyone else, everyone who wanted him to disappear. The Hakims, never as popular as their press, have to look for a new patron so he can best Sadr and kill Sunnis.

    compare and contrast Condi’s murderous bluster to the reality checks to be found in the linked Gilliard posts

    I urge everyone to simply look at the google earth maps in Steve’s posts – or honestly consider his comparison to Brooklyn (12/06) – there’s probably not a military analyst among us and yet just looking at those pics one can only come to one conclusion

    Gilliard 1/07

    Gilliard 12/06

    • dotsright says:

      I would have to agree that assassinating Sadr would be the worst possible move and that seems to be the end game here. Condi’s taunts are kindergarten level Arab psychology “woman taunts Arab male and causes him injured pride and honor and he therefor must do something to regain same” like return to Iraq.

      That might work in the playground but at this level I think it’s pretty pathetic and does Condi know anything about subtlety? Sadr is far too canny to fall for anything this blatant.

      One has to wonder why the administration would time this for so close to the elections. Do they really think that an Iraq in chaos and a big upswing in American fatalities would be good for Republican electoral victories?

      • nomolos says:

        One has to wonder why the administration would time this for so close to the elections. Do they really think that an Iraq in chaos and a big upswing in American fatalities would be good for Republican electoral victories?

        I think it will bring a few extra billion into the war profiteers…sort of a parting shot for his buddies if you will

  3. JTMinIA says:

    I understand the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but that kind of logic only works when the world can be divided into exactly two camps. So it doesn’t really work these days, at least not in the middle east.

    In other words, the idea of backing al Maliki against al Sadr because al Sadr is anti-American would only make sense if all anti-Americans were the same. That al Maliki happens to be more pro-Iran that al Sadr would, if you thought it through, make al Maliki even more of a problem than al Sadr. In neither case would the US end up being in real control, but at least with al Sadr it wouldn’t be Iran.

    Now, I really can’t see Cheney et al. being this dumb. If I can figure this out, then so can they. So it has to be something else. And the only thing that seems to tie it together is that we are purposefully putting Iran in greater control so that we can turn around and attack Iran at some point in the future.

    Which makes me ask: why do we want to attack Iran? Seriously. What do we gain from this?

    • JTMinIA says:

      When I asked my question (”why do we seem to want a war with Iran”) many people said that that isn’t the goal. Instead, they told me that we really do continue to think in terms of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We hated the Russians, so we supported the Taliban, even though they were worse. We hated Iran, so we supported Saddam Hussein, even though he gassed his own people. Now we hate al Sadr, because he, at first, fought back, so we support al Maliki, even though he’s got closer ties to Iran. It’s all just a series of knee-jerk, short-sighted, reactions.

      In other words, many people have told me that we really are that dumb.

  4. wavpeac says:

    Looking at the chain of power, it seems to me that one of the greatest obstacles to getting an impeachment inquiry started, is not evidence, (which should be gathered during the inquiry) but Nancy Pelosi and her “absolute” statement about impeachment being off the table. I want to know why. I want someone to tell me why her position makes sense. (even if I don’t like the reason). Right now, she is obstructing the process.

    Bush is at an all time low, I don’t think the American people are going to be upset if impeachment begins. In fact, I am amazed at the number of people that feel impeachment is an appropriate consequence for Bushco. We don’t have to have all the evidence, before it starts, we just need logical reasons to ask the questions and have them answered.

    Why would she stand in the way of the answers? If we were in the process of impeachment, McCain would lose the election for certain. It would be easy to force him him into a corner. It seems to me that there is NO value to holding off on this process.

    We have plenty of preliminary evidence that Bushco started the war with Iraq for false reasons, and that his war, has hurt our military, our country, and the country of Iraq. He has thrown the entire middle east into a tizzy, that helps none of us. We are not safer. He has admitted to authorizing torture. So she may be complicit in the decisions, Americans need to know what has gone on, in our name.

    Why, is she not getting behind an impeachment?

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      Looking at the chain of power, it seems to me that one of the greatest obstacles to getting an impeachment inquiry started, is not evidence, (which should be gathered during the inquiry) but Nancy Pelosi and her “absolute” statement about impeachment being off the table. (Strikeout by MnC

      The damage to US interests from that May, 2006, “off the table” statement just keeps multiplying. I thought at the time that doing so was not only wrong Constitutionally, but also misguided politically. That’s why I suggested before the 2006 elections that the Dems propose that Pelosi temporarily resign the speakership in favor of one of the few remaining moderate Republicans should any impeachment proceeding take place during the current Congress. I didn’t imagine, however, how damaging it would be to overall US strategic interests. It emboldened the Cheney/Bush/Rove cabal in their shredding of the Constitution and their blowing off of all attempts, by political friend and foe alike, to slow down or halt the progress on the path of self-inflicted strategic reverse on which they are taking our great country. All of this because they realized from the get-go just how tightly Pelosi boxed herself, and the Congress and American people with her, into a corner politically by making that statement.

    • ekunin says:

      Perhaps the IRS has something on her husband, the developer. It is difficult to understand her position. The lady is no fool. There’s a reason. We just don’t know it.

      • cbl2 says:

        then why hasn’t another Dem brought it up – why do they all continue to give WH whatever they want in terms of funding ???

        it’s really simple and I’m sorry to sound like some self assured ass, but they are too busy keeping their jobs to do their jobs

        to be even more simplistic – they have had their asses handed to them on the smallest of cong. battles for 7 years – when the 7 figure a year high priests (consultants) tell you you had better listen to them – impeachment and withdrawal are ‘loser’ issues, you listen

        it is difficult for us to imagine playing so cynically with american and iraqi lives – we all keep thinking they must have something on them – well sooner or later a Feingold or a Sanders would have spoke up – there’s something on them alright – moral cowardice

  5. Hugh says:

    Condoleezza Rice is the queen of Bush’s torture program. That is all you need to know about her. How is that for a legacy, Condi?

  6. DefendOurConstitution says:

    This is really confusing. The US is trying to take care of Iran’s problem regarding al-Sadr (i.e. that Iran cannot control him), so that we can strengthen the pro-Iran Maliki Government (essentially double agents working for Tehran that are using US troops and funding), so that in the end the US can make a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? WTF – don’t they have anybody explaining to them that Maliki is Tehran’s man in ways that al-Sadr could never be? Don’t they understand that strengthening an enemy as they are doing is not a great preamble to an attack?

    It’s a game of chess and we are getting our butts kicked. Let’s hope the checkmate does not ring a whole lot more of bloodshed.

      • Hugh says:

        Persians have been playing chess a lot longer than we have.

        It doesn’t help that the chimp thinks we are playing checkers. It still really bothers me that the comedy team of Petraeus and Crocker even after all this time don’t have down the primary allegiances of the various groups in Iraq.

  7. cbl2 says:

    – my ‘peanut’ just sent me something she noticed in Condi’s statement in the McClatchy link –

    “But clearly, the prime minister has laid down some ground rules which any functioning democratic state would insist upon, having to do with, you know, arms belonging to the state, not to — not in private hands,” she said. “The current circumstances come out of what I think is a very important and indeed appropriate action that the Iraqi government has taken.”

    “Second Amendment much mom ???, what a shame Insane Clown Posse is already taken !!!”

    my dfh heart is full

  8. radiofreewill says:

    The only reason we’re seeing all this bluster towards al Sadr and Iran is because Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Condi, Hadley, and All of BushCo are RUNNING for their lives – literally.

    If they stand still, or if the Mirage of Crisis crumbles – they’ll get hauled off for War Crimes, for which there is No Lack of Evidence. So, Condi and Bush have nothing to lose by lying to, and cratering, the Country for the next 9 months.

    In the case of Iraq, it’s the Ultimate Bright Shiny Object (BSO) strategy – create a National Disaster so big – a Failed State in Iraq – it paralyzes Our ability to hold BushCo accountable for their seven-year-long running Clusterfuck of Secret, Unchecked, Craven, Hateful Ideological Megalomania.

    As far as Condi is concerned, there is No Cost to her and Bush for Ruining our Country – only benefits.

    They are scared for their lives…let’s not expect them to stop RUNNING…and knocking over the Country to block US in the process.

    They have nothing to lose, compared to getting caught.

    • JTMinIA says:

      Do you really believe that members of the administration are scared? (I assume that they are afraid of being prosecuted.) Do others believe this, too? It’s something that I’ve been wondering about for a while. Cheney’s bluster is often quite convincing, as was Rummy’s; Bush seems confused and Rice seems pissed off. I’ve never seen a hint of fear in any of them. The one person who does often seem terrified is Crocker. The video at the head of this thread provides a great example of this.

      • radiofreewill says:

        JTMinIA – Here’s my thinking: If they weren’t vulnerable to Fear, they wouldn’t have bothered with the OLC Memos…which they are ‘hiding’…I postulate…for a damn good reason…

        There appears to have been a Collective Near Cardiac Arrest of the Inner Circle when Goldsmith told them Yoo’s work was Horseshit Law – spreading Manure on the Constitution. That’s when they sent Gonzo The Enforcer to DoJ.

        My sentiments are like Horton’s – I think Bushco’s progression of Evil went something like this:

        1 – Took All UE Power-Grabbing Actions in Secret, Sua Sponte, Because They Could
        2 – Information on Secret Programs Leaked, Secret Legal Opinions Generated, Ex Post Facto
        3 – For Programs Challenged in Court, strategy was withdraw or dissemble to Avoid Adverse Ruling
        4 – Then when Opinions Challenged Legally, Use Ideologically Sympathetic Political Appointees to Politically ‘Gum Up’ DoJ

        Which means, more than likely, that Bush and Cheney have been Domestically Spying without a Warrant, Torturing Other Human Beings, and Subverting Justice, All in Secret, ALL BECAUSE THEY COULD practically since they got into Office and Based Solely on Chimpy’s Green-lighting – he’s not the Deciderer, he’s the Green-lighter.

        And, now, for them, it’s all about getting away with it…and it seems they are Very Conscious About It…so I do think they are scared, very scared, and therefore very dangerous, too.

        When Bush is in a Position of Unaccountable Power, he’s all about Bluster and Totally Immoral and Depraved Shock and Awe.

        But, when he’s called to Account for His Actions, his first instinct is TO RUN.

  9. Mary says:

    “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the message; his followers can go [to] their deaths and he’s in Iran.”

    I thought he was in Crawford cutting brush?

    Sorry – different maniacally egocentric twit.

    Ever since Bushco pulled off the assassination of the Hezbollah guy in Lebanon, and even before that with the the Iranians who went “missing” the US has seemed to me to be taunting Iran and its arms into taking action that they could use for either an excuse for more bombing, to bolster the Republican party politically, and/or to make the legal issues relating to torture, killings, disinformation, illegal surveillance, etc. be drowned out.

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    OT:

    Scott Horton has a new op-ed over at the LA times:

    Which came first: memos or torture?

    In the op-ed, Horton talks about a theme I’ve been flogging (just can’t use that figure of speech here), um, pushing here and at Balkinization. Here’s what I said at Balkinization on April 12:

    Would it change anybody’s mind if Yoo’s most egregious work (such as the recently released March 14, 2003 memo) were after the fact justfications for prior conduct? Look closely at the construction of that memo. It runs through a litany of very specific acts. It includes a promise from the Criminal Division not to prosecute.

    Now, go back and look at the interrogation logs of detainee 063[1]. The logs cover Nov. 23, 2002 to Jan. 11, 2003. Compare the activities in those logs with the acts that Yoo blesses in his memo. Remember that Alberto Mora was raising the illegality of the interrogation routine at Gitmo with Haynes & Yoo from Dec. 20, 2002 through Feb. 2003.

    [1]www.ifa.hawaii.edu/faculty/jewitt/interrogation.pdf

    There’s evidence that the Warrantless Wiretapping memo and the Extraordinary Rendition memo were also produced ex post facto. I’m still researching others.

    • cbl2 says:

      Christy nails it in her first paragraph

      “is that it reads like a document written in an after-the-fact criminal defense posture. Especially Part IV of the memorandum which spends pages outlining potential defenses and the mindset needed therefor should anyone be accused of committing war crimes or criminal acts.”

      suspect you can find it just as quickly in any of LHP’s post on this as well

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes. The OLC memos are strong evidence that these perps knew what they were doing was criminal. They were guideposts for how to avoid the most obvious liability arising from it, as well as an attempt to hamstring prosecutors by creating the defense that these knowing wrongs were done under the advice of counsel.

        That’s why John Yoo and his superiors, including Jay Bybee, need to lose their security clearances, their tenure, their professional licenses. These are not political opinions or controversial interpretations of difficult laws. They are road maps to break the law.

        Never let it be said Addington doesn’t know what he’s doing. We and the world just need him to stop doing it.

        • Hmmm says:

          eh, your collective-heart-attack scenario makes me think of the Administration’s FISA retroactive immunity posture as well: There were assurances of legality from the proper authority, therefore any actions taken on the basis of those assurances should be immune from prosecution, even if in the end it turns out that those assurances had faulty basis. Might part of the extreme hardlining on retroactive immunity be in order to shore up (with statute) that whole “But Johnny’s drunken mom said we could!” position?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Guardian has a front-page article about the enormous volume of “lost” interrogation records at Gitmo. Not only is evidence “lost”, so also is the sequence of events.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl…..umanrights

      As with the admittedly intentional destruction of interrogation tapes by the CIA (for which there have been no consequences, setting exactly the wrong precedent), this is strong confirmation that the administration and its jailers had guilty knowledge that what they were doing was criminal. It would be regarded as abhorrent by the civilized world and they tried to hide it.

      We recognize that, the world recognizes it, everyone but the perpetrators, their enabling press lords, and the Vichy Democrats seem to recognize it. The analogy that seems to fit this situation best is that of a crying family, agonizing over whether to launch an intervention with an alcoholic, abusive and dangerous parent?

    • bmaz says:

      Been away all morning; but I have never had much doubt but that, at best, the “memo” writing started either during or after they started snooping and torturing.

      • maryo2 says:

        OT – Recall guessing the 16 year-old girl in Texas either does not exist or is not 16? The ladies from the compound said that she does not exist and they have not heard the phone call(s) to a family violence shelter.

        http://blog.wired.com/underwir…..k-wit.html

        Also noticed, the TX compound did not exist until 2001. All of this child raping has happened on GW’s DOJ’s investigations-timed-to-his-advantage watch.

        • maryo2 says:

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  11. RickMassimo says:

    I might be older than a lot of you folks, but I can remember when the Secretary of State’s job was to avoid wars, not provoke attacks on Americans.

    The Department of State used to be called the War Department. Maybe we should just drop the pretense and go back.

    • PJEvans says:

      No, that was DoD that was the War Department. Which still makes it an inappropriate renaming.

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        . . that was DoD that was the War Department.

        IIRC, what the War Department was prior to the Defense Reorganization Act of 1947 became the Department of the Army, which together with the preexisting Department of the Navy and the newly created Department of the Air Force were all subsumed under the newly created Department of Defense (DoD).

  12. BooRadley says:

    In case anyone missed it last Friday, the FDL link below, is to some very hard hitting exchanges from people living in Iraq

    Adding More Skin to the Game

    GorillasGuides April 18th, 2008 at 3:10 pm
    131
    In response to BooRadley @ 109

    Oh really? I am Sunni, as is my husband. We live in a “Shia” area and the two orrphanages we run get their money equally from the Sadrists and a Sunni charitable foundation. Both of us are Sadrists. That is not an uncommon situation in Irak. You are very conveneiently forgetting that the JAM has excellent relations with some of the more active sections of the so-called “Sunni” resistance and that JAM fighters fought alongside the so-called “Sunni” resistance in Fallujah, Hit, Ramadi ….

    As to the Kurds – they are I told by our Kurdish members increasingly unhappy with the KRG and the Peshmerga.

  13. TheraP says:

    Don’t forget that all of this is also in the context of diplomats not wanting to go to Iraq! And Condi feeling personally offended that they don’t want to go there!

    The ironies related to Condi’s form of “Bring it on!” are just amazing! And appalling to the nth degree!

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sadr and his supporters must see this too. We’ve ghettoized Sadr City in preparation for something. “Keeping the peace” it could be, but only as defined by the Seventh Cavalry; this time from the air, perhaps, rather than horseback. To shift historical analogies, how many teens live in Sadr City’s version of the Warsaw address, Mila 18?

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The longer there is chaos in Iraq, the more “Iraqis” will need the many not-permanent military bases US taxpayers have paid Halliburton & Co., to build for us in Iraq. I should have said, our “enduring camps”, since we have no permanent bases anywhere in the world. The 104-acre, heavily-armored and bunkered American “embassy” alone, sitting on prime Baghdadi acreage, will cost an estimated $1.20 billion per year just to operate.

    Before Iraqi troops can stand up, so ours can stand down, we’ll need to pay to train lots more of them. As soon as their is a national army and not sectarian militias, which may be a while. We’ll also have to create out of whole cloth, no doubt with the help of patriotic American aerospace firms, an Iraqi Air Force and Navy, since they have none now. Which might be a problem for a sovereign country athwart the Middle East’s hot zone, which relies on sea routes to transport the commodity that represents the vast majority of its GNP.

    When all that’s done, when all the oil revenue has been appropriated to pay us for those things (and to pay for the service and support contracts from those same patriotic firms), Iraqi “troops” will finally have stood up and we can go home. But only if they don’t still need our help in putting into practice their de-nationalizing the oil industry law, or in getting our oil safely delivered to us, or….

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/pos…..ut_of_iraq

    • bobschacht says:

      Before Iraqi troops can stand up, so ours can stand down, we’ll need to pay to train lots more of them. As soon as their is a national army and not sectarian militias, which may be a while. We’ll also have to create out of whole cloth, no doubt with the help of patriotic American aerospace firms, an Iraqi Air Force and Navy, since they have none now. Which might be a problem for a sovereign country athwart the Middle East’s hot zone, which relies on sea routes to transport the commodity that represents the vast majority of its GNP.

      I don’t think the Bush-Cheney regime is at all interested in the Iraqi troops “standing up.” What they want is permanent dependency. They want Iraq as a permanent colony of the New American Empire.

      The British tried it in Iraq. It didn’t work.
      The Russians tried it in Afghanistan. It didn’t work.
      The Americans tried it in South Vietnam. It didn’t work.

      A major reason for the collapse of the Soviet empire was the debacle in Afghanistan, which essentially broke the Russian military.

      The Bush-Cheney regime seems hell-bent on breaking the American Military in Iraq. They are rolling so relentlessly in that direction that it almost seems like they’re breaking the American Military on purpose.

      Speaker Pelosi, there must be special charges waiting in judgment on you for taking impeachment off the table.

      Bob in HI

      • JTMinIA says:

        If by “Wexler wants hearings” he means he wants hearings into why Pelosi shouldn’t be held accountable for putting a component of her job “off the table,” then I might just send him a few bucks after all.

      • MadDog says:

        The British Americans tried it in Iraq. It didn’t work.
        The Russians Americans tried it in Afghanistan. It didn’t work.
        The Americans tried it in South Vietnam. It didn’t work.

        A minor real-time edit. *g*

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree. The building of multiple bases in Iraq, at enormous cost to build and very large annual operating costs, is a pretty clear sign the administration intends them to be permanent. That they deny it confirms it. Ditto with the complex the administration calls only an embassy. One suspects these bases were crammed into the budget as essential to current ops and classified as temporary forward bases. But its a program whose decisions, costs and political ramifications Congress should take a hard look at. Whenever it wakes up.

  16. JTMinIA says:

    Getting back to the video for a moment, is it me or did they not actually deny that they knew that Cheney ordered al Maliki to attack al Sadr? It seems they only denied being present.

    • nomolos says:

      Getting back to the video for a moment, is it me or did they not actually deny that they knew that Cheney ordered al Maliki to attack al Sadr? It seems they only denied being present.

      I thought the question itself could have been more artfully formed…. or maybe it was? Crocker eye movement when he gives his answer was telling.

  17. JTMinIA says:

    Hey! This thread only started about 3 1/2 hours ago. I’m way ahead of my average if I’m getting the point now.

  18. perris says:

    i posted this over at the lake and it is right on point for this post and here is what people keep forgetting;
    ,
    the administration, the pnac, the neo cons, they do not want peace, they want unending war, they want unrest

    there is money and treasure in war, more money and more treasure then you can imagine and it is this treasure they want for themselves

    if you want to rob the treasure of a country, of a continent, all it takes is war

    cheney did it with rumsfeld during the nixon administration, making up whatever it took to continue the cold war and then he did it again with iraq

    but Iraq is already played out and we are not going to let them start their war in the rest of the world so they are doing what it takes to have the rest of the world start war with us

    pelosi needs to be unseated and sent home to do something else, she is outmatched and outplayedI

    I would link to cheney inventing data to keep nixon’s detante from being successful but I’ve linked to it too much

    they invent data to start war and maintain war, it is a fact, it is historically documented, cheney wants war

    Iraq

    • skdadl says:

      They want war; indeed they do. George Bernard Shaw explained it all to us in Major Barbara (1905). There’s a speech of Undershaft’s (arms manufacturer and dealer) in that play that sounds so like the famous quote Ron Suskind passed on to us (from “a Bush aide”) about how the world really works that it’s eerie.

      Or there’s Dwight Eisenhower, and if he was worried, there had to be something to worry about.

    • JohnJ says:

      My parents explained that the “cold war” was nothing more than a way to keep the Gov in a wartime mode after WWII. A wartime mode says “do it now to survive, and figure out how to pay for it later”. It worked swimmingly.

      With that in mind it scared the hell out of me when up-to-the-z-in-Alzheimer’s-Ronny offered to replace the cold war with the “war on drugs”, which is basically a war on fellow Americans. That didn’t fly when the SCOTUS knocked down his attempt to drug test everyone working for the Government.

      Now we have the resurrection of the same thinking without the single bad guy of the Soviet Union. It ain’t as pretty as it was before.

    • behindthefall says:

      they invent data to start war and maintain war, it is a fact, it is historically documented, cheney wants war

      Iraq

      I don’t quite get what you meant here at the end of your comment (’war … Iraq’), but that’s because I had expected you to end by saying that Cheney wants war with Iran. Waning moon now. New Moon coming up first week of May. Cross your fingers. (BTW, IMHO it was pretty chilling watching him deliver the farewell speech to the Pope yesterday.)

      • DefendOurConstitution says:

        BTW, IMHO it was pretty chilling watching him deliver the farewell speech to the Pope yesterday.

        More like it was tough to keep my dinner now. The Pope communing with the puppeteer that brought us the war and didn’t say shit (other than a flimsy remark that may have referred to Iraq war at UN) about the atrocity of this venture.

      • perris says:

        I don’t quite get what you meant here at the end of your comment (’war … Iraq’), but that’s because I had expected you to end by saying that Cheney wants war with Iran.

        cheney wants war period, it doesn’t matter who it’s with, war brings profit

        this is what I was alluding to

        it’s documented, he creates a “team b”, they manufacture “evidence” that is rediculous and they create unrest

        from the link;

        In 1972, President Richard Nixon returned from the Soviet Union with a treaty worked out by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the beginning of a process Kissinger called “détente.” On June 1, 1972, Nixon gave a speech in which he said:

        “Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear—for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world.”
        But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford’s Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated? And how could billions of dollars taken as taxes from average working people be transferred to the companies that Rumsfeld and Cheney – and their cronies – would soon work for and/or run?

        Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort – first secretly and then openly – to undermine Nixon’s treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.

        They did it by claiming that the Soviets had a new secret weapon of mass destruction that the president didn’t know about, that the CIA didn’t know about, that nobody knew about but them. It was a nuclear submarine technology that was undetectable by current American technology. And, they said, because of this and related-undetectable-technology weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work or have businesses relationships with.

        The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld’s position a “complete fiction” and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.

        it really peeves me off this is the same guy we allowed to do the same thing to us in Iraq and now he’s trying it again in Iran

        the man is a depraved sociopath

  19. Mary says:

    28 –

    ALL BECAUSE THEY COULD

    That’s what makes Pelosi’s “impeachment is off the table” so bad. It was the height of telling them “they could” And it’s why the lawyers at DOJ were so much less than despicable. They not only told them they could, when it came to the military and DOJ’s position that depravity against even the mistaken and the innocent is not only to be ignored, but encouraged, they told them they MUST. Those orders to be Bush and Cheney’s subhuman playthings – those are legal orders.

  20. Mary says:

    OT – “snafu” results in loss of torture records.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl…..tworkfront

    Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared.

    The records on al-Qahtani, who was interrogated for 48 days – “were backed up … after I left, there was a snafu and all was lost”, Dunlavey told Philippe Sands QC, who reports the conversation in his book Torture Team

    • Hugh says:

      Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared.

      The records on al-Qahtani, who was interrogated for 48 days – “were backed up … after I left, there was a snafu and all was lost”, Dunlavey told Philippe Sands QC, who reports the conversation in his book Torture Team

      I believe he needs to look in the file: Can’t organize a two car parade. It’s probably in there.

    • GregB says:

      Shocking! They must have realized that same excuse was good enough for the Whitehouse to use in regard to the RNC e-mails, it is good enough for the Dept. of Civilian Propaganda, I mean the Pentagon.

      -GSD

  21. merkwurdiglieber says:

    She may think she is in a pissing contest, but she is pissing in the wind
    on this one… great video.

  22. MadDog says:

    OT – In case you missed it, there was a brief filing by the White House’s OA posted last Friday at the National Security Archive.

    A summary statement of that filing was:

    EOP Defendants respectfully file their consent motion for clarification of the Court’s November 12, 2007 Order to ensure that the Office of Administration may use disaster recovery back-up tapes for data recovery purposes – the very purposes for which the back-up tapes were created.

    It seems that the OA has not been able to respond to its users’ requests to restore deleted files (deleted accidentally or otherwise) for some period of time:

    Out of an abundance of caution, OA has also suspended its data recovery activities pending clarification from the Court that it may satisfy customer requests when needed for the smooth and effective operations of the EOP. Consequently, OA has been frustrated in its ability to support its customers who may need mission critical files in order to carry out their duties to support, advise and assist the President.

    In the OA filing, they indicate that both the National Security Archives and CREW consent to allow the OA to use a copy of the backup tapes to recover lost files.

  23. Mary says:

    EarlOH @ 24 – sorry to repost your link at 46. I’m having tubes troubles and when I posted all I had was comments through my 15 and no “x comments” line showing any new ones to load. When I hit submit it went to a long screen lock so I wasn’t even sure it posted.

    WO @ 16 – I think there are definitely two themes to the memos. The first is that they did go ahead and begin violating laws and treaties asap and then went back for some ex post facto justifications. I think this is really highlighted as early as the Gonzales Jan 2002 opinion based on the Yoo, Flanigan and IIRC Philbin write ups on enemy combatants, illegal (much of which was in essence seems based on the Posner/Goldsmith theories of the Excutive being able to run amok on non-domestic law issues). There’s no way for me to read the Gonzales memo of Jan 2002 without reading it to say that using the “illegal enemy combatants” approach will help us defend against War Crimes Act prosecutions for things we have ALREADY DONE, as well as what is contemplated.

    But then I think you began to have all Bush’s playthings who were coordinating and participating in torture keep running up against FBI agents like Cloonan and Coleman – who were adamant that the laws were being broken; and against people like Mora, Brant and Fallon/CITF crew who were adamant that laws were being broken; and against JAG and JAG officer pushback – – and so some of the playthings lost their squeakie.

    Which took you to the second stage of opinions and briefings and feedback, where those involved in things that were pretty clearly illegal no matter what Yoo spouted began to want to pull in others and have specific justifications and approvals from higher up for all the things they were going to continue to do. And the fact is that fairly early on it looks like you began to have both deaths from “interrogation” treatment and not only that, but it was clear that Bushco wasn’t really even bothering to make sure “their” pitbulls were put in the pit with other fighting bulls, and instead a wide assortment of innocent people (the mutts named Timmy who are some 4 yos best friend) started hitting the pits with regularity.

    People who were not, under anyone’s definition, actually “Unlawful Enemy Combatants.” That’s the Oh Crap moment – isn’t it? All these opinions on what we are doing – but what about when there is death; when the abused are innocents? Those opinions don’t give an out for “oops, honest mistake, you meant to interrogate a bad guy – not sodomize a child who wasn’t even the ‘bad guy’s’ kid, before beating and freezing to death the notabadguy” The opinions didn’t, although Congress later fixed that ommission. But still, I think you had both dynamics working in the opinions. Opinions that tried to be specific enough to cover things already done or already on paper to be done, and opinions broad enough to be used as a “shield” for future work and to help convince Bush’s playthings to jump in the pit for him.

    And on the military front, there was a third dynamic. That was to give a veneer of “legality” to orders that were clearly illegal and to make it a military offense to refuse to torture. Or to talk about the torture. Or to take pictures or preserve evidence of the torture. Opinions used as a weapon against our own military.

    But there were so many things going on and so many dynamics I don’t think we’ll be able to isolate an opinion being solely for giving an after the fact blessing. It doesn’t change my mind a lot about Yoo if we do find that to be the case (opinions given to justify something already done), but it certainly changes the posture and defense of pretending that someone was “relying” on an OLC opinion when they first decided to become Bush’s partner in crime

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Don’t forget that the warrantless wiretapping memo says that the Prez gets to determine his own Article II powers and the Justice Dept. has to go along. Kinda makes the “we had legal opinions saying it was ok” justification a bit redundant.

    • masaccio says:

      I have been reading the Alstoetter case, the Nuremburg trial of lawyers, judges and administrators of the German government. One section discusses the Nacht und Nebel Erlassen, the Night and Fog regulation, under which resistance fighters were taken from their homes and sent to Germany where they were tried by the civil courts. Their existence and treatment were kept secret. This is from the decision;

      The Security Police and SD engaged in widespread arrests of the civilian population of these occupied countries, imprisoned many of them under inhumane conditions, and subjected them to brutal third degree methods, and sent many of them to concentration camps. Local units of the Security Police and SD were also involved in the shooting of hostages, the imprisonment of relatives, the execution of persons charged as terrorists and saboteurs without a trial, and the enforcement of the Nacht and Nebel decree under which persons charged with a type of offenses believed to endanger the security of the occupying forces were either executed within a week or secretly removed to Germany without being permitted to communicate with their family and friends.”*

      The description in the decision is quite like what happened to the people removed to Baghram Air Base and Guantanamo.

      Now get this:

      The army was opposed to the plan because it involved them in violations of international law of war.

      The program was given to the civilian courts, because of their greater “reliability”, meaning, as the opinion makes clear, pliability.

  24. Mary says:

    61 – don’t it though.

    Still, if I was going to kidnap someone, maybe their children too, and start in on a course of exposing them to prolonged and unrelenting depraved acts, I’d feel so much better knowing that in addition to the President’s secret ok, the Attorney General was sitting their in a chair, intermittently adjusting his boys for comfort, while being briefed on exactly what I was going to do – and sayin, ‘uh, duh, yuh, sounds good to me’

    Another OT via AP and The Muckraker– Robert Coughlin, former Deputy Chief of Staff of DOJ’s criminal division, is being charged with criminal conflict of interest. Possibly from his dealings with Kevin Ring. The Muck says expect a plea.

    • PetePierce says:

      DOJsters make the best BOP inmates. Their talents are best suited to garbage collection and grass cutting.

  25. bobschacht says:

    Premis #1: President Bush is not dumb, but of mediocre intelligence and has never really succeeded at anything but (a) getting elected, and (b) avoiding responsibility. Whether in the oil business, baseball, or politics, there has always been someone to bail him out.

    Premis #2: The Bush-Cheney administration was not really prepared for the public pressure after 9/11 regarding “Why didn’t you connect the dots?”, so was instantly in “Circle the Wagons” mode

    Premis #3: The 9/11 Commission publicity about the “wall” between Intelligence and Law Enforcement encouraged a frenzy of tearing down walls all over the place, including those meant to safeguard civil liberties.

    Lemma #1: When a mediocre personality is thrown on the defensive, the instinctive reaction is to cheat (because he lacks confidence in his ability to win fairly.)

    Lemma #2: Pampered rich kids are brought up feeling that rules and laws are for ordinary people, not swells like themselves.

    So most of the past 7 years seems very understandable– except one thing:
    What the #&[email protected]*!! got into Nancy Pelosi’s coffee pot that possessed her to take impeachment off the table at exactly the time it most needed to be on the table??? I believe that she will go down in history in the company of the Quislings of Sweden, Chamberlain of Britain, the French collaborators, and the spineless Democrats in Germany before WWII who did not stop Hitler’s rise to power when they could have done so. Is that stating the case too strongly? Or is something extra in my coffee this morning?

    Bob in HI

      • bobschacht says:

        In response to bobschacht @ 70

        Quislings of Sweden,

        Norway?

        You’re prolly right. I’m not too good on Scandahoovian politics.

        Thanks for the correction.

        Bob in HI

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I wish you’d stop being so reserved and told us what you really think. *g*

      I think you captured Shrub exactly right, and explained a dynamic that applies to both Cheney and Shrub, though it only partly explains Cheney’s unearthly hold over Shrub. Me, I’d put it down to the pod people, except that Cheney never sleeps and Shrub never wakes up.

      As for Pelosi, I have no idea why so many Vichy Democrats are scared to death to look at Bush’s wrongs. Perhaps because there are so many of them and they so systematically unravel what textbooks and law books tell us how government should operate. But that means they are too scared to do their jobs, which means they should give them up.

      Pelosi was wrong to take impeachment off the table. The threat of serious investigations was the hammer; they needn’t have proceeded to trial in the Senate, at least not during Bush’s term in office. That could well have culled many of their recent excesses. Nance seems to have fallen victim to McClellan’s disease: she’s so scared of losing a battle she never fights any, and thereby almost loses the war.

      If she’s still Leader in the next Congress, I’m not hopeful she’ll even launch an investigation.

  26. CTuttle says:

    Back when Dick Cheney snuck off to Iraq to meet with Nuri al-Maliki, it remained unclear whether or not Cheney’s visit had some causal relationship with what came next: Maliki’s ill-fated offensive into Basra.

    EW, Juan Cole had similar thoughts about Darth’s involvement…

    My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement. In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis. I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists coming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists’ paramilitary. Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big ‘if.’

  27. CTuttle says:

    EW, here’s a take on Condi’s visit to the Middle East…

    Info-ops in real time
    There was a reason Bush thought this current period of time was to be a “defining moment” in his Iraq adventure: it was to be the summing-up and fruition of the year-and-a-half process since his meeting with Maliki in Amman in November 2006 (see the famous Hadley memo for the briefing): Sidelining/eradication of the (Shiite, anti-occupation) Mahdi Army; and in so doing, earning of the support of Arab nations and groups for the Maliki administration (”strong leader”, “curbs Shia extremists” and so on).

    And one of the celebratory moments was to have been the meeting of the countries neighboring Iraq (and some others) in Kuwait, starting tomorrow. (Attendance at that meeting was the primary reason for Condi being in the region; her excursion to Baghdad was unexpected). This was to have been a celebration of the fact that Arab regions, now more respectful of the Maliki administration, would announce the opening of embassies in the Green Zone, and other fraternal support.

    The problem is that the crush-Sadr/earn-Sunni-respect program didn’t go as planned. Violence escalated. The Green Zone is under daily rocket and/or mortar attack, and Arab regimes are less likely than ever to open embassies there. Moreover, the story that fighting Sadr equals fighting Iran hasn’t really taken hold of the Arab-regime hearts and minds either.

    The most important thing to bear in mind is the nature of the original plan–crush or neutralize the Mahdi Army and thereby draw Sunni groups and nations into alliance with Maliki. How far would you have to go in order to achieve the first objective? Could it include risking civil war? And the secondary point is: What will be the actual nature of the Sunni Arab support you would obtain even if you could crush the Mahdi Army. Because obviously it will tend to be the worst kind, appealing to sectarian animosity instead of appealing to actual common desires to live together in peace and fraternity

    http://arablinks.blogspot.com/

    • skdadl says:

      That is very good, although it is a lot more polite and restrained than I have been. I guess that Abrams feels he must be polite and restrained. I’m beginning to worry that living online has made me much ruder than I used to be.

      It’s interesting that Abrams would publish at HuffPo, too.

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Whoopsie… EW meant ‘Condi, the Sec of State‘?
    Silly me.
    I was looking for ‘Condi, Chevron oil tanker‘. I must be in the wrong spot…

    Condi’s current pissing match part of the run-up to war against Iran. See: ‘oil tanker’ for further details. Condi and her fellow oil major pals + neocons seem desperately to want to bomb Iran, and they’re running out of time. That may explain the increasingly hissing, spiteful tone.

    It’s not plausible that this cabal waited all these years and will let this slip through their hands; it seems likely they’ll do something reckless and desperate. After all, they seem to have obsessed on Iran for over 20 years now.


    JohnJ: your synopsis makes a very creepy kind of sense.

  29. prostratedragon says:

    General Norman H. Schwarzkopf plumbs the strategic depths of Richard Bruce Cheney:

    Unfortunately for Secretary of Defense, whose passion for deposing Saddam Hussein reached surreal levels, the “Operation Scorpion” scheme he and his aides developed for imposing “regime change” upon Iraq was so ineptly plotted that it was scrapped after a cursory review by General Norman Schwarzkopf. “I wondered whether Cheney had succumbed to the phenomenon I’d observed among some secretaries of the army,” observed Schwarzkopf, the commander on the ground in the region. “Put a civilian in charge of professional military men and before long he’s no longer satisfied with setting policy but wants to outgeneral the generals.”

    Source: “Dick Cheney: Vice President of the Apocalypse”

  30. dosido says:

    endless war = Big $$$ for War Criminal Government
    They keep stoking the fires and crying wolf. Keep fighting. The Splurge is working…

    Seriously, I just received a letter from UC Berkeley Office of Gift Planning. It closes by saying if there is any way we can be helpful on any charitable planning matter, we would welcome that opportunity.

    How about firing John Yoo? Academic freedom is not to be used to paper over crimes after the fact. I might feel differently if he was just “out there” theoretically, years before 9/11 happened. But he wasn’t. If anything, he should be invoking the worn out executive privilege thingy that applies to anyone to talked/wrote to/for Bush/Cheney.

    /rant

  31. bobschacht says:

    I have been reading the Alstoetter case, the Nuremburg trial of lawyers, judges and administrators of the German government. One section discusses the Nacht und Nebel Erlassen, the Night and Fog regulation, under which resistance fighters were taken from their homes and sent to Germany where they were tried by the civil courts. Their existence and treatment were kept secret.

    That reading must put you in contact with the historical personae of Hitler’s rise to power. This is slightly OT, but have you run across who were the leaders of the opposition party during the early years of Hitler’s power grab? Were there weak-kneed leaders then who failed to oppose Hitler’s ascendency when they still could, before it was too late?

    Bob in HI

    • masaccio says:

      I’m reading Alstoetter to help figure out if Yoo could be tried for war crimes using that case as a kind of precedent. I was struck by Mary’s reference to the problems faced by the military in dealing with the insistence that the detainees be tortured. Isn’t it interesting that the German Army faced the same problem, and just refused to violate international laws of war.

  32. Hmmm says:

    DKos reporting Hillary Clinton said the following today, in an interview to air tomorrow:

    I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president we will attack Iran,” Clinton said. “In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.

    Where to start with that, hmmm…

    • bobschacht says:

      DKos reporting Hillary Clinton said the following today, in an interview to air tomorrow:

      I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president we will attack Iran,” Clinton said. “In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.

      Where to start with that, hmmm…

      Well, a good place to start would be to put the quote in context. She was responding to this question:

      ABC News’ Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

      It’s not nice to scare the children like that.
      I’m supporting Obama, but there’s no need to be throwing disingenuous slop at Hil.

      Bob in HI

      • Hmmm says:

        Thanks for the re-framing, the DK article lacked that. Hil does seem to be getting covered everywhere today in the most aggressive light possible, though, in re. Iran — apparently she just made a similar threat display on Olberman.

        Actually the part that jumped out at me more than that was “…in the next ten years… we would be able to totally obliterate them.” This reads like a reference to some new weapons program…?

      • skdadl says:

        I agree that the context of the question matters, but still. Is it unthinkable that a candidate for president of the U.S. could not round on the interviewer and ask him where the hell he got such a loaded question?

        To me, the question is drenched in propaganda in the first place. Where did Cuomo get such a question? And why would a respectable candidate co-operate with it? Why don’t they fight back?

        • bobschacht says:

          I agree that the context of the question matters, but still. Is it unthinkable that a candidate for president of the U.S. could not round on the interviewer and ask him where the hell he got such a loaded question?

          To me, the question is drenched in propaganda in the first place. Where did Cuomo get such a question? And why would a respectable candidate co-operate with it? Why don’t they fight back?

          I agree. It comes down to the usual: We’re the country of free speech– except when it comes to Israel. Then it is necessary to kowtow to the most reactionary Israeli neocon line or else face political assasination. Ask Howard Dean about “fairness” in this regard.

          Bob in HI

        • bmaz says:

          I just don’t understand this “controversy”. We are obligated to take out Iran if they seriously attack Israel; Israel has a security agreement with NATO. This is so stupid it burns. Any candidate that answered much different would be excoriated by the Jewish lobby. They are flogging this crap at Kos? What a bunch of crap.

          • Hmmm says:

            Well, after taking a look around the MSM news sites at the moment — gotta say it reads more like Hil is on a last-minute last-ditch tough-talk NeoCon image campaign. So, presumably her team’s math says she needs that to pull it out tomorrow in PA.

            • bmaz says:

              How is stating the obvious a “neocon image campaign”? If Iran initiated a nuclear attack on Israel, we would take them out. Again, that is just a fact. Again, there is a NATO security agreement. It does not matter what political persuasion you are, from dirty hippy to raging neocon, this is just a fact. It is the only answer she could give to that asinine question. It is also the same answer Obama would have to give; or anybody else for that matter.

              • Hmmm says:

                bmaz, I can’t tell whether I’m not being clear enough, or whether you disagree with my observation, but I’m only talking about why the sudden emphasis on this more-aggressive-than-usual talk. I don’t think it’s just a question of a single bad interviewer, though I agree with you that the question was a terrible one. From a couple quick surveys, it looks to me to be a deliberate pattern by the clinton campaign across multiple interviews, and at least one ad (let me know if it’s really that important to you, and in that case I will collect a bag o’ cites), and I’m just curious why the rather sudden shift in emphasis. Of course you may not see that pattern from your POV, in which case, fine. You may not see Hil as having neocon aspects to her portfolio of positions either, in which case, again, fine.

                • bmaz says:

                  No, this whole campaign is dead to me. I just don’t understand all the big deal over every little thing these people say. Candidates say things to try to get elected, and they are forced into inane tracks too. So what? I just don’t see the controversy here; but am more than done with the issue. I don’t disagree with you so much as just don’t see it as particularly earth shattering.

                  • Hmmm says:

                    I hear ya. Me, I’m worried an Iran warplan is on, and reading tea-leaves (sorry rotl). Probably too compulsively, for which I apologize.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Pfffftttt… I need all the help I can get (!). But if I were sitting on a ring of Jupiter watching this unfold, I’d think, “Hmmmmm… Sybil Edwards. She may be full of sh*t. On the other hand, she said, ‘there’s a network’.”
                      The Watergate mantra was ‘follow the money’. This era’s mantra should be, ‘Follow the classified documents, follow the refusals to testify, follow the claims of UE, follow the deleted files, follow the hacked servers…and don’t forget to follow the moneylaudering while you’re at it‘ .

                      Given the hysterical belligerence about Iran, somethings happening with this network. Either they’re increasingly afraid of being revealed, or someone got punked Big Time.

                      I’m really tired of watching this lunacy, helpless to do anything about it.
                      And I am REALLY getting fed up with the US Congress (!!)

                    • bmaz says:

                      I’m really tired of watching this lunacy, helpless to do anything about it.
                      And I am REALLY getting fed up with the US Congress (!!)

                      Well, what took you so long??? By the way, congratulations on keeping Bennett around; I think that bodes very well for Wazzou.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Thanks for your kind words about Bennett – very civil and generous of you!

                      But as for Congress and Iraq — the stupidity of bombing Iran (or any nation) is so obvious that it should have roused Congress to intervene forcefully, even if it meant arresting Cheney and Bush. Now, I’m hopeless.

                      And here’s why:
                      The neocon brainaics have spent 20 and 30 years obsessing on war with Iran; all that metabolic energy was directed to build cognitive networks of neural pathways activated over, and over, and over by the meme ‘Iran = threat! Destroy! Destroy!‘ Activate any neural network enough times, over a long enough period, and people lose their ability to things realistically; they see them the way their brains have been ‘wired’ to see them, and they lose the capacity to see any alternatives.

                      Strikingly, Bush and the neocons seem to view anything unfamiliar, novel, or inconsistent with their assumptions as a threat. It’s as if (like Germany prior to WWI) they derive security and self-importance from their Grand Plans, which in their minds are a blueprint for success. Take their Grand Plans away and they’d only be puny, frightened, flaw humans like the rest of us.

                      I just don’t see anyone with enough power to step in and prevent this lunacy, unless it’s individual military commanders who mutiny. And that also seems problematic.

  33. Mary says:

    90 – and to Abu Ghraib and to any of the many detention centers.

    This is what I have been saying for a long time – that the reason all the original combatant status review tribunals at GITMO were so delayed and, when finally undertaken, such laughable excuses for hearings – is that everyone there and everyone upstream at DOJ and in the Chain of Command knew that IF anyone sent to GITMO was not an actual “enemy combatant” or “illegal enemy combatant” but instead just a civilian rounded up from a home, a plane, a hotel, a university, etc. – and shipped out of country – then at the shipping out of country you have an act that the Geneva Conventions define internally as being a severe breach of the Conventions.

    Then we have the War Crimes Act here in the states that says it is a domestic crime to engage in severe breaches of the conventions. So from the time people began arriving at GITMO (and wasn’t that as early as Jan 2002?) if any of those who arrived were really just civilians, purchased by the US in human trafficking transactions, you had completed war crimes for the War Crimes Act right then and there. That’s without proof of further abuse. It’s no wonder they didn’t want names released – the minute names of civilians were out there, there wasn’t really any additional evidence needed for the war crimes prima facie case. Instead of torture tapes that could be destroyed, or other evidence the lawyers at DOJ would help them conceal, destroy and suppress, you had a person – now named – and the much tougher evidence to destroy of that persons existence at a destination where they were clearly shipped out of country.

    And as far as the Germans and their civilian court views – well, look at what has happened in Moussaoui’s case. In Padilla’s case – all the evidence of years of torture based on the tortured statments of others, none of it allowed in the record – no one held even passing culpable. Not even with the report of the violations of Geneva Conventions at the S. Carolina brig. Not even with another detainee still there after Padilla’s release – still undergoing months and months of abuse and with his interrogation records now “lost” too.

    While I think Fitzgerald did an great job with what he had to work with in the Libby case (I was never a fan of in housing the investigation and I think all the reasons I was worried about in housing did come to fruition, even with Fitzgerald attempting a solid investigation) I also know that his handling of the Salah case in ND IL has opened some very creepy doors to admission of coerced or torture testimony, certified to only by hooded men, testifying with no liability to the court for lies, and I can’t say I like any of the case law he pushed out on that one. Padilla’s case, too, has opened the door to the govt disappearing someone for years to mentally rearrange them while physically abusing them, all the while holding Nifongesque press conferences and outright telling the American public over and over that the disappeared are guilty of the worst of the worst (with no way for anyone to speak on their behalf in rejoinder) THEN cough them up for a cooked up trial. The Ashcroft/Comey approach to law and justice.

    We have had our civilian courts willing to carelessly issue some very very disturbing case law that is laying the foundation for a system of secret, imperial justice and trial, quite literally, by torture.

  34. AZ Matt says:

    From LA Times

    Which came first: memos or torture?

    John Yoo’s legal opinions and questions about culpability and timing.
    By Scott Horton
    April 21, 2008

    John C. Yoo likes the limelight, but it’s causing him some grief. Of the half a dozen lawyers who played important roles in a Bush administration decision to legalize the use of highly coercive interrogation techniques, only Yoo has emerged as the public face — and target — related to the policy.

    But Yoo’s account of how and why the torture memos were crafted may not hold up. Congress is preparing hearings into the subject, and they have invited Yoo to testify. International law scholar Philippe Sands and other writers have punched holes in Yoo’s claims about the facts. It increasingly appears that the Bush interrogation program was already being used before Yoo was asked to write an opinion. He may therefore have provided after-the-fact legal cover. That would help explain why Yoo strained to take so many implausible positions in the memos.

    It also appears that government lawyers had told Bush administration officials that some of the techniques already in use were illegal, even criminal. In fact, a senior Pentagon lawyer described to me exchanges he had with Yoo in which he stressed that those using the techniques could face prosecution. Yoo notes in his Pentagon memo that he communicated with the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and got assurances that prosecutions would not be brought. The question becomes, was Yoo giving his best effort at legal analysis, or was he attempting to protect the authors of the program from criminal investigation and prosecution?

  35. Mary says:

    And masaccio – take a look at this:
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/…..crets.html

    story about some of the shenanigans in the Kontogiannis case. How’s that for some civil court secrecy assertions by the Executive. The answers by the prosecutors to the “questions over how much deference courts have to give to information deemed classified by the president or members of the executive branch” – the prosecution originally had those sealed under the “if we tell you to, you have to” secret legal theory.

    • emptywheel says:

      Mary

      I’ve been trying to figure otu if those are appeals to CIPA. Presumably, by invoking CIPA, the prosecutors could refuse to declassify anything, since CIPA requires a defendant and her claim to the right to a defense, whereas First Amendment claims to court openness don’t. Still trying to figure out what documents were released this week–most of what was in the article I reported on months ago.

    • masaccio says:

      That is fascinating. What could be the basis for sealing the record in a criminal case? Sources and means for obtaining the information that was used to indict? Echoing Mary, why isn’t that a CIPA matter?

      • bmaz says:

        I think the sealed matters were concerning the specific facts and circumstances germane to TK’s cooperation with the government and in which cases.

        • emptywheel says:

          Here’s what we know:

          Tommy K was cooperating in some kind of JTTF investigation, almost certainly run out of NY.

          I’m fairly certain the two-word term they don’t want you to know is “national security”–they don’t want you to know that they’re about to let Tommy K go free, in spite of hte fact that he is, among other things, a mortgage fraudster, because they found him useful in a nat secutiry investigation.

          And I SUSPECT that they’re saying the declassification of his plea deal falls under CIPA. But since K doesn’t need that classified info to defend himself, it will remain classified. That’s a guess, but it’s my suspicion.

  36. Mary says:

    OT, and back to my earlier OT on Coughlin.

    EW is the timeline whiz, but Coughlin resigned April of 07. In May of 07, while everyone was mesmerized by the Ashcroft hospital bed story, Bush was quietly and abruptly withdrawing Hillman’s name from consideration for the Third Circuit.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/159040.php

    In addition to all the speculation about Hillman’s roles, prior to his appointment to the Dist. Ct, with respect to the political withchunts in DOJ, like the Wis case and the Seigelman case etc., he had another prominent role as well.

    TPM, quoting the Newark Star Ledger, “Hillman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey and the lead Justice Department prosecutor in the Jack Abramoff Capitol Hill lobbying scandal

    So Coughlin resigns in April, in May Hillman’s name is pulled. Coughlin had been Deputy COS for Criminal division while it was investigating his pal Kevin Ring (both of them having been Ashcroft staffers in their earlier incarnations)and Abramoff. Hillman, who was the lead prosecutor for the Abramoff investigation until he got his federal judgeship nod in Jan/Feb of 2006, gets the bump to judgeship right around the time of the controversy over pictures of Bush and Abramoff and their suppression. But then oddly and abruptly loses his next bump up to the circuit slot.

    • emptywheel says:

      Also note that the Coughlin side is being run through Baltimore’s USA, but it appears the USA there, Rod Rosenstein, is recused, because Stuart Goldberg is listed as the Acting USA who signed the Information.

      Rosenstein was PDAAG for the Tax Division when Coughlin was at DOJ; does that mean the Tax Division is involved somehow?

      From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Rosenstein served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He coordinated the tax enforcement activities of the Tax Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the IRS, and he supervised 90 attorneys and 30 support employees. He also oversaw civil litigation and served as the acting head of the Tax Division when Assistant Attorney General Eileen J. O’Connor was unavailable, and he personally briefed and argued civil appeals in several federal appellate courts.

      (Peterr walked me through some of this via email earlier).

  37. Mary says:

    106 – as I read the story, Burns ruled, after initially sealing, that he was going to release K’s plea and some of the transcripts of hearings related to the plea. I think that was the oldish news. But prosecutors objected to even the release of the plea and of court transcripts (as well as other things that are more arguabley subject to a state secrets claim -like perhaps their still sealed affidavit) because they said that these judicial documents were subject to classification by the President and if he chose to classify a plea agreement, the court had no say in the matter.

    Then, when the appellate court raised “questions over how much deference courts have to give to information deemed classified by the president or members of the executive branch” the Prosecutors claimed that their legal rationale in their answers was classified too.

    IOW, “court, when you ask me as a DOJ lawyer how much deference you should give the Executive, I can tell you but then I’ll have to kill you” kind of thing. As I understand it, it is the Prosecutors’ bizarre legal arguments in their responses to those questions by the appellate court last August that have been released, “The documents unsealed last week were the government’s response to those questions.”

    IOW, their arguments that the President, and not the court, can decide the classification of judiciary documents such as plea agreemetns – those are what has been unsealed.

    Prepare the country for terrorist strikes any moment – now that the terrorists know the President thinks he can seal court records without the court agreeing. The national security reprucussions of terrorists knowing the kind of legal arguments DOJ makes to tell the courts to bug off are too frightening to contemplate.

    OTOH – we may have a solution to the Yoo dilema. If the next President will just order that every word Yoo utters or writes is classified, so tht he can only give classes to students who coincidentally have the highest levels of security clearance – and only from an ultra secure location (like, oh, say, maybe the South Carolina brig?) and that Yoo will, of course, as a font of a never ending stream of classified information, need to be removed to said ultra secure location —- well, I’m thinking we could finally find a way to put a DOJ flight of fancy to good use.

    The documents unsealed last week were the government’s response to those questions.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, the transcripts originally got released (albeit in redacted form). Here’s my post on them. But there were two claims that they were classified. First, the SD AUSAs–which they then backed down on significantly (I’d need to review it, but this led to this earlier release of transcripts). But then there was the general question which somehow the 9th C got involved in (perhaps bc JTTF got involved and demanded they do it?) And that second declassification level is what we’re discussing–whether we can unredact the rest. At least that’s what I understand to be happening.

  38. Mary says:

    113 – that last sentence should be with quotes, since it is from the article (must have hit paste on my cut and paste twice?)

    108 – I don’t know if the recusal has anything to do with Rosenstein’s former position with the tax division. I could see where it might – that if the issue is accepting gifts, there might have been a related issue on failure to report the FMV of those gifts as income. But I can also see where it might just be that as COS of all the Crim div, there were interactions between Coughlin and Rosenstein on even unrelated matters that made it prudent to recuse. I have no gut reaction or knowledgeable guess or flat out spec on that one.

  39. bmaz says:

    In essence, prosecutors argued that once the executive branch says something is classified, courts are virtually powerless to review or disagree.

    This is essentially exactly what the Bush DOJ has argued in the Vaughn Walker series of cases al-Haramain, AT&T etc. They are nothing if not consistent.

    EW @114 – Pretty good bet I think. But I further believe, and always have, that much of their secrey is nothing but sheer self preservation because of their duplicity with multiple courts, and because the true facts would make them look like the blithering fucking idiots they really are: TK has played them so bad that they can’t admit it.

    • emptywheel says:

      That plus there’s the whole CHiquita banana problem: once you allow corporations to support terrorists, in the name of collecting data on certain terrorists (but not the terrorists with extensive ties to your puppet in Colombia, Uribe), then how do you sustain your unwavering stance to terrorism. Same problem we’re going to have in Iraq once Joe Sixpack realizes we’re only sustaining some semblance of control through the intervention of one of the top guys in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a designated terrorist organization.

      Thing is, we’re picking good terrorists, bad terrorists, and presently expedient terrorists, which kind of goes against bUsh’s entire philosophy of counter-terrorism.

  40. Mary says:

    114 – I had even money on State Secrets or National Security as the words too classified for Burns to be allowed to utter them as being the grounds for sealing.

    Apparently the appellate court split the baby some and ruled that there was no compelling reason to seal the references in the plea agreement to K’s agreement to help on other matters – but also ruled that the portions of the transcript where prosecutors argue why they want the plea and transcripts sealed could remain sealed.

    The appeals court ultimately issued a narrow ruling, saying the public had a qualified right to transcripts of Kontogiannis’ plea hearing, and the government did not have a compelling reason to remove references to his cooperation with its investigations.

    The judges also ruled that there was no right to access portions of transcripts outlining the government’s reasons for sealing the proceedings.

    But the further items, the prosecutors legal rationale that the President could overrule a court’s determination as to what is or is not to be sealed in a court transcript – which the prosecutors also claimed was “classified” have now also been released (iow – this is a bit like the release of the “classified” Yoo opinions – there is no grounds for claiming a President can “classify” interpretations of the law presented to the court. At least, that’s how I read it.

    • bmaz says:

      Apparently the appellate court split the baby some and ruled that there was no compelling reason to seal the references in the plea agreement to K’s agreement to help on other matters – but also ruled that the portions of the transcript where prosecutors argue why they want the plea and transcripts sealed could remain sealed

      That is exactly what the 9th did. I have the order and that is about the extent of what it says.

  41. Mary says:

    117 – I think what the article is about and what you are wondering about are two different things.

    I understand that parts of the transcript were being unsealed over time, but there were two areas (at least) in the transcripts that remained sealed – the references to K’s cooperation with other investigations and the governments reasons for sealing (not the legal argument that the President can do what he wants – which is what has been recently unsealed – but instead the factual reasons given to the court as to why the the proceedings should have been sealed)

    The 9th has made its ruling on those items if I understand it and there will not be a lot more unredacted (”The judges also ruled that there was no right to access portions of transcripts outlining the government’s reasons for sealing the proceedings)

    But I believe the article is about the documents that were recently released – and those documents are the responses by the Prosecutors to the 9th Circuit’s questioning on how much deference the court was required to give. Apparently, the Prosecutors wanted their answer – the legal reasoning as to how much deference should be give – sealed too. They were sealed, but are now unsealed. And they are being met with the same kind of response as the Yoo opinions

    And implicit in the court’s unsealing of them is a rejection of the argument. Because if the argument was accepted by the court, the court would have accepted that answers to its questions should stay sealed until a President decided to the contrary.

  42. Mary says:

    122 – well dammit bmaz *g* if you have the order, you tell me what’s going on! LOL.

    And on 118 – isn’t that the argument that got the “Alice in Wonderland” response, too? That the very legal reasoning is “secret”? I can’t remember with any specificity but I kind of think that may be the one.

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