Obama’s Signing Statement Disappears Whistleblowers

When I suggested the other day that Obama’s memo on signing statements was actually very troublesome–in that there’s no transparency for which of Bush’s signing statements Obama plans to keep and in that we never learn which of those Bush relied on to break the law–a few people suggested I was being cynical. Really, the most common interpretation of the memo went, the memo was a sign of change we can believe in, a new willingness to be bound by law.

As it turns out, the memo appears to have been released (almost two months into Obama’s term, after all) to lay the groundwork for Obama’s first signing statement.

Charlie Savage (who wrote the book on this stuff) lays out the contents–mostly statements saying Obama refuses to spend money with the oversight from Congress they’ve demanded.  

One of the budget bill’s provisions that Mr. Obama said he could circumvent concerns United Nations peacekeeping missions. It says money may not be spent on any such mission if it entails putting United States troops under a foreign commander, unless Mr. Obama’s military advisers so recommend.

“This provision,” Mr. Obama wrote, “raises constitutional concerns by constraining my choice of particular persons to perform specific command functions in military missions, by conditioning the exercise of my authority as commander in chief on the recommendations of subordinates within the military chain of command, and by constraining my diplomatic negotiating authority.”


But a majority of the challenged provisions are those allowing money to be reallocated to a different program only with the approval of a Congressional committee. Mr. Obama called the provisions “impermissible forms of legislative aggrandizement” and declared that while executive-branch officials would notify lawmakers of any reallocation, “spending decisions shall not be treated as dependent on the approval of Congressional committees.”

So much for power of the purse.

The provision I’m most worried about, however, is one on whistleblowers. You see, the President who has promised transparency, apparently doesn’t want transparency to Congress when an executive agency fucks up.

He also raised concerns about a section that establishes whistle-blower protections for federal employees who give information to Congress.

“I do not interpret this provision,” he wrote, “to detract from my authority to direct the heads of executive departments to supervise, control and correct employees’ communications with the Congress in cases where such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential.”

This strikes at the heart of efforts to fix some of our intelligence failures and abuses by making it possible for Congress to learn about them before it’s too late.

I guess all that transparency Obama talked about was only for the things he wanted us to learn about. 

133 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      I’m sure.

      If intelligence people can go to Congress with whistleblower status, it means that COngress once exercises real oversight, particularly over intelligence functions–the President can’t simply hide stuff by refusing to give Congress “need to know” status.

      WHich means they can continue to wiretap Americans, torture people, and so on, without a way to fix it.

      • selise says:

        If intelligence people can go to Congress with whistleblower status, it means that COngress once exercises real oversight, particularly over intelligence functions–the President can’t simply hide stuff by refusing to give Congress “need to know” status.

        doesn’t help if congress sits on it. see daniel ellsberg and the pentagon papers.

        not arguing against protections for people who go to congress, just recognizing that’s probably not enough.

      • macaquerman says:

        Having had to leave w/o having had my questions fully explored, I’ve returned and demand to be put in my place.
        Obama’s qualms about allowing executve branch employees to take their complaints about executive branch actions, in process divulging classified info, seems like a rather solid position to be taken by the head of the executive branch.
        Even with a large dose of “I don’t have any idea of the bill”, I would of course disregard my ignorance and venture to say that if one assumes that the entire executive branch is too corrupt to trust, wouldn’t the judiial branch be more a appropriate venue than congress?

        • emptywheel says:


          What Obama is trying to protect is the claim–propagated by Addington–that POTUS gets complete control over classified information. He–and Obama–mis-cites precedent to do so. And that precedent seems bound to be definitively shot down, anyway, given all the recent court cases against executive claim to have exclusvie control over classified information.

          But the more important point–once you get beyond Obama making David Addington’s argument–is what this is designed to shut down. The appropriate committee in Congress BY LAW is supposed to have oversight over the exec. If the execu is keeping secrets to either hide incompetence (which Bush did for 8 years) or to hide law-breaking (ditto) that’s aproblem. A frankly, that’s the only reason to do this. It’s just an invitation for abuse.

          • macaquerman says:

            Thanks for directing my thinking. I was considering the statement from a more general view of the broad range of activities of the government, rather than just the intelligence agencies.
            I was also totally unaware that Obama had adopted and was seeking to retain Addington’s views. I was taking him at his word that he was not.
            If you can spare further time, I would appreciate anything you can do to show me how you know that Obama is embracing Addington.

            • emptywheel says:

              You’d want to read the al-Haramain filings submitted under Obama. They’re adopting teh same argument abotu Navy v. Egan as Addington championed–a claim that the exec gets complete say over classified information, when in fact Navy v. Egan says it gets control over whatever Congress hasn’t had a say on.

              Now, I need to go back and read this language. But this seems to be a clear case of Obama saying, “no matter what Congress says, I control the info.”

    • TheraP says:

      To me the idea that whistle-blowers can divulge information to Congress is the root of getting info about what happened under bush. And the way to prevent undermining of our govt by the executive. Congress has the right to investigate. And sometimes an investigation can be initiated based on info provided by a govt employee.

      This cuts at the heart of the restoration of the Rule of Law!

      I for one have been watching this whistle-blower thing like a hawk. For that very reason! Because, to me, it represents a path by which those govt employees who know of wrong-doing, especially in the areas EW mentioned, can come forward.

  1. phred says:

    Oh goody, another Pixie President, waving his magic fairy wand and sprinkling dust all around. C’mon Congress — what are you waiting for??? Investigate this b.s. already — and while you are at it, how ’bout you write some legislation banning signing statements. You know, turn the tables on ol’ Bush’s “upperdown votes”. The President signs or vetoes, that’s it.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Oh dear!

      All good Congresspersons, by definition, MUST assume that the President, any President, has ‘information’ and ‘facts’ which they do not, and, in this (apparently) Hamiltonian era, just like good little soldiers, good little Congresspersons must get ‘on board’ or suffer the consequences.

      Besides, as Nancy Pelosi famously said, once upon a time, when speaking (obviously, under the duress of great ‘frustration’ at complaints about her ‘attitude’ toward some ‘table’) to us (the peon class), “You don’t know the half of it.”

      Consider the burden that has created for her and other Congress persons.

      Does it not make more (political) sense for the Congresspeople to be just as ignorant of what is being done in our collective names as the rest of us?

      Think how much more comfortably the Congress will rest, NOT knowing much of anything, and being required only to master the Hollywood wave and the vacuous smile.

      The whole point, now, of being in Congress is that one needs to rest up for the inevitable career change to the hectic and grueling world of the lobbyist …

      Let us keep things in ‘perspective’, if only to preserve the comity of the moment, phred, please.


      • phred says:

        LOL : ) What was I thinking??? I keep forgetting that Congress’ only role is to position themselves and their party for the next election, to collect bribes campaign donations, to write legislation to keep those bribes donations flowing and to work slavishly to protect incumbents. Golly, with all that on their plates, who has time for governance and oversight and all that boring stuff that doesn’t involve cameras and cocktail weenies? My bad. Thanks for your gentle reminder : ) Not only are we living in a post-partisan world, but is a post-democratic-governance one as well. All Hail to the Chief!

        • Leen says:

          Yeah no time to look backwards and hold anyone accountable for the “pack of lies” that rolled over hundreds of thousands of lives. Just move along

      • Leen says:

        “congresspersons must get on board or suffer the consequences” so instead of doing the right thing they get to keep their spot at the table

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    I have no problems with the first statement (the one about foreign commanders), that part of the law is both stupid and rather obviously unconstitutional.

    The second one:

    But a majority of the challenged provisions are those allowing money to be reallocated to a different program only with the approval of a Congressional committee. Mr. Obama called the provisions “impermissible forms of legislative aggrandizement” and declared that while executive-branch officials would notify lawmakers of any reallocation, “spending decisions shall not be treated as dependent on the approval of Congressional committees.”

    That’s well-settled law. See INS v Chadha. Would you have Obama defy a Supreme Court decision or shut down the government? This is the reason signing statements, despite their potential for abuse, are a necessary part of our political system.

    The one about whistleblowers is a bit troubling, but without more context I’m a bit averse to condemning it outright. I can certainly imagine ways that those provisions could be written to be clearly unconstitutional. I’m at least as upset by the fact that Congress, after decades of failing to live up to its constitutional responsibilities, is still trying to put in crap that they know won’t fly.

    • phred says:

      WO, I’m not familiar with INS v. Chadha, could you give us a brief summary of its relevance here? I’m puzzled by your comment, because I thought Congress is the one that decides what the budget is and how it is spent. The President can send Congress his wish list, but in the end it is their decision. So if I’m right about that, how does Congress (and in principle the public) maintain control of how our tax dollars are spent, if the Executive Branch can redirect money at will?

      • WilliamOckham says:

        The short version is that the Supreme Court ruled that legislative vetos are unconstitutional.

        It’s totally ok for Congress to the President, “Here’s some money to promote motherhood and apple pie, you have to spend by making grants to the apple growers of Nevada.” In fact, if they do that, the Prez has to spend the money and spend it on apple growers in Nevada.

        It’s ok for the Congress to say, “Here’s some money for promoting motherhood and apple pie and we think you ought to spend by making grants to apple growers in Nevada, but you can redirect to other states if there aren’t enough apple growers in Nevada.” Unless Congress defines ‘enough’, the President would have a lot of flexibility in deciding which states’ apple growers got the money. Most of the money might end up in Washington State, for example.

        What’s not ok, is for the Congress to say, “Here’s some money for promoting motherhood and apple pie and we think you ought to spend by making grants to apple growers in Nevada, but you can redirect to other states if the House Subcommittee on Motherhood and Apple Pie agrees that there aren’t enough apple growers in Nevada.” The Supremes have said any legislative acts (unlike confirmations and treaties) has to be made by both Houses, not one House or a committee.

        [No offense intended to apple growers in Nevada. It’s just a hypothetical]

        • phred says:

          Thanks! So if I understand you correctly, it is NOT about Congress’ authority to control how money is spent, but whether they can delegate that authority to a committee. Is that right? In that case, Congress should be more careful in how they assert their authority.

      • DWBartoo says:

        phred … phred (tapping foot in mock annoyance)

        Now you have done it.

        You have take this precisely to the question of whether ours is a Government, “of … by … and for the people”?

        Is this (possibly) not the biggest fairy-tale of all?

        (Sigh) I see that you are resolved to be ‘difficult’, phred.

        That is your right.

        To be blunt, and regardless of slight difference of ‘opinion’, almost everyone ‘here’ is in complete and utter accord with you.

        It is not merely our ‘right’ to question, it is our obligation.

        In fact, if we are to have genuine democracy (and not some cunning and meaningless facsimile) it is our sacred duty to question complacency, to insist upon accountability, and to demand to know exactly the truth, the whole of it, as regards what is being done in our names.

        Secrecy and the unchecked power of an imperial (’unitary’) Presidency be damned, or certainly, we and our nation shall be damned, despised, and eventually destroyed.

          • DWBartoo says:

            Well phred, to be ‘irritating’ you would have to, in the vernacular, ‘rub’ folks the ‘wrong way’.

            In my confirmed curmudgeon-li-ness, I, personally, don’t find that to be the case.

            Indeed, you have attained a phred-ly ‘perfection’ in my estimation, such that I find your comments to be thoughtful, considered and always of interest. That I am often in total agreement with your perceptive sensibilities is completely irrelevant to this appreciation, as it is the ‘classy’ aspect of your commentary which, with its subtle humor, that is your abiding ‘trademark’.

            I have noted this often, to myself, phred, although I don’t think I have mentioned this to you before.

            Far from finding you ‘irritating’, I thoroughly enjoy (and, very often, learn much from) what you share with the rest of us.

            I, on the other foot, or, at least so I have often been told, apparently make a daily practice of being irritatingly difficult.

            In my ‘defense’, this reality, if indeed it is so, is less the result of deliberate intent than it is raw and untutored native talent of the most natural sort.


            • phred says:

              Thanks DW, what a nice thing to say! I’ve been in meetings all day and just popped back in to check the thread and saw your very kind comment. And for what it’s worth, I’ve never found you to be either irritating or difficult : ) Thanks for putting a big smile on my face at the (nearly) end of a long day : )

  3. GregOPauls says:

    Not as open as promised. I guess the change the was promised will not come true. Hiding information is no change from previous admin. Government is all the same, it is more important to have good congress and senate individuals representing us. Congress and Senate are now running our country.

  4. Mary says:

    I don’t know enough about the bill and the overall context, but just from what is here I think the first part makes sense. Obama is claiming that Congress can’t tell him that he has to follow his subordinate officers advice. Otoh it sounds like it wasn’t telling him he has to follow that advice but is making that advice a condition for the release of funding. I’d say you could make an argument either way, but it doesn’t bother me a lot.

    On reallocation, I guess it depends on what the bill says and what he is targeting with his signing statement. The Chadha case stands for the proposition that Congressional legislation can’t give Congress a veto power over Executive branch actions (the legislation there allowed the AG to make some discretionary immigration rulings, but then Congress could override those rulings) Without getting to Chadha, I don’t know how Congress would be able to delegate to a committee it’s power of appropriation to have the committee + President in essence re-write funding allocations. With respect to Chadha, I guess if the legislation allows the reallocations, but then gives in essence a committee veto, Chadha would be applicable. If the bill just didn’t allow for reallocation, though, without Congress passing a new allocations/appropriations bill, I think a signing statement trying to circumvent Congress just cutting something off is not something that can fly

    The whistleblower stuff is really disturbing though, especially with all the weasel words in it. They can’t go to Congress and pass on info where “such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential”

    So- if something isn’t “properly” privileged (if it has been classified to cover up crimes, reduce embarassment, etc.) they can still be hung out to dry if the communcations are unlawful bc of the stamp on the info or even if they are somehow “otherwise confidential” which pretty much covers the universe. I can’t think of any Exec Branch crimes where the Exec personnel involved wouldn’t be treating their crimes as “otherwise confidential” It’s a bad idea set forth with bad drafting.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Mary, you are a national treasure, so far as I’m concerned.

      The ‘trouble’ with ‘weasel’ words is their universal ‘applicablity’.

      Once ‘accepted’ and acceptable, their influence and ‘purview’ grow like Topsy …

  5. Mary says:

    OT – the Italian case got a kick in the teeth by the Italian court yesterday.

    Italy’s highest court sided with the government Wednesday and threw out key evidence in an alleged CIA kidnapping of an Eygptian terrorism suspect in Italy, dealing a blow to the trial of 26 Americans charged in the case.

    The Constitutional Court ruled that prosecutors impermissibly used classified information to build the case that led to indictments in the 2003 abduction.

    Though the judges did not formally throw out the indictments, lawyers said the ruling would at least set the case back.

    Just the ruling – no opinion out yet. Most of the evidence tossed did not involve the US agents involved – they tossed evidence of an Italian intel officer on the scene of the kidnapping who supposedly thought he was working on an approved activity (Berlusconi has publically said he knew nothing about it all, uh huh) and they also tossed as evidence “thousands of dossiers on prominent public figures seized from the Rome apartment of a SISMI agent, Pio Pompa” That part kind of makes sense, without knowing all the facts. I’m not sure from what they are saying if it is such a death knell, but they seem pretty convinced so there is probably “more worser” to come.

  6. DeadLast says:


    Thanks for keeping up the fight even when the better guys are in power. You clearly are a champion of democracy.

  7. GregOPauls says:

    another way for the current admin to keep their plans secret.
    for the people and by the people, unless we do something wrong…

  8. Mary says:

    19 – wo will have his own take, but I’d say it’s more about giving the President power in the legislation to reallocate funds, but then saying Congress can include a mechanism to “veto” his decision (in this case by committee)

    18 – that’s kind, but the real treasures are people on the front lines – the Swifts, Moras, Tagubas, Colemans,Clooneys etc. – can’t really start listing them, but whiffling along on a blog comment isn’t in the same galaxy with what those guys do and did.

    OT, but related in a sense.
    Pakistan is having protests and arresting — lawyers. People are making comparisons with the protests when Musharraf stepped down and the destabilization has at its heart – the US torture/rendition/disappearances programs that it paid Pakistan to help out with.

    Pakistan, like the US, doesn’t have many good leaders to pick from and right now it looks like out of power, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is exploiting matters in an effort to depose widower Zadari.

    This all goes back to Chief Justice Chadhry, who ruled some time back that the Pakistan government had to provide an accounting for the disappeared – not necessarily release them, but provide an accounting for the people rounded up, tortured, shipped out of country or otherwise disposed of through participation in connection with the US dirty war.

    Disappearing people in Pakistan – how did that work for making us safer? Well, Musharraf decided that the Chief Judge’s ruling had to be a no go and the judge was deposed. Lawyers were incensed and took to the streets in riots. Activist opportunist took the opportunity. Islamic clerics who had a strong belief in justice were incensed. Islamic radical clerics who were looking for opportunities to the opportunity.

    The unrest grew, resentment against Musharraf’s dicatorship grew, people like out of power Sharif and Bhutto showed back up on the scene, and eventually Bhutto was assassinated and Musharraf was out of power and Bhutto’s widower, Zadari, and Sharif were working somewhat together.

    But Zadari and the US both had reasons to want to keep Chaudhry out as Chief Judge. Zadari has old legal conflicts involving Chaudhry and the US – well, there’s that Binyam Mohammed thing, and Aafia Siddiqui, and a cast of characters including some who have stayed disappeared – the US doesn’t really want the “state secrets” of the disappeared and their involvement to get out. Presumably neither does Britain.

    So Chaudhry has stayed deposed and now Sharif has joined prominent religious parties and lawyers in Pakistan to use this issue as one for a springboard. Marches and protests involving the Chief Justice have been being organized for weeks, with today the implement date. Yesterday, trying to stiffle the protests before they hit the streets, Zadari’s government (which ironically came into power on the wings of the same kinds of protests) made the protests illegal and rounded up around 300 people.

    So far, Pakistanis were not deterred.

    Despite a ban on public protests and the detention of more than 300 activists yesterday, opponents of President Asif Ali Zardari set out on a four-day “long march” from at least three cities and headed towards the capital, Islamabad.

    In Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, hundreds of lawyers clad in their customary black suits poured out of the Sindh High Court and joined opposition activists chanting “Go, Zardari, go!”, waving flags and punching their fists in the air.
    Police soon baton-charged them and arrested about 60 people, including Ghafoor Ahmed, vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s biggest religious party, and Mohammad Ali Abbasi, the president of the Karachi bar association

    Also detained was the chairman of the executive committee of the Pakistan Bar Council. Not yet detained, but speaking out “Aitzaz Ahsan, the former head of the Supreme Court Bar Association who is the leader of the lawyers’ movement.”

    The article notes that the US and Britain (you know, the countries involved with Musharraf in his torture detentions, disappearances and sales to the US) are working “behind the scenes” to try to keep the lid on.

    So we have nuclear power Pakistan falling into chaos and while there are many and varied reasons and factions, the complete failure to provide any justice for victims of the US dirty war and the deposing of a judge who did try to provide that justice is the face of the conflict.

    And the US and Britain are still putting personal needs of Executive branch criminals to keep their crimes covered up ahead of the safety of our nations by siding with torture, murder and the literal deposing of law.


  9. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    OT, but an alert for bmaz re: manufacturing future in U.S.
    I never dreamed that I would turn into a C-SPAN junkie, but am able to have it running in a browser window today and there is a hearing on Mark-To-Market Accounting Rules that sure looks as if it is extremely relevant to bmaz’s threads on the future of manufacturing in the US.

    If you don’t value manufacturing materials and processes correctly, even though the companies are extremely well run, you can’t get bank loans. bmaz, I really think this is relevant if you can manage to get to C-SPAN!

    Apologies for the thread intrusion!

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s a stand-off, with Obama holding better cards. Congress can push the issue, and might win, but only if it persists in moving in one direction for more than two or three minutes. There are plenty of Blue Dogs and Republicans who gag at the notion that an employee can lawfully disclose his or her boss’ illegal behavior and not be penalized for it. True, there are a few who would welcome disclosures about Obama’s inevitable screw ups, but not many who would relish those at the expense of not crucifying whistleblowers.

    Obama, on the other hand, has management control; he controls employment evaluations and career paths. Like Cheney, he can break up networks and sideline sympathizers, eroding their willingness to support more daring colleagues. He has control over computer networks and logs and can document the flow of comments and evidence. And he has the FBI to “investigate” potential whistleblowers. The chilling effect would recreate Greenland’s glaciers.

    Obama, fresh face, old game. Or perhaps he’s just happy to stand in place rather than move forward or back. Who will tell him his job is to protect the Constitution, not just his Article in it, and that enforcing the law starts with obeying it himself?

    • Leen says:

      “he can break up networks” except the one that just tossed Freeman out on his ass. Rahm part of the team according to Juan Cole

  11. GregOPauls says:

    FBI Arrests Two After Raiding Office of Obama’s Pick for Information Officer
    The investigation is related to allegations of corruption,
    and it begins…

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The person filling the Information Officer slot will be key to implementing a working replacement for the Rube Goldberg/RNC-outsourced system Bush used, and in detecting the prior system’s corruptions. Very important post with a considerable budget. I’d say just replacing Bush’s intentionally outdated junk will cost $100 million, plus operating costs.

    Has Team Obama failed again in its ability to vet candidates, or is a rear guard continuing to protect the RNC and Bush’s rear? Enquiring minds want to know.

    • PJEvans says:

      The report I saw indicated that one of the other employees at that office was collected in a bribery investigation. (Not the one that Obama appointed as information officer.)

  13. lexalexander says:

    Count me with those who think the whistleblower provision blows.

    Question: isn’t what Obama proposes to do in terms of spending money a violation of Article I, Sec. 9 of the Constitution? IANAL, so I’d appreciate it if someone who is could clarify. Thanks.

  14. JohnLopresti says:

    The new folks in IG posts might ameliorate some of the autocratic tenor of these 2 signing statements. The discretionary disbursement dispute is an integral part of executive action; my sense initially reading the paired signing statements, the first declaring this administration would pursue a sparing use policy toward signing statements, then the one on the omnibus spending bill HR 1105, was the phenomenon I was seeing was a centrist institutional structure with a new voice but much the same message. Near as I have discerned as yet, ew and CharlieSavage are the first with commentary, though Joyce Green has begun the coherentbabble evaluation; OMBwatch remains several days delayed but has a new site look and some strong investigational strategies underway.

    On some of the OffTopic allusions, I noted political reprisals forming concerning the sort of judicial activism demonstrated by judge Baltasar Garzón. I think one of the efforts occurring is agents of the former US administration working their overseas associates’ networks to stiffle the possibility of leaks or investigations abroad as the US administration begins to start its engines. The Garzon* matter was an issue of having reported guest professor wages to one agency in his home government but not the tax bureau. The UN rapporteur from Finland apparently is at work on some of the ghostplane issues, though I have yet to locate that story at a time when there is a moment to review it.
    *Here is the attempted political squelching scandal link in the Garzon matter; he riled compatriots by wanting to examine civilwar grief issues in that country.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Paranoia” is an unreasonable fear. After eight years of Dick Cheney, it would be unreasonable not to fear government’s ubiquitous, sometimes mindless or illegal, sometimes lethal intrusion into the lives of others. Its systems, if not broken, are in considerable disrepair.

    But one thing is clear. The government has no credibility left. It will have to earn it back over several years, just like a bankrupt debtor.

  16. TheraP says:

    The thing that galls me about the threat to whistle-blowers is that simply by his signing statement, any whistle-blower is likely to hesitate. Since there is always a threat that their info might trigger a presidential hand-slap, they will hesitate to come forward.

    This is a huge thing! And I am sorely disappointed here. This has so many repercussions!

  17. freepatriot says:

    Geez, ew, you must be scaring the hell out of the repuglitards lately

    this gregopauls asshat didn’t just show up out of the blue

    but I’m wondering, ain’t you insulted to be assigned such a second rate troll ???

    then again, considering the state of the repuglitards, as measured by the twisted trainwreck that is mike steele, maybe “second rate” is as good as the repuglitards got right now

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There’s nothing free about patriotism or citizenry. Hot air? That’s different. But I’m glad to see that Karl’s Klackers are lowering their hiring standards, but with all those call centers going out of business, the market must be flooded. The badly disguised, intentionally bad spelling and grammar would be tiresome if it were worth reading.

      • freepatriot says:

        trolls are a sign of respect

        you must be a good writer or something

        or maybe ITS ALL JUST GOING SO BAD for repuglitards that they’re lashing out at anybody

        what say gop, are you experiencing a focused anger, or is it just a general sort of anger ???

        and can ya tip off on what your next hiisy fit is gonna be about ??? we could make some money by gaming what you repuglitards are gonna whine about next, are you in ???

  18. Stephen says:

    All this underhanded transparency needs to be called out now. A headline is needed that hits the mainstream. Try this ” ACLU Calls For Obama’s Impeachment ” then list all the grievances for the American masses to see. This drip, drip, drip has got to stop.

  19. GregOPauls says:

    Democratic chairman of the Budget Committee, Sen. Kent Conrad , called the track of future deficits “unsustainable” and singled out Obama’s proposal for spending $634 billion on health care over the next 10 years.
    Walls are getting close.
    and what more…
    Obama, Geithner Receive Failing Grades From Economists in Survey
    In stark contrast with Obama’s popularity with the public, a majority of the 49 economists polled by the Wall Street Journal are dissatisfied with the administration’s economic policies.

  20. BayStateLibrul says:

    Ot, but doesn’t Bernie Madoff look like George Washington?
    He would fit right on a crisp one dollar bill…

    • bmaz says:

      Lack of an education is not generally a concern with the denizens of this blog, but thanks for your simple minded concern.

  21. Mary says:

    35 – thanks for that link

    38 – especially if you add in the statements of Blair, Obama’s pick to run the intelligence communities, that of all the problems facing us – the guys he really wants to go after are leakers.

    The DNI-nominee also told Sen. Kit Bond and Sen. Whitehouse that he favored prosecution of leakers of classified information. “If I could ever catch one of those it would be very good to prosecute them.”

    Participate in kidnap, torture, torture conspiracies, murder, torture murder, bombings and disappearances of civilians, instigating global instability, mass felonies under FISA, etc – you’ll be protected by Blair and Obama and Holder.

    Actually say something about the Executive crimes – then you’re toast.


  22. Mary says:

    Am I the only person on earth who didn’t realize that the CIA has an openly acknowledged “venture capital arm.”

    Amit Yoran, past CEO of “In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency” and also former (short time) head of the DHS’s National Cyber Security Division, doesn’t think leaving cyber security in the hands of NSA. Regarding the cyber security mission, he:

    … said a cyber program overseen by the NSA would be over-classified and lack adequate oversight and review, which is needed to gain the trust of the public and private-sector partners who will be needed to secure the nation’s infrastructure.

    “One of the hard lessons learned from the Terrorist Surveillance Program is that such a limited review can lead to ineffective legal vetting of a program,” Yoran said. “The cyber mission cannot be plagued by the same flaws as the TSP.”

    It’s an interesting read on the cyber security v. intelligence gathering functions, but I got sidetracked on reading about the CIA’s venture capital wing.

    • DWBartoo says:


      Thank you for the link to the wondrous news that the CIA has a “venture capital” ‘arm’.

      Per wiki: “In-Q-Tel is a not-for-profit venture capital firm that invests in high-tech companies for the sole purpose of keeping the Central Intelligence Agency equipped with the latest in information technology …
      launched in 1999 under the direction of Gilman Louie … In-Q-Tel functions partially in public, however what products it has and how they are used is strictly secret … legally independent of the CIA or any other government agency … In-Q-Tel answers solely to the CIA … it is bound by a Charter agreement with the CIA, which sets out the relationship between the two organizations, and by an annual contract with the CIA. In-Q-Tel is non-profit, however its employees can profit from its investments.”

      In-Q-Tel’s website is pretty slick too.

      The brightest and the best.

  23. GregOPauls says:

    The mere fact that you all think you are so intelligent and well educated leads me to believe something different.
    Remember Einstein studied and read all of his life. He had a life long struggle with wanting to learn more and being well educated.

    • dakine01 says:

      I’m sitting here with a bachelor’s in Computer Science. I read a number of technical journals each month.

      I also read, daily, the NY Times, WaPo0, Boston Globe, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Lexington Herald-Leader, Denver Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, San antonio Express News, Reuters, AFP, McClatchy, Politico, CQ Politics, AP, Fortune.

      I think I get a bit more depth and breadth of opinion and actual news than Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, which seem to offer up their ‘opinions’ straight from the GOP talking points of the day and the Chicago Friedman school of discredited economics.

    • macaquerman says:

      No one is telling you not to struggle, just not to be so certain of the truth of opinion that’s not resting on a broader base of knowledge.
      Try asking questions instead of insisting on contradiction.

      • GregOPauls says:

        Thanks, but there are some thick heads around. It takes a while for information to take root.
        Most people have a very high opinion of themselves and rarely get true unadulterated feed back.

  24. Mary says:

    In-Q-Tel shows almost 4 million google hits – I may not have been the only one who didn’t know, but there were a few million in front of me in line.

  25. Mary says:

    55 – I’d go with the people over Congress or the Judiciary, but if the signing statement had also emphasized that notwithstanding anything to the contrary, Executive branch criminal activity is not and shall never be deemed to be “properly privileged” or “otherwise confidential” and it is not and shall not be “unlawful” for employees to discuss Executive branch actions or activities which they reasonably believe to be illegal, with members of Congress or the Judiciary – that would be something.

    • macaquerman says:

      I like your proposal and of course the heart of the issue is criminal activity but a reasonable belief of criminal activity is way broad.

      “The way X screamed filthy things at the NSA guys when they were telling him about Katsav and the goat is pure harassment.”

  26. Mary says:

    That is what makes you and educated individual.

    I’m sorry the cognitive dissonance had that kind of bifurcating effect on you, but is there some trigger word or ritual we need to know about to invoke your ampersand-er?

    • Petrocelli says:

      LOL … thanks, I couldn’t think of a good response to one as shallow as Madoff’s “I am deeply sorry and ashamed.”

      I’ve seen more sincerity in 1-900 phone ads …

  27. Mary says:

    62 – I need to be more generous, but my reaction on Madoff was that he wants to end up somewhere nice and safe, like FBI custody or prison, bc he has some very important people with widespread connections very mad over lots of money.

    He could only have been less convincing if he’d texted the Judge with “kthnxbai”

          • DWBartoo says:

            Wid me, tings is good.

            Wid da country, we be seein’ …

            And wid yer-own self, Petro, how be tings?

            • Petrocelli says:

              Kiddies are on Spring break, starting today … around them, I can’t get upset, no matter how hard I try. *g*

              Lots of movies, popcorn, Nachos, baking cookies, etc. ahead … will defi. be hitting the weights to offset that. *g*

              Of course, it’ll be nice if Spring actually shows up !

              • DWBartoo says:

                I be knowin’ wud yu mean, Petro.

                My youngest is ‘off’ and she and two of her cohorts have just returned from playing in the woods (in the mud, which is now well-tracked through-out the part of the house which they got through before I ‘discovered’ what they ‘found’, beyond, ” …some marbles, an old tire, and an old shopping cart, which we need your help with, Dad …”).


                  • DWBartoo says:

                    Treasure it is.

                    (Now children, that stuff in the bucket is very nasty, so I will deal with it … armmm … there must be some wing-nut … somewhere … Capital!! I know! In-Q-Tel!!! This is a ‘venture’ they surely could profit from …)

                    How be you, mocker of man?

                    Always a pleasure to see your tail-twisting comments, my friend.


              • Leen says:

                I had many older women say “savor this” when my three daughter were at home..precious yet challenging moments, Now I get to pass on their wisdom “savor” those moments.

  28. brendanx says:

    This strikes at the heart of efforts to fix some of our intelligence failures and abuses by making it possible for Congress to learn about them before it’s too late.

    Don’t worry. Steve Rosen is making sure we don’t have any intelligence failures.

  29. Mary says:


    Another treasury pick withdraws – and the G-20 summit is looking bad.

    64 – I’ve gotta say that if Hayden and Alexander and Congress think that some guy subjectively thinking he’s being reasonable is grounds for searching my communications, then I’m comfortable sticking with someone going to Congress or the Judiciary with a reasonable belief that the Exec branch is committing crimes is ok with me. It takes away “intent” imo, on the intent to commit a crime by revealing security secrets.

    I’m not sure I get follow the goat analogy(I could go for sympathy here by telling you I’m sensitive on the goat issue bc I lost my goat the day before yesterday and had to recruit two of my brothers to come out and help bury him – but then I’d have to just fess up that he was an old goat anyway) but I’m sticking with reasonable baaaalief.

  30. freepatriot says:

    The mere fact that you all think you are so intelligent and well educated leads me to believe something different.
    Remember Einstein studied and read all of his life. He had a life long struggle with wanting to learn more and being well educated.

    dude, it’s called “Self Awareness”, you could look it up

    you spend your time posting annoying comments designed to disrupt intelligent conversations

    and we’re supposed to believe you’re some kind of fookin Einstein ???

    like you spend time studying quantum physics when you’re not acting like a dickwad on the innertubes

    wanna take a shot a molecular biology around here ???

    I bet you get your asshole ripped up in two posts

    and I’ll put a c-note on it, straight up, even money

    there’s a sucker born every minute, what minute were you born ???

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      wanna take a shot a molecular biology around here ???

      Heh, heh freep. Do I start licking my chops now, or should I hold off a bit…?


  31. GregOPauls says:

    another educated leader:
    Second stimulus not ‘in the cards’ right now, Peloser says, wow we have not even spent my tax dollars from the first and we are looking at another one.
    Peloser must go, she speaks first then she thinks, well she speaks first at least.

    • macaquerman says:

      See there you go again!
      This is another statement you would have a hard time backing up, unless you think you have proof that Pelosi thinks.

    • cinnamonape says:

      You do realise that it was the Republican whip, Eric Cantor, that suggested that there would need to be a “second stimulus” and that he would likely support it!

      In addition ragging on Pelosi for what was obviously a verbal slip (500,000 jobs had just been reported lost in February) is a pretty weak attack, especially since she earlier and later used the correct figure.

      I do have a question though, since you are so well read. I’m looking for a good non-English language journal that covers international perspectives on US foreign policy. Any recommendations?

  32. GregOPauls says:

    Well, you can not tell me that you think she is worthy of the position that she is in. She made a statement that 500 million Americans would be out of work. Well there are not even 500 million people in America. So there is a little proof.
    But I feel that she is in way over her head.

  33. MadDog says:

    Is there anyway we can trade in this troll for a better one?

    One that can spell?

    I’m not asking for one that can think as that’s an oxymoron (and yes, the bolding is deliberate because we believe in “Truth in Advertising” *g*).

    When there are so many unemployed Repugs these days, why should we be stuck with the bottom of the barrel?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Well, it’s still a good day. Turns out that David Shuster is covering that Mark-to-Market topic tonight on his show: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21…..7#29665138

      Quite the riveting topic, it turns out.
      More to come on issue, methinks.

    • freepatriot says:

      enjoy it while it lasts gregopathetic will be “Going Galt” soon, in an effort to deprive us of his useful imput

      everybody wish him luck

      • Leen says:

        This is my favorite “going galt” comment so far at this site. There are some classics
        Thu, 03/12/2009 – 10:29 — jay Severin Has…

        Anyone thinking of ‘Going Galt’ and quitting their job, please contact me so I can have it. I’m out of work, have my masters degree, and am hungry to start working again.”


  34. KayInMaine says:

    Off topic:

    Rachel Maddow just did a segment on James Cummings, the guy in Maine who was killed by his wife last year. He was a white supremacist, who hated President Obama, was abusive to his wife Amber, and who had radioactive materials in his possession, as well as, instructions to make a dirty bomb! The MSM here in Maine had not covered it at length. Rachel had the Bureau Chief of the Bangor Daily News on tonight and he was acting like the story was no big deal! Of course, the Bangor Daily News loves, loves, loves Susan Collins and is very right wing, so it wasn’t surprising when Ding Dong said there are ‘lots of explosives and guns in families here in Maine’. What the hell! That is not true….well….some areas way up in the Northern part. Bunch of whackos up there.

    So, thank you Rachel for reporting on this case! We are not safe and the Obama Admin needs to focus on the whitebread terrorists of our nation in addition to the ones overseas.

    Okay, going to bed.

  35. JohnLopresti says:

    Nice to hear Gilman was gainfully employed, always had smarts beyond what EA had to offer in the video emulation market. Condolences for cabrus, glad to help with Scheinin; I think a lot is happening overseas yet, and even that the current administration will cooperate as it gets a handle on the spaghetticode it was left as a description of the state of the executive branch during the transition.

  36. cinnamonape says:

    Did you hear that Coulter attacked the Bio Sci & Agricultural school at Cornell for not being “really Ivy League” and put down Olbermann’s B.Sci. degree from there (Anne graduated from Letters). She caonsidered them a “State Ag. School”.

    Turns out that the Ag School was not only the “original” Cornell, and shares the same campus, but has the highest number of students of any Bio Sci undergraduate division to send students on to Medical, Veterinary and Graduate Schools of any in the US. Far more proportionately that her School. The Bio Sci Graduate Division ranks #7 in the nation, the Vet School #1.

    In addition, Anne seemed unaware that “Ivy League” referred to a sports league and that Cornell would not have been in the Ivy League without the overwhelming number athletes drawn from the “Ag College”.

    I suspect we’d whip her “Intelligently Designed” behind in issues relating to Biology and Evolution if she somehow brought her whispy, frail, emaciated frame over to this site. She seems not to have even taken a moderately advanced class in biology at Cornell, perhaps spending most of her time at the feet of Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida and Nietszchian Allan Bloom.

  37. old46 says:

    hey, EW — where did you go to law school, anyway?

    See, my kid wants to be a brilliant legal analyst/blogger, and I want to be sure she gets the right start.

  38. libbyliberal says:

    Thanks. There is a new pure, clean day coming soon??? Just as soon as pragmatic efficiency does its thing, it seems according to BO. Necessary evils (or just step onto this precedent setting, slippery slope, on your supposed climb to higher, nobler ground) and throw in the adage “Lie down with dogs … get up with fleas” … ???

    Real Change. As Louise Hay says, “The point of power is always in the PRESENT moment!” BO, please take note.

    • Petrocelli says:

      wOOt … another Louise Hay fan !

      I highly recommend her CDs to anyone and everyone, she is the greatest self- improvement “guru” of this past century, IMHO.

      And I wait, with baited breath for our troll to show me the error of my ways.

  39. worldwidehappiness says:

    Why are people so offensive to Greg O’Pauls? The harsh negativity is over the top.

    He actually seems quite nice and open to new ideas. It’s just that he leads with a contrary opinion. But after that, he reveals that deep down he’s responsive.

    If he is treated nicely, he might even be recruited to the emptywheel Club. The more the merrier.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Speaking only for myself, and having read EW for going on almost three years now, my recollection is that when she began writing — around the same time as Jane Hamsher and CHS — she revolutionized information by digging into documents, analyzing them, and placing them in context.

      I think the number of attorneys who read and comment here speak to her standards and skill.

      But in the early days, there were some ugly trolls, and freep has long shown a protective attitude toward EW. And I may be among the very few who recall some incredibly hostile, insulting remarks at her old site at TNH, which made quite clear that she had struck some very deep nerves in some very high places. Freep was consistent in bashing anyone who insulted her — and freep’s style may be aggressive and ‘over the top’ to some, but damn if he didn’t ensure that the insults didn’t go unanswered.

      And ignore his claims to be the dumbest one around here. You would not believe what he knows about canal systems and agricultural distribution networks. The guy’s fookin brilliant about that stuff — he may not be a coder or an attorney, but he knows how your dinner got to your table, and in my book that’s extremely valuable knowledge.

      Speaking as someone with a lot of experience in front of classrooms and also working with groups, I’ve learned one thing: you do not EVER let a disruptive student control the group. And freep seems to understand that instinctively.

      EW is one of the finest — I would say brilliant — teachers that I’ve ever encountered. And trust me when I say that I have had the privilege of seeing some of the ‘best of the best’. I know people who have worked really, really hard to be good instructors, and any one of them would IMHO respect EW’s ability to impart knowledge and curiosity.

      One last thing: I’ve observed that freep cares about the learning that happens here.
      He’ll go after me when I’m out of bounds as fast as he’ll go after any drooling troll that shows up. He may not be gracious, but he cares about justice and he’s far from stupid.

      Even if he is a Sooner’s fan.

      • selise says:

        my recollection is that when she began writing — around the same time as Jane Hamsher and CHS


        at least as early as bopnews (in 2003 or 2004?)

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Wow, selise.
          I can never believe how much you know!

          I hope some historian or archivist is keeping track of all this info.
          Well… at least, the NSA is…

          • selise says:

            it’s just that i used to read bobnews (ian welsh, stirling newberry, matt stoller are a few names that might ring a bell or two?).

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Wow. I have to recollect 2003, but that was before my time on the blogs…. although working on stuff to make ‘em exist. Not directly, but sidewise…

              They’ve become a force beyond my wildest imagination.
              But they need to keep a better eye on Net Neutrality, which Stoller tries to do.

              • selise says:

                and before that was the indymedia movement (v important from 1999 / 2000 forward), but that was also before my time – i only came to the net in a big way politically in the beginning of 2002 (email and vaxnotes from the mid ’80s – but that was work related).

  40. Rayne says:

    wwh (108) – Based on previous experience, persons who are indoctrinated to right-wing ideology to the point that they spout it reflexively and without adequate substantiation are not likely to reform if treated with civility, let alone ignored. Authoritarians don’t change of their own accord readily, or by any effort we make; we’re not perceived as their authority figures, they’re rewarded for their hostility towards others who do not conform to their worldview, and we’re outside of their conventions.

    This particular entity has disrupted this thread with reflexive comments 11 times, discouraging other commenters from discussing the topic at hand. It actually appears to be escalating, not taking more time to digest the post and offer a reasoned comment or question about the topic.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that there are paid trolls, compensated to do nothing but disrupt.

    This entity appears focused on the Firedoglake family, starting only at the end of February and gradually settling most firmly on EW’s site, with little change in behavior during that time. It’s a pattern.

  41. skdadl says:

    Good morning, EW and early risers. I’m cranky because we can’t watch last night’s Daily Show and Stewart’s evisceration (I’m told) of that Cramer chap until later today or tomorrow. For some reason, Comedy Central vids can tell the nationality of my computer, and they make us go to a Canadian website that is always a day behind. Sometimes this makes me very grumpy.

      • skdadl says:

        Oh, Rayne, thank you very much. For some reason, that works, although CC vids at every other U.S. site I know (here, HuffPo, etc) will just give me a polite little note sending me back to the Canadian site.

        Anyway, that clip on its own is a public service. It will be fascinating to see what Cramer himself and all the other, um, pundits are making of it this morning.

        Brilliant — also kind of touching. I wonder whether I’m gonna feel sorry for Cramer when I’ve seen the whole thing.

        • Rayne says:

          It is rather sad, isn’t it? I wonder if folks who haven’t worked inside the financial industry are finally having their illusions stripped away with the Stewart v. Cramer exchanges, now that the expertise they’ve been told exists and merits broadcast is exposed as little more than self-aggrandizement for the purposes of accumulating wealth at the expense of the audience.

          When you can finally see the video, check to see how many times Santelli is mentioned. I have been wondering if Cramer isn’t a shiny object since the guy that actually tripped the trigger on this debacle has conveniently disappeared…

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Wow, is that ever fascinating info about the USAG topic possibly heating up.
            Did you see the headline at TPM this morning about Bush appointed USAG’s trying to stay on? No doubt some Think Tankers are whipping up a frenzy regarding Obama’s need to replace some of those ideological USAGs. (Maybe our new troll is among the preliminary actiions…)

            • Rayne says:

              You know what else is interesting? James Martin, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Missouri, was only in office for 2 years, and I can’t find that he was actually named U.S. Attorney, only acting or interim U.S. Attorney. Hanaway was named to the post in April 2006 after Martin resigned.

              Why would a former assistant U.S. Attorney, named interim/acting, possibly USA, resign? info about his departure does not come up as readily or easily as his replacement’s swearing in.

              Martin was also tight with John Danforth — and he was also involved in some interesting prosecutions, like one for advertising of internet gambling, and another civil rights violation in which Bradley Schlozman actually signed off on the settlement (discrimination against someone with HIV).

              Martin’s replacement and current USA also tried to run for MO’s SoS. Hmm. Not as colorful as the other MO USA stories, but definitely worth looking at more closely.

          • Petrocelli says:

            Rayne !

            CNBC put Cramer out as their poster boy, thinking that his brash demeanor would put Jon in his place … I guess the fookers did not watch Crossfire or Jon’s smackdown of his hero, McCain.

    • Petrocelli says:

      *cough* … a meditation teacher leetle birdie told me to download this program, then close all your browser windows and run it.

      Whenever you want to see programs that are denied to us in Canuckistan, make sure all your browsers are closed and click on the Hotspot icon. Wait for it to connect, then go over to Hulu or TDS or any Murkan site and you’ll be able to see the vids.

  42. Rayne says:

    OT – I’d actually come here to point out that the US Attorneys scandal is going to heat up, although not necessarily because of any testimony expected short-term.

    Had two ping-backs from far-right sites which are now ramping up outrage over allegations that Obama wanted to replace a Republican Bush-appointed US Attorney Catherine Hanaway of Missouri’s Eastern District.

    Hanaway’s district hasn’t received much attention, in spite of the fact her predecessor resigned rather than stay on through the second Bush administration.

    Seems rather odd that the noise machine is making such a concerted early effort, too, to play defense.

  43. GregOPauls says:

    I happen to agree with WorldWideHappiness

    You(rayne) know so little about people and have very little incite into human personalities.

    It is very funny that if someone has a different opinion or feeling about a particular subject others think that their intelligence is threatened.

    The same people that attack a single person are usually the same people against this country’s wars. But they attack with venom to one of their own citizens. That seems to be contradictory to me, against the war’s but personally violent. Some soul searching might be necessary.

    I welcome the constructive banter and do not bother with the morons.

    • freepatriot says:

      I welcome the constructive banter and do not bother with the morons.

      then why the fuck are you here ???

      upthread, you flat out fucking told us that we’re a lot dumber than we think

      and yet, you hang around

      if we’re so stupid, and just patting ourselves on the back in our idiocy, why haven’t you gone on to smarter pastures ???

      and THIS rally cracks me up:

      Why are people so offensive to Greg O’Pauls? The harsh negativity is over the top.

      sock puppet much, asshole ???

      thought we didn’t know that trick ???

      sit around and tell us how much you like yourself. We’re so dumb that we’ll never notice

      and for some strange reason, you want to hang out with people who are that stupid

      I’m the stupidest guy in this group, and you couldn’t lick my tinfoil jockstrap

      you should turn your amazing powers of observation inward. You might see how many clues you drop about the insecure scared pathetic little shit you really are

      smart people can spot that, in themselves, and others

      now wipe the cheetoe dust off those fingers, tell your Mom you’re moving out of the basement, and GET A FUCKIN LIFE

  44. johnhkennedy says:


    The Bush-Cheney Administration is the greatest threat to our democracy that we’ve had. It is an ongoing threat because it is an internal threat, the precedents are there, and have not been denounced by Congress or Obama in any effective way.

    Hersh added: “Eight or nine neoconservatives took over our country.

    Mondale said that the precedents of abuse of vice presidential power by Cheney would remain “like a loaded pistol that you leave on the dining room table.”

    “Top editors
    passed the message to investigative reporters not to “pick holes” in what Bush was doing.

    Violations of the Bill of Rights happened in the plain sight of the public. It was not only tolerated, but Bush was re-elected.”

    WE Cannot Wait For The National Media
    To Do This For Us.

    It is up to us as individuals to get justice.




    Sign The Petition To Prosecute those in the Bush Administration that violated Federal Laws. Have your organization pass this url to members with a recommendation to sign.

    Endorse the Joint Letter To Attorney General Holder asking him to appoint a Special Prosecutor for Bush, Cheney and appointees who approved TORTURE and violated other Federal Laws


    SIGN THE PETITION…. Pass it on.

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