Pelosi: Members Are Taking Votes … You Don’t Know What You’re Voting On

In his review of the Wikileaks material on Afghanistan, Marc Ambinder notes that John Kerry referred to “serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Will it raise skepticism in Congress? Absolutely. The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, said in a statement that “[h]owever illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”

As Siun notes, the leak comes just before the House votes on an Afghan supplemental.

But what about the Senate, which voted on Thursday to pass the supplemental? If John Kerry, the Chairman of the SFRC and no slouch on Afghanistan policy, suggests these leaks shed new light on our Afghan policy, does that mean he and the rest of the Senate had enough information to vote to escalate the war in Afghanistan in the first place?

The degree to which Administrations–Republican and Democratic–withhold information and then ask Congress to endorse actions inflected by that information was a central theme of my discussion with Nancy Pelosi (and Jan Schakowsky) on Saturday. In a discussion of the way Administrations limit briefings on important issues to the Gang of Four or Eight, she describes  realizing–after she became Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee–the degree to which other members of Congress were voting on policies they knew nothing about. “When I became Ranking Member I was in a room all the time on this and that … and then members are taking votes and you’re thinking ‘you don’t even know what you’re voting on.'” Schakowsky followed up on Pelosi’s point to note how central that ignorance was when Congress authorized the Iraq War.

Now, Pelosi and other members of the Gang of Four bear some responsibility for perpetuating this system that asks Congress to authorize Executive Branch actions in ignorance.

But as I’ll show in my longer post on Pelosi’s comments, that’s precisely why she’s holding out for GAO oversight of the intelligence community and–more directly on point–expanded briefing beyond the Gang of Four.

I’m not sure there is anything in the new WikiLeaks bunch that would have convinced Congress that we can’t continue to dump money into Afghanistan (I’ll take a look at the WikiLeaks documents once I’m done transcribing this interview). But the lessons of the last week–notably, a reconsideration of the degree to which much of the intelligence community has been privatized and hidden in opaque contracts, as well as the WikiLeaks demonstration that the White House isn’t completely forthcoming about the problems in its war in Afghanistan–all demonstrate the need to give Congress the real oversight ability they lack now.

  1. Leen says:

    Assange was on BBC this morning. Clair trying to spin it as “what is new here” Assange focused on potential war crimes

    Assange was on BBC this morning. Clair trying to spin it as “what is new here” Assange focused on potential war crimes

    Over at Foreign Policy
    The logs of war: Do the Wikileaks documents really tell us anything new?

    As if the American public was aware of this. The only outlet that covered this massacre was Amy Goodman

    As if Rachel Maddow, Chris matthews, Ed, Dylan Ratigan, Diane Rehm and the rest have just swamped the American people with coverage about death in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • silversiren says:

      Juliam Assange may not want to take any solitary walks in the park anytime soon. You never know what might happen.

  2. AZ Matt says:

    A great deal of oversight would be welcome but does Congress have the guts to do so. I am not sure they do.

    • PJEvans says:

      I don’t think they want to know what’s going on.

      It might require, among other things, that they actually be held responsible, and hold others responsible, for actions and policies that they may have approved in the past.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Welcome back, indeed … well, well, the likker cabinet is empty ! And what are all these Birthday Streamers for ?

      • fatster says:

        I took all those streamers and made them into a hula-skirt. Now, all I need is to grab a ukelele and find the proper venue. Maybe the local bingo hall? Many thnx, Petro!

  3. ghostof911 says:

    Schakowsky followed up on Pelosi’s point to note how central that ignorance was when Congress authorized the Iraq War.

    Seriously, the Cheney mob just blew up the commercial center of the United States in order to have their war in Iraq. Do you really think they were going to let some punks in Congress get in their way?

  4. DWBartoo says:

    Who is “give” Congress this oversight?

    It is theirs for the doing.

    And has been so all along, unless we are to postulate that, secretly, somehow, what has been the proper function AND responsibility of Congress and Congress alone, is simply not so.

    What is Congress waiting for, before they begin to do what the Constitution requires them, specifically, to do?

    Who or what may Congress claim is not permitting or allowing them to do their job?

    If Congress needs to be “given” the authority or opportunity of doing what they must, then the “game” or “jig” is up, the die is cast, and it is all sound and fury signifying nothing, as some bright bard once said.


    • victorx says:

      You are absolutely correct – Congress already holds the ultimate oversight ability in situations like these.

      If members of both Houses simply refused to support any legislation they have not read, do not understand, or which contains pertinent unanswered questions, these transparency issues disappear immediately.

      Similarly, if voters refused to support the re-election of Congresspeople who vote on things they haven’t read, don’t understand, or which raise pertinent unanswered questions, the issues disappear after a few elections.

  5. Mary says:

    I don’t understand her point on the Gang of Four, bc the statute already requires more extended briefing than the Gang of Four – it required at LEAST the Gang of 8 and basically the full committees for the domestic actions like the TSP.

    So we already know Congress won’t do anything about the statutory violations – where does that leave things?

    I’m not big on the GAO proposal. It’s ok, but its basically another Exec Branch agency. The Constitutionally protected oversight belongs to Congress and it is Congress and its members who have the Constitutional privilege to take the floor and discuss even Exec branch “classified” info. That privilege is not in GAO and never will be in GAO.

    The fix is members of Congress who will actually use their Speech or Debate privilege.

    Nothing else is as strong a protection as the Speech/Debate privilege and that privilege is only as strong as the members of Congress we elect.

  6. DWBartoo says:

    Where are me manners?

    Welcome home, Marcy!

    And thank you for being superwoman.

    (As well as EVERYTHING else that you do, consider, and enlighten the world about.)


  7. BoxTurtle says:

    IMO, congress does not WANT the responsability of oversight. If they wanted it, they have had many chances to assert it. The best we ever got were sternly worded letters. They had Gonzo cold for perjury, but they choose to let him “correct” his testimony.

    Pelosi is Speaker of the House. She was on the Intelligence committee. The only thng she did was take impeachment off the table. She speaks one way and acts another.

    Boxturtle (I still wonder what Bush told her in that Air Force 1 meeting that made her do that)

    • Petrocelli says:

      He prolly told her that he’d fly the plane, unless she took impeachment off the Table …

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Better him than McCain. :-)

        Not only is the liquer cabinet empty, but we’re out of pineapples, cherries, coarse salt, and coconut milk.

        Boxturtle (Oh, and the blender needs cleaning. It’s in the sink)

    • rosalind says:

      IMO, congress does not WANT the responsability of oversight.

      dday earlier today:

      UPDATE II: I almost forgot to add an insight to this that I got from Matthew Hoh, the former State Department appointee who resigned his post in Afghanistan and has now spoken out repeatedly against the war. Before the Wikileaks release, he told me after a Netroots Nation panel that the staffers in many House offices did not want to hear his take on the war and its myriad problems because if they understood it, they would have a harder time justifying their members’ war vote. They would literally rather remain in ignorance than know the truth. The Wikileaks release makes that less possible now.

  8. DWBartoo says:

    Perhaps this is “the half of it” that Pelosi told us we didn’t know?

    “… how central that ignorance was when Congress authorized the Iraq war.”

    There is no war.

    Congress, in their WISDOM, are the only ones who may declare, “WAR!”.

    Presumably they were ignorant of their ignorance?

    Who could have imagined?

    Excuse me, these are adults?

    Charged with “representing” the “people”?

    Pathetic, comes to mind.

    And cowardly.

    I’ll try very hard to come up with a few more words as well, but I need to go have a discussion with my “yelling tree.”

    Back soon, I hope.


  9. bobschacht says:

    Despite all the accolades showered on Pelosi, she remains suspect in my view because of taking impeachment off the table re Bush Administration, and continuing to block any real oversight regarding war crimes.

    I think for the past year and a half, the Democrats are doing exactly what the Republicans were doing in 2000-2001: Don’t worry about what the guy in the Big House is doing, because he’s our guy, so its OK.

    Bob in AZ

    • TarheelDem says:

      I think that that’s a difficult choice having just regained power in 2006 and knowing there weren’t enough Republican votes (lockstep unity) in the Senate to convict in an impeachment case.

      The current situation is equally difficult for the same reason of Republican lockstep unity. Beginning an investigation risks removal of Democrats in Congress from power and another lost decade that starts with impeachment of Barack Obama.

      It’s a hell of a price to pay in retribution for having rightly begun the impeachment of Richard Nixon. It’s too bad that Congress didn’t vote even after he resigned. That allowed him to dodge the stigma.

      • bobschacht says:

        I think that that’s a difficult choice having just regained power in 2006 and knowing there weren’t enough Republican votes (lockstep unity) in the Senate to convict in an impeachment case.

        That’s exactly what Pelosi said. It is true that a good DA doesn’t bring a case s/he thinks s/he can’t win, but I disagree on two counts:
        1. bringing impeachment charges in the Senate gives the Senate powers of subpoena, etc. that cannot be denied and probably would have resulted in “smoking guns”
        2. If, despite “smoking guns,” Republicans persisted in lock-step unity against impeachment, the Democrats would be handed a dandy campaign issue in the next election.
        3. The country needed an educational seminar on war crimes, accountability, etc. We were deprived of all that.
        4. It was precisely for such occasions that the process of impeachment was designed. If you don’t use it under those circumstances, then impeachment is a dead letter, and Democrats have allowed Republicans to kill it.

        I still am in a profound rage about this, and I disagree with Pelosi profoundly about this. She will go down in history as a kind of Quisling who greased the skids for America’s slide into fascism.

        Bob in AZ

        • tanbark says:

          Bob, that call about Pelosi works for me, but the larger issue is that if Obama had been standing up for truth and common decency, instead of all the damn “reaching out” to the assholes who’ve nearly ruined us, Pelosi and congress and the Senate would have gotten behind THAT.

          Instead, he came in: put whatever “centrist” agenda he had, on a plastic tray, handed it to congress, and said: “Here! You do it!”

          As we’re seeing, it’s a prescription for a horrendous political failure.

        • reader says:

          I still am in a profound rage about this, and I disagree with Pelosi profoundly about this. She will go down in history as a kind of Quisling who greased the skids for America’s slide into fascism.


          I appreciate all of ew & co’s persistence in these weeds … however … *ahem* ….

          Pelosi is so full of shit she’s on a new level of kabuki. It’s an insult to honest, inquiring citizens with a profound, passionate interest in these matters.

          I am so angry I cannot see straight.

          All these excuses and then to top it off, NEW SCHEMES to fix things.

          Secrecy is the problem.

          Lying with impunity is the problem.

          Government above the law is the problem.

          If all these *well-meaning* congressmembers are so concerned about being duped into *bad* votes, when they find out that they were *bad* votes, WHY THE HELL DON’T THEY DO A SINGLE DAMN THING ABOUT IT?

          Like stop repeating the *bad* vote.

          Like voting against the war? That would be a nice fix, wouldn’t it.

          But they don’t do anything: they just PLAY ALONG 999 times out of 1,000.



          Thank the gods and goddesses for Wikileaks.

          • powwow says:

            Underlining what you and others here are saying, by rightfully (may I say, finally) reacting with open disgust and fury at Speaker Pelosi’s proven duplicity and too-convenient PR.

            Pretend you’re a member of the House, and you’ve just been ordered – in the case of some members, one on one in the House Chamber (with the floor vote hanging in the balance) by Pelosi herself (according to accounts at the time, Steve Cohen, as I recall, may have been one of the key hesitating members who was swayed) – to vote Aye on the “routine” special rule that Speaker Pelosi has presented to the House to define how the House will consider the war supplemental legislation (H.R. 4899).

            Also pretend that, probably unlike almost every member of the House at the time, you actually decide to read the (informal version of the) rule for yourself, recalling Speaker Pelosi’s angst about “Members Are Taking Votes … You Don’t Know What You’re Voting On” as you read her rule for consideration of $33 Billion in deficit spending for an escalation of the fighting in Afghanistan.

            Here’s what you read (knowing that the House passed this bill once, sent it to the Senate, and has now received it back from the Senate, as amended by the Senate):

            Providing for consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 4899) making emergency supplemental appropriations for disaster relief and summer jobs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes.

            1. Provides for the consideration of the Senate amendments to H.R. 4899.

            2. Makes in order a motion by the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations [Dave Obey] to concur in the Senate amendment to the text with each of the five House amendments printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution.

            3. Waives all points of order against consideration of the motion except those arising under clause 10 of rule XXI.

            4. Provides that the Senate amendments and the motion shall be considered as read.

            5. Provides that the motion shall be debatable for one hour and 30 minutes as follows: 30 minutes equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations; then 30 minutes equally divided and controlled by Representative Lee of California or her designee and an opponent; and then 30 minutes equally divided and controlled by Representative McGovern of Massachusetts or his designee and an opponent.

            6. Provides that the previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to final adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question except that the question of adoption of the motion shall be divided among the five House amendments, with the first portion of the divided question considered as adopted.

            7. Provides that if the remaining portions of the divided question fail of adoption, then the House shall be considered to have rejected the motion and to have made no disposition of the Senate amendment to the text.

            8. Provides that upon adoption of the motion specified in the first section of this resolution the Clerk shall engross the action of the House under that section as a single amendment; and a motion that the House concur in the Senate amendment to the title shall be considered as adopted.

            9. Allows the chair of the Committee on Appropriations to insert in the Congressional Record not later than July 3, 2010, such material as he may deem explanatory of the Senate amendments and the motion specified in the first section of this resolution.

            10. Provides that House Resolution 1493 is hereby adopted.

            11. Amends the time periods in clause 10 of rule XXI to align with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

            Get it? Got it? Good. Now vote AYE, like obedient little boys and girls, Party members…

            [The upshot of the adoption of this rule, aside from the Catfood Commission parlay, was that a vote on the floor to adopt an amendment to fund teachers (which was the only House amendment that passed on the floor, post-rule) also funded $33 billion more for war without a separate vote on the war funding ever taking place. (The $33 billion in war funding was in one of the “Senate Amendments” referenced in the rule).]

            Yes, that’s the real rule, concocted by Speaker Pelosi and Appropriations Chair Dave Obey, that the House majority passed, 215-210, on July 1, admittedly without knowing what was in it (as in, the Sovereign Debt Default Commission “Sense of the House” resolution, etc., etc.).

            For a little more detail about where the power lies in the House (at the top), and how it creates the results we saw, and will apparently soon see again with regard to the second vote on this war funding now being planned for the suckers in the House, see the comment I posted today in Siun’s thread.

            • DWBartoo says:

              Thank you, powwow!

              Nancy Pelosi is NOT on our side.

              She never has been.

              And she NEVER, let me repeat, never REALLY, will be.

              Nancy Pelosi is no less guilty of TREASON than any other MAJOR player in this travesty, and, frankly, I am amazed that her destructive behaviors, again and again, are ignored, forgiven, or simply glossed over.

              One seriously wonders why?

              Now, before I am taken to task for using THAT word, I should ask all and sundry this question, just what word is more appropriate?

              One “T” word “torture”, must, inevitably, because of WHO is was that has condoned and legitimized that torture, lead to another. As day follows night.


        • TarheelDem says:

          I personally agree that your four points are mostly correct. Even the House could bring subpoenas (can’t you see Darrell Issa salivating).

          But consider the downside talking points and you see that it is not a slamdunk if you are in the hotseat. Could she have gotten the Democratic caucus to agree? Based on what we know now as a result of the health care debate probably not. And it would take that to start the process in committee. John Conyers could have pursued it — but only with the consent of the ranking member. The Speaker can’t lead if the members of the Caucus say no.

          How Pelosi goes down in history remains to be seen. The key is whether she survives as Speaker in the next Congress.

          Impeachment isn’t limited when one leaves office because it deals with future positions of public trust. And impeachment investigation even beginning in 2014 or so could still subpoena materials, bring them into the light of day, and result in subsidiary impeachments of political appointees who might in the future again gain an office of public trust.

          But so far after three instances, the implementation of impeachment as designed under the Constitution has failed. It’s 0 for 3. There have been two political impeachments and one resignation that dodged an impeachment that likely would have resulted in conviction.

          • bobschacht says:

            But consider the downside talking points and you see that it is not a slamdunk if you are in the hotseat. Could she have gotten the Democratic caucus to agree? Based on what we know now as a result of the health care debate probably not. And it would take that to start the process in committee. John Conyers could have pursued it — but only with the consent of the ranking member. The Speaker can’t lead if the members of the Caucus say no.

            What it amounts to is, does Pelosi (and the leadership of the Democratic party, including Obama) have faith in the Constitutional process? Apparently, the answer is “no.” Lacking faith in one element of the process invites lack of faith in other elements, and before you know it, the fabric of Democracy is in tatters. We start placing faith in other things, like “our guy,” or “our party,” or “my bank,” or “in Halliburton we trust.” Can you see where that’s headed? Pelosi and her like are too clever by half, as the Brits used to say.

            There is a reason the Federal oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution. It is central to all processes. It is literally at the heart of our system of governance.

            Bob in AZ

            • DWBartoo says:


              Yes, it is as simple, as basic, as your last two sentences.

              ANYTHING and EVERYTHING else offends the principles that permit this nation to exist as worthwhile … ANYTHING and EVERYTHING else are, simply, hypocrisy … AND “treason” … for they destroy those principles and makes a lie and a mockery of justice, of truth, and of reason.

              A country without a primary concern with those things is a danger to its own people and, quite possibly, everyone else … for there are no limits and no boundaries and ANYTHING and EVERYTHING “goes”.

              Humanity and the world cannot long tolerate such a nation.


            • TarheelDem says:

              Didn’t you know? The rules of the House and the Senate take precedent over the Constitutional process. And the party leaders are beat around the head by the rules of the House and the Senate, Constitution be damned. And that’s just by the members of their own caucus. I don’t like it either, but it’s systemic not personal. And it requires a critical mass of members of Congress who want it to change in order to change it. A single shining Joan of Arc cannot singlehandedly change it.

              • bobschacht says:

                Didn’t you know? The rules of the House and the Senate take precedent over the Constitutional process. And the party leaders are beat around the head by the rules of the House and the Senate, Constitution be damned. And that’s just by the members of their own caucus. I don’t like it either, but it’s systemic not personal. And it requires a critical mass of members of Congress who want it to change in order to change it. A single shining Joan of Arc cannot singlehandedly change it.

                If this was really the case, she could have put it to a vote, and when the vote failed, that would have been the answer. But she did it by fiat.

                Besides, I am not sure about Conyers needing approval from the ranking member. Conyers did actually hold a hearing, but ground rules forbad the use of the word “impeachment.” And Conyers did not blame the ranking member for that. At the time, the word I got was that *Pelosi* had forbidden the impeachment discussion.

                Bob in AZ

        • DWBartoo says:

          Spot on!

          I have returned from “conversation” with my “yelling tree”. The function of a yelling tree is to allow one to vent, in detail, and at length, without disturbing too many other things.

          Either Congress will rise from its assets and assert its purpose or we are in the clutches of obscene tyranny and ANY other “explanation” of our current “situation” is simply a damned lie whose only purpose is to put off consequence or genuine understanding for as long as possible, that the miscreants may escape or consolidate their power utterly and totally.

          This is not some cute parlor game of tiddly-winks or “Go Fish”, but as deadly serious as a political and human crisis can be, short of actual physical assault and warfare.

          How any of these people, in the Executive branch, in the Congressional branch, or the in the Judicial branch may imagine that they can long continue with their flimsy excuses and childish charades is a mystery to me, as things are being revealed, now, at such a rate that no fig-leafs of any size or description will soon suffice to cover anything. It is not small embarrassments that are at hand, but total and abject failure, and deliberate, at that, affecting each and every one of us.

          That any who have brought this nation low, far beneath mere disrepute, expect to walk away with no consequence to themselves, suggests such utter disdain of democracy, of the people, of reason, of humanity, and of the rule of law, that no word save “TREASON” may suffice to describe it.

          This is NOT complex, it is quite simple.

          Either the principles of this nation matter … or they do not.

          We shall soon know what these “leaders” think, not by their words, but by their actions.


          • tjbs says:


            I think the treason word is apt.

            See nancy the house was never meant to weigh the evidence or judge any facts.

            House impeachment, mentioned 6 times in our constitution, is an investigation of the facts minus any executive privilege bullshit. It was meant to be used and fail quite often. It’s our loss the bush family could boss and cower so many patriotic congress people.

            Likewise an Obama justice department investigations, goaded by constant congress inquiries, into the Torture/ Murder/ Treason of our Past government against the stated law at the time would have torn the country apart in a good way, destroyed the republican party forever and ended the false war on terror.

        • Mary says:

          The country needed an educational seminar on war crimes, accountability, etc. We were deprived of all that.

          Amen. And have continued to be deprived of it when the Dems holding the Houses and Presidency could have just begun a process of truthfulness and transparency without having to get their hands dirty with the hard work of an impeachment process.

          The Democrats – in Congress and the WH – are to this day actively depriving us on that front.

      • Hugh says:

        I think that that’s a difficult choice having just regained power in 2006 and knowing there weren’t enough Republican votes (lockstep unity) in the Senate to convict in an impeachment case.

        There weren’t enough votes to impeach Nixon at the beginning of proceedings, but a few months later after the tapes and so much else came out, the votes were there. Democratic politicians had a peculiar case of amnesia about all this when they argued they couldn’t begin impeachment of Bush unless they already had the votes to convict him in the Senate.

        • TarheelDem says:

          Those Democrats weren’t these Democrats. Can you imagine who, say Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu, doing what Sam Ervin did? And who in the GOP would do what Howard Baker did?

          James Mann of SC was one of the authors of the impeachment resolution that was about to go to the House floor. Can you imagine Mike McIntyre or Heath Shuler doing that?

      • Mary says:

        There weren’t enough votes to convict Granner, either, before the release of Abu Ghraib pictures or before the investigation into the behaviour or before the facts came out from behind the claims of secrecy.

        The problem was that the Dems didn’t want to go where the facts would take them. I’m not sure why the theme we keep hearing is that we have to make Congress better by electing better, and still spineless and worthless, Democrats; we could have come just as far by electing better – and tougher – Republicans.

  10. TarheelDem says:

    Not only do members of Congress not know what they are voting on, the members of the committee that oversees intelligence can’t tell them. Nor can they tell them in a particular instance that they don’t know what they are voting on.

    After 63 years, our national security institutions are due for a major rethinking and restructuring.

    Sadly we don’t have the brainpower in Congress to do it.

  11. Petrocelli says:

    Y’all be sure to get some shuteye when you can … More Docs coming soon to Wikileaks

    Assange told reporters in London that what’s been reported so far on the leaked documents has “only scratched the surface” and said some 15,000 files on Afghanistan are still being vetted by his organization.

  12. Hugh says:

    Reading the reports out of Netroots Nation, I found a recurring theme was how everyone blamed everyone else. Pelosi blamed the Senate. Franken blamed the Supreme Court. There was always someone.

    Let’s just remember that members of Congress have a duty to be informed. They have staffs. If they can’t get sufficient information, they should just say, “I don’t have the information I need to make a decision and until I do, I can’t vote on this.”

    And if we are revisiting the Iraq war, remember there was information out there in the public domain on WMD besides Judy Miller’s breathless reporting on it, enough to raise questions. And certainly after Colin Powell’s hopelessly bad presentation of evidence on WMD before the UN, there should have been calls for reconsideration. I know Powell’s UN speech was the moment I realized that we were being lied to (Yes, I was slower on the uptake in those days.) But many Democrats voted for it anyway because they didn’t want to appear “weak” (although to be fair many did not) so really it wasn’t a question of information for them.

    Anyway, bottomline, when a Congressperson tells me they didn’t know, I take it as a cop out. If we can be informed with our limited resources, then members of Congress with their greater access and resources have no excuse.

  13. tanbark says:

    “However illegally these documents came to light…”

    Did Kerry take that tack when the Pentagon Papers came out?

    Just askin’… :O)

    • BoxTurtle says:

      No more pentagon papers restraining orders, the internet simply bypasses the US court system. You can stop a US paper from publishing, but non-US papers feel no obligation to obey a US court order.

      Boxturtle (This is why ObamaLLP wanted the Internet Kill Switch)

      • tanbark says:

        Box, I think you’r as right as a snake. The ‘net, for all of it’s faults, has become the unfettered firebox for the american information locomotive.

        And that is scaring the living shit out of our power elite.

        • tanbark says:

          Continuing the metaphor, allow me :o) :

          “the ‘net…has become the unfettered firebox for the american information locomotive.”

          Doc Watson, rendering “Casey Jones” as only he can:

          “Casey said to his fireman, hold on to your seat;

          I’m gonna make this ‘rattler do the boogie beat.” :o)

    • Hugh says:

      Did Kerry take that tack when the Pentagon Papers came out?

      Ouch. Kerry over the years morphed into the very kind of blowhard that in his protesting days he protested against.

      Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent

      Nowadays that’s the gobbledygook he comes up with. Policies, what policies? We haven’t had an Afghanistan policy for 7 years, since mid 2002. Critical stage? When haven’t we been at a critical stage, and it never seems to affect Congress’ voting for the wars anyway. And look at that “may very well”. Try “will” And is it “underscore” or “undercut” that he means? And only a bloviating asshole politician who has been in office far too long would use “calibrations” and “urgent” in the same sentence. If it’s urgent, then you need more than a calibration. This is all classical Washington nonspeak.

  14. Frank33 says:

    Was David Kelly murdered by one of the 800,000 privatized army of Bushie brownshirt spy thugs?

    The death of a British government whistleblower who exposed the “sexing up” of a government dossier on Iraq’s weapons in 2003 has always seemed suspicious to many. Now, the UK’s Daily Mail reports that a former Russian spy-turned-defector says he was told by an agent of the British intelligence agency MI5 that Kelly had been “exterminated.”

    The paper says that Boris Karpichkov, who spent 15 years in the KGB before defecting to Britain, sent documents to the UK’s attorney general “in which he claims to relay information from an ‘MI5 agent’ that Dr Kelly had been ‘exterminated’.”

  15. tanbark says:

    The main question that should have been debated at Netroots, was:

    “Do we support this guy who’s sustaining some of the worst of Bush’s policies, and who is on his way to becoming the lamest lame duck in our political history, or do we yank on his chain and try to get him to grow some backbone?”

    If we keep ducking that central question, it’s going to be decided for us, and I don’t think the decision will be to our liking.

  16. Mary says:

    Maybe based on this input from Pelosi, she should give an affidavit to the plaintiffs in the EFF or NSA legislation or even join in as a party plaintiff or via amicus.

    Most of the Hepting dismissal revolved around the articulation that

    Congress “is free to create defenses or immunities to statutory causes of action” because the legislative process satisfies Due Process requirements

    According to Nancy, that’s not correct, rather, Congress is voting on legislation without needed and necessary disclosures from the Exec branch, bc of the misuse of state secrecy assertions. ;)

    Or at least she might bring up in Congress the impact of Vaughn’s decision in Jewel, i.e., that rather than only a few targeted, “al-Qaeda calling” calls being intercepted without warrants as Congress was told, the Judge’s decision indicates that pretty much any American connected to the internet or using a phone was involved in the unconsitutional, warrantless program, making the impact so broad and widespread that only Congress can provide a remedy.

    How about instead of a stimulus program, she bring up the massive illegal program and propose hearing where the Exec should be required to provide correct information as to American communications previously affected by its information or requiring that the intel committees brief all of Congress on the full impact of the unconsitutional program so that Congress can generate a legislative remedy to pay Americans who were illegally surveilled.

    Oh well – Welcome home EW and thanks for your interactions with Pelosi and what is no doubt the better course of keeping that interaction on a positive note.

    You got that admission from her that Congress is legislating without facts that an elite few members of Congress know. It would be nice for some members of Congress not “in the know” to involve themselves in the Jewel and Hepting appeals – but Democrats won’t do that. Lindsey Graham will not only involve himself in the DTA appeals directly, but will doctor the Congressional record on the way there. All Dems will do is smiling plant Kagan on the Sup Ct in a lifetime appointment that places a knife in the back of everyone who voted for them thinking they were going to be better on protecting the rule of law.

  17. tanbark says:

    One fact to keep in mind:

    Whether we actually lose one of them or not, in about 12 weeks, the House and Senate are going to have a very different look.

    • Mary says:

      Heck, at this point I’m so removed from any feeling of affiliation or association with any of it, I not only wouldn’t grieve over a Republican takeover, I would actually kind of smile over them pushing hard on their impeachment (even for such crazy reason) of Obama.

      It would be kind of like watching DOJ try to pursue a SOX violation against Rodriguez. Not worth much and based on a crazy underlying rationale and covering up all the real reasons for pursuing any claim at all – but mildly satisfying to watch from a distance, if it weren’t a precursor of other implosions to come.

  18. ackack says:

    A little o/t, but has anyone successfully logged into today?

    I have tried multiple times, and it fails as Done with a blank page. Not even like it’s a crash from too many people trying to access it.

    New government Internet screening mayhap?

    Just wondering.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Wikileaks is getting pounded. Just be patient, no need for tinfoil just yet.

      Boxtutle (Though I suspect a lot of that pounding is coming from Goverment employees seeing how screwed they are)

  19. BoxTurtle says:

    Welcome home EW and thanks for your interactions with Pelosi and what is no doubt the better course of keeping that interaction on a positive note.

    Perhaps. But SOMEBODY needs to look her in the eye and say “The emperor has no clothes”. If FDL doesn’t do so, then who will?

    Boxturtle (Daily Kos?)

    • tanbark says:

      “Somebody needs to look her in the eye and say “The emperor has no clothes”.

      That, or in pretty short order, I think the american voters are going to say it for her.

      • DWBartoo says:

        It ain’t just the emperor whose backside is hangin’ in the breeze …but ALL his loyal minions and “allies” as well.

        No doubt, tanbark, we shall be told that it is the new “style” and most-appropriate to the heat of the day?

        Perhaps, this “new looking-forward look” will be claimed as proof of the administrations commitment to the environment and greater social equality?

        The bare truth, as it were?


  20. tanbark says:

    Mary, those are almost precisely my feelings.

    Obama is presenting us with this despicable Hobson’s Choice, and daring us to make it against him. I become more willing to do that, every day.

    I see no way that losing seats in congress, even (If we’re lucky) a modest “traditional” amount, is going to make him change. In fact, everything I’ve seen from him so far, is that he and the democrats he’s “leading”, will be relieved to have that awful burden of big majorities, lifted.

    Perhaps he’d be happier making lucrative speeches and pontificating from some “centrist” think tank, in 2013. He’s worked SO hard to protect and hoard the political capital that we gave him, who are we to deny the man his rest and satisfaction?

    • Hugh says:

      I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 because of his record. That record has gotten a thousand times worse. I will not be voting for him in 2012 either.

  21. Hugh says:

    Gibbs is holding the daily briefing, saying that Wikileaks is endangering the troops, blah, blah, blah. That this leak undercuts the whole strategy of the surge. crickets

  22. Frank33 says:

    Adrian Lamo is palin’ around with ABC shill George Stuffinufullis. Lamo snitched on Pvt. Manning who is imprisoned somewhere. If Manning released the “Afghan Docs” he is a hero. Lamo is just a bottom feeder.

    ABC’s George Stephanopoulos appears to be doing his best to contain “one of the most massive intelligence breaches in U.S. history.”

    Adrian Lamo told Stephanopoulos by phone on Monday’s Good Morning America that the man who leaked Afghanistan war documents must have had help, and ABC News’ headline suggests a wider conspiracy: “EXCLUSIVE: Massive War Leak Wasn’t Done Alone, Whistleblower Says.”

    “The Army specialist allegedly behind one of the most massive intelligence breaches in US history likely did not act alone, according to the man the soldier approached to publicize the more than 90,000 reports of classified information,” Martha Raddatz and Lee Ferran report for ABC News.

    Stuffy is worried that this may hurt War Profits.

    Stephanopoulos had blogged, “Around 92,000 leaked documents paint a grim picture of the war in Afghanistan. Is the media putting national security at risk by publishing them?

    There is an Ackerman quote.

    WikiLeaks has freaked out the White House, though, by clearly raising questions about whether Pakistani aid to the Afghan insurgency is far deeper than typically acknowledged

  23. 1970cs says:

    I wouldn’t limit not knowing what is taking place to members of Congress. New administrations come in and projects are already underway that they may or may not be fully read into. Without full knowledge of the program and the ability to ask exactly the right question, the answer is probably not forthcoming.

    Kennedy and the Bay Of Pigs is one example of this.

  24. BoxTurtle says:

    What it amounts to is, does Pelosi (and the leadership of the Democratic party, including Obama) have faith in the Constitutional process

    It’s not a matter of faith. They don’t WANT the process to work, because that would shut down everything their financial backers desire.

    Boxturtle (Only amendment that is still respected is the 2nd. And that one is intentionally misinterpreted)

    • DWBartoo says:

      Then, BT, is that not treason?

      Or perhaps, that is too harsh a word for those who would, deliberately, destroy the viability of our society, our legal system, our economic system, and the decency of the future itself?

      Maybe the term, “treason”, is not sufficiently polite? Or respectful?

      If Congress will not rise to the occasion, if the Courts will not rise to the occasion, if the Executive will not rise to the occasion, then who, but the people, might do so? And how may the people do so unless they understand that they must, unless they understand the enormity of the problem, of the crisis, of the calamity, unless they understand it as treason most foul? A treason that engulfs “both” political parties and those who are behind the assault on the Constitution?

      When is enough … enough?

      When is the truth … undeniable?

      And when … is it too late?


  25. tanbark says:

    Obama is in no danger of being impeached, should the repubs gain control of Congress.

    The republicans would have to be total political idiots to do that. He’s probably going to be hamstrung if we lose half of the congressional margins. If we lose even one house, he’s going to be the lamest lame duck in our history. They will own his ass even more than they have since he came in office and handed it to them.

    With the clock ticking on both of the shitmires, what better situation for the repubs to be OUT of the White House, when the denouement of the bloody soap operas finally arrive?

    Also, the economy is showing no definitive sign of turning around.

    Don’t forget; if Biden came in, he might turn out be some kind of Harry Truman (I know, I hear giggles…but everyone cringed when FDR died and Truman was sworn in, too…).

    The point is, that right now, Obama’s political scrotal sac is up for grabs, through no great strategy of the GOP. It’s falling into their hands, as we speak, from Obama’s political hackery, and it’s likely to get worse. Why would the repubs want to get rid of him?

    • DWBartoo says:

      You do realize it was Truman who signed the National Security Act of 1947, which arguably was essential to the National Security State we have become?

      It is not a Truman we need, or ANY political “savior”, it is our own courage and resolve, as a people which we need … and the persistent insistence upon knowing the truth, ALL OF IT, or NOTHING will change.



      • TarheelDem says:

        Do you realize what motivated Truman to do what he did? The rising drumbeat for war with the Soviet Union, a World War III because of the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe, a political position pushed by members of the Republican Party like the newly elected Congressman from California, Richard Nixon.

        The architects of the national security structure in 1945 thought they were giving the president a better way to manage a long-term Cold War instead of having to fight yet another war so quickly. There were consequences of that naive assumption that they did not and could not see in 1947. And would be shocked to see today.

        And yes we do need courage and resolve but those are in mighty short supply these days. Having a vision of the national security structure that could replace the current system would also help. Reagan was able to get some things done because he had a ready-made plan from the Heritage Foundation. We need a think-tank focused on national security along with our courage and resolve instead of having to be reactive to events as they get dropped on us.

      • tanbark says:

        DW, coming two years after the end of WWII, that was something which is…understandable, if not right. I didn’t say he was perfect, but he did a pretty good job of continuing FRD’s populist directions. And he didn’t roll over and piss himself like a little puppy, everytime the GOP talked shit about him.

        And, Truman was very little given to the kind of bullshit that we’ve gotten from Obama. If Biden or anyone else turned out to be of that mind, I’d welcome that change, as long as it came from the voters.

        Period. TB.

        • DWBartoo says:

          We agree.

          It is up to, or down to, the people, the rest, as you say, is “bullshit”.

          Which is where that persistent insistence comes in … or goes out.

          Elipsis …


  26. klynn says:

    Marcy, thanks for the post.

    The thought that Congress is taking votes when they do not know what they are voting for gets more disturbing when put in the context of the fact that 80% of our security/intel is outsourced to private companies. The companies create policy pitches, create policy and lobby Congress to vote on items when Congress does not even know what they are voting on.

    No oversight to our national security. Our tax dollars feed it, with no oversight. And equity firms back these private companies. So, equity firms probably know more about our national security than our elected officials.

    What a machine.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Glenn Greenwald points to a good, short New Yorker analysis by Amy Davidson and another comment by Jay Rosen.

    Davidson agrees with Marcy, that much of what Wikileaks released is not new. She pointedly disagrees, however, with a misleading conclusion put out by a NYT’s reporter, that these materials “do not contradict official accounts of the war” in Afghanistan. Davidson:

    What does it mean to tell the truth about a war? Is it a lie, technically speaking, for the Administration to say that it has faith in Hamid Karzai’s government and regards him as a legitimate leader—or is it just absurd? Is it a lie to say that we have a plan for Afghanistan that makes any sense at all? If you put it that way, each of the WikiLeaks documents—from an account of an armed showdown between the Afghan police and the Afghan Army, to a few lines about a local interdiction official taking seventy-five-dollar bribes, to a sad exchange about an aid scam involving orphans—is a pixel in a picture that does, indeed, contradict official accounts of the war, and rather drastically so.

    [x-posted here @49]

    NB: The Rosen link didn’t take. It’s here:

    • fatster says:

      Obama is going to have to bear the burden of this thing–his price to pay for not delivering on his campaign promises to halt these wars without end (the goals of which simply morph into something else and now, in Iraq, are morphing into eternal occupation via “diplomats”, etc.)

      Afghan leaks hand Obama new political nightmare


  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I haven’t seen where the administration flat out says the material is factually inaccurate, only that the public shouldn’t see it. How Orwellian, especially if this isn’t so much new material as corroboration of previously released accounts, apparently washed of personally identifiable information.

    A proverbial friend of a friend wears a trident and spent six months in Afghanistan. While reticent to say anything, and supportive of his shipmates’ work, his anecdotal comments support the observation about the goal-less, clusterfuck nature of the overall operation.

    • TarheelDem says:

      Has it indeed been washed of personally-identifiable information? If that is true, the putting our troops in danger argument falls flat.

  29. AitchD says:

    Congress’s oversight and power as the first among equal branches were altered forever after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s been duck and cover ever since. The National Security State that Truman allowed to come into existence pretty much trumps anything and everything Congress could do or could wish to do.

    Unless and until nuclear weapons and their triggers disappear, we’re left with a lot of kabuki. And very deep fear we pretend isn’t there.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Eisenhower’s farewell address, January 17, 1961. Length 15:30.President of the United States (and former General of the Army) Dwight D. Eisenhower used the term in his Farewell Address to the Nation on January 17, 1961:

      A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

      This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

      In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term military-industrial-congressional complex, and thus indicated the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry. But, it is said, that the president chose to strike the word congressional in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government.


  30. fatster says:

    “The House Rules Committee said Monday it will take up the measure at 6:30 p.m. Kucinich and his co-sponsor, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), argue the Obama administration has failed to notify Congress about armed forces in Pakistan, thereby violating the War Powers Act. ”

    At least they’re trying!


  31. fatster says:

    Interesting reactions to wikileaks–what you’d expect from the WH and Pakistan, but do check out Karzai’s (near the end of the article).


    Apologies if a dupe.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thank you for the links, fatster.

      As to who is “easily deceived, or cheated” … that remains to be seen.


      • fatster says:

        They’re hoping to deceive and instill fear. That’s the ticket, all right. They cranked it up and rolled it out today: the wikileaks latest is endangering our troops.

        • DWBartoo says:

          That, “It is endangering the troops …” crap needs to be treated as precisely that, fatster.

          It needs to be questioned.

          It needs to be debunked.

          And it must be seen for what it is … fallacious argument … and contrary to reasoned and rational discourse.

          We may not yet “do” nuance but surely we can manage to do better than, “You’re either with us or against us”, which was the “rationale” behind both current wars as regards the end of discussion … way back when it might have done some good.

          However, one is not optimistic … for when deception does not work, then as you say, fear will be the weapon to banish truth and consideration …


          • Mary says:

            Obama is endangering the troops by keeping them in Afghanistan and sending more.

            When the truth endangers us we need to really really really reconsider our positions.

            • DWBartoo says:

              Unless we may be frightened out of reconsideration, Mary, our own humanity should demand nothing less of ourselves.


  32. Agent420 says:

    No need to take a closer look at the contractors that the gov. hires to hide what is really going on. Just fire them all and get all the troops back and leave those hellholes to figure it out for themselves.


  33. powwow says:

    On a semi-related note about, oh, something, the following language is in the pending House FY 2011 T-HUD Appropriations Bill, H.R. 5850 [see PDF Page 170 of 172] – formally the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011” – which is scheduled for a Rules Committee vote Wednesday, and thus floor action this week (without, as usual, much, if any, opportunity to amend from the floor):

    SEC. 416. None of the funds made available under this Act or any prior Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations.

    As reported out of committee by:

    Mr. [John] OLVER [of MA], from the Committee on Appropriations [and the Transportation, HUD Subcommittee], reported the following bill; which was committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

    Let’s see now, how did that federal judge put it, back in March, when she declared the very same language, as that inserted by Mr. Olver, Mr. Obey, Ms. Pelosi & Company in this bill, to be an unConstitutional Bill of Attainder, when it was included in this year’s annual appropriations bills? Oh, that’s right:

    Enacted [as part of our Constitution] as a “bulwark against tyranny” by Congress, “the Bill of Attainder Clause was intended not as a narrow, technical (and therefore soon to be outmoded) prohibition, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply – trial by legislature.United States v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437, 443, 442 (1965).


    As discussed further below, I cannot discern any valid, non-punitive purpose for Congress enacting the legislation challenged in this case. Further, unlike the plaintiffs affected by the statute at issue in Selective Service, plaintiffs here cannot avoid the restrictions imposed upon them. Nothing in the challenged provisions affords plaintiffs [ACORN] an opportunity to overcome the funding ban.


    Accordingly, a close reading of the cases indicates that a deprivation of the opportunity to apply for funding in fact fits comfortably within the definition of “punishment” for bill of attainder purposes.


    Here, as in Lovett, Congress deprived plaintiffs of an opportunity available to all others. Especially where plaintiffs have received federal funds from many federal grants and contracts over the years, it cannot be said that such deprivation is anything short of punishment as that has been understood in the bill of attainder cases. The challenged provisions, by singling out ACORN and its affiliates for severe, sweeping restrictions, constitute punishment under the three factors the Supreme Court has articulated for making this determination.


    Because the government’s sovereign immunity prevents plaintiffs from bringing suit against the government for monetary damages for these injuries, these harms are, by definition, irreparable. […] A finding of significant violation of constitutional rights also supports the finding of irreparable harm. […]

    In addition to their irreparable economic harms, plaintiffs have also established reputational injuries for which they can never recover damages at law from the defendants.

    – United States District Judge Nina Gershon, March 10, 2010

    Yawn, shrug… “Just another unremarkable unConstitutional day at the office” for the United States Congress.

    [Someone might want to tip off the Center for Constitutional Rights (ACORN’s lawyers) about this ongoing “trial and conviction by legislature,” though, because apparently one of the government’s specious claims, including at oral argument last month in the Obama DOJ’s appeal of Gershon’s ruling, was that this year’s (FY 2010) already-enacted appropriation-bill funding bans are only “temporary” (through 9/30/2010, or longer if a continuing resolution is passed before then), and thus somehow harmless non-punishment…]