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Did Susan Collins Switch Parties? Cause She Wanted OLC Memos, Too

I hate to waste an entire post on this.

But the NYT’s report last night that President Obama was going to capitulate to the Benghazi truthers rather than turn over memos revealing who and where he has been killing people — as well as all the secondary reporting on it — has made this claim.

Rather than agreeing to some Democratic senators’ demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program, Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans to provide more information on the lethal attack last year on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to three Congressional staff members.

The strategy is intended to produce a bipartisan majority vote for Mr. Brennan in the Senate Intelligence Committee without giving its members seven additional legal opinions on targeted killing sought by senators and while protecting what the White House views as the confidentiality of the Justice Department’s legal advice to the president. It would allow Mr. Brennan’s nomination to go to the Senate floor even if one or two Democrats vote no to protest the refusal to share more legal memos. [my emphasis]

On February 4, Susan Collins was among the 11 Senators who signed a letter asking for “any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch’s official understanding of the President’s authority to deliberately kill American citizens.”

Perhaps Collins has been satisfied with the brief glimpse at the two memos it shared with the Committee back on February 7. Perhaps she — the Senator on the Intelligence Committee who asked the best questions about targeted killing efficacy — is not all that interested in the other memos the Administration is hiding, presumably along with uses of targeted killing she isn’t being briefed on. Perhaps she no longer supports the hinted hold-up for national security nominees.

But even on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the call for the targeted killing memos was a bipartisan affair (among those not on the committee, Mike Lee and Chuck Grassley also signed the letter, and Rand Paul sent his own demand for the memos). Heck, once upon a time, John Cornyn wanted to legislatively demand the memos.

Demanding that the President reveal what kind of targeted killing programs it supports is no hippie fetish. It is something that members of both parties have supported.

Obama’s Reverse Imaginary Friend, the Assassination Robot

The Obama Administration is getting more and more like that crazy old man in the park talking to an imaginary friend. Only it works in reverse. It sends out real people to engage in hours of conversations with other real people about a real topic and then pretends both were pretend.

It sends John Brennan to the Senate for 3.5 hours where he has conversations about drones over and over with people, never once claiming not to understand what they mean when they discuss drones and/or targeted killing.

He responds to Ron Wyden’s questions about how to be more transparent on drones.

WYDEN: So it was encouraging last night when the president called and indicated that, effective immediately, he would release the documents necessary for Senators to understand the full legal analysis of the president’s authority to conduct the targeted killing of an American.

[snip]

Let me now move to the public side of oversight, making sure that the public’s right to know is respected. One part of oversight is Congressional oversight and our doing our work. The other is making sure that the American people are brought into these debates, just like James Madison said, this is what you need to preserve a republic.

And I want to start with the drone issue. In a speech last year, the president instructed you to be more open with the public about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings of Al Qaeda members.

So my question is, what should be done next to ensure that public conversation about drones, so that the American people are brought into this debate and have a full understanding of what rules the government’s going to observe when it conducts targeted killings?

BRENNAN: Well, I think this hearing is one of the things that can be done because I think this type of discourse between the executive and the legislative branch is critically important.

I believe that there need to be continued speeches that are going to be given by the executive branch to explain our counterterrorism programs. I think there is a misimpression on the part of some of American people who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there’s no other alternative to taking an action that’s going to mitigate that threat.

[snip]

WYDEN: One other point with respect to (inaudible) public oversight. If the executive branch makes a mistake and kills the wrong person or a group of the wrong people, how should the government acknowledge that?

BRENNAN: I believe we need to acknowledge that. Read more

The Benghazi Truthers and the OLC Hold-Outs

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 8.41.25 AMDianne Feinstein announced yesterday that the Senate Intelligence Committee would not, as originally planned, vote on John Brennan’s nomination today. No Valentine’s Day love for Brennan I guess.

DiFi cited outstanding questions on Benghazi and the 7 OLC memos the White House has withheld.

That’s important background to this Joshua Hersh story, which makes fun of Richard Burr (who had just made a joke about his relative Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton) grilling Jack Lew about who briefed Obama on Benghazi the night of the attack. As Hersh points out, the White House has released a picture showing Denis McDonough briefing the President that day, which ought to answer Burr’s question.

What Hersh doesn’t say is that Burr specifically asked Lew whether Brennan was in this loop. In the closed session on Tuesday, apparently, Brennan said he wasn’t. This comes on top of the White House withholding — at least as of last Thursday — Presidential Daily Briefs and some emails about the response to Benghazi as it unfolded.

Now, Lew’s role in Benghazi briefings really won’t affect his job as Treasury Secretary. But Brennan’s role might, particularly if the Murdoch boosted eBook alleging he was running ops in Libya out of the White House is true (I’m not saying it is).

In any case, the persistence of the Benghazi truthers has introduced an interesting dynamic I didn’t expect. Of the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee, only Susan Collins and possibly Tom Coburn are not full-on Benghazi truthers (and James Inhofe, who gets a vote if he wants one as Armed Services Committee Ranking member, could add another truther vote).

But Collins is part of the other group — along with at least Ron Wyden and Mark Udall — holding up Brennan’s nomination, those demanding the 7 OLC memos on targeted killing the White House has thus far refused to turn over to the Committee purportedly overseeing these killings. That puts the vote somewhere in the vicinity of 9 votes holding out for something from the White House, 6 votes ready to vote Brennan’s nomination forward.

So who will the White House cede to? The Benghazi truthers, or the OLC holdouts? And is what is in the material the White House has thus far withheld enough for these groups to vote against Brennan?

Note, there’s always the possibility these groups will converge. The public record supports the conclusion that Libyan militants in Derna claimed to have been struck or at least surveilled by a drone. Those militants have ties, at least, to the militants who carried out the attack on the Benghazi post, and the public record also supports the claim the militants were avenging that drone surveillance or strike.  If that drone was approved by an unknown memo authorizing continued strikes in Libya, it would be something that both the Benghazi truthers and the OLC holdouts would be interested in.

Will Senators Filibuster Chuck Hagel’s Nomination to Get the Targeted Killing Memo?

Eleven Senators just sent President Obama a letter asking nicely, for at least the 12th time, the targeted killing memo. They remind him of his promise of transparency and oversight.

In your speech at the National Archives in May 2009, you stated that “Whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions — by Congress or by the courts.” We applaud this principled commitment to the Constitutional system of checks and balances, and hope that you will help us obtain the documents that we need to conduct the oversight that you have called for. The executive branch’s cooperation on this matter will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate’s consideration of nominees for national security positions. 

And asks — yet again — for “any and all memos.”

Specifically, we ask that you direct the Justice Department to provide Congress, specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, with any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch’s official understanding of the President’s authority to deliberately kill American citizens.

But perhaps the most important part of this letter is that it refers not just to John Brennan’s nomination, but to “senior national security positions.”

As the Senate considers a number of nominees for senior national security positions, we ask that you ensure that Congress is provided with the secret legal opinions outlining your authority to authorize the killing of Americans in the course of counterterrorism operations.

There are just 11 Senators on this list:

  • Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
  • Mike Lee (R-Utah)
  • Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
  • Susan Collins (R-Maine)
  • Dick Durbin (Ill.)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  • Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
  • Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
  • Al Franken (D- Minn.)

And just three of these — Wyden, Mark Udall, and Collins — are on the Intelligence Committee. That’s not enough to block Brennan’s confirmation.

But it may be enough to block Hagel’s confirmation, given all the other Republicans who are opposing him.

Lisa Murkowski Admits She Voted To Help Catholic Church Enforce a Doctrine She Ignores

As I noted last week, every single Catholic Senator save Susan Collins who voted for the Blunt Amendment last week appears likely to have relied on the birth control their Church prohibits to limit the size of their families. Lisa Murkowski, who has just 2 kids, was among the 10 Catholics who was using her position to help the Catholic Church enforce a doctrine she herself has ignored.

And in an interview claiming she now regrets that vote, Murkowski as much as admits that’s what she did. (h/t TPM)

What Lisa Murkowski told me I already suspected. She’s a moderate. She supports abortion rights and contraception coverage. She also doesn’t line up completely with the Catholic Church when it comes to birth control. She regretted her recent vote.

[snip]

I pointed out that her support for birth control conflicts with the Catholic mandate against it.

“You know, I don’t adhere to all of the tenets of my faith.

Now, she’s still spinning her vote (and her letter opposing Obama’s rule on contraception) as one in favor of religious freedom.

She’d meant to make a statement about religious freedom, she said, but voters read it as a vote against contraception coverage for women.

But it is not “religious freedom” to craft laws to help the Church enforce mandates that almost none of its adherents–and probably few, if any, of the Catholic Senators supporting the law–abide by. It is an improper use of government to aid a religious institution.

Not to mention, rank hypocrisy.

One Year After Collateral Murder Release, DOD’s Networks Are Still Glaring Security Problem

As I have posted several times, the response to WikiLeaks has ignored one entity that bears some responsibility for the leaks: DOD’s IT.

Back in 2008, someone introduced malware to DOD’s computer systems. In response, DOD announced it would no longer allow the use of removable media in DOD networks. Yet that is precisely how Bradley Manning is reported to have gotten the databases allegedly leaked. In other words, had DOD had very basic security measures in place they had already been warned they needed, it would have been a lot harder for anyone to access and leak these documents.

Often, when I have raised this issue, people are simply incredulous that DOD’s classified network would be accessible to removable media (and would have remained so two years after malware was introduced via such means). But it’s even worse than that.

A little-noticed Senate Homeland Security hearing last month (Steven Aftergood is one of the few people who noticed) provided more details about the status of DOD’s networks when the leaks took place and what DOD and the rest of government have done since. The short version is this: for over two months after DOD arrested Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking a bunch of material by downloading information onto a Lady Gaga CD, DOD and the State Department did nothing. In August, only after WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Logs, they started to assess what had gone wrong. And their description of what went wrong reveals not only how exposed DOD was, but how exposed it remains.

Two months to respond

Bradley Manning was arrested on or before May 29. Yet in spite of claims he is alleged to have made in chat logs about downloading three major databases, neither DOD or State started responding to the leak until after the Afghan War Logs were published on July 25, 2010.

The joint testimony of DOD’s Chief Information Officer Teresa Takai and Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence Thomas Ferguson explains,

On August 12, 2010, immediately following the first release of documents, the Secretary of Defense commissioned two internal DoD studies. The first study, led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)), directed a review of DoD information security policy. The second study, led by the Joint Staff, focused on procedures for handling classified information in forward deployed areas.

In other words, “immediately” (as in, more than two weeks) after the publication of material that chat logs (published two months earlier) had clearly explained that Manning had allegedly downloaded via Lady Gaga CD months earlier, DOD commissioned two studies.

As State Department Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy explained, their response was no quicker.

When DoD material was leaked in July 2010, we worked with DoD to identify any alleged State Department material that was in WikiLeaks’ possession.

It wasn’t until November–at around the time when NYT was telling State precisely what they were going to publish–that State started responding in earnest. At that time–over four months after chat logs showed Manning claiming to have downloaded 250,000 State cables–State moved its Net Centric Diplomacy database from SIPRNet (that is, the classified network) to JWICS (the Top Secret network).

DOD’s exposed IT networks

Now, frankly, State deserves almost none of the blame here. Kennedy’s testimony made it clear that, while the WikiLeaks leak has led State to enhance their limits on the use of removable media access, they have systems in place to track precisely who is accessing data where.

DOD won’t have that across their system for another year, at least.

There are three big problems with DOD’s information security. First, as the Takai/Ferguson testimony summarized,

Forward deployed units maintained an over-reliance on removable electronic storage media.

It explains further that to make sure people in the field can share information with coalition partners, they have to keep a certain number of computers accessible to removable media.

The most expedient remedy for the vulnerability that led to the WikiLeaks disclosure was to prevent the ability to remove large amounts of data from the classified network. This recommendation, forwarded in both the USD(I) and Joint Staff assessments, considered the operational impact of severely limiting users’ ability to move data from SIPRNet to other networks (such as coalition networks) or to weapons platforms. The impact was determined to be acceptable if a small number of computers retained the ability to write to removable media for operational reasons and under strict controls.

As they did in 2008 after malware was introduced via thumb drive, DOD has promised to shut off access to removable media (note, Ferguson testified thumb drives, but not CDs, have been shut down for “some time”). But 12% of the computers on SIPRNet will still be accessed by removable media, though they are in the process of implementing real-time Host Based Security System tracking of authorized and unauthorized attempts to save information on removable media for those computers.

In response to a very frustrated question from Senator Collins, Ferguson explained that DOD started implementing a Host Based Security System in 2008 (the year DOD got infected with malware). But at the time of the leak, just 40% of the systems in the continental US had that system in place; it was not implemented outside of the US, though. They weren’t implemented overseas, he explained, because a lot of the systems in the field “are cobbled together.”

In any case, HBSS software will be in place by June. (Tech folks: Does this means those computers are still vulnerable to malware introduced by removable media? What about unauthorized software uploads?)

Then there’s data access control. DOD says it can’t (won’t) password protect access to information because managing passwords to control the access of 500,000 people is too onerous for an agency with a budget larger than Australia’s gross national product. Frankly, that may well be a fair approach given the importance of sharing information.

But what is astounding is that DOD is only now implementing public key infrastructure that will, first of all, make it possible to track what people access and–some time after DOD collects that data–to start fine tuning what they can access.

DoD has begun to issue a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)-based identity credential on a hardened smart card. This is very similar to the Common Access Card (CAC) we use on our unclassified network. We will complete issuing 500,000 cards to our SIPRNet users, along with card readers and software, by the end of 2012. This will provide very strong identification of the person accessing the network and requesting data. It will both deter bad behavior and require absolute identification of who is accessing data and managing that access.

In conjunction with this, all DoD organizations will configure their SIPRNet-based systems to use the PKI credentials to strongly authenticate end-users who are accessing information in the system. This provides the link between end users and the specific data they can access – not just network access. This should, based on our experience on the unclassified networks, be straightforward.

DoD’s goal is that by 2013, following completion of credential issuance, all SIPRNet users will log into their local computers with their SIPRNet PKI/smart card credential. This will mirror what we already do on the unclassified networks with CACs.

[Takai defines what they’re doing somewhat just before 88:00]

Note what this says: DOD is only now beginning to issue the kind of user-based access keys to protect its classified network that medium-sized private companies use. And unless I’m misunderstanding this, it means DOD is only now upgrading the security on its classified system to match what already exists on its unclassified system.

Let’s hope nothing happens between now and that day in 2013 when all this is done.

And this particular problem appears to exist beyond DOD. While the two DIA witnesses mostly blew smoke rather than provide a real sense of where security is at (both blamed WikiLeaks on a “bad apple” rather than shockingly bad information security), the testimony of DNI’s Intelligence Community Intelligence Sharing Executive Corin Stone seems to suggest other parts of the IC area also still implementing the kind of authentication most medium sized corporations employ.

To enable strong network authentication and ensure that networks and systems can authoritatively identify who is accessing classified information, the IC CIO is implementing user authentication technologies and is working with the IC elements to achieve certificate issuance to eligible IC personnel in the first quarter of fiscal year 2012.

So that’s the issue of removable media and individualized access tracking.

Which leaves one more big security hole. According to Takai/Ferguson, DOD didn’t–still didn’t, as of mid-March–have the resources in place to detect anomalous behavior on its networks.

Limited capability currently exists to detect and monitor anomalous behavior on classified computer networks.

This confirms something Manning said in chat logs: no one is following the activity occurring on our networks in Iraq (or anywhere else on SIPRNet, from the sounds of things), and flagging activities that might be an intrusion.

The part of the Takai/Ferguson testimony that details very hazy plans to think about maybe implementing such a system (pages 6-7) is worth a gander just for the number of acronyms of titles of people who are considering maybe what to implement some time in the future. It’s all a bunch of bureaucratic camouflage, IMO, to avoid saying clearly, “we haven’t got it and we haven’t yet figured out how we’re going to get it.” But here are the two most concrete descriptions of what the Department of Defense plans to do to make sure no one is fiddling in their classified networks. First, once they get HBSS completely installed, then they will install an NSA audit program on top of that.

One very promising capability is the Audit Extraction Module (AEM) developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). This software leverages already existing audit capabilities and reports to the network operators on selected audit events that indicate questionable behavior. A great advantage is that it can be integrated into the HBSS we have already installed on the network, and so deployment should be relatively inexpensive and timely. AEM is being integrated into HBSS now and will be operationally piloted this summer.

But in the very next paragraph, Takai/Ferguson admit there are better solutions out there. But DOD (again, with its budget larger than the GNP of most medium sized countries) can’t implement those options.

Commercial counterintelligence and law enforcement tools – mostly used by the intelligence community – are also being examined and will be a part of the overall DoD insider threat program. These tools provide much more capability than the AEM. However, while currently in use in some agencies, they are expensive to deploy and sustain even when used in small, homogeneous networks. Widespread deployment in DoD will be a challenge.

In other words, DOD wants to be the biggest part of the intelligence community. But it and its budget bigger than Brazil’s GNP won’t implement the kind of solutions the rest of the intelligence community use.

Department. Of. Defense.

Now, let me be clear: DOD’s embarrassingly bad information security does not, in any way, excuse Bradley Manning or the other “bad apples” we don’t know about from their oath to protect this information. (Note, there was also testimony that showed DOD’s policies on information sharing were not uniformly accessible, but that’s minor compared to these big vulnerabilities.)

But in a world with even minimal accountability, we’d be talking about fixing this yesterday, not in 2013 (five years, after all, after the malware intrusion). We’d have fired the people who let this vulnerability remain after the malware intrusion. We’d aspire to the best kind of security, rather than declaring helplessness because our very expensive DOD systems were kluged together. And we’d be grateful, to a degree, that this was exposed with as little reported damage as it has caused.

If this information is really classified for good reason, as all the hand-wringers claim, then we ought to be using at least the kind of information security implemented by the private sector a decade ago. But we’re not. And we don’t plan on doing so anytime in the near future.

Obama Killed The Johnsen Nomination, Not Ben Nelson Nor The GOP

It strikes me as necessary to follow up a bit on the death of the Dawn Johnsen nomination to lead the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Specifically, it needs to be clear the conventional wisdom of the main media, and even a surprising number of normally more clear headed progressive bloggers, that the nomination failed because of opposition from Republican obstruction coupled with opposition by Ben Nelson, is completely and patently false.

The false meme was already in play with the first substantive reporting by Sam Stein at Huffington Post as I noted yesterday. It is being propagated by the Washington Post (Republicans and “moderate lawmakers”), the New York Times (conservatives and two Democrats), even progressive stalwarts like Glenn Greenwald and McJoan at DKos have discussed the effects of the Republicans and Ben Nelson on the torpedoed nomination (although, to be fair, neither ascribes full blame on the GOP and Nelson).

Perhaps the best example of purveying the false wisdom comes from Jake Tapper at ABC. Tapper, in an article supposedly about the Obama White House not having the stomach for a fight on Johnsen, nevertheless proceeds to regurgitate the usual suspects:

Senate Republicans opposed her nomination overwhelmingly, meaning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., needed 60 votes to bring her nomination to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

The White House put all the blame on the Republican minority — White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said, “Senate Republicans will not allow her to be confirmed” — but it was a bit more complicated than that.

A Senate Democratic leadership source said that throughout 2009 two Democrats said they would vote against her — Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa. The only Republican of the 40-member GOP caucus who said he would vote for her was her fellow Hoosier, Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind.
…..
Specter remained opposed to Johnsen’s nomination even after he switched parties in April 2009, but his primary opponent Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., began to attack Specter for his opposition to her nomination.

Johnsen’s nomination expired at the end of 2009, but in January 2010 Specter said he’d vote for her.

This is a bunch of bunk. I have previously written extensively on why there were at least 60 votes for Johnson’s confirmation for the entire second half of last year after Al Franken was sworn in, and why there still were 60 votes for her confirmation this year upon Obama’s renomination, even after the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts. If you have any question, please click through and refer to those articles; for now though, I want to revisit the false light being painted on Ben Nelson and Arlen Specter on the nomination’s failure. Read more

Happy Stimulus Day to Susan Collins, Who Killed Billions in School Funding

ThinkProgress has an absolutely devastating report on 111 Republican members of Congress who have attacked last year’s stimulus bill, but who have since taken credit for it. Click through for details on Republican hypocrisy close to you, but for a taste, here are the MI GOP stimulus hypocrites.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. Upton Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. Ehlers Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. Camp Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. McCotter Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. Miller Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) Signed A Letter Hailing Stimulus Funds As An ‘Important First Steps For Individuals And Their Families.’ The letter, signed by other members of the Michigan congressional delegation, was sent to the Director of Recovery Auto Workers and Communities. [Letter from Michigan Delegation to Ed Montgomery, 5/6/09]

-Rep. Rogers Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46; Roll Call Vote #70]

But I think another Republican–along with her “moderate” buddies, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Arlen Specter, and Claire McCaskill–who deserve some scorn today. Among the $100 billion they demanded be stripped from the stimulus package before they’d support it was money for school modernization and state fiscal stabilization funds.

We now know that–as predicted–states are reeling with budgetary problems to an extent that may cause 900,000 further job losses.

States are looking at a total budget gap of $180 billion for fiscal 2011, which for most of them begins July 1. These cuts could lead to a loss of 900,000 jobs, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com.

Granted, the money that Collins took out of education stimulus last year would not have made up the difference in the cuts we’ll see from states in the upcoming fiscal year. But Collins and her buddies do deserve a reminder that their so-called fiscal moderation last year has lasting effects on the Americans losing their jobs.

Republicans Trashing Law Enforcement because It Polls Well

The best explanation for why, after having been briefed that underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was in FBI custody (and therefore, anyone who watches TV would know, mirandized), Republicans more recently started attacking the Obama Administration for having mirandized Abdulmutallab is this:

Republicans discovered the renewed power of terrorism in last month’s special Senate election in Massachusetts. Neil Newhouse, the pollster for the Republican victor, Scott Brown, said voters responded to the way Mr. Brown framed the issue, supporting him 63 percent to 26 percent when told he favored charging suspected terrorists as enemy combatants in a military tribunal while his Democratic opponent would give them constitutional rights and a civilian trial.

“This moved voters more than the health care issue did,” Mr. Newhouse said. “The terrorism stuff resonated, and it wasn’t just from the advertising we did.”

In fact, Mitch McConnell all but admitted that he was hitting the Administration on civilian court issues because of Scott Brown’s election in response to a question he was asked on February 3.

“If this approach of putting these people in U.S. courts doesn’t sell in Massachusetts, I don’t know where it sells,” he told a questioner.

He added: “You can campaign on these issues anywhere in America.”

That is, Republicans are attacking law enforcement–even as they have succeeded in getting Abdulmutallab’s cooperation quicker than it took the torturers to get false information out of KSM–because it polls well, because Scott Brown won on a pro-waterboarding platform.

Here’s the timeline:

December 25, 2009: Abdulmutallab attempts to bomb plane; after refusing to talk, FBI reads Miranda warning; John Brennan briefs Republican leadership that Abdulmutallab in FBI custody; FBI tells intelligence partners it will charge Abdulmutallab criminally, to no objections

December 26, 2009: FBI again tells intelligence partners it will charge Abdulmutallab criminally, to no objections

January 1, 2010: Two FBI agents fly to Nigeria to seek help from Abdulmutallab’s family

January 4, 2010: Scott Brown embraces water-boarding, advocates trying Abdulmutallab in military commission

January 5, 2010: Administration considers, but rejects, possibility of treating Abdulmutallab as enemy combatant

January 7, 2010: Obama Administration releases report of what went wrong on terror attack

January 8-10. 2010: 57% surveyed prefer military commission to civilian trial

January 17, 2010: Two Abdulmutallab family members fly back to Detroit to convince him to cooperate

January 19, 2010: Scott Brown wins special election

January 20, 2010: Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins hold hearing on Christmas bombing; Collins complains about information sharing, not Miranda warning; Blair says not consulted before Miranda read, says new interrogation team should have made decision though it is not yet functional

Several days after his family arrives: Abdulmutallab begins to cooperate

January 25, 2010: Lieberman and Collins write letter attacking FBI for giving Miranda warning

January 27, 2010: Mitch McConnell and others write Holder complaining about Miranda warning

January 30, 2010: Susan Collins attacks Obama for Miranda warning in weekly radio address

February 2, 2010: Mueller tells SSCI Abdulmutallab is cooperating

February 3, 2010: Holder responds to Republican critics; Mitch McConnell attacks “law enforcement” approach and later admits it works in campaigns, mentioning Brown’s victory

February 7, 2010: John Brennan reveals that Republican leaders briefed on FBI custody for Abdulmutallab, made no objections

February 9, 2010: John Brennan writes op-ed, “We need no lectures.”

Susan Collins: I Stand With Crazy Pete the Twit-Leaker in Opposing Intelligence Whistleblowers

I’ve been covering the misplaced priorities of Crazy Pete Hoekstra–who doesn’t want federal Intelligence Community employees to have a way of alerting Congress to fraud and wrong-doing without exposing classified information and/or losing their jobs, but who is happy to Twitter sensitive information about his and Minority Leader Boehner’s travels in Baghdad.

It seems that Susan Collins has the same misplaced priorities. She single-handedly axed the House-backed provision to include whistleblower protection in the stimulus package–and with it, prevented a key means of making sure taxpayer funds were spent wisely.

But, according to a person following the bill closely, Collins used today’s conference committee to drastically water down the measure, citing national security concerns as the reason for her opposition. In the end, the protections were so weakened that House negotiators balked, and the result was that the entire amendment was removed.

According to the person following the bill, Collins was the "central roadblock" to passing the protections.

To make matter worse, Collins is the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs commitee, which, as an oversight committee, might be expected to see its role as protecting whistleblowers. She also sits on the Senate appropriations committee, giving her a strong position from which to wield influence during today’s negotiations.

Though Senate leader Harry Reid supported the protections, said the source, he wasn’t willing to strong-arm Collins on the issue, given her central role in negotiations over the stimulus bill as a whole. [my emphasis]

I guess that about sums up the state of Republican approaches to both Homeland Security and Appropriations that they would work hard to deprive taxpayers of the protection from fraud and wrong-doing they need.