Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush Commits Treason (and no one does anything, again)

Scott McClellan wrote a book entitled What Happened. It'll be out in April. Remember, he told us that the President and the top staff had nothing to do with outing Valerie Plame. Well, he won't be getting any Christmas cards from the White House next month....

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

This is so simple. These people outed a covert CIA agent who was working on keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. On April 26, 1999, George HW Bush said:

“I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”

And the people who cover up these traitors, who give them aid and comfort? Aren't they traitors too? And people who obstruct an investigation of these traitors? Aren't they insidious too?

This is treason. I can't think of a higher crime or misdemeanor...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Waterboarding is Torture

A group of former intelligence officials of the US has sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging that a hold be placed on Mukasey's nomination until he goes on record saying that waterboarding is torture. The letter, available at No Quarter, is reprinted here in its entirety, with permission:

MEMORANDUM FOR: Chairman and Ranking Member Senate Committee on the Judiciary

FROM: Former U.S. Intelligence Officers

SUBJECT: Nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General

Dear Senators Leahy and Specter,

Values that are extremely important to us as former intelligence officers are at stake in your committee’s confirmation deliberations on Judge Michael Mukasey. With hundreds of years of service in sensitive national security activities behind us, we are deeply concerned that your committee may move his nomination to the full Senate without insisting that Mukasey declare himself on whether he believes the practice of waterboarding is legal.

We feel this more acutely than most others, for in our careers we have frequently had to navigate the delicate balance between morality and expediency, all the while doing our best to abide by the values the vast majority of Americans hold in common. We therefore believe we have a particular moral obligation to speak out. We can say it no better than four retired judge advocates general (two admirals and two generals) who wrote you over the weekend, saying: “Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.”

Judge Mukasey’s refusal to comment on waterboarding, on grounds that it would be “irresponsible” to provide “an uninformed legal opinion based on hypothetical facts and circumstances,” raises serious questions. There is nothing hypothetical or secret about the fact that waterboarding was used by U.S. intelligence officers as an interrogation technique before the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004. But after Alberto Gonzales became attorney general in February 2005, Justice reportedly issued a secret memo authorizing harsh physical and psychological tactics, including waterboarding, which were approved for use in combination. A presidential executive order of July 20, 2007 authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” that had been banned for use by the U.S. Army. Although the White House announced that the order provides “clear rules” to govern treatment of detainees, the rules are classified, so defense attorneys, judges, juries — and even nominee Mukasey — can be prevented from viewing them.

Those are some of the “facts and circumstances.” They are not hypothetical; and there are simple ways for Judge Mukasey to become informed, which we propose below.

Last Thursday, President George W. Bush told reporters it was unfair to ask Mukasey about interrogation techniques about which he had not been briefed.

“He doesn’t know whether we use that technique [waterboarding] or not,” the president said. Judge Mukasey wrote much the same in his October 30 letter, explaining that he was unable to give an opinion on the legality of waterboarding because he doesn't know whether it is being used: “I have not been made aware of the details of any interrogation program to the extent that any such program may be classified and thus do not know what techniques may be involved in any such program.” Whether or not the practice is currently in use by U.S. intelligence, it should in fact be easy for him to respond. All he need do is find out what waterboarding is and then decide whether he considers it legal.

The conundrum created to justify the nominee’s silence on this key issue is a synthetic one. It is within your power to resolve it readily. If Mukasey continues to drag his feet, you need only to facilitate a classified briefing for him on waterboarding and the C.I.A. interrogation program. He will then be able to render an informed legal opinion. We strongly suggest that you sit in on any such briefing and that you invite the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to take part as well. Receiving the same briefing at the same time (and, ideally, having it taped) should enhance the likelihood of candor and make it possible for all to be — and to stay — on the same page on this delicate issue.

If the White House refuses to allow such a briefing, your committee must, in our opinion, put a hold on Mukasey’s nomination. We are aware that the president warned last week that it will be either Mukasey as our attorney general or no one. So be it. It is time to stand up for what is right and require from the Executive the information necessary for the Senate to function responsibly and effectively. It would seem essential not to approve a nominee who has already made clear he is reluctant to ask questions of the White House. How can a person with that attitude even be proposed to be our chief law enforcement officer?

We strongly urge that you not send Mukasey’s nomination to the full Senate before he makes clear his view on waterboarding. Otherwise, there is considerable risk of continued use of the officially sanctioned torture techniques that have corrupted our intelligence services, knocked our military off the high moral ground, severely damaged our country’s standing in the world, and exposed U.S. military and intelligence people to similar treatment when captured or kidnapped. One would think that Judge Mukasey would want to be briefed on these secret interrogation techniques and to clarify where he stands.

The most likely explanation for Mukasey’s reticence is his concern that, should his conscience require him to condemn waterboarding, this could cause extreme embarrassment and even legal jeopardy for senior officials this time not just for the so-called “bad apples” at the bottom of the barrel. We believe it very important that the Senate not acquiesce in his silence—and certainly not if, as seems the case, he is more concerned about protecting senior officials than he is in enforcing the law and the Constitution.

It is important to get beyond shadowboxing on this key issue. In our view, condoning Mukasey’s evasiveness would mean ignoring fundamental American values and the Senate’s constitutional prerogative of advice and consent.

At stake in your committee and this nomination are questions of legality, morality, and our country’s values. And these are our primary concerns as well. As professional intelligence officers, however, we must point to a supreme irony—namely, that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation practices are ineffective tools for eliciting reliable information. Our own experience dovetails well with that of U.S. Army intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. John Kimmons, who told a Pentagon press conference on September 6, 2006: “No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.”

Speaking out so precisely and unequivocally took uncommon courage, because Kimmons knew that just across the Potomac President Bush would be taking quite a different line at a press conference scheduled to begin as soon as Kimmons finished his. At the White House press conference focusing on interrogation techniques, the president touted the success that the C.I.A. was having in extracting information from detainees by using an “alternative set of procedures.” He said these procedures had to be “tough,” in order to deal with particularly recalcitrant detainees who “had received training on how to resist interrogation” and had “stopped talking.”

The Undersigned
(Official duties refer to former government work.)

Brent Cavan
Intelligence Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

Ray Close
Directorate of Operations, CIA for 26 years—22 of them overseas; former Chief of Station, Saudi Arabia

Ed Costello
Counter-espionage, FBI

Michael Dennehy
Supervisory Special Agent for 32 years, FBI; U.S. Marine Corps for three years

Rosemary Dew
Supervisory Special Agent, Counterterrorism, FBI

Philip Giraldi
Operations officer and counter-terrorist specialist, Directorate of Operations, CIA

Michael Grimaldi
Intelligence Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; Federal law enforcement officer

Mel Goodman
Division Chief, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; Professor, National Defense University; Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy

Larry Johnson
Intelligence analysis and operations officer, CIA; Deputy Director, Office of Counter Terrorism, Department of State

Richard Kovar
Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director for Intelligence, CIA: Editor, Studies In Intelligence

Charlotte Lang
Supervisory Special Agent, FBI

W. Patrick Lang
U.S. Army Colonel, Special Forces, Vietnam; Professor, U.S. Military Academy, West Point; Defense Intelligence Officer for Middle East, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); founding director, Defense HUMINT Service

Lynne Larkin
Operations Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA; counterintelligence; coordination among intelligence and crime prevention agencies; CIA policy coordination staff ensuring adherence to law in operations

Steve Lee
Intelligence Analyst for terrorism, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

Jon S. Lipsky
Supervisory Special Agent, FBI

David MacMichael
Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council, CIA; History professor; Veteran, U.S. Marines (Korea)

Tom Maertens
Foreign Service Officer and Intelligence Analyst, Department of State; Deputy Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, Department of State; National Security Council (NSC) Director for Non-Proliferation

James Marcinkowski
Operations Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA by way of U.S. Navy

Mary McCarthy
National Intelligence Officer for Warning; Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, National Security Council

Ray McGovern
Intelligence Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; morning briefer, The President’s Daily Brief; chair of National Intelligence Estimates; Co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Sam Provance
U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst, Germany and Iraq (Abu Ghraib); Whistleblower

Coleen Rowley
Special Agent and attorney, FBI; Whistleblower on the negligence that facilitated the attacks of 9/11.

Joseph Wilson
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Ambassador and Director of Africa, National Security Council.

Valerie Plame Wilson
Operations Officer, Directorate of Operations

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Economic Letter the the LA Times

In today's Business section, the LA Times mirrored the right wing administration's talking points about the economy, disguised as the jobs report, in which unemployment remained "steady" at 4.7% in October while the economy "added" 166,000 jobs. A deeper look is warranted.

In a Bloomberg article, albeit buried deep below the fold, we find the tip of the truth-burg:
"In contrast to the payrolls figures, a separate household survey showed a loss of jobs. The unemployment rate held steady because about 200,000 people left the workforce."
A little more investigation would reveal that 344,000 people left the work force in September and 340,000 left in August.

Further study of the October numbers reveals that the propaganda catapulters claimed that the real estate sector added 2800 jobs, and commercial banking added 1500, despite a housing slump. How is this possible?

The administration uses the Birth/Death Model to estimate job growth and unemployment. This statistical model is designed to see jobs created from new businesses that the job survey doesn't see. The US Department of Labor assumes these jobs were "created" based on the employment situation a year ago. So, this model cranks out numbers that say new financial service companies created 25,000 jobs in October, despite a worldwide credit crunch and the housing bust.

And the LA Times, along with all the other main stream media, parrots these numbers as if they're fact. Meanwhile, middle class American families are falling further and further behind, even though inflation is "low."

Which brings us to the GDP "growth" of 3.6% that this administration is reporting for the third quarter. This magic number is reached by counting inflation at .8%, the lowest inflation number for GDP purposes since Eisenhower. Meanwhile, the latest edition of the Economist magazine is reporting that inflation of "all items" (you know, the things people actually pay for like fuel, food and rent) at 16.7%. If we use the Economist numbers, we get a GDP of -12% annualized.

No wonder a corporatist government and their media friends don't want you to see the truth. We're in a deep recession.

And lying to the American people is basically treason. Corruption is theft. The Iraq war is the largest theft