Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Impeach+Bush+Cheney, Iowa and tthe morning after, Graphic reminders of our problems!

Click for a full report.

Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Impeach+Bush+Cheney, Iowa and tthe morning after, Graphic reminders of our problems!

Last Night I posted A Cursory Analysis Of The Iowa Democrat Caucus Results, And Though I Am No Real Fan Of Their System, It Exists, And By Virtue Of How Our Political System It Is A Measuring Stick In The Minds Of Americans.

“It’s The Judiciary Committee Stupid!” Campaign Lead Link



It’s still difficult to determine if the 2008 presidential election process is more like Jeopardy or a Miss America contest. In either case the questions and answers are only ask and given for their entertainment value. Most voters see very little value in what goes on in the primary campaigns. Primary campaigns are designed for those political activists whose interests go beyond the norm to select their party’s candidate in order for the games to begin in earnest, and for the media to have fresh manipulation fodder.


(1) Obama has set the Campaign Bar and theme at CHANGE and it is a situation where Americans should define the ingredients to be poured into the mix. The candidates should not be permitted to define CHANGE with a singularity of their vision.

(2) The chains of money and tactics were broken in Iowa and pundits and consultants went down the drain. They lived by their practiced scripts and techniques and they failed. Damn does that mean that Americans are not as stupid, gullible and malleable as they assume?

(3) We saw in the Kerry election the emergence of a factor that has all but been forgotten and ignored in the climate of confusion, corruption and fear generated by the Bush administration; the emergence of a segment of the electorate which is young and energized in Presidential Elections as opposed to lesser elections.

They were there yesterday in the huge Democrat turn out. They are fundamentally the core of the growing mass of folks in the electorate that one must define as Independent voters, voters who move into the activist mainstream only when they identify a candidate that they can identify with.

They are for the largest majority inclined to liberal causes and issues. They were in the Kerry elections voters who saw themselves as agents of change and they still perceive themselves and their mission as that of change.

They are not inclined to gravitate towards people like even myself. I almost am tempted to chuckle because of their reaction to folks like me, regardless of what we believe, no matter what we do. We are OK when wield the sword of Justice in the name of Impeachment. We are cheered when we preach the Gospel of our Fore Fathers in Revolutionary zeal, but they are not going to the streets, Oh No, that’s dangerous. We are the “Old Guard” tainted by our years and experience, associated with everything that is wrong, and in many cases that painting with the broad brush of distain is well deserved, well-earned.

They listen but do not become kiss up sycophant followers; they have their own passions and visions shaping them as they go. They are my (Y) generation voters, young and yuppie, and there is nothing wrong with that if you can accept them for what they are and where their heads and hearts are and can proceed to attempt a dialog and communication with them. They don’t listen well yet.

They are energized and in hot pursuit of the Holy Grail of Hope, Peace, Prosperity and Justice. They will see today’s essential Iowa news as: “The Democratic caucus voters (young activist Progressives) have rejected the politics of the past and the corporate wing of the party”. That means Hillary at the moment. They are enthusiastic and celebrate loudly, and that is all right also. It helps to identify them.

During the Kerry campaign I found myself surrounded by them in a large boisterous jubilant crowd at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. They were reminiscent of my generation flocking to John Kennedy on the campaign trail.

What wearying, failing pundits and career consultants do not see, are unable to discern is that the (Y)s are a generational phenomenon, and that they are fixated upon the image of hope, the dynamic of change and instinctually they are closing the book on former generations of candidates, their advocates and their consultant entourages.

Their symbol of change is the person who sits in The White House. It is just that simple. If in the remaining campaign days they can coaxed to look a bit further down the line, to become a bit more encompassing and discriminating with their voting; they can be a formidable asset in a broom action to sweep a significant number of the 435 deadwood House members from their nonresponsive incumbent seats.

One of the things I really like about the (Y)s is the fact that they reject the older masters of manipulation to the extent that they are immune to negative attack ads. If we could only translate that immunity to a broader base of the voting population and make their usage an automatic negative for the practitioners of the art; we would all be well served…and it can be done…and not in the cutesy Huckabee double deal manner.

(4) Given the “Fifty State Strategy Plan” fleshed out by Howard Dean to an amazing structural and technical level nearing perfection; if we Democrats can only focus on REAL CHANGE; the tool(s) are ready for an amazing performance. But, if we allow this instrument to be utilized to return to power our own worthless corporate incumbents…we will have no one to blame but ourselves. We have to decide who is going to be pruned from the tree and who is going to grafted on anew and then and only then, commit and let it rip.

(5) Given that events, campaigns and media have now enshrined CHANGE as the buzz word for the remainder of this campaign cycle; the challenge, our challenge is to be vigilant as to how the fundamental approach to the word change, philosophical or pragmatic particulars is framed and implemented from here on out.

It is a mine field where the public will feel better if they have input into the program of change, and the real out comes meaningful if we demand of our candidates real input on our part and lasting commitment on their part and not just convenient passing lip service.

Let me just present that another way by way of analogy with the party platform that the convention will spit out. The only people in love with the party platform are the drafting committee members and the media who need a bit of filler at the outset of the conventions. After the confetti falls the platform is closed up in the darkness of the loose ring binders not to be seen again. In fact; the copies ought to be collected after it is accepted, shredded and dumped into the confetti mix…a cost saving measure!

CHANGE must be real…not symbolic…not campaign buzz…not 2008 sound bite material. Obama has and is riding the Hope/Change Hype Express and everyone else is about to jump on the train. What we have to do is be very careful about how everyone decorates their own private campaign car.

Remember we are paying for those interior decorations, whether it be with our support, our cash or our vote and if we don’t like how our assets are being spent then we have the perfect right to put any of the cars off on the siding, or in my current frame of mind; we have a duty to derail the damn things we find disagreeable…bang!

NEW HAMPSHIRE. (Voter Turn Out / The (Y) Factor And Impeachment Advocates / Racial Consideration / Money In Play / Debate Controversy And These Folks Will Vote!)

(6) Now, with Iowa caucus victories behind them, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama vowed to stick with their winning principles this morning in an abbreviated dash to the finish in New Hampshire's presidential primary campaign, despite facing a different political alignment and, as Huckabee put it, "only a few days to close the sale."

Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, GOP poll leaders in New Hampshire, stand ready to try to douse Huckabee's "prairie fire" in a state that lacks the religious voting bloc of Iowa and has an ornery tradition of rejecting Iowa's Republican caucus winners. "It will be a different race here," Romney said earlier this morning.

Obama, having dashed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's front-runner status in his Iowa win, is rallying in Portsmouth and Concord. Clinton has been joined in Nashua by her husband, hoping to become the family's newest "Comeback Kid" in a state that revived Bill Clinton's run for the Democratic nomination in 1992. That can be made very problematic for her.

New Hampshire has a very interesting divide. There are folks who will vote in that primary that you can already call their votes. They are as steady and predictable as the Granite Rock of NH. They will vote unless they die before they get to the polls, and those voters, I assure you have been already evaluated by any campaign worth its’ salt. Now…

There is the matter of the (Y)s and the Impeachment Advocates of New Hampshire. Here is their moment to shine. This is a state where “Get Out The Vote” takes on religious proportions and weather can demand miracles. Keep your fingers crossed! If Hillary is stopped here; it is damn near over for her!

Voter turnout here in critical! A huge turn ouit will favor Obama and Edwards. The fuss over FOX and ABC debates is going fuel that possible fire. New Hampshire folks just don’t like that shit!

Obama said he saw no reason to revamp his campaign for new realities: "No, it's not broken, why fix it?" Obama better think twice about that statement and his people best be prepared for the best ground game they can deliver. Michael Moore does point one finger to a race card in NH and to some degree it will be in play and will give Edwards additional support. All Obama and Edwards need do is have solid showings and keep margins close before heading into the South Lands. If they knock Hillary to the curb in another 3rd place showing…wow…but unlikely.

Huckabee, on the morning talk shows, pitched his tax plan to anti-tax New Hampshire Republicans, and asserted his campaign is about much more than the Christian conservatives who lifted him in Iowa.

"What we're seeing is that this campaign is not just about people who have religious fervor," he said. "It's about people who love America, but want it to be better and believe that change is necessary and it's not going to happen from within Washington." (Not a well defined version of CHANGE)

New Hampshire's primary is Tuesday, only five days after Iowa, in an unprecedented compression of the campaign calendar. McCain and Huckabee anticipated more attack ads against them. The (Y)s plus debate issues (FOX/ABC ) adds up to turn out.

"We're going to be certainly always holding the option of defending my record when people are misleading and distorting it," Huckabee said, in a veiled reference to Romney. "I think staying positive in Iowa, not doing the political dumpster-diving that some of the other candidates did, I believe it paid off." (He played his cute card in Iowa; it won’t wash here)

McCain called Romney's attacks in Iowa "a little bit desperate. It didn't work in Iowa, I don't think it will work in New Hampshire." The Arizona senator's resurgent campaign raised him to the top of the polls against Romney in New Hampshire, with Huckabee lagging, in pre-Iowa surveys.

"We only have a few days to close the sale, but I think the momentum coming out of Iowa is going to be good for us," Huckabee said. "Then we're on to South Carolina and Florida where we're running first in the polls. We're going to have a great month." The candidates appeared on the network and cable morning talk shows.

Obama was neck and neck in New Hampshire polls with Clinton, who finished third in Iowa but has the money and organization to confront him.

The question is turn out and votes siphoned off from Hillary!

Iowa's results tightened the Democratic field — Sens. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd dropped out shortly after the outcome was clear Thursday night.

John Edwards mounted an energetic, populist campaign only to see himself repeat his 2004 second place finish in Iowa.

He vowed to continue, but he trails Obama and Clinton in polls and in money.

In Manchester, Edwards portrayed the Democratic race as one between him and Obama. That is the frame they both need and want in an attempt to minimize Hillary.

"I am the candidate who will fight with every fiber of my being, every single step of the way, for you, for your children and for your grandchildren," he said to cheers from an audience that included more campaign workers than ordinary voters, and many non-New Hampshire residents.

On the Republican side, Huckabee enters New Hampshire with little money and little time to mount an adequate come-from-behind surge. And tradition pulls against him. George H. W. Bush in 1980, Bob Dole in 1988 and 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 — all are Iowa caucus winners who lost their New Hampshire primaries.

His Iowa victory served to keep the GOP contest wide open. Huckabee beat Romney by nearly 9 percentage points, a setback for the former Massachusetts governor who now faces a reinvigorated McCain. Fred Thompson was looking beyond New Hampshire to South Carolina. And Rudy Giuliani, fading in New Hampshire, was counting on Florida and big state contests on Feb. 5.

An unpredictable factor could be Republican Ron Paul, an anti-war congressman with libertarian views whose legions of volunteers have fanned out across New Hampshire waving placards and knocking on doors in support of their dark horse candidate. Paul has raised a surprising amount of money, further complicating the political calculations in the state. I am concerned about his impact in this race and only this race.

In their victory speeches Thursday night, Obama and Huckabee struck similar chords and distinguished themselves from their respective fields — portraying themselves as unifiers and change agents who didn't view the world in simply Republican and Democratic hues.

"You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that's consumed Washington," Obama told his raucous supporters. "To end the political strategy that's been all about division, and instead make it about addition. To build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states. Because that's how we'll win in November, and that's how we'll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation."

Huckabee, sounding some of the same economic populist themes that Democrats had often heard from Edwards, said Americans were eager for change.

"But what they want is a change that starts with a challenge to those of us who were given this sacred trust of office so that we recognize that what our challenge is to bring this country back together, to make Americans, once again, more proud to be Americans than just to be Democrats or Republicans," he said. "To be more concerned about being going up instead of just going to the left or to the right."

Money, a defining measure of candidate strength throughout 2007, turned out to be not so determinative in Iowa. Oh those (Y)s.

Romney, a multimillionaire who pumped more than $17 million of his own money into the campaign by September, spent about $7 million on ads in Iowa to Huckabee's $1.4 million.

Likewise, Edwards remained in the mix with Obama and Clinton even though they broke all fundraising records last year. Obama spent $9 million in television ads in Iowa, Clinton spent $7 million and Edwards spent only $3 million.

Romney's and Clinton's inability to win was also a blow to much of the Democratic and Republican party establishment that had lined up behind both candidates.

But if money was only secondary in Iowa, it could still be a factor ahead.

Romney could tap his wealth again to carry him through New Hampshire and Michigan thereafter. And with Obama and Clinton at the top, the Democratic contest would “appear” to be dominated by two financial titans.

As Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said after the results were in last night: "Our campaign was built for a marathon and we have the resources to run a national race in the weeks ahead." The parlor of “Hillyland” sometimes loses touch with reality.

Polls of Iowa voters as they entered the caucuses found that Obama outpolled Clinton among women, and benefited from a surge in first-time caucus-goers and young voters in what was a record Democratic turnout.

Similar enthusiasm in New Hampshire could again favor Obama.

Huckabee rode to victory on the strength of born-again or evangelical Christians, who comprised six in 10 Republican caucus-goers.

But New Hampshire's Republican electorate is less overtly religious and more fiscally conservative.

Even so, Huckabee has a penchant for retail politics and offers a message that is not singularly religious in tone.

If the pundits and talking heads are calling this too close to call on Sunday…believe is going to tighten up…all current polling data is good for five more minutes!

(7) PDA pissings of this morning pronounce: ”The victorious Obama campaign has inspired young activists and new activists who are very open to progressive policy positions”. Damn it; they have been there as I have already pointed out and they are part of a generational change taking place. They are not some new found discovery. Put the fucking Gyroscopes away and examine the reality of the situation and evaluate where the (Y)s are going and what it can mean for the good of this nation.

With progressive candidate John Edwards' second place finish in Iowa, we now turn our attention to the New Hampshire primary on January 8, where both the Kucinich and Edwards campaigns will be in high gear. And PDA will be there pushing the progressive agenda!

Our friends at American Friends Service Committee and Peace Action New Hampshire are dramatizing the pro-peace agenda with the help of the Yellow Rose Peace Bus, a slogan-bedecked, full-sized coach driven by Jim Goodnow, a Vietnam Veteran from Texas who will be touring the state all weekend and will be in Manchester Saturday January 5 .

That’s all well and good but PDA has got start making the move from “Pussy Foot Progressive Democrats of America” to “Primal Democrat Activists of America! Put some teeth into this thing!


(8) Here are the Iowa Caucus Results. It was Obama, then Edwards, then Clinton. And Huckabee, then Romney, then quite a ways back McCain and Thompson, then Paul.

The bad news: Kucinich made no showing. Paul made a weak showing. The corporate media will point to the Neanderthal Huckabee as the populist.

The so-so news: Edwards edged out Clinton by moving in the direction of real populism and challenging the military-industrial-corporate power structure. He now has a chance, but it'll be a very very uphill fight, as everyone's television in every one of the meaningless 49 states will scream day and night now that Obama has the MOMENTUM.

The good news: Although we can expect nothing from Obama (or Edwards), the chief opponent of impeachment in Washington has been bumped out of the coronation line, and that certainly can't hurt the cause. Clinton is the worst Democratic candidate across the board in the whole lineup, so her failure to win is certainly good news for us all.

If the Obama hype is enough to weaken Clinton enough to make her no longer a factor, perhaps Edwards can surge. Otherwise the hope-hypster will drain all hope of a halfway decent candidate from this election.

The best news: With the election nearly decided, we can get back to the work of democratic citizens and impeach somebody and end an occupation.

Also nice: Giuliani tanked.




"It's the War," Says Iowa to Hillary -- And a "Happy Blue Year" To All! ...from Michael Moore … January 3, 2007


There was no doubt about it. The message from Iowa tonight was simple, but deafening:

If you're a candidate for President, and you voted for the war, you lose. And if you voted and voted and voted for the war -- and never once showed any remorse -- you really lose.

In short, if you had something to do with keeping us in this war for four-plus years, you are not allowed to be the next president of the United States.

Over 70% of Iowan Democrats voted for candidates who either never voted for the invasion of Iraq (Obama, Richardson, Kucinich) or who have since admitted their mistake (Edwards, Biden, Dodd). I can't tell you how bad I feel for Senator Clinton tonight. I don't believe she was ever really for this war. But she did -- and continued to do -- what she thought was the politically expedient thing to eventually get elected. And she was wrong. And tonight she must go to sleep wondering what would have happened if she had voted her conscience instead of her calculator.

John Edwards was supposed to have come in third. He had been written off. He was outspent by the other front-runners six to one. But somewhere along the road he threw off the old politico hack jacket and turned into a real person, a fighter for the poor, for the uninsured, for peace. And for that, he came in a surprise second, ending up with just one less delegate than the man who was against the war from the beginning. But, as Joshua Holland of AlterNet pointed out earlier today, Edwards is still the only front-runner who will pull out all the troops and do it as quickly as possible. His speech tonight was brilliant and moving.

What an amazing night, not just for Barack Obama, but for America. I know that Senator Obama is so much more than simply the color of his skin, but all of us must acknowledge -- and celebrate -- the fact that one of the whitest states in the U.S. just voted for a black man to be our next president. Thank you, Iowa, for this historic moment. Thank you for at least letting us believe that we are better than what we often seem to be. And to have so many young people come out and vote -- and vote for Obama -- this is a proud moment. It all began with the record youth turnout in 2004 -- the ONLY age group that Kerry won -- and they came back out tonight en force. Good on every single one of you!

As the only top candidate who was anti-war before the war began, Barack Obama became the vessel through which the people of this Midwestern state were able to say loud and clear: "Bring 'Em Home!" Most pundits won't read the election this way because, well, most pundits merrily led us down the path to war. For them to call this vote tonight a repudiation of the war -- and of Senator Clinton's four years' worth of votes for it -- might require the pundit class to remind their viewers and readers that they share some culpability in starting this war. And, like Hillary, damn few of them have offered us an apology.

With all due respect to Senator Obama's victory, the most important news out of the caucus this evening was the whopping, room-busting turnout of Democrats. 239,000 people showed up to vote Democratic tonight (93% more than in '04, which was a record year), while only 115,000 showed up to vote Republican. And this is a red state! The Republican caucuses looked anemic. The looks on their faces were glum, tired. As the camera followed some of them into their caucus sites, they held their heads down or turned away, sorta like criminals on a perp walk. They know their days of power are over. They know their guy blew it. Their only hope was to vote for a man who has a direct line to heaven. Huckabee is their Hail Mary pass. But don't rule him out. He's got a sense of humor, he's down-home, and he said that if elected, he'd put me on a boat to Cuba. Hey, a free Caribbean vacation!

Bottom line: People have had it. Iowa will go blue (Happy Blue Year, Hawkeyes!). Whomever your candidate is on the Dem side, this was a good night. Get some sleep. The Republicans won't go down without a fight. Look what happened when Kerry tried to play nice. So Barack, you can talk all you want about "let's put the partisanship aside, let's all get along," but the other side has no intention of being anything but the bullies they are. Get your game face on now. And, if you can, tell me why you are now the second largest recipient of health industry payola after Hillary. You now take more money from the people committed to stopping universal health care than any of the Republican candidates.

Despite what your answer may be, I was proud to sit in my living room tonight and see you and your family up on that stage. We became a bit better tonight, and on that I will close by saying, sweet dreams -- and on to that other totally white state of New Hampshire!



Creeping Fascism!

Blackout of Kucinich, Hiring of Falsifier Kristol, NY Times Loses ...OpEdNews - Newtown,PA,USADennis Kucinich is making himself a corporate governance troublemaker, having introduced bills of impeachment and speaking out unequivocally in favor of ...See all stories on this topic

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The REAL Reason Bush and Cheney Will Not Be ImpeachedBay Area Indymedia - San Francisco,CA,USAHere's the REAL reason there will be no impeachment proceedings against any of the administration: Apparently, it's more than the GOP who do not what their ...See all stories on this topic

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Isn't it time to start impeachment of Bush?Bloomington Pantagraph - IL, USAThe reality is the emperor has no clothes but his advisers compliment him on his wardrobe. May we have an impeachment hearing now?See all stories on this topic

Ultimate goalNews & Observer - Raleigh,NC,USAAs Wexler has stated elsewhere, "A Congress willing to stand up to the abuses of the Bush administration through impeachment hearings will demonstrate a ...See all stories on this topic

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Tipping Point on Impeachment is ApproachingTipping Point on Dave Lindorff Way back in October of 2005, when the publisher of St. Martin's Press contacted my agent and asked if I would do a book on impeaching President Bush, I remember thinking it was a wacky, if interesting, idea. ...Atlantic Free Press - Hard Truths... -

Man's Impeachment March (Nearing) Ending[b]Man's impeachment march ending[/b] EVAN LEHMANN, Staff Writer Friday, January 4 WASHINGTON — John Nirenberg of Brattleboro closed in on the 400-mile mark Thursday in a long, sometimes treacherous, walk lasting more than a month ...Democratic Underground Latest... -

Biden, Dodd Bow Out of Presidential Race After Poor Showings in IowaFOX News - USAHe was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, and presided over two of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, ...See all stories on this topic

Handling the CIA tapes caseLos Angeles Times - CA,USAthe chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. But Durham, who will report to the deputy attorney general, is in fact if not in name a special prosecutor, ...See all stories on this topic

LAWMAKERS CELEBRATE $82 MILLION HUNTERS POINT SHIPYARD RENOVATION ...By The San Francisco Sentinel Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein gathered at Hunters Point to celebrate the infusion, which was negotiated into a massive federal spending measure and signed into law by President Bush last month. ...San Francisco Sentinel -

Editorial: Final chance to end subsidies for millionairesSacramento Bee - CA, USAThe next time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid talk about ending poverty, stopping giveaways for wealthy corporations and finding ...See all stories on this topic

Nancy Pelosi: Too Ignorant, Too Greedy, Too PartisanIn this piece by Alan Caruba, truer words have never been spoken. Nancy Pelosi has to go. America can, and must, do better. It's time to pick another card from the deck! Digg / upcoming -

Pelosi, name Cardoza to farm bill committeeModesto Bee - Modesto,CA,USASpeaker Nancy Pelosi will choose the House conferees. If she fails to appoint Cardoza, there's a chance California's concerns will be overlooked -- or ...See all stories on this topic


Rudy Floats Dick Cheney For Vice President Again


In an event in New Hampshire last night, Rudy Giuliani suggested that — if he were to be elected president — he would like to choose someone like Dick Cheney to be his Vice President. The AP reports:

Would a Rudy Giuliani administration be populated with a Cabinet of Republican rivals and a powerful, all-knowing vice president like Dick Cheney? Possibly, according to musings Giuliani shared in answers to questions from New Hampshire voters yesterday in Hooksett.

Giuliani pivoted from a question about potential picks for secretary of state to this: “Let me answer with the question of what you would look for in a vice president first - again without any presumption that I’m going to be the nominee.”

In an answer that mentioned Cheney more than once, Giuliani said, “A vice president has to be a partner in the administration. The vice president has to know everything that’s going on, just in case the vice president has to step in at a moment’s notice,” he said. He added that during a conversation with Cheney on Sept. 11, 2001, he felt the vice president “had a sense that he knew what he was doing.”

This isn’t the first time Giuliani has floated Cheney for Vice President. In a radio interview in November, Giuliani cited Cheney as “a good example of picking someone who is qualified to be president of the United States.” Fortunately, Cheney has indicated he will not serve in a future administration. “I’m going to serve this president for the next four years, and then I’m out of here,” Cheney told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “This is my last tour.”

Cheney will leave office with a dark “cloud” hanging over him, in the words of former special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Over 177,000 individuals have signed an active petition to impeach the Vice President, whose approval ratings hover near 30 percent.

Last year, the Washington Post reported there was a “GOP plan to oust Cheney,” who was “viewed as toxic” by many in his party and had “the potential to drag down” candidates up for election. Instead, the right-wing has openly embraced the Vice President and aggressively pushed him to run for president.

Will Justice Go After Cheney?
By Dan FroomkinSpecial to washingtonpost.comThursday, January 3, 2008; 12:46 PM

How high will the newly-launched criminal investigation into the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes go? And will it eventually target Vice President Cheney?

Cheney has been the administration's central figure on all things related to torture. It was Cheney who pushed so hard for "flexibility" in interrogations of terrorist suspects. Former secretary of state Colin Powell's chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, has long argued that it is "clear that the Office of the Vice President bears responsibility for creating an environment conducive to the acts of torture and murder committed by U.S. forces in the war on terror."

In the weeks proceeding the November 2005 destruction of the torture tapes, Cheney was pulling out all the stops in a failed lobbying effort to get fellow Republicans on the Hill to exempt the CIA from a proposed torture ban. Cheney's arm-twisting was so unseemly that a Washington Post editorial dubbed him the "Vice President for Torture." (When the law passed, Cheney's office authored a " signing statement" for Bush, in which he reserved the right to ignore it.)

So it should have come as no surprise when the New York Times reported last month that David S. Addington, Cheney's chief of staff and former legal counsel, was among the three White House lawyers who participated in at least one key meeting about the videotapes in 2004.

(For background on Addington, the indomitable and secretive agent of Cheney's will, see this May 2006 profile by Chitra Ragavan in U.S. News; this July 2006 profile by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, and my Sept. 5 column.)

The initial spin from the White House was that only Harriet E. Miers, then a deputy White House chief of staff, had been briefed about the tapes -- and that she had advised against their destruction.

But with anything related to torture, it's pretty clear the CIA took its orders from Cheney -- via Addington. And how plausible is it that, in his exchanges with the CIA, Addington advised against the tapes' destruction? Or that the CIA would have done it if he had told them not to? Isn't it more likely that he supported the idea, either overtly or with a nod and a wink?
So one has to wonder what will happen if Addington is hauled in front of a grand jury to testify not just about his relevant conversations with the CIA, but about his conversations with Cheney.

"Did you, Mr. Addington, indicate in any way to the CIA that destroying the tapes would be acceptable, or even preferable? Did you do so based on instructions from your boss, the vice president?"

Wouldn't it be interesting to hear Addington answer those questions under oath?

Then again, he might just lie.

The last time a federal prosecutor got close to Cheney, of course, was in the CIA leak case. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who investigated the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, indicated during and after the trial of Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, that he had been hot on the trail of the vice president himself until Libby obstructed his investigation.

There was considerable evidence that it was Cheney who instructed Libby to out Plame as part of a no-holds-barred crusade against her husband, an administration critic. Libby's own notes showed he first heard about Plame from Cheney. But when the FBI came calling, Libby denied remembering anything about that or any other related conversations with Cheney, choosing instead to make up a fanciful story about having learned of Plame's identity from NBC's Tim Russert.

When Libby was indicted and stepped down as chief of staff, Cheney's choice to replace him was obvious: He chose Addington.

The Coverage

Dan Eggen and Joby Warrick write in The Washington Post: "The Justice Department said yesterday that it has opened a formal criminal investigation into the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes, appointing a career prosecutor to examine whether intelligence officials broke the law by destroying videos of exceptionally harsh questioning of terrorism suspects.

"The criminal probe, announced by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, significantly escalates a preliminary inquiry into whether the CIA's actions constituted an obstruction of justice. . . .

"To oversee the probe, Mukasey appointed John Durham, a career federal prosecutor from Connecticut, bypassing the department's Washington headquarters and the local U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, which recused itself from the case. . . .

"Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees vowed to continue their separate inquiries, including a hearing on Jan. 16 at which they plan to grill Rodriguez. Various committee members have accused the CIA of not properly informing them about how the tapes came to be made and, later, destroyed, despite CIA statements to the contrary."

Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston write in the New York Times: "The announcement is the first indication that investigators have concluded on a preliminary basis that C.I.A. officers, possibly along with other government officials, may have committed criminal acts in their handling of the tapes, which recorded the interrogations in 2002 of two operatives with Al Qaeda and were destroyed in 2005.

"C.I.A. officials have for years feared becoming entangled in a criminal investigation involving alleged improprieties in secret counterterrorism programs. Now, the investigation and a probable grand jury inquiry will scrutinize the actions of some of the highest-ranking current and former officials at the agency. . . .

"The question of whether to destroy the tapes was for nearly three years the subject of deliberations among lawyers at the highest levels of the Bush administration. . . .

"Among White House lawyers who took part in discussions between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy the tapes were Mr. Gonzales, when he was White House counsel; Harriet E. Miers, Mr. Gonzales's successor as counsel; David S. Addington, who was then counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney; and John B. Bellinger III, then the legal adviser to the National Security Council. It is unclear whether anyone outside the C.I.A. endorsed destroying the tapes."

And here's a sobering point from Mazzetti and Johnston: "The new Justice Department investigation is likely to last for months, possibly beyond the end of the Bush administration."

Greg Gordon writes for McClatchy Newspapers that, according to an unnamed U.S. government official, "Jose Rodriguez, the CIA's chief of clandestine services, had ordered the destruction of the tapes after consulting agency lawyers. However, the lawyers had 'an expectation . . . that additional bases would be touched,' the official said.

"It couldn't be learned whether Rodriguez, who's declined to speak publicly, will assert that he was acting on orders from above, but former colleagues say he was a cautious officer."

Evan Perez writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "Some Democrats . . . have pushed for the Justice Department to name an independent special counsel and aren't pleased with the appointment of Mr. Durham, who will report directly to the deputy attorney general. The law governing independent counsels expired in 1999, when Congress didn't renew it. In the case of the investigation into the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, overseen by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, some critics of the Bush administration complained that the probe never answered key questions because he didn't publish a final investigative report, as an independent counsel would do.

"Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said of Mr. Mukasey's move: 'Because of this action, the Congress and the American people will be denied -- as they were in the Valerie Plame matter -- any final report on the investigation.'"

Dafna Linzer writes in The Washington Post: "John H. Durham, who was appointed yesterday to lead a criminal probe into the destruction of the CIA's interrogation tapes, oversaw corruption charges against a Republican governor in Connecticut, put away FBI agents in Boston and prosecuted many of New England's Mafia bosses. . . .

"Former colleagues said the deputy U.S. attorney is known for seeking maximum sentences, shunning plea bargains and avoiding the spotlight. Four friends said they could not recall him losing a case in more than 30 years as a prosecutor, almost all of it spent fighting organized crime and gang violence in Connecticut. . . .

"Several courtroom adversaries compared Durham, a Roman Catholic reared in the Northeast, to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the staid U.S. attorney in Chicago who served as special prosecutor in the investigation of the leaked identity of a CIA officer. 'He's Fitzgerald with a sense of humor,' said Hugh O'Keefe, a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer who has known Durham for 20 years.

"But Durham has had little experience with national security issues and with cases involving executive authority that appear to be less than black-and-white. His probe may require calling lawyers and aides to Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the CIA before a grand jury to testify about their knowledge of the tapes' destruction."

Matt Apuzzo notes for the Associated Press: "Since leaving the White House shortly before Christmas, President Bush has not addressed the tapes' destruction. Before going to Camp David, then his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush said he was confident that investigations by Congress and the Justice Department 'will end up enabling us all to find out what exactly happened.'

"He repeated his assertion that his 'first recollection' of being told about the tapes and their destruction was when CIA Director Michael Hayden briefed him on it in early December."

Opinion Watch

The New York Times editorial board writes: "It is essential that the truth of what was on those tapes and how they came to be destroyed now comes out and that all of the government officials involved in their destruction be held legally accountable -- whether they are C.I.A. officers or top White House officials who spent three years debating whether to destroy the tapes.

"The tapes, which depicted the interrogations of two Al Qaeda operatives in 2002, may themselves have amounted to evidence of a crime -- torture -- carried out under the president's authority. The decision to destroy them appears to be one more move by the Bush administration to cover up the many abuses it has committed in the name of fighting terrorism."

The Washington Post editorial board writes: "In all likelihood, the Justice Department investigation will focus narrowly on whether the destruction of the tapes constituted a crime; it will probably not delve into whether the tapes depicted a crime, namely torture. Congress should continue to demand answers about the administration's past and current detention and interrogation policies."

Cheney at Work

Here's another example of Cheney at work.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff interviews J. William Leonard, the director of the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), who "learned the hard way the perils of questioning Vice President Dick Cheney." Leonard "challenged claims by the Office of Vice President (OVP) to be exempt from federal rules governing classified information. His efforts touched off a firestorm- and a counter-strike by Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington, who tried to wipe out Leonard's job."

Newsweek: "Explain how all this happened."

Leonard: "Up until 2002, OVP was just like any other agency. Subsequent to that, they stopped reporting to us. . . . At first, I took that to be, 'we're too busy.' Then we routinely attempted to do a review of the OVP and it was at that point in time it was articulated back to me that: 'well they weren't really subject to our reviews.' I didn't agree with it. But you know, there is a big fence around the White House. I didn't know how I could get in there if somebody didn't want me to."

Newsweek: "So how did matters escalate?"

Leonard: "The challenge arose last year when the Chicago Tribune was looking at [ISOO's annual report] and saw the asterisk [reporting that it contained no information from OVP] and decided to follow up. And that's when the spokesperson from the OVP made public this idea that because they have both legislative and executive functions, that requirement doesn't apply to them. . . . They were saying the basic rules didn't apply to them. I thought that was a rather remarkable position. So I wrote my letter to the Attorney General [asking for a ruling that Cheney's office had to comply.] Then it was shortly after that there were [email] recommendations [from OVP to a National Security Council task force] to change the executive order that would effectively abolish [my] office."

Newsweek: "Who wrote the emails?"

Leonard: "It was David Addington."

Newsweek: "No explanation was offered?"

Leonard: "No. It was strike this, strike that. Anyplace you saw the words, 'the director of ISOO' or 'ISOO' it was struck. . . . "

Newsweek: "A number of people have noted that the vice president's office stopped reporting to you and complying with ISOO in the fall of 2003 when the whole Valerie Plame case blew up. Do you think there was a connection?"

Leonard: "I don't have any insight. I was held at arms length [from that.] But some of the things based on what I've read [have] given me cause for concern. A number of prosecution exhibits [in the Plame-related perjury trial of I. Scooter Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff] were annotated, 'handle as SCI.' SCI is Sensitive Compartmentalized Information, the most sensitive classified information there is. As I recall, [one of them] was [the vice president and his staff] were coming back from Norfolk where they had attended a ship commissioning and they were conferring on the plane about coming up with a [media] response plan [to the allegations of Plame's husband, Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson.] That was one of the exhibits marked, 'handle as SCI.'"

Newsweek: "These were internal communications about what to say to the press?"

Leonard: "Let me give you some the irony of that. Part of the National Archives is the presidential libraries. . . . So we're going to have documents [at the libraries] with the most sensitive markings on it that isn't even classified. If I were going to do a review [of OVP], that would be one of the questions I would want to ask: What is this practice? And how widespread is it? And what is the rationale? How do we assure that people don't get this mixed up with real secrets?"

Cheney at Work, Part II

Los Angeles Times reporter Janet Wilson recently described the series of events that led to the controversial decision by the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ignore his staff's recommendations and deny California's request for a waiver to implement a landmark law slashing vehicle emissions.

So what was the deciding factor for Stephen L. Johnson?

Wilson wrote: "Some [EPA] staff members believe Johnson made his decision after auto executives met with Vice President Dick Cheney and after a Chrysler executive delivered a letter to the White House outlining why neither California nor the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases, among other reasons. The Detroit News reported Wednesday that chief executives of Ford and Chrysler met with Cheney last month."

White House Priorities

From yesterday's briefing with White House press secretary Dana Perino.

Q: "This begins President Bush's final year in the White House. What would you say are his most important goals, his priorities, the things on his 'must-do' list before he leaves the White House?"

Perino: "Well, there's a few things that we need to do with Congress on. While we were able to achieve some things last year, there's a lot of unfinished business. In regards to working with Congress, one of the first things that they need to do when they return is to pass and permanently establish the intelligence community reforms for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- the FISA bill. . . .

"We'll also need to move forward on -- hopefully the No Child Left Behind reauthorization. . . .

"In the last four months, when the President has asked Congress to move forward on housing legislation in order to help stabilize that market and to help homeowners who are having some difficulty, they've only passed one of the pieces of legislation the President asked for. . . .

"In addition to that, we have free trade agreements that are on the table. . . . And in addition to that, we have many outstanding nominations that need to be confirmed, both judicial and also throughout the government. . . .

"And then of course we'll have to go through the joy of trying to pass a budget again. . . .

"In addition to that, though, the President has a lot of things he wants to do to consolidate the gains that we've made in the global war on terror. . . .

"In addition, as you know, next Tuesday the President leaves for a trip to the Middle East, where he will continue to help the Palestinians and the Israelis seize this opportunity to try to get to a peace settlement where we can have a Palestinian state. . . . Beyond that, you know he'll be going to Africa. He's got many economic meetings to come, international meetings, including the G8. So there's a lot of things that we have to get done. He says he wants to sprint to the finish. I saw him this morning. He said he got a lot of great rest and that he's ready to work."

It fell to Hearst columnist Helen Thomas to point out something that apparently slipped Perino's mind.

Q: "It's missing in your whole category of goals for his last year in office -- peace in Iraq."

Perino: "I should have mentioned, of course -- my list was not considered exhaustive as I ticked it off of the top of my head."

Pocket Veto Watch

Walter Alarkon writes in The Hill: "House Democrats and the Bush administration appear on the verge of a new constitutional fight over whether President Bush can pocket-veto the defense authorization bill.

"The White House on Monday said it was pocket-vetoing the measure, but a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the president cannot use such a measure when Congress is in session. The distinction over whether the president can pocket-veto the bill is important because such a move would prevent Congress from voting on an override. . . .

"A pocket veto occurs when the president neither vetoes nor signs a bill within 10 days, excluding Sundays, after its passage while Congress is adjourned. When Congress is in session, any bill that the president does not act on becomes law, according to the Constitution. The Senate has been in pro forma session over the last two weeks, while the House has been out of session. . . .

"Louis Fisher, a constitutional scholar at the Library of Congress, said that the president is inviting a constitutional fight in trying a pocket veto.

"'The administration would be on weak grounds in court because they would be insisting on what the Framers decidedly rejected: an absolute veto,' Fisher said.

"True pocket vetoes are available only when Congress is away for months and unable to vote on an override, he said."

Kathleen Hunter writes for Congressional Quarterly: "Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., have signaled that they plan to treat Bush's Dec. 28 memorandum of disapproval on the bill (HR 1585) as a normal veto, and have left open the possibility of veto override votes."

Slogan Contest

In my Live Online yesterday there was a great deal of animated discussion about Bush's attempted pocket veto. But a reader from Chandler, Ariz., chimed in to suggest that it wasn't exactly the sort of controversy that Democrats could use to harness voter outrage: "It's hard to get an apathetic public to get upset about a 'pocket veto'; it has no heart -- no slogan!"

I instantly commissioned a slogan contest. And by golly, Chandler, Ariz., was right. The strongest entries came from reader Horace LaBadie, and they weren't good. Among them:

"Don't pocket veto me, bro'."

"Is that a veto in your pocket, or did you just miss me?"

"If the Senate's in sayshun, the bill's legislation."

The best I could come up myself: The Pick Pocket Veto. (The veto, after all, had the immediate effect of reducing the raise military members got on Jan. 1 from 3.5 percent to 3 percent.)

Middle East Watch

More details of Bush's trip to the Middle East are emerging.

AFP reports: "Bush will hold a joint meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his visit to the region next week, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

"Bush will meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Jerusalem on the evening of January 10, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity."

But apparently Bush isn't expecting any breakthroughs. He'll soon be changing the subject.

John D. McKinnon writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "President Bush plans to deliver the centerpiece speech of his Mideast trip this month in Abu Dhabi, White House officials said, highlighting the rapid economic growth and expanding opportunities of some Persian Gulf states.

"The speech scheduled for Jan. 13 is likely to hold up Persian Gulf States like Abu Dhabi, the largest of the United Arab Emirates, as models for the broader Arab world. By focusing attention on examples such as the UAE, the White House apparently hopes to encourage other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia to open their economies and societies more rapidly and to shift their focus from their conflict with Israel and toward development."

Meanwhile, a new Harris Poll finds: "Three out of five Americans (62%) give the President a negative rating on his handling of the Israeli/Palestinian issue while only 25 percent give him positive marks. Looking at how President Bush has handled the situation in Afghanistan over the past several months, just one-quarter of Americans (26%) give him positive ratings while 63 percent give him negative ratings."

Neocon Watch

They're still out there. Claudia Rosett writes in an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The irony is that with the gains in Iraq of the 2007 surge, the much-criticized toppling of Saddam Hussein is looking more and more like the signal success of Bush foreign policy.

"It is on the rest of the chessboard, where America has been trying to go along to get along, that the real failures are now in the making. One by one, military options have been swept aside, and step by step, the quest for United Nations-style 'consensus' has replaced U.S. leadership. . . .
"[T]his was the road to Sept. 11, and it is an approach that right now we can ill afford.

"America doesn't have to wage war on every enemy on the planet, but appeasement and denial do not buy peace."

Rove in His Own Words

Karl Rove takes questions from Vanity Fair:

VF: "What is your most marked characteristic?"

Rove: "Energy and precision are tied."

VF: "What is your motto?"

Rove: "I like the one that used to be the motto on the unit coin of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse: 'Be prepared! Find the bastards. And pile on!'"


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