Highlights of This Page
Guantanamo prisoners stripped of habeas corpus rights, even after Supreme Court ruled otherwise. Iraq Study Group launched. Abramoff sentenced in SunCruz corruption and fraud case.
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
War with IranThe Pentagon is in effect recreating the old and long-discredited (and despised, in some corners) Office of Special Plans; in fact, the new bureau is in the same set of offices as the old OSP. While the Pentagon won't confirm who is in charge of the new bureau, it is known that three veterans of the OSP are with the new group -- former OSP leader Abram Shulsky, DIA analyst John Trigilio, and Iran specialist Laran Archin. Raw Story describes the new bureau as "a sea of think-tank operatives and neoconservative war hawks." On the State side, the new Iranian Affairs office is led by longtime International Republican Institute member David Denehy; his boss is the Assistant Secretart of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of the vice president. (Los Angeles Times/Information Clearinghouse, Raw Story)
Iraq war and occupationThe six advisors include neoconservative Kenneth Adelman, once one of Rumsfeld's closest friends, and RAND's James Dobbins. Adelman asks Cody what they were measuring to see how the war is going. "What are the metrics coming back that you would say were needed to identify so we know if we're winning or losing?" Adelman asks. Cody replies that there are three: the number of Iraqi civilians killed by insurgent attacks, the amount of usable intelligence gathered from the Iraqis, and the number of competent Iraqi police and military. Cody avoids any inclusion of body counts and the number of insurgent attacks. After Rumsfeld joins the discussion, Adelman asks him the same question. "Oh, there are hundreds," Rumsfeld says airily. "It's just so complicated that there are hundreds." Dobbins presses Rumsfeld on the issue, and Rumsfeld retorts that the numbers aren't relevant anyway. "The country's not in civil war," he says. "If it were in civil war, there'd be a large number of refugees." Dobbins points out that 30,000 Iraqis have died in the last three years -- around 200 a week. "Allowing for the fact that Iraq is 15 times smaller than the United States," Dobbins says, "Iraqis for the first three years suffered the equivalent of a 9/11 attack every week. You can imagine the traumatic effect a 9/11 attack being repeated weekly would have on American society. Don't you think it's having a similar effect on Iraqi society?" Rumsfeld doesn't want to hear it. Adelman continues to insist on metrics to measure success or failure, even reminding Rumsfeld of his own words from years past that one should insist on three or four measureable items in order to get progress. Rumsfeld continues to say that the whole situation is so complicated that he can't begin to give any list. "Then you don't have any accountability," says Adelman. If Rumsfeld won't agree to any criteria, then he can't be said to have failed on any criteria. Adelman leaves as disturbed as ever. (Bob Woodward)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqthat warned him, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and other senior White House officials that claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were in doubt. Bush and other administration officials continued to push those claims for months afterward, and denied ever knowing about the doubts cast on those claims by intelligence agencies. Those claims included the assertion that aluminum tubes discovered in Iraq were for the development of nuclear weapons, and that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. Both claims have long since been disproven as false.
"Unitary executive""We're a government of laws, not men," says Senate minority leader Harry Reid. "It is not for George W. Bush to disregard the Constitution and decide that he is above the law." Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accuses Bush and Dick Cheney of attempting to concentrate ever more government power in their own hands. "The Bush-Cheney administration has cultivated an insidious brand of unilateralism that regularly crosses into an arrogance of power," he says. "The scope of the administration's assertions of power is stunning, and it is chilling." And fellow Democrat Edward Kennedy adds that the Bush administration, abetted by "a compliant Republican Congress," is undermining the checks and balances that "guard against abuses of power by any single branch of government." The senators are responding to a series of articles in the Boston Globe detailing the scope of Bush's assertions that he can ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution (see the April 2006 page for related items).
Bush's foreign policiesto visit Bush in so-far futile efforts to persuade Bush to pursue a more moderate course with foreign policy; in Blumenthal's words, "like diplomats to a foreign ruler isolated in his forbidden city, to probe whether he could be persuaded to become politically flexible."
Partisan Bush appointeesBush's second term is a mess, Card knew. Iraq is a disaster. Bush's popularity ratings are plummeting. The administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina was reprehensible. Bush's plans to privatize Social Security have deadended. His plans to nominate his personal counsel, the supremely unqualified but utterly sycophantic Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court crashed after bipartisan opposition torpedoed her nomination. Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, is facing perjury charges related to the White House's outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson as an act of revenge against her husband, Joseph Wilson. And just a month before, Cheney had accidentally shot a friend in the face while quail hunting in Texas. Bush's only real achievements have been the successful naming of two conservatives, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, to the Supreme Court.
"Unitary executive"issues a signing statement that says he does not feel obligated to obey legal requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers. The reauthorization contains several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI does not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates. However, if Bush's "logic" holds, he can -- and apparently will -- simply ignore the law's provisions.
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"and the larger issues surrounding their incarceration. The special closely examines the fundamental legal principle of habeas corpus, which, as the evidence shows, has been entirely abandoned by the Bush administration in the name of the war on terror. The special also examines some of the unethical, immoral, and at times inhuman torture techniques used on the detainees, most of whom are not guilty of any crime, particularly association with terrorist organizations.
"We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on September 11." -- Senator Russ Feingold, March 12, 2006
Iraq war and occupationmandated to begin analyzing the US occupation of Iraq and finding a way to effectively continue, and possibly end, the US military presence in that country. The ISG is headed by co-chairmen James Baker, the former Secretary of State to Bush I and a close Bush family friend and enabler, and conservative Democrat Lee Hamilton, a former House member. The other members, all well-known political figures, are four Republicans: former CIA head Robert Gates, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and former House member Alan Simpson; and four Democrats: corporate honcho and Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan, former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former senator Charles Robb. (Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger will replace Gates in November 2006 after Gates is selected to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.) 44 other staff members and researchers work for the committee. No strong voice for withdrawal from Iraq is present on the committee, and the partisanship is centered on the Republican side of the group. The ISG says from the outset that it will not issue its recommendations until after the November 7 midterm elections. Daily Kos blogger "JimPortlandOR" writes, "Since Baker has said publicly that the ISG is meeting with Bush II to find out what would be acceptable to Bush, we can't count on any strong recommendations for withdrawal to be forthcoming. [Democrats may] need to fight to prevent the Congressional Dems all lining up to endorse more of the stay-the-course (or increase troops) under some other label. This isn't going to be a group that recommends a firm timetable for withdrawal, and any short-term ([less than] 1 year) reduction of troops." (US Institute for Peace, Daily Kos)
Iraq war and occupationRepublican senator Elizabeth Dole blames the media for the idea that Iraq is such a mess. "Now knowing the great progress that's been made, continues to be made, all the accomplishments in Iraq" she says, "it's got to be frustrating to hear accounts from our media that offer sometimes nothing but negativity and pessimism." Abizaid tactfully says that he doesn't think the media has much impact on troop morale in Iraq. Afterwards, Abizaid visits Congressman John Murtha, the conservative Democrat who has emerged as the voice of the anti-war movement, and who continues to draw headlines for his blunt assessments of Iraq and his demands for phased troop withdrawals. Abizaid raises his hand from the table, holds his thumb and forefinger a quarter of an inch apart, and tells Murtha, "We're that far apart." (Bob Woodward)
Religious conservativessays that all other religions are Satanic: "Well, I would have to say as a Christian that I believe any belief system, any world view, whether it's Zen Buddhism or Hinduism or dialectical materialism for that matter, Marxism, that keeps persons captive and keeps them from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, yes, is a demonstration of satanic power." (MediaMatters)
Randy Cunningham corruption investigationare named by convicted fellow Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham as helping Cunningham arrange federal funding for the defense contractors who bribed him. Doolittle is particularly of interest. A member of two key committees in the House (Appropriations and Administration) and the Secretary of the House Republican Conference, Doolittle are well-positioned to help corrupt defense contractors gain funding through Congressional earmarks. While neither Doolittle, Harris, or Goode have been accused of criminal wrongdoing -- yet -- all have admitted assisting either Mitchell Wade or Brent Wilkes, co-conspirators in the Cunningham case, at a time when the two businessmen were giving them tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions.
Iraq war and occupationwho said of the carnage in Iraq, "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." The death toll for civilians in Iraq is spiking at 50 to 60 a day. Bush disputes Allawi's assessment: "The Iraqis took a look and decided not to go to civil war." Asked about the morning's events in Baghdad, which include insurgents overruning a police station, killing a score of policemen, and freeing the same number of prisoners, Bush merely says, "We have a plan for victory. I'm optimistic about being able to achieve a victory." He again says he isn't considering replacing Donald Rumsfeld, who Bush says is "doing a fine job," and calls the disastrously ineffective program of training Iraqi troops "a success." Bush's detachment from reality is palpable. (Bob Woodward)
"Unitary executive"House members Jane Harman and John Conyers -- the ranking Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, respectively -- send a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking that Bush follow the law. "We ask that the administration immediately rescind this statement and abide by the law," they write. "Many members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight. The administration cannot, after the fact, unilaterally repeal provisions of the law implementing such oversight."
Jack Abramoff scandalis sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison, the minimum sentence allowable under federal sentencing guidelines. Kidan receives the same sentence; both are also ordered to pay $21 million in restitution. Both were convicted of committing fraud in the purchase of a fleet of gambling boats, concocting a fake $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they were contributing their own money toward the purchase of the $147.5 million SunCruz Casinos fleet. Based on that fraudulent transfer, lenders provided the pair with $60 million in financing. Abramoff tells the judge that he has "started the process of becoming a new man. I am much chastened and profoundly remorseful. I can only hope that the Almighty and those I have wronged will forgive my trespasses." Abramoff has not yet been sentenced for his guilty plea in defrauding Indian tribes and other lobbying clients out of millions of dollars; he is also cooperating in a corruption probe that could involve up to 20 Congressional Republicans, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Abramoff and Kidan are not required to report to prison for 90 days to allow them to continue cooperating with federal investigators in the Congressional corruption case, and in the murder investigation of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, who was slain in 2001 during a power struggle over the fleet. Three men face murder charges, including one who worked for Kidan as a consultant at SunCruz and who allegedly has ties to New York's Gambino crime family. Neither Abramoff nor Kidan have been charged in the murder of Boulis. (Some of Abramoff's criminal activities as a Republican lobbyist have been documented elsewhere in this site.)
Congressional oversightCritics say that the bill is riddled with loopholes that will allow "business as usual" in Washington. The vote comes just hours after lobbyist Jack Abramoff was given almost six years in prison for conspiracy and fraud convictions. The Senate bill emphasizes disclosure of lobbying contacts rather than new rules, and Republican senator Susan Collins says this increased openness would "make a big difference" in enhancing public confidence. "We cannot tackle the big issues facing our country if the public does not trust us to act in the public interest," Collins says. Under the bill, senators would no longer be able to accept gifts or meals from lobbyists and lobbyists would be required to reveal more information about their contacts with lawmakers. The bill does not bar lobbyists for paying for travel expenses for Congressmen, so lobbyists will still be able to fly Congressmen around the world in luxurious private jets. Neither does the bill establish a new office in the Senate to investigate ethical violations. The Senate defeated a proposal by Democratic senator Russ Feingold to extend the gift and meal ban to include people working at companies hiring lobbyists. "We ought to just stop the practice of dining out at the expense of others," he said in defense of his proposal, but Republicans joined with several Democrats to defeat the proposal 68-30. The Senate Ethics Committee, composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, led the fight to reject the new office as proposed by Collins and Democrat Joe Lieberman. Democrat Barack Obama says the independent office is necessary because, currently, the work of Congress "doesn't really matter because the American people perceive the entire ethics system, House and Senate, to be broken." The Senate Ethics Committee retorts that it, unlike its partisan, politicized sister committee in the House, is doing its job. Common Cause President Chellie Pingree says disappointedly, "Even as the Justice Department investigates possible corruption of at least half a dozen members of Congress, the Senate today is refusing to acknowledge that Congress -- in the eyes of the public -- has failed to police itself." (MSNBC)
Election fraudwould be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after a review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true. Rove's warning is revealed by National Journal reporter Murray Waas after Waas spoke with high-level government sources.
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceand other racial slurs while gleefully attacking McKinney over her hairstyle: "She looks like a ghetto slut. ...It looks like an explosion in a Brillo pad factory. ...She looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence. ...She looks like a shih tzu! ...I saw Cynthia McKinney's hairdo yesterday -- saw it on TV. I don't blame that cop for stopping her. It looked like a welfare drag queen was trying to sneak into the Longworth House Office Building. That hairdo is ghetto trash. I don't blame them for stopping her." (MediaMatters)