Iraq war and occupationInstead, the Senate enthusiastically adopts two nonbinding resolutions that support the troops. The withdrawal resolution, which under a Senate agreement would have needed 60 votes to pass, fails 48-50. Bush has said he would veto the resolution if it passed. Hours earlier, the House Appropriations Committee approved a plan to withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of August 2008. The House provision is part of a $124 billion emergency spending bill that includes $95.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Two Democrats, Ben Nelson and Joseph Lieberman, vote against the resolution, and one Republican, Gordon Smith, votes for it. Two Senators -- Republican John McCain, who is campaigning in Iowa as part of his presidential campaign, and Democrat Tim Johnson, recuperating from a brain seizure, do not vote.
US Attorney firingsSubpoenas for top White House aides, including Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, and her deputy, William Kelley, are in the works. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has agreed to testify before the committee. The five Justice Department officials subpoenaed are Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff who quit this week; Michael Elston, top aide to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty; Associate Attorney General Bill Mercer; Monica Goodling, Gonzales' senior counsel and White House liaison, and Mike Battle, the departing director of the office that oversees all 93 US attorneys. Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse says the subpoena authorizations are not needed because Gonzales had agreed to make his aides available, but the Judiciary Committee says it issued the subpoenas in case Gonzales reneged on his agreement to let them testify voluntarily.
US Attorney firingsMore damning information are in those documents, including e-mails indicating that in early 2005, the Justice Department wanted to fire up to 20% of the nation's US attorneys and retain only those prosecutors who were "loyal Bushies." The e-mails also show that Karl Rove asked the White House counsel's office in early January 2005 whether it planned to proceed with a proposal to fire all 93 federal prosecutors. Officials say that Rove was opposed to that idea but wanted to know whether Justice planned to carry it out. Discussions over the planned purge were taking place even as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, was preparing for Senate hearings on his nomination to be attorney general. Gonzales talked "briefly" in December 2004, the messages show, with Kyle Sampson, who would become his chief of staff at Justice, about the plan to remove US attorneys. Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos says Gonzales has "no recollection" of discussing the prosecutors' firings at the time, when he was preparing for his January 2005 confirmation hearings. Until recently, the administration has insisted that neither Gonzales nor anyone at the White House was involved in the firings. Those assertions have now been proven to be lies. Democratic senator Charles Schumer says, "One of the reasons everything is getting out here is that there are people, particularly in the Justice Department, who have been so disgusted with what's happening that information is getting out. And I think the White House and the Justice Department know it's gonna get out whether they release it or not."
Secrecy of Bush administrationWhite House staffers who dealt with with convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the US Attorney firings sent e-mails from outside addresses such as the gwb43.com address, linked to the Republican National Committee (RNC), to circumvent the mandatory record-keeping system. CREW is demanding that Democrat Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, investigate whether the White House violated its mandatory record-keeping obligation under the PRA.
Secrecy of Bush administrationInstead of allowing the Justice Department probe going forth, Bush personally shut down the probe by taking the unprecedented step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work. Had the probe not been halted, the probe would have likely focused on Gonzales's own actions regarding the illegal eavesdropping program while he was White House counsel, along with his oversight of the program as attorney general.
US Attorney firingsConventional wisdom lays much of the blame on GOP representative Darrell Issa, who has been chasing after Lam since 2002. But Nehring made it happen, not so much as an act of political revenge, but as part of Nehring's efforts to transform California into a Republican bastion.
US Attorney firingsOf course, almost the first thing the White House did was try -- unsuccessfully -- to shield Rove from scrutiny when Congress began investigating the firings. But the ties were clear from the start: one of Rove's "most devoted underlings," Tim Griffin, his head of opposition research, who helped spearhead the 2000 negative campaign against Al Gore ("Rain hell on Al!" a sign in Griffin's department read), was chosen to replace one of the attorneys, Arkansas's Bud Cummins. Instead, the Justice Department lied to Congress when it declared, in a letter sent in late February, "The department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin." The recently released e-mails from the Justice Department concerning the attorney firings prove otherwise. One e-mail, reported in earlier items on this page, from Gonzales's chief of staff Kyle Sampson, read in part, "I know getting him [Griffin] appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc." Harriet, of course, was Harriet Miers, then the White House legal counsel.
Election fraudThe report finds that voting fraud, as presented by Republicans, is extremely rare at best. Most of the allegations of voting fraud turn out to be something else. And charges of voter fraud are historically used by the political elite to restrict and manipulate the electorate, often targeting the historically disenfranchised. In the words of veteran political blogger Brad Friedman, Minnite "thoroughly debunks --- nay, eviscerates --- the long-worked, well-moneyed, and invidious GOP plot to create the illusion of an American 'voter fraud' epidemic (as distinct from very real election fraud concerns). The point behind the effort is solely to push for disenfranchising laws and restrictions in an effort to keep legitimate voters away from the polls in our democracy."
US Attorney firingsThe evidence comes from John Boyd, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, based elections attorney who worked with the Democratic party in the state during the 2004 election. Before the 2004 elections, Boyd helped represent the Dems in defending against the GOP "voter fraud fraud," as he calls it. After the election, he successfully filed suit, along with the watchdog organization VoterAction, against the state concerning failures in their DRE/touch-screen voting system. That suit eventually led to a statewide ban on such systems and a requirement for paper-based elections. Boyd writes that the firing scandal is actually "far worse than it now appears." His first-hand account shows how the GOP manufactured their pre-election "voter fraud" crisis in the state, despite lacking any evidence of any actual crimes.
ImpeachmentInstead, he writes, the only proper address for the firings of the eight US attorneys is impeachment of the president. "Resignation, even in supposed disgrace however, is insufficiently punitive to members of an 'administration' that has made a practice of employing prominent Republican recidivists left over from what should have been career-ending scandals like Watergate and Iran-Contra," he writes. But, more to the point, "resignation as a punishment also fails to fit the crime. You may rest assured that apologists for Gonzales, Bush and Rove (whose involvement also seems obvious) will insist that there is no 'crime' here, because the hiring and firing of US attorneys is within the president's prerogative. True, as far as it goes. But what clearly ought not to be is the political manipulation of federal investigations to bolster the electoral prospects of Republicans, and damage those of Democrats and other rivals. This is the sort of activity that's so obviously and fundamentally wrong that nobody has yet taken the time to devise a statute to address it. Instead, it occupies the space of a general crime against the Constitution, a subversion of our very system of government, and precisely the sort of crime for which the founders gave us the remedy of impeachment. That's what 'high crimes and misdemeanors' are all about. It's not about lawbreaking at altitude."
US Attorney firingsAlthough this site rarely indulges in comedy, the parody of the talking point is so dead-on and, frankly, so hilarious that the editor felt a link was in order. You can download or view the video from the link below. (Comedy Central/Crooks and Liars [link to video])