December 31, 2008
The U.S. government’s torture of detainees in the “war on terror” can be traced directly to a Feb. 7, 2002, memo signed by President George W. Bush.
A high-ranking CIA official warned Condoleezza Rice in September 2002 that allegations about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger were untrue and that she, as national security adviser, should stop President George W. Bush from citing the claim in making his case against Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to new evidence released by a House committee.
Over the years, Washington has evolved into a city of deceptions where semantics cloud reality and where a hazy mix of lies, half-truths and mythology can combine to unleash the devastating military might of the United States for no good reason.
You might have thought that when audiotapes were released of President Lyndon Johnson accusing Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign of “treason” for sabotaging Vietnam peace talks – as 500,000 U.S. troops sat in a war zone – the major U.S. news media would be all over it, providing insight and context.
In what’s been called George W. Bush’s first exit interview, the outgoing President continues a lie that he first unveiled several months after launching the Iraq War, justifying the invasion by claiming that Saddam Hussein didn’t let the U.N. inspectors in.
Surprisingly this Thanksgiving, the Washington Establishment had a lot to give thanks for. And its chief mouthpiece – the Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial page – was glowing over its good fortune in the three-plus weeks since Barack Obama's election.
The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) must be a person whose previous professional performance has been distinguished by unimpeachable integrity and independence. The director must have the courage of his or her own convictions.
Barack Obama’s Pentagon transition team is sitting down with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a move that some Beltway observers believe signals that the President-elect does plan to keep Gates on despite protests from Iraq War opponents.
After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice of Washington’s Democratic insider community, a collective group that represents little “change you can believe in.”
Most of the attention on whether Joe Lieberman should be ousted from his Senate committee chairmanship has focused on his disloyalty to Democrats and his control of homeland security issues, but there’s also the question of how well he has handled his panel’s broad government oversight responsibilities.
After a week lecturing at Kansas State University and then in Kansas City, Missouri, I could not shake the feeling that what Kansas and Missouri need most is the equivalent of Radio Free Europe, which was so effective in spreading truth around inside Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
President-elect Barack Obama, in one of the first policy statements of his transition, demanded that the Bush administration either submit the proposed U.S.-Iraq “status-of-forces agreement” to Congress or leave an opening for him to change it next year.
Around midnight, when the election outcome was clear, thousands of young people walked and skipped and ran to the north gates of the White House, celebrating not just the election of Barack Obama but the repudiation of George W. Bush.
When John McCain famously said the press was part of his political “base,” he was right. The press has been in love with John McCain for years, and McCain has benefited from the adoration and friendly bias of the press for almost his entire career.
Gov. Sarah Palin’s claim of energy expertise – and her promise to send Alaskan natural gas through a new pipeline to heat homes in the Lower 48 – may be as dubious as her boast about foreign policy expertise based on Alaska’s proximity to Russia.
In a replay of a tactic used to help secure President George W. Bush’s second term, Republicans – aided by investigative agencies of the federal government – are making a campaign issue out of voter-registration forms with fake names like “Mickey Mouse.”Read on.
One danger of a political campaign is not just losing an election, but losing one’s dignity, becoming a laughingstock or a caricature. After three flailing debate performances – including Wednesday night’s twitchy anger – that is a danger now confronting John McCain.
As some southern legislatures, prodded by African-American representatives, expressed regret over their states' role in slave trading and exploiting slave labor, a kind of “truth and reconciliation” movement has stirred educators.
The neoconservatives and their Republican allies did all they could after Thursday’s vice presidential debate to turn Sarah Palin’s peppy, personable but ultimately goofy performance into a turning point for another four-year lease on the White House.
We thirst for leadership, vision, someone who can speak to us in a way that refuses to avert its eyes from the crisis but shines a light of truth upon the problem, then offers hope and possible solutions.
Chronicling his life as a journalist in the colonial British Raj, a young Winston Churchill wrote that “nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” Nor, I’d add, is there anything in life quite so discombobulating as to turn a corner and unexpectedly walk into a wall of tear gas.
Over the past four decades, Republicans have dominated the outcomes of presidential races by mixing negative campaigning in public with illicit dirty tricks behind the scenes, as I've recounted in my last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep.
She also said to her supporters, "No way. No how. No McCain." So, listen to her.
Along with the recognition of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and repeated rounds of an expanding NATO — a Cold War alliance the Russians perceive as hostile — to Russia’s doorstep, the unilateral U.S. abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to pursue missile defense humiliated a weakened Russia.Read on.
Hillary Clinton gave an eloquent speech calling for Democratic Party unity, but some of her supporters are making clear that they so hate Barack Obama that they would prefer that John McCain extend neoconservative rule in the United States rather than let Obama into the White House.
Some of these die-hard Clinton backers claim they have suffered various slights, such as receiving inferior hotel rooms in Denver or finding the Obama campaign insufficient in its ardor courting their support. Others blame Obama for examples of sexism and unfairness that arose in the long primary campaign.
In Russia even more than in America, “Kosovo” rhymes with “I told you so.”
Many Americans don’t realize that the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which broke away in 1999 after US-led NATO forces bombed Serbia for 78 days, helped set the stage for the recent conflict between Russia and neighboring Georgia.
Facing a new reversal in federal court, the Bush administration is finding its options narrowed in its effort to stop congressional testimony from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Joshua Bolten regarding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
The administration had asserted a blanket claim of executive privilege in the face of congressional subpoenas, but U.S. District Judge John Bates rejected that claim as unprecedented and, on Tuesday, denied the Justice Department’s request for a stay pending an appeal.
The lion in winter brought tears to the eyes and a convention to its feet as Ted Kennedy passed the torch to Barack Obama. Michelle Obama brought light to the eyes of Democrats with an all-American story about dreams that do come true.
The battle has begun in earnest.
In judging the shape of a future John McCain presidency, there are already plenty of dots that are easy to connect. They reveal an image of a war-like Empire so full of hubris that it could take the world into a cascade of crises, while extinguishing what is left of the noble American Republic.
McCain has made clear he would continue and even escalate George W. Bush’s open-ended global war on Islamic radicals. McCain buys into the neoconservative vision of expending U.S. treasure and troops to kill as many Muslim militants as possible.Read on.
Another humid August, a long time ago, and I was working in my father’s small town drugstore, the last summer before my first year of high school.
Today, cash registers are as computerized as ATM’s and tell you everything instantly, from the change owed and the status of inventory to the date, time and wind chill factor in Upper Volta.
The Russia-Georgia clash has generated heated anti-Moscow rhetoric from John McCain and U.S. neoconservatives about a new Cold War, a prospect that most people might see in a negative light but which many military contractors surely view as a financial plus.
One unstated reality about revived tensions between Washington and Moscow is that it will mean a bonanza in military spending – billions of additional dollars for anti-missile weapons systems, larger armies, construction of new bases in Eastern Europe, etc.
Despite significant U.S. and Georgian culpability in the crisis in Georgia, most U.S. politicians and media painted Russia as the diabolical “evildoer.”
As if the Russian military incursions into Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia — the latter two are autonomous regions of the former that do not want to be part of that country — happened out of the blue, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice implied that Russia was attempting to bring back the Cold War.
Randy Scheunemann, one of John McCain’s top foreign policy advisers, represents a key link in neoconservative strategy that seeks simultaneously to remove hostile regimes in the Middle East and to box in Russia through an expanded NATO that incorporates former Soviet bloc countries.
Scheunemann has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for his past lobbying work on behalf of the government of Georgia, even while he was advising McCain who vowed to bar lobbyists from his campaign.
Most of the fawning corporate media (FCM) coverage of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation Monday was even more bereft of context than usual.
It was as if Musharraf looked out the window and said, “It’s a beautiful day. I think I’ll resign and go fishing.”
In a letter written in 1648, the Swedish statesman, Axel Oxenstierna, chancellor to both King Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina, counseled, “Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”
The fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is an unnerving reminder of that, and of how quickly the balance of global power can be tilted from unexpected directions with barely a warning.
The conflict between the nations of Georgia and Russia, which grew very hot last week, has very long historical roots and has been potentially ready to explode since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The comments of John McCain on the recent outbreak of war has demonstrated the close connection between “sounding strong” for domestic political considerations and “being stupid” in the execution of American foreign policy.
“The goal is to defeat Obama,” author Jerome Corsi said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want Obama to be in office.”
Books used to be written to educate, inspire, or entertain. These days they are written to serve as political weapons. And the intellectual standards of book publishers appear to have been degraded significantly.
Millions of Americans who watched Barack Obama and then John McCain respond to nearly identical questions from evangelical minister Rick Warren were surely impressed by McCain’s quick and sharp answers. Supposedly he had been in a “cone of silence” while Obama was getting grilled during the preceding hour.
However, as it turned out, TV viewers and other Americans were misled. McCain had not been in any “cone of silence” shielding him from hearing Warren’s questions and Obama’s answers.
As Campaign 2008 unfolds, it is increasingly clear that the Republicans are a party with little left but hate, anger and the politics of slandering their opponent.
John McCain has become a candidate reduced to doing a Karl Rove imitation as a sleazy, divisive campaigner, while making bellicose pronouncements about war reminiscent of the childish Confederates at the beginning of “Gone With the Wind,” drinking their brandy and smoking their cigars with fantasies about the glorious war that they hunger to fight.
You have said you regret the “blot” on your record caused by your parroting spurious intelligence at the U.N. to justify war on Iraq. On the chance you may not have noticed, I write to point out that you now have a unique opportunity to do some rehab on your reputation.
On Tuesday, the sub-head for the Washington Post’s lead editorial read, “The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest.”
The nation in question, of course, was Russia and the “conquest” was its border clash with neighboring Georgia over two breakaway provinces that want to join the Russian Federation.
What is the responsibility of reporters, editors and publishers when a candidate for high office is the target of a campaign of attack and personal destruction employing the systematic use of lies, smears, innuendo and character assassination?
J'accuse: What is happening in the 2008 general election is that Senator McCain has (literally) hired highest level operatives who worked for George Bush and Karl Rove (this is simply a fact) and is employing the carbon copy tactics that Rove used against his political opponents (including McCain himself).
It’s touching how American neoconservatives who have no regard for international law when they want to invade some troublesome country have developed a sudden reverence for national sovereignty.
Apparently, context is everything. So, the United States attacking Grenada or Nicaragua or Panama or Iraq or Serbia is justified even if the reasons sometimes don’t hold water or don’t hold up before the United Nations, The Hague or other institutions of international law.
The Washington Post’s ombudsman says the newspaper’s original source for a quote that was used to portray Barack Obama as a megalomaniac now disputes the Post’s negative interpretation that has spread across cable TV, the Internet and even into a John McCain attack ad.
Post ombudsman Deborah Howell also acknowledges that neither Post reporter who relied on the misleading quote spoke directly with the source, checked out its accuracy, or made any independent effort to determine the context of the remark, which was made to a closed Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on July 29.
Anyone can champion the Earth when it's easy, yet too many remain silent when it's hard.
The forces behind oil are taking charge in the great energy debate – and the issue of global warming has virtually disappeared from the political campaign, with barely a word from its strongest advocate.
ABC News’ political blog, “The Note,” points out this week that Paris Hilton is issuing policy statements while John McCain nominates his wife for a topless beauty contest. The world’s turned upside down.
Who could blame a person for thinking that chronicling such oddness is beyond the skills of simple journalists? This is a job for the novelists.
The U.S. military commission’s split guilty verdict on Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, has drawn praise from the Bush administration and criticism from civil rights groups, but what has been overlooked is the chilling message that “the Hamdan principle” sends about future prosecutions in the “war on terror.”
This new principle holds that anyone – regardless of how tangential a connection to actual acts of terrorism – can be prosecuted through the kangaroo court of the military commissions and be sentenced to a long prison term (or even death). Though Hamdan is a Yemeni, the principle would seem to apply to U.S citizens, too.
John McCain, who once was regarded as a top Republican ally of the environmental movement, has embraced an energy plan nearly identical to Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy, which was drafted largely by industry executives and which pushed their desire for more oil drilling and nuclear power.
Now echoing those views, McCain declares repeatedly, “We need to drill here and we need to drill now.” Beyond opening up large tracts of protected coastal waters for oil exploration, McCain has called for a massive expansion of nuclear power.
It might seem unlikely that the United States would elect John McCain to succeed George W. Bush when that would ensure continuation of many unpopular Bush policies: an ill-defined war with the Muslim world, right-wing consolidation of the U.S. Supreme Court, a drill-oriented energy strategy, tax cuts creating massive federal deficits, etc., etc.
But there are reasons – beyond understandable concerns about Barack Obama’s limited experience – that make a McCain victory possible, indeed maybe probable.
Many opponents of the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq have always argued that this conflict is an irrelevant and even counterproductive sideshow to the real "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan.
In fact, Barack Obama led the parade to initiate a troop surge in Afghanistan after having opposed it in Iraq. The more hawkish John McCain, not to be outdone by a weak-kneed Democrat, proposed that even more troops be sent to Afghanistan.
The scene of John McCain – during the anthrax attacks in October 2001 – opining to David Letterman that Iraq might be responsible underscores McCain’s central role in what may go down as one of the biggest strategic blunders in U.S. military history, the premature pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Not only has it been clear for many years that McCain’s speculation about Iraq’s role in the anthrax attacks was reckless – made even more apparent by the FBI now pinning the crime on dead U.S. bio-defense scientist Bruce Ivins – but McCain also told Letterman in that Oct. 18, 2001, interview that “the second phase is Iraq.”
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will face new legal jeopardy when the Justice Department’s Inspector General issues his next report on how the Bush administration let politics influence prosecutorial judgments, says ex-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.
That installment is expected to address the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 and could set the stage for criminal charges against Gonzales and his former deputy, Paul McNulty, according to Iglesias, the former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico who was one of those fired in the purge.
Like the largesse he spread so bountifully to members of Congress and the White House staff -- countless fancy meals, skybox tickets to basketball games and U2 concerts, golfing sprees in Scotland -- Jack Abramoff is the gift that keeps on giving.
The notorious lobbyist and his cohorts (including conservatives Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed) shook down Native American tribal councils and other clients for tens of millions of dollars, buying influence via a coalition of equally corrupt government officials and cronies dedicated to dismantling government by selling it off, making massive profits as they tore the principles of a representative democracy to shreds.
At this pivotal moment in American history, the major U.S. news media is back to its old game of drawing sweeping character judgments about a presidential candidate based on misleading “quotes,” a sickening replay of other recent elections.
The latest example of this wearisome gamesmanship was a column by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who distorted a reported quote from Sen. Barack Obama at a closed Democratic caucus and used it to prove Obama was a “presumptuous nominee.”
John McCain personally told Larry King that Barack Obama wanted to bring reporters, cameras and campaign aides to a meeting with wounded troops in Germany.
When he said this, John McCain was lying. Let me spell this correctly: L-Y-I-N-G.
Over the past several weeks, John McCain and his backers have touted his early endorsement of the Iraq War “surge” as evidence of his political courage, but it could be equally viewed as an act of political desperation, to forestall total calamity in Iraq and to avert disaster for broader neoconservative objectives in the Middle East.
McCain’s endorsement of the “surge” in January 2007 also represented a repudiation of his previous support for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s concept of using a light force of mobile U.S. troops, backed by technology and air power, to win the war.
The man who used to be John McCain is reacting to the pressures of a campaign by becoming Meat Ax McCain with low-road attacks that raise core questions of presidential temperament.
On Monday, as Barack Obama hosted a meeting with financial leaders from across America, the anger-ridden, increasingly desperate McCain campaign accused Obama of creating a future depression.
The headline atop Saturday’s op-ed page was a hallowed standby for the New York Times: “Americans Move to the Middle.”
Assembled by Times “visual columnist” Charles Blow, the text of the column was dwarfed by 15 graphs tracking recent movement in American public opinion, based on Gallup polls. There was one problem: the headline totally distorted the data.
For six years, with few exceptions, the Washington press corps has been cheerleading for the Iraq War – and the pattern is continuing in Campaign 2008 with the endless demands that Barack Obama apologize for not supporting the troop “surge.”
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” NBC’s Tom Brokaw became the latest Big Media star to hector Obama about his opposition to George W. Bush’s troop “surge,” which the U.S. press corps and Republican John McCain credit with reducing violence in Iraq.
Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history.
Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case, and a range of other potential crimes.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee reminded everyone that rules barred personal attacks on George W. Bush during Friday’s hearing on his presidential abuses, but they didn’t feel obliged to forego the lashing of a favorite whipping boy, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
In a continuation of what has amounted to a five-year campaign to destroy Wilson’s reputation, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, flourished two pieces of evidence that supposedly showed that Wilson was a perjurer and that President Bush was right all along when he accused Iraq of seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger.
At one point during the five and a half years John McCain spent as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, he was tortured and beaten so badly he tried to kill himself.
After four days of this brutality, he gave in and agreed to make a false confession, telling lies to end the unbearable pain.
President George W. Bush’s Iraq War troop “surge,” which is now ending, got a mixed report card from congressional investigators, who found that many of Bush’s stated goals remain unmet.
The Government Accountability Office reported that violence in Iraq has dropped over the past year, but that the training of Iraqi security forces still lags, Sunni insurgents have not been defeated, cease-fires with Shiite militias are fragile, and political reconciliation has not been achieved.
Former White House political adviser Karl Rove, who has refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, ran an end-around against Democratic leaders by having his denial of sponsoring a political prosecution inserted into the Congressional Record by a senior Republican.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the committee’s ranking Republican, submitted a written question-and-answer exchange with Rove in which the political strategist said he played no role in the controversial prosecution of Alabama’s former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman.
John McCain, presumably advised by Karl Rove and definitely imitating the politics of George Bush, is now saying that Barack Obama would rather lose a war than lose an election.
This is a defamation; this is a slander; this is a lie. McCain should apologize to Obama.
After having begun a series of investigative stories criticizing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in May 2008, CNN reporter Drew Griffin reports being placed with more than a million other names on TSA’s swollen terrorism watch list.
Although TSA insists Griffin’s name is not on the list and pooh-poohs any possibility of retaliation for Griffin’s negative reporting, the reporter has been hassled by various airlines on 11 flights since May. The airlines insist that Griffin’s name is on the list.
John McCain has denounced Barack Obama as being “completely wrong” on Iraq, but it was McCain who advocated what turned out to be the fundamental strategic blunder in the post-9/11 conflicts, the hasty – and premature – pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Only weeks after the Taliban were routed from Kabul and the remnants of al-Qaeda had fled from bases in Tora Bora, McCain took the lead in urging the Bush administration to turn its attention toward Iraq.
A conservative-dominated U.S. Appeals Court has opened the door for President George W. Bush or a successor to throw American citizens – as well as non-citizens – into a legal black hole by designating them “enemy combatants,” even if they have engaged in no violent act and are living on U.S. soil.
The federal Appeals Court in Richmond, Virginia, ruled 5-4 on July 15 that Bush had the right, while prosecuting the “war on terror,” to hold Qatari citizen (and Peoria, Illinois, resident) Ali al-Marri indefinitely as an “enemy combatant.”
One can assume that former Attorney General John Ashcroft didn’t mean it to be funny, but his testimony on Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee might strike one as hilarious, were it not for the issue at hand — torture.
Ashcroft is the Attorney General who approved torture before he disapproved it, but committee members spared him accusations of flip-flopping.
Once again we're closing the barn door after the horse is out and gone.
In Washington, the Federal Reserve has finally acted to stop some of the predatory lending that exploited people’s need for money.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s call for a timetable on American troop withdrawals has touched off a dramatic change in the debate over the future U.S. engagement in Iraq – essentially, it marks a falling away of the fig-leaf rationales for the five-plus years of occupation.
As these fig leaves drop to the ground, they are exposing raw geo-strategic objectives that were present in the original calculations of Republican foreign policy experts going back to the early 1990s, a desire for a firm U.S. foothold in the Middle East to protect the West's access to oil and to defend the state of Israel from, then, primarily its Arab enemies.
Rebuffing Dennis Kucinich’s calls for impeachment hearings on George W. Bush, the House Judiciary Committee instead will hear testimony about Bush’s “imperial presidency” and several of his administration’s scandals.
In a press release issued Thursday, Rep. John Conyers, House Judiciary Committee chairman, said his panel will explore a variety of Bush controversies, including manipulation of prewar Iraq intelligence, politicization of the Justice Department, and refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations.
In the latest twist in the “Plame-gate” scandal, President George W. Bush has asserted executive privilege to block release of Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview with a special prosecutor about possible criminal violations in the leaking of a CIA officer’s covert identity.
Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, promptly denounced the White House legal reasoning as “ludicrous,” noting that executive privilege covers advice that an aide gives the President, not responses to legal questions posed by a prosecutor about a possible crime.
You say you expected more rhetoric than reality from Senators Obama and McCain in their speeches about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, that’s certainly what you got.
What I find nonetheless amazing is how they, and the pundits, have taken such little notice of the dramatic change in the political landscape occasioned by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bombshell on July 7 — his insistence on a “timetable” for withdrawal of U.S. troops before any accord is reached on their staying past the turn of the year.
Most Americans who have followed the twists and turns of the Iraq War would agree that George W. Bush misled the nation into the conflict with false claims about WMD and Saddam Hussein’s links to al-Qaeda. But it’s less understood that Bush never stopped deceiving the public.
Indeed, one of President Bush’s favorite lines – telling the American people to listen to what the enemy says and thus to know that al-Qaeda considers Iraq the “central front” in the “war on terror” – has been every bit as misleading as his earlier false assertions about WMD.
Iran does not intend to build a nuclear bomb, unless it is confronted with an external threat, according to Muhammad Sahimi, the National Iranian Oil Company chair in petroleum engineering and a professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.Read on.
George W. Bush, who has expanded his power to access the e-mails and other electronic communications of Americans, is resisting congressional demands that White House e-mails be saved for later research by historians.
Bush signaled he would veto a House-passed bill that seeks to overhaul the Presidential and Federal Records Act to ensure that e-mails and other government documents are preserved in the age of the Internet.