Sunday, July 31, 2005

More Inconsistencies in Rove's Story

Time Magazine reports more inconsistencies in Rove’s story, now suggesting he found out about Valierie Plame’s identity from within the Bush Administration rather than from reporters as he has claimed. It would be interesting to know if this also contradicts Rove’s testimony and increases the chances of an obstruction of justice prosecution. From Time:

As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Not Such Hard Work for George Bush

Who says being president is hard work? Apparently it isn't very hard for George Bush, who is going to his Texas ranch for several weeks. According to USA Today, this will be "the president's 50th trip to the ranch since he was elected nearly five years ago."

Carter Criticizes Guantanamo as Disgrace to the US

Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful
Jimmy Carter Says Detention of Terror Suspects at Guantanamo Bay ‘Is a Disgrace to the U.S.’

The Associated Press

Jul. 30, 2005 - Former President Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.

Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as “unnecessary and unjust.”

“I think what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.,” he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance’s centenary conference in Birmingham, England. “I wouldn’t say it’s the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts.”

Carter said, however, that terrorist acts could not be justified, and that while Guantanamo “may be an aggravating factor … it’s not the basis of terrorism.”


Independent Film on Winter Soldier Investigation

From IndieWIRE:

Milestone Film
co-founders Dennis Doros and Amy Heller have formed Milliarium Zero, a new film distribution company that will handle films with strong social and political content. First up for the new outfit is "Winter Soldier," a look at the 1971 Winter Solider Investigation conducted by activist group, Vietnam Veterans Against The War. The film was made by a collective of filmmakers who worked together to create the rarely seen documentary.

The name for Doros and Heller's new outlet translates as "zero milepost," named for the official landmark opposite the White House in Washington D.C. "Winter Soldier" will open for a week run at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater on August 12th, followed that night by a panel featuring 10 filmmakers and at least five of the soldiers.

In creating "Winter Soldier," a group of filmmakers, calling themselves 'Winterfilm,' worked to document the testimonies of many veterans. Included in the collective are Fred Aronow, Nancy Baker, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Barbara Jarvis, Barbara Kopple, Michael Lesser, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein and Michael Weil. The filmmakers worked over four days and nights, with donated equipment and film stock, to shoot footage of more than 125 veterans, among them a young John Kerry. The footage was edited over eight months to create the 95-minute movie. Screened in Cannes and Berlin, including a brief run at Cinema 2 in Manhattan, the film failed to get a TV broadcast and has been rarely seen since.

"We thought that 'Winter Soldier' gave us the perfect opportunity to start a brand-new venture that had its own identity -- a company that could take risks on powerful and possibly controversial films," explained Milliarium co-founder Dennis Doros in an email conversation with indieWIRE. "We are disturbed by the lack of discourse in the United States -- caused, perhaps, by a general lack of commitment and passion, anxiety about being in a minority, fear of our own government, and feelings of apathy and paranoia." Continuing he added, "There are brave filmmakers and distributors out there who are trying to make a difference and we want Milliarium to be part of this effort."

After the run in New York, Doros and Heller have booked the movie at a number of other venues, including Minnesota Film Arts in Minneapolis and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago for a week in mid-September, a night each at the Avalon in Stamford, CT and the Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Film Institute (in August and November respectively), and a week at Reel Artways in Hartford, CT in late September.

Stem Cells in Spinal Cord Injury

Yet another benefit of stem cells discovered:

Genetically engineered stem cells can help rats’ severed spinal cords grow back together, according to a study published Tuesday.

Rats given the treatment, using stem cells taken from rat embryos, could move their legs again after their spines were severed in the lab, said the researchers’ report in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This may have important benefits for humans:

“These findings suggest the possibility that transplantation therapy using a subset of neural stem cells and neurotrophic factors might improve functional recovery in human spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Michael Selzer, a professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia.

As Bill Clinton has pointed out, in this case supporting stem cell research is the pro-life position.

Republican Lies Exposed On the "Death Tax"

One of the most discussed victories for the Republicans using Orwellian (or in this case Frank Luntz’s) use of language has been over the inheritance tax. By calling this the “death Tax” they spread scare stories of small mom and pop farms and other businesses being victims, obfuscating the fact that the tax primarily affects the ultra-wealthy. USA Today has an editorial exposing many of the right wing claims regarding the inheritance tax.

Not Enough Sleaze

The New York Times Book Review of The Truth About Hillary hits the book in an area where other reviewers haven’t gone. Not only is the book devoid of any value as an information source, it doesn’t even rank very high in its “genre” according to Joe Queenan.

As an expert on sordid nonfiction, I would not put ‘’The Truth About Hillary'’ anywhere near the top of my list; it pales by comparison with Geraldo Rivera’s sublimely vile autobiography, ‘’Exposing Myself,'’ and seems demure, nuanced and levelheaded by comparison with masterpieces of partisan venom like the 60’s cold-war classic ‘’None Dare Call It Treason.'’

No, I am not suggesting that Edward Klein is a fair, balanced, persuasive, scrupulously honest reporter or a gifted writer. Resorting to chilling Rip Van Winklisms like ‘’Bill and Hillary often grooved the night away at Cozy Beach, spinning the latest Jefferson Airplane platters,'’ Klein sometimes sounds like a cryogenically preserved Maynard G. Krebs. Like, dig: the cat is far out.

What I am saying is that if Klein purposely set out to write the sleaziest, most derivative, most despicable political biography ever, he has failed both himself and his readers miserably. ‘’The Truth About Hillary'’ is only about the 16th sleaziest book I have ever read. Though, in fairness to the author, reading creepy, cut-and-paste books is my hobby.

I wonder where the books from the Swift Boat Liars would fall in this ranking.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Taste of their Own Medicine

Sometimes people are forced to take a taste of their own medicine:

Doctor Frist’s flip flop on stem cell research hasn’t been received well by the far right. Tom Delay offered the opinion that “a candidate that, that-umm-believes in the destruction of life would have a very hard time appealing to the vast majority of the republicans in this party.” Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, warned that “Senator Frist cannot have it both ways. He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding. Nor can he turn around and expect widespread endorsement from the pro-life community if he should decide to run for president in 2008.”

I miss the days when Republicans at least pretended to support individual liberty and keeping the government off our backs.

Justices Breyer is also getting a taste of his own medicine. AP reports, “Libertarians upset about a Supreme Court ruling on land taking have proposed seizing a justice’s vacation home and turning it into a park, echoing efforts aimed at another justice who lives in the state. Organizers are trying to collect enough signatures to go before the town next spring to ask to use Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s 167-acre Plainfield property for a ‘Constitution Park’ with stone monuments to commemorate the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions.”

Personally I avoid tasting all those medications I prescribe as much as possible. This week, rather than tasting medicine, I’m working on Appletini recipes in anticipation of guests next weekend. My experimentation so far suggests either equal portions of Grey Goose to Apple Pucker Schnapps, or perhaps the using the vodka in a 2:1 ratio. I’ve tried adding a splash of either Rose’s Lime Juice or Sour Mix. The Sour Mix tasted a bit better but makes the drink slightly cloudy. I’m thinking of trying regular lime juice as opposed to the more concentrated Rose’s next time.

Anyone happen to know the perfect Appletini recipe? This is even more fun that Friday Cat Blogging.

California Rejects Diebold Machines

California has rejected the Diebold voting machines, finding a failure rate of ten percent. Problems included printer jams and screen freezes, in other words what is experienced by the typical home computer user. The report did not comment on whether the results were biased towards either party.

Replacing Congress In Case of Emergency

We can all rest easier knowing that Congress has passed a Doomsday plan to replace themselves should 100 or more be killed in a terrorist attack. The law would call for special elections within 49 days.

Now if we only had a provision for a special election should it be proven that the President is an absolute idiot who has undermined our national security and created long term damage to our economy and was twice elected with questionable tactics. Or how about special elections should Congress fall under the control of people beholden to religious fanatics and are acting contrary to the interests of the American people and the principles the country was founded upon?

Kerry Raising Money for Other Democrats

The Wall Street Journal makes note today of Kerry’s fund raising and contributions to other Democratic candidates. They report that, “Democrat Kerry, who may also run again, has donated more than $3 million to Democratic groups since his November defeat, while raising $700,000 for a new Leadership PAC that has given to more than 50 party candidates.”

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Kerry, Snowe Move to Save Women’s Business Centers from the Chopping Block

Yesterday, Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe introduced and passed legislation that authorizes the S.B.A. to continue funding eleven women’s business centers that are scheduled to be closed at the end of the year.

The eleven centers, known as sustainability centers, were the first to receive grants under the Women’s Business Center Sustainability pilot program authored by Kerry in 1999 (PL 106-165). However, due to a technical provision in the law, these centers would be ineligible for additional funding after the end of this fiscal year. The Snowe-Kerry legislation (S.1517) would allow these eleven centers to continue assisting women-owned businesses with their access to capital, contracting, and business management needs by extending their sustainability grants for one year.

The eleven centers (scheduled to be closed) are in: Oakland, Calif.; Ukiah, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Boston, Mass.; Augusta, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Fosston, Minnesota; Las Cruces, N.M.; Medford, Oregon; Philadelphia, Penn.; and Milwaukee, Wisc. As a whole, the women’s business center network reached over 122,000 clients last year, up from 8,000 in 1999.

The Women's Business Centers are vital to helping women in business across the country. They provide access to advice on small business including business and marketing plans, and access to loans through the S.B.A.

“This bill will ensure that our most effective women’s business centers continue to receive federal matching funds,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “Instead of eliminating resources and opportunities for women in business, we should be increasing them. This funding is not only important to the centers themselves, but also to their local community and the thousands of women-owned businesses who depend on them.”

"This is only a temporary fix, but I will continue to fight to ensure this proven and effective program is made permanent, putting the Women's Business Center program on sound footing for the future." Kerry added.

In order for the bill to become law, the legislation must now be taken up and passed in the House of Representatives and signed by the President.

As a small business owner, I understand fully the hurdles that women in business face daily. Now entering my 10th year in business, I am grateful for assistance received last year through my local Women's Business Center. John Kerry has consistantly fought to provide assistance to women in business and recognizes that women in business are amongst the fatest growing sector of small business.

Senate Intelligence Committee Probe on Pre-War Intelligence Stalls

For eight months, The Boston Globe is reporting, "the Senate Intelligence Committee has made little effort to pursue its long-promised probe into whether the Bush administration intentionally misconstrued intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war -- an investigation that would have delved into whether White House aides tried to put pressure on CIA analysts."

Last year, Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee vowed "that soon after the presidential election was over, his panel would examine whether Bush or his top aides misled the public about prewar intelligence, or pressured CIA agents to make a stronger case for invading Iraq."

But since then, the Intelligence Committee has made no measurable progress on the investigation. Instead, Roberts has offered vague public promises of picking up the key pieces of the probe at some point but has warned that other more pressing matters must be dealt with first.

Senator John D. Rockefeller, Ranking Member of the committee, suspects political motivation from congressional Republicans who want to shield the administration.

''The chairman has declared firmly that it will be done," said Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia. ''I always think there's a reluctance to do anything which might embarrass the administration. I think that's been true since the beginning of all of this."

The criminal investigation of an administration leak that revealed the identity of Valerie Plame has has highlighted the failure of the Senate Intel Committee to act on their investigation. The criminal investigation into PlameGate has implicated both Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, propelling Senate Democrats to call for a congressional hearing into the leak, including Rove's and Libby's involvement.

Though an investigation of the uses of prewar intelligence would not cover the leaking of Plame Wilson's name -- that occurred after the invasion of Iraq -- it could shed light on whether members of the administration took other actions to suppress or discredit opposing views.

Roberts' latest excuse in not moving forward with the investigation is "that committee members remain at odds over how to judge public prewar statements made by members of the Bush administration and Congress."

Senator Rockefeller and other Democrats do not feel that "differing opinions on how to handle public statements" is a valid reason to hold up the investigation any further.

Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the fact that there has been no investigation of the misuse of intelligence means US policy may still be based on mistaken conclusions.

''A year and a half later, there's still no report, no conclusions, no accountability for the mistakes, and no way to be sure they won't be repeated," said Kerry. ''This is just further evidence of a pattern by this White House and the Republicans in Congress to stop at nothing to discredit their critics and silence the tough questions before they get asked."

Bush Administration Shortchanges Small Business: Contracts Go Unchallenged

Legislation from John Kerry would prevent practice that favors big businesses over small businesses.

WASHINGTON -- A recent report by the Small Business Administration’s Inspector General sheds light on the Bush administration’s failure to prevent federal agencies from putting contracts out of the reach of small businesses through a tactic known as contract bundling.

“This is just the latest example of the Bush administration shortchanging small businesses,” Kerry said. “The administration is quick to make claims about supporting small contractors, but time and again their big business policies leave small businesses behind. Bottom line, the Administration would rather do business with large companies than keep faith with America’s small businesses.”

According to the report: “SBA was not reviewing the majority of procurements reported by agencies as bundled. Eighty-seven percent of the reported potential bundlings (with a value of at least $384 million) we identified during the survey were not reviewed by SBA. SBA also did not fully comply with bundling regulations, an agreed upon OMB recommendation, and its own requirements.”

The Inspector General’s report also concluded that one of the significant reasons for the Administration’s ineffectiveness is its lack of adequate resources. In particular, the report pointed to the limited number of procurement center representatives, also known as PCRs, who monitor the federal procurement process. With only 43 PCRs to monitor contracting at over 2,000 procurement centers government-wide, the Administration only monitors 11.6 percent of centers and 60 percent of federal contracting dollars. This means that some $90 billion each year is not examined for contract bundling.

The report goes on to state that SBA’s Office of Government Contracting “was not in compliance with various requirements concerning contract bundling,” including, the requirement for a bundling database; the requirement of a best practices guide for agencies; and the requirement for a formal operating plan for its PCRs.

In response to the report, Kerry sent a letter to the SBA to further investigate the Administration’s deficiencies and to urge the agency to “provide the small business advocates, particularly PCRs, the resources they need to perform their oversight duties.”

In January, Kerry introduced the Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act, S.137, to expand protections for small business contractors, curb contract bundling, and assist the SBA in its oversight duties. To read Kerry’s letter to Administrator Barreto, click here.

A copy of the SBA Inspector General’s report is available at

John Kerry's Speech at The New Republic’s Conference on Telecommunications Policy

John Kerry Says Revolution in Telecommunications Must be Addressed in Legislation

John Kerry spoke today at The New Republic’s conference on telecommunications policy. The forum focused on the reauthorization of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Senator Kerry’s remarks follow as prepared:

“Ten years ago, ‘broadband’ wasn’t part of our vocabulary. Today, 35 million households enjoy broadband service - a lot more, but nothing compared to what they’re doing in South Korea and elsewhere. Ten years ago only 25 million people used any wireless device. Today, 192 million Americans use cell phones, PDAs or laptops with WiFi access - again, a huge improvement, although not to the level of some of our competitors. There’s no doubt much has changed since Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and we all tend to focus on the technological changes. But the important changes have not been limited to technological innovation.

“The industry has undergone a massive restructuring. Businesses that never competed with each other-whether due to differences in technology, geography or regulation-are now in direct competition. As a result, telecomm is a fundamentally different industry today than it was in 1996.

“The same goes for our economy. The rapid globalization of the past ten years has transformed the rules by which nearly every American business must operate. If we handle it right, this new arena can be a mutually beneficial opportunity for the telecom industry and the economy. Innovation is the great currency today, and this industry has plenty to spare. A new wave of change powered by a mass market in broadband and high-capacity Internet service can bring interactivity, full-motion video and a host of other functions rich in data and experience.

Read the full speech here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Roberts To Right of Many Reaganites

The New York Times reviewed memos from the Reagan administration showing that John Roberts was frequently to the right of even many Reaganites:

On almost every issue he dealt with where there were basically two sides, one more conservative than the other, the documents from the National Archives and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library show that Judge Roberts, now of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, advocated the more conservative course. Sometimes, he took positions even more conservative than his prominent superiors.

He favored less government enforcement of civil rights laws rather than more. He criticized court decisions that required a thick wall between church and state. He took the side of prosecutors over criminal defendants. He maintained that the role of the courts should be limited and the powers of the president enhanced.

The article reviews Roberts' position on several other issues. In looking at church vs. state issues they found that "Judge Roberts was sharply critical of the Supreme Court decision outlawing prayer in public schools, and he said the court had exceeded its authority when it allowed any citizens to challenge the transfer of public property to a parochial school."

Americans Facing Reality

It’s a day in which we see signs of victory for reality over the Orwellian deceptions of Bush World.

It comes as no surprise to read that an new investigation shows that Bush failed to make adequate postwar plans. AP Reports that “An independent panel headed by two former U.S. national security advisers said Wednesday that chaos in Iraq was due in part to inadequate postwar planning.”

More people are looking at Iraq in a more realistic manner and seeing through the Bush lies according to this Gallup Poll:

For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for invading. The administration’s credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003.

A Quinnipiac Poll shows further deterioration in Bush’s support, as well as that of Congress. Those so-called activist judges do much better:

American voters disapprove of the job President George W. Bush is doing 53 - 41 percent, his lowest approval rating since becoming President. This compares to a 50 - 44 percent disapproval in a May 25 Quinnipiac University poll.

Voters disapprove 60 - 30 percent of the way Congress is doing its job and approve 50 - 39 percent of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job.

“The judges outscore the President and Congress on job performance,” Carroll said.

Lance Armstrong Slams Cost of Iraq War

USA Today reports that "Fighting cancer is new mission" for Lance Armstrong. Armstrong a member of Bush's Cancer Panel since 2002, publicly criticized the cost of the war in Iraq, in comparison to budget for cancer research.

"Funding is tough to come by these days," he says. "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again.

"Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public."


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Senate Finance Committee Passes Kerry Plan to Protect Pensions, Hold CEOs Accountable

Today, in a win to protect worker's pension plans, the Senate Finance Committee has agreed to an amendment sponsored by John Kerry "to hold CEOs and corporate executives accountable for ensuring pension plans are solvent."

The Kerry amendment strengthens the link between the funding of deferred executive compensation - benefits for executives that are often valued at millions of dollars a year after their retirements - to the funding of workers' pension plans.

"It's time Washington understood that a worker's pension is just as important as a CEO's golden parachute. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is there to protect workers when companies go bust, not so companies can break commitments to workers for extra cash-flow in the short term. We've seen what can happen when corporations cook the books, and we need to hold CEOs accountable for actually paying the pensions they've promised their employees," said John Kerry.

Under the Kerry amendment, executives' deferred compensation is restricted if workers' pension plans do not have at least 80 percent of the money to pay out promised benefits.

Several companies' pension programs have been unable to pay promised benefits, in which case the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has had to step in to pay the promised benefits. In June, the PBGC reported that the average underfunded plan is only 69 percent funded. To complicate matters, the PBGC is currently running a record deficit that tops $20 billion.

Bush Administration Sounding More Like Kerry on Terrorism

From this report in the New York Times, it looks like the Bush administration is trying to reframe the war on terrorism. They are trying to downplay the military aspect and raise the ideological battle. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, even said that he “objected to the use of the term ‘war on terrorism’ before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution.”

This sounds like the type of talk which Dick Cheney and other Republicans regularly attacked John Kerry for during last year’s campaign. It’s good that they are beginning to realize the importance of the battle for hearts and minds. Now if they would only learn that, when the United States is attacked, we should respond by going to war against those who actually attacked us.

Democratic Divisions

The Democratic Leadership Council’s meeting in Columbus has highlighted some divisions within the Democratic Party which I suspect exist primarily in the blogosphere and are of little concern to the saner members of the party (such as those who overwhelmingly voted to nominate John Kerry last year). If progressive bloggers want to criticize the DLC on principles, that would be one thing. I certainly don’t agree with their members on all issues, although an analysis by Chris Bowers has shown that their members do not actually vote very differently from other Democrats in Congress. What I find particularly absurd is a claim seen in multiple anti-DLC blog posts blaming them for Democratic defeats.

If the ability to win elections has become the question, it is hard to argue with the DLC’s success. The DLC had a President in the White House for eight years. We all know what happened to the favorite candidate of the bloggers in last year’s Democratic primaries, and would expect an even worse showing in a general election campaign. I’ve previously discussed polling showing the advantages of moderation over moving to the left in terms of winning Presidential elections.

The Bull Moose has his own response to the frequent attacks on party moderates from the progressive blogosphere:

Leave it to others to talk about internal divisions within the party or nasty polarizing polemics. While someone from the daily kosy (misspelling intended) confines of Beserkely might utter ominous McCarthyite warnings about the “enemy within”, here in Columbus constructive committed crusaders for progressivism are discussing ways to win back the hearts of the heartland. This is a time for Democrats to be ecumenical rather than suggesting a pious inquisition.

Personally I prefer the big tent, finding that I don’t agree with either the DLC or the progressive wing on all issues. Such diversity of opinion is also necessary to win elections. Some progressive bloggers have complained that the dominance of the DLC has led to a lack of progressive candidates for 2008. If they would get past the biases developed during the 2004 primary battles, they might realize there is one candidate who is sticking to progressive principles, even if he (thankfully) does not accept the far left line on all issues–John Kerry.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Natalie Portman Creating Controversy, Again

Natalie Portman created some controversy during the 2004 election, such as when Good Morning America tried to hide her Kerry shirt behind flowers during an interview. Her next movie, V for Vendetta, scheduled for release in November, may also be controversial for its portrayal of terrorist bombings in the London subways. According to ITN:

The film is set in a futuristic London where Tube lines are destroyed after a devastating war.

Executive producer Joel Silver said: “It’s a great time for this movie. It’s a controversial film and it’s a controversial time. It’s going to make people think.”

Producer David Lloyd added: “In terms of what happened in London it’s important to try and understand what leads people to terrorism. There should be lots of movies made about terrorists.”

Kerry, Senators Urge Congressional Investigation Into Leak of CIA Agent Valerie Plame’s Name

Advance copy to The Democratic Daily...

For Immediate Release:

Today, Senator John Kerry; Senator Carl Levin, Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; and 24 other Senators formally requested that Congress investigate the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity -- a leak a senior administration official described at the time as "meant purely and simply for revenge."

"Americans deserve a Congress that holds Washington accountable for the truth about our national security. Can anyone argue with a straight face that Congress has time to look at steroid use in baseball but doesn't have the will to provide congressional oversight of the leak of a CIA agent's name? It's long past time to stop putting politics ahead of the public good, get to the bottom of a national security breach and restore credibility to Washington," said John Kerry, who authored the letter.

Below is the text of the letter sent today:

Dear Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader:

The press has reported on information strongly suggesting that senior Administration officials, including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and the Vice President's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby, exposed the identity of American intelligence operative Valerie Plame, despite the repeated denial of the White House at the time.

The public revelation of Ms. Plame's identity, whether it amounts to a crime or an irresponsible breach of security protocol that doesn't meet the standard of criminal conduct, almost certainly compromised her intelligence networks and may have compromised the safety and welfare of anyone who had worked with her overseas. As a group of respected former intelligence officials wrote in 2004: "Any breach of the code of confidentiality and cover weakens the overall fabric of intelligence, and, directly or indirectly, jeopardizes the work and safety of intelligence workers and their sources."

The United States Congress has a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the executive branch, whether a law has been broken or not. It is time for Congress to fulfill that constitutional responsibility in this matter by initiating a thorough investigation.

We recognize that a criminal investigation is underway and that a special prosecutor continues to present testimony before a grand jury. These actions in no way preclude Congress' responsibility to provide oversight. We urge you to exercise your authority as Congressional leaders by requesting the appropriate committees to begin oversight hearings and an investigation immediately.


Senators Kerry, Levin, Stabenow, Schumer, Lautenberg, Rockefeller, Reed, Feinstein, Dorgan, Harkin, Kohl, Durbin, Carper, Salazar, Boxer, Inouye, Corzine, Wyden, Mikulski, Obama, Murray, Bayh, Johnson, Clinton, Sarbanes, and Landrieu.

Bob Graham to be Visiting Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics this Fall

From AP NEWS via the Boston Herald:

Former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham will be among the visiting fellows at Harvard University's Institute of Politics this fall, the school said Tuesday.

Graham, a Florida Democrat and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, retired last year after pursuing his party's presidential nomination, which was won by Sen. John Kerry. Graham served 17 years in the Senate.

He joins Benjamin Ginsberg, a campaign lawyer for President Bush in 2000 and 2004; Cheryl Jacques, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign and a longtime Massachusetts state senator; Adam Nagourney, chief political correspondent for The New York Times; former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas; Lisa Davis, top communications counsel for the Clinton-Gore 1996 re-election campaign; and veteran Republican strategist Joe Gaylord.

Fellows lead weekly, not-for-credit study groups on a variety of political topics. The institute is located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Roberts Exposed as Federalist Society Member

Last week Ed Gillespie was "correcting" news reports that John Roberts had been a member of the conservative Federalist Society as the White House attempted to sanitize Roberts' history to make him appear to be almost a moderate. The Washington Post has found that Roberts has been listed as a member:
Over the weekend, The Post obtained a copy of the Federalist Society Lawyers' Division Leadership Directory, 1997-1998. It lists Roberts, then a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number.

Yesterday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Roberts "has no recollection of being a member of the Federalist Society, or its steering committee." Roberts has acknowledged taking part in some Federalist Society activities, Perino said.

There remains a lot of questions as to what type of justice Roberts would make on the Supreme Court, but one thing's for sure. The Orwellian deception we have seen from the Bush White House for the last five years is extending to his first Supreme Court nomination.

Mickey Mouse is Not Big Brother

We are engaged in a battle for hearts in minds not only in the middle east, but here at home. Liberals are faced with the task of convincing those who do not follow the liberal blogs that we truly are in danger of losses of liberty due to the policies of our current one-party government. That task is only hampered when liberal bloggers mix paranoid delusions along with real complaints, making it easier for the right to argue we should be ignored.

The report in the Tallahassee Democrat last week on the expansion of the use of finger scanning at Walt Disney World resulted in a number of posts at Democratic Underground and in the blogosphere about perceived threats to civil liberties. I see from the Daou Report that these posts continue. It's time to bring this discussion back to reality.

As an annual pass holder, I've had my fingers scanned at Walt Disney World numerous times over the years with no signs of any limitations on my civil liberties, but with considerable cost savings on park admissions (as well as resort rates). Disney has scanned fingers for the simple purpose of making sure that my annual pass is really being used by me, and not by someone else who is attempting to avoid purchasing their own park admission. The biometric scanner measures the geometry of the fingers to ensure it is really me using the pass, but does not record finger prints as some have feared. Without such security measures, the benefits I receive from the annual passes would not be possible.

Disney is now expanding this policy, and has good reason to do so. Unlike the conventional amusement park, visitors at Walt Disney World typically go back and forth between four different theme parks, resorts, and other attractions such as Downtown Disney, the Boardwalk, and water parks. A pass which allows you to come and go as you please is preferable to paying for a single park admission, and paying again should you desire to enter the same or a different theme park the same day. Disney also sells multi-day passes for a considerable discount over a single day admission. In order to offer these types of passes, it is necessary for Disney to be certain that the same person is using the pass each time. The biometric scanners are a sensible solution to this problem. The Disney will also accept alternative identification, so it is possible for those who really oppose such measures to avoid the biometric scanners. This can also be avoided by purchasing single admission passes which eliminate the need for scanning.

Rather than attacking Disney for a practice which is nonintrusive and which is justified by their business needs, it would make far more sense to monitor for any potential abuses. If Disney were to use this information for any other purpose, or if it were to share it with others, there might be cause for alarm. So far there is no evidence that these scans are used for any nefarious purpose.

Some have also complained of the high level of security present in Disney parks. As a parent, I find their level of security reassuring, and that is one of the reasons I have taken so many vacations there. Nobody has suggested that the security of Disney theme parks should be a model for the rest of the country as a whole, although it is hard to argue that the Disney influence on Time Square also hasn't been for the better.

Some liberal bloggers fear that Americans are being conditioned by these scanners so that they will be more willing to provide finger prints to government agencies in the future. I hate to extrapolate from Walt Disney World to the rest of the country, but for those who wish to I have a more palatable vision. Use of the biometric scanner requires quests to extend their second and third digits. In other words, guests entering Disney parks are encouraged to make a peace sign before entering. I wonder if some conservative bloggers will realize this and fear that Americans are being conditioned to be opposed to war.

Librarians Protest Patriot Act Provision

The ability to investigate the library books people are reading has been one of the more controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, and not surprisingly librarians are upset about this. Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association has called this Kafkaesque and protests that, “”It’s very reminiscent of the ’50s and the ‘red scare’ where people showed up at libraries trying to find which political books professors had read, because they were going to be put on a communist list or something.”

Gorman has also questioned whether this provision will actually help fight terrorism, and worries that, since library users are forbidden to be informed that an investigation is underway, it will erode the trust between librarians and readers. In the past, libraries would typically cooperate with subpoenas for library records. Such subpoenas issued by the courts would be public record, as opposed to investigations authorized by the Patriot Act, which makes it a felony for a librarian to inform those being investigated of the release of information.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Frank Rich on Why Gonzales Wasn't Nominated

Frank Rich
Frank Rich has an interesting idea as to why Bush didn’t nominate Gonzales to the Supreme Court in a portion of this week’s column:

When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O’Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It’s Mr. Gonzales’s proximity to this scandal that inspires real fear.

As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson’s wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must “preserve all materials” relevant to the investigation. This 12-hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department, but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case, inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute tape gap. “Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence,” said Senator Charles Schumer, correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.

Thus is Mr. Gonzales’s Supreme Court aspiration the first White House casualty of this affair. It won’t be the last.

John Kerry Talks With Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, John Kerry

John Kerry thinks Lance Armstrong would make a terrific politician -- but fears he'd be running for the other party.

Watching Armstrong during his warmup for Saturday's time trial, the Democrat from Massachusetts listed the Texan's winning qualities.

"What's made him so special at the Tour de France, and as an athlete, is the level of focus, discipline, intelligence, strategic ability, and obviously, his endurance -- his ability to just take it on and go," Kerry said.

Those qualities would serve Armstrong well in politics, Kerry said. But Armstrong is also friendly with fellow Texan George W. Bush.

"I think he'd be awesome, he'd be a force. I just hope it's for the right party," said Kerry, an avid cyclist and longtime fan of the Tour de France.

Kerry said he had tapes of last year's Tour delivered during his presidential campaign last year.

Full Story

More Pictures

Friday, July 22, 2005

Kerry Calls for Release of Roberts' Documents

Kerry Seeks Release of Roberts' Documents
- By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
Friday, July 22, 2005

(07-22) 16:53 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

Democratic Sen. John Kerry urged the White House on Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.

"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.

Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.

Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., holds an unknown number of documents relating to Roberts, arranged by subject matter. While material in some subjects are designated on the library's Web site as available to the public, most is not.

Among the publicly unavailable material is an entry marked "Specter, Senator." Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Roberts' nomination, beginning either in late August or early September.

The Democratic officials said Democrats also are eager to learn details of Roberts' activities in Florida in 2000, at the time of the state's contested presidential recount. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to provide details.

An attorney in private practice at the time, Roberts flew to the state at his own expense to offer advice to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, as the governor's older brother tried to clinch the election over then-Vice President Al Gore.

The Democratic officials described the search for information as routine in the case of any nominee to the Supreme Court.

Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, declined to confirm the disclosure. She said that in general, Democrats intend to seek material relating to Roberts' career.

Kerry is not a member of the committee. But he nonetheless injected himself into the debate at the end of a week in which Bush appeared to catch Democrats off guard by picking a court candidate with conservative credentials, yet one with little judicial experience, and thus, little public paper trail. Roberts would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who often provided the decisive vote in split decisions, sometimes siding with conservative justices and sometimes with the liberals.

"The American people should know whether John Roberts will protect their constitutional rights if confirmed as a justice to the court," Kerry said in a statement.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asked on ABC earlier this week about providing documents to the Senate, said, "I'm not going to prejudge ... at this juncture what the Senate may request and what information that the executive branch is ultimately going to provide to the Senate."

Roberts sat down with senators in their offices for a third day Friday, making the rounds of those who will sit in judgment of his nomination. He has additional visits scheduled for next week.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said he voted against Roberts in committee for his appeals court seat two years ago partly because he didn't feel the nominee fully answered senators' questions.

"I urged Judge Roberts, as far as he can legally within the canons of ethics, to be forthcoming and honest with his answers," Durbin said after their meeting. "If he is open and honest, I think it will go a long way."

There was upbeat Republican talk after Roberts' meetings with Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Sessions, whose own nomination to the federal bench was scuttled by Democrats before his election to the Senate, said Roberts "has the very natural qualities to make a superior judge."

Roberts Expected to Be Friendly to Business

I’ve often discussed the differences between the pro-business and social conservatives and have noted that O’Connor appeared more moderate than current Republicans as she was a gift from Ronald Reagan to the business community as opposed to the religious right.

The Kiplinger Letter also considers John Roberts to be friendly to business:

John Roberts won’t be a justice who always sides with business. But he will most of the time, reliably backing companies in labor relations disputes and limiting the reach of regulators. He’s also likely to try to rein in many class-action lawsuits and to favor uniform national standards over individual state rules.

Roberts understands business’s problems…the daily travails plus what it’s like to compete in the local or global marketplace. A former corporate lawyer, Roberts is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is in the courtroom. He has represented scores of companies, from automakers to HMOs to high-technology pioneers in Silicon Valley.

That’s enough to win the endorsement of key business groups. They will support him but be careful not to show too much enthusiasm, lest it arouse suspicion that he’ll be a tool of business interests.

Roberts will be easily confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, despite the opposition of some Democrats and any number of groups championing one social issue or another. Hearings will be exhaustive, and there’ll be complaints when Roberts refuses to get very specific about where he’d come down on individual cases or hot-button issues such as abortion. But there’s no real doubt about the outcome.

Their description sounds quite a bit like the description of O’Connor I discussed previously with regards to business interests. Until the hearings, when hopefully we will receive some answers as to Roberts’ beliefs, we will not know if he is really similar to O’Connor. That would be far preferable to a social conservative who would act to reduce our liberties. Roberts has represented socially conservative positions as an attorney, but it is unclear to what degree he would support overturning existing law on the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, even if Roberts holds positions similar to those of O’Connor on economic issues, there is no guarantee that Bush didn’t come up with a stealth candidate who will also push the goals of social conservatives.

Kerry Renews Fight to Assist Small Businesses Hurt by Drought

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), lead Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, yesterday re-introduced the Small Business Drought Relief Act to provide emergency aid to non-farm-related small businesses suffering economically from the severe drought conditions throughout the nation. The small businesses assisted by this legislation are struggling businesses that have been denied access to disaster loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Farmers and ranchers are not the only small business owners whose livelihoods are at risk when a drought hits their communities,” Kerry said. “The impact can be just as devastating to rafting businesses, marinas, and bait and tackle shops. Sadly, these small-businesses owners cannot get help through the SBA’s disaster loan program because of something taxpayers hate about government -- bureaucracy.”

The SBA does not treat all drought victims the same. The Agency only helps those small businesses whose income is tied to farming and agriculture. The Small Business Drought Relief Act will close this loophole, giving all small businesses hurt by drought access to low-interest loans through the SBA. The loans will be for business-related purposes, including for paying bills and making payroll until business returns to normal.

Currently there are 19 states suffering from severe to extreme drought. Because many small businesses across the country continue to face financial hardships caused by factors beyond their control, Kerry has again called for immediate consideration of the Small Business Drought Relief Act to prevent further economic strain.

The legislation has previously received widespread bipartisan support in Congress and among Governors and small businesses. During the 108th Congress, the Small Business Drought Relief Act (S.318) had 19 Republican and Democratic cosponsors and passed the Senate unanimously. In the 107th Congress, Kerry’s legislation (S.2734) had 25 Republican and Democratic cosponsors and passed the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

If Only Nov 2004 Had Been Different

Tom Curry of MSNBC points out "The true dimensions of Kerry’s loss last November are about to become clearer."

At a press conference Thursday to urge the Senate to grill Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts on his views, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., stood with the senior senator from Massachusetts, Sen. Edward Kennedy. “I wonder what it would be like if the junior senator from Massachusetts had been making this appointment,” Watt mused ruefully.

Watt said he was joining forces with Kennedy at the press conference “to emphasize how valuable one vote can be on the United States Supreme Court.” has a couple of photos from Kennedy's meeting with Roberts here. And there is more on the press conference with Mel Watts and Kennedy's statement here.

CAFTA Would Cost Taxpayers

The Congressional Budget Office is reporting that CAFTA would "cost taxpayers $50 million a year in loan forfeitures by sugar farmers."

An administration official said Thursday that the analysis was unrealistic and that there would be virtually no cost under sugar provisions in the deal.

The CBO released its estimate as House leaders planned for a vote next week on the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Overall, CAFTA would cost the U.S. about $4.4 billion over the next 10 years, primarily in lost tariffs, the CBO said.

Under CAFTA, those countries could ship more sugar to the United States. The CBO said the influx would push prices down and force farmers to forfeit government loans on their crops, costing taxpayers on average about $50 million annually through 2015.

CAFTA is a raw deal for America and Central America. For more information about CAFTA or to contact your Representatives to ask them to oppose CAFTA, visit

Related CAFTA Posts:
John Kerry: CAFTA is a Giant Step Backward

AP News Reveals Labor Department Cover Up on CAFTA Study; Senate Finance Committee Sends CAFTA Vote to Senate Floor

Rathergate Related Complaint Against Kerry, CBS Dismissed

The claim by the Center for Individual Freedom that the Kerry Campaign was involved in Rathergate has been thrown out by the FEC.

Election officials have thrown out a complaint against John Kerry's presidential campaign and CBS over a now-discredited story that questioned President Bush's National Guard service.

The Federal Election Commission, in a 6-0 ruling, said there was no reason to believe the allegations raised by the Center for Individual Freedom over the story that aired on CBS' "60 Minutes Wednesday" in September.

The decision disclosed this week was apparently reached unanimously due to press exemption protection.

The FEC vote, taken last month, was disclosed this week in a statement by the commission's three Republican members explaining why they joined the FEC's three Democrats in rejecting the complaint.

The GOP commissioners - Michael Toner, Bradley Smith and David Mason - wrote that they believe the CBS story is protected by the media's exemption from campaign finance laws.

"It is not for this agency to determine what is a 'legitimate news story' or who is a 'responsible journalist,'" the three wrote.

"Allegations of coordination are of no import when applying the press exemption," they said. "What a press entity says in broadcasts, news stories and editorials is absolutely protected under the press exemption."

Perhaps CBS will re-think the firing of those involved...

Kerry and Members of Congress Urge EPA to Improve Environmental Justice Plan

Bush Plan fails to address real environmental justice problems facing our nation’s communities

Several members of Congress — led by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and U.S. Representatives Hilda L. Solis (D-Calif.) and Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) — today are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to drastically improve the shortcomings in the agency’s environmental justice plan. In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, nearly 80 legislators asked the EPA to reverse its failed course on environmental justice and start putting forth a real plan to improve the dangerous effects of pollution in our most vulnerable communities.

Read the entire statement and the letter here.

Mama Bush Pitches Social Security

Bush's Social Security reform plans have fallen by the wayside. Bush has had very little success in promoting his plans. His approval ratings have plummeted and there is a wealth of mounting detractors for the Bush agenda. But, of course that doesn't stop Bush from seeking to control his agenda and he's on the road again, with Mama Bush at his side, promoting Social Security reform to invitation only audiences.

Calling his mother, Barbara Bush, "my favorite senior citizen," Bush said that the new prescription drug program under Medicare — which takes effect in January — would benefit nearly every one who signed up.

Bush's trip came the same week in which House and Senate leaders threw in the towel on trying to get committee action on the legislation before the August congressional recess.

They cited the press of other business, including energy legislation and a Central American free trade pact. But Bush's plan faced solid Democratic opposition and a substantial amount of GOP skepticism.

Can Mommy Dearest save the day for Bush's Social Security plan, let alone rescue him from his sliding approval ratings? Personally, I think the ship is sinking...

Former Intelligence Officers Criticize GOP on Plame Coverup

Not surprisingly, the CIA is not happy about the White House's act of leaking the identity of one of them for political gain. They aren't called Central Intelligence for nothing--they can see through all the spin. Eleven former intelligence officers are speaking up and stating that leaking Plame's identity may have damaged national security and threatens the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering per AP reports:

In a statement to congressional leaders, the former officers said the Republican National Committee has circulated talking points focusing on the idea that Plame was not working undercover and deserved no protection.

There are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who work at a desk in the Washington, D.C., area every day who are undercover as Plame was when her identity was leaked, the 11 former officers said in a three-page statement.

The former officers' statement comes amid revelations that top presidential aide Karl Rove was involved in leaking Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, and that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, also was a source for Cooper on the Plame story.

The leaking of Plame's identity followed public criticism leveled against the Bush White House by Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson. He suggested the administration had manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq. A criminal investigation into the leaks is ongoing.

"Intelligence officers should not be used as political footballs," the 11 said. "In the case of Valerie Plame, she still works for the CIA and is not in a position to publicly defend her reputation and honor.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Helen Thomas Interviewed on the White House and the Press

NPR’s Fresh Air has an interesting interview with Helen Thomas today. I missed the first part, but did hear some interesting comments from her near the end. Thomas discussed how Bush avoids answering tough questions by restricting who can ask and not allowing follow up questions. If that doesn’t work, reporters see evidence of his temper. Thomas has not been allowed to ask Bush questions since she asked him a series of questions as to why he does not respect the separation of church and state which he was not prepared to answer.

The audio will be available later today, and I hope to get a transcript in the next few days for the Kerry Reference Library.

Waxman Call for Hearings on Exposure of Plame's Identity

House And Senate Democratic Panels To Hold Oversight Hearing on Friday On National Security Consequences Of Disclosing The Identity Of A Covert Intelligence Officer

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Democratic Special Investigations Division of the Government Reform Committee and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee will conduct a joint hearing at 10 a.m., Friday, July 22, to examine the national security implications of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer. The hearing will be co-chaired by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Senate DPC Chairman.

The panel of witnesses will include former intelligence officers who discuss the impact of such disclosures, based on decades of experience and service to our country on intelligence and national security matters.

Details on Friday’s hearing follow:

WHO: Members of Congress: Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), and other members of the House and Senate.

Witnesses will include:

Larry Johnson - former CIA analyst

Jim Marcinkowski - former CIA case officer

David McMichael - former CIA case officer

Mel Goodman - former senior CIA analyst

WHAT: Oversight hearing on the impact of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer

WHEN: 10:00 a.m., Friday, July 22, 2005

WHERE: Room 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building

WHY: To examine the national security consequences of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer.

Report from Congressman Waxman’s office, via The Stakeholder

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Despite Rove Claims, Plame’s Identity Marked As Secret

There is no longer any question that Karl Rove was one of the members of the Bush Administration who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity. There has been some question as to whether Rove’s action are sufficient for conviction. For example, there have been claims that Rove did not realize that Plame’s CIA connection was secret. Another Rove defense has fallen apart.

The Washington Post reports that Plame’s identity “was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the ’secret’ level.” The Post also reports that:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked “(S)” for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Democratic Leaders Warn of Bush Administration Failings on WMD

Democratic Leaders Address the Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction; Reid andPelosi Receive Report from National Security Advisory Group

WASHINGTON, July 20 /U.S. Newswire/ — The failure of action by the Bush Administration to fully protect Americans from the terrorist threat of weapons of mass destruction was addressed today by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who stood with members of the National Security Advisory Group, chaired by former Defense Secretary William J. Perry. Perry delivered a report to the leaders titled, “Worst Weapons in Worst Hands: U.S. Inaction on the Nuclear Terror Threat Since 9/11, And A Path Of Action,” which details the significant shortcomings by the Bush Administration to contain these weapons and materials and offers key recommendations that will help to protect Americans from this threat.

“The most important threat we face is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, yet this Administration’s missteps in Iraq have made tackling that threat so much harder,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “This report shows we must keep our eye on the ball.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said: “The report concludes that the U.S. is fighting a global war on terrorism, but not a global war on weapons of mass destruction. The Administration has failed policies on weapons programs in North Korea and Iran, on securing loose nuclear material in Russia and elsewhere, and on strengthening the world’s nuclear nonproliferation system,” “The lack of leadership by the Bush Administration in these areas has made the American people less safe than they should be.”

The Democratic Leaders discussed their resolve to do everything possible to protect Americans from terrorism both here and abroad. As the report outlines, the Bush Administration’s failure to remain focused on the nuclear threat posed by both North Korea and Iran has significantly increased the risk that weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of terrorists and greatly increase instability in two already unstable regions. The Democratic Leaders embraced the key recommendations to reverse the setbacks suffered with both of these regimes; expedite the process to secure all loose nuclear material, and strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

“I urge the President and his advisors to consider carefully the plan for action described by Secretary Perry, Secretary Albright, and the National Security Advisory Group in this excellent report,” Pelosi said. “Protecting the American people is a bipartisan responsibility, and Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans to protect Americans from terrorism.”

Reid said: “It’s time we did everything we can to protect Americans and focus in on the threats we face,” Reid said. “This report makes very serious recommendations, and Democrats intend to use them to put this country back on the right path. I hope my Republican colleagues will join us in taking up these recommendations and keeping Americans safe.”

The members of the National Security Advisory Group are William J. Perry, Madeleine K. Albright, Graham T. Allison, Samuel R. Berger, Ashton B. Carter, Wesley K. Clark, Thomas E. Donilon, Michele A. Flournoy, John D. Podesta, Susan E. Rice, John M. Shalikashvili, Wendy R. Sherman, Elizabeth D. Sherwood- Randall, and James B. Steinberg.


Report by National Security Advisory Group

The gravest threat facing Americans today is a terrorist detonating a nuclear bomb in one of our cities. The National Security Advisory Group (NSAG) judges that the Bush Administration is taking insufficient actions to counter this threat. The Administration is fighting a global war on terror, but not yet a global war on WMD.


Actions Taken:

The invasion of Iraq was the principal action taken to counter WMD after 9/11, but, in fact, no WMD were found.

The renunciation of WMD by Qadaffi’s Libya was a major success of U.S. and British cooperative diplomacy extending over two administrations.

The exposure of the A.Q. Khan network by member states of the Proliferation Security Initiative stopped some trafficking in WMD technology, but an unknown amount is unaccounted for and the black market may still be functioning.

Serious Setbacks:

North Korea quadrupled its nuclear arsenal with impunity, and may now be so emboldened by U.S. acquiescence that it cannot be turned back.

Iran has retained its nuclear program for four years since 9/11, with the U.S. response limited to rhetoric, finally giving belated and tepid support for a European-led initiative. Iranian nuclear ambitions have become more entrenched because of U.S. inaction.


Efforts to secure “loose nukes,” such as the Nunn-Lugar program, are little changed from their pre-9/11 levels.

Diplomatic efforts to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty were touted by President Bush but have not produced results.


Reverse the Setbacks U.S. Nuclear Security has Already Suffered from North Korea and Iran:

North Korea might still be stopped diplomatically through the Six-Party talks, but to have a chance, President Bush must put an end to the debate within his administration between those who favor diplomacy and those who favor pressure. Diplomacy or pressure is not a choice; it is a sequence. The U.S. should devise a Plan A for diplomatic success to employ first, and then a contingent Plan B for pressure to use if diplomacy fails. Plan B serves two purposes: to aid Plan A by showing North Korea the penalty for failing to end its nuclear program; and to create a realistic prospect of containing and ultimately eliminating the nuclear threat from North Korea.

On Iran, to achieve any deal the U.S. government must settle on a course of action. A five-year global moratorium on all new enrichment and reprocessing, as called for by Mohammed ElBaradei, is the key. Will require international cooperation in assembling both a bundle of carrots and an arsenal of sticks. U.S., the EU3, Russia, and the IAEA need to present Iran with a bargain, packaged as an offer Iran cannot refuse. It would offer cover for Iran to comply with an international obligation without explicitly yielding to American or EU3 demands.

Expedite the Securing of all “Loose Nukes”:

Move from assistance to partnership.

Accelerate and strengthen U.S.-Russian cooperation. Build Russian commitment to sustain high levels of security once international assistance ends. Agree on what levels of security are needed and what standards should be met. Decide on specific deadlines for when all loose Russian nuclear weapons and materials will be contained and secured. Resolve remaining access and liability issues. Consolidate nuclear stockpiles. Develop nuclear “security culture.” Exchange “best practices” for securing nukes. Work together on nuclear security in the rest of the world to ensure that every weapon and every kilogram of material worldwide is secured and accounted for.

Improve Nunn-Lugar. Streamline to remove bureaucratic obstacles. Establish who is in charge.

Strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty System:

The United States should adopt four goals as U.S. policy; develop specific proposals for the U.S. to achieve each goal; and seek international support for each proposal. The four goals should be: preventing nuclear terrorism, stopping the proliferation of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capability, strengthening verification and compliance of the NPT, and preventing “breakout” of the NPT.

Democratic Daily Blog Opens

The Democratic Daily Blog has opened today at .

Writers for the blog include and Pamela Leavey and myself, with others from the old Kerry Blog also around.

As with Light Up The Darkness, which is closing at the end of this month, The Democratic Daily Blog will continue to present news on the important issues of the day, including news on John Kerry.

Of course we will continue to present information here on The Unofficial Kerry for President Blog. The Kerry Reference Library will continue to present the text of articles discussed in the blogs along with additional articles.

Dean Misquoted

I don’t usually bother to refute nonsense found on right wing blogs, but will make an exception here after seeing it included at Daou Report. Ankle Biting Pundits posts a claim that Dean “called Republicans bigots.”

I went to check their link, wading through several pages where tried to get me to sign up for tons of unwanted email offers. Ultimately I got to the actual story. Guess what. No use of the word “bigot.”

Here’s what they really report about what Dean said. Can’t find anything incorrect there:

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean told the National Council of La Raza in Philadelphia today that he expected the Republicans to “scapegoat” immigrants in the 2006 election.

In a speech to the annual convention of hispanic leaders, Dean said the GOP tried to generate fears about blacks through the quota issue in the 2002 election and about gays through the marriage issue last year.

“In 2006, it’s going to be immigrants,” he said. “You wait and see.”

Republican chairman Kenneth Mehlman, in his own address to the group, did not respond to Dean’s comments directly. He later told reporters that the allegation was “laughable” and said that President Bush had put together what Mehlman called “the most diverse administration in history.”

James Doohan 1920-2005


I first heard of the death of James Doohan (who played Scotty on Star Trek) on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Sure there’s the Supreme Court nomination, White House scandals, and other news, but they still devoted time for a tribute to James Doohan. That is just one small measure of his importance to our culture.

This was certainly not the most significant tribute which Doohan received during his life. For example, Neil Armstrong has credited him for giving him the inspiration to go into space. Scotty died on July 20, the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon.

As Scotty, Doohan provided an example that there is no problem which could not be fixed (even if we didn’t understand all the technobabble). Star Trek provides a welcome contrast to the problems we face today. In the Star Trek world, as opposed to Bush World, reason and science always triumphs over religious fanaticism. We see a philosophy of non-intervention in the affairs of others rather than senseless wars, and support for freedom over tyranny and injustice.

Roberts' Role in 2000 Election

While this might not be a direct payback for a favor, it does look like John Roberts was of great help to George Bush in the legal maneuvers to steal the 2000 election. The Dallas News Reports that, "Although his name did not appear on the briefs, three sources who were personally aware of Judge Roberts' role said he gave Republican Gov. Jeb Bush critical advice on how the Florida Legislature could constitutionally name George W. Bush the winner at a time when Republicans feared that if the recount were to continue the courts might force a different choice."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More Reports on John Roberts' Record

There's more information on Roberts in this report from Alliance for Justice prepared in 2003. (Report in pdf format).

Statement from the Alliance for Justice:


07.19.2005, Washington, DC — Washington, DC-- "At this time, Alliance for Justice cannot support Judge Roberts' elevation to the Supreme Court. While we will be conducting a complete analysis of his record on and off the bench, an initial review has led to serious concerns about whether he will be fair, independent and will protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans.

"As expressed in one case where he would have invalidated a provision of the Endangered Species Act, his exceedingly restrictive view of federal law-making authority more restrictive than the current Supreme Court's could threaten a wide swath of workplace, civil rights, public safety and environmental protections. In his years of service as a political appointee in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Judge Roberts also helped craft legal policies that sought to weaken school desegregation efforts, the reproductive rights of women, environmental protections, church-state separation and the voting rights of African Americans.

"One wonders why, unlike some reported to have been on the president's short list, Judge Roberts has the support of not only mainstream conservatives, but the radical right as well. Let?s be clear: Judge Roberts is not a stealth nominee, because the president's inner circle knows his views well, even if Americans do not. And given the administration's track record of selecting ideologically-driven, divisive candidates for the bench, it would be unsurprising if Judge Roberts embraces a judicial philosophy that is insensitive to the rights and protections that, over the past century, have brought us closer to realizing the twin ideals of freedom and equality. We hope he doesn't.

"We are eager to find out more about Judge Roberts. We expect the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully vet Judge Roberts' qualifications, background, and constitutional philosophy to see if he meets the high standards for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. As much as anything, the Senate needs to get a firmer grasp on Judge Roberts' judicial philosophy. His limited judicial experience, coupled with his work at the Justice Department in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, send some distressing signals. Furthermore, there remain many unanswered questions about his views on critical issues.

"The American people must know the whole truth before the Senate decides whether Judge Roberts should sit on our nation?s highest court for life. To that end, the Senate must vigorously exercise its advice and consent duties, and John Roberts must be fully forthcoming. Our rights and freedoms call for nothing less."

More information in this press release from People for the American Way. (Text at link or in comments)

NARAL on the Nomination of John Roberts

NARAL Pro-Choice America: Judge John Roberts an Unsuitable Choice for Supreme Court Justice

Washington, DC – NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s leading advocate for personal privacy and a woman’s right to choose, has announced that it will oppose Judge John Roberts, President Bush’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice, John Roberts, is a divisive nominee with a record of seeking to impose a political agenda on the courts, rather than a unifier Americans could trust to preserve our personal freedoms like the right to privacy and a woman's right to choose.

“Americans deserve a nominee who respects this country’s culture of freedom and personal responsibility, and who understands the profound effect his decisions have on our everyday lives,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v. Wade. President Bush has consciously chosen the path of confrontation, and he should know that we, and the 65% of Americans who support Roe, are ready for the battle ahead.”

Some of the lowlights of Judge Robert’s background include:

  • As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts argued in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court (in a case that did not implicate Roe v. Wade) that “[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled…. [T]he Court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion… finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution.”
  • In Rust v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court considered whether Department of Health and Human Services regulations limiting the ability of Title X recipients to engage in abortion-related activities violated various constitutional provisions. Roberts, appearing on behalf of HHS as Deputy Solicitor General, argued that this domestic gag rule did not violate constitutional protections.
  • Roberts, again as Deputy Solicitor General, filed a “friend of the court” brief for the United States supporting Operation Rescue and six other individuals who routinely blocked access to reproductive health care clinics, arguing that the protesters’ behavior did not amount to discrimination against women even though only women could exercise the right to seek an abortion.
  • The Court was so accustomed to the Solicitor General and the Deputy Solicitor General arguing for the overturn of Roe that during John Roberts’s oral argument before the Supreme Court in Bray, a Justice Asked, “Mr. Roberts, in this case are you asking that Roe v. Wade be overruled?” He responded, “No, your honor, the issue doesn’t even come up.” To this the justice said, “Well, that hasn’t prevented the Solicitor General from taking that position in prior cases.”


Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

Bush v. Choice Blog on the Nomination of John Roberts

Bush will nominate Roberts

We've just gotten word that President Bush will nominate conservative John Roberts to fill swing vote O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. We'll keep you posted as things develop, but here are a few lowlights to get started:

1. As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts argued in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court (in a case that did not implicate Roe v. Wade) that “[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled…. [T]he Court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion… finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution.”

2. In Rust v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court considered whether Department of Health and Human Services regulations limiting the ability of Title X recipients to engage in abortion-related activities violated various constitutional provisions. Roberts, appearing on behalf of HHS as Deputy Solicitor General, argued that this domestic gag rule did not violate constitutional protections.

3. Roberts, again as Deputy Solicitor General, filed a “friend of the court” brief for the United States supporting Operation Rescue and six other individuals who routinely blocked access to reproductive health care clinics, arguing that the protesters’ behavior did not amount to discrimination against women even though only women could exercise the right to seek an abortion.

More Statements on the Nomination of John Roberts

"The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry. The Senate must review Judge Roberts' record to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness." - Senate minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Judge Roberts is the kind of outstanding nominee that will make America proud. He embodies the qualities America expects in a justice on its highest court: someone who is fair, intelligent, impartial and committed to faithfully interpreting the Constitution and the law." - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

"We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v. Wade." - NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Roberts "rules based on the application of existing laws and specific facts of the cases before him, rather than making new laws or creating new policies based on personal opinion." - Sean Rushton, director of the conservative Committee for Justice.

"I look forward to the Committee's findings so that I can make an informed decision about whether Judge Roberts is truly a guardian of the rule of law who puts fairness and justice before ideology." - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

"Senate Democrats, especially those seeking re-election next year, should know that we will be watching them carefully. If they again attempt to attack a nominee's faith or pro-life convictions, their constituents will know about it and they will be held accountable." - Father Frank Pavone, national director, Priests for Life.

"John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues. Replacing O'Connor with someone who is not committed to upholding Americans' rights, liberties and legal protections would be a constitutional catastrophe." - Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way.

"He's the kind of judge that all of us want - someone committed to applying the law impartially rather than legislating from the bench." - Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"The burden is on a nominee to the Supreme Court to prove that he is worthy, not on the Senate to prove he is unworthy." - Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"Liberal pressure groups will insist that Senate Democrats filibuster against Judge Roberts, unless he pledges in advance to vote against allowing elected legislators to place meaningful limits on abortion." - Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

"Without prejudging the nominee, I do believe Judge Roberts' record raises questions about his commitment to the right to privacy, protection of the environment and other important issues." - Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

"I'm hopeful that in the coming weeks we can avoid vicious character assassinations and attacks in this confirmation process." - Sen. George Allen, R-Va.

"The president had an opportunity to unite the country with his Supreme Court nomination, to nominate an individual in the image of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Instead, by putting forward John Roberts' name, President Bush has chosen a more controversial nominee and guaranteed a more controversial confirmation process." - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"I can't help but think that he will continue to impress as a person of fairness, thoughtfulness and just the kind of judge who will bring a nonpolitical approach to judging. ... I think he's going to be well received." - Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

"This is a very, very activist court. I want to know whether he's going to be like that, somebody who would eagerly and willingly overturn settled law." - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"This is a task so important that partisan politics must be set aside." - Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

"I urge the Senate to move swiftly to hold hearings and give Judge Roberts an up or down vote. Quick action will ensure that both branches - the Congress and the Supreme Court - can return to their normal process without long, distracting partisan disruption." - House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

"There were a lot of unknowns about Justice Souter. He really was almost a blank slate. It's not the same with Judge Roberts. He has clearly enunciated his view of his judicial philosophy." - Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council.

Salon on the Nomination of John Roberts

John Roberts: The early read

What do we know about John Roberts, the 50-year-old D.C. Circuit judge George W. Bush has chosen as his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor?

We start with the basics. He's a Harvard Law School graduate with solid Republican credentials. He clerked for Henry Friendly and for William Rehnquist, and he worked as associate counsel to Ronald Reagan and as deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush around stints in private practice Hogan & Hartson. The former president nominated Roberts to a spot on the D.C. Circuit in 1992, but his nomination died when Bill Clinton was elected president. George W. Bush tried again in 2001. Roberts was eventually confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote in 2003.

Roberts' record as an advocate for Republican judges offers plenty of low-hanging fruit for partisans on both sides of the aisle. While the right is already praising Roberts as a solid conservative pick, progressive groups like the Alliance for Justice have argued in the past that Roberts has shown a "record of hostility to the rights of women and minorities." Arguing on behalf of the government for a roll back of abortion rights, Roberts has stated that there is "no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution" for Roe v. Wade. Roberts wrote the government's brief in Rust v. Sullivan, the 1991 case in which the Supreme Court held that government could prohibit doctors and clinics who receive federal funds from discussing abortion with their patients. In his brief, Roberts said: "We continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

In other cases -- sometimes as an advocate for the government, sometimes as a lawyer in private practice -- Roberts argued that the Supreme Court should invalidate a federal affirmative action program; that the Constitution permits religious ceremonies at public high school graduations; and that environmental groups lacked the right to sue under the Endangered Species Act.

In his confirmation hearings, Roberts will surely draw a distinction between his work as an advocate on behalf of clients and his work as a judge; Alberto Gonzales made the same argument when he tried to distance himself from some of the less savory aspects of his tenure as White House counsel when Bush nominated him to serve as attorney general.

But there are at least some signs that Roberts the judge isn't all that different from Roberts the lawyer. Although Roberts has sat on the D.C. Circuit for only two years, he has, in that short period of time, joined in a series of pro-prosecution criminal decisions; rejected a civil rights lawsuit by a young girl who was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to jail "all for," as he put it, "eating a single French fry in a Metrorail station"; and concurred in a decision that prohibited veterans of the first Gulf War from suing Iraq during the country's reconstruction.

Progressive groups will line up quickly against Roberts' nomination, and the process has already begun. In a statement just emailed to reporters, NARAL-Pro Choice America President Nancy Keenan said that her group will oppose the nomination. "We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v. Wade," Keenan said. "President Bush has consciously chosen the path of confrontation."