Friday, July 06, 2007

Truth or Consequences - or not.

Huffington Pust
Steve Rosenbaum|
Truth or Consequences - or not.

Scooter Libby broke the law. He withheld evidence. And perhaps most importantly, he continues to withhold evidence that would make it possible for prosecutors to discover who 'outed' Valerie Plame.

Maybe we don't care. Perhaps it was Carl Rove, trying to get back at Joe Wilson. Or maybe it was Dick Cheney. But in any case, it wasn't Scooter Libby. And now we'll never know.

He broke the law - and he's not going to be punished for it.

The Bush administration in the person of Tony Snow suggests that the commutation of his sentence is a 'compromise' and that Bush's right wing supporters are pushing still for a full pardon. But that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Scooter Libby isn't a poster boy for Right to Life issues, or any of the other extreme right political agenda items that would have had them calling for his pardon.

Who does Scooter Libby's commutation really serve?

One thing is clear. The Valerie Plame incident would have drawn in some of the most senior members of the administration.

Libby won't be held responsible, and he isn't alone.

He's another in a long list of Bush cronies who've broken the law, failed in their job responsibilities, been removed or resigned from office, and faced no consequences.

Remember "Brownie", Michael Brown the head of FEMA (who's previous experience was as the head of an equestrian organization). Well, under his 'leadership' people died. The country let down it's citizens. And with a hearty handshake he was out the door. Well done - Brownie!

And then there's Paul Wolfowitz, of the World Bank. He was accused of giving his girlfriend a huge raise for her work at the World Bank. He's gone. But once again, no consequences.

Or John Bolton at the UN.

Bush went so far as to put him in the job during a Senate recess, so that he could skip the confirmation process. He had lied on his application, conveniently 'forgetting' that he'd been interview by the State Department in 2003 regarding pre-war claims of Weapons of Mass destruction. And then, when it became clear that the Senate wasn't going to give him a free pass, he was out the door.

And let's not forget Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales testified before Congress: "I would never ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or that in any way would jeopardize an ongoing investigation."

But emails between Kyle Sampson ( Gonzales' chief-of-staff) White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Scott Jennings (Karl Rove's deputy) show, that's exactly what was doing. A email described the system Gonzales' DOJ would use for ranking U.S. attorneys, keeping those who "exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general" and sacking the prosecutors who "chafed against administration initiatives."

So, what is the impact of lying to Congress? It appears there are no consequences.

There are more, of course:

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias resigned, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service, further ratcheting up the pressure on the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to stand down.

Monica Goodling, a senior adviser to Mr Gonzales and the justice department's conduit to the White House, resigned, and gave no reason for her decision.

Philip Cooney, chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, abruptly resigned - he was the official involved in deleting of dire climate change warnings from US government reports.

But President Bush's decision to commute Libby's sentence takes the entire parade of lies, obfuscation, and legal gamesmanship to a new level. It's clear that Bush didn't have any first hand knowledge of Libby's relative guilt or innocence. Instead, Bush pointed to the 30 month sentence as being excessive. Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor who prosecuted the case said before the sentencing: "We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much."

But it appears that's not the case.


GOP Congressman Doolittle Joins Sen. Domenici in Breaking With White House on War

Editor and Publisher
GOP Congressman Joins Sen. Domenici in Breaking With White House on War
By E&P Staff

ALBUQUERQUE Rep. John Doolittle, a consevative California congressman, today joined others in his party rapidly deserting the president on the Iraq war.

At a town hall meeting in Rocklin and then in a meeting with the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee he questioned whether the conflict was worth the loss of more American lives. He said U.S. troops should be pulled back from the front lines "as soon as possible" and the fighting turned over to Iraqi forces.

A longtime supporter of the war, Doolittle called the situation in Iraq a "quagmire" on Thursday. "We've got to get off the front lines as soon as possible," Doolittle said at Rocklin City Hall, the Bee reported. "And in my mind that means something like the end of the year. We just can't continue to tolerate these kinds of losses."

Earlier today, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) also called for a change in course in U.S. military strategy in Iraq — without waiting for the September report on the "surge." He joined other Republican senators as Richard Lugar who have recently broken with the White House on this issue.

Domenici said he supports a bipartisan Senate bill which backs the recent report by the Iraq Study Group and would create conditions that could allow for a drawdown of U.S. combat forces in Iraq by next March.

Parents of New Mexico's military war dead in the past told him the U.S. should stay in Iraq as long as it takes, Domenici said. Those same parents are asking him to do more to bring troops home sooner, he added.

His office released the statement below.

Pointing to his profound disappointment in the Iraqi government, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today called for a redirection of U.S. military policy in Iraq and announced his support for bipartisan legislation to create conditions by which American combat troops can be removed from that nation.

Domenici, who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced his decision to support the legislation, the Iraq Study Group Recommendation Implementation Act (S.1545), at a news conference in Albuquerque Thursday.

"I want a new strategy for Iraq. I continue to completely support the men and women in the American Armed Forces. They have not failed us. It is the Iraqi government that is failing to make even modest progress to help Iraq itself or to merit the sacrifices being made by our men and women in uniform," Domenici said. "I am unwilling to continue our current strategy."

"I have carefully studied the Iraq situation, and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward," Domenici said. "I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home."

S.1545, introduced by Senators Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), embraces the recommendations in the Iraq Study Group Report issued by the bipartisan Baker Hamilton Commission. The bill makes the Iraq Study Group's 79 recommendations the policy of the United States, and asks the Bush administration-working with military and diplomatic leaders-to implement those recommendations.

The bill is intended to create conditions that could allow for a drawdown of American combat forces in Iraq by March 2008. Under S.1545, the U.S. military could maintain a long-term but more limited presence in Iraq-focused on protecting American personnel and interests, training and advising Iraqi forces, and carrying out counterterrorism and special operations missions.

Domenici indicated that the provisions in S.1545 could be debated as part of the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill that the Senate will take up next week.

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Should Vice President Cheney Be Impeached? Hank Johnson Says Yes, Barack Obama Says No

Should Vice President Cheney Be Impeached? Hank Johnson Says Yes, Barack Obama Says No
By: Michael H. Cottman

Saying Vice President Dick Cheney deliberately mislead the American people about the U.S. government’s role in Iraq, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said Tuesday he felt compelled to sign a House resolution to impeach Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Johnson, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told that he is fed up with the Vice President operating as if he is above the law.

"I wanted to send a clear and distinct message that I’m sick and tired of the incompetence, arrogance, secrecy and lawlessness in the Executive Branch and I think it’s appropriate for me to direct my ire to Cheney through the impeachment resolution," Johnson said in an interview.

Johnson said he is "more committed" than ever to support the resolution, particularly after President George W. Bush on Tuesday left open the possibility of an eventual pardon for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former White House aide and Cheney’s chief of staff.

"As to the future, I rule nothing in and nothing out," the president said a day after commuting Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case. Bush said he had weighed his decision carefully to erase Libby's prison time for lying and obstruction of justice. He said the jury's conviction of Libby should stand but the prison term was too severe.

With prison seeming all but certain for Libby, Bush’s move came just five hours after a federal appeals court panel ruled that Libby could not delay the start of his sentence. The Bureau of Prisons had already assigned Libby a prison identification number.

"Now comes Scooter Libby, who is allowed to scoot free in the face of the American public," Johnson said. "The vice president’s hand is still at work."

Johnson acknowledged that impeachment proceedings may not go forward, but said, "Anything is possible. I’m finding that the American people are equally as frustrated as I am [at Cheney], and they want Democrats to take strong action."

The resolution, introduced in April by president candidate Rep. Dennis J, Kucinich (D-OH), states that the vice president has "purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive" citizens and the Congress by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

"It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers of war against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war, again based on false pretenses," Kucinich told reporters in April.

"It's not appropriate for the government to lie to people," Kucinich said. "It is wrong for government officials -- you know, the vice president, in this case -- to take this nation into war based on lies."

"And so, again, this becomes a question of who we are as a people," the congressman added. "And so this resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment against the Vice President, will let future generations know that no one is above the law of this country and that Congresses have the specific responsibility to provide a check to administrative abuse of power."

Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Cheney reads in part:

"In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests, to wit:

"Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Vice President actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction..."

"Preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq the Vice President was fully informed that no legitimate evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Vice President pressured the intelligence community to change their findings to enable the deception of the citizens and Congress of the United States."

However, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Cheney.

Obama said he would not back such a move, although he has been distressed by the "loose ethical standards, the secrecy and incompetence" of a "variety of characters" in the administration.

"There's a way to bring an end to those practices, you know: Vote the bums out," the top-tier presidential candidate said, without naming Bush or Cheney. "That's how our system is designed."

The term for Bush and Cheney ends on Jan. 20, 2009. Bush cannot constitutionally run for a third term, and Cheney has said he will not run to succeed Bush.

Obama, a Harvard law school graduate and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said impeachment should not be used as a standard political tool.

Meanwhile, a vocal coalition of Cheney critics are calling for impeaching the Vice President, including Democrats, citizen groups, political and community organizations and websites, including

"In the end," writes Bruce Fein for, "President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law."

Said Johnson in a statement: "This vice president has continually operated in the shadows -- beyond the view of the American public. I intend to hold him accountable to the same high standards that we must all uphold. We all acknowledge that he is the most powerful vice president in the history of this nation, however, he is not above or beyond the law."


Associated Press contributed to this story.


Bush-Cheney Offshore Oil Plan Challenged in Court

ENS Newswire
Bush-Cheney Offshore Oil Plan Challenged in Court

WASHINGTON, DC, July 5, 2007 (ENS) - The Bush administration's nationwide plan governing the sale of all offshore oil and gas leases in federal waters over the next five years is facing a legal challenge from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, raises claims under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

The Minerals Management Service's 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program was approved by Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne last Friday.

The program, effective July 1, schedules 21 lease sales in eight planning areas across the nation. Twelve sales are scheduled for the Gulf of Mexico, eight off the coast of Alaska, and one off the coast of Virginia.

In addition to fouling some of the most pristine and sensitive marine habitat in the country, the program would generate more than four billion tons of greenhouse gases over the expected life of the leases, the conservation group warns.

The lawsuit alleges that even though the leasing program will result in more greenhouse gas emissions than virtually any other single federal approval, the administration did not study the environmental consequences of emissions from the program.

"This plan is the culmination of the Cheney energy policy," said Kassie Siegel, climate program director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "It will further our national addiction to fossil fuels, contribute to global warming, and at the same time directly despoil the habitat of polar bears and other imperiled wildlife."

Five of the proposed lease sales would be in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska, turning prime polar bear habitat into a polluted industrial zone. Oil development in the Beaufort Sea would likely also be visible from the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

An additional lease sale proposed in Alaska's Bristol Bay is within critical habitat for the North Pacific right whale, the world's most endangered whale, while two lease sales are proposed for Cook Inlet, home to endangered beluga whales and sea otters.

"Short of sending Dick Cheney to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the administration could not have come up with a more environmentally destructive plan for endangered marine mammals," said Brendan Cummings, ocean program director of the Center. "Yet the administration did not even analyze, much less attempt to avoid, the impacts of oil development on endangered wildlife."

In addition to its contribution to global warming and severe impacts on marine mammals, the leasing program would hurt commercial fisheries and subsistence activities in Alaska.


House Balks at Bush Order for New Powers

House Balks at Bush Order for New Powers
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush this month is giving an obscure White House office new powers over regulations affecting health, worker safety and the environment.

Calling it a power grab, Democrats running Congress are intent on stopping him.

The House voted last week to prohibit the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from spending federal money on Executive Order 13422, signed by Bush last January and due to take effect July 24.

The order requires federal officials to show that private companies, people or institutions failed to address a problem before agencies can write regulations to tackle it. It also gives political appointees greater authority over how the regulations are written.

The House measure ''stops this president or any president from seizing the power to rewrite almost every law that Congress passes, laws that protect public health, the environment, safety, civil rights, privacy and on and on,'' said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., its sponsor.

''OIRA has quietly grown into the most powerful regulatory agency in Washington,'' the House Science investigations subcommittee, chaired by Miller, said in a report in April.

The administration contends Bush's order merely strengthens a similar directive issued by President Clinton in 1993 giving the White House budget office oversight of federal agency rulemaking.

Andrea Wuebker, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, which manages the White House regulatory affairs office, said the order, along with an OMB good guidance bulletin, ''will help increase the quality, accountability and transparency of agency guidance documents.''

Bush's executive order:

--Requires agencies to identify ''market failures,'' where the private sector fell short in dealing with a problem, as a factor in proposing a rule. The White House regulatory affairs office is given authority to assess those conclusions.

--States that no rulemaking can go forward without the approval of an agency's Regulatory Policy Office, to be headed by a presidential appointee.

--Directs each agency to provide an estimate of costs and benefits of regulations.

--Requires agencies to inform the White House regulatory affairs office of proposed significant guidance documents on complying with rules. Critics say this will create a new bottleneck delaying the issuance of guidelines needed to comply with federal regulations.

''This can only further delay implementing health, safety and environmental protections,'' said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a private watchdog group that joined numerous labor and good-government groups, including the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists, in opposing Bush's order.

Miller tried unsuccessfully at a hearing in April to persuade the White House regulatory affairs office's former acting administrator, Steven Aitken, to reveal what private groups might have been involved in rewriting the Clinton-era order.

Aitken stressed that the Clinton order also used market failure as a criteria in advancing new rules and directing agencies to appoint regulatory policy officers, many of whom were political appointees. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., backed Aitken up at the hearing.

''The pattern is that we are challenging the president's authority, hoping to find a mistake and then making a lot of political hay about it,'' Rohrabacher said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted in an analysis last February that President Reagan made the White House regulatory affairs office the central clearinghouse for substantive rulemaking, reviewing 2,000 to 3,000 proposed regulations per year. With Clinton's 1993 order, White House reviews of proposed regulations dropped to between 500 and 700 a year, the researchers said.

Bill Kovacs, vice president for regulatory affairs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the White House's regulatory affairs office now has about 35 people to keep track of the 4,000 rules federal agencies issue every year.

''It's only reasonable that you have some way of monitoring what your agencies are doing,'' Kovacs said, adding that the White House needs to assert control over the process.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bush, Cheney should resign
Olbermann: Bush, Cheney should resign
‘I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.’
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That—on this eve of the 4th of July—is the essence of this democracy, in 17 words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those 17 words—improbably enough—was the actor John Wayne. And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.

“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier, but there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice: The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world—but merely that we may function.

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne, is an implicit trust—a sacred trust: That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and earlier than most.

And in circumstances more tragic and threatening. And we did that with which history tasked us.

We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison—at the Constitutional Convention—said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish—the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens—the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics. The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing—or a permanent Democratic majority—is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our Democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove. And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government. But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment. The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and quaint.

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws. The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable fairness of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously.

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

And in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate—instantaneously—became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law of insisting—in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood - that he was the law.

Not the Constitution. Not the Congress. Not the Courts. Just him.

Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, of your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy. These are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush—and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal—the average citizen understands that, Sir.

It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one—and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency. And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history. Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush. And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney. You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday. Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters. Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.

But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them—or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them—we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time—and our leaders in Congress, of both parties—must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach—get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone—anyone—about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”


Libby move helps seal Bush's legacy

Libby move helps seal Bush's legacy
By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush refused to rule out a pardon for former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby on Tuesday, a day after sparing him from prison in a case that helped seal Bush's Iraq legacy and gave ammunition to Democrats.

Bush, who angered Democrats but reassured conservatives by saving Libby from serving a 2-1/2 year prison sentence, told reporters who asked about an eventual full pardon: "As to the future I rule nothing in and nothing out."

Bush's elimination of Libby's prison sentence -- while leaving intact a $250,000 fine and two-year probation -- was seen in Washington as an act of loyalty by an unpopular president trying to repair ties with disaffected conservatives who had pressed him to keep Libby out of jail.

There were comparisons to pardons issued by his father, President George H.W. Bush, in 1992 to key figures in the Iran-contra scandal -- former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and State Department official Elliott Abrams.

The decision was also likened to President Bill Clinton's 11th-hour pardon in 2001 of financier Marc Rich from tax-evasion charges.

Libby was saved from a jail term for his conviction in March on charges of lying and obstruction of justice in an investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Plame. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, questioned evidence used to justify the Iraq war.

"It closes one chapter of the sort of life-draining issue of George W. Bush and Iraq," said presidential historian Stephen Hess. "It's totally in keeping with everything he's done up to now, including his sense of loyalty to his people."

Hess said Bush's move will eventually be seen as a footnote to a legacy that will feature Iraq prominently.

But for now the decision has embittered Democrats, sharpening a sense that bipartisan compromises may be elusive in the president's remaining 18 months in office.

"Will it have an impact? Absolutely. How much of one I can't tell yet," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Bush argued that Libby's 30-month prison sentence was excessive. But prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who brought the case against Libby, said the sentence was fair given the seriousness of the crime.

In light of Bush's highly unusual decision to scrap Libby's prison term, the federal judge who imposed the sentence issued an order directing Libby's lawyers and the prosecutor to clarify exactly when Libby would be required to begin his probation.

"Strictly construed, the statue authorizing the imposition of supervised release indicates that such release should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton wrote, ordering the lawyers to respond by Monday.

Democratics found in Bush's move a reason to rally the party's faithful. New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer issued a statement asking supporters to sign a petition of outrage. "Tell President Bush you are appalled by his actions," said the e-mail, which did not ask for donations.

The Libby move was an unknown factor on the Republican campaign trail.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and prospective candidate Fred Thompson of Tennessee issued statements of support. Others were more circumspect, and Arizona Sen. John McCain was conspicuously silent on the issue.

The Bush decision appealed to the conservative base that can be key to Republican presidential primary elections. But it could be more problematic for Republicans in the general-election campaign, in which candidates typically move toward the center.

(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush won't rule out Libby pardon

Yahoo! News
Bush won't rule out Libby pardon
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

President Bush on Tuesday refused to rule out an eventual pardon for former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"As to the future, I rule nothing in and nothing out," the president said a day after commuting Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

Bush said he had weighed his decision carefully to erase Libby's prison time. He said the jury's conviction of Libby should stand but that the 30-month prison term was too severe.

"I made a judgment, a considered judgment, that I believe was the right decision to make in this case," the president said. "And I stand by it." At the same time, he left the door open for the possibility of a pardon later.

Bush spoke to reporters Tuesday after visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His decision was roundly criticized by Democrats; Republicans were more subdued, with some welcoming the decision and but some conservatives saying he should have gone further.

Earlier Tuesday, chief Bush spokesman Tony Snow had declined to rule out the possibility of an eventual pardon and called the president satisfied with his decision to commute Libby's 2 1/2-year prison sentence.

"He thought any jail time was excessive. He did not see fit to have Scooter Libby taken to jail," Snow said.

The spokesman told reporters at a White House briefing that even with Bush's decision, Libby remains with a felony conviction on his record, two years' probation, a $250,000 fine and probable loss of his legal career. "So this is hardly a slap on the wrist," Snow said. "It is a very severe penalty.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who sentenced Libby to prison, declined Tuesday to discuss the case or his views on sentencing. "To now say anything about sentencing on the heels of yesterday's events will inevitably be construed as comments on the president's commutation decision, which would be inappropriate," the judge said in an e-mail.

With prison seeming all but certain for Libby, Bush on Monday suddenly spared the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. His move came just five hours after a federal appeals court panel ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term. The Bureau of Prisons had already assigned Libby a prison identification number.

Snow was pressed several times on whether the president might eventually grant a full pardon to Libby, who had been convicted of lying and conspiracy in the CIA leak investigation. The press secretary declined to say anything categorically.

"The reason I will say I'm not going to close a door on a pardon is simply this: that Scooter Libby may petition for one," Snow said. "But the president has done what he thinks is appropriate to resolve this case."

"There is always a possibility — or there's an avenue open — for anybody to petition for consideration of a pardon," he added.

Snow did suggest that Bush was "getting pounding on the right for not granting a full pardon."

Asked whether Cheney — who calls Libby a friend and who has enormous influence within the White house — had pressed for Bush to commute Libby's sentence, Snow said, "I don't have direct knowledge. But on the other hand, the president did consult with most senior officials, and I'm sure that everybody had an opportunity to share their views."

"I'm sure that the vice president may have expressed an opinion ... he may of recused himself. I honestly don't know," Snow said.

However, the president made the decision without seeking any advice from the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Justice Department, the White House had previously acknowledged.

Snow defended Bush's decision to not follow the usual course of running the matter past the Justice Department, saying details of the case were still fresh in everybody's mind, and that the president did not need to be brought up to date on details of the case.

Democrats have charged cronyism in sparing Libby jail time. But Snow said, "The president does not look upon this as granting a favor to anyone, and to do that is to misconstrue the nature of the deliberations."

"He spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to maintain the faith in the jury system, and he did that by keeping intact the conviction and some of the punishments," Snow said.

Snow was asked by a reporter if anyone in the administration would ever apologize for what prompted the entire investigation — public disclosure that Valerie Plame, the wife of sharp anti-war critic Joseph Wilson, was an undercover CIA officer.

"Yeah, it's improper to be leaking those names," Snow said. Pressed on whether someone in the administration owed the American public an apology, Snow said, "I'll apologize. Done."

Wilson, meanwhile, suggested the president's decision was a cover-up attempt to protect Cheney and perhaps his own office. He said Congress should investigate whether the president and Cheney were obstructing justice. "It's about them," Wilson told MSNBC from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wilson, Plame and their children moved to Santa Fe earlier this year.

In an interview with APTN, Wilson called Bush's action "a continuation of the cover up for which Scooter Libby was originally convicted."

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disputed Bush's assertion that the prison term was excessive. Libby was sentenced under the same laws as other criminals, Fitzgerald said. "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals."

Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells, said in a statement that the Libby family was grateful for Bush's action and continued to believe in his innocence.

Because he was not pardoned, Libby remains the highest-ranking White House official convicted of a crime since the Iran-Contra affair.

That didn't stop an avalanche of criticism from Democrats.

"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's decision showed the president "condones criminal conduct."


Associated Press Writer Ben Feller contributed to this report.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush commutes Libby prison sentence

Yahoo! News
Bush commutes Libby prison sentence
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case Monday, stepping into a criminal case with heavy political overtones on grounds that the sentence was just too harsh.

Bush's move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, and Bush said his action still "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby."

Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative's identity. He was the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.

Reaction was harsh from Democrats.

"As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said through a spokesman.

Libby's supporters celebrated.

"That's fantastic. It's a great relief," said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who helped raise millions for Libby's defense fund. "Scooter Libby did not deserve to go to prison and I'm glad the president had the courage to do this."

A message seeking comment from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's office was not immediately returned.

Bush said Cheney's former aide was not getting off free.

"The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged," Bush said. "His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting."

A spokeswoman for Cheney said simply, "The vice president supports the president's decision."

The president's announcement came just as prison seemed likely for Libby. He recently lost an appeals court fight that was his best chance to put the sentence on hold, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had already designated him inmate No. 28301-016.

Bush's statement made no mention of the term "pardon," and he made clear that he was not willing to wipe away all penalties for Libby.

The president noted Libby supporters' argument that the punishment did not fit the crime for a "first-time offender with years of exceptional public service."

Yet, he added, "Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable."

Bush then stripped away the prison time.

The leak case has hung over the White House for years. After CIA operative Valerie Plame's name appeared in a 2003 syndicated newspaper column, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald questioned top administration officials, including Bush and Cheney, about their possible roles.

Nobody was ever charged with the leak, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage or White House political adviser Karl Rove, who provided the information for the original article. Prosecutors said Libby obstructed the investigation by lying about how he learned about Plame and whom he told.

Plame believes Libby and other White House officials conspired to leak her identity to reporters in 2003 as retribution against her husband, Joseph Wilson, who criticized what he said was the administration's misleading use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Attorney William Jeffress said he had spoken to Libby briefly by phone and "I'm happy at least that Scooter will be spared any prison time. ... The prison sentence was imminent but obviously the conviction itself is a heavy blow to Scooter."


Associated Press Writer Matt Appuzo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.


Bush Provokes Britain's Terrorists With: "This is Amateur Time!"

Huffington Post
Linda Milazzo
Bush Provokes Britain's Terrorists With: "This is Amateur Time!"

With Great Britain under extreme alert after three car bomb attempts over the past two days, George W. Bush and his high level White House cohorts are doing their utmost to goad the terrorists to try harder next time. To be more "PROFESSIONAL" in their planning. To detonate bombs that are certain to cause harm.

By all accounts, the failed detonations of the two cars in London and the blazing SUV in Scotland weren't huge or impressive enough for Bush and his buddies. They didn't do enough damage. They didn't produce real harm. They weren't "PROFESSIONAL" enough to get America's attention.

The underlying message: to be worth your salt as terrorists, you'll have to do better next time! Another case of: "Bring it on!"

Rather than supporting the Brits and their new Prime Minister by publicly commiserating with them on the tragedies that were averted, Bush and his buddies have once again chosen the most irrational, incompetent course. They've called the terrorists "AMATEURS" to encourage their devising more sophistocated methods next time.

Bring it on!

In the six and a half years George W. Bush has been President, he and his Administration have never had a logical, well-reasoned, legitimate or successful response to any situation. He failed miserably after 9/11. He attacked Afghanistan, but failed to capture the orchestrators of the World Trade Center's demise. He unnecessarily invaded and occupied Iraq, destroyed its infrastructure, killed thousands of Americans, and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who survived Saddam, but succumbed to him. And he's made America the most reviled nation in the world.

Now once again, in the aftermath of a critical incident that requires a sound leadership response, George W. Bush makes another illogical and counter-productive choice. He faults the terrorists for failing, giving them impetus to improve their attacks.

Could he be more inept? Could he be more dangerous? Could he be more ill-suited for his job?

In lieu of goading for more successful terrorism, George Bush should contact the new Prime Minister to offer moral support. He should state publicly to the Brits that he's pleased no innocents were harmed. He should instruct potential attackers that all human life, including their own, is too precious to sacrifice in so heinous a way. In other words, George Bush should deliver an adult, reasoned, moral message - and not antagonize the frey.

But naturally Mr. Bush isn't doing anything of the sort.

Instead he's playing with his boat and his bicycle in Kennebunkport, looking into the eyes of Vladimir Putin to once again "know his heart," and childishly snubbing the new British Prime Minister for taking his Tony's job.

How long will our nation permit this grievous incompetent to remain in office? Every second he's there our nation and our world fall further apart.

I. I. I. I. -- Invoke, Impeach, Indict and Imprison George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It can't happen a moment too soon!