.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Root Root Root for the Home Team

“The Democratic-controlled Senate ignored a veto threat and voted Thursday for a bill requiring President Bush to start withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within four months, dealing a sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.
The vote came shortly after Bush, in a move that his aides said was unprecedented, invited all House Republicans to the White House to appear with him in a sort of pep rally to bolster his position in the continuing war policy fight.”

“A pep rally? I guess that Fearless Leader has finally figured out how to properly use his talents.” -Skippy

“Bush became a big brother to four other Bush kids. Then, at 15, he left home to start on the traditional family educational track at an elite prep school in the East, Phillips Andover. George Sr. had been a baseball star wearing the Andover ‘A.’ Bush also played baseball, but mostly made his mark as a cheerleader for the teams.”
-CNN Special Report, October 29, 2000

“See? There is so much to root for; whether you are there to support the Administration…”

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales falsely denied he was deeply involved in the firing of eight federal prosecutors, his former top aide said Thursday, adding that the final decision on who was to be dismissed was made by Gonzales and President Bush’s former counsel.”
-NBC News, March 29, 2007

“…or there to support the War in Iraq…”

“A series of car bomb blasts at a Baghdad market and a Shiite town north of the capital killed at least 100 people Thursday, police and hospital sources said.”
-MSNBC, March 29, 2007

“…you’ll be happy to know that supporting Fearless Leader is the same thing as supporting the good work that we are doing overseas spreading peace and harmony in the Middle East...”

“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arab leaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq is ‘illegal,’ and he warned that unless Arab governments settle their differences, foreign powers like the United States would continue to dictate the region’s politics.

The king’s speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit meeting here, underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration as the Saudis take on a greater regional leadership role, partly at American urging. The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to the policies of their longtime ally.”
-New York Times, March 28, 2007

“…and making Iraq a better place to be.”

“Policemen who took part in the reprisal shootings of scores of men in northwest Iraq this week were arrested but then freed again to prevent unrest, the provincial governor said on Thursday.

Hours after truck bombs killed 85 people on Tuesday in a Shi'ite area of Tal Afar, up to 70 Sunni Arab men were shot dead in a town which only a year ago was held up by U.S. President George W. Bush as an example of progress towards peace.”
-Reuters, March 29, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Straight Shooting His Mouth Off

“U.S. commanders in Iraq won’t know until at least autumn when they can begin to bring troop levels back down, the chief spokesman told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
The overall U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, will want to sustain the momentum that has been gained in the Baghdad security offensive by keeping five added Army combat brigades in place, Maj. Gen. William C. Caldwell said.
‘I think it’ll be fall before General Petraeus can make a decision on whether he wants to bring down his force level,’ Caldwell said in an interview in Dubai.”
-Associated Press, March 28, 2007

“The ‘surge’ is going to last at least ten months. In other words, the temporary increase in troop levels is going to last at least twice as long as we were originally told the entire war would last..”

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, November 15, 2002

“This surge plan though is our last, best, hope for peace. So sayeth Senator John McCain.”

“McCain, a front-running GOP presidential hopeful for 2008, said the U.S. must send an overwhelming number of troops to stabilize Iraq or face more attacks — in the region and possibly on American soil.
‘I believe the consequences of failure are catastrophic,’ said McCain, R-Ariz. ‘It will spread to the region. You will see Iran more emboldened. Eventually, you could see Iran pose a greater threat to the state of Israel.’
With about 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq more than 3 1/2 years into the war, the American military has strained to provide enough forces while allowing for adequate rest and retraining between deployments.
But McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after his Navy plane was shot down in 1967, recalled the Vietnam War's lessons. ‘We left Vietnam. It was over. We just had to heal the wounds of war,’ he said. ‘We leave this place, chaos in the region, and they'll follow us home. So there's a great deal more at stake here in this conflict, in my view, a lot more.’
McCain said he based his judgment partly on the writings of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. air raid, and of Osama bin Laden.”
-Associated Press, November 19, 2006

“Yes, based on the writings of Osama and the now-dead al-Zarqawi McCain is confident that we need the surge.”

"The consequences of failure are catastrophic because if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."
-Senator John McCain, March 28, 2007

“Aaaaah! Zombie terrorists! Run away! Find a safe place to hide! We need to find somewhere to keep our troops safe too.”

“There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today."
-Senator John McCain, March 26, 2007

“Really? In Baghdad? Are you serious?”

“BLITZER: Sen. John McCain suggests that is crackdown is already working. I asked him about that in the last hour.
[BLITZER CLIP]: Here’s what you told Bill Bennett on his radio show on Monday. ‘There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today. The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq.’
Everything we hear if you leave the so-called Green Zone, the international zone, and you go outside of that secure area, relatively speaking, you’re in trouble if you’re an American.
[McCAIN CLIP]: That’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf. General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media. But I know for a fact that much of the success we’re experiencing, including the ability of Americans in many parts. Not all, we have a long, long way to go. We’ve only got two of the five brigades here to go into some neighborhoods in Baghdad in a secure fashion.
BLIZTER: Sen. John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate speaking here in The Situation Room within the past hour. Let’s go live to Baghdad right now. CNN’s Michael Ware is standing by. Michael, you’ve been there for four years, you’re walking around Baghdad on a daily basis. Has there been this improvement that Sen. McCain is speaking about?
WARE: Well, I’d certainly like to bring Sen. McCain up to speed if he ever gives me the opportunity. And if I have any difficulty hearing you right now Wolf, that’s because of the helicopters circling overhead and the gun battle that is blazing away just a few blocks down the road. Is Baghdad any safer? Sectarian violence, one particular type of violence, is down. But none of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Sen. McCain’s confidence. I mean, Sen. McCain’s credibility now on Iraq, which has been so solid to this point, is now being left out hanging to dry. To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I’d love Sen. McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.
And to think that Gen. David Petraeus travels this city in an unarmed humvee? I mean, in the hour since Sen. McCain’s said this, I’ve spoken to military sources and there was laughter down the line. I mean, certainly the general travels in a humvee. There’s multiple humvees around it, heavily armed. There’s attack helicopters, predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection. So, no, Sen. McCain is way off base on this one.”
-CNN, March 27, 2007

“Huh.. That doesn’t sound too safe to me. Maybe it was a problem with translation or something to do with our biased media.”

“CNN’S JOHN ROBERTS: I wanted to talk to you about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room. I want to play this back for you. You had this to say about the situation there.
[McCAIN CLIP]: General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.
ROBERTS: Senator, did you mean to say that, that General Petraeus goes out every day in an unarmed humvee?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I mean that there are neighborhoods safe in Iraq and he does go out into Baghdad and the fact is there has been significant progress and people are stuck in a time warp of three months ago. Of course, it’s still dangerous. Of course it’s still very dangerous. We only have two of the five brigades there and we are already seeing significant progress.
ROBERTS: Because I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee. You also told Bill Bennett on his radio program on Monday. You said there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhood today yet retired General Barry McCaffrey said no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection. We’ve got two different stories here. Who’s right?
McCAIN: Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn’t say that. “
-CNN, March 28, 2007

“I guess that what Mr. McCain meant is that you can walk through some of the neighborhoods as long as you have a military battalion with you and air coverage. You know, I feel safer already.”

“Two Americans, a contractor and a soldier, were killed in a rocket attack on the heavy guarded Green Zone on Tuesday, according to statements from the U.S. Embassy and the military.
Five other people were wounded, one contractor who was seriously hurt and three with slight wounds. A second soldier also was wounded in the attack, but the military did not give a condition.
Insurgents and militia fighters routinely fire rockets and mortars into the Green Zone, the nominally secure area in central Baghdad that is site of the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government and parliament. The attacks seldom cause casualties or damage because they are poorly aimed and the zone contains much open space.”
-Associated Press, March 27, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: The Best Defense

“Q Doesn't this go against the will of the American people who want to pull out?
MS. PERINO: I think the President has been very clear that they don't want to pull out if it means losing. And the President has said that --
Q How does losing -- losing what?
MS. PERINO: The President has made it clear that the goal is to make sure that we can stabilize Baghdad, especially, so that the politicians in Baghdad can do the work that they need to do in order to reconcile politically and get the economic engine going, so that the security situation can not only stabilize in Baghdad, but then spread throughout the country.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesperson Dana Perino, March 27, 2007

“Translation: We aren’t leaving until security in Iraq can be stabilized. We need the Iraqis to step up and do their part. It will be tough, but the Iraqi police force is ready to do their part to help stamp out civil war in Iraq.”

“Off-duty Shiite policemen enraged by massive bombings in the northern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there on Wednesday, killing at least 45 men, police and hospital officials said.
The policemen began roaming the town’s Sunni neighborhoods on foot early in the morning, shooting at Sunni residents and homes.
A senior hospital official in Tal Afar said at least 45 men ages 15 to 60 were killed and four others were wounded.”
-MSNBC, March 28, 2007

“See? If they murder all the Sunnis in cold blood there won’t be a civil war. Simple.”

“The attacks follow an upsurge in violence in Baghdad and outside the capital in recent days. U.S. and Iraqi security forces have deployed thousands more soldiers in Baghdad to try to stem a sectarian war threatening to tear the country apart.
In Tuesday’s truck bombings in Tal Afar, one suicide bomber lured victims to buy wheat loaded on his truck in a Shiite neighborhood. A second truck bomb exploded in a used car lot. The attacks killed 63 people and wounded more than 150.
In 2006, President Bush held up Tal Afar as an example of progress being made in Iraq after U.S.-led forces freed it from al-Qaida in an offensive the previous year.”
-MSNBC, March 28, 2007

“Ah yes. Sweet progress.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: I Know Nothing.. Nothing!

“The Bush administration has been caught telling yet another falsehood (domestic-politics category, as opposed to the Iraq-war category).
Thanks to the latest Friday night document dump, let's just simply compare what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on March 13, and what he did last Nov. 27.
On March 13, he felt compelled to address the burgeoning evidence that eight U.S. attorneys (all Republicans) had been fired in an unprecedented fashion for failing to politicize their offices sufficiently and aid the GOP at election time. Gonzales denied he had played any role in the firings. Here was the money quote: ‘We never had a discussion about where things stood.’
Now it turns out, courtesy of an item on the Justice Department calendar that Gonzales met with his top aides Nov. 27, to have a discussion about where things stood. They met in a Justice conference room at 9 a.m., and the title of the meeting was ‘U.S. Attorney Appointments.’ The firings were engineered on Dec. 7.
Naturally, a Justice spokeswoman said Friday night that there was absolutely no conflict between what Gonzales said on March 13 and what he did last Nov. 27, but if you're prepared to believe that, I have some Saddam Hussein WMD to sell you.”
-Philadelphia Inquirer, March 27, 2007

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' liaison with the White House will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.
In an interview with NBC News, Gonzales said Monday he was ‘really pained’ by Republicans and Democrats alike who widely say the attorney general has lost his credibility.
Goodling's statement contradicted her boss' promise to allow his top aides to testify before Congress, voluntarily and under oath.
John Dowd, Goodling's lawyer, suggested in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that the Democrat-led panel has laid what amounts to a perjury trap for his client.
Goodling, one of several aides involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer senators' questions.
‘The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real,’ Dowd said. Goodling was key to the Justice Department's political response to the growing controversy. She took a leave of absence last week.”
-Associated Press, March 25, 2007

“How many times do I need to tell you?.. There is nothing unusual about the attorney firings! People plead the Fifth Amendment all the time, so there is nothing unusual there, and yes, it is true that if she answered honestly she would be in legal jeopardy for perjuring herself before Congress, but so what?
You’d think that someone in the Administration finally remembering what the Constitution says would make you people happy, but nooooo..
Let’s just ask Alberto one more time and let him clear all of this up.”

“ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I asked for their resignation not for improper reasons. I would never have asked for their resignations to interfere with a public corruption case or in any way to interfere with an ongoing investigation. I just wouldn't do that. And if you look carefully at the documentation we've provided to Congress, there's no evidence of that....
I directed the Department officials participate in interviews and hearings before the Congress. As I've indicated, I've asked OPR to be involved, to work with the Office of Inspector General so we can reassure the American public that nothing improper happened here. I've got nothing to hide in terms of what I've done. And we now want to reassure the American public that nothing improper happened here.
If I find out that, in fact, any of these decisions were motivated, the recommendations to me were motivated for improper reasons to interfere with the public corruption case, there will be swift and -- there will be swift and decisive action. I can assure you that.
PETE WILLIAMS: Meaning people would be fired?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Absolutely. Because there is no place for that. Our prosecutors have to-- there has to be no question about the integrity, the professionalism, undue influence of prosecutions in connection with public corruption kinds of cases. And if I find out that any of that occurred here involving the Department of Justice officials, yes, they will be removed.”
-NBC News Interview with Alberto Gonzales, March 26, 2007

“See? Alberto had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t involved in the decisions going on in his office, and if he finds out that something political went on he will immediately fire those involved, just like Fearless Leader did in the Valerie Plame case.”

“President Bush said Tuesday he welcomes a Justice Department investigation into who revealed the classified identity of a CIA operative.
‘If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,’ Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. ‘If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of. ‘”
-CNN, February 11, 2004

“President Bush appeared to backtrack Monday from his 2004 pledge to fire anyone involved in leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.”
-CNN, July 19, 2005

“What? No one was fired? Rove still works there? Hmm…
Well, regardless, at least you know that Alberto Gonzales was not involved in a cover-up about the political firings. He was just completely unaware of what was going on in the Justice Department that he was heading, and you can’t be upset with a guy for not being aware of crimes that his underlings were performing. Heck, if you had to take responsibility for what those working for you did Fearless Leader would have been kicked out of office years ago. Obviously ignorance is a really, really good excuse.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: These Are Not the Droids You Are Looking For

“Gonzales has said he participated in no discussions and saw no memos about plans to carry out the firings on Dec. 7 that Democrats contend were politically motivated.
His schedule, however, shows he attended at least one hourlong meeting, on Nov. 27, where he approved a detailed plan to execute the prosecutors’ firings.”
-MSNBC, March 25, 2007

“Witch hunts! Blatant witch hunts by the Democrat party! That is why Fearless Leader is standing by Alberto ‘Thumbscrews’ Gonzales. He knows that Alberto has done nothing wrong, and he wants to avoid the spectacle of making his other top advisors, Harriet ‘I Love You’ Miers and Karl ‘Bush’s Brain’ Rove, testify. There is precedent. This Administration has blocked transparency before. Just remember back to vice-Leader Dick Cheney’s energy task force.”

“On Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney, represented by Solicitor General Theodore Olson, will be a petitioner before the Supreme Court in a case arising out of his battle with two antagonists, the Sierra Club and the gadfly group Judicial Watch.
In the case, called Cheney vs. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the vice president is urging the justices to block his adversaries from using the legal discovery process to get documents revealing the workings of the National Energy Policy Development Group, a task force Cheney headed three years ago.”
-MSNBC, April 26, 2004

“See? There was nothing there to see, so the Administration blocked it. They are just trying to keep the White House from becoming some kind of media spectacle.”

“Former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles will plead guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in the Jack Abramoff corruption investigation, The Associated Press has learned.
Griles, an oil and gas lobbyist who became an architect of President Bush’s energy policies while at the Interior Department between July 2001 and July 2005, is the highest ranking Bush administration official implicated in the Washington lobbying scandal.
Griles and Abramoff met on March 1, 2001, through Federici, a Republican environmental activist. One week later, Griles, who had been serving on Bush’s transition team for Interior, was nominated by the president as deputy to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Second in rank only to Norton, Griles effectively was Interior’s chief operating officer while at the agency between July 2001 and January 2005, and its top representative on Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.”
-Associated Press, March 23, 2007

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, Sept. 23, 2002

“Um.. Well, I’m sure that that was just a coincidence. It isn’t like they would politicize Washington. Time and time again they’ve told us how we all, both Democrat and Republican, need to work together to help keep this country great. I’m sure that they would never put partisan politics into the fine work that they are doing for America.”

“Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.
With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections.
On Wednesday, Doan is scheduled to appear before Waxman's committee to answer questions about the videoconference and other issues. The committee is investigating whether remarks made during the videoconference violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes. Those found in violation of the act do not face criminal penalties but can be removed from their jobs.”
-Washington Post, March 26, 2007

“See? No criminal penalties! It isn’t really against the law then. Still, the Democrats are upset with Fearless Leader, and now even some of Fearless Leader’s own party seem to be getting in on the act.”

“With his go-it-alone approach on Iraq, President Bush is flouting Congress and the public, so angering lawmakers that some consider impeachment an option over his war policy, a senator from Bush’s own party said Sunday.
GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the war, stopped short of calling for Bush’s impeachment. But he made clear that some lawmakers viewed that as an option should Bush choose to push ahead despite public sentiment against the war.
‘Any president who says, I don’t care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed — if a president really believes that, then there are — what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that,’ said Hagel, who is considering a 2008 presidential run.”
-Associated Press, March 25, 2007

“Why does Chuck Hagel hate America?”

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Trust

"I think the American people—I hope the American–I don't think, let me—I hope the American people trust me.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, December 18, 2002

“Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 1, 2003

“There will soon be more American soldiers in Iraq than at any point in the war so far. The incoming surge of 21,500 troops is only part of that picture; in addition, the U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has asked for an additional Army aviation brigade, as well as a couple thousand military police. Other support troops will be coming in to Iraq as well, and they weren't all included in the original 21,500 estimate announced by President Bush last month. When all this is complete, sometime in July, the grand total of U.S. troops in Iraq will be 173,000, U.S. military officials here confirmed on background, apparently because of the sensitivity of these details. And it's likely that U.S. troop numbers will stay at that level for months more, perhaps even into 2008. That's only part of the picture, however; the total number of U.S. troops deployed into the war theater, that is, Iraq and neighboring countries, may be as much as 100,000 more than that. Last August, for instance, the Congressional Research Service, quoting the Department of Defense's Contingency Tracking System, put the total deployment at 260,000, while the number actually in Iraq was at 140,000 to 160,000. (Other estimates by government-oversight bodies have put the total deployed in the theater at 202,000 to 207,000.)”
-Newsweek, March 22, 2007

“I'm going to listen to the generals who say, Mr. President, we've got -- we need more, we need less, we've got exactly the right number. They will tell me the number.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, November 21, 2003

“Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require ‘several hundred thousand troops.’ Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate ‘wildly off the mark.’
Rumsfeld was furious with White when the Army secretary agreed with Shinseki.”
-USA Today, June 2, 2003

“The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, a figure that is well below earlier estimates from White House officials.
In a telephone interview today, the official, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, also said there was likely to be a deficit in the fiscal 2004 budget, though he declined to specify how large it would be. The administration is scheduled to present its budget to Congress on Feb. 3.
Mr. Daniels declined to explain how budget officials had reached the $50 billion to $60 billion range for war costs, or why it was less in current dollars than the 43-day gulf war in 1991. He also declined to specify how much had been budgeted for munitions and troops.”
-New York Times, January 2, 2003

“The total bill for the Iraq war will soon rival the estimated $600 billion cost of the Vietnam War -although, if the dollars were adjusted for inflation, it would probably already be more costly. So far, $351 billion has been spent or appropriated between 2003 and 2007, and the president's additional budget request of $68 billion in 2007 will bring that to $419 billion, if it passes, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (these figures include U.S. military expenditures, expenditures for Iraqi security forces, and spending for foreign aid and diplomatic operations in Iraq). With another $113 billion predicted for the 2008 budget, the total direct cost of the war will by then top half a trillion dollars, $532 billion in all. That naturally does not even begin to take into account indirect costs, from veterans' care to oil-price rises.”
-Newsweek, March 22, 2007

“I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 9, 2004

“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country ... I wouldn't have invited him to my ranch if I didn't trust him.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, on Vladamir Putin, June 16, 2001

“The U.S. State Department’s point man on Russia on Wednesday said Washington was concerned about democracy under President Vladimir Putin and disappointed over relations with Moscow.
‘The trends unfortunately are not going in the right direction’ said David Kramer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs.
He said Washington’s concerns included an increasing concentration of power in Putin’s Kremlin, growing state influence over the media, the unsolved killings of journalists, pressure on opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations, the arrest of critical business tycoons and continued human rights violations in Chechnya.”
-Associated Press, March 23, 2007

"People make suggestions on what to say all the time. I'll give you an example; I don't read what's handed to me. People say, 'Here, here's your speech, or here's an idea for a speech.' They're changed. Trust me."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 15, 2000

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Executive Privilege

“Bush’s use of executive privilege is a difficult topic to handle. Let’s hear what one reporter has to say about it.”

“Earlier in this administration, then-White House legal counsel Lloyd Cutler decreed that the White House never would assert privilege in the face of a criminal investigation. He merely was reiterating long-standing executive-branch policy along those lines. President Ronald Reagan didn't invoke privilege in Iran-contra, and neither did President George Bush.
But precedent is gone, and Mr. Clinton wants to protect conversations about a chubby intern from Hollywood. In so doing, he becomes the first president since Richard Nixon to use executive privilege in a criminal inquiry.
Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.”
-Tony Snow, March 29, 1998

“Oops.. My mistake. That wasn’t an article about Bush’s use about executive privilege. That was an article by our current White House spokesman Tony Snow about when Clinton wanted to use it. As you might imagine, past statements like this can come back to haunt a spokesman..”

“Q So, Tony, back when President Clinton was citing executive privilege to keep internal deliberations in that White House from being talked about in Congress, you wrote -- now famously --
MR. SNOW: I didn't say it was famous, Ed. I didn't get that kind of coverage at the time. (Laughter.)
Q Well, it's become more famous.
MR. SNOW: Is it making its way through the left-wing blogs?
Q It is. (Laughter.)
Q No, no. But you wrote quite eloquently about this. You said, "Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold the chief executive accountable. We would have a constitutional right to a coverup."
MR. SNOW: Right. Now let me --
Q So why were you wrong then and right now?
MR. SNOW: Because this is a not entirely analogous situation. I've just told you what we have, in fact, offered to make available to members of Congress. And what we are doing is we are holding apart confidential communications between advisors and the President. And that is pretty standard practice in White Houses. But, again --
Q It's exactly what the Clinton administration talked about.
MR. SNOW: Well, I'm not so sure. And I'll let others do the legal arguing on that. But the important point here is we're maintaining the presidential prerogatives and, at the same time, we're making available exhaustive -- we're offering basically to give them, exhaustively, communications that bear on this issue and also make the key players -- at least at the Justice Department and the people they said they wanted to hear from at the White House -- they're all going to be available. That's not a coverup. That is, in fact, a very open offer to get all the facts into the hands of the people who, presumably, want to figure out what the facts are.
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, March 21, 2007

“See? Using executive privilege to cover up having extra-marital sex is much, much worse than using it to cover up politically motivated firings that may have been, in part, about stopping investigations into corruption in politics..”

“Fired San Diego U.S. attorney Carol Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe the day before a Justice Department official sent an e-mail that said Lam needed to be fired, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.
Lam oversaw the investigation that led to the corruption conviction of then-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who pleaded guilty in late 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. He was sentenced in March 2006 to eight years and four months in prison.
On the same day last year as the Sampson e-mail, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Cunningham probe was being expanded to look at the actions of another California Republican, then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis.
Feinstein did not say how she learned that Lam had notified the Justice Department about her plans to serve search warrants on Foggo, who on May 8 had resigned as the executive director of the CIA. FBI agents seized records from Foggo's CIA offices and his suburban Vienna, Va., home on May 12.
Who Lam notified about her plans was unknown. Ordinarily, information about search warrants in high-profile cases would be passed to the U.S. attorney executive office in Washington. At the time, that office was headed by Michael Battle. Battle, who notified the dismissed U.S. attorneys they were being replaced in December, resigned March 5.”
-McClatchy Newspapers, March 18, 2007

“MZM Inc. was incorporated in 1993 but had not posted any revenue as late as 2001. Still, the company began paying for Cunningham's expenses, according to court documents. In November 2001, a company check for $12,000 paid for three nightstands, a leaded-glass cabinet, an antique washstand and four armoires.
Although MZM had no experience with government contracts, the General Services Administration in May 2002 placed the company on a list of approved information technology service providers, a key step for the company to get business from federal agencies.

The first contract, worth $140,000, came from the White House — to provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.
Two weeks later, on Aug. 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht, later christened ‘Duke-Stir,’ for $140,000, according to court documents. Cunningham used the yacht, docked at the Capital Yacht Club, as his home in Washington — and the scene of parties for lobbyists and others.
The money and gifts MZM gave Cunningham were a small price to pay for the ultimate prize. In September 2002, the General Services Administration signed a so-called blanket purchase agreement with MZM totaling $250 million over five years.
Under the agreement, specific computer services for the Pentagon would be contracted to MZM without competition.”
-LA Times, December 5, 2005

“Hey, Carol Lam’s firing was just a coincidence. It had nothing to do with her investigating a corruption case that may have been tying things back to the office of the Vice President. Just a coincidence. Nothing to see here. There is no political influence in the Department of Justice.”

“The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.
Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.
She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.
News reports on the strategy changes at the time caused an uproar in Congress and sparked an inquiry by the Justice Department. Government witnesses said they had been asked to change testimony, and one expert withdrew from the case. Government lawyers also announced that they were scaling back a proposed penalty against the industry from $130 billion to $10 billion.
Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.
‘Political interference is happening at Justice across the department,’ she said. ‘When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general's office, politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out the window.’
The most stressful moment, Eubanks said, came when the three appointees ordered her to read word for word a closing argument they had rewritten. The statement explained the validity of seeking a $10 billion penalty.
‘I couldn't even look at the judge,’ she said.”
-Washington Post, March 22, 2007

“Oh come on.. One little incident. Nothing to worry about. Our justice system is fair and impartial. There were no politics involved with the firings!”

“Q There was no politics involved? Are you still saying that?
MR. SNOW: It depends on how you define politics. But the fact -- these are people who are political appointees; they serve at the pleasure of the President, and the President has the authority and the ability to remove those who serve at his pleasure. “
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, March 20, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Stand By Your Hit Man

“Calling the Democratic response to the firing of eight federal prosecutors a ‘partisan fishing expedition,’ President Bush rejected lawmakers' call Tuesday to subpoena White House staff for testimony related to the matter.”
-MSNBC, March 21, 2007

“That’s right. The office of the President of the United States cannot have his people questioned about unimportant and partisan issues. This demand by Congress is unprecedented and offensive!”

“As a general matter, the president has a right to confidential communications with his top advisers; routinely bringing White House officials in to testify before Congress or demanding their e-mail would chill their ability to provide frank advice. But this is no routine matter, and the misleading conduct of Mr. Bush's Justice Department has opened the door to departing from general principles. It wouldn't be the first time: President Bill Clinton's top aides were routinely hauled before Congress to testify on everything from Whitewater to presidential pardons.”
-Editorial, Washington Post, Macrh 16, 2007

“..except when it happened to Clinton all the time. Then questioning all the president’s men was needed and permissible. Still, this is obviously just the Democrats going after the President again.”

“The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors.
…the Senate by a 94-2 vote passed a bill that would cancel the attorney general's power to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. Democrats say the Bush administration abused that authority when it fired the eight prosecutors and proposed replacing some with White House loyalists.”
-Associated Press, March 20, 2007

“Wow.. 94-2? That kinda sorta sounds like even the Republicans are worried about this issue.”

“If the staff of a president operates in constant fear of being hauled before congressional committees ... the president would not receive candid advice and the American people would be ill-served.
I’m sorry the situation has gotten to where it’s got, but that’s Washington, D.C., for you. You know there’s a lot of politics in this town.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 20, 2007

“Yes, it is a sign of the politics in Washington that lawmakers are questioning the White House’s firing prosecutors because of politics. Fearless Leader has a solution though that should make everyone happy.”

“Bush said his White House counsel, Fred Fielding, told lawmakers they could interview presidential counselor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies — but only on the president’s terms: in private, ‘without the need for an oath’ and without a transcript.
The president cast the offer as virtually unprecedented and a reasonable way for Congress to get all the information it needs about the matter.”
-MSNBC, March 21, 2007

“See? As long as there is no transparency, no accountability and no record of what is said Congress can ask whatever they want. I’m sure that will make everyone happy.”

“After telling a bunch of different stories about why they fired the U.S. Attorneys, the Bush Administration is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Congress and the American people deserve a straight answer. If Karl Rove plans to tell the truth, he has nothing to fear from being under oath like any other witness.”
-Senator Harry Reid, March 20, 2007

“Some people are never happy.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Four Years

“My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 19, 2003

“Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 1, 2003

“We have focused resources on veterans who need it most, those with service-related disabilities and low incomes and special needs. We've established a new scheduling system to make certain that veterans seeking care for a service connected condition are the first in line.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, August 31, 2004

“Our men and women in the military have superb training and the best equipment and able commanders.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, November 11, 2004

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, February 22, 2005

“You have served with honor and distinction -- and a little longer than some of you expected. (Laughter.)”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, February 23, 2005

“I think the Iraq government will be up to the task of defeating the insurgents. I think they dealt the insurgents -- I think the Iraqi people dealt the insurgents a serious blow when they -- when we had the elections.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 31, 2005

“...that is to be able to say to our country, at any time anybody gets hurt anywhere, they're going to get the best medical care possible. And that's done right here at Bethesda, as well as Walter Reed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, December 21, 2005

“I know our governors are worried about the troop levels in Iraq. Here's my response. I will determine the troop levels in Iraq, one, necessary to achieve victory based upon the recommendations of our commanders, not based upon politics in Washington, D.C.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, February 27, 2006

“We're with you. We know the work is hard, but the work is necessary. And we're winning; and we're winning.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, June 28, 2006

“There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, September 6, 2006

“I believe Iraq will be able to defend, govern and sustain itself. Otherwise, I'd pull our troops out.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, October 25, 2006

“PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job? DUBYA: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?

PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.
DUBYA: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.
-Interview with George ‘Dubya’ Bush, January 12, 2007

“I've listened to a lot of voices. People in my administration heard a lot of voices. We weighed every option. I concluded that to step back from the fight in Baghdad would have disastrous consequences for people in America.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, February 14, 2007

“Yet those on the ground are seeing some hopeful signs.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 19, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Breaking It Down

“Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.
More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a ‘death spiral,’ in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.”
-Washington Post, March 19, 2007

“Trouble with the troops? Inconceivable! Not to worry.. Fearless Leader supports the troops 150%, so you know that help is on the way.”

“I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them, ‘Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?’
And they looked me in the eye and said, ‘Yes, sir, Mr. President.’ Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, Second Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate, October 8, 2004

“See? When there is trouble Fearless Leader goes straight to the people with the most important information, learns what he needs to know, and then sets the strategy. That is why they call him the Decider.”

“’We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it,’ Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.”
-Washington Post, March 19, 2007

“Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked last month by a House panel whether he was comfortable with the preparedness of Army units in the United States. He stated simply: ‘No . . . I am not comfortable.’"
-Washington Post, March 19, 2007

“Equipment is also lacking among Army units in the United States, the vast majority of which are rated ‘not ready’ by the Army, based on measures of available gear, training and personnel, according to senior military officers and government officials. Active-duty Army combat brigades in the United States face shortages of heavy, medium and light tactical vehicles such as Humvees; radios; night-vision goggles; and some weapons, Cody said.”
-Washington Post, March 19, 2007

“They apparently didn’t say ‘Mother may I?’ to Fearless Leader first, or maybe he was distracted by a piece of string or a bright shiny thing when they mentioned to impending collapse of the military. Either way, Fearless Leader apparently never found out that our strategy wasn’t working or that our troops aren’t prepared. If they knew that I’m sure that someone in the Administration would have mentioned it.”

“I think we have made significant progress [in Iraq].”
-Vice-President Dick Cheney, January 27, 2007

“See? Don’t worry though.. I’m sure that Fearless Leader has everything in hand and is just working on a plan that will cause peace to break out without using troops, equipment or diplomacy. He is a genius, so you’ll just have to trust him.”

"I'm the commander. See, I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush to Bob Woodward, in "Bush at War"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Purge and Surge

“Karl Rove participated in a discussion about the firing of U.S. attorneys in 2005, asking White House lawyers ‘how we planned to proceed’ on the issue and whether the prosecutors would be selectively dismissed or fired en masse, according to newly disclosed White House e-mails.
The e-mails, obtained by NEWSWEEK, appear to show that Rove had a greater level of involvement in the dismissal of the prosecutors than the White House has previously acknowledged. The messages may also raise new questions for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. While the attorney general insisted to reporters this week that he had rejected ‘a request from the White House’ to fire all U.S. attorneys two years ago, the new e-mails show the plan was conceived while Gonzales himself was the White House counsel.”
-Newsweek, March 15, 2007

“He not only claimed that he rejected the idea to purge all the attorneys, he also claimed that it had originated with Harriet Miers after Gonzales became Attorney General.”

“New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than previously acknowledged by the White House. The e-mails also show Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse while he was still White House counsel — weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general.

The e-mails directly contradict White House assertions that the notion originated with recently departed White House counsel Harriet Miers and was her idea alone.
Two independent sources in a position to know have described the contents of the e-mail exchange, which could be released as early as Friday. They put Rove at the epicenter of the imbroglio and raise questions about Gonzales' explanations of the matter.
White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters Tuesday that Miers had suggesting firing all 93 and that it was ‘her idea only.’ Snow said Miers' idea was quickly rejected by the Department of Justice.”
-ABC News, March 15, 2007

“Unfortunately it seems fairly clear that the idea originated in the White House while he was still there. Still, there is nothing illegal about replacing the prosecutors. Frequently administrations will replace them due to performance issues, and Gonzales promised that it wasn’t political.”

"’I would never, ever make a change in the United States attorney position for political reasons,’ Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in Senate testimony in early January. In a Feb. 6 hearing, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told lawmakers, ‘When I hear you talk about the politicizing of the Department of Justice, it's like a knife in my heart.’"
-Salon, February 28, 2007

“Later that day, Leitch forwards the message to Kyle Sampson, an aide at the Justice Department, saying ‘let's discuss.’ On Jan. 9, Sampson replied that ‘Judge’ (a reference to Gonzales, formerly a justice on the Texas Supreme Court) ‘and I discussed briefly a couple of weeks ago’. Sampson went on to offer his ‘thoughts,’ which included this plan: ‘As an operational matter, we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys--the underperforming ones. This is a rough guess; we might want to consider doing performance evaluations after Judge comes on board’--an apparent reference to Gonzales being confirmed as attorney general in February 2005 and taking over the Justice Department—‘The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc.’
Sampson also warned that the firing of U.S. attorneys could create political problems because it would generate resistance from ‘home state senators’ who had recommended the prosecutors. ‘That said, if Karl thinks there will be political will to do it, then so do I.’”
-Newsweek, March 15, 2007

“No, nothing political at all. As I said, the reason that this is a scandal is not that it is illegal. The scandal is that they have lied about it and tried to game the system. Usually prosecutors are put in place with Congressional review, but, thanks to the Patriot Act, in this case the Administration was able to avoid that step and simply put in their hand-picked people without review. I wonder how that happened?”

"Today's resignation by his chief of staff does not take the heat off the attorney general. It raises it," Schumer said. ‘Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy.’
Libby is Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, convicted of misleading the grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of a CIA agent.
And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said senators plan to look into how language ended up in the Patriot Act that allowed the Attorney General to replace the federal prosecutors.
The provision was added to the Patriot Act renewal while staffers were working out differences in the versions of the bills that had passed the House and the Senate. Brett Tolman, now the U.S. Attorney for Utah, was then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter's staffer handling the issue and added it at the request of the Justice Department, Specter said at a hearing last month.”
-Salt Lake Tribune, March 13, 2007

“Hey look! That’s odd… The staffer who slipped that language in about replacing prosecutors is now the U.S. Attorney for Utah. Strange how that works.
How is the other scandal in Washington doing? How is the surge progressing?””

“The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, on top of five already on the way, as part of the controversial ‘surge’ of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said today. The appeal -- not yet made public -- by Gen. David Petraeus for a combat aviation unit would involve between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces so far to close to 30,000 troops.

News of the additional deployment comes about a week after President Bush announced that about 4,700 support troops will join the initial 21,500 he ordered in January. They are in addition to the estimated 130,000 troops already in Iraq.
‘This is the next shoe to drop,’ said one senior Pentagon official closely involved in the war planning. ‘But you cannot put five combat brigades in there and not have more aviation guys, military police, and intelligence units.’"
-Boston Globe, March 15, 2007

“So the surge in Iraq alone is up about 7,500 past what Fearless Leader originally proposed. Let me know when we hit the congressional numbers..”

“Over the past few years , DoD’s practice has been to deploy a total of about 9,500 personnel per combat brigade to the Iraq theater, including about 4,000 combat troops and about 5,500 supporting troops.
DoD has not yet indicated which support units will be deployed along with the added combat forces, or how many additional troops will be involved. Army and DoD officials have indicated that it will be both possible and desirable to deploy fewer additional support units than historical practice would indicate. CBO expects that, even if the additional brigades required fewer support units than historical practice suggests, those units would still represent a significant additional number of military personnel.
To reflect some of the uncertainty about the number of support troops, CBO developed its estimates on the basis of two alternative assumptions. In one scenario, CBO assumed that additional support troops would be deployed in the same proportion to combat troops that currently exists in Iraq. That approach would require about 28,000 support troops in addition to the 20,000 combat troops—a total of 48,000. CBO also presents an alternative scenario that would include a smaller number of support personnel—about 3,000 per combat brigade—totaling about 15,000 support personnel and bringing the total additional forces to about 35,000.”
-Congressional Budget Office Report, February 1, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: This Shit is Bananas

“Let me hear you say this shit is bananas
-Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”

“Banana company Chiquita Brands International said Wednesday it has agreed to a $25 million fine after admitting it paid terrorists for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.
The settlement resolves a lengthy Justice Department investigation into the company’s financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels the U.S. government deems terrorist groups.
In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.
The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia’s civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country’s cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.”
-Associated Press, March 14, 2007

"If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist"
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush

“Don’t worry.. We will arrest the bananas in question and subject them to ‘coercive interrogation’ until they confess. It shouldn’t take long. I hear that these are untrained bananas that will crack easily under torture. They will go straight from green to yellow.
Now that we have the Banana Republic (part of the infamous Axis of Fruit) covered we should really look into dealing with companies trading with Iran. I mean, seriously, they have been telling us for a while how dangerous Iran is, so I can only assume that dealing with them is worse than paying protection money in Columbia”

“Q Do you think it's appropriate for Halliburton to set up an off shore subsidiary and then have operations in Iran? Do you think that's an appropriate thing for a company to do?
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you asking because the Kerry campaign is making some accusations?
Q They're making some accusations --
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are just more political attacks. You can direct questions to the campaign about those political attacks.”
-Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan, White House Spokesman, July 20, 2004

“A U.S. grand jury issued a subpoena to Halliburton Co. seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit's work in Iran, where it is illegal for U.S. companies to operate, Halliburton said on Monday.”
-CNN, July 20, 2004

"I think the US made a mistake in trying to impose a secondary boycott in effect [on companies doing business with Iran]....We used to impose that kind of measure when Arab governments tried to penalize firms ... that did business with Israel. It's a bad idea, bad policy....There's enormous damage I think to the US relationships with some friends around the world and I think it's wrong. I think we'd be better off if we in fact backed off those sanctions, didn't try to impose secondary boycotts on companies like BHP trying to do business over there ... and instead started to rebuild those relationships."
-Dick Chaney, 1998

“That was way back in 2004. It must not have come to anything. I haven’t heard anything further in the press, and Halliburton is still making a fortune off of the Administration as part of the War on Terra, so rumors about them dealing with Iran must have been false.”

“Mr. Cheney, while a top company official between 1995 and 2001, helped Halliburton establish its close ties to the oil-rich family governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and others. And, once Halliburton is no longer subject to American laws, there are many billions to be made in Iran, which needs American expertise to boost its oil production.”
-New York Sun, March 15, 2007

“Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., one of Halliburton's most vociferous critics in Washington, called on the Treasury Department to investigate whether the company is trying to broaden its dealings with Tehran.
‘Halliburton has gone to extraordinary lengths in the past to do business with the terrorist government in Iran,’ Lautenberg said.
‘Given Halliburton's past dealings with Iran, the company's odd announcement this week certainly sets off alarm bells about its intention to do business with state sponsors of terrorism.’
A Treasury spokeswoman could not say if Lautenberg's letter would prompt an investigation.
Federal law prohibits U.S. companies from trading directly with Iran.
However, foreign units of American firms can operate there, as long as that entity remains truly independent of the U.S. operation.
Halliburton has been doing business with Iran for years through a Cayman Islands-registered company called Halliburton Products & Services Ltd., which is based in Dubai.”
-Houston Chronicle, March 13, 2007

“Hey! I hadn’t thought of that! Once Halliburton is incorporated in Dubai they’ll be able to legally work in Iran and Cuba. Huh. Funny how that works. I guess that Iranians, no matter how evil they are, must not be terrorists.”

“U.S. President George W. Bush, who three years ago said Iran and North Korea were part of an ‘axis of evil,’ has emphasised diplomacy in dealing with the two countries.

Bush called Iran the ‘world's primary state sponsor of terror’ and reiterated his accusations that the country is striving to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iran. He also promised to ‘stand with’ the Iranian people in their quest for liberty, a veiled jab at the republic's ruling clerics.”
-Reuters, February 3, 2005

“Bu.. bu.. but.. If Iran is a ‘state sponsor of terror’ and ‘If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist’, then that makes Iran a terrorist, and if Iran is a terrorist, then Halliburton is a terrorist too.. And the Administration is paying Hallibuton..
Some days this doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Responsibility

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged that mistakes were made and accepted responsibility Tuesday for the way eight federal prosecutors were fired.
At a news conference Tuesday, Gonzales said he would find out what went wrong but said he would not resign. ‘I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility,’ Gonzales said amid growing calls for his own termination.”
-Associated Press, March 13, 2007

“He uses the word ‘responsibility’ in a way that I am unfamiliar with. Usually when one is responsible it means that when things go horribly, terribly wrong and you are forced to lie to Congress you must pay some form of penalty. Maybe Gonzales just doesn’t see this as a bad thing. Maybe to him this is just another day in the office..”

“In the vetting process [of Bernard Kerik], which was conducted by the office of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, Kerik also never mentioned that a New Jersey judge had issued a warrant for his arrest in 1998 over a civil dispute over unpaid bills, the sources said.”
-MSNBC, December 12, 2004

“His office screwed up vetting Bernard Kerik, the man who Dubya wanted to head Homeland Security and who turned out to have mob connections, a government-bought love nest and an illegal nanny. Apparently ‘vetting’ to Alberto meant just asking Kerik if he had ever killed anyone (personally that is).”

“Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, intervened directly with Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices in the name of national security, current and former administration officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Gonzales's role in seeking a legal opinion on the definition of torture and the legal limits on the force that could be used on terrorist suspects in captivity is expected to be a central issue in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings scheduled to begin on Thursday on Mr. Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general.
The request by Mr. Gonzales produced the much-debated Justice Department memorandum of Aug. 1, 2002, which defined torture narrowly and said that Mr. Bush could circumvent domestic and international prohibitions against torture in the name of national security.”
-New York Times, January 4, 2005

“He’s the guy who said that torture (you remember Abu Ghraib) was ok and that Fearless Leader didn’t need to worry about it…”

“The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes - and that it might even apply to Bush administration officials themselves - is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by Newsweek. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.”
-Newsweek, May 19, 2004

“And if something did come up.. well, those Geneva Conventions (constitutionally the highest law of the land) were ‘quaint’ and didn’t apply.”

“Now, in terms of legal authorities, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides -- requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow -- there is -- unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires. Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.”
-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, December 19, 2005

“He lied about the Administration illegally spying on American citizens, and then justified it by saying that Congress had already (without realizing it) authorized it…”

“Q: If FISA didn't work, why didn't you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That question was asked earlier. We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get, certainly not without jeopardizing the existence of the program, and therefore, killing the program. And that -- and so a decision was made that because we felt that the authorities were there, that we should continue moving forward with this program.”
-Press conference with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, December 19, 2005

“…despite stating, on the very same day, that they didn’t go to Congress to clarify because they didn’t think that Congress would authorize it.”

"We respect civil liberties but we have to harmonize this so we can get more information.”
-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, September 19, 2006

“And believing that constitutionally protected civil liberties aren’t all that important.”

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security.
The nation's top law enforcer also said the government will not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.
‘There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility,’ Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. ‘We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.”
-Associated Press, May 21, 2006

“And really, screw the free press. The press can’t stop him, and he honestly doesn’t believe that the courts can either.”

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases.
In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who ‘apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.’”
-Associated Press, January 17, 2007

“No, Alberto isn’t planning on leaving any time soon. He’s been screwing up for a long time, and so far nothing has happened.”

“Curiously, it was in his role as legal counsel to then-Gov. Bush that Gonzales penned yet another memo pertaining to international law, only in that case his advice was designed not to avoid death sentences, but rather to expedite them on Texas' heavily populated death row. On June 16, 1997, Gonzales first showcased his proclivity for torturing international law when he sent a letter to the U.S. State Department in which he argued that, ‘Since the State of Texas is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, we believe it is inappropriate to ask Texas to determine whether a breach … occurred in connection with the arrest and conviction’ of a Mexican national. Or, put another way, he asserted that an international treaty just didn't apply to Texas.”
-Slate, June 15, 2004

“A wonderful use of ‘responsibility’.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: All Heart

"’I would never, ever make a change in the United States attorney position for political reasons,’ Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in Senate testimony in early January. In a Feb. 6 hearing, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told lawmakers, ‘When I hear you talk about the politicizing of the Department of Justice, it's like a knife in my heart.’"
-Salon, February 28, 2007

“The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, a proposal that eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year, according to e-mails and internal documents that the administration will provide to Congress today.
The dismissals took place after President Bush told Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that he had received complaints that some prosecutors had not energetically pursued voter-fraud investigations, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Gonzales approved the idea of firing a smaller group of U.S. attorneys shortly after taking office in February 2005. The Gonzales aide in charge of the dismissals — his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson — resigned yesterday, officials said, after acknowledging that he did not tell Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress.
But the documents and interviews indicate that the idea for the firings originated at least two years ago, when then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers suggested to Sampson in February 2005 that all prosecutors be dismissed and replaced. Miers resigned this January.”
-Washington Post, March 13, 2007

“That would be the same Harriet Miers that Fearless Leader nominated for the Supreme Court. The same one who said this..”

"’You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect,’ Harriet E. Miers wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday in July 1997. She also found him ‘cool,’ said he and his wife, Laura, were ‘the greatest!’ and told him: ‘Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed.’"
-New York Times, October 10, 2005

“Good choice. Still, the interesting part has to do with Alberto ‘Thumbscrews’ Gonzales, who apparently lied to Congress in his recent testimony on the firings, stating that politics had nothing to do with the firings. I believe that he may have been under oath at the time, and, let’s face it, lying to congress really isn’t a good idea, even when you aren’t under oath, if you happen to be the top guy in the country (short of Fearless Leader of course) responsible for upholding the laws.”

“In other words, there's no political favorites when it comes to justice, that if someone is guilty, they will pay a penalty.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 11, 2007

“We can only wait for the penalty that Alberto Gonzales will face. We know that we will see something done though. This Administration knows that it needs to take care of the concerns of the American people. It’s just like when the whole Walter Reed scandal hit. The Administration found clear and decisive measures to clear up any concerns.”

“Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
‘Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,’ one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”
-Navy Times, February 28, 2007

“And once the media was no longer a concern they found a way to help the injured troops out of the bad hospital setting that they were trapped in.”

“’This is not right,’ said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. ‘This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers,’ he said angrily. ‘If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight.’

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
And while Grigsby, the brigade commander, says he is under no pressure to find troops, it is hard to imagine there is not some desperation behind the decision to deploy some of the sick soldiers. Master Sgt. Jenkins, 42, has a degenerative spine problem and a long scar down the back of his neck where three of his vertebrae were fused during surgery. He takes a cornucopia of potent pain pills. His medical records say he is ‘at significantly increased risk of re-injury during deployment where he will be wearing Kevlar, body armor and traveling through rough terrain.’ Late last year, those medical records show, a doctor recommended that Jenkins be referred to an Army board that handles retirements when injuries are permanent and severe.
A copy of Jenkins' profile written after that Feb. 15 meeting and signed by Capt. Starbuck, the brigade surgeon, shows a healthier soldier than the profile of Jenkins written by another doctor just late last year, though Jenkins says his condition is unchanged. Other soldiers' documents show the same pattern.
One female soldier with psychiatric issues and a spine problem has been in the Army for nearly 20 years. ‘My [health] is deteriorating,’ she said over dinner at a restaurant near Fort Benning. ‘My spine is separating. I can't carry gear.’ Her medical records include the note ‘unable to deploy overseas.’ Her status was also reviewed on Feb. 15. And she has been ordered to Iraq this week.”
-Salon.com, March 11, 2007

“Good Lord! Don’t you people have anything more productive to do than complain? First people complain that our injured troops aren’t getting the proper care at Walter Reed. Then the Army figured out a way to get injured troops out of the hospital and back to productive lives, and now you complain because that means sending them into a war zone (again). Can’t you people do anything but criticize?”

Monday, March 12, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Surging Profits

“In testimony to the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England said U.S. military commanders in Iraq were requesting varying numbers of support troops to augment the additional 21,500 soldiers Bush has ordered into combat. ‘At this point, our expectation is the number of ... troops could go above 21,500 by about 4,000, maybe as many as 7,000,’ England said.
The estimate of 4,000 to 7,000 new support troops needed for Iraq contrasts with a February 6 forecast by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that as many as 3,000 would be needed.
The higher estimate could raise the projected $5.6 billion price tag of the troop surge by about $1 billion, if about 4,000 support troops are needed, England said.”
-Reuters, March 6, 2007

“Oh, those long ago days of.. um.. last week. Somehow I didn’t think that those numbers would stay stable..”

“I can’t wait to see if the Pentagon’s estimate keeps going up to closer to the 15,000 that the CBO is predicting. It’s understood that the Pentagon forgot though… I mean, the Administration has a lot on their mind right now.”
-Skippy, March 7, 2008

“And now..”

“President Bush asked Congress on Saturday for $3.2 billion to pay for 8,200 more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of the 21,500-troop buildup he announced in January.”
-Associated Press, March 11, 2007

“Impressive.. The ‘surge’ in troops has moved from ‘maybe as many as 7,000’ to 8,600 in under a week, and the ‘surge’ price tag has already increased by 57% from what Fearless Leader told the American people (you know.. an additional $3.2 billion. Pocket change). Amazing how the costs keep going up. Someone must be making a killing (so to speak) on all of this.”

“A two-year investigation has finally begun to shed some light on the trail of taxpayer dollars that paid for Blackwater USA's famously ill-fated security mission in Fallujah, Iraq, in March 2004.
Blackwater's contract was less than a month old when four of its security operatives were ambushed and killed, some of their bodies mutilated and hung from a bridge in an incident that changed the course of the Iraq war.
Blackwater was at the bottom of a four-tiered chain of contractors. The Moyock, N.C.-based company says it billed the next company up the chain $2.3 million. At the top of the chain was KBR, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton Co.
Now the Pentagon has calculated that by the time KBR got around to billing the government, the tab to the taxpayers for private security work had reached $19.6 million. The government is moving to take that money back, charging that it was improperly spent.”
-Virginian-Pilot, February 20, 2007

“Not bad.. Halliburton and the other two layers of contracts managed to add on $17.3 million on that deal. Privatization works! It helps American corporations and American troops. It’s a win-win situation.”

“Halliburton Co. exposed troops in Iraq to contaminated water even after a former company worker publicly accused the Houston-based contractor of failing to chlorinate water supplies, Senate Democrats alleged Thurs- day.
Back in January, a one-time water purification specialist for Halliburton subsidiary KBR told a Democratic panel he tested water used for showers, shaving and washing clothes at Camp Junction City in Ramadi last March and found it had not been treated with chlorine.
Halliburton allowed troops to bathe in water pumped from the Tigris River that tested positive for E. coli and coliform bacteria, Dorgan said.”
-Houston Chronicle, April 6, 2006

“Sure, they’ve had their faults, but Halliburton is an American company taking care of American troops. As Americans we are all in this War on Terrorism together.”

“Oil services giant Halliburton Co. will soon shift its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Mideast financial powerhouse of Dubai, chief executive Dave Lesar announced Sunday.
‘Halliburton is opening its corporate headquarters in Dubai while maintaining a corporate office in Houston,’ spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ‘The chairman, president and CEO will office from and be based in Dubai to run the company from the UAE.’”
-Associated Press, March 11, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: A Strong Moral Stance

“Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
-Washington Post, February 18, 2007

“Remember this little scandal? US troops placed in cockroach infested rooms and forgotten? Remember how the Administration was so surprised to find out about it? Well it turns out that they had been aware of it for a few years and nothing had been done.”

“Senior Republicans who knew about problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center while their party controlled Congress insist they did all they could to prod the Pentagon to fix them.
But C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., former chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he stopped short of going public with the hospital’s problems to avoid embarrassing the Army while it was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
-Congressional Quarterly (CQ), March 7, 2007

“Yes, we wouldn’t want to embarrass the Army. You just have to look at what is more important: supporting the troops or LOOKING like you are supporting the troops. Remember, no amount of inconvenience or danger is too extreme for our troops if fixing the problem would make the Administration look bad. Still, they tried to do what they could.”

“Beverly Young [Rep. Bill Young’s wife] said she complained to Kiley several times. She once visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, ‘I went flying down to Kevin Kiley’s office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else.’”
-Washington Post, March 1, 2007

“So Rep. Young’s wife was all over the situation. Bill Young was not, himself, able to do much due to his morals.”

“’What else do you want me to do? I am not going to go into a hospital and push my way into a medical situation,’ Young said after the hearing.
Young said he ‘separates my life as a member of Congress and the work I do on a volunteer basis,’ visiting military hospitals with his wife almost every week.
Young said he used his role as an appropriator to push to fund a new lab at Walter Reed and a new phone system at Fort Carson so patients could more easily make appointments.
But he said he purposely opted to bring concerns about individual patients’ care privately to the attention of Walter Reed commanders, rather than wield his clout as an Appropriations subcommittee chairman.
‘We did not go public with these concerns, because we did not want to undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and give the Army a black eye while fighting a war,’ Young said.”
-Congressional Quarterly (CQ), March 7, 2007

“See? He rigorously keeps his Congressional and volunteer work separate. To mention the squalor that our troops were trapped in would violate his strict moral code. Better to let them stay there and suffer than mention it. Heck, Rep. Young so vigorously separates his two lives that when speaking as a Representative he ignores the things he learned in his ‘other life’ entirely.”

“Well, Mr. Chairman, I want to join you in welcoming our guests and our witnesses today, having known especially Don Arthur and General Kiley very, very well over the years. I thought they’d get tired of seeing us in their hospitals. And we haven’t had as much opportunity to visit with the Air Force, General. But I know that these gentlemen are committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.”
-Rep C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), January 19, 2007

“If he had done less than praise General Kiley it would have been mixing what he knew as a volunteer with what he knew as a Congressman. Well done Rep. Young. Lesser men would have allowed empathy for the troops or human compassion make them speak out, but you were of stronger stuff than that. Bravo.”

View My Stats