Monday, October 31, 2005

Libby gets indicted & Bully Boy goes through "Week of Hell"

Opening with The World Today Just Nuts because Isaiah's latest still has me laughing.

Mike and I are doing three items from Democracy Now! today but we feel two or more or less related. I say that for two reasons. First, we could have gone with any of the headlines. They are all worth noting. We went back and forth on our choices. Second, I want to be clear that I'm not increasing even one item. Seriously, I have enough time hitting my four days a week as it is. Remember to check Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his take.

Libby Resigns After Five Count Indictment in CIA Leak Case (Democracy Now!):
For the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president's legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, "Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime."

It is crime. The press should be all over this but instead they seem to feel the need to reassure us that with the indictment everything's over. I caught Andrea Mitchell, ugh, on TV saying some nonsense about this and all I could think was, "Please let NBC fire her when Greenspan steps down." She is the most useless reporter around yet she's treated as though she's actually providing information. It's when someone like Mitchell or Cokie Roberts or Mark Shields or David Broder is brought on as "wise" that I really start thinking TV might need to impose a mandatory retirement age on pundits. Before anyone offers up Studs Terkel or Howard Zinn, I agree they prove that age isn't the factor. So let's change that to a mandatory retirment age after X number of years with "insider access."

After "Week From Hell" Bush's Approval Rating Drops (Democracy Now!):
New polls show that the public trust in the Bush administration has reached a new low. A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll has found Bush's approval rating to be just 39 percent - the lowest of his presidency. Meanwhile 46 percent of the country says the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined under Bush. Only 15 percent of the country feel Bush has restored honesty and ethics to the government. This comes after what Time Magazine described as the worst week of Bush's presidency. Within a span of four days the U.S. death toll in Iraq topped 2,000, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court and Lewis Scooter Libby was indicted and resigned. Time described it as Bush's QUOTE "Week from Hell."

Bully Boy caught some trouble and no pretzel was around. Harrie is gone, thank goodness. Read Rebecca's "bye bye harrie" for some thoughs on that. But where's the press? The print medium is busy telling you what they saw on TV (C.I. nails Todd S. Purdum for his mash note to Tim Russert today in the New York Times). Is anyone investigating? They were breaking "exclusives" on the "White House intern" story in the nineties. (Leaked by someone. Ken Starr?) But right now all they can do is tell you what they saw on their TV screens. Do any of them have to work for a living?

Rosa Parks Lies in Honor at U.S. Capitol (Democracy Now!):
In Washington, over10,000 people began lining up Sunday outside the Capitol to pay homage to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks who died last week at the age of 92. Parks' body is lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol in the Rotunda. According to Senate historian Richard Baker, Parks is the first private citizen to ever be accorded the honor. She is also the first woman and second African-American to lie in honor at the Capitol. The tribute is usually reserved for heads of state. President Reagan was the last person to lie in state at the Capitol. A memorial service will be held today at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington. Her body will then be flown to Detroit for a funeral on Wednesday. On Sunday a memorial service was also in Montgomery Alabama. We'll have more on Rosa Parks later in the show.

I don't know that many people reading Mike and my things tonight will feel they got much different. We're both highlighting our part of the news review and since we did it jointly, you'll see that at both our sites as well. In addition, from the news review, we both felt Cedric's part needed to be noted and highlighted:

Cedric: As most will know already, Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat on the bus when ordered to do so which led to the a city wide, bus riders strike, passed away Monday. I've thought about what to say to note the death of a leader and toyed with a biographical sketch or a timeline. But one of the books we read for this week's book discussion offered something that I felt summed up things better than I ever could. From The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son:"

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the timeI'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Right after that, came our segment and this is why C.I. makes the best anchor of any of us, look at the transition, "Rosa Parks passed away Monday at the age of 92. The following day the US military fatality rate for those killed in Iraq reached 2,000." C.I. always acts like nothing's going on but saying, "Now we go to ___." But C.I. does a lot more than that. Here's Mike and my part of the news review.

"The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-30-05" (Third Estate Sunday Review):
C.I.: Thank you Cedric. Again, Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son." Rosa Parks passed away Monday at the age of 92. The following day the US military fatality rate for those killed in Iraq reached 2,000. For news on Iraq, we go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It. We started with Mike last weekend, so Elaine, why don't you start?

Elaine: C.I., the official fatality count for American troops in Iraq stands at 2016. When the count reached 2,000 this past week, over . The official count for American troops wounded in Iraq is 15,220.
Mike: Three of the 2016 who've died in Bully Boy's war of choice are from yesterday, two from a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad and one died near Baiji.
Elaine: While the causes of death in those cases are clear, another military death is less so. The Associated Press reports that an unnamed American soldier was found dead Friday. The cause of death is under investigation. Al Jazeera reports that in Huweder, a car bomb has killed 26 Iraqis.
Mike: The AP offers 30,000 as their count for Iraqis who've died during the invasion/occupation.
Elaine: The occupation has also taken a toll on recruitment in the United States with the military having to lower expections each month. As reported by CounterRecruiter, the figures for fiscal year 2005 find the military 6,600 soldiers short of their target goals. The occupation is also effecting numbers in Great Britain. The war in Iraq is identified, by Michael Smith in London's Sunday Times, as the reason for 6,000 members of England's Territorial Army which has resulted in "a manning crisis."
Mike: Another crisis is the one described by Rahul Mahajan at Empire Notes:

After last November's demolition of Fallujah and its transformation into a prison camp, insurgents shifted their focus to Mosul and Ramadi, as well as towns along the Euphrates up toward the Syrian border. Mosul, which had seen very few incidents before, became a hotbed of violence; Ramadi, which had been quite active before, became probably the city in Iraq in which there has consistently been the most fighting between the occupying forces and the resistance.
In the last six weeks, 21 American soldiers have been killed in Ramadi, far more than in any other city in Iraq, the vast majority by roadside improvised explosive devices, detonated when troops patrolled.
There is no police force in Ramadi and the local government set up by the U.S.-initiated political process is largely unable to function (the deputy governor of Anbar province was recently assassinated).

Elaine: And the indictment of Scooter Libby is said to lead to a political crisis for the Bully Boy. England's The Independent headlines "Special report: Bush faces his Watergate." In this article, by Andrew Buncombe, it's noted that:

But the issues raised by "Plamegate" - the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent - are far more significant than those involved in the "second-rate burglary" of the Democratic National Committee's offices in Washington's Watergate complex in the 1970s. They go to the heart of why America, and its faithful ally, Britain, went to war in Iraq.

Mike: A point missed by Todd S. Purdum who prefers sniffing his own dirty jock strap to reporting. From The Common Ills yesterday, storry C.I. my sister begged me to work this in:

Let's start with Todd S. Purdum ("A Prosecutor's Focus Shifted to a Cover-Up") who apparently decided that instead of washing his dirty jock, he'd turn it inside out and wear it for another six months without washing. That would explain how the fumes got to him yet again and why he feels the need to early on toss out Bill Clinton. Drawing comparisons no sane person would make (Clinton's cover up revolved around a private, consensual sex affair; Libby's cover up revolves around the outing of a CIA agent), you start to wonder if Todd's not only sniffing his own fumes but also chewing on his dirty jock? The after taste of his "news analysis" makes one wonder.
How far into the article before Todd mentions Clinton (for balance, I'm sure)? Fourth paragraph. How far before Nixon is mentioned? Fourteen. (Always check my math.)
And what are we 'assured' when Nixon finally crawls out from under the rock? "The Wilson affair is not Watergate . . ." Really?
The issues involved are not a consensual sex affair either. But Todd didn't have a need to rush to assure there. They may actually go beyond the petty motives of Watergate (original motive: to spy on the Democratic Party during a presidential election) since the outing of Valerie Plame is an attempt to discredit (and silence) her husband Joseph Wilson who was explaining that there was no evidence of "yellow cakes."

C.I.: Jumping in, Todd S. Purdum of The New York Times.

Elaine: At IPS, Jim Lobe calls the administration's loss of Libby "a serious blow." Lobe offers the rundown on Scooter Libby in "A Formidable Hawk Goes Down."

Mike: Robert Parry asks "Letting the White House Walk?" at Consortium News. While Parry notes that other indictments may be forthcoming and that a trial of Scooter might allow more details to emerge, he also notes this that's not making it in other reporting on Plamegate:

In his five-count indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, prosecutor Fitzgerald leaves the false impression that it was all right for White House officials with security clearances to be discussing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, a counter-proliferation official under deep cover.
Under the rules of classification, however, to see such secrets an official must not only have a top-secret clearance but also special code-word clearance that grants access to a specific compartment governed by strict need-to-know requirements.In both the Libby indictment and a hour-long press conference on Oct. 28, Fitzgerald showed no indication he understood how extraordinary it was for White House officials to be bandying about the name of a covert CIA officer based on the flimsy rationale that she was married to an ex-diplomat who had been sent on a fact-finding trip to Niger.
Fitzgerald, who is the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, appears to have bought into the notion that government officials had a right to discuss Plame's covert status among themselves as long as they didn’t pass the secret on to journalists. Then Fitzgerald didn't even seek punishment for that, limiting his criminal case to Libby's lying about how and when he learned of Plame's identity.

C.I.: That is a very important point. Thank you, Elaine and Mike. Scooter Libby indicted for a number of counts -- perjury, false testimony, etc. -- in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson who went public to expose Bully Boy's 16 word lie in the 2003 State of the Union address regarding "British intelligence has recently learned that Sadaam Hussein sought" yellow cake from Niger. Also, quickly, Eric Schmitt's "An Influential Bush Insider Who Is Used to Challenges" rightly pointed out that Scooter Libby is not just Cheney's chief of staff. Scooter was "assistant to the president, chief of staff to the vice president and Mr. Cheney's national security advisor." Now we go to Rebecca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, offers us a look at the news from the world of science. Rebecca?

Another thing to note is the way C.I. ended our segment with the note about Scooter Libby's three roles. That's why C.I. is best suited for anchor. We usually have more time at the beginning of the news review, or before it, actually. We usually have fifteen minutes where we're discussing but this week, we started it after just five minutes and Jess was so brave to go first. He was really flying by the seat of his pants. While he and Cedric were taking their turns, Mike and I were dividing up what we'd emphasize and we liked the way (with help from Dona and Jim) our sections led into each other.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
War would end if the dead could return.
Stanley Baldwin