New Mark Fiore animation on US Attorney General Gonzales


There is a new Mark Fiore animation on the Internet.

It is here.

The subject is George W. Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and his policies of domestic spying, torture, and sacking attoneys for political reasons.

See also here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

Video: Gonzales lies under oath: here.

Internet Weekly cartoon here.

Update: here.

And here.

and here.

Right-wing US blogs and Gonzales: here.

Bush administration spying on peace movement in US, Canada, and Europe: here.

11 thoughts on “New Mark Fiore animation on US Attorney General Gonzales

  1. *WHO sneaked the provision into the Patriot Act ?*
    Posted by: “hapi22” hapi22@earthlink.net robinsegg
    Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:42 am (PST)
    We now know, from this “online chat” at the Washington Post just WHO it
    was that sneaked the provision into the Patriot Act allowing Bush to
    appoint federal prosecutors without senate approval.

    – – – – –

    *Carlisle, Pa.:* One question remains to be investigated — who inserted
    into the 2006 Patriot Act reauthorization the provision that permits
    replacing U.S. Attorneys with new appointees without Senate confirmation?

    *washingtonpost.com:* Brett Tolman — THEN on Sen. Arlen Specter’s
    staff, NOW a U.S. Attorney in Utah. Click here for more
    .

    Read this at:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/03/13/DI2007031300985.html

    – – – – – – – — –

    Here is Arlen Specter talking: “I then contacted my very able chief
    counsel, Michael O’Neill, to find out exactly what had happened. And Mr.
    O’Neill advised me that the requested change had come from the
    Department of Justice, that it was handled by Brett Tolman, who is now
    the U.S. attorney for Utah and that
    the change had been requested by the Department of Justice/”

    http://time-blog.com/swampland/2007/03/re_the_next_big_problem_at_the.html

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  2. Impeachment is an Underblown Personnel Matter
    Posted by: “G. Myrick” garymyrick@sbcglobal.net garymyrick
    Wed Mar 14, 2007 2:50 pm (PST)
    I totally agree with this excellent op-ed from the HufPost’s Marty Kaplan…
    ———————————————————-

    Impeachment is an Underblown Personnel Matter

    by Marty Kaplan
    HuffingtonPost
    March 14, 2007

    Fresh from his Nixonian press conference at the Justice Department, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has now taken his passive-exculpatory “mistakes were made” show on the road — the media road. I caught his act on MSNBC, where anchor Alex Witt’s follow-up to Gonzales’ opening lie was, “How does this differ from President Clinton’s mass dismissal of US Attorneys?” — a journalistically bizarre attempt to elicit a White House talking point whose message (US Attorneys are political appointees) is in blithe contradiction with another White House talking point (these firings weren’t political, they’re merit-based).

    I also saw Gonzales interviewed on CNN, where anchor-bobble Tony Harris wrapped by telling viewers that “no one’s been accused of criminality,” conveniently ignoring charges that Gonzales lied under oath to Congress, or that New Mexico Republicans Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson obstructed justice by pressuring US Attorney David Iglesias to trump up a pre-election indictment of a Democrat.

    Sooner or later, it will all come out — not only this Gonzales/Rove/Miers sewer, but all the other depredations visited on us by the Bush Administration. We will run out of -gates to affix to their names long before we will run -gates to affix to their names long before we will run out of crimes. The cherry-picking of intelligence to drag us into pre-emptive war, the rendition and torture, the wiretapping, the no-bid billions, the rest: it will all, one day, be exposed. Reputations will surely die. How? In the book of the future, it is already written — who by subpoena, and who by indictment; who by leak, and who by memoir; who by court, and who by committee; who by accusation, and who by confession; who by resignation, and who by impeachment.

    Oh, wait. Impeachment is off the table — I keep forgetting. Lying about a blowjob is a high crime, but lying about Iraq’s nukes is merely high Kissinger. The daily actions of Bush, Cheney, Gonzales et al are the very dictionary definition of “impeachable,” but because thirty percent of fundamentalists, and a hundred percent of Fox, would scream bloody murder, we will have to wait for this endless Administration to end, wait until after the pardons are inevitably issued, after the Freedom of Information requests are finally honored, after the manacles on the presidential archives are finally broken, after the press finally suffers stenographer’s remorse, after the historians at last connect the dots, to learn how really bad it has been, how close we have danced to the brink of a de facto coup.

    The other day, I heard Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council, talking on a cable show about the ’08 campaign. One of them, I forget which, said that the two biggest issues in the race were going to be the war in Iraq, and America’s moral decline. Holy homo! From Dobson to Robertson, O’Reilly to D’Souza, we are being hectored about Good and Bad by an army of apologists for the most morally corrupt, ethically bankrupt, criminally culpable cohort in American history. Listening to these defenders of the faith rationalize the indefensible has long ceased being entertaining; if you have no spine, it is not much of a feat to be a epistemological contortionist.

    The right loves to call its opponents “secular progressives,” and “moral relativists.” The truth is that there is no moral relativism more pernicious than the one — theirs — which will justify any abuse of power as a pursuit of divine ends. But as it turns out, our country was founded not on a Gospel, but on a Constitution, one that says that the president has a duty “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That’s the same Constitution, of course, that spells out the right to impeach public officials. Too bad that neither provision is much in use these days.

    ///

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/impeachment-is-an-underbl_b_43400.html

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  3. *the latest White House “document dump” of 3,000 documents*
    Posted by: “hapi22” hapi22@earthlink.net robinsegg
    Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:53 am (PST)
    I know the latest White House “document dump” of 3,000 documents (mostly
    e-mails), regarding the purge of the eight federal prosecutors, seems
    overwhelming. And I understand that only the most devoted will have the
    energy to follow all the revelations, BUT there are two places where you
    can see up-to-the-minute news about what’s in those documents

    at:

    Talking Points memo: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

    and

    War Room by Tim Grieve at Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/

    They are both doing excellent reporting and, in some cases,
    investigative work of their own..

    – – – – – – – – –

    The House and senate STILL need to put Karl Rove under oath to inquire
    into his involvement — and that of Bush — in this purge.

    – – – – – – – – –

    On the front doors of the United States Supreme Court, there are bronze
    panels with images of past events and famous people who developed,
    honored and protected the rule of law.

    “Each door holds four low-relief panels whose theme illustrates
    significant events in the evolution of justice in the Western
    tradition.”

    Click to access bronzedoors.pdf

    On one of those panels, there is a portrayal of Lord Edward Coke barring
    King James I from sitting as a Judge. Sir Coke is famous for his
    assertion that even the king was subject to and not above the law. Our
    nation honored that belief and commitment to the rule of law when they
    put Coke’s image on the great doors of the United States Supreme Court.

    “England’s Lord Chief Justice Coke bars King James I from the
    “King’s Court,” making the court, by law, independent of the
    executive branch of government.”

    Click to access bronzedoors.pdf

    ———————————————————-

    England’s Lord Chief Justice *Coke* bars King James I from the
    “King’s *Court*,” making the *court*, by law,
    independent of the executive branch of government.

    3b.
    Re: *the latest White House “document dump” of 3,000 documents*
    Posted by: “G. Myrick” garymyrick@sbcglobal.net garymyrick
    Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:31 am (PST)
    With great appreciation to “hapi22”, I will throw in another link related to info on the U.S. Attorney scandal:

    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/

    That goes directly to Talking Points Memo’s breaking stories on this and other subjects.

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  4. Clinton DIDN’T Do It Too – Congressional Report
    Posted by: “G. Myrick” garymyrick@sbcglobal.net garymyrick
    Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:59 pm (PST)
    Notice: The Bush administration PURGED “almost as many U.S. Attorneys in DECEMBER as had been let go over the past 25 YEARS”.

    ———————————————————-

    Congressional Report: Clinton Didn’t Do It Too

    Both President Bush and Karl Rove have argued that the administration’s U.S. Attorney purge is a “normal and ordinary” process that was also carried out by President Clinton. ThinkProgress has spent some time debunking this claim, but the Congressional Research Service has put the nail in the coffin.

    A CRS report released yesterday examines the tenure of all U.S. Attorneys who were confirmed by the Senate between the years 1981 and 2006 to determine how many had served – and, of those, how many had been forced to resign for reasons other than a change in administration.

    The answer:

    – Of the 468 confirmations made by the Senate over the 25-year period, ONLY 10 left office INVOLUNTARILY for reasons other than a change in administration prior to the firings that took place in December.

    – In virtually ALL of those 10 previous cases, serious issues of personal or professional conduct appeared to be the driving issue. Prior to December, for example, only two U.S. Attorneys were outright fired for improper, and in one case criminal, behavior. The CRS report identifies six other U.S. Attorneys who resigned during the 25-year period who were implicated in news reports of “questionable conduct.” For two others, the CRS was unable to determine the cause.

    In other words, the Bush administration pushed out almost as many U.S. Attorneys in DECEMBER as had been let go over the past 25 YEARS.

    American Progress fellow Scott Lilly writes on the CRS report:

    It is clear that of the four administrations that controlled the executive branch of government during the past quarter-century, only the CURRENT administration has held the view that U.S. Attorney can or should be removed absent serious cause. In NO instance is there ANY indication of a removal because a U.S. attorney failed to meet certain POLITICAL criteria, such as prosecuting cases that were considered too sensitive to partisan issues or failing to prosecute cases that would be helpful from a partisan perspective.

    The innovative philosophy of the current Bush administration with respect to the service of U.S. Attorneys is worthy of the attention it is now receiving. Those eight forced resignations threaten the very basis of our justice system – to quote the words written above the pillars on the west front of the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Under Law.”

    ———————————————————-

    Congressional Research Service report (PDF): http://www.cq.com/flatfiles/editorialFiles/temporaryItems/2007/attorneys.pdf

    American Progress fellow Scott Lilly writes on the CRS report: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/03/crs_report.html

    This story WITH LINKS at: http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/20/crs-clinton-attorney-purge/

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  5. NYT slams Bush’s ‘nasty, bumbling’ comments…
    Posted by: “G. Myrick” garymyrick@sbcglobal.net garymyrick
    Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:48 am (PST)
    A strong editorial from the New York Times…

    ———————————————————-

    The New York Times
    March 21, 2007

    Editorial

    What People Really Need

    In nasty and bumbling comments made at the White House yesterday, President Bush declared that “people just need to hear the truth” about the firing of eight United States attorneys. That’s right. Unfortunately, the deal Mr. Bush offered Congress to make White House officials available for “interviews” did not come close to meeting that standard.

    Mr. Bush’s proposal was a formula for hiding the truth, and for protecting the president and his staff from a legitimate inquiry by Congress. Mr. Bush’s idea of openness involved sending White House officials to Congress to answer questions in private, without taking any oath, making a transcript or allowing any follow-up appearances. The people, in other words, would be kept in the dark.

    The Democratic leaders were right to reject the offer, despite Mr. Bush’s threat to turn this dispute into a full-blown constitutional confrontation.

    Congress has the right and the duty to fully investigate the firings, which may have been illegal, and Justice Department officials’ statements to Congress, which may have been untrue. It needs to question Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials.

    It is hard to imagine what, besides evading responsibility, the White House had in mind. Why would anyone refuse to take an oath on a matter like this, unless he were not fully committed to telling the truth? And why would Congress accept that idea, especially in an investigation that has already been marked by repeated false and misleading statements from administration officials?

    The White House notes that making misrepresentations to Congress is illegal, even if no oath is taken. But that seems to be where the lack of a transcript comes in. It would be hard to prove what Mr. Rove and others said if no official record existed.

    The White House also put an unacceptable condition on the documents it would make available, by excluding e-mail messages within the White House. Mr. Bush’s overall strategy seems clear: to stop Congress from learning what went on within the White House, which may well be where the key decisions to fire the attorneys were made.

    The White House argued that presidential advisers rarely testify before Congress, but that is simply not true. Many of President Clinton’s high-ranking advisers, including his White House counsels and deputy chief of staff, testified about Whitewater, allegations of campaign finance abuses and other matters.

    The Bush administration is trying to hide behind the doctrine of “executive privilege.” That term does not appear in the Constitution; the best Mr. Bush could do yesterday was a stammering reference to the separate branches of government. When presidents have tried to invoke this privilege, the courts have been skeptical. President Richard Nixon tried to withhold the Watergate tapes, but a unanimous Supreme Court ruled against him.

    It is no great surprise that top officials of this administration believe they do not need to testify before Congress. This is an administration that has shown over and over that it does not believe that the laws apply to it, and that it does not respect its co-equal branches of government. Congress should subpoena Mr. Rove and the others, and question them under oath, in public. If Congress has more questions, they should be recalled.

    That would not be “partisanship,” as Mr. Bush wants Americans to believe. It would be Congress doing its job by holding the president and his team accountable – a rare thing in the last six years.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/opinion/21wed1.html?_r=1&oref=login

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  6. What Bush is hiding ?
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:03 pm (PST)
    What Bush is hiding

    In the U.S. attorney scandal, Alberto Gonzales gave orders, but he also took them — from Karl Rove, who plotted to turn the federal criminal justice system into the Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition.

    By Sidney Blumenthal

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/03/22/attorneys/?source=whitelist

    Mar. 22, 2007 | Leave aside the unintentional irony of President Bush asserting executive privilege to shield his aides from testifying before the Congress in the summary firings of eight U.S. attorneys because the precedent would prevent him from receiving “good advice.” Leave aside also his denunciation of the Congress for the impertinence of requesting such testimony as “partisan” and “demanding show trials,” despite calls from Republicans for the dismissal of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Ignore as well Bush’s adamant defense of Gonzales.

    The man Bush has nicknamed “Fredo,” the weak and betraying brother of the Corleone family, is, unlike Fredo, a blind loyalist, and will not be dispatched with a shot to the back of the head in a rowboat on the lake while reciting his Ave Maria. (Is Bush aware that Colin Powell refers to him as “Sonny,” after the hothead oldest son?) But saving “Fredo” doesn’t explain why Bush is willing to risk a constitutional crisis. Why is Bush going to the mattresses against the Congress? What doesn’t he want known?

    In the U.S. attorneys scandal, Gonzales was an active though second-level perpetrator. While he gave orders, he also took orders. Just as his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has resigned as a fall guy, so Gonzales would be yet another fall guy if he were to resign. He was assigned responsibility for the purge of U.S. attorneys but did not conceive it. The plot to transform the U.S. attorneys and ipso facto the federal criminal justice system into the Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition had its origin in Karl Rove’s fertile mind.

    Just after Bush’s reelection and before his second inauguration, as his administration’s hubris was running at high tide, Rove dropped by the White House legal counsel’s office to check on the plan for the purge. An internal e-mail, dated Jan. 6, 2005, and circulated within that office, quoted Rove as asking “how we planned to proceed regarding the U.S. attorneys, whether we are going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.” Three days later, Sampson, in an e-mail, “Re: Question from Karl Rove,” wrote: “As an operational matter we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys — the underperforming ones …The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc.”

    The disclosure of the e-mails establishing Rove’s centrality suggests not only the political chain of command but also the hierarchy of coverup. Bush protects Gonzales in order to protect those who gave Gonzales his marching orders — Rove and Bush himself.

    “Now, we’re at a point where people want to play politics with it,” Rove declared on March 15 in a speech at Troy University in Alabama. The scene of Rove’s self-dramatization as a victim of “politics” recalls nothing so much as Oscar Wilde’s remark about Dickens’ “Old Curiosity Shop”: “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”

    From his method acting against “politics,” Rove went on to his next, more banal talking point: There can be no scandal because everyone’s guilty. (This is a variation of the old “it didn’t start with Watergate” defense.) “I would simply ask that everybody who’s playing politics with this, be asked to comment on what they think of the removal of 123 U.S. attorneys during the previous administration and see if they had the same, superheated political rhetoric then that they’ve having now.” Instantly, this Rove talking point echoed out the squawk boxes of conservative talk radio and through the parrot jungle of the Washington press corps.

    Indeed, Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Reagan replaced the 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of their administration as part of the normal turnover involved in the alternation of power. A report issued on Feb. 22 from the Congressional Research Service revealed that between 1981 and 2006, only five of the 486 U.S. attorneys failed to finish their four-year terms, and none were fired for political reasons. Only three were fired for questionable behavior, including one on “accusations that he bit a topless dancer on the arm during a visit to an adult club after losing a big drug case.” In brief, Bush’s firings were unprecedented, and Rove’s talking point was simply one among several shifting explanations, starting with the initial false talking point that those dismissed suffered from “low performance.”

    “Administration has determined to ask some underperforming USAs to move on,” wrote Sampson in a Dec. 5, 2006, e-mail to associate attorney general Bill Mercer. Yet the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, March 20: “Six of the eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department ranked in the top third among their peers for the number of prosecutions filed last year, according to an analysis of federal records. In addition, five of the eight were among the government’s top performers in winning convictions.”

    When the scandal first broke, Rove personally offered a talking point on one of those fired, claiming on March 8 that the U.S. attorney for San Diego, Carol Lam, “refused to file immigration cases … at the direction of the Attorney General, she was asked to file, and she said I don’t want to make that a priority in my office.” Though there was pressure on Lam to pursue more immigration cases, a heated issue for Republicans, three months before she was dismissed, the Justice Department had sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noting that Lam’s office had devoted “fully half of its Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute criminal immigration cases.”

    Nor was the U.S. attorney for Washington state, John McKay, dismissed for “low performance.” On Aug. 9, 2006, Sampson recommended him for a federal judgeship, writing in an e-mail: “re: John, it’s highly unlikely that we could do better in Seattle.” Yet, less than a month later, on Sept. 13, Sampson placed McKay on a list titled: “[U.S. Attorneys] We Now Should Consider Pushing Out.” McKay was removed from favored status, according to his own sworn testimony before the Congress, because of his refusal to prosecute Democrats on nonexistent charges of voter fraud after the Democratic candidate for governor won by a razor-thin margin in 2004. McKay said he received telephone calls from Ed Cassidy, chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and state Republican Party chairman Chris Vance pressuring him to open a probe. Now, McKay has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the firings.

    McKay’s case parallels that of David Iglesias. As Iglesias wrote in the New York Times in an article titled “Why I Was Fired”: “Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Representative Heather Wilson and the other from Senator [Pete] Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico. Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, ‘I am very sorry to hear that,’ and the line went dead. A few weeks
    after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of United States attorneys who would be asked to resign — even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate.”

    Domenici and Wilson have both hired lawyers, given that they could potentially face prosecution for obstruction of justice. Their possible legal vulnerability and that of other Republicans across the country suggests a major reason why Bush is fighting to keep Rove from testifying before the Congress under oath.

    McKay’s and Iglesias’ cases, as they explain them, involve efforts to pressure U.S. attorneys to launch investigations solely for political motives. The U.S. attorneys decided that evidence was lacking for such probes, and they were accordingly punished. Meanwhile, four of those fired were guilty of offenses of commission, not omission, having begun legitimate public corruption investigations of Republican officials.

    Lam, who had successfully prosecuted Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, was following the trail by investigating his associates, defense contractor and Republican fundraiser Brent Wilkes, and Wilkes’ best friend, Dusty Foggo, the No. 3 ranking official at the CIA, the chief of contracting; and Rep. Jerry Lewis, a California Republican.

    Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, was investigating whether Gov. Jim Gibbons “accepted unreported gifts or payments from a company that was awarded secret military contracts when Mr. Gibbons served in Congress,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

    H.E. “Bud” Cummins, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, was investigating conflict-of-interest corruption involving state contracts that Missouri governor Matt Blunt granted to Republican contributors. In October 2006, Cummins announced he would not seek indictments. But his statement just came four weeks before the election for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri that the Democratic candidate, Claire McCaskill, won narrowly. Cummins told the Los Angeles Times, “You have to firewall politics out of the Department of Justice. Because once it gets in, people question every decision you make. Now I keep asking myself: ‘What about the Blunt deal?'”

    Paul Charlton, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, was investigating Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., for allegedly corrupt land deals and introducing legislation to benefit a major campaign contributor. Charlton was curiously accused of not filing obscenity cases, which, in fact, he did pursue.

    In each of these public corruption cases, it is reasonable to assume that the relevant Republican political figures either themselves complained or complained through surrogates about the U.S. attorneys to Rove, the matrix of national GOP politics. But which officials — instead of foolishly making direct calls to the U.S. attorney, like Domenici and Wilson — went through Rove to stymie the investigations (or rush them, if they were targeting Democrats)? Then, what did Rove say about the individual U.S. attorneys to the White House Office of Legal Counsel and officials in the Justice Department?

    Bush’s resistance to having Rove placed under oath or even having a transcript of his testimony appears to be a coverup of a series of obstructions of justice. The e-mails hint at the quickening pulse of communications between the White House and the Justice Department. But only sworn testimony can elicit the truth.

    On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee issued five subpoenas, including one for Rove, and on Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to follow suit. With these subpoenas, a constitutional battle is joined. “The moment subpoenas are issued, it means that they have rejected the offer,” said White House press secretary Tony Snow. Bush is barricading his White House against the Congress to prevent its members from posing the pertinent question that might open the floodgate: What did Karl Rove know, and when did he know it?

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  7. Terror database casts a wide net – Watch list has quadrupled in size
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Sun Mar 25, 2007 10:18 am (PST)
    Terror database casts a wide net – Watch list has quadrupled in size, raising management and privacy concerns

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17746791/

    March 25, 2007

    EXCERPT;

    “The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database.”

    STORY;

    Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world — field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip — arrive in a computer-filled office in McLean, where analysts feed them into the nation’s central list of terrorists and terrorism suspects.

    Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.

    Watch list sets low bar

    But in addressing one problem, TIDE has spawned others. Ballooning from fewer than 100,000 files in 2003 to about 435,000, the growing database threatens to overwhelm the people who manage it. “The single biggest worry that I have is long-term quality control,” said Russ Travers, in charge of TIDE at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean. “Where am I going to be, where is my successor going to be, five years down the road?”

    TIDE has also created concerns about secrecy, errors and privacy. The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it. At any stage, the process can lead to “horror stories” of mixed-up names and unconfirmed information, Travers acknowledged.

    The watch lists fed by TIDE, used to monitor everyone entering the country or having even a casual encounter with federal, state and local law enforcement, have a higher bar. But they have become a source of irritation — and potentially more serious consequences — for many U.S. citizens and visitors.

    Thousands of erroneous hits

    In 2004 and 2005, misidentifications accounted for about half of the tens of thousands of times a traveler’s name triggered a watch-list hit, the Government Accountability Office reported in September. Congressional committees have criticized the process, some charging that it collects too much information about Americans, others saying it is ineffective against terrorists. Civil rights and privacy groups have called for increased transparency.

    “How many are on the lists, how are they compiled, how is the information used, how do they verify it?” asked Lillie Coney, associate director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. Such information is classified, and individuals barred from traveling are not told why.

    Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said last year that his wife had been delayed repeatedly while airlines queried whether Catherine Stevens was the watch-listed Cat Stevens. The listing referred to the Britain-based pop singer who converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. The reason Islam is not allowed to fly to the United States is secret.

    So is the reason Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, remains on the State Department’s consular watch list. Detained in New York while en route to Montreal in 2002, Arar was sent by the U.S. government to a year of imprisonment in Syria. Canada, the source of the initial information about Arar, cleared him of all terrorism allegations last September — three years after his release — and has since authorized $9 million in compensation.

    TIDE is a vacuum cleaner for both proven and unproven information, and its managers disclaim responsibility for how other agencies use the data. “What’s the alternative?” Travers said. “I work under the assumption that we’re never going to have perfect information — fingerprints, DNA — on 6 billion people across the planet. . . . If someone actually has a better idea, I’m all ears.”

    ‘Thousands of messages’

    The electronic journey a piece of terrorism data takes from an intelligence outpost to an airline counter is interrupted at several points for analysis and condensation.

    President Bush ordered the intelligence community in 2003 to centralize data on terrorism suspects, and U.S. agencies at home and abroad now send everything they collect to TIDE. It arrives electronically as names to be added or as additional information about people already in the system.

    The 80 TIDE analysts get “thousands of messages a day,” Travers said, much of the data “fragmentary,” “inconsistent” and “sometimes just flat-out wrong.” Often the analysts go back to the intelligence agencies for details. “Sometimes you’ll get sort of corroborating information,” he said, “but many times you’re not going to get much. What we use here, rightly or wrongly, is a reasonable-suspicion standard.”

    Each TIDE listee is given a number, and statistics are kept on nationality and ethnic and religious groups. Some files include aliases and sightings, and others are just a full or partial name, perhaps with a sketchy biography. Sunni and Shiite Muslims are the fastest-growing categories in a database whose entries include Saudi financiers and Colombian revolutionaries. U.S. citizens — who Travers said make up less than 5 percent of listings — are included if an “international terrorism nexus” is established. A similar exception for the administration’s warrantless wiretap program came under court challenge from privacy and civil rights advocates.

    Information sharing

    Every night at 10, TIDE dumps an unclassified version of that day’s harvest — names, dates of birth, countries of origin and passport information — into a database belonging to the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center. TIDE’s most sensitive information is not included. The FBI adds data about U.S. suspects with no international ties for a combined daily total of 1,000 to 1,500 new names.

    Between 5 and 6 a.m., a shift of 24 analysts drawn from the agencies that use watch lists begins a new winnowing process at the center’s Crystal City office. The analysts have access to case files at TIDE and the original intelligence sources, said the center’s acting director, Rick Kopel.

    Decisions on what to add to the Terrorist Screening Center master list are made by midafternoon. The bar is higher than TIDE’s; total listings were about 235,000 names as of last fall, according to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. The bar is then raised again as agencies decide which names to put on their own watch lists: the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” and “selectee” lists for airlines; Consular Lookout and Support System at the State Department; the Interagency Border and Inspection System at the Department of Homeland Security; and the Justice Department’s National Crime Information Center. The criteria each agency use are classified, Kopel said.

    International red flags

    Some information may raise a red flag for one agency but not another. “There’s a big difference between CLASS and no-fly,” Kopel said, referring to State’s consular list. “About the only criteria CLASS has is that you’re not a U.S. person. . . . Say ‘a Mohammed from Syria.’ That’s useless for me to watch-list here in the United States. But if I’m in Damascus processing visas . . . that might be enough for someone to . . . put a hold on the visa process.”

    All of the more than 30,000 individuals on the TSA’s no-fly list are prohibited from entering an aircraft in the United States. People whose names appear on the longer selectee list — those the government believes merit watching but does not bar from travel — are supposed to be subjected to more intense scrutiny.

    With little to go on beyond names, airlines find frequent matches. The screening center agent on call will check the file for markers such as sex, age and prior “encounters” with the list. The agent might ask the airlines about the passenger’s eye color, height or defining marks, Kopel said. “We’ll say, ‘Does he have any rings on his left hand?’ and they’ll say, ‘Uh, he doesn’t have a left hand.’ Okay. We know that [the listed person] lost his left hand making a bomb.”

    If the answers indicate a match, that “encounter” is fed back into the FBI screening center’s files and ultimately to TIDE. Kopel said the agent never tells the airline whether the person trying to board is the suspect. The airlines decide whether to allow the customer to fly.

    TSA receives thousands of complaints each year, such as this one released to the Electronic Privacy Information Center in 2004 under the Freedom of Information Act: “Apparently, my name is on some watch list because everytime I fly, I get delayed while the airline personnel call what they say is TSA,” wrote a passenger whose name was blacked out. Noting that he was a high-level federal worker, he asked what he could do to remove his name from the list.

    The answer, Kopel said, is little. A unit at the screening center responds to complaints, he said, but will not remove a name if it is shared by a terrorism suspect. Instead, people not on the list who share a name with someone listed can be issued letters instructing airline personnel to check with the TSA to verify their identity. The GAO reported that 31 names were removed in 2005.

    A process under fire

    A recent review of the entire Terrorist Screening Center database was temporarily abandoned when it proved too much work even for the night crew, which generally handles less of a workload. But the no-fly and selectee lists are being scrubbed to emphasize “people we think are a danger to the plane, and not for some other reason they met the criteria,” Kopel said.

    A separate TSA system that would check every passenger name against the screening center’s database has been shelved over concern that it could grow into a massive surveillance program. The Department of Homeland Security was rebuked by Congress in December for trying to develop a risk-assessment program to profile travelers entering and leaving the United States based on airline and financial data.

    Kopel insisted that private information on Americans, such as credit-card records, never makes it into the screening center database and that “we rely 100 percent on government-owned information.”

    The center came in for ridicule last year when CBS’s “60 Minutes” noted that 14 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were listed — five years after their deaths. Kopel defended the listings, saying that “we know for a fact that these people will use names that they believe we are not going to list because they’re out of circulation — either because they’re dead or incarcerated. . . . It’s not willy-nilly. Every name on the list, there’s a reason that it’s on there.”

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  8. So Monica Goodling doesn’t want to answer questions on Capitol Hill,
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:05 am (PST)
    So Monica Goodling doesn€ ¦’²t want to answer questions on Capitol Hill, eh?

    Torture Her!

    http://www.regressiveantidote.net/Articles/Torture_Her.html

    This top official in the Justice Department, who serves as its liaison to the White House, is now refusing to answer any congressional questions about the US attorneys scandal. You know, the one in which George and Dick and Karl and Alberto have been hiring and firing federal prosecutors based on their willingness to politicize the legal system. That scandal (it€ ¦’²s so hard to keep track of them these days).

    Her lawyer says that Goodling doesn€ ¦’²t actually have anything to hide, but rather that € ¦’¶ just like the judicial travesty that recently took down Scooter Libby € ¦’¶ a “hostile and questionable environment” has surrounded the case. As opposed to the good kind of investigations, you see, where the White House doesn€ ¦’²t bother to answer the friendly questions that Congress and the press don€ ¦’²t bother to ask. You know, like the last six years or so.

    So Goodling€ ¦’²s lawyer has just announced that his client will be invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination € ¦’¶ even though, mind you, she didn€ ¦’²t do anything wrong! € ¦’¶ rather than testifying to Congress.

    Fifth Amendment? Fifth Amendment? You mean like, the Bill of Rights? That Fifth Amendment?

    Doesn€ ¦’²t she know that the Fifth Amendment has been suspended?

    Doesn€ ¦’²t she know that all those amendments have been suspended?

    Doesn€ ¦’²t she know that the president considers that whole document that these amendments amend to be “just a goddamed piece of paper”?

    She€ ¦’²s joking here, right? I thought she worked for the Justice Department in the Bush administration? Hasn€ ¦’²t she heard?

    Or maybe she€ ¦’²s still waiting for her interoffice mail from the last five years to clear NSA.

    Boy, is she gonna be surprised. We all know how committed the Bush people are to protecting the country from evildoers.

    Next thing you know, little Miss Monica Goodling is going to find herself bound and gagged, and on a short but very uncomfortable flight to Guant€ ¦ánamo.

    And that€ ¦’²s if she€ ¦’²s lucky. If not, she€ ¦’²ll be getting a wee taste of extraordinary rendition to some place like Egypt or Syria. Those fellas know how to make a gal sing! Lemme tell ya, brother, there aren€ ¦’²t any pesky amendments in Syria, and there never were.

    I hope Ms. Goodling doesn€ ¦’²t think that her attorney will get the charges dropped for her. In fact, she won€ ¦’²t be having an attorney.

    I hope she doesn€ ¦’²t think that the evidence she presents will exonerate her. In fact, she won€ ¦’²t be presenting any.

    I hope she doesn€ ¦’²t think there will be a fair trial before a jury of her peers. In fact, she€ ¦’²s gonna be rotting away in a dank cell somewhere, never even charged with any actual offense.

    And she can forget about making a habeas corpus appeal, too. Even though it was considered for centuries to be one of the great traditions of Western jurisprudence, Dear Leader knew better than that and had the foresight to eliminate it, so that evildoers couldn€ ¦’²t get away on some minor legal technicality like unlawful imprisonment.

    Habeas corpus? Ancient history. Just like all the rest of that Latin mumbo-jumbo. Bag € ¦’±em and tag € ¦’±em are the legal lyrics we sing these days. This president€ ¦’²s a (nearly real) Texan! Don€ ¦’²t mess with Texas!

    Squeamish lily-livered liberals and their bleeding-heart fellow travelers might not like it, but I€ ¦’²m sure the president wants to get to the bottom of this just as much as he€ ¦’²s wanted to solve the puzzle of who outed Valerie Plame (which he will, I assure you, as soon as he can locate that scrap of paper with Dick Cheney€ ¦’²s phone number on it).

    That€ ¦’²s bad news for Ms. Goodling, because that whole annoying Geneva Protocol thing has now been determined to be both “quaint” and “obsolete” (didn€ ¦’²t Alberto tell you?).

    Uh-Oh. That means the t-word, I€ ¦’²m afraid. But, look, you gotta do what you gotta do to win the war on evildoers.

    So I say, torture her! Hell yes.

    If I know anything about this president, I know he won€ ¦’²t be afraid to attach electrodes to her genitals and make her scream a little.

    I know that he€ ¦’²ll waterboard her until she gives up the guilty parties (though certain names may have to be redacted, of course, but we have people for that).

    I know that nothing so quaint and obsolete as mere international treaties or constitutional provisions will stop our unfaltering crusader for justice from getting to the bottom of this obvious threat to our way of life.

    And I know that once he has everything he needs from her forced confession, he€ ¦’²ll have just the people in place as US attorneys to prosecute this evildoer. (But, of course, why bother at that point?)

    Fifth Amendment rights. That€ ¦’²s rich. We haven€ ¦’²t had that around these parts since nigh about the twentieth century. Next I suppose she€ ¦’²ll be claiming that her preordained death sentence is cruel and unusual punishment! Talk about quaint and obsolete.

    Fifth Amendment rights. Hah. What does she think this is, the old United States of America?

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  9. James Madison – “Impeach Bush Over Purgegate!”
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:39 pm (PST)

    James Madison – “Impeach Bush Over Purgegate!”
    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/03/27/113/

    Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 by CommonDreams.org

    by Thom Hartmann

    According to James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” if a President were to order or allow the “wanton removal of meritorious officers” such as US attorneys, such an action “would subject the President to impeachment and removal from his own high trust.”

    The issue of the firing of people within the Executive branch for political purposes came up during a debate in 1789 about how to create agencies within the Executive branch that would be consistent with Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution, which says that the President can appoint people (like US Attorneys/prosecutors), but they couldn€ ¦’²t take office unless the Senate votes to confirm each individual appointment:

    He [the President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

    But if the President can nominate, and the Senate confirm somebody like a federal prosecutor, who can fire one? And what if they€ ¦’²re fired for politcal purposes?

    Madison€ ¦’²s logic was straightforward, and came about in one of his first major speeches before the House of Representatives, on 17 June 1789, just a few months into his first term as a Congressman (he would later become Secretary of State and President). A bill was put forward to create what is today known as the State Department in a more formal fashion than had existed when George Washington had become the new nation€ ¦’²s first President just three months before and appointed Thomas Jefferson as his Secretary of State Affairs.

    As with other agencies brought into law by Congress, this new Department of Foreign Affairs being debated would have to exist under the oversight and supervision of the Executive Branch of government, led by the President. And, as such, how, Congress wanted to know, could they make sure that no President would ever allow good members of his various departments (“meritorious officers”) to be fired for purely political purposes (“wanton removal”)?

    The Congressional Register from that day lays out Madison€ ¦’²s entire speech. Because it€ ¦’²s thorough and detailed, and offers a brilliant insight into the thinking of the most important of the Framers of our Constitution (Madison), I reproduce it in its entirety below. Because it€ ¦’²s rather long, however, I€ ¦’²ve also bolded and italicized those parts that get right to the nub of the matter so you can skim it first, and then go back and read the entire thing in context.

    The essence of the debate is over whether Congress or the President would have the power to fire people employed below the level of a Cabinet officer in the George Washington and future administrations. The conclusion of the majority – and thus the way the law is today – is that Congress felt that the Senate€ ¦’²s approval of the hiring of federal officers was critical (a power the Patriot Act took away, and the Senate voted last week to restore), and that when it comes to firing them, the President has the power. However, if the President were to abuse that power to fire federal officials through the “wanton removal of meritorious officers,” he should be immediately impeached.

    This was particularly relevant since, in 1789, there were no federal crimes that had yet been defined. So when the Constitution said that a President could be impeached for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” there were none specified at the time. (The first federal crime was specified in 1790.) So Congress, at this point, was in the process of both creating new executive offices and of defining impeachable “crimes.” They were establishing precedents, and this was a grave matter. It would echo forward for centuries.

    The Congressional Register 17 June 1789 The house went into a committee of the whole on the bill for establishing the department of foreign affairs, and resumed the consideration of the clause “to be removable by the president.”

    Mr. Madison [is called upon to speak].

    However various the opinions which exist upon the point now before us, it seems agreed on all sides, that it demands a careful investigation and full discussion. I feel the importance of the question, and know that our decision will involve the decision of all similar cases. The decision that is at this time made will become the permanent exposition of the constitution; and on a permanent exposition of the constitution will depend the genius and character of the whole government. It will depend, perhaps, on this decision, whether the government shall retain that equilibrium which the constitution intended, or take a direction toward aristocracy, or anarchy among the members of the government. Hence how careful ought we to be to give a true direction to a power so critically circumstanced. It is incumbent on us to weigh with particular attention the arguments which have been advanced in support of the various opinions with cautious deliberation.

    I own to you, Mr. chairman, that I feel great anxiety upon this question; I feel an anxiety, because I am called upon to give a decision in a case that may affect the fundamental principles of the government under which we act, and liberty itself. But all that I can do on such an occasion is to weigh well every thing advanced on both sides, with the purest desire to find out the true meaning of the constitution, and to be guided by that, and an attachment to the true spirit of liberty, whose influence I believe strongly predominates here.

    Several constructions have been put upon the constitution relative to the point in question. The gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Sherman) has advanced a doctrine which was not touched upon before. He seems to think (if I understood him right), that the power of displacing from office is subject to legislative discretion; because it having a right to create, it may limit or modify as is thought proper. I shall not say but at first view this doctrine may seem to have some plausibility: But when I consider, that the constitution clearly intended to maintain a marked distinction between the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of government; and when I consider, that if the legislature has a power, such as contended for, they may subject, and transfer at discretion, powers from one department of government to another; they may, on that principle, exclude the president altogether from exercising any authority in the removal of officers; they may give it to the senate
    alone, or the president and senate combined; they may vest it in the whole congress, or they may reserve it to be exercised by this house. When I consider the consequences of this doctrine, and compare them with the true principles of the constitution, I own that I cannot subscribe to it.

    Another doctrine which has found very respectable friends, has been particularly advocated by the gentleman from South-Carolina (Mr. Smith). It is this; when an officer is appointed by the president and senate, he can only be displaced from malfeasance in his office by impeachment: I think this would give a stability to the executive department so far as it may be described by the heads of departments, which is more incompatible with the genius of republican governments in general, and this constitution in particular, than any doctrine which has yet been proposed. The danger to liberty, the danger of mal-administration has not yet been found to lay so much in the facility of introducing improper persons into office, as in the difficulty of displacing those who are unworthy of the public trust. If it is said that an officer once appointed shall not be displaced without the formality required by impeachment, I shall be glad to know what security we have for the faithful
    administration of the government. Every individual in the long chain which extends from the highest to the lowest link of the executive magistracy, would find a security in his situation which would relax his fidelity and promptitude in the discharge of his duty.

    The doctrine, however, which seems to stand most in opposition to the principles I contend for, is that the power to annul an appointment is in the nature of things incidental to the power which makes the appointment [e.g. the President]. I agree that if nothing more was said in the constitution than that the president, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, should appoint to office, there would be great force in saying that the power of removal resulted by a natural implication from the power of appointing. But there is another part of the constitution no less explicit than the one on which the gentleman€ ¦’²s doctrine is founded, it is that part which declares, that the executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States. The association of the senate with the president in exercising that particular function, is an exception to this general rule; and exceptions to general rules, I conceive, are ever to be taken strictly.

    But there is another part of the constitution which inclines in my judgment, to favor the construction I put upon it; the president is required to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. If the duty to see the laws faithfully executed be required at the hands of the executive magistrate, it would seem that it was generally intended he should have that species of power which is necessary to accomplish that end. Now if the officer when once appointed, is not to depend upon the president for his official existence, but upon a distinct body (for where there are two negatives required either can prevent the removal), I confess I do not see how the president can take care that the laws be faithfully executed. It is true by a circuitous operation, he may obtain an impeachment, and even without this it is possible he may obtain the concurrence of the senate for the purpose of displacing an officer; but would this give that species of control to the executive magistrate
    which seems to be required by the constitution? I own if my opinion was not contrary to that entertained by what I suppose to be the minority on this question, I should be doubtful of being mistaken, when I discovered how inconsistent that construction would make the constitution with itself. I can hardly bring myself to imagine the wisdom of the convention who framed the constitution, contemplated such incongruity.

    There is another maxim which ought to direct us in expounding the constitution, and is of great importance. It is laid down in most of the constitutions or bills of rights in the republics of America, it is to be found in the political writings of the most celebrated civilians, and is every where held as essential to the preservation of liberty, That the three great departments of government be kept separate and distinct; and if in any case they are blended, it is in order to admit a partial qualification in order more effectually to guard against an entire consolidation. I think, therefore, when we review the several parts of this constitution, when it says that the legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress of the United States under certain exceptions, and the executive power vested in the president with certain exceptions, we must suppose they were intended to be kept separate in all cases in which they are not blended, and ought consequently to expound the
    constitution so as to blend them as little as possible.

    Every thing relative to the merits of the question as distinguished from a constitutional question, seems to turn on the danger of such a power vested in the president alone. But when I consider the checks under which he lies in the exercise of this power, I own to you I feel no apprehensions but what arise from the dangers incidental to the power itself; for dangers will be incidental to it, vest it where you please. I will not reiterate what was said before with respect to the mode of election, and the extreme improbability that any citizen will be selected from the mass of citizens who is not highly distinguished by his abilities and worth; in this alone we have no small security for the faithful exercise of this power. But, throwing that out of the question, let us consider the restraints he will feel after he is placed in that elevated station. It is to be remarked that the power in this case will not consist so much in continuing a bad man in office, as in the
    danger of displacing a good one.

    Perhaps the great danger, as has been observed, of abuse in the executive power, lies in the improper continuance of bad men in office. But the power we contend for will not enable him to do this; for if an unworthy man be continued in office by an unworthy president, the house of representatives can at any time impeach him, and the senate can remove him, whether the president chuses or not.

    The danger then consists merely in this, the president can displace from office a man whose merits require that he should be continued in it. What will be the motives which the president can feel for such abuse of his power, and the restraints that operate to prevent it? In the first place, he will be impeachable by this house, before the senate, for such an act of mal-administration; for I contend that the wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject him to impeachment and removal from his own high trust.

    But what can be his motives for displacing a worthy man? It must be that he may fill the place with an unworthy creature of his own. Can he accomplish this end? No; he can place no man in the vacancy whom the senate shall not approve; and if he could fill the vacancy with the man he might chuse, I am sure he would have little inducement to make an improper removal.

    Let us consider the consequences. The injured man will be supported by the popular opinion; the community will take side with him against the president; it will facilitate those combinations, and give success to those exertions which will be pursued to prevent his re-election. To displace a man of high merit, and who from his station may be supposed a man of extensive influence, are considerations which will excite serious reflections before hand in the mind of any man who may fill the presidential chair, the friends of those individuals, and the public sympathy will be against him.

    If this should not produce his impeachment before the senate, it will amount to an impeachment before the community, who will have the power of punishment by refusing to re-elect him. But suppose this persecuted individual, cannot obtain revenge in this mode, there are other modes in which he could make the situation of the president very inconvenient, if you suppose him resolutely bent on executing the dictates of resentment. If he had not influence enough to direct the vengeance of the whole community, he may probably be able to obtain an appointment in one or other branch of the legislature; and being a man of weight, talents and influence in either case, he may prove to the president troublesome indeed.

    We have seen examples in the history of other nations, which justifies the remark I now have made, though the prerogatives of the British king are great as his rank, and it is unquestionably known that he has a positive influence over both branches of the legislative body, yet there have been examples in which the appointment and removal of ministers has been found to be dictated by one or other of those branches.

    Now if this is the case with an hereditary monarch, possessed of those high prerogatives and furnished with so many means of influence; can we suppose a president elected for four years only dependent upon the popular voice impeachable by the legislature? little if at all distinguished for wealth, personal talents, or influence from the head of the department himself; I say, will he bid defiance to all these considerations, and wantonly dismiss a meritorious and virtuous officer? Such abuse of power exceeds my conception: If any thing takes place in the ordinary course of business of this kind, my imagination cannot extend to it on any rational principle.

    But let us not consider the question on one side only, there are dangers to be contemplated on the other. Vest this power in the senate jointly with the president, and you abolish at once that great principle of unity and responsibility in the executive department, which was intended for the security of liberty and the public good. If the president should possess alone the power of removal from office, those who are employed in the execution of the law will be in their proper situation, and the chain of dependence be preserved; the lowest officers, the middle grade, and the highest, will depend, as they ought, on the president, and the president on the community. The chain of dependence therefore terminates in the supreme body, namely, in the people; who will possess besides, in aid of their original power, the decisive engine of impeachment.

    Shortly thereafter, Mr. Madison yielded the floor to Mr. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who argued against impeaching a President for firing an honorable man. “It is said that the president will be subject to an impeachment for dismissing a good man,” Gerry noted. “This in my mind involves an absurdity.”

    Gerry then went on to build a case that no President would do such a thing, because his new appointment would also be subject to confirmation by the Senate. When the Senate considered the new appointment, it would be able to ask what had happened to the last person, thus bringing accountability of the President into the picture.

    Mr. Gerry, of course, had not foreseen a day when a certain Senator Specter would be forced by ideologues in the White House to hire a right-wing operative. He never imagined such an operative could then slip into law over Senator Specter€ ¦’²s name (but, according to the good Senator, without his knowledge) a change in the Constitutional requirement of Senate confirmation of presidential appointments to the position of federal prosecutors known as US Attorneys. And Congressman Gerry (after whom Gerrymandering would later be named – no saint himself) would, no doubt, have been boggled at the idea that that same operative would then would himself end up as a federal prosecutor.

    Madison was prescient. The remedy for this High Crime against American democracy is impeachment.

    Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. http://www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are “The Last Hours of Ancient SunlightHYPERLINK “http://”,” “Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights,” “We The People: A Call To Take Back America,” The Edison Gene, and “What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy.”

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  10. Former top aide says attorney general, White House counsel decided o
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:44 pm (PST)
    Former top aide says attorney general, White House counsel decided on firing prosecutors

    Associated Press Writers Lara Jakes Jordan and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20070329/fired-prosecutors

    March 29, 2007

    WASHINGTON € ¦’· Contrary to his public statements, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales 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.

    “I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate,” Kyle Sampson, who quit this month as Gonzales’ chief of staff, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign.”

    Responding to questions from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sampson rejected the notion that the dismissals were ordered by young or inexperienced Justice Department officials.

    “The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I and others made staff recommendations but they were approved and signed off on by the principals.”
    The White House response was notably muted.

    “I’m going to have to let the attorney general speak for himself,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

    Sampson’s testimony and thousands of e-mails released over the past two weeks point to a much deeper involvement by Gonzales and then-White House counsel Harriet Miers in discussions taking place over several months about which U.S. attorneys to fire.

    “The attorney general was aware of this process from the beginning in early 2005,” Sampson testified Thursday. “He and I had discussions about it during the thinking phase of the process. Then in the more final phase … he asked me to make sure that the process was appropriate.”

    Gonzales said on March 13 that he did not participate in discussions or see any documents about the firings. Documents released last week show he attended a Nov. 27 meeting with senior aides on the topic, where he approved a detailed plan to carry out the dismissals. Gonzales later recanted, saying he had signed off on the plan to fire the prosecutors.

    Sampson, sitting alone at the witness table, said the fired prosecutors were found to be insufficiently committed to the president’s law enforcement priorities. His appearance was the latest act in a political drama that has shaken the Bush administration and imperiled Gonzales’ tenure at the Justice Department.

    Gonzales planned to meet with U.S. attorneys from the mid-Atlantic region at Justice Department headquarters Thursday, wrapping up a multistate tour in which he touted the agency’s crackdown on child predators.

    As he traveled, the Justice Department unraveled, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

    “It is generally acknowledged that the Department of Justice is in a state of disrepair, perhaps even dysfunction, because of what has happened,” Specter said. The remaining U.S. attorneys are skittish, he said, “not knowing when the other shoe may drop.”

    Sampson said he would testify as long as need be. His comments contradicted Gonzales’ earlier denial of being involved in the firings, as well as the attorney general’s suggestion that two other Justice Department officials misled Congress about the firings because they had been badly briefed.

    “I don’t think it’s accurate if the statement implies that I intended to mislead the Congress,” Sampson said. “I shared information with anyone who wanted it. I was very open and collaborative in the process.”

    Sampson also testified the prosecutors were fired last year because they did not sufficiently support Bush’s priorities, defending a standard that Democrats called “highly improper.”

    “The distinction between ‘political’ and ‘performance-related’ reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial,” Sampson said.

    “Some were asked to resign because they were not carrying out the president’s and the attorney general’s priorities,” he said. “In some sense that may be described as political by some people.”

    He denied that any prosecutor was fired for pursuing corruption cases that might hurt the administration. “To my knowledge, nothing of the sort occurred here,” Sampson told the committee.

    Democrats rejected the concept of mixing politics with federal law enforcement. They accused the Bush administration of cronyism and trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process by installing favored GOP allies in plum jobs as U.S. attorneys.

    “We have a situation that’s highly improper. It corrodes the public’s trust in our system of Justice,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. “It’s wrong.”

    Sampson acknowledged that at one point he had advocated using a new provision in the Patriot Act to get around Senate confirmation of new federal prosecutors, but Gonzales rejected the suggestion.

    “He thought it was a bad idea and he was right,” Sampson said.

    Sampson, who quit earlier this month amid the furor, disputed Democratic charges that the firings were a purge by intimidation and a warning to the remaining prosecutors to fall in line.

    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, offered Sampson some support, saying he had seen no evidence that the dismissals were “designed to impede or actually did impede a criminal investigation or prosecution.”

    Hours before Sampson’s testimony, the Justice Department admitted that it gave senators inaccurate information about the firings and presidential political adviser Karl Rove’s role in trying to secure a U.S. attorney’s post in Arkansas for one of his former aides, Tim Griffin.

    Justice officials acknowledged that a Feb. 23 letter to four Democratic senators erred in asserting that the department was not aware of any role Rove played in the decision to appoint Griffin to replace U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark.

    Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling said that certain statements in last month’s letter to Democratic lawmakers appeared to be “contradicted by department documents included in our production.”

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  11. Pingback: Blair’s fall as part of the fall of neo-conservatism? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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