Saturday, January 07, 2006

Laws Were Made To Be Broken (By The President)

If you can believe it, the President's spaghetti strainer of a legal defense doesn't hold much water under scrutiny. A CRC (Congressional Research Service), a nonpartisan organization, reports that the President's warrantless wiretapping program does conflict with the law-

Washington Post: Report Rebuts Bush on Spying
Domestic Action's Legality Challenged

A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments...

...The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

The report also concluded that Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force...

..."This report contradicts the president's claim that his spying on Americans was legal," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), one of the lawmakers who asked the CRS to research the issue. "It looks like the president's wiretapping was not only illegal, but also ensnared innocent Americans who did nothing more than place a phone call."...

And a new poll shows that Americans do believe in laws...
AP: Poll: Most Say U.S. Needs Warrant to Snoop
...56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism...

The remaining 44%? Fox News employees, Matt Drudge, Michelle Malkin, and the staff of FreeRepublic.

The Delay Era In Congress Is Over

Tom Delay's reign as leader of the House is officially over.

AP: DeLay Abandons Bid to Remain House Leader
Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay on Saturday abandoned his bid to remain as House majority leader, clearing the way for leadership elections among Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal.

In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said, "I have always acted in an ethical manner."...

ROTFL, Tom! You're a riot. Yes, you and your "closest and dearest friend" Jack have always acted ethically.

The Letter: DeLay Letter

What do you expect from a legislative body that had Bob "Representative #1" Ney teaching ethics to new members? Let's hope this is the beginning of some sort of accountability for governmental corruption and not just a speed bump on the way to another golfing vacation in Scotland. And Democrats, if you can't convince the average, working-class American than they've been foolishly voting for the party of big business, corruption, and hypocritical morality all these years (and that you can present an alternative), then maybe you don't deserve to be elected either.

"[The criminal charges are] so frivolous, so over-the-top, so embarrassing to the judiciary that we ought to be able to get it out of here pretty quickly... It will be over and be over very, very soon. And I think I will go back to be majority leader."
-Tom Delay (October 3, 2005)

Links of the Day

Still angry? Yea, me too. Here's some links of interest...

-Paul Bremer says "we really didn't see the insurgency coming". Award this man a second Presidential Medal of Freedom!!!:
Bremer says US did not expect insurgency in Iraq

-Speaking of Iraq, the country's President remains hopeful:
Iraqi Leader Predicts Government Formation

-Finally, many New Orleans residents continue to wait for the help they were promised:
Katrina Victims Angry at Recovery Pace

Supporting The Troops, Rumsfeld Style

Prepare to be angry...

NY Times: Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials...

...Thirty-one of the deadly wounds struck the chest or back so close to the plates that simply enlarging the existing shields "would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome," according to the study, which was obtained by The New York Times....

Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. After all the money pissed away on government contracts for a rebuilding effort we're abandoning (not to mention billions 'lost' and Halliburton overcharging the army for fuel) and our troops couldn't be provided the proper and basic body armor they needed. And many who were lucky to have the armor had to pay for it out of pocket. I imagine it'd take an awful lot of yellow ribbons to make people forget this.

This issue needs to be pressed badly. Fire Rumsfeld immediately, do not give him the dignity of resignation (something he long ago gave up), and demand accountability for all those who've died trying to correct his mistakes.

Weapons Of Confirmation Hearing Destruction!!

According to Drudgey, the Democrats plan to DESTROY Samuel Alito!-

Not literally, I assume, but it makes for a catchy and attention-grabbing headline to continue to downplay the NSA/Abramoff/Iraq stories Matt has buried off down by the bottom.

Mr. Drudge's super-exclusive story states:
Senate Democrats have put into place a plan that includes one last push to take down the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito as he heads into his confirmation hearing next week, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Senate Democrats intend to zero in on Alito’s alleged enthusiastic membership to an organization, they will charge, that was sexist and racist!

Scandalous! Of course, there are already plenty of valid issues to press Alito on.

AP has more on Alito's upcoming confirmation hearings: Democrats May Delay Panel Vote on Alito

Congress Officially Fed Up With Delay

Although Tom Delay is still under the delusion that he will return to his position as House Majority Leader, many in Congress have other plans. Apparently being a habitually corrupt, potentially criminal egomaniac makes you unwanted in your legislative body. Go figure.

AP: House GOP Calls for DeLay Replacement
Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay's hopes of reclaiming his position as House majority leader suffered a potentially fatal setback on Friday as a growing number of fellow Republicans called for new leadership in the midst of a congressional corruption scandal.

"It's clear that we need to elect a new majority leader to restore the trust and confidence of the American people," said Rep. Jim Ramstad (news, bio, voting record) of Minnesota, as two fellow Republicans circulated a petition calling for new elections...

Coot Off!!

It's Republican Senator Ted Stevens vs. Democratic senator Robert Byrd in an old-fashioned Coot-Off!

A "Daily Show" classic.

OneGoodMove has video-

[click image for link]

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lip Service Reform

Congress is ready to clean itself up...

AP: Abramoff Scandal Gives Impetus to Reform
There's the shame factor and then the fear factor. Both, according to one senator, explain the sudden congressional interest in cleaning up the relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers now that Jack Abramoff's wheeling and dealing has been exposed.

Bills dealing with lobbying ethics that have been dormant for months are getting a new look as lawmakers digest the consequences of Abramoff pleading guilty to corruption and tax evasion charges, and his agreement to cooperate in an influence-peddling investigation that could taint dozens of members of Congress...

...And who better to guard the henhouse than the fox?-

ThinkProgress: Santorum: Abramoff-Endorsed, Lobbyist-Approved
The Hill reports that Majority Leader Bill Frist is enlisting the support of Sen. Rick Santorum to craft a conservative version of a lobbying reform bill. The selection of Santorum suggests that the Senate leadership is not seriously committed to lobbying reform. Santorum cannot reasonably be considered a credible messenger for reform because he was largely responsible for creating the culture and environment in which Abramoff’s criminal activity thrived.

Santorum was a key player in implementing the “K Street Project,” an effort by conservatives in the wake of Bush’s 2000 victory to monopolize influential positions at trade associations and corporate government affairs offices...

Nice to see Congress is as committed to ethics reform as they were to voting reform.

Duke Wore A Wire

That's the word according to Time Magazine-
Washington's power players have always bragged about being well-wired, but for disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, "wired" wasn't just a figure of speech. In a week when legislators are focused on the question of who else might be brought down by ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s cooperation with prosecutors as he seeks lenient sentencing over his two federal guilty pleas this week, sources tell TIME that in a separate investigation, ex-Rep. Cunningham wore a wire to help investigators gather evidence against others just before copping his own plea...

Cartoons Are Funny

Two cartoons from my uComics crop this morning, one funny, the other... not.

First, the always funny and quirky Non Sequitur:

And second, the always insanely Malkin-esque State of the Union:

I still can't believe this strip doesn't run in the New York Post; Mallard Fillmore needs a friend.

Scootie Gets A Job

Proof that a few pesky indictments can't keep a good neocon down, Scooter Libby has found a new home. Mr. Libby has joined the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank focusing on foreign policy and national security, as a senior advisor. He will "focus on issues relating to the War on Terror and the future of Asia".

They have issued a press release. I enjoy the purposeful vagueness of the opening:
Lewis Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Richard B. Cheney and assistant to the vice president for National Security Affairs, has joined Hudson Institute as a senior advisor. Libby will focus on issues relating to the War on Terror and the future of Asia. He also will offer research guidance and will advise the institute in strategic planning.

[emphasis added]

Gee guys, any reason he's a former Chief of Staff? I hope for you that Fitzgerald will be generous with Scooter's time.

See also this Washington Post article- Scooter Finds Fellowship at the Hudson Institute

Policing Katrina

Two Katrina-related stories...

First- A story in the New Yorker on how the New Orleans PD handled the crisis:
When Katrina hit, where were the police?

Second- An AP story about the return of tourism to the city... I hope not just to tour the destruction:
Tourists Trickling Back to New Orleans

[PS- Regular updates on all things New Orleans/Katrina can be found on Harry Shearer's excellent HuffPost blog]

"When the President does it that means that it is not illegal."

The Democratic National Committee has a new ad out on Bush's warrantless wiretapping program-

[Click image for link]

Christiane, We Didn't Spy On You, Because That Would Be Illegal

That seems the response of the intelligence community on allegations that journalist Christiane Amanpour had been wiretapped. CNN reports that they were assured by a "senior US intelligence official" that Ms. Amanpour "has never been targetted by the National Security Agency, and nor has any other CNN journalist". Doing so would be illegal, you know. What did CNN expect- the NSA would admit to it if there is truth to the allegations? "Amanpour? Oh yea, we wiretapped the shit out of her. Ohh by the way Mr. Ensor, what you said to your father-in-law on the phone last night was quite rude".

Ideally, we should give the benefit of the doubt, but since the President admitted to breaking the law, all bets are off.

AmericaBlog has details- CNN covers Amanpour spy story

CNN and Amanpour herself said that they were unaware of the possibility she was wiretapped, according to MediaBistro.


Arianna Huffington blogs on an old meeting with the acting prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert-

Ehud Olmert: a Profile in Leadership

A troubled region at a critical crossroads... Fingers crossed, people.

"I can't let this comment stand"

The NY Times has a good story on the President's meeting/photo-op with Cabinet members of former Administrations-

Bush and Former Cabinet Members Discuss Topic No. 1: Iraq

Racist Walmart?

Their website "cross matching" seems to indicate that. Like "Planet of the Apes"? "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? Why then you'll love "Introducing Dorothy Dandride" and "Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream"!

The company released a statement in apology.

Washington Post has a story on the controversy- Wal-Mart Web Site Makes Racial Connections-

DVD Shoppers Get Offensive Referrals

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Shitting Of Pants Continues...

Politicians all over the country are in a mad rush to return dirty Abramoff money.

I can't help but picture of bunch of drunken teenagers fleeing into the woods as their all-night kegger is busted up by the cops or a cluster of cockroaches scrambling back into the wall when the lights come on. Party's over.

See this AP story for details- GOP Politicians Dump Abramoff Donations

And this AP story has a full list of who's giving away what- Who Is Giving Away Jack Abramoff's Money?

PS- Conservative NYT columnist David Brooks rips the GOP a new one:
I don't know what's more pathetic, Jack Abramoff's sleaze or Republican paralysis in the face of it. Abramoff walks out of a D.C. courthouse in his pseudo-Hasidic homburg, and all that leading Republicans can do is promise to return his money and remind everyone that some Democrats are involved in the scandal, too.

That's a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us . . .

. . . Back in the dim recesses of my mind, I remember a party that thought of itself as a reform, or even a revolutionary movement. That party used to be known as the Republican Party. I wonder if it still exists.

No Fly

The government once again shows its commitment to keeping evildoers off planes-

Such as this murderous 4-year-old: 4-Year-Old Boy on Government 'No-Fly' List
Edward Allen's reaction to being on the government's "no-fly" list should have been the tip-off that he is no terrorist.

"I don't want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma," the 4-year-old boy said, according to his mother...

And the terrorist author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential": Branded
I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000...

...Of course, there's always the chance that the No Fly Watch List is one of many enemies lists maintained by the Bush White House. If that's the case, I am happy to be on that list. I am in good company with people who expect more out of their president and their government...

Wow, I feel safer already! Thanks Department of Homeland Security!


That's the number of people killed in Iraq today alone.

AP: 130 Dead in Series of Attacks in Iraq

Israel PM Ariel Sharon Suffers Stroke, Gov't In Limbo

Ariel Sharon is still in serious condition after surgery. He could be sedated, according to the AP.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could be sedated for up to three days as doctors fight to keep him alive after emergency brain surgery for his massive stroke, a hospital official said Thursday...

...Many Israelis see Sharon — an overweight war hero and longtime hawk who changed tack and withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year — as the best hope for achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians. His illness would create a power vacuum in the government and cloud Kadima's prospects...

Vice Premier Ehud Olmert has been named acting prime minister in Sharon's absence.

PS- Pat Robertson send his usual greetings.

Links of the Day

Hey, I'm doing this again... Neat!

-More moral hypocrisy from the homophobic religious right:
Tulsa Pastor Arrested In OKC On Lewdness Charge

-The 'blame game' starts in the Sago mining tragedy:
Mine Inspectors Questioned Administration’s Commitment To Mine Safety

-Finally, your moment of zen... Jon Stewart's hosting the Oscars!
Jon Stewart to host Oscar ceremony

PS- Check out the comments here... Who knew Stewart was such a divisive figure?

Your Government Working For You!

Is The Government Spying On CNN's Christiane Amanpour?

Well that is the hot blog question of the day. I am too tired to properly tackle the subject, but AmericaBlog has been on this like white on rice. So I'll settle for summarizing. AmericaBlog noted earlier today this passage from Andrea Mitchell's interview with New York Times writer James Risen on NBC Nightly News-
Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

That last part, about Amanpour, was soon deleted from NBC's transcript. And thus a mystery was born.

Many sites, including Salon among others, began asking questions.

Finally, NBC issued this statement:
Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.

Certainly NBC (and Ms. Mitchell) know something, otherwise the question wouldn't have been asked at all. This wouldn't be without precedent. Conservative columnist William Safire confirmed this past weekend that he had been wiretapped at one point.

AmericaBlog has a theory on why the government might be interested in Amanpour and how broad this spying program may indeed be. Attytood has a theory too.

Curiouser and curiouser.

[Crooks and Liars has video of an earlier Risen interview... from the Today Show- James Risen Speaks]

Recess Is In Session...

...Time to appoint some cronies on the side.

NSA Links

More NSA-related links...

The Perrspectives blog has a detailed list of links relating to this story: Resources- NSA Domestic Surveillance

And one top Congressman lets the President know his program is illegal: White House Told NSA Briefings Broke Law
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told President Bush Wednesday that the White House broke the law by withholding information from the full congressional oversight committees about a new domestic surveillance program...

Vice President Cheney falls back on scary 9/11 references to cow people back in line: Cheney Falsely Suggests Warrantless Domestic Surveillance Could Have Prevented 9/11

Arianna Huffington has a quick rundown on some of the talking points defending the White House: Debunking Bush's NSA Lies: A Handy Pocket Guide

And even Tucker Carlson has major concerns with Bush's power grab: Bothered by the NSA story

Democrats: Take Notes, Please

Another HuffPost blogger with words of warning to the Democrats-

Why the Democrats Are Losing the Iraq War

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Love That Dare Not Speaks It Name

[Courtesy of American Idle]

Laws, Schmaws

Another story on how the President's 'signing statements' reassert his imperial authority in the war on terror-

Boston Globe: Bush could bypass new torture ban-

Waiver right is reserved

When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said...

...Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.

AKA- "Screw you, Senator McCain and 90%+ of Congress, I'll torture people whenever the hell I want!"

Somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling.

Supreme Court Weighs In On Padilla

Update on the Padilla case...

From the AP: Supreme Court Says U.S. Can Move Padilla
The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to let the military transfer accused "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla to Miami to face criminal charges in at least a temporary victory for the Bush administration...

...The high court said it would decide later whether to consider the inmate's argument that President Bush overstepped his authority by ordering Padilla's indefinite detention in 2002. It granted the Bush administration's request for a transfer in a one-page order and said Padilla's broader appeal would be considered "in due course."...

Did The Media Fail The Miners' Families?

That seems to be the sentiment.

(Newspaper editors have defended and explained their side of things)

Also... more apologies, these ones from the mining company. From the AP:
Mine Co. Head Expresses Regret to Families

"It's not good enough to attack Nancy Pelosi or attack Governor Dean. They've got to take responsibility."

I was listening to a podcast of last Sunday's "Face The Nation" (available on iTunes) and was surprisingly impressed by what Newt Gingrich had to say about the current problems surrounding the Republican party and the realities they need to face. No doubt he was somewhat downplaying all the GOP scandals for the benefit of his party, but it was refreshing to hear a call for proactive changes in the way government runs and to speak to the American people about those changes.

"Well, I think that this coming year, 2006, is going to be a very big year of decision for Republicans. We have to be the party of reform. We can't just be the party of pork barrel. And there are a number of serious questions about it. I think changing some of the rules, as it relates to lobbyists; changing some of the rules, as it relates to elections. I'm very uncomfortable with some of the things I've learned and seen over the last year, as I think most Americans are, and I think Republican leadership in the House and Senate have to confront being recommited as the party of reform, and not trying to defend things that are, frankly, not defendable.

... I think this whole system has grown, frankly, a little sick with insiders raising money for insiders to re-elect insiders to do favors for insiders...

I think any time the American people get angry, the majority is in danger. And in this case, Republicans have to recognize they have the president, they have the House, they have the Senate. It's not good enough to attack Nancy Pelosi or attack Governor Dean. They've got to take responsibility. I think we have every reason to think we can get re-elected this year, this coming year, but only if we adopt the right kind of procedures. I think we've got to be seen as a party that is fixing the problem, not as a party that's trying to explain or defend the problem."

Democrats too best take note of this. Critiquing the other party's failures is important (although as Katrina showed, the American people are good at figuring out on their own when their government has failed them), but you can't win if that's the entire strategy. You need also to put forth solutions to the problems you're discussing. It's a lesson the Democrats should heed if they really expect to win the upcoming Congressional election battles this year.

PS- Via the Washington Post, Gingrich states that Tom Delay has got to go.

Abramoff Updates

Mr. Abramoff is scheduled to enter more guilty pleas today, this time in Florida.

And more news on Abramoff's dirty GOP dealings...

AP: Bush to Give Up $6,000 Linked to Abramoff
President Bush's re-election campaign is giving up $6,000 in campaign contributions connected to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who faced more guilty pleas as part of a broad-ranging political corruption investigation...

...Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign, earning the honorary title "pioneer" from the campaign. But the campaign is returning only $6,000 directly from Abramoff, his wife and one of the Indian tribes that he worked to win influence for in Washington....

Ohhh, George, not you too! Say it ain't so!

ThinkProgress notes that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that "Mr. Abramoff says he has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers". That's a lot of corruption. As posted yesterday, ThinkProgress has a rundown of some of the involved people here.

And NewsMeat has a detailed look at who took what and how much- Jack Abramoff's federal campaign contributions

(Number of matches in a search for "Democrat" on that page... ZERO)

And the Washington Post takes a look at the system that created Mr. Abramoff: Case Bringing New Scrutiny To a System and a Profession
...Jack Abramoff represented the most flamboyant and extreme example of a brand of influence trading that flourished after the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives 11 years ago. Now, some GOP strategists fear that the fallout from his case could affect the party's efforts to keep control in the November midterm elections.

Abramoff was among the lobbyists most closely associated with the K Street Project, which was initiated by his friend Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), now the former House majority leader, once the GOP vaulted to power. It was an aggressive program designed to force corporations and trade associations to hire more GOP-connected lobbyists in what at times became an almost seamless relationship between Capitol Hill lawmakers and some firms that sought to influence them.

Now Abramoff has become a symbol of a system out of control...

And the Christian Science Monitor expects lot of Washington drama in general this year:
Coming to the Hill: lots of hearing-room drama-

Probes of war policies will begin amid ethical scrutiny of members

"Illegal spying and torture need to be investigated, not whistle-blowers and newspapers"

It took a few days too long, but the New York Times defends its NSA reporting-

An editorial in today's paper: On the Subject of Leaks

I couldn't find one spot or passage to single out (and it's not that long), so I will reprint it in its entirety, emphasizing the parts I think are essential to the main debate we are having here.
Given the Bush administration's appetite for leak investigations (three are under way), this seems a good moment to try to clear away the fog around this issue.

A democratic society cannot long survive if whistle-blowers are criminally punished for revealing what those in power don't want the public to know - especially if it's unethical, illegal or unconstitutional behavior by top officials. Reporters need to be able to protect these sources, regardless of whether the sources are motivated by policy disputes or nagging consciences. This is doubly important with an administration as dedicated as this one is to extreme secrecy.

The longest-running of the leak cases involves Valerie Wilson, a covert C.I.A. operative whose identity was leaked to the columnist Robert Novak. The question there was whether the White House was using this information in an attempt to silence Mrs. Wilson's husband, a critic of the Iraq invasion, and in doing so violated a federal law against unmasking a covert operative. There is a world of difference between that case and a current one in which the administration is trying to find the sources of a New York Times report that President Bush secretly authorized spying on American citizens without warrants. The spying report was a classic attempt to give the public information it deserves to have. The Valerie Wilson case began with a cynical effort by the administration to deflect public attention from hyped prewar intelligence on Iraq. The leak inquiry in that case ended up targeting the press, and led to the jailing of a Times reporter.

When the government does not want the public to know what it is doing, it often cites national security as the reason for secrecy. The nation's safety is obviously a most serious issue, but that very fact has caused this administration and many others to use it as a catchall for any matter it wants to keep secret, even if the underlying reason for the secrecy is to prevent embarrassment to the White House. The White House has yet to show that national security was harmed by the report on electronic spying, which did not reveal the existence of such surveillance - only how it was being done in a way that seems outside the law[*].

Leak investigations are often designed to distract the public from the real issues by blaming the messenger. Take the third leak inquiry, into a Washington Post report on secret overseas C.I.A. camps where prisoners are tortured or shipped to other countries for torture. The administration said the reporting had damaged America's image. Actually, the secret detentions and torture did that.

Illegal spying and torture need to be investigated, not whistle-blowers and newspapers.

[*- BINGO.]

Alito's America

As an update to yesterday's post, the Balkanization blog has more on Alito...

From Sandy Levinson- The Alito Nomination: The Plot Thickens

Spy Lies

Some more articles/editorials on the NSA scandal...

NY Times story: Files Say Agency Initiated Growth of Spying Effort
The National Security Agency acted on its own authority, without a formal directive from President Bush, to expand its domestic surveillance operations in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to declassified documents released Tuesday...

Slate: Tinker, Tailor, Miner, Spy- Why the NSA's snooping is unprecedented in scale and scope.
Adm. John Poindexter, [Total Information Awareness]'s creator, believed in the potential intelligence benefits of data-mining broadband communications, but he was also well aware of the potential for excess... Poindexter envisioned a "privacy appliance," a device that would strip any identifiers from the information—such as names or addresses—so that government miners could see only patterns. Then if there was reason to believe that the information belonged to a group that was planning an attack, the government could seek a warrant and disable the privacy control for that specific data... "The idea is that this device, cryptographically protected to prevent tampering, would ensure that no one could abuse private information without an immutable digital record of their misdeeds," according to a 2003 government report to Congress about TIA. "The details of the operation of the appliance would be available to the public."

The NSA's domestic eavesdropping program, however, appears to have none of these safeguards....

Congress might also ask why in the rush to begin data-mining, the NSA has abandoned the privacy controls planned for the TIA. As Adm. Poindexter himself noted in his resignation letter from the program in 2003, "it would be no good to solve the security problem and give up the privacy and civil liberties that make our country great."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Bob Barr): Presidents all the same when scandal strikes
Two of the most powerful moments of political déjà vu I have ever experienced took place recently in the context of the Bush administration's defense of presidentially ordered electronic spying on American citizens.

First, in the best tradition of former President Bill Clinton's classic, "it-all-depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-is-is" defense, President Bush responded to a question at a White House news conference about what now appears to be a clear violation of federal electronic monitoring laws by trying to argue that he had not ordered the National Security Agency to "monitor" phone and e-mail communications of American citizens without court order; he had merely ordered them to "detect" improper communications...

O'Reilly Makes Idle Threat To NY Times

On his show the other night, Bill O'Reilly tackled the NSA story in his Talking Points segment, before moving into a rant on the evils of New York Times opinion columnists. Bill'O said those writers use personal attacks on those with whom they disagree, and if anyone would know about personal attacks, it would indeed be Mr. O'Reilly. Bill'O then gives Bill Keller and Frank Rich a "fair warning" that if they don't stop, they will not have a happy new year. Next, he states that, regarding the NSA story, there are valid arguments on both sides and it's an important debate. When the story first broke last month, O'Reilly blew it off on his show and said the story would be gone after a few days. How nice now that, unfortunately for him, it's a story that has stuck, and he is forced to admit it's an important debate. O'Reilly then states that, this year, robust debate is in and personal attacks are out. I guess that means the Factor will be cancelled soon!

Later on in the show, Bill'O came back to the Times story. He discusses the story with two guests, both of whom seem unable to really grasp his insanity. One asks O'Reilly what specifically he meant by his threat. O'Reilly says he made no threat, but that, as with everyone, "if they continue  - those people continue - to attack people personally, as Frank Rich does almost every week, and Keller allows it, then we'll just have to get into their lives."

Crooks and Liars has video: O'Reilly threatens Frank Rich and Bill Keller

Look out, Frank, O'Reilly's coming!

Is this like when he said, regarding Al Franken in the in the Makris transcripts, that "One day he's going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me."

Does Mr. O'Reilly really want people reflecting on the personal lives of pundits? Does a moral crusader like himself really want people 'getting into the lives' of other people? Bill "Dildo" O'Reilly? Bill "Falafel thing" O'Reilly? What is he planning to do- reveal that Frank Rich chews with his mouth open? Doesn't do his dishes? That ought to stop Mr. Rich from... doing his job.

Bill, maybe it's time to make good on that promise to Newsday and retire.

Bob Cesca has a great blog post on this-
Game Over: O'Reilly's Got Nothing

PS- Watch David Letterman mock O'Reilly: Letterman 1 - O'Reilly 0

The 'NO SHIT' Headline Of The Month

A headline on Yahoo-
"Iraq is deadliest place for journalists in 2005"

Damn and I had Des Moines in the office pool and everything.

[Article- here]

Conservatives Against Wiretapping

Andrew Sullivan finds that not all conservatives are giving the President a pass on this issue-

Remember when conservatives believed in restraining government power, not allowing it to spend as if there were no tomorrow and to let it wiretap citizens without so much as the flimsiest of rubber-stamping court checks? It turns out there are still some conservatives willing to resist the imposition of an above-the-law executive. Digby cites several sources here. Glenn Greenwald surveys the scene here. Bill Safire is on board. Even one priest in the Bush-cult called Powerline has demurred. Cato has suggested that if the president can simply break the law when he feels like it in pursuing the war on terror, why bother with the Patriot Act at all? Or the McCain Amendment?

The best link of that bunch is this one by Glenn Greenwald:
Breaking the Daou Cycle: Conservative opposition to Bush's law-breaking


President once again urged the renewal of the Patriot Act by turning it into a partisan debate between strong, decisive Republicans and the evil liberals who want to hurt the war on terror for selfish reasons-

He stated: "When it came time to renew the act, for partisan reasons, in my mind, people have not stepped up and have agreed that it's still necessary to protect the country... The enemy has not gone away. They're still there. And I expect Congress to understand that we're still at war, and they got to give us the tools necessary to win this war."

But why do they need to explicitly give you those tools since you feel you already have the authority to do as you see fit as Commander in Chief in this neverending conflict?

Ignoring that issue for now, Sen. Feingold had something to say about the President's remarks, stating that the President should spend more time negotiating about the Patriot Act with Democrats and others on Capitol Hill and less on "staged meetings with hand-picked participants" at the White House. Feingold also said that "Contrary to the president's misleading comments, nobody wants to see the Patriot Act expire. We want commonsense changes to the act that would give the government the power to combat terrorism while protecting the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens."

Senator, please stop that nasty partisan rhetoric about "commonsense" solutions immediately; it's destroying the country.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid

Jack Abramoff showed up to Federal Court today looking like a character from some smokey film noir picture, like a crooked cop or a mob enforcer. Certainly one wonders what was going through his mind as he dressed himself this morning. "Hmm, pleading guilty to numerous crimes and agreeing to testify against dozens of Congressional officials... Yea I think the black trenchcoat and hat will do it."

"Biggest scandal in Congress in over a century"

ThinkProgress has an amazing breakdown of the Abramoff scandal, including all the players involved and how they are connected. Read it and weep and maybe even throw up a little in your mouth. This is the cliff notes to a very far-reaching scandal-
Abramoff: The House That Jack Built

And, no, this is not a bipartisan scandal; Abramoff's dealings are almost all on the right.

President Bush Wounded In Action...

...While riding his bike.

But that didn't stop him from comparing himself to wounded veterans!

"I'm just overwhelmed by the great strength of character of not only those who've been wounded, but their loved ones as well. And so thank you for bringing great credit to our country... As you can probably see, I was wounded myself. Not here at the hospital, in combat with a, umm, cedar."

OneGoodMove has video: Wounded In Combat

That's funny, sir! Almost as funny as the time you pretended to look for WMDs for a comedy routine!

Or the time you cut funding for veterans and their families. Hyuck hyuck!

GOP Congress Shits Its Collective Pants

Republican lobbyist, Delay ally, and all-around immoral scumbag Jack Abramoff plead guilty this morning (to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion) in a plea deal that secured his testimony against high-ranking government officials. Batton down the hatches.

A great start to 2006.

AP: Abramoff Makes Plea Deal, Will Cooperate
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.

As part of the deal, prosecutors were filing conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges against the embattled lobbyist....

...Any such plea agreement likely would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients. The Justice Department is believed to be focusing on as many as 20 lawmakers and aides...

Talking Points Memo has thoughts on the deal, as well as the actual documents of the charges.

PS- The Washington Post also dissects the scandal.

Make or Break Time For Democrats

Note to Democrats: Start winning elections, please.

HuffPost's Andrew Foster Altschul has some suggestions on how to frame the '06 electoral discussions:
2006: The Dems' Make-or-Break Year

Loyalists 'Til The End

Since all the right-wingers (including our favorite- Bill'O) probably won't give up their talking point about how the NY Times stories themselves are the real scandal anytime soon, I thought I'd bring up the Deep Throat comparison again. This past summer, when Felt revealed himself, the media was filled with appearances of convicted Watergate criminals (ie. G Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson) and Nixon cronies in general (ie. Pat Buchanan) ranting about what a traitor Felt was to... expose the crimes they had committed? Yes, I can imagine how bad it was for this country and our national security in the early 1970s for the Washington Post, through numerous sources, to let Americas know that their President and all his men were criminals, revelations that led to their *gasp* accountability for those crimes. What a horrible injustice was done to Mr. Nixon and his men. Money quote from Pat Buchanan: "What he did was help destroy an enormously popular President". So popular Presidents are allowed to commit crimes? And I've looked at the old poll numbers- Ol' Tricky Dick wasn't too popular by the summer of 1974 when the American people found out what a crook he really was.

After the ramblings of these known criminals, Katie Couric asked Tom Brokaw on the Today Show for his opinion on what they had said, stating "I'm confused; I thought Watergate was a bad thing?". Here's Mr. Brokaw's response: "I thought it was back in 1973... I think Pat said yesterday that Mark Felt was a traitor. A traitor to what? The truth? Here's a man who didn't make this stuff up. What he told by Woodward, giving him a roadmap if you will, to follow the money, and the other linkage that led directly into the Oval Office... this was true, this was illegal activity."

This is something to keep in mind when you hear people slamming the New York Times and defending President Bush. These same people would've insisted at every turn that Nixon had done nothing wrong and that Woodward and Bernstein were traitors and were aiding the enemy. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Alberto Gonzales and his Justice Department can probe all they want, but our own history shows that the Times' leaker is likely a hero, not a criminal. We have whistleblower protection laws in place for a reason.

[Here's a video link from Crooks and Liars' archives- Tom Brokaw slams Pat Buchanan]

Slam Dunk

New information in James Risen's book makes clear the President was misleading us again when he pretended (and continues to pretend) there was no dissent on the WMD intelligence prior to the beginning of the war-

AP: Book: CIA Ignored Info Iraq Had No WMD
A new book on the government's secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the CIA recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.

Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad of Cleveland made the dangerous trip to Iraq on the CIA's behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear program because — he said — it had been dead for a decade.

New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction...

"I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence."
-President George W. Bush (July 14, 2003)

Cut And Run

It's not just Iraq that we're stopping our rebuilding efforts in...

...It's Afghanistan too.

They're Just Not That Into You

The military has long been one of President's Bush's strongest bases. However, new military polls shows that his numbers have dropped significantly, 9% down from last year. And considering many soldiers are not likely to openly criticize their Commander-In-Chief, I bet the real numbers are far lower than that.

Military Times: Troops sound off-

Military Times Poll finds high morale, but less support for Bush, war effort

Support for President Bush and for the war in Iraq has slipped significantly in the last year among members of the military’s professional core, according to the 2005 Military Times Poll.

Approval of the president’s Iraq policy fell 9 percentage points from 2004; a bare majority, 54 percent, now say they view his performance on Iraq as favorable. Support for his overall performance fell 11 points, to 60 percent, among active-duty readers of the Military Times newspapers...

George, when you can't even win the hearts and minds of our soldiers, we have a real problem here.

The Stealth Nomination Of Samuel Alito

I've avoided the Alito issue for the most part, but current events change that. Ignore abortion and all these other partisan issues for now... here's the real reason to oppose Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination-

Washington Post: Alito Once Made Case For Presidential Power
As a young Justice Department lawyer, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. tried to help tip the balance of power between Congress and the White House a little more in favor of the executive branch...

...In a Feb. 5, 1986, draft memo, Alito, then deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, ...laid out a case for having the president routinely issue statements about the meaning of statutes when he signs them into law.

Such "interpretive signing statements" would be a significant departure from run-of-the-mill bill signing pronouncements, which are "often little more than a press release," Alito wrote. The idea was to flag constitutional concerns and get courts to pay as much attention to the president's take on a law as to "legislative intent."...

As with the aborted Miers nomination, President Bush's decision to nominate Alito is not just a desire to have a judge with strong conservative principles on the Court in the years to come, it's a desire to have an ally there immediately who could aid him in the remainder of his term. I don't believe it was a coincidence that Bush at first nominated his personal lawyer for the Court. He's smart enough to have known she wasn't qualified; he was simultaneously rewarding her for loyalty and also stacking the judicial deck. I felt at the time that the President perhaps has been anticipating a Supreme Court showdown like Nixon had right before his resignation and that having his former counsel on the Court would be helpful in such a scenario. When that didn't work out, the President picked someone who would appease his right-wing base after that Miers anger, but also was a stealth nomination who shared his beliefs in an all-powerful Executive branch. There is numerous evidence that Alito is someone who agrees with the President on a number of controversial, and scandalous, issues.

The Balkanization blog has a detailed entry on how these 'signing statements' can make moot the work of Congress and allow him to add his own interpretation of the law. In the entry, Mr. Lederman explores how the signing statement the President added to the McCain anti-torture amendment effectively overrides the ban if the President feels its necessary-
So Much for the President's Assent to the McCain Amendment

If the President can reinterpret the laws, then he truly is above them. Make no mistake, a vote for Alito is also a vote for the imperial presidency. His confirmation hearings just became that much more important.

PS- Andrew Sullivan has similar conclusions.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rebuilding Iraq No Longer U.S. Priority

Note to Iraq: Sorry we invaded your country. I'm sure your electricity and water utilities will rebuild themselves.

From the Washington Post-
U.S. Has End in Sight on Iraq Rebuilding:

Documents Show Much of the Funding Diverted to Security, Justice System and Hussein Inquiry

The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

Just under 20 percent of the reconstruction package remains unallocated. When the last of the $18.4 billion is spent, U.S. officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people....

So because our leaders failed to anticipate, or plan for, any type of Iraqi military opposition, the Iraqi people will have to make do with less? Not exactly the type of attitude that will combat the influence of the insurgency and win those much needed 'hearts and minds' of the people there. The Iraqi government is struggling on getting security forces up to par for when we start withdrawals... and yet we really expect them to organize rebuilding efforts as well?

Also, doesn't this news make it even more inexcusable that the U.S. has just 'lost' billions of dollars that could now be added to the remaining allocation?

Finally, in an odd statement, Brig. Gen. William McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the work said in a recent press conference that "The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq". We didn't? That's news to me. As Think Progress notes in a new report, the Bush White House's 'National Strategy for Victory In Iraq' document in fact states otherwise. That document states that as part of its three-track strategy (political track, the security track, and the economic track):
The Economic Track involves setting the foundation for a sound and self-sustaining economy by helping the Iraqi government:
- Restore Iraq’s infrastructure to meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy;
- Reform Iraq’s economy, which in the past has been shaped by war, dictatorship, and sanctions, so that it can be self-sustaining in the future; and
- Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.

Is this part of 'staying the course'? One couldn't imagine that at this point this administration has any credibility left, but sadly some polls say otherwise.

Big Brother: Sharing Is Caring

The NSA may be spying on people, but at least they're not stingy with the gathered information...

Washington Post: NSA Gave Other U.S. Agencies Information From Surveillance-

Fruit of Eavesdropping Was Processed and Cross-Checked With Databases

Information captured by the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping on communications between the United States and overseas has been passed on to other government agencies, which cross-check the information with tips and information collected in other databases, current and former administration officials said...

Do You Know What It Means to Be in New Orleans?

Harry Shearer has a quick blog post on a return visit to New Orleans this week-

Do You Know What It Means to Be in New Orleans?

Good read as always.

U.S. Still Wants To Invade Iran?

As linked on Drudge, the Jerusalem Post reports of possible U.S. plans to attack Iran-
The United States government reportedly began coordinating with NATO its plans for a possible military attack against Iran.

The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel collected various reports from the German media indicating that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are examining the prospects of such a strike...

Hmm. After the Iraq debacle, one almost wishes to agree with Bill O'Reilly, as he opines in his latest rant about the liberal media column that "America will not be invading another Muslim country any time soon". We'll see, Bill'O. But you also promised never to trust the Bush administration again if no WMDs were found in Iraq, so your track record's not too hot.

Full Speed Ahead, Mainstream Press

The two major news magazines, Newsweek and Time, both have big stories in this week's issues on the Bush spying scandal. The Newsweek story (it's on the cover there) is better than the Time one, by the way. Hopefully this story won't just fade away in the coming months as the magazines find sexier scandals to cover.

Full Speed Ahead:

After 9/11, Bush and Cheney pressed for more power and got it. Now, predictably, the questions begin. Behind the NSA spying furor

Has Bush Gone Too Far?:

The President's secret directive to let the NSA snoop without warrants sets off a furor

Defending The New York Times

A lot of people, including myself admittedly, got angry when the New York Times revealed that they held back publication of the Bush/NSA story for over a year. Their reasons for doing this were dubious and not explained originally and this led to the anger. I did later note that "I am glad they did print the story... No matter why they broke this story, the fact is that the story they broke is important."

Andrew Sullivan threw in his well-appreciated two cents on all this yesterday, making a good case for a) the Times holding the story, and b) the good job the Times did in exposing this serious issue. I concede the point; the bottom line is that it is good the story was published.

Here's what Andrew said-
The only place the NYT obviously screwed up was in not disclosing Risen's forthcoming book. But taking a year to verify an important story, and getting the right sources to firm it up, is good journalism. I find the notion that this somehow undermines national security a little odd. Do we really think al Qaeda members previously believed all their calls to the U.S. were free from any surveillance? Now that we know it for sure, will this change much? I doubt it....

...This is a real story, highlighting arguably illegal activity by the president, breaking with precedent and creating a warrant-free license to listen to American's phone conversations, with no independent vetting at all. The NYT waits a year to get its facts right and its sources firm. The editors confer with the president himself, adjust the story to remove anything that might seriously jeopardize sources or intelligence, and then publish. What the hell is wrong with any of that? It seems just the right balance. One big issue for the coming year is whether we have an executive that is out of control, pushing beyond legal and constitutional limits in ways that beg pushback. This new information informs that important debate. Good for Keller and Sulzberger for exposing it.

Emphasis added by me. And a thumbs up to Andrew for a sane take on the matter.

Related- See this column by Jack Schafer: Sympathy for Bill Keller- Giving the New York Times executive editor the benefit of the doubt

Justice Department Deputy Hates America...

...Oops I meant "Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program".

(Sorry, too much Jesus juice at New Year's)

That is the title of a new New York Times article (are Eric Lichtblau and James Risen positioning themselves to be the Woodward and Bernstein of the Bush/NSA scandal?). The article discusses how James B. Comey, the top deputy in John Ashcroft's Justice Department, had serious reservations about the program. Comey was acting Attorney General at one point in 2004 while Mr. Ashcroft was hospitalized in intensive care after a serious surgery. During this time, Comey was asked in this role to sign off on the continuation of President Bush's program, but refused because of a number of concerns.

His refusal led to Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales making an unusual visit to Mr. Ashcroft's hospital room during his absence to get his approval instead. Mr. Card and Gonzales made their case to the bedridden Ashcroft (not exactly known in any circles as someone with any particular concern for civil liberties or Executive limitations), who according to sources was reluctant because other government officials brought concerns to him about the program. The article states that it's unknown whether the White House officials were able to convince Ashcroft or simply continued the program without his approval.

When you have John "Patriot Act" Ashcroft concerned and potentially even end up going over his head, you know you're doing some frightening stuff. It's a sobering story that both speaks of the implications of all of this and also blows away the President's assurance that everyone in the government was totally okay with his awesome and patriotically illegal spying program.

"We see this argument over excessive security, and I'm with the critics on that."

Conservative columnist William Safire was on 'Meet The Press' yesterday and was asked for his opinion on the Bush spying scandal. He said that he agrees with the critics on this one and that the President's program is unnecessary and echoes concerns of "dictatorial power". He uses historical examples of FDR overreaching in his executive powers in wartime by hanging eight saboteurs and interning Japanese Americans to make his point that Presidents can go too far.

The most chilling part of his talk was a personal story of being wiretapped after a phone call from a reporter who was being spied on. He uses this an example that people "not really suspected of anything for any good reason" can and have been spied on.

Crooks and Liars has video and info: William Safire: "I'm with the critics"- over warrantless wiretapping

"I was writing a speech on welfare reform, and the President looks at it and says, 'OK, I'll go with it, but this is not going to get covered. Leak it as far and wide as you can beforehand. Maybe we'll get something in the paper.' And so I go back to my office and I get a call from a reporter, and he wants to know about foreign affairs or something, and I said, 'Hey, you want a leak? I'll tell you what the President will say tomorrow about welfare reform.' And he took it down and wrote a little story about it. But the FBI was illegally tapping his phone at the time, and so they hear a White House speechwriter say, 'Hey, you want a leak?'. And so they tapped my phone, and for six months, every home phone call I got was tapped. I didn't like that..."

Something to keep in mind when the President promises us that it's only a "limited program" aimed at the "enemy".

Sunday, January 01, 2006

[Expletive Deleted]

John Dean, author of "Worse Than Watergate" and former counsel to President Nixon, gives his latest take on President Bush's actions-

George W. Bush as the New Richard M. Nixon: Both Wiretapped Illegally, and Impeachably-

Both Claimed That a President May Violate Congress' Laws to Protect National Security

...Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows.

In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.

Given the national security implications of the story, the Times said they had been sitting on it for a year. And now that it has broken, Bush has ordered a criminal investigation into the source of the leak. He suggests that those who might have felt confidence they would not be spied on, now can have no such confidence, so they may find other methods of communicating. Other than encryption and code, it is difficult to envision how.

Such a criminal investigation is rather ironic - for the leak's effect was to reveal Bush's own offense. Having been ferreted out as a criminal, Bush now will try to ferret out the leakers who revealed him....

A recommended read as always from one of the best sources on presidential criminality.

President Bush: 'If I don't break the law, you will die.'

President Bush defends his spying program... From the AP:
Bush Contends Spying Program Vital, Legal

Yea, yea, 'I am not a crook', I know the drill.