Wednesday, June 27, 2007

America's Truth & Reconciliation Moment?

Ill: Micah Wright/Propaganda Remix
used with permission

Hayden: Not Your Father's CIA

Your Demon is a little slow off the mark with this story, which actually appeared several days ago. I confess, when I first read the news, I was thinking, "Wha?," I have no doubt whatever that a man like Hayden would never do such a thing if not in service to some specific aim, but I also thought that he'd probably live to regret drawing attention to & comparisons of CIA misbehavior at this particular moment in time. Divulging the CIA's so-called "Family Jewels" is inviting public critique, not only of some of its Cold-War-era dirty trix & shameful secrets, but reminding us that they're still up to some very questionable hijinks in the present day.

Trying to discern the purpose of these particular revelations at this particular time, I'm even more confounded that the list of crimes is only partial, & obviously so. Yes, the plotted (& failed) assassination of Castro, teaming up with the Mafia, domestic spying on political dissidents, trailing bothersome journalists, testing of hallucinogenics in service of mind control, & imprisoning Soviet defectors is pretty nasty stuff. That's what they admit, anyway. The Nation (title bar) asks where some other missing info might be.

The New York Times wonders, too.

Hayden is reported to have written, for the benefit of CIA employees, “We will find in the press coverage of today’s release reminders of some things the C.I.A. should not have done [...] But he added: “I firmly believe that the improved system of intelligence oversight that came out of the 1970s gives the C.I.A. a far stronger place in our democratic system. What we do now to protect Americans we do within a powerful framework of law and review.”

"Still, independent historians of the agency did not see the sharp contrast between past and present that General Hayden described.

“'We don’t know everything that’s going on today,' said David M. Barrett, a political scientist at Villanova University. 'But it seems to me there’s already enough evidence to conclude that things are not so different today.'

"Mr. Barrett, the author of a 2005 book on the C.I.A. and Congress in the 1940s and 1950s, said the notion that the C.I.A. was once lawless but now meticulously followed the law was simply wrong.

"He said Lawrence Houston, the agency’s general counsel for its first 26 years, 'signed off on a lot of things that were of questionable legality.' And while the agency now has far more lawyers, they too have approved actions that some independent legal experts consider illegal or improper, he said, including kidnapping terrorists in foreign countries and using the simulated drowning technique called waterboarding.

"James Bamford, whose books on American intelligence cover the period from the Korean War to the Iraq war, took a similar view. Mr. Bamford said the scale of the National Security Agency’s interception of phone calls and e-mail messages of Americans and others in the United States in recent years — which prompted a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union in which Mr. Bamford is a plaintiff — almost certainly dwarfs the electronic surveillance and the review of mail carried out by the N.S.A. and the C.I.A. in the 1960s.

"If the collection details government spying on Vietnam War protesters, it has a contemporary echo in the Pentagon’s admission that a database called Talon improperly recorded the activities of Iraq war protesters, he said.

“'These documents are supposed to show the worst of the worst back then,' Mr. Bamford said. 'But what’s going on today makes the family jewels pale by comparison.'

"The controversial activities of the campaign against terrorism took place despite the changes enacted after the scandals of the 1970s.

"The Bush administration chose to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, created in 1978 to oversee eavesdropping on American soil. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees, created to make sure past abuses would never be repeated, did little to rein in the N.S.A. wiretapping program or to set limits on interrogation practices until news reports set off a furor."

I'm puzzled what Hayden thinks this is going to achieve. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking, "No, it's not my father's CIA ~ it's probably a hell of a lot worse, now that we're torturing every loose male Muslim we can kidnap off the streets & secret renditions to secret torture gulags, for instance. Take a look at how well that's going over in Germany, as well as Italy.,2144,2332581,00.html

Can Hayden really be THAT stupid? What is up here?


Senate Subpoenas White House, Cheney & Calls 'Berto Back

Ill: Internet Weekly

About Damned Time!

Today's great news (title bar): the Senate subpoenas the White House & The Dick in an effort to follow up on a revelation by James Comey, formerly of John Ashcroft's DOJ, that someone there sent then-WH counsel Alberto Gonzales & Andy Card on ghouls' errands to badger Ashcroft as he lay in the intensive care unit ~ in an attempt to get him to sign off on a spying program that Justice didn't think legal (after it had already been in effect).
(The Senate also wants to hear from 'Berto again ~ fat lot of good that will do them, probably.)
"Gonzales, in Spokane, Wash., on Wednesday to discuss gang issues with local officials, said he had not seen the subpoena documents and could not comment on them directly. 'There are competing institutional interests,' Gonzales said."
"The Bush administration secretly launched the eavesdropping program, run by the National Security Agency, in 2001 to monitor international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people the government suspected of having terrorist links. The program, which the administration said did not require investigators to seek warrants before conducting surveillance, was revealed in December 2005.
"After the program was challenged in court, Bush put it under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established in 1978. The president still claims the power to order warrantless spying.
"Debate continues over whether the program violates people's civil liberties. The administration has gone to great lengths to keep it running."
According to the New York Times, "Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said the subpoenas seek documents that could shed light on the legal basis used by the administration to justify the wiretapping program. In addition, the panel is seeking materials on the way the program operated, including the relationship between the agency and several unidentified telecommunications companies that aided the eavesdropping program.
"The panel’s action was the most aggressive so far by lawmakers investigating the wiretapping program since the Democrats gained control of Congress in January [following Comey's testimony], which seemed to reinvigorate congressional interest in scrutinizing the warrantless wiretapping program, since he detailed sharp disagreements within the administration over whether the program was illegal.
"Before his testimony, the White House had been able to fend off aggressive oversight of the program because many Democrats were afraid to be cast as soft on terrorism.

"But Mr. Comey’s account of the confrontation between senior White House aides and Justice Department officials has given Democrats an opening to argue that their focus is on whether President Bush violated the law and ignored the advice of the Justice Department.

"The Senate panel has been asking the administration for documents related to the wiretapping program since Mr. Comey testified. But the White House did not respond to the committee’s oral or written requests. As a result, the panel voted last Thursday to authorize Mr. Leahy to issue subpoenas, and he issued them today."

Undoubtedly, the Senate Judiciary Committee has also been emboldened by U.S. Judge Royce C. Lamberth, head of the FISA court that oversees approval of warrants, the same court Bushco claims is too clumsy to be of any use during times of extreme national emergencies. Lamberth recently spoke publically & is outspoken in defending the court (which was set up in the aftermath of Watergate to prevent the sorts of abuses that occurred during the Nixon administration).

In an interview today with the Washington Post, "Lamberth's defense of the court's speed and efficiency came after senior Bush administration officials said its procedures were too cumbersome to meet counterterrorism needs in the post-9/11 world, and created a system of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency that did not include judicial review.

"Taking direct aim at the administration's assertion, Lamberth noted that members of the court had approved almost 99 percent of the FISA applications presented. He added that he could not see a better way of conducting such surveillance.
"'What the president did with the NSA,' Lamberth said, was 'a proposal for a worse way.'

Lamberth went on to recall "several other counterterrorism cases in which he played a key role, noting that he could speak because the court's involvement had been declassified during trials," including the day of 911, when he was trapped in his car near the Pentagon. Despite being "engulfed in smoke, and...couldn't move, he called for help, and the FBI came "to get me in a position where I could get Justice to start approving FISA [warrants]. . . . By the time the FBI got to me in my car, I had already approved five."
Lamberth also detailed why the FISA process has much more accountability & oversight built in as compared with Bush's warrantless spying by Presidential fiat. Although the agencies involved have recently shown themselves not immune to highjinks & manipulation (especially Justice), the fact that a supervising investigating agent has to appear under oath to testify & can be questioned by the presiding judge is a damned sight better deal than an FBI which just issues "national security letters" with no oversight or follow-up at all ~ and as we saw recently, did away completely with the bothersome accountability controls because it just couldn't keep up with its paperwork. (See post here:

"In a FISA court hearing, according to Lamberth, a Justice Department lawyer presents the application, usually 40 or 50 pages, and the investigative agent is put under oath. 'I have the agent before me,' Lamberth said. 'I can question the agent. I can get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what we're doing and why.'
"During the Clinton administration, Lamberth said, members of the court learned that false affidavits had been filed. 'Our judges thought of a real easy solution. We'll just bar that agent from ever appearing in our courtroom. So it didn't really matter if it was negligent or it was intentional. . . . And he's one of their top counterintelligence agents.'

"Louis J. Freeh, then director of the FBI, 'came over and begged me to rescind the order, everything under the sun that could be done about that order,' Lamberth said. 'We never rescinded it. We enforced it. And we sent a message to the FBI: You've got to tell the truth."
But what has Dick Cheney had to do with it? Some say "everything." According to the intensive 4-part article about the VP appearing this week in the Washington Post,
"In expanding presidential power, Cheney's foremost agent was David S. Addington, his formidable general counsel and legal adviser of many years. On the morning of Sept. 11, Addington was evacuated from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House and began to make his way toward his Virginia home on foot. As he neared the Arlington Memorial Bridge, someone in the White House reached him with a message: Turn around. The vice president needs you.
"Down in the bunker, according to a colleague with firsthand knowledge, Cheney and Addington began contemplating the founding question of the legal revolution to come: What extraordinary powers will the president need for his response?
"Before the day ended, Cheney's lawyer joined forces with Timothy E. Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, linked by secure video from the Situation Room. Flanigan patched in John C. Yoo at the Justice Department's fourth-floor command center. White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales joined later.
"Thus formed the core legal team that Cheney oversaw, directly and indirectly, after the terrorist attacks.
"Yoo, a Berkeley professor-turned-deputy chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, became the theorist of an insurrection against legal limits on the commander in chief. Addington, backed by Flanigan, found levers of government policy and wrote the words that moved them.
"'Addington, Flanigan and Gonzales were really a triumvirate,' recalled Bradford A. Berenson, then an associate White House counsel. Yoo, he said, 'was a supporting player.'
"Gonzales, a former Texas judge, had the seniority and the relationship with Bush. But Addington -- a man of imposing demeanor, intellect and experience -- dominated the group.
Gonzales 'was not a law-of-war expert and didn't have very developed views,' Yoo recalled, echoing blunter observations by the Texan's White House colleagues.
Cheney 'Has the Portfolio'
"Flanigan, with advice from Yoo, drafted the authorization for use of military force that Congress approved on Sept. 18. [Read the authorization document] Yoo said they used the broadest possible language because 'this war was so different, you can't predict what might come up.'
"In fact, the triumvirate knew very well what would come next: the interception -- without a warrant -- of communications to and from the United States. Forbidden by federal law since 1978, the surveillance would soon be justified, in secret, as 'incident to' the authority Congress had just granted. Yoo was already working on that memo, completing it on Sept. 25.
"It was an extraordinary step, bypassing Congress and the courts, and its authors kept it secret from officials who were likely to object. Among the excluded was John B. Bellinger III, a man for whom Cheney's attorney had 'open contempt,' according to a senior government lawyer who saw them often. The eavesdropping program was directly within Bellinger's purview as ranking national security lawyer in the White House, reporting to Rice.
"Addington had no line responsibility. But he had Cheney's proxy, and more than once he accused Bellinger, to his face, of selling out presidential authority for good 'public relations' or bureaucratic consensus. Addington, who seldom speaks to reporters, declined to be interviewed."
With respect to the Senate subpoenas, seems likely that Bushco will try to assert executive privilege &/or continue to ignore them. It is for certain that the long-predicted Constitutional crisis may at last be coming to a head. All Bushco has on its side right now is time, however. If the matter is to be settled by the judiciary, & the Supreme Court especially, the chances of Bushco prevailing is up for grabs. Certainly Alito, Clarence, Scalia & probably Roberts will endorse the lunatic "unitary executive" theory ~ & upon their heads be the fall of American democracy in favor of despotism & government by cabalists. The rest of the (sane) justices will keep that in mind, it is to be hoped.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The Rules Don't Apply If Your Name Is Dick

Update: Bush belatedly contracts me-too-itis, according to the LA Times:
"WASHINGTON — The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.
"An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight.
"Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said."
* * * *
Whether shooting old hunting pals in the face, calling journalists "real assholes," boldly telling Congresspeople to "go fuck themselves," blocking promotions of folks who disagree with his superior legal opinions when it comes to desperately needed warrantless wiretapping, conducting foreign policy by telling the Russians what's what, or surreptitiously declassifying an undercover operative's identity to teach her no-good Iraq-nay-saying traitorous husband a lesson, we have to give it to the Dick.
He knows that what's good for Dick Cheney is good for the country, & he isn't about to let democracy or democratic government procedures get in his way.
Today's most interesting news item (title bar) proves that Dick has the balls to stand up to anyone & everyone who would tell him he HAS to do anything he doesn't wanna, whether it was the news several days ago that he ordered Secret Service records of his visitors to the White House be kept hush-hush, or today's news that he not only has stopped complying with the Bush White House orders to report the handling of classified information, he also wants the office requesting it to be abolished.
"The standoff disclosed yesterday stems from an executive order establishing a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified information. The order was first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and was updated and reissued by President Bush in 2003. Under the order, an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" must report annually how much it is keeping secret.
"Cheney's office filed annual reports in 2001 and 2002 describing its classification activities but stopped filing in 2003, according to internal administration letters released yesterday. Cheney's office made the case that it is not covered because the vice president under the Constitution also serves as president of the Senate and therefore has both legislative and executive duties.
"In 2004, the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, a 25-member agency responsible for securing classified information, decided to conduct an on-site inspection of Cheney's office to see how sensitive material was handled. The vice president's staff, according to a letter Waxman sent Cheney, blocked the inspection."
Alberto Gonzales is reportedly looking into Cheney's failure to comply. Uh-huh.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Killing the Bearer of Bad News

Ill: Wizard of Whimsy

In today's reading assignment we find an article by Seymour Hersch for The New Yorker about Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba (title bar), who was assigned the task of investigating claims of detainee abuse & torture at Abu Ghraib, & was later forceably retired for doing an honest job of it.
Taguba filed a report finding "blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse. "
However, nobody in command above him would own up to actually having read it.
The story adds to the ever growing catalog of well-worn witticisms in the Donald Rumsfeld Hall of Fame (my all-time favorite being, "My God, did I order them to wear womens' panties on their heads?")
Here, in a meeting the day before he was to testify to Congress, he's reported to have greeted Taguba mockingly with "Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” & to have complained, “Here I am,” Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, “just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this.”
"As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, 'He’s looking at me. It was a statement'.”
(Rather brings to mind another Bushco stud, Alberto Gonzales, telling Monica Goodling in his office about his "recollection" of events surrounding the partisan purge at DOJ, with the clear implication that she'd better back him up.)
Another shining moment, according to Taguba:
"In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. 'Could you tell us what happened?' Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, 'Is it abuse or torture?'
"At that point, Taguba recalled, 'I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That’s not abuse. That’s torture.’ There was quiet.”
Hersch writes that other videos & photos are not generally known or have not apparently been made public including " the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have not. (Taguba’s report noted that photographs and videos were being held by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their 'extremely sensitive nature.')
"Taguba said that he saw 'a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.' The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib.
The Rumsfeld DOD Strategy: See No Evil (Willfully)
"In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given 'to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described.'
"Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. 'It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn’t say, ‘Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,’ Rumsfeld told the congressmen. 'I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t.'
"Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, 'it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge.' As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, 'I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them'; at the House hearing, he said, 'I didn’t see them until last night at 7:30.' Asked specifically when he had been made aware of the photographs, Rumsfeld said: There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back sometime after January 13th . . . I don’t remember precisely when, but sometime in that period of January, February, March. . . . The legal part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasn’t proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didn’t know, and you didn’t know, and I didn’t know. '
"And, as a result, somebody just sent a secret report to the press, and there they are,' Rumsfeld said.
"Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. 'The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,' Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, 'Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.' It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials."
Read on.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Spymaster Cheney

Ill: Micah Wright/Propganda Remix
used with permission

Comes the news today (title bar) that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who recently testified before Congress & dropped the bombshell news that the DOJ wasn't entirely on board at one time with the White House's warrantless wiretap & spying program--after it had already been in effect--as well as the bombshell fact that the controversy resulted in a call to AG Ashcroft's wife from from Somebody--Bush himself?-while Ashcroft, barely conscious & heavily medicated, lay in his hospital bed.

Soon thereafter, then-White House officials Alberto Gonzales & Andrew Card paid a ghoulish nighttime visit to the hospital in an effort to persuade a gravely ill Ashcroft to sign off on it anyway. Ashcroft refused (he had already turned his office's authority over to Comey), who also refused. When the White House insisted, Comey & Robert Meuller, head of the FBI, among others, threatened to resign.

Ah, yes, you remember now, don't you?

Today's bombshell news comes again from Comey, in written answers to questions that he submitted to Congress, revealing that it was Dick Cheney who, in a meeting the day before the ghouls were ordered to descend upon Ashcroft, told the Justice Department that he disagreed with their objections to the warrantless spying program.

Dick is a well-known legal scholar after all, as well as unsurpassed master of interpreting intelligence reports on Iraq.

And in case you doubt (after the Plame mess) just how very vindictive & petty he can be to people who have the unmitigated gall to stand up to him, later on he blocked the promotion of an official at the DOJ who disagreed with him on the issue.

Hmm...where have we seen this kind of behavior in American politix before? The Nixon White House?

A coincidence, surely!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rove's Sticky Wicket Continues To Unwind

Ill: Signs of the World Burns Times

Update: Next in line to testify
It's dizzying trying to keep track of all of them, but stay tuned. Today The Legal Times reported that former attorney in the Civil Rights Division Bradley Schlozman will soon be called to testify in the ongoing occupation of the Department of Justice scandal. Seems that the only civil rights Bradley was interested in looking out for was those of long overlooked & neglected poor persecuted rich white GOP persons.
"In 2003, when Schlozman became a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division overseeing the voting section, he took charge of hiring, a responsibility historically handled by career attorneys. 'At that point there was no transparency, you didn’t know how hiring was done,' says Joseph Rich, who spent 37 years in the Civil Rights Division and was chief of the voting section from 1999 to 2005. 'You just knew the front office in the Civil Rights Division was handling all the hiring.'
"An investigation by The Boston Globe last year showed that Schlozman’s hiring in the voting section, which oversees changes to election laws in states with a history of discrimination, changed markedly from that of his predecessors. That investigation, based on Freedom of Information Act requests, found that seven of the 14 career lawyers hired under Schlozman belonged to either the Republican National Lawyers Association or the right-leaning Federalist Society. In the previous two years, according to the Globe, none of the section’s eight hires had such backgrounds.
"In addition to his hiring policies, Schlozman is also expected to be grilled by senators on the division’s stance in a number of controversial cases. In 2003, an eight-person team from the voting section’s career staff universally recommended that the Justice Department oppose a controversial Texas redistricting plan backed by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). That recommendation was overruled by political appointees, and Republicans won five additional Congressional seats in Texas in 2004. (In a 5-4 decision last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the redistricting plan.)
"In 2005, the department signed off on a voter identification law in Georgia that much of the Justice Department’s career staff ... believed would have a discriminatory effect on minority voting. A federal judge in Georgia would later issue an injunction blocking the new law from taking effect.
"Schlozman also pushed for the Justice Department to bring a civil suit against the state of Missouri for failing to force local officials to strike the names of ineligible voters from voter rolls in a number of counties. Graves, then the U.S. attorney in the Western District of Missouri, had chosen not to pursue it.
“'I had reservations about the case,' Graves told Legal Times last week. 'I just absented myself from the whole situation.' Democrats have suggested that Graves’ firing was linked to his decision in the voter fraud case...
Schlozman's " suit was eventually dismissed by a federal court in Missouri this spring. In her April 13 decision, Judge Nanette Laughery of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri noted the Justice Department had 'not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote . . . Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.'
"Schlozman is also certain to be queried about a voter fraud indictment he brought during the closely fought 2006 U.S. senate race in Missouri. Those charges, against four registration workers for a Democratic-leaning group, were announced less than a week before the election — a departure from the Justice Department guidelines discouraging such charges so close to an election.
Update: Another Resignation
Last Thursday, Tim Griffin, infamous Karl Rove protege who went to the head of the class (otherwise unaccountably) for the position of US attorney in Arkansas, & whose promotion displaced a sitting US attorney who maybe wasn't such a "loyal Bushie," has abruptly resigned after BBC (yes, BBC, the British news outfit), obtained some emails that seem to indicate why Karl Rove was so insistent that Griffin get the position: Griffin was instrumental in carrying out an underhanded scheme to purge certain voters from the rolls during the presidential election. Congressman John Conyers sat up & took notice, & met with the journalist to review the email. He may as well, because he seems to get nowhere with the same endeavor in our own country.
British correspondent Greg Palast "obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders.
"Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.
"Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US Attorneys, met Thursday evening in New York with Palast. After reviewing key documents, Conyers stated that, despite Griffin’s resignation, 'We’re not through with him by any means.'
"Conyers indicated to the BBC that he thought it unlikely that Griffin could carry out this massive ‘caging’ operation without the knowledge of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rove.
"Griffin has not responded to requests by BBC to explain this ‘caging’ operation. However, in emails subpoenaed by Conyers’ committee, Griffin complains to Monica Goodling, an assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, about the BBC reporter’s reproduction of caging lists in his book, 'Armed Madhouse.'
"In the email dated February 5 of this year, Griffin stated that the purpose of ‘caging’ was to identify 'fraudulent' voters. This contradicts one explanation of the Bush campaign to BBC that the lists were of potential donors and not in any way created to challenge voters.
"Griffin confidentially wrote: 'The real story is this: There were thousands of reported illegal/fake voter registrations around the country, so some of the Republican State Parties mailed letters welcoming new voters to the newly registered voters. … The Republican State Parties ultimately wanted to show that thousands of fraudulent registrations had been completed.”
Caging is the euphemistic term for the practice of sending letters with instructions that they not be forwarded, to registered voters. If for some reason the voter had moved, was homeless, a student, or was abroad in the miltary, the letter would be returned to the sender, taken as evidence that the voter's registration was fraudulent, & the name removed from the voter registration rolls.
In another wrinkle, "Monica Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee that Gonzales’ Deputy Paul McNulty, recently resigned himself, 'failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in vote ‘caging’ during his work on the President’s 2004 campaign.'

"Goodling’s testimony prompted Conyers’ request to the BBC for the Griffin emails.
Last night Palast showed Conyers a Griffin email from August 2004 indicating that Griffin not only knew of ‘caging,’ but directed the operation."
* * *
It shouldn't be news when "lifelong Republicans" in politics begin to display shreds of a conscience extending beyond the drive to win at all costs, by hook or by crook, but it is ~ & also a stunning lesson in how far off the tracks America has been driven by political operatives & blind party hacks.

Packing local courts with Republican judges & U.S. Attorney posts with loyal operatives to provide the appearance, if not the substance, of legitimacy is something we are all too willing to believe occurs in Third World dictatorships. The fact that it's been happening in American politics has taken years to come to light.

Case in point: the Alabama governorship. When incumbent Democrat Siegelman announced he would run again, & won, Karl Rove allegedly swung into action & fixed things with the help of some ambitious & friendly US prosectors. There was also a highly suspicious "abrupt turnaround" in the vote count, giving the election to Republican Riley, even though Democrat Sielegman won the election at first blush. He pressed for a recount; now he's the former governor of Alabama & faces time behind bars on what his defense lawyers claim are trumped up & bogus charges. A federal court dismissed the charges; a local court was persuaded to take them seriously. (Time article, title bar.)

"Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove 'had spoken with the Department of Justice' about 'pursuing' Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.

"The allegation was made by Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama. She made the charges in a May 21 affidavit, obtained by TIME, in which she describes a conference call on November 18, 2002, which involved a group of senior aides to Bob Riley, who had just narrowly defeated Siegelman in a bitterly contested election for governor. Though Republican Riley, a former Congressman, initially found himself behind by several thousand votes, he had pulled ahead at the last minute when disputed ballots were tallied in his favor. After the abrupt vote turnaround, Siegelman sought a recount. The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge.
"[William] Canary, [of the Republican National Committee] said 'not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman,' the Simpson affidavit says.

"Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June.

"William Canary called the allegations 'outrageous' and 'the desperate act of a desperate politician.' Terry Butts [also present during the conference call], 'I do not recall this telephone conversation — this whole story must have been created by a drunk fiction writer.' A White House spokesman told TIME that since the case of former Governor Siegelman remained before the courts, it would have no comment.
"In an interview with TIME, Simpson confirmed that the 'Karl' cited in her sworn statement was Karl Rove. 'There's absolutely no question it was Karl Rove, no doubt whatsoever,' she said. She also said she has phone records to back up the date and duration of her phone calls.
"In her interview with TIME, Simpson said the participants in the conference call expressed growing concern that Gov. Siegelman would refuse to give up his challenge to the vote count. According to Simpson, Rob Riley [son of the Republican candidate] said, 'Siegelman's just like a cockroach, he'll never die, what are we going to do?' At that point Canary offered reassurance by citing Rove's news from Justice Department.

To her everlasting credit, Dana Simpson "said she had long been troubled by the conference call conversation, and even consulted an official of the Alabama State Bar Association to determine whether she could disclose it publicly without violating her obligations as a volunteer working for the Riley campaign. She was told, she said, that she was free to speak of the matter.

"Simpson said she grew more concerned about the matter after Siegelman's conviction last June. She says she told several friends about the conference call; one of them, Mark Bollinger, a former aide to a Democratic attorney general in Alabama and in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, has given his own affidavit, obtained by TIME, swearing that Simpson had told him of the conference call and Rove's alleged statements.

"The federal investigation of Siegelman culminated in a criminal prosecution that became public not long after Siegelman announced that he would run again for governor of Alabama in 2006. Partly because of the investigation, Siegelman failed in his bid for the Democratic nomination.

"Siegelman, together with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges and faces sentencing June 26. Lawyers for Siegelman and Scrushy told TIME they were considering whether to use Simpson's affadavit in expected motions to dismiss charges against their clients, or in some other phase of what is likely to be a protracted appeals process.

"Siegelman was convicted of appointing Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education. Defense lawyers have argued that Siegelman drew no personal financial benefit from Scrushy's donation to the lottery campaign, and they note that Scrushy had served on the hospital regulatory board under three previous governors, before Siegelman reappointed him. The reappointment, they have argued, offered little of value to Scrushy except more work."

Not to mention that if appointing foxes to guard henhouses in handing over government regulatory agencies to the very industries they should be policing ~ a very odd practice when one actually thinks about it ~ Democrats who do so are indeed infringing on a Republican patent. Perhaps that's the real "crime."

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