Sunday, January 27, 2008

If we don't want a monarchy/dictatorship. . .


On Wednesday, January 23, 2008, Dennis Kucinich addressed the House of Representatives:

The Center for Public Integrity in a report released today has found "The Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

In short, the president and the vice president lied and four thousand of our soldiers died. The president and the vice president lied and a million innocent Iraqis died in a war that will cost us 2 trillion dollars, when people here in the States are losing their jobs, their healthcare, their homes, their dignity.

Lies are weapons of mass destruction. Lies are also an impeachable offense.

Monday, January 28th, is the State of the Union. We already know the State of the Union. It’s a Lie. We must reestablish truth as the State of our Union, so on that day I will introduce Articles of Impeachment concerning the president.

If impeachment is off the table, then the truth is off the table. If the truth is off the table, this House will be living a lie.

The Bible says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Let us once again be the land of the free by beginning the process which the founders understood will set us free and keep us free – Impeachment.

Thankyou, Congressman Kucinich, for your diligence, determination, and greater courage than the remaining Presidential candidates.

This is what Patriotism looks like.

That report by the Center for Public Integrity, by Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith, states in its opening paragraph:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

When White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked for a response to the report, she said,

I have to think that the study is worth spending any time on -- it is so flawed in terms of taking anything into context or including -- they only looked at members of the administration, rather than looking at members of Congress or people around the world. Because as you'll remember, we were part of a broad coalition of countries that deposed a dictator based on a collective understanding of the intelligence.

Meanwhile, I have spent a great deal of this weekend reading Charlie Savage's book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

Amongst the most mind-boggling information I've come across are these 3 make-you-tear-your-hair-out's:

1. The interrogation techniques the Bush/Cheney supports come from the Korean War, when the Chinese helped the Koreans take American POWs and get them to confess to things they did not do, so they could be filmed for propaganda purposes. The U.S. responded by developing a program that prepared our soldiers for these torture techniques -- in hopes they could stop the false confessions. 50 years later, either someone forgot -- or someone who wanted propaganda remembered -- that such techniques do not result in valuable information -- they are specifically designed to drive men mad - to get them to say what you want them to say.

2. It was during the Reagan administration that a Justice Department panel was created to study the value of signing statements. One attorney stood out with his vision of using them to throw the balance of powers off to enforce a Unitary Executive, carefully, slowly, knowing Congress would resist. He recommended starting on inoffensive, ambiguous sections of bills, setting precedence along the way, so that it would be easier, as time went by to argue the case for greater and greater use. That attorney was Samuel Alito, George W. Bush's second Supreme Court appointment.

3. Bush's first Supreme Court appointment, John Roberts, Jr., had been one of the three judges who made up the appellate court that turned over a lower court ruling that said that Bush did not have the unbridled war powers to initiate military commission trials for detainees without involving Congress - by a vote of 2-1. Roberts' decisive vote also gave Bush, as commander in chief, the independent power to waive the Geneva Conventions that protected detainees in his war on terror. In preparation for his vote, Roberts met with Cheney, Gonzales, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Andrew Card and Harriet Myers -- oh yes, and on the day the decision was handed down, George W. Bush. Four days later Mr. Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court. Now Roberts holds the most powerful, most untouchable position in the United States government -- the youngest man in this life-long position in over 200 years.

When our grandchildren ask what we did in the real war of our times, the War on "We, the People," what will we say?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In All Fairness. . .

I checked what was to be on the Diane Rehm show this morning - and it was to be a discussion of Global Warming. But what caught my eye was the word Giuliani - yes, the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP, so I knew something would be amiss.

Sure enough, it was Jeff Holmstead, former assistant administrator for air and radiation of the Bush/Cheney EPA.

So I wrote to Diane:

Ms. Rehm,

In the spirit of full disclosure, your audience should know that Jeff Holmstead spent his years between Bush administrations at Latham and Watkins, working as a lobbyist for the polluting industries. His appointment and role at the EPA is often used as a key example of how the Bush administration appointed the protectors of industry to federal agencies where the mission was to tear apart the agencies' regulatory role.

Mr. Holmstead's greatest contribution at the EPA was to gut the "new source review" -- which was the chief enforcement tool of the Clean Air Act -- thus allowing his former clients off the hook.

According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., noted environmental lawyer, the amount of once-illegal pollution at 70 industries under criminal investigation by the Clinton administration -- and immediately dropped by the Bush dminstration -- killed 5,500 Americans per year.

Diane, I know you bring both sides to the table is such discussions as the one this morning, and I appreciate that.

So, speak on, Mr. Holmstead. Let's hear what the side with blood on its hands has to say.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rocky's Activism Created by a Tethered Press and Uninvolved Citizenry

by Barbara Bellows-TerraNova, PDA/Utah
Posted by Progressive Democrats of America

Ross C. (Rocky) Anderson left office Monday January 7, 2008 as his second four-year term as mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, expired. He plans to move his activism into the private arena--Rocky joined the PDA advisory board in September 2007--and has plans to start a non-profit organization serving humanity. PDA extends our hearfelt appreciation to former Mayor Anderson for his courageous stand against the Iraq war and occupation and his leadership on impeachment.

Rocky Anderson's last day as mayor of Salt Lake City included his signature, as well as the signatures of Mimi Kennedy, Tim Carpenter, Ralph Nader, Daniel Ellsberg, Harry Belafonte, and other noted activists, on a letter delivered to Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to investigate the abuse of power by the Bush/Cheney administration.

It was the cherry on the sundae that has been Rocky's double duty as mayor and U.S. citizen/activist. While many in Salt Lake have responded enthusiastically to Rocky's call to protest Mr. Bush's visits to the city, others have been annoyed and have encouraged phone campaigns against the activist mayor.

If these people in Salt Lake are displeased with Rocky Anderson's involvement in protests against the Bush administration and the impeachment movement, they should look to the poor job done by a press that was held back by a few newly-consolidated owners receiving favors from that same administration. Either it was the press-or a public that didn't care to pay attention.

Things would surely have turned out differently if Americans had known, for example, about:

-the dismissal of the 1991 insider-trading investigation by the Security Exchange Commission, whose Chairman was old family friend and Bush Sr. appointee, Richard Breedan, into George Bush's sudden dumping of his Harken Oil stock for $848,000 before informing shareholders about the company's financial losses;

-the lack of an investigation into Cheney's insider-trading when he cashed out his stock options at Halliburton for $20 million before the stockholders were informed of the asbestos-injury lawsuits that came with Cheney's arrangement of the company's buyout of Dresser Industries;

-the fact that the riot that shut down the vote recount in Dade County, Florida, on November 22, 2000, was actually manned by Republican aides and operatives flown down from D.C. in Enron and Halliburton jets, whose success was celebrated at a Thanksgiving banquet where they were serenaded by Wayne Newton;

-the 2003 report by the EPA Inspector General stating that the White House altered the wording of the post-9/11 EPA statement on the air safety in Manhattan to completely change its meaning, resulting in the horrendous, debilitating medical problems, suffering and deaths of the courageous first responders, EMTs, cleanup crew, and other workers and residents of New York City;

-the sell-out of every federal agency's purpose with the appointments of industry lobbyists throughout;

-the Office of Special Plans, where appointees from the militarily aggressive Project of the New American Century (whose University of Chicago professor/mentor, Leo Strauss, taught that it was best to subdue the public with "Noble Lies") cherry-picked through discredited intelligence data to build up a threatening Saddam Hussein;

-the multi-level, vast series of irregularities in the 2004 election, which were immediately exposed in the December hearings in Ohio by Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and the Democratic minority, culminating in the January 6, 2005, objection by Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and Senator Barbara Boxer to the certification of the election. Conyers' report was inserted into the Congressional Record;

-the largest, record-breaking, donations to the 2005 Bush inauguration by the home-loan industry, whose unregulated business is now wreaking havoc across the world economy;

And that's just off the top of my head. I know. I picked up a book, and another, and another, watched PBS's "Now with Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio", did some Googling, and discovered that the Bush administration was not compassionate, was not conservative, and did not act according to moral values. Surely, this was not the President most Republicans thought they'd elected.

For me, that meant I was moved to begin emailing "Know Bush Facts" and performing Know Bush: Launching Facts That Shock and Awe, A One Person Patriot Act in October 2004 at the main downtown Salt Lake City library.

For Rocky, it meant a call for protest when George W. Bush came to town, giving extremely informative speeches about the specific wrongdoings of the administration, and, ultimately, the detailed development of the legal basis for impeachment of an administration which overstepped both the Constitution and international law and destroyed the moral ground of democracy and human rights the United States once maintained-thus making us all considerably less safe in this world.

If we do not have a free press which informs us, we must have citizens who care enough to pay attention to what our leaders do in our name. If we are unwilling to listen to those citizens who do speak up, then it takes citizens who have greater clout-such as the Mayor of a noted conservative city-to stand up and point out what we desperately need to know.

I, for one, am very grateful to Rocky and am proud that we, as a community, were invited by him to engage in a meaningful response to the kind of power-usurping, questionably elected executive officer that our Founders intended us to stop from ruining our country.

Thank you, sir, for taking it on, and taking the flack. I, for one, will continue to pay attention to your efforts, and I recommend that others do the same. I'm setting up a "Google Alert" today so I can keep up.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The 2008 "Know More" Mission

In the spirit of "Less is More". . .

Get Votes Counted,
Stop Depleted Uranium,

Votes Counted, Stop DU, Impeach/Indict

Stop DU, Impeach/Indict, Votes Counted

Impeach/Indict, Votes Counted, Stop DU

Know them, do them, spread the word.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

We were warned. . .

"WAR is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule."

In 1935.

Ernest Hemingway, "Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter" first published in Esquire.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Call for Justice

January 4, 2008*

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Chair, Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives

2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Conyers:

We are writing out of deep concern for our nation. The President and members of his administration have violated, and continue to violate, our Constitution, significant and numerous treaty obligations, customary international law, and laws passed by Congress. However, the federal courts and Congress (even with a Democratic majority) have utterly failed to hold the President and his administration accountable and to put an end to the egregious violations of law and abuses of power.

When the President abuses and exceeds the powers vested in the executive branch, the people of our nation have reason to expect, and our Constitution contemplates, that the other co-equal branches of government – the courts and Congress – will rein in the President, not only holding him to account, but also making it clear that such abuses and excesses will not be tolerated, now or in the future, in our constitutional democracy. When the courts and Congress fail in their duties to challenge and repair abuses of executive power, they condone the abuses and are thereby complicit in undermining our Constitution, our international standing, and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

Our nation and our constitutional form of government are at a crucial crossroads. Either we condone and thereby encourage unlawful misconduct by our President and his administration, or we hold them to account and put an end to the illegalities. We can make it clear to the world, including all U.S. citizens, present and future, that we are a nation of laws, that we will support and uphold our Constitution, and that we will not tolerate the undermining of the carefully structured system of checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government. To challenge, disclose and censure the abuses of power by the Bush administration would also serve to uphold our nation’s proud history of support for fundamental human rights, which has distinguished our nation, until now, from those totalitarian, human-rights abusing nations that have kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured people, and deprived them of any semblance of due process.

In a constitutional form of government, which is committed to the rule of law, the courts are a safeguard against unlawful conduct by government officials, including the President. The courts are intended to be a safeguard against tyranny and dictatorship, both procedurally and substantively. Alarmingly, that is no longer the case in the United States.

Recently, a federal court has ruled that the invocation of the “state secrets” doctrine by the Bush administration is sufficient to deny citizens the right to obtain information about whether their communications have been subjected to warrantless governmental surveillance, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and federal statutory law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Without the ability to obtain that information, the parties challenging the unlawful governmental surveillance have been held to lack standing to pursue their claims in court. Contrary to earlier false representations by President Bush that warrants were being obtained by his administration before electronic surveillance of communications was being conducted, the federal government is known to have continually and blatantly violated a criminal law passed by Congress and one of the most cherished rights protected by our Constitution. However, astoundingly, there is now no recourse in the federal courts.

The federal courts have even denied recourse to those who, pursuant to the “extraordinary rendition” program, have been illegally kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured by US agents and assignees in other countries. That dangerous lack of accountability has resulted from the indiscriminate acceptance by the courts of the assertion by the Bush administration of the “state secrets” doctrine. The Bush administration has invoked the “state secrets” doctrine 39 times, compared to a total of only six times by other presidents from 1953 to 1976, during the height of the Cold War.

Without action by Congress, these recent court decisions significantly undermine any notion that the rule of law prevails in the United States in instances of presidential abuse of power – and make it clear that no remnant of justice remains in relation to claims that such abuses have caused severe harm to innocent people. These decisions also call into question whether the truth about these abuses will ever be brought to light. All of this is leading our nation toward an unbounded and unaccountable tyranny, completely foreign to what many of us value most about our beloved country.

Because the courts are not providing a means of disclosing, or holding the Bush administration accountable for, serious violations of the law, it is particularly essential that Congress vigorously assume its constitutional prerogative and duty to thoroughly investigate and disclose the truth about the abuses of power and excesses of President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and others in the administration, all of which have caused extreme damage to our country.

Of course, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives is best suited to conduct any inquiry into abuses of power by the President and others in his administration, particularly when violations of domestic statutory law, the Constitution, and treaty obligations have occurred. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, you have an historic opportunity and solemn responsibility, through the holding of hearings, to discover and disclose, and to bring the President and others to account for, the astounding abuses of power and violations of the law arising from the following misconduct, all of which have been severely injurious to our great nation:

Authorizing, permitting, and condoning the kidnapping, disappearance, imprisonment and torture of people throughout the world, in violation of the US Constitution, domestic statutory law, treaty obligations, and customary international law. (In connection with the investigation of the illegal “extraordinary rendition” program, the Judiciary Committee should consider recommending passage of a compensation bill for Khaled el-Masri, Maher Arar, and others who have been kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by U.S. agents and who have been denied any recourse to justice in US federal courts.)

Authorizing and permitting the arrest of US citizens without charges, and causing them to be held, indefinitely and incommunicado, without access to an attorney, without the right to challenge the lawfulness of their confinement through the great writ of habeas corpus, without a trial, and under inhumane circumstances.

• Authorizing, permitting, and condoning the electronic surveillance of US citizens’ communications, including emails and telephone conversations, without a warrant, in violation of the US Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Engaging in an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Covenant, and the United Nations Charter (all international treaty obligations, which, under the Constitution, comprise the supreme law of the land), following a public campaign comprised largely of fictitious and fraudulent representations intended to persuade the people of the United States that the war was justified by self-defense. The fraud was comprised of outright misstatements of material fact and by withholding material information known to President Bush and members of his administration that was directly contrary to the representations of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and others in the administration to Congress and the American people.

Abusing and exceeding the executive power, and undermining the constitutional principle of separation of power, through the issuance of a record number of signing statements following the enactment of legislation by Congress. These signing statements have led to an unprecedented disregard by the executive branch, including administrative agencies, of federal statutory laws, and to the assertion of an unbounded dictatorial “unitary executive” presidential power, during the so-called “war on terror,” an undeclared “war” that is geographically and temporally unlimited.

In addition to inquiries into the above grave criminal misconduct and other gross abuses of power, we urge that Judiciary Committee hearings include an inquiry into the use of false propaganda by members of the Bush administration, which has served as the source for articles in the news media that misled many of the people in the United States and elsewhere concerning the supposed “threat” posed by Saddam Hussein and the execution of the war. When our government lies to the people, with the aid of an inept and credulous news media, our democracy is at grave risk.

Hearings on the matters described above could be held for the purposes of (1) disclosing serious criminal misconduct and egregious abuses of power, (2) accountability, and (3) deterrence. Crucial to our constitutional democracy and a commitment to the rule of law is a determination of the facts of abuse and illegal misconduct, then conveying that the outrages of the Bush administration are not reflective of American values, and that our proud nation will not condone the subversion of our values, our laws, or our Constitution by any president or members of his or her administration. Such a result would also vindicate Congress’s vital role as a co-equal branch of our government that will zealously protect its role, rights, and responsibilities under the Constitution.

We urge you, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to commence hearings without further delay in connection with the above described violations of law and abuses of power by President Bush and members of his administration. To embrace the opportunity to discover and disclose the truth, and to provide for the sort of accountability, transparency, and openness due to any democratic people, will be an important step toward a national recommitment to the rule of law, a renewal of international respect, and a return to the national values we Americans have always cherished for ourselves and our posterity.


George McGovern, Ralph Nader, Robert A. Feuer, Rocky Anderson, Blase Bonpane, Theresa Bonpane, Ramsey Clark, Mimi Kennedy, Andy Jacobs, Jr., James Abourezk, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Paul Findley, Kevin Zeese, John Nichols, Tim Carpenter, Marcus Raskin, Jonathan Kozol, Harry Belafonte

[*Bold and italic emphasis by BBT]