SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
DOW plunges 735 points. Worst week since March 2003. Signs the war in Iraq is strangling the economy.
Jul 28th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

IE7/Firefox users: Please use RSS for a browser link that notifies you every time this Blog is updated! You must REGISTER before you can post comments.

Apparently, the bloodletting was not over when the Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJIA or “DOW” for short) plunged 311 points last Thursday. Hype over the looming “14,000 point milestone” wafted through the press for days after the DOW leapt 283 points on July 12th the day the Democratic Congress announced it would be voting to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq within 120 days. After a nasty 416 point loss in early March to close at 12,234, the DJIA climbed an astounding 1,600 points in just four months to close at 13,861. Despite that precipitous climb, it took four days to climb the last 50 points to cross the 14,000 threshold on July 20th. Then the bottom fell out, losing 149 points the next day, bouncing back a little only to lose 226 points on Tuesday, 311 on Thursday, and now another 208 points on Friday, making this the worst week for the DOW since March 11, 2003. Hmm, seems like I remember something significant happening in March 2003, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. (the DOW leapt 282 points two days before the invasion of Iraq on news that war might be avoided.)

So, why did the DOW see its worst week since the invasion of Iraq (and the worst week for the S&P 500 since September 11th) after such a rapid 1,700 point climb in just four months? As I wrote yesterday, interest rates were cut to the bone after 9/11, boosting new home sales to record highs as unwitting home buyers agreed to “adjustable rate” mortgages with low monthly payments. Those mortgages are responsible for the skyrocketing number of foreclosures and defaults as interest rates were increased to attract foreign investment to pay for the war in Iraq (rising steadily since June 2003.)

Add to that the price of oil jumping $2 a barrel to within $.01 of its all-time high of $77, and you have all the ingredients for a floundering economy.

Ironically, the same day the DJIA loses 208 points, the Ford Motor Company reported its first quarterly profit ($750m) since mid 2005. A prime factor in the turn-around? The announcement last year that it would close 16 plants and cut 45,000 jobs in a massive restructuring effort to stop the hemorrhaging of cash since mid-2005. Rumors that Ford might divest itself of its share of British car-makers “Land Rover” and “Jaguar” were also confirmed on Friday, which would mean another influx of some much needed cash into the Ford coffers.

American sales to Europe accounted for the majority of recent corporate profits to help supercharge the DOW in recent months, but Americans just aren’t purchasing like they used to. With less money in their pockets due to higher mortgage payments, record high gasoline prices, and the price of everything going up as retailers are forced to offset their own energy costs, hurts retail sales and American business. If I’m right and the market is falling (despite otherwise good economic news) because Americans are spending less thanks to diminishing income, last weeks slide isn’t over yet.

One thing that I hear frequently is talk about “record low unemployment rates“, usually in the context of “proof of a strong economy“. But what these pundits don’t seem to understand is that a low “unemployment rate” does not equal “low unemployment“. While the RATE of job loss is very low, the rate of job “HIRINGS” is almost non-existent… unless you count the “industry-killing” Green movement, where “eco-friendly companies” are about the only sector of the job market seeing huge growth.

Share
“Holy Reaganomics, Batman!” DOW plunges 311 points.
(down 526 points in six days). Have Neocon economic policies finally started catching up with them?
Jul 27th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

IE7/Firefox users: Please use RSS for a browser link that notifies you every time this Blog is updated! You must REGISTER before you can post comments.

I had another report nearly ready to go for today’s edition when news came across the wire that the DOW plunged a frightening 311 points this/Thursday afternoon (falling as much as 438 points at one point, recovering slightly as bargain hunters feasted on the wounded). After struggling for days to crack the “14,000 point threshold”, the DOW smashed the 14,000 point barrier with all the gusto of a 98 pound weightlifter before closing at “14,000.41” a week ago Thursday.

The DOW then collapsed in an exhausted heap on the floor, falling 149 points the very next day, the market bounced around like a basketball, making modest double-digit gains in between record triple-digit losses of 226 points last Tuesday and 311 points Thursday.

Last March, I reported on the DOW falling 416 points in one day, “officially” translating into a net ZERO gain (actually a net NEGATIVE loss) in the stock market (adjusted for inflation) since President Bush took office 6 years earlier. Since then, the DOW climbed an unwarranted 1,700 points in just four months, a staggering amount raising serious concerns when you consider that there has been NO significant economic news to justify this “irrational exuberance”. None, nada, zip. Employment didn’t go through the roof (quite the opposite, with anemic job growth averaging barely 1.4% over the past 12 months barely keeping up with the rate at which Americans newly enter the workforce each month), interest rates have been climbing unabated since June of 2003, inflation is up 2.7% since June, 2006… and of course, the war in Iraq drags on with no end in sight, costing Billions of dollars and a hundred American lives each month. I can not identify one single economic justification to justify such a precipitous climb in the DOW before Thursdays’ “correction”. Market analysts point to “growth in overseas markets” and the “booming European economy” as being responsible for a recent rise in corporate profits for American companies with the greatest overseas presence, but sales in the U.S. for most products has either fallen or remained flat. And the trend is unlikely to continue.

Compare this to the Clinton “Super Bull” where the DOW set a new record almost every month of his Presidency (sans election years when the GOP had to talk-down the economy to compete), climbing almost steadily 100 points or more each month. The proof that Bush’s “mini-Bull” has been the result more of wild speculation than solid economic growth seems to have come this week with todays’ 526 point readjustment. “Real-growth” doesn’t loose that much value in just six days.

So, what does this all mean? Why did the market rise so precipitously over the past four months, or are this past weeks “corrections” a sign of things to come?

The Neoconservative economy is not based on the exchange of any tangible asset or infrastructure. It is driven purely by investment… money changing hands. After 9/11 threatened to plunge an already weak economy into the toilet, a rapid succession of interest rate cuts discouraged saving and encouraged “big ticket” spending. Cars, homes, anything that required financing. Most of the car purchases went to Japanese/Asian automakers, but home mortgaging had a purely domestic benefit. A wave of people buying new homes they otherwise could not afford if it were not for super-low adjustable rate mortgages, people refinancing their existing homes at the new lower rates, and speculators buying “fix-r-uppers” that they then “flip” for a quick profit, swept the nation.

But the interest rate money train couldn’t run forever. Interest rates became “catastrophically low”… less than 1% by early 2003. Why “catastrophically low”? Because while low interest rates encourage spending, it discourages foreign investment. How do you expect to pay for two wars and tax cuts for all your rich friends and “all those corporations NOT creating new jobs with the savings” when you refuse to raise taxes to pay for it all? Interest rates need to be low enough to encourage spending to keep the economy humming, yet high enough to attract foreign investment so the government can afford to run. Without foreign investment, the government would have to pay for everything on what tax dollars were left over after paying interest on the massive debt we owe our creditors. The Bush Administration is not about to roll back its massive tax cuts, so instead, it would have to cut spending elsewhere: education, social services, highway funding, etc.

Foreclosures have reached an all-time high because all those adjustable rate mortgages have suddenly made all those low-finance homes unaffordable. But they can’t cut interest rates without risking loosing foreign investment to finance their grand adventures.

It’s no coincidence that interest rates started to go up just as the war in Iraq started to heat up (June 2003). Unwilling to roll back their massive tax cuts for the rich, they had to attract foreign investment to help pay for their wars. And now that the cost of the war in Iraq has ballooned to more than “$12 Billion dollars a month“, keeping those foreign dollars rolling in is more important to them than ever.

So what are we to expect now? Just as Bush’s “new strategy in Iraq” is really just more of the same, so would be any “solution” they might devise to revitalize a flagging economy. They’ll reach into their tiny toolbox of economic tricks and pull out their only tool: “tax cuts for the rich”.

Hey, it’s gotten us this far, right?

UPDATE: As suspected, the market continues its downward trend as the reality of poor economic news supplants the heady baseless enthusiasm that catapulted the DOW so fast without cause. As such, I will need to update this post Friday afternoon after the markets close.

Share
Did Saudi kid confirm Bush let bin Laden escape at Tora Bora?
Jul 19th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

It was a throw-away line at best in the middle of a story on NBC Nightly News last Tuesday night that no one seemed to notice.

The story was about “a rehab center for young Saudi Arabian boys” that had once been lured into joining al Qaeda. After serving time in a juvenile detention facility, the boys were now being trained to reenter the world as productive members of society. NBC reporter Jake Tapper spoke to one young man about how he came to be where he is now, when he casually dropped the following bombshell:
 




 

I stopped dead in my tracks: “What the hell did he just say???”

In case you didn’t catch it, this young Saudi boy seems to confirm that Osama bin Laden was indeed at Tora Bora with him when President Bush failed to send in American ground troops to try and capture him in December of 2001.

A little bit of background: Three months after the attacks of 9/11, the CIA reported that they, along with Afghan rebels, were in a major firefight with al Qaeda fighters holed up in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Based upon the ferocity of the fighting, the CIA concluded that al Qaeda was likely defending “someone very important, probably Osama bin Laden himself”. For reasons that still aren’t quite clear, rather than flood the area with 150,000 U.S. troops to ensure the capture of Osama bin Laden, President Bush instead relied on the CIA to “oversee” the Afghan rebels’ efforts in concert with U.S. air support to conquer the compound and capture the fighters holed up inside. Instead, the fighting ended with most of the fighters escaping out the back into the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Whether or not bin Laden was truly there as the CIA suspected has been the subject of debate, but Conservatives have long known that President Bush’s argument for not sending in American ground forces… whether we knew if OBL was there or not… was pretty weak and difficult to justify. The “maybe it wouldn’t have mattered” defense has always been a problem for the “enter with guns blazing” crowd to defend.

While there has been a multitude of evidence from the CIA, TV news reports, magazine articles, and online investigations all concluding that there is little or no doubt that bin Laden was indeed there at Tora Bora that day, Bush supporters have NEVER conceded that as being “fact”.

It is apparent from the video that Tapper doesn’t consider this revelation anything new. The implications seems to be that no one disputes that bin Laden was indeed there in Tora Bora that day and managed to get away. Bush supporters have always been able to dismiss those studies with the “no one knows for sure” defense.

During the 2004 Presidential Debates, John Kerry made the point THREE TIMES to let voters know that “President Bush allowed Osama bin Laden to escape into the hills of Tora Bora,” because, rather than surround the area with American troops, President Bush instead relied on the Afghan militia, allowing the murderer of 3,000 people on 9/11 to slip away. Not once during the three debates did President Bush ever try to “correct” Kerry’s accusation.

Then on October 29th, the Friday before the 2004 election, Osama bin Laden released a video criticizing George Bush. Both candidates quickly condemned the video as an obvious attempt to influence the election. But at his next campaign stop, Kerry pointed out that three years after 9/11, OBL would not still be out taunting the U.S. had Bush of not let OBL get away at Tora Bora.

President Bush countered on his next campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio:

Unfortunately — unfortunately, my opponent, tonight, continued to say things he knows are not true — accusing our military of passing up a chance to get Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora. As the Commander in charge of that operation, Tommy Franks had said, it’s simply not the case. It’s the worst kind of Monday morning quarterbacking. It is especially shameful in the light of a new tape from America’s enemy. Our Commander in Afghanistan, Tommy Franks, recently said — quote — “The Senator’s understanding of events does not square with reality.” General Franks said — General Franks said America’s Special Forces were actively involved in the search for the terrorists in Tora Bora. And intelligence reports at the time placed bin Laden in any of several different countries. As General Franks said, “If we’d ever known where bin Laden was, we would have gotten him.” (Applause.)

President Bush was merely parroting what numerous Right Wing supporters had been saying since Kerry first made the outlandish claim at the first Presidential debate:

From the Wall Street Journal editorial pages:

Tora Bora Baloney
John Kerry tells fish stories about Osama bin Laden.

BY MELANIE KIRKPATRICK
Thursday, October 14, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

As John Kerry tells it, Tora Bora is the place where President Bush let Osama bin Laden get away. In the candidate’s oft-repeated formulation, the al Qaeda leader was “surrounded” and escaped only because the president “outsourced” the job of capturing him to Afghan warlords. (…)

The NeoConservative “Power Line” blog:

The Tora Bora slander

Yesterday was the third time in three debates that President Bush failed to address John Kerry’s argument that he let Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora because he “outsourced” the job to Afghan war lords. Kerry’s argument is a phony because there is no conclusive evidence…

And Rick Lowry, editor of the “National Review”:

Tora Bora Bull
Don’t buy what Edwards is selling.

(…) Some intelligence indeed suggests that bin Laden was there. But the U.S. commander on the ground, Gen. Tommy Franks, also had reports that bin Laden was in Kashmir, in southern Baluchistan and northwest of Khandahar near a lake.

Most of the Republicans’ defense seems to focus on General Tommy Franks’ belief that there was no proof OBL was in even there during the siege on Tora Bora (so why even try? Was that his message?)

And suddenly, here was this clip on the NBC Nightly News. A young Saudi man in his twenties just happens to mention that “he fought with bin Laden at Tora Bora”, seemingly confirming what Conservatives feared most: first-hand testimony from someone that was actually IN Tora Bora that day, confirming that “Commander Guy” let Osama bin Laden get away.

I wonder what the Neocons will have to say now?
 

IE7/Firefox users: Please use RSS for a browser link that notifies you every time this Blog is updated! You must REGISTER before you can post comments.
Share
Totally disgusted. I can’t bear these Republicans anymore.
Jul 11th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

IE7/Firefox users: Please use RSS for a browser link that notifies you every time this Blog is updated! You must REGISTER before you can post comments.

After a week of responding to defenders of “Scooter” Libby attacking Democrats for OUR hypocrisy, followed by Right-wingers on the TV trashing Michael Moore’s new movie “SiCKO”, accusing him of “fudging the facts” using fudged facts of their own, then responding to a few racist email chain letters, I had had about enough! You correct them with facts supported by links, and they ignore you, only to come back days, weeks or even months later repeating the same tired long debunked allegations. Then came the straw to break the camels’ back:

As I’ve noted on here before, I maintain a video news archive on YouTube. President Bush still enjoys a 29% approval rating, and I felt like I heard from all of them this week, posting frantic responses to videos they don’t like. (It is becoming apparent that as they see their little world slipping away, they are in a panic.)

Without exception, their responses are always full of falsehoods, long-debunked “facts” and an obscure sense of logic that attacks Bill Clinton for “crimes” he supposedly committed while excusing/dismissing/denying every crime to come out of the Bush Administration.

My own exasperation piqued after having to debate the virtues of “peace” over “war” and “truth” over “lies” to a Baptist Minister from Texas. To him, Bush could do no wrong, Clinton could do no right, and the only reason Democrats hate Bush is “sour grapes” over the 2000 election. A tiny sampling of our two-day exchange:

> I’m not like you. I would vote for a Democrat. I would vote for Lieberman in a heartbeat.

“Liberman” is your idea of “voting for a Democrat”? Please, he’s to the right of most Republicans (I’m sure Zell Miller had your vote too!)

> Bush went off the same intelligence the Dems had. The
> reporter asked John Kerry “Can Sadaam be dealt with
> without using force, John Kerry, “I DON’T SEE HOW!”
> Clinton bombed him for crying out loud, he had three
> terrorist training camps, what more do you people want,
> did you want Sadaam to set off a bomb here before you
> would confront him?

If you believe Congress gets the same intel as the President, you’re not dealing in reality. Perhaps you are familiar with the “Presidential Daily Briefing”… most notably, the one on August 6, 2001? When Congress wants to know something, it must form Committees” that the President can then bar from revealing what they know to the rest of Congress. That was the case in both the 2003 NIE and the NSA Domestic Wiretapping scandal.

Please provide a date and link for Kerry’s quote about Saddam, because you have YET to provide ANY support (despite repeated requests) for ANY comments you claim support your position.

Yes, Clinton bombed him. But HE DIDN’T INVADE. And after the bombing turned up nothing but an Advil factory, any talk of taking military action against Saddam ended…

Then you turn on the news, and we hear the Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff telling us that we may be attacked this Summer. But when asked if he has any information to support this, he says No, it’s just “a gut feeling”. This guys job isn’t to “fear monger” for his bosses Bush & Cheney in order to steer the political debate over Iraq/Iran.

Bush’s own former Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, along with Reagan’s SG C.Everett Coop and Clinton’s SG David Sacher all testified before Congress that the Bush Administrations’ meddling in science policy is the worst they’ve ever seen, blasting him and his anti-science administration before a joint session of Congress. His comments were so scathing, it is highly recommended viewing for all.

On the NBC Nightly News, Mid-East reporter Richard Engle gave a stunning report this week showing the children of Iraqi refugees living in Syria, some that appear to be as young as six, have been forced into prostitution to help support their families, fleeing the violence in Iraq. I’ve about had it.

There’s a special place in Hell for the people that helped cause all this.

Share
Understanding the Case Against Libby: A chronological primer.
Jul 4th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

NOTE: Register to post comments and receive e-mail notification every time this Blog is updated!

In the wake of President Bush commuting the sentence of “Scooter” Libby, the airwaves have been just filled with misinformation, and people lacking just enough familiarity with the facts of the case that they find themselves ill-equipped to respond when confronted by some Right-wing hack spouting Republican talking points. Rather than refute every Talking Point point-by-point, I thought it was time someone laid out the case in a straight-forward chronological manner so everyone can understand just who is guilty of what, and why they did what they did. Once you understand all the facts of the case, you’ll be better armed when going into battle with a brainless Neocon that only knows what Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh told them:

Divining the most appropriate starting point is a matter of debate. One could start with George W. Bush’s 1999 autobiography “A Charge to Keep” where he threatened to “take out” Saddam Hussein if he found him to be developing “weapons of mass destruction”, a comment he repeated in a February 2000 interview on PBS’s News Hour at the very beginning of his campaign for President, 19 Months before 9/11.

Or you could start after the election, where the Bush Administration refused to even meet on the subject of al Qaeda until just one week before 9/11 because he was so obsessed with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

No matter where you start, the events to follow happened this way:

A. One month after 9/11, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, eager to get in good with the newly elected American President with whom he agreed with in implicating Saddam Hussein in 9/11, had his newly appointed Director of Military Intelligence, Nicolo Pollari produce a report on the Iraqi President attempting to purchase raw uranium (“yellowcake”) from the government of Niger. The report was based upon third-hand rumors, shaky evidence, suspect sources, and in some cases, 20-year old intel, that Saddam sent one of his Generals to the African country to inquire about making such a purchase. The report was then simultaneously turned over to both the CIA and the British equivalent: MI-6 (source).

B. Vice President Cheney reviewed the Italian report and directed the CIA to find out if it were true or not. Undercover agent on Iraq/Iran’s WMD Activities, Valerie Plame, was called in to consult on the matter. When the subject of sending someone to Niger to investigate the claim came up, Ms. Plame noted that her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, would be good for the job. Her husband, former Ambassador to the Niger/Gabon region of Africa specializing in mining, was probably the most qualified person in the country for the job. Ms. Plame had no other influence on the decision to send her husband to Niger. The decision to send him was made by the CIA themselves.

C. Ambassador Wilson flew to Niger and quickly concluded that there was absolutely no way Saddam could have purchased the “500 tons of yellowcake” that he was accused of having sought in the Italian report. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) strictly monitors Niger’s two mines, and any sale would have to be approved by the Nigerian government. His conclusion: there was just too much oversight (both foreign and domestic) for the sale to have ever taken place. Niger is the third leading producer of Uranium in the world, producing roughly “1.5 Metric tons” of raw uranium ore a year… a FAR cry from the “500 tonnes” the Italian report accused Iraq of seeking.

D. Wilson returned from Niger and reported to the CIA that he found the accusation not to be credible, which was then relayed to the office of the Vice President. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s Chief of Staff, contacted British Intelligence and asked them if they had the same intel that “Saddam tried to purchase 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger”. MI-6 confirmed, but did not reveal its source (as is standard practice). Little did anyone know that MI-6’s source was the same bogus Italian report given to the CIA. President Bush and other members of his administration, viewing MI-6 as having “confirmed” the Italian report, then repeatedly attempted to insert the claim into several speeches that same year when making the case for war with Iraq, most notably, President Bush’s October 6, 2002 “smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” speech. That would be the third and final time the claim would be scuttled by the CIA.

E. Three months later, the claim was inserted into President Bush’s 2003 “State of the Union” Address (the infamous “16 words”) in an attempt to drum up support for the invasion of Iraq amongst the American people. But this time, for reasons unknown, CIA Director George Tenet never got around to reviewing the speech (as was standard practice) and the claim stayed in.

The 16 words in question: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Note here that President Bush specifically cites “the British“. This is because our own intelligence refused to sign off on the intel as genuine, while MI-6 continued to insist it was accurate.

F. One week later, Secretary of Defense Colin Powell made his infamous presentation to the U.N. Security Council making the case for war against Iraq to destroy their WMD stockpiles and weapons violations. Interestingly, the “Iraq/Niger/Yellowcake” claim was not included in his presentation. Powell’s explanation: “I didn’t think that was sufficiently strong as evidence to present before the world.” Six days earlier, it was “sufficiently strong enough” for President Bush to use it to scare the bejeezus out of the American public to coax them into supporting his war, but not worthy of repeating to the UN.

G. On March 19, 2003, we went to war. As the days turned into weeks, people began to ask “where are the WMD’s?” According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld less than two weeks into the war, “We know where they [the WMD’s] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and East, West, South and North somewhat.” (link).

President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” on May 1st despite Saddam Hussein nor his Weapons of Mass Destruction having been found. Several teams of “Weapons inspectors” were dispatched along with thousands of U.S. soldiers to find the weapons the Bush Administration was so certain were there when making the case for war. Before the invasion, the White House consensus was that there was absolutely NO doubt that Saddam had amassed enormous stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, as well as a nuclear weapons program that was dangerously far along. But as time passed, the arguments came under greater and greater scrutiny. The White House was in desperate need of a distraction.

H. Then on July 6th, after repeated attempts to find out why the Niger claim he debunked 18 months earlier was still being used to justify the invasion of Iraq, Ambassador Wilson wrote an Op/Ed for the New York Times entitled “What I DIDN’T find in Africa”. According to reports, Cheney, furious, scribbled some notes above a copy of the Times article and sent it to his CIA briefer, Libby, with the implication of discrediting Wilson:


Cheney's notes.
(click to enlarge)

Cheney’s comments are a bit difficult to read even at full size, but they read:

Have they [the CIA] done this sort of thing before?
Send an Ambi [Ambassador] to answer a question?
Do we ordinarily send people out
pro bono to work for us?

Or did his wife send him on a junket?

While it is rarely mentioned, I find it fascinating that Cheney appears to ALREADY KNOW who Wilson’s wife is. He obviously is aware of the fact that the Ambassador’s wife is someone who might be in the position to dispatch her husband on a task for the CIA when he asks that final question (it must be inferred at this point that someone at the CIA must have contacted the VP’s Office on his/her own and volunteered the fact that Wilson’s wife was an agent at the CIA and involved in his being recommended for the job). Who at the CIA contacted Cheney and why? Assumedly because, like Cheney, they believed Ms. Plame sent her own husband with the explicit purpose of discrediting the President because they believed the Wilson’s disapproved of the war (Wilson has stated that he was “a registered Republican that voted for Bush in 2000.”)

I. In order to discredit Wilson, it had to be shown that he went to Niger with a preconceived bias and an agenda to discredit President Bush. To do this, they suggested that “the only reason he got the job was because his wife sent him”, not because he was actually qualified. But the next question from reporters would be, “just who is his wife to be in the position to send him?” To explain that, they had to reveal that she worked for the CIA, a fact that was NOT publicly known by even members of her own family.

While (neo)Conservatives insist that Plame’s identity was “not” covert and therefore could legally be revealed, then why would Cheney need to “declassify her status” before they exposed her? It is clear that THEY KNEW Valerie Plame was COVERT at the time they sought to discredit her husband, yet exposed her anyway (a crime that Bush Sr. described as that of “the most insidious of traitors.“)

J. Libby could not be the *first* person to leak the story to the press because it was too direct a link to the Vice President, and instead revealed the information to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage with the instruction to leak the information to the press. It is highly unlikely that Libby told Armitage that Plame was covert if he was to be sure Armitage would go to the Press. And since VP Cheney had just declassified her status, there was no point in telling him anyway (both Libby and Armitage have Top Secret Security Clearance, so Libby’s telling Armitage, and Cheney’s telling Libby were not illegal).

K. Armitage contacted stalwart neocon reporter Robert Novak and told him the story of why Wilson’s report should be suspect. Novak then contacted his inside-man in the White House, Karl Rove to confirm the story (Novak says he relied on three WH sources for confirmation of the Plame/Wilson story… the other two of which he has yet to reveal) who confirmed for him that the information was true. Novak then blew Plame’s cover in a July 14, 2003 Op/Ed entitled “Mission to Niger“, followed up a week later with a second article that also revealed her CIA cover operation… “Brewster/Jennings”… because it had donated $1,000 to the Al Gore campaign in 2000. Revealing that B/J was a “CIA front” endangered not only the lives of every agent that ever claimed to work for them, but any foreign contact that might of done business with them. It is a near certainty that people DIED as a result of this information being revealed.

L. The CIA, in response to the outing of one of its agents, instructed the Department of Justice to find out who leaked the name of one of their covert agents. Recognizing the need for a “Special Prosecutor” outside of the Bush Administration to investigate the matter, AG John Ashcroft’s temporary replacement Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey appointed former Illinois Attorney General turned Federal Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to the investigation.

M. The first step was obvious: call Robert Novak to testify before a Grand Jury to reveal who told him Ms. Plame’s identity. Novak revealed that it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that told him about Plame (revealing only later that it was Rove he called to confirm.)

N. Armitage was then called in to testify, and while his testimony is still sealed, it is assumed that either President Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove or Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby told him about Plame. When asked if he knew at the time that Ms. Plame’s identity was actively being kept a secret by the CIA, he said No (this is important, for to convict someone under the “Intelligence Identities Act”, they must be aware the person they exposed was covert, which he didn’t. So Armitage had committed no crime.)

O. The next obvious step was to contact Rove and Libby to ask them who told them Plame’s identity and why. This is where Libby first lied to the Grand Jury and deliberately tried to misdirect them so as not to implicate his boss, Vice President Cheney. Libby would be called four more times after other witnesses contradicted his testimony and his lying and obstructionism became clear. Charges were eventually filed against Libby as the investigation could proceed no further because of his refusal to cooperate.
—————

As described in my last column (below), some key Republican Talking Points dismissing the Plame/Wilson matter are put to bed:

TP1. Libby was not the first person to leak Valerie Plame’s identity to the press. It was Richard Armitage.
As I’ve clearly pointed out, the fact that Libby was not the first to leak Plame’s identity to the press is irrelevant. He was charged with obstruction of justice for refusing to reveal who told him about Plame, who instructed him to reveal that information to Armitage, and why.

TP2. Fitzgerald already knew this when he called Libby to testify.
It was BECAUSE he knew this that he even called Libby to testify, for the express purpose of finding out why he told Armitage and to reveal who it was that told him.

TP3. Fitzgerald unnecessarily forced Libby to testify under oath over something he already knew the answer to. Had he of never been forced to testify, said crime would never of occurred.
The only thing Fitzgerald knew was “who told Novak”, not “who told Armitage” or “who told Libby”.

And now we have something new to consider: Had Libby of been given a full pardon, Libby could of been forced to testify against his old bosses without the veil of “the 5th Amendment” to hide behind after already being given immunity from prosecution by his pardon. By “commuting” Libby’s sentence rather than give him a full pardon, Libby can continue to refuse to testify on the grounds of there being a “pending case” as he files his appeal. By ensuring that Libby can continue to avoid implicating the White House, President Bush has just ensured that Libby will be able to continue to obstruct justice… and by extension, President Bush is therefore obstructing justice himself!

(UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that I did not address Libby’s contacts with NY Times reporter Judith Miller, or Karl Rove’s role in disseminating Plame’s identity to reporters like Matt Cooper of Time Magazine. While Libby’s contacts with Miller do directly implicate Libby (and indirectly, Cheney’s office), it parallels the events given in the timeline and do not alter the facts of the case. Regarding Rove’s involvement, Armitage’s testimony is still sealed, but the fact Rove testified yet was not prosecuted like Libby suggests he stuck to “I can’t remember” responses. Had he of revealed that Bush or Cheney instructed him to tell Armitage, investigations would of immediately been launched against them. They haven’t. None of which exonerates Libby for the crimes with which he was convicted. The case against Rove is a separate investigation reserved for a separate column at a later date. Too many unanswered questions at this time to do an in depth analysis.)

Share
Bush Commutes Libby Sentence. The Hypocrisy is Palpable.
Jul 2nd, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

Share
 

NOTE: Register to post comments and receive e-mail notification every time this Blog is updated!

SPECIAL EDITION: President Bush Commutes Libby’s Sentence.

For months since Cheney’s former Chief of Staff was found guilty in a court of law for “Perjury and obstruction of justice” by lying to a Grand Jury, Republicans have been screaming for President Bush to pardon “Scooter” Libby, calling Independent Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a “rogue prosecutor” decrying that there was “No underlying crime!”

As predicted, rather than grant Libby a “full pardon” and nullify the jury’s verdict, President Bush instead chose Door #3 and commuted Libby’s sentence down from “30 months in prison” to a “probationary (jail) term”. While no one appears to be entirely clear what a “probationary (jail) term” is versus just “probation”, it helps to understand the difference between “jail” and “prison”… “prison is long-term and after conviction”, while “jail is short term and typically prior to trial/sentencing”. So obviously, Libby will serve probably no more than 2-3 months in jail. The $250,000 fine stays pat, and since the conviction stays on his record, Libby will be disbarred and his law license revoked.

UPDATE: At this time, it appears Libby will be serving NO time in jail, though the fine and disbarment will remain.

While you can argue that “the punishment does not fit the crime”, it is still no “slap on the wrist”. Libby is still getting a harsh sentence for obeying his bosses’ illegal order, but that’s not the issue here.

The point worth noting is all the Right-wingers who were screaming for Bush to PARDON Scooter Libby. Their argument goes this way:

o Libby was not the first person to leak Valerie Plame’s identity to the press. It was Richard Armitage.

o Fitzgerald already knew this when he called Libby to testify.

o Fitzgerald unnecessarily forced Libby to testify under oath over something he already knew the answer to. Had he of never been forced to testify, said crime would never of occurred. (“If you hadn’t called me, I never would of been here to lie to you! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” Also known as the “It’s MOM’S fault for leaving the chocolate cake on the counter” defense.)

“Rogue prosecutor”? “No underlying crime”? Sound familiar? It should. That is EXACTLY the circumstances under which THEY IMPEACHED A SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BILL CLINTON in 1999.

Now, of course, their defense of Libby is total nonsense. Yes, Fitzgerald knew former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the first to leak the name of Ms. Plame to reporters, a fact he freely admitted (which is why HE wasn’t prosecuted for perjury or obstruction of justice). But Fitz was trying to find out WHO TOLD ARMITAGE. Notice that Armitage was not prosecuted for leaking Ms. Plame’s identity either. That is because the leaker “must be aware that the name of the person they are leaking is classified”, and clearly he did not. This is not the kind of information neither the former DSoS nor Libby would of had as part of their duties. The CIA is not in the habit of providing anyone outside of Langley the true identities of their secret agents. So Armitage would of had to of been *given* the identity of Ms. Plame by someone that could obtain it AND, in the course of obtaining it, would HAVE to know it was classified, and either (illegally) declassified it or likely never told Armitage that the information he was being given was secret… not if their intention was to leak it to the press.

When Armitage was confronted with his role in the leak, he admitted everything, telling prosecutors that Libby told him about Valerie Plame. So then, Fitzgerald called Libby in to testify and Libby then LIED TO THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR. Fitzgerald called Libby back multiple times, possibly to give him ample opportunity to come clean and admit the truth, but HE CONTINUED TO LIE AND DELIBERATELY ATTEMPT TO MISDIRECT THE INVESTIGATION. Had Libby of just admitted “who provided him with the classified information and WHY”, he would never of been prosecuted. But Libby CONTINUED to FLAGRANTLY try and OBSTRUCT AND MISDIRECT the DoJ’s investigation, which is why he was charged & convicted. Had he of not obstructed justice, the DoJ would probably be investigating the VP’s office (and Cheney) himself right now (which would make that the first of several investigations, including the current one over Cheney’s refusal to submit his document activities to the National Archives for Security Clearance.)

But back to the hypocrisy: President Clinton did not commit a crime by having an affair with an intern. If it was a crime to “lie to the American people” about it, then President Bush is up to his neck in it. Special Prosecutor Ken Starr was brought in early in Clinton’s first term by the Republican controlled Congress to investigate “Whitewater”, a failed Arkansas land deal in which then Governor Clinton *lost* $20,000, but for which Republicans accused him of receiving illegal “preferential treatment” in just getting the deal. When you think now of all the Republican scandals, crimes and misdeeds, from the day they stole the 2000 election, illegally wiretapping Americans without a warrant and then lying to us about it, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, and so on, and so on, the “crime” of “maybe possibly receiving preferential treatment in a failed land deal before he even became President” seems pretty pathetic.

But Starr’s investigation didn’t stop there. When “Whitewater” turned up nothing, the investigation morphed like a Transformer: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, “Trooper-Gate”, “File-Gate”, and eventually “Monica”. Can anyone say “rogue prosecutor”? I knew you could!

After being vilified by the GOP and in the press for claiming “Executive Privilege” to avoid testifying under oath regarding his affair with Ms. Lewinski… something that was NOT a crime and NOT deserving of a criminal proceeding… President Clinton relented and agreed to testify under oath… something our current President and Vice President continue to refuse to do…, in which he was put into the position where he would be forced either to admit to his wife and daughter that he had had an affair, or continue to deny it. Can anyone say “No underlying crime”? I knew you could!

The witch-hunt to “get” President Clinton was rationalized by Conservatives on the basis of “Rule of Law”, “a crime is a crime” and that his misbehavior was “a threat to national security” should someone “attempt to blackmail him to prevent the truth from getting out”. Huh, “rule of law”? “A crime is a crime”? “Threat to national security”? Can anyone say “perjury and obstruction of justice” followed by “leaking the name of an undercover CIA Agent”? I knew you could!

So for Republicans, the conviction of Scooter Libby is “a travesty of justice”, “railroaded by a rogue prosecutor”, with “no underlying crime”. But when it comes to Bill Clinton, well… “he was responsible for 9/11 you know!” (then again, maybe not.)

Hypocrisy so thick, you could drive a Humvee over it without it sinking.

Share
SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa