Liberal Oasis
HOME | SEARCH | ARCHIVES | INTERVIEWS | MANIFESTO | RSS FEED
JOIN THE LO $100 REVOLUTION -- GIVE TO KERRY -- CURRENT TOTAL: $12579
BE A LO E-PATRIOT -- GIVE TO THE DEMS -- CURRENT TOTAL: $4340
BOOK OF THE MONTH: "THE POLITICS OF TRUTH"
DONATE TO THE OASIS | SHOP THE OASIS | CONTACT THE OASIS

GET TRUTH

Alternet

American Prospect

Black Commentator

Boston Review

Consortium News

Gadflyer

Grist

In These Times

Intervention

Mother Jones

Ms.

The Nation

The New Republic

The Progressive

Progressive Populist

Salon

Tom Paine

Utne

Washington Monthly

Women's eNews

Z

GET BLOGGED

Altercation

Bartcop

Body and Soul

Joe Conason

Daily Kos

Eschaton

MyDD

Nathan Newman

The Sideshow

Talk Left

Talking Points Memo

Tapped

Terminus

GET ACTIVE

ActNow!

The Email Activist

MoveOn

True Majority

GET COMMUNITY

Al Gore Democrats

Blog For America

Dem Party Meetup

Democratic Underground

Democrats.com

Institute for Global Communications

Music Row Democrats

Smirking Chimp

GET INSIDE THE SYSTEM

First Read

The Hill

The Note

Open Secrets

Political Wire

Politics1

Romenesko

GET CONGRESS BACK

From The Roots

The Stakeholder

GET LEGISLATION

Write your U.S. Rep

Write your Senator

Or call Congress
202-224-3121

GET KERRY

JohnKerry.com

O-Blog

U-Blog

Join the LO $100 Revolution: Give to Kerry

Kerry Meetup

Blog4Kerry

Concerts For Kerry

Conservatives For Kerry

Designs on the White House

Grassroots For Kerry

Greens For Kerry

Kerry Connector

Kerry Freedom Fighters

Kerry Pioneers

Tough Enough

Veterans United For Kerry

John F. Kerry in '04?

GET KERRY SMEARS

DBunker

Kerry Smear Page

Slate: Kerry's Defense Defense

Snopes: Kerry's Military Service

GET WONKY

Applied Research Center

Center for American Progress

Center for Policy Alternatives

Commonweal Institute

Economic Policy Institute

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Women's Policy Research

Moving Ideas Network

NJ Policy Perspective

OMB Watch

GET A BUDGET

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Concord Coalition

National Priorities Project

GET RURAL

Center for Applied Rural Innovation

Center for Rural Affairs

Center for Rural Development

Center for Rural Strategies

Center for Rural Studies

GET MEDIA ANALYSIS

Daily Howler

FAIR

Lying Media Bastards

Media Matters for America

Media Study

Media Whores Online

Media Transparency

PR Watch

Take Back The Media

TV News Lies

We Want The Airwaves

GET POLLS

Democracy Corps

Polling Report

Prof. Pollkatz

Public Opinion Watch

GET POLITICAL ADS

BushOut.TV

GET MORE BLOGGED

BusyBusyBusy

Donkey Rising

Feministing

Mathew Gross

Kicking Ass

Ms. Musings

Notes on the Atrocities

onegoodmove

Pacific Views

Greg Palast

Reading & Writing

Road To Surfdom

Rittenhouse Review

Skippy

Soundbitten

TBogg

GET LOCAL

SF Bay Guardian

Texas Observer

Village Voice

WHO NEEDS DRUDGE

The Agonist

BuzzFlash

Common Dreams

Cursor

Drudge Retort

Easter Lemming

Free Speech News

Intl-News

Make Them Accountable

Progressive Southerner

The Raw Story

The Screed

Seriously Though

Smudge Report

Truthout

Unknown News

USNewsLink

Working For Change

GET ECON BLOGGED

Angry Bear

Brad DeLong

MaxSpeak

GET BUSH

AWOL Bush

Babes Against Bush

Billionaires For Bush

Bushwatch

Bush Draft

Bush Occupation

Bush Recall

Down With Bush

DubyaSpeak

Dumb and Dubya

GWBush.com

GWBush04.com

Hated

Misleader

Peace Pretzel

ReDefeat Bush

StopBushin2004

Uproot Bush

Vote Bush Out

Whitehouse.org

GET JUDGES

Alliance For Justice

American Constitution Society

Independent Judiciary

GET FOREIGN POLICY

Arms Control Association

Brookings Institution

Carnegie Endowment

Carter Center

Center for Defense Information

Fourth Freedom Forum

Henry L. Stimson Center

9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Peace Action

Traprock Peace Center

Veterans Against the Iraq War

Veterans For Common Sense

World Policy Institute

GET HOMELAND SECURITY

Century Foundation

GET IRAQ

Across The River

Back To Iraq 3.0

Baghdad Burning

Juan Cole

Iraq Body Count

Iraq Today

Raed In The Middle

Where Is Raed?

GET FREEDOM

Amnesty International

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

GET GROUP BLOGGED

The American Street

Blogging of the President

Crooked Timber

Open Source Politics

GET LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

Abolish The Death Penalty

Death Penalty Information Center

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

FIGHT CRIME

Fortune Society

National Center on Institutions & Alternatives

Sentencing Project

GET LEFT

Bear Left

Blog Left

Kick The Leftist

Lean Left

The Left Coaster

Left Is Right

Left Leaner

The Lefty Directory

MoveLeft Media

So Far, So Left

GET RIGHT

Con Web Watch

Evil GOP Bastards

GET META-BLOGGED

Best of the Blogs

Progressive Gold

GET GOOD GOVT

Center for Public Integrity

CitizenWorks

Common Cause

Public Citizen

GET ELECTION FRAUD

Black Box Voting

GET STILL MORE BLOGGED

The Agora

Alas, A Blog

American Amnesia

Archpundit

Coherence Theory
of Truth

Corrente

Emphyrio

Green[e]house Effect

Hullabaloo

Just World News

Liquid List

Margaret Cho

Mike Hersh

Negrophile

Not Geniuses

Oliver Willis

Orcinus

Pandagon

Seeing The Forest

Trish Wilson

Warblogging

Whiskey Bar

GET GREEN

Climate Ark

The Detroit Project

Environmental Defense

Environmental Media Services

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

What Would Jesus Drive?

GET UNION BLOGGED

Confined Space

Fight For The Future

Joe Hill Dispatch

Joe Kenehan

GET STATEHOOD

DC Vote

GET LAW BLOGGED

Balkinization

Is That Legal?

Lessig Blog

GET GUN CONTROL

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Violence Policy Center

GET LOCAL BLOGS

Blog For Democracy (GA)

Blog St. Louis (MO)

BlueGrassRoots (KY)

Burnt Orange Report (TX)

Colorado Luis (CO)

Liberal Desert (AZ)

Off The Kuff (TX)

People's Republic
of Seabrook (TX)

Politics in the Zeros (CA)

A Progressive on the Prairie (SD)

Sooner Thought (OK)

South Knox
Bubba (TN)

To The Barricades (NE)

Twin Cities Babelogue (MN)

STOP SCREWING THE POOR

Class Struggle

JobWatch

Living Wage Resource Center

National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support

National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Welfare Information Network

GET GLOBALI-
ZATION

Capital Ownership Group

50 Years Is Enough

NetAid

Reclaim Democracy

GET RETIREMENT SECURITY

Alliance for Retired Americans

Nat'l Cmte to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

Social Security Network

GET HOLLYWOOD

The Creative Coalition

Scoobie Davis

GET IT ALL

eRiposte

Leading With The Left
The daily view from the oasis

June 25, 2004 PERMALINK
Did The Doc Dump Work?
(posted June 25 2:30 AM ET)

Two weeks ago LiberalOasis said John Ashcroft's refusal to turn over torture memos to Congress, while avoiding a formal invocation of executive privilege, was:

...a sign that they eventually expect to [invoke executive privilege], but have a strategy of dragging this out as slowly as possible, in hopes that things won't reach critical mass before Election Day.

Not so, as this week showed.

Now it appears Ashcroft was stalling for time, while the Bushies sifted through their torture memos as they prepared for a (selective) document dump.

That way, they could release some of the damning memos that congressional Dems were pushing for, but do it in conjunction with other memos, to give an appearance of healthy internal debate.

Did the damage control maneuver work?

Not really (but points for effort).

Wednesday's headlines were mostly favorable, but not excessively so nor uniformly so.

For example, USA Today flatly rejected the spin with the headline "Rumsfeld Ok'd Harsh Treatment" and included this charming tidbit:

Rumsfeld also approved placing detainees in "stress positions," such as standing for up to 4 hours, though he apparently found this approach unimpressive.

Rumsfeld, who works at a stand-up desk, scrawled on the memo, "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours? D.R."

And the NY Times headline, while favorable at first blush, seemed intended to induce ironic laughter: "White House Says Prisoner Policy Set Humane Tone".

With the first day of coverage not powerful enough to alter the fundamental dynamic of the scandal, the second day had a significant amount of pushback.

NPR flagged what was missing in the doc dump:

Absent are any memos to and from the FBI and CIA and any documents dated after April 2003.

No documents address the State Department's concern over the Bush administration's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions.

The W. Post got a few of those missing docs, and they show how pissed the State Dept. was at what Defense and Justice were doing.

Not to mention how disturbed some lower-level military personnel were:

Major dissent about the administration's interrogation practices next arose in late 2002 and early 2003, when military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay complained to superior officers that techniques they were asked to use were abusive.

That provoked an extended Defense Department review, during which military lawyers for each of the services forcefully expressed their concerns, officials said.

"We had raised them verbally. We've raised them at the action officer level.

["]Ultimately, some memos were, in fact, signed laying out some considerations that we believe were very important in the process," said a senior military lawyer who briefed reporters last month with the Pentagon's approval.

The lawyer chose his words carefully: "By the time the final draft...[on interrogation methods] was completed, those considerations had all been carefully evaluated."

He said the military lawyers were comfortable with the outcome "from a legal standpoint," but did not mention the policy concerns the memos had raised.

Finally, the Dems in Congress haven't been mollified at all by the dump, and are pushing for more disclosures.

One could argue that the Bushies are making the best of a bad situation.

But it's still a very bad situation.

(Lots of torture memo analysis at Discourse.net and Intel Dump.)

QUICK HIT

W. Post Reporter Talks to Someone, Learns Something

The nation's economy is growing smartly, wages have begun to rise, and employers have added more than 1.4 million jobs to their payrolls in the past nine months.

Yet voters continue to give President Bush poor ratings on his handling of the economy [which] may sound baffling...
-- "Economy Provides No Boost for Bush," by Jonathan Weisman, W. Post, Page A1, 6/10/04

Some economists also point to stagnant wages and eroding job quality as dark clouds looming over the economic recovery.
-- "Quality of New Jobs Is Focus of Election-Year Debate," by Jonathan Weisman and Nell Henderson, W. Post, Page E1, 6/23/04

For more about the media's coverage of the economy, check out this column from LO Exec. Ed. Bill Scher, published by the Center For American Progress as part of Eric Alterman's weekly "Think Again" feature.

June 24, 2004 PERMALINK
Bush's Korea Move: Another Head Fake?
(posted June 24 2:45 AM ET)

The Administration's proposal -- allowing some aid from other nations to North Korea in exchange for the dismantling of its nuke program -- looks good on the surface.

And that's probably the point.

Much like how he went through the motions with the UN before launching a war unilaterally, Bush wants to be able to say he tried diplomacy in North Korea as well.

But wanting it to work? Not really.

Granted, discerning Adminstration motives from press accounts is tricky because of the deep split between the neocons at Defense, who want to stare down Kim Jong Il until his government collapses, and the realists at State, who say stopping the nukes is paramount.

The NY Times says "For now, [the State] camp has won the day."

But that's what people said when Bush went to the UN before. And still, State has never truly won anything.

(Don't say "Chalabi", he hasn't gone anywhere.)

So while unnamed US officials say varying things to the press, it's the ones looking to undercut the process (as they have done before) that LiberalOasis would argue are most relevant.

Like the ones telling the NYT that proposed "security guarantees" don't stop Bush from pursuing "regime change," comments that damage good-faith negotiation.

Furthermore, North Korea's neighbors China and Russia don't seem impressed with the Bush proposal, according to the W. Post.

Reuters also reports that expectations are low for an actual deal to be reached.

That's a win-win situation for Bush.

He can score domestic political points for showing uncharacteristic flexibility, while actually keeping the neocon "regime change" strategy in place.

That is not to say Bush wouldn't take a North Korean concession, if it fell in their lap.

Since the neocons don't think much of the "security guarantees," an unexpected agreement would work just as well.

They just don't want to work very hard to get it.

LiberalOasis discussed this scenario back in April '03:

The question that Bush is probably facing is:

Do we provoke a confrontation now, or do we kick the can down the road, beyond '04, because the prospect of a third war in three years is just a little too crazy, even for us?

They may be hoping to get regime change without war, giving economic destabilization a chance to destroy Kim's rule.

If that's the plan, Bush may be giving Powell some string to play with, allowing him to work towards an agreement -- maybe even forge one -- as a way to buy time.

And here we are.

While this move makes things a little harder for Kerry, as it will allow Bush to blame North Korea for being recalcitrant, Kerry will not have to change his rhetoric much (barring a real breakthrough).

Earlier this month he said in a speech:

Since that dark day in September have we done everything we could to secure these dangerous weapons and bomb making materials?

Have we taken every step we should to stop North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs?

Have we reached out to our allies and forged an urgent global effort to ensure that nuclear weapons and materials are secured?

The honest answer, in each of these areas, is that we have done too little, often too late, and even cut back our efforts or turned away from the single greatest threat we face in the world today, a terrorist armed with nuclear weapons.

However Bush's efforts are perceived, every day passed is another day the North Koreans are advancing their nuke program, making us less safe.

Today's developments haven't changed that.

June 23, 2004 PERMALINK
Kerry Gets America Better Than David Brooks
(posted June 23 1:30 AM ET)

ABC's The Note hasn't figured out what several others have recently articulated:

The finger of David Brooks is not magically calibrated to find the pulse of America.

Yet The Note swallowed Brooks' latest NY Times column hard:

WAYS JOHN KERRY CAN STILL BLOW THE ELECTION...

1. Failure to read and understand David Brooks' if-you-read-only-one-article-today- let-it-be-this-must-read op-ed piece...about the Kerry and Democratic failure to understand the importance of faith in public life.

What is this amazing Brooksian insight that ABC believes the political elites absolutely must accept:

[Bill] Clinton seems to understand, as many Democrats do not, that a politician's faith isn't just about litmus test issues like abortion or gay marriage.

Many people just want to know that their leader, like them, is in the fellowship of believers...He does have to be engaged, as they are, in a personal voyage toward God...

...John Kerry doesn't seem to get this. Many of the people running the Democratic Party don't get it either.

Brooks thinks the Kerry team should be in a panic because not enough people perceive Kerry as deeply religious:

...A recent Time magazine survey revealed that only 7 percent of Americans feel that Kerry is a man of strong religious faith.

That's a catastrophic number.

That number should be the first thing Kerry strategists think about when they wake up in the morning and it should be the last thing on their lips when they go to sleep at night.

Catastrophic, eh?

That same Time poll had Bush's disapproval (49%) higher than his approval (47%), and Kerry (48%) in a statistical dead heat with Bush (49%), even though vastly more people (actually, just "likely voters") say Bush has "strong religious faith" (54%).

The fact is, the religion gap in America is not a clear-cut black-white, Red-Blue situation. It's fuzzier than that.

For example, while Time found a majority (56%) agrees that "We are a religious nation, and religious values should serve as a guide to what our political leaders do in office," less than half (48%) say "the President should allow his personal religious faith to guide him in making decisions as President".

In that discrepancy -- the 8% that agreed with the former statement but not the latter -- probably lies the religious swing vote.

In fact, based on Election 2000 exit poll data, the swing is probably a little bigger than that.

Much of the media (not all) have pounded the notion that the majority of the nation is intensely devout, and those who are more secular are an elitist, out-of-touch minority.

But the 2000 electorate was evenly split between those who attend service weekly or more than weekly (42%) and those who attend seldom or never (42%).

About 60% of regular attendees went for Bush (not 100% mind you). The seldom/nevers were in the mid-to-high 50s for Gore.

How did Gore win the popular vote?

By edging out Bush (51%-46%) in the religious swing: the 14% of the electorate that attend services "monthly".

(The Time poll had 47% attending services weekly or more, 5 points more than in the 2000 vote, so it looks like the poll was slightly skewed toward Bush, minimizing the swing in the process.)

It will surely be easier for Kerry to win over a few more from the religious swing than the "weekly or more" crowd.

But how exactly? By obsessing about religion as Brooks recommends?

To get an idea of the swing's thinking, the LA Times recently talked to some "monthlies" in the battleground suburb of Edina, Minnesota:

Dan and Dayna Deutsch feel...conflicted. They backed Bush in 2000 because he promised to restore integrity to the presidency after the Clinton scandal.

Christians who worship about twice a month, they had felt Bush was fulfilling that vow, but now Iraq has raised questions about his judgment.

"He started to bring integrity to the White House and we were all really hungry for that, but the jury is still out," said Dayna Deutsch...

..."I voted for him and I respect him, but Iraq has taken a terribly bad turn. And that has colored whatever measure of integrity he has brought."

...

Julie Murphy, 45, and Mary Teschendorf, 46, both mothers of three who attend church about twice a month, reflect a different sort of conflict.

Murphy voted for Bush in 2000. Her friend did not.

But they share the premise of many religious conservatives ¸ and Bush ¸ that many of America's problems today are rooted in the erosion of moral values...

...But both women express suspicion about Bush's use of religious themes and say that the president showed moral failings equivalent to Clinton's...when he led the nation into war on what they now think were false premises.

What we see here is a bit of a mix (it is the swing after all).

All are into a vague sense of values. All want better foreign policy.

But some seem to respond better than others to Bush's religious rhetoric.

Brooks is right insofar as Dems shouldn't run away from religion (it is only 14% that never go to services).

But it doesn't follow that heavy-handed religious talk a la Bush is needed, or even appreciated by the majority.

In any event, despite the impression Brooks leaves, Kerry isn't ignoring religion.

He regularly weaves in references to God in his remarks, even (especially?) when he talks about abortion.

And he has been publicly taking communion despite pressure from right-wing bishops.

There will be the inevitable comments from Bush supporters arguing that Kerry isn't a good Catholic, because his positions aren't fully in line with his church's.

But there's no evidence that a majority of the "monthlies" will care about that.

In fact, they may well view Kerry's taking of communion as evidence of his commitment to his faith in the face of political pressure.

(Don't forget, there's a huge majority of voters who don't like religious leaders pressuring politicians.)

So there's really no major changes on the religion front that Kerry needs to make.

If Kerry keeps doing what he's doing, as people get to know more about him they will know his faith, but won't be smothered by it.

Besides, though Brooks may believe more obsession about religion is required, the swing seems to think Iraq is ultimately more important.

More thoughts on the religion gap from Donkey Rising.

QUICK HITS

Following Up

1. Regarding LO's Sunday Talkshow Breakdown about the varying statements from the 9/11 Commission members, some related commentary from Lean Left, War and Piece, and Talking Points Memo.

2. Some responses from MyDD and Stone Court to yesterday's call from LO for Kerry to propose third-party inclusion in the debates.

One more point to tack on to that post:

It's very unlikely Bush would ever agree to such a debate. It's uncontrollable, unpredictable and would give publicity to right-wing candidates that could pick off votes from him.

While you never propose something you aren't willing to agree to yourself, the likely outcome would just be Kerry getting points for suggesting it, as well as giving a publicity boost to the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates.

June 22, 2004 PERMALINK
A Call For Open Debates
(posted June 21 11:30 PM ET)

According to the Harris poll, about 6 of every 10 adults considers themselves a Republican or Democrat.

In turn, a very significant 4 of every 10 considers themselves "independent" or with "some other party".

Here's a easy way for John Kerry to make a play for them, while mitigating the Nader factor and taking a bite out of Dubya's right flank.

And do the right thing at the same time.

Last week, the Commission on Presidential Debates reiterated its criteria for inclusion.

Once again, it includes the prohibitive and arbitrary "15% Rule" -- 15% support in an average of 5 unspecified polls.

As any hard-core third-party member can tell you (as well as the new Citizens Debate Commission), the Commission does that for a reason.

Run by former Dem and GOP chairs, the Commission has an interest in keeping the third-party riff-raff out: they tend to bring up issues that the major parties would rather ignore.

But it is fundamentally unfair to shut out candidates who get on the ballot in most states (no small feat mind you).

They have the same right to run for President, and voters should have the same opportunity to hear them out.

And everyone knows most third-party candidates (except the wealthy ones) will never get the media attention to reach 15%, unless they get a chance to show their stuff in the debates.

The classic example is Jesse Ventura, who was at 10% in the polls before the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial debates, and 21% after, eventually winning with 37%.

What if John Kerry took a stand?

What if John Kerry said at least one of the debates should include everyone who is on the ballot in a minimum of, say, 40 states, after which they could revert to Commission rules?

Here's what that could do.

By legitimizing third parties, it could win Kerry some appreciation from a chunk of the 40% the country who do not consider themselves with the major parties.

By displaying a willingness to debate all comers, it would showcase Kerry's self-confidence, and burnish his rep as a thoughtful politician who encourages a free exchange of ideas.

And by proposing a debate that potentially included not just Nader, but the nominees of the anti-government Libertarian Party (Michael Badnarik), the Christian-right Constitution Party (most likely, Michael Peroutka), and possibly the Green Party's David Cobb (if he can fend Nader off this Sat.).

That would put a spotlight on the other, more conservative, third-party contenders, who deserve it as much as Nader does.

(If not more -- the Libertarian and Constitution parties have better ballot access than the independent Nader.)

The additional attention could even out the spoiler effect.

If Kerry keeps talking up Badnarik, Peroutka (and perhaps Cobb), the media may follow suit, and pollsters may begin including them in surveys -- giving a more realistic picture of what voters will see on Election Day.

That would alter the media narrative that is currently focused on the Kerry-Nader dynamic, a distraction which impedes Kerry's ability to get his message out.

It's a no-cost, no-risk move. And the right thing to do too.

(UPDATE 6/22 9 AM ET -- The response on Cobb's website to Nader's VP pick of Green Party activist Peter Camejo is worth checking out.)

June 21, 2004 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted June 21 1:30 AM ET)

The 9/11 Commission simply can't get its story straight.

Six commission members fanned out on three of the Sunday shows.

And the disagreements were so stark as to be embarrassing.

For example, there was no consistent explanation of this key finding:

There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred...but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.

That sentence did not specify collaboration in regards solely to the 9/11 attacks, and so, clearly means collaboration in general.

On ABC's This Week, Dem Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton tried to recalibrate that sentence to only apply to 9/11:

There was no collaborative relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein with regard to the 9/11 attacks. Our whole report...is on 9/11.

(Host George Stephanopoulos noted the qualification as a change from the initial report.)

Hamilton's move was an attempt to cozy up to the Bushies in order to minimize political attacks on the Commission; it would remove a point of conflict, since even the Administration says (nowadays) there was no evidence of 9/11 cooperation.

(GOP Chairman Tom Kean and Hamiltion, appearing together on This Week, seemed to coordinate so the Dem Hamilton would say the most pro-Administration sound bites, to give the sucking-up a bipartisan flavor.)

However, on NBC's Meet The Press, Dem member Richard Ben-Veniste made clear the original language was not intended to be so narrowly tailored:

There are two distinct issues.

One, first of all, 9/11. Take it to the bank, there was no Iraqi involvement in 9/11...

...Were there contacts over time between Iraq and al-Qaeda? Yes, there were efforts made to communicate.

[But] we found no evidence of collaboration in any effort to mount any kind of operation against the United States' interests.

[Emphasis added]

And on CNN's Late Edition, Both Dem Tim Roemer and GOPer James Thompson concurred with Ben-Veniste:

ROEMER: It's important to be very precise with the language.

One, our report concludes that there is no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States, in the general terminology here, attacks. [Emphasis added]

Two, we saw no specific evidence of cooperation on 9/11...

THOMPSON: ...I will agree with Tim Roemer.

Look, both the White House, Bush, and Cheney, and the commission have said no evidence that al Qaeda and Hussein got together to attack the United States.

We have no evidence, and we said so, that there was cooperation between them.

Do note that even though Hamilton sought to give the Bushies cover, he also stripped away the substantive basis of the Bush-Cheney claim of cooperation.

First he said:

The vice president, I believe, said that there was a response by Iraq to some of Osama Bin Laden's requests. We found no evidence of that response.

Then, after Stephanopoulos aired Dubya's 2/8/03 radio address which said:

Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.

And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases.

Hamilton was asked if "the Commission [can] corroborate that charge?" He responded:

No we cannot.

I know there was a request by Osama Bin Laden for training. I'm not sure about the poisonous gases.

And our information, at this point in time, is that Iraq did not respond.

So there may be a difference at that point.

"May be a difference"?! Try, we just debunked the entire Bush argument for any sort of collaboration.

(Of course, openly saying so would have undercut the Kean-Hamilton suck-up strategy.)

However, at MTP, GOP member John Lehman tried to muddy the waters, make news, and shore up his partisan hack cred, by throwing out an unsubstantiated allegation about an officer named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:

There's new intelligence, and this has come since our staff report has been written because, as you know, new intelligence is coming in steadily from the interrogations in Guantanamo and in Iraq and from captured documents.

[A nice hack touch, to subtly hat tip our abusive interrogators.]

And some of these documents indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al-Qaeda.

That still has to be confirmed. But the vice president was right when he said that he may have things that we don't yet have.

Ben-Veniste strongly cautioned against accepting that story at face value:

With respect to the individual that John Lehman has talked about...we don't know whether that's the same individual as an individual who had some contact with al-Qaeda operatives.

And at CNN, GOPer Thompson admonished Lehman for leaking:

I don't think it's appropriate for us to talk about things that have come before the commission that haven't been publicly released yet or that we haven't had a chance to fully investigate or question.

(Furthermore, UPI reported: "'Shakir is a pretty common name,' said terrorism analyst and author Peter Bergen, 'and even if the two names refer to the same person, there might be a number of other explanations. Perhaps al-Qaida had penetrated Saddam's security apparatus.'")

Another area where Commission members couldn't agree was how to characterize this finding about the alleged Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi agent:

We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9.

Based on the evidence available¸including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting¸we do not believe that such a meeting occurred.

Ben-Veniste reiterated what was in the report:

...our staff statement has again refuted the notion that there was any Czech meeting.

Indeed, the individual is now in custody, Mr. Ani, who Mohammed Atta supposedly met with in Czechoslovakia while we have pretty unshakeable evidence that Atta was in Florida.

So with the principle that someone can't be in two places at the same time...we have come to the conclusion that the so-called Czech meeting never happened.

So we've taken a position with respect to that.

And on CNN, Roemer made similar comments:

...we looked at this issue as closely as we could in minute detail.

And while maybe, in our staff statement, we didn't refute that it could never have happened.

We did say based upon cell phone evidence, and that Atta was on the East Coast... that it was not likely at all that he could have been in that meeting.

But on MTP, right after Ben-Veniste's remarks, GOP member John Lehman stayed in partisan hack mode:

...Richard said, we have concluded on the Prague meeting.

We haven't concluded anything on the Prague meeting.

And our staff has concluded. I've looked at the same evidence, and I don't reach any conclusion.

Now, Lehman seems to making a distinction between what the staff says, and what the Commission board members say.

On This Week, Chairman Tom Kean also tried to put distance between staff and members:

This is a staff report.

And we will be spelling out in our report, when it comes out, a lot more about the relationship between, any relationship that existed, between Iraq and Al Qaeda...

...These staff reports are interim documents. The commission, for instance, does not get involved -- the members -- in the staff reports.

Granted, that sort of staff-board separation and dynamic is typical.

However, Ben-Veniste said earlier last week that's not how this process was working:

Let me say that this is a bipartisan commission. The facts that were developed by our staff and overseen by the members of the commission simply are what they are. [Emphasis added]

Kean's distancing is troubling.

It indicates that the Chair wants to leave the door open for more politicization -- be it excising, inserting or massaging language -- in the final stages of the process.

And as you can see, there's plenty of politics already being played.

The Sandbox
Humor Column by Mark Spittle

Things To Do With Chalabi Now That The Pentagon Is Done With Him

Many Americans awoke a few days ago with the heartbreaking news that Iraqi exile and Iraqi National Congress founder Ahmed Chalabi is a "con man."

Those of us who read the occasional dissident press of the Europeans knew --- as far back as pre 9/11 days --- that Chalabi had been convicted of bank fraud in Jordan and sentenced in absentia for 22 years, and that his word was less than trustworthy.

Now, thanks to our state-run me... erm, I mean "aggressive free press," all Americans have finally been told about Chalabi's dark past.

That the release of this news to the American press coincides with the White House's reversal of position on Chalabi is, I suppose, just a really, really weird coincidence.

But pity poor Chalabi! Here was an Iraqi leader who had been supported by the Pentagon for decades and thought he was going to take the place of the last Iraqi leader who was supported by the Pentagon... but, alas, the twists of Fate are meandering, thorny brambles.

I did some poking around, though, and found a lot of people still have a warm place in their hearts for our little bean-headed buddy from Baghdad.

Assuming Chalabi escapes without a chemical glow stick inconveniencing his posture in any way, let's look at some future career possibilities for Iraq's prodigal son.

1) TELEVISION

CBS executives have already been trying to get communications over to Chalabi's office, asking him to host their new reality television series, "I'm A Former Dictator, Get Me Out of Here!"

The premise of the show is that various nefarious international leaders (Hussein, Pinochet, Kissinger) are abandoned on a desert island until only one remains. The winner will get to rule Burkina Faso.

CBS feels Chalabi "has the right stuff" for hosting the show, seeing as how he "has unprecedented experience in handling rulers of various nations across the world."

It's also thought that Chalabi may "add some excitement" to the program by enticing the dictators to do various ratings-enhancing stunts, like resorting to cannibalism or (worse yet!) denouncing conservatism in exchange for chocolate.

2) POLITICS

There may yet be a role for Ahmed Chalabi in the Bush administration!

Sure, his international street cred may be in tatters, but that takes nothing away from his ability to sway policy makers with only the most scant bits of evidence and huge gobs of deception.

Such traits would do him well on the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign team, where the American people will occasionally need to be convinced that destroying Iraq, alienating the UN, polluting the US Constitution with discriminatory amendments, ignoring the Geneva Convention and ruining the US economy are actually "compassionate" deeds, making the nation better than it was under that evil sicko Clinton.

If anyone can spin Bush's record to the general public, it's the guy who convinced Colin Powell that an abandoned Iraqi trailer park was an active nuclear weapons facility.

3) FINANCE

With his Bush family connections, Ahmed can probably turn his Jordanian conviction to his advantage.

After all, Dubya had problems with Harken, Arbusto and the Texas Rangers. Jeb caused the Florida S & L collapse. Neil had the Silverado Savings & Loan debacle. And Poppy Bush topped them all with the BCCI scandal.

If anything, Chalabi's work is downright quaint compared to his patrons.

Given that, perhaps Chalabi could put his white collar criminal past to good use and gain a position of power like the Bushes... perhaps replacing Dick Grasso at the NYSE?

4) CARTOONS

Ahmed Chalabi left Iraq at age 12, studied at Chicago University and MIT --- but he still has that funky, broken-English accent!

How's that, you ask? Unbeknownst to many, Chalabi is a skilled voice actor.

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act request discovered that Chalabi's vocal talents have been heard on The Simpsons (he's Dr. Nick), Batman (he's Alfred the butler) and Kim Possible (he's Kim.)

He's even overdubbed quite a few Asian films, including a new release of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (he was the ugly ronin) and Godzilla vs. Megaguiras (he was the old scientist.)

With this impressive resume already on his record, is there any question that he won't take advantage of what he once called "an amusing hobby" and turn it into a lucrative career?

The producers of Toy Story 3 are already sending offers, I'm told.

Mark Spittle is one half of the political satire duo Spittle & Ink. He is a former Washington lobbyist and congressional assistant.

**************

REVIEWS
What people are saying about LiberalOasis

"Among the best ways to [pay close attention to the grass roots] is logging onto Web sites like Liberal Oasis."
Joe Conason

"indispensable"
Tapped

"bloggeriffic"
Air America

"something interesting"
Eric Alterman

"quite well reasoned, almost scholarly"
Star Tribune's 2cents

"one of the sharpest political minds around"
Hartford Advocate

"must-read liberal mega-site"
Swing State Project

"unsurpassed political commentary"
P.L.A.

"wonderful"
BushOut.tv

"one of my many must-read-every-day sites"
Terminus

"it's what our site would be like [if we had] more time"
Bear Left

"smart new weblog for us lefties"
Reading & Writing

"always-excellent"
Groupthink Central

"consistently interesting"
Body and Soul

"If you're one of the few who has not been to Liberal Oasis, get on over there for great blogging, sharp humor and activism"
Ruminate This

"It's like a freakin' candy store!"
Chernovog's Journal

"Liberal Oasis is so good I ought to print it out and mail it to my Senators."
The Sideshow

"Excellent commentary"
The Guy James Show

July 26, 2002
"Political Site of the Day"
AboutPolitics.com

"Left-wing twits"
Right-thinking.com

"The parallel dimension in which supporters of Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and various and sundry other shitheels live."
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

"Pathetic site"
Sean Hannity

July 29, 2002
"The Many Faces of Satanę Website of the Week"
Patriotist.com

GET AIR AMERICA

Air America

Air America Place

Air America Talk

The Majority Report

The O'Franken Factor

The Randi Rhodes Show

Unfiltered (U-Blog)

GET HUMOR

The Boondocks

Will Durst

Mark Fiore

Get Your War On

La Cucaracha

Political Strikes

Ted Rall

This Modern World

Tom the Dancing Bug

GET A JOB

Idealist

Opportunity Knocks

GET ART

Ginger Young Gallery

GET MUSIC

Folkweb

Rapstation

WomanRock

GET FOOD

Eat Wild

EcoFriendly Foods

Get Vegan

Grassland Beef

Homestead Healthy Foods

Lasater Grasslands Beef

GET TRANS FATS

Ban Trans Fats

Boycott Hydrogenation

GET COFFEE

Coffee Traders

Counter Culture Coffee

Sacred Grounds

GET A DATE

Act For Love

Liberal Hearts

GET MORE HUMOR

Adult Christianity

Bean Magazine

Betty Bowers

Bloom County

Tom Burka

The Cougarstein Ramble

Fanatical Apathy

Foundation for a Patriotic America

Funny Times

Grand Old Party

Humor Gazette

Alexander Pierre Luboknovich

MadKane

Michael Moore

Nothing Like The Truth

Psyclops

Slowpoke Comics

The Specious Report

Tammy Faye Starlite

What Now Toons

GET BRITISH HUMOR

Lord Bonkers Diary

Private Eye

Viz

GET MEDIA(?)

Faux News Channel

Republican Press

PLAY A GAME

Life as a Blackman

BUY STUFF...

Agitproperties

Axis of Eve

Brain Bump

EcoMall

Global Exchange

Green Pages

Green People

Hybrid Car Dealers

Open Stickers

Real Goods

Responsible Shopper

...OR DON'T

AdBusters

Boycott Action News

Buy Nothing Day

GET OFF THE GRID

Back Home

Building Green

Home Power

Off-Grid Living

Solar Panels for Energy

Source for Renewable Energy

GET FUNDING

Ford Foundation

Pew Charitable Trusts

Soros Foundation

Tides Foundation

GET PR

Communication Works

Douglas Gould

Fenton Communications

Hauser Group

McKinney & Assoc.

The SPIN Project

Spitfire Strategies

GET CAPITAL GAINS

Calvert Foundation

Domini Social Investments

Greenmoney Journal

Parnassus Investments

GET UNIONIZED

AFL-CIO

SEIU

UAW

GET LAID SAFELY

Advocates for Youth

Nat'l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Planned Parenthood

Scarleteen

GET REPRO CHOICE

Center for Reproductive Law & Policy

NARAL Pro-Choice America

GET ABORTION

National Network of Abortion Funds

GET HAPPY ANIMALS

Alley Cat Allies

Animal Rescue Site

ASPCA

Best Friends

Stop Declaw

Wildlife Waystation

GET GOD

American Islamic Congress

The Ba'hai Faith

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Catholic Worker

Center for Progressive Christianity

Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy

Clergy Leadership Network

Interfaith Alliance

Islamicate

Liberals Like Christ

Muslim WakeUp!

Noble Causes

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

The Religious Left

Shalom Center

Sojourners

Tikkun

Unitarian Universalists

United Church of Christ

Universal Life Church

Veiled 4 Allah

Velveteen Rabbi

The Village Gate

GET GODLESS

About Atheism

American Atheists

Church of Critical Thinking

Infidels

GET EQUALITY

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Anti-Defamation League

Human Rights Campaign

NAACP

Nat'l Conf. for Community and Justice

National Council of La Raza

National Urban League

NOW

GET MARRIED

Don't Amend

Freedom To Marry

HRC Marriage Center

Marriage Equality

Million For Marriage

GET UNMARRIED

Unmarried America

GET JUSTICE

ACLU

Brennan Center for Justice

EarthJustice

Lambda Legal Defense

Mexican American Legal Defense

NAACP Legal Defense

National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium

Native American Rights Fund

NOW Legal Defense

Southern Poverty Law Center

GET RADIO

Air America

Arkansas Tonight

Bush Recession Radio

Democracy Now

Ed Schultz

Free Speech Radio

Guy James

Meria Heller

Mike Malloy

New Black City

Radio Free Exile

Radio Left

Radio Nation

Ski Anderson

Peter Werbe

Young Turks

GET AMERICAN

Americans for Democratic Action

Campaign for America's Future

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

People For the American Way

GET SOMEONE ELECTED

America Coming Together

Democracy For America

Democratic National Committee

Emily's List

Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund

League of Independent Voters

MoveOn.org PAC

Progressive Majority

Punk Voter

21st Century Democrats

Wellstone Action

Young Democratic Candidates Network

GET VPs?

Max Baucus

Evan Bayh

Joe Biden

Bill Bradley

Max Cleland

Hillary Clinton

Tom Daschle

Richard Durbin

Russ Feingold

Dianne Feinstein

Bob Graham

Gary Hart

Lee Hamilton

Mary Landrieu

John Lewis

Gary Locke

John McCain

Jim McGreevey

Bob Menendez

George Mitchell

Janet Napolitano

Sam Nunn

Nancy Pelosi

Ed Rendell

Bill Richardson

Kathleen Sebelius

Tom Vilsack

Mark Warner

GET SOME MORE BLOGS OVER HERE

Ain'tNoBadDude

American Samizdat

Angry Finger

Angry Liberal

Annatopia

Aron's Israel Peace Blog

The Apple Coda

Arms and the Man

Auterrific

Ayn Clouter

Bad Attitudes

Beltway Bandit

Betsy Devine

Blue Streak

Bolo Boffin

Braganza

Cathie From Canada

Chris Mooney

CriticCorner

Damfacrats

Damn Foreigner

David Sirota

Dean Nation

Decembrist

Dem Watch

Demagogue

Democratic Veteran

Dominant Reality

Electrolite

Empire Notes

Falling Debris

Feministe

For What It's Worth

Freeway Blogger

Funny Farm

Gamers Nook

The Great Divide

Head Heeb

Hellblazer

The Hamster

Hauser Report

HugoZoom

Idols Of The Marketplace

Interesting Times

Isebrand

Into the Breach

John Gorenfeld

Jusiper

Jesus' General

Just Another Bump In the Beltway

Mark A.R. Kleiman

Long Story; Short Pier

Mad Prophet

Mfinley

Mousemusings

Jack O'Toole

The Looking Glass

Mac-a-ro-nies

Making Light

Nattering Nabob

An Old Soul

Orwellian Times

Pen-Elayne

Progressive Spirit Blog

Project For a New Century of Freedom

Prometheus 6

Prometheus Speaks

Public Nuisance

Random Thoughts

Riba's Rambles

Roger Ailes

Rox Populi

Ruminate This

Shadow of the Hegemon

Shock and Awe

Simon Templar

Sisyphus Shrugged

Slacktivist

Stuffed Dog

Suburban Guerrilla

Suckful

Swing State Project

The Talent Show

The Talking Dog

Tom Dispatch

Tins

Tristero

An Unenviable Situation

Uggabugga

Unmedia

Uppity Negro

Wampum

War Liberal

War and Piece

Wellstone Cornerstone

Matt Yglesias

HOME | SEARCH | ARCHIVES | MANIFESTO | SOAPBOX
DONATE TO THE OASIS | SHOP THE OASIS | CONTACT THE OASIS

Liberal Oasis Logo Design: Ed Kim | Advice and Assistance: LuckyDave, Gina-Louise Sciarra and Maya Voskoboynikov | Special Thanks to Eric Alterman, Bartcop, Hated.com, MediaWhoresOnline and Smirking Chimp for their early cybersupport