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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

July 29, 2005 PERMALINK
The CAFTA Aftermath
(posted July 29 2:45 AM ET)

It has been 749 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”

It was a given that bad things would happen once Bush won another four years in office.

The CAFTA vote this week is not the first bad thing and won't be the last.

But the vote may turn out to be a good thing politically, if we handle the aftermath correctly.

How might we handle it incorrectly? If we spend most of our energy lambasting the 15 Dem defectors in the House and the 10 in the Senate.

Those 25 Dems share some responsibility of course.

But it’s the 248 House and Senate Republicans that compromised the bulk of the CAFTA vote that share the most.

(Note that the Senate actually has to vote a second time because bills affecting government revenue must originate in the House.)

Since the Dem defections were relatively small, the Dem party leadership can legitimately go to the public in 2006 and say:

If you want trade policies that lead to the exploitation of workers abroad and the loss of jobs at home, keep the GOP majority you got.

If you want trade policies that improve workers’ rights abroad, reduce incentives for illegal immigration and create a fair and just playing field that will grow the economy throughout the hemisphere, vote for a Democratic majority.

As skepticism of the current trade agreement trend is growing, an argument for a change in trade policy may resonate. CNN's Lou Dobbs said yesterday:

A separate new poll finds many Americans are skeptical of international trade, as styled as free trade. The CNN-"USA TODAY"- Gallup poll finds nearly half of all Americans say foreign trade is now a threat to the United States. That compares to 41 percent two years ago and just over a third in 2000.

David Sirota is understandably concerned about the need for Dems to make a “serious contrast” with the GOP in order to win in 2006 and beyond.

But the numbers of this vote still allow the Dems to do that, unless an overemphasis on the defectors makes their numbers seem larger than they really were.

Unfortunately, it appears the energy bill boondoggle will be a different story.

QUICK HIT

Why Does The Military Hate...Uh, The Military?

From the NY Times:

Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show...

...In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members...

...The documents include one written by the deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, advising the task force that several of the "more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law" as well as military law...

...Rear Adm. Michael F. Lohr, the Navy's chief lawyer, wrote on Feb. 6, 2003, that while detainees at Guantánamo Bay might not qualify for international protections, "Will the American people find we have missed the forest for the trees by condoning practices that, while technically legal, are inconsistent with our most fundamental values?"

Brig. Gen. Kevin M. Sandkuhler, a senior Marine lawyer, said in a Feb. 27, 2003, memorandum that all the military lawyers believed the harsh interrogation regime could have adverse consequences for American service members.

General Sandkuhler said that the Justice Department "does not represent the services; thus, understandably, concern for service members is not reflected in their opinion."

Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, the Army's top-ranking uniformed lawyer, said in a March 3, 2003, memorandum that the approach recommended by the Justice Department "will open us up to criticism that the U.S. is a law unto itself."

July 27, 2005 PERMALINK
The Roberts Files
(posted July 27 2:15 AM ET)

It has been 747 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”

It is quite interesting that there is a fair amount of damaging info about John Roberts in the documents that the White House released yesterday.

Obviously, the Bushies want points for releasing these Reagan Administration docs, requested by a GOP Senator, without a fuss.

By showing some willingness to release docs, that will better position them to charge Dems who request docs as being on fishing expeditions. (The White House made clear there are other docs it does not plan to release.)

That’s why Dems should try to turn the tables, and stress how this document dump raises troubling new questions about Roberts.

It clearly shows Roberts’ anti-Roe views.

It also shows Roberts to be a liar, recommending that the Attorney General lie to Coretta Scott King about why Reagan was cutting funding to an anti-crime non-profit bearing her husband’s name.

And it reveals Roberts to be a staunch supporter of legislation that would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, school prayer and busing -- a corruption of checks and balances.

Roberts’ defenders may argue that such a position is consistent with a philosophy of judicial restraint and deference to elected representatives.

But that is contradicted by his 1999 remarks disparaging the Violence Against Women Act:

We have gotten to the point these days where we think the only way we can show we're serious about a problem is if we pass a federal law, whether it is the Violence Against Women Act or anything else.

The fact of the matter is conditions are different in different states, and state laws can be more relevant.

It is similar logic that, one year later, led the Rehnquist Court to issue a landmark ruling denying Congress the power to pass a law that was part of VAWA – granting victims the right to sue their attackers in federal court.

Apparently, in Roberts’ view, Congress can pass laws to deny the Supreme Court power over issues where he doesn’t like its opinions, and the Supreme Court can deny Congress power over issues where he doesn’t like its laws.

Some consistency.

Perhaps the White House let these docs loose because it feels it can handle what criticism would be expected to follow.

But that only indicates that what’s in the unreleased docs could be even more damaging.

To get to those docs, Dems need to raise the political heat.

Dare to take the bait, and push the issues raised in these new docs.

Remind the public the White House tried to hide Roberts’ affiliation with the right-wing Federalist Society and protect his blank slate status.

And make the case that the public deserves to know what it is getting in a lifetime judicial appointment that will affect our lives for decades.

QUICK HITS

LiberalOasis on MSNBC

The Political Teen has video of LO Exec. Ed. Bill Scher taking on conservative host Monica Crowley and one of the Power Line boys about the CIA Leak Scandal and John Roberts.

What Is Up With Gonzales?

On Sunday, Gonzales risked giving the CIA Leak scandal more oxygen by violating the White House policy of ducking all scandal questions because of the “ongoing investigation.”

Then Tuesday, he botched the conservatives’ attempt to use John Roberts’ 2003 Senate testimony – where he said he would respect Roe as a lower court judge – to mask his anti-Roe views.

In an interview with the AP, Gonzales agreed with what pro-choice groups have always noted about that earlier testimony – that even if you respect Supreme Court rulings as a circuit court judge, it doesn’t mean you won’t try to overturn those rulings once you join the Supreme Court.

Combined with newly released documents exposing Roberts’ anti-Roe beliefs, Gonzales’ comments show how worthless Roberts’ ’03 testimony is in determining his judicial philosophy.

LiberalOasis is hard-pressed to psychoanalyze Gonzales’ behavior: Pissed about being passed over for Roberts, and looking to cause problems? Or merely poorly skilled at finessing questions when on the hot seat?

But he can’t be making the White House happy lately.

July 26, 2005 PERMALINK
John Roberts: The Weaseling Begins
(posted July 26 12:45 AM ET)

It has been 746 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”

Over at The Huffington Post, LiberalOasis' Exec. Ed. Bill Scher discusses the relevance of attempt by the White House and John Roberts to mislead the public on his affiliation with the right-wing Federalist Society.

LiberalOasis will return to regular posting tomorrow.

July 25, 2005 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted July 25 2:45 AM ET)

It has been 745 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”

A Sunday misfire by the White House.

Two weeks ago, Bush reacted to the first London terror attack by sending his homeland security duo – department Secretary and WH advisor -- to the Sunday shows, in part to take political advantage of the moment.

This Sunday, after the second London attack, Bush sought to do the same. But this time, he sent out his Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.

They chose not to pull Gonzales back, even though Frank Rich’s Sunday NY Times’ column (available Sat. night), resurrected the “12-hour delay” chapter of the CIA Leak story.

To recap: When the Justice Dept. began its investigation in Sept. 2003, it formally notified then-White House Counsel Gonzales so he would ensure that relevant records would be kept.

But Gonzales did not relay that notification to the White House staff until the next morning, giving him or someone else a 12-hour opportunity to destroy evidence.

Despite Rich’s retelling, not only was Gonzales sent out there, apparently he was sent out without much of a script.

Because when he was asked about it, he not only gave an answer, he gave an answer with new information – creating news, raising fresh questions, keeping the story alive.

As Think Progess flagged, Gonzales said on CBS’ Face The Nation that he told Bush’s Chief of Staff Andy Card the night before he informed the rest of the White House staff.

Later in the show, Sen. Joe Biden (video at Crooks and Liars) noted some of the questions it raises:

Who did the chief of staff speak to? Did the chief of staff pick up the phone and call Karl Rove? Did the chief of staff pick up the phone and call anybody else?

And Think Progress helpfully reminds us:

So the one person who knew that an investigation was underway was Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who also happened to be aboard Air Force One in July 2003 with Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell, and the top secret State Department document that contained the identity of Valerie Wilson.

The White House appeared caught off guard by Gonzales unexpected candor, as it ducked questions from the AP about Card’s role.

Gonzales’ willingness to answer questions on the case (on Fox News Sunday, he also admitted testifying to the grand jury) undercuts the official White House line that no questions about the case can be answered while the investigation is ongoing.

It’s going to be another fun day at the Press Secretary podium for Scott McCellan.

In other leak news, the GOP still can’t answer direct questions about Rove’s violation of SF-312, the Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement.

Last week, it was RNC Chair Ken Mehlman that had little choice but to lie when faced with acknowledging Rove’s indisputable violation.

This week it was Mr. Straight Talk, Sen. John McCain who was unable to face reality.

Here’s McCain on ABC’s This Week (video at Crooks and Liars):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: ...this information was classified.

Whether or not that’s a crime, that is a violation of the nondisclosure classified information agreement that everybody in the White House who gets classified information signs.

MCCAIN: [Time Magazine’s Matt] Cooper also said that he had no knowledge as to whether Karl Rove knew that Wilson’s wife –

STEPHANOPOULOS: Doesn’t matter. This covers negligent disclosures as well.

MCCAIN: ...Look, I think there’s a lot of ramifications of this issue...I think October is when we’re going to know about this thing.

And I’m confident that the President...is going to do the right thing in this case...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...Should they be forced to lose their security clearance or their job if they did indeed violate this nondisclosure of classified information agreement?

MCCAIN: I don’t know the answer to that. I trust the President’s judgment...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...What [the agreement] says is...:

"I have been advised that any breach of this Agreement may result in the termination of any security clearances I hold; removal from any position of special confidence and trust requiring such clearances; or the termination of my employment"

Do you believe that this agreement should be abided by?

MCCAIN: I do. But that also implies that someone knowingly revealed --

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, this covers negligent disclosures.

MCCAIN: Again, I don't know what the definition of "negligent" – if you make an honest mistake that’s one thing.

If you do something without knowledge that you’re violating or being negligent, et cetera.

I -- Look, I trust the President to do the right thing. I believe that Karl Rove has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Unlike Mehlman’s lying, McCain is merely dodging by ignoring the facts (and by conveniently forgetting middle-school vocabulary.)

As Stephanopoulos noted, the nondisclosure agreement is not about whether a crime has been committed. It has nothing to do with innocence or guilt in a court of law.

It has do with a pledge Rove, and presumably Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, signed – a pledge Bush is supposed to enforce.

The “right thing,” as dictated in Bush’s own Executive Order, should have been done years ago, a White House investigation into any security breach followed by “corrective action.”

McCain's lack of willingness to call Bush on his failure to do the right thing is just the latest evidence of what a farce his Straight Talk rep is.

And the party's failure to come up with a talking point for this question is more evidence how damning the SF-312 is.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

David Corn: A CIA Vet's Message for the Save-Rove Spinners: "A True Patriot Would Shut Up" (via Crooks and Liars)

Talking Points Memo: "Today's [NY] Times says that John Bolton did not disclose having given testimony before the Plame grand jury in the forms he had to fill out for his confirmation hearings ... But on [MSNBC's] Hardball yesterday David Shuster said Bolton did testify."

No Quarter's Larry Johnson, former CIA agent, posts his written testimony to today's CIA Leak hearing: "Correcting The Record on Valerie Plame"

Swing State Project live-blogs the Dem hearing on the CIA Leak scandal

Wampum cracks open the 2000 GOP platform: "... intelligence is truly America’s first line of defense. The current administration has weakened that defense by allowing a series of shocking security breaches … (including) sheer sloppiness at the highest levels of government. This must stop, immediately. Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments. A Republican administration working with the Congress will respect the needs and quiet sacrifices of these public servants ..."

Crawfordslist: "There is disinformation out there claiming that Clinton nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, refused to answer right-to-privacy questions in their Senate confirmation hearings ... [Ginsburg] clearly told senators she favored a right to abortion ... Breyer testified openly about his thinking on privacy rights" (via Crooks and Liars)

Daily Kos posts a Dem news release: "The U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) and the U.S. House Government Reform Committee Minority will conduct a joint hearing [Friday] to examine the national security implications of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer."

Alliance For Justice: "[Roberts'] exceedingly restrictive view of federal law-making authority – more restrictive than the current Supreme Court’s – could threaten a wide swath of workplace, civil rights, public safety and environmental protections."

Bloomberg News: "Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 26 or 27 ... said two administration officials ... The officials said those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald's interest and of news accounts about the matter."

Discourse.net: "Roberts will not be another middle-aged white guy on the Supreme Court ... Roberts will be joining a Court with one (middle-aged) black guy, a white woman (in her 70s), and six more white guys each of ‘em old enough to collect full benefits from Social Security. So you can see this nomination as real progress in the direction of diversity on the Supreme Court."

Swing State Project: "Play the West Wing game, the entire senior staff may have liability on this [CIA Leak] scandal"

AmericaBlog: Roberts dismissive of Violence Against Women Act

Nathan Newman: "If his career is one of years of political hack partisanship, sprinkled with a few years acting as a well-paid hack on behalf of corporate interests, why should we believe Roberts has the temperment to be an independent Justice?"

Seeing The Forest: "Did Bush nominate Roberts as a Court vote to protect Rove?"

Talking Points Memo posts an email from a US Amb., describing how a key classified memo about Plame may have circulated on Air Force One

Huffington Post headline: How Do You Spell Relief For Rove? S-U-P-R-E-M-E C-O-U-R-T A-N-N-O-U-N-C-E-M-E-N-T...

ABC News poll: "Just a quarter of Americans think the White House is fully cooperating in the federal investigation of the leak of a CIA operative's identity, a number that's declined sharply since the investigation began. And three-quarters say that if presidential adviser Karl Rove was responsible for leaking classified information, it should cost him his job." (via The Stakeholder)

The Daou Report introduces a new Leak Scandal page, rounding up all the blog coverage

TalkLeft floats a Judith Miller theory: "Miller is in jail not because of her assertion of the 1st Amendment privilege, but because she wants to avoid asserting her 5th Amendment privilege"

War and Piece on reports that Bush tried to manipulate the Iraq election

Daily Kos: Bush tries to move the goalposts on when he would fire someone for The Leak

The Carpetbagger Report and Seeing The Forest have more on SF-312

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

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