"I think a new attorney general would be helpful," Cummins told me, during an exclusive interview at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Cummins said he has a difficult time believing Gonzales's sworn testimony before Congress earlier this year in which the attorney general stated he could not recall the events that led to the firings of 7 of Cummins' colleagues last year.
"It's disappointing to see someone with that much authority and responsibility be so unwilling to take responsibility," Cummins told me. "I don't think I'm alone in having difficulty believing all [of Gonzales's] claims that he doesn't really remember meetings that he was in. It's been maddening to me to see an attorney general of the United States claim that he was responsible for a decision and he owns it but he doesn't know why it was made and he doesn't know who made it. That's kind of crazy."
Cummins said he believes perjury or obstruction of justice charges could be brought "against any number" of Justice Department officials who testified before Congress in recent months. However, Cummins believes such charges would be unlikely largely because of the difficulty in proving claims of obstruction of justice and perjury.
Former Gonzales Chief of Staff "Kyle Sampson knows exactly where these decisions came from," Cummins told me. Sampson testified before Congress that he did not know the identity of the official or officials responsible for selecting US attorneys to fire.
"I don't think [Sampson] was truthful," Cummins told me. "But it's very difficult to prove a perjury."
Unlike some of his former colleagues who believe their dismissals were based on their failure to pursue public corruption or voter fraud cases involving Democrats, or their pursuit of corruption cases involving Republicans, Cummins said his removal from office boils down to this: "Based on everything I know it's a simple as there was a fellow from Arkansas working at the White House that wanted to be a US attorney and so they got impatient with me waiting for me to move on and asked me to go ahead and move," Cummins told me, referring to his replacement, Tim Griffin, a former opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee and a close confidant of Karl Rove.
the above is from jason leopold's 'My Interview With Former US Attorney Bud Cummins' (truthout). the alberto gonzales' cesspool continues to swirl. what would happen, i wonder, if the fired attorneys were brought back before congress and read the testimony of gonzales (and others) and asked to comment?
in the meantime, dick cheney's treating the constitution and democracy like a good drinking money - meaning he's grabbed a rifle and shot them too. this is from the hill:
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday warned Dick Cheney that his office would risk losing its budget unless the vice president agrees to follow a presidential directive ordering the protection of classified information.
Durbin’s warning came as Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), No. 3 in Democratic leadership, said that he would “seriously consider” joining House counterparts in seeking to yank funding for Cheney’s office after the vice president contended that his office is a hybrid entity that is neither legislative nor executive.“The decision to exempt your office from this system for protecting classified information is deeply troubling because it could place national security secrets at risk,” Durbin wrote to Cheney yesterday. Durbin did not specify how appropriators would hit Cheney’s funding.
interesting, but how does it apply to gonzales? glad you asked. charles (chuck) schumer is saying that the dick cheney matter cannot be resolved by alberto gonzales and is saying that gonzales should excuse himself over the 'debate over whether cheney can ignore the rules on safeguarding classified data.'
the mainstream press showed a little life today. helen is helen thomas in the transcript below (and she's never slept on the job, but note the others):
Q Okay, but one specific example. There was a Bybee memo that was classified at one point, but has since been made public, and it's been on Capitol Hill, it's been out there, it's been in newspapers -- the Bybee memo from 2002 dealing with torture. And it basically -- this story today portrays the Vice President's team as basically helping to draft that memo about how detainees are going to be held and tried, et cetera, where the limits are on torture, and that basically it took two years before the Secretary of State Colin Powell and the National Secretary Advisor Condoleezza Rice even knew that this memo had been written -- this vast policy on the war on terror. The Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor did not know for two years. Is the President comfortable with the Vice President essentially cutting out two of his top national security officials on this critical policy?
MS. PERINO: Look, I'm not privy to internal deliberations of that level. I don't know, and I'm not going to comment on any type of internal deliberations.
Q Do you really think that's the way a White House should operate?
MS. PERINO: Look, I've been around not as long as a lot of people, but long enough to see how the process works here, and I can assure you that the debate is vigorous, and it is held -- people have strongly-held views, and they voice them, and they voice them loudly. I am very comfortable with the process that we have, in terms of how those debates get settled.
Q But how you can say it's a vigorous debate if the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor were not involved in debate for two years, two years?
MS. PERINO: Ed, I'm not commenting on that.
MS. PERINO: I'm not commenting on that either way.
Q But how can you make the claim -- if you're not commenting on it, how can you --
MS. PERINO: I'm commenting on my personal experience at the White House.
Q But how can you make that claim, though, that there's a vigorous debate? The top two national security officials were not involved in that debate. How could it be vigorous?
MS. PERINO: I don't know that to be true, Ed, so I'm not commenting --
Q So is it false?
MS. PERINO: I don't know that to be true, so I'm not commenting on it.
Q Can you send someone out here who can? You're stonewalling. Is the President a member of the executive branch? Is he answerable to any law, to any executive order? I mean, what is this? What's going on here?
MS. PERINO: Helen, the President, of course, is head of the executive branch.
Q Any accountability to the American people?
MS. PERINO: Absolutely.
Q Does the Vice President see top secrets in this administration as a member of the executive branch? Does he attend NSC meetings?
MS. PERINO: In his executive duties, as discharged by the President, he does see classified materials, yes.
Q And he is allowed to?
MS. PERINO: Victoria, go ahead.
Q We should get someone out here who can answer our questions.
Q Does the United States practice cruelty?
and if you're in the dark on what's going on, here are 2 paragraphs from a los angeles times' editorial on the subject:
Cheney's rejection of mandatory inspections required of all federal offices to make sure they are properly protecting top secret documents defies basic standards of good government and common sense. And his argument that he needn't comply because his office isn't part of the executive branch is specious. Moreover, after clashing with the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which conducts the routine inspections, Cheney's vindictive staff reportedly tried to abolish the unit. That's like trying to disband the Internal Revenue Service for demanding a tax audit. Has the veep taken leave of his senses?
Unfortunately, Cheney's behavior is entirely in keeping with his long-standing views on executive powers, executive privilege and the divine rights of vice presidents. He also has championed policies that have shredded American privacy rights in the name of national security, with methods that have included warrantless wiretaps, e-mail and postal-mail snooping, monitoring library withdrawals, mining data on the telephone and buying habits of millions of citizens and the expanded use of national security letters. But Cheney has been vigilant in defending his own privacy rights. The vice president's office has been operating in stunning secrecy for six years.
i am exhausted from the weekend! but be sure to check out 'Ruth's Report' which i think she did a wonderful job on. as did betty with 'What a drag, he is getting old' so read that as well.
here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Monday, June 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, an attack in the Green Zone gathers attention (of course), US commanders grumble about the status of Iraqi forces, and more.
Starting with war resisters. Chris Capps (Courage to Resist via Democracy Rising) shares his story which begins in "the Army Reserves in 2004 looking to earn money for college and basically to become independent," continues to Iraq (2005) where the "chow" at Camp Victory is among the surprises:
There were Philly cheese steaks, a good salad bar, a juice bar, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, and food better then anything I had ever seen before. There was a Pizza Hut, a giant PX store, a Subway, an Arby's, a Greens Beans, and a Popeye's Chicken too.
When you're expecting a combat zone and you walk into something like this you have to wonder "What the hell is going on here?" It was surreal sitting there eating a Subway sandwich, listening to evelator music, and hearing explosions sou loud they could knock your drink right off the table, and gunfire in the distance.
KRB ran everything on Camp Victory. I eventually figured out the deal. I saw the Filipino and Pakistani contractors laboring hard while the American KBR employees drove around in brand new cars just to get from one end of the post to another. Everyone talked about the corruption. I learned about how much it cost the American taxpayer so that I could walk into that nice DFAC, sit down, and have a bite to eat.
In September 2006, he was stationed in Germany and, having seen what Kyle Huwer was going through attempting to get conscientious objector status, Capps decided to self-check out: "I remained AWOL for 60 days. At that point my unit classified me as more then AWOL -- I was now in a 'deserter status.' On May 8 I turned myself in at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Kyle had suggested Fort Sill because it, along with Fort Knox, had a designated out processing center for AWOL soldiers who turn themselves in. But if you're not yet in a 'deserter status,' chances are you will just be returned to the unit you left. It doesn't always work out so smoothly, but on May 11 I was discharged from the Army with an 'other than honorable' discharge."
Chris Capps resides in Germany now, is assisting other soldiers and attempting to start up "a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War" there. He concludes: "I don't believe in this war. I would like to see more people choosing not to deploy. I think this is the only direct and effective resistance that is going to make this war impossible to go on forever. If the politicians refuse to listen to the people, then the people need to take action. If we had resistance throughout the military then we could finally end this war here and now."
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Sunday, Kirsten Scharnberg (Chicago Tribune) examined the efforts of the US military brass to silence dissent [Scharnberg's article is also carried by The Baltimore Sun which requires no registration] and zoomed in on the attempts to punish Iraq Veterans Against the War's
Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh for speaking out against the illegal war with Scharnberg noting: "Many of the protests involving vets in uniform are all-out street theater, like on in Washington last spring at which protesters staged a mock patrol, manhandling people at stimulated gunpoint to illustrate how they say Iraqis are treated by American troops. The intended subtext of the uniformed protests is apparent. Protesters have additional credibility because they are denouncing a war they have witnessed firstand, that the very uniforms now being used in protest have walked the real battlefield." Madden explains, "Guys like us -- veterans who served but then came believe the war is not only wrong but illegal -- are not who the military wants speaking on a national stage." Which is what it comes down -- fatiques are not dress uniforms. Those discharged (as Kokesh, Madden and Richards were) are not generally discharged from the IRR. But the brass is working overtime in an attempt to clamp down and will resort to anything, no matter how shameful.
KBR, mentioned by Chris Capps, was Kellogg Brown and Root which came together when Brown and Root merged with Halliburton's M.W. Kellogg. Jackie Northam (NPR) reported on the issue of the 120,000 contractors in Iraq for today's Morning Edition noting a hearing that "exposed many other problems in the contracting industry . . . in fact, at that hearing, a spokesperson for the army couldn't even say how many contracting companies were working in Iraq. These issues have led to calls for more transperancy in the contracting industry . . . There's no central data base, no single organization to keep track of facts and figures and so that the most basic questions regarding civilian contractors cannot easily be answered. What roles do the contractors play? What nationalities? How much is it costing the American taxpayer and how many contractors have been killed? One of the most vexing questions is what legal framework do the contractors fall under?"
Heading into last weekend, the US military fatality count in Iraq stood at 3546 on Friday. Today it stands at 3560. The US military began announcing the 14 deaths on Saturday and Sunday and reaching 14 with this morning's announcement: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in a small arms fire attack today" in Baghdad. The 14 dead come days after Peter Pace and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were attempting to push the notion that progress in Iraq had nothing to do with violence or deaths. Today Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that "some American commanders expressed doubts about the ability of Iraqi troops to hold gains made in areas north of the capital last week . . . The American commander in Baquba, Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, and his counterpart south of Baghdad, Maj. Gen Rick Lynch, pointed to a variety of problems with the Iraqi forces, including a shortage of trained troops and a lack of basic supplies like ammunition, radios and trucks." BBC notes: "The BBC's Andrew North, in Baghdad, says US commanders blame a lack of committed and properly organised Iraqi troops for the failure of past efforts to secure the Baghdad region" and those problems do not appear to have vanished as the same-old-same-old spreads into the north. Though doing the same thing with larger numbers in northern Iraq (don't call it strategy) resulted in as many as 10,000 US service members in the Diyala province, Baghdad has been the locale for deaths in the last few days -- US and Iraqis.
This includes the incident getting the most attention today, the bombing of the al-Mansour Melia hotel in Baghdad -- which housed many journalists as well as the Chinese embassy. ITV reports that "Sunni Arab tribal leaders from western Anbar province had gathered there for a meeting." Ammar Karim (The Australian and AFP) reports the meeting was confirmed and that a bomber entered "the crowded lobby," detonated the bomb, killing himself and many others. AFP describes "charred bodies of the victims and many of the wounded were lying near the reception desk in the rubble-strewn lobby, and that the ceiling had collapsed, leaving clusters of white tiles hanging from wires. The blast damaged the stairway, the elevators, and the ceiling of the first floor of the hotel, which lies on the west bank of the Tigris river and houses diplomats and some foreign media organisations. Patches of blood stained the marble floor and scraps of human flesh were left stuck to the concrete pillars."
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that "sheiks and political figures, Sunni Arab Muslims as well as Shiite Muslims, were gathered in the lobby of the Mansour Melia hotel drinking tea and chatting when the explosion gutted a large section of the lobby and shattered windows on the high-rise's first and second levels, hotel workers said." Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that, despite "tight security," the bomber apparently walked into the hotel from the street without raising any suspicion among the "armed guards" or at the car checkpoints -- both of which were on alert as the hotel was "sealed off" . . . after the bombing. CNN notes that among the at least a dozen people dead is Rahim al-Maliki who was an anchor "with Iraqiya state television". AP notes that al-Maliki (no relation to the puppet) was also a poet. CBS and AP raise the dozen dead to 13 (and remember that toll may rise as some who are wounded do not pull through and as some corpses may still be undiscovered) and note that CBS News' Lara Logan was at the hotel during the blast and reports "that al-Guooud was meeting in the lobby with other members of the Anbar Salvation Council when the blast occured". Fassal al-Guood had been the "former Anbar governor" and is among the dead. Ned Parker notes that Sheik Abdul-Aziz Fahdawi, Sheik Tariq Saleh Dulaimi and Aziz al-Yasiri were among the dead. [Video] CBS News spoke with al-Yasiri last week when he shared his belief that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, had established "multi-party dictatorship."
In other violence . . .
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Bahgdad mortar attack that wounded 3 Iraqis and 25 more wounded and a roadside bombing outside al Dujail claimed the life of one police officer and left 3 more wounded. Reuters notes a truck bombing in Baiji that has killed at least 27 people and left 62 injured. In addition, Reuters notes a car bombing in Mosul that left 3 dead and 40 more wounded. DPA reports: "Also Monday, a US helicopter-backed force killed two Iraqi civilians Monday in Sadr city ina raid on several houses east of Baghdad, independent Voices of Iraq news agency reported citing local residents of the city. The attack occured during the early hours of Monday in the main street of Abu Zhar Al Ghafari, where the US helicopters pounded two house, killing two civilians and wounding a woman".
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Baghdad shooting death of "local council member Auda Mutalq".
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 16 corpses discovered in Baghdad and, in Basra, the corpse of "the assistant of the intelligence head of the 10th Iraqi army division in Basra". DPA identifies the man as Faris Mohammed.
Finally, Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on Iraq veteran Jeff Kay whose story as a gay man serving in the military is told in the film Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey which begins airing on Showtime tonight. Kay was drummed out of the military after announcing on CNN live (March 31, 2004) that he was gay. The Denver Post notes:
Using scenes from his one-man stage play, along with video shot in Iraq and at his boyhood home in Alabama, Jeff Key recounts how he volunteered for the Marines at age 34, completed boot camp with men young enough to be his sons, became a lance corporal and served in Iraq, and then returned home heartbroken on many levels.What he endured in Iraq, the politics of the conflict, his realization concerning what he describes as the real causes of the war, is compounded by the way he was treated by his branch of the service once he revealed his sexual orientation.
More information on Semper Fi can be found here (Showtime website) and in this press release. Jeff Key is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.