if you're in the mood for protesting in nashville, alberto gonzales is dragging his cesspool to your town tomorrow. he will be speaking at the ha-ha, big joke d.a.r.e. conference where pledges end drug abuse (only they don't and they never will). he'll be at the opryland's resort convention center, delta ballroom a. he'll be speaking at 8:00 a.m.
and if you check out these prepared remarks for a speech to the corporate fraud task force, you'll - after you stop laughing - note that bully boy is mentioned 3 times. remember how last week the former surgeon general revealed that there were orders that you had to mention bully boy in your speeches repeatedly? alberto has that mastered. those remarks were delivered in washington today, by the way. (they are not his prepared remarks for the d.a.r.e. appearence tomorrow.)
jesse j. holland (ap) reports that harriet miers, one time councel for the white house, repeated her 'i will not testify to congress' position today. last week, miers was supposed to testify but refused despite being subpoenad and this was the last day where she could change her mind. dems on the house judiciary committee now should move towards some form of response/punishment for miers who seems to believe she can ingore a congressional subpoena. for those who have forgotten, harriet miers once wanted to be a judge on the supreme court. bully boy tasked her with finding the best nominee and she reported back, 'it's me!' so he nominated her and the laughter didn't stop. at which point, harriet miers withdrew her name and eventually left the white house. for some reason, the harriet miers that went around to various senators speaking about how she believed in checks and balances now feels she can ignore congress' check on the executive branch and that she ignore a subpoena.
and there's not a great deal more of alberto news tonight. i can note he's being requested to provide information. maybe you wonder how congress does that in letter form? if so, here's the letter that was sent to alberto today:
July 17, 2007
The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
As you are well aware, the bedrock principle of our federal criminal system is that justice must be served objectively, on a non-partisan basis, and without fear or favor. Our investigation into the U.S. Attorneys scandal, however, has raised serious concerns about efforts to undermine this basic principle. Because of these concerns, and in order to further our investigation, we ask that you provide us with certain critical documents and information relating to U.S. Attorney's offices that may have initiated prosecutions against public officials and others based on their political affiliation.
Evidence suggests that at least some of the nine terminated U.S. Attorneys were forced out due, in part, to their reluctance to pursue charges against Democratic officials, or their willingness to move forward in investigating or prosecuting Republican officials. On the other hand, while a number of other U.S. Attorneys were considered for termination, most were retained and described as "loyal Bushies." During the course of our investigation, moreover, serious allegations have been made that some U.S. Attorneys who were not terminated, engaged in selective and improper targeting of Democrats for prosecution.
Concerns regarding politically based, select prosecutions have been raised by a recent academic study by Messrs. Shields and Cragan that found federal prosecutors during the Bush Administration have indicted Democratic officeholders far more frequently than their Republican counterparts. The study identified 375 investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials brought by U.S. attorneys since 2001. The study's authors found that of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The authors noted that the greatest partisan disparity in investigations and/or indictments involved local politicians, where Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to be subject to criminal charges from the Department of Justice.
Allegations that even one of the nation's 93 U.S. Attorneys is improperly prosecuting or failing to prosecute Democratic officials based on their political affiliation have the potential to taint and undermine the legitimacy of our entire criminal justice system. In fact, the perception that U.S. Attorney's offices are improperly exercising their prosecutorial powers in a partisan manner is already leading to an increase of motions in court by defense counsel. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that several defense attorneys are citing the allegations of selective prosecution as evidence that federal prosecutors are bringing criminal charges based upon improper political motives. These defense attorneys allege that prosecutors consider a target's political affiliations when deciding whether or not to issue indictments.
In order to assure the public that everyone, no matter their political affiliation, is treated equally under the law, we are initially requesting documents relating to the Department's handling of three cases, and in particular any memoranda, analysis, or other communications discussing whether and to what extent criminal charges should be and were pursued against the individuals listed below. Additionally, with regard to these prosecutions, we are requesting any memoranda, analysis, or other communication from any White House staff, members of congress or their staff, and any state or local political party officials or their staff.
* The 2006 conviction of Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman for bribery, conspiracy, and mail fraud has raised serious concerns. Mr. Siegelman was indicted in 2004, two years after losing the governor's race by a mere 3,200 votes in the closest governor's election in Alabama state history. In May, 2007, Jill Simpson, a Republican attorney in Alabama who had worked for Mr. Siegelman's 2002 Republican opponent, swore in an affidavit that in 2002, a former protege of Karl Rove told a small group of Republican political operatives that Karl Rove and two U.S. Attorneys in Alabama were working to "take care of" Mr. Siegelman. The Rove protege, Bill Canary, is married to Leura Canary, who President Bush appointed in 2001 to be the U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Alabama. In 2005, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Alabama indicted Mr. Siegelman (Ms. Canary recused herself from participating in the Siegelman case in 2002). In her affidavit, Ms. Simpson said that Bill Canary told her and two colleagues that "Karl [Rove] had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department was already pursuing Don Siegelman." The phone call that Ms. Simpson was referring to occurred in November, 2002, when Mr. Siegelman was seeking a recount of the vote he had just lost, and when Republican operatives were concerned that Mr. Siegelman could be a significant political threat in future elections.
There have been several reported irregularities in the case against Mr. Siegelman that raise questions about his prosecution. In 2004, charges against Mr. Siegelman were dropped by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Alabama before the case went to trial, and the judge harshly rebuked prosecutors bringing that case. In the RICO case filed in the Middle District of Alabama in 2005, there have been allegations of jury tampering involving two of the jurors who convicted Mr. Siegelman. These and other irregularities prompted 44 former state attorneys general to sign a petition "urging the United States Congress to investigate the circumstances surrounding the investigation, prosecution, sentencing and detention" of Mr. Siegelman.
* On April 5, 2007, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, citing "evidence [that] is beyond thin," threw out the federal conviction of Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin state procurement officer. The office of the U.S. Attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, had won a jury conviction of Ms. Thompson, claiming the career civil servant impermissibly awarded a contract to a travel agency whose director was a political contributor to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. The U.S. Attorney proceeded with the prosecution even though the travel agency that won the contract submitted the lowest bid, and tied for first place on the complicated merit score that ranked all contract bidders. Additionally, there was no evidence that Ms. Thompson was aware of or interested in the political contributions by the head of the travel agency.
Steven Biskupic's name appeared on a March, 2005, list that was compiled by Department of Justice staff which named U.S. Attorneys who could potentially be ousted. In January, 2006, Mr. Biskupic indicted Ms. Thompson; that same month, Mr. Biskupic's name had been removed from the DOJ list of U.S. Attorneys who might be replaced. After Ms. Thompson's conviction in June, 2006, the campaign of Gov. Doyle's Republican opponent, U.S. Representative Mark Green, seized on the conviction as a means to paint Gov. Doyle as corrupt. The Court of Appeals, finding that no crime had been committed, acquitted Ms. Thompson, declaring her "innocent," but of course, the political damage had been done and could not be rectified.
On April 10, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and several other senators requested documents regarding the Georgia Thompson case, including documents regarding contacts between White House personnel, Main Justice, or outside parties and the United States Attorney's office handling the prosecution. Our Committee joined that request the following day. On May 17, 2007, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling responded by producing some documents relevant to other requests made in that letter, but did not produce any documents regarding the Thompson case. Mr. Hertling explained that "processing [the Thompson] documents would require an extensive commitment of resources and time." Mr. Hertling's letter further noted that the Department was in the process of searching for evidence of communications between Main Justice and the local U.S. Attorney's office, and that he expected 'that there were [such] communications during the investigation and prosecution of the case." Finally, Mr. Hertling's letter explained that the search for relevant communications regarding the Thompson case continued in "the Criminal Division, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General." The two months that have passed since Mr. Hertling's letter have not assuaged our concerns regarding the Thompson prosecution, and we are renewing our request that the documents related to that matter be promptly produced as well as the other documents requested in this letter.
* The prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht in the Western District of Pennsylvania by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan has also engendered controversy. It has been alleged that the case of Dr. Wecht, a prominent 75-year old Democrat who was the coroner in Allegheny County, is indicative of other prosecutions in the Western District - since 2001, the U.S. Attorney has never indicted a Republican official, and has only prosecuted officeholders who are Democrats. Dr. Wecht, a world renowned forensic pathologist and television commentator, was charged with misusing his office and personally enriching himself by, among other things, striking a deal with a local university to trade unclaimed cadavers for university lab space. Claiming Dr. Wecht was a flight risk, Ms. Buchanan advised his defense lawyers, including former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, that her office intended to arrest Dr. Wecht and subject him to a "perp walk," even though Dr. Wecht and his lawyers repeatedly offered to self-surrender and voluntarily appear in court to be arraigned. Reportedly only after former Attorney General Thornburgh spoke with Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty did Ms. Buchanan agree not to arrest Dr. Wecht and subject him to a "perp walk." In court filings, Dr. Wecht alleges that Ms. Buchanan's office inflamed the press by making inappropriate statements. The U.S. Attorney's office urged the courts to set the trial in October, 2006, a month before the congressional elections; the case was postponed only after the federal appeals court agreed to hear motions by Dr. Wecht's attorneys. Yet U.S. Attorney Buchanan has not brought charges against at least two Republican officials who, like Dr. Wecht, are alleged to have misused their office staff.
While the above cases are by no means an exhaustive list of all alleged instances of politically-motivated prosecutions or lack of prosecutions, we believe that learning the truth about these three prosecutions is an important step in the process of restoring the Department of Justice's credibility and reputation for impartial justice.
We appreciate your attention to this matter and ask that you provide these documents to us by Tuesday, July 27, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. Please direct your responses and questions to the staff at the House Judiciary Committee office, 2138 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel: 202-225-3951; fax: 202-225-7680).
John Conyers, Jr.
Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Linda T. Sanchez
Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
Member, Committee on the Judiciary
the ex-governor in alabama appears to be becoming a major point in the investigation. i think it and other specific examples (such as the 2 named in the letter) are part of the committee's efforts to underscore that this isn't pie-in-the-sky. alberto had no reason to fire the prosecutors, period. but he did and he did it for a reason. they've already explored how the prosecutors were fired unfairly. now they're zooming in on motive. or that's my guess.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Tuesday, July 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, mass funerals take place in Kirkuk while mass graves are dug in Baquba, hostage situations continue, Ehren Watada gets a non-binding court-martial date, Dems in the Senate get ready to play and more.
Starting with war resisters. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. For months he attempted to work out an alternative privately (as the military said they wanted) offering to serve in Afghanistan or to resign his commission because he (rightly) sees the Iraq war as an illegal one and serving in it would lead him and those serving under him open to charges of war crimes. The military strung him along for months and, in June 2006, he went public with his refusal to deploy to Iraq. In February, Judge Toilet (John Head) created a kangaroo court-martial wherein Watada would not be allowed to explain why he refused to deploy but somehow it would add up to 'justice.' Despite the unlevel playing field, the prosecution's witnesses ended up making the point for Watada. On the day when the defense was supposed to present their side (Watada on the stand), Judge Toilet began playing dumb about a stipulation he had seen before it was agreed to, one he had seen after it was agreed to and one he himself had explained to the jury. He began asking the prosecution if they wanted a mistrial. They didn't pick up immediately that he was handing them a "do over" and initially declined. After increased prodding, they agreed. Judge Toilet ruled a mistrial over defense objection raising issues of double-jeopardy and whether Toilet was fit to serve on a future court-martial. Toilet scheduled the next court-martial for March but, proving his incompentence, he forgot he wasn't allowed to do that. The court-martial was to begin this month and it did not.
The Honolul Star Bulletin reports Judge Toilet (aka John Head) set a date for Ehren Watada's court-martial, October 9th. Matt Misterik (Tacoma's News Tribune) observes: "The October date, if it stands, would put Watada back in court at about the same time his Stryker brigade -- the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division -- is scheduled to return from Iraq after a 15-month deployment. The move does not come as a big surprise. Earlier this month, Watada's new attorneys tried to get military judge Lt. Col. John Head to disqualify himself from the case and also tried to invoke Watada's right not to be prosecuted twice for the same crime, known as double jeopardy.""If it stands" refers to the fact that the Court of Appeals has not ruled. They decided to allow Judge Toilet to rule before they weighed in on the Constitutional issue of double-jeopardy and whether or not Judge Toilet should remove himself from the case. This is what Kenneth Kagan, one of Watada's two civilian attorneys, discussed last Tuesday with Margaret Prescod on KPFK's Sojourner Truth. The only surprise with the date is that he handed it down this week, Judge Toilet was supposed to hand it down last week. Kagen explained that there were several levels of appeals (above Judge Toilet) and that he wouldn't be surprised if a court-martial took place (IF) that it didn't do so until next year. The October 9th start date is no more set in stone than the March one Judge Toilet attempted earlier or the July one he then attempted. Watada continues to report to Fort Hood and do his assigned tasks there.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at 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.
There is also growing awareness that US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq. As a result strategy sessions that might not have been reported even a year ago now are. Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report on one recent effort by the military to run possiblities on what will happen when the US withdraws (or withdraws at least 'combat forces') and find that the US military has recently concluded that Shi'ites would take Anbar, civil war would break out in the south and, in the north, the Kurds would maintain their presence creating an ethnic partitioning of Iraq (as favored by US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Joe Biden). DeYoung and Ricks quote Gary Anderson (Marine Col. retired and in charge of this series of war games) declaring, "I honestly don't think it will be apocalyptic, . . . it will be ugly." De Young and Ricks also note the results of the war games are less dire than the predictions Bully Boy repeatedly makes to the public. Of the results of the war games and other possiblities, the reporters note that these are possiblities and not hard evidence of what will or will not happen.
What happend today, in Kirkuk, Al Jazeera reports, were "mass funerals" being held following yesterday's bombings that claimed the lives of at least 85 people. Mass graves are the reality in Baquba. Ahmed Ali (IPS) reports that with corpses turning up daily in the area, with the morgue handling "an average of four or five bodies everyday" while others merely abandoned "in rivers and farms," with the same electricity outtages plauging the area as the rest of the country and the US military having "ordered them to bury all bodies within three days" bodies are now being buried in mass graves. Baquba is in the Diyala Province which was also the location of an overnight slaughter so more mass gaves will be needed. AP reports the local police state Sunni assailants (some wearing official military garb) raided a village and killed at least 29 Shi'ites (at least four of whom were women). Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes those dead and wounded from the attacks included women and children and that the assailants were "wearing the Iraqi army uniform". CBS and AP report that at least 10 corpses were mutiliated.On yesterday's attack in Kirkuk, Stephanie Gaskell (San Francisco Chronicle) provides context, "By the end of the year, Kirkuk's population of almost 1 million is to vote on a referendum to decide whether to remain part of Iraq or join the autonomous Kurdish region. Most Kurds wish to be part of the Kurdish Regional Government, while most Arab residents (both Shiites and Sunnis) prefer to remain part of Iraq under a decentralized government."
Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) also observes the situation in Kirkuk noting, "The attacks this month are part of a pattern of increasing violence at a time of heightened tensions among ethnic Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen residents in the city and its environs. Former president Saddam Hussein sought to establish an Arab majority in Kirkuk, a center of Iraq's oil industry, but since his removal from power Kurds have worked to recapture control. Their efforts have angered Arab and Turkmen residents, who say they are being systematically driven out. The attacks also furthered fears that insurgents pushed out of Baghdad by the increased U.S. military presence in the capital are focusing their efforts on the country's north, which has far fewer troops." Which is how Bully Boy's non 'plan' (do the same thing year after year but add more US troops) does nothing but holds Iraqis and foreign forces hostage in an illegal war that was lost some time ago.
Turning to the subject of hostages. On February 6th of this year, Hannelore Krause and her son Sinan Krause were kidnapped (in Iraq) and in April a video was relased of the two calling for a withdrawal of all German troops from Afghanistan. Earlier this month Hannelore Krause was released, however, kidnappers still have her son. Reuters reports that she has "begged the Gernman government to support her efforts to free him". Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch is calling for the release of five hostages -- Iranian diplomats seized January 11th by US forces and who remain in US custody to this day. Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson states, "The US says it is detaining the five Iranians because they are criminals, not diplomats. If they broke Iraqi law, they should be handed over to Iraqi courts for prosecution. The US should not hold them indefinitely without trial." On January 11th, the US military charged into the consular office Iran had Arbil and took diplomatic staff into custody. Though the move and the captivity has been protested by Iranians and the Kurdistan government, the US has continued to hold the diplomatic staff. Last month, news broke and the only term for the children is "hostages." Lara Logan (CBS News) reported on the Baghdad orphanage where 24 boys were "straved and neglected . . . some near death . . . left naked". The children were special needs children and some tried to spin the children being tied up, naked and starved as a means of 'protecting' them. Diana Mukkaled (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) observed, "The children were undernourished and half-starved as they lay on the floor covered in dirt and grime, while two supervisors stood by them smiling. Also visible in the pictures were piles of food and clothing, which the children were deprived of, stored in the neighboring room. Yesterday, IRIN noted that approximately half the 4 million (internally and externally) displaced Iraqis are children. Just as the illegal war has created orphans, it also plays into the Baghdad orphanage scandal. IRIN spoke to a parent of one of the children in the orphanage as well as to parents of orphanges and the story boils down to the fact that the children have special needs, the families are displaced (some missing parents) and it was thought orphanages could provide stable care that the families cannot at this time due to the daily chaos and violence.Bombings?Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that wounded 3 police officer, a morning Baghdad car bombing claimed 4 lives (five more were wounded), an evening Baghdad car bombing claimed the lives of at least 20 (with 20 more wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 1 life (left three wounded) and a Baghdad bombing near a bus claimed 1 life (2 wounded). CBS and AP report, "A suicide driver detonated his vehicle Tuesday near an Iraqi army patrol in Zqyouna, a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad, killing 10 people, including six civilians, police said. Police said 11 people, including seven civilians, were wounded" and that CBS News' Allen Pizzey counts "sucide attacks" thus far in the first six months of 2007 as having claimed the lives of "more than 4,000 Iraqi civilians".Shootings?Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Rafi'a Alwan was shot dead in in Samarra.Corpses?Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses discovered today in Iraq. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad yesterday.Today, [PDF format warning] the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force - West died July 16 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." The announcement brings the ICCC total for US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3618 with 39 for the month.Parliament met today in Iraq and, Al Jazeera reports, the al-Sadr bloc "resumed participation" with all 32 members returning. In the US, the upper house of Congress prepares for an all nighter. This morning, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has theatened to keep the Senate in session around the clock today in response to Republican efforts to block Iraq withdrawal legislation. Reid said: 'If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it."Yesterday on the floor of the Senate, Reid spoke at length about this issue, opening with:After 52 months, America finds itself mired in one of the most tragic foreign policy blunders in our nation's history, with no end in sight. In my view, it will take years -- and, I fear, perhaps decades -- to finally close the book on the damage this war has caused our troops, our economy and our moral standing in the world. Reid also noted, "We don't have to mark time, waiting for the President to wake up one morning with a change of heart. We don't have to wait two more months for an arbitrary Septemeber deadline when it is so clear that a course change is required now. With our courage and our votes, we can rise above this tragic failure to deliver the new course that our brave troops -- and all Americans -- demand and deserve. We can do that today, by voting for the Levin/Reed amendment to the Defense Authorization Link."However, AP notes that the Levin-Reed measure does not translate as TROOPS HOME NOW and that "[u]nder the bill, an unspecified number of troops could remain behind to fight terrorists, protect U.S. assets and train Iraqi security forces." And speaking with Jay Newton-Small (Time magazine), Senator Carl Levin doesn't sound like anyone planning to end the illegal war with comments such as "Assuming everything worked out perfectly, that's the middle of next year, that's early next year, so that's something that we're focusing on." So what CBS and AP observe is a "rare, round-the-clock session Tuesday night through Wednesday morning" may be more of the same but done round the clock to give the appearence that someone in Congress is actually earning their pay check.