The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Ron Suskind’s Interview on NPR

Tonight OPB aired an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind whose new book, The Way of the World, came out this past Tuesday, August 8th. In it, he puts forward harsh allegations against the Bush Administration based on credible sources–the most important of which are on the record–with respect to misleading the American people on the path to war.

The interview follows. Click here then click on the “Listen now” button on the top of NPR’s page.

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August 7, 2008 Posted by | Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Impeachment, Iraq War, Journalism, Terrorism, The Media, White House | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Senate Passes Telecom Immunity Bill

Yesterday, July 9, 2008, the Senate (the House has passed it as well) passed H.R. 6304, the telecom immunity bill.

Under Title II, Section 802, the bill states that:

[…] a civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be promptly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending[…]” [and there is a list of qualifications you can read if you click the hyperlink above]

It should be noted that the protection is only for civil actions from which citizens may seek damages; there is no protection from criminal charges being brought against parties. As far as the accountability of telecoms goes, and any other party for that matter (as defined under Title II, Section 802), there is still some degree of accountability to which these parties may be held, but it is specifically criminal.

What this means for the American people is that private citizens may not sue for damages (compensation for losses of any sort) as a result of surveillance. The offending parties may only be sued by the United States government, thereby providing no just compensation for transgressions against private citizens, and can only result in the punishment of the offending parties.

This is a very, very sad day for America as well as the United States Constitution and anyone who believes in it. Here is the text of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

And Obama voted for it…What is happening?…I’m starting to get that feeling about Obama that I got about McCain when he flipped from a harsh critic of the Bush Admin to a supporter of them. Not that the big O is joining the ranks of the Bush Administration by any means, but his vote in favor of this bill is, in my mind, a serious transgression against the people of the United States. And that’s from an Obama supporter.

There’s another thing that’s bothering me. The bill is ridiculously sloppy. For example, Title II, Section 802, Paragraph 5 (which is one of the circumstances under which the Attorney General may dismiss a relevant case):

“(5) the person did not provide the alleged assistance.”

Excuse me? What? The Attorney General’s job is to argue cases, not to decide them.

I’m really ashamed to be an American right now.

I’d like to just leave you with this, the Presidential Oath of Office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The President regularly referrs to his oath and states that it is his job to protect the American people. I don’t know if he wasn’t paying attention when he took it or if he just forgot what it says, but he swore an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution, NOT the American people.

If we Americans don’t wake up and do something, we deserve what’s coming to us.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Bills, Congress, FISA, George W. Bush, Video | 2 Comments

Phase 2: Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phase 2 of the Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence was released this past Thursday. In a press conference about it’s release, Senator Jay Rockefeller stated that, “In making the case for war administration officials distorted the facts or were not supported by the facts, and said that they knew or should of known were not true.

The Huffington Post is sadly one of the few news sources that really covered it. Below is an excerpt, kind of the meat of it:

“the breadth of the Committee’s citations of examples in which the Bush administration’s comments were not supported by intelligence could reignite public dissatisfaction over the war. According to a release from Rockefeller’s office that was provided to The Huffington Post, these examples include:

— Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

— Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

— Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

— Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.”

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Congress, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Jon Stewart, Nathan Schmitt, Senate, The Media, Video, White House | , | Leave a comment

President Bush’s Wedding Statement


I was just browsing through the White House’s press releases and found this rather absurd little statement from President Bush:

“This Mother’s Day weekend was awfully special for Laura and me. Our little girl, Jenna, married a really good guy, Henry Hager. The wedding was spectacular. It’s just — it’s all we could have hoped for. The weather cooperated nicely; just as the vows were exchanged the sun set over our lake and it was just a special day and a wonderful day and we’re mighty blessed.

Anyway, thank you all.”

This is no real point of criticism, but it just strikes me as a bit odd that the President would write something in the voice he might use in a MySpace message to address the American public. This statement is especially absurd in juxtaposition with such official content as the signing statement for H.R. 4986 as they were posted in the same space and in the same manner, presumably implying the same weight…

“Mother’s Day is a special time for mothers all across America.”

What would we do without Bush’s impressively perceptive explanations of difficult concepts?

May 11, 2008 Posted by | Bushisms, George W. Bush | Leave a comment

Signing Statement: National Defense Authorization Act for 2008

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Searchable) (H.R. 4986) along with a signing statement effectively giving himself the power to ignore sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222. Here is a quick summary of these four sections:

§ 841 “established a commission to be known as the `Commission on Wartime Contracting'” that is essentially in charge of investigating defense contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

§ 846 Provides “protection for contractor employees from reprisal for disclosure of certain information” relevant to violations of law regarding such defense contracts.

§ 1079 States that the various heads of Intelligence must deliver requested Intelligence information, within 45 days of such a request, to one of the congressional Committees on Armed Services.

§1222 Prohibits the use of alloted funds for the creation of permanent military bases in Iraq or for the U.S.’s “control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

I’m not quite sure from whence the President claims this authority because he does not explicitly (or implicitly) state why he thinks he has such power. There are however three constitutional provisions that speak directly to this question:
Art. I, § 8, ¶ 12: Congressional Enumerated Powers:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years[…]

This provision vests the power of Military Appropriations specifically in Congress.

Art. I, § 8, ¶ 18: Necessary and Proper Clause:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution [the powers] vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States […]

This provision states (along with Art. I, § 1, ¶ 1) that Congress is the sole legislative body and that it has the power to make laws that it deems necessary and proper to uphold the Constitution.

Art. I, § 7, ¶ 2 & 3: The Presentment Clause:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated […]

This clause lays out the process which a bill must go through to become a law.

The first provision clearly implies that the President does not have the power to overlook Section 1222 of H.R. 4986. It really doesn’t get any more black and white: the power of military appropriations was vest explicitly and distinctly to Congress and the President’s signing statement is therefore in direct conflict of the Presentment Clause.

As far as the other three sections that the President posits to negate, the language of the Presentment Clause is very clear in stating “If he approve[s of the bill] he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections.” This is not a debate of any kind, I’m simply at a loss. The President assumes the power he does on the basis that he wants it, and not on any Constitutional provision, law, statute, case, precedent, etc…

Wow…

February 13, 2008 Posted by | Bills, Committee on Oversight, Congress, George W. Bush, House of Representatives, Impeachment, Iraq War, Jon Stewart, Nathan Schmitt, Presidential Vetos, Video | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bush Vetos Spending Bill

By Nathan Schmitt

Yesterday, President Bush vetoed a $600 Billion spending bill after its passing through congress. Here is a summary:

The bill Bush vetoed Tuesday includes about $150 billion to run those departments and more than $450 billion in mandatory spending on Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health care programs for the elderly and poor, according to the House Appropriations Committee.” (1)

This is the text of “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.”

The President was very critical of congress to the point of resulting to ad hominem name-calling:

The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far, it’s acting like a teenager with a new credit card.” (1)

I think this next part speaks for itself:

At the same time, Bush signed a $459 billion annual Defense Department spending bill that increases the Pentagon’s budget 9.5 percent to fund operations other than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although that legislation also includes what he calls unnecessary spending, he said he considers it important to deliver money to the military in a time of war.” (2)

I don’t think something like this can go without mention. This is blatantly trying to create a causal connection between two things where it is really a correlational relationship.

If i were to donate money to a school’s athletic program, I wouldn’t claim to be helping the academics. Both serve their purposes but are not effectually equivalent.

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Economics, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Presidential Vetos | , , | Leave a comment

Hate Begets Hate: A White House Story

By Nathan Schmitt

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued this statement today:

This morning President Bush called President Karzai of Afghanistan to express his deepest sympathies regarding the horrendous suicide bombing in Baglan province yesterday. The cold blooded killers targeted innocent schoolchildren and lawmakers who were there to celebrate the opening of a new sugar factory.

The President said that the murderous act reminds all of us about the brutality of the enemy we are facing. He said that their hearts are filled with evil and they only see with hate. The President told President Karzai that America cares deeply about the Afghan people and he urged him to remain strong.” (1)

This is a sensitive subject to touch on, and although I think they need to, I understand why the mainstream news media don’t cover it. This being said, I think the statement speaks for itself for the most part. I would just like to look briefly at one of the statements.

He said that their hearts are filled with evil and they only see with hate.” (1)

Now, I’d like to make it extremely clear that I’m not diminishing the horrible acts of terrorism or justifying terrorists in ANY sense. There is, however, a limit of rationality in judging such people. Such a claim as Bush’s presents a myriad of philosophical problems from fundamental human nature (“their hearts are filled with evil”) to subjectivity with regard to separation of individual personalities–that is to say, the independent existence of conscious personalities that make it impossible for the self to know the true intentions of the other.

It doesn’t take anything beyond rudimentary philosophical analysis to see that this claim by Bush is anything but legitimate. Perhaps his intentions are good, but his words are certainly not fair, no matter who they’re directed towards.

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Afghanistan, Dana Perino, General Discourse, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Terrorism | , , , | Leave a comment

The Unsettling Situation Under Musharraf

By Theo O’Brien

President Musharraf, reacting to the current crisis in Pakistan, declared the nation to be in a state of emergency and installed martial law, suspending the country’s constitution. The declaration incited mass protests—primarily by lawyers. The use of military force seems to have accomplished the opposite of its purpose by further contributed to the civil unrest it hoped to quiet.

“The move appeared to be an effort by General Musharraf to reassert his fading power in the face of growing opposition from the country’s Supreme Court, civilian political parties and hard-line Islamists. Pakistan’s Supreme Court was expected to rule within days on the legality of General Musharraf’s re-election last month as the country’s president, which opposition groups have said was improper.” (1)

The president seems to be attempting to restore order and reclaim lost power but it may be his ultimate undoing as political opposition could finally grasp the public attention and support necessary to seize power—although this is currently just speculation.

The U.S. and Pakistan

The United States had insisted on free democratic elections and Musharraf’s withdrawal as military chief but President Musharraf instead defied the American pressure by resorting to military rule—though he has said he planned to step down as the military leader. The United States has urged Pakistan’s President Musharraf to restore civilian rule and to make steps toward a democracy.

Press freedoms have been curbed and independent television stations taken off the air.

Bush said Monday he recognized the threat Musharraf faces from extremists, citing past attempts on Musharraf’s life, but said the emergency measures ‘undermine democracy.’

‘We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform,’ Bush said.” (2)

This recent tension between the two countries signifies a possible end to a close relationship founded primarily on a shared desire by both presidents to quell terrorism. Pakistan was considered a key ally in the United States’ war on terror both geographically—Pakistan borders Afghanistan—and politically—many countries have opposed U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

[In light of this current instability in Pakistan—increasing violent Islamic extremists, a president struggling to maintain dominance, censorship of media and rising political opposition to the current regime—it is important to note that the country is currently a nuclear power.]

November 7, 2007 Posted by | George W. Bush, Nuclear weapons, Pakistan, Theo O'Brien | , | Leave a comment

Keith Olbermann: Harsh Criticism of the Bush Administration (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Last night, Keith Olbermann had some very harsh words for President Bush regarding the Bush Administration’s use of water boarding, among other issues. He directly addresses the President. Very harsh.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.” (1)

Also, Olbermann talks about former U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin:

“‘Waterboarding is torture,’ Daniel Levin was to write.

Charged — as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday — with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora’s box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism “Enhanced Interrogation,” Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them… was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be water-boarded.” (2)

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Countdown with Keith Olbermann, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Torture, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Bush Defends Mukasey, While Attacking Congress

By Theo O’Brien

 

Click Here for Speech (External Video)

In a speech today (original source) before the Heritage Foundation, President Bush plead for the confirmation of Michael Mukasey while scolding Congress for what he considers a lack of progress and support for the troops deployed overseas.

 

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s recently struggled with Democrats over his definition of torture. In his speech the President rose to the defense of his nominee reasoning that the acceptance of Mukasey as Attorney General is key to America’s safety against terrorism.

 

The job of the attorney general is essential to the security of America. The attorney general is the highest ranking official responsible for our law enforcement community’s efforts to detect and prevent terrorist attacks here at home.” (1)

In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s continued pressure for a more revealing insight into the legality of the United States’ interrogation techniques by Mr. Mukasey, the President had this to say:

Finally, he does not want any statement of his to give the terrorists a window into which techniques we may use and which ones we may not use. That could help them train their operatives to resist questioning and withhold vital information we need to stop attacks and save lives.” (1)

President Bush recently vocalized his disapproval of Congress, chastising the fact that they have not sent him a War Spending Bill yet. Today, he again called on Congress to allocate the funds necessary to fund the Iraq war.

 

Congress is also stalling on the emergency war supplemental to fund our troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. This crucial bill includes funds for bullets and body armor, protection against IEDs and mine-resistant ambush-protective vehicles.” (1)

He also spoke adamantly of the need to pass other bills to support the troops fighting in Iraq currently, and those who have returned.

Congress also needs to pass the Department of Defense spending bill, as well as a funding bill for our nation’s veterans.

There are reports that congressional leaders may be considering combining the funding bills for our military and our veterans together with a bloated labor, health and education spending bill.

It’s hard to imagine a more cynical ploy than holding funding for our troops and our wounded warriors hostage in order to extract $11 billion in wasteful Washington spending.” (1)

This has been the latest of a string of pleas by the President for financial support of the war, highlighted by his recent criticism of Congress as having “the worst record for a Congress in 20 years.” (2)

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Congress, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Theo O'Brien | , , , | Leave a comment