Friday, February 10, 2006

Democracy Now: Mary Mapes, Murray Waas; Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Nichols, the Matalins ...

Bush Reveals New Details of Purported 2002 Attack Plot
In Washington, President Bush discussed a purported attack on the United States that the White House has claimed it helped prevent. President Bush said: "We now know that in October 2001, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks, had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We believe the intended target was Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California. Rather than use Arab hijackers as he had on September 11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed sought out young men from Southeast Asia whom he believed would not arouse as much suspicion."
White House aides later corrected the President, saying the intended target was not the Liberty Tower but the Library Tower. It has since been renamed the US Bank Tower.
Intelligence Officials Continue To Question Plot Claim
President Bush's comments add new details to the purported attack, which the White House first discussed last fall. The claim was met with skepticism from several members of the intelligence community. At the time, one official told the Washington Post: "It's safe to say that most of the [intelligence] community doesn't think it's worth very much." Today, the Post reports there remains "deep disagreement" over whether the plot was "ever much more than talk." A US counterterrorism official interviewed by Los Angeles Times dismissed the plot, telling the newspaper: "It didn't go. It didn't happen."
LA Mayor Criticizes "Nonexistent" White House Communication
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says President Bush's announcement has taken him by complete surprise, and that communication with the White House has been "nonexistent." Villaraigosa continued: "I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels. I don't expect a call from the president, but somebody."
Ex-CIA Mideast Officer Accuses Bush Admin. Of "Cherry-Picking" Iraq Intel
Meanwhile, the CIA's former national intelligence officer for the Middle East has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion. In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Paul Pillar writes: "It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions. Intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made --and the intelligence community's own work was politicized."
The above four items, selected by Joan, Charlie, Brenda and Marcus, are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for February 10, 2006

- Libby Testifies "Superiors" Ordered Leak of Classified Information
- Ex-CIA Mideast Officer Accuses Admin. Of "Cherry-Picking" Iraq Intel
- Early Returns Show Frontrunner Preval Leading Haitian Elections
- US, DR, Haiti Governments Named in Landmark Rights Petition
- Bush Reveals New Details of Purported 2002 Attack Plot
- Bush Administration Told of Levee Breach Earlier Than Claimed
- Two Medical Aid Workers Kidnapped in Colombia
- Kidnapped Journalist: "There Is Very Short Time"

Exclusive Interview: Murray Waas on How Cheney "Authorized" Libby to Leak Classified Information

We speak with investigative journalist Murray Waas who reports that Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- Cheney's indicted former chief of staff -- testified he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to invade Iraq.

Why We Fight: New Film Takes a Hard Look at the American War Machine From World War II to Iraq

A new film opening in theaters nationwide Friday takes a look at the American war machine over the past half century. "Why We Fight" looks at conflicts from World War II right up to the current war in Iraq to examine the political, economic and ideological reasons that drive American war policy. We play excerpts from the film and speak with award-wining director Eugene Jarecki.

The Press, The President and the Privilege of Power: Part II Of Our Conversation With "Memo-Gate" Producer Mary Mapes

We continue our conversation with Mary Mapes, the longtime television news producer and reporter who worked for CBS for fifteen years. Mapes tells the story of the memo that brought down CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather and prompted CBS to force out four of its top journalists - including Mapes. In the report, Rather charged that President Bush had received preferential treatment in the National Guard in the early 1970s.

Before we get to highlights, somebody saw it on Buzz, somebody saw it on Atrios, somebody saw it here, there and everywhere. "Is it a clampdown?" demand five
visitors, who naturally swear they've been reading since 'the starts," (one uses "gatekeeper" but it's the same sentiment).

What are we talking about? Mary Matalin's remarks (via Media Matters):

MATALIN: -- the achievement gap between the white and black students at a high, closing, narrowing. I mean, you know, I think these civil rights leaders are nothing more than racists. And they're keeping constituency, they're keeping their neighborhoods and their African-American brothers enslaved, if you will, by continuing to let them think that they're -- or forced to think that they're victims, that the whole system is against them. Articulate it better, Sean; it's so sad to me.

Matalin learned to steal from Eleanor Roosevelt's book (you're sad, never angry), she just never learned to make it believable. Squinty eyes and a pinched face are obstacles she can never overcome (short of surgery) but something could be done about the voice. (And should be.) For the record, while making (false) charages of racism, she also flaunts her sexism (which none of the e-mails mention). "African-American brothers"? Did she forget half a race? (Why, yes, she did. Which is why the joke was made, here, the day after Matalin uttered her latest lunatic ravings, ""right about now my funk soul brothers and sisters.") Queen Bee Mary's off her rocker yet again.

One e-mail on the "clampdown" includes this: "You must be afraid to criticize James Carville!" The bean counter? The man who's made a mockery of public discourse by playing Cher to Matalin's Sonny during guest spots on Meet the Press? We've covered that and then some. We've never propped up Matalin and we've never praised James Carville. Nor have we ever (or would we ever) praise Paul Begala. Here, we're fully aware that Jon Stewart wasn't just calling out Tucker Carlson, he was calling out the entire format and the gas bags on both sides. The "left" on Crossfire, for those who've forgotten, were more than happy to join in on the trashing of Cynthia McKinney. Paul Begala was more than happy to make a fool of himself (okay, maybe he can't help that) eating KFC on air to prop up the fast food industry.

I can't speak for what happens elsewhere, but here we've never confused "bean counters" (even slightly left of the center ones) for "brave voices." So you're either reaching or you're confused at to what sites you're visiting.We don't have a clampdown regarding the Matalins. We don't usually note TV gas-bags, not due to a clampdown, just due to the fact that they don't have all that much to say.

Now let's get on with highlights. Tracey notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Elementary, Pat, Elementary" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

The other night, Pat Buchanan said on Scarborough Country's segment about "The Politics of Impeachment" that my views on the subject are irrelevant.
I suggest Pat check out a little known book, Everything I Needed to Know About the Constitution I Learned in Third Grade. He might rediscover some basic American tenets such as a system of checks and balances,loyalty to the Constitution and shared power and accountability between three branches of government.
It's the shredding of these ideals that has led to growing, mainstream support for discussing the impeachment of Mr. Bush: conservative business magazine, Barron's...John Dean...leading constitutional scholars...former intelligence officers…even some Republicans...and the 53 percent of Americans who said in November that Bush should be impeached if it is found that he lied about the basis for invading Iraq.

FYI, KvH is discussing the split, among some, that says we must place all our eggs in one basket: either impeach or end the war. It's the dualistic, either/or thinking that's so ingrained. We don't have to choose one. (That's my own opinion, but also a loose summary of KvH's position.) Don't let anyone limit you or your options.

Dropping back to Matalin's nonsense, John Nichols takes on her ilk in "A Healthy Dose of Reality for Mr. Bush" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

Just as they did following the memorial service for Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002, Republican operatives and their acolytes in the media are now claiming that there was something inappropriate about the manner in which those who knew Coretta Scott King best mourned her passing. So great is the determination of the spin doctors for a White House that seeks to protect George Bush from even the mildest expressions of dissent that commentators rushed Tuesday to television studios even before the service for Mrs. King was done to denounce former President Jimmy Carter, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin for expressing sentiments not usually heard by this protected president.
But don't think that anything untoward actually took place in the Atlanta suburb where thousands gathered to celebrate the life, the work and the politics of Mrs. King. The service provided the president with a healthy -- if all too rare -- dose of reality. Bush's policies are not popular, particularly with the African-American community, and the president needed a gentle reminder of the fact. Indeed, the president was far more graceful in the receipt of the dissenting messages that were uttered at the service for Mrs. King than were those who rushed to condemn his critics.
What got the Republican spin machine humming Wednesday?

Kyle note the above. Eddie notes "CCR Applauds Confirmation of Guantanamo Detainees' Innocence in First Statistical Analysis of Military Documents" (Center for Constitutional Rights -- note, the link also contains a PDF file for those interested in more information):

On February 9, 2006, in New York, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) applauded the release of the Report on Guantanamo Detainees: A Profile of 517 Detainees Through Analysis of Department of Defense Data by Professor Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall Law School and attorney Joshua Denbeaux.
Since February 2002, CCR has argued in the United States federal courts that the vast majority of prisoners at Guantánamo are innocent men who were kidnapped and turned over to the United States military for a bounty. The report found that "55 percent of the 517 detainees had no hostile act listed as the basis for detention" and a mere 5 percent were captured by U.S. forces, with the rest not picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan but in Pakistan and handed to the U.S. by warlords and others for large bounties. According the report's careful analysis of the Defense Department records, 92% of the prisoners in Guantánamo were not characterized as Al Qaeda fighters. The men have been denied any fair hearing and detained in inhumane conditions for over four years, despite the Supreme Court ruling in CCR's case, Rasul v. Bush that they have the right to challenge the basis for their detention in U.S. court.
Said CCR attorney Gita Gutierrez, "Now, for the first time, the military's lies and misrepresentations about the prisoners in Guantánamo have been debunked through the military's own documents. Yet, these men remain in prison while at every turn the Executive seeks to avoid judicial scrutiny of its unlawful conduct."

Billie points out that should the New York Times ever tire of the Elite Fluff Patrol (not likely), they might want to bring Ron in to show them the basics. From Ron's "Bush Said, A.P. Said 'in October 2001'" (Why Are We Back In Iraq?):

If the plot were hatched in October of 2001, then this alleged meeting between Osama bin Laden and the Southeast Asian operatives would have had to have taken place after. But it seems unlikely that Southeast Asian operatives were able to journey into and out of Afghanistan or Pakistan and hook up in a cave somewhere to meet with Osama, completely undetected by the coalition troops involved in Operation Infinite Justice (I mean Operation Enduring Freedom).
If anything...this plot was hatched before October of 2001...and Osama inspected the recruits some time before that.
But lets not let common sense get in the way of President Bush or the Associated Press because what this is really about is damage control.
From today's press briefing by Scott McClellan:
Q But is it just a coincidence? You had February 6th circled on the calendar for the hearings, the NSA hearings. Is it just a pure coincidence that this comes out today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about the -- let me mention, the terrorist surveillance program is a vital program, and it's been a very valuable tool. I'm not going to get into discussing any of the tools that may have been used when it comes to disrupting this plot. We provided you some additional information about this plot. But the purpose of this speech is the way I stated it. And I would discourage you from suggesting otherwise.
Unfortunately for Scotty, that wasn't the last question asked at the press briefing which suggested "otherwise."
From today's press briefing on the West Coast Terrorist Plot by Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism:
Khalid Shaykh Muhammad was the individual who led this effort. He initiated the planning for the West Coast plot after September 11th, in October of 2001. KSM, working with Hambali in Asia, recruited the members of the cell. There was a total of four members of the cell. When they -- KSM, himself, trained the leader of the cell in late 2001 or early 2002 in the shoe bomb technique. You all will recall that there was the arrest of the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, in December of 2001, and he was instructing the cell leader on the use of the same technique.
After the cell -- the additional members of the cell, in addition to the leader, were recruited, they all went -- the cell leader and the three other operatives went to Afghanistan where they met with bin Laden and swore biat -- that is an oath of loyalty to him -- before returning to Asia, where they continued to work under Hambali.
So I guess that's the story...let's see how long they stick to it.
But they can't even seem to get their facts straight about the plot:
Q Not too bad. Anyway, to start with, you said that the cell leader of the West Coast plot had been arrested. What about the other cell members? Can you give us any further details, number one? And, number two, you talked about the need and great successes of international cooperation. Can you comment in any way on recent events in Yemen, when perhaps the international cooperation fell down a little bit?
MS. TOWNSEND: Sure. I should have said it, and Mark, thank you for reminding me. All of the cell leaders were ultimately arrested and taken into custody. So there are none of the remaining -- none of the four are at large.
Cell members, cell leaders...what's the difference I guess.

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[Ava note: C.I. meant to note Betty's latest chapter, "Thomas Friedman plays the woman scorned" for those who e-mailed wondering why she was tagged but there was nothing about her or her site in the entry. I've fixed font and added more tags.]