Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Other Items

Lynda e-mails to note Philip Shenon's "9/11 Panel Says Congress and White House Are Failing to Act:"

The members of the Sept. 11 commission will sharply criticize the Bush administration and Congress this week in a new, privately financed report expected to single out the F.B.I. as having failed to act on many of the panel's recommendations to protect the nation from terrorist attack, members of the bipartisan panel and its staff said.
They said the report, scheduled for release on Thursday by a private educational group created by the 10 former commissioners, will also criticize the White House as not doing enough to defend civil liberties and privacy rights as it expanded the government's surveillance powers after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. A civil liberties oversight board created by the White House earlier this year is toothless and underfinanced, some of the commissioners said.

Shenon also notes:

In its final, book-length report last year, the commission offered some of its strongest criticism for the F.B.I. and documented how the bureau had repeatedly mishandled intelligence about terrorist threats before the Sept. 11 attacks, including detailed warnings that terrorists might try to use commercial planes in an attack.

Who was that? Well for almost eight years, September 1, 1993 until he stepped down on June 21, 2001, it was Louis Freeh. The one who slimed Bill Clinton last week and little David E. Rosenbaum was happy to snicker and bring up Monica Lewinsky as opposed to addressing the serious issue os Freeh's own record. Turning in a book report, not even a book review, and passing it off as news, Rosenbaum was apparently unaware of anything covered in the book beyond Lewinsky. He certainly wasn't aware of the mountains of monies poured into the computer systems (that didn't work) at the FBI. Rosenbaum just wanted to snicker like a little boy hearing a dirty joke. And readers were supposed to stomach that nonsense as "news."

Back to the panel's topic, while the FBI can't manage the powers they do have, Eric Lichtblau's "Republicans Seek to Widen F.B.I. Powers" informs us they may get more:

Senate Republican leaders are pushing once again to expand the Federal Bureau of Investigation's power to demand records in terrorism investigations, as negotiations over the future of the sweeping law known as the USA Patriot Act reach a critical stage, officials said Tuesday.
House and Senate staff members have met behind closed doors four times in the last two weeks to try to iron out differences between bills passed in July extending 16 provisions of the law that expire at the end of the year, the officials said.
Among the more contentious ideas raised in the meetings, participants said in interviews, was the idea of expanding the F.B.I.'s power to issue administrative subpoenas to demand records in terror investigations without a judge's approval. While the expanded powers were in a version of the bill passed earlier this year by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate ultimately rejected the idea.

Bully Boy backs it and Pat Roberts remains the point-person on the issue.

Nolanda e-mails to note David D. Kirkpatrick's "Nominee Backed Ban on Abortion in 1989 Campaign:"

The 1989 survey, which Ms. Miers filled out for the anti-abortion group Texans United for Life when she was a candidate for the Dallas City Council, constituted the clearest indication yet of her personal views on abortion. It did not ask whether she believed that the Constitution protected a right to abortion.
"If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prohibit the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature?" the survey asked.
Ms. Miers answered yes. She told the group she would support a state ban on abortion, oppose public financing for abortions, participate in "pro-life" events and use her "influence as an elected official" to "promote the pro-life cause."

In the article you learn her likes (restraint on the judiciary) and her dislikes ("social policy" set by the Courts -- get her to explain Brown v. Board of Ed.). You learn that the person who didn't know she couldn't practice law until a letter arrived also didn't know she was being considered for nominating to the Supreme Court. True? False? Who knows what to believe but it does seem realistic that she could be as out of it there as she was on everything else. (Judge says there's no way she wasn't aware.) Scotty, who grew up with politicians, advises us that what "a candidate or political officers holder" says (referring to the 1989 survey) and what a judge would do are two different things. He makes no comment on whether he's basing that on his own personal observations of his mother and father while growing up. Maybe it's implied?

Marckus notes David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson's "No Final Report Seen in Inquiry on C.I.A. Leak:"

The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.
The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.
A final report had long been considered an option for Mr. Fitzgerald if he decided not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, although Justice Department officials have been dubious about his legal authority to issue such a report.
By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm.

For perspective on Mier's, Jennifer advises us to seek out the humor of Carol in "Harriet The Sly" (A New Leif, Ms.):

Harriet Miers is an anti-choice evangelical who will vote any chance she gets to restrict abortion rights. She even told two prominent lawyers exactly that. No she didn't. What? She didn't? She must have. That's the kind of thing that would make James Dobson confident. Only now it's Chuck Schumer not James Dobson who is concerned. Harriet Miers is open-minded and has never discussed overturning Roe. It comes out in her answers to the twelve-page questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee that, in 1989, she backed amending the U.S. Constitution to ban abortion except to save a mother's life. Pretty hard-lined. The White House was quick to respond that questions answered in a political race are very different from decisions made by Supreme Court Justices. White House mouthpiece Scott McClellan says, "the role of a judge is very different from the role of a candidate." If Scott McClellan says it, it must be true.
Let me see if I'm getting this. Assure the right that she's anti-abortion. Then, as soon as the democrats start to think she just might be anti-abortion, assure them that she's not. Confusing. Molly [Ivins], I'm trying to relish it, but for now, I'm just mier-ed in it.

Gary e-mails to note Michael Wolff's "Meanwhile, in an Undisclosed Location ..." (Vanity Fair):

The true helmsman of the Bush administration, its philosophical architect, its psychic heart, its blood and guts, is missing in action. He's become a media vacancy, a hole where the normal huffing and puffing of a politician's demand for attention should be.
According to his office, he's at work in Washington, or fly-fishing at his Wyoming ranch, or out giving good-cause speeches which the press hasn't been covering. But as to the vice president's performance of his specific role as the administration's strength, authority, gravitas--just as the administration most needs strength, authority, and gravitas--he's slipped out the back, dematerialized.
Disaster relief is the time-honored province of vice presidents, but it took him 11 days to make the scene of one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history--and there he wore his discomfort, even sullenness, even lack of interest, as obviously as his chinos.
His office, oddly, or nervously, or defensively, refuses to supply a daily schedule of his recent activities, and, furthermore, makes this refusal off the record. (Truly--a spokesperson refused to provide information only under the condition that I agreed not to say she refused to provide information.)
At this point in any normal two-term presidency you invariably begin to see a distance growing between the administration proper and its vice president. The vice president, nurturing his nascent power base--most every veep would've been itching to get to New Orleans, to collect media face time and a bounty of local IOUs--begins to plan for a future, begins to see his real life beginning. It's a complex condition between president and vice president, as between adolescent and parent, in which the veep becomes both opportunistic malcontent and, as designated successor, last best hope.

Rod passes on a scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

Wednesday, October 19: Author Mike Davis joins us to discuss his new book,"The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu."

The Un-Embed the Media tour continues:

* Amy Goodman in Oakland, CA:
Sat, Oct 22 *TIME: 7:30 PM
Presentation of first annual Pace e Bene Nonviolence Award to Dolores Huerta
First Congregational Church
2501 Harrison at 27th St
Oakland, CA
Amy will be interviewing Dolores Huerta
$15 advance,
$18 door.
$50 includes reserved seating and reception
Benefits Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
Available in advance at
by calling 510-268-8765
or at independent East Bay bookstores:
Black Oak; DIESEL, A Bookstore; Global Exchange store; Pendragon; Pegasus (both stores); Walden Pond
Reception tickets only available in advance until October 17th at
or by calling 510-268-8765
Download a flier here.

* Amy Goodman in New Paltz, NY:
Thur, Oct 27
Money in Politics: The Root of All Evil
Coming Together to Find Common Ground
Keynote Speech
SUNY New Paltz
Lecture Center 100
Free and open to the public
For more information, contact or call 845-853-4387

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