Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Other Items

Apparently not content to let Scott Shane play patsy today, Philip Shenon wants to play dress up as well. That's apparent by his "Letters to Judge Show Support for Abramoff" in this morning's New York Times. We'll focus on one section, actually one person. From the article:

The House member, Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, said in his letter that Mr. Abramoff was a "selfless patriot" whose work in a conservative lobbying group, Citizens for America, in the 1980's was evidence of his desire "to make a positive contribution to the nation he loves so much."
[. . .]
Excerpts of the letters from Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Groves and others were revealed in court papers filed by Mr. Abramoff's lawyers on Friday in Federal District Court in Miami, where the lobbyist faces sentencing on Wednesday after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges involving his purchase of a cruise-ship line.

That's all Shenon has to say on Rohrabacher. Which is interesting because "Citizens for America" does make it into print. Might Rohrabacher have a connection to that propaganda group that worked with the Reagan White House to produce propaganda (largely on Latin America)? Why, yes, indeed. Only Shenon either doesn't know that or doesn't care to share.
Rohrabacher isn't some disinterested Congress member.

Dana Rohrabacher, a one time White House speech writer who helped put words into Reagan's mouth, and that's not just a slug on the resume of the man who represents the arm pit of California in Congress today.

Shenon doesn't explore Rohrabacher's own work with Citizens for America (or, for that matter, the group itself). Readers may not even know there's a connection between the group and Rohrabacher and, in fact, they may not even have any idea what the group is.

From Robert Parry's "How Rotten Are These Guys?" (Consortium News):

After leaving the College Republicans, Abramoff and Norquist moved over to a Reagan-support organization called Citizens for America, which sponsored a 1985 “summit meeting” of anti-communist "freedom fighters" from around the world.
The Nicaraguan contras -- who were gaining a reputation for brutality, corruption and drug trafficking -- were represented at the summit, as was Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, who was condemned by human rights groups for gross abuses, including widespread murders, rapes and mutilations.
As the Cold War was ending in 1989, Abramoff tried his hand at movie producing, churning out an anti-communist action thriller called "Red Scorpion," which was subsidized by South Africa's white-supremacist regime. [For details, see Salon.com's "
The Tale of Red Scorpion."]

Now Rohrabacher had his own recent "development" deal but we'll put that aside.

From "Group Watch: Citizens for America" (IRC):

CFA was the principal U.S. sponsor for a 1985 meeting of anticommunist resistance groups ("freedom fighters") held in Angola. (12) This conference was important to the Reagan White House and generated at least three memoranda--one from speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher to White House communications director Patrick Buchanan, one from Buchanan to National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and one from National Security Council staffer Walter Raymond to McFarlane. The memos discussed whether the president should send a personal message to the Angola meeting via Lehrman and whether Rohrabacher should attend the meeting. (12,13,14) The conference was considered instrumental in pressuring the Reagan administration to authorize a $15 million aid package for UNITA in 1986. (11) The conference also exerted pressure on the U.S. Congress and public to support the Nicaraguan contras and the guerrillas in Afghanistan. (15)

If Shenon's going to "report" on those writing letters in defense of Abramoff, reporting entails more than ticking off a list of names. Actually exploring the connections between those writing in defense of Abramoff might qualify for reporting.

Zach noted Robert Parry's "Time to Talk War Crimes" (Consortium News):

In a world where might did not make right, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London.
The latest evidence of their war crimes was revealed in secret British minutes of an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 31, 2003, when Bush, Blair and their top aides chillingly discussed their determination to invade Iraq, though still hoping to provoke the Iraqis into some violent act that would serve as political cover.
Bush, who has publicly told Americans that it was Saddam Hussein who "chose war" by refusing to disarm, was, in reality, set on invading Iraq regardless of Hussein’s cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors, according to the five-page memo described in detail by the New York Times. [March 27, 2006]
At the same Oval Office meeting, Bush cavalierly dismissed concerns that the U.S. conquest might not go as smoothly as he expected.
The President predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups," according to the British minutes written by David Manning, then Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser.
But Bush’s judgment would prove tragically wrong, as more than 2,300 U.S. troops have died along with tens of thousands of Iraqis -- possibly more than 100,000 -- in three years of invasion, occupation and now sectarian violence.
Conniving Bush
The memo also reveals Bush as conniving to deceive the American people and the world community. At the meeting, Bush floated ideas for how to rally U.N. support for the invasion by engineering a provocation that would portray Hussein as the aggressor.
Bush suggested painting a U.S. plane up in U.N. colors and flying it over Iraq with the goal of drawing Iraqi fire, the minutes said.
"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo said about Bush’s scheme. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."
Regardless of whether any casus belli could be provoked, Bush already had "penciled in" March 10, 2003, as the start of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, according to the memo. "Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," Manning wrote.

Remember this from Ruth's Public Radio Report:

Programming notes for next week. First, Larry Bensky and KPFA will be covering Tuesday's **NSA Hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee** I assume that other Pacficia stations will carry this or some coverage of it as well but I have only heard it noted on KPFA. [Dallas note: Houston's KPFT will air the coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. Central Time.]

That's today.

Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Woman Gets $100 Ticket for BUSHIT Bumpersticker" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Denise Grier is a nurse at Emory University hospital in Georgia.
On March 10, she was driving home from dinner when a Dekalb County police officer pulled her over.
"At least initially, I was just surprised because I hadn't done anything wrong," she says.
"When he approached the car, he had his hand on his weapon, and I was in my nurse’s uniform with a stethoscope around my neck. He asked for my license, and then said, 'Any idea why I stopped you.'
"I said no.
" 'You have a lewd decal on your car.' "
Grier says she immediately thought that one of her kids had put something nasty on her bumper as a joke.
"But then he mentioned the Bush sticker," she says. That one says: "I'm tired of all the BUSHIT." (This story was first reported by Joe Johnson of the
Athens Banner-Herald.)
Grier says she told the officer it wasn't lewd, and that it was clearly a political statement. When he insisted it was lewd, she said, "I'm not going to discuss this any further. Just give me the ticket." Which he did.

Joyce Appleby and Gary Hart's "The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration" (History News Network via Common Dreams):

George W. Bush and his most trusted advisers, Richard B. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, entered office determined to restore the authority of the presidency. Five years and many decisions later, they've pushed the expansion of presidential power so far that we now confront a constitutional crisis.
Relying on legal opinions from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Professor John Yoo, then working in the White House, Bush has insisted that there can be no limits to the power of the commander-in-chief in time of war. More recently the president has claimed that laws relating to domestic spying and the torture of detainees do not apply to him. His interpretation has produced a devilish conundrum.
President Bush has given Commander-in-Chief Bush unlimited wartime authority. But the "war on terror" is more a metaphor than a fact. Terrorism is a method, not an ideology; terrorists are criminals, not warriors. No peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against far-flung terrorists. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution.
When President Nixon covertly subverted checks and balances 30 years ago during the Vietnam War, Congress passed laws making clear that presidents were not to engage in unconstitutional behavior in the interest of "national security." Then Congress was reacting to violation of Fourth Amendment protections against searches and seizures without judicial warrants establishing "probable cause," attempts to assassinate foreign leaders and surveillance of American citizens.
Now the Iraq war is being used to justify similar abuses. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, providing constitutional means to carry out surveillance, and the Intelligence Identification Protection Act, protecting the identity of undercover intelligence agents, have both been violated by an administration seeking to restore "the legitimate authority of the presidency," as Cheney puts it.

And Gary Hart is a guest on Democracy Now! today:

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