Democrats Protest Inaccuracies in “The Path to 9/11”

The Path to 9/11 continues to generate considerable controversy, with those who have seen portions finding multiple factual errors. Think Progress reports that while right wing pundits and bloggers have received advanced copies, Clinton Administration officials, who are falsely accused of actions which increased the risk of the 9/11 attacks, have been denied the ability to view the entire miniseries.

The portions which they are aware of have been found to be highly inaccurate. Richard Clarke states “It’s 180 degrees from what happened. So, yeah, I think you would have to describe that as deeply flawed.” They quote a letter from Madeline Albright which states “the drama depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred; it asserts as fact things that are not fact.” UPI reports that Sandy Berger calls the scenes involving him “complete fabrications.” Crooks and Liars has a transcript and video of an interview with former Bush counterterrorism official, Roger Cressey who states “it’s sheer fantasy.”

In light of the errors in this miniseries, House Democrats have sent a letter of protest to Disney President Robert Iger (posted in full under the fold).


Andrew Sullivan Falsifies Kerry’s Record on Opposing Torture

Last spring, Joe Klein’s book came out alleging that John Kerry did not speak out against the actions at Abu Gharib in response to focus groups. Those of us who have followed Kerry instantly knew this was not true, and Kerry refuted this on an appearance on Meet the Press.

Andrew Sullivan has brought up this untrue charge again today, writing “We also know that John Kerry focus-grouped the issue and decided not to challenge the president on it once during the campaign.”

At Democratic Underground, Beachmom reports sending multiple examples of statements from Kerry to Sullivan refuting his claim. Pamela’s refutation of Joe Klein’s orginal charge at The Democratic Daily still applies as she cited multiple examples of Kerry speaking out against the abuse:

Statement from John Kerry on Prisoner Abuse Reports, August 25, 2004 –

“Yesterday, the Schlesiner panel released their report which found that much of the responsibility for setting the conditions for the abuse at Abu Ghraib can be attributed to failures at highest levels of our government. Today the Fay report will be released and will recommend punitive action for those in our military who were directly involved.

“But what is missing from all these reports is accountability from the senior civilian leaders in the Pentagon and in the White House. From the bottom of the chain of command all the way to the top, there needs to be accountability. The Schlesinger report makes clear that Secretary Rumsfeld was responsible for setting a climate where these types of abuses could occur.

“By failing to plan to win the peace, by failing to make sure our troops received the proper training, equipment, reinforcement and command guidance, and by failing to take corrective actions once all of this became apparent, Secretary Rumsfeld did not demonstrate the leadership required from a Secretary of Defense.

“That is why today I am calling on Secretary Rumsfeld to resign effective immediately. In addition, I call on the President to appoint an independent investigation to review the entire decision making process that led to these abuses and provide a comprehensive set of reforms so that we can ensure that this never happens again.

“As Harry Truman, the buck stops here. The time has come for our Commander in Chief to take charge.”


Bush Admits Existence of Secret Prisons; Continues Violations of Geneva Convention

The Bush Administration has announced changes in the handling of prisoners, including the transfer of 14 detainees from secret CIA prisons to the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay and granted protections under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. This is the first time the Bush Administration has publicly admitted the existence of the secret prisons (which came as a great relief to the CIA).

”Today the administration finally recognized that the protections of the Geneva Convention should be applied to prisoners in order to restore our moral authority and best protect American troops,” said John Kerry. ”Today’s shift in policy follows the sad legacy of five years during which this administration abused our Constitution, violated our laws and most importantly failed to make America safe.”

The ACLU is protesting Bush’s proposals to amend the War Crimes Act to gut enforceability of the Geneva Conventions. In addition, they note that the Department of Defense released an updated Army Field Manual on Interrogations that diminishes protections against abuse. Other critics of Bush’s proposals charge that the Army Field Manual can be easily changed with the stroke of a pen, providing insufficient guarantees that the provisions of the Geneva Convention will be enforced. According to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

“America is a nation dedicated to upholding the rule of law. However, President Bush’s draft proposal for military commissions fails to meet the standards recognized by the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. The court held the President’s initial military commission scheme was illegal because it violated Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the most basic standards regarding treatment of detainees. The new proposal has nearly all of the same problems, and will eventually be found to be illegal. For example, it would allow a person to be convicted based on secret evidence and would allow the use of evidence obtained as the result of horrific abuse.

“The president should have listened to the current Judge Advocates General for the four military services, all of whom have urged close adherence to the court-martial procedures, and all of whom oppose the use of secret evidence and coerced evidence. By contrast, Senators John Warner (R-VA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are reportedly following the advice of these top generals and admirals and supporting due process protections that are more in line with the time-tested courts-martial procedures.


Al Qaeda Leader Captured in June, Not Few Days Ago

Did the Republicans need a boost after falling in the polls? NewsHog calls it “smoke and mirrors.” It certainly is suspicious to read that amed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, the number two guy in al Qaeda, was arrested on June 19 as opposed to a few days ago as initially claimed. Do they hold on to good news until the most opportune time. This is reminiscent of the manner in which the terror alert level jumped up when the Republicans needed a distraction during the 2004 election, or they released the bin Laden tape at just the right moment to blunt John Kerry’s momentum.

For Delay, It’s a Family Affair

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is now looking at payments to Tom DeLay’s wife:

The Justice Department’s congressional lobbying-and-bribery investigation is looking into whether former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s wife received money from a lobbying firm for a no-show job, recent FBI interviews indicate.

The two-year investigation is examining whether lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others sought legislative favors for their clients by offering expensive meals, sports tickets, golf outings and other gifts to about a dozen lawmakers and congressional aides.

[Tom DeLay]

In the last few weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have interviewed several people at the Alexander Strategy Group lobbying firm to determine if Christine DeLay was being paid $3,200 a month — a total of $115,000 over three years — but not earning it. In a series of interviews last month, investigators questioned people who used to work at Alexander Strategy as well as people who worked in the same building as the now-defunct firm. “They wanted to know how often she came to the office? What did she do there? How long was she there?” said one person who was interviewed by the FBI.

Alexander Strategy was run by a pair of Mr. DeLay’s former aides: Tony Rudy, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges in March; and Edwin Buckham, who remains under investigation. The firm also shared clients with Jack Abramoff.

Shakespeare’s Sister jokes, ” Come on—who wouldn’t allegedly take “$3,200 a month—a total of $115,000 over three years” for “a no-show job” at a lobbying firm if their crooked spouse could set it up? That’s the American way, right?  The FBI just doesn’t get it. This is about family values. Tom DeLay loves his family, and he just wanted them to share in his good fortune, that’s all.” Talk Left notes that there was previous information suggesting this family tie.

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Republicans Attempt Retroactive Legalization of Warrantless Wiretapping

Republicans plan to spend the fall trying to use 9/11 for political gain, including to pass legislation retroactively permitting Bush’s warrantless wiretapping. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on S.2453, the “National Security Surveillance Act” written by Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter. The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to consider a companion bill, H.R. 5825. The bills would gut the civil liberties protections present in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. The bills:

  • Allow the NSA to examine international phone conversations and e-mails of American residents and businesses, without any judicial approval and without any evidence the target is conspiring with al Qaeda
  • Authorize warrantless physical searches of Americans’ homes and businesses without any judicial check
  • Allow for the electronic surveillance of Americans without the warrants needed to protect the individual rights of people in the US.

As Bush’s activities have come under attack from the courts, and some Republicans as well as Democrats, the Republican leadership hopes to push through these acts to legalize actions which likely were illegal when committed.

In recent years the United States has gone through crises including World War II and the Cold War while managing to maintain the rule of law. Even when their were some abuses, these were limited to a specific time frame. It is more important that we preserve the rule of law in the face of what can become a perpetual state of war against terrorism. This is a war which has no clear end point and which would provide a never ending justification for suspension of civil liberties if we allow this. I recently cited one article which predicted that we will achieve victory “three or four decades into the future.” If we give up our liberties for such a period, it is doubtful they will ever be restored.

Previous posts on the warrantless wiretaps under the fold.


Fishy Vote in Ohio

There’s been a fishy vote in Ohio, but I’m not speaking of the 2004 election here. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said at a luncheon he had voted for Texas as number one in the USA Today Coach’s Poll. USA Today revealed that Tressel’s official ballot placed Ohio State, and not Texas, as number one. At least this was one ballot in Ohio for which there was a paper trail and the vote could be verified.

Texas moved up to number two, setting up a huge game between the number one and two teams this Saturday. The Buckeyes end the regular season against  Michigan, who has frequently knocked them out of the number one spot.  All eleven teams in the Big Ten (don’t ask) started out the season with a victory. I’m not sure if this has ever happened before.

Maureen Dowd: Bush Tries to Prove He’s A Man

Maureen Dowd tries to combine two columns into one in discussing both Bush and Katie Couric, saying “were both on TV at 6:30 last night, trying to prove they were a man. Katie won, by a whisker.” Her comments on Bush and his cronies were the more interesting portion of the column:

W., Dick Cheney and Rummy are on a campaign to scare Americans into believing that limp-wristed Democrats will curtsy to Islamic radicals and Iranian tyrants, just as Chamberlain bowed to Hitler, and that only the über-manly Republicans can keep totalitarianism, fascism and the Al Qaeda “threat to civilization’’ at bay. If they were women, their rhetoric would be described with adjectives like shrill, strident, illogical and hysterical. But since they are men, we’ll just call it Churchill envy.

“Now, I know some of our country hear the terrorists’ words, and hope that they will not, or cannot, do what they say,’’ Mr. Bush said in a speech yesterday to a military group, which was the second story on the first evening news show anchored by the first solo female network anchor. “History teaches that underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake.’’ Mr. Bush said that the world failed to heed Lenin and Hitler, and it was essential to pay attention to bin Laden.

Too bad the president didn’t take time out from clearing brush at the ranch long enough back in August of 2001 to pay attention to an intelligence paper headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.’’

After playing down bin Laden for years, barely mentioning him and minimizing his importance, W. has once more picked up a metaphorical bullhorn on the cusp of the 9/11 anniversary to make Osama the villain, using his name 18 times in a 40-minute speech. Once it would have made a difference to decapitate Osama, and it would still be great to do it. But it’s too late to stop Al Qaeda that way now. The organization has diffused to a state of mind, fueled by hatred of U.S. occupation of Muslim land.

W.’s plan to save his legacy and keep Congress out of Democratic hands is to absorb a misbegotten and mishandled war, Iraq, into the good wars of the 20th century, World War II and the cold war. Instead of just admitting he bollixed up Iraq, W. and his henchmen are ratcheting up, fusing enemies willy-nilly, running around giving speeches with the simplistic, black-helicopter paranoid message: All those scary Arabs are in league to knock us off and institute the rule of Allah.