Friday, July 23, 2004

Bush Insiders: Outing Of CIA Operative No Big Deal

In a sure sign that the investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame is causing a panic at the uppermost reaches of the Bush administration, officials have leaked to The Washington Times some information that would suggest that blowing Plame's cover was really not a crime.

According to Bush administration insiders, Valerie Plame's status as an undercover CIA operative was inadvertently compromised twice in the mid-nineties. In one case, a Russian spy reported to Moscow that Plame was a CIA agent. In the other, CIA documents referring to Plame were sent to the US Interests Section in Havana, but intercepted by Cuban intelligence.

The Justice Department has been investigating Bush officials in this matter for about a year now, prompting the President to hire a criminal defense attorney -- a man whose services he shares, incidentally, with Ken Lay of Enron. This new information was leaked to Bill Gertz at the right-wing Washington Times in an apparent attempt to diminish the seriousness of Plame exposure, which is in fact a federal crime.

[O]fficials said the disclosure that Mrs. Plame's cover was blown before the news column undermines the prosecution of the government official who might have revealed the name, officials said.

"The law says that to be covered by the act the intelligence community has to take steps to affirmatively protect someone's cover," one official said. "In this case, the CIA failed to do that."
In other words, the Bush administration is now trying to claim that Plame's outing as a CIA agent was not a crime since intelligence services in Moscow and Havana already knew of her true status and therefore, the CIA was not actively working to protect Plame's anonymity.

That's like saying that a car thief didn't commit a crime because the car he stole didn't have an alarm system. I'll have to remember that the next time I walk past an unlocked Porsche.

posted by Scott | 7/23/2004 | |

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Kerry Ties Up Hispanic Vote

Well, maybe I shouldn't have said that it's tied up. Among Hispanic voters, Kerry and Bush are anything but tied.

In fact, John Kerry now leads George W. Bush among Hispanics by a 2-to-1 margin. The results of the poll, conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center, found that, were the election held today, 59% Hispanics would vote support Kerry/Edwards, 31% for Bush/Cheney, and 3% Nader/Camejo. Without Nader in the race, the numbers shift to 62% Kerry, 32% Bush.

The even better news is that most Hispanics are not even thinking about voting for Bush. When non-Bush voters (supporters of Kerry or Edwards) were asked if they would consider voting for Bush, a resounding 81% said no. The same question was asked of non-Kerry supporters, but only 59% said no -- 29% of non-Kerry voters could be swayed into the Kerry-Edwards column.

This is terrible news for Bush, who has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to bring Hispanic voters into the GOP fold. This just proves that Hispanic voters are not so simplistic as to fall for a candidate just because he or she can toss around a few phrases in Spanish. Policy truly does matter to everyone.

posted by Scott | 7/22/2004 | |

Kucinich Ends Campaign, Endorses Kerry

Dennis Kucinich has formally ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination and endorsed John Kerry. While this may not mean much to the mainstream of the Democratic Party or moderate independents, this is a monumental endorsement for Kerry from the left.

Kucinich ran as an unapologetic, no-holds-barred anti-war candidate. While Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton also ran against the war, Kucinich made no allowances for a 'stay-the-course', 'clean up the mess' policy, demanding nothing less than complete withdrawal. Incidentally, this is the same platform on which Ralph Nader is running, claiming that he was the only anti-war candidate in the race even while Kucinich was still running.

This endorsement, as Kucinich seems to be well aware, will be very important in protecting Kerry's left flank.

With the same passion and commitment I demonstrated in my own campaign for President, I intend to reach out on behalf of the Kerry-Edwards ticket to unite our party with all those who may have felt left out. I will let them know that the time has come to unite in a common effort for change which is essential not only for America but for the world.

John Kerry can win because there is a place within the Democratic party for everyone, including those who may be thinking of supporting Ralph Nader. Most people know I have many of the same commitments Ralph has.

If there is room for me in the party and the Kerry-Edwards campaign, there is certainly room for Ralph and for his supporters.
Kucinich also makes one of the best arguments I've heard as to why undecided voters should pick Kerry over Bush.

John Kerry is a good friend and a decent man. He has a lifelong commitment of honorable service to our nation as a soldier and as a Senator. He can be trusted with power. He will help heal America. He has outstanding intellectual gifts he will bring to the White House and to world affairs. I am proud to stand here to say I will do everything possible to make John Kerry the next President of the United States.
The simple statement that Kerry "can be trusted with power" really taps into deep reservations that American voters have about the Bush administration. But it also speaks to the those on Kerry's left who may have reservations about him as a Senator who did vote to give Bush the authority to go to war. It's a not-so-subtle reassurance that Kerry may not agree with them on everything, but he's certainly not a reckless, war-mongering neocon.

I've given Kucinich a pretty tough time over the past year. But the fact that he stayed in the race after he clearly could not win, just to make sure that progressive positions were voiced is a serious display of guts and conviction. And now, as part of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, he'll play an important roll as a powerful voice against the increasingly unhinged campaign of Ralph Nader.

posted by Scott | 7/22/2004 | |

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Berger Smokescreen

I cannot even begin to explain how much this story has infuriated me over the last 48 hours. Two days before the release of the 9/11 Commission Report. Six days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. It's far too convenient.

In a move that is widely believed to be a well-orchestrated smear campaign, key figures in the Bush administration leaked information to the press that imply that Sandy Berger, President Clinton's National Security Advisor, stole classified materials from the National Archives. The truth of the matter is that Berger inadvertently mixed copies of three memos that he himself had been involved in producing -- now property of the National Archives -- with other materials he'd carried into the archives and took them back out with him. Two were returned, but one is still missing. The original is still in the possession of the National Archives. That, right there, is the crux of the FBI investigation of Berger.

Surely that cannot be the whole story, right? There's got to be more to it than that.

There have been many claims about what Berger did and what Berger's being investigated for. By and large, they are all Republican fabrications, designed to bring down a key Kerry advisor, implicating Kerry in the process, cast a shadow of controversy over the upcoming Democratic primary, and distract the media -- and by extension the American public -- from the findings of the 9/11 Commission.

Let's look at some of the key myths.

1. Berger stuffed documents into his jacket, his pants, and even his socks.

This one is a favorite of Fox News, who wrote, "Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks." Notice Fox doesn't quote anyone there? What Berger and his lawyer did say is that Berger placed handwritten notes into the pockets of his jacket and pants. Not quite so incriminating.

Early in this story, according to a dKos diarist CNN Correspondent Bob Franken admitted that "not one, not two, but three" Bush-Cheney campaign staffers pushed the Berger story to CNN, highlighting the information that Berger was seen "stuffing documents in his socks." There are currently no other sources for this information.

Bush administration fingerprints are all over this one.

2. Berger passed classified materials to the Kerry campaign.

This is the one that the whole GOP is really buzzing about, especially PA Sen. Rick Santorum. Unfortunately, while this claim has no basis in truth, it has even less basis in logic. The only circumstantial evidence the GOP is offering is that since one of these documents concerned port security, and Kerry gave a speech on port security not long after Berger apparently removed the document from the archives, Berger must have given this memo to Kerry. That's interesting on the surface, but when one considers that both Kerry and Berger have dealt with port security for years, it falls flat. What reason would Berger have to jeopardize Kerry's entire Presidential campaign just to pass him some information that is sensitive, but ultimately not important to the formulation of policy or speeches?

This one doesn't pass the smell test.

3. Berger's actions constitute "a national security crisis".

That's Tom DeLay's line. Again, the leap in logic is astounding. Whether or not Berger committed a serious crime in removing documents from the National Archives is one question, and a thoughtful one at that. But "a national security crisis"? Give me a break!

Consider this: Berger was allowed to take notes on the memos he was reviewing inside the National Archives. As he was preparing to testify before the 9/11 Commission, one might even think that this kind of note-taking was evidence of Berger's desire to get his facts straight so the commission would have the complete story. In fact, if Berger wanted to, he could have copied the content of entire memos longhand onto a legal pad and removed those notes from the archives.

So whether he took the notes or took the actual copies of the memos is really just a matter of the government knowing where all of its sensitive documents are at any given time. However, Berger's note taking in no way represents "a national security crisis" or anything even remotely close. He wasn't some bum off the street -- he's the former National Security Advisor of the United States of America. He could grab a bullhorn and take to Central Park and blab off enough national security secrets to shake the foundations of Washington, DC if he wanted to. Regardless of what you think of his politics, Sandy Berger being in possession of classified materials is not a matter of concern.

4. Berger "pilfered documents" to protect the Clinton administration from the 9/11 Commission.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert used those exact words to characterize Berger's actions and a number of other GOP conspiracy theorists have put forward this idea. I won't spend much time on it, because it's ridiculous. The 9/11 Commission already had copies of the documents in question before Berger removed them from the National Archives. They are still in possession of those copies.

The reason the GOP is pushing this one is because they want to forward the myth that it's the Clinton administration that has something to hide from the 9/11 Commission and not the Bush administration. Only the Clinton record of terror -- rounding up and prosecuting the 1993 WTC bombers, stopping the millennium attack on LAX -- is not something to run from. The only case in which the 9/11 Commission is expected to come down on Clinton is on the lack of response to the USS Cole bombing. The commission is also expected to blame the Bush administration for the same thing.

Long story short, this is all much ado about nothing. But the Bush lapdogs in the media keep jumping up and down, screaming bloody murder, trying to create a story that grabs ratings. I expect it from Drudge, but the "serious" journalists out there should be ashamed of themselves.

posted by Scott | 7/21/2004 | |
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There Is No Crisis: Protecting the Integrity of Social Security
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