National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.In order to keep their own heads above water, they are standing on the shoulders of poor Denny Hastert. The clock is ticking on your leadership position, Mr. Speaker. Start packing your office.
GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.
Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.
So I wasn't going to post anything about this, because in the current climate it seems almost hum-drum. But now we have developments that push it into the blockbuster category. It's almost a wet dream of Party over Country.
First, the Instant Messages that blew the story from "borderline inappropriate familiarity with minors" to "homosexual cybersex with minors" are from 2003. Given that it is now 2006, and pages don't serve for more than a year, that means that there are at least two boys that were targets of this predation, and something tells me it was quite a bit more widespread. I mean, do you think he took 2005 off as a vacation from the hard work of preying on minors? Right.
Next, the Republicans on the Page Board didn't inform Rep. Kildee, the only Democrat on the Board, thereby keeping a lid on the burgeoning scandal.
Finally, factor in these two bombshell facts discovered by TPM:
Finally, one detail here isn't getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, says he contacted the NRCC.Add in this reporting from the Washington Post:
Rep. Shimkus (Page Board Chair) says he interviewed Rep. Foley about the page matter with the House Clerk about 10 or 11 months ago.
Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it."These facts describe the arc of a coverup. The Republican leadership knew for 10 months, and what did they do? They ensured no Democratic member found out about it, and did not discipline Foley in the slightest. They allowed this man to continue sexually preying on minors so that they could keep his seat in the November Elections. That qualifies as outrageous, and catapults this scandal into a whole new ballpark - a ballpark so big it was built to contain other ballparks.
So, it's already clear that there was a concerted effort to put the GOP's politics above what is their sworn duty: protecting the people of the United States and upholding the honor of their institution, the Congress. If you needed more proof, they began to realize how problematic the leadership entanglements were only after Boehner made the above statement about Hastert "taking care of it." Now that they realize how much trouble they're in, you've got House Majority Leader Boehner changing his story like crazy:
GOP Uber Alles! I wish I could say I was surprised. In 2002, I would have been.
Weisman and Babbington of The Washington Post this morning:
Rep. Foley Quits In Page Scandal - washingtonpost.com: House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert. It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy...
Weisman and Babbington last night:
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it." It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy...
Boehner's scramble to get back on message sounds much more credible when Boehner's claim that Hastert told him "we're taking care of it" is removed. Had Weisman and Babbington left that "we're taking care of it" in, the story would be less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner. And the story would be much less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner had Weisman and Babbington added in the third story Boehner was telling last night--the one he was telling to Roll Call:
Boehner strongly denied media reports late Friday night that he had informed Hastert of the allegations, saying "That is not true."
Not "I don't remember." Instead: "That is not true."
The question now is how hard the Democrats are going to hit the Republicans over this coverup and scandal. Imagine the firestorm if the positions were reversed. We've got to think of a good -gate name for it, but everything I come up with doesn't quite have all the punch I'd like. Predatorgate is the best I can think of, but it doesn't convey all the many faceted nastyness of the situation. I want something that rolls the homosexual aspect as well as the legal minor aspect into one, easy to deliver shotgun blast of -Gateyness.
This time, Condi directly stood in the way of preventing 9/11. The burden of guilt she must feel makes her stuttering performances on the topic during 2003 and 2004 more understandable. I remember thinking a number of times that she seemed on the verge of an emotional moment. Were I her, I certainly couldn't have withstood questioning after the role she played in this episode, described in Woodward's new book:
It describes how, on July 10, 2001, CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters "to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The mass of fragments made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately."They were warned by the Clinton Administration, and they were warned by their own Director of Central Intelligence - then the chief of all the USA's intelligence resources. They were strongly warned, and they didn't even have a meeting about bin Laden because Bush didn't want to "swat at flies." It's that same aversion to Clintonian "small bore initiatives" that I've mentioned before.
Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser. "For months," Woodward writes, "Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy... that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden.... Tenet and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.
"Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming....
"But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the intelligence, asking: Could it all be a grand deception? "
Woodward describes the meeting, and the two officials' plea that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden."
The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting though to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies."
"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long....
Clinton tried to get bin Laden. They had 8 months, strenuous warnings, and they did not try. At that time, Bush thought that his most serious duty, to protect the American people - a duty he's been reiterating over and over these past months - meant building a grand missile defense shield to protect us from a threat that does not exist. On the morning of September 11th, Condi was going to give a speech on the national security importance of the Ballistic Missile Defense Shield... needless to say, it was cancelled.
They did not try.
I found this in the Canadian Press somewhere. I'm afraid I'm being a bad blogger, since I lost the link. The catalogue below is by no means an exhaustive list.
Among Woodward's allegations:
- Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card twice tried to persuade President Bush to fire Rumsfeld, in 2004 and 2005.
- Former National Security Council staff member Robert Blackwill pressed for more troops in Sept. 2003, but was ignored by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "The bottom line: we need more troops in Iraq," Blackwill wrote in a lengthy memo to Rice. He suggested 40,000 more soldiers.
- Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, complained to the C.I.A. director that the war was not going as well as Rumsfeld claimed. "These bastards in Washington have no idea what they're doing," Woodward quoted Abizaid as saying in one meeting.
- Despite escalating violence, Woodward quotes Bush as saying in Nov. 2003 that "I don't want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don't think we are there yet."
- At one point, Rumsfeld and Rice were on such poor terms that the defence secretary refused to return her phone calls, until Bush intervened.
- After former Secretary of State Colin Powell was removed from the administration in 2004, he said Rumsfeld should also leave. Powell apparently told a White House official: "If I go, Don should go."
- Just two months before the 9/11 attacks, on July 10, 2001, CIA director George Tenet met with Rice to express concern over a possible impending attack, but later felt Rice did not take his warning seriously.
- When the chief weapons inspector David Kay suggested the Iraq government may have had the ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction without actually building any, C.I.A. Deputy Director John McLaughlin said: "Don't tell anyone this. This could be upsetting. Be very careful. We can't let this out until we're sure."
- Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who led the first Iraq Postwar Planning Office, told Rumsfeld in June 2003 the U.S. had made three initial mistakes in Iraq: removing Baath Party members from government positions; dismantling the Iraqi military; and, the dismissal of an eager interim Iraqi leadership group.
- In May, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret document predicting that violence will continue for the rest of this year in Iraq and increase in 2007.
About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.Man, this is depressing. I'm almost ready to go back to my bad-news-from-Iraq moratorium.
The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150. The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:
- Almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.
- About 61 percent approved of the attacks — up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.
- An overwhelmingly negative opinion of terror chief bin Laden and more than half, 57 percent, disapproving of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- Three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently.
From the LA Times:
The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States....It also allows him to seize anybody who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.
Not to worry, say the bill's defenders. The president can't detain somebody who has given money innocently, just those who contributed to terrorists on purpose.
But other provisions of the bill call even this limitation into question. What is worse, if the federal courts support the president's initial detention decision, ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials.
So, the Iraqis don't support our occupation. Big surprise. When every indicator is pointing in the wrong direction - infrastructure, economy, utilities... hell, even torture is worse now than it was under Saddam.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.
....Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year.
....The director of another Iraqi polling firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared being killed, said public opinion surveys he conducted last month showed that 80 percent of Iraqis who were questioned favored an immediate withdrawal.
Check out the graphical representations of the polling data. Those are what we call "strong majorities."
Ahhhh, I know this game. Cover up the intelligence community's consensus about Iraq so that the American people can make an electoral decision without being burdened by the facts. Facts are the primary enemy of the Tinkerbell Strategy for Iraq, after all.
Here's Jane Harman talking about 2nd report on Iraq alone, via TPMMuckraker.
Aside: Doesn't it go without saying that when people demand the release of a classified document, they don't mean that the government has to release all of it? It's accepted practice to redact publicly released classified documents of all "sources and methods" relevant to current intelligence activities, so why is Rush Limbaugh making a big deal about how the "Democrats want to give the terrorists our playbook?" Oh, right... he's dishonest. I always forget that.
As I said, Christie Todd Whitman has been getting plastered over her involvement, so perhaps she's looking to spread the burden around a little. Any guesses who leaked these internal documents?
Condoleezza Rice's office gave final approval to the infamous Environmental Protection Agency press releases days after 9/11 claiming the air around Ground Zero was "safe to breathe," internal documents show.Whoever leaked this stuff, the upshot is the same. Shame on you, Condi. You failed your countrymen again - this time for political expediency. The August PDB bungle was just incompetence, whereas this is an active decision to put Wall Street's needs above the lives of our 9/11 heros.
Now Secretary of State, Rice was then head of the National Security Council - "the final decision maker" on EPA statements about lower Manhattan air quality, the documents say.
Scientists and lawmakers have since deemed the air rife with toxins.
Early tests known to the EPA at the time had already found high asbestos levels, the notes say. But those results were omitted from the press releases because of "competing priorities" such as national security and "opening Wall Street," according to a report by the EPA's inspector general.
The chief of staff for then-EPA head Christie Todd Whitman, Eileen McGinnis, told the inspector general of heated discussions, including "screaming telephone calls," about what to put in the press releases.
Incidentally, at the end of the piece there's a quick allusion to the consequences of the Unitary Executive theory of Presidential power:
Now-retired Inspector General Nikki Tinsley told The Post her auditors tried to question the head of President Bush's Environmental Quality Council, but "he would not talk to us."That's not some journalist that couldn't get answers - that's the IG.
addendum: April National Intelligence Estimate Key Judgments:
Ummm, yeah... "Apocalypse" sounds about right. For those not in the know, that's Muqtada Al Sadr, a man responsible for the deaths of many Americans and currently a Shiite political powerhouse in Iraq, although he is not a literal member of the government.
Then there's this post, relating to Rove's October Surprise:
First we read this:
According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an "October surprise" before the midterm elections.
"In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an 'October surprise' to help win the November congressional elections," reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.
The we hear this:
The daily newspaper for the Lorraine region in eastern France printed what it described as a confidential document from the French foreign intelligence service DGSE citing an uncorroborated report from Saudi secret services that the leader of the al-Qaida terror network had died.