Monday, October 31, 2005

Republican Rep.Ron Paul says, "Warning!"

From Information Clearing House:

We Have Been WarnedBy U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
Watch Ron Paul's speech on video.
Before the US House of Representatives, October 26, 2005

We have been warned. Prepare for a broader war in the Middle East, as plans are being laid for the next U.S.-led regime change – in Syria. A UN report on the death of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafig Hariri elicited this comment from a senior U.S. policy maker: “Out of tragedy comes an extraordinary strategic opportunity.” This statement reflects the continued neo-conservative, Machiavellian influence on our foreign policy. The “opportunity” refers to the long-held neo-conservative plan for regime change in Syria, similar to what was carried out in Iraq.

This plan for remaking the Middle East has been around for a long time. Just as 9/11 served the interests of those who longed for changes in Iraq, the sensationalism surrounding Hariri’s death is being used to advance plans to remove Assad.

Congress already has assisted these plans by authorizing the sanctions placed on Syria last year. Harmful sanctions, as applied to Iraq in the 1990s, inevitably represent a major step toward war since they bring havoc to so many innocent people. Syria already has been charged with developing weapons of mass destruction based on no more evidence than was available when Iraq was similarly charged.

Syria has been condemned for not securing its borders, by the same U.S. leaders who cannot secure our own borders. Syria was castigated for placing its troops in Lebanon, a neighboring country, although such action was invited by an elected government and encouraged by the United States. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon elicited no suicide terrorist attacks, as was suffered by Western occupiers.

Condemning Syria for having troops in Lebanon seems strange, considering most of the world sees our 150,000 troops in Iraq as an unwarranted foreign occupation. Syrian troops were far more welcome in Lebanon.

Secretary Rice likewise sees the problems in Syria – that we helped to create – as an opportunity to advance our Middle Eastern agenda. In recent testimony she stated that it was always the administration’s intent to redesign the greater Middle East, and Iraq was only one part of that plan. And once again we have been told that all options are still on the table for dealing with Syria – including war.

The statement that should scare all Americans (and the world) is the assurance by Secretary Rice that the President needs no additional authority from Congress to attack Syria. She argues that authority already has been granted by the resolutions on 9/11 and Iraq. This is not true, but if Congress remains passive to the powers assumed by the executive branch it won’t matter. As the war spreads, the only role for Congress will be to provide funding lest they be criticized for not supporting the troops. In the meantime, the Constitution and our liberties here at home will be further eroded as more Americans die.

This escalation of conflict with Syria comes as a result of the UN report concerning the Hariri death. When we need an excuse for our actions, it’s always nice to rely on the organization that our administration routinely condemns, one that brought us the multi-billion dollar oil-for-food scandal and sexual crimes by UN representatives.

It’s easy to ignore the fact that the report did not implicate Assad, who is targeted for the next regime change. The UN once limited itself to disputes between nations; yet now it’s assumed the UN, like the United States, has a legal and moral right to inject itself into the internal policies of sovereign nations. Yet what is the source of this presumed wisdom? Where is the moral imperative that allows us to become the judge and jury of a domestic murder in a country 6,000 miles from our shores?

Moral, constitutional, and legal arguments for a less aggressive foreign policy receive little attention in Washington. But the law of unintended consequences serves as a thorough teacher for the slow learners and the morally impaired.

Is Iraq not yet enough of a headache for the braggarts of the shock and awe policy?
Are 2,000 lives lost not enough to get their attention?
How many hundreds of billions of dollars must be drained from our economy before it’s noticed?
Is it still plausible that deficits don’t matter?

Is the apparent victory for Iran in the Shiite theocracy we’ve created in Iraq not yet seen as a disturbing consequence of the ill-fated Iraq regime change effort?

When we have our way with the next election in Lebanon and Hezbollah wins, what do we do?
If our effort to destabilize Syria is no more successful than our efforts in Iraq, then what?
If destabilizing Syria leads to the same in Iran, what are our options?

If we can’t leave now, we’ll surely not leave then – we’ll be told we must stay to honor the fallen to prove the cause was just.

We should remember Ronald Reagan’s admonition regarding this area of the world. Ronald Reagan reflected on Lebanon in his memoirs, describing the Middle East as a jungle and Middle East politics as irrational. It forced him to rethink his policy in the region. It’s time we do some rethinking as well.

October 28, 2005
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.


Good for nation, harder on candidates..


Deal Near on Democratic Presidential Schedule
By Chris Cillizza
The Washington Post
Sunday 30 October 2005

A plan to shuffle the 2008 Democratic presidential calendar - placing several states between the traditional Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary is gaining momentum on a commission studying the party's nominating process.

A consensus is developing to recommend scheduling nominating contests in two or possibly three states in the days between Iowa and New Hampshire, according to some members of a Democratic National Committee panel looking at ways to revamp the nominating schedule.

"It is getting to be a done deal," said Mike Stratton, a member of the 40-person commission headed by Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.) and former labor secretary Alexis Herman. The commission is to make a final recommendation to the DNC at its Dec. 10 meeting.

If such a recommendation were adopted, it likely would diminish the influence of two small states that for decades have enjoyed outsized influence in picking presidential nominees, and would cause aspiring presidential candidates to rethink their strategies about travel and spending, and potentially even their campaign messages, in pursuit of the nomination.

Some proponents of a new calendar say adding caucuses rather than primaries in states voting immediately after Iowa would be consistent with a New Hampshire state law that mandates the Granite State's primary be held at least one week before any "similar" nominating election. This would allow both Iowa and New Hampshire to claim that each preserved elements of their coveted first-in-the-nation status, while also bowing to critics who have long complained that the traditional calendar is unfair to other states.

Former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, a commission member, refused to dismiss the idea of placing caucuses before her state's primary, although she insisted no deal had been cut. "The important thing is that whatever happens complies with the requirements of the New Hampshire statute," she said.

New Hampshire loyalists regard their first-primary status as something close to a divine franchise. They say letting a small state goes first allows voters to inspect the presidential merchandise in person, gives under-funded candidates a chance to shine and filters out unimpressive candidates early in the process.

The DNC's Commission on Presidential Timing and Scheduling was inspired by a dispute in early 2003 when Michigan Democrats - led by Sen. Carl M. Levin and Debbie Dingell, a lobbyist for General Motors Corp. and wife of Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) - sought unsuccessfully to overthrow the privileged status of New Hampshire, saying that the state should not have sole claim to the national attention and economic advantages conferred by hosting the first primary of the presidential race. To placate this faction, then-DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe called for a comprehensive commission study of the calendar heading into the 2008 election.

Republicans face no such controversy as party officials voted at its 2004 national convention to keep Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states in the presidential nominating process.

Levin and Dingell, both of whom sit on the commission, continue to be the primary catalysts for change, people familiar with the proceedings said. "The simple reality is that if there are not states between Iowa and New Hampshire, Michigan is going to move up" its nominating contest unilaterally, said one Democrat closely familiar with the panel's internal deliberations.

People arguing for more early states make an appeal to diversity - both geographic and racial. Iowa and New Hampshire are overwhelmingly white (93 percent and 95 percent, respectively, according to the 2000 census), a fact often cited by blacks and Hispanics, who are among the most important voting blocs in the Democratic base.

"There are states across America that it would be good for our party to have early voting in," said Ed Turlington, an adviser to former North Carolina senator John Edwards's 2004 presidential bid and a commission member.

Adding a Western state with a significant Hispanic population and a Southern state with a strong black voting presence would satisfy both criteria, and may be the compromise solution forwarded by the commission.

The commission is very unlikely to name specific states in its December meeting, choosing instead to lay out criteria needed to qualify for consideration, said several Democrats close to the process.

Whatever the ultimate result, the commission will forward its recommendations about the 2008 calendar to DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who would then refer the proposal to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee.

Dean has played a low-profile role in the negotiations thus far, according to commission members, choosing to wait until the commission produces its final report.


Rumsfeld & Cheney...Ugh!

From American Progress:

ADMINISTRATION -- RUMSFELD HOLDS STAKE IN FIRM SELLING AVIAN FLU DRUG: "The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe," Fortune magazine reports, "but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world." Rumsfeld served as the chairman of Gilead Research from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, "and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million." Though the Pentagon announced this weekend that Rumsfeld would recuse himself from future decisions regarding avian flu medications, in July, "the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the treatment for U.S. troops around the world."

ADMINISTRATION -- CHENEY'S NEW BRAIN: Vice President Dick Cheney's longtime aide David Addington is expected to take over the responsibilities of I. Lewis Libby following Libby's resignation on Friday. Addington has been the vice president's "point man" as "Cheney has tried to increase executive power with a series of bold actions -- some so audacious that even conservatives on the Supreme Court sympathetic to Cheney's view have rejected them as overreaching," according to a 10/04 Washington Post profile. "Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington." Addington "was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects," a "prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts," and led the fight to keep the White House from being forced to share documents relating to Cheney's energy task force meetings and the September 11 attacks. Moreover, Addington was involved in the CIA leak scandal. Though his specific role is still emerging, according to a new National Journal article, he "was deeply immersed in the White House damage-control campaign" that involved smearing Joseph Wilson. In fact, Libby "immediately sought out" Addington following Libby's July 8, 2003, conversation with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, during which he shared the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.


Straight shooter: Hackett of Ohio...

From Tom Paine:

The Battle Over Hackett
David Goodman
October 31, 2005

David Goodman is co-author of The Exception to the Rulers, which was recently released in paperback. He profiles Hackett in the current issue of Mother Jones .

The announcement last week by Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett that he will run for U.S. Senate in Ohio as a Democrat should make incumbent Republican Sen. Mike DeWine very nervous. But as this straight-talking Marine storms the national political stage, there’s another group that should also be concerned: the Democrats.

Paul Hackett burst onto the national scene this summer when he nearly won a special election in rock-ribbed conservative southern Ohio. In a congressional district that Republicans have had a lock on for most of the last century—a place that George W. Bush took handily with nearly two-thirds of the vote a year ago—Hackett won a stunning 48 percent of the vote. The Republicans had to pour a half-million dollars to hang on to one of the reddest Congressional seats in America. Newt Gingrich called Hackett’s insurgency “a wake-up call to Republicans.”

Democrats naturally applauded the near upset. But as I traveled around southern Ohio covering the final days of the campaign, I saw that Hackett was scoring points precisely because he didn’t sound like a Democrat. He criticized the party’s stand on gun control, often referred to President Bush as a “chicken hawk,” and, unlike many Democrats, opposed the Iraq occupation, declaring famously, “I don’t like the sonofabitch that lives in the White House, but I’d put my life on the line for him.”

Hackett sparked a populist groundswell. Rarely mentioning his party affiliation, he forged connections in the staunchly conservative rural areas by, among other things, emphasizing his enthusiasm for hunting and gun sports and his military service. He used this to cobble together a strange-bedfellows collection of campaign planks. He advocated for standard liberal issues by invoking red-state red meat, and vice versa.

In a debate with his opponent, Jean Schmidt, he said about gay marriage: “I don’t want the government in the bedroom any more than I want it in my gun safe or telling me how to worship.” And, on abortion: “If you don’t want government in your personal life when it comes to choice, you have to be consistent about that with guns.”

Hackett is pro-choice, anti-war, pro-gay civil unions and anti-NAFTA/CAFTA—and Republicans love him for it. Guys like Dan Johns, a burly Vietnam vet, heating contractor and proud Republican. I found him volunteering to get out the vote for Hackett. Did he vote for Kerry? “God, no. I hated him. He’s too liberal. He was trying to appease the doves," Johns said. Bush, he added, “is a good president. He stands up for what he believes in.” Not unlike Hackett, he concluded. “I met him, I like him, and he’s a Marine. I go with my gut.”

That gut connection won Hackett four of the seven counties that comprise the Ohio second district. These are the rural areas that Democrats long ago abandoned, and where Kerry lost by as much as 30 percent just eight months earlier. Hackett won in some of these counties by up to 30 percent. A Zogby poll in September showed Hackett beating DeWine, 44 to 36 percent—an astounding early showing for a political newcomer in Ohio politics challenging a two-term incumbent senator.

Hackett’s views on the Iraq occupation pose a direct challenge to the Democratic establishment. A Marine Corps major who returned in March from a seven-month stint in Iraq, Hackett’s position during the summer was that he opposed the war, but felt American troops needed to stay until an Iraqi army could be trained. But he has tired of watching the body counts rise—and of hearing leaders of his own party, such as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, respond by calling for more bodies to add to the hopeless conflagration. He now says the pro-war Democrats are “not grounded in reality,” and is calling for the troops to be brought home.

“Iraq will steadily disintegrate—if we leave tomorrow or five years from now,” he told me. “Why not just admit that, say ‘mission accomplished’ or whatever you’re gonna say, and bring everybody home today?” It’s a courageous position that Hackett has proved can win votes—a fact that Democratic leaders politely ignore as they cheer him on.

Paul Hackett is now poised to take his message to Washington by taking on one of the most vulnerable Republican senators. He must first win in a Democratic primary in May 2006 against seven-term Ohio congressman Sherrod Brown, who had earlier stated that he wouldn’t run, then changed his mind and entered the Senate race in early October three days after Hackett declared his intention to run. Brown’s late entry resulted in calls by some national Democrats for Hackett to withdraw. Instead, Hackett officially launched his campaign on Oct. 24, repeatedly railing against “career politicians” in an opening shot against both Brown and DeWine.

Hackett’s outsider status and his insurgent populist message make the old line pols of both parties uncomfortable—which may help explain why he was so successful at siphoning off votes that were not so much Republican as they were anti-Washington. Hackett’s candor, and his willingness to lead where the Democrats won’t, has earned him both followers and cash. He has become a rock star in the blogosphere, which delivered big time—out-fundraising the national Democratic party organizations. Indeed, Hackett’s spectacular grassroots success made many activists wonder openly whether the Democratic National Committee was even relevant anymore.

The Brown-Hackett face-off has sparked a furious and often personal debate among liberal bloggers about which candidate is more deserving of backing. The argument goes that Brown, a veteran progressive legislator (he was a leader in the unsuccessful fight against CAFTA earlier this year), has a proven liberal voting record and as such should be rewarded with dollars and votes. Hackett supporters counter that their guy is a progressive populist who appeals beyond the Democratic base and win in places like conservative southern Ohio—and thus take the state.

The two sides are relentlessly slinging mud at each other, eagerly misquoting and misrepresenting the other’s candidate in a time-honored ritual of liberal self-immolation. The result is that at best, the netroots will divide its support between the candidates during the primary. That may give an initial edge to Brown, who has $2 million in his campaign war chest. But Hackett relishes the fight as an outsider and underdog, and has parlayed this before to overcome long odds.

With the Republican establishment buckling from the rot of corruption, and the risk-averse Democratic leadership offering precious little leadership, Paul Hackett represents a rare alternative: a straight-shooting, independent-minded populist who is unafraid to call it as he sees it. He has already made clear how threatening he can be to Republicans. The question for Democrats is: Where Major Paul Hackett leads, do they have the guts to follow?


Sunday, October 30, 2005

NBC reporter was Cheney staffer!!!!

Real-world wisdom from outside the beltway.

Viewing By Entry / Main

Cheney staffer-turned-reporter now covering Libby indictment for NBC News

Over at the Huffington Post, Dan Carol asks a great question: how can NBC's Pete Williams be allowed to cover the Scooter Libby story for the network, considering Williams was a longtime former staffer for Dick Cheney?

That's right – according to Williams' biography on NBC's website, Williams is "a native of Casper, Wyoming" – where Cheney is from. In 1986, Williams "joined the Washington, DC staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs."

Now Williams is being allowed to report on the indictment of Cheney's chief of staff for NBC News, as if he was just a regular old nonpartisan objective journalist. And, as Carol points out, Williams seems to be using his position on TV in some pretty questionable ways when it comes to the case.

UPDATE: I received a hysterical, breathless email from a well-known NBC reporter complaining about the fact that I raised questions about Williams' objectivity. He whined that I am overlooking "14 years of spotless, impartial work for NBC News" by Williams. But as I told him, here's the deal: Dick Cheney's former longtime flack is reporting for NBC on a scandal surrounding Dick Cheney. If you can't see the conflict there...well, then the media really has bigger problems than even I had originally thought.

Regardless of Williams' previous reporting (which has been fine), this is about as blatant a conflict-of-interest as you can get. It's one thing for him to be reporting on the Bush administration in general, despite being a former Republican flack. But it is quite another for him to be reporting directly on a scandal surrounding his longtime former boss. It's right out of Journalism 101 in terms of what not to allow. Period.

Not only has Dan Carol raised questions about it, but so has the New York Times, and plenty of others. The media is quick to demand politicians recuse themselves from any situation that even appears to look like a conflict of interest. But when the public asks the same of the media - surprise surprise - the media goes and cries. Pathetic.

Posted by David Sirota at 10:28 AM


What a "Crone" found when visiting DC...

From the newsletter, "The Crone Works":

October 2005
When the Grandmothers Speak, the Earth Will be Healed - Hopi Prayer

Crone is the bridge between old and new world views. It is she who "watches
over our dreams and visions, whispers secrets to our inner ears. Her function
is to assist people who are no longer where they were and are not yet where
they hope to go." Vicki Noble
* Our Democracy Is Broken *

In Washington D.C., at the Peace Alliance conference in September, fifty-three
Californians lobbied Congresswomen and men in behalf of establishing a
Department of Peace (DoP) at the federal level. It will be equal with the
Department of Defense and other cabinet departments, and will develop programs
to deal with domestic and elder abuse, gang violence, local and international
conflict resolution, and a training academy similar to the war colleges, among other responsibilities.

Two San Diego representatives, Susan Davis and Bob Filner, have
signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, HR3760, along with Dennis Kucinich and
fifty-eight other legislators--eleven more than signed on during the last session of
Congress. While the legislation requires a simple majority (of 217) of representatives
to bring it to the floor for debate, the number who have signed on is building thanks to determined citizens who are continuing to lobby senators and representatives, as
well as informing ourselves, our families and friends.

A companion measure has been
introduced in the Senate by Senator Mark Dayland since the Peace Alliance
Conference.At the conference Barbara Marx Hubbard delivered a brilliant speech
as recipient of the first Peacebuilder Award. We were further inspired by a
conversation between Walter Cronkite and Dennis Kucinich, in which Cronkite
said:"Get that word 'peace'--Department of Peace--out there as constantly as you
can...This organization and you people are on the leading edge of that campaign...trying
to lead us to this promised land of peace."

There is truly a grass roots movement
emerging. The conference was packed full of inspiring speakers, music and art.
Marianne Williamson was her magnificent self, a civics teacher without peer; Dot
Maver brought a profound sense of peace by holding a calm, peaceful center in a
conference chock full of activity. There were so many inspiring and challenging
presenters that memory blurs them into a whole, hopeful experience.

These were all very positive activities; however, there were others not so uplifting
and form the basis for my belief that this democracy is broken, that only we, the
people, can fix it.

In every government building, we were scanned by machines, presumably to see if
we were terrorists. We even had to take off our shoes to enter one building. To tour
the Capitol Rotunda, we were required to give up our water bottles and snacks that
we'd brought along to save time while we hurried to watch Kucinich present the bill
to the House.

Those were minor annoyances, however. Sitting in the gallery were
about fifty of us; we far outnumbered the House members. Though not unexpected,
it was still stunning to actually see only three or four people on the Democrat's side
of the aisle, including Dennis. who presented the bill in his eloquent manner. But
even more dismaying was seeing fewer than ten Republicans talking among
themselves, paying no attention to Kucinich's eloquence, just waiting their turn
at the microphone.

That was bad enough, but then we went to the Senate
International Relations Committee hearing on the Downing Street memo, the memo
that was leaked in Great Britain last spring in which President Bush implied that
facts could be fixed to support going to war in Iraq. The hearing was chaired by
Republican Henry Hyde. Almost all the Democrats were present; eventually enough Republicans came in to vote down any investigation. An exhausted-looking Barbara
Lee said in the hall afterward, "This is the way it always goes. Senators are
scheduled to attend two or three meetings at the same time. We rush from one to
another, but have no influence in any. There is no debate."

My friend, Pat, was horrified. "They don't listen to each other at all!" she kept
repeating. "How can that be?" I had no answer: it simply was, and provided its own eloquence.

Now, when I hear that Congress is "debating" or having a hearing on a
matter of national significance, these two experiences come to mind: the nearly
empty chamber, the already-made-up minds--and I remember what I saw there.
This representative democracy does not represent the people in our great diversity.
In my opinion, both parties are corrupt.

How, then, can citizens participate
meaningfully in our own governance? I am reminded of Einstein's statement:
Problems cannot be solved at the level at which they were created.

I believe that democracy itself must evolve to a higher level of awareness of our
connection to the Earth--that we are its stewards, and without our conscious
commitment to Earth's protection, none of us will survive, including the earth.
More than anything else, this is the source of my devotion to conscious evolution
as a life path, and my work for an evolving democracy that can cocreate a world
that works for everyone:
every human, every plant, every animal living in harmony, at peace at last.
Bumper Sticker: I love my country.
I fear my government.
* A Changing World View *
Recently I went to a local gathering of passionately progressive activists and came
away renewed.Some of us had been to Washington, DC for the above conference;
others had been to a peace demonstration in Washington a week later. While the
media reported 100,000 had gathered, it was explained that that was as many as the organizers' permit allowed them to have. A more accurate estimate by these San
Diegans was that closer to half a million people were there to protest the war.

There was no police presence until the demonstrators refused to leave--at which point,
several were arrested, including a local woman who had traveled to Texas to spend
a week assisting war protestor Cindy Sheehan and then went on to Washington with
her."She's just like us--genuine, sincere and determined," she reported. "We were not mistreated," she added. "They let us out of jail after fifteen hours."

Other activities the group was involved in ranged from a special election to elect
a new mayor to protesting the use of highly flawed Diebold voting machines.
"There'll be no more Democrats, Greens or others elected if these machines are used,"
said one demonstrator who attends city council meetings, speaks to a mostly
disinterested council. Passion ran high for these and many other causes, including
poll watchers for the mayoral election.

One woman is even running for Congress against a powerful, entrenched far-right
Republican. At this gathering of men and women activists, I was struck by several
references to women in their 70s, 80s, even one 90 year old, who had gone to
Washington and Texas to participate in these demonstrations.
Our voices were heard, our presence as Crones mattered.Many people across the
country have been preparing to challenge the "system", helping to break it down. Like
the Three Little Pigs, we are blowing the house down, for it was made of straw: false
assumptions about women, men & children and what they need to recreate a world
that works for everyone.

There is no longer one "right way" as we teeter on the edge of an evolutionary leap
so vast that my mind cannot comprehend it. Like Chicken Little, while we may feel
that the sky is falling, it is actually expanding--and so is our consciousness. This is
the time to step forward with our highest and best dreams for ourselves, and for
the human race itself.

The Crone sees what this ordinary woman can't quite believe. I wish I'd known
much earlier that anger, responsibly expressed, clears the air. The flip side of anger
and rage is passion. Tremendous energy is now arising as we change our world view.
Fulfilling human potential has become a real possibility, perhaps even a probability.
We can cocreate a world that really does work for everyone. As said by Hopi elders
long ago: When the Grandmothers speak, the Earth will be healed.

For a personal consultation contact me at or (619) 276-6569

Conscious Counseling--A New World View
Listen to Your Inner Wisdom

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pombo (CA-R) the destroyer of the nation...

From The New York Times:

October 30, 2005
Pombo Time

Richard Pombo has had a hard time keeping himself out of the news lately. In late September, a watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Mr. Pombo, a seven-term House member from California, one of the 13 most corrupt politicians in Congress.

Three weeks later the Center for Public Integrity accused him of taking junkets paid for by the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources - the kind of organization, heavy with corporate donors, in which the word "conservation" is a wink to the wise. And last week the League of Conservation Voters accused him of selling out to a long list of corporate interests.

But what has really put Mr. Pombo on everyone's radar is the steady stream of environmentally destructive legislation flowing from the House Resources Committee, which he runs. The legislation would undermine environmental safeguards and raise broad new threats to endangered species and public lands.

Mr. Pombo, of course, makes no apologies. First elected in 1992 - he was a first-term city councilman in Tracy, Calif., at the time - he is philosophically an outspoken product of the extreme property rights movement. He once liked to claim, falsely as it turned out, that his rights had been trampled by environmentalists and by the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

He came to Congress as a result of redistricting. With luck he will leave the same way. The 11th District, once largely agricultural, has been overwhelmed by development; and while the East Bay and Central Valley are still nominally Republican, it is far from certain that they will continue to support a man of Mr. Pombo's radical turn of mind.

In 2003, thanks to the support of the hard-nosed Republican leader Tom DeLay, he became, at age 42, the Resources Committee chairman and thus the bottleneck through which most legislation involving energy and the environment must pass. Mr. Pombo has more than lived up to Mr. DeLay's expectations, pure in ideology, tough in legislative combat.

In September, he engineered floor approval of a bill that would completely undermine the Endangered Species Act, which is something he has wanted to do since arriving in Washington. And last week, in a tour de force, he engineered committee approval of a budget bill that is ostensibly meant to raise federal revenues but in fact represents a major assault on the public lands.

In its original form Mr. Pombo's bill called for the sale of 15 national parks. He withdrew that idea - a stunt, he says - as well as the notion of selling mineral rights within the parks. He now proposes allowing mining companies to buy lands on which they have staked claims. This practice, known as "patenting," was banned in 1995, and under present rules companies can only lease federal land.

Mr. Pombo says his proposal will help the federal budget because companies will have to pay $1,000 an acre to buy the land. But the provision is so vaguely drawn - companies, for instance, will not have to show that the land contains valuable minerals - that it could potentially expose hundreds of millions of acres, including the national forests, to development. This has nothing to do with mining, and everything to do with stealing land that is owned by the American public.

Mr. Pombo's bill would also authorize drilling in coastal areas that have been off limits for decades and sell leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But asking the oil companies themselves for money is, of course, unthinkable - Mr. Pombo would freeze the fees these companies pay to operate on public land, even as they report huge profits.

This is, in short, a sleazy piece of work, written by a man who appears to be able to conceive of property rights as something that only a private individual or a corporation can have; a man who betrays no awareness that the American public has a shared right in the refuge and the national parks and the millions of acres he wants to sell to developers.

Mr. Pombo's only idea, and it is a terrible one, is to treat this nation the way he treats his Congressional district, as if it were ripe for exploitation.


Joseph Wilson has something to say...,1,5237501.story

October 29, 2005
Our 27 months of hell
By Joseph C. Wilson IV

JOSEPH C. WILSON IV was acting ambassador in Baghdad when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. He is the author of "The Politics of Truth" (Carroll & Graff, 2004). He was a diplomat for 23 years.

AFTER THE two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Between us, Valerie and I have served the United States for nearly 43 years. I was President George H.W. Bush's acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, and I served as ambassador to two African nations for him and President Clinton. Valerie worked undercover for the CIA in several overseas assignments and in areas related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.

Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. Twenty years of service had gone down the drain. She immediately started jotting down a checklist of things she needed to do to limit the damage to people she knew and to projects she was working on. She wondered how her friends would feel when they learned that what they thought they knew about her was a lie.

It was payback — cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech — that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa — was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."

That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men — allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") — were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.

They used eager allies in Congress and the conservative media, beginning with Novak. Perhaps the most egregious of the attacks was New York GOP Rep. Peter King's odious suggestion that Valerie "got what she deserved."

Valerie was an innocent in this whole affair. Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter.

The grand jury has now concluded that at least one of the president's men committed crimes.

We are heartened that our system of justice is working and appreciative of the work done by our fellow citizens who devoted two years of their lives to grand jury duty.

The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.

But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

The war in Iraq has claimed more than 17,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, many times more Iraqi casualties and close to $200 billion.

It has left our international reputation in tatters and our military broken. It has weakened the United States, increased hatred of us and made terrorist attacks against our interests more likely in the future.

It has been, as Gen. William Odom suggested, the greatest strategic blunder in the history of our country.

We anticipate no mea culpa from the president for what his senior aides have done to us. But he owes the nation both an explanation and an apology.


Fitzgerald & the White House Iraq Group...

From Information Clearing House... and information is something they have by the busload:

Now it’s about the Niger forgeries.
By Jason Leopold
10/29/05 "ICH" -- -

On Friday, after securing a five-count criminal indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for lying to a grand jury about what he knew and when he knew it in regard to the outing of a covert CIA agent, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald plans to pursue broader conspiracy charges against Cheney senior White House officials, and top officials at the State Department and the National Security Council, that may finally shed light on how the Bush administration came to use erroneous intelligence that claimed Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger, lawyers involved in the two year old investigation said.

While many federal officials and the media have long speculated that Fitzgerald was not only looking into the identity of administration officials who leaked undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to a handful of reporters, it was only recently that those rumors were confirmed.

According to a court filing posted on the website of Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating who leaked the name of undercover CIA agent to reporters, was interested in questioning New York Times reporter Judith Miller about the CIA agent or whether she discussed Iraq's alleged efforts to purchase uranium from Niger.

"On August 12 and August 20, 2004, grand jury subpoenas were issued to reporter Judith Miller and her employer, the New York Times, seeking documents and testimony related to “conversations between Miller and a specified government official occurring between on or about July 6, 2003 and on or about July 13, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium.” the filing made by Fitzgerald last year states.

NATO sources told United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.

According to the report, "Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium.

This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was withdrawn by the White House one day after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in July 2003 disputing the administration’s claims that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger. It was Wilson’s op-ed and public criticism of the Iraq war that led officials such as Libby to blow Plame’s cover in an attempt to discredit Wilson, Plame’s husband, who went on a fact finding mission to Niger in February 2002 to investigate the uranium allegations. In outing Plame’s covert status to reporters, Libby and other officials were trying to show that Wilson’s trip was a boondoggle that was set up by Plame.

But Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak has led to many discoveries by the prosecutor, one of which is that Cheney played a key role in the leak and the reason was to closely guard the fact that the White House knowingly used false intelligence, specifically the Niger documents, to build a case for war against Iraq.

Over the past month, Fitzgerald has turned his attention to a little known cabal of administration hawks known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which came together in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s office.

Fitzgerald’s examination centers on a group of players charged with not only selling the war, but according to sources familiar with the case, to discredit anyone who openly “disagreed with the official Iraq war” story.

The group’s members included Deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, Bush advisor Karen Hughes, Senior Advisor to the Vice President Mary Matalin, Deputy Director of Communications James Wilkinson, Assistant to the President and Legislative Liaison Nicholas Calio, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby - Chief of Staff to the Vice President and co-author of the Administration's pre-emptive strike policy.

Rice was later appointed Secretary of State; her deputy Hadley was made National Security Advisor. Wilkinson departed to become a spokesman for the military's central command, and later for the Republican National Convention. Hughes was recently appointed Undersecretary of State.

Several members of the group have testified before Fitzgerald’s grand jury.

Cheney’s role under scrutiny

Two officials close to Fitzgerald said they have seen documents obtained from the White House Iraq Group which state that Cheney was present at several of the group's meetings. They say Cheney personally discussed with individuals in attendance at least two interviews in May and June of 2003 Wilson gave to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, in which he claimed the administration “twisted” prewar intelligence and what the response from the administration should be.

Cheney was interviewed by the FBI surrounding the leak in 2004. According to the New York Times, Cheney was asked whether he knew of any concerted effort by White House aides to name Ms. Wilson.

Sources close to the investigation have also confirmed that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to determine Vice President Cheney's role in the outing of Mrs. Wilson, more specifically, if Cheney ordered the leak.

Those close to Fitzgerald say they have yet to uncover any evidence that suggests Cheney ordered the leak or played a role in the outing of Mrs. Wilson. Still, the sources said they are investigating claims that Cheney may have been involved based on his attendance at meetings of the Iraq group. Previous reports indicate Cheney was intimately involved with the framing of the Iraq war.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal confirmed that the Iraq group was under scrutiny.
“Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. [Karl] Rove and [Lewis] Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion,” the Journal reported. “The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to [former Ambassador Joseph] Wilson's claims” that the Bush administration twisted intelligence when it said Iraq tried to acquire yellow-cake uranium from Africa.

Rove's "strategic communications" task force operating inside the group was instrumental in writing and coordinating speeches by senior Bush administration officials, highlighting in September 2002 that Iraq was a nuclear threat.


The White House Iraq Group operated virtually unknown until January 2004, when Fitzgerald subpoenaed for notes, email and attendance records. Bush Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. created the group in August of 2002.

“A senior official who participated in its work called it "an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities," according to an Aug. 10, 2003, Washington Post investigative report on the group’s inner workings.

Senior Bush adviser Karl Rove chaired meetings of the group.

The group relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report said the "diameter, thickness and other technical specifications" of the tubes -- precisely the grounds for skepticism among nuclear enrichment experts -- showed that they were "intended as components of centrifuges."

She closed her piece by quoting then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice who said the United States would not sit by and wait to find a smoking gun to prove its case, possibly in the form of a “a mushroom cloud." After Miller’s piece was published, administration officials pursued their case on Sunday talk shows using Miller’s piece as evidence that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear bomb, even though those officials were the ones who supplied Miller with the story and were quoted anonymously.

Rice's comments on CNN’s “Late Edition” reaffirmed Miller’s story. Rice said that Saddam Hussein was "actively pursuing a nuclear weapon" and that the tubes -- described repeatedly in U.S. intelligence reports as "dual-use" items -- were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs."

Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press," also mentioned the aluminum tubes story in the Times and said "increasingly, we believe the United States will become the target" of an Iraqi atomic bomb. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on CBS's "Face the Nation," asked viewers to "imagine a September 11th with weapons of mass destruction.”

President Bush reiterated the image of Rice’s mushroom cloud comment in his Oct. 7, 2002 speech.

The International Atomic Energy Agency later revealed that Iraq’s aluminum tubes were never designed to enrich uranium.

In February of 2003, WHIG allegedly scripted the speech Powell made to the United Nations presenting the United States’ case for war.

Powell’s speech to the UN, United Press International reported, “was handled by the White House Iraq Group, which… provided Powell with a script for his speech, using information developed by Feith's group. Much of it was unsourced material fed to newspapers by the OSP. Realizing this, Powell's team turned to the now-discredited National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. But some of Feith's handiwork ended up in Powell's mouth anyway.”

During its very first meetings, Card's Iraq group ordered a series of white papers showing Iraq’s arms violations. The first paper, "A Grave and Gathering Danger: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Nuclear Weapons," was never published. However, the paper was drafted with the assistance of experts from the National Security Council and Cheney's office.

“In its later stages, the draft white paper coincided with production of a National Intelligence Estimate and its unclassified summary. “But the WHIG, according to three officials who followed the white paper's progress, wanted gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence,” according to the Post.

Eight months later, Joseph Wilson began to question the veracity of the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence in private conversations with reporters. His accusations threatened to undercut the administration’s successful marketing campaign: that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States and its neighbors in the Middle East. Now Fitzgerald is trying to find out what Cheney knew. Attorneys close to the case said its very likely Cheney could be named as an unindicted co-conspirator when the probe wraps up.

And while Karl Rove may have escaped indictment on the day many believed Fitzgerald would announce the investigation has ended, his fate still hangs in legal limbo.

Fitzgerald is betting on the fact that he can secure an indictment against Rove on charges of perjury, obstructions of justice, the misuse of classified information, and possibly other charges, as early as next week.

Over the past week, several people involved in the case—from the State Department and the National Security Council—who faced imminent indictment for their role in unmasking Plame to reporters have agreed to cooperate with Fitzgerald and have provided him with information that will help the prosecutor build a stronger case against Rove and other key figures, the lawyers said.

“This investigation is not yet over,” one of the lawyers in the case said. “You must keep in mind that people like Mr. Rove are still under investigation. Rather than securing an indictment on perjury charges against Mr. Rove Mr. Fitzgerald strongly believes he can convince the grand jury that he broke other laws.”

The lawyers said that in the past month Fitzgerald has obtained explosive information in the case that has enabled him to pursue broader charges against Rove and other top officials such as conspiracy, and violating Plame and Wilson’s civil rights.

And in a sign that could spell further trouble for the Bush White House, the 22-page indictment against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, implicated former Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, as well as other aides who worked indirectly on behalf of the vice president’s office, as the person who first obtained and disseminated covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to Libby.

According to the indictment, “on or about May 29, 2003, in the White House, LIBBY asked an Under Secretary of State (“Under Secretary”) for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided LIBBY with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised LIBBY that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.”

Lawyers involved in the two year old probe said that two former Cheney aides had a hand in obtaining information about Wilson and shared it with Libby after the chief of staff had personally requested such information.

Those aides, David Wurmser and John Hannah, are now cooperating with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe into the outing of Plame’s identity and CIA status to reporters.

Wurmser and Hannah have agreed to cooperate with Fitzgerald after being told that they faced indictment for their role in outing Plame. The officials had told Fitzgerald that they were acting on orders from Bolton to obtain such information. Hannah a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, and Wurmser was Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to Bolton.

Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The revelation that Hannah and Wurmser have become prosecution witnesses, as well as being identified as the original sources of the leak, indicates Fitzgerald now may be looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Administration officials sought to derail a vocal critic of Iraq intelligence.

Libby resigned moments after he learned that he was indicted. The only sitting Cabinet member to be indicted in recent history was President Reagan's labor secretary, Raymond J. Donovan. Accused of grand larceny in 1984, he was acquitted in 1987. H.R. Haldeman, chief of staff to President Nixon, resigned before being indicted -- and convicted -- in the Watergate coverup.

Expected to replace Libby as Cheney’s chief of staff is David Addington, a principal author of the White House memo justifying the torture of terrorism suspects. He also strongly endorsed holding suspects without access to the legal system, a measure rebuked by the Supreme Court.
The Cheney loyalist has also defended the Vice President's right to withhold information about his meetings with energy company executives, much to the chagrin of environmentalists.

John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna of RAW STORY contributed to this story

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at for updates.


BushCo: One for torture, All for torture?

From Information Clearing House:

Open Letter To The honorable Dick Cheney
By Nolan K. Anderson
10/29/05 "ICH " -- --

Mr. Cheney, now that the United States has almost completely destroyed its own reputation, value system and integrity in the eyes of the world, you are proposing to influence enough lawmakers into re-making even a theoretical positive image of the United States into that of a third rate, third world junta-controlled fascist state, complete with all the inherent trappings of torture, terror and tyranny that makes these regimes feared and loathed around the world. (Quite an objective for any tyrant).

Even with the stigmas of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, Diego Garcia and Falluja fresh in the minds of the world, you are attempting to legitimize the gutting of the Geneva Convention and the U.N. Convention Against Torture by placing the barbaric tool of torture in the hands of a few “CIA sadists” to justify pursuing an unjustified war started and pursued by you and your president.

The 38 percent of the American population, which presently supports you and your leader’s actions, will keep dwindling as the suffering caused by body bags and missing body parts reaches closer and closer to their living rooms. But, by the time they realize that your need for the use of torture will never stop at the shores of the United States, it will be as late for THEM as for any conscript purchased from an Afghan war lord and designated for “CIA squeezing”.

By a recent vote of 90 to 9 in the United States Senate an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill was written and sponsored by a former Viet Nam POW who can vouch for the value of torture as a tool of intelligence gathering. So far as we Americans know, Senator McCain never yielded to the pressures of torture to reveal information that would be of value to the enemy during his 5 years as a POW.

Do you think Senator McCain is the only person in the world who will not give information valuable to the enemy even under torture and without hope of release from his tormentors?

Oh, yes, I know you have a wealth of information to the contrary in the dark recesses of the hidden world of the CIA torture archives and the archives of extraordinary rendition torture chambers around the world. General Pinochet's DINA files could convince one that torture can be used to “break” anyone. And, I have no argument with that thesis.

However, there is a difference between “breaking” a person mentally/physically and gaining useful information.

There is a price for everything.

What is the price for being considered a “third rate, third world junta-controlled fascist state, complete with all the inherent trappings of torture, terror and tyranny”? So long as you can’t be defeated, there would appear to be no real price to be paid because no one can hold you to account. But, we had to cede the mantle of invincibility when we “so heroically advanced to the rear” – just as the French had done - in Viet Nam.

Since then, we have contented ourselves with attacking such “giants” as Grenada, Panama and now Iraq. Grenada and Panama went as planned; but, Iraq is turning into a PR nightmare to spin as a victory. As the Romans learned, “there never was a horse that couldn’t be rode nor a cowboy that couldn’t be throw’d”.

The image of our “invincibility” has not convinced the “insurgents” not to fight us even considering our Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo and Bagram. They see us for what we are – weak and unprincipled – as defined by our politicians and our policies. So, as you can gather, I am against torturing prisoners for any reason – for the simple reason that I have no interest in being considered as barbaric as those we label as terrorists.

If we can’t defeat them in a “fair” war that follows the rules of civilized nations that thousands of American heroes have died to define, then what is the value of “victory”? Oh, I know. Each war is different. We have to adapt our strategies to those of our enemies who use torture as a deterrent, to intimidate and as a means of gathering intelligence. Yes, I know, we have to fight them on their level.

Well, we a fighting them on their level and we aren’t winning!

Nolan K. Anderson is a retired engineer and a veteran of Korea who was once a “conservative” until he found there was nothing left to conserve. He may be reached at


For a change..Good guys!!!

Fascinating story about a couple of guys doing decent things for people and being filmed doing it. Actually, that's a lousy description but it's worth checking out. Yes, it is in some ways an ad for Apple and video software, and there's quite of bit of tech talk (which some of us just love to death anyways), but it also tells the story of the great team working to put the stuff out.

Plus, the result of their work starts on A&E as a 10 part documentary series that sounds worth viewing.

So, c'mon, check it out:

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model which makes the existing model obsolete."-Buckminster Fuller

Cheney's players...

Man!!! What a tangled web these guys wove...


All the Vice President's Men
By Juan Cole
Friday 28 October 2005

The ideologues in Cheney's inner circle drummed up a war. Now their zealotry is blowing up in their faces.

As Washington waits on pins and needles to see if special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald hands down indictments, the focus falls on Dick Cheney's inner circle. This group, along with that surrounding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made up what Colin Powell's top aide, Lawrence Wilkerson, called "a cabal" that "on critical issues ... made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made." Cheney is the first vice president to have had, in effect, his own personal National Security Council. This formidable and unprecedented rump foreign policy team, composed of radical hawks, played a key role in every aspect of the war on Iraq: planning for it, gathering "evidence" to justify it and punishing those who spoke out against it. It is not surprising that members of that team, and Cheney himself, have now also emerged as targets in Fitzgerald's investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson to the press, along with Bush advisor Karl Rove.

Although the investigation has focused on Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a number of other Cheney staffers have been interviewed. Who are these shadowy policymakers who played such a major role in shaping the Bush administration's foreign policy?

Most of the members of Cheney's inner circle were neoconservative ideologues, who combined hawkish American triumphalism with an obsession with Israel. This does not mean that the war was fought for Israel, although it is undeniable that Israeli concerns played an important role. The actual motivation behind the war was complex, and Cheney's team was not the only one in the game. The Bush administration is a coalition of disparate forces - country club Republicans, realists, representatives of oil and other corporate interests, evangelicals, hardball political strategists, right-wing Catholics, and neoconservative Jews allied with Israel's right-wing Likud party. Each group had its own rationale for going to war with Iraq.

Bush himself appears to have had an obsession with restoring family honor by avenging the slight to his father produced by Saddam's remaining in office after the Gulf War. Cheney was interested in the benefits of a war to the oil industry, and to the military-industrial complex in general. It seems likely that the Iraq war, which produced billions in no-bid contracts for the company he headed in the late 1990s, saved Halliburton from bankruptcy. The evangelicals wanted to missionize Iraqis. Karl Rove wanted to turn Bush into a war president to ensure his reelection. The neoconservatives viewed Saddam's Iraq as a short-term danger to Israel, and in the long term, they hoped that overthrowing the Iraqi Baath would transform the entire Middle East, rather as Kamal Ataturk, who abolished the offices of Ottoman emperor and Sunni caliph in the 1920s, had brought into being a relatively democratic Turkey that was allied with Israel. (This fantastic analogy was suggested by Princeton emeritus professor and leading neoconservative ideologue Bernard Lewis.) This transformation would be beneficial to the long-term security of both the United States and Israel.

None of these rationales would have been acceptable across the board, or persuasive with Congress or the American public, so the various factions focused on the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately for them, this rationale was discovered to be a mirage. And in the course of trying to punish those who were pointing out that the emperor had no clothes - or, in this case, that the dictator had no weapons of mass destruction - Cheney and Bush's underlings went too far. Ironically, their attempt to silence critics succeeded only in turning a harsh light on their own actions and motivations.

"Cheney Assembles Formidable Team," marveled a Page One article in the Feb. 3, 2001, edition of the New York Times. It turns out that Cheney had 15 military and political advisors on foreign affairs, at a time when the president's own National Security Council was being downsized. The number of aides who counseled Cheney on domestic issues was much smaller. In contrast, Al Gore had been advised by a single staffer on security affairs.

The leader of the team was Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. Libby had studied at Yale with Paul Wolfowitz, who brought him to Washington. He co-authored a hawkish policy document with Wolfowitz in the Department of Defense for its head, Dick Cheney, after the Gulf War in 1992. When it was leaked, it embarrassed the first President Bush. Libby was a founding member of the Project for a New American Century in 1997 during the Clinton years, when many neoconservatives were out of office. The PNAC attempted to use the Republican-dominated Congress to pressure Clinton to take a more belligerent stance toward Iraq, and it advocated significantly expanding military spending and using US troops as "gendarmes" in the aftermath of wars to "shape" the international security environment.

Cheney was also a PNAC member, and his association with this group from 1997 signaled a shift from his earlier hard-nosed realism, as he allied himself with the neoconservatives, who dreamed of transforming other societies. The James Baker branch of the Republican Party had long been critical of Israel for causing trouble for the United States in the Middle East with its expansionist policies and unwillingness to stop the settlement of the West Bank, and Baker was well aware that the vast majority of American Jews do not vote Republican.

Although a staunch defender of Israel, Cheney at one time was at least on speaking terms with this wing of the Republican Party. (The sense of betrayal felt by his old colleagues was summed up by Bush I's national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, who told the New Yorker he considered Cheney a friend, "But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." As time went on, however, he increasingly chose to ally with neoconservatives and the Jewish right in the US and Israel, accepting them as powerful allies and constituents for his vision of a post-Cold War world dominated by an unchallenged American hegemony that would be backed by a vast military-industrial establishment fed by US tax dollars. He continually promised skeptical Jewish audiences that a democratic Iraq would benefit Israel. His choice of advisors when he became vice president demonstrated a pronounced preference for the neoconservatives.

But Cheney's alliance with the neocons was probably driven more by his Manichaean, Cold War-inspired worldview - in which the US battled an evil enemy - and his corporate ties, than by an obsession with Israel or remaking the Middle East. Islamist terror provided a new version of the Soviet "evil empire." And the neocons' dynamic foreign policy vision, their "liberalism with guns," offered more opportunities for the military-industrial complex than did traditional Republican realism in a post-Soviet world, where peer states did not exist and no credible military threat menaced the US Only a series of wars of conquest in the Middle East, dressed up as a "defense" against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, could hope to keep the Pentagon and the companies to which it outsourced in the gravy.

Such wars could no longer be fought in East Asia, given Chinese and North Korean nuclear capabilities, and there were no US constituencies for such wars in most other parts of the world. The Middle East was the perfect arena for a renewed American militarism, given that the US public held deep prejudices against the Arab-Muslim world, and, after Sept. 11, deeply feared it.

A key, but less well-known, Cheney advisor on the Middle East is John Hannah, a former Soviet expert. He had been part of a policy group assembled by Cheney when he was secretary of defense, in 1989, under the direction of Paul Wolfowitz. Hannah was distinguished for his distrust of Soviet reformist Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, according to the New Republic.

Hannah then came to head the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a stridently pro-Israel think tank that has gained enormous influence in Washington. WINEP had been founded in the 1980s with the backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the legendarily powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. The initial impetus for it was that think tanks like the Brookings Institution were felt to be insufficiently pro-Israel. Initially WINEP tended to support the government in power in Israel, but in the past 15 years it has increasingly been drawn into the orbit of the right-wing, expansionist Likud Party.

WINEP wields enormous influence, to the point where it almost functions as a governmental entity. The director of a private consulting firm with a contract from the Department of Defense that involved trying to think about the future of the main political parties in Iraq told me in 2004 that he was specifically instructed, as part of his contract, to depend on the material at the WINEP Web site. State Department officials and US military officers are detailed to WINEP to learn about the Middle East and are indoctrinated into a pro-Likud point of view at taxpayers' expense. Despite its highly political activities, WINEP has the status for tax purposes of a nonprofit charitable foundation.

When Hannah was at WINEP, he was still deeply concerned with post-Soviet Russian foreign policy toward the Middle East. The Soviets had been major patrons of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Syria and Iraq, all of whom Hannah viewed as enemies. In a 1993 interview with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, another pro-Israel, right-wing organization, Hannah expressed anxiety about the rise of Russian nationalists who, he claimed, sought to undermine United Nations sanctions against Libya and to position Russian companies to invest in Iraq should the sanctions on that country begin to slip. For figures such as Hannah, Russian nationalism and Middle Eastern rogue states like Libya and Iraq represented unfinished business left over from the Cold War. For the Israeli hawks and their American supporters, the Cold War was not really over as long as the former Soviet allies in the Middle East continued to express enmity to Israel.

As former Secretary of State Warren Christopher once remarked, the US State Department probably owes WINEP a finder's fee for providing it with key personnel. From the institute, Hannah came to work for Christopher (who served from 1993 to 1997). During this period, Hannah cultivated ties with Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, an expatriate group funded by the CIA and the State Department to overthrow Saddam. One of the things that made Chalabi attractive to Hannah and other neocons was that he promised them that if he came to power he would recognize Israel and take Iraq in the same direction as Turkey, a Muslim country allied with the Zionist state.

We next meet Hannah as an aide to John Bolton. Bolton, a curmudgeonly lawyer who helped stop the Florida recount in 2000, was rewarded by Bush by being made undersecretary of state for arms control and international proliferation. Bolton detailed Hannah to Cheney's office as chief adviser on the Middle East. (Hannah actually knew little about the Middle East and knows no Arabic, being primarily an old Russia hand.)

Cheney's other major advisor besides Libby on Middle East affairs is David Wurmser, a Johns Hopkins Ph.D. in international relations. He served as project officer at the congressionally funded US Institute of Peace, from 1988 to 1994. He then moved for two years to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he was director of institutional grants until 1996. In the latter year he co-authored, with Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and others, a now-famous policy paper for incoming Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," that advocated a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein and install a Hashemite monarchy in Iraq as a way of moderating the Shiites of the region and securing "the realm" of Israel. Since post-Khomeini Shiites despise monarchy as un-Islamic, and since the Hashemites, who used to rule Iraq before 1958 and still rule Jordan, are Sunni Muslims, this plan was worse than science fiction. Science fiction is coherent and often involves some actual knowledge.

The neoconservatives were actually more concerned with Syria initially than Iraq, since it more directly threatened Israeli security. Indeed, "A Clean Break" advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein mainly as a way of pressuring Damascus. The policy paper said, with astonishing ignorance, "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right - as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions. King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf [sic] Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet's family, the direct descendants of which - and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows - is King Hussein."

This paragraph must be the most absurd, ill-informed and frankly lunatic pieces of prose ever produced by any policy advisor anywhere. It is full of false premises and ignorant assumptions. Saddam Hussein's branch of the Baath Party was a rival of the Syrian Baath Party, not a supporter. Syria had joined Bush I's coalition against Iraq, allying with the Americans in 1990-91. Removing the Iraqi Baath would more likely strengthen Syria than weaken it. As for the Shiites in Iraq and southern Lebanon, they had been deeply influenced by the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini, who preached that monarchy is incompatible with Islam. The idea that the old Hashemite monarchy could be revived and reinstalled in revolutionary Iraq was itself absurd. That a Sunni king in Baghdad might have any appeal to the Shiites of southern Lebanon, who favored Hezbollah and Khomeinism, would only occur to someone completely ignorant of the actual politics of Tyre and Nabatiya. The tragedy is that this sort of hallucination appears actually to have underpinned real policy moves by the neoconservatives as they became powerful in Washington under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Wurmser is married to Meyrav Wurmser, director of Middle East programs at the right-wing Hudson Institute. She was listed as a co-author of "A Clean Break." She had also co-founded, with a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, the MEMRI translation service, which cherry-picks Arabic newspapers for the more outrageous articles and political cartoons, and translates them into English for the purpose of creating a negative view of the Arab world.

In 1999 David Wurmser published "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein." In 2000, Wurmser authored a paper urging the US government to push Syria out of Lebanon and to refuse to engage with Damascus that was published by the Middle East Forum of Daniel Pipes. The Middle East Forum advisory board is primarily composed of leaders of right-wing organizations such as the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the Zionist Organization of America.

Wurmser was picked by fellow neoconservative and Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith (whom the departing Colin Powell denounced to George W. Bush as a "card-carrying member of the Likud") after Sept. 11 to form part of the notorious Office of Special Plans in the Near East and South Asia division of the Department of Defense. That unit cherry-picked intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's alleged links to al-Qaida, singling out unreliable, single-sourced accounts and stripping them of any context that would show where they came from. These were then stove piped to Libby and Hannah in Cheney's office, so as to go directly to Bush and make an end run around the professional intelligence agencies. When allegations emerged that corrupt Iraqi businessman and longtime expatriate politician Ahmad Chalabi had been given classified information about US intelligence efforts against Iran, and had promptly passed it on to Tehran, Wurmser was among the officials the FBI interviewed searching for the leak.

When the OSP was dissolved after the Iraq war, Wurmser went back to work for Bolton. Although Wurmser only came to Cheney's shadow national security council in September 2003, after the Plame leak, he had been in close contact with Libby and Hannah all along. Close observers noted a distinct turn toward belligerency against Syria in White House pronouncements soon after Wurmser's advent. (He replaced old Soviet hand Eric Edelman, who was sent as ambassador to Turkey.)

On Sept. 10, 2002, the Boston Globe had reported that ascendant hawks in the Bush administration saw the overthrow of Saddam as a first step toward democratizing and transforming the Middle East. John Donnelly and Anthony Shadid wrote, "The argument for reshaping the political landscape in the Mideast has been pushed for years by some Washington think tanks and in hawkish circles. It is now being considered as a possible US policy with the ascent of key hard-liners in the administration - from Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith in the Pentagon to John Hannah and Lewis Libby on the vice president's staff and John Bolton in the State Department, analysts and officials say."

Cheney and other advocates of this policy promised that an Iraq war would break the deadlock between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Donnelly and Shadid quote Meyrav Wurmser, "Everyone will flip out, starting with the Saudis ... It will send shock waves throughout the Arab world ... But if we can get a democracy in the Palestinian Authority, democracy in Iraq, get the Egyptians to improve their human rights and open up their system, it will be a spectacular change. After a war with Iraq, then you really shape the region." Since both Wurmsers and their circle had argued forcefully for the destruction of the Oslo peace process and against the surrender by Israel of any of the Palestinian territories captured in 1967, it seems most likely that they hoped that getting the US to produce chaos in the Middle East by undermining its allies would give hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a free hand to annex most of the West Bank, and perhaps other Arab lands, rather than that it would lead to a just peace. Weakened by the loss of their backers in Baghdad and Damascus, the Palestinians would be forced to make peace on Sharon's terms.

Libby, Hannah and Wurmser were at the center of the production and purveying of bad intelligence on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Hannah received intelligence directly from the Iraqi National Congress, according to a leaked memo from that organization. He was also a liaison with Wurmser when the latter was in the Office of Special Plans.

According to a Newsweek article of Dec. 15, 2004, "a June 2002 memo written by INC lobbyist Entifadh Qunbar to a US Senate committee lists John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, as one of two 'US governmental recipients' for reports generated by an intelligence program being run by the INC and which was then being funded by the State Department." The article explains that the program arranged for the raw information coming from defectors and other sources to be "reported to, among others, 'appropriate governmental, non-governmental and international agencies.'" The memo explicitly mentioned Hannah as "a principal point of contact" for the program. The other point of contact, according to Newsweek, was William Luti, who headed the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon under Feith. (Luti, also known as "uber-Luti," was such a zealot that he denounced retired Gen. Anthony Zinni as a "traitor" for expressing reservations about the impending Iraq war.) Chalabi's lie factory thus had two main customers, both of them wholesalers to Cheney. (These alleged contacts are an apparent violation of the National Security Act, which prohibits federal officials from engaging in unauthorized intelligence gathering.)

These, then, were the key neocon players gathered around Cheney. Cheney's office was key to the manufacturing of the bogus case for Iraq being close to having a nuclear bomb (it had no nuclear weapons program at all after the mid-1990s) and for it having a biological weapons program on wheels (biological weapons labs require clean rooms and cannot be mounted in Winnebagos). Cheney's office was among the originators of the smears against critics of such allegations, such as Joseph Wilson. Wilson's attack on the integrity of their intelligence gathering deeply threatened them. At the time he began speaking out, no high US government official had dared name their fantasy for what it was - a tissue of innuendo and falsehoods fed to them by the ambitious and swallowed by the greedy and the gullible. That he was connected to the CIA's own unit on weapons proliferation through his wife, Valerie, made him all the more dangerous in their eyes, once Cheney had ferreted out that link.

The New York Times reported on Oct. 24, 2005, that it was Cheney who told Libby that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. White House chief of staff Karl Rove also learned of Plame's identity, although it is not known how. Both of them shared the information with the press, including Matt Cooper of Time magazine, Robert Novak of CNN and Judith Miller of the New York Times. Their aim was to discredit Wilson in official Washington as a tool of CIA disinformation, someone determined to make the White House the fall guys in the intelligence scandal, so as to spare the Company criticism. Some have a dark suspicion that they may also have wished to disrupt the CIA unit on anti-proliferation, which continued to doubt the case they were making about the rogue Middle East states. When confronted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, Libby and Rove seem to have claimed that they did not reveal the name of Valerie Plame Wilson. In fact, they had called her "Joe Wilson's wife." This denial, however, is strikingly disingenuous and unconvincing.

Clearly Cheney's men had powerful domestic political reasons to try to destroy Wilson. But considering the larger geopolitical ambitions of the neocons in Cheney's inner circle, and their combination of ignorance and arrogance, it could be argued that Iraq and Iraqi weapons were all along a mere pied-à-terre. Syria, Iran and the rest of the Middle East were in the cross hairs, and Wilson and Plame were getting in the way of the next projects.

With the war in Iraq a disaster, possible indictments looming and polls showing that 80 percent of Americans believe that revealing Plame's identity was either illegal or unethical, those dreams of world domination have crumbled to dust.


PA Creationist on the stand...

The York Daily Record/Sunday News is a morning newspaper in York, Pa.
Buckingham seesaws on the stand
Friday, October 28, 2005

It was surely one of the most anticipated moments in the history of federal jurisprudence, the appearance, finally, of former Dover Area School Board member Bill Buckingham at the Dover Panda Trial.

And it did not disappoint. It was, in the truest sense of the word, unbelievable.



At the onset of his stay on the witness stand, Buckingham raised his right hand and swore, or affirmed, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Then, for the record, he stated his name.

"William Buckingham."

By the time he left the stand, six hours later, I almost expected the judge to ask him for a photo ID to make sure he was indeed William Buckingham.

A telling moment came when he was asked about how the Dover Area High School had acquired 60 copies of the book "Of Pandas and People," a brilliantly dumb book that promotes the idea of intelligent design.

In a deposition given in January, he said he didn't know how the district got the books. He said he didn't know who donated the books. He said he didn't ask because he didn't want to know. He said he didn't know who donated the money to buy the books.

So, during his testimony Thursday, Steve Harvey, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, asked Buckingham about the books and how the money was raised to buy them. He specifically asked Buckingham whether he raised the money at his church.

He said he hadn't.

Then, he said he had.

Then, he said he hadn't.

He said he stood before the congregation one Sunday morning and said "there was a need" for money to buy "Of Pandas and People" and if anyone wanted to give, they could.

"But I didn't ask anyone for money," he said.

Harvey asked him whether he took up a collection at his church, Harmony Grove Community Church.

"Not as such," Buckingham said.

So the lawyer asked him whether he got in front of the congregation and asked for donations.

"I didn't," Buckingham said.

He paused.

"I'm sorry, I did say that, but there was more to it," he said.

Anyway, he collected the money — wherever it came from — and then he wrote a check for $850 to Donald Bonsell, father of then-school board President Alan Bonsell.

But previously, when asked by the lawyer about who donated the books, he said he didn't know.
"Mr. Buckingham, you lied to me at your deposition ... isn't that true?" Harvey asked.

"How so?" Buckingham responded.

It went on for a while before Judge John E. Jones III told Harvey to move on.

"You made your point very effectively," the judge said.

Earlier, Harvey had made an even more effective point.

Buckingham said he never read about his adventures on the school board in the newspapers and never talked to anyone about them. He also said he never mentioned creationism at school board meetings or in the press or anywhere, for that matter.

So at the time the board was talking about creationism, Buckingham granted an interview to a Fox 43 news reporter. I guess he forgot about that new-fangled invention, videotape.

On the tape, which you can see at, Buckingham, wearing the same lapel pin he wore in court Thursday, said he wanted to balance evolution in the classroom with something else, "such as creationism."


He said that the reporter "ambushed" him and that he was "like a deer in the headlights of a car" and that the newspapers were all reporting that he and the board were talking about creationism and that he thought to himself, "Don't say creationism."

Double oops.

It was like he had a Homer Simpson moment. He was thinking "Don't say creationism. Don't say creationism. Don't say creationism." And then he opens his yap and says "creationism."


And to compound the prevarication, he said he was thinking about something the newspapers reported — something he didn't read or talk to anybody about.

It went on like that all day. He'd say he voted for buying a new biology book. Then, he said he voted against it. He said he thought intelligent design was a scientific theory. But he said he didn't know what intelligent design was. He said he wasn't the force behind the board adopting intelligent design and then, confronted with what he said, under oath, previously, he'd say maybe he was.

He said a lot of things, and then he'd say a lot of things that weren't exactly what he had said to begin with.

And then, he attributed his spotty, selective and just plain weird memory to his OxyContin addiction.


Mike Argento, whose column appears Mondays and Thursdays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints, can be reached at 771-2046 or at
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Lesson: Do not lie to Fitzgerald...


Who's on First?
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Saturday 29 October 2005

It was bracing to see the son of a New York doorman open the door on the mendacious Washington lair of the Lord of the Underground.

But this Irish priest of the law, Patrick Fitzgerald, neither Democrat nor Republican, was very strict, very precise. He wasn't totally gratifying in clearing up the murkiness of the case, yet strangely comforting in his quaint black-and-white notions of truth and honor (except when his wacky baseball metaphor seemed to veer toward a "Who's on first?" tangle).

"This indictment's not about the propriety of the war," he told reporters yesterday in his big Eliot Ness moment at the Justice Department. The indictment was simply about whether the son of an investment banker perjured himself before a grand jury and the F.B.I.

Scooter does seem like a big fat liar in the indictment. And not a clever one, since his deception hinged on, of all people, the popular monsignor of the trusted Sunday Church of Russert. Does Scooter hope to persuade a jury to believe him instead of Little Russ?

Good luck.

There is something grotesque about Scooter's hiding behind the press with his little conspiracy, given that he's part of an administration that despises the press and tried to make its work almost impossible.

Mr. Fitzgerald claims that Mr. Libby hurt national security by revealing the classified name of a CIA officer. "Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life," he said.

He was not buying the arguments on the right that Mrs. Wilson was not really undercover or was under "light" cover, or that blowing her cover did not hurt the CIA

"I can say that for the people who work at the CIA and work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected," he said, adding: "They run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad could happen to them, but they have to make sure that they don't run the risk that something bad is going to happen to them from something done by their own fellow government employees."

To protect a war spun from fantasy, the Bush team played dirty. Unfortunately for them, this time they Swift-boated an American whose job gave her legal protection from the business-as-usual smear campaign.

The back story of this indictment is about the ongoing Tong wars of the CIA, the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon: the fight over who lied us into war. The CIA, after all, is the agency that asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate how one of its own was outed by the White House.

The question Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly declined to answer yesterday - Dick Cheney's poker face has finally met its match - was whether this stops at Scooter.

No one expects him to "flip," unless he finally gets the sort of fancy white-collar criminal lawyer that The Washington Post said he is searching for - like the ones who succeeded in getting Karl Rove off the hook, at least for now - and the lawyer tells Scooter to nail his boss to save himself.

But what we really want to know, now that we have the bare bones of who said what to whom in the indictment, is what they were all thinking there in that bunker and how that hothouse bred the idea that the way out of their Iraq problems was to slime their critics instead of addressing the criticism. What we really want to know, if Scooter testifies in the trial, and especially if he doesn't, is what Vice did to create the spidery atmosphere that led Scooter, who seemed like an interesting and decent guy, to let his zeal get the better of him.

Mr. Cheney, eager to be rid of the meddlesome Joe Wilson, got Valerie Wilson's name from the CIA and passed it on to Scooter. He forced the CIA to compromise one of its own, a sacrifice on the altar of faith-based intelligence.

Vice spent so much time lurking over at the CIA, trying to intimidate the analysts at Langley into twisting the intelligence about weapons, that he should have had one of his undisclosed locations there.

This administration's grand schemes always end up as the opposite. Officials say they're promoting national security when they're hurting it; they say they're squelching terrorists when they're breeding them; they say they're bringing stability to Iraq when the country's imploding. (The U.S. announced five more military deaths yesterday.)

And the most dangerous opposite of all: W. was listening to a surrogate father he shouldn't have been listening to, and not listening to his real father, who deserved to be listened to.