Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WH lawyers & CIA videos...bin Laden's birthday....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

At least four top White House lawyers -- Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers, John Bellinger, and David Addington -- "took part in discussions with the" CIA "between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations." "Some top White House officials" reportedly voiced "vigorous sentiment" in favor of the destruction.

"Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month."

Despite "significant security gains in much of Iraq, nothing has changed within Iraq's political leadership to guarantee sustainable peace," according to a new Pentagon report. "The Iraqi government has made little headway in improving the delivery of electricity, health care and other essential services."

Ousted U.S. attorney Bud Cummins has called on Justice Department communications director Brian Roehrkasse to step down, contending that he "did more than perhaps any other DOJ official to disseminate the avalanche of untruths" in the U.S. attorney scandal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2007 for "taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability." Runners-up include Al Gore, J.K. Rowling, and Gen. David Petraeus.

"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is threatening to withhold support for legislation making technical corrections to the 2005 highway bill if it does not require a 'full and open' investigation into the now-notorious Coconut Road earmark" of Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

Yesterday, Congress "struck back at the Bush administration's trend toward secrecy since the 2001 terrorist attacks, passing legislation to toughen the Freedom of Information Act and increasing penalties on agencies that don't comply."

"A recent decline in U.S. news coverage from Iraq coincides with improved public opinion about the war, according to a new Pew Research study released yesterday." A three percent drop in coverage between June and October of 2007 accompanied a 14 percent increase in optimism about the war.

"U.S. military commanders in Iraq didn't know Turkey was sending warplanes to bomb in northern Iraq until the planes had already crossed the border." However, the Air Force Times reports that Air Force-bolstered intelligence likely fueled the Turkish jet strikes.

And finally: Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? There's the National Counterterrorism Center's 2008 weekly planner, which contains fun facts such as Osama bin Laden's birthday (July 30) and that Dec. 19 is the date "Libyan-trained Abu Sayyaf Group leader Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani died in a gunfight with Philippine authorities on Basilan island." Available "only to folks inside the anti-terrorism community."


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