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GOP congressman says House leaders should step down if knew about Foley and didn't act. Bush Admin. refuses to investigate Foley case.

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The latest from the New York Times, tomorrow's story:

1. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) says any House GOP leader who knew about Foley and didn't act should step down.
Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, said any leader who had been aware of Mr. Foley’s behavior and failed to take action should step down. “If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership,” Mr. Shays said.
2. GOP campaigns who took money from Foley are being asked to return it.
In another example of the potential political consequences of the Foley case, the opponent of Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the fourth-ranking House Republican, called on Ms. Pryce to return $5,000 in aid she received from Mr. Foley. Mr. Foley, who served on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, also gave at least $100,000 to the party campaign committee in July.
3. Taking the lead from House Republicans, Bush Administration refusing to investigate child sex predator, even though the FBI was given copies of the emails by CREW back in July.
At the Justice Department, an official said that there was no investigation under way but that the agency had “real interest” in examining the circumstances to see if any crimes were committed.
CREW gave the FBI the emails two months ago. The FBI isn't investigating, but says they're interested in seeing if any crime was committed, but don't plan to investigate. Uh, apparently not that much interest. Then again, it's only a child sex offender.

It's good to know that George Bush doesn't care about child sex predators even two days after the story becomes a national scandal. How would Bush feel if some 52 year old guy asked Jenna and Barbara, at the age of 16, if he made them feel horny, and then asked to describe how they masturbate? How is this any different than Denny Hastert, Shimkus and the rest of the House Republicans refusing to investigate Foley when they knew about this last year? It's not.

4. NYT reporters CARL HULSE and RAYMOND HERNANDEZ plagiarize GOP talking points.

The Times apparently doesn't find it relevant that Foley asked a 16 year old boy about his underage friend's great body. Not to mention, they plagiarized the GOP talking points, literally. Check out how the NYT describes the Foley emails - in fact, the NYT describes the Foley emails using language straight out of the House Republican's statement today:
In those messages, Mr. Foley asked about the well-being of the boy, a Monroe, La., resident, after Hurricane Katrina and requested a photograph.

He wrote: “How are you weathering the hurricane. . .are you safe. . .send me a pic of you as well.”
Now take a look at how Rep. Shimkus portrayed the creepy emails in a statement he released last night, constructed with the help of Denny Hastert's office:
In that email exchange, Congressman Foley asked about the former Page's well-being after Hurricane Katrina and requested a photograph. When asked about the email exchange, Congressman Foley said he expressed concern about the Page's well-being and wanted a photo to see that the former Page was alright.
Ah yes, why should NYT reporters Hulse and Hernandez report the facts when they have GOP spin that they can simply plagiarize as their own words.

As for the Times stating that the Foley emails were simply asking about the well-being of the boy after Hurricane Katrina, unless Foley was worried about the well-being of an underage boy's "really great" body, this description is utter bullshit. How does the Times fail to mention the one email that is the creepiest? The email in which Foley mentions another 16 year old page and how the boy "acts much older than his age" (what? like a high school junior instead of a sophomore?) and how the underage boy is in "really great shape." Oh yeah, no problem with some 52 year old guy saying that about a sixteen year old boy to another sixteen year old boy. Read the rest of this post...

Josh Marshall asks Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert, who's on first?

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From This is long. Read it.
[GOP Congressman] Alexander's Chief of Staff calls [GOP Speaker Denny] Hastert's office about emails "he and Congressman Alexander were concerned about it." But he doesn't tell the guy in Hastert's office what the emails say. The two staffs meet again later. But somehow what the emails actually say? Still not discussed.

They send Alexander's Chief of Staff to the [GOP] Clerk's Office. The Clerk asks to see the emails. But "Congressman Alexander's office declined citing the fact that the family wished to maintain as much privacy as possible and simply wanted the contact to stop."

When asked by the Clerk whether the emails are "of a sexual nature", Alexander's Chief of Staff tells him they're not but calls them "over-friendly."

Now, here's the problem as far as I can see this. Supposedly, no one in a position of authority ever lays eyes on these emails, presumably because they're relatively innocuous. But at the same time they can't be seen by anyone else because "family wished to maintain as much privacy as possible." Those two points don't really square in my mind.

So the Clerk and [GOP] Rep. Shimkus meet with [GOP Congressman Mark] Foley having never seen the emails in question -- either because they're basically innocuous or because of concern for the family's privacy. Take your pick.

So they give Foley a clean bill of health having never reviewed the emails that raised the concerns.

And Hastert's staffers?

"Mindful of the sensitivity to the parent's wishes to protect their child's privacy and believing that they had promptly reported what they knew to the proper authorities [the three members of Hastert's office] did not discuss the matter with others in the Speaker's Office."

Basically, everyone's so mindful of the sensitivity of the matter they manage never to investigate what actually happened. Isn't that what they're saying?

And also, as luck would have it, the extreme sensitivity to the parent's feelings helps keep the entire matter hermetically sealed from Speaker Hastert.

So everyone's very mindful of the privacy of the family. But somehow [GOP Majority Leader] Rep. Boehner and [GOP] Rep. Reynolds found out about it from Rep. Alexander. And Reynolds mentioned it to Hastert. But Hastert doesn't remember. And Boehner told Hastert about it too. And Hastert said it was being taken care of. Only Hastert never heard about it...
Read the rest of this post...

Hastert: I might have known even though I said I didn't know

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Earlier today, Roll Call reported that the Speaker's office was "scrambling" to address the statement from Congressman Reynolds saying he told the Speaker about Foley earlier this year.

All that scrambling resulted in a statement from Hastert's on who in their office knew what when. They're trying to address the inconsistencies among the House GOP leaders who can't seem to get their stories straight. So, now we learn that the Speaker knew about Foley before he said he didn't know -- or something like that:
Congressman Tom Reynolds in a statement issued today indicates that many months later, in the spring of 2006, he was approached by Congressman Alexander who mentioned the Foley issue from the previous fall. During a meeting with the Speaker he says he noted the issue which had been raised by Alexander and told the Speaker that an investigation was conducted by the Clerk of the House and Shimkus. While the Speaker does not explicitly recall this conversation, he has no reason to dispute Congressman Reynold's recollection that he reported to him on the problem and its resolution.
There was no resolution until yesterday. The House GOP leadership essentially ignored the child sexual predator among them. Let's not forget this tidbit in this morning's The New York Times:
The page who received the first e-mail messages told ABC News that people in the program had warned his class to watch out for Mr. Foley. The page worked for Representative Rodney Alexander, Republican of Louisiana, and sent the messages to a colleague in the office with a note saying they had “freaked me out.”
So the kids were warned that Foley was trouble. And, the kid who got the e-mails was "freaked out." The teenage pages knew there was a problem. But, the adults who run Congress weren't worried.

Still no explanation of exactly when and why Alexander told the head of the the House Republican's campaign committee, Tom Reynolds -- beyond the obvious reason that the GOP is more worried about politics than protecting children. Read the rest of this post...

More GOP cover-up: Reynolds contradicts Hastert

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From Roll Call we learn there are even more contradictions among Republican leaders about who knew what when. There is so much evidence of a GOP leadership cover-up here:
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.

GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.
Hastert's response yesterday was that he didn't know about the Foley case:
Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.
Scrambling. The GOP leaders are all scrambling. You only scramble when you haven't told the truth.

Remember one key fact: When Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) first learned about the Foley e-mails, he went to Rep. Tom Reynolds, the chair of the GOP House campaign committee. Not, the Ethics Committee. Not the Speaker. Not the Capitol Police. He went to the top GOP House political operative. Josh Marshall examined this aspect of the scandal:
Finally, one detail here isn't getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, says he contacted the NRCC. That's the House Republicans' election committee, a political organization entirely separate from the House bureaucracy and the Congress. (The head of the NRCC this cycle is Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).) That is, to put it mildly, not in the disciplinary and administrative chain of command of the House of Representatives. Considering that the issue involved a minor, it seems highly inappropriate to discuss the matter with anyone not charged with policing the House. More to the point, however, you tell the head of the NRCC because you see the matter as a political problem. Reynolds is the one in charge of making sure Republican House seats get held. If an incumbent might have drop out or be kicked out you want him to know so that he can line up someone to replace him. You at least want to keep him abreast of the situation if you think a problem might develop. I cannot see any innocent explanation for notifying the head of the NRCC while not information the full membership of the page board.
Read the rest of this post...

I'll be discussing Foley on CNN at 530pm ET today

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UPDATE from Joe in DC: John just called to say that CNN will be taking email questions from viewers about the Foley case. They'll announce the email address during the segment. I'll post when we get it. But get those questions ready.

Tune in or be square. My sparring partner will be RedState's Mike Krempasky. He's actually a good guy, so should be interesting. Read the rest of this post...

Ex-Foley chief of staff now chief of staff to Rep. Tom Reynolds, second member to be informed last year of Foley's sex scandal

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GOP. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) was apparently the first member of Congress to know about Foley's trolling for underage kids online. Alexander was the former boss of one of the pages who Foley chatted up. Alexander says that he then contacted the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee (the body in charge of electing Republicans to the House), Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).

First off, we all thought it strange that Alexander's first action wasn't to report the alleged child predator to the Ethics Committee, the FBI, or even the Capitol Police. Rather, Alexander reported it to a political body, as though this were a story to be dealt with politically.

Second, it's not at all clear what if anything Reynold's did to address this shocking revelation.

But now the other shoe drops. Reynold's chief of staff is Kirk Fordham, the former chief of staff and former campaign director to Mark Foley (I've known Fordham for years). Here is Reynold's announcement about hiring Fordham last October:
U.S. Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, R- Clarence, today announced he has hired Kirk Fordham as his Chief of Staff.... Fordham also served as Rep. Mark Foley's, R-FL, Chief of Staff and campaign manager...
And Fordham returned in the past few days to Foley's side to advise him on this scandal.
Kirk Fordham, who worked as Foley's chief of staff for 10 years, returned to Foley's side to advise him during the past couple of days.
Fordham, Foley's guy, was hired by Reynolds at or around the time that Alexander went to Reynolds with the Foley story (Alexander says he found out about the scandal "ten or eleven months ago"). Is that why Alexander went to Reynolds, because Foley's guy worked for him? In other words, Alexander wasn't interested in reporting this to the authorities, he was interested in helping Foley by approaching "friends of Foley"? Not to mention, how serious an investigation did Reynold's do when his own chief of staff (assuming Fordham was there at the time) immediately ran to advise Foley on how to handle the scandal? Hardly an impartial investigator.

And one more point. According to all the sources we can find online, Fordham is still Reynolds' chief of staff. Why is Reynolds' chief of staff now advising Foley on this mess? This simply adds to the inherent conflicts of interest that have dogged this "investigation" from the beginning.

The entire story gets more and more incestuous, and the cover-up grows. Read the rest of this post...

Did GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds Cover Up Congressman’s Sex Crimes?

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From the Democratic National Committee:
Why Did Tom Reynolds Cover Up Congressman’s Sex Crimes?

Washington, DC – Yesterday, Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley resigned from Congress when sexually inappropriate emails and instant messages he sent to a teenage boy came to light. While the shocking exchanges produced an immediate uproar that cost Congressman Foley his job, at least one member of the House Republican leadership had known about the situation for months and did nothing about it: New York Republican Congressman and chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Reynolds.

According to the Associated Press, Congressman Reynolds’ spokesman confirmed that Reynolds had been informed by another Congressman that the boy had complained about Foley’s inappropriate communications “months ago.” According to the report, the allegations first came to light in late 2005. [AP, 9/30/06] It appears that Reynolds did not tell authorities about the emails or take any step to discipline Foley, apparently choosing instead to sweep the matter under the rug to protect the Republican party’s dwindling chances of retaining control of the House of Representatives this November.

“Congressman Reynolds’ inaction in the face of such a serious situation is very troubling, and raises important questions about whether there was an attempt to cover up criminal activity involving a minor to keep it from coming to light before Election Day,” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.

“We need real answers to important questions about precisely who knew about these activities and when they knew it, whether other current or former pages were victimized by Congressman Foley, why the Republican House leadership was prepared to adjourn without at the very least referring this matter to the ethics committee, and what corrective action if any Congressman Reynolds and the rest of the Republican House leadership took. Failing to answer to these questions would send a terrible message to the parents who entrust their children to the care of the Page School and send them to Washington to serve Congress.”
Read the rest of this post...

9/11 Commission not told of key meeting between Tenet and Rice pre-9/11, Tenet warned Rice we were about to be hit, Rice ignored him

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I noticed this buried in the Washington Post story last night about Woodward's book, and Editor & Publisher picked up on it too. Here is Editor & Publisher's excerpt of it. This is a big deal. It's the most important piece of evidence, other than the PDB, showing that the Bush White House ignored the signs that 9/11 was coming. How the hell did the 9/11 Commission miss this? This is long, read it:
Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser. "For months," Woodward writes, "Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy... that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden.... Tenet and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

"Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming....

"But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the intelligence, asking: Could it all be a grand deception? "

Woodward describes the meeting, and the two officials' plea that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden."

The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting though to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies."

"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long....

"Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, Tenet thought, but she just didn't get it in time. He felt that he had done his job and been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.

"Black later said, 'The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.'"

At the close of this excerpt, a Post editor's note states:

"How much effort the Bush administration made in going after Osama bin Laden before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, became an issue last week after former president Bill Clinton accused President Bush's 'eocons' and other Republicans of ignoring bin Laden until the attacks. Rice responded in an interview that 'what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years.'"
Then we learn the following:
"The July 10 meeting of Rice, Tenet and Black went unmentioned in various investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, and Woodward wrote that Black 'felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about.'

"Jamie S. Gorelick, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said she checked with commission staff members who told her investigators were never told about a July 10 meeting. 'We didn't know about the meeting itself,' she said. 'I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.'

"White House and State Department officials yesterday confirmed that the July 10 meeting took place, although they took issue with Woodward's portrayal of its results."
Nice. Well, as I recall, DoD and FAA also apparently lied to the 9/11 Commission and that's a crime. So who at the White House "forgot" to mention this key meeting to the commission, and was that a crime as well? Read the rest of this post...

House GOP Majority Leader John Boehner changes his story, now can't remember if he told Speaker Hastert or not about Foley

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Yeah right. Because a member of your leadership trolling for underage boys online isn't the kind of thing you'd remember. More from Josh (he's got some great coverage on this.)

PS Gotta love the Washington Post. Get a load of this line in today's Foley story:
He was a respected House member cruising toward a seventh term
Cruising? LOL Read the rest of this post...

JUST RELEASED: Woodward's Sunday Washington Post A1 Story

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Tomorrow's Washington Post article by Bob Woodward is out here. Initial thoughts - it is as blockbuster as it should be. That Woodward is the one doing it will, I hope, be an irrelevant point. The major media have got to be able to start saying things like this:
On May 26, the Pentagon released an unclassified report to Congress, required by law, that contradicted the Joint Chiefs' secret assessment. The public report sent to Congress said the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

There was a vast difference between what the White House and the Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they were saying publicly.
But the discrepancy was not surprising. In memos, reports and internal debates, high-level officials of the Bush administration have voiced their concern about the United States' ability to bring peace and stability to Iraq since early in the occupation.
The short of it? They lied. Period. What Woodward shows in detail is that they knew things were bad and said the opposite to the American public. They lied.

What's also clear is that they all knew. Rumsfeld knew in intricate detail. Condi knew about the true reality on the ground in Iraq - and it's stark:
On Feb. 10, 2005, two weeks after Rice became secretary of state, Zelikow presented her with a 15-page, single-spaced secret memo. "At this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change," Zelikow wrote.

The insurgency was "being contained militarily," but it was "quite active," leaving Iraqi civilians feeling "very insecure," Zelikow said.

U.S. officials seemed locked down in the fortified Green Zone. "Mobility of coalition officials is extremely limited, and productive government activity is constrained."
It's as clear as "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US". They know exactly what's going on and every time they stand up in public it's the opposite of reality that comes out of their mouths. Read it all here. Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Morning Open Thread

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In most of these scandals involving elected officials, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. In the Foley case, it's the crime AND the cover-up. And the GOP leadership covered up the child sexual predator in their midst.

So, let's get it started.... Read the rest of this post...

C&L with the ABC News report on Foley

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Did the GOP not learn anything from the massive Vatican cover up with pedophilia? Sweeping this under the rug and hoping it goes away is not a strategy. Helping a pedophile and sexual predator is not a positive value. Choosing to prop up a pedophile and predator for campaign purposes tells me this crowd, who seems to have known about the Foley abuses for a long time, tells me that the GOP will say and do anything to hold power.

It is especially disturbing to hear that everyone seemed to know that Foley was a child predator yet it continued to happen without helping the children involved. How morally bankrupt is the GOP leadership when they just sit there and let this happen? Read the rest of this post...

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children still supports Foley

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This is sick.

I can think of two sixteen year old boys who won't be missing him that much. Jesus. Who do you have to sleep with to piss off these people? This is absolutely sickening. Read the rest of this post...

Boehner says Hastert knew about Foley, yet all day Hastert's people and other GOP members lied, said Hastert was never informed

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Okay, so the Republicans all lied all day when they said GOP House Speaker Hastert was never informed about Foley's indiscretion. And House Majority Leader John Boehner knew too. So the House leadership DID know about Foley, and according to Hastert "they took care of it." Yeah, I'm sure you did.

Wash Post:
The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it."

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy.
And as Josh Marshall points out, Boehner told the Washington Post that he did inform Hastert when he found out about the scandal months ago, yet Boehner told Roll Call, vehemently, that he didn't tell Hastert. Oops. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Wow. Read the rest of this post...

GOP House page board chair may have helped cover-up Foley scandal

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1. Roll call reports that Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who chairs the House page board, met with Foley in 2005 to investigate the creepy email exchange with the 16 year old page.

2. What was the extent of Shimkus' investigation of whether a member of Congress was soliciting sex with a minor, or at the very least bordering on sexually harassing a minor? Shimkus asked Foley if he was hitting on the kid, Foley said no, so Shimkus said "okay," and let it go. Obviously sex with children is a real big concern to the Republican house. Here's what Shimkus had to say tonight:
In that email exchange, Congressman Foley asked about the former Page's well-being after Hurricane Katrina and requested a photograph. When asked about the email exchange, Congressman Foley said he expressed concern about the Page's well-being and wanted a photo to see that the former Page was alright.
First off, nice that Shimkus, who according to the Associated Press wrote this statement with the help of GOP Speaker Denny Hastert's office, after avoiding reporters for hours, spins Foley's creepy emails to sound totally benign. In fact, Shimkus doesn't bother mentioning the most damning parts of the email exchange, Foley commenting on the underage kid's apparently underage friend's hot body, and also somewhat creepy, asking the kid for a picture and asking how old he is. I'm sure it was an oversight. Oh that's right, there is no oversight in the Republican house. You simply ask someone a question and believe whatever answer they give you, then the investigation is over.

Interesting that the pages now say they were routinely warned about Foley by their page overseers. Did Shimkus bother talking to the page overseers, or any of the pages, to find out what was up with Foley? How is it that in just 24 hours ABC was able to get a copy of Foley's sex-talk instant message chat with an underage page, yet Shimkus found nothing?

3. Shimkus never told the Democratic member of Congress who serves on the page board. Why?
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), who serves on the page board, was never told of the interview with Foley.

"I became aware of it this afternoon when [Shimkus] came by my office. I think we should have had a page meeting right away," Kildee said, referring to last year's discovery of Foley's e-mails.

When asked if was upset about being excluded, Kildee said yes, adding, "I've been on the page board for 20 years."
4. More from Roll Call, "According to a senior House GOP leadership aide, Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) office was informed of the interview shortly after it occurred, but Hastert himself was not told." Right. A male Republican member of Congress is being investigated for possibly sexually harassing an underage male page and Denny Hastert's office is notified and nobody tells Hastert? Right. And the matter is considered so important that the Clerk of House gets involved and joins in the interview with Foley. Yet still no one tells Hastert. Uh huh.

5. We still don't know when the kid's congressman, Rodney Alexander (R-LA), was told about the incident, and what he did about it. He claims he found out from a reporter. But at the same time he says his staff found out when the kid contacted them and was creeped out. Which one was it? Did Alexander sit on the information until the press finally contacted him and he was forced to act?

6. What are the House procedures for dealing with an allegation of this kind? Simply to pass it to the Page Board, having Foley's own Republican peers investigate him? There are no House rules whatsoever about having someone independent look into whether a member of Congress sexually harassed a minor page? Here's what CREW has to say, per the AP story:
"The House of Representatives has an obligation to protect the teenagers who come to Congress to learn about the legislative process," the group wrote, adding that the committee "must investigate any allegation that a page has been subjected to sexual advances by members of the House."
7. So the Republicans are telling us that they never heard anything else about Foley in all the time he was in Congress. Very interesting. Because I certainly heard some rumors about Foley over the years, and when I got a copy of these emails several months ago, the rumors were not inconsistent. But to House Republicans, family value Republicans, this story wasn't important enough to even go beyond asking the perpetrator if he was really guilty.


Final update, perhaps. Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution calling for an investigation. It passed, we hear, unanimously:
And late Friday night, the House passed a resolution directing the ethics committee to begin an inquiry into Foley's behavior. The committee has 10 days to report back to the House.

"I'll just simply say that the House has given us direction to look into this matter and we intend to do so," said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the ethics panel.

Ranking member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) added that they will do it "quickly."
Read the rest of this post...

House GOP story on Foley gets murkier and murkier. What did they know about Foley and when did they know it?

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The story about just what the House GOP leadership knew about Mark Foley's online sexual exploits, and when they knew it, is getting more and more contradictory by the minute.

Earlier today, ABC reported that the 16 year old page who received Foley's creepy emails last year had forwarded the emails to "congressional staffers," telling them "this freaked me out" and the emails were "sick sick sick sick sick." Which staffers? With whose office? Who did those staffers then tell about the emails, and what did those people do, if anything about it? Okay, update, it was Alexander's staffers - so, what, they didn't tell their boss that one of their own underage pages, a constituent, mind you, might have been sexually harassed by another congressman? Oh bull.
Alexander said the boy notified a staffer in his office about the e-mails. The congressman said he learned of it from a reporter 10 or 11 months ago and promptly called the boy's parents.
Then later today, an Associated Press article on the SF Chronicle's website reported that the kid's congressman, Rodney Alexander (R-LA), found out about the story ten or eleven months ago and contacted the kid's parents and the House GOP leadership. Alexander said that the kid's parents wanted to let the matter drop. What did Alexander tell the parents, and did that influence their deciding to let it go? Who else did Alexander tell about this? Why didn't he take further action since he knew Foley would continue interacting with pages, continued to chair the House caucus on missing and exploited children, and that Foley continued to remain in the House leadership?

The Associated Press now has an updated story saying that Rep. Alexander now says he found out about the allegations "some months ago" from a reporter. Bull, it sounds more like he found out from his staff, did nothing, then found out from a reporter and didn't have a choice but to act. When did the kid email the staff, and when did the reporter contact the congressman - how much time lagged in between?

Another odd point. In the earlier story, Alexander says he told the House leadership about the incident. Now, in the updated story, Alexander says that he passed the information along to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization (perhaps that's what he means by "leadership," or perhaps he's changing his story to protect Hastert). It's a bit odd that he'd report this to Reynolds, since Reynolds is in charge of re-electing Republicans to congress. Why tell him? Was this an effort to help Foley find a way to defend against these charges should they come up during his next election? And in any case, we're to believe that Reynolds didn't tell Hastert about this?

Now the AP reports the following from the GOP campaign group run by Reynolds:
Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds learned from Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter. Forti said, however, that the matter did go before the House Page Board — the three lawmakers and two House officials who oversee the pages.
It went before the page board? But only today Denny Haster asked the people overseeing the pages, specifically Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who runs the page board, to investigate the situation and make sure other pages weren't harassed or abused. There would be no need for Hastert to ask them today to investigate if this if the same page board that had already been notified months ago by Reynolds. Are we to believe the page board didn't tell the speaker that they were looking into a member who may have been soliciting sex with underage pages? And that this is the first time Denny Hastert heard of this? Not to mention, the page board already did their review, so why ask them to do it again, pretending like it's the first time?

So what's going on here? The page board also includes the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant at Arms, both Republican appointees. Did they know about this months ago or not? Did they do anything about this? Did they tell the speaker or anyone else in the House?

ABC said tonight that pages said they were warned about Foley and his antics. Really? But Foley was still left to interact with pages, still left in his leadership spot, and still left chairing a caucus overseeing the issue of missing and exploited children. If Foley was this well known a problem, what exactly did or didn't the page board do about it? Who did they tell, and what did those people do?

This goes far beyond Mark Foley. It now seems to involve quite a few senior Republicans. Why didn't any of them do something about this earlier? Or does the sexual exploitation of children only matter when there's not a big R in front of the exploiter's name? Read the rest of this post...

TODAY GOP House Speaker Denny Hastert asked for an investigation as to whether other pages were abused, why didn't he do this a year ago?

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ABC reported this evening that GOP House Speaker Denny Hastert has asked for an investigation to make sure other pages weren't sexually harassed or abused. But the House leadership was told almost a year ago about Mark Foleys' hanky-panky online communications with underage pages and Hastert did nothing. Why didn't Hastert do an investigation at the time to make sure the pages were all right? Why did Hastert leave Foley in charge of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children when he knew Foley had some possible personal issues involving the exploitation of children? Why did Hastert let Foley remain in the House leadership for a good year after he knew about these accusations? Cruising underage kids isn't a disqualifier for being in the House leadership? Why did Denny Hastert let Foley remain anywhere near underage pages at all?

Would you let your kids near someone like Foley if you had been warned a year ago? Then why did Denny Hastert? The parent of every kid who was a page in the last year should be livid at the Republicans right now.

And where is our wonderful religious right? Or doesn't the sexual exploitation of children bother them when it's their own politicians who are doing the exploiting and the covering up? Read the rest of this post...

House GOP Leadership knew about Foley almost a year ago, let Foley remain in House leadership, let him remain as chair of House sex offender caucus

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UPDATE: Foley's "instant message" communications with yet another underage boy, circa 2003, have now been posted by ABC. They are horrendous. I cannot believe that Denny Hastert knew about Foley using the Net to chat-up underage boys a year ago and DID NOTHING (you'll recall that the email conversations we posted earlier were around the time of Hurricane Katrina last year).

Tell me why Denny Hastert shouldn't be forced to immediately resign. They left your kids with this man AFTER they knew what he was doing. They let him stay in the GOP leadership. They let him remain the chair of the child sex offender caucus. Jesus Christ.

From ABC News:

Does House Republican leader Denny Hastert have a soft spot for child sex offenders?

Seems so. Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert has some serious explaining to do, after today's revelations that they knew about ex-Congressman Mark Foley's sexscapades a good year ago, and did nothing.

Whether or not the kid's parents were fine with letting it go, which the story says is the case, why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert permit Foley to remain in the House GOP leadership for almost a year after they knew he was having sex talk with minors online, minors he met on the job?

Why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert leave Foley as the co-chair of the House body in charge of child sex offenses for a good year after they knew?

Why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert permit Foley to stay in the House at all, where he would be around other pages every day all day long?

And just as importantly, why did Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert let Foley lie publicly yesterday about the emails, claiming they were innocent, and simply a dirty attack from the Democrats, when the House leadership knew the real story?

And finally, we find out that the FBI was contacted two months about this story. Was there any follow-up from the Bush FBI? Or did they just let this potential case of child sex offense go by the wayside because it involved a friend of Bush?

From from the SF Chronicle:
The page worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who said Friday that when he learned of the e-mail exchanges 10 to 11 months ago, he called the teen's parents. Alexander told the Ruston Daily Leader, "We also notified the House leadership that there might be a potential problem," a reference to the House's Republican leaders.

Foley was a member of the Republican leadership, serving as a deputy whip. He also was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
It's interesting that Republican Speaker Hastert's home page says Mr. Hastert is having a community meeting about "Keeping Kids Safe in Cyberspace." Here's one way: Next time someone tells you one of your friends is soliciting sex with a minor, do something about it.

Read the rest of this post...

ABC: If guilty, Foley could be sentenced to years in prison

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Foley shit.
They say he used the screen name Maf54 on these messages provided to ABC News.

Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.

Another message:

Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you....

The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.

Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.

"Adds up to soliciting underage children for sex," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "And what it amounts to is serious both state and federal violations that could potentially get you a number of years."
Read the rest of this post...

Foley: Do I make you a little horny? Teen: A little. Foley: Cool.

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Maf54: Do I make you a little horny ?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.
From ABC News:
Congressman Mark Foley, Republican from Florida, resigned today just hours after ABC news questioned him about a series of sexually explicit instant messages involving current and former underage male Congressional pages. Foley used the login name Maf54.

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny ?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.

Foley was the chairman of the house caucus on missing and exploited children and has long crusaded for tough laws against those who use the Internet for sexual exploitation of children.
Read the rest of this post...

Foley's name must stay on ballot

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Wonder what happens if he wins? Read the rest of this post...

BREAKING NEWS: Foley Resigns, GOP congressman caught in creepy email exchange with underage page

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UPDATE FROM ABC: "Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts."

UPDATE: Okay, latest AP story says "effective immediately." He's gone.

Holy crap. This was a safe Republican seat. We just got one step closer to taking back the House.

Oh, and how's this for creepy:
Title: To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect youth from exploitation by adults using the Internet, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] (introduced 7/10/2006)
Read the rest of this post...

Intelligence and foreign policy issues continue to dominate the debate

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Yesterday I posted on Democratic leadership on security and defense issues on the Hill, but good leadership isn’t limited to elected officials. Earlier this week, a group of leading Democratic foreign policy officials announced the launch of a new organization, the National Security Network, which is the first Democratic group I'm aware of bringing together policy, messaging, and local outreach on issues of national security. There have always been highly capable Democrats in the policy realm -- they're all at various think tanks and consulting firms, biding their time until they can get back into the NSC and State Department. There are also capable Democratic candidates, campaign staff, and activists. There is, however, an unfortunate disconnect between policy and politics on security and foreign policy issues, a disconnect that the NSN aims to resolve.

Former UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former State and Defense Department official Les Gelb, and Congresswoman Jane Harman (ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) all made brief remarks, speaking to the importance of bringing together policy and politics for effective campaigns and effective governance. Each was highly critical of the Bush administration and hopeful for a Democratic majority and, soon, president, and its clear that the foreign policy establishment is highly invested in this election.

I was particularly impressed with Rep. Harman, who continues to demonstrate acumen and passion in her statements on Iraq and intelligence issues. She called for the declassification of Aprils National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s effect upon the terrorist threat, and she hit hard on continued foreign policy failures by the Bush administration and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress. She also said she believes there's a National Intelligence Estimate specifically on Iraq that's being kept in draft form so Congressional Intelligence Committees can't see it before the elections. Unreal.

The counter-terrorism NIE clearly repudiates the entire Bush administration on Iraq and counterterrorism, and it's good to see Democrats recognize an issue that is so important for both policy and politics and then actually run with it. I hope the American people get a chance to see a similarly unclassified summary of Iraq's status as well, though I'm not holding my breath. Read the rest of this post...

Waterboard GOP Rep. Mark Foley

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GOP Rep. Mark Foley of Florida was caught initiating a rather creepy email exchange with a 16 year old boy, a former congressional page. The emails include Foley discussing what a great body a teenage friend of the boy had, and asking the boy for a "pic" - or "picture" in America Online "pick up" vernacular.

Foley's office claims that there was nothing wrong with what Foley did. It was part of his normal outreach, they say. The boy begged to differ. He found Foley's emails "sick, sick, sick, sick, sick."

Foley's response to the scandal means Foley would do it again if given the chance. He thinks there is nothing wrong with what he did. He thinks it's part of his congressional outreach to email young boys and ask them about their friends' bodies. If given the chance, he would continue to solicit creepy email exchanges with underage boys.

We need answers.

The Co-Chair of the US House Missing and Exploited Children Caucus cannot be someone even under the appearance of possibly being a potential child sex offender (soliciting a minor is a crime). No one is saying Foley is a child sex offender, but his email exchange has raised understandable concerns in some minds. It's time to get to the bottom of this, for the sake of our children. It's time to waterboard GOP Rep. Mark Foley.

Why shouldn't we waterboard Mark Foley? Is there anything more important in America, and to our future, than our children? Is the molestation of a child somehow less a crime than terrorism. Aren't they both really a form of terrorism against the innocent, the weak? Isn't protecting those who can't protect themselves what America is all about? You know, putting the rights of the victims before the rights of the criminals?

Our law enforcement should be given all the tools they need to keep our homeland safe, to keep our children safe. After all, under the new pro-terror legislation that Mr. Foley voted for, Mr. Foley is guaranteed adequate rights while not hindering interrogations. We are dealing with an enemy at war with our children. As GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter said, "In time of war it is not practical to apply the same rules of evidence that we apply in civil trials.” Our nation is facing a faceless and brutal enemy that lurks in the shadows, requiring a new way of thinking on the part of the United States and giving new importance to the ability to freely interrogate them.

“Information is the key weapon we have to prevent them from killing us and prevent them from attacking others in the future,” said Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. And he's right, God bless him.

In America, children and family are paramount. Nothing is more important to the Republican agenda than family values. It's time to defend those family values and protect our children from potential sexual predators.

It's time to waterboard Mark Foley.

And if he has nothing to hide, no harm no foul. After all, it's not like it's torture.

(Thanks to the NYT for liberally contributing content for this story.) Read the rest of this post...

Bush is on the attack -- against Democrats

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Bush is on live on CNN giving that same political campaign speech about terror -- and he's already invoking "September the 11th." (We know why FOX, as the GOP network, covers every utterance from Bush. But why do CNN and the other cable networks carry this same political speech over and over and over?)

The Prez sure is talking tough these days. But it's all politics. The man cannot find the time to devise a strategy for Iraq. He can't even be honest about the quagmire. But he can launch vicious political attacks like this one from a speech yesterday:
"Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on the American homeland in our history, Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second-guessing," the president said.
Endless second-guessing? It's called oversight and the failed Iraq policy and the botched war on terror desperately need some second guessing. Bush wants to stay the course. That's his whole agenda...well, that plus ugly political attacks.

Bush is playing politics with terror against the backdrop of increased violence in Iraq, a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and a growing jihadist movement inspired by his invasion of Iraq. If the White House put as much energy in to their anti-terror strategy as they did in to their political strategy about terror, we might make some progress -- and save some lives. Read the rest of this post...

Rumsfeld impeded and Rice ignored terror fight in 2001

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The New York Times got an advanced copy of Woodward's new book, "State of Denial." The book contains a number of bombshells about the failures of the Bush administration. It's as bad, if not worse, than we all thought:
The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.
There is also confirmation that the Bush administration failed to deal with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda back in 2001:
Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.
Condi cried crocodile tears after Clinton smacked the Bush team for failing to deal with Bin Laden. Woodward confirms that Clinton was right. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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Now that Bob Woodward's latest book, State of Denial, basically says Bush is a liar, will the rest of the media clue in? Iraq's a disaster and getting worse. And, Bush won't be honest about it.

Note to media: Read the House report on Abramoff and his 485 contacts with the Bush team. Looks like the White House has been lying about that, too. By the way, that means Rove and Mehlman.

40 days til the elections. Do something every day between now and then to change the Congress. Read the rest of this post...

Iraq reconstruction on par with Iraq war

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How do these companies stay in business with such sorry results? What I find disturbing here is that they have not be sacked due to incompetence and sued for ripping off taxpayers but I guess when you splash around contributions to everyone, you can get away with just about anything. While the companies actions are bad, I think that it is just too easy to blame them for everything because isn't Congress supposed to be doing something to oversee such critical programs? Congress is supposed to be involved here but it looks like they had more important tasks such as protecting the flag, bashing gays, stripping the Constitution and supporting torture.
In a House hearing on what has gone wrong with reconstruction contracts in Iraq, Parsons Corp. quickly became the focus, taking bipartisan heat for its record of falling short on critical projects. The Pasadena, Calif., firm was supposed to build facilities at the heart of the $21 billion U.S.-led reconstruction program, including fire stations, border forts and health-care centers. But inspectors have found a litany of flaws in the firm's work. The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs.

In a report released yesterday, inspectors found that the Baghdad Police College posed a health risk after feces and urine leaked through the ceilings of student barracks. The facility, part of which will need to be demolished, also featured floors that heaved inches off the ground and a room where water dripped so heavily that it was known as "the rain forest."

The academy was intended as a showcase for U.S. efforts to train Iraqi recruits who eventually are expected to take control of the nation's security from the U.S. military. But lawmakers said yesterday they feared it will become a symbol of a different sort.

"This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. "Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result."

Yep, this surely is how Iraqis see America and I might add that this is pretty much how the American public sees the GOP-run Congress, who continue to have approval ratings in the mid twenties. Just throwing money at everything without any oversight and just hoping that somehow things will just miraculously work out. What a brilliant strategy for success. Surprise,'s not working.

Read the rest of this post...

Ok, that's funny, I was just on Nightline...

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Just brushed my teeth, came out of the bathroom, and there I was on TV. I was going to give you guys a heads up, I taped this a few days ago about the phone records privacy issue - you know, the issue where the Senate Republicans are now trying to kill the legislation that would make stealing your phone records illegal. You may recall that I bought General Wesley Clark's phone records this past January to prove how easy it was to do so. They originally thought the show would air tonight, but then I heard that Nightline was going to be about the school shooting tonight, so I figured the show got pulled. It didn't.

Anyway, I taped it, just on the off chance it ran anyway, and will post it tomorrow. And I guess this means on the west coast it will still be on later tonight. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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That was a busy day. Read the rest of this post...

485 Contacts Between Jack Abramoff Team and Bush White House Officials

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From Roll Call:
Hundreds of contacts between top White House officials and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates "raise serious questions about the legality and actions" of those officials, according to a draft bipartisan report prepared by the House Government Reform Committee.

The 95-page report, which White House officials reviewed Wednesday evening but has yet to be formally approved by the panel, singled out two of President Bush's top lieutenants, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, as having been offered expensive meals and exclusive tickets to premier sporting events and concerts by Abramoff and his associates.

In total, the committee was able to document 485 contacts between White House officials and Abramoff and his lobbying team at the firm Greenberg Traurig from January 2001 to March 2004, with 82 of those contacts occurring in Rove¹s office, including 10 with Rove personally. The panel also said that Abramoff billed his clients nearly $25,000 for meals and drinks with White House officials during that period.

Rove, Mehlman, and other White House officials have denied having any close relationship with Abramoff, despite the fact that Abramoff was a "Pioneer" who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Bush's White House campaigns.

"The documents depict a much closer relationship between Mr. Abramoff and White House officials than the White House has previously acknowledged," committee staff wrote in a three-page summary that accompanied the report. Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman and ranking member of Government Reform, this summer subpoenaed e-mails and billing records from Greenberg Traurig and other firms, including Alexander Strategy Group, which was run by one-time aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). They examined more than 14,000 pages of documents from Greenberg Traurig, including 6,600 pages of billing records and 7,700 pages of e-mail.

During the period examined by the committee, Bush administration officials repeatedly intervened on behalf of Abramoff's clients, including helping a Mississippi Indian tribe obtain $16 million in federal funds for a jail the tribe wanted to build.

Abramoff was able to block the nomination of one Interior Department official using Christian conservative Ralph Reed as a go-between with Rove, according to e-mails between Abramoff and Reed.
Read the rest of this post...

Senate passes pro-torture bill that guts US Constitution

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Shameful. The Republican party quite literally hates America. Read the rest of this post...

Woman says George Allen repeatedly used the word "nigger" in college

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Are they all wrong?
When George Allen stood right up and said he had never used that word, and that just blew me away,” Waring said. “I thought, ‘Boy, you could, if you had any integrity, you would say yes, I may have made some mistakes in my youth, in my younger years, but, and I'm sorry.’ But to hear him lie about it when I know he is lying."
Read the rest of this post...

Republican Senator Trent Lott says Bush and GOP don't pay much attention to the war in Iraq. Adds that all Muslims look the same to him.

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And all Republican bigots look the same to me.
Trent Lott told reporters today that George Bush and GOP Senators barely mentioned Iraq when they met this morning and that they don’t obsess over the war.

When asked if the war was discussed, Lott told reporters that “You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

On the sectarian violence in Iraq, Lott said: “Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”
Read the rest of this post...

Bob Woodward: Iraq is getting worse, Bush is lying, Kissinger is advising Bush on Iraq

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Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

In Wallace’s interview with Woodward, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, the reporter also claims that Henry Kissenger is among those advising Mr. Bush.

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. "It’s getting to the point now where there are eight-, nine-hundred attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. "The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" he tells Wallace. "Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know," says Woodward.

"The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn't know? The American public," Woodward tells Wallace.

Woodward also reports that the president and vice president often meet with Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, as an adviser. Says Woodward, "Now what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply, ‘Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.'" Woodward adds. "This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will."
Read the rest of this post...

GOP congressman admits to, says nothing wrong with, creepy email exchange with 16-year-old page

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What the ABC News story doesn't tell you is about the second email below, where Congressman Foley, in his fifties, remarks on how hot a friend of this sixteen year old is.

Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) had a rather creepy email exchange with a young page a while back. I received copies of these emails several months ago, but couldn't confirm their veracity so I did not report on them. Well, they're out there now, and they've been confirmed. They're creepy as hell.
A 16-year-old male congressional page concerned about the appropriateness of an e-mail exchange with a congressman alerted Capitol Hill staffers to the communication.

Congressman Mark Foley's office says the e-mails were entirely appropriate and that their release is part of a smear campaign by his opponent.

In the series of e-mails, obtained by ABC News, between the page and Rep. Foley (R-FL), Foley asks the page how old he is, what he wants for his birthday and requests a photo of him.

The concerned page alerted congressional staffers to the e-mails. In one e-mail, the page writes to a staffer, "Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously. This freaked me out."

Foley's office acknowledges that Foley wrote the e-mails to the page but says they were completely innocent and that Foley is only guilty of being overly friendly.

The e-mails were sent from Foley's personal AOL account. In one, Foley writes, "did you have fun at your conference…what do you want for your birthday coming up…what stuff do you like to do."

In another Foley writes, "how are you weathering the hurricane…are you safe…send me an email pic of you as well…"

The page forwarded that e-mail to a congressional staffer saying it was "sick sick sick sick sick."

Foley's office says it is their policy to keep pictures of former interns and anyone who may ask for a recommendation on file so they can remember them.

The Congressional page program was started in the 1800s. In its current form, juniors from high school work on Capitol Hill after school or over the summer. The page in question did not work or intern for Foley's office.

Patricia Richardson, Foley's Chief of Staff, said they believe the e-mail exchange began when the page asked Foley for a recommendation and that the subsequent exchange was totally innocent. She said Foley's office believes the e-mails were released by the opposition as part of an "ugly smear campaign."
Up for even more creepy? Foley's congressional home page is all about child sex offenders. Why, because Foley is the Co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus. Yes, this is the guy the Republicans put in charge of taking care of child sex offenders. Seriously, this is sick. From Brownie, to Bernie Kerik, to Harriet Miers, to Mark Foley, can the Republicans ever EVER appoint someone to a position who is not totally incompetent?

Perhaps it's time to call your Republican member of Congress and demand that Mark Foley be stripped of his title as Co-Chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus.

Read the rest of this post...

Gay leader Aleta Fenceroy - part of the Fenceberrys - died

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Aleta and her partner Jean were one of the early pioneers in using the Internet to help the gay community. For years they ran the "Fenceberry" email list, sending out massive amount of daily articles from around the country touching on gay issues.

Mind you, they started in 1993 when running an email list was a novel idea, and you have to remember that back then it was still difficult to find gay news in your local paper, let alone online - most newspapers weren't online, there was no Google, I don't even think there was a Yahoo in 1993. So we had our own lesbian Google, the Fenceberrys.

I cannot tell you how helpful their archive of articles was - I kept them all, still have them all, in a folder on my computer, and they're still quite useful for doing newspaper searches, at least during the era they were publishing.

Anyway, Aleta just died from cancer. She was a good lady, and will be missed. Read the rest of this post...

We are NOT like the terrorists

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Just keep clicking those heels.
The bodies of 40 men who been tortured were found in [Baghdad] in a span of 24 hours, police said Thursday.
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NYT on Torture

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It ain't pretty.

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Republican Senate tries to hijack "cell phone privacy" bill to help Bush's domestic spying program, and help telcoms keep you less safe

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You gotta love the Republicans. Never miss an opportunity to throw some pork onto legislation that should be a no-brainer and shouldn't be partisan.

Their latest? Taking the cell phone privacy legislation that they've been sitting on for nine months and finally moving it forward. Oh but there's a catch. They'll only pass the bill if it somehow saves George Bush's domestic spying program (why are the two related? I'm a bit creeped out now.) AND, they want the federal legislation to pre-empt state legislation already in place on the matter - why? - because many states require the telcoms to actually have better procedures in place to protect your privacy. And God forbid the phone companies actually protect their customers' privacy. So the Republicans controlling the Senate are working out a deal to repeal those state laws. Nice. Never miss a chance to help a donor.

Honestly, this smacks of an effort to kill the legislation, a poison pill. And it stinks. Why doesn't the Republican congress want to protect your phone records from complete strangers who can simply buy them on the Internet?
Differences over whether to pre-empt existing state laws reportedly is the sticking point to a Senate consensus on a federal bill against "pretexting," a practice in which Internet-based brokers fraudulently obtain and sell telephone records, sources said late Tuesday.

Several Capitol Hill sources and consumer watchdogs said that Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is insisting that language negotiated with the Senate Judiciary Committee pre-empt state laws on the subject.

Stevens' measure, S. 2389, would override state mandates that require telecommunications carriers or Internet-enabled voice services to "develop, implement or maintain procedures for protecting confidentiality of customer proprietary network information," according to a staff working draft. ...

If a pretexting bill with state pre-emption is enacted, it could halt state investigations by utility commissions into the lawfulness of electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union argues.
This is absolutely disgusting. Kill this bill. I'd rather have pre-texting remain legal - and I'll start buying member of Congress' phone records - than to have them use this legislation as a chance to let the phone companies off the hook on protecting our privacy, AND to use this to somehow exonerate George Bush's domestic spying. That is just sick. And people wonder why the Republicans are losing control of the Congress. Read the rest of this post...

Musgrave exposes GOP's warped agenda: Gay marriage, not Iraq or terror, is most important issue

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Wonder why we're not safer? Marilyn Musgrave explained why we're not winning the war on terror and why Iraq is a quagmire. The Republicans are too obsessed with issues like gay marriage to focus on real problems.

Think Progress has the video of Musgrave speaking to the theocrats:
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), the lead sponsor of the constitutional ban on gay marriage in the House, spoke this weekend at the Family Research Council's "Values Voter Summit." (Other virulently anti-gay speakers were featured at the event.)

Musgrave declared that gay marriage "is the most important issue that we face today." She told the audience that when you're in a cultural war like this, you have to respond with equal and hopefully greater force if you want to win," and warned that the "future is grim" if gay marriage is not banned.
Most Americans think the future is grim if we don't solve the Iraq crisis and win in the war on terror. But not the people who run Congress. Bashing gays is their top issue. Explains so much.

Iraqis hate us. The Iraq war is a disaster. It's actually made us less safe. But the theocrats who run the GOP, like Musgrave, are worried about gays.

Wonder if the theocrats talked about the other top GOP priority: torture. Was there a session on "How would Jesus torture?" Maybe Bush heard directly from his higher power on that one.

Seriously, this country is in grave danger if the Democrats don't take control in November. The Democrats will make priorities of the Iraq war and the war on terror -- not the culture war. Read the rest of this post...

Iraq now costs $2,000,000,000 per week and it is increasing

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This is an amazing number for a war that has nothing to do with the real war on terror. The Republican answer is everything is throw money at it (and your friends such as Halliburton) and hope it somehow works. Well guess what? It's not working and it is an expensive experiment for failed political ideas. When the GOP gained control of all branches of the federal government, this money was not available for programs such as Kyoto but somehow, out of nowhere, they found it and we will be paying for this for generations, both financially and politically. It is time for a change.
A new congressional analysis shows the Iraq war is now costing taxpayers almost $2 billion a week -- nearly twice as much as in the first year of the conflict three years ago and 20 percent more than last year -- as the Pentagon spends more on establishing regional bases to support the extended deployment and scrambles to fix or replace equipment damaged in combat.
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Thursday Morning Open Thread

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This morning, Bush is heading to Capitol Hill to give the Republican Senators a pep talk...and to celebrate the impending passage of his number one legislative priority: the torture bill. Another campaign event for the President. Iraqis hate us. The war is a disaster. The 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say Iraq has made terrorism worse.

But Bush is going to celebrate torture. That explains so much.

I need coffee. Read the rest of this post...

Dead heat in suburban Seattle Congressional seat

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Nice job by Democrat Darcy Burner who was down 13 points just a month ago and is now within the margin of error with GOP incumbent Reichert. The GOP has held this seat for years but Burner has made this a race so if there are any Seattle-area readers out there, helping out would go a long way both for the area and for the Democrats nationally. Read the rest of this post...

Saudis want their own Maginot Line

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I know that the wingnuts in the US still love to criticize the French, but didn't the French realize years ago that these walls were a major waste of money and failed to work as advertised? Why are the Saudis and American wingnuts so anxious to repeat such expensive mistakes? Who's laughing now? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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At what point did the Republicans lose every single ideal they ever stood for? I'm talking the real Republicans, not the Washington types, real Americans. When was it that they decided the flag and the Constitution and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were expendable and actually a hindrance to our continued survival?

Why do Republicans hate America? Read the rest of this post...

NY GOP AG Candidate Pirro (yes her) under fed. investigation for getting Kerik (yes him) to spy on her husband

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You have to read the post over at TPMmuckraker. You can't make this stuff up:
Now she's under federal investigation for plotting -- with onetime NYPD chief, former Iraq security head, would-be DHS secretary and crook Bernard Kerik -- to illegally spy on her own husband.
Yes, this is the guy who George Bush wanted to be in charge of all Homeland Security.

Had enough? Read the rest of this post...

6 in 10 Iraqis back attacks on US troops

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But can we save them from themselves? Read the rest of this post...

UN Security Council terrorism experts study says Iraq has caused more terror

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In a second blow to the president, a new U.N. report said the Iraq war was providing al Qaeda with a training center and fresh recruits, and was inspiring a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan hundreds of miles away.
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Open thread

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MSNBC host Keith Olbermann received Anthrax death threat - NY Post thinks it's funny

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So the New York Post's official policy is that it's funny when people send alleged Anthrax, along with implied death threats, to reporters at their private home addresses? I wouldn't want to be a New York Post reporter checking my mail if this is the kind of thing the boss finds funny. Read the rest of this post...

National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism

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(NOTE FROM JOHN: AJ is a recent former Defense Intelligence officer who spent two years working on Iraq policy.)

The recently-declassified NIE titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States", which was finalized nearly six months ago, is a devastating repudiation of virtually everything leading Executive and Defense Department leaders have told Americans about the war on terror.

As I've written before, the most important thing to look for in this kind of analysis is trends. Events are different than how things are going in general, and here's an example: the report states that U.S. efforts have damaged the leadership of al-Qa'ida and "disrupted" is operations, which is almost certainly true. There have been plenty of operations disrupted. But that's a summary of events, not a trend. More important is the follow-up that "the global jihadist movement . . . is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts." Event: we've done some good. Trend: things are getting worse, not better.

Much of the initial assessment is uncontroversial. Jihadism is decentralized, it's expanding, self-radicalized cells (especially in Europe) are a growing threat, etc. The real meat, both analytically and politically, involves Iraq. Bear in mind that the report focuses on Terrorism, not Iraq per se, so it's instructive that a great deal of the summary addresses Iraq.

The Iraq portion begins somewhat dubiously, with the statement that "perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere." That's disingenuous to the extent that jihadists already perceive success and fighters have already moved beyond Iraq (claiming responsibility for attacks in Jordan and other Gulf states). The assessment that Iraq "is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives" is also not surprising, though I think more people should realize that a similar situation in Afghanistan caused the rise of al-Qa'ida in the first place. No matter how or when we leave, there will be trained and angry operatives who will lash out in the future.

But to me, the most important, the scariest, and the most damning part of the entire summary is this single sentence:
We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities are are likely to do so for the duration of the timefram of this Estimate.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's the ballgame right there. What this intelspeak means in English is, "The causes fueling terrorism outweigh the vulnerabilities of terrorists and their networks, and that fact is likely to be true indefinitely." The assessment is saying that the main motivations for terrorism -- and the report puts Iraq at the top of that long list -- outweigh our ability to prevent it, meaning, essentially, that Iraq is more harmful than helpful in our counterterror strategy. I already knew that, and so did most readers here, but I don't think that's the conventional wisdom. Until now, at least. Anyone who defends the Iraq war now has to answer this question: The collective judgment of the entire U.S. intelligence community is that under the watch of the Bush administration terrorism is becoming more of a threat, not less of one, primarily due to Iraq. Do you support continuing that failure, or changing the course to solve it?

The Bush administration is trying to spin the findings, saying that they reflect previous statements, but this response is pathetic. The spin conflates fact with trend, basically saying that President Bush has stated some of the facts contained in the report (shorter version: "The report says al-Qa'ida is bad. President Bush has said al-Qa'ida is bad!") while failing to address the assessment that things are getting worse, not better.

One more time, because it's really a remarkable assessment, despite being in bureaucrat-speak:
We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweight its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.
Those underlying factors are listed as, basically, entrenched grievances and humiliation; Iraq; lack of political reform in Muslim nations; and pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most muslims. These are all interconnected, of course, and Bush administration policies, especially its intransigence on Iraq, are hurting more than they are helping. Analysts are generally discouraged from offering policy suggestions (that's for policymakers, not interpreters of information), but this transcends that usual prohibition a little, and the strongest statement is this:
Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.
That is a concept this administration, and its rubber-stamp Congress, simply doesn't seem able to grasp.

The report is definitive, provocative, and damning, and every day between now and the elections Democrats -- and sane Republicans -- should demand accountability for these unconscionable failures of Presidential and Congressional leadership. Read the rest of this post...

Second source alleges George Allen involvement in racist hate crime

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From Salon
A former college football teammate of Sen. George Allen's has confirmed details of a controversial hunting trip in the early 1970s, during which Allen is alleged to have placed a severed deer head in a mailbox that he believed to be owned by a black family....

"We were sitting around drinking beer," Beam said in an interview Wednesday morning, recalling the conversation with Lanahan. "Billy said, 'George and Kenny and I went hunting, and we decided at some time to cut off this deer head and stick it in a mailbox.'"

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Open Thread

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Okay, let's catch our breath for a second.

What's the latest? Read the rest of this post...

Angry, failed Bush and rubber-stamp GOP refuse to discuss their failed Iraq policy

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Yesterday, House Republicans voted against a Democratic request for that body to enter secret session to discuss the findings of the NIE, the intelligence report that says Iraq has fueled more terrorism and made us less safe.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sought a rare secret session of the House to discuss the report's classified findings. Her request was rejected - 217-171 - on a nearly straight party-line vote.

Such a session hasn't occurred in the House since July 1983, when the chamber went into a closed session to discuss U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua.

In an interview, Pelosi said the secret session was needed to allow members to better understand the intelligence community's most recent assessment on global terrorism. Judging by media reports, she said, the intelligence estimate "is the administration's worst nightmare. It is not a corroboration of what the president is saying. It is a contradiction of what the president is saying."
The GOP wants to avoid any discussion about Iraq. The Bush/GOP Iraq policy has made the world a much more dangerous place. They've made Americans less safe. Read the rest of this post...

At least this used to be true before the Republicans took over

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Democrats lead on Iraq

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Since the media’s "Operation Ignore Democrats" continues, and because I think it’s important to recognize Democratic leadership on national security issues, this intrepid blogger went down to the US Capitol Building to check out a hearing on Iraq yesterday.

"The Mounting Costs of the U.S. Military Occupation of Iraq" was organized by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who heads the Progressive Caucus. It covered a variety of Iraq issues, and was a poignant reminder that Democrats are tackling the problems as Republicans continue to stuff their heads in the sand. It’s crucial to recognize that Democrats are the only party seriously addressing – and exploring solutions for – Bush administration disasters.

The event was headlined by General William Odom, retired Army and former head of the NSA, and it’s hard to imagine a more credible voice on these issues than General Odom, a Reagan appointee and career intelligence and military professional. The costs of the Iraq war are myriad, and he chose to specifically address the strategic expense.

By way of introduction, he explained, "It is difficult to appreciate [the costs] outside the context of critically important facts that are either ignored or grossly distorted in most discussions of the war." He elucidated, in a measured and persuasive way, how our invasion and continued presence in Iraq harms American interests and serves those of our adversaries.
To understand the costs of being in Iraq, we must look back at whose interests were served. The interests of Iran and al Qaeda have been hugely advanced. Toppling Saddam avenged Iran’s grievances for his invasion of that country [and] the inevitable Shiite dominance in any successor Iraqi regime greatly enhances Tehran’s influence there. […] Al Qaeda is no less grateful to the United States than Iran. Our toppling of Saddam opened Iraq to al Qaeda cadres and placed Americans there where they would be vulnerable.
One of the lessons in Political Science 101 is that policy decisions always have secondary and unintended consequences. Sometimes they’re unpredictable, but in the case of Iraq, all the evidence was there, and nobody who understands the Middle East should be surprised by these results. Further, in addition to the dubious underlying strategy, the mission was obviously engaged in a way that virtually guaranteed a variety of appalling results. What we should do next is a question that Democrats are rightfully trying to address, while Republican leaders ignore the issue. General Odom put it succinctly:
Once these two facts are recognized – that we are fighting in the interests of our enemies in Iraq and that we cannot improve things in the larger region until we withdraw – we can begin to talk sense about what to do next. In the meanwhile, the costs go up every day. We squander American lives and money, and lose allies and the moral authority we need and used to effectively during the long course of the Cold War . . . The longer we remain bogged down in Iraq, the closer we come to the destruction of these institutions that have served us so well, financially, militarily, politically, and morally.
Congresswoman Woolsey deserves great credit for bringing this kind of information and expertise into the debate. There is occasionally a tendency among some Democrats to call for some kind action without actually doing what they’re demanding, but Rep. Woolsey is stepping up to the plate. She doesn’t have a big megaphone, and you won’t read about it on the front page of the Times or the Post, but she’s doing, not just talking. She summarized the facts, in closing:
We’ve mortgaged our future on a failed policy. And in this case, failure is measured in lives lost, security diminished, a world endangered. And that’s the read tragedy of Iraq. We’ve sent Americans to die, we’ve ripped Iraq apart at the seams, we’ve spent all this taxpayer money; and the problem we set out to solve is worse than it was before . . . worse, in fact, than it’s ever been.
If you support Democrats not only speaking and voting the right way, but calling hearings, seeking out the opinions of experts, and leading on issues of national security the way many of us want them to, let Congresswoman Woolsey know it. Give her office a call, at 202-225-5161. We always tell reps when they screw up; let’s also reward good behavior. And I hope there’s more of this kind of leadership over the next 40 days and beyond.

(P.S. I'll have the intelspeak-to-English translation and analysis of the Iraq/terror NIE this afternoon. Stay tuned . . .) Read the rest of this post...

Thank you, President Bush

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Sometimes you just have to let an idiot hang himself.

As you all now know, George Bush made public the executive summary of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq late yesterday. Bush claimed that the NIE was going to exonerate him and show how peachy everything was in Iraq and in the war on terror. In fact, the document was horrifically pessimistic, and said just what the NYT said it said - namely, that Bush's quagmire in Iraq is fueling more terror and making us less safe.

The thing I can't fathom is what possessed Bush to make this document public AND to claim that it was going to be a really happy and peppy assessment. Granted, he may not have read the thing - it was, after all, a full three pages (and there were no pictures). But seriously, he must have read the thing - how did he get off thinking he could just lie about it, and then release it three hours later, like nobody would notice?

Now for a summary of the media reaction to the story. It ain't pretty. Meaning, it's absolutely hysterical.

First, ABC News. I watched their broadcast last night, top story, talking about the NIE. "It says the jihadist movement is spreading," Charlie Gibson said. "These three-plus pages are very sobering," said Martha Radditz. It got worse from there.

And now the rest of the media weighs in.

Here is AP's headline: "Iraq is 'cause celebre' for extremists." And here is what AP had to say:
The war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S. that probably will get worse before it gets better, federal intelligence analysts conclude in a report at odds with President Bush's portrayal of a world growing safer....

Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration's glass-half-full declarations.
And there's more:

Iraq Is Fueling Muslim Radicalism Globally, US Report Says
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Brendan Murray and Jeff Bliss. Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Anger over the war in Iraq is fueling Muslim radicalism, and the dispersal ...

No longer a secret: Iraq war breeds terror threat
USA Today - 1 hour ago
In Washington today, politicians too often just stand their ground. Liberal strategist Bob Beckel and conservative columnist Cal Thomas provide a better model. ...

Waging the War on Terror: Report Belies Optimistic View
New York Times, United States - 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Three years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his colleagues in the Pentagon ...

Iraq war fuels terror - US report
BBC News, UK - 2 hours ago
The Iraq conflict has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic militants worldwide, declassified parts of a US intelligence report say. ...

Iraq Is 'Cause Celebre' for Extremists
Forbes - 6 hours ago
By KATHERINE SHRADER , 09.26.2006, 07:02 PM. The war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment ...

Iraq Is 'Cause Celebre' for Extremists
ABC News - 6 hours ago
President Bush gestures as he speaks during a news conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC ...

Iraq is 'cause celebre' for extremists
Houston Chronicle, United States - 8 hours ago
By KATHERINE SHRADER Associated Press Writer. WASHINGTON — A declassified government intelligence report says the war in Iraq has ...

NIE says Iraq is 'cause celebre' for jihadists
U.S. News & World Report, DC - 6 hours ago
... National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism done by the US intelligence community last April say the Iraq conflict has become "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists ...

Iraq war has become a 'cause celebre' for extremists, US report ...
Arizona Republic, AZ - 8 hours ago
WASHINGTON - A declassified government intelligence report says the war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment ...
And my personal favorite, Pravda on the Hudson weighs in:

Iraq a 'Cause Celebre' for Extremists, Intel Report Says
FOX News - 7 hours ago
WASHINGTON — A newly declassified and controversial intelligence report says that the Iraq conflict has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, but ...
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