Cheney Tries to Scare Americans Into Voting Republican

Faced with loosing control of congress, Cheney and his pack of radical conservatives have sunk to an all-time low. According to his statements on Fox News (imagine that) insurgents are stepping up their violence in Iraq with the hopes that we will vote the Republicans out of office.

Cheney: “Whether it’s al Qaeda or the other elements that are active in Iraq, they are betting on the proposition they can break the will of the American people. They’re very sensitive to the fact that we’ve got an election scheduled.”

Why didn’t he just buy some TV time and come on with a grim face and say “The terrorists WANT you to vote Democrat!” I have to say that it’s pretty sad to see our leaders stooping to such infantile tactics. The only thing the Republicans have to run on is fear, and because it’s not working anymore they just sink lower and lower in an effort to scare us into thinking we need them. Sorry pal. It looks like America has had it with your fear mongering. Your days of power are just about up.

Downing Street Memo picks up traction

Not to revisit recent topics, but I must say that I really am amazed that the mainstream press has finally started talking about the Downing Street Memo. More than two months after the memo was leaked, the so-called “liberal” media has finally gotten around to covering it, albeit not with much enthusiasm.

Not that they came to it on their own, mind you. Bloggers have bee covering it since it came out and congress has taken note with many House and Senate Republicans demanding an explanation from the White House. Democracy For America even has a petition with more than a half a million signatures calling for an independent investigation, yet somehow, up to now, the major news sources have fallen silent.

When bloggers, and the United States Congress cover a political scandal like the Downing Street Memo long before the major news sources we are supposed to be trusting for independent, objective reporting, we have to start asking ourselves about the integrity of our Nation’s media. We are living in a time when multinational conglomerates control both our politicians and our news sources. They used their money to finance the campaigns of their pocketed politicians, and their news channels to ensure the public maintains a favorable opinion of them. While voters maintain an illusion of the electoral final say, the truth is a disturbing flourish of Orwellian smoke and mirrors.

Sign the petition! >
Read the Memo! >

The Downing Street Memo

A secret British document revealed last month — the Downing Street Memo — all but confirms a sickening truth. Obsessed with Saddam no matter what the cost, President Bush and his aides dragged the nation to war with fixed evidence and false claims about non-existent Iraqi WMD’s.

The Downing Street Memo makes clear that Bush wanted intelligence that justified a war, no matter how the facts had to be bent to get it.

The memo consists of the minutes of a meeting where the British intelligence chief, just back from the White House, told Prime Minister Tony Blair that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts,” the Downing Street Memo continues, “were being fixed around the policy. The [National Security Council] had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”
Today, American soldiers and their families deal with the aftermath of a war hastily planned and poorly executed by an ideologically obsessed White House that finds money for corporate welfare, but not for armor for our troops.
The American people deserve an explanation — but it’s clear that even with Blair in Washington this week, the press won’t do the job on its own. So we will have to take the memo directly to the people. Here it is.

As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005

SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL – UK EYES ONLY
DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER’S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

Sign the Downing Street Memo PetitionJohn Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun “spikes of activity” to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT
[Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide]

Sign the Downing Street Memo Petition

The Howard BEAN: Begins Campaign for New Owner

The Howard BEAN: A Cafe For America has begun an international campaign for a new owner, its current owner announced today. The Montpelier, Vt., cafe opened on election day 2004 and was named (tongue-in-cheek) after a certain former Vermont Governor who is the chair of the Democratic National Committee. The cafe is also home to the monthly meetup of the Central Vermont Democracy for America.

As our cafe continues to gain a national following, we want to be certain that the person who takes over is truly the ideal candidate and will continue to serve a no-frills, affordable cup of coffee. None of that $4-a-cup, whoop-de-do, latte-boca-cucaracha-grande nonsense, says owner Patrick Mullikin. The Howard BEAN is, after all, a cafe for America.

The cafe is located at Riverwalk Records and Psychedelic Poster Gallery, which hosts the annual Green Mountain Bob Dylan Wanna-Be Contest, featured on Vermont Public Radio. Riverwalk Records was instrumental in resurrecting the again-vibrant live music scene in Montpelier and hosts in-store concerts featuring local artists.

For further information, e-mail: info@riverwalkrecords.com, or call (802) 223-3334 or (802) 229-9905.

Gannon Guckert Gate

Since George W. Bush took office his secrecy with respect to the media has been unprecedented. He rarely holds press conferences, and on the rare occasions when he does, his answers are constantly obfuscated by double-speak and misdirection. Thus it is for good reason that the blogosphere and independent media became suspicious when little known reporter Jeff Gannon was called on by President Bush at one of these rare conferences, and ended his question with the softball: “How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?” referring to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

After some digging, it turned out that “Jeff Gannon” is really an alias for an individual named James D. Guckert, who represented a conservative news site called “Talon News”. Somehow, within a short time of entering “journalism,” Guckert, masquerading as Gannon was able to get credentialed and attend numerous White House briefings, where he lobed softball questions at White House officials. According to DemocraticUnderground.com, “Gannon was actually in the White House as early as February 28, 2003 — a month before Talon News even existed”.

Whenever one goes digging, the most interesting details usually buried the deepest, and this story is no exception. It turns out that by day, Guckert was merely a half-credentialed “journalist” planted by the Bush Administration to ask easy questions, but by night was transformed into a high dollar male escort and gay porn star! Guckert appeared on a wide variety of websites that feature homosexual pornography, including HotMilitaryStud.com and MilitaryEscorts.com. These sites have now been taken down and are listed for sale in the Adult/Porn category.

One would think that when the White House plants a fake reporter who is also a gay porn star and male escort, the religious right would be outraged, but interestingly they have not. In an article by Bill Berkowitz entitled “Christian Right Mum on Gannon Affair Why have the “traditional family values” folks erected a wall of silence around the Gannon scandal?” a long list of religious news organizations and Christian political action committees were contacted, with not so much as one willing to comment on the scandal. Apparently, the same individuals who are so up in arms against gay rights have no problem with the President allowing a homosexual male prostitute to meander around the west wing of the White House so long as it serves their agenda.

This scandal does not seem to be going away nearly as quickly as the President would like. With so much buzz in the blogosphere, even extremely conservative media sources such as Fox News have been browbeaten into covering it. What is truly disturbing to me is not the fact that Guckert is a male escort and gay porn star, but the fact that the Bush Administration has taken to planting fake journalists who simply repeat GOP talking points and ask questions that advance the neo conservative agenda.

Christian Right Mum on Gannon Affair
A Man Called Jeff… More than you really want to see of Guckert

Bush Audio tapes Leaked

The quotes below are taken from a New York TImes article from Feb 19, 2005. Doug Wead is a personal friend of George Bush. During the course of writing a book about then future president he secretly recorded some private conversations.

NOTE: We are currently trying to acquire the entire transcripts of these tapes, as well as the audio files themselves. Check back regularly for updates.

>>Variously earnest, confident or prickly in those conversations, Bush weighs the political risks and benefits of his religious faith, discusses campaign strategy and comments on rivals. John McCain “will wear thin,” he predicted. John Ashcroft, he confided, would be a “very good Supreme Court pick” or a “fabulous” vice president. And in exchanges about his handling of questions from the news media about his past, Bush appears to have acknowledged trying marijuana.

>>Preparing to meet Christian leaders in September 1998, Bush told Mr. Wead, “As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways.” He added, “I am going to say that I’ve accepted Christ into my life. And that’s a true statement.”

>>But Bush also repeatedly worried that prominent evangelical Christians would not like his refusal “to kick gays.” At the same time, he was wary of unnerving secular voters by meeting publicly with evangelical leaders. When he thought his aides had agreed to such a meeting, Bush complained to Karl Rove, his political strategist, “What the hell is this about?”

>>Bush, who has acknowledged a drinking problem years ago, told Mr. Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it involved nothing more than “just, you know, wild behavior.” He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. “If nobody shows up, there’s no story,” he told Mr. Wead, “and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up.” But when Mr. Wead said that Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Bush replied, “I haven’t denied anything.”

>>He refused to answer reporters’ questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Bush said: “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”

>>He mocked Vice President Al Gore for acknowledging marijuana use. “Baby boomers have got to grow up and say, yeah, I may have done drugs, but instead of admitting it, say to kids, don’t do them,” he said.

>>Bush threatened that if his rival Steve Forbes attacked him too hard during the campaign and won, both Bush, then the Texas governor, and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, would withhold their support. “He can forget Texas. And he can forget Florida. And I will sit on my hands,” Bush said.

>>Bush also regularly gripes about the barbs of the press and his rivals. And he is cocky at times. “It’s me versus the world,” he told Mr. Wead. “The good news is, the world is on my side. Or more than half of it.”

>>”I believe tomorrow is going to change Texas politics forever,” he told Mr. Wead. “The top three offices right below me will be the first time there has been a Republican in that slot since the Civil War. Isn’t that amazing? And I hate to be a braggart, but they are going to win for one reason: me.”

>>When Mr. Wead warned him that “power corrupts,” for example, Bush told him not to worry: “I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check.”

>>Preparing to meet with influential Christian conservatives, Bush tested his lines with Mr. Wead. “I’m going to tell them the five turning points in my life,” he said. “Accepting Christ. Marrying my wife. Having children. Running for governor. And listening to my mother.”

>>…apparently ruling out potential vice presidents including Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Gen. Colin L. Powell, who favored abortion rights. Picking any of them could turn conservative Christians away from the ticket, Bush

>>…”Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I’m not going to kick gays, because I’m a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?”

>>…convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: “This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It’s hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however.”

>>”This is an issue I have been trying to downplay,” Bush said. “I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays.”

>> “No, what I said was, I wouldn’t fire gays.”

>>Bush had already identified one gay-rights issue where he found common ground with conservative Christians: same-sex marriage. “Gay marriage, I am against that. Special rights, I am against that,” Bush told Mr. Wead, five years before a Massachusetts court brought the issue to national attention.

>>”Sovereignty. The issue is huge. The mere mention of Kofi Annan in the U.N. caused the crowd to go into a veritable fit. The coalition wants America strong and wants the American flag flying overseas, not the pale blue of the U.N

>>”I don’t like it either,” Bush said of the Clinton investigations. “But on the other hand, I think he has disgraced the nation.”

>>When Mr. Wead warned that he had heard reporters talking about Bush’s “immature” past, Bush said, “That’s part of my schtick, which is, look, we have all made mistakes.”

>>He said he learned “a couple of really good lines” from Mr. Robison, the Texas pastor: “What you need to say time and time again is not talk about the details of your transgressions but talk about what I have learned. I’ve sinned and I’ve learned.”

>>”I said, ‘James’ – he stopped – I said, ‘I did some things when I was young that were immature,’ ” Bush said. “He said, ‘But have you learned?’ I said, ‘James, that’s the difference between me and the president. I’ve learned. I am prepared to accept the responsibility of this office.’ “By the summer of 1999, Bush was telling Mr. Wead his approach to such prying questions had evolved. “I think it is time for somebody to just draw the line and look people in the eye and say, I am not going to participate in ugly rumors about me, and blame my opponents, and hold the line, and stand up for a system that will not allow this kind of crap to go on.”

>>…used illegal drugs in the past …”I am just not going to answer those questions. And it might cost me the election,”

>>”It’s unbelievable,” Bush said, reciting various rumors about his past that his aides had picked up from reporters. “They just float sewer out there.”

>>”I like Ashcroft a lot,” he told Mr. Wead in November 1998. “He is a competent man. He would be a good Supreme Court pick. He would be a good attorney general. He would be a good vice president.”

>>When Mr. Wead predicted an uproar if Mr. Ashcroft were appointed to the court because of his conservative religious views, Bush replied, “Well, tough.”

>>”I want Ashcroft to stay in there, and I want him to be very strong,” Bush said. ” I would love it to be a Bush-Ashcroft race. Only because I respect him. He wouldn’t say ugly things about me. And I damn sure wouldn’t say ugly things about him.”

>>Evangelicals were not going to like him, Bush said. “He’s too preppy,” Bush said, calling Mr. Forbes “mean spirited.”

“Steve Forbes is going to hear this message from me. I will do nothing for him if he does to me what he did to Dole. Period. There is going to be a consequence. He is not dealing with the average, you know, ‘Oh gosh, let’s all get together after it’s over.’ I will promise you, I will not help him. I don’t care.”

>>When Mr. Wead suggested in June 2000 that Mr. McCain’s popularity with Democrats and moderate voters might make him a strong vice presidential candidate, Bush almost laughed. “Oh, come on!” He added, “I don’t know if he helps us win.”

>>Bush could hardly contain his disdain for Mr. Gore, his Democratic opponent, at one point calling him “pathologically a liar.” His confidence in the moral purpose of his campaign to usher in “a responsibility era” never wavered, but he acknowledged that winning might require hard jabs. “I may have to get a little rough for a while,” he told Mr. Wead, “but that is what the old man had to do with Dukakis, remember?”

More as we try to acquire the transcripts….

Clarke’s al-Qaeda Threat Memo Leaked

Yeserday, the National Security Archive posted the widely-debated, but previously unavailable, January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The document was central to debates in the 9/11 hearings over the Bush administration’s policies and actions on terrorism before September 11, 2001. Clarke’s memo requests an immediate meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss broad strategies for combating al-Qaeda by giving counterterrorism aid to the Northern Alliance and Uzbekistan, expanding the counterterrorism budget and responding to the U.S.S. Cole attack.

Despite Clarke’s request, there was no Principals Committee meeting on al-Qaeda until September 4, 2001. The memo has been declassified for some time, but only became available yesterday.