Emptywheel

Obama Administration Considers Hiding Details of CIA Torture

Just to lay out a few details based on this article explaining that Obama continues to waver on what parts of the 2005 Bradbury torture memos to reveal. (h/t Steve)

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Who Watched the 92 Torture Tapes Before the CIA Had Them Destroyed?

[Editor's note: For more on this story click here.]

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Republicans On Why They Hate Unions

If you need any more proof that the Republican attempt to break the UAW a week ago Thursday was really just a political stunt, read this article. In it, Republican after Republican attacks Bush for providing relief to the auto industry. That includes four of the Republican Senators who--Bob Corker has assured us--would have supported his "compromise" deal from last Thursday:

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A Look at the Auto Bridge Loan Plan

Here's a copy of the draft plan. It closely resembles what we've been hearing: the designation of an "auto czar" (AC--though it is called a President's Designee) who will dispense funds to those auto companies that need it, with the requirement that by March 31, the companies restructure with the oversight of the AC. The AC is empowered to assist in negotiations with retirees, unions, dealers, and creditors right now, but can come back to Congress and ask for more authority if need be (presumably, in case this person had to make bankruptcy court type decisions). The taxpayers get warrants and or a piece of Cerberus in exchange for their trouble.

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Lieberman to Lose His Committee Chairmanship?

Gosh, you think this is why Sanctimonious Joe got all complimentary of Obama the other day?

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Mukasey Will Not Prosecute Bush Officials Who Politicized DOJ

In May of last year, I questioned whether, after Monica Goodling won immunity, we'd get anything from giving her immunity.

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What Is Michael Mukasey Helping Dick Cheney to Cover Up?


Never mind. I know the answer. Attorney General Mukasey is helping Cheney and Bush hide the fact that they played insta-declassification games that may have--though they'll never tell--included leaking Valerie Wilson's identity.


Apparently, DOJ responded to Waxman's subpoena for the Bush and Cheney interview reports by telling Waxman to go fuck himself (h/t WO).

On June 16,2008, having been informed in writing by the Justice Department that it would not produce the interview reports of the President and Vice President, the Committee issued a subpoena for those interview reports, as well as other responsive documents not previously produced, with a return date of June23,2008. On June 24,2008, the Justice Department informed the Committee by letter that it would not comply with the subpoena and would not "provide or make available any reports of interviews with the President or the Vice President from the leak investigation."

Waxman Closing in on Dick Cheney for Outing Valerie Wilson


Henry Waxman noted the same thing that I did about Scottie McClellan's book. He noticed that Scottie McC's book sure came close to saying Dick Cheney and George Bush were personally involved in the outing of Valerie Wilson.

New revelations by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan raise additional questions about the actions of the President and the Vice President. Mr. McClellan has stated that "[t]he President and Vice President directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby." He has also asserted that "the top White House officials who knew the truth - including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney - allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie." It would be a major breach of trust if the Vice President personally directed Mr. McClellan to mislead the public.

Now, I've been quietly trying to find out whether or not Michael Muksaey had handed over Bush and Cheney's interview transcripts to Henry Waxman. Seeing as how he's asking again, I'd say the answer's no.

On December 3, 2007, I wrote to request that you arrange for the production of documents relating to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, including copies of FBI interview reports of White House officials. I appreciate that you have since made redacted versions of the interview reports of Karl Rove, I. Lewis “Scooter� Libby, and other senior White House officials available to the Committee.


I am writing now to renew the Committee’s request for the interview reports with President Bush and Vice President Cheney and to request unredacted versions of the interviews with Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Scott McClellan, and Cathie Martin. I also request that the Department provide all other responsive documents that were approved for release to the Committee by Mr. Fitzgerald. [my emphasis]

And in the remainder of Waxman's letter, he makes it clear that doing anything less than turning this information over to Waxman's committee is a deliberate attempt to cover up the fact that Dick Cheney outed Valerie Plame, with Bush's involvement.

Did George Bush Authorize Plame Leak?


Scottie McC doesn't know it yet. But that's basically what he revealed this morning on the Today Show (h/t Rayne).



During the interview, Scottie revealed the two things that really pissed him off with the Bush Administration. First, being set up to lie by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. And second, learning that Bush had--himself--authorized the selective leaking of the NIE.

Scottie McC: But the other defining moment was in early April 2006, when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there talking about how seriously the President took the selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized.


Viera: Did you talk to the President and say why are you doing this?


Scottie McC: Actually, I did. I talked about the conversation we had. I walked onto Air Force One, it was right after an event we had, it was down in the south, I believe it was North Carolina. And I walk onto Air Force One and a reporter had yelled a question to the President trying to ask him a question about this revelation that had come out during the legal proceedings. The revelation was that it was the President who had authorized, or, enable Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I told the President that that's what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, was the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said "yeah, I did." And I was kinda taken aback.

Now, for the most part, this is not new. We have known (since I first reported it here) that Scooter Libby testified that, after Libby told Dick Cheney he couldn't leak the information Cheney had ordered him to leak to Judy Miller because it was classified, Cheney told Libby he had gotten the President to authorize the declassification of that information.


Thus far, though, we only had Dick Cheney's word that he had actually asked Bush to declassify this information. We didn't have Bush's confirmation that he had actually declassified the information. In fact, we've had Dick Cheney's claims that he--Dick--had insta-declassified via his super secret pixie dust declassification powers.





Now, though Scottie refers, obliquely, to "this information," he explicitly refers only to the NIE. But as I've described over and over again, it's not just the NIE Bush authorized Dick to order Libby to leak.

Mukasey Defends Yoo at BC Law Commencement


Mukasey's defense of John Yoo in his commencement address at Boston College Law School has drawn a lot of attention.

Today, many of the senior government lawyers who provided legal advice supporting the nation’s most important counterterrorism policies have been subjected to relentless public criticism. In some corners, one even hears suggestions�suggestions that are made in a manner that is almost breathtakingly casual�that some of these lawyers should be subject to civil or criminal liability for the advice they gave. The rhetoric of these discussions is hostile and unforgiving.

But few people have examined Mukasey's rationale for defending Yoo.


Essentially, Mukasey is making an argument that everyone concluded after 9/11 that timid lawyering had contributed to 9/11, and so if we criticize Yoo (and Addington and Gonzales and--I would argue, John Rizzo, Acting Counsel for CIA when the torture tapes were destroyed) for their decisions made under pressure to make lawyering less timid, our nation will be less secure as a result.


To make this argument, Mukasey relies on Jack Goldsmith's discussion of risk aversion in his book Terror Presidency. But Mukasey grossly misrepresents what Goldsmith describes as the primary root of risk aversion. Repeatedly, Goldsmith compares the difference between the legal means Roosevelt used in World War II with those the Bush Administration uses, and goes on to suggest that the rise of human rights in the intervening years had constrained presidential action. Goldsmith mentions, among other things, prohibitions on torture (most of them international) and assassination. Significantly, of the many legal developments he cites specifically as creating new limits on presidential action, only one--FISA--was a law passed in the US in response to intelligence operations gone legally awry (Goldsmith also mentions EO 12333, which is an order signed by Saint Ronnie, not a law passed by Congress or an international body, and he mentions "an aggressive post-Watergate Congress ... crafting many of the laws that so infuriatingly tied the President's hands in the post-9/11 world").


That's important because, rather than attributing this legal timidity to Goldsmith's more general trend of human rights over the last 60 years, Mukasey picks a few historical events as the source of risk aversion.

House Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Rove


Apparently, Chairman Conyers received yet another letter from Robert Luskin claiming that Rove can spout off all he wants about his involvement (or not) in Governor Siegelman's prosecution, but he can't or won't do so before the House Judiciary.


Conyers isn't going to wait around for more of the same.

We were disappointed to receive your May 21 letter, which fails to explain why Mr. Rove is willing to answer questions in writing for the House Judiciary Committee, and has spoken on the record to the media, but continues to refuse to testify voluntarily before the Committee on the politicization of the Department of Justice, including allegations regarding the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. Because of that continuing refusal, we enclose with this letter a subpoena for Mr. Rove’s appearance before the Committee’s Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee at 10:00 a.m. on July 10, 2008.

(Nice touch, Chairman Conyers, having the Subcommittee vote on it without, as far as I've heard, the news getting word.)


Now, as Conyers points out, this subpoena is a bit different than the subpoena that Harriet Miers blew off. For starters, Rove has been completely willing to answer questions in writing--and at least until now, he hasn't asked Bush whether Bush wanted to protect the alleged conversations between Rob Riley and Rove and the Public Integrity Division of DOJ. And, as Conyers reiterates, Rove has been blabbing and blabbing and blabbing about this to the press, so it'll be tough to argue that he can't continue to blab under oath.


One more difference. I wonder how the Courts will feel about enforcing a subpoena issued by someone who said "Someone's got to kick his ass"?

Just off the House floor today, the Crypt overheard House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers tell two other people: “We’re closing in on Rove. Someone’s got to kick his ass.�


Asked a few minutes later for a more official explanation, Conyers told us that Rove has a week to appear before his committee. If he doesn’t, said Conyers, “We’ll do what any self-respecting committee would do. We’d hold him in contempt. Either that or go and have him arrested.�

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