Friday, April 28, 2006
Anyway, I came across something today while I was searching for something else and I thought it was worth sharing. It's a passage from the Bible and it comes from Proverbs 6:16-19 which says:
- 16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
I'll leave you to interpret that as you may.
Have a great weekend!
Monday, April 24, 2006
How Low Can He Go?
- President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to a personal low, with only a third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, a national poll released Monday said.
In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know.
That's a significant drop from the way Americans perceived the president a year ago. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll carried out April 29-May 1, 2005, Americans were split on their assessments of Bush's performance, with 48 percent saying they approved and 49 percent saying they disapproved.
CNN's poll has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points for most questions.
It was one of four conducted within the past 10 days that have yielded similar results: a Pew Center poll carried out April 7-16 gave Bush a 35 percent approval rating; a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll carried out last Tuesday and Wednesday gave him a 33 percent approval rating; and an American Research Group poll carried out Tuesday through Friday gave him a 34 percent approval rating.
How long before he breaks through into the twenties? Anybody care to make a prediction? I say July. What say you?
Friday, April 21, 2006
I don't have any comments on the case, but I do believe that this is a blatant admission of the existence of said secret prisons and, indirectly, the torture that was alleged to have taken place at these sites. It shames me to think that my country has stooped so low. As the saying goes, a fish rots from the head down. I blame our Republican leadership. Come November, they must be replaced.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
- Man with hat:
Do you get wafers with it?
Of course you don't have fucking wafers with it, you #*@%! It's a fucking albatross, I mean...
How bad had it gotten for Georgieboy? Check out the latest poll numbers from (of all places) Fox "News."
- President Bush’s job approval rating slipped this week and stands at a new low of 33 percent approve, down from 36 percent two weeks ago and 39 percent in mid-March. A year ago this time, 47 percent approved and two years ago 50 percent approved (April 2004).
Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush’s presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush’s job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved. Among Democrats, 11 percent approve today, while 14 percent approved last April.
"It seems clear that many Republicans, while they may still like and support George Bush, are growing uneasy with what may happen to their candidates — and the policies they support — in the November elections," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman.
33%!? From Fox!? Holy shit! That's got to be like 25% from any real nonpartisan group. And what's worse? Even Rumsfeld is polling higher than Bush! Rumsfeld, for fuck's sake! He's polling at 35%. Honestly, how bad do you have to be doing to be polling BELOW Donald Rumsfeld? Unbelieveable.
And if you don't think people are taking notice of how poorly ol' Georgieboy is doing, you should see the latest political ads here in Illinois. Our incumbent Democratic Governor, Rod Blagojevich (D) has rolled out some new ads concerning his opponent, Republican Judy Baar Topinka. They run in two short segments, usually with another commercial in between. In the first one, Topinka is shown alongside Bush and Rove and the voice over calls her George Bush and Karl Rove's handpicked candidate. It goes on to quote her praising Bush and ends with the phrase "What was she thinking?" The second ad quotes Topinka endorsing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and calling a raise in the minimum wage a "give away." It too ends with the phrase "What was she thinking."
Bush has become an albatross around the neck of the Republican party. They're running away from him in droves. Topinka's staff has even publicly stated that they don't want to be seen with Bush. The year of the Democrat marches on!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
What He Said
- Much as Bush still enjoys support from those who believe he can do no wrong, he now suffers opposition from liberals who believe he can do no right. Many of these liberals are in the awkward position of having supported Bush in the past, while offering little coherent as an alternative to Bush's policies now. Yet it is difficult to see how this will benefit Bush's reputation in history.
The president came to office calling himself "a uniter, not a divider" and promising to soften the acrimonious tone in Washington. He has had two enormous opportunities to fulfill those pledges: first, in the noisy aftermath of his controversial election in 2000, and, even more, after the attacks of September 11th, when the nation pulled behind him as it has supported no other president in living memory. Yet under both sets of historically unprecedented circumstances, Bush has chosen to act in ways that have left the country less united and more divided, less conciliatory and more acrimonious -- much like James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Herbert Hoover before him. And, like those three predecessors, Bush has done so in the service of a rigid ideology that permits no deviation and refuses to adjust to changing realities. Buchanan failed the test of Southern secession, Johnson failed in the face of Reconstruction, and Hoover failed in the face of the Great Depression. Bush has failed to confront his own failures in both domestic and international affairs, above all in his ill-conceived responses to radical Islamic terrorism. Having confused steely resolve with what Ralph Waldo Emerson called "a foolish consistency . . . adored by little statesmen," Bush has become entangled in tragedies of his own making, compounding those visited upon the country by outside forces.
Read the whole thing. It's worth your time.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Down, Down, Down
November, 2006, is looking better and better. I've been saying it all year, this is the year of the Democrat.
Monday, April 17, 2006
- "A lot of critics indicated that this trial took too long, that we put on too much evidence."
"But there was no smoking gun in this case," Collins said. "This case was tried witness by witness, piece of evidence by piece of evidence, and it was only by looking at the totality of the case that the true picture could be shown to this jury.
"And that was a picture of corruption of the highest levels of government."
This is a good sign. Not because a Republican was found guilty, but because it shows that corruption in government will not be tolerated. As the Abramoff scandal grinds on at what appears to be a snail's pace, I think it's important to keep the Ryan trial and Collins' comments in mind. These are complicated crimes where there is no smoking gun, persay. Patience is important.
Whether it involves Democrats or Republicans, corruption needs to be rooted out and stopped. When our elected officials are putting their special interest groups ahead of the good of the nation, America loses. Today, the state of Illinois won. Hopefully this will be a harbinger of good things to come.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
WWJD? An Easter Story for Democrats
Today's Bible lesson, Brothers and Sisters, comes from the book of Matthew, chapter 21. It tells the story of Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem.
- 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."
4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
11The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
This took place on the Sunday before the crucifixion and the branches they are referring to are palm branches. Thus the reason for what is now known as Palm Sunday.
At this point in the story, it is important to understand that all of Jerusalem, including the temple, was under the control of Rome. In Jesus' time, the temple was surrounded by three courts. The outermost court was the court of the Gentiles and was open to any non-Jew who wished to worship. During the Passover, there were many sacrifices made at the temple but in order for the sacrifices to meet the requirements, they had to be purchased from the Roman temple vendors. In addition, visitors to the temple were required to pay the temple tax in the accepted Jewish currency, Consequently, there were Roman money changers in the temple as well.
So, back to the story...
- 12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"
Now you may be saying, "So what?" And I can't say that I blame you. I thought the same thing when I first read this passage. But last week, my wife's Sunday school class covered this exact Bible passage in a discussion about expectations. Each lesson in their series begins with a number of questions put forth for debate. This week, the first question of this lesson was as follows:
- 1. Check any of these things that you believe should characterize Christians:
_____respect for those in power
_____avoiding the appearance of guilt by association
_____following laws and traditions
Naturally, the majority of the people in her class indicated that a good Christian would exhibit all of these characteristics. However, according to the David C. Cook Bible-n-Life series of books, none of these are characteristics of good Christians as is exemplified by the Bible verse from the book of Matthew. In fact, the Bible verse shows that Jesus didn't respect those in power because he believed that what they were doing was unethical. And to counteract this he rebelled. He dissented. He stood up in the face of what he thought was unjust. In short, Jesus was a activist.
If this doesn't fly in the face of the Republican party's McCarthyistic agenattitude, I don't know what does. I find it ironic that the party who claims to be the party of morals, ethics, and all things Christian, would have denounced Jesus as unpatriotic. He would have been barred from attending a GOP event; he would have been smeared in the media for his dissenting views; and he would have been labeled as a member of the far left and associated with the likes of Michael Moore. Hell, if he really was married as some have claimed, his wife may have been outed by a member of Cheney's cabinet. I think it's safe to say, Jesus would not have been a friend of the White House.
So the next time you're confronted with the question "What would Jesus do?" You can rest assured, he would have dissented against an unjust authority. Maybe the religious right is on to something. Maybe we all need to be a little more like Jesus, after all.
Friday, April 07, 2006
- And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions. Deb, go ahead.
Q Back when the NIE was released on July 18, 2003, you were asked that day when that had been actually declassified. And you said in that gaggle that it had been declassified that day. And if that's the case, then when the information was passed on to the reporter 10 days earlier, then it was still classified at that time.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you're referring -- a couple of things. First of all, it was publicly released that day, so that's when a portion of the National Intelligence Estimate that we were making available to the public was released. The second part of your question is referring to an ongoing legal proceeding, and referring to a filing in that legal proceeding. We have had a policy in place, going back to the October time period of 2003, that we are not going to comment on an ongoing investigation or an ongoing legal proceeding. That policy remains unchanged.
But let me point out a couple of facts, step back from this legal proceeding. The President of the United States has the authority to declassify information. I also indicated to some reporters earlier today that the President would never authorize the disclosure of information that he felt could compromise our nation's security. Now, the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified -- portions of it were declassified. We made sure that we did not -- that we continued to protect sensitive sources and methods within the National Intelligence Estimate.
But let's go back to the time period that you're talking about, because I think it's important for the public to know or recall that time period.
There was a lot of debate going on about the pre-war intelligence that was used in the lead up to the decision to go into Iraq and remove a brutal tyrant from his position of power. There were irresponsible and unfounded accusations being made against the administration, suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence. That was flat-out false. The National Intelligence Estimate was a document that was provided to members of Congress. It is the collective judgment of the intelligence community. And because of the public debate that was going on and some of the wild accusations that were flying around at the time, we felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified, be declassified. And that's exactly what we did.
Q I understand the reason why you thought it needed to be declassified, because of the debate at the time. The question was, when was it declassified. And you were asked that day, when -- the question was, "When was it actually declassified?" And you said, "It was officially declassified today."
If it had been officially declassified on July 18, 2003, then 10 days before, when the information was given out, it was still classified at the time.
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're going back to an assertion that is made in a filing related to an ongoing legal proceeding when you talk about the second part of your question. There is no way for me to separate that question and talk about this issue without discussing an ongoing legal proceeding. And I can't do that. We have a policy that's been established, and I'm obligated to adhere to that policy.
Q But answer the question, it's a factual question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but you can't separate that question from the legal proceeding --
Q Was it declassified that day --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- because of one of the assertions that was made in the filing.
Well, you can go back and look at comments that were made at that time. That was when it was --
Q Those were your comments.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that was when it was publicly released at the time. I haven't looked back at exactly what was said at that time.
Q Well, let's be really clear about this. It says right here on July 18th, "When was it actually declassified?" Mr. McClellan, answer, "It was officially declassified today." Is that correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're asking me to get into the timing. I'm not backing away from anything that was said previously -- that's when the document was released, so that's when it officially --
Q They don't say "released." They say "declassify."
MR. McCLELLAN: I know, Jim. Let me tell you. That's when it was officially released. So I think that's what I was referring to at the time. I'd have to go back and look at the specific comments, but I'm not changing anything that was said previously, so let me make that clear.
Q But if you were --
MR. McCLELLAN: Now, secondly, the question you're going to, again, relates to the timing of when certain information was declassified --
Q I'm not going to that question --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but there's no way you can separate that question out from the ongoing legal proceeding --
Q Scott, you are very careful with your words here. I think if you wanted to say "released," you would have said "released." You said, "declassified."
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay.
Q Well, what does that tell --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's when the information was released publicly.
Q Scott, did you not know --
MR. McCLELLAN: But there was --
Q That's not what --
MR. McCLELLAN: Now, for the National Intelligence Estimate, Jim, it did go through a declassification process; you are correct. And the information was carefully looked at by the intelligence community before the portions of the National Intelligence Estimate were made available to the public --
Q But, Scott, you said, "declassified." If it's declassified on that day, it wasn't declassified before. And you're saying you're sticking to -- you're not taking back anything you said before, and what you said that day is it was officially declassified.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd be glad to take a look at exactly what I said, and I'll do that.
Q You didn't say -- I mean, we've got that here --
MR. McCLELLAN: I can't do that here in this room right now, but I'll be glad to take a look at it --
Q Then why are you saying you're not backing up from anything if you --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what I'm saying is that -- I think what I was referring to is the fact that that was when it was made available to the public. So all that information is officially declassified at that point.
Q Then why are you saying you won't back off anything you said before if, in fact, we have transcripts here where you say that's when it was officially declassified? Are you still saying that's when it was officially declassified?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's when it was made available to the public. So it's officially --
Q When was it officially declassified?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- so it's officially declassified at that point. I think we're talking past each other a little bit. I'll have to go back and look at the specific transcript -- and I'll be glad to do that -- and we can talk about it further later.
Q Okay. When was it officially declassified?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, in terms of the timing of when information may have been declassified, that gets into a question relating to the legal proceeding in a filing that was made by Mr. Fitzgerald earlier this week.
Q What were you referring to on July 18th, then? Was that the official release, or official declassification?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's what I'll have to check. I'll have to go back and look. But my sense is, and my recollection is -- while we're sitting here talking about it is -- I was referring to the fact that was when it was officially declassified for the public.
Q Scott --
Q Can I just -- one more here. In terms of releasing information and leaks, you know the President has been highly critical of people who leak --
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely.
Q -- not just classified material. He has said in the fall of 2003, "I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks." Now, whether the argument from the administration is he declassified this, so it wasn't classified information -- I know you're not going the get to the legal issues here -- but he has criticized people who leak, not just classified information. And there were clearly leaks coming out of this White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: What was the context of my comments -- about leaking of classified information, I believe.
Q He was asked about leaking classified information, but the President said, "I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks." Not just classified information. He says "particularly leaks."
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. And I think that's why it's important to draw a distinction here. Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction.
Now, there are Democrats out there that fail to recognize that distinction, or refuse to recognize that distinction. They are simply engaging in crass politics. Let's make clear what the distinction is.
Q He said, "displeasure with leaks," not just classified leaks, though, Scott.
Q Scott, can I follow on that for a second. Because in December of 2003, to follow on this, he says, "If there's a leak out of the administration, I want to know who it is." Now, is there a question -- we're not talking about legality here -- while he's saying that, according to the court filing -- which I know you can't get into the specifics of -- but as he's saying it, he certainly is aware who would have allowed the information to be disseminated. So, at best, isn't the statement "If there's a leak out of the administration, I want to know who it is" -- at best, isn't that just inconsistent, if not misleading?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. That's referring to the leaking of classified information.
Q Only the leaking of classified information. He doesn't --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that in the context of what that question was responding to --
Q So what about if it's a political? And if it's in political -- if there's a political purpose to it, then it's fine?
MR. McCLELLAN: If it's in the public interest, it's another matter. And the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified because it was in the public interest to provide portions of that National Intelligence Estimate to the American people. As I said, there were people that were out there making irresponsible accusations that intelligence was manipulated or that intelligence was misused. There has been no evidence to back that up whatsoever. And if you look at the National Intelligence Estimate, Jim -- you weren't here at the time, but some others in this room were -- it shows the collective judgment of the intelligence community.
And then you go back and look at the bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission, and they said there is no evidence of political pressure on the intelligence analysts. You go back and look at the Butler report. The Butler report said that there was no evidence of deliberate distortion. You go back and look at the Senate Intelligence Committee report, they say they did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments.
So this was part of the debate that was going on at that time in the public. And so it was in the public interest that information be declassified.
Q I understand that. My only question is --
MR. McCLELLAN: And this information, too -- and another distinction. This was pre-war intelligence we're talking about. So it was historical context that was being provided, not information that could compromise our nation's security.
Q My only question is looking ahead, when he then says, "I want to know who the leaker" was -- doesn't he know, since he authorized the disclosure of the information?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, go back and look at the filing that was made by Mr. Fitzgerald, because Mr. Fitzgerald talks about that very issue in his filing and contradicts what you're suggesting.
Q I'm not suggesting -- this has nothing to do with Valerie Plame, nothing to do with it.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's what the question was about.
Q My question is, though, at the same time -- at the same time he's -- even if there's nothing to do with Plame, there is some disclosure about NIE information.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let's draw the distinction here, again. There is an important distinction that people need to make when they are looking back at this issue. I just laid out what that distinction is. You're talking about information that was declassified and provided to the American people because it was in the public interest that they have that information so they could see what the facts were. And the facts were that this was the collective judgment of the intelligence community.
Now, the intelligence was wrong, and that's why we put in place a bipartisan commission, independent commission to go and look at the intelligence, and they made recommendations about how we could improve our intelligence-gathering. And we have implemented many reforms to make sure we get the best possible intelligence.
Q Scott, I've got a couple of things here. First, did you have any personal knowledge on July 18th -- when you answered the question that started off this round of questions -- did you have any personal knowledge of discussions between the President and the Vice President about declassifying portions of the NIE?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's a question that gets into talking about an ongoing legal proceeding, and I just can't do that because the policy of this White House is that we are not going to comment on it while it's ongoing. So I'm adhering to that policy, and I would hope that you could appreciate that.
Q You've at times at this podium told us that you had had assurances from people and that's caused you a lot of trouble, from this podium. Are you saying that that statement was true at the time that you knew it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, in terms of -- which statement are you referring to?
Q That on July 18th it was officially declassified.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, that question was asked at the beginning and I think what I was referring to is this is when it's now being made available to the public, so it's officially declassified at that point.
Q That's not what you said, though, we know that --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll have to take a look at it. No, I think that's what I was referring to.
Q There is a distinction, though --
MR. McCLELLAN: Deb, hold on. I'll be glad to take a look at it, and we can talk about it. I'm around all day.
Q We're trying to give you an opportunity here, and --
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't gone back and looked at every single word that was said at the time. But, again, based on what Deb just said, my recollection is that I was referring to the fact that, yes, it's officially declassified today.
Q All right, let's talk about the politics of this.
MR. McCLELLAN: But that doesn't get into the issue of when everything was declassified.
Q The purpose of releasing portions of this clearly had a political implication for the administration. There is a debate going on, and you wanted to counter that debate. And, yet, you're criticizing Democrats, saying that they are engaging in crass politics for saying that they're -- that this was leaking. How do you not see that there was a --
MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated. That's a very good question. Let's talk about the distinction. There is a difference between leaking classified information that could compromise sources and methods, which could be harmful to our nation's security. The terrorist surveillance program is a prime example. There was an unauthorized disclosure of this vital program that is helping to prevent attacks and save American lives. This is a program that is aimed at intercepting international communications involving known al Qaeda members or suspected al Qaeda affiliates. And it is vital to our nation's interest.
General Hayden, the number-two man in our intelligence community, said its disclosure is harmful to our nation's security. So there is a clear distinction here. Democrats refuse to recognize that distinction. That is engaging in crass politics.
On the issue of the National Intelligence Estimate, that is something that was in the public interest that it be disclosed because there is a lot of debate going on. And we will vigorously set the record straight when people are putting out misinformation or trying to suggest things that simply are not true.
Helen, go ahead.
Q Did the President know that Joe Wilson was married to a CIA agent before Novak revealed it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this goes to -- go back and look at previous comments, but this goes to an ongoing legal proceeding, and I would encourage you --
Q Did he know? It's a simple question.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- I would encourage you to go and look at the filing that was made just the other night, because Mr. Fitzgerald touches on that subject in the filing.
Q You mean the President did not know?
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I can't get into discussing an ongoing legal proceeding, and that's a question relating to the ongoing legal proceeding.
Q I think it's a very simple, important question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Matt, did you have something?
Q Yes, your refusal to comment on this on the grounds of it being an ongoing legal proceeding --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me -- let me -- hang on, hang on --
Q -- that leads to the conclusion that --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on.
Q All right.
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. Let me just say why and remind people why. There is an ongoing legal proceeding underway that is headed toward trial. We want to see a fair trial. We want to see due process. We don't want to do anything that could compromise this ongoing legal proceeding or compromise or jeopardize the trial. And that has been our policy with other matters, as well. And so this has been a policy that has been well established for a long time.
Now, to your question.
Q This inevitably leads to the conclusion that you are not disputing the allegation that the President was involved in the leaking -- or authorized the leaking of classified information. Are you satisfied with that? And is that really in the interests of the American people?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not getting into confirming or denying things, because I'm not commenting at all on matters relating to an ongoing legal proceeding.
Q Scott, just a --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me come back to you. Elaine, go ahead.
Q Scott, let me ask you about the issue of credibility. Isn't the fact that you're up here having to vigorously defend and make the distinction between what some people see as leaking and what you are saying, from what I understand, is the sharing of information to provide historical context -- isn't that illustrative of the fact that the President's credibility has been damaged by it?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Democrats have a credibility problem when they try to suggest that we were manipulating intelligence, or that this is about something other than what I just said. That's crass politics. And they're the ones who have an issue when it comes to what you bring up.
Q I want to see if I can sort out what you described earlier as sort of "talking past" each other earlier. There's a process for declassification, and the President has declassification authority.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q When the President determines that classified information can be made public without jeopardizing sources and methods, that it's an appropriate thing to do, is that -- can that supplant the declassification process? Is that, in effect, an immediate act? Is it de facto declassified by that determination --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President can declassify information if he chooses.
Q So if a declassification --
MR. McCLELLAN: It's inherent in our Constitution. He is the head of the executive branch.
Q Is it possible, then, for a declassification process to be underway, or perhaps not yet even started, but perhaps in the middle of it, the President can say, this is declassified and -- or this is something that is worthy of the American people seeing, and they can happen on separate tracks?
MR. McCLELLAN: I want to be careful here, because that is touching on something that is brought up in the legal proceedings. So --
Q Well, it's a question more about administrative policy and how the White House would handle it.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- but the President is authorized to declassify information as he chooses.
Q Right, so just one other question, if I can. You've already taken a couple of shots at Democrats, but the Minority Leader this morning has gone to the Senate floor and demanded a whole series of questions to be answered. At one point, he says that only the President can answer the question as to whether or not the buck stops in the Oval Office or the leaks start, and has suggested that what he is now seeing -- Harry Reid, the Minority Leader -- in his opinion, it speaks to a pattern of misleading America by the Bush White House. It raises somber and troubling questions about the Bush administration's candor with Congress and the American people.
This does seem to be yet another example of the Democrat's ability to criticize the President for not coming clean on all of this. How would --
MR. McCLELLAN: That is exactly --
Q Hold on.
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, go ahead.
Q How would you explain to the nation the President's assertion that anybody who leaks information would be prosecuted, when they are now -- the Democrats now see that the President --
MR. McCLELLAN: Leaking classified information.
MR. McCLELLAN: There's a distinction here. That is the kind of crass politics that I am referring to. Democrat leaders, like the one you brought up, are refusing to acknowledge an important distinction here. First of all, the national intelligence information was declassified information that was provided to the American people.
Now the other issue I brought up was the issue of the terrorist surveillance program. You bet the President has spoken out about its unauthorized disclosure, because what its disclosure has done is shown al Qaeda, our enemy, the play book. This is an enemy that watches us very closely. This is an enemy that adapts and adjusts when they learn information about our tactics. And it's important -- it's important, as we carry out this war on terrorism, that we don't do anything that could compromise our nation's security.
The terrorist surveillance program has been a vital tool that has helped to save American lives. And it's one tool, in an overall arsenal of tools, that we are using to take the fight to the enemy and stop attacks from happening on American soil.
Q But I just want to make sure I understand. In effect, your answer to the Harry Reid criticism is that the President has the authority to declassify. Therefore, the discussion of leak is inappropriate.
MR. McCLELLAN: My response to what he said is that that's just crass politics, because he is not acknowledging an important distinction. And the distinction is that, one, the information that he was referring to was declassified. And the other information he's trying to twist and put into that is a separate matter. These are two separate issues.
Q Two questions. One, as far as U.S.-India --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me stay on this topic, and I'll come back. Go ahead.
Q You all talk about the court filing -- you've said that. But you seem to want to convey the idea that if what happened in the court filing happened, then it's okay, because it wasn't classified at the time --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not conveying any ideas about the court filing. What I'm talking about is the facts, at the time, and trying to put in context for people in this room and people that are listening, the time period and what was going on during that time period. But the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified in part because there was a lot of debate going on, and there was a lot of misinformation out there. It was important for the American people to have that information.
Q You seem to be trying to come up with a definition of the word "leak", which is that if it's not classified, and it's not endangering national security by revealing it, then therefore it's not a leak. Is that a --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that there is a difference between providing declassified information to the public when it's in the public interest, and leaking classified information that involves sensitive national intelligence regarding our security.
Go ahead, Martha.
Q Can I just go back to this original statement that the President said about, "I constantly express my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information" -- leaving the impression he doesn't like any leaks. Can you give us an idea how the President feels about leaking information, since if this information --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we have to draw distinctions here, and what specifically you're referring to. I mean, if people are going out there talking about a potential policy decision-making process that is still in development and that the President hasn't come to a decision on, then that's not helpful information, and of course we'd look down on something like that.
Q But otherwise, if it's helpful to you and it's declassified, leaks are okay?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, if it's in the public interest.
Q Leaks are okay?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. What I'm saying is that the issue here is the National Intelligence Estimate --
Q No, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about leaks.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and the declassifying of the National Intelligence Estimate.
Q I'm talking about a statement the President made in the fall of 2003.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to try to draw a broad conclusion, or make a broad statement. If you've got specific instances you want to refer to --
Q No, you seem to be saying it's bad to leak classified information that will hurt the country --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give you a specific instance --
Q -- but it's not bad to leak declassified.
MR. McCLELLAN: A specific instance is the leaking of classified information that could harm sources and methods, or put them at risk, or harm our nation's security. One is the terrorist surveillance program.
Q Understood, but that's not the issue here.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is part of the issue, because that's --
Q It's part of the issue, but not the part of the issue I'm trying to get to.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that's exactly what the President is referring to when he's talking about leaking of classified information. That's exactly the kind of information he's talking about.
Q I know he is, but what I'm saying is the President expressed displeasure about leaks, not just classified leaks, but displeasure --
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, he's talked about that in the past.
Q So he has displeasure about leaks, even of declassified material?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, you have to look at what specific instance are you talking about.
Q Well, you won't talk about the specific instance we want to talk about --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I just gave you an example.
Q -- so, in general --
MR. McCLELLAN: I just gave you an example.
Q -- if you leak something, he has no problems as long as it's not classified?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's not what I said, Martha. What I said is what I said, and you ought to listen to what I said, not try to put words in my mouth.
Q No, I'm not.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I think you can go back -- if you've got a specific instance of a leak, bring it up.
Q Did he have a specific instance when he said his displeasure about leaks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he was being asked about classified information being disclosed.
Q "I constantly express my displeasure with leaks, particularly classified leaks."
MR. McCLELLAN: That was in the context of people leaking classified information. But, sure, this is a town -- I mean, this is a town where that happens a lot. And a lot of those are not helpful things to have happen. But you're asking me to make a broad statement, and I'm not going to do that.
Q Scott, what was the President's reaction to this story?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q What was the President's reaction to this story? What has he said?
MR. McCLELLAN: "This story"?
Q The story, as it's published.
MR. McCLELLAN: "The story as it's published"? Which story as it's published?
Q You sound like Donald Rumsfeld. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: "This story" -- I'm just asking you to specify what the story is.
Q I'm talking about the filing --
MR. McCLELLAN: The filing by Mr. Fitzgerald, okay.
Q -- I'm talking about what we found out --
MR. McCLELLAN: The filing by Mr. Fitzgerald. I can't get into talking with you relating to an ongoing legal proceeding.
Q I'm not asking you to. I'm asking, did the President say anything about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I can't get into talking about an ongoing legal proceeding. That relates to an ongoing legal proceeding. I just can't do that.
Q Slightly different topic, but you, yourself, said they're linked, when the Attorney General said yesterday that the President might have authority to do wireless wiretapping --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me come back to it. I'll come back to it.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Anyone else on this subject? Kelly.
Q Is there a bit of an appearance problem for this White House when the President speaks so strongly against leaking? When the Counsel's Office orders ethics classes? And then today you're talking about effectively good leaks and bad leaks, that --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're trying to lump a lot of things in there, and I don't think I would do that, in terms of ethics classes. I mean, those are ongoing throughout the time period we're here in this administration. So let's not lump things together.
Q But there were some that were ordered specifically --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's not lump those things together.
Q There were some that were ordered specifically --
MR. McCLELLAN: You're lumping things.
Q I'm lumping only because the timing of the last public lumping was --
Q Lumper. (Laughter.)
Q -- in the fallout of (inaudible), as you may remember, that was made public. So the President is very vocal about leaking at a time when now it appears that he sees some value in releasing some --
MR. McCLELLAN: We are a nation at war. And the leaking of classified information, particularly during a time of war, is much more harmful and much more dangerous. You bet the President is going to continue to speak out about leaking classified information. It is wrong and it can have serious consequences. And what he has said about the leaking of classified information stands. He is very firm in his belief that leaking classified information, particularly information that could be harmful to our nation's security, is a serious matter and it is dangerous, and when people do it they put our nation at risk, they put lives at risk, they put sources and methods at risk.
This is a different kind of war that we are engaged in, against a deadly and dangerous enemy, an enemy that is lethal, an enemy that is sophisticated. And that is what the President often refers to when he talks about the leaking of classified information, and how serious that is.
I'll come back to you. Go ahead, Les. Are we on a different subject? Goyal is first.
MR. McCLELLAN: Related?
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay.
Q Kind of getting back to where we started. Is information declassified when the President says it is, or when the process is done --
MR. McCLELLAN: He can authorize the declassification of information.
Q And at that moment does it become declassified, or --
MR. McCLELLAN: He's authorized declassification. He has that authority to do that.
Q At that moment. He says, today, I want this declassified -- at that moment it's declassified?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not saying that he has or hasn't -- if there's any specific example -- but he has that authority, yes.
Q Immediately, immediate effect?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. He has that authority, yes.
Q Scott, one related.
MR. McCLELLAN: One related. You all on the front row have had multiple questions.
Q I've got one related.
Q I've got one --
MR. McCLELLAN: See, you're encouraging others to do this.
Q There's lumpers up there. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm glad to stay here all day. This is an important subject, and I'm glad to make the distinctions.
Q I want to make sure we've got our terms right, that's all. It seems to me, from what I'm hearing, in terms of the way you're explaining this, classified information is leaked; declassified information is provided.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, declosing [sic] declassified information, like we did with the National Intelligence information, that was provided to you all. That was provided to the public through you all, through your colleagues.
Q Okay, but when Judy Miller gets it, it's being provided? Or is it being leaked, because then it's declassified?
MR. McCLELLAN: Now, see, that's something that I cannot and you cannot separate from an ongoing legal proceeding. So I can't get into responding to that specific question, because how can you separate it from the legal proceeding and the filing that Mr. Fitzgerald made. I just can't do that.
Q One more, because you --
MR. McCLELLAN: See what you encouraged?
Q Well, because this has been invited by your discussion of need to educate the American public in the throes of what you say was a lot of unfair information --
MR. McCLELLAN: To provide facts.
Q To provide facts.
MR. McCLELLAN: And Congress had those facts.
Q There have been --
MR. McCLELLAN: Way back when they made the decision to authorize the President's use of force if necessary.
Q What do you say to critics who argue that the President's decision to disclose this information, to effectively declassify it, in the context of that debate, to provide facts was, in fact -- or at least in their argument -- a political use of intelligence information?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was in the public interest that this information be provided, because there is a debate going on in the public about the use of intelligence leading up to the decision to go into Iraq. This is regarding pre-war intelligence. And there was a lot of misinformation being put out. There were accusations being leveled against the President and against this White House and this administration that intelligence was misused or manipulated.
The fact of the matter is that the intelligence was based on what is laid out in the National Intelligence Estimate, which is the collective judgment of our intelligence community. The fact is that people have looked into how the intelligence was used, and they have seen, as I pointed out, no evidence of such manipulation or misuse.
It must be hard for Scotty to face the press when he knows the ship is sinking.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The Other Shoe
- Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
And so I welcome the investigation. I -- I'm absolutely confident that the Justice Department will do a very good job. There's a special division of career Justice Department officials who are tasked with doing this kind of work; they have done this kind of work before in Washington this year. I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative.
I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.
Today, the other shoe dropped.
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney authorized Cheney's top aide to launch a counterattack of leaks against administration critics on Iraq by feeding intelligence information to reporters, according to court papers citing the aide's testimony in the CIA leak case.
In a court filing, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stopped short of accusing Cheney of authorizing his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to leak the CIA identity of Valerie Plame.
But the prosecutor, detailing the evidence he has gathered, raised the possibility that the vice president was trying to use Plame's CIA employment to discredit her husband, administration critic Joseph Wilson. Cheney, according to an indictment against Libby, knew that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as early as June 12, 2003, more than a month before that fact turned up in a column by Robert Novak.
Fitzgerald quoted Libby as saying he was authorized to tell New York Times reporter Judith Miller that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium. Fitzgerald said Libby told him it "was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the president's authorization that it be disclosed."
The process was so secretive that other Cabinet-level officials did not know about it, according to the court papers, which point to Bush and Cheney as setting in motion a leak campaign to the press that ended in Plame's blown cover.
So now we know. It was all a big show. Bush knew all along and he put politics above integrity. Shameful. Truly shameful.
If this were any other administration I'd say this would be unthinkable, but with this group it's just par for the course. The question now is: Will the Republicans put their party above the country and defend him or will they develop a sense of decency and hold him accountable? Let's just say I'm not going to hold my breath.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
- President Bush's tax cuts for investment income have significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000, according to a report Wednesday.
An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by The New York Times found that the benefit of the lower taxes on investments was more concentrated on the very wealthiest Americans than the benefits of President Bush's two previous tax cuts.
The Times analyzed IRS figures for 2003, the latest year available and the first that reflected the tax cuts for income from dividends and from the sale of stock and other assets, known as capital gains.
According to the study, taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million reduced their investment tax bill by an average of about $500,000 in 2003, and their total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled, to slightly more than $1 million.
These taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000 because of the lowered rates on investment income.
Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each.
The newspaper's tax cut analysis showed that more than 70 percent of the tax savings on investment income went to the top 2 percent, about 2.6 million taxpayers.
That damned Al Gore. Turns out he was right after all.
- Almost half of all the tax cut benefits, as I said under Governor Bush's plan, go to the wealthiest 1%.
- Al Gore, October 3, 2000
Six years later and George W. Bush is still getting his ass kicked from that first debate.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Sunday Morning Talk Shows
The right way: Sen. Russ Feingold on Fox News Sunday - Straight forward, decisive, concise
The wrong way: Sen. John McCain on Meet the Press - Flip-flopping, mealy-mouthed, uncertain
Remember when the Republicans held the upper hand? Oh, how times have changed.