Friday, March 16, 2007


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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Romney's assimilationist act raises more Mormon questions
By Mark Silk

Special to The Hartford Courant
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:03/14/2007 07:49:43 PM MDT

How much of a ''Mormon question'' does former Massachusetts Gov. MittRomney face in his presidential campaign?

According to recent polls, a quarter of Americans say they wouldn't votefor a Mormon as president. That compares with only 5 percent who say theywouldn't vote for a Catholic or a Jew.

Romney's biggest problem is with evangelicals, who constitute nearlyhalf of all Republican primary voters in the South and more than one-thirdin the Midwest. A Rasmussen poll shows that 53 percent of evangelicalswouldn't vote for a Mormon as president. If that is anything close to right,Romney has a huge amount of suspicion-allaying ahead of him.

The Boston Globe reported last week that a Romney campaign documentsuggests stressing how he has lived his life rather than what church hebelongs to; acknowledging Mormon theological differences with mainstreamChristian bodies while steering clear of the details; and confronting theissue directly, perhaps by giving a speech at George H.W. Bush'spresidential library near Houston - the very city where John F. Kennedyaddressed the ''Catholic question'' when he ran for president in 1960.

Religious concerns about Mormon politicians are nothing new. When ReedSmoot, one of the 12 apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-daySaints, was sent to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate in 1902, 3 millionletters of protest, mostly stirred up by Protestant churches, flooded thenation's capital. It took three years of hearings before Smoot was finallyseated.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Damn Right, We're Angry
Paul Waldman
March 14, 2007

Paul Waldman is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the authorof the new book, Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn FromConservative Success. The views expressed here are his own.

We can't deny it any longer. There's no point in hiding it, no point intrying to explain it away.

Yes, it's true: We progressives are angry. And we no longer care if thecentrist, moderate guardians of the establishment scold us for it.

Our anger is not just some vague feeling whose source we can't put ourfinger on. It isn't based on absurd conspiracy theories and it isn'tillogical.

We're angry because of what has happened to our country, because of how we'vebeen treated, and because of the innumerable crimes the conservatives havecommitted. We're angry at the president, we're angry at the Congress, we'reangry at the news media. And we have every right to be.

Yes, we're angry at George W. Bush. We're not angry at him because of who hesleeps with, and we're not angry at him because we think he represents somesocio-cultural movement we didn't like 40 years ago, or because he hung outwith a different crowd than we did in high school. We're angry at himbecause of what he's done.

It's true, we don't like the fact that the most powerful human being on theplanet is such a ridiculous buffoon that he can't put two coherent sentencestogether without beginning to giggle and shimmy his shoulders. But we're notangry because we think he's stupid; we're angry because he treats us asthough we're stupid. We're angry that he lied to us, and lied to us and liedto us again. We're angry that when he lies to us it isn't because he'scaught up in scandal or got caught doing something he shouldn't have, it'spart of a carefully constructed plan to fool the public.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

The Richest Year in History
By Tula Connell,
Posted on March 15, 2007, Printed on March 16, 2007

Billionaires have it made.So what's new? What's new is that there are lotsmore of them and they're a lot richer. The number of billionaires around theworld grew by 19 percent since last year, up to 946, with a total net worthincreasing by 35 percent to $3.5 trillion, according to a report released byForbes magazine. That's trillion with a "T."

Says Forbes Chief Executive Steve Forbes: "This is the richest year ever inhuman history. Never in history has there been such a notable advance."

Of course this historic advance is largely confined to those who werealready mind-bogglingly rich to begin with. For working people as a whole,there's at best a holding action and at worst a retreat. Let's look at thefigures without Steve Forbes' rose-colored glasses.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

From 2003 to 2004, the average incomes of the bottom 99 percent ofhouseholds grew by less than 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Incontrast, the average incomes of the top one percent of householdsexperienced a jump of more than 18 percent, after adjusting for inflation.


The Washington Post

With Earlier Primary, Calif. Reshapes Race

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007; A01

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation yesterdaymoving the state's presidential primary to Feb. 5, 2008, a change that couldlead to the earliest and biggest single-day test of candidate strength ever.

Half a dozen other large states, including New York, Texas, Florida,Illinois and New Jersey, are also considering moving their primaries to thefirst Tuesday in February, with the possibility that nearly two dozencontests will be held that day. Together, those states could account formore than half of the total number of delegates at stake.

While the rush to move to dates earlier in the nominating process has beenmotivated by states' desire to have more say in selecting the Republican andDemocratic nominees, analysts said it may enhance the importance of the fewsmall states whose contests will be held in January.

The kingmaker status of Iowa and New Hampshire, which have the firstcaucuses and first primary, respectively, in the nation, has been undersiege in recent presidential cycles as other states have sought to shifttheir primaries ever earlier.

"California is important again in presidential nomination politics, and wewill restore the voters' confidence in government, and we will get therespect that California deserves, and our issues will get the due respectalong the campaign trail and also in Washington," Schwarzenegger said insigning the legislation yesterday.


The Washington Post

Christians Who Won't Toe the Line

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, March 16, 2007; A21

Evangelical Protestantism in the United States is going through a NewReformation that is disentangling a great religious movement from a partisan political machine. This historic change will require liberals andconservatives alike to abandon their sometimes narrow views of whoevangelicals are.

The reformers won an important victory this month when the board of theNational Association of Evangelicals faced down right-wing partisans andreaffirmed its view that solving global warming was an important moralcause. In so doing, it also expressed confidence in the Rev. Rich Cizik, theNAE's vice president for governmental affairs.

Cizik, who combines opposition to abortion with a firm commitment to humanrights, the poor and the environment, came under attack from a gang ofideologues who would freeze evangelicals on a political course set more thana quarter-century ago.

"This tussle over the issue of climate change is part of a bigger tussleover the definition of evangelicalism and who speaks for evangelicals,"Cizik said in an interview.

Calling on evangelicals to "return to being people who are known for ourlove and care for our fellow human beings and the Earth," Cizik warned that"if you put the politics first and make it primary, I believe that is atragic and fateful choice."


The St. Petersburg Times

Don't be so quick to count out the Republicans
By DAVID BRODER Washington Post Writers Group
Published March 16, 2007

WASHINGTON - Months before the first votes are cast in the campaign of 2008,some in the media are conducting last rites for the Republicans. The rush tobury the GOP is as hasty as it is premature.

The headline atop Page 1 of Tuesday's New York Times read, "GOP Voters VoiceAnxieties On Party's Fate." It sounded like the death knell for the partythat has held the White House for 26 of the past 38 years. But the evidencewas thin.

A New York Times/CBS News poll that included 698 self-identified Republicansfound that 40 percent of them thought the Democrats were likely to win thepresidency in 2008. That finding is hardly a surprise. A great manyDemocrats I know still have trouble admitting that their candidates lost toGeorge W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

The New York Times, which is not normally solicitous of Republicans'feelings, also reported widespread concern among those it interviewed "thattheir party had drifted from the principles of Ronald Reagan."

The fine print told a different story. Support for Bush and his policiesremains high among Republicans. His job rating among GOP voters is 75percent.


Alberto Gonzales should go
March 16, 2007

IT IS customary for newly elected presidents to replace large numbers of USattorneys, especially if the new president is from a different party. It isnot customary for presidents to sweep out many of their own appointees tothese positions in the middle of their administration.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales caved in to pressure from the White Housefor such a housecleaning in recent months. Then department officials ledCongress to believe that the eight US attorneys in question were forced outfor performance problems, not for what now appears to be the real reason inat least some cases -- that the prosecutors were not sufficiently partisanin election and political corruption cases. Gonzales has lost anycredibility he had with Congress and the public as the nation's chief lawenforcer. He should resign.

This page opposed Gonzales's nomination two years ago when, during hisconfirmation hearings, he failed to disavow two documents that contributedto the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. One was a memo hewrote as White House counsel in 2002; in it, he dismissed Geneva Conventionregulations on prisoners of war as "obsolete" and "quaint" and said theUnited States could operate as though they did not apply to the war inAfghanistan.

The other document was a 2002 administration guide on interrogationtechniques. Gonzales did not write it but discussed it with administrationofficials, including its assertion that the president has the power toauthorize torture despite a 1994 law banning it. Through his failure torepudiate this memo and his own views on the Geneva Conventions, Gonzalesmarked himself as a lawyer who lacked the independence to stand up for theConstitution and the nation's laws and not bend to the will of his boss,George Bush.


The LA Times,0,5199654,print.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Opinion Daily
Fox hounded

How the Democrats are turning on Fox News.
By Ronald Brownstein
March 16, 2007

In the history of capitalism has any company had more success with just awink and a nod than the Fox News Channel? And can Democrats be successful inthe 2008 campaign by refusing to wink or nod back?

Last week's decision by Nevada Democrats, under pressure from liberalactivists, to drop Fox as the co-sponsor of a party presidential debate hasthe virtue of crystallizing the questions about the network's nature and itsunique role in the modern media ecosystem.

Fox cloaks itself in the mantle of objectivity with the nudge-nudgeinsistence that it-and it alone-provides "fair and balanced" coverage of thenews. Then it advances its financial and ideological interests by promotinglurid accusations from conservatives against Democrats, accusations that areroutinely debunked later by the mainstream media. Many Fox reporters arefair. But overall the network-through its language, its news decisions andits hosts-generally functions more like a cog in the Republican messagemachine than as a conventional news organization that attempts to abide,however imperfectly, by the traditional standards of (yes) fairness andbalance.

Fox's possible participation in the Nevada debate, one of several the stateparty is sponsoring before next January's presidential caucus, presentedDemocrats with a conundrum that may become increasingly common for bothsides as they navigate a media landscape in which overtly partisan sourcesof information are proliferating.

Democrats, with justification, consider Fox tilted against them. Yet thenetwork has a large audience, at least some of whom may be open toDemocratic arguments (though exactly how many remains subject to spiriteddispute). The question the party faced was whether access to Fox's viewerswas worth the validation the network would receive from hosting a Democraticdebate.


The LA Times,0,6835716,print.column?coll=la-home-commentary

End the presidential pardon

Letting Thanksgiving turkeys off is stupid; giving convicted crooks a freepass mocks justice.
Joel Stein
March 16, 2007

IT'S NOT THAT I care if "Scooter" Libby gets pardoned. Sure, he obstructedjustice, but putting someone named Scooter in jail seems a little harsh.Putting someone named Scooter in elementary school seems a little harsh.

I object to the idea of the pardon itself. I may have dropped my politicalscience major, but I know that giving one person the right to let people outof jail without any reason might lead to abuse of power. This is why wedon't give one person the right to put people in jail without any reason.

I know the pardon leads to corruption because if I were President Bush, I'dpardon the hell out of Libby. If a guy working for me got arrested foressentially protecting my No. 1 employee, and I had an unlimited stack ofget-out-of-jail-free cards, I'd slip him one for sure. But first I'd makehim agree to go on "Dancing With the Stars." With just a little power, Iturn into a jerk.

The pardon, which had been the right of the monarch since Henry VIII, wasput into Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution by AlexanderHamilton, who argued in the Federalist Papers that without it, "justicewould wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel." Hamilton did not realizethat in the future, judges would cry about Anna Nicole Smith. He also didn'trealize that challenging Aaron Burr to a duel might kill him. So maybe weshouldn't be taking advice from the guy.

It turns out that despite Hamilton's expectations, not many poor peoplewithout political connections get spared the cruelty of justice. In fact,almost all presidential pardoning has been bad policy. The first one wasused by George Washington to forgive members of the Whiskey Rebellion. Idon't know all that much about the Whiskey Rebellion, but I'm guessing fromthe words "whiskey" and "rebellion" that these may not be the first guysyou'd want to let out of San Quentin. Unless the only other people therewere members of the Meth Rape Bunch.


The LA Times,0,7335691,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Clinton: Industry 'clearly broken'

The senator tells a community group that 'we've got to take action' toprotect the economy.
By Jonathan Peterson
Times Staff Writer
March 16, 2007

WASHINGTON - Exotic-sounding mortgages that hardly anyone even heard of afew years ago might seem an unlikely topic for the national politicaldebate.

But that was before rising defaults threatened the housing market and,perhaps, the broader economy.

"We've got to take action," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) told anaudience of community activists Thursday.

Rising defaults in so-called sub-prime loans for people with shaky credit -
any of them 2/28 loans (fixed for two years, adjustable for the final 28years) with low introductory teaser rates - have triggered debate over howfar the damage will extend to the broader economy.

But it is already obvious that the threat of foreclosures has richingredients for political theater. Many borrowers claim that they were nottold the real costs they were taking on. Further, such disputes crystallizea difference between laissez faire Republicans and Democrats who are moresympathetic to government regulation.


The Chicago Tribune,1,5054610,print.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Email shows Rove's role in ouster of prosecutors

By Mark Silva
Washington Bureau
March 15, 2007, 10:32 PM CDT

WASHINGTON -- Both presidential adviser Karl Rove and then-incoming AttorneyGeneral Alberto Gonzales knew about a White House proposal to dismiss all 93U.S. attorneys in early January 2005, according to government e-mails thatshed new light on the Justice Department's firings last year of eight of thefederal prosecutors.

Rove, deputy chief of staff and architect of President Bush's electioncampaigns, was keeping his eye on an internal discussion of dismissing allthe U.S. attorneys, according to a White House e-mail to the JusticeDepartment. And the Justice Department had discussed the idea of firing all93 attorneys with Gonzales, who was outgoing White House general counsel atthe time and facing confirmation hearings for appointment as attorneygeneral, according to a response to the January 2005 e-mail.

The moves came at a time when the Bush White House, and Rove in particular,were talking about the president's reelection as marking a majorconservative realignment in the country, presenting the administration withthe opportunity to remake much of the government. The revelation that Rovemay have known more about the plan is likely to further embolden Democratswho are demanding that he testify in congressional hearings.

The White House maintains that Harriet Miers, who succeeded Gonzales ascounsel early that year, had recommended dismissing all 93 federalprosecutors after the president's reelection in 2004, but that Rove and theJustice Department alike had rejected the idea.

An e-mail exchange obtained Thursday by the Tribune indicates that Karl Roveknew of the discussion in early 2005.


The New York Times

March 16, 2007
Senate Rejects Democrats' Call to Pull Troops

WASHINGTON, March 15 - The Senate on Thursday rejected a Democraticresolution to withdraw most American combat troops from Iraq in 2008, but asimilar measure advanced in the House, and Democratic leaders vowed to keepchallenging President Bush to change course in Iraq.

The vote in the Senate was 50 against and 48 in favor, 12 short of what wasneeded to pass, with just a few defections in each party. It came just hoursafter the House Appropriations Committee, in another vote largely on partylines, approved an emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan thatincludes a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. The House will vote on thatlegislation next Thursday, setting the stage for another confrontation.

The action in both houses threw into sharp relief the Democratic strategy ofratcheting up the pressure, vote by vote, to try to force the White House tobegin withdrawing troops from Iraq. But it also highlighted Republican unityin opposition; in the Senate, only one Republican, Gordon H. Smith ofOregon, voted with the Democrats.

Republican leaders said they counted the day as a victory. "It is clear nowthat the majority of the Senate opposes a deadline for the withdrawal oftroops," said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, countered, "TheRepublicans are rubber-stamping the president's failed policy. That's themessage here."

President Bush, speaking at a Republican fund-raising dinner, applauded thesenators who voted against a timetable. "Many of those members know what Iknow: that if American forces were to step back from Baghdad now, before thecapital city is more secure, the scale and scope of attacks would increaseand intensify," he said.


The New York Times

March 16, 2007
Phony Fraud Charges

In its fumbling attempts to explain the purge of United States attorneys,the Bush administration has argued that the fired prosecutors were notaggressive enough about addressing voter fraud. It is a phony argument;there is no evidence that any of them ignored real instances of voter fraud.But more than that, it is a window on what may be a major reason for some ofthe firings.

In partisan Republican circles, the pursuit of voter fraud is code forsuppressing the votes of minorities and poor people. By resisting pressureto crack down on "fraud," the fired United States attorneys actually appearto have been standing up for the integrity of the election system.

John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicansto bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor's race,which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicanswere trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKayrefused to go along. "There was no evidence," he said, "and I am not goingto drag innocent people in front of a grand jury."

Later, when he interviewed with Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel,for a federal judgeship that he ultimately did not get, he says, he wasasked to explain "criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor's election."

Mr. McKay is not the only one of the federal attorneys who may have beenbrought down for refusing to pursue dubious voter fraud cases. Before DavidIglesias of New Mexico was fired, prominent New Mexico Republicansreportedly complained repeatedly to Karl Rove about Mr. Iglesias's failureto indict Democrats for voter fraud. The White House said that last October,just weeks before Mr. McKay and most of the others were fired, PresidentBush complained that United States attorneys were not pursuing voter fraudaggressively enough.


The New York Times

March 16, 2007
Relighting Snuffed Candles

The Bush administration's mania for secrecy has been dealt an overdue blowby the House. Significant numbers of Republicans voted with Democrats toreverse the erosion of the public's right to know how its governmentoperates. A package of strong open-government measures would repair some ofthe damage inflicted in the past six years on laws governing taxpayers'access to federal records and presidential archives, while bolstering thestanding of whistle-blowers to report abuses in agencies without fear ofretaliation.

Overwhelming majorities were registered for the measures despite the WhiteHouse's threat of a presidential veto. We say bring it on. The majoritieswere vetoproof in size, and an override confrontation is just the medicinethe administration needs for the hubris it has shown in enshrouding allmanner of information. The Senate should move quickly on companion sunshinemeasures. The bipartisan support that's emerging is no doubt driven by theadministration's unalloyed dedication to secret machinations - whether inthe Iraq war fiasco or the bare-knuckled purging of federal prosecutors.

The freedom of information law has been steadily undermined, to the pointwhere agencies are blithely ducking their lawful responsibility and takingyears to answer legitimate requests.

The House voted to mandate initial answers within 20 days, and computerizedtracking of pending requests. Another measure would effectively revokePresident Bush's 2001 executive order that allows former presidents and vicepresidents to use their official libraries as mausoleums to burycontroversial and historical documents indefinitely beyond public discovery.Who knows - if lawmakers stand firm against White House objections,historians may someday be able to plumb the full depths of the Bush-Cheneyadministration's devotion to governance by murk.


The Washington Post

Valerie Plame, the Spy Who's Ready to Speak for Herself
Years of Silence Will End Today With Capitol Hill Testimony

By Richard Leiby and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 16, 2007; A01

She has been silent nearly four years. Today, the CIA officer whoseunmasking fueled a political uproar and criminal probe that reached into theWhite House is poised to finally tell her own story -- before Congress.

Valerie Plame's testimony will have all the trappings of a "Garbo speaks"moment on Capitol Hill, with cameras and microphones arrayed to capture thevoice of Plame, the glamorous but mute star of a compelling politicalintrigue. But while she hopes to clear up her status as an agency operativewhen her name first hit newspapers in July 2003, America's most publicizedspy is unlikely to betray any details in open session about her mysteriouscareer.

The reason: Plame remains gagged by the same secrecy rules that governed her20 years as a CIA employee working overseas and at Langley in classifiedpositions.

People close to Plame say her primary goal in testifying before the HouseCommittee on Oversight and Government Reform is to knock down persistentclaims that she did not serve undercover. "She is so tired of hearing that,"her mother, Diane Plame, said in an interview earlier this week.

In the years since her outing, the debate over Plame's CIA status has oftendevolved into hairsplitting feuds over nomenclature and legalisms, argumentsawash in partisan bile. Little about her work is publicly known, leavingcommentators to speculate on her cloak-and-dagger activities. She hasremained opaque, this willowy blonde with the beguiling smile. Into afactual void the public has poured its imagery of the female spy, from HalleBerry and Eva Green in James Bond movies to Jennifer Garner on TV's "Alias."


The Washington Post

Memo to Gonzales

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, March 16, 2007; A21

Was it arrogance or ignorance that led the Bush administration to think itcould pull off what looks, walks and quacks like a transparently politicaldecision to fire those eight U.S. attorneys? A good deal of both, I'mguessing.

Actually, I take that back. No guesswork is needed.

Arrogance has been the most consistent hallmark of George W. Bush'spresidency. His administration's simple philosophy of government has beenconsistent: We can do any damn thing we want.

We can invade Iraq. We can blow off the Geneva Conventions. We can listen toyour private phone calls, Mr. and Ms. America, and we can read your privatee-mails, too. We can arrest anybody we want and hold them as long as wewant, and we don't even have to tell them why, much less file formal chargesor hold a trial. We can even defy the laws of science -- or at least ignorethe ones that annoy us, such as that whole "greenhouse effect" thing. We canuse the troops for photo ops when they come back from war grievously woundedand then basically forget about them.

And we don't have to explain ourselves, either. The nerve of anyone to evenask us. Don't you people understand that asking impertinent questions of theWhite House is exactly what Osama bin Laden wants you to do?


The Washington Post

Diagnosis: Cheney

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 16, 2007; A21

"What is wrong with Dick Cheney?" asks Michelle Cottle in the inauguralissue of the newly relaunched New Republic. She then spends the next 1,900words marshaling evidence suggesting that his cardiac disease has left himdemented and mentally disordered.

The charming part of this not-to-be-missed article (titled "Heart ofDarkness," no less) is that it is framed as an exercise in compassion. SinceCottle knows that the only way for her New Republic readers to understandCheney is that he is evil -- "next time you see Cheney behaving oddly, don'tautomatically assume that he's a bad man," she advises -- surely thegenerous thing for a liberal to do is write him off as simply nuts. In thewonderland of liberalism, Cottle is trying to make the case for Cheney byoffering the insanity defense.

She doesn't seem to understand that showing how circulatory problems canaffect the brain proves nothing unless you first show the existence of apsychiatric disorder. Yet Cottle offers nothing in Cheney's presentingsymptoms or behavior to justify a psychiatric diagnosis of any kind, letalone dementia.

What behavior does she cite as evidence of Cheney's looniness?

(a) Using a four-letter word in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy. GoodGod, by that standard, I should long ago have been committed and the entireborough of Brooklyn quarantined.


The Washington Post

Part II: Alberto Gonzales, Presidential Enabler

Three episodes in the career of Alberto R. Gonzales before he becameAttorney General of the United States tell us what kind of a job he waslikely do as the nation's top attorney at the Justice Department. In eachinstance, history has not been kind either to Gonzales' actual substantivework or to the ethical and moral judgment he exercised on behalf of hisclients at the time. In each case, the advice Gonzales offered -- legallydubious to begin with -- created not just political embarrassment andbacklash for his bosses, but unfortunate, even catastrophic results.

Not only did the three pre-Justice Department episodes turn out to beremarkable predictors for his troubled and disappointing tenure as AttorneyGeneral -- but many predicted two years ago that they might be. For example,Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) looked Gonzales in the eye at the latter'sSenate confirmation hearing in January 2005 and said: "My concern is thatduring several high-profile matters in your professional career you'veappeared to serve as a facilitator rather than as an independent force inthe policy-making process."

Gonzales reassured Sen. Leahy -- and anyone else who cared to lodge the samecomplaint back then -- that he knew the difference between the role he wouldhave to play as Attorney General and those he had played as White Housecounsel and as counsel to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

But let us judge him by his deeds and not his words. The Attorney General'srecord at the Justice Department strongly suggests that he has still actedas a docile and dogged "facilitator" for White House initiatives rather thanas a wise, high-minded legal counselor willing and able on occasion toexercise independent judgment and power. The roads to the current scandalover the dismissal of federal prosecutors, to the Justice Department's rabidsupport for warrantless domestic surveillance, and to department's tepiddefense of civil liberties for resident aliens all are paved with stonesthat Gonzales and Bush laid down before the former took the oath of officein early 2005.

For the first two examples, I lean heavily upon the distinguished work ofAlan Berlow, who brilliantly chronicled in the July/August 2003 issue of TheAtlantic Monthly Gonzales' appallingly unprofessional work on death penaltycases when he was counsel for Gov. Bush.

According to Berlow, Gonzales "repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some ofthe most salient issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflictof interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence"(emphasis in original) in a series of memoranda Gonzales prepared for thegovernor's review as part of the state's clemency process. Berlow believesthat this was not mere negligence on the part of Gonzales -- that would havebeen bad enough -- but rather part of a concerted effort by both men toensure for both political and ideological reasons that there would be noclemency petitions granted. The dice were loaded, you might say, by the manwho now is the nation's top lawyer.


The Washington Post

Two Senators Secretly Flew to Cuba for Alleged 9/11 Mastermind's Hearing

By Dafna Linzer and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 16, 2007; A11

Two key congressional leaders secretly flew to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, onSaturday to observe the closed military hearing for al-Qaeda leader KhalidSheik Mohammed, according to Capitol Hill staff members and Pentagonofficials.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, andSen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a committee member, watched the proceedingsover closed-circuit television from an adjacent room, said Tara Andringa, aspokeswoman for Levin.
They were joined by a representative from the CIA, according to one U.S.government official. Lawyers from the Justice Department did not attend thehearing, a spokesman for the department said.

The official transcript of Mohammed's hearing, called to establish whetherhe qualifies as an "enemy combatant," acknowledged the presence of fiveunnamed military officers, a translator and an official tribunal reporter.It is unclear why the presence of two senators who helped write the lawcodifying the tribunals was not announced. Yesterday evening, Graham said hewas not prepared to discuss the trip, citing an agreement with Levin. "We'llissue a joint statement tomorrow, but we were there together," Graham said.

Saturday's trip underscores congressional efforts to exert oversight of one of President Bush's most controversial programs in his fight againstal-Qaeda. After recent criticism from the Justice Department's inspectorgeneral over its use of surveillance powers under the USA Patriot Act, theBush administration is under pressure to demonstrate greater transparencythan it has been willing to offer in the past.

Though there have been hundreds of status hearings for Guantanamo detainees,last week's hearings for Mohammed and two other al-Qaeda suspects marked thefirst time that Combatant Status Review Tribunals were closed to the mediaand the public. Pentagon officials argued that hearings for Mohammed and 13others who were held inside the CIA's secret detention program, some foryears, have to be secret for unspecified national security reasons.


The Washington Post

Democrats Fundraise For Sidelined Senator

By Mary Ann Akers Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007; A19

Even as he convalesces after a severe brain hemorrhage in December,Democrats are holding campaign fundraisers for Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.),and his spokeswoman said his staff and other senators are working hard tomake sure his agenda is fulfilled.

If Johnson is not back by fall, when spending bills are considered, hispriorities still will be "pushed through" the Appropriations Committee,Julianne Fisher said, "for the state of South Dakota." As a committeemember, Johnson sends millions of dollars to his state. "He's expressing hiswishes on what he wants," Fisher said.

Johnson issued his first public statement this week, and Democrats heldthree fundraisers for his reelection. A luncheon on Monday was hosted bySen. Max Baucus (Mont.), and a reception on Tuesday was hosted by SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.). Wednesdaynight, Reid hosted another fundraiser, where, according to sources whoattended the private event, he assured the crowd that Johnson is doing"really well," that his speech is "almost back to normal" and that thesenator's popularity in South Dakota is "higher than ever."

Publicly, Republicans are taking a deferential approach to Johnson'sillness. "Tim Johnson's well-being continues to be our number one concern inthe state of South Dakota," said Rebecca Fisher, communications director forthe National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Behind the scenes, though, Johnson's GOP colleagues were peeved to learn ofthe Democrats' aggressive fundraising. "Democrats are taking advantage ofthe situation," one Senate Republican told


The Washington Post

Christian Groups To Stage Protest

Thousands Expected to March To White House to Voice Opposition
By Michael E. Ruane

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007; B03

Several thousand Christian peace activists plan to march on the White Housetonight to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq, organizers saidyesterday.

The march, which is unrelated to tomorrow's antiwar rally at the Pentagon,will be preceded by a 7 p.m. service at the National Cathedral, 3101Wisconsin Ave. NW. At 8:15 p.m., participants will proceed downtown onMassachusetts Avenue NW, then south on 16th Street NW to Lafayette Park, theorganizers said.

The event is sponsored by the District-based Sojourners/Call to Renewal, aprogressive religious group, along with the American Friends ServiceCommittee, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, andmore than two dozen other Protestant and Catholic groups.

Organizers have said that although most marchers will adhere to the permitregulations for the demonstration, several hundred "volunteered" to stageactions of peaceful civil disobedience and face arrest.

U.S. Park Police said they will arrest demonstrators who violate rulescovering protests in front of the White House. Marchers must keep moving,for example, and cannot hang signs on the White House fence, said Lt. ScottFear, a Park Police spokesman. Buses will be on standby in case largenumbers of protesters are taken into custody, Fear said.


The Washington Post

Move Seen Complicating Rice's Middle East Effort

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007; A13

The completion of a Palestinian unity government yesterday that includesministers from the radical Islamic group Hamas will further complicateSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to rekindle peace efforts inthe region.

Already, the prospect of the government has driven a wedge between IsraeliPrime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President MahmoudAbbas, the two interlocutors on whom Rice had rested her hopes for progress.Middle East analysts said the new government has also hardened Israeliskepticism about Arab commitment to a peace process -- particularly SaudiArabia's role -- and exposed fissures between the United States and Europeon how to deal with respected Palestinian officials who decided to join thenew government. Signs of tensions are also emerging between the UnitedStates and Israel about how fast to push the process.

The United States and Israel have sought to thwart creation of a Palestinianunity government, but U.S. officials are withholding public judgment aboutthe new government until the Palestinian parliament ratifies it tomorrow.But they privately acknowledge that Abbas's announcement last month that hehad struck a deal with Hamas was a blow to U.S. and Israeli efforts toelevate Abbas as an alternative to Hamas.

"Abbas promised us several times he would not agree to a national unitygovernment," a senior Israeli diplomat said this week. "But then he sold thestore to Hamas. He left us flabbergasted and without a strategy."

Yet U.S. officials say Rice remains determined to try to make headway on theIsraeli-Palestinian issue after six years of stagnation.


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