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Cost of the War in Iraq
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Monday, July 25, 2005

CIA Leak Case By The Numbers 


A perspective of the CIA leak case provided by Senate Democrats. Check it out here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dems: Pick Your Battles 


The Dems would do well by not picking a fight over the nomination of Judge Roberts to the US Supreme Court. The Dems would lose the high ground as well as the confirmation battle itself. In light of the more pressing matters facing the US public, Democrats should decline to fight a battle over Roberts and focus on those other issues.

Roberts clearly has the experience and intellect to sit on the High Court. I may not agree with the positions he's taken in cases, but the man is highly qualified for the job as Supreme Court justice.
Hard questioning will just make Dems look like bullies. Republicans would love that, particularly because Roberts is well qualified for the job.

The appointment, while no doubt historic and significant, is really less significant to all Americans than Bush's lower court appointments are. Why? Because the lower courts hear a disproportionate number of cases in comparison to US Supreme Court.

In 2004, a total of 281,338 cases were filed in US federal district courts. Of those cases, approximately 27,438 were appealed to, and disposed of, by the courts of appeals. Lower court judges undoubtedly know that there is a slim chance that their decisions will be reviewed by a higher court. Thus, judges can make decisions without substantial concern they will be overturned on appeal. That gives those judges a tremendous amount of power. Judges acting firmly on the principle of judicial restraint---and there are many who do---do not abuse that awesome power. Those who pay only lip service to that principle can easily abuse their power without consequence.

In contrast to the lower federal courts, the US Supreme Court hears about 100 out of roughly 7,000-8,000 requests for review filed with the Court each year. There is no question that some of the cases on the Court's docket have major implications for all Americans. But in the big scheme of things, the action Americans should be concerned about happens at the lower court level.

Rather than fight a battle over Roberts, Democrats should focus on other more pressing issues. For example, the Bush administration's use of classified government information for partisan political purposes is horrifying. Of course I refer to the Valerie Wilson outing that has damaged our national security. The outing issue goes to the heart of the reasons the US invaded Iraq, which has caused the deaths and injuries of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. That abuse of power has far greater implications for the people of this country---not to mention the rest of humanity---than does the nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Republicans would relish a fight over Roberts for the sole purpose of diverting attention away from the Wilson outing. Democrats ought not to take the bait and remain focused on getting to the bottom of the administration's abuse of power.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ambassador Wilson Responds to Senators' "Additional Comments" 


Joe Wilson wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee responding to the additional comments relating to Wilson and his wife. Worth a read.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It's Not About the Name "Plame"! 


I'm gonna go nuts! The GOP has successfully changed the frame of the debate about Rove's revelation to reporter Matt Cooper of the employment of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife. It's driving me crazy. Everywhere I turn I hear people saying, "Well, Rove didn't reveal her name." So what!???? Her name was not a secret. It was also no secret that Joe Wilson had a wife. Her name and relationship to Joe Wilson did not have national security implications.

The fact that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA is the key fact here. Bush's right-hand man Rove told a reporter that fact, under a "double super secret" promise, and that is the other key fact in this so-called Plame affair.

Who cares if it was not a technical violation of the law. (I concede nothing about the law; haven't looked carefully at the statute so I have no basis upon which to judge the legality-- yet.) Do we want officials to exercise their judgment in that manner?

Ken Mehlman of the GOP is out appearing wherever he can getting the GOP talking points out. The GOP's main defense of Rove? He told Cooper about Plame as a courtesy to prevent Cooper from erroneusly crediting the VP and/or the DCI with having authorized Wilson's trip to Niger.

Ok, think about that for a nanosecond. Plenty of alternatives to revealing Plame's occupation existed to prevent the alleged misinformation. If that were all Rove wanted to do, why did he need to tell Cooper on a "super secret" basis?

Rove could have (1) waited until a story was written and then ask for a correction to the record; (2) advised the VP and the DCI to issue press releases explaining that they did not know or authorize the trip (I think the DCI acknowledged something about it later, but the VP has all along denied any knowledge of Wilson's trip); (3) spoken to Cooper on the record to explain the "truth." There were other ways for accomplish the goal his defenders now claim he had by revealing the occupation of Wilson's wife.

The fact that so many alternative methods existed to accomplish Rove's claimed goal proves the lie. The only plausible reason for telling Cooper that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and ok'd his Niger trip was to out her and punish Wilson.

Rove even felt it ok to tell one reporter, after Novak revealed Plame's occupation, that Wilson's wife was "fair game." That hardly supports the GOP assertion that Rove's motives were pure and in the public interest.

It is just appalling to me that anyone could come to Rove's defense under the circumstances. Any other President would have had Rove's resignation long before this point. (Well, maybe not Nixon.) But personal loyalty is more meaningful than ensuring the safety of our CIA operatives, particularly one working on WMD proliferation like Plame.

Remember, it's not about the name "Plame." It's about the betrayal of a CIA agent who spent more than 20 years working in defense of her country by a college drop-out who managed to work his way up to the top of the US government by winning political campaigns.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

One Former Presidential Physician Speaks Out Against Torture 


From Friday's Washington Post:

The Stain of Torture

A must read.

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