Seems like everything is OK now.
New evidence uncovered by the Washington Post suggests DeLay received $1 million dollars in Russian oil money through a non-profit front group that he controlled.
An immigration bill that recently passed the House of Representative would punish priests, nurses and social workers who provide services to undocumented immigrants with up to five years in prison.
Treasury Secretary John Snow warns that the federal government will exceed the statutory debt limit of $8.18 trillion by Feburary, asks Congress to authorize more borrowing.
One of the big arguments advanced by the right is that Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program could have prevented 9/11. The Washington Post gave Bill Kristol and Gary Schmitt space to make this argument on December 20:
Consider the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French Moroccan who came to the FBI’s attention before Sept. 11 because he had asked a Minnesota flight school for lessons on how to steer an airliner, but not on how to take off or land. Even with this report, and with information from French intelligence that Moussaoui had been associating with Chechen rebels, the Justice Department decided there was not sufficient evidence to get a FISA warrant to allow the inspection of his computer files. Had they opened his laptop, investigators might have begun to unwrap the Sept. 11 plot. But strange behavior and merely associating with dubious characters don’t rise to the level of probable cause under FISA.
One problem: Kristol and Schmitt are completely wrong. Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002, wrote into the Washington Post to correct them:
[N]o evidence of Moussaoui’s suspicious flight training and ties with terrorism was presented to the Justice Department. The department was never contacted and so did not decide anything; therefore, no decision was ever made regarding the given evidence and its subsequent application to FISA standards.
That means the FISA procedures were not the reason the FBI failed to inspect Moussaoui’s computer files. Rather, the FBI’s failure to share and analyze intelligence sufficiently is what enabled Moussaoui to escape further investigation.
Kristol and Schmitt conclude their op-ed sanctimoniously: “to engage in demagogic rhetoric about ‘imperial’ presidents and ‘monarchic’ pretensions, with no evidence that the president has abused his discretion, is foolish and irresponsible.”
The law, even for the President, is not discretionary. What’s foolish and irresponsible is to use phony evidence to advance outlandish claims in one of the nation’s most widely read newspapers.
UPDATE: Rowley posted the unabbreviated version of her letter on The Agonist.
Percentage of Americans who believe that Saddam Huissein helped plan 9/11. 24% believe some of the hijackers were Iraqis.
In today’s Orlando Sentinel, right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker provides a clear headed assessment of the blogosphere:
Each time I wander into blogdom, I’m reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure.
…When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding’s children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.
…Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.
…We can’t silence them, but for civilization’s sake – and the integrity of information by which we all live or die – we can and should ignore them.
That’s right. Ignore bloggers and pay attention to Kathleen Parker. For example, here’s a choice paragraph from her October 5 column:
The N-word makes me cringe . . . especially every time I hear Kanye West say it. His spicy songs, including his current hit, “Gold Digger,” are liberally seasoned with the word “nigga,” often couched in violence and obscenity. But when I imagine the immaculate and proper Condi Rice saying it…it makes me laugh.
That, my friends, is what it means to write with integrity. Us bloggers would be well served spending less time hoisting severed heads on bloody sticks and more time reading Kathleen Parker.
At today’s press briefing, White House spokesman Trent Duffy was asked about a story in today’s New York Times, which reported that Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program could undermine key terrorism prosecutions:
Q The New York Times reports today that there are several legal challenges based on the NSA wiretaps. Are you concerned that these challenges could jeopardize the cases against people you guys have already described as very bad people?
MR. DUFFY: …[W]e decline to comment on any pending cases, but I don’t think it should serve as any surprise that defense attorneys are looking at ways to represent their clients; that’s what defense attorneys do.
Duffy’s right, criminal defense lawyers are looking for ways that their clients can avoid conviction. And Bush’s actions have given them an easy way to do it. The program violated federal criminal law — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As a result, any information collected by the program is inadmissible in court. (This principle is called the exclusionary rule.) If that information is critical to the government’s case, a guilty terrorist might be found not guilty.
What’s worse, if what the administration says is true, none of this was necessary. If all of the surveillance targeted people associated with al Qaeda, as the administration claims, it would have been easily approved by the FISA court. That process would not have delayed the surveillance since a warrant can be obtained up to 72 hours after the surveillance starts.
The Bush administration says the program is justified because it made us safer. The opposite appears to be true. The program has made us less safe by needlessly complicating the prosecution of terrorist suspects.