“A source close to the investigation told TIME that scores of US prosecutors and FBI agents continue to examine the activities of other sitting members of Congress and prominent individuals who could face prosecution, though not necessarily before the November 7 election. The source confirmed previous public reports that particular scrutiny is being paid to Sen. Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican who faces a tough campaign for reelection.”
As the President readies himself to go to the map for his right to order torture in violation of America’s laws and international commitments, it’s worth putting this in some context. It’s extremely rare for the Bush administration to pick big fights with congress. When the House and Senate were preparing to send him a campaign finance reform bill he regarded as unconstitutional, he tried to get his allies to kill it. But when they couldn’t, he signed it. When it looked like congress might pass a patients’ bill of rights he tried — and succeeded — in getting House allies to kill it, but indicate that he would sign it if it passed. He hasn’t vetoed any bills. He comes from an ideological tradition nominally committed to small government, but has been willing to increase spending by leaps and bounds.
When it comes to this issue, though, no compromise can be brooked. Bush wants to order intelligence agencies to violate all the country’s traditions and several of its laws in order that they might torture people. To that end, he’s willing to say that if he can’t torture people he just won’t interrogate them at all. Abraham Lincoln, while suspending the writ of habeus corpus, wondered rhetorically, “shall all the laws go unenforced except this one?” Bush’s view seems to be something like the reverse. Unless the one law against torture goes unenforced, his plan is to let them all slide. Then something terrible might happen and we’ll all have learned our lesson.
President Bush on our country’s fiscal health, 9/15/06:
If the American people would take a step back and realize how effective our policies have been, given the circumstances. … I’ve strongly believed the reason it is because we cut taxes, and at the same time, showed fiscal responsibility here in Washington with the people’s money. That’s why the deficit could be cut in half by 2009, or before.
Government Accountability Office on our country’s fiscal health, 9/15/06:
GAO’s current long-term simulations continue to show ever-larger deficits resulting in a federal debt burden that ultimately spirals out of control. … [U]nder either optimistic (“Baseline extended”) or more realistic assumptions, current fiscal policy is unsustainable. … The question is how our current imprudent and unsustainable path will end. At some point, action will be taken to change the Nation’s fiscal course.
Daniel Benjamin and Michele Flournoy point out that we can’t send any more troops to Iraq because there aren’t any available. There are, of course, literally some additional soldiers hanging around who could be mobilized in a crisis, but at the moment all of the Army’s combat strength is either deployed abroad or else somewhere in the reconstitution phase. This is also the difficulty with the retrospective version of the “more troops” theory which holds the occupation force should have been much larger in the beginning. An operation tempo of that scale wouldn’t have been sustainable. Indeed, even the current tempo isn’t genuinely sustainable — it’s causing recruiting problems and deteriorating troop quality while seriously degrading the amount of available equipment.
I note that Fred Kaplan pointed this all out in June 2005, but nobody seems to have paid attention. Meanwhile, it’s unclear to me that more regular Army troops would do very much good. If you look at it, it’s our Special Operations Forces units who’ve really been able to make a difference but, naturally, such units are in rather short supply. Had we concentrated our energies on a single counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan — a context where we enjoyed more local, regional, and global legitimacy and were able to get some non-trivial assistance from allies — then we might well have had the manpower necessary to pull off a good one. But this stuff turns out to be genuinely difficult, whether in the aftermath of a well-founded war (i.e., Afghanistan) or an ill-advised one (i.e., Iraq) and it was really the hight of hubris to think we could just move on to a second mission while an important one was still incomplete.
Inside Radio reports:
Despite reports the liberal talk network would file for bankruptcy protection by week’s end — that apparently isn’t happening. Franken tells listeners “we’re not in Chapter 11″ and pokes at conservative talk hosts and websites for getting it wrong with quips like “who’s gloating now Bill O’Reilly?” We still believe it’s a tough economic situation at the libnet — and several staffers have been laid-off.
On Wednesday, ThinkProgress reported “Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing.” We made a judgment that our sources were knowledgeable and reliable. We regret the error.
We wish Air America a long and successful future.
around Baghdad to reduce some of the violence plaguing the capital, according to the Interior Ministry.
At least three senators — Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) — have said they will investigate allegations that administration officials pressured a group of military lawyers to support Bush’s military tribunals plan.
During today’s press conference, ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz asked Bush why he continues to say Saddam “had relations with Zarqawi,” despite the Senate Intelligence Report findings that Hussein “did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.” Bush replied: “I never said there was an operational relationship.” Watch it:
In fact, Bush has repeatedly asserted that Saddam “harbored” and “provided safe-haven” to Zarqawi:
BUSH: [Saddam] was a threat because he provided safe-haven for a terrorist like Zarqawi… [6/17/04]
BUSH: [Saddam] is a man who harbored terrorists – Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi. [9/23/04]
BUSH: [Zarqawi's] a man who was wounded in Afghanistan, received aid in Baghdad, ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen, USAID employee, was harbored in Iraq. [3/6/03]
Transcript: Read more
Marc Stein has a surprisingly upbeat take on the New York Knicks:
The growing consensus seems to be that Thomas can indeed coax a playoff-contending 40 wins out of these misfits by playing a lot of guards and going up-tempo. That’s still the way I’m betting, too, figuring that Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis are so desperate to spruce up their reputations that they’ll find a way to coexist. For 82 games, anyway.
Let me first note that if Stein really thinks this, he should have given the Knicks a much higher offseason rating. He has them ranked as the number ten offseason performer in the Eastern Conference but is also predicting a dramatic improvement in performance — they only won 23 games last year and nothing about a strategy of playing a lot of guards and going up-tempo sounds like it will do much to improve a team whose problems relate to making tons of turnovers and playing poor defense. What’s more, two of New York’s Eastern Conference cellar-mates — Toronto and Charlotte — took actual steps toward improving through such gambits as not trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile, Stein fails to note that the Knicks made the fairly insane offseason non-move of suddenly deciding to get stingy and not resign Jackie Butler who could have been kept for a very reasonable price by Dolan standards.
Yesterday, Gen. Colin Powell sent a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sharply criticizing President Bush’s plan to establish military commissions. Powell wrote, “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”
During today’s press conference Bush said that criticism like Powell’s was “flawed logic” and “unacceptable.” Watch it:
Transcript: Read more