“A small group of protesters gathered near the funeral services to criticize [Jerry Falwell,] the man who mobilized Christian evangelicals and made them a major force in American politics — often by playing on social prejudices. … Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car. The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service. The devices were made of a combination of gasoline and detergent.”
More details on former Rove aide Susan Ralston. Ralston’s lawyer says that if she is granted immunity from prosecution, “she would testify about Abramoff’s relationships with White House officials and ‘the use by White House officials of political e-mail accounts’ at the Republican National Committee.”
Ralston has “useful information about both of those subjects,” Berenson told the committee, and “she is more than willing to provide it to the committee” under “a grant of immunity,” the memo said.
But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is going to deny immunity for now. “‘Providing immunity to a witness is a significant step with legal consequences for potential prosecutions.’ Before deciding on Ralston’s request, he said, the committee ‘should seek to obtain information about the relationship between Mr. Abramoff and the White House from other sources.’”
UPDATE: Emptywheel has much more.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) confirmed at a press conference late this afternoon that she does not intend to vote for the Iraq deal reached today by the White House and Congress. “I’m not likely to vote for something that doesn’t have a timetable or a goal,” she said, while still praising the deal as “a recognition by the administration that a new direction was called for by the American people.”
Later, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) insisted that “we intend to continue that fight” for an Iraq timeline “on every vehicle available to us,” adding that the “first two vehicles that we expect to join the issue on are the defense appropriations bill in July and the defense supplemental appropriations bill in September.”
Also during the press conference, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) called the deal “the beginning of the end of the president’s policy in Iraq,” citing the 18 benchmarks and two required ‘progress reports’ laid out in the legislation. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the House Majority Whip, pointed out that the bill will allow for passage of the first minimum wage increase in a decade, and for more than $6 billion to be delivered to victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
Crooks and Liars has more.
UPDATE: Answer: No. It was an editing error by The Hill.
“President Bush, trying to defend his war strategy, declassified intelligence Tuesday asserting that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks outside Iraq — and that the United States should be the top target.”
Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said the intelligence bolsters the Bush administration’s contention that al-Qaida wants to use Iraq as a staging area to launch terrorist attacks around the world, including the United States. [...]
Townsend disclosed the information to The Associated Press and other news agencies in advance of Bush’s commencement speech Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Bush is expected to emphasize the continuing threat of terrorism and recount steps taken by his administration to prevent attacks.
Tony Snow said today of Al Gore’s new book: “I don’t know if they’re going to do a reprinting of the book to try to get the facts straight. The fact-checkers may have to take a look at it.” Gore responded on a blogger conference call: “This book, unlike the President’s State of the Union Address, has been fact-checked.” Taylor Marsh has full audio of the call.
“An Office of Special Counsel report has found that General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal officials from partisan political activity while on the job, sources say.”
The report addresses a Jan. 26 lunch meeting at GSA headquarters attended by Doan and about 40 political appointees, some of whom participated by videoconference. During the meeting, Scott Jennings, the White House deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation that included slides listing Democratic and Republican seats the White House viewed as vulnerable in 2008, a map of contested Senate seats and other information on 2008 election strategy.
According to meeting participants, Doan asked after the call how GSA could help “our candidates.”
Doan has until June 1 to respond to the OSC report. “After Doan responds, the report will be sent to President Bush with recommendations that could include suspension or termination. The president is not required to comply with the suggestions.”
UPDATE: Doan has no comment (except that she’s angry the report is public):
A spokeswoman for GSA said in a statement that Doan is “again disappointed in the failure to protect what remains an ongoing and confidential process.” The spokeswoman would not comment on the contents of the report, which may or may not be made public. “It would be inappropriate for the administrator to comment on the investigation, until the process has been completed,” the spokeswoman said.
This evening, ABC’s World News Tonight reported that the “United States has opened a new front in its showdown with Iran.” According to the report, President Bush has directed the CIA to carry out covert operations both inside and outside Iran “aimed directly at weakening the Iranian regime.”
ABC’s investigative correspondent Brian Ross said the CIA’s “non-lethal” program had received “secret presidential approval.” Officials told ABC the CIA plan “takes the place of proposed U.S. military action against Iran, reportedly advocated by Vice President Cheney.” Watch it:
The Blotter has more coverage:
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a “nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.
“Vice President Cheney helped to lead the side favoring a military strike,” said former CIA official Riedel, “but I think they have come to the conclusion that a military strike has more downsides than upsides.”
The covert action plan comes as U.S. officials have confirmed Iran had dramatically increased its ability to produce nuclear weapons material, at a pace that experts said would give them the ability to build a nuclear bomb in two years.
Vali Nasr, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said “I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran. And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow.”
While Planet Gore now has the market cornered on entertaining global warming disinformation, Michael Crichton perfected it. For those last two or three people who still think the technothriller writer has his facts straight, check out reasic’s terrific post on Crichton’s inane 2003 talk, “Aliens Cause Global Warming.”
Yes, Crichton, a real medical doctor, actually said:
Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we’re asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?
Wow! Not knowing the difference between weather and climate is like not knowing the difference between a general practitioner and an epidemiologist. I don’t know what’s worse — the possibility Crichton is just spouting standard Denyer crap he knows is crap or the possibility he actually believes what he is saying.
Kudos to “A Few Things Ill Considered,” for pointing this post out.
“Congressional Democrats relented today on their insistence that a war spending measure sought by President Bush also set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The decision to back down, described by senior lawmakers and aides, was a wrenching reversal for some Democrats, who saw their election triumph as a call to force an end to the war.”
“We don’t have a veto-proof Congress,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader.
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House Democratic majority leader, said the new bill was still being assembled, but he acknowledged the political reality facing Democrats. “The president has made it very clear that he is not going to sign timelines,” said Mr. Hoyer. “We can’t pass timelines over his veto.”
UPDATE: The AP notes, “Reid and other Democrats pointed to a provision that would set standards for the Iraqi government in developing a more democratic society. U.S. reconstruction aid would be conditioned on progress toward meeting the goals, but Bush would have authority to order the money to be spent regardless of how the government in Baghdad performed.”
UPDATE II: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) releases a statement: “I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action.”
UPDATE III: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will reportedly oppose the funding bill:
It will split the Democratic caucus in half, with as many as 120 Democrats voting no. Among the nays, I’m told, will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will have negotiated a bill that she thinks is the best option for House Democrats but which she personally can’t support. Most other Democratic leaders are expected to vote in favor. Still, if only 100 Democrats vote yes, the amendment will require at least 118 Republicans in order to pass.
“Some will say no, some will say yes,” the official involved in the negotiations said of rank and file Democrats. “It’s not a perfect bill. Nobody got what they wanted. But it is the beginning of the end of George W. Bush’s policy in Iraq.”
Also, the House leadership is promising “to return to the timelines — and other measures designed to pressure Bush to withdraw from Iraq — in the Defense appropriations bill for the next fiscal year. ‘We’ll be able to write a lot of policy in appropriations that Bush won’t be able to veto,’ says the official.”