Friday, February 10, 2006

Cheney should resign immediately!

Libby: White House 'Superiors' OK'd Leaks By TONI LOCY, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 3 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2003.

The NIE is a report prepared by the head of the nation's intelligence operations for high-level government officials, up to and including the president. Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance.

In a Jan. 23 letter to Libby's lawyers, Fitzgerald said Libby also testified before the grand jury that he caused at least one other government official to discuss an intelligence estimate with reporters in July 2003.

"We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors," Fitzgerald wrote.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to comment. "Our policy is that we are not going to discuss this when it's an ongoing legal proceeding," he said.

William Jeffress, Libby's lawyer, said, "There is no truth at all" to suggestions that Libby would try to shift blame to his superiors as a defense against the charges.

Libby, 55, was indicted late last year on charges that he lied to FBI agents and the grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters. He is not charged with leaking classified information from an intelligence estimate report.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Wilson's revelations cast doubt on President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration's key justifications for going to war in Iraq.

On Thursday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said Cheney should take responsibility if he authorized Libby to share classified information with reporters.

"These charges, if true, represent a new low in the already sordid case of partisan interests being placed above national security," Kennedy said. "The vice president's vindictiveness in defending the misguided war in Iraq is obvious. If he used classified information to defend it, he should be prepared to take full responsibility."

In the summer of 2003, White House officials — including Libby — were frustrated that the media were incorrectly reporting that Cheney had sent Wilson to Niger and had received a report of his findings in Africa before the war in Iraq had begun.

In an effort to counter those reports, Libby and other White House officials sought information from the CIA regarding Wilson and how his trip to Niger came about, according to court records.

Fitzgerald, in his letter to Libby's lawyers, said he plans to use Libby's grand jury testimony to support evidence pertaining to the White House aide's meeting with former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

During the meeting with Miller on July 8, Libby also discussed Plame, Fitzgerald said. "Our anticipated basis for offering such evidence is that such facts are inextricably intertwined with the narrative of the events of spring 2003, as Libby's testimony itself makes plain," the prosecutor wrote.

Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to discuss her source.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Apology comes, but dissent was stiffled

By JoAnne Allen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Capitol Police dropped charges against activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for arresting her in the House of Representatives chamber shortly before President Bush's State of the Union address.

Sheehan, who became a central figure in the U.S. anti-war movement after her son Casey was killed in the Iraq war, was taken from the Capitol in handcuffs and charged with unlawful conduct after refusing to cover an anti-war slogan on her T-shirt.

The Capitol Police said in a statement that it had reviewed the incident and determined the arrest was unwarranted.

"While officers acted in a manner consistent with the rules of decorum enforced by the department in the House Gallery for years, neither Mrs. Sheehan's manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention," the statement said.

Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer also apologized to the wife of a House Republican who was told to leave the chamber during Bush's speech for wearing a shirt bearing words of support for U.S. troops.

Rep. Bill Young of Florida had condemned the treatment of his wife, Beverly. Young, who chairs the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said on the House floor his wife was called "a demonstrator and a protester" for doing what Bush had asked of Americans: supporting U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq.

The Capitol Police statement said neither guest should have been confronted about her expressive T-shirt.

"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken, effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol. The policy and procedures were too vague," Gainer said. "The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine."

Sheehan, who won wide attention with an anti-war vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch, was attending the speech as the guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat.

In a speech on the House floor, Woolsey said Sheehan wore a shirt that highlighted the number of dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq. "Since when is free speech conditional on whether you agree with the president of the United States?" Woolsey asked.

"How can we claim to be fighting on behalf of freedom around the world, making the world safe for freedom when we are smothering freedom here at home?" she said.

The Capitol Police department said it would ask the U.S. attorney's office not to pursue the unlawful conduct charge against Sheehan. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

Sheehan and other activists were arrested in September for protesting outside the White House without a permit, a misdemeanor that carriers a $50 fine.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cindy's account of what happened to her at the State of the Union

What really happened: Cindy Sheehan's statement on her arrest at SOTU
Submitted by admin on Wed, 2006-02-01 12:51. General

Dear Friends,

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.

There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2245 Dead. How many more?

After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn't feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me and I knew that I couldn't disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn't want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War. However, Lynn's office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.

I got the ticket back from John, and I met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the underground tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.

My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, "2245, huh? I just got back from there."

I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.

What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shirt that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.

I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in awhile they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable that I would be arrested...maybe I would have, but I didn't.

There have already been many wild stories out there.

I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.

I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you.

I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred of protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people.

Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.

Keep up the struggle...I promise you I will too.

Love and peace soon,
Cindy

Dissent stiffled during State of the Union

Two accounts of what happened before and during Bush's deceitful address to a weak Congress on Jan. 31st. The first is from someone who I was marching and protesting with last night. The second is a news story on what happened to Cindy Sheehan inside the Capitol Building. Read on and think about what this means for our country:

From a D.C. Anti-War Network participant (www.dawndc.net)

Later today, possibly tonight, I'll be sharing a report from the streets
outside the Capitol from activists who weren't inside the Capitol like
Cindy Sheehan and who weren't waiting around with the World Can't Wait.

To preview, let me give you a recap of a few of the highlights. At about
7:30 PM, a group of 15 activists launched into the streets from Judiciary
Square. At 3rd before we reached Constitution, Capitol police rushed us
with batons, throwing some activists to the sidewalk, cursing at them.

Most of us proceeded to Independence Avenue. When people walking with a
banner edged into the street, a group of 11 people found itself facing off
with 200 Capitol Police.

That tipped us off that was indeed Bush's route, and so we inundated
Bush's motorcade with sound as it rushed by at high speeds.

During the speech, we ultimately decided to walk toward the back side of
the Capitol where we had several other exchanges with Capitol Police.
They ultimately chose to follow us with no less than 10 motorcycles along
the streets of DC.

We made it back to Independence Avenue via Third Street by the end, this
time on the Metro Police side of 3rd. There we were greeted by dozens of
DC police, who moved along with us and made a point of attempting to block
signs, sending officers to stand directly in front of signs and to move as
the signs or people moved.

At the end, with a lot of noisemakers and the chance appearance of the
Rhythm Workers Union, we saw Bush pass by again and inundated the
motorcade with protest noise.

The situation on the street belied whatever it was that Bush said he was
fighting for inside. What was going on went beyond needed security; it
was a visible attempt to stifle disent.

More hopefully later, but I wanted to get this much now.

----------

A Governor and a Mayor Speak Up for Democrats
The party faithful show their displeasure with the president even before Virginia's Kaine and L.A.'s Villaraigosa have their say.

By Richard Simon and Faye Fiore, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The governor of a Republican-leaning state and the Latino mayor of Los Angeles delivered the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday night, sounding themes the party hopes will help it take control of Congress in November's elections.

The Democrats expressed their displeasure with Bush's policies in several other ways. The party paid for an anti-Bush television ad that aired before the president took the podium.

A California congresswoman invited Cindy Sheehan to the speech, but the antiwar activist was arrested before it began.

And during the address, the Democratic side of the aisle gave Bush a rousing — albeit sarcastic — standing ovation when he bemoaned his failure to overhaul Social Security.

In the "official" responses to the speech, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa assailed Bush on a number of fronts — including his handling of the war in Iraq, implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit and his failure to bring down energy prices.

Kaine argued repeatedly in his nationally televised remarks that "there's a better way" to grapple with issues than Bush had chosen. He called for a greater emphasis on public service by Americans.

Villaraigosa, who offered the Spanish-language response to Bush's speech, criticized the president for offering "the same defense of the very policies that have divided this country over the last five years."

Party leaders hoped Kaine, who took office last month, and Villaraigosa, elected last year, would appeal to voters as "new faces" within the party. Other political calculations also figured into their being selected for the State of the Union rebuttals.

Kaine was picked as part of the Democratic bid to increase the party's appeal to voters in GOP-leaning states. And with a number of better-known Democrats considering presidential runs in 2008, the selection of Kaine also saved party leaders from having to make a difficult decision.

The choice of Villaraigosa reflected the growing battle between the two parties for the allegiance of Latino voters.

Before Bush's speech, a Democratic-sponsored ad ran on television featuring GOP lawmakers, including former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, cheering Bush at previous State of the Union addresses. The ad accused Republicans of catering to special interests.

DeLay stepped aside from his leadership job in September after he was charged in Texas with violating the state's campaign finance laws, and Democrats have been trying to depict him as a symbol for what they allege is a "culture of corruption" in the GOP-controlled Congress.

Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq and who last year emerged as one of the war's most visible critics, was invited to the speech by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma). But before Bush entered the House chamber, Sheehan was escorted from the visitors gallery by police. They arrested her for "unlawful conduct."

A police spokeswoman said Sheehan was wearing an antiwar T-shirt in violation of a policy against demonstrations inside the chamber.

For much of the speech, Democrats refused to applaud, some sitting resolutely with arms crossed.

But Bush received his standing ovation from Democrats when he referred to the failure of Congress to act on restructuring Social Security, the major domestic proposal in his speech last year. This year, Bush settled for proposing that a commission be formed to study problems facing Social Security and other entitlement programs.

After the address, Democrats stepped up their attacks in a barrage of on-camera interviews, e-mails and press releases.

Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, called Bush's positive description of the state of the union a "fantasyland."

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California complained that Bush "gave short shrift to the mess they made" in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.