Will 2006 be more of 2005? More Bush administration scandals, more furious posting and commenting, more forays to occasional protests?
Perhaps the first part of 2006. But by spring, we’ll be looking ’round our own neighborhoods and states, concentrating more and more on the critical 2006 political races. Through our blogs — which are our bistros and bars (perhaps moreso our 21st century grange halls) where we can find others who inspire us and make us think — we’ll be looking at each other’s neighborhoods and states, reaching out to each other. We’ll be asking each other for help, ideas, publicity, networking aid, and donations.

If we can control (well, at least influence) the news cycle through 2006, here are a couple stories I hope we exploit to keep the heat on Bushco and to stamp the label of “guilt by association” on every Republican candidate:

Iraqi Civil War? “Some Experts Say It’s Arrived” … (We’ve known that for a while, but we can still use it as a frame, er, a hammer, along with no WMDs, and on and on.) …

Today’s Los Angeles Times today critiques the application of the term “civil war” to Iraq. One fascinating section:

James Fearon, a Stanford University political scientist and an authority on modern conflicts, believes that Iraq’s civil war began almost as soon as Hussein was ousted, and that it is now obscured and partly held back by the presence of foreign forces.

“I think there is definitely a civil war that has been going on since we finished the major combat operations,” Fearon said. He rejects the position of many observers that a civil war is still only a possibility for Iraq.

“When people talk about ‘Will there be a civil war?’ they are really talking about a different type of civil war,” he said.

Pat Lang has repeatedly said that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war:

… Lang has visited Iraq some 20 times over the years. Less than a year after the U.S. invasion, “it became clear,” Lang said in a recent interview, that a civil-war-like conflict was under way. …

… Lang says, pre-invasion Baathist Iraq [was] “a pressure-cooker approach to forming national identity,” … and “we interrupted this process of amalgamation [by] taking the lid off this pressure cooker, [allowing] these various elements to resolve themselves into their basic form.” (From Pat Lang’s story here, which quotes his interview in the December 2005 National Journal.)

One more reason to “heart” James Comey … His appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald being the first …

‘member Johnny Ashcroft’s serious pancreatitis and hospitalization in intensive care? “James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in [Ashcroft’s] absence,” was “unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects” to the “the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight.” (“Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program,” New York Times, Jan. 1, 2006)

Andy Card (Chief of Staff) and Alberto Gonzales (then WH counsel) dashed to Ashcroft’s bedside, in intensive care, and got on their hands and knees — begging Johnny, who was fightin’ for his life and in a world of hurt, to approve the program. Ashcroft, say some, expressed reluctance. (WTF was so urgent about getting the program going that Andy and Al invaded an intensive care unit?)

It is unclear whether the White House ultimately persuaded Mr. Ashcroft to give his approval to the program after the meeting or moved ahead without it.

Despite an enticingly cushy job offer at Lockheed Martin, I kinda wish that James Comey hadn’t cashed in just yet. I wish he’d stuck around Justice longer, to keep an eye on things, to say “Hell no!” to ‘berto once in a while, and to buffer Fitzgerald (if he needs it). During Comey’s DAG confirmation hearing in October 2003, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Comey a “prosecutor’s prosecutor.” … continued below …

At its outset in 2002, the surveillance operation was so highly classified that even Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general to Mr. Ashcroft, who was active in most of the government’s most classified counterterrorism operations, was not given access to the program.

That led to uncertainties about the chain of command in overseeing law enforcement activities connected to the program, officials said, and it appears to have spurred concerns within the Justice Department over its use. Mr. Thompson’s successor, Mr. Comey, was eventually authorized to take part in the program and to review intelligence material that grew out of it, and officials said he played a part in overseeing the reforms that were put in place in 2004. (NYT, Jan. 1, 2006)

At the outset of Comey’s DAG confirmation hearing in October 2003, Orrin Hatch lauded Bush’s choice of Comey as DAG.

The only two members of the Judiciary Committee to ask Comey about “civil rights” issues were senators Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold.

Even though this hearing took place in October 2003 — approximately two years after the NSA domestic surveillance program was authorized by Bush — I couldn’t find a single question of DAG nominee Comey about citizens’ rights to privacy or constraints on domestic surveillance. That’s because those senators did not know about the program, right?


Adds Jane at FireDogLake blog:

Comey announced his resignation from the Justice Department in March 2005. And when BushCo. tried to appoint a Skull & Bones crony to oversee Fitzgerald, Comey did an end run around them and appointed the extremely ethical David Margolis to the task as his parting shot out the door.


James Comey, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. You, not ‘berto, should have become AG. Maybe someday, some sensible, ethical president will appoint you to the nation’s top legal beagle post.

By the way, several bloggers — here and here — are writing rather assumptive titles, in my opinion. I don’t think the NYT piece gives us enough to declare, for example: “Even Bush’s Justice Dept. wouldn’t approve the spying program.” We don’t yet know enough about what went down inside Justice, or the White House.

Did Ashcroft stand up to Andy and Al? Jesus. The man was in intensive care, surely drugged heavily for his pain, and feeling incredibly weakened. It’s perhaps more likely that he didn’t want to override his stand-in, Comey.


More on this, via Memeorandum:


… I’m still thinking there’s at least a 2% chance of the I word coming into play, and I’m easily persuaded to go to 3%. I’m almost wondering if the WH has a taping system. They’ve been bound and determined to repeat almost every other criminally stupid thing their true previous White House incarnation did. (If they thought they could get away with “secret bombing” of Iran and Syria in this day and age, now, really, is there the faintest doubt that they’d have been doing it by 2004?)

If one prefers another lesson, and doesn’t remember it well, or wasn’t around, and you have a lot of reading time set aside, this [ED: Iran-Contra report], I’m sure, would be educational reading for many. Of course, that outcome remains, unfortunately, the most likely for this case, as well. But we shall see. I make no predictions as of yet. Things change, day by day, week by week, month by month, and events, as always, control. …

See also:
NSA Gave Other U.S. Agencies Information From Surveillance,” at the WaPo today — by Pincus

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