It’s a new year, and it’s a year in which the chickens are going to come home to roost. It’s a year when many Republicans are going to be spending considerable time in courtrooms.

Tom DeLay appears to have failed in his bid to have his trial begin in January. But, the trial will certainly start before November.

Scooter Libby will appear in court on February 3rd where a trial date will likely be set.

Meanwhile, it is highly unlikely that Fitzgerald will wrap up his investigation without indicting at least one or two more members of the Bush administration. My money is still on National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Susan reports on the flipping of Jack Abramoff. There is speculation that Abramoff’s testimony could end the careers of as many as twenty Republican Congressmen. This could have a major impact on the House of Representatives: (231 Republicans, 202 Democrats, 1 Independent, 1 Vacancy). If we consider Duke Cunningham’s vacancy as a GOP seat, and the independent seat of Bernie Sanders as a Democratic seat, we can see that there is a margin of 29 seats. We need a net gain of 15 seats to retake the house. How many safe GOP seats will elect Democrats to replace their disgraced GOP congresspeople?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has seen his Presidential ambitions go up in smoke over the Terry Schaivo affair and the SEC investigation into his alleged insider trading. It’s possible that he will be indicted and/or reprimanded by the Senate ethics committee and forced to resign his leadership post.

President Bush, already facing the prospect of losing his Brain in Karl Rove, and his national security advisor in Stephen Hadley, may face a whirlwind of scandals, with the potential for his impeachment and removal from office.

The AP reports:

A new book on the government’s secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the CIA recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.

Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad of Cleveland made the dangerous trip to Iraq on the CIA’s behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear program because — he said — it had been dead for a decade.

New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction. His book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration” describes secret operations of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism…

…In all, the book says, some 30 family members of Iraqis made trips to their native country to contact Iraqi weapons scientists, and all of them reported that the programs had been abandoned.

Nevertheless, the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, a document demanded by Congress prior to the vote authorizing force in Iraq, stated that Iraq was actively rebuilding it’s nuclear program.

The NSA story continues to grow. Amy Goodman reports:

Former NSA intelligence agent Russell Tice condemns reports that the Agency has been engaged in eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants. Tice has volunteered to testify before Congress about illegal black ops programs at the NSA. Tice said, “The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state.”

All of these events are likely to sour the electorate towards the current GOP leadership. But, none of them are as emotionally resonant as the war in Iraq. As more revelations come out about how the ‘facts were fixed around the policy’, how intelligence agents were bullied, how exonerating intelligence was ignored, how we used white phosphorous on civilians, about the widespread authorization of cruel and degrading treatment, as Italy indicts members of our CIA extraordinary rendition teams, as our secret Eastern Europe gulags are exposed, etc… American voter’s impatience with a failing Iraq will become more acute.

The Democrats need to offer a positive agenda in order to capitalize on this unique opportunity. But, part of the positive agenda has to involve lobbying reform and other anti-corruption legislation. And Congress needs to reassert their power within the three branches of government. The intelligence agencies have been scapegoated by this administration. They need rehabilitation. We need to combine more vigorous oversight with a new, more focused mission statement. We can restore morale at the same time that we expose misdeeds. Those misdeeds were carried out under pressure, and the intelligence agencies have been fighting back harder than the Democratic leadership. They deserve a fair shake, even as we reform them to assure no new warrantless wiretaps, or torture chambers, or trumped up inteliigence that misleads the country into war.

If 2006 is really going to be a repeat of 1974, them we need to avoid making the same mistakes we made in the late seventies that helped usher Ronald Reagan into office in 1981.

Yet, if we all pull together and do our part, 2006 could be the last full year that we suffer under this regime. And we certainly can regain one, or both, houses of Congress.

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