March 19, 2007

Power Shift Puts Bush Team on Defense

For six years, President Bush weathered controversies over warrantless wiretaps, abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and the government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina with the help of a Republican Congress that wasn't eager to probe too deeply.

But less than three months into a Congress controlled by Democrats, top administration officials are being subpoenaed to testify, grilled before multiple committees or fired to contain the damage from recent scandals. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fighting to save his job.

To Democrats, it's a sign that checks and balances have returned after six years of one-party rule in the nation's capital.

"We have decided to turn the Congress from an accountability-free zone into a place where we hold the executive branch, the Congress and the federal government accountable," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who's leading the party's re-election efforts.

The shift in power has made it impossible for the White House to control a series of scandals in recent weeks, from the mistreatment of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the controversial firings of eight federal prosecutors.

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March 13, 2007

Bush Administration Takes Six Blows In A Row

During a 24-hour news cycle last week there were these major stories:

01. Six of the eight recently fired United States Attorneys told Congressional committees that they believed they lost their jobs because they wouldn't play partisan politics in their handling of high profile political corruption cases. Some also claimed they'd been threatened by the Justice Department not to go public with their complaints.

02. Nine American servicemen were killed in action Iraq.

03. More than 100 Iraqi Shiites making a religious pilgrimage were killed by suicide bombers. At least 200 were injured.

04. Seriously wounded soldiers told Congress about the neglect, bad housing and bureaucratic nightmares they suffered as outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington while two top army generals accepted responsibility and apologized to the soldiers and their families.

05. According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, six in 10 Americans want Congress to set a time table to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

06. And, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and a national security aide to President George W. Bush, was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice in the case of the leak of the identity of a CIA operative in the summer of 2003.

Any one of these stories would have been bad news for the Bush White House. As a group they represent a devastating political "perfect storm" because they paint a vivid picture of corruption, neglect and incompetence even while things continue to go badly in a war that a significant majority of Americans no longer supports and wants to end. It was enough to make the White House spokesman want to hide from the press, which Tony Snow tried to do by taking the day off. But neither he nor his boss can hide from the reality that Bush administration policies have created at home and abroad – a reality that seems about as bad as it can be but promises to get worse.

March 11, 2007

Edited By WestTexasBliss

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March 07, 2007

Fall Guy

Jury finds Libby guilty on 4 of 5 counts in case of unmasking of CIA operative

I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted Tuesday of lying to FBI agents and grand jurors who were investigating the unmasking of a CIA operative amid a burning dispute over the war in Iraq.

The jurors rejected Libby's claims of memory lapses as they convicted him of obstruction of justice, giving false statements to the FBI and perjuring himself, charges embodied in four of the five counts of the indictment. The jury acquitted him on an additional count of making false statements to the FBI.

The verdict brought to a dramatic conclusion what has been among the most politically charged criminal trials in the capital since the Iran-contra affair in the 1980s and the Watergate prosecutions of the 1970s. The trial involved some of the most powerful figures in the White House and in Washington journalism.

A juror who met afterward with reporters, Denis Collins, said there was some sympathy on the jury for Libby. Indeed, several jurors agreed with defense lawyers that Libby was in effect a "fall guy" for more senior members of the administration.

During the trial, Wells tried to show that his client was being made a scapegoat to protect Rove, who was considered vital to Bush's re-election campaign in 2004.

March 04, 2007

Vietnam War: Gore and Bush.

Vietnam War: Gore
Although opposed to the Vietnam War, on August 7, 1969, Gore enlisted in the United States Army in order to participate in the war. After basic training at Fort Dix, Gore was assigned as a military journalist writing for The Army Flier, the base newspaper at Fort Rucker. With seven months remaining in his enlistment, he was shipped to Vietnam, arriving January 2, 1971. He served for four months with the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa and for another month at the Army Engineer Command in Long Binh. As his unit was standing down, he applied for and received a non-essential personnel discharge two months early in order to attend divinity school at Vanderbilt University.

The chronology of Gore's military service is:

August 1969: Enlisted at the Newark, New Jersey recruiting office.

August to October 1969: Eight weeks of basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Late October 1969 to December 1970: writer for the Army Flier newspaper at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

January 2, 1971 to May 22, 1971: field reporter in Vietnam, part of the 20th Engineer Brigade, stationed primarily at Bien Hoa Air Base northeast of Saigon.

May 24, 1971: Given an honorable discharge, after his early discharge request was granted. Gore opposed the Vietnam War, but chose to volunteer anyway though he could have avoided serving in Vietnam in a number of ways. A friend of the Gore family reserved a spot for him in the National Guard, which he turned down. Gore has stated that his sense of civic duty compelled him to serve.

Vietnam War: Bush
In May 1968, at the height of the ongoing Vietnam War, Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base. Critics have alleged that Bush was favorably treated during his time of service due to his father's political standing, and that he was irregular in attendance. Bush took a transfer to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972 to work on a Republican senate campaign, and in 1974 he obtained permission to end his six-year service obligation six months early to attend Harvard Business School, receiving an honorable discharge.

There are a number of accounts of substance abuse and otherwise disorderly conduct by Bush from this time. Bush has admitted to drinking "too much" in those years and described this period of his life as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth". On September 4, 1976, at the age of 30, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended until 1978 in Maine.