George W. Bush, June 2000:
....The jab came a day after Bush complained about a lack of civility in Washington with comments that were especially critical of the administration.
Speaking to Republican activists at a fund-raiser Thursday, the GOP presidential contender said: ''There's no bigger issue than to restore confidence in Washington, D.C. There's no bigger issue than rejecting this type of politics where people are willing to tear down as opposed to build up. The politics of war rooms and focus groups and enemy lists - we've got to get rid of that kind of politics if we're to have a hopeful 21st century.''
Hours earlier in Tennessee, Bush singled out Gore, his Democratic opponent.
Pointing to language that has led Gore to adopt a less aggressive campaign style, the Texas governor told an audience in Gore's home state: ''Proposals he disapproves of are never just arguable; they're 'risky schemes.' This kind of unnecessary rhetoric is characteristic of the tone in Washington, D.C. It's the war room mentality.''
There has been an assumption that Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, is pleading the Fifth simply because of her role in preparing false testimony to Congress. That is, at least, the impression given by her lawyer's letter to the investigating committees.
But this profile in Legal Times shows that Goodling is far from just a mid-level aide who played a peripheral role in the purge. On the contrary, she's very well-connected and apparently one of the main drivers behind the process of selecting U.S. attorneys.
Just look at how Legal Times describes Goodling's role in the interviews to select U.S.A. replacements:
Interviews for U.S. Attorney replacements took place with only a handful of people: David Margolis, the department's top-ranking career official and a 40-plus year veteran; a member of the White House Counsel's Office; the head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys; and Goodling.
Charles Miller, whom Gonzales appointed as interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, interviewed with the panel in the fall of 2005. "They asked me what I'd done to support the president," Miller says. It wasn't a question Miller expected. He told them he'd voted for Bush.
But a former prosecutor who did not get a U.S. Attorney post was left with a sour feeling after his interview in 2006. "Monica was in charge, in essence, of the interview," recalls the former supervisory assistant U.S. Attorney. "I walked out of that room and thought, 'Wow, I've just run into a buzz saw.'"
It can't be surprising, then, that Goodling got her start in national politics in 1999 by working in the Republican National Committee's war room for political opposition research. There, she was working directly underneath Tim Griffin, then the deputy research director of the RNC who bragged that his shop made the bullets in the war against Democrats -- and later the administration's pick to be the U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas. Goodling, of course, played a key role in helping install her old boss in the spot last year.
So Cheney goes to Australia and meets with John Howard who tells him that the Hicks case is killing him in Australia, and he may lose the next election because of it. Hicks's case is then railroaded to the front of the Gitmo kangaro court line, and put through a "legal" process almost ludicrously inept, with two of Hicks' three lawyers thrown out on one day, then an abrupt plea-bargain, with a transparently insincere confession. Hicks is then given a mere nine months in jail in Australia, before being set free. Who negotiated the plea-bargain? Hicks' lawyer. Who did he negotiate with? Not the prosecutors, as would be normal, but Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official. Who is Susan J. Crawford? She served as Dick Cheney's Inspector General while he was Defense Secretary.
As the deal developed in recent weeks, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the lead prosecutor for military commissions, and his team on the Hicks case were not in the loop. Davis said he learned about the plea agreement Monday morning when the plea papers were presented to him, and he said the prosecution team was unaware that discussions had been taking place.
"We got it before lunchtime, before the first session," Davis said at a news conference Friday night. In an interview later, he said the approved sentence of nine months shocked him. "I wasn't considering anything that didn't have two digits," he said, referring to a sentence of at least 10 years.
If you think this was in any way a legitimate court process, you're smoking something even George Michael would pay a lot of money for. It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn't a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.
Matthew Dowd (from the NYT):
AUSTIN, Tex., March 29 — In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal.
A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, Mr. Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. Bush’s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president’s chief campaign strategist.
Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.
In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.
“I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things,” he said. He added, “I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.”
In speaking out, Mr. Dowd became the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.
He said his decision to step forward had not come easily. But, he said, his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s presidency is so great that he feels a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Mr. Bush gain and keep power.
Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.
“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”
Mr. Dowd’s journey from true believer to critic in some ways tracks the public arc of Mr. Bush’s political fortunes. But it is also an intensely personal story of a political operative who at times, by his account, suppressed his doubts about his professional role but then confronted them as he dealt with loss and sorrow in his own life.
In the last several years, as he has gradually broken his ties with the Bush camp, one of Mr. Dowd’s premature twin daughters died, he was divorced, and he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic. Mr. Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central.
Mr. Dowd, 45, said he hoped in part that by coming forward he would be able to get a message through to a presidential inner sanctum that he views as increasingly isolated. But, he said, he holds out no great hope. He acknowledges that he has not had a conversation with the president.
Two of the three leading Republican candidates for President either embrace or are open to embracing the idea that the President can imprison Americans without any review, based solely on the unchecked decree of the President. And, of course, that is nothing new, since the current Republican President not only believes he has that power but has exercised it against U.S. citizens and legal residents in the U.S. -- including those arrested not on the "battlefield," but on American soil.
What kind of American isn't just instinctively repulsed by the notion that the President has the power to imprison Americans with no charges? And what does it say about the current state of our political culture that one of the two political parties has all but adopted as a plank in its platform a view of presidential powers and the federal government that is -- literally -- the exact opposite of what this country is?
The Republican Party’s adherence to an outdated ideology leaves it with big problems. It can’t offer domestic policies that respond to the public’s real needs. So how can it win elections?
The answer, for a while, was a combination of distraction and disenfranchisement.
The terrorist attacks on 9/11 were themselves a massive, providential distraction; until then the public, realizing that Mr. Bush wasn’t the moderate he played in the 2000 election, was growing increasingly unhappy with his administration. And they offered many opportunities for further distractions. Rather than debating Democrats on the issues, the G.O.P. could denounce them as soft on terror. And do you remember the terror alert, based on old and questionable information, that was declared right after the 2004 Democratic National Convention?
But distraction can only go so far. So the other tool was disenfranchisement: finding ways to keep poor people, who tend to vote for the party that might actually do something about inequality, out of the voting booth.
Remember that disenfranchisement in the form of the 2000 Florida “felon purge,” which struck many legitimate voters from the rolls, put Mr. Bush in the White House in the first place. And disenfranchisement seems to be what much of the politicization of the Justice Department was about.
Several of the fired U.S. attorneys were under pressure to pursue allegations of voter fraud — a phrase that has become almost synonymous with “voting while black.” Former staff members of the Justice Department’s civil rights division say that they were repeatedly overruled when they objected to Republican actions, ranging from Georgia’s voter ID law to Tom DeLay’s Texas redistricting, that they believed would effectively disenfranchise African-American voters.
The good news is that all the G.O.P.’s abuses of power weren’t enough to win the 2006 elections. And 2008 may be even harder for the Republicans, because the Democrats — who spent most of the Clinton years trying to reassure rich people and corporations that they weren’t really populists — seem to be realizing that times have changed.
Via Jonathan Schwartz. John Hockenberry recalls in a talk at MIT what it was like at NBC in the dark days of the selling of the Iraq War. As Aaron Swartz has it:
You may or may not be aware that there was a real strong full-court press to sell the media -- and I'm not pro- or against it at this particular point, but there was a process in place where individuals in the media got access to the individuals involved in the planning of the war. There were generals who came in, there were former secretaries of defense, Schwarzkopf spent a whole lot of time giving sort of off-the-record, quiet briefings. And the generals would sort of bring in a certain group of editors and reporters and I went to all of these briefings.
Swartz then paraphrases:
At one of [these briefings] , Hockenberry explains, a well-known pollster told about a briefing he gave to all the senior officials at the White House about how the polling data from the Arab world showed that America's negatives were simply off-the-charts. Everyone was quiet. Condi asked a few technical questions and then finally Karl Rove spoke up. "Well, that's just until we start throwing our weight around over there," he said.
Hockenberry was stunned and thought they should do a piece on what this revealed into the mentality of the war's planners. But NBC News didn't think this was a very good idea. America wanted the war to happen; their job was just to wait and see how it turned out. "We're not particularly interested in the story," Hockenberry explains. "We're a process that's trying to maintain people in front of the set, so in a certain sense media at that point was doing its own kind of shock-and-awe that went right along with the war's shock-and-awe [because] the business is just to grab eyeballs."
The Washington Post:
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.
To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.
O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .
Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.
The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.
The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.
Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues.
Just in case, you know, you forget or something.