Bush Administration

‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular’




An exclusive look at how the Bush administration ignored this warning from the CIA months before 9/11, along with others that were far more detailed than previously revealed.


Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The CIA’s famous Presidential Daily Brief, presented to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhibit A in the case that his administration shrugged off warnings of an Al Qaeda attack. But months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.

By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.” “There were real plots being manifested,” Cofer’s former boss, George Tenet, told me in his first interview in eight years. “The world felt like it was on the edge of eruption. In this time period of June and July, the threat continues to rise. Terrorists were disappearing [as if in hiding, in preparation for an attack]. Camps were closing. Threat reportings on the rise.” The crisis came to a head on July 10. The critical meeting that took place that day was first reported by Bob Woodward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in general terms in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm.


But neither he nor Black has spoken about it publicly in such detail until now—or been so emphatic about how specific and pressing their warnings really were. Over the past eight months, in more than a hundred hours of interviews, my partners Jules and Gedeon Naudet and I talked with Tenet and the 11 other living former CIA directors for The Spymasters, a documentary set to air this month on Showtime.

The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.) Black, a charismatic ex-operative who had helped the French arrest the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”

That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”

Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”

“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.” Remarkably, in her memoir, Condi Rice writes of the July 10 warnings: “My recollection of the meeting is not very crisp because we were discussing the threat every day.” Having raised threat levels for U.S. personnel overseas, she adds: “I thought we were doing what needed to be done.” (When I asked whether she had any further response to the comments that Tenet, Black and others made to me, her chief of staff said she stands by the account in her memoir.) Inexplicably, although Tenet brought up this meeting in his closed-door testimony before the 9/11 Commission, it was never mentioned in the committee’s final report.

nd there was one more chilling warning to come. At the end of July, Tenet and his deputies gathered in the director’s conference room at CIA headquarters. “We were just thinking about all of this and trying to figure out how this attack might occur,” he recalls. “And I’ll never forget this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at everybody and said, ‘They’re coming here.’ And the silence that followed was deafening. You could feel the oxygen come out of the room. ‘They’re coming here.’”

Tenet, who is perhaps the agency’s most embattled director ever, can barely contain himself when talking about the unheeded warnings he says he gave the White House. Twirling an unlit cigar and fidgeting in his chair at our studio in downtown Washington, D.C., he says with resignation: “I can only tell you what we did and what we said.” And when asked about his own responsibility for the attacks on 9/11, he is visibly distraught. “There was never a moment in all this time when you blamed yourself?” I ask him. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “Well, look, there … I still look at the ceiling at night about a lot of things. And I’ll keep them to myself forever. But we’re all human beings.”


Only 12 men are alive today who have made the life-and-death decisions that come with running the CIA.

Once a year, the present and former CIA directors—ranging from George H.W. Bush, 91, to the current boss, John Brennan, 60—meet in a conference room at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The ostensible reason: to receive a confidential briefing on the state of the world. (Robert Gates, who hates setting foot inside the Beltway, is a perennial no-show.) “They mostly tell us stuff we already know, and we pretend we’re learning something,” says Tenet, the longest-serving director (lasting seven years, under Presidents Clinton and Bush II). But the real point of their annual pilgrimage is to renew bonds forged in the trenches of the war on terror—and to debate the agency’s purpose in the world.

And I’ll never forget this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at everybody and said, ‘They’re coming here.’”

On the burning questions of the day, the directors are profoundly torn: over the CIA’s mission, its brutal interrogation methods after 9/11, and the shifting “rules of engagement” in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. What is fair game in the fight against terrorism: Torture? Indefinite detention? Setting up “black sites” in foreign countries for interrogation? Should the CIA be in the business of killing people with remotely piloted drones? Was the agency really to blame for 9/11? Or did the White House ignore its repeated warnings?

On these and other questions, the directors were surprisingly candid in the interviews they did with me—even straying into classified territory. (They often disagree about what is actually classified; it’s complicated, as Hillary Clinton is learning.) A controversial case in point: drone strikes. “He can’t talk publicly about that,” protests Gen. David Petraeus when I tell him that one of his counterparts has opened up to me about “signature strikes.” (These are lethal attacks on unidentified targets—a kind of profiling by drone—that several directors find deeply troubling.) Gen. Petraeus might have had good reason to be reticent; only a week before he had accepted a plea bargain to avoid prison time—for sharing classified information with his mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Here are some of the other secrets we learned from the surprisingly outspoken men who have run the world’s most powerful intelligence agency.

Even CIA chiefs can’t agree about “torture”

“In the period right after 9/11, we did some things wrong,” said Barack Obama. “We tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values.” Jose Rodriguez, who oversaw the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program (EIT), has a two-word reply: “That’s bullshit.” Tenet concurs. “People are throwing the word ‘torture’ around—as if we’re torturers,” he complains. “Well, I’m not ever gonna accept the use of the word ‘torture’ for what happened here.” From sleep deprivation to waterboarding, Tenet and his lieutenant Rodriguez insist the techniques were all approved—by everybody.

“The attorney general of the United States told us that these techniques are legal under U.S. law,” says Tenet, “and do not in any way compromise our adherence to international torture statutes.” Contrary to the claim by the SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) Majority Report, Tenet insists: “We briefed members of Congress fully on what we were doing at all times. There was never a hint of disapproval.” And Tenet says that George W. Bush was so hands-on, “he read the memo, looked at the techniques, and decided he was gonna take two techniques off the table himself.” Tenet says he does not recall which EITs the president rejected (Rodriguez believes one of them was “mock executions.”)

Tenet and his post-9/11 successors—Porter Goss, Michael Hayden and acting director Michael Morell (sometimes called the “wartime directors”)—say the techniques were a necessary evil, justified by the context of the times. It was an article of faith at the CIA that the United States was about to be struck again in a “second wave” attack. And that “high-value detainees,” beginning with Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, knew more than they were telling. “Every day,” says Rodriguez, “the president was asking George Tenet, ‘What is Abu Zubaydah saying about the second wave of attacks and about all these other plots?’ Well, he was not saying anything. We had to do something different.” Tenet says they had persuasive intelligence that indicated Osama bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists—and was seeking the blueprint for a bomb. There was a credible report, he adds, that a nuke had already been planted in New York City. “People say, ‘didn’t you think about the moral and ethical consequences of your decision?’” says Tenet. “Yeah, we did. We thought that stopping the further loss of American life and protecting a just society was equally important.”

Did the techniques produce intelligence that disrupted plots or saved lives? The SSCI study looked at 20 cases and said no useful evidence was obtained. Tenet insists, “They are wrong in all 20 of the cases. The report is dead wrong on every account, period, end of paragraph.” But Tenet’s fellow spy chiefs are sharply—even passionately—divided about such procedures. “Our Constitution does prohibit ‘cruel and unusual’ treatment and if it’s cruel, we shouldn’t be doing it,” says William Webster, 91, regarded by his fellow spymasters as a voice of reason (and the only DCI who also served as FBI director). “You cross a line at some point in your effort to get the information when you go that route. There have to be limitations and monitoring and they must be observed. Our country stands for something and it loses something when we don’t.” Stansfield Turner, now 91—who as Jimmy Carter’s director authorized the ill-fated attempt to rescue American hostages in Tehran—agrees: “I just don’t think a country like ours should be culpable of conducting torture. I just think it’s beneath our dignity.”

The directors who oppose torture are not just bleeding hearts. “Nobody was responsible for more detainees than I was,” says Gen. Petraeus, who was commander of the multinational forces in Iraq. “We visit violence on our enemies, but we should not mistreat them, even though they have done unspeakable things to our soldiers and to civilians. That does not justify us doing it to them. You will pay a price for what you do, and it will be vastly greater than whatever it is you got out of taking this action.” And Director Brennan sees no circumstance in which the CIA would torture again: “If a president tomorrow asked me to waterboard a terrorist, I would say, ‘Mr. President, sorry—I do not believe that is in our best interest as a country.’” Hayden is even more emphatic. “If some future president is going to decide to waterboard,” he says, “he’d better bring his own bucket—because he’s going to have to do it himself.”


H/t: DB

Iraq War Supporters Run For The Hills




Among the prominent Iraq War figures TPM contacted: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Douglas J. Feith, Bill Kristol, Scooter Libby, Peter Feaver, Bruce Jackson, and Stephen Cambone. They all either declined to comment or did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

“They’re in their foxholes and they don’t want to say things, because they’re all sort of positioning to engage these candidates, be in the inner circle for these candidates,” said Shawn Brimley, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security who previously served on Obama’s National Security Council staff.

It was not too long ago, however, that many of the voices that initially cheered the Bush administration towards war were still loudly defending the decision.

Kristol, a neoconservative commentator who now is the editor of The Weekly Standard, told CNN last June he would not apologize for supporting the war, as it was the “right thing to do and necessary and just thing to do.” Likewise, Rumsfeld said in 2013 it would have been “immoral” not to invade Iraq. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also said last summer he had no regrets when asked about the decision.

Jeb Bush has tapped a number of members of his brother’s administration to advise him on foreign policy, including Wolfowitz, making Jeb’s grappling with the issue particularly awkward.

Republicans are “finally having the reckoning that is long overdue on the issue of Iraq,” according to Brimley.

“The silver lining for the Republicans is that it’s good that this reckoning is happening now, potentially very early in the primary,” Brimley said.

Still, a few Iraq defenders have emerged from the woodwork in recent days. John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Bush, said unequivocally that the decision to invade Iraq was the correct one.

Other hawks have danced around the intel heralded at the time — that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. They argue that was to blame.

“I think that most of the Republicans would say no — that the proximate cause of the invasion was the intel about WMDs. And had that intel not been there, we would’ve tried to get the no-fly zone going and the sanctions going,” Elliott Abrams, a former national security adviser in the Bush administration, told Bloomberg.

Michael Rubin, a Pentagon official during the Bush years, also said in an email to TPM that President Bush’s decision was justified by the intelligence available to him at the time. He added, “Reconstruction, redevelopment, and lengthy occupation both in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes. We have little to show for our efforts in either. The Washington model of throwing money at problems doesn’t work in the Middle East.”

Jim Hanson, executive vice president at the Center for Security Policy — which is led by Frank Gaffney, one of the most vocal Iraq War advocates — said judging a position on the Iraq War by what is known now is “unfair” and a “ complete cop out.”

“You don’t get to make decisions in hindsight. You take the best available intelligence and you make the best decision you can at that point in time,” he said. “Hindsight is not a part of the game, so I think it’s an unfair question to ask.”

Richard Perle, another prominent figure from the pre-invasion days, defended the 2003 decision in an interview with Huffington Post last week: “The evidence is strong enough and the cost of standing down would be not delaying for a week or two, but essentially abandoning the capacity.”

But some of the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders just wanted to move away from the argument entirely.

“Our collective intellectual efforts would be much better employed trying to understand how to manage the wars and threats we face now — none of which are going well — than continuing to rehash an argument we’ve been having for more than a decade,” Fred Kagan, once a promoter of the Iraq War who is now a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told TPM in an email.

Prominent Iraq War critics were not surprised.

“Clearly it was one of the largest blunders the U.S. has ever made in its foreign policy history,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterintelligence official. “We still have much cognitive dissonance among those who promoted the war who have had a hard time recognizing that. If we are getting silence from neocons, it’s because they don’t have anything plausible to say in defense of the decision.”

Last Monday, Bush told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that, even knowing what is known now, he supported his brother’s decision to invade Iraq and his Republican rivals were quick to pounce. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) lined up against Bush, arguing that at least in retrospect, the decision to intervene in Iraq was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Bush recalibrated his position a few more times, before settling on an opinionThursday that, “I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”

The issue of Iraq is unlikely to go away for Republicans.

“By virtue of who Secretary Clinton is — and she is the presumptive nominee, I would assume, on the Democratic side — they’re going to have to run at her on national security and foreign policy,” Brimley said. “Does being hawkish on foreign policy mean having to embrace all of the hawkish elements of the George W. Bush- kind of legacy? They’re struggling with this right now.”

Tellingly, Rubio — who counts Abrams and former Dick Cheney aide Eric Edelman among his advisors — has flipped again on the issue, arguing Sunday to Fox News’ Chris Wallace that “the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq.”

When pressed whether the decision was a mistake knowing Hussein didn’t have WMDs, Rubio still wouldn’t say that President Bush made the wrong decision. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is mulling a presidential run, also said Saturday that Bush made the correct decision given what was known then. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also expected to announce his White House candidacy next month, conceded Monday, “If I [knew] then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer,” but said the war was not a mistake and blamed Obama for withdrawing troops in 2011.

“We have somewhat similar debate going on right now with Iran — the fact that having a nuclear program doesn’t by itself constitute a case to do any one thing — to go to war, to negotiate or whatever,” Pillar said. “You have to argue the pros and cons.”

According to Pillar, the broader back-and-forth proves that we “are still stuck in the framework that the war promoters in the Bush administration gave us,” in that perceived threat alone justifies an invasion.


Ex-Bush Official Blasts GOP: Bush Would Have Done The Same Thing


With the Afghanistan war winding down, the United States would be required to return prisoners to Afghanistan. We can’t hold them indefinitely.

“I don’t see how these particular Taliban officials could ever have been tried in the southern district of New York,” John Bellinger, who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush explained during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday. “They’re certainly some Al Qaeda detainees who committed actual terrorist acts against Americans who perhaps could have been tried in a federal court because they committed federal crimes, but these particular Taliban detainees I think could never have been tried in federal court.” Although some of the released prisoners posed a danger to the United States when they were captured in 2002, especially toward soldiers serving in Afghanistan, several of the detainees did not commit crimes against Americans…

Though Cheney told Fox News on Monday that he would not have agreed to the deal, Bellinger stressed that the Bush administration “returned something like 500 detainees from Guantanamo.” Statistics from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence show that only 6 percent (5 in total) of Guantanamo detainees released during the Obama administration have potentially engaged in militant activities. That compares with a rate of nearly 30 percent under the Bush administration.

“I’m not saying this is clearly an easy choice but frankly I think a Republican, a president of either party, Republican or Democratic confronted with this opportunity to get back Sgt. Bergdahl, who is apparently in failing health, would have taken this opportunity to do this,” he added. “I think we would have made the same decision in the Bush administration.”

Bummed George Bush laments how Putin ‘changed’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush (R) talk during a dinner at the NATO summit in Bucharest April 3, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)

In my opinion Putin never changed.  President George W. Bush was a lot like Putin back then.  Their national security methods were quite similar.  When the Bush administration ordered water boarding and other forms of torture, it was already the norm for Russia at the time.  No, Putin hasn’t changed…Bush simply retired and is no longer required to give those orders.

Bush has famously said that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his “soul”.  I suspect Bush simply saw a kindred soul back then…dark and evil.

The Week

Former President George W. Bush once remarked that he’d peered into Vladimir Putin’s and eyes and seen his soul. That soul, he now says, has “changed” for the worse.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Bush said he truly believed Putin wanted to mend fences with the West when he was still in office. Bush pursued a closer relationship with Moscow during his tenure, and the Obama White House continued that effort in the early years of Obama’s presidency, too. But Bush said a spike in the price of oil convinced Putin to take a more militaristic, confrontational approach to the rest of the world of late, culminating with the situation in Ukraine.

“I think it changed his attitude,” Bush said. “And I think it emboldened him to follow in his game that pretty much zero-sum, you know, I win and you lose and vice versa.”

Bush did not say whether he would as a result be painting a new portrait of the Russian leader to jibe with his new assessment of the man.

 – – 


When the IRS targeted liberals

When the IRS targeted liberals

Thanks to Jueseppi B. for bringing this to my attention.

So, my question to the “outraged” Tea Party, GOP and most Republicans in general:

Where was your outrage in 2006 when the Bush administration targeted dissenters of his administration?


Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.

And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhere after the church appealed the audit on a technicality.

And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”

In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”

Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.

As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”

Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.

Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.

A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.

All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.

How the rich created the Social Security “crisis”


The Bush tax cuts coupled with a decades-long smear campaign are the real threat to the successful program

Now and then, George W. Bush told the unvarnished truth—most often in jest. Consider the GOP presidential nominee’s Oct. 20, 2000, speech at a high-society $800-a-plate fundraiser at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. Resplendent in a black tailcoat, waistcoat and white bow tie, Bush greeted the swells with evident satisfaction.

“This is an impressive crowd,” he said. “The haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.”

Any questions?

Eight months later, President Bush delivered sweeping tax cuts to that patrician base. Given current hysteria over what a recent Washington Post article called “the runaway national debt,” it requires an act of historical memory to recall that the Bush administration rationalized reducing taxes on inherited wealth because paying down the debt too soon might roil financial markets.

Continue Reading

Dick Cheney Takes Credit for al-Awlaki Strike, Wants Obama to Apologize


Proponents of the last administration are trying their best to undermine President Obama’s foreign policy successes.  Cheney is the latest in a long line of pundits and ex-Bush administration officials trying to give Dubya credit for his foreign policy programs which enabled Obama’s latest foreign policy coup.


I realize that Dick Cheney is basically a troll these days, but I’m going to go ahead and feed him a little for this one.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney applauded the U.S. drone strike that killed American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki but added that President Obama now owed the Bush administration an apology for claiming they “overreacted to 9/11.”

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Cheney said Obama was inconsistent for criticizing the former administration’s approach to terrorism while also using “some of the same techniques the Bush administration did.”

We developed the technique and the technology for it,” said Cheney of the drone strike that killed Awlaki.

Cheney sounds a lot like Dubya, who basically took credit for killing bin Laden. But reports indicate that al-Awlaki was killed by a Predator (introduced during the Clinton administration) armed with Hellfire missiles (developed during the Reagan administration) — so it’s not clear what Cheney is talking about here.

The thing I’m waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for ‘overreacting’ to the events of 9/11,” said Cheney. “They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policy contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Most Americans agree that setting up torture gulags all over the world, illegally spying on Americans, creating a sprawling new department of the federal government and launching a preemptive, unrelated war of choice that killed half-a-million people — was an overreaction.

But is Cheney claiming that the Obama administration found Awlaki through torture? If so, that’s news.

Related articles

Fired U.S. Attorneys: Bush Administration ‘Turned The Justice Department Into The Laughingstock Of The Country’

I followed the case of the fired United States Attorneys which took place during the second term of the Bush administration.  Most were fired for not carrying out the demands of higher ups in the administration which included prosecuting democrats and minorities for “voter fraud”.  Greg Palast also followed that news story very closely.

Huffington Post

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Five of the federal prosecutors whose firings in 2006 sparked an investigation into President George W. Bush’s Justice Department blamed their ouster Monday on politics in the department, which one of them said became a “laughingstock.”

The five former U.S. attorneys, among nine who were let go, appeared together during a forum in Little Rock.

They blamed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ intense political loyalty to Bush for costing them their jobs.

“There were a number of people who made terrible decisions,” said John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington state. “They turned the Justice Department into the laughingstock of the country.”

Prosecutors closed a two-year investigation into the firings in July with a conclusion that the Justice Department’s actions were inappropriately political but not criminal. The episode contributed to Gonzales’ resignation.

Other ousted prosecutors participating in the forum were Bud Cummins of Arkansas, Paul Charlton of Arizona, Carol Lam of California and David Iglesias of New Mexico.

The forum, held by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, comes as the man who temporarily replaced Cummins seeks a congressional seat in central Arkansas.

Skip Rutherford, the Clinton School dean, said the event had been in the works for several months and was not related to the election.

Tim Griffin, now the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, was named interim U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas after Cummins’ firing. Griffin is running against Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott, who attended Monday’s forum.

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Ya gotta love Jon Stewart… 

Crooks & Liars 

Brilliant. From The Daily Show: 

Fox &Friends” deems it inappropriate for the Obama administration to mention Bush when talking about the wars, economy or oil spill. 

…So everything bad that happened during the Bush administration, was Bill Clinton’s fault.

Pelosi: We’ll stop blaming Bush when his problems go away

Crooks & Liars

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t hesitate to blame the Bush administration for issues facing this country and that isn’t going to change until the problem he created are solved. 

In an interview that aired Friday on MSNBC, Chuck Todd asked Pelosi if there was a statue of limitations on placing responsibility on President George W. Bush.”Well, it runs out when the problems go away,” Pelosi replied.