Friday, January 7, 2011

Books By American War Criminals Now In Vogue. Get Your Copies While You Bitch About Them: Bush Now Rummy!

Books By American War Criminals Now In Vogue. Get Your Copies While You Bitch About Them: Bush Now Rummy!

If Rumsfeld is a traitor and war criminal, that means the current Sec. of Defense is a traitor and war criminal - along with their bosses: Bush & Cheney and ...

Details of Donald Rumsfeld's forthcoming book tour are out, as the former defense secretary plans to sit for a series of interviews with ABC News in early February, the network announced Thursday.

The cover of Rumsfeld's forthcoming memoir ( Image by

Rumsfeld -- who served as defense secretary in two administrations -- will make his first TV appearance since his November 2006 resignation on "World News with Diane Sawyer" on Feb. 7. "Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanopoulos will conduct a live chat with him Feb. 8, ABC said.

Rumsfeld's book, " Known and Unknown," is set for release the same week. It is set to draw upon hundreds of never-before-seen government documents, guaranteeing that the 832-page tome will make news. He reportedly bypassed traditional FOIA channels to secure access to many of the documents.

Fred Branfman « Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette
By (
... discusses how the WikiLeaks documents reveal, more than anything else, the “ vast lying machine” of our government and military; why the Cablegate disclosures alone are enough to justify a new Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal; ...
Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton... -

New Obama Chief of Staff A Message to Wall Street
Glen Ford: President Obama is more concerned with pleasing Wall St than appeasing public opinion
Go to story | Go to homepage
Battle Over Constitution Attempt to Undo New Deal
Reading of Constitution in Congress opening shot of Republican/Tea Party attempt to roll back history
Go to story | Go to homepage

* White House talking points on Bill Daley: The White House is distributing a set of talking points to outside allies -- sent over by a source -- on how to sell the Bill Daley pick:

Talking Points: Bill Daley

* Bill Daley brings with him tremendous experience, strong values and a forward-looking vision to this White House. He will be critical to the President's mission of growing our economy and moving America forward.

* From his time as President Clinton's Commerce Secretary, Bill Daley has developed a profound awareness of how our systems of government and politics work. And his service in the private sector leading major corporations has given him a deep understanding of how to create jobs and grow our economy.

*The President is convinced that Bill Daley's leadership will benefit this White House as we work to confront the challenges facing the American people; he looks forward to working with him for years to come.

Politico, which first mentioned the talking points this morning, says they're a sign that Obama recognizes he needs someone with the right sort of skill set to navigate a new and much more treacherous political landscape dominated by House Repubicans on offense. That's a bit at odds with most interpretations of the Daley pick, which have focused more on the ideological implications of the choice.

* The first big battle: Delegitimizing the CBO? Something to watch for: The papers this morning are filled with stories about how House Republicans have rejected the Congressional Budget Office's finding that repealing health reform would add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years. As Sam Stein notes, this may signal a larger trend -- broader movement by Republicans to push the CBO out of its once-sacrosanct role in the Capitol's legislative battles.

Indeed, House Republicans responded to the CBO with a report of their own challenging the CBO's conclusions and reiterating their political description of health reform as a "budget-busting, job-killing health care law." Expect the GOP-CBO divide to become particularly pronounced if the CBO returns more dire predictions about the impact of GOP initiatives on the deficit.

* And boy are those Republicans on message with this "job killer" stuff: Stephen Pearlstein marvels at the GOP's message discipline, and tries his damndest to kill the ubiquitous GOP talking point that everything Dems do is a job killer.

* The debate over the Constitution is a good thing: More good commentary from Dahlia Lithwick about yesterday's selective reading of the Constitution and how it fell short of showcasing its legacy as a flawed-but-evolving document that is owned by no American.

As I've been saying endlessly, it's turning out that the GOP's reading had an upside: It has given liberals an opportunity to make their own case about the Constitution's true significance, and to undercut the idea that contemporary conservatives and Tea Partyers somehow have more of a claim on the founding document than the rest of us do. I see no reason to scoff at what happened. This has been an argument worth having, and here's hoping it continues.

* Tea Party comedy around the Constitution: Relatedly, Dana Milbank makes an interesting point:

The idea of reading the Constitution aloud was generated by the Tea Party as a way to re-affirm lawmakers' fealty to the framers, but in practice it did the opposite.

In deciding to omit objectionable passages that were later altered by amendment, the new majority jettisoned "originalist" and "constructionist" beliefs and created -- dare it be said? -- a "living Constitution" pruned of the founders' missteps. 

Nobody's proud of the three-fifths compromise, but how can we learn from our founding if we aren't honest about it?

* Senate Dem reformers keep pushing: The latest target of the reform-minded Dems elected in 2006 and 2008: Loosening the grip that the "old bulls" have on powerful committee chairmanships. Keep pushing, guys.

* Trouble in Tea Party paradise: GOP Rep. Paul Ryan gently breaks the news to the Tea Partyers:

"Will the debt ceiling be raised? Does it have to be raised? Yes."

* The DNC attack line against House GOP: "Broken promises." The DNC is out with a new web video compilation of media figures hitting the House GOP for breaking their "Pledge to America" promises right out of the gate, framing the Dem message heading into the first of many battles over budget cuts, the deficit and taxes.

* White flight a huge problem for Dems in 2012? Ronald Brownstein has a sobering analysis of new exit poll data showing in new detail that whites are hostile to Obama and the Dem agenda in numbers that could have serious implications for 2012.

Also interesting, in the above link: David Axelrod, in an interview, acknowledges that Obama must "reset" the public's view of Obama's sense of the proper role of the Federal government.

* Moderate Dems doing the right thing on health repeal? It turns out moderate Dems are not backing repeal in large numbers.

* Counterintuitive take of the day: Jon Walker tries to debunk the conventional wisdom that Dems are preordained to lose the Senate in 2012.

* William Daley already putting his stamp on White House: For those of you who care about internal White House personnel maneuvering and tea-leaf reading, Ed Henry has a pretty good explanation of who's doing what inside the reconfigured White House.

* And the 2012 GOP hopefuls continue tiptoeing around Palin: Tim Pawlenty, mulling a 2012 GOP presidential faceoff against Sarah Palin, aptly acknowledges that she's a "force of nature," another sign of how carefully the 2012 hopefuls have to tread around the 'Cuda and her massive following.


GregMitch: Big NYT story tonight: U.S. warning, even moving, hundreds it claims may be in danger due to WikiLeaks cables.
Blogging WikiLeaks News & Views for Thursday, Day 40! | The Nation

UK Information Commissioner Says Wikileaks Means Governments Should Be More Open

from the well,-duh dept

This is a bit of a surprise. As many are claiming that the end result of Wikileaks will be that governments try to be even more secretive, the UK's information commissioner, Christopher Graham, is apparently urging governments to take a different lesson, and that it shows they should be a lot more open in the first place:

"We are strongly of the view that things should be published. Where you're open things will not be WikiLeaked. Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks -- right or wrong -- it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that."

He also suggests that becoming more secretive would be a mistake. Specifically, he calls it nonsense:

"One response is that they will clam up and not write anything down, which is nonsense, you can't run any organisation that way. The other is to be even more open. The best form of defence is transparency -- much more proactive publication of what organisations do. It's an attitude of 'OK. You want to know? Here it is'."

It would be nice if anyone listened to him, though I'm not convinced anyone in power actually will...

How WikiLeaks Affects Journalism

Interviewee: -C. W. Anderson, Knight Media Policy Fellow, New America Foundation

Interviewer: -Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer,
December 29, 2010

WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents, and its collaboration with traditional news media like the New York Times for their publication have raised questions about the future of journalism. At the same time,  the U.S. State Department's efforts to press for the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange raises questions about the nature of journalism.  The WikiLeaks story affects both how journalists do their jobs and the bigger question of what their mission is, says C. W. Anderson, a media policy fellow at the New America Foundation and assistant professor of media culture at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). Anderson says journalists now have to "come to grips with" other online communities. Still, he argues, while WikiLeaks has posed new challenges for the traditional news media, it has also reinforced the latter's power.

What impact does WikiLeaks have on journalism?

You can divide the impact WikiLeaks is having into two general categories: the practical day-to- day aspects of journalism, and the way journalists do their job; and on the bigger, more philosophical, issues related to journalism.
The idea that a source-- and in this case I'm referring to Julian Assange as a source, because that's how news organizations see him--is working with multiple news outlets simultaneously; the fact that he is sort of able to withdraw cooperation with particular news outlets if they do something that he doesn't like, is very new; [and] that affects how journalism gets produced.
Another daily impact is that dynamics between journalists and government officials, in terms of journalists' ability to access information, are going to change pretty dramatically. There are going to be a lot of crackdowns in the government in an attempt to rein in officials and their ability to work with the press. You are going to have people with the State Department, people with the Defense Department, really attempting to rethink the policies they have with regards to interacting with journalists. That won't necessarily work. I don't think it's necessarily the right way to go.

What about the effects on the bigger issues related to journalism?

Journalists getting handed a set of 250,000 primary source documents is unheard of. [Editor's Note: WikiLeaks has released fewer than 2,000 of the 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables it vowed to publish.] It's profoundly new and it's a profoundly new way that our entire society and our entire culture are trying to grapple with information. You're seeing this explosion of massive amounts of primary source data in all sorts of domains, in research, in science, on the Internet. And it's impacting journalism as well. Journalists have to try to understand: What does it mean to get 250,000 primary source cables? How do we analyze those? How does our idea of what important information is--how does that change? What does it mean to get handed a database rather than a document? Journalists have certain ways of thinking about what information's important. Their ability to come to terms with what a database is, is a new kind of profound challenge for journalism.

I would think that it would be a treasure trove. For instance, for journalists covering the Afghanistan war for the last nine years to be handed over these documents, military or diplomatic, would be a boon.

To have a functional legal system that privileges the kind of transparency and information we need as a democracy, you have to make the argument that WikiLeaks is journalism and Julian Assange is a journalist.

Journalism has always been primarily concerned with what is new. What is new is not necessarily what is important, and sometimes journalism's focus on what's new isn't always good. It can kind of miss the big picture, and it can miss the things that are really going on in society. So, this is good for journalists that they are getting this information, but they're going to have to kind of learn how to deal with it and come up with new routines and new practices for figuring out what their actual mission is.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley recently remarked that the United States does not consider WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be a "journalist" or a "whistleblower," but a "political actor." This has fueled the debate on whether WikiLeaks is a media organization and Julian Assange a journalist. What is your view?

WikiLeaks, for the purposes of law and public policy, is a journalistic organization. In order to have a functional legal system that privileges the kind of transparency and information we need as a democracy, you have to make the argument that WikiLeaks is journalism and Julian Assange is a journalist.

Now, of course, his status is highly politicized. It certainly does the State Department much good to want to make the best argument that they can that he is not a journalist. At the same time, it's smart for Julian Assange to try to say that he is. That helps him in a number of ways. But the fact that it helps him doesn't mean that it is, when push comes to shove, not true. If we were to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are not journalistic [entities], we would end up in a situation where many other news entities would not be journalistic organizations either, based on what they do. It's very hard to draw that line that excludes WikiLeaks and includes the New York Times.

Some of Columbia University's journalism school faculty wrote a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, arguing "in publishing diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment, and that as a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked materials in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy then the leaks themselves." Do you share this concern?

Journalists, the way the Internet is developing, are going to have to learn to not only live with other online communities like geeks, like hackers, but also understand these communities in a complicated and non-simplistic way.
I do. I was a graduate student at Columbia, and as full disclosure several of the signatories of that letter were on my doctoral dissertation committee. I would agree with the basic argument that historically, the overreaction to government leaks has been worse than the leaks themselves. You can go all the way back to World War I, people that nowadays we would consider American heroes were imprisoned in the middle of a governmental overreaction. That's certainly capable of happening today. 

Again, what would probably happen is that a good number of media organizations that we like very much: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and even TV organizations -- I'll even include Fox news in this -- would see restrictions that would be very damaging to them in their ability to do their jobs in the long run.

You have written: "To understand the world of Wikileaks and what it means to journalism, you have to understand the world of geeks, of hackers, and of techno-dissidents." Could you elaborate?

Hackers and geeks have views on information. They have views on transparency that are not necessarily identical to those we've traditionally considered to be the views of journalists. There is a strong current in the world of geeks and in the world of hackers that ultimate information transparency is a good thing. I do not think that that is necessarily representative of the viewpoints of all journalists. So even though [Assange] may be acting as a journalist, his core beliefs are not necessarily the same as other journalists we're more traditionally used to.

The way the Internet is developing, journalists are going to have to learn to not only live with other online communities like geeks, like hackers, but also understand these communities in a complicated and non-simplistic way. They're going to have to understand that not everyone online is them. That not everyone online is a traditional government source, not everyone online is a traditional business community source.

What does WikiLeaks' collaboration  with traditional news media tell you about the future of journalism?

The fact that Assange and WikiLeaks did collaborate with traditional news organizations over these last several months actually speaks very highly and speaks well of the continued power of traditional news media.

The news power structure has changed less than some people would say. The fact that Assange and WikiLeaks did collaborate with traditional news organizations over these last several months actually speaks very highly and speaks well of the continued power of traditional news media.

Assange himself has said this. He sort of said "the reason why we call ourselves WikiLeaks is that we thought these documents would be posted and then commented upon by people on the Internet. And as it turned out, we published this stuff and nobody noticed. And then we realized that our mission was not just to put information out there; our goal was to put information out there that would have an impact. And we realized that the way we had to do that was to make information scarce rather than everywhere, that that would paradoxically get us more attention."

So that speaks very highly to the continued power of the traditional media. That said, the fact that a source can now kind of play these news organizations off each other-- that's a new dynamic that does change the power structure a little bit.

Does the WikiLeaks story prompt some sort of a rethink as to what kind of information journalists should release or what they should withhold?

It could prompt such a rethink. Bill Keller [executive editor] at the New York Times, just to name one person I've seen talk about this, has said: "Look, this is just like everything else we've always done. This is not all that new, this is not all that big a deal." So if there is a rethink going on, it's happening behind closed doors.

I do think there's a rethink going on, but it's going on in Bill Keller's office, and he's not going to tell us about it. But it's the job of the great journalism schools of the world to bring these conversations into the public.

Some commentators have suggested that the WikiLeaks story is the first real battleground between the political establishment and the open web. Do you agree?

That's a bit hyperbolic. With the Internet, we tend to like to believe that everything is new all the time. The difference with WikiLeaks, as opposed to earlier battles between the open web and government, is a difference in degree. The amount of data is greater, the collaboration with news organizations is new, the impact of that data is greater, so the real question is when does a difference in degree equal a difference in kind. And have we reached the moment where difference in degree has now tipped over into a difference in kind?

Weigh in on this issue by emailing

Belmarsh - Britain's Guantanamo Bay?
By Denise Winterman
BBC News

You don't have to go to Cuba to find terror suspects controversially imprisoned. Nine foreigners have been held in London's Belmarsh Prison for almost three years without charge or trial. So is it the UK's Guantanamo Bay?

In December 2001 nine foreign nationals were removed from their families by police and taken to Belmarsh Prison in south east London. They have been held there ever since and still do not know why.

The detainees are unable to see the intelligence evidence against them and are confined to their cells for up to 22 hours a day. Their solicitors say they have been "entombed in concrete".

The men are being held under anti-terror laws bought in following September 11, which allow the home secretary to detain without trial foreign nationals he suspects of terrorism, but cannot deport because it would endanger their life.
To date a total of 17 foreigners have been detained, 11 of whom are still being held - mainly in Belmarsh. It has prompted human rights organisations to brand it "a Guantanamo in our own back yard".

'Faceless people'

"The similarities are striking and appalling," says human rights organisation Liberty.

"The lack of rights afforded to the men in both places undermines fundamental civil liberties."

The conditions the detainees are kept under at Belmarsh have been likened to the extreme regime at the US military prison in Cuba, where more than 600 detainees - including four Britons - have been held following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

This is something the Home Office has denied, saying the prisoners are being treated well.

"The men are held in small cells for 22 hours a day, how is that proper treatment?" says Amnesty International.

"We have heard reports of inadequate health care, restricted access to legal advice, to the outside world and to practising their religion. The conditions are cruel, inhuman and degrading. The parallels with Guantanamo Bay are stark."

Home Secretary David Blunkett has admitted the situation is not ideal, but says it is necessary.

"These were not powers I assumed lightly. I have never pretended that they are ideal, but I firmly believe that they are currently the best and most workable way to address the particular problems we face," he has said in the past.

He is also quick to point out that while the men cannot be deported because they face persecution, torture or death in their own countries, they are free to leave the UK "if we can find a country that's prepared to take them".
But while campaigners are keen to push the parallels between the plight of the men in each country, they are also highlighting important differences.

'Staged managed'

Public pressure has resulted in the government lobbying the US to give the British inmates in the Cuban prison a fair trial, but there has largely been indifference towards the foreigners held in the UK.

"There aren't pictures of the detainees at Belmarsh in fluorescent orange jump suits being led around in manacles, instead they are anonymous, faceless people," says Liberty.

"And while Guantanamo Bay is vaguely exotic to the average Briton, Belmarsh is a completely inconspicuous building - even for a prison.
"This combination makes it hard to publicise the situation despite the extreme gravity of what is going on. It is easier for people to push the issue aside when they are not faced with such stark images as we have seen from Guantanamo Bay."

Protests have been held 
The legality of the situation is also being reviewed in the US, following a ruling by the Supreme Court that prisoners could challenge their detention. So after being held at Belmarsh without trial or access to lawyers for more than two years, detainees are starting to have their cases re-examined by a military tribunal.

In the UK just two detainees have so far successfully challenged their detention, with three Court of Appeal judges deciding in August that the government was legally entitled to continue holding 10 other men who appealed. Solicitors are now attempting to overturn the decision in the House of Lords.

Liberty says it is "possibly the most important constitutional law case for a lifetime". One it hopes will finally put the plight of the men firmly on the public agenda.

"While the government has been seen publicly to lobby the US over the treatment of Guantanamo Britons, it is treating terror suspects the same way in its own country," it says.

"Over here it says such action is 'necessary' but no other country in Europe feels the need to go down this path."

Opium Production in Afghanistan: Strong and Corrupt as Ever

The drug trade in the south of the country is compounded by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's treatment of traffickers, including granting early releases to well-connected suspects

By Nadia Prupis

Efforts by the United Nations (UN), the US military and the Indian government to curb opium production in Afghanistan since 2007 have been largely ineffective, due in large part to the ties between the drug trade and the Taliban.

Afghan National Security Forces patrol an opium field in Bala Baluk, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson / isafmedia)

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material harvested from poppies to make heroin, as well as alkaloids like codeine and morphine. According to two cables released this month by WikiLeaks, Afghanistan's supply of opium exceeds the world's demand for heroin, with its unsold stock currently totaling 12,400 tons. Taliban-linked drug cartels emerging along the southern border of the country, where 99 percent of production takes place, influence the majority of poppy cultivation by coercing farmers into growing the crops for a strong and well-supplied insurgency.

According to Antonio Maria Costa, former executive director of the UN Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC), the cartels treat the excess stock like a "savings account," a practice that could pose a serious threat to peace efforts if it is used to fund the Taliban insurgency.

The UN released a report in October stating that Afghanistan's opium production dropped by nearly half from 2009 levels – however, the decrease was not due to military efforts, but rather the spread of a disease that affected opium fields in Kandahar and Helmand province after crops started to flower.

According to the report, poppy cultivation levels remained the same and were particularly high in the insecure southern and western areas. "These regions are dominated by insurgency and organized crime networks," UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov stated in a press release. "This underscored the link between poppy cultivation and insecurity in Afghanistan, a trend we have observed since 2007."

Costa told the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during a September 2009 briefing that, "High cultivation trends were linked to the insurgency presence, particularly in areas with an absence of Afghan governance structures and security stability."

The drug trade in the south of the country is compounded by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's treatment of traffickers, including granting early releases to well-connected suspects. Karzai also pardoned five border police officers, who were caught with 124 kilograms of heroin and sentenced to serve 16 to 18 years in prison each, "on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war."

In February 2007, then-President Bush told reporters in a speech that the United States was supporting Karzai in his efforts to end both the cultivation of opium and the corruption that compounds the country's drug trade. "[We're] helping the president in a variety of ways to deal with the problem," Bush said at the time. "One way to deal with the drug problem is for there to be a push back to the drug dealers, and a good way to push back on the drug dealers is to convict them and send them to jail."

Further complicating the drug trade in Afghanistan are the actions of the country's neighbors, particularly Pakistan, according to Afghan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak. Wardak told Afghanistan Ambassador Karl Eikenberry during a December 2009 briefing that the Pakistani army was helping the Afghan Taliban find sanctuary in areas "deeper into Pakistan."
National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) reports released earlier in December concluded that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won without Pakistani forces helping to root out Taliban militants on their borders.

Foreign policy expert and Boston University professor Stephen Kinzer agrees that the drug trade in Afghanistan cannot be tackled solely as a US military issue. "Trying to curb the poppy production could be … a real serious interest of [the US]," Kinzer said. "However, like most of our problems in Afghanistan, this one cannot be solved by us alone. It can only be solved on a regional basis."

Ending heroin production is "a great example of a social and political interest that the US shared with Iran, but we're telling them if they don't cooperate on a nuclear issue, there will be no other cooperation. Our policy towards Iran is self-defeating," Kinzer said. "American military action alone, no matter how focused and how intense, is not going to change the situation in a substantial way."

Rather than fighting the cultivation through military efforts, Kinzer said, the US government should purchase the annual poppy crop from Afghan farmers for an estimated $3-4 billion a year – the same amount spent on the war in Afghanistan every month.

The AP recently reported that 700 soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2010, making it the deadliest year so far in the nine-year war. Much of the violence is centered in the southern part of the country, where the Afghan army being trained by US forces is often the main target of Taliban attacks.
Published on Jan. 6, 2010

Read more:

The Right Wing Reboots Segregation
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This new wave is sustained by a right-wing power base informed by ideologues who would eviscerate the Fourteenth Amendment's promise of equality by ...See all stories on this topic »

Keeping The Right Sweet Is No Tea Party 

MORE than a year before he landed the job of house Speaker, Republican John Boehner was hard at work wooing the Tea Party, hoping to ride to power on the crest of a right-wing wave.

His new challenge is how best to channel right-wing rage and assimilate the self-confessed insurgents into the establishment fold.

The energy generated by the Tea Party movement helped the Republicans capture the house in November, handing Mr Boehner the gavel he has long coveted. Yesterday, they were rewarded with a full reading of the US constitution and new rules requiring legislation to be cross-referenced with constitutional articles - both historical firsts intended as a nod to the Right's growing power.

But as congress gets down to business, the Tea Party will be looking for more than symbolic gestures. Mr Boehner's first votes - a repeal of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform and a $US100 billion ($100.7bn) cut in spending - are popular across the Republican board.

His first real test, however, will come later this month when congress is called upon to raise the ceiling on the national debt simply so the government can function.

The Tea Party faithful adamantly oppose such a move, as do many other new Republican legislators. Since the election, several mainstream Republicans have joined them, despite warnings a refusal to raise the debt ceiling will force the government to shut down by the end of next month.

To the Tea Party movement - many of whom would like to abolish entire departments of the federal government - plunging most of Washington into darkness would be a triumph. The White House, however, has warned of disastrous consequences. "The impact on the economy would be catastrophic," Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said this week, raising the spectre of "a worse financial and economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008".

The last Speaker to oversee a federal shutdown was Mr Boehner's former mentor, Newt Gingrich, who refused to raise the debt ceiling to keep the government running during a budget dispute with president Bill Clinton. The standoff resulted in the so-called Republican Revolution, in which Mr Boehner was a key player, coming to a grinding halt. It ultimately cost Mr Boehner his job. The difference then was that the shutdown was Mr Gingrich's choice. Mr Boehner has firmly indicated he does not support such a course. The question is whether he could prevent it if the Tea Party and its fellow travellers are hell-bent on getting their way.

If he does avoid a shutdown - by striking a deal with Democrats on spending cuts, for instance - how will he handle the anger of ultra-conservatives determined to deny Mr Obama any legislative triumphs now that Democrats are no longer in control of the house? After all, their stance is pretty much the same strategy Mr Boehner has employed for the past two years. One of his most memorable moments as minority leader came during the congressional vote on healthcare reform, when he famously yelled out: "Hell, no!"
One Washington wit nicknamed Mr Boehner's political modus "The Audacity of Nope", a play on the title of Mr Obama's second book. But what works in opposition is very different to what works when you are in the majority, as he is about to find out.

Tea Party congressmen have vowed to bring a breath of fresh air to Washington, but the Republican Speaker is in many ways as establishment as they come. Mr Boehner has taken millions of dollars in funding over the years from what the grassroots movement decries as "special interests".
At least twice a week he can be found playing golf with corporate lobbyists or representatives of Big Money. And he voted in favour of the $US700bn bank bailout that many see as the spark that ignited the Tea Party movement. He memorably called Mr Obama's stimulus package a "crap sandwich", but voted for it anyway.

Democrats who believe Mr Boehner is a man they can work with - a pragmatist rather than an ideologue - nonetheless fear he has next to no control over his own party, and never did, even before the Tea Party arrived.
Mr Boehner is still, in essence, a Bush Republican, but the real power may lie with the so-called Young Guns, led by Eric Cantor, the majority Whip, who is far more closely attuned to the Right of the party.

Still, what transpires also depends very much on how the Tea Party freshmen hold their anti-establishment nerve. National Tea Party leaders have already lambasted some legislators for hiring consultants and lobbyists whom they dismiss as part of tired old Washington furniture.

Mr Boehner could be described that way himself: a two-pack-a-day smoker and member of an exclusive, all-male golf club who now finds himself suddenly the ringmaster in the battle for the soul of the Grand Old Party.

Swedish Politician Suspected Of War Crimes 

A local Swedish politician has been arrested in Denmark on war crimes suspicions stemming from a fatal shooting at a Balkan border control in 1991.

 The 42-year-old man, a resident of Skåne in southern Sweden, was arrested at Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport on Wednesday on his way home from a vacation in Egypt, the Sydvenskan newspaper reports.Slovenian authorities issued an international warrant for the man in 2007 on suspicions that he shot and killed someone at a Slovenian border crossing in 1991. The incident is alleged to have occurred when soldiers opened fire on a car when it failed to heed their instructions to stop at a Slovenian border crossing. A passenger in the backseat was killed. The man’s lawyer, however, disputes the accusations against his client. “My client wasn’t one of the people who shot. He is totally innocent,” attorney Thorkild Høyer told the newspaper. Hoyer also questioned the decision to classify the crime as a war crime. According to Expressen newspaper, the man is a local Left Party politician and also works as a teacher. He is now being held in Copenhagen pending an extradition hearing to Slovenia. The 42-year-old has appealed the extradition request and has instead asked to be allowed to return to his family in Sweden pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Vang Pao, Hmong guerrilla leader, dies in Calif. - Nation & World ...
Vang Pao has canceled plans to stage a peaceful return to Laos this week after the communist regime announced he would be executed as a Vietnam War criminal if he goes back. In September, the U.S. government dropped charges against Vang ...
The Olympian Online -- Nation & World -

Israeli Rights Groups: Inquiry Is War On Dissent
By Editor
... officials and ex-military officers for alleged war crimes under the concept of “universal jurisdiction,” under which some countries have adopted the power to try alleged war criminals, though they have no direct connection to them. ...
Australians for Palestine -

Time to Get Out Those New Calendars!

1/11/11 Washington, D.C., Witness Against Torture

1/15/11 Washington, D.C., 20 Years of War on Iraq

1/17/11 Washington, D.C., and Quantico, Va. Protest of FBI Raids and Bradley Manning Imprisonment

1/19/11 Everywhere, Brown Bag Vigils

1/21/11 Washington, D.C., One Year of Citizens United

1/25/11 Everywhere, Protest FBI Raids

1/27/11 Washington, D.C., Bill of Rights Day

3/19/11 Washington, D.C., Eight Years of Shock and Awe

4/1/11 Washington, D.C., Power Shift

4/8/11 Washington, D.C., Disarmageddon

4/8/11 Washington, D.C., Education and Strategy Conference on US Militarism

4/9/11 New York City and San Francisco, Peace Demonstrations

Liberal groups skeptical of Daley – CNN Political Ticker - ...
By gschwarzcnn
(CNN) -- Weighing in on President Obama's choice for chief of staff, the progressive organization criticized William Daley for his close ties to "big banks and big business.
CNN Political Ticker -

South Capitol Street › MoveOn blasts Daley
By admin
Statement by Justin Ruben, Executive Director of With Wall Street reporting record profits while middle class Americans continue to struggle in a deep recession, the announcement that William Daley, who has close ties to the ...
South Capitol Street -

Liberal groups skeptical of Daley
(CNN) – Weighing in on President Obama's choice for chief of staff, the progressive organization criticized William Daley for his close ties to “big banks and big business.” “With Wall Street reporting record profits while ...
Ethiopian Review -

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the new health care law is getting in the way of job-creation and vows Republicans are committed to repealing it. Cantor tells CBS's "The Early Show" the GOP isn't retreating from its ...
The Huffington Post | Full News Feed -

Health care: How the Republican assault could backfire
Christian Science Monitor (blog)
Health care mandate, if defeated, could lead to a more popular way to fund health care. Three House Republicans – (from left) Steve King of Iowa, ...See all stories on this topic »

Official: Repealing Health Care Reform Law Would Cost Billions
Public News Service
Weeding through the mud to find facts during a turbulent political season can be difficult at best - especially when it comes to Health Care Reform - which ...See all stories on this topic »

Obama White House spits on GOP's health care reform scorched-Earth policy ...
New York Daily News
BY Kenneth R. Bazinet Anyone who can count beyond their fingers and toes knows the Tea Party-led GOP effort to repeal the still freshly-minted health care ...See all stories on this topic »

Krauthammer Advances Baseless "Doc Fix" Argument To Claim Health Care Reform Increases Deficit

Charles Krauthammer claimed that the Congressional Budget Office's finding that the Affordable Care Act reduced the deficit was based on a "gimmick" because Democrats did not include the so-called "doc fix" in the bill. In reality, the "doc fix" was proposed prior to the debate on the Affordable Care Act and has little to do with the issue.

Krauthammer: Pulling "Doc Fix" Out Of Health Care Reform Was A "Gimmick"

Krauthammer On Doc Fix: Democrats "Pulled It Out" Of The Bill Because It "Reduces The Liability In Obamacare." From the January 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

KRAUTHAMMER: As a former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said today, "It's garbage in and garbage out." CBO is honest; it doesn't play with the numbers, but it's required to work into its numbers exactly what the Congress gives it. So --

BAIER: In other words, it's a calculator. You put in the stuff, it gives you the --
KRAUTHAMMER: And the Democrats are the ones who decided that the doc fix, which is over -- I think it's $200 billion -- would look bad in Obamacare. So what happened? They pulled it out, they put it in a separate bill, and of course there's no way to pay for it. And of course it reduces the liability in Obamacare. All of these gimmicks. The biggest gimmick of all is that the benefits don't kick in till 2014. The taxes start now, so you've got ten years of revenue in, six years of expenditures out. Of course you're going to end up with a surplus. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 1/6/11, emphasis added]

FACT: "Doc Fix" Will Need To Be Resolved Irrespective Of Health Care Reform

Klein: Doc Fix Will Need To Be Resolved "Irrespective Of Health-Care Reform's Fate" And "Attempts To Lash The Two Together Are Nonsensical." From a post by Ezra Klein:

For a longer explanation of this issue, head to this post. The short version: In 1997, Republicans passed the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate into law. The provision created a simple equation meant to hold down Medicare costs and cut doctor payments when they rose. But the provision was passed when Medicare's costs were uncommonly low. Suddenly, SGR was forcing huge cuts rather than the modest adjustments that had been intended. So legislators began voting to delay implementation rather than cut doctor payments.

The first delay was passed in 2003, under Republicans. Then again in 2005, also under Republicans. Then in 2006, under Republicans. Then in 2007 and 2008, under Democrats. For those keeping count at home, this is a policy in a Republican bill that Republicans delayed three times and Democrats delayed twice. What's needed is to reform the system so we stop delaying it. And we will need to do that -- and this is important -- whether or not health-care reform passes.

To put this slightly differently, imagine you're buying a new house. But your old house needs $20,000 in roof repairs. You will have to pay for those repairs whether you move or whether you stay, because you can't have your roof caving in come the next heavy rain. Are your roof repairs part of the cost of the new house? If you think so, then you agree with Ryan. If not, then you don't. The SGR problem predates health-care reform and exists irrespective of health-care reform's fate. Attempts to lash the two together are nonsensical. [, 3/1/10]

NY Times: "Doc Fix Long Predates" Reform And Criticism Is "Pretty Flimsy." From a March 9, 2010, by The New York Times' David Leonhardt:

The current health care bills don't fix this problem. An early version of them tried to, which has led some people to suggest that the doc fix is a creation of this health reform effort. But it isn't. The doc fix long predates it. For reform to reduce the deficit relative to the status quo, it doesn't need to undo the doc fix -- any more than it needs to, say, cure cancer in order to improve the nation's health. The bill simply needs to improve the status quo. [, 3/9/10]

FACT: CBO Found That Health Care Reform Would Reduce The Deficit Beyond 2019

Krugman: Claim That The Bill "Front-Loads Revenues And Backloads Spending" Is A "Lie." In a March 27 New York Times blog post, Paul Krugman responded to former Congressional Budget Officer (CBO) director Douglas Holtz-Eakin's claim that health care reform legislation is filled with "gimmicks" designed to make the legislation appear to reduce the deficit. Krugman wrote:

OK, I finally got around to reading Douglas Holtz-Eakin's op-ed on health care reform. It's much worse than I thought; time to scratch Holtz-Eakin off my shrinking list of reasonable, reasonably honest conservatives.

How bad is it? Holtz-Eakin declares that Gimmick No. 1 is the way the bill front-loads revenues and backloads spending. That is, the taxes and fees it calls for are set to begin immediately, but its new subsidies would be deferred so that the first 10 years of revenue would be used to pay for only 6 years of spending.

I think that's what is technically known as a "lie". Holtz-Eakin, of all people, knows how to read a CBO report. So he's perfectly capable of looking at the actual report (pdf) and seeing that the revenues, like the costs, are minimal for the first four years. Here's the chart:


His implication that there's funny business going on is totally false, and he knows it.

Wait, it gets worse: Holtz-Eakin implies that there are hidden, delayed costs:
Consider, too, the fate of the $70 billion in premiums expected to be raised in the first 10 years for the legislation's new long-term health care insurance program. This money is counted as deficit reduction, but the benefits it is intended to finance are assumed not to materialize in the first 10 years, so they appear nowhere in the cost of the legislation.

Claims that the plan is window-dressed to look good in its first decade only to go sour later might sound plausible -- except for the fact that the CBO projects bigger deficit-reduction in the second decade of the reform than in the first decade, something that wouldn't happen if lots of costs were being hidden by being pushed off into the future.

That said, we do learn something important from Holtz-Eakin's article. If this is the best critique a conservative budget wonk can come up with -- if deliberately misrepresenting how the legislation works is the only way to make it seem irresponsible -- then the bill must be pretty sound in fiscal terms. [The New York Times3/27/10]

CBO Director Tells Deficit Commission That Health Care Reform Slightly Improves Budget Outlook. As The Washington Post noted on July 1, CBO director Doug Elmendorf said during a June 30 presentation that the health care reform bill "did not substantially diminish" the long-term deficit problem, but that it "made a dent":

"Growth in spending on health-care programs remains the central fiscal challenge," CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a presentation to Obama's bipartisan deficit commission. "In CBO's judgment, the health-care legislation enacted earlier this year made a dent in the problem, but did not substantially diminish that challenge."

Although more starkly stated, CBO's position has not changed since the health-care legislation was approved. The new forecast simply incorporates CBO's cost estimates from that time, which predicted that the plan to expand coverage, raise taxes and cut Medicare spending would reduce deficits by about $140 billion over the next decade and by more than $1 trillion in the decade after.

"Slowing the rate of health care cost growth is the single most important action we can take to reduce our long-term fiscal shortfall," White House budget director Peter Orszag said in a statement. "The report confirms that the enactment and successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act is a key step toward a healthier fiscal future." [The Washington Post, 7/1/10]
CBO Budget Outlook Says Health Care Reform Law Will "Reduce Budget Deficits Over The 2010-2019 Period And In Subsequent Years." CBO's June 30 long-term budget outlook states that the health care reform law "is expected to increase federal spending in the next 10 years and for most of the following decade. By 2030, however, that legislation will slightly reduce federal spending for health care if all of its provisions are fully implemented, CBO projects." CBO noted in a footnote that although the law -- which will reduce the number of uninsured by 32 million by 2019 -- will increase federal spending on health care in the next two decades, it will still reduce budget deficits:

If all of its provisions are carried out, the legislation will also increase federal revenues and reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years, according to estimates by CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. [CBO, 6/30/10]

CBO: In Long-Term, Health Care Reform "Slow[s] The Accumulation Of Debt Considerably."While cautioning that long-term estimates of health care spending are uncertain, the CBO budget outlook stated that if the health care reform bill is implemented as written, it "increase[s] projected revenues, particularly in the 2030s and beyond, thus slowing the accumulation of debt considerably." [CBO, 6/30/10

Charles Krauthammer

Special Report with Bret Baier

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Watch Evan Ross, Nia Long, Danny Glover, Roger Guenveur Smith, Summer Bishil & Dorian Missick in a Groundbreaking new film about an African-American Muslim boy who comes of age against a politically charged 9/11 backdrop, with deep personal and familial traumas to overcome, and a search for identity that must reconcile his own difficult history with his new changed reality.

The delusions and madness that go with surge addiction are not likely to end. Just as 2010 ended, the American military’s urge to surge resurfaced in a significant way. It seems that “leaders” in the Obama administration and “senior American military commanders” in Afghanistan were acting as a veritable WikiLeaks machine. They slipped information to the NY Times about secret planning to increase pressure in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, possibly on the tinderbox province of Baluchistan, and undoubtedly on the P...

If you're arrested in California, data stored on your mobile phone, tablet or other portable computing devices could be seized by police without so much as a search warrant. That's thanks to a recent decision by the state's highest court, which declared on Monday that any and all expectations of privacy are lost once a defendant is in state custody. By a vote of 5-2, the court said police may "rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handhe...

As the middle class in America continues to be wiped out, the number of working poor continues to increase. Nearly one out of every three families in the US is considered to be "low income". Millions of American families are finding that they can barely make it from month to month even with both parents working as hard as they can. Unfortunately, there is every indication that things are only going to get worse and that average American families are going to be financially squeezed even more in the months and years ...

The news that Bank of America had settled its putback exposure with the GSEs sent the stock surging 7%. That kind of move has lots of folks screaming bailout. Bank of America just settled for about $.01 on the dollar. Says Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics: "This looks to me like a gift from Tim Geithner... there's politics all over this." Of course, this isn't the end of the story, Bank of America still has its massive exposure to non-agency MBS holders, including PIMCO, the New York Fed, and the Monoli...

This American system of punishment has no counterpart in scale or severity. In Maine’s supermax, which is typical, an inmate spends 23 hours a day alone in a 6.5-by-14-foot space. Cell lights are on night and day. When the cold food is shoved through the door slot, prisoners fear it is contaminated by the feces, urine, and blood splattered on the cell door and corridor surfaces by the many mentally ill or enraged inmates. The prisoner is not allowed a toothbrush but is provided a plastic nub to use on a fingertip. M...

Perhaps Obama should give himself a waiver on the ban prohibiting government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks, so he can better understand the futility of his Afghan War strategy. Washington’s present course in Central Asia can be much more logically understood if the real goals of the violence are to achieve what an empire requires in terms of military bases, natural resources, strategic interests and further enrichment of the super-wealthy. This is to explain, not to defend. And, ...

Where did all that money go? What if that "private company" were handed an exemption from "their normal accounting and securities-disclosure obligations" on grounds of "national security," and investigations into that firm were squashed "at the request of another federal agency," wouldn't this also suggest that Stanford's Ponzi scheme may have also been a cover for ongoing U.S. intelligence operations? And once the scope of the fraud became too large to ignore, it wouldn't be a stretch to conclude that the Agency de...

What's a private IPO? It's a mechanism in which Goldman's rich clients can invest in Facebook. But you can't. Seriously! One of the reasons Goldman just invested in Facebook was to create the ability for its clients to invest in Facebook--through a "special purpose vehicle". Specifically, Goldman has bought the right to buy $1.5 billion of Facebook stock for its clients via a single private investment entity. Goldman's clients who want to invest in Facebook will be given shares in the investment entity. And if th...

The memo on the talks between Ashkenazi and [Congressman Ike] Skelton, as well as numerous other documents from the same period of time leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East. This war preparation is serious and specific, according to the paper, and clearly is not just a matter of vague contingency planning. The paper says that US cables quote Ashkenazi telling the US congressmen, “I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, ...

The plan has been to convince the population of the US that the economy is in full recovery mode. By convincing the masses that things are recovering, they will begin to spend and buy stocks. If they spend, companies will gain confidence and start hiring workers. More jobs will create increasing confidence, reinforcing the recovery story, and leading to the stock market soaring to new heights. As the market rises, the average Joe will be drawn into the market and it will go higher. Tax revenues will rise as corporat...

TrimTabs: "If the money to boost stock prices by almost $9 trillion from the March 2009 lows did not come from the traditional players, it had to have come from somewhere else. We believe that place is the Fed. By funneling trillions of dollars in cash to the primary dealers in exchange for debt, the Fed has given Wall Street lots of firepower to ramp up the prices of risk assets, including equities." What happens when the buying ends: "...economic growth will not be sustainable without massive government support....

If a just society is defined by the relationship between the well off and the very poor, we have big trouble. Census data for 2010 show the widest rich-poor income gap on record. These figures show that the shocking economic collapse of the last two years has been no collapse whatsoever for the most affluent, even while it remains traumatic for most, and catastrophic for many. Yet instead of generating a sense of moral urgency, this condition has produced a spirit of entitlement among the privileged, complacency amo...

There is no major difference between a McCain administration, a Bush and an Obama administration. Obama, in fact, is in many ways worse. The Democrats provide better cover. But the corporate assault is the same. The private military contractors, along with the predatory banks and investment houses, suck trillions out of the US Treasury as efficiently under Obama. Obama does not intercede as tens of millions of impoverished Americans face foreclosures and bankruptcies. McCain, like Bush, exposes the naked face of cor...

Most Internet users like the search engines available to them but worry about the privacy of their searches online. However, those who use the Internet most frequently express a lower level of concern.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 78% of Adults who regularly use the Internet are at least somewhat concerned about the privacy of their online searches, with 40% who are Very Concerned. Twenty-two percent (22%) don’t share that concern, but that includes just three percent (3%) who are not at all concerned. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Americans who use social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and Twitter express a similar level of concern about the safety of their personal information on these sites.

Among those who use the Internet every day, just 37% are Very Concerned about the privacy of their searches. That figure jumps to 47% among those who go online several times a week and 59% who use the Internet once a week or less. 

But 89% of those who regularly go online rate today’s Internet search engines as good or excellent in terms of finding the information they need.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls).  Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook

The survey of 740 Adult Internet users nationwide was conducted on January 4-5, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

While there is a high level of general concern across all demographic categories, some groups show stronger degree of worry than others.

Men are more concerned about the privacy of their Internet searches than women are. Older Americans express stronger concern than those who are younger. 

Some of the search engines themselves have been criticized for monitoring search traffic for business purposes. Law enforcement agencies have monitored the online activity of some Americans suspected of terrorist or other criminal activity. But 38% of voters believe the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights rather than protecting national security, and just 22% take the opposite view.  Thirty-two percent (32%) say the balance is about right.

One-in-three Americans (33%) say the current legal system worries too much about individual rights when it comes to public safety, while just 20% say it worries too much about public safety.  Thirty-two percent (32%) believe the balance is about right.
But just 21% of voters think the Federal Communications Commission shouldregulate the Internet like it does radio and television.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update (it’s free) or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news.

Submitted by Kyle on January 7, 2011 - 2:54pm

The State Department has announced that, beginning in February, the spaces for "mother's name" and "father's name" on passport applications will be replaced with "parent one" and "parent two" ... and, of course, the Religious Right is outraged:

“Only in the topsy-turvy world of left-wing political correctness could it be considered an ‘improvement’ for a birth-related document to provide less information about the circumstances of that birth,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote in a statement to Fox News Radio. “This is clearly designed to advance the causes of same-sex ‘marriage’ and homosexual parenting without statutory authority, and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, agreed. “It’s part of an overall attempt at political correctness to diminish the distinction between men and women and to somehow suggest you don’t need both a father and a mother to raise a child successfully,” said Jeffress. “(This decision) was made to make homosexual couples feel more comfortable in rearing children.”

UPDATE: Apparently FRC is so outraged by this that they had to release an statement:

"Only in the topsy-turvy world of left-wing political correctness could it be considered an 'improvement' for a birth-related document to provide less information about the circumstances of that birth. Yet that is the result of the State Department's decision to remove the words 'mother' and 'father' from Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.

"The dictionary defines 'birth' as 'the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent' or 'the act or process of bringing forth young from the womb.' Since science has yet to create an artificial womb, in the human species that 'body' or 'womb' always belongs to a female parent, i.e., the mother. And since science has yet to master human cloning, the newborn human being has always received half of his or her genetic inheritance via the sperm of a male parent, i.e., the father. It would be helpful if a certificate related to 'birth' would identify which is which.

"This is clearly designed to advance the causes of same-sex 'marriage' and homosexual parenting without statutory authority, and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). But it does so at the expense of fundamental biological reality – and social reality as well. The State Department's abolition of motherhood and fatherhood would be almost comical, if it did not fly in the face of the mounting social science evidence that children are most likely to thrive when born into a family led by their own married biological mother and father.

"President Obama's Justice Department is purposefully failing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the courts, so it is little surprise that his State Department would show the same disrespect for U.S. law. The House of Representatives should take their oversight rule very seriously and intervene in both these circumstances."

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