Tuesday, December 18, 2007
F.C.C. Eases Media Ownership Rule By STEPHEN LABATON WASHINGTON — By the narrowest of margins, the Federal Communications Commission adopted proposals by its chairman to tighten the reins on the cable television industry while loosening 32-year-old restrictions that have prevented a company from owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city. Last month the chairman, Kevin J. Martin, suffered a setback when he was unable to find two commissioners to support his proposal to more tightly regulate cable television. But in a highly contentious meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Martin re-established control when he became the pivotal vote on two rules that could significantly reshape the nation’s media landscape by determining the size and scope of the largest news and cable companies. In one 3-to-2 vote, he sided with the agency’s two other Republicans to relax the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules in the 20 largest markets. As part of that order, the commission also granted dozens of permanent waivers of newspaper-broadcast combinations in large and small markets that had been given temporary waivers as they awaited the outcome of the rulemaking. In a second 3-to-2 vote, Mr. Martin joined with the two Democratic commissioners to impose a limit that would prevent the nation’s largest cable company, Comcast Communications, from growing much larger. Under that rule, no company can control more than 30 percent of the market. Analysts say that Comcast is close to that limit. Mr. Martin has said that a relaxation of the ownership rules was a modest, though vital step toward assisting the newspaper industry as it struggled financially as advertising and readership migrates rapidly to the Internet. He has been critical of the cable television industry for raising rates far greater than the rate of inflation and for failing to offer consumers enough choices in subscription packages. “We cannot ignore the fact the media marketplace is considerably different than when the media ownership rule was put in place more than 30 years ago,” he said of the newspaper-broadcast rule. The dissenting commissioners complained strongly about the outcome. Michael J. Copps, a Democratic commissioner who has led a nationwide effort against relaxing the media ownership rules, said the rule was nothing more than a big Christmas present to the largest conglomerates. “In the final analysis,” Mr. Copps said, “the real winners today are businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what’s happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government.” “Despite all the talk you may hear today about the threat to newspapers from the Internet and new technologies, today’s order actually deals with something quite old-fashioned,” Mr. Copps said. “Powerful companies are using political muscle to sneak through rule changes that let them profit at the expense of the public interest.” And Robert M. McDowell, a Republican commissioner, was sharply critical of the cable restrictions. “The cap is out of date, is bad public policy and is not needed in today’s public market,” he said. He called the cable rule “archaic industrial policy” that would surely be struck down by an appeals court, as an earlier rule was six years ago. Although Mr. Martin appears to have won a high-stakes battle within the commission over some of the most important proposals of his tenure, he has expended significant political capital and made political enemies of powerful industry groups and influential lawmakers. For opposite reasons, both proposals approved on Tuesday have been criticized by industry. The Newspaper Association of America has attacked the proposal for being too modest, and said that Mr. Martin did not go far enough. “Today’s vote is only a baby step in the actions needed to maintain the vitality of local news, in print and over-the-air, in all communities across the nation,” the president of the Newspaper Association, John F. Sturm, said. “Eliminating the cross-ownership ban completely would enhance localism by enabling broadcasters to increase local news and would not distract from the diversity of viewpoints available to local audiences.” The cable television industry has said it has repeatedly been an unfair target of Mr. Martin, and that his efforts to regulate the industry are at odds with the broader policies of the Bush administration to remove or lessen regulations. Over the last year, the commission has approved a series of proposals over the objections of the cable television industry, including one last December to force municipalities to accelerate the local approval process for the telephone companies to offer video services in new markets. Another one last October struck down thousands of contracts that gave individual cable companies exclusive rights to provide service to an apartment building. Consumer groups, which have long pushed for tighter cable television regulation, were split over the media ownership rules. Some were relieved that it did not go nearly as far as they had feared and that Mr. Martin tightened a loophole by making it more difficult for companies to get exemptions from the rules in smaller markets. Other groups were critical because they said the rule could open the door to further consolidation and a decline in the diversity of voices on the airwaves. Moreover, a significant chorus in Congress has been deeply critical of Mr. Martin and repeatedly requested that he delay action on the media ownership vote. Earlier this week, 25 senators led by Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, sent Mr. Martin a letter in which they vowed to take legislative action to revoke any new rule or nullify Tuesday’s vote. But the administration expressed support for Mr. Martin. In a significant victory for the newspaper and broadcast industries, Mr. Martin has signaled that he will not use the new rules to force any companies that already have waivers or exemptions to sell some assets. Some companies, including The New York Times Company, have been able to own both a newspaper and a radio station in the same market under permanent waivers because they held both properties before the restrictions were imposed in 1975. Others have been granted what are supposed to be temporary waivers while the agency considered how to rewrite the rules. Under Tuesday’s order, 42 newspaper-broadcast combinations that had previously been granted temporary or grandfathered exemptions will not be forced to sell any assets to comply with the new rule. Both the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule and the cable rule are certain to be reviewed by federal appeals courts. Three years ago, a federal appeals panel in Philadelphia struck down a series of deregulatory measures proposed by Mr. Martin’s predecessor, Michael K. Powell, including one that loosened the cross-ownership rules. The court said that the agency had the authority to relax the rules, and that it also had the authority to impose some limits on ability of a conglomerate to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city. But the judges also concluded that that the commission had not provided a reasoned analysis to support the limits that it chose. The court has continued to hold the case and asked the commission to report back to it once it reconsidered the rules. The cable concentration caps, as they are known, have long been the subject of debate and litigation at the commission. Six years ago a federal appeals court in Washington struck down a rule that was similar to the one adopted on Tuesday. The three-judge panel concluded that the commission had failed to provide an adequate justification to overcome the First Amendment rights of the cable companies. But commission officials said that they had provided a different justification for the new rule, which they hoped would pass court muster.
Waxman to Atty Gen: Stop ignoring my requests for Plame info Nick JulianoPublished: Tuesday December 18, 2007 Recently appointed Attorney General Michael Mukasey seems not to be living up to his pledge to remain independent from White House meddling, and he apparently is ignoring a long-standing request for Justice Department documents regarding former CIA operative Valerie Plame's outing by former Bush administration figures, according to a top congressional Democrat. House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on Tuesday reiterated his previous appeal to Mukasey for documents from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame leak. Waxman said that the attorney general has no reason to obstruct his committee's investigation, as Mukasey did last week with a congressional inquiry into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes. Waxman noted that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted after Fitzgerald's investigation -- has dropped his appeal, and the Justice Department is not conducting any further investigations. Therefore, the California Democrat says, Mukasey has no excuse to continue withholding the documents. "Thus," he wrote in a letter to Mukasey, "I request that you provide the Committee by January 3, 2008, with the documents requested in the Committee’s July 16 letter to Mr. Fitzgerald, including the reports of interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other White House officials." Responding to congressional requests for information on the CIA's destruction of videotapes showing harsh methods being used on waterboarding, Mukasey told lawmakers, essentially: Back off, we've got this one. The AG argued that attempts at congressional oversight could inhibit investigations being carried out within the CIA and Department of Justice. "In the Plame matter, there is no pending Justice Department investigation and no pending Justice Department litigation," Waxman reminded him. "Whatever the merits of the position you are taking in the CIA tapes inquiry, those considerations do not apply here." Libby was convicted of four felonies -- including obstruction of justice and perjury -- for his role in outing Plame then lying to investigators about how her name came to be funneled to several Washington journalists from within the Bush administration. President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence before the former high-profile White House aide was shipped off to prison, and Libby has decided to stop appealing the conviction. Waxman's committee wants to know whether Libby was acting at the president's or vice president's behest when he outed Plame, whose name first appeared in a July 2003 Robert Novak column. The conservative columnist said he received the information from former undersecretary of state Richard Armitage and former White House political adviser Karl Rove. Several other journalists also said they learned the identity of Plame, whose husband Joseph Wilson was then criticizing the administration's false pre-war contention that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Libby was the only official convicted of criminal charges, and none were fired from their administration posts as a result of the leak.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Edwards Takes Step Back as Two Others Slug It Out
By JULIE BOSMAN DES MOINES, Dec. 4 — As Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama exchanged frequent and increasingly personal jabs on the campaign trail this week, John Edwards found himself on the sidelines. And enjoying it. In Waterloo, Iowa, Mr. Edwards recounted the exchange by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on whether Mr. Obama had been pining to be president since kindergarten, as her campaign said when it referred to an essay that Mr. Obama supposedly wrote in kindergarten. Its title was “I Want to Become President.” “I have to confess,” Mr. Edwards said, “when I was in third grade, I wanted to be two things. I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman.” The audience roared. In his second bid for the Democratic nomination for president, Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, has used his carefully honed populist passion, attacking lobbyists, oil companies, drug companies and what he calls the corporate-minded Washington establishment. More notably, he has been showing flashes of anger and intensity as a campaigner, sharply criticizing Mrs. Clinton in debates and on the trail. But not this week. On a six-day swing through Iowa a month before the caucuses on Jan. 3, Mr. Edwards lightened up and reprised the role of the upbeat optimist he had in 2004, when he ran a close second in the caucuses. “Listen, I don’t think America benefits from any personal fighting between candidates,” he told reporters. “They don’t care about fighting between politicians.” That attitude was evident in the National Public Radio debate on Tuesday, when Mr. Edwards cited differences between himself and Mrs. Clinton. His measured touch was a clear break from his performance in a televised debate, when he turned virtually every question into an attack on Mrs. Clinton and when he sarcastically replied to a jab from Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio by muttering, “Cute, Dennis.” In the last week, he has rarely referred to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, except to poke fun at their sparring. On Sunday, he ducked the opportunity to join Mrs. Clinton in criticizing Mr. Obama’s campaign, which used a political action committee to spend money in early primary states. “I’m going to respectfully decline to get involved in that fracas between the two of them,” Mr. Edwards said. He has even doled out sugar-laden compliments to the Democratic field. “We have great people running for president on our side,” he told a crowd on Monday. In a television commercial that began running this week in New Hampshire, Mr. Edwards criticizes lobbyists in Washington, but not the other candidates by name. Privately, Mr. Edwards’s aides said he had no reason to involve himself in fights with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. Mr. Edwards has been stuck in third place for months, most Iowa polls report, showing no gains with his aggressive stance — and receiving criticism from voters, former supporters and others who disapprove of the angrier candidate. Iowans are particularly disdainful of candidates who resort to negative campaigns, as former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri learned in 2004. Iowa is crucial to Mr. Edwards’s efforts. His campaign is low on cash and relying on public financing, and he is even farther back in the polls in other early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Mr. Edwards’s aides would not acknowledge that their candidate was softening in response to polling or other specific criticism. But Mr. Edwards, in an interview between stops in Algona, Iowa, acknowledged that his failure to move up in the polls was on his mind. “I feel like we’re in a dead heat,” he said. “And we’ve been in a dead heat for months now.” He said he believed that Iowa voters, many of whom are still undecided, did not like personal attacks. “They’re looking for a president who’s positive,” Mr. Edwards said. His cease-fire has not extended to the White House. At numerous stops, he continued to attack President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, criticizing the response to Hurricane Katrina, its Iraq war position and its domestic surveillance, positions that cannot hurt him among Democrats here. “The Democrats can’t stand George Bush,” Mr. Edwards said. “Most of America can’t.” Some Iowans said they were tired of the mudslinging among candidates and appreciated a more positive take. “I think he’s wise not to get into a little catfight with the other candidates,” said Maureen White, an Edwards supporter who went to a forum on Monday in Waterloo. Her husband, Roger White, agreed, though he said he was torn between supporting Mr. Edwards or Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. “We all get sick of it,” Mr. White said. “I think if the other two continue to bloody each other, the next tier of candidates will gain from that, whether it’s Biden, Richardson or Edwards.”
CNN: Seymour Hersh 'vindicated' by new Iran intel estimate David Edwards and Muriel Kane Reporter believes Cheney 'kept his foot on the neck of' report A new National Intelligence Estimate released on Monday indicates that 16 US intelligence agencies have concluded with a high level of confidence that Iran has not had an active nuclear weapons program since 2003 and that even if it resumed weapons development, it would be unlikely to obtain a nuclear bomb in less than 5 to 10 years. The NIE apparently came as a surprise to President Bush, who insisted at a news conference the next day that "I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was, John – Mike McConnell – came in and said, 'We have some new information.' He didn't tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze." However, the NIE was no surprise to veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who has been writing about it since November 2006. Hersh told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that he believes the White House deliberately kept the NIE bottled up for over a year because the vice president was dissatisfied with its conclusions. "At the time I wrote that, there was a tremendous fight about it, because Cheney ... did not want to hear this," Hersh recalled. "I think the vice-president has kept his foot on the neck of that report. ... The intelligence we learned about yesterday has been circulating inside this government at the highest levels for the last year -- and probably longer." As early as July 2006, Hersh had reported that the US military was resisting administration pressure for a bombing campaign in Iran, because "American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities." By November 2006, Hersh's sources had told him of "a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A.," which concluded that satellite monitoring and sophisticated radiation-detection devices planted near Iranian facilities had turned up absolutely no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. However, Bush and Cheney were expected to try to keep those conclusions out of the forthcoming NIE on Iran's nuclear capabilities. As Hersh explained to Wolf Blitzer at the time, the White House was attempting to counter the CIA assessment with an Israeli claim, based on a "reliable agent," that Iran was working on a trigger for a nuclear device. "The CIA isn’t getting a good look at the Israeli intelligence." Hersh explained. "It’s the old word, stovepiping. It’s the President and the Vice President, it’s pretty much being kept in the White House." RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna further reported in January 2007 that the NIE on Iran was intended to be released later that month, but that John Negroponte's was being replaced as Director of National Intelligence because he had refused to tailor the NIE to Vice President Cheney's specificiations. Despite feeling vindicated by the latest developments, Hersh warned Blitzer that the White House push for war with Iran is "still not over. ... There's always Israel." He explained that "the Israelis were very upset about the report. They think we're naive." However, Hersh was confident that there was very little chance the NIE could be mistaken, because "It's been four years since we've had any positive evidence of a parallel secret program to build a bomb -- and we've been all over the country." Hersh and Blitzer then recalled Hersh's past appearances on CNN -- including several long interviews discussing the Abu Ghraib scandal -- and how the White House would regularly accuse him of using "anonymous sorces" or just "throwing crap against the wall." Hersh concluded by emphasizing what a serious problem the NIE poses for Bush. "It's a lose-lose for them," he stated. "The fight I'm talking about began last year. ... This is going to pose a serious credibility problem. ... That's not what we pay the guy to do." However, Hersh's sources tell him that despite the NIE, Bush's negotiating position is still that the Iranians "have to stop everything ... destroy it. ... Inspectors have to come in that we pick. ... He's not saying that publicly, but that's the private standard." This video is from CNN's Situation Room, broadcast on December 4, 2007
Republican bloggers need to grow up and stop their schoolyard whimpering. The incessant whining last week over the non-story about how some Democrats were allowed to ask Republican candidates legitimate questions during the CNN/YouTube debate was as revealing as it was embarrassing. When did Republican bloggers conclude that their candidates were so brittle and fragile that they had to be protected from unnecessary exposure to everyday citizens? Naturally, the bloggers' hatred of the press meant that the first cries of foul after the debate alleged that the "out of control" campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) had been in cahoots with CNN and that the debate questions sprang from a vast liberal media conspiracy. (The charge, of course, was baseless.) It's all part of the bloggers' attempt to create a parallel universe of sorts, where their own facts don't have to collide with harsh reality. It's a world where inquisitive Democrats who submit video questions to candidates are denounced as "plants," part of an elaborate media scheme to derail Republicans. How, you ask? By posing legitimate, factual questions about the pressing issues of the day. That's what produced last week's shrieking, the-sky-is-falling hysteria across the right-wing blogosphere, with some even making childish demands of "A Do Over" and frantically waving petitions around, insisting that CNN executives be fired for their unpardonable sin. These GOP bloggers are so afraid of democracy that they spend their days and nights blaming the press for allowing it to take place. In fact, following the earlier Democratic debate hosted by CNN last month in Las Vegas, right-wing bloggers crowed about the "scandal" they had uncovered: CNN allowed Democrats in the audience to ask questions to Democratic candidates. More on that later. But where did this far-right fantasy spring from that only registered Republicans are allowed to ask Republicans questions at nationally televised debates? And that it's the media's fault if that precious bubble is penetrated? Sadly, some of the GOP candidates signed off on the parallel universe approach. In reference to the debate question posed by Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who lent his name to the Clinton campaign and became one of nearly 50 co-chairs of Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) after the debate said, "I think that should have been made public if this individual was a member of another -- any other campaign, then people would, obviously, have a better way of judging the quality of the question." Here was Kerr's question: "I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians." Would McCain have dubbed the quality of that question to be inferior if he'd known Kerr had lent his support to a Democratic campaign? Then again, this debate season has been punctuated by the refusal of most Republican candidates to debate in front of black or Latino audiences, presumably because it would include too many non-Republicans; too many people who might be hostile to what the candidates say. And sure enough, on the eve of the CNN/YouTube debate, anxious online conservatives demanded to know how CNN executives would protect Republican candidates from having to answer questions from non-Republicans. And no, this is not just like the Democrats' decision to boycott Fox News debates earlier this year. That was never about the questions being asked, or the candidates being afraid of the Fox News crew. It was, in my mind, a brilliant, blogger-led initiative to de-brand Fox News, to publicly declare that the organization itself is not an independent news forum. Just as Democrats would never sanction the National Review or Rush Limbaugh to host one of their debates, there's no reason to let Fox News do the same. Of course, if Republicans want to boycott CNN or MSNBC by claiming that neither are legitimate news organizations, they're free do to so. I think it's telling that none of the candidates have tried to make that fanciful claim. The truth is that Democratic candidates have faced hundreds of debate questions to date and haven't waged media campaigns protesting the fact that not all the people who asked the questions were not knee-jerk supporters. (Progressives have, however, complained when some of the questions were factually inaccurate.) Frankly, I'd be embarrassed if Democratic candidates for the highest office in the land, or their staunch online supporters, ran around complaining that questions asked at a CNN debate were unfair based solely on the fact that the person posing them were not registered Democrats. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times reported last week, one of the questioners at the Democratic YouTube debate was an obvious Rudy Giuliani supporter. And it didn't take an Einstein to figure that out; it was postered on the questioner's MySpace page. Also, the query he posed to Clinton -- "How do you think you would be taken seriously" by Arab and Muslim nations that treat women as "second-class citizens"? -- made his political allegiance clear. But guess what? She simply answered the question and not a single supporter cried foul. Because that's how a democracy works. It was CNN itself that created a point of contention over the questions asked at the Democratic debate, by announcing prior to the GOP forum that it was going to weed out any Democratic gotcha-style questions prior to the Republicans' YouTube debate, despite its failure to extend the same courtesy to Democrats during their YouTube debate. But note that prior to realizing that several of the questioners at the CNN/YouTube debate had Democratic leanings, right-wing bloggers praised the event. At the Media Research Center's (MRC) NewsBusters site, Brad Wilmouth, immediately following the event, wrote approvingly that it "largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view." [Emphasis added.] And as blogger Steven Benen noted, Malkin herself conceded on Wednesday that "the questions were almost all coherent and well-framed." Meaning, nobody in real time was suggesting the questions themselves were out of bounds. To put the right-wing bloggers' media paranoia into perspective you have to go back to the previous Democratic debate, when conservatives online -- in a preview of last week's YouTube nonsense -- whipped themselves into a post-debate frenzy, claiming CNN had allowed Democrats in the audience of the Las Vegas debate to ask the Democratic candidates questions. I kid you not, and that deserves repeating: Following the debate, the MRC's NewsBusters site announced it had had uncovered a vast, liberal media conspiracy in which CNN allowed Democrats in the audience to ask questions at a Democratic debate. The NewsBusters crew and their friends online raised the red flag because during the debate CNN's host claimed the questions from the Las Vegas audience would be asked by "undecided voters." But after much digging, the online sleuths discovered one questioner had once served as an intern for a Democratic senator, another was in a labor union, and a third was a "prominent Muslim leader." Bloggers had no idea if the questioners were actually undecided voters or not. But because they were Democrats, or in a union, or Muslim, that meant they never should have been allowed to interact with Democratic candidates at a televised debate because they were "plants." Meaning, they were alleged Democratic voters who infiltrated the audience at a Democratic debate. After much digging, one conservative blogger announced: It can be said with certainty that at least the three people I mentioned here were NOT ordinary "undecided democratic voters", but rather people who were prepared and planted into the audience to ask these specific questions. Disclaimer: I am not making this stuff up. The conservative blogosphere was up in arms because some audience members had shown up at the Las Vegas debate "prepared" to ask "specific questions." Quickly falling into their media conspiracy mode, bloggers demanded to know how the plot had been coordinated and how many candidates knew in advance of the stealthy plan to have Democrats ask questions at a Democratic debate! (My guess? All of them knew.) The bloggers' next step was depressingly predictable; attack the citizens who asked the questions at the Las Vegas debate: So I popped her name into my Yahoo search engine to discover that Luisa is her middle name her full name is Maria Luisa Parra-Sandoval, and she worked in Harry Reid's office in Nevada and DC. (Picture on page 23) She was also invited as a guest on the floor off the 74th session of Nevada Legislature, by a man named Rubin Kihuen, he was elected in 2006 and a member of the Nevada Assembly Democrats. Upon further research and a tip from a commenter on another message board, it turns out that she came here illegally from Mexico as a child with her family, but since gained legal status, and has won scholarships to attend UNLV. If that doesn't creep you out, I don't know what will. A college student asked a question at a CNN presidential debate, and furious right-wing bloggers, hunting for proof of a liberal media bias, commenced with a cyber deep-dive and quickly posted unflattering information about the student's family. I'll say it again: GOP bloggers are so afraid of democracy that they spend their days and nights blaming the press for allowing it to take place.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Rep. Hoekstra Was Source Of Joe Klein’s FISA Lies, Decries ‘Paranoid,’ ‘Self-Absorbed’ ‘Far-Left Critics’ In Time Magazine last week, columnist Joe Klein baselessly claimed that Democrats’ proposed fix to FISA would require “every foreign-terrorist target’s calls to be approved by the FISA court.” Today, House Intelligence Committee member and “Bush loyalist” Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) revealed that he was a “source” for Klein’s error-filled column, and proudly defends Klein in a column titled “Klein Kerfluffle” in the National Review. In his original column, Klein insisted that Democrats’ legislation to provide constitutional protections for government surveillance of Americans, or the RESTORE Act, would require a court order to spy on foreign terrorists (Klein has since recanted these statements). In the column, Hoekstra insists that “Klein was correct in his original contention.” In reality, as the legislation clearly states: A court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of the contents of any communication between persons that are not known to be United States persons . Klein ignorantly claimed the RESTORE Act “would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans.” Hoekstra adds that Klein’s assertions are a “demonstratable fact.” Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a chief author of the RESTORE Act, countered that the legislation does exactly the opposite: This bill provides exactly what the Director of National Intelligence asked for earlier this year: it explicitly states that no court order is required to listen to the conversations of foreigners that happen to pass through the U.S. telecommunications system. It does not grant Constitutional rights to foreign terrorists. In his National Review piece, Hoekstra attacks progressive bloggers as “civil liberties extremists,” stating that a “belief that efforts to target al-Qaeda operatives in foreign countries” may involve U.S. citizens is evidence of “self-absorption” and “paranoia.” “The issue is not nor has it ever been about surveillance of Americans,” he alleges. But under the hastily-passed Protect America Act, there are “virtually no protections” for U.S. callers in international communications, leaving surveillance authority to the administration. In fact, 61 percent of voters favor court protections for surveillance of Americans. Marcy Wheeler notes that Hoekstra “is nuts, and very much in the business of creating propaganda.” And Joe Klein is willing to blindly publish whatever lies Hoekstra spews to him.
Biden's warning to Bush: Bomb Iran and face impeachment David Edwards and Nick Juliano Sen. Joe Biden, the loquacious long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, warned President Bush Thursday that he would move for impeachment if the president unilaterally authorized a military strike against Iran. "The President has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran and ... if he does, as foreign relations committee chairman and former chairman of judiciary, I will move to impeach him," Biden told a crowd of about 100 potential voters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. Biden said he is meeting with constitutional law experts and plans to send Bush a legal memo formally outlining his warning, according to Seacoast Online, which reported his comments. The senior Delaware senator told the crowd that calls for Bush's immediate impeachment were valid but may not have enough constitutional support to make them viable. He added that Bush wasn't the only White House figure who deserves to be booted. "If you're going to impeach George Bush, you better impeach Cheney first," Biden said, garnering applause from the crowd. On MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday, host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, criticized Biden's proposal. "It is so unfortunate, that this is how we campaign now, talking about impeachment," Scarborough said, "when you have [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad talking about obliterating Israel, talking about obliterating the United States, talking about building nuclear weapons, how we can't stop him. Saying just absolutely horrendous crazy things, sending Iranian forces into Iraq to kill American troops. "And Joe Biden, who I like and respect, talking on the campaign trail about impeaching a commander in chief because of a decision that he may make against a madman," he continued. "And everybody knows that Ahmadinejad is a madman, and that Iran is one of the most dangerous planets on Earth." One assumes Scarborough meant to say "most dangerous countries on Earth." This video is from MSNBC Morning Joe, broadcast on November 30, 2007.