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Archive for April 21st, 2009

Duck Soup/Updated

Posted by Charles II on April 21, 2009

Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly (via t/o):

Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Harman declined to discuss the wiretap allegations, instead issuing an angry denial through a spokesman.

So NSA wiretapping is ultra hushhush top secret unless it traps a powerful Democrat. Jane Harman is one of my least favorite Democrats, and the ability of AIPAC to affect American policy is worrisome, but using wiretaps in this manner is just.plain.wrong.

Added: Emptywheel notes that the wiretap was legal under the original FISA and says that Harman is not a victim. Look: if what Harman did was illegal, charge her. Do not spill the story into the newspapers.

Also: A key element of the story has been refuted. Since it’s Bill Keller doing the refuting, I’ll wait for confirmation, but this story smells wrong.

Updated, 4/22: Via FDL, we learn from Laura Rozen has also raised some doubts, suggesting that this story may be an attempt to shift the conversation from torture to Democratic complicity in Bushco misdeeds. Glenn Greenwald, noting Josh Marshall’s reporting, cautions that Harman’s guilt should not be assumed. Stein himself has no idea who the “agent” is; it could be Britney Spears for all anyone knows. And Harman has issued a strong denial.

Even if you don’t care about the law or the Constitution, ask yourself who is benefiting from the turmoil created by this story?

Posted in Democrat-bashing, Democrats, NSA eavesdropping | 17 Comments »

Is Goldman Sachs the next Enron?

Posted by Charles II on April 21, 2009

I wouldn’t have had any idea. However, Reggie Middleton says that GS uses up to $58B of off-balance sheet financing. I know about this thanks to a blog by Mike Morgan whose URL is GoldmanSachs666. Off-balance sheet financing is fine when it’s less than 1% of an entity’s balance sheet. $58B is 6.6% of Goldman’s assets. That is a dangerous level, larger than what brought Lehman down, according to Middleton. If it’s false, this is the kind of thing that Goldman should easily be able to rebut, and they certainly don’t lack a PR budget or access to financial media to refute Middleton.

GS was happy to take taxpayer money when the credit markets froze. Now it is trying to SLAPP Morgan into silence for publishing or reprinting opinions adverse to the firm. I’ve therefore added a link to the “Good Causes” section in solidarity with Morgan. Go get ’em, Cap.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, financial crisis | Comments Off on Is Goldman Sachs the next Enron?

What CIA Rank-And-Filers Think Of Obama’s Releasing The Torture Memos

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 21, 2009

As Emptywheel points out, they certainly don’t seem as demoralized as the torture apologists of the mainstream GOP/Media Complex would have us believe.

In fact, as she goes on to point out by citing Scott Horton, there is ample evidence that CIA as well as FBI professionals (as opposed to the political appointees at the top) opposed the Bush Junta’s reliance on torture.

Posted in Bush, BushCo malfeasance, CIA, FBI, GOP/Media Complex, Iraq war, President Obama, Rule of Law, terrorism, torture | 2 Comments »

Remember When The Cons Went Berzerk Over Scott Beauchamp?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 21, 2009

Remember how they were saying that he was lying about the atrocities he saw being committed in the field?

Guess what — his NCO, and one of the guys who said he was lying, has now been nailed for committing atrocities right around the same time he was accusing Beauchamp of lying:

A senior enlisted Army soldier was convicted on Wednesday of killing four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi men with pistol shots to the backs of their heads shortly after arresting them in Baghdad two years ago, The Associated Press reported.

A military jury in Germany, where his unit is deployed, found the soldier, Master Sgt. John E. Hatley, guilty of premeditated murder in the deaths of the men, whom he and several other members of his unit had detained after a firefight with insurgents in Baghdad in spring 2007, according to testimony in the case.

Big ol’ hat tip to John Cole. Will the people who tried to destroy Scott Beauchamp now come forward and at least say that they’re sorry?

Posted in eedjits, evil, Iraq war | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

 
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