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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

Justice Matters

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Cheney and the Plame-Gate Cover-up
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COMMENTARY:

Cheney and the Plame-Gate Cover-up

by Robert Parry
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 2 November 2009

If Dick Cheney is to be believed, he wasn’t very upset that former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson criticized the Bush administration for having “twisted” intelligence to support its false pre-war claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from Africa.

In a May 8, 2004, interview with federal investigators, the then-Vice President said he did raise a few internal questions about Wilson’s 2002 fact-finding mission for the CIA, which checked out – and knocked down – Cheney’s suspicion that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.

But Cheney denied that he unleashed a retaliatory campaign to discredit this early Iraq War critic – nor told anyone to leak the fact that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, worked at the CIA and had a small role in recruiting her husband for the Niger mission.

“The Vice President advised that there was no discussion of ‘pushing back’ on Wilson’s credibility by raising the nepotism issue, and there was no discussion of using Valerie Wilson’s employment with the CIA in countering Joe Wilson’s criticisms and claims about Iraqi efforts to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger,” said the FBI summary of Cheney’s interview.

Cheney also said he didn’t speak with CIA Director George Tenet or Deputy Director John McLaughlin about Wilson between July 6, 2003, when Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed describing how the Niger intelligence was “twisted,” and July 14, eight days later when right-wing columnist Robert Novak exposed Plame’s CIA employment in a column that sought to discredit Wilson.

Cheney depicted one disparaging comment that he made about Wilson as more of an inside joke.

“He [Cheney] does recall at one point ‘gigging’ Tenet and/or McLaughlin about vetting a separate, unrelated intelligence matter by sarcastically suggesting to them that perhaps they ought to send Joe Wilson to check it out,” the FBI summary said.

“The Vice President stated that the issue of Valerie Wilson’s possible involvement in sending her husband to Niger was just not a big deal and did not become one until after the publication of the Novak editorial.”

Cheney also claimed that he had no recollection of an earlier meeting in his vice presidential office during which he told his press aide Cathie Martin and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby that Plame was employed by the CIA.

Libby became one of several Bush administration officials to leak news of Plame’s CIA employment to journalists, along with the suggestion that she had arranged her husband’s fact-finding mission to Niger as nepotism, even though Wilson received no pay. (Plame has said her role was limited to conveying a message to her husband that her CIA superiors wanted to speak to him about the trip.)

Scribbled Comments

Though Cheney played down his animosity toward Wilson during the interview, some of the anger came through when Cheney was asked to read aloud comments he scribbled in the margins of Wilson’s op-ed that Cheney had ripped out of the Times.

Cheney acknowledged that his handwritten note included the question, “Did his wife send him on a junket?” He also told the investigators that he “believed it possible that he and Libby discussed the Wilson trip as some kind of a junket or boondoggle.”

Curiously, however, Cheney conceded that as a former U.S. ambassador who served in Africa, Wilson’s “qualifications for the trip were ‘OK.’” Cheney also was aware that Wilson wasn’t paid for the trip, which would seem to undercut Cheney’s suspicion of nepotism.

However, Cheney turned Wilson’s willingness to undertake the mission without pay into a negative. According to the FBI report, “he [Cheney] thought it was strange that Joe Wilson did his investigative work pro bono.” Because of the lack of pay, Cheney complained about the “seriousness” of the CIA’s investigation and ridiculed it as “amateur hour.”

Yet, what is remarkable about Cheney’s interview – beyond his inability to recall key facts – is that all the anti-Wilson complaints that Cheney cited, no matter how minor or contradictory, became the cornerstones of a sustained assault on Wilson by the Bush administration, congressional Republicans, and right-wing and neoconservative pundits.

It was as if Cheney had written the script not only for his Republican defenders but for the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages, which waged its own war of words against Wilson after he blew the whistle on President George W. Bush’s false claims about Iraq seeking uranium.

Even Cheney’s weakest points were amplified and exaggerated as they moved through the Republican-neocon echo chamber. For instance, a small point of misunderstanding – Wilson’s belief that Cheney had been made aware of the Niger trip since it was Cheney’s concern that prompted the mission – was transformed into an accusation that Wilson was a liar.

Wilson was painted as a liar again after Cheney transformed Wilson’s accurate comment – about taking on the CIA assignment with the understanding that Cheney was interested in the Niger issue – into a suggestion that Wilson was claiming that Cheney personally picked him for the mission.

Another point made by Cheney – and picked up as an anti-Wilson attack line – was Wilson’s remark to CIA debriefers that Niger’s prime minister initially suspected that an Iraqi feeler about improved commercial relations might have related to uranium, though it turned out the Iraqis expressed no such interest.

According to the FBI summary, Cheney said he underlined this portion of a March 8, 2002, CIA report on Wilson’s debriefing because “he believed it raised a ‘red flag,’ seeming to show that the former Niger Prime Minister [Ibrahim] Mayaki had been approached about commercial relations with Iraq which the former Prime Minister believed meant yellowcake uranium sales.”

Even though it turned out that Mayaki’s suspicion was baseless – and thus inconsequential – Cheney’s “red flag” was raised repeatedly by Republicans and neocons in their attacks on Wilson, including by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee which cited this irrelevant point to suggest that Wilson’s report had actually supported the Bush/Cheney case for war.

More Quibbles

Cheney also quibbled with Wilson’s comment in his New York Times op-ed that “it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq.” Cheney countered that “such a transfer had already happened once before. Therefore, ... it did not mean that it could not occur.”

But there is no real difference between saying something is “exceedingly difficult” and that it possibly could “occur.” Both indicate that something is feasible, even if unlikely.

Despite the pettiness and contradictions of Cheney’s anti-Wilson attack lines, they reverberated for several years. They were given credence not only in right-wing circles but in Establishment (pro-Iraq War) places like the Washington Post.

More smears of Wilson and Plame were added as the ugly process moved forward. For instance, Bush-Cheney backers began insisting that Plame did not qualify as a covert officer deserving of special protection because she hadn’t “resided” or been “stationed” overseas in the five years before her CIA identity was exposed.

But the actual language of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was that a covert officer must have “served” abroad in the previous five years, which Plame had in undertaking intelligence missions outside the United States (although she was based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia). The Bush-Cheney backers, especially right-wing lawyer Victoria Toensing, had engaged in word substitutions.

Overall, the 28-page FBI report on the Cheney interview recalled the anything-goes hostility that the Bush administration and its media acolytes directed at anyone who dared criticize the Iraq War in its early days. Besides Wilson, others on the White House enemies list included former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter and even the Dixie Chicks whose lead singer had spoken out against the war.

If Washington circa 2002-2004 had been a normal place, Wilson would have been praised for his service to the United States. Not only did he take on a difficult government assignment pro bono, he reached the accurate conclusion that Iraq was not seeking uranium from Niger and so informed the CIA.

Then, after Bush included that false claim in his 2003 State of the Union Address, Wilson began briefing a few journalists on the deception. Ultimately, he went public despite his awareness that he would anger the White House and damage his career prospects.

But praise was not what Wilson got. Even as Wilson’s disclosure forced the Bush administration to retract the uranium claim – a sentence in the State of the Union that became known as “the sixteen words” – Wilson became the target of a nasty counterattack.

Novak exposed Plame’s identity as a CIA officer, destroying her intelligence career and putting her network of foreign operatives in danger. The right-wing echo chamber rumbled with denunciations of Wilson and his wife.

The Investigation

But the Bush administration’s leaking of Plame’s identity had a surprise consequence. The CIA filed a complaint about the outing of Plame, prompting a Justice Department investigation.

Initially, the inquiry hit a stonewall as Bush and other senior officials denied any White House role in the leak or in the efforts to undermine Wilson. Eventually, however, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald determined that the leak had involved several senior officials, including Libby, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and White House political adviser Karl Rove.

Novak had gotten his information from Armitage and Rove. Libby had told New York Times reporter Judy Miller about Plame and then had lied about his role.

In 2007, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. No one else was charged in the case, although prosecutor Fitzgerald told Libby’s jury that a “cloud” remained over Vice President Cheney.

To spare Libby jail time, President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence. Fitzgerald wrapped up his investigation without explaining why he took no action against Cheney, Rove and other individuals implicated in the case.

As for Fitzgerald’s interviews with Bush and Cheney, the Justice Department – under both Attorneys General Michael Mukasey and Eric Holder – resisted releasing the FBI’s reports. However, the Cheney report was finally made public Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

[To read more about the Plame-gate scandal, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Zeroing In on Bush-Cheney” and “Plame-gate: Time to Fire WPost’s Hiatt.”]


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on November 2, 2009.

 

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