Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ney "received" roughly $75,000

* glenn:
"There is a strong temptation to feel that if Americans allow themselves to be manipulated again in this manner -- if, after they spent the last two years thoroughly disgusted with the president, they maintain the stranglehold that Republicans so disastrously hold over all facets of our government -- then perhaps the country will deserve what it gets. The damage to our country from a Bush administration that is completely unchecked and unlimited for the next two years is hard to fathom, but if Americans choose that, they will reap the consequences of their choice.

That sentiment, unfortunately, is bolstered by the completely despicable -- and quite deliberate -- disappearing act of the Democratic Party at exactly the time our country debates some of the most profoundly important political issues of our time. News accounts of the "compromise agreement" reached by political leaders on the torture issue barely even mention Democrats at all. It is as though we do still have a two-party system, but the two political parties are the White House and congressional Republicans. Democrats are like some quirky little third party relegated to an afterthought and quoted almost as an act of charity.
With all those facts assembled, it is truly difficult to avoid indifference over the outcome of this upcoming election. But then one ponders what the next two years is likely to bring our country if the Bush administration continues to exercise full-scale, unchecked power over all facets of our government -- a Congress that rubber-stamps a war with Iran (if it is allowed to vote at all); a likely Supreme Court nomination to replace the 86-year-old John Paul Stevens, which would create an executive-power-worshiping majority on the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades; more presidential lawbreaking, and the further entrenchment of one-party rule. And then one realizes that indulging the desire to see the timid, meek, frightened, principle-less Beltway Democrats get what they deserve (still more defeat) is something that our country simply cannot afford if it is to have any hope of avoiding passing the point of no return, where both our national security and our national character are fundamentally degraded in a way that is irreversible.

The "opposition party" is literally missing, silent, mute and invisible. And yet the only hope for reversing or at least halting any of this is to have that same Democratic Party actually somehow win an election and provide some desperately needed gridlock and balance and investigative processes to find out what our government has been doing. That is about as bleak of a picture as one can imagine.

* newsweek:
"According to the Justice Department, Ney and his aides went gambling with “the foreign businessman,” who took them to the Les Ambassadeurs, a swank, members-only casino located in London's West End. Prosecutors say this businessman purchased Ney a membership and provided him and his two aides with thousands of dollars in casino chips. It was during this trip that Ney claimed to have won $34,000 on two hands of cards. The plea agreement, however, makes no mention of a winning spree, saying that Ney by the end of the night had "received" roughly £47,000 (about $75,000).

According to the plea agreement, Ney sought to conceal his winnings by asking a staff member—it doesn't say which one—to carry £5,000 through the U.S. Customs checkpoint on his return trip home. Prosecutors say Ney then falsely declared on his customs form winning just $34,000. But it wasn't only Customs that was told Ney's false story. According to one House GOP leadership aide, Ney openly talked up his London winning spree to other Republican members of Congress and aides. "He made us damn jealous," says the aide, who declined to be named."

* froomkin:
"Members of the traditional press were paying scant attention to the issue of state-sanctioned torture until a rift appeared within the Republican party itself. That, in Washington, qualifies as high drama.

And now that the rift has been papered over, most reporters' tendencies will be to cover the issue mostly from the angle of its effectiveness as a political cudgel in the mid-term elections.

But the American public deserves to hear a full and open debate on this important moral issue. And if Congress won't host it, then it's up to the Fourth Estate to rise to the challenge.
Here's a question reporters should be asking: If, as Suskind has alleged, the administration is aware that those harsh CIA interrogation tactics don't really work -- and no one is currently in CIA detention anyway -- then why is this such an important issue for the White House? One possible answer: That this has nothing to do with the future; that it's about giving them cover for their actions in the past."

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