Saturday, March 24, 2007

creeping authoritarianism

* digby:
"I've watched this creeping authoritarianism for more than 30 years now. It's not a figment of my imagination and I'm damned tired of jaded political pundits telling me to lighten up. These same people told me that it didn't matter if Ronald Reagan had a secret government working out of the basement of the white house (Oliver North is so awesome in his uniform!) and it didn't matter if George Bush Sr pardoned all the criminals in that scandal and it didn't matter if a partisan congress impeached a president over sex. We were told to "get over it" when Bush's henchmen manipulated every political lever they could find in his brother's and father's political machinery to take office in 2000 --- and then decided to govern as if they'd won in a landslide. Then came illegal war, torture, spying on citizens, denial of habeas corpus and all the rest. Excuse me, but I'm not going to sit around and chuckle knowingly that this is "just the way it is." It isn't. History proves that very bad things can happen to good countries. Only fools pretend that great nations can't go down the wrong road.

The public is waking up and hopefully they will deny the Republicans power for a while. But until this authoritarian zombie is finally killed, the country is in danger of more of these "misbegotten, stupid, ill-advised wars" and imperial presidencies each time the Republicans manage to sully the Dems sufficiently to regain power.

I know that such silly, naive righteous indignation amuses the chattering classes to no end. That's exactly why so many people believe they are a big part of the problem."

"Boy, where Steven Griles' heart leads, trouble follows.

Here's a copy of the criminal information filed by prosecutors this morning; it lays out the facts to which Griles pled guilty this morning.

The filing reveals that Griles was romantically involved with Italia Federici (identified as Person A) from 1998 through 2003, and that it was that relationship which led to Jack Abramoff's access to Griles while he was deputy secretary of the Interior. It also says that Griles lied to the committee to cover all that up.

Here's how it worked. Federici runs a nonprofit called Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), a conservative think tank. Since Federici was a former aide to then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and was well connected in the Interior Department, Abramoff found her very useful. His clients pumped $500,00 into her organization; in return, she ensured that people inside the department knew about his clients' concerns. The person inside who was particularly helpful was Griles, the #2 there.

But Griles didn't want the Senate to know any of this. So he lied.

This isn't the only time, of course, that investigators haven't been told the truth about Griles' dalliances. Griles and his current girlfriend, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, successfully kept their relationship from the department's Inspector General when he was investigating Griles for lobbying for his old clients on the inside -- at the time, Woolrdige, then Norton's deputy chief of staff, had been charged with watching over Griles. But she didn't tell the IG about the relationship.

Griles and Woolridge hit the papers last month because the pair bought a vacation home with an oil lobbyist -- even though Woolridge at the time worked as the Justice Department's top environmental prosecutor."

* scarecrow on the purge:
"Leahy knows that the WH has staked out an indefensible position, and the longer they maintain it, the worse they look. They’re offering “nothing, nothing, nothing,” Leahy declared. He seems quite happy to let the WH sit there and look like they’re covering up, while his Committee continues its investigation and lays the foundation for Rove by grilling Alberto Gonzales and other DoJ officials in the coming weeks.

By not issuing the subpoenas now, the Democratic Chairs are keeping their options open and can define the scope of the subpoenas once they’ve built a stronger record. That leaves the WH and Snow just twisting in the wind as the Committees fill in the 18-day gap.

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