TPM News

On Friday, McClatchy provided a big new addition -- which hasn't got the attention it deserves -- to the growing pile of evidence suggesting the Bush administration used torture to build a political case for the Iraq war.

The news service dug up comments made in 2004 by Dick Cheney to the-now defunct Rocky Mountain News. Said the then-veep:

The (al Qaida-Iraq) links go back. We know for example from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it."

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A new Rasmussen poll finds the public closely divided on Nancy Pelosi's claim that she was misled by the CIA on the use of waterboarding, with public opinion on this debate still pretty much up in the air.

The numbers: A 43% plurality of likely voters say it is very or somewhat likely that Pelosi was misled, compared to 41% who say it is not very likely or not at all likely. The margin of error is ±3%.

The pollster's analysis points out that most people seem to be waiting for more information, with only 20% saying it's very likely she was misled and 22% saying it's not at all likely, and others respondents holding softer positions. But some other numbers suggest Pelosi starts out this fight at a disadvantage: "The CIA is viewed favorably by 63% and unfavorably by 24%. For Pelosi, the comparable numbers are 35% favorable and 55% unfavorable."

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has written an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman, strongly denying that his stand in favor of states' rights meant he was in any way advocating secession:

I can't say I was surprised that critics recast my defense of federalism and fiscal discipline into advocacy for secession from the Union. I have never advocated for secession and never will.

Like the president, members of Congress and every other state governor, I have sworn oaths to our nation and Constitution. My sincere pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution has fueled my concern and my statements about the recent unprecedented expansion of our federal government.

It's worth looking back on what Perry said during the Tea Party rallies back in April that got people so worked up. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it," Perry said. "But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

  • Republican House leader John Boehner said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who last week said the CIA had lied to her about torture, "ought to either present the evidence or apologize." (Washington Post)
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    Obama's Day Ahead: Meeting With Netanyahu President Obama will meet one-on-one with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at 10:30 ET in the Oval Office. He will hold an expanded meeting with Netanyahu at 11:30 a.m. ET, also in the Oval Office, and the two of them will attend a working lunch at 12:25 p.m. ET.

    Bibi To Press Obama On Iran Going into today's meeting, Netanyahu will press President Obama on the issue of confronting Iran's nuclear ambitions. "There is a sense of urgency on our side," said Israeli National Security Adviser Uzi Arad. There could also be some tension on the two-state solution, which is resisted by many on the Israeli right.

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    In an appearance on ABC's This Week today, Liz Cheney employed a classic non-denial denial when asked about a report her father's office pressured interrogators to use torture to find evidence of Iraq-Qaeda links.

    George Stephanopolous asked Liz Cheney about a Daily Beast piece reporting that the vice president's office in 2003 suggested interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

    Asked specifically by Stephanopolous if she would deny "that the vice president's office did ask specifically to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented to this detainee," Cheney offered this muddled response:

    I think that it's important for us to have all the facts out. And and, the first and most important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program, it saved American lives. Now, the way this policy worked internally was once the policy was determined and decided, the CIA, you know, made the judgments about how each individual detainee would be treated. And the Vice President would not substitute his own judgment for the professional judgment of the CIA.

    Here's the video of the exchange, (h/t ThinkProgress):

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    Obama Delivering Notre Dame Commencement Address Today President Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, at 2 p.m. ET. Pro-life protesters have already marched at the campus against Obama's pro-choice position. At 6:10 p.m. ET, he will headline a Democratic fundraiser in Indianapolis. He is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 9 p.m. ET.

    Steele: Notre Dame Honorary Degree For Obama 'Inappropriate' Appearing today on Meet The Press, RNC chairman Michael Steele criticized the decision of Notre Dame to award President Obama an honorary degree. "Those institutions don't hand those degrees out that readily. So it is a very strong sticking point, and I think a lot of Catholics and a lot of pro-life Americans are very concerned about that, and I think it is inappropriate," said Steele. He added: "The president should speak, but the degree should not be conferred."

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    Obama Address: I'm Bringing People Together On Health Care And Energy In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama said he is bringing together different groups such as businesses and labor to deal with the issues of health care costs and clean energy:

    "I have always believed that it is better to talk than not to talk; that it is far more productive to reach over a divide than to shake your fist across it," said Obama. "This has been an alien notion in Washington for far too long, but we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change."

    GOP Address: Republicans Can Work With Obama On Health Care -- But No Public Option In this weekend's RNC YouTube, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) said Republicans can agree with President Obama on a lot of things regarding health care, and are prepared to work with him -- but he warned strongly against any pursuit of a public option:

    "A government takeover of health care will put bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions that should be made by families and doctors," said Boustany. "It will limit treatment options and lead to rationed care. And to pay for government health care, your taxes will be raised."

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    Vice President Joe Biden speaks to 1,500 Sailors in front of the USS Ronald Reagan on Coronado Island, California, Thursday, May 14, 2009.

    White House Photo

    White House Photo

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks to SEAL trainees at the Special Warfare Training Center at Coronado Naval Base, California, Thursday, May 14, 2009.

    White House Photo

    When first we heard that two enforcement attorneys at the SEC were being probed by the FBI for insider trading, we almost sympathized. After all, as the GAO informed us last week in its damning report on the dysfunctional agency, commissioners seem to have spent the Bush years thinking up new ways of preventing enforcement attorneys from doing their actual jobs. And in an environment of incessant deregulation, the markets have to regulate themselves, right?

    Uh, then we read the 51-page SEC Inspector General report on the case submitted to SEC chairman Mary Schapiro March 3 by SEC IG David Kotz, who made no attempt to conceal his amazement at their awe-inspiring stupidity. Seriously, Hank Paulson's chief of staff who didn't know who the nine big banks were is a MacArthur fellow next to this pair, who are only identified in the report as [#1] and [#2].

    The OIG investigation disclosed that [#1] sent e-mails to his brother and sister-in-law from his SEC e-mail account during the work day recommending particular stocks, and sometimes informing them that [#2] had recommended those stocks as well. Both [#2] and [#1] inexplicably testified that they failed to see how [#1]'s sending e-mails to his brother and sister-in-law from his SEC account could raise an appearance that he may be sharing nonpublic information with someone outside of the SEC.
    More amazing highlights after the jump.

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