TPM News

President Obama is leaving the door open for prosecutions of Bush DOJ officials who provided the legal rationale to support torture policies.

In comments to reporters this morning, Obama said he didn't support prosecuting CIA officers who were carrying out the policy. But:

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Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) has just released a letter she sent to Attorney General Eric Holder. Harman calls on Holder to give her all materials related to the government wiretapping of her, and to the investigation into her, so that she can release them publicly.

Harman also, crucially, takes her denial further than yesterday, saying she never contacted either DOJ or the White House or anyone else to seek favorable treatment for anyone.

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) went on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night, to talk about the fallout from the release last week of the Bush administration's torture memos. And his appearance added to the growing sense that pressure is mounting to hold the memos' authors accountable.

Whitehouse, who sits on the Senate Judiciary committee, did temporarily pour a little bit of cold water on the spate of calls to impeach Jay Bybee, the author of one of the memos, who is now a federal judge. He said that it's "certainly possible" that Bybee should be impeached, but that first, we should wait for the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to release its long-held report into the authorship of the memos.

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It may not be sexy like Kwame's sexting, or Larry's bathroom stall rendezvous, or Foggo's prostitutes in hot tubs, but for sheer scale of conspicuous muck, the state pension fund scandals bubbling up around the country are in a league of their own. And while it may be hard for you to get your head around as fundamentally dry a subject as state pension funds, the underlying alleged wrongdoing is same as it ever was: billions of dollars in state business steered to politically connected firms, kickbacks, and taxpayers left holding the bill.

You don't have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find the same patterns--and sometimes the same players--emerging from state to state.

Let's start with Obama car czar and billionaire money manager Steve Rattner. Last Friday the Wall Street Journal reported that Rattner was the money manager referenced in an SEC indictment in a pay-for-play scheme run by the top adviser to the former New York State Comptroller that allegedly siphoned more than $30 million off asset managers seeking investments from the state pension fund.

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The latest legal filing from Norm Coleman's legal team, officially registering their appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial, seems to contain an interesting pair of contingency plans when it quickly lays out exactly what his case is: That either votes should be counted showing that he is the winner -- or that no winner can be determined at all.

The filing is not a complicated brief, but a quick summary of what Coleman's points will be at a later date. It mainly focused on Coleman's claim that thousands of rejected absentee ballots that he identified ought to be counted, if he can get a standard of admission less than the strict compliance with the law demanded by the court.

But then it adds this:

II. Whether the trial court violated the constitutional protections of equal protection and due process when it declared that Respondent received the highest number of "legally cast votes" where the record demonstrated that, by the trial court's rulings, the number of "illegally cast" ballots counted on election day and during the recount greatly exceeded the margin between the candidates and it cannot be determined for which candidate those illegal votes were counted?

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In case you weren't already convinced of the awe-inspiring power of TPMDC, yesterday we corrected the many errors House Minority Leader John Boehner made during his Sunday appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. We even provided the good congressman with a primer on cow flatulence and how it contributes to climate change. Last night, Ed Schultz provided a similar service. Watch:

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On Sunday, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel went on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos and clearly declared that the Obama administration would not prosecute the Bushies who "devised" torture policies.

That seemed to go further than anything the administration had said before. So yesterday we called the White House to get a more formal statement on the issue. And when we didn't hear back, we got to wondering: had Rahm been freelancing, and gotten out ahead of White House policy?

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Armed guards who once worked for the defense contracting company Blackwater Worldwide -- now renamed "Xe" -- will remain in Iraq much longer than was previously reported, government officials told the AP Monday. Xe guards will continue work in Southern Baghdad and the company's aviation wing will continue to provide air security for U.S. diplomats through September. After a group of Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in late 2007, the Iraqi government refused to renew Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq. Last month, the State Department announced that it would replace Xe with Triple Canopy as its primary defense contractor in Iraq. But these statements by government officials show that the change is taking longer than once thought. (AP)

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The New York Times adds some details to yesterday's blockbuster CQ report about Rep. Jane Harman and AIPAC.

Here are the key nuggets from the Times story:

* The report confirms that the call on which Harman agreed to take action in the AIPAC case in return for helping her get the House intel chair job was indeed picked up by the NSA, as Stein reported, rather than the FBI or other agencies, as some reports yesterday had suggested.

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If you live in a state with a Republican senator--or, more specifically one of the many Republican senators who used to decry filibustering executive nominations--you may be getting a phone call from a sultry-sounding supporter of Barack Obama's appointees.

Kathleen Turner, who you may remember from such films as Body Heat and The Jewel of the Nile, has agreed to record a robocall urging recipients to call their senators and tell them to confirm Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's designated chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

The call--which will go out in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah--is part of a campaign by People for the American Way aimed at preventing Johnsen's nomination from being filibustered. Turner has been a member of the organization's board for years. The transcript of the robocall appears below the fold.

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