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Liberal Group Launches Pro-Sotomayor Ad A new group called the Coalition for Constitutional Values, a joint venture of the the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way, is going up on the air today with this new six-figure ad buy on national network news and cable news to promote Sonia Sotomayor:



The ad uses on-screen text to go into Sotomayor's background and rise from humble roots, while using audio of President Obama from a few weeks ago, discussing what he would seek in a Justice: "Someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory -- it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of peoples' lives."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be touring the solar photovoltaic array at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, at 2 p.m. ET. He will deliver remarks on the progress made in the first 100 days of the stimulus act, at 2:40 p.m. ET. He will depart from Vegas for Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. ET, and will attend a DNC fundraiser at 10:05 p.m. ET at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

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Yet more evidence that the CIA may not have been totally up front with Nancy Pelosi during that contested torture briefing from 2002...

A former "deep-cover" CIA operative tells CQ's Jeff Stein that agency briefers often hide facts or shade the truth. "They mumble, they dissemble, and there's a lot of 'on the one hand... '" said the operative, who has written harsh critiques of the CIA, under the pen-name Ishmael Jones.

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We've gotten our hands on the Pentagon report on which the New York Times based its front-pager last week asserting that 1 in 7 Guantanamo detainees "returned" to terrorism.

You can read the document, which the DOD made available to reporters today, here.

The bottom line: Those who have counseled skepticism about the DOD numbers would seem to be vindicated by the actual report.

The report does indeed use the formulation "reengaged" in terrorism. This was the same formulation the Times' Elisabeth Bumiller used in her front-page story -- until the online version of it was changed.

But the Pentagon report does not attempt to establish the original status of the detainees it claims "reengaged" in terrorism. It seems to simply not consider the possibility that, as has been reported by McClatchy, innocent men ended up in Gitmo, and some were radicalized during their imprisonment.

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When Republicans and conservatives aren't on television suggesting Sonia Sotomayor isn't fit to serve on the Supreme Court (or just outright insulting her)--when they go home at night and seriously consider what's best for them and their movement--they should keep a couple things in mind:

First, that retiring Justice David Souter isn't really all that conservative. Second, that, notwithstanding her upbringing and all the cable chatter, Sotomayor isn't unusually liberal--which is to say, the political makeup of the court won't be radically altered when she replaces him. Third, that if they lock arms and pull out all the stops and somehow block her nomination, there are plenty of other liberal jurists--some more liberal than she is--to take her place.

Technically, Republicans come into the Sotomayor confirmation process in an extremely weak position. Their caucus is only 40 members large. Four of those members are women. One is hispanic. And their ranks are teeming with people who've loudly decried the idea of filibustering judicial nominees in the recent past.

Now that same crew is faced with the prospect of playing the opposition (loyal or otherwise) to a 54 year old Hispanic female with honors degrees from Princeton and Yale and heaps of experience on the bench. Not exactly ideal circumstances.

At the same time, though, they've proven perfectly willing to stand athwart other, similarly qualified Obama nominees, most of whom serve (or will serve) in the executive branch for only a few years at the most.

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The Blago-Burris affair has been simmering away quietly in the background for the last few months. And today brought some interesting news, via the Chicago Sun-Times.

Burris' lawyer said that last November -- about a month before Blagojevich picked him to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat -- Burris promised Blago's brother he'd write a check to the then-governor's campaign.

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TPMmuckraker favorite Alberto Gonzales went on CNN this afternoon to talk Sotomayor.

But Wolf Blitzer also asked him about the ongoing torture debate. And it was interesting to see that Gonzo -- who was White House counsel at the time the torture policies were first formulated -- seemed eager to shift any blame onto the Justice Department he would later go on to lead.

Pressed by Blitzer about his role in approving torture, he first clarified that he wasn't at the Justice Department at the key time, and said "It's the responsibility of the Department of Justice to provide legal guidance on behalf of the executive branch."

In other words: blame Ashcroft, Yoo, and Bybee.

Of course, it's unclear how that stance lines up with a report that Gonzo, while at the White House, personally signed off on CIA requests to conduct torture.

Gonzo also assured Blitzer: "I stand by my record," and "I did my best to defend our country."

Watch:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) released this statement today on the Sotomayor nomination, reminding us all that he voted against her confirmation to the appeals court in 1998 -- and apparently questioning whether she can make rulings independent of her race and gender:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) made the following statement regarding President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Inhofe was one of 29 U.S. Senators that voted against Sotomayor's nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.

"Without doubt, Judge Sotomayor's personal life story is truly inspiring. I congratulate her on being nominated. As the U.S. Senate begins the confirmation process, I look forward to looking closer at her recent rulings and her judicial philosophy.

"Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench. Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern. In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences."


As Dana Goldstein points out, this does raise the question of whether Inhofe thinks the seven white men on the court are immune from any similar questions.

Obama and Biden accompany new Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to the East Room of the White House for a press conference Tuesday morning.

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Sotomayor's mom, Celina.

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Mike Huckabee has some high praise for Michael Steele -- though it's not the most graceful acclaim ever given.

"I'm not sure anyone else could be as effective in challenging the Obama policies any more so than Michael," said Huckabee. The reason: "Well, I believe that that no one is gonna be able to use the racism charge."

Fun fact: Steele said last week Obama won with the help of the media -- who didn't vet him because he's black.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has some thoughts on Sotomayor, too. "Of primary importance," he says, "we must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one's own personal preferences or political views."

Pretty standard stuff. But then he warns that the confirmation process might last beyond the fall, when the Supreme Court begins its next term.

President Obama has stated his desire to have a full court seated at the start of its next term, a reasonable goal toward which the Judiciary Committee should responsibly and diligently move. But we must remember that a Supreme Court justice sits for a lifetime appointment, and the Senate hearing is the only opportunity for the American people to engage in the nomination process. Adequate preparation will take time. I will insist that, consistent with recent confirmation processes, every senator be accorded the opportunity to prepare, ask questions, and receive full and complete answers.


That's not outrageous, but it should be noted that the confirmation processes for Justices Roberts and Alito lasted about two and three months respectively. If that's the window Sessions has in mind, I'm sure Judge Sotomayor would be much obliged.

Late update: Just as a point of reference, when Roberts and Alito were under consideration in the Senate, Sessions took care to refer to both men as judges in his press releases.

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