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Earlier today, Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU went on MSNBC, and made a crucial point about the decision to probe torture.

The problem, argued Jaffer, is not that we're investigating clear evidence of law-breaking -- as Dick Cheney and countless conservatives would have it. Rather, it's that the scope of the investigation, as we've noted, appears to be unduly narrow. As things stand, it focuses on CIA personnel, but ignores the Bush administration officials -- both Justice Department lawyers like John Yoo, and high-ranking policy-makers like Cheney himself -- who authorized and approved torture in the first place.

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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has again dismissed rumors that he'll challenge Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in next year's election.

"I'm not running for Senate. I've never said I was running for Senate," Honoré told CNN Monday afternoon. But he didn't rule out future runs for political office.

"There are things that I dream about, but they will remain to be dreams until I get my family moved and we figure out what we're gonna do in the next few years," he said. He wouldn't elaborate.

BayouBuzz.com reported that the retired general was considering challenging Vitter in the Republican primary, after Honoré announced Saturday he would move back to Louisiana from Georgia in the coming months.

But this is the second time in two days that Honoré, best known for organizing military relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina, has tried to quash the rumors.


Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay is competing on Dancing With The Stars this season, partnered with professional dancer Cheryl Burke.

Courtesy ABC




DeLay is competing against celebrities including Ultimate Fighter Chuck Liddell, pop singer Aaron Carter, actress Melissa Joan Hart and others.

Courtesy ABC




In an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, DeLay held up his dancing shoes and exclaimed, "It's a little pump with high heels!"

Courtesy ABC




In that same interview, DeLay said he wanted to see President Obama's birth certificate.

Courtesy ABC




Dancing With The Stars premieres on ABC on Sept. 21.

Courtesy ABC




DeLay showed off his dancing shoes on Hardball Aug. 19.

The Washington Post yesterday reported on the masters thesis of Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. As the paper noted, McDonnell argued, among other things, that working women and feminists are "detrimental" to the family; that government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators;" and that the court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples was "illogical," because at the time non-marital sex was itself a crime.

Now we've taken our own look at the thesis -- written for Regent University in 1989, when McDonnell was already a married man of 34 years old. And it looks like the Post left out some other excerpts that might also give readers some pause.

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today he was not pressured to raise the threat level days before the 2004 elections, despite writing in a new book that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "strongly urged" him to do so.

In The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege, Ridge wrote that although the men wanted to up the alert level, "There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'"

But now, Ridge is telling Good Morning America and the Erie Times-News that people are "hyperventilating" over what he wrote and taking it the wrong way. Compare for yourself.

From the book:

A vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion ensued. Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld. ... We were on the verge of making a huge mistake. ... I believe our strong interventions had pulled the "go-up" advocates back from the brink.


Today, on Good Morning America:

[Ashcroft and Rumsfeld] expressed their opinions. ... The process worked ... It was designed so that nobody could pressure anybody to do anything. A consensus was reached.


And from the Erie Times-News:

There was no pressure at all.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) has announced that January 19 has been set as the date for the special election to replace Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate -- and that he is still pushing for legislation to allow an interim appointment.

The Boston Globe pointed out today that the primary election would be held on December 8 under such a schedule. The winner of the Democratic nomination will be heavily favored to ultimately win the seat.

Patrick acknowledged that the possibility of an interim appointment had been rejected when the law changed in 2004 -- when state Democrats stripped then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of the ability to appoint a Senator, in case John Kerry would have won the presidency. But Patrick said he was not there at the time, and is not familiar with all the facts, but that the best way to get the state full representation is through an appointment.

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DNC chairman and outgoing Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is now hopping on the organized party assault against Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia, over the thesis McDonnell wrote 20 years ago describing a comprehensive religious-right political philosophy and political plan of action.

In an e-mail sent out to supporters of his state political PAC, Moving Virginia Forward, Kaine asks recipients to read the Washington Post's article on the thesis.

"After years of working with Bob, I believe this article is an accurate reflection of his sincere and long-standing views," Kaine says. "But I do not believe that this philosophy, which Bob has worked strenuously to implement as an elected official, is the right direction for Virginia. In fact, I think it would take us backwards and jeopardize much of the success we have achieved in the Commonwealth in recent years."

Check out the e-mail after the jump.

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AFP is reporting that the issue of whether an interim appointment will be made to Edward Kennedy's Senate seat will be taken up by Massachusetts lawmakers in early September.

A legislative aide of the state's committee on election law told AFP the hearing will be held within a week of Labor Day, and that every member of the state's House and Senate would attend.

CNN, citing unnamed "Massachusetts political sources," also reported moments ago that state lawmakers plan to hear the bill in "just a week and a half."

It used to fall to Massachusetts' governor to appoint an interim senator, though Democrats changed state law in 2004 in fear that Mitt Romney would nominate a Republican to the Senate if John Kerry was elected president. Now a special election must be held several months after a Senate vacancy is created.

Kennedy asked just days before his death that state law be changed to allow a temporary appointment so Democratic initiatives in the Senate -- notably health care reform -- would not be negatively affected by his death.

There's been much speculation that Kennedy's wife might be interested in an interim appointment -- an idea endorsed over the weekend by Chris Dodd and Orrin Hatch -- though George Stephanopoulos, citing a "solid source," says she's not interested.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that the "Gang of Six" health care negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee might now be the "Gang of Five."

During this week's GOP YouTube address, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)--one of the three Republicans involved in bipartisan health care negotiations--trashed Democratic reform ideas.

"The bills would expand comparative effectiveness research that would be used to limit or deny care based on age or disability of patients," Enzi said, echoing the rationale used by those who falsely warn that Democrats plan to create "death panels."

For the White House, that appears to have been a bridge too far.

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has announced that he will not run for Senate in 2010 against appointed incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, after having publicly eyed the race for months.

Polls had previously shown King running competitively against Gillibrand, with high undecided numbers due to a lack of overall brand recognition for the incumbent. But King admitted in his official statement that he would face tough obstacles: "The reality is that a statewide Democratic candidate starts the race with a voter registration edge of almost 3 million. To overcome such a large margin, there would have to be intensive media coverage of the race and I would need to raise at least $30 million."

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