DSM Hearings: Open Thread

For anyone who’s able to watch or listen to the hearings and wants to discuss, this is the place.


Okay, I'm at work, so this might be kind of sketchy, but I'll try to liveblog this.

2:40est - Joe Wilson is speaking. He's his usual stern and no-nonsense self. Talking about going to Niger and how he spoke about his findings with the admin, the media, and some Dems. He said that he eventually realized if the truth were ever going to come out about the yellowcake b.s., he'd have to out it himself.

2:45 - Joe Wilson: "We're having this discussion today because we failed to have it three years ago..."

2:48 - Conyers notes he is joined by Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Jim Moran, Tierney (? - didn't hear clearly), Sheila Jackson Lee, and Jim McDermott.

2:49 - Cindy Sheehan from Gold Star Families for Peace begins her testimony speaking about her son Casey's death in Iraq.

2:53 - Cindy is reading a letter from a father whose son killed himself after returning home from Iraq. (This is horrible to listen to; I can't imagine the thought of losing your child because of this administration's lies.) "I believe Casey and his buddies died to line the pockets of people who are already wealthy and feed a war machine... I believe an investigation of the Downing Street Memo is warranted and the first step toward...accountabilty... How many more people are going to receive a visit from the grim reaper in a military uniform while we petition Congress to do their job?" (not exact)

3:01 - Ray somebody - couldn't catch the last name - is showing a video.

3:03 - Ray is asking why the opinions of Rice, Powell, and whoever else was on that video saying Saddam was contained and had no WMDs, suddenly changed so dramatically 3 months after 9/11. He says the Downing Street Memo explains why - and focuses on the line about fixing the facts and intelligence around the policy.

3:07 - Ray McGovern. "So that's how you fix intelligence, folks - chutzpah, a willingness to lie, slumbering watchdog intelligence committees in Congress, and a supine press willing to accept explanations no matter how ludicrous." (not exact)

3:10 - John Bonifaz, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org (and a constitutional attorney) is on, and asserts that the administration has been engaged in a conspiracy to deceive the American people.

3:14 - JB's explaining the breach of the Constitution and the bases for impeachment; he notes the framers wanted to ensure the American people could hold the president accountable for an abuse of power and/or the violation of the public trust. "The question must now be asked, with the release of the Downing Street Memo, did the president commit impeachable offenses?"

3:18 - "A resolution of inquiry is the appropriate first step..." He's making a stellar case for why a formal inquiry is necessary. All the stuff he laid out at AfterDowningStreet. "If the president committed high crimes, he must be held accountable. The Constitution demands no less."

3:20 - That's all for the testimony. Conyers has opened it up for questions.

3:21 - Conyers is saying that many members of Congress may have acted differently if they had known this information.

3:24 - Someone (Ray McGovern?) is saying the memos show that there were a collective of British lawyers trying to find a legal justification for the war.

3:25 - He points out that, unlike us, Britain is a member of the International Court, so they had more to be concerned about re: the legality of the war.

3:27 - JB says that the Oct. 02 resolution was not proper (then missed a bit) ... he points out Congress ought to investigate whether they were deceived ... he notes the president hasn't disputed the authenticity of the memo ... a resolution of inquiry will allow Congress to find out who's telling the truth

3:29 - Waters (I think) is talking about Cheney visiting the CIA and defending Gitmo; "Many of us believe there has been a manipulation of information, that they had to make the intelligence fit."

3:32 - McGovern (I think) says it's not unusual for a VP to visit CIA headquarters - it's unprecedented!

3:33 - Tenet didn't protect his people from inappropriate outside pressure; "The management of the CIA has been so corrupted, so politicized, it's unlikely they could come up with anything objective, since the administration made it clear what they wanted to hear." (not exact)

3:35 - Cheney's ties to Halliburton influenced him to put pressure on CIA analysts - "The only people left there are the kind of people who will cooperate with this kind of thing, quite frankly."

3:38 - Barney Frank (I think) points out that defenders of the administration use either one of two opposing arguments against the content of the memo--either it isn't true, or "we knew it all along" so it's nothing new, not important. BF wants to know which is it, and if it's the latter, why didn't they do something about it?

3:39 - Joe Wilson talks about shifting justifications for the war

3:40 - JW: Wolfowitz said that weapons of mass destruction was the justification everyone would buy; they later added on the ties to terrorists

3:42 - Bonifaz reads from the war resolution and reminds everyone it was to protect the US from Iraq; if the pres knew that wasn't true, he may have committed high crimes

3:44 - Conyers says Wexler, Green, Scott, and Diane Watson have joined them

3:45 - McDermott is asking about the bombing raids before the war, referenced in the memos

3:47 - McGovern says thousands of pounds of bombs were dropped before the war; we ought to find out if the admin was authorized to commit such "war-like" acts

3:48 - Conyers recognized Rush Holt for joining them

3:49 - Sheila Jackson Lee says this war has generated the highest percentage of suicides of returning veterans and the highest need for mental health services at veterans' hospitals

3:51 - Lee: the nation owes an apology to those whose family members lost their lives in service of this war; she hopes people will hold her to that, in addition to follow-up action on this hearing

3:52 - Lee asks Wilson if he feels he had convinced the admin of the veracity of his findings in Niger; Wilson says he performed one of three simultaneous but independent investigations into the alleged sale of the yellowcake; all three came up with the same result

3:56 - Wilson: We all reported with confidence that such a sale had not taken place.

3:59 - Conyers introduces a bunch more people coming in - Woosley, Ensley, someone from Ohio, Shakowski, Marks (?) - couldn't catch all of it...

4:00 - Barbara Lee thanks the people were testifying for their bravery; says she questions the entire foreign policy of this admin; asks whether Rice and Powell were instructive in forming this policy

4:02 - McGovern says Powell went along with it, even though he knew it was bullshit; Rice has a bad record generally; preemption has no place in a discussion of war

4:05 - More questions about the "doctrine of preemption"

4:06 - Bonifaz (I think) is saying that even a doctrine of preemption requires the existence of a real threat to our national security; he brings it back to the idea that if such a threat was wholly manufactured (as the DSM suggests), that is a high crime - he's awesome at staying on message; can we run this guy in 08?

4:08 - McGovern is a spitfire. He says we went to war for O.I.L. - Oil, Israel, and Logistical Military Base desired by the neo-cons to control, with Israel, that region of the world

4:11 - Conyers is thanked for holding the hearing and there is applause

4:12 - Not sure who, Wexler maybe? - is saying he's sat through two impeachments, and the evidence seems to be mounting that this president misled congress on the most important decision - whether to lead the country to war

4:14 - Bonifaz says all we want is the truth - did the president engage in a deliberate misinformation campaign? If it was an intelligence failure, so be it, but if the truth is as it says in the memo, that the facts were fixed around the policy, then we need to know - we deserve to know - we owe it to the Constitution.

4:16 - Someone else (I keep missing names) says the fact that they're in a tiny little room discussing the biggest issue before the American people shows how irresponsible this Congress is

4:22 - Missed a few minutes and will miss a few more, but McGovern is talking about the massive intelligence failure and how anyone any good has left the CIA. He's basically saying it's a tool of the White House now - sycophants get promoted. The situation is miserable. The Congressional intelligence committees have shown themselves incapable of doing their jobs.

4:26 - Conyers recognizes Nadler, and announces Baldwin, van Holland (?).

4:29 - Nadler says there are 5 crises going on in America - 1. a war going on in which people are dying; 2. the war is wrecking our military, and what will happen if there's a real emergency; 3. our intelligence community is being wrecked; 4. no checks and balances - crisis in American democracy; 5. constitutional crisis - president may have deliberately lied to congress to induce them to give him the authorization for war. The admin is either fools or liars.

4:35 - John Bonifaz (who I referred to as David earlier; it's it's been fixed - David Swanson is the other co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org) reminds everyone that neither the house nor the senate has investigated whether intelligence was misused by the administration; such a hearing was supposed to take place after the election

4:38 - Wilson notes this war will generate a new generation of terrorists; Conyers welcomes more congresspeople to the hearing

4:40 - Lee (I think) is noting that they are meeting in a basement, hoping the media will arouse the American people, who will implore Congress to do their job; this inquiry shouldn't be a partisan issue - asks McGovern about Mehlman's assertion on Meet the Press that the contents of the memo have been discredited.

4:42 - McGovern notes that Wilson noted years ago that the Plame affair begged the question about what else the administration was lying about, and the memo means now we know; that it has been discredited is a bald-faced lie - it's like reporting the earth is flat. (I love this dude.)

4:45 - Lee (I think) - the American people own the congress, and she hopes they will call them to stop stonewalling and do their job

4:46 - Diane Watson (I think) suggests congressmembers were held for 11 amendment votes to keep them from attending the hearing...

4:49 - Wilson talks about the truth/lies of Iraq's WMDs; Cindy Sheehan notes that everyone who's lost someone in the war doesn't know the truth, and the admin's refusal to tell the truth is an abomination

4:51 - Hayne (?) from NJ - reminds everyone that Blix & the inspectors were asked to leave so that we could wage war

[I'm going to have to miss a few minutes now.]

5:01 - Someone is suggesting that congress looks at how troops were deployed leading up to the war.

5:03 - Bonifaz reasserts AfterDowningStreet's intention to continue to pursue this issue and invites everyone to visit the website and join the effort.

5:04 - Conyers says Shakowski of IL and Ensley of WA will be the final two to speak

5:05 - Shakowski says Conyers' leadership could change the course of history, and that the people in the room are just doing their jobs, except Cindy Sheehan, who is there because of her grief - thanks the media for being there and notes the article in WaPo where journalists offer various explanations for not covering the story; she reads a bunch of lame-ass excuses and asks the people offering testimony if the memo is a smoking gun

5:08 - Sheehan (I think) says that the grassroots won't let this issue go (damn straight) - she asks if the media knew this all along, why weren't they reporting on it? The media abdicated their responsibility in the lead-up to the war.

5:09 - McGovern says the memo wasn't meant for public consumption and it is official documentary evidence of the policy; there has been scads of circumstantial evidence, but this is documentary evidence

5:11 - Bonifaz: Congress has a responsibility to investigate whether the president engaged in a conspiracy

5:12 - Ensley (I think): The irony and great sadness here is that after we threw off the oppression of a British King George, now some British person is helping us throw off the tyranny of another George; says to Sheehan that he hopes she knows even if they find the war unjust, it doesn't diminish her son's sacrifice; says this hearing benefits democracy and asks if whether what they're engaged in to try to get answers benefits families of soldiers.

5:15 - Sheehan says yes, the truth is always beneficial and it needs to come out; nothing could hurt them worse than they've already been hurt; the truth will make meaning of their children's deaths

5:17 - Wilson is asked if he thinks the yellowcake thing got into the state of the union as part of the conspiracy to fix the intelligence around the policy; to his credit, he did not say, "Duh."

5:18 - Aluminum tubes blah blah blah. Yellowcake goes into the centrifuges blah blah blah.

5:19 - Someone notes it was John Bolton who inserted the claim about the yellowcake into a "fact sheet" distributed by the admin

5:21 - Someone just went off on a tear on how the entire senior administration of the justice department, the state department, the CIA, etc. etc. etc. all need to be held criminally responsible, and there was laughter and clapping

5:24 - Someone is asking if there's any source backing up the president's position and whether Congress abdicated its responsibility in signing a resolution giving the president the final say on war.

5:25 - Bonifaz says he knows of nothing to support the opposite view except for the admin's claims; he says Congress unlawfully transferred its power to the president - some members of congress said they trusted the president and they were "duped, deceived, misled."

5:27 - Someone suggests the real loser of the day is the American people because there's so little coverage and says investigations should begin immediately in the house and senate

5:28 - Conyers acknowledges those present who have lost family members in the war

5:30 - Some British dude who lost his son says he hopes that Parliament does the same thing

5:31 - Conyers says everyone should meet across from the White House to deliver the signed petitions - 560,000 signatures + 102 members of congress (applause) - he says he's been humbled and honored by all of this - now begins the real work and asks that the meeting be adjourned (and makes a snide comment about Sensenbrenner, lol)

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