Highlights of This Page
London terror blasts kill 52.
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
- Early July: NATO commander Jim Jones warns his old friend, General Peter Pace, against accepting the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace has served as the deputy chairman under the retiring General Richard Myers. "You're going to face a debacle and be part of the debacle in Iraq," Jones warns. He says that US prestige in the world is at a 50- or 75-year low, and he is so worried about Iraq and the way Donald Rumsfeld is handling things that he is considering retiring himself. "How do you have the stomach for eight years in the Pentagon?" he asks Pace. Pace replies simply that someone has to do it. Jones is unmoved. "Military advice is being influenced on a political level," he says. The JCS had "surrendered" to Rumsfeld. "You should not be the parrot on the secretary's shoulder." Jones later tells the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, "The Joint Chiefs have been systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld." Pace later denies that Jones made any of those statements to him, but Jones confirms them. "That's what I told him" he says. Pace also denies receiving similar warnings from Admiral Vern Clark, who had just retired as Chief of Naval Operations. (Bob Woodward)
- July 2: Former Democratic aide Lawrence O'Donnell, an executive producer of ABC's The West Wing, reveals in an article for the Huffington Post that internal Time magazine e-mails show that Karl Rove was Time reporter Matthew Cooper's source for Cooper's knowledge that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA agent. Rove and the White House have denied for years that Rove had anything to do with the leaks. (Frank Rich [PDF file])
- July 6: Reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper appear in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Hogan to give their decision on whether or not to comply with subpoenas from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation. Miller is defiant, saying she will not testify and calling her decision "an act of civil disobedience." Hogan says flatly, "I have a person in front of me who is defying the law," and orders Miller escorted to jail. Cooper makes a different decision. That morning, he had received a waiver from Karl Rove to allow him to discuss their phone conversation of July 2003, where Rove leaked Plame's identity to Cooper. (See the June 29, 2005 item for more information.) "A short time ago, in somewhat dramatic fashion," Cooper tells Hogan, "I received an express, personal release from my source. It's with a bit of surprise and no small amount of relief that I will comply with this subpoena."
- Cooper will not publicly disclose that Rove is his source, but will only testify in closed session with Fitzgerald's grand jury. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, is under no compulsion to tell the truth to the public. He has consistently lied and dodged about his client's involvement in outing Plame, and he continues to do so even as Cooper testifies that Rove was indeed his source. It wasn't Rove who called Cooper to waive confidentiality, he tells the press. Reporters such as Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, are startled by Luskin's claim. Have Isikoff and the others reporting that Rove was Cooper's source been wrong? Luskin, unbeknownst to the reporters, is being disingenuous. It was Luskin who made the phone call, and not to Cooper, but to Cooper's lawyer, Richard Sauber. While technically accurate, Luskin is lying by omission. It was Rove's decision -- however forced -- to waive confidentiality, and Rove had Luskin call Sauber. But by twisting the truth, Luskin leaves the impression that Rove is not involved in the issue whatsoever.
- The next day, Isikoff calls one of his sources, who confirms that Rove was indeed Cooper's source, and that Rove and Luskin are being tricky. Isikoff says that the only way he can prove Rove is lying is for him to get a copy of Cooper's e-mail identifying Rove as his source. A day later, in a dark corner of an out-of-the-way restaurant, Isikoff's source slips him a copy of Cooper's e-mail. Isikoff reads it, and realizes it is even more damning than he had expected. The July 11, 2003 e-mail (see the July 2003 item for more information) says wryly that Rove is speaking on "double super secret background" and that Rove had told him that "Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency [the CIA] on wmd issues" had "authorized" her husband's trip to Niger. (Cooper had no way of knowing that Plame had not authorized Wilson's trip.) Isikoff, with his partner David Corn, writes in their book Hubris, "In one short paragraph, the e-mail blew apart Rove and Luskin's deceptions and the White House's denials of the past two years. This was hard evidence that Rove had leaked and that he and the White House had covered up his role in the scandal." Isikoff shows the e-mail to Newsweek's senior editors, and national editor Tom Watson says, "Wow. I don't know that I've ever seen a smoking gun before." Isikoff manages to get other sources to confirm the e-mail's authenticity. When he calls Luskin for comment, and reads him the e-mail, Luskin asks Isikoff to slow down so he can copy the wording. Luskin has apparently never seen the e-mail, and is unsure just how much the e-mail damns his client, Rove. But Luskin is nothing if not unruffled. This is consistent with what Karl has been saying all along, he tells Isikoff smoothly. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
London terror blasts kill 52
- July 7: A series of four explosions rock the London subway and destroy a packed double-decker bus during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding over 350. The bombings are carried out by four Arab suicide bombers. Prime Minister Tony Blair calls the attacks "barbaric." He says the "terrorist attacks" are clearly designed to coincide with the G-8 summit opening in Gleneagles, Scotland. They also come a day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe" has claimed responsibility. "It was chaos," says a survivor on a subway train near King's Cross station. "The one haunting image was someone whose face was totally black and pouring with blood." Blair, flanked by Bush and other G-8 leaders, says, "We shall prevail and they shall not. ...Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world." For himself, Bush says, "The war on terror goes on." The explosions sidetrack the G-8 discussions on global warming and the world's economy. Britain goes on high alert; Italy raises alert levels at its airports. Other European countries announce heightened security at shopping centers, airports, railways and subways. The organization that claims responsibility for the blasts threatens similar attacks in Italy and Denmark, and says the blasts are in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. "This is clearly an al-Qaeda style attack. It was well-coordinated, it was timed for a political event and it was a multiple attack on a transportation system at rush hour," says Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King's College in London. London Mayor Ken Livingstone says the explosions are "mass murder" carried out by terrorists bent on "indiscriminate...slaughter." "This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful...it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners," he says.
- Explosions were reported at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King's Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district and Russell Square, near the British Museum. Some fear that the blasts might have been an assassination attempt on former Israeli prime minister and current finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in London for the summit meeting, but the terrorists' statement makes no mention of Netanyahu's presence, and the minister was not near the explosions when they occurred.
- Israel had warned London of the impending attacks two days before, intelligence sources claim, but the Blair administration failed to take the proper precautions. Israeli spokesmen deny the claim. According to the source, Scotland Yard relayed the warning to the Israeli ministry just minutes before the explosions, and the embassy warned Netanyahu to stay in his hotel and not to go outside.
- Two days later, Rihad Massoud, the aide to Saudi ambassador and Bush family friend Prince Bandar, gets a call from Riyadh telling him to go through the files and examine an intelligence memo dated December 14, 2004, that had been shared with both the CIA and MI-6. The memo details the arrest of a Saudi national at a Saudi airport, who had entered the country either from Iran or the UAE on a fake passport. The man, whose name is only given as Adel, was arrested and interrogated, and revealed that in six months there would be a large, multifaceted operation in London, using explosives from Bosnia, and said it would specifically target an area near "Edgewood Road." One of the bombs had gone off in the train station at Edgeware Road. Adel did not know the names of the four suicide bombers, but he gave their physical descriptions, and said the coordinator is a Libyan businessman in London. In February 2005, the Saudis had made a follow-up report to both Washington and London, giving more specific physical descriptions of the bombers, and warning that the four Arabs were assisted by Western-looking Caucasians. After the attacks, British intelligence receives permission to interrogate Adel themselves. Massoud checks with the CIA, who confirmed that they received the warnings but had found nothing to back up the allegations. Bush is given a full briefing on the memo, and both the CIA and MI-6 soon conclude that Adel is merely a fabricator.
- Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade and his guest, Fox business contributor Stuart Varney, make some crass and heartless analytical comments about the explosions being good for redirecting the summit's attention away from such issues as global warming and AIDS back onto global terrorism during the network's coverage of the tragedy, with Kilmeade claiming that the explosions "work...to our advantage." Kilmeade says, "And [Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9/11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened." Varney agrees: "It puts the Number 1 issue right back on the front burner right at the point where all these world leaders are meeting. It takes global warming off the front burner. It takes African aid off the front burner. It sticks terrorism and the fight on the war on terror, right up front all over again." But for sheer gall, Fox News anchor Brit Hume takes the prize, he says, "I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
- In an interesting side note, an NSC aide planned to set off a "fart bomb" in the July 7 NSC meeting, knowing how much Bush and his political guru Karl Rove enjoy flatulence jokes. The staffer decides that the joke will be inappropriate for the meeting, coming within hours of the subway bombings. Instead, the staffer booby-traps Rove's chair in the July 20 meeting. Reporter Bob Woodward writes dryly, "There were multiple activations and it took Rove several minutes to locate the toy." Hilarity ensues. (AP/M-Forum, BBC, USA Today, Fox News/MediaMatters, Fox News/Media Matters, Stratfor/Information Clearinghouse, Bob Woodward)
- July 7: Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward tells interviewer Terry Gross on NPR that when "all of the facts come out" in the Valerie Plame Wilson outing investigation, "it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great." Woodward is being more than ingenuous -- he fails to mention that he was one of the first reporters to be contacted by the Bush administration in its attempt to leak Plame's name to the press and besmirch her husband, Joseph Wilson. Woodward has not even told the Justice Department investigator, Patrick Fitzgerald, about the contacts he received about Plame. Woodward is walking a thin line by publicly denigrating the investigation while at the same time hiding his own connections to Plame's outing. He also fails to mention the Plame case in his book, Plan of Attack, though the case had broken publicly six months before publication. For Woodward, the Wilsons are unimportant -- nobodies in the Washington insider circles he values so highly. (Frank Rich, pp.180-1)
- July 11: A day after Michael Isikoff publishes a Newsweek article identifying Karl Rove as one of the leakers in the Valerie Plame Wilson case -- with a confirming e-mail from Time reporter Matthew Cooper (see the July 6 item above), White House press secretary Scott McClellan faces a firestorm of angry questions from the White House press corps. Isikoff writes, "It was as if the reporters were venting pent-up frustrations that had been gathering for years." The AP's Terry Holt demands, "Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak?" McClellan hides behind the assertion that "while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it." NBC's David Gregory is furious, snapping, "This is ridiculous! Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?" McClellan continues to refuse to comment, sweating and stammering more every minute. When did Bush learn that Rove had leaked the information? No comment. Would Bush take action now that it is clear Rove is one of the leakers? No comment. Does Bush still have confidence in Rove? No comment.
- Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, continues his desperate spin, telling reporters that Rove had not identified Plame by name, but merely as "Wilson's wife." That string, played by Rove for well over a year, is finally playing out, as exasperated reporters refuse to be mollified by Luskin's dancing.
- On July 15, the New York Times identifies Rove as one of the two sources for Robert Novak's July 12, 2003 column originally outing Plame to the press. The other shoe has dropped: Rove is identified as a source for the two reporters, Novak and Cooper, who wrote about Plame's identity. Congressional Democrats, like the reporters, have had enough of the evasions and lies from the White House. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid releases a 16-page memo to reporters demanding the truth, asking, "When did President Bush learn any details of this incident?" Representative Henry Waxman releases his own memo saying that Rove has apparently broken the law prohibiting government officials from divulging classified information -- in this case, the identity of Plame as a covert CIA agent. Waxman notes that even if Rove isn't charged with a crime, he could, and should, lose his security clearance or face dismissal from the White House. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- July 14: Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman apologizes for his party's use of racist and race-baiting tactics, often called "the Southern strategy" after the methodologies adopted in 1968 by the GOP under Richard Nixon, in which Republicans used race on wedge issues such as desegregation and busing to appeal to white southern voters. Mehlman makes his comments to the NAACP national convention. He says, "By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out. Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong." He says it is "not healthy for the country for our political parties to be so racially polarized." The GOP has listed Republican efforts to reach out to blacks and other minorities, most of which occurred years before the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s redefined both parties, and on its Web site, GOP.com, features a history section called "Lincoln's Legacy." Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean dismisses the GOP's efforts as mere marketing, telling the NAACP the day before, "It's no coincidence that 43 out of 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus are Democrats. The Democratic Party is the real party of opportunity for African Americans." Unfortunately for Mehlman's happy words, instances of racism among Republican lawmakers and candidates continue to abound, particularly inflaming a number of races in the 2006 midterm elections. (Washington Post)
- July 17: Time reporter Matthew Cooper publishes an article describing his appearance before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury. (See above items for more information about Cooper and his source in revealing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.) Cooper confirms that Karl Rove was his source for Plame's identity, and adds that his second source was Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby. Cooper's article identifies two senior White House officials as the source of the Plame leak. (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, another source along with former press secretary Ari Fleischer, White House communications director Dan Bartlett, and others, will not be revealed as additional sources until 2006. See related items throughout this site.) With Cooper's revelations, reporters ask Bush if he will stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak. If Bush keeps his word, both Rove and Libby should be clearing out their desks. Instead, Bush changes his avowal: "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." Now it is no longer leaking classified information that will earn a firing, but being convicted of a crime. Bush has raised the bar for dismissal from the White House. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- July 22: Bush tells the press that he has helped "persuade" China to revalue its currency, the yuan, and expresses his confidence that the revaluation will be a great boon to US manufacturing. In economic reality, nothing of the sort will happen. The revaluation means, in simple terms, that it will take less yuan to buy a dollar; the slight difference in exchange rates will mean, according to Bush, that US products will be cheaper for the Chinese to buy and therefore the Chinese will buy more goods from us, thus reducing the soaring trade deficit. But over the ensuring years, it becomes apparent that nothing of the sort happens. Greg Palast, an investigative journalist expert in corporate fraud and conversant with international economics, writes, "You can't change the value of goods by changing the value of the currency on the price tag." Or, "If cheap currency makes your products more competitive, all automobiles would be made in Russia," as economist Arthur Laffer reminds us. The revaluation, which is in essence a devaluation of the dollar versus the yuan, means that for many Americans, their pensions are worth less, their savings have dropped in value, manufacturing jobs will disappear, and the US will have to raise interest rates to persuade the Chinese to buy back our debt. Instead of buying US goods, China continues to buy US manufacturers. The same week China raised the value of the yuan, it made a cash bid for Unocal Oil of California; raising the value of the yuan cut the price of Unocal for the Chinese by around $500 million. In response, Treasury Secretary John Snow flew to Beijing -- not to demand more equitable treatment for US businesses, but to demand that the Chinese raise the value of the yuan even more. Palast writes, "Under Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the USA had a 'strong dollar' policy. In those Clinton years, the highly valued US currency lorded it over cheap euros and yuans. America owned the world, literally. How things have changed. Now, it's America for sale. Cheap. In 2004, for example, foreigners, flush with the cash the US sent to them, bought up $1.05 trillion of US assets -- stocks, real estate, companies, whatever. That's on top of the sum lent to Mr. Bush for his deficit. What's clear is that the new regime that came to Washington brought a new agenda."
- Palast compares the US economy, which under Bush is following in the steps of the free-market nightmare of Pinochet's Chile or what he calls "the Darwinian horror show of China," to economies often derided by the Manichean capitalists in the Bush administration: Denmark and Norway. Those two countries rank very high on the GINI scale, the official international standard of economic inequality. The lower the number, the more equality between rich and poor in that country. All the Scandinavian countries come in around 25. India is at 33, with an ever-widening gap between a small upper-class surfeited with luxury and a huge, growing underclass working and living at near-feudal levels. China tops out among developed nations at 45. The US? 41 and rising. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), who develops these numbers, explains that Scandinavian countries keep a relative balance among its citizens by strictly regulating workweek hours and plenty of regulation and oversight. Scandinavian employers must make their profits by investing more per worker to hike productivity, the exact opposite of the US/China/India model of raising short-term productivity by cutting wages and forcing longer working hours. The Danes and Swedes have the highest pay, best health care, longest vacations, and safest pensions of anyone on the planet; other Western European countries are following suit.
- In one sense, the euro, the new European Union currency adopted in 1999 to replace various European currencies and developed by American economist Robert Mundell, who also developed what we now call "Reaganomics," the cutthroat, unregulated system of ravening free-market supplu-side capitalism that plunged the US into tremendous deficit spending and nearly wrecked Great Britain's economy under Margaret Thatcher. "Europe is over-regulated," Mundell complained in 2000, after griping about the travails of owning a vacation castle in Tuscany. In his trademark purple prose, Palast writes, "The euro is designed to be the battering ram to break down the entire edifice of worker protection rules and taxes on businesses that support the welfare state. The euro and free-market economics are as inseparable as flies and feces." Also, the adoption of the euro meant that every nation using that currency must adhere to strict borrowing limits and will no longer print their own currency. No Euro nation can now call on the usual governmental tools for pulling itself out of a looming recession -- increased government spending to create jobs, lowering interest rates to boost investment, printing more money to create demand through more liquidity. All very undemocratic. Palast writes, "Mundell foresees a Europe unburdened of unemployment compensation, minimum wages, chemical safety regulations and government medical insurance. Out they will go, as well as rules barring the landlord class from Euronating wherever the hell they like."
- Like other Scandinavian countries, Denmark was reluctant to buy into the entire euro scheme, and so far has resisted, keeping its currency as its native kroner. How long it will be able to hold out is unclear. (Greg Palast)
- July 29: The Senate votes to grant immunity from lawsuits to gun manufacturers. The law is supposedly part of the Bush administration's objective of "tort reform," the scaling back of what it calls "frivolous" lawsuits, but in reality is nothing more than a sop to one of the right's strongest and most generous financial backers, the gun industry and the NRA. The case that prompted the legislation is a court's finding that several makers of .25 caliber handguns were guilty of negligent distribution -- allowing their guns to be sold to convicted felons and other people legally prohibited from owning handguns -- and, among other cases, the use of one of their guns in a mugging that permanently disabled an innocent civilian, Stephen Fox; the court ordered the manufacturers to financially compensate Fox and other victims. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and others are also alarmed at a class action suit filed by the City of New Orleans and the NAACP against gun manufacturers demanding that the gun makers alter their marketing plans to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals. "'Class action' is aptly named," writes journalist Greg Palast. "Corporations don't file class action suits. Billionaires, dictators, and captains of industry don't file class action suits. Class actions are filed against them by the victim class, the working class. The point of a class action is to take the claims of thousands, sometimes millions, of victims of asbestos poisoning, baby carriage mangling, Nazi slave camp torture or electricity bill overcharges and join their claims together. That way, the victims who can't possibly afford to take on Hitler's bankers or Enron alone can, on paper, create a human pyramid that can meet the big boys eye to eye in court." It is little wonder that the Bush administration is dead set on making class action suits more difficult, and eventually impossible, to carry out. (Greg Palast)
- July 30: US and Afghan military officials suspect Pakistani complicity in the resurgence of Taliban attacks in that chaotic, beleagured country. US officials believe Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, which has long supported the Taliban, has made more sophisticated technology available to the Afghan insurgents, including the ability to construct and detonate bombs at long distance using cordless phones to transmit the detonation signals. Though Pakistani officials, and Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf, denies any connections between Pakistan and the Taliban, "Pakistan is lying," says Lieutenant Sayed Anwar, acting head of Afghanistan's counter-terrorism department. "We have very correct reports from their areas. We have our intelligence agents inside Pakistan's border as well. If Pakistan tells the truth, the problems will stop in Afghanistan. They say they are friends of Americans, and yet they order these people to kill Americans." Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani journalist who freelances for the Los Angeles Times, recently reported that at least some Islamist training camps that were closed on Musharraf's orders have been reopened. While Musharraf denies the existence of such camps within Pakistani borders, Ali reported on insurgency training being carried out on a daily basis, with recruits as young as 13 being given instruction in weapons and tactics. "Our transport fleet is back, electricity has been restored and the communications system is in place," exulted one militant. Lieutenant Naqibullah Nooristani, operations commander for Afghan troops fighting alongside US forces in Kunar province, says the Taliban and its allies are proving so resilient because they are receiving improved training and equipment just across the border in Pakistan. (Los Angeles Times/Pakistan Fact)