Archive for Emptywheel

Torture & Lies



President Obama admitted the US tortured "some folks" following the 9-11 attacks.

Obama has used the word "torture" before to describe the harsh interrogation tactics used at CIA-run secret prisons during the Bush administration. But his words at a White House news conference were notably more direct than previous statements.

The comments reflect the line the president is preparing to walk as he gets ready for the release of a Senate committee report on the Bush-era rendition, detention and interrogation program.

According to the president, torture is not OK - but lying about torture is acceptable, as long as you apologize for it. Why do I feel like he learned this strategy by parenting pre-schoolers?

Marcy Wheeler joined in for the last segment of today's show, and she hit the nail on the head with her aptly-titled post, "But Brennan Didn’t Fuck His Biographer!"

Amidst calls for Brennan’s firing, Obama basically responded, “Sure, we tortured some folks, but I still have confidence in the guy who found the waterboard and black sites at which to torture.”

But I’m not sure why folks are so surprised by Obama’s reluctance to criticize Brennan for lying about hacking the SSCI. Aside from the mutual complicity — Brennan was personal witness to each and every drone strike Obama approved that violated international law, after all — CIA Directors don’t get fired for lying.

They get fired for fucking their biographer.

In the first hour of the show, Howie Klein was on for our weekly "Steve Israel Hour." We touched on the torture and lies problem, and both admitted to having the same scary thought: that once a president is sworn in and sits at the Oval Office desk for the first time to read the letter left by his or her predecessor, they find out just how limited their power really is, and that the CIA and NSA are the ones calling the shots.

Howie wrote "If You Let Criminals Off Lightly, You Guarantee One Thing: More Crime" about the problem with Obama's thinking in excusing Brennan's role in all of this.

We also talked about some important Senate races (Tom Udall who was the first to call for Brennan's ouster after his "apology" and is facing a very tough re-election. Plus Shenna Bellows, Jeff Merkely, Brian Schatz and a few others.) Blue America has a Senate page for donations here.

We also talked about some gubernatorial races up for grabs, including a tough re-election campaign for Illinois' Pat Quinn and his "sleazy billionaire sociopath" challenger. They also have a gubernatorial page here... 

And we called out another World's Biggest Asshole today, Iowa Congressman Steve King who we remember as the one who claimed that for every valedictorian among the Dreamers, there are 100 who have calves the size of cantaloupes from smuggling marijuana across the border. Yeah, that guy. He's back...

During a conference call last month with the National Emergency Coalition, Rep. Steve King said that the U.S. needs to crack down on immigration because our nation’s borders were established by God. Disrespecting the borders, the congressman suggested, is disrespecting God’s will.

He also blamed the child migrant crisis not on drug-war-related violence in Central America but on President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or as he calls it, “deferred action for criminal aliens.”

- via

As if that wasn't enough, he went of Fox "news" Sunday to threaten impeachment if President Obama dares to issue another Executive Order dealing with the issue of immigration:

How we've managed to survive this long is beyond me!

A big show is on tap for tomorrow, with Congressman Alan Grayson joining in at the beginning of the show (so get here at 10ET sharp!), and @GottaLaff in hour two.. Radio or Not!


VIDEO: Nicole Sandler, Marcy Wheeler, others locked out of The People's House, then lied to by GOP rep's Legislative Director.


Was this group of citizens (that included my friend and radio host Nicole Sandler and Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel) not rich enough for access to the People's House? Or is GOP Rep. Dave Camp's office that worried about how they'd come off?

Oh wait. Too late:

on Oct 5, 2011:

A group of citizens attempt to speak with Congressman Dave Camp or his legislative director to ask for Jobs, not Cuts. The legislative director lied to us, saying that the Congressman and his legislative director were at the Capitol.

Please read Nicole's post here.


VIDEOS: Big Oil's Chernobyl


Forget Katrina.  This is more like Big Oil's Chernobyl.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From time to time, we here at TPC like to post different points of view, ones that we may or may not agree with. This is one of those times. Consider it food for thought, or a springboard for discussion.

Take a look at these headlines that my Twitter pal AltaKocker sent me, and then please follow the links and read the stories. I'll include some of the commentary he added.
Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon has leaked since at least April 30:

The Deepwater Horizon is not the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.

A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30, according to a federal document.

While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a 10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from space in multiple images gathered by, which monitors environmental problems using satellites.

Rate of Oil Leak, Still Not Clear, Puts Doubt on BP:

At least one expert, Ira Leifer, who is part of a government team charged with estimating the flow rate, is convinced that the operation has made the leak worse, perhaps far worse than the 20 percent increase that government officials warned might occur when the riser was cut.

Dr. Leifer said in an interview on Monday that judging from the video, cutting the pipe might have led to a several-fold increase in the flow rate from the well.


Dr. Leifer is correct, the "remedy" has increased the amount of oil being released by orders of magnitude. That's why they can recover so much oil.

They were hoping to use the PR of recovering oil as a shield [...] but instead BP and the government has created a bigger mess. And BP will say that they don't have to pay because they only did what the government told them. This major pollution increase falls squarely on the back of BP and POTUS! So when POTUS asks "whose ass to kick," the answer is, perhaps, his own.

Oil spill seafood testers sniff out tainted fish, shrimp, oysters at Pascagoula lab:

"Not fail safe", indeed:

The trained sniffers will be deployed where needed, when suspicions are raised about seafood being illegally culled from closed waters, or even to test fish from open waters. No agency has yet reported finding or stopping any tainted seafood from getting to market.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also been sampling seafood both in closed and open waters, and sending it off for chemical testing, with more than 600 fish and shrimp processed to date.

State and local inspectors are fanning out across the region to docks, seafood processors and restaurants, some now armed with specially trained noses. [...]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has a role with its own inspectors, though the agency said it only has "several seafood specialists" currently in the Gulf area.


A friend of mine, who owns a restaurant, will NOT purchase seafood that might be from the Gulf, because there is NO reliable Government seafood inspection program to assure safety.

And via another Twitter pal, Emptywheel, BP Well Bore And Casing Integrity May Be Blown, Says Florida’s Sen. Nelson:

Oil and gas are leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC. Nelson, one of the most informed and diligent Congressmen on the BP gulf oil spill issue, has received reports of leaks in the well, located in the Mississippi Canyon sector. This is potentially huge and devastating news. [...]

[C]ontrary to the happy talk propounded by BP, the Obama Administration and the press, the likely success of the “relief well” effort on the first try in August is nowhere near a certainty; and certainly nowhere near the certainty it is being painted as.

Marcy Wheeler (Emptywheel) had a lot to say. Please go read her comments. She ended with this:

[I]f Senator Nelson is correct about the breach of fundamental well integrity, the game is close to over for the Gulf of Mexico. We shall see where this goes from Nelson’s initial comment. But make no mistake, Nelson is a careful guy not prone to overt hyperbole, and he clearly understood the ramifications of what he was saying.

It also means, of course, that BP and the Obama Administrations continue to give the American public short shrift in the truth and honesty departments. How surprising.


If Sen. Nelson is correct, this BP mess could get a lot uglier for years to come.

This e-mail news alert just came in:

WASHINGTON (AP) Obama spending Monday, Tuesday inspecting Gulf oil damage in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The good news, from what I heard from Jean Michel Cousteau ( on the Thom Hartmann show today: Clean energy will get a kick start. He sees a rosier future ahead.

I'll focus on that.

As Natalie Wood said in Miracle on 34th Street, "I believe... I believe... Even though it's silly, I believe."


VIDEO: Dylan Ratigan, Eliot Spitzer, Marcy Wheeler On Elena Kagan & The Supreme Court


My Twitter pal 1Kecko linked me to this:

As a White House adviser in 1997, Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama's new Supreme Court nominee, urged then-President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions. [...]

Kagan [encouraged] Clinton to support a compromise bill that would have banned all abortions of viable fetuses except when the health of the mother was at risk.

The compromise failed. Just one more piece of information to consider.

This should come out in the confirmation hearings. Let's hope they are informative and not just a waste of air time and yet another excuse to be combative and preachy. Political grandstanding is so last hearing ago.

No, I'm not that naive. Just expressing my frustration and being a little hopeful. The moment is over now.