Currently viewing the tag: "GOPers"

**Written by Doug Powers

Will the hard left sentence her to three months at HW & Bubba’s Institute for Civil Discourse for extensive “new civility” re-education, or have a parade in her honor? That was just a rhetorical question, by the way.

From the Journal-Sentinel:

Madison — A 26-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts accusing her of making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers during the height of the battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains was named in a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Windels sent an email threat to state Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) on March 9, the day the Senate passed a measure to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public workers. Later that evening, she sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the complaint says.

The subject of the second email was: “Atten.: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” In that email, she purportedly wrote, “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.”

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email that listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

According to the complaint, Windels told investigators, “I sent out emails that I was disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.” Asked if she intended to follow through, Windels said, “No,” according to the complaint.

CNN:

According to the complaint, investigators read Windels excerpts from the e-mails, and she replied, “I know I said that, but I don’t know why I said that.”

Windels allegedly told police that she did not intend to follow through on any of her statements.

Underground Conservative:

She is a 2010 graduate of Madison Area Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Which leads Ed Morrissey to this:

More importantly, the parents of children at the school might want to know that someone unstable (and stupid) enough to send terrorist death threats to politicians from her home computer is being entrusted with the students.

Here’s a big surprise — it looks like the Democrat D.A. had been dragging his heels in pursuing the matter. I’m only guessing that if this had been a Tea Party member she’d have been in custody by last weekend, but not in this case:

Windels is not in custody. The D.A.’s office says she won’t be arrested.

Big Government posted a letter from the Wisconsin Department of Justice concerning the amount of time the situation had been gathering dust on the D.A.’s desk. Here’s part of it (“DCI” is the Department of Criminal Investigation):

Investigators concluded it did not present an imminent threat but presented sufficient probable cause that criminal behavior had occurred and on Friday, March 18, 2011 this matter was referred to the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne who has sole jurisdiction and charging authority for a charging decision.

On Monday, March 23, 2011 the Department of Justice learned through press reports that the Dane County District Attorney had returned the referral to the Department citing clerical and administrative issues related to the reports transfer. Importantly the investigative reports themselves were not returned. It is important to note that this Department routinely refers investigative reports to District Attorneys, including the Dane County District Attorney, for their review and charging decisions.

This is where this matter currently sits.

We are concerned about the lack of action regarding this referral.

Concerned, maybe, but there’s no way they’re surprised.

As BG points out, yes, this is the same District Attorney who’s busy battling Republicans to stall implementation of Wisconsin’s new government union collective bargaining law, so he’s obviously a little too preoccupied to pursue somebody who sent over a dozen little death threats.

(h/t Doug Ross - Underground Conservative - Gateway Pundit)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Michelle Malkin

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**Written by Doug Powers

Will the hard left sentence her to three months at HW & Bubba’s Institute for Civil Discourse for extensive “new civility” re-education, or have a parade in her honor? That was just a rhetorical question, by the way.

From the Journal-Sentinel:

Madison — A 26-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts accusing her of making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers during the height of the battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains was named in a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Windels sent an email threat to state Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) on March 9, the day the Senate passed a measure to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public workers. Later that evening, she sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the complaint says.

The subject of the second email was: “Atten.: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” In that email, she purportedly wrote, “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.”

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email that listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

According to the complaint, Windels told investigators, “I sent out emails that I was disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.” Asked if she intended to follow through, Windels said, “No,” according to the complaint.

CNN:

According to the complaint, investigators read Windels excerpts from the e-mails, and she replied, “I know I said that, but I don’t know why I said that.”

Windels allegedly told police that she did not intend to follow through on any of her statements.

Underground Conservative:

She is a 2010 graduate of Madison Area Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Which leads Ed Morrissey to this:

More importantly, the parents of children at the school might want to know that someone unstable (and stupid) enough to send terrorist death threats to politicians from her home computer is being entrusted with the students.

Here’s a big surprise — it looks like the Democrat D.A. had been dragging his heels in pursuing the matter. I’m only guessing that if this had been a Tea Party member she’d have been in custody by last weekend, but not in this case:

Windels is not in custody. The D.A.’s office says she won’t be arrested.

Big Government posted a letter from the Wisconsin Department of Justice concerning the amount of time the situation had been gathering dust on the D.A.’s desk. Here’s part of it (“DCI” is the Department of Criminal Investigation):

Investigators concluded it did not present an imminent threat but presented sufficient probable cause that criminal behavior had occurred and on Friday, March 18, 2011 this matter was referred to the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne who has sole jurisdiction and charging authority for a charging decision.

On Monday, March 23, 2011 the Department of Justice learned through press reports that the Dane County District Attorney had returned the referral to the Department citing clerical and administrative issues related to the reports transfer. Importantly the investigative reports themselves were not returned. It is important to note that this Department routinely refers investigative reports to District Attorneys, including the Dane County District Attorney, for their review and charging decisions.

This is where this matter currently sits.

We are concerned about the lack of action regarding this referral.

Concerned, maybe, but there’s no way they’re surprised.

As BG points out, yes, this is the same District Attorney who’s busy battling Republicans to stall implementation of Wisconsin’s new government union collective bargaining law, so he’s obviously a little too preoccupied to pursue somebody who sent over a dozen little death threats.

(h/t Doug Ross - Underground Conservative - Gateway Pundit)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Michelle Malkin

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Last week, a Wisconsin judge issued an order “restrain[ing] and enjoin[ing] the further implementation” of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) anti-worker law until she has time to fully consider a lawsuit claiming that the law was not validly enacted. Yet, despite this clear and unambiguous order, Walker and his allies have decided that they are not bound by the law:

In a stunning twist, Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation limiting collective bargaining for public workers was published Friday despite a judge’s hold on the measure, prompting a dispute over whether it takes effect Saturday. [...]

“It’s published,” [Senate Majority Leader Scott] Fitzgerald said. “It’s law. That’s what I contend.” [...]

Walker’s top cabinet official, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, gave only a brief statement reacting to Friday’s news.

“Today the administration was notified that the LRB published the budget-repair bill as required by law,” he said. “The administration will carry out the law as required.”

Under Wisconsin law, someone who intentionally defies a court order is in contempt of court, and can be fined up to $ 2,000 for each day that they disobey the court or imprisoned for up to six months.

ThinkProgress

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I know the answer to my question, but I just had to ask. /> ……………………………

Not even the Special Olympics is immune from these clowns.

href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/budget-cuts-special-olympics">GOP Cuts: A “Guillotine Job” on the Special Olympics

by Melissa Lyttle/Zuma

Add disabled kids to the growing list of vulnerable Americans who could suffer the fallout from the budget battle.

— By Suzy Khimm /> Thu Mar. 10, 2011 12:01 AM PST

Food safety, family planning, cancer research, and low-income housing—now add the Special Olympics to the long list of organizations and federal programs targeted for major funding cuts by congressional Republicans.

The House GOP’s budget, which passed last month, takes a hatchet to programs for disabled kids and Special Olympics athletes. The proposed cuts could force the closure of at least one Special Olympics program, which is funded through the Department of Education. Dubbed Project UNIFY, the program serves more than 750,000 students in 43 states and draws from techniques used in Special Olympics training for activities in public schools.

The program includes sports teams that pair disabled athletes with nondisabled athletes; developmental activities for young children with disabilities; and anti-discrimination programs to combat bullying in schools. Special Olympics president and CEO Tim Shriver has said the program is at the forefront of a national movement to fight bias against the disabled and, in a recent interview on MSNBC, he denounced the GOP cuts: “It wasn’t a haircut—it was a guillotine job for the programs for health and education for children with special needs.”

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The cuts would slash $ 8.1 million from the UNITY program. While the amount may seem nominal, it would deal a fatal blow to the nascent program, which began in 2008 under the Bush administration. “It would go away—there would be no alternative,” says Dr. Stephen Corbin, senior vice president for community impact at Special Olympics International, the nonprofit organization that runs the athletic event for the disabled.

Veterans….the disabled…

they don’t care….but threaten tax cuts for the rich, and the world is ending.

But, where is Governor Half-Term?

Oh yeah. Nowhere to be found.

She is absolutely, positively an utter fraud. She could care less about other special needs children, since she can’t pimp them for her own career/grifting purposes.

Jack & Jill Politics

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I know the answer to my question, but I just had to ask. /> ……………………………

Not even the Special Olympics is immune from these clowns.

href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/budget-cuts-special-olympics">GOP Cuts: A “Guillotine Job” on the Special Olympics

by Melissa Lyttle/Zuma

Add disabled kids to the growing list of vulnerable Americans who could suffer the fallout from the budget battle.

— By Suzy Khimm /> Thu Mar. 10, 2011 12:01 AM PST

Food safety, family planning, cancer research, and low-income housing—now add the Special Olympics to the long list of organizations and federal programs targeted for major funding cuts by congressional Republicans.

The House GOP’s budget, which passed last month, takes a hatchet to programs for disabled kids and Special Olympics athletes. The proposed cuts could force the closure of at least one Special Olympics program, which is funded through the Department of Education. Dubbed Project UNIFY, the program serves more than 750,000 students in 43 states and draws from techniques used in Special Olympics training for activities in public schools.

The program includes sports teams that pair disabled athletes with nondisabled athletes; developmental activities for young children with disabilities; and anti-discrimination programs to combat bullying in schools. Special Olympics president and CEO Tim Shriver has said the program is at the forefront of a national movement to fight bias against the disabled and, in a recent interview on MSNBC, he denounced the GOP cuts: “It wasn’t a haircut—it was a guillotine job for the programs for health and education for children with special needs.”

id="more-31178">

The cuts would slash $ 8.1 million from the UNITY program. While the amount may seem nominal, it would deal a fatal blow to the nascent program, which began in 2008 under the Bush administration. “It would go away—there would be no alternative,” says Dr. Stephen Corbin, senior vice president for community impact at Special Olympics International, the nonprofit organization that runs the athletic event for the disabled.

Veterans….the disabled…

they don’t care….but threaten tax cuts for the rich, and the world is ending.

But, where is Governor Half-Term?

Oh yeah. Nowhere to be found.

She is absolutely, positively an utter fraud. She could care less about other special needs children, since she can’t pimp them for her own career/grifting purposes.


Jack & Jill Politics

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Politico notes the last time Newt Gingrich “ran in a competitive election, the Internet was a few years away from going global. The only mobile device anyone chatted on was the car phone. And Matt Drudge was not yet a driving force in political news coverage.”

“Twenty-one years later, Gingrich — and a half-dozen other Republicans whose last tough campaigns were only somewhat more recent — is preparing for a presidential run in the social media era, where current videos are instantly available, and a two-hour discourse will most likely be boiled down to its most embarrassing 12 seconds before spreading like a virus across Twitter and YouTube.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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Jon Stewart wants to know when Republicans are going to start running for White House 2012, “So we have a socialist, Muslim president, subverting the Constitution and the will of the people of America. Who’s got first dibs on that can of corn?”

Officials are saying that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi is disconnected from reality. Conan O’Brien: “In fact, according to the State Department, Qaddafi thought this year’s Oscars were fantastic.”

Today’s Must See Moment — Fast forward to 1:56 for Stewart’s impression of Donald Trump.

Take our Late Night Poll after the jump.

Hotline On Call

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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin‘s (R) favorability among likely Republican voters in Iowa has dropped since late 2009, according to a new poll conducted for the Des Moines Register.

Palin is still viewed favorably by a majority of likely Republican voters, but only 65 percent of likely Republican voters view Palin favorably, down from 71 percent in a November 2009 poll. Within that group, the percentage who view Palin very favorably has dropped from 27 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in the current survey.

Meanwhile, the percentage of likely Republican voters who view Palin unfavorably has jumped from 23 percent in November 2009 to 30 percent in the latest survey. Within that group, the percentage of likely Republican voters who view Palin very unfavorably has doubled from 5 percent in November 2009 to 10 percent now.

Overall, the numbers show that the percentage of likely Republicans who view Palin as mostly favorable or unfavorable has remained relatively constant, while the percentage who view her as very favorable/unfavorable have undergone more notable shifts.

Palin has not been as active in the state when compared with other prospective 2012 presidential candidates, holding fewer meetings with local activists regarding a potential campaign.

It’s worth noting that the sample size of the survey is low and its margin of error is on the high side. The poll of 189 Republican likely voters was conducted Feb. 13-16 by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and has a margin of error of +/- 7.1 percentage points.

Hotline On Call

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As the nation inches closer and closer to a government shutdown, the right is readying itself for the upcoming public-relations battle. Their approach appears to be two-fold. First, obfuscate the potential ramifications of a shutdown, especially for senior citizens and the poor. We saw this tactic at work when Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) falsely claimed that Social Security checks would be uninterrupted during a shutdown, and when Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told Fox News that a government shutdown wouldn’t “hurt one bit.

The second leg of the GOP approach is to deny that anyone on the right is discussing a government shutdown. This orchestrated Republican strategy was on full display last week; both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) rejected the idea that any GOPers were talking about shutting down the government.

The newest Republican to repeat this debunked denial is Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). This morning, Brown told Fox & Friends that “There’s no Republican that’s going to shut the government down or wants to shut the government down.” He went on to declare that “the only people talking about that right now are the Democrats”:

BROWN: There’s no one in my caucus that has ever said, “oh gosh, let’s make a political win and shut the government down.” There’s no Republican that’s going to shut the government down or wants to shut the government down. The only people talking about that right now are the Democrats and it’s — the scare tactics need to go away. We need to sit down in a room and hammer these things out, period.

Watch it:

Despite Brown’s assertion, as ThinkProgress noted last week, there are at least nine Republicans who have publicly discussed shutting down the government if their various demands aren’t met:

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR): “Womack said he would be open to forcing a government shutdown over spending.” [The Hill, 12/12/10]

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA): “If government shuts down, we want you with us. … It’s going to take some pain for us to do the things that we need to do to right the ship.” [9/10/10]

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): Q: do you think shutdown should be off the table? PRICE: Everything ought to be on the table. [2/11/11]

Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “[King] said last week that he wants Boehner and other House leaders to sign a ‘blood oath’ that they l include a repeal of health care reform in every appropriations bill next year, even if President Barack Obama vetoes the bills and a government shutdown occurs.” [Roll Call, 9/10/10]

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI): If Obama…responds to the mandate from voters and understands he can’t disregard it, then he thinks Obama will do well “If he doesn’t, he will shut government down,” Walberg said. [Jackson Citizen Patriot, 11/03/10]

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MI): Q: Are you willing to participate in what would lead to a shutdown of the federal government to stop this monstrosity from going down he tracks? NUNNELEE: I agree with Congressman Boehner. We need to do whatever is necessary to make sure this bill never goes into effect. [11/09/10]

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “If it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren.” [11/15/10]

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): “This is the way the government should adjust. If they can’t pay their bills, wait.” [12/16/10]

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL): “We will do what we have to do, to shut down the government if we have to, to choke Obamacare if we have to.” [2/12/11]

Just yesterday, Walsh doubled down on his threat, saying, “If my Republican leadership asks me to vote for a budget, even a two-week budget, that doesn’t have spending cuts, I will say no and I will shut down government.” Republicans like Brown, Boehner and Cantor are attempting to paint Democrats as the group at fault if a shutdown were to occur. However, their argument is undercut by the growing number of GOPers joining the Shutdown Caucus.

ThinkProgress

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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) can’t top 50 percent against several potential Republican opponents, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday morning; the latest sign he may be vulnerable to a Republican challenger in 2012.

According to the results of the poll, which was commissioned by Ron Sachs Communications, in hypothetical head to head matchups, Nelson leads Rep. Connie Mack 45 percent to 40 percent, former Sen. George LeMieux 49 percent to 35 percent, state Senate Pres. Mike Haridopolos 48 percent to 25 percent, and former state Rep. Adam Hasner 46 percent to 24 percent.

Mack, LeMieux and Hasner are considering Senate runs while Haridopolos announced his bid in January. Outside of Mack, whose father served in the Senate, none of the Republicans have much name identification with the public.

The poll of 625 registered Florida voters was conducted Feb. 9-10, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. 274 Democrats, 248 Republicans and 103 independent/other voters were surveyed.

The one Republican in the poll who leads Nelson? Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who tops Nelson 49 percent to 41 percent. But Bush has said he will not run against Nelson in 2012.

Hotline On Call

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This seems like the best reason yet to ban GOProud from CPAC:

GOProud is trying to launch a write-in effort for Donald Trump in the CPAC straw poll. A man with a GOProud badge is handing out quicky fliers with Trump’s picture and telling people he’s speaking. Flyer says "Write in Donald Trump in the CPAC straw poll."

Last year, the group ran the Cheney ’12 write-in effort, a hint that this may be just a little bit more about publicity than conviction.





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Ben Smith’s Blog

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President Obama hosted Republican leaders for lunch at the White House, but Jay Leno doesn’t think it went well, “The President had to do without salt bread pepper and butter. Not for health reasons, because the Republicans refused to pass anything.”

Michelle Obama praised former presidential children on the Today show, except for one.

Today’s Must See Moment — Fast forward to 1:40. Obama may have given up smoking, but has picked up a new habit.

Take our Late Night Poll after the jump.

Hotline On Call

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With Republicans in the House looking to cut down on spending in the next fiscal year, supporters of legalizing marijuana have a suggestion for where they should start — the Drug Enforcement Agency’s budget.

Sure, they know it’s a long shot. But the Marijuana Policy Project’s Steve Fox told TPM it makes a lot of sense.

“In the grand scheme of things, the entire federal budget dedicated to keeping marijuana illegal and carrying out all the enforcement measures to do so is really something that is long past its prime,” Fox said.

“I’m not naive enough to think there would be such a major step, but you can just pick it apart and look at the marijuana seizures — the amount of time and energy put into those seizures — is really doing essentially nothing except maybe having a marginal effect on the price of marijuana,” Fox said. “So all they’re really doing is giving those involved in illegal marijuana dealing a little bit of price support.”

Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department oversees the DEA, issued a memo last month telling the agency (as well as the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals Service) to freeze hiring and curb non-personnel spending.

That came around the same side as conservative Republicans in the House said they planned deep budget cuts — which, according to Democrats, would require the DOJ to fire 4,000 FBI agents and 1,500 DEA agents if applied across the board.

The Office of Management and Budget could also take the budget ax to the National Drug Intelligence Center reports the Wall Street Journal‘s Devlin Barrett. That center was championed by the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), but conservatives have long said is a waste of taxpayer money which hasn’t provided the high-quality analysis of drug networks that it promised.

As reported last year, DEA’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 noted that marijuana seizures had nearly doubled in fiscal year 2009. The budget request spoke dismissively about the benefits of medical marijuana.

“DEA does not investigate or target individual ‘patients’ who use cannabis, but instead the drug trafficking organizations involved in marijuana trafficking,” the budget stated.

The MPP’s Fox said it was a waste for the DEA to be expending resources raiding facilities in states where medical marijuana is legal. But he was someone encouraged by the fact that President Barack Obama told YouTube users that the legalization of some drugs was a “entirely legitimate topic for debate” — even those Obama said he wasn’t in favor of legalization.









TPMMuckraker

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Last Thursday in Washington D.C., a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director. Almost to a man — and they were all men — they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The panel, organized by a consulting firm called Executive Action, LLC, was called “Iran’s Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses: After Engagement and Sanctions, What?” and the group in question is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as the MEK.

Getting the MEK off the United States’ list of terrorist organizations has become a top priority for “members of Congress, former Bush administration officials, and Iran experts touting an overtly anti-regime policy,” according to The Christian Science Monitor. Last month, TPM reported how former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey flew to Paris to speak at an MEK event.

“Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives,” Giuliani told the crowd there. “For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace.”

At last week’s panel, a pair of prominent Democrats — former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) — and several national security experts added their voices to the pro-MEK chorus. The panelists argued that delisting the MEK would show the Iranian government that the U.S. is serious, and that delisting would, like sanctions, fall in a productive middle ground between unfruitful diplomatic talks and outright military force.

“Does it make sense that we continue to ostracize, label opponents of the regime as terrorists, when the facts say otherwise,” Torricelli, who moderated the event, said in his opening statement. “Is it even possible to oppose a terrorist state, and be a terrorist yourself?”

Former Attorney General Mukasey argued that delisting the organization “would show that we recognize MEK as a group that is dedicated to restoring freedom in Iran,” and said the MEK was “interested only in bringing to their country the same benefits of freedom that we have.”

“This is a nascent, an important movement,” former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni said, adding that the U.S. needs to “quit resisting reaching out and grabbing the hand of the opposition.”

Richardson, who once served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, advocated for the use of sanctions, but said, “that has to be combined with new approaches to talk to the Iranian people — one is through the MEK group. At least give them some credibility, and talk to them, and find ways that we work together.”

Richardson also called for “protecting the rights of those at the camp,” referring to Camp Ashraf, the MEK’s base in Iraq, which has been the subject of debate since the U.S. invaded in 2003, and was recently attacked. He then added: “That was something that I was not aware of until this morning.”

James Woolsey, former CIA Director, stressed the importance of acting now against the regime in Iran.

“It is not 1933, it’s 1938,” he said.

Gen. James Jones, who was Obama’s National Security Adviser until last fall, spoke at length about Iran policy, but, unlike the other speakers, his remarks made no mention of the MEK.

In his closing statements, Torricelli said “the listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization by the United States government is wrong.” He went on:

It is wrong as a matter of law, it is contrary to the facts, it is interfering with the rights of American citizens to be heard, and it is contrary to American foreign policy. And having expatriate groups of Iranians from around the world organize, as is their right and their responsibility, to bring to the country of their ancestors’ birth a responsible government. I call upon Secretary Clinton, who I consider a dear friend and one of the finest leaders in the history of our country, to do what she knows is right, end the policy and end it now.

Torricelli received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included many Iranian-Americans.

MEK support is not new in Washington. When the MEK’s leader Maryam Rajavi was arrested in France in 2003, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) were among those who protested publicly. ”There is a move afoot among Pentagon hard-liners to use them as an opposition in the future,” an anonymous Bush Administration official told The New York Times at the time. And in 2009, 120 House members backed a resolution calling on President Obama to prevent the relocation of MEK members from Camp Ashraf in Iraq. But the latest panel boasted the most high-profile officials to come out in support of the group.

So what is the MEK? The State Department website states that the group “advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian regime and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970′s.” When it was founded by students in the 1960s, the group’s philosophy blended Marxism and Islam, and it later developed a strong feminist bent. In fact, according to The New York Times, the MEK became for a time the “only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women.” Membership is in the several thousands, with large pockets in several European capitals. About 3,400 live at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, where they have been declared “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention — a status that does not apply to members living outside the camp.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1981, the MEK attempted to overthrow the regime, which responded by arresting and targeting group members. In a subsequent bombing campaign, the MEK managed to kill Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. One bomb cost current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei the use of his right arm. Popular sentiment in Iran turned against the MEK, and the group fled, first to France, and then, in 1986, to Iraq, where they were offered safe haven by Saddam Hussein.

Hussein armed the MEK with tanks and other heavy military equipment, and deployed “thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces” during the Iran-Iraq war, according to the State Department. In 1991, Hussein used the MEK to crack down on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. ”Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” MEK leader Maryam Rajavi commanded her troops at the time, according to The New York Times. During the rest of the 1990s, and through 2001, the MEK was engaged in various anti-Iranian attacks and operations, and it received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Hussein. None of the speakers at last week’s panel mentioned the MEK’s prior ties with Hussein.

The State Department states that the MEK maintains “the capacity and will” to commit terrorist acts across the world. But the members living at Camp Ashraf agreed to be disarmed in 2003, and surrendered two thousand tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces. And the group’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which maintains offices in several capitals, says its goal is to establish a “pluralist democracy” in Iran. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the MEK “has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members.”

Several of the speakers at last week’s panel said it’s widely known that the MEK was put on the terrorist list in 1997 as a nod to Iran’s then-new reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. None of the speakers, however, said that the State Department considers the group to have “cult-like characteristics,” and that Maryam Rajavi has established a cult of personality. MEK members are not allowed to marry, attend weekly “ideological cleansings” and children are separated from parents. When Elizabeth Rubin, a New York Times Magazine reporter, toured Camp Ashraf in 2003, she found Rajavi’s image displayed “almost as ubiquitously as the image of Saddam in Iraq or Khomeini in Iran.”

”Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” Nadereh Afshari, a former MEK member, told Rubin. And inside Iran? Rubin reported that, at the time, “the street protesters risking their lives and disappearing inside the regime’s prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague — as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics.”

So what brought Washington heavyweights to the MEK cause? It remains unclear. The group’s political arm is known to have a global support network and active lobbying efforts in major Western capitals. Being delisted would allow the group to fundraise and operate freely in the U.S. The State Department claims that since the fall of Hussein, the group has had to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. Meanwhile, the group that has been organizing the panels, Executive Action, LLC, bills itself as “a McKinsey & Company with muscle.” From the group’s website:

If you are under attack by political or business adversaries, unsure of how to do business in emerging markets, or being treated unfairly in the media, then you need ExecutiveAction.

This week, The Wall Street Journal reports, Jones and Richardson were in Brussels, for yet another pro-MEK panel, this one alongside former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

You can watch the complete video of last week’s panel here:







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With the rest of the political world gearing up for the 2012 elections, the Office of Special Counsel on Monday released a long overdue report that said that George W. Bush administration’s Office of Public Affairs in 2006 was essentially an extension of the Republican National Committee in the White House.

The report found that the Bush administration regularly broke the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of federal tax dollars for political activities. The Office of Political Affairs in Bush’s White House, overseen by Karl Rove, dispatched cabinet officials to campaign for Republican candidates on the federal dime and forced federal political appointees to attend political meetings during work time, the report concluded.

Their efforts to propel the Republicans to electoral success wasn’t very successful — 2006 was the first year that Democrats swept the House and Senate in decades. But the violations the investigation found (including 75 illegal political briefings by GOP appointees at top federal agencies from 2001 to 2007) demonstrated a “systematic misuse of federal resources,” according to the OSC.

The consequences for those violations? Nada. OSC has no teeth and is only capable of terminating employees — a sanction that became null-and-void when all the Bush administration left office. A spokesman said that the office had not made a formal referral to the Justice Department to ask it to pursue any possible charges.

By this point, broader recommendations included in the report intended to reform the Office of Political Affairs are also irrelevant. The Obama administration indicated last week they were restructuring their political operations and moving the political staff to the Democratic National Committee. That should help avoid any investigations by the Republican-led House Oversight Committee, whose new Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote a letter to the OSC last summer asking why the report was taking so long. Issa had also requested investigations into allegations of Hatch Act violations during the Obama administration.

Still, it’s useful to walk through just how this investigation came about and what it found.

To start, OSC’s sordid legacy during the Bush administration could have a negative impact on the legitimacy of the report itself, at least in the eyes of those eager to dismiss it. After all, the investigation started under the reign of Scott Bloch, who headed the office until his resignation in 2008. He’s now awaiting sentencing for contempt of Congress for calling Geeks On Call to wipe his computer free of information being sought by Congress. (His sentencing was supposed to be today, but has been bumped back until Feb. 3, according to court records). Bloch didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Since Bloch’s resignation, the investigation — which was the result of a review of 100,000 pages of documents and interviews with 80 administration officials over the course of three years — has been overseen by an acting director, William E. Reukauf.

OSC’s investigation found that in some cases, briefings by the OPA for political appointees were mandatory and that attendance was recorded. An invitation to political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) read: “This meeting is mandatory. It will essentially be the same large meeting that we had last year about this time. So, please clear your schedule, put your pom-poms on, and let’s go!!!”

Not only were appointees encouraged to help in Republican races, White House liaisons at several agencies tracked appointees’ leave requests made for the purpose of working on campaigns.

As assistant to the chief of staff at the Peace Corps said she kept a spreadsheet showing the agency’s appointees and when and where they were volunteering. She said the OPA wanted to know the level of participation, and that she felt the OPA expected all appointees to volunteer.

White House liaisons said political briefings should “put the fear of God” in appointees so they’d sign up for 72-hour deployments around election time.

Some of the most egregious violations of the Hatch Act took place leading up the the 2006 midterm elections, when the report concluded OPA employees “methodically coordinated administration support to aid the campaigns of Republican candidates.”

One former OPA intern told investigators that OPA’s goal was, in sum, to “get Republicans elected.”

OPA rolled out an extensive plan to increase the traveling schedules of cabinet officials in the lead up to the 2006 elections. Surrogate Scheduler Mindy McLaughlin sent an e-mail to White House liaisons at federal agencies on Dec. 12, 2005 telling them that “This year and next promise to be very full of activity as we prepare for the midterm elections. In the coming months you will be receiving more and more requests for travel in targeted regions.”

The report concluded that when campaigns “contacted OPA to seek administration appointees to speak at their events — which, by itself, shows OPA’s cooperation with and support for political candidates — OPA used the target list to guide the allocation of assets and deploy appointees as speakers to best achieve Republican success in close races,” the report said. All of these activities constituted political activities under the Hatch Act.

Additional reporting by Melissa Jeltsen.







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