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Story Updates: Libby, Eagles, Trade and more

Libby Sentence Commuted: Reaction to President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence was rapid. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. announced that he will be holding a full committee hearing next week titled, "The Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials." After President Clinton pardoned 140 people on his last day in office, Congressional leadership held similar hearings entitled, "Proposals to amend the president’s power to grant reprieves and pardons." Read an excerpt from testimony here.

Read more about the issues surrounding the case and continue the conversation.

Watch Bill Moyers' recent essay entitled, "Begging his Pardon"

"We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites—the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail."

Watch Bill Moyers interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson from NOW with Bill Moyers, February 28, 2003. It was the release of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent which led to the Libby trial.

"Somehow it's hard for me to imagine that a democratic system will emerge out of the ashes of Iraq in the near term. And when and if it does, it's hard for me to believe that it will be more pro-American and more pro-Israeli than what you've got now," says Joseph Wilson in his interview.

More about Plamegate and Judith Miller from BUYING THE WAR.

President loses fast-track authority: On July 1, 2007, Presidential fast-track authority expired, and according to a statement released last week from the House Democratic Leadership, new trade legislation will not include a renewal of fast-track.


"Since 1975, only one other president, Bill Clinton, has been stripped of that trade-promotion authority, designed to speed the reduction of trade barriers and open new markets with other countries. Bush won't get it back again, and the next president might not either."

Read the latest press release from the House Democratic Leadership regarding the four pending trade deals.

Watch Bill Moyers' interviews with Public Citizen's Lori Wallach and HARPER'S Rick MacArthur.
Bald Eagle Leaves Endangered Species List: Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced last week that the American bald eagle has been removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In 1963, scientists could only account for 417 mating pairs of bald eagles in the country, attributing this scarcity to hunters and DDT poisoning. Today, this number has reached nearly 10,000. "The rescue of the bald eagle...ranks among the greatest victories of American conservation," said John Flicker, president of the National Audobon Society.

Find out more on what we've learned from the rescue of the bald eagle that can be applied to other endangered birds. Also, more on what you can do to help preserve the planet's biodiversity.

Journalist Alan Johnston Freed: BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released after four months in captivity. Johnston was the only international correspondent working in the Gaza Strip. Learn more about the dangers posed to journalists worldwide at the UN's World Press Freedom Day site and from the Committee to Protect Journalists.


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Dear Mr. Moyers,

If a soldier in the heat of battle and face to face with the enemy points to a boulder where another american soldier ,whom he does not like,has taken cover and says "there's another one over there". Has he not committed treason against the United States? If so how is Cheney and Libby and Rove and everyone else involved in leaking Valerie Plames identity any different?

Thank you Katherine the Greater, your words are true and valid and I am in total agreement. The unfortunate situation with having these "2 parties" and for so long, is that the vast majority of the USA is uninformed and apathetic unlike in Europe or Austalia, et al. Those who aren't, are not willing to stake their precious vote on an alternative candidate for fear of allowing this 'mass', who thoughtlessly waste their votes on sheer appearances and bravado, totally obscure any chance of their vote having even a slight impact. It is always a matter of voting for the lesser of 2 evils, it seems. Some, however, realize that that is the only valid option both morally and ethically and do vote for the best. Therefore we end up with jellyfish candidates who are afraid to put on the gloves for fear of losing all unless they see a majority of the populace is behind them. And even then it is difficult if they already are in the deep pockets. Often, those who do put on the gloves don't have much of a chance of winning to begin with and have not as much to lose; those are the ones to whom we should look for better 'facts'.

I have noticed that Joe Biden recently put on the gloves and started swinging. If he continues to do this honorably and without fail, recognizing that of the many candidates he seems best to combine honesty, courage, high intelligence and well rounded knowledge, in my opinion, and he would get my vote at this moment in time. He must not waver. This country is looking for a leader; not another follower.

I was watching an International news cast a few days ago, and heard a report about Libby's being an undercover agent for an Israli intelligenct group of some kind. If true, it's astounding that there's been no mention on MSM. Oh! right, there wouldn't be.

This is for Graham in Oz, who wrote wondering about the timidity of our Congress. Hi, Graham. Greetings from New Mexico. Lovely website you link to; I enjoyed looking around.

Now about our Congress, there is (generally) a veneer of "politeness" --as compared to what I observed at Westminster, when living in England. Perhaps you have the same rowdy parliamentary system. It's fun to watch pols shouting each other down and generally doing everything short of throwing bread rolls, but we don't do that.

One of the massive problems we have now -- in my opinion and that of a fair number -- is that Dems have been left out of deliberations and bashed by our corporatist media for so long that they're suffering the political equivalent of "battered wife" or Stockholm syndrome. Essentially they're scared to say "boo" to a goose.

Another terrific problem is a techtonic rift among Dems. Unlike the progressives, their official leaders (such as the Rahm Emmanuel creature and Hillary, for that matter) are essentially moderate Republicans. They're owned by the big money, too: ridiculously poll-driven and at present misinterpreting their low numbers (seeing them as "danger ahead" signs, instead of a mandate to get their butts in gear and save us). I don't like to think so, but it's growing increasingly clear that Reid and Pelosi are solidly in their camp and reining in everybody with principle and courage.

Anyway, that's my quick take on it. Who else has something to tell Graham? It's great that you're here. Ozzies are some of my favorite people.

Civil Rights?
This is a poorly framed question and moreover the debate is not nor should it be about the very limiting argument called "civil rights". Now before you get your undees in a bunch my family has been on the front lines since before old King George III found himself signing the first bill of civil rights.
I believe this argument is about the U. S. Constitution that I, along with Many of my countrymen - and women, have promised to defend. Yes, even unto surrendering our individual freedom and our lives. Dangerous words - but then again so too wrote those Founders that pledged their fortunes and their lives.
Now, to my point. I can not in all good conscience vote nor indorse anyone who has made a similar promise "to support and defend the Constution of the American Republic" and then give up that power to another entity - be it King, President or any other Individual(s) - for Our Country is not about the protection of individuals alone but the duty and honor of each and everyone of We Americans to protect our constitution.
Further, we should not nor can not put ourselves above the laws of this land and if we find these laws broken or ineffectual: it is up to We the people to fix them. None can be insular to either the Constitution nor to the People from which they derive their powers be they a single person or a group of individuals. In either case it can lead to the real terrorism both to individual freedoms and this society as a whole.
Now I am sure that there are some who think I am writing of the Congress but no I am also writing about the Supreme Court which has, as of late, decided to be subservient and cow before the our President - bad idea. They are not as some have suggested only “twenty-first century priestly guardians” of the kingdom of W! The same could be said of the "fourth estate" for they do not seem to be doing much better. In case you’re wondering I would take a bullet for the sob. Why? He’s my sob!
I hope someone out there is starting to get my drift.
We are currently finding ourselves in a bit of a pinch or two. Perhaps the answers are as complex as the questions but how can those answers be found if we only squabble in selfish pettiness’ instead of standing in debate coming to real answers as the founders of this great country did? And, if should come to impeachment in order to fix a problem, then by all means so be it! If anybody thinks for a second that they, the founders, had it any easier than us then those people are sadly mistaken. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that if our leaders, who, if they don’t perform well, should be beheaded, piked and their entrails burned but I do believe that they should do the jobs we sent them up there to do.
Well enough protestations. Simply put, in terms everyone can understand GYST (get yourself together).

I live in Australia. Many of us keep a very close eye on American politics - because we feel we need to. Our senior conservative politicians appear to be learning a lot from the US administration - especially Cheney - but they would never dare to so blatantly show their disregard for the democracy, the systems of justice and the liberties our countries fought for side by side. Not quite so blatantly at least. What amazes many of us is the reticence that many in Congress show toward staking any real action against Bush, Cheney, Rove and so on. Is it an overweening politeness? Or is it something else. Congress, after all, does know that the majority of Americans wants America out of Iraq and for the Bush administration to be called to account for the lies it told about Iraq and the retribution it exacted on the Wilsons for telling the truth.

Listening to the hearings, I found the Republican response most noteworthy and damning. The speaker (whose name escapes me) recited statistics on the number of pardons and commutations by prior presidents. He took particular pride in how Republican presidents offered comparatively few pardons (as if this makes them stronger,smarter or more just). But he embarassed himself and condemned his party with his failure to distinguish this situation from such traditional acts -- here commuting the sentence was quid pro quo for (1) the last minute decision by Libby's defense team to not call higher officials as witnesses and (2) for shielding the President and Vice President from criminal exposure. Of course he brought up the most infamous Clinton pardon, where contributions to Clinton causes followed the pardon. But he didn't mention who was defense counsel involved in that pardon....Scooter Libby!(this reported on Pacifica Radio's coverage of the hearings)

On Libby: I'm really tired of hearing "Clinton did it too" for many reasons.

First, my parents taught me that two wrongs never make a right, and if your buddy jumps off a bridge, you should think twice about doing it yourself.

Second, Clinton didn't pardon anyone in his administration.

I think the latter is the more critical idea, but couldn't resist pointing out the childish nature noted in the former.

Juniper Lea

Dear Bill:

Welcome home! Thank you for making our Friday's meaningful again. We have surely missed you.

Yesterday, CBS Evening News showcased the Libby's 250,000 check in an attempt to silence any more debate or discussion of his pardon. Many neocons have been working with Libby to build his defense fund. There is no doubt (in my mind) that the 250,000 came from his supporters, and not out of his wallet. Moyer - please don't give up on the Libby case like the mainstream news has.

Scooter Libby's sentence was too harsh? How many potentially innocent poor people did Bush allow to be executed when he was the Governor of Texas? He wasn't concerned about harsh sentences then! He can't have it both ways! Execution for the poor but a get out of jail free card for his rich friends. Those that have put this country into the big mess it's in. He doesn't like activist judges but it's OK for him to be an activist president. Sounds hypocritical to me!

Mr. Moyers:
I'm so glad you're back doing investigative journalism; NOW seems to be slowly getting pushed away by the affiliates, which is a shame. I guess those corp sponsors are just as important as commercials.

One thing I haven't seen in the MSM is Judge Walton's court order to review the commutation on July 9. Seems that he doesn't understand how Bush can commute a sentence that a felon hasn't served yet.

Mr. Moyers,

Thanks again for your brutally honest journalism, at once inspirationally insightful, perfectly timed and targeted at the crucial issues of the day, and depressingly comprehensive in depicting the ignominious morass that our federal government has become. If only you could find a happy ending to ease the helplessness we average citizens feel as you lay this great tragedy before us, week after week.

I was in the post library today with my young son and daughter thumbing through a children’s book about President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I reread the speech of our history’s most celebrated President-poet and digested his trumpeted motivational closing, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” After viewing your show online, Lincoln’s flourish hit home.

The power of the people is at ebb.

The people want to end an unjust and interminable war, but inexplicably cannot.

The people wanted immigration reform with a fair path to citizenship for illegals whose only crime was being born in a land bereft of opportunity. Alas, our Congressmen turned in self-interest to hear only the unmolested, bigoted, fear-mongering few, crushing the hopes of freedom for 12 million and entrenching the burdens of their illegal status upon the communities in which they continue to work and live.

The people want equal opportunity for all, but in its first full session, the new “constructionist” Supreme Court gutted Title VII, placing the burden on employees to identify pay disparity within the first six months of discrimination while the employer is under no burden to share the very data with the employee that would indicate such discrimination. They further turned the landmark decision “Brown vs the Board of Education” against itself, establishing the legal means to ensure the passive segregation of schools along socioeconomic lines which we all know still run congruently along racial lines. Finally, they ensured freedom of speech for everyone who can afford it. When an Alaskan teenager tested what was his unalienable right, the court found his banner’s nonsensical “Bong hits for Jesus” message too great a public risk, but they sided with rich special interests who now stand ready to slaughter their political opponents in the final weeks of their campaign with a death barrage of a thousand untruthful and unanswerable “Swift Boat” adds.

The people want Congress to check an out-of-control, empirical executive branch, but find the leadership meek in action, bold only in pursuit of meaningless hearings and headlines.

Most of all, the people, this person wants a choice. The discussion Mr. Moyers undertook with Mr. Gold, two veterans of political conflicts past, makes clear the deep desire of this nation’s vast center, for a choice whose ideals are not within or driven by those who lie outside the population’s standard deviation. The two party system has failed us, making ripe fruit for a new party, as Lincoln’s was in his day, ready for the picking. But the overwhelming influence of money, the oblique gerrymandered dissection of legislative districts along party lines, the exclusivity of the ballot-making system, and the blissful, well-conditioned ignorance and apathy of our citizens all conspire against a third choice or any genuine choice within the two. Our derogation of the Iranian system of government becomes painfully ironic when one realizes that while citizens of both nations may be allowed to vote, citizens of both nations may also only choose from among those candidates the ayatollahs have first given approval. What’s worse, the motives of our ayatollahs, Murdoch chief among them, are perhaps more nefarious and self-serving than Iran’s. What are we to do?

While it is fanciful to think we could discover and draft a Truman-Goldwater Republicrat to carry our hopes to the Whitehouse, the reality of the political battlespace prevents a competitive third party run in ‘08, even by one as well known, respected, and resourced as Mayor Bloomberg. To effect change we must alter the playing field. In this we must follow the wisdom of Thomas O'Neill, Sr. (Tip’s father) as recalled by his famous son in his autobiography, “This was the only race I ever lost in my life, but in the process, I learned two extremely valuable lessons. During the campaign, my father had left me to my own devices, but when it was over, he pointed out that I had taken my own neighborhood for granted. He was right: I had received a tremendous vote in the other sections of the city, but I hadn't worked hard enough in my own backyard. 'Let me tell you something I learned years ago,' he said. 'All politics is local.'" This is the accountability mechanism we have lost, need, and must bring back.

When your state and federal representatives come home this summer, doggedly pursue an audience with them. If that fails, call and write them. Organize into like-minded groups and petition your office holders together for action. If they fail to meet your concerns with either action or other reasonable solution, share with them your disappointment and clearly communicate the withdrawal of your support. If you seek an alternative and can’t find one; recruit one, inside our outside the parties.

Here are three specific remedial actions I am pursuing; I hope you will join me:
1) End the wasteful war – quickest way; make continuing the war (funding) contingent upon the reinstatement of a draft and large tax increases upon the rich. Make all those “war on terror” zealots put their money and their kids where their mouth is.
2) Public campaign financing – maximum contribution is $250 per person or organization; government matches each donation with $2,500 (x10). Oddly enough, this will save us billions.
3) Bring back the debate – any paid advertisement, in any media, by any group, that attacks or even mentions a candidate or a position so attributed, must be followed with equal time/space immediately following it that is allotted to the attacked candidate/cause to be used as they see fit...You can promote your cause/candidate freely, but if you attack or ascribe, you must provide equal time to respond or counter. No hindrance of free speech there, eh Justice Alito?

The Constitution, bred of ideals set forth by our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence, is once again being tested by greed and lust of power. I implore all who would read this to reflect on the sad state of affairs as you celebrate the 231st year of our nation, and move yourself from passive disgust to make a new resolution for action. You already have, Mr. Moyers, and God bless you for it.

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