Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dick Durbin, Mike Gravel and Sibel Edmonds: When Silence is treason

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Presidential candidate Mike Gravel gave Scott Horton a terrific interview today. I recommend you listen to the whole thing.

Gravel mentions Dick Durbin's recent statement that, because he was on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he knew that the egadministration was telling WMD lies prior to the Iraq invasion, but that Durbin couldn't say anything. Gravel says that's a lie - and that he, Gravel, is living proof. In 1971, Gravel read out the Pentagon Papers on the Senate floor, entering them into the Congressional Record, and later won a court case, proving that he was right, and within his rights, to do that.

I've been meaning to bring up the Durbin brouhaha in the context of Sibel Edmonds case (of course). Downstairs, I'll tell you why it's relevant (and also a heads up about some other Sibel-related stuff coming down the pike later in the week)


In case you missed it, late last month, Senator Dick Durbin dropped this 'bombshell' on the Senate floor (C&L has the video, courtesy of Olbermann):

""A few hundred feet away from here, in a closed room, carefully guarded, the Intelligence Committee was meeting on a daily basis for top secret breifings about the information we were receiving and the information we had in the Intelligence Committee was not the same information being given to the American people.

I couldn't believe it. Members of this administration were in active, heated debate over whether aluminum tubes really meant the Iraqis were developing nuclear weapons. Some within the administration saying of course not, it's not the same kind of aluminum tube, at the same time that members of the administration were telling the American people to be fearful of mushroom shaped clouds.

I was angry about it. Frankly, I couldn't do much about it. Because you see in the Intelligence Committee we were sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say, "The statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that's being given to this Congress." We can't do that. We couldn't make those statements.

And so, in my frustration, I sat here on the floor of the Senate and listened to this heated debate about invading Iraq, thinking the American people are being misled, they are not being told the truth. And that's why I joined 22 of my colleagues in voting no. I didn't feel at the time that the American people knew the real facts.

So what happened? We invaded, turned loose hundreds, if not thousands of people scouring Iraq for these weapons of mass destruction, never found one of them. Looked for nuclear weapons, no evidence whatsoever."

Of course, that means that everyone in the committee knew that the American public was being lied to - and nobody said anything, until now.

It turns out, apparently, that Durbin was either lying or mistaken when he said that he "couldn't do much about it."

In the interview that Presidential candidate Mike Gravel gave to Scott Horton yesterday, Gravel explained that "any member of Congress can release all kinds of stuff if they want to, in conscience, that they think the people should know." Gravel knows of which he speaks, in 1971, he put the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, and was vindicated in a Supreme Court ruling.

Here's a partial transcript (mine) from the interview:
"Mike Gravel: (22 mins)Are you familiar with what happened with (Senator Dick Durbin), making the statement that he was conflicted because he could observe the fact that the President was saying one statement to the people and that the members of Congress were briefed on something else?

Scott Horton: Right - in the run up to the war... Durbin was on the Intelligence Committee and he knew that what they were telling us was lies.

MG: Right - now let's analyze that for a minute, and we'll see something very interesting. First off, Dick Durbin, making that statement, right now, in my mind is very courageous. Here's a guy, who has now got his conscience, and he's reacting to it, and made it public. What he's doing is destroying the argument of Hillary, by God, and Edwards - all of the people who voted for the war, at the same time when he knew there was a shell-game going on, and when Hillary or any of the others, say 'Well, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have voted for it' - well, they knew *then* That's what Durbin's statement says - they knew then! But what Durbin did unfortunately not know was that the Supreme Court ruled in my case, Gravel vs US Government, about the Pentagon Papers, that a member of Congress cannot be held responsible for the secrecy of the administration. And so, any member of Congress can release all kinds of stuff if they want to, in conscience, that they think the people should know!

SH: So Durbin's excuse that he would have gone to prison if he'd told us is null?

MG: Just the opposite! And of course, he said this statement, he said: "I thought that if I released this secret information, that people would die." Well, by not releasing it, people have died. And he was not at risk for anything that he might have revealed. And none of them would be, because the operative law is what the Supreme Court ruled in my case. The problem is there's nobody, nobody has dared to do anything about this since I was in office. And even after the courtcase, I released stuff - (inaudible) and other things.

It's just very sad, the level of timdity, and the lack of conscience. I say 'lack of conscience' because this is exactly what we had during the Vietnam era - people detached themselves from the loss of life. They don't appreciate the fact that... you know, when Murtha came out and was saying 'these people are dying, this is not right' - this was quite a change of heart for him, because he's been one of the major forces in Congress supporting the military-industrial-complex which brought about the Iraq war. So, it's the timidity, it's the lack of getting your moral sights up until you realize what you are doing with the power that you have, as a Senator. So, the game-playing is on, and that's what I'm trying to cut through. I'll be able to cut through it Scott, I'll tell you, if after my press conference, next Monday, the peace groups get organized, and make a showing at the press conference, and then turn around and make this the cause, I'll have the details all lined out, what the leadership is supposed to do. I'll tell you what, they'll respond!"

(As I say, go check out the rest of the interview, lots of great sensible-sounding stuff there, including his plan to end the war (by taking specific action steps in Congress), and details about his upcoming press conference (Monday) etc.)

Which brings me to Sibel Edmonds. Again.

Sibel has told her story (that Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Marc Grossman and Eric Edelman are involved in treasonous activity) to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Some day - soon if we can get Henry Waxman to hold hearings - not only will we learn everything she knows, we'll also have to consider that many people knew all the details all along, and did... nothing! They stood by, knowing what they knew, while Richard Perle was Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. They stood by, knowing what they knew, while Doug Feith was running the Office of Special Plans, leading us into war.

It's enough to make me angry.

And to be clear, at the time, Sibel's claims weren't just 'allegations' - they'd already been investigated and proven. As Sibel said recently:
"This has been going on for five years, and it's not a case (that needs) to be investigated, that part has already been done by the Senate Judiciary Committee, by the DoJ's Inspector Generals office, so it just have to have a hearing and just put an end to it and see some oversight and accountability as a result. "

In other Sibel news, as you know, we've been demanding that Waxman hold hearings into her case - hearings that he promised would occur when Dems were in the majority. Details are available at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak. At some point later this week, we will have some new content being released, and when that gets published, we'll start with the phones again - calling Waxman's office demanding hearings. We'll need your help.

(let me know if you want to be added to an email list for announcements)

(DU, DKOS - please go kick, rec, if you think that's appropriate)

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