Is Goldman Obama’s Enron? No, it’s worse

From WashingtonExaminer.com:

Campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs employees to President Obama are nearly seven times as much as President Bush received from Enron workers, according to numbers on OpenSecrets.org.

President Bush’s connections to Enron were well-hyped during the company’s accounting debacle that rippled through the economy. Time magazine even had an article called, “Bush’s Enron Problem.” The Associated Press ran with the headline, “Bush-backing Enron makes big money off crisis.” David Callaway wrote that Enron for Bush was worse than Whitewater for Clinton.

In 2002, the New York Times wrote: “President Bush is seeking to play down his relationship with Enron’s embattled chairman, Kenneth L. Lay. But their ties are broad and deep and go back many years, and the relationship has been beneficial to both.” (h/t Lachlan Markey)

But the mere $151,722.42 (inflation adjusted) in contributions from Enron-affiliated executives, employees, and PACs to Bush hardly add up to Obama’s $1,007,370.85 (inflation adjusted) from Goldman-affiliated executives and employees. That’s also not taking into account how much Goldman contributed to Obama cabinet member Hillary Clinton ($415,595.63 inflation adjusted), which was itself almost three times as much as Bush received as well.

It would be fair to say that the total amount the Obama administration has received from those affiliated with Goldman Sachs is ten times that of what Bush received from Enron.

Goldman is being sued for civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission for deliberately putting unwitting clients on the wrong side of a mortgage security trade that had been designed to fail.

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US says it may kill Americans abroad

Sounds like the best thing American ‘terrorists’ could do would be to stay at home. Of course, the thing to note here is that Obama has “embraced” yet another Bush policy. How’s the “Change(TM)” working out for all the Kool-Aid drinking Obamabots?

From Raw Story:

In a striking admission from the Obama Administration’s top intelligence officer, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair announced Wednesday that the United States may target its own citizens abroad for death if it believes they are associated with terrorist groups.

“We take direct action against terrorists in the intelligence community,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the House Intelligence Committee. He said US counter-terrorism officials may try to kill American citizens embroiled in extremist groups overseas with “specific permission” from higher up.

If “we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that,” Blair said in response to questions from the panel’s top Republican, Representative Pete Hoekstra.

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Stunning Statistics About the War That Everyone Should Know

From Counterpunch.org:

A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Contract Oversightsubcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone—that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.

In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo[PDF] released by McCaskill’s staff,

“From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.”

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Obama attorneys step up defense of torture memo author

Yeah, that Obama guy is just SOOOOOooo totally different from that Bush guy. Aren’t you glad you voted for “Change(TM)?”

From Raw Story:

Citing an argument that hallmarked the Bush years, Obama administration attorneys have asked a San Francisco court to drop all charges against Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who authored legal opinions that permitted the torture of prisoners.

An amicus curiae brief [PDF link] filed by the Department of Justice with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday essentially argues that because he was giving advice to the president on a national security matter, Yoo should not be held accountable for his actions as it would have a chilling effect on advice provided to future presidents.

In other words, the DoJ explained, accusations of torture in this case present “special factors” that the court should not address “in the absence of congressional action.”

“Yoo’s new attorney, Miguel Estrada, argued for dismissal in a filing last month, saying the case interfered with presidential war-making authority and threatened to “open the floodgates to politically motivated lawsuits” against government officials,” noted Bob Egelko, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle.

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Bush Preemptive Strike Doctrine Under Review, May Be Discarded

From Bloomberg:

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — The Pentagon is reviewing the Bush administration’s doctrine of preemptive military strikes with an eye to modifying or possibly ending it.

The international environment is “more complex” than when President George W. Bush announced the policy in 2002, Kathleen Hicks, the Defense Department’s deputy undersecretary for strategy, said in an interview. “We’d really like to update our use-of-force doctrine to start to take account for that.”

The Sept. 11 terrorist strikes prompted Bush to alter U.S. policy by stressing the option of preemptive military action against groups or countries that threaten the U.S. Critics said that breached international norms and set a dangerous precedent for other nations to adopt a similar policy.

The doctrine is being reassessed as part of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review of strategy, force structure and weapons programs. Hicks is overseeing the review.

“We are looking very explicitly at use of force and use of forces,” she said. “We are looking at how to articulate the use of the U.S. military instrument — how we use military force to achieve national objectives.”

President Barack Obama was elected last year on a platform that included promises to undo many Bush policies. He pledged to extract U.S. forces from Iraq, close the terror detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and give greater U.S. support to the UN.

Norway’s Nobel committee, in awarding Obama the Peace Prize last week, cited a “new climate” in world politics and the restoration of “multilateral diplomacy.” The prize also was widely seen as a repudiation of Bush’s policies.

Report to Congress

Congress requires the administration to report its national security strategy annually, and it requires the Pentagon to reassess its policies and war-fighting doctrine every four years.

The Obama administration will state its security doctrine for the first time as part of the Pentagon’s review, which will be given to Congress in February along with the fiscal 2011 budget.

Bush outlined his doctrine of preemptive strike in a speech at West Point in June 2002. He elevated it to a formal strategy that September. For the first time in a doctrine, the U.S. expressed the right to attack a threat that was gathering, not just imminent.

The doctrine was issued as the U.S. was working to build global support for military action against Iraq to enforce United Nations resolutions requiring Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to allow unfettered inspections for suspected chemical, biological and nuclear arms and to destroy any such weapons of mass destruction.

‘Will Not Hesitate’

The doctrine says the U.S. “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively.

“In an age where enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather,” the doctrine says.

Some defense policy analysts say the doctrine should be amended or minimized.

“That doctrine was always at odds with international law and norms,” said James Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The doctrine is now “dead” after the invasion of Iraq, when the U.S. in March 2003 launched a “preventive war” to eradicate “the threat of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist,” he said.

‘New Strategy’

James Mann, an author in residence at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said the doctrine “was presented as not just the ‘right’” to strike “before you are about to be attacked, but as an entirely new strategy for dealing with the world.”

“I don’t think the Obama people believe preemption should be defined in this incredibly broad sense — and I think they feel — with some reason — the broad definition really lost American support in the rest of the world,” said Mann, author of “Rise of the Vulcans,” a 2004 history of Bush’s war cabinet.

Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at the non-partisan Brookings Institution in Washington, said “the clear challenge for this administration is to find a balance between retaining the right, in extremis, to preempt, while avoiding association with the Bush administration.”

“The only solution is to try to downplay this option and say it will be reserved for the most extreme cases and even then pursued only with as much international backing and legitimacy as possible,” O’Hanlon said.

The Obama Recession: When do we stop blaming Bush for the bad economy?

From Slate.com:

As job losses climb, President Obama faces two related questions. The first is more like a riddle: How do you pass a new round of stimulus measures without tacitly admitting that the first round didn’t work? (Answer: Don’t call it a stimulus.) The second is harder: When does the economy become his own instead of his predecessor’s? (Answer: sooner than he’d probably like.)

It was only July when White House aides said it was premature to discuss a second round of measures to boost the economy. But now, with unemployment pushing 10 percent in September and projections that it will go even higher in 2010, Obama and the Democratic leadership are exploring new ways to reduce the pain.

What to do? The low-hanging fruit would be simply to extend provisions already included in the original stimulus package. For example, continuing the unemployment benefits that are set to expire in November—a “no-brainer,” says Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, since people with low income tend to spend their extra cash—and make sure laid-off workers keep getting health insurance. Extending these policies should be easy politically as well, since they can be billed as social safety measures rather than stimulus. (Democratic leaders today introduced a bill that would extend unemployment benefits another 14 weeks.)

Trickier would be passing a new batch of policies that weren’t part of the original deal. The proposal that has gotten the most traction this week is a tax credit for businesses that hire new employees. The logic is simple enough: Reward companies that create jobs. The problem is implementation. The government could simply give every employer a payroll tax credit and hope it hires new workers. While that would be a windfall for companies, they might not use the money to expand payroll. “You wouldn’t get a big bang for the buck,” says Ted Gayer of the Brookings Institution.

Another option would be to give companies the bonuses only after they hire new workers. But that arrangement would be vulnerable to manipulation, says Gayer, since companies could twist the definition of “new” worker. Other ideas that haven’t quite made it onto the president’s desk: re-upping on the stimulus money given directly to states; paying employers to lower the number of work hours so they can hire new workers, per Dean Baker; and boosting small-business loans, as proposed by Mark Zandi of Moody’sEconomy.com.

//

These proposals face the same questions as the original stimulus: How many jobs would they create and at what cost? The question is moot for policies like unemployment insurance, which isn’t supposed to create new jobs. Two economists estimate that the employer tax credit, however, would cost $20,000 for each job created. Now compare that with the original stimulus package: The administration originally promised that it would save or create 3.5 million jobs. (So far, the administration says, the stimulus package has saved or created about 1 million.) At $757 billion, that’s about $216,000 per job. Of course, money from the stimulus package was used for other things as well. But, politically, that was the tradeoff. With that precedent, $20,000 per job may be an easy sell.

Even Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip, doesn’t seem opposed. “There is a lot of traction for this kind of idea,” he told the New York Times. “If the White House will take the lead on this, I’m fairly positive it would be welcomed in a bipartisan fashion.”

But taking strong action on the economy comes with political risks. For one thing, a second round of stimulus implies that the first round didn’t work—a claim made by economists from across the political spectrum. “They put forth a package that by their own numbers wasn’t going to be able to fully deal with the problem,” says Baker. (Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer thought the bill should have been $1.2 trillion, not $800 billion.) Republicans, meanwhile, point to the 8 million (and climbing) jobs lost since December 2007 as evidence that the president’s plan isn’t working.

And that’s just Obama’s point: Since 2007. When he wasn’t in office. Obama has often bemoaned the fact that he inherited “a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.” Discussing the economy last week, Vice President Joe Biden said the administration “inherited an awful lot of baggage.”

But at some point, Bush’s economy will become Obama’s economy. And the more the Obama administration tinkers, the nearer that moment draws. Hence the urge to play down a second round of stimuluslike measures.

Are we there yet? Probably not. Polls suggest that Americans are still giving Obama the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the economy, although in steadily decreasing numbers. The latest survey to address the question directly was Rasmussen, which found last week that 55 percent of Americans still blame Bush for the economy. (And that’s coming from a polling outfit known for tilting toward conservatives.) Another proxy for blame is whether people think Obama’s economic policies are working. Back in April, most people thought it was too early to tell, according to Pew Research Center. Now, fewer than half do—suggesting that people are finally holding Obama responsible for the current economy. And the people getting off the fence say Obama’s policies are making things better rather than worse—in other words, siding with Obama more than with Bush.

How long before Obama is responsible for the shape we’re in, good or bad? “I don’t think there’s a point with a switch flipping,” says Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com. It will be a gradual evolution, he says, and “I don’t think we’re there yet.”

One possible landmark will be Obama’s one-year anniversary. “Once you get past November—certainly by January—I think that’ s a psychological benchmark for people,” says Gayer. “If we don’t see improvement by spring, my sense is people will blame the administration.”

Another possibility: whenever the stimulus was supposed to kick in. The problem is, the stimulus has been “kicking in” since February, and will continue to do so through 2011. So the administration could always argue that it’s premature to judge the recovery package when only half of the money has been spent. That’s no excuse, says Baker: More important to the economy than the total amount spent is the rate of spending, which won’t get much higher than it is now.

When will the Bush economy become the Obama economy? Whatever the polls say, we won’t really know until the only poll that really matters—Nov. 2, 2010.

The joint Post/Obama defense of the Patriot Act and FISA

From Salon:

The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut today produces an extreme piece of government-serving, stenographic “journalism,” publishing a dubious administration press release masquerading as a lengthy news article on Obama’s approach to Terrorism and civil liberties.  The Post depicts Obama as heavily and heroically engaged in disrupting the alleged Najibullah Zazi domestic terrorist plot and — repeatedly highlighting that success — claims “the White House has been charting a delicate course as it attempts to turn the page on Bush-era anti-terrorism policies,” whereby “the Obama administration is increasingly confident that it has struck a balance between protecting civil liberties, honoring international law and safeguarding the country.”  Here are all of Kornblut’s cited sources for the article — every last one of them — in the order she cites them:

Obama aides pointed . . . administration officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . senior Obama officials stressed . . . a senior administration official said . . . aides said . . . officials said . . . one senior administration official said. . . . one senior official said. . . . The official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . administration officials said . . . . a senior official said.

Not a single named person is cited, and there’s not a syllable of quoted dissent in any of it.  Virtually every sentence in the long article does nothing but praise Obama and depict him as stalwartly safeguarding America’s civil liberties (unlike Bush did) even as he protects us from the dangerous Terrorists, so why is anonymity needed for that?  It’s nothing more than what Robert Gibbs is eager to say every day.  Nor is there a hint of who these officials are, what the basis is of their knowledge, or why The Post granted anonymity, all of which are flagrant violations of the Post‘s own so-called “anonymity rules,” which its own Ombudsman — just six weeks ago — complained are “routinely ignored”:

The Post has strict rules on the use of anonymous sources. . . . But some of those lofty standards are routinely ignored. . . . News organizations can pay dearly if they’re not vigilant about sourcing. At minimum, credibility can suffer. At worst, a damaging journalistic transgression can occur. . . .

But anonymity can be overused and abused. Sources can make false or misleading assertions with impunity. That’s why The Post has such stringent rules. . . .

The Post also is inconsistent in how it describes unnamed sources and the reasons they were granted anonymity. Post policies say that readers should be told as much as possible about the quality of a confidential source (“with first-hand knowledge of the case,” for instance). They also say “we must strive to tell our readers as much as we can about why our unnamed sources deserve our confidence.”

But Post stories often say only that an unnamed source “spoke on condition of anonymity.”

The Post’s article today violates every one of these rules.  It doesn’t even claim that these anonymous officials have any knowledge at all — first-hand or otherwise — of what actually happened (are they national security officials, press people, political advisers?).  The article doesn’t even pretend to justify why anonymity was granted (there’s not a word about that).  One doesn’t even have any idea how many anonymous officials are dictating all of this to Kornblut — one, five, ten?  Who knows?

That’s because what happened here is obvious:  the administration wanted to issue a Press Release exploiting the fear surrounding the Zazi case to justify Obama’s Bush-copying civil liberties policies (including its current demands for full Bush-era Patriot Act renewal and FISA continuation) while depicting Obama as our careful yet forceful protector.  So they dispatched an official (or officials) to dictate the sanctioned administration line to Anne Kornblut.  She then unquestioningly wrote it all down (after granting them anonymity) and The Post uncritically published it as a “news article.”  That’s what Washington journalists typically mean by “reporting”: we dutifully write down what government officials tell us to say — while letting them hide behind anonymity — and then we publish it. This morning’s Post article is as egregious as it gets.

* * * * *

But far worse than the Post’s indiscriminate use of anonymity and exclusive reliance on government sources spouting the official line are the numerous claims it advances which are, at best, highly dubious. The Post claims Obama is “attempt[ing] to turn the page on Bush-era anti-terrorism policies“; that “Obama discarded the term ‘global war on terror,’ along with some of its most controversial tools“; and “the Obama administration is increasingly confident that it has struck a balance between protecting civil liberties, honoring international law and safeguarding the country.”  But this is just plainly false.  What has characterized the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism and civil liberties, far more than anything else, is a full-scale embrace of the defining Bush/Cheney approach.  The only two examples Kornblut cites to justify these claims — that Obama jettisoned “enhanced interrogation techniques and secret prisons” — prove little, since the formal authorization for such interrogation techniques was already withdrawn when Obama took office and secret prisons were already empty.

But even granting the significance of those first-week measures, the Obama administration has aggressively defended, justified and embraced the overwhelming bulk of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies — the exact ones that caused liberals and Democrats to object so vehemently over the last eight years:  imprisonment with no trials, maintaining a legal black hole at Bagram, military commissions, renditions, warrantless eavesdropping, claims of state secrets to prevent judicial review of presidential lawbreaking, legal immunity for all but the lowest-level war criminals, abuse-guaranteeing Patriot Act powers, impenetrable walls of secrecy in the national security context.  The very idea that Obama has been “attempt[ing] to turn the page on Bush-era anti-terrorism policies” is ludicrous:  blatant administration propaganda.  Even among huge numbers of Obama-supporting progressives, there has long been a consensus that Obama’s Terrorism approach is defined by a full-scale embrace of the Bush/Cheney mentality.  Civil liberties groups have been astonished and horrified in equal parts by the Obama record in this area.  And even the Right has acknowledged that Obama has followed most of the Bush/Cheney Terrorism polices, as illustrated by Charles Krauthammer’s comments earlier this week on Fox:

I will give [Obama] credit for continuing the Bush policy of the rendition and detention without trial.

Rendition is handing over a bad guy that you capture abroad over to another country, which was denounced by the left in the Bush years as inhuman. And detention without trial, of course, was attacked by the Democratic left as a rape of the constitution.

So I’m glad Obama is continuing the inhumanity and the constitutional rape of the Bush administration. It shows a certain broadmindedness.

Beyond specific policies, even the arguments made to justify these claims are redolent of the Bush/Cheney approach.  With unrecognized irony, The Post article notes that “the White House says it avoided trumpeting either the elevated threat level or the averted [Zazi] crisis.”  Really?  What do you think this whole article is?  It’s nothing but Obama officials anonymously beating their chest over “the averted crisis” — just as was true for previous leaks from “officials” claiming the Zazi plot was “the most significant since 9/11.”   Worse, in this very article, Obama officials are doing exactly what Bush officials spent years doing — exploiting Terrorist plots and the fears they generate to justify the powers they demand.  And they’re using the same convoluted, manipulative logic to accomplish that.

Reining in the excesses of the Patriot Act (and, relatedly, of ever-expanding eavesdropping powers) has long been a top agenda item for civil liberties groups — and, at least so they claimed, for Democrats generally.  In fact, when Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 last year in the middle of the campaign, he emphatically vowed that he would “fix” the problems with the FISA framework.  But right as these reforms are finally being considered, the administration seizes on the Zazi case to insist that no such changes should be made:

At the same time, the Obama administration is pressing Congress to move swiftly to reauthorize three provisions of the USA Patriot Act set to expire in late December. They include the use of “roving wiretaps” to track movement, e-mail and phone communications, a tool that federal officials used in the weeks leading up to Zazi’s arrest. . . .

“The Zazi case was the first test of this administration being able to successfully uncover and deal with this type of threat in the United States,” a senior administration official said. “It demonstrated that we were able to successfully neutralize this threat, and to have insight into it, with existing statutory authorities, with the system as it currently operates.”

So the Obama administration has its first allegedly big Terrorism case, and they can hardly contain themselves as they exploit it to justify a continuation of the very Patriot Act and FISA powers which Democrats (and, in the case of FISA, Obama himself) long claimed to oppose.  Indeed, key Obama ally Dianne Feinstein has worked diligently in the Senate not just to block Patriot Act reforms, but to make the law even worse, and has repeatedly cited the Zazi case to justify that.  And notably, that’s exactly the same fear-mongering tactic just used by Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey on the Wall St. Journal Op-Ed page to demand there be no changes to the Patriot Act and FISA:

One would think that the arrests last week of Najibullah Zazi, charged with plotting to bomb New York City subways—and of two others charged with planning to blow up buildings in Dallas, Texas, and Springfield, Ill.—would generate support for the intelligence-gathering tools that protect this country from Muslim fanatics. . . .Nevertheless, there is a rear-guard action in Congress to make it more difficult to gather, use and protect intelligence — the only weapon that can prevent an attack rather than simply punish one after the fact. . . . Those who indulge paranoid fantasies of government investigators snooping on the books they take out of the library, and who would roll back current authorities in the name of protecting civil liberties, should consider what legislation will be proposed and passed if the next Najibullah Zazi is not detected.

It’s the Dick Cheney fear-mongering mantra exactly — give us the unchecked power we demand unless you want to be killed by Najibullah Zazi — and it’s coming in equal measure from former Bush officials, Senate Democrats like Dianne Feinstein, and anonymous Obama officials.

* * * * *

All of that, in turn, is justified by the core Bush/Cheney fallacy: if we have Power X and then prevent a Terrorist attack, it proves Power X is justified.  Over and over, that was the formula used by Bush followers to justify everything they did (we tortured/illegally eavesdropped/rendered/detained without trial and used it to stop Terrorist attacks; that proves those powers are necessary).  This is exactly the argument anonymous Obama officials are making here:  we used Patriot Act and FISA powers to disrupt the Zazi plot, so that proves we need those powers in undiluted form to Stay Safe.

But the central fallacy of the Bush/Cheney claim was always obvious:  the fact that certain information was obtained using illegal warrantless eavesdropping doesn’t prove it wouldn’t have been obtained using legal eavesdropping with a FISA warrant.  The same is true for information obtained through torture or trial-free detentions.  It was just pure fear-mongering of the most illogical form: if we had Power A and Good Event B then occurred, that proves Power A caused Event B.  It’s like someone who uses a hammer to kill a fly and — after smashing his whole house up — finally gets the fly and then proudly announces:  “see, this proves that hammers are needed to kill flies; without hammers, flies will get away.”

That’s exactly how Obama officials are exploiting the Zazi case to justify full-scale Patriot Act renewal and FISA preservation.  Nobody is advocating that the surveillance and investigative tools authorized by the Patriot Act and FISA be abolished.  The argument is that the only way to prevent the long history of serious abuseonly if there’s some plausible claim that the reforms would have impeded disruption of the Terrorist plot.  Without such a claim, citing the Zazi case in opposition to reforms is just unadulterated fear-mongering. is to impose more stringent requirements of proof before the government can subject someone to those invasive powers.  The Zazi case is an argument against such reforms

As Marcy Wheeler documents, there is no plausible argument that the Patriot Act and FISA reforms sought by civil libertarians would have impeded the Zazi investigation at all, since the Government had evidence from that start that Zazi was tied to Al-Qaeda and involved in an active terrorist plot, and it used that evidence to obtain court approval.  If anything, the well-executed, apparently law-abiding Zazi investigation proves that these surveillance reforms are perfectly consistent with — not impediments to — effective Terrorism investigations.  Yet here we have the Obama administration anonymously reciting the standard Cheneyite justification for these powers (we stopped a scary Terrorist attack and that proves we need them), and the Post just recites it all uncritically.

* * * * *

What we have here is as obvious as it is familiar:  just two weeks after “adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies,” and in the midst of efforts to fight off limitations on its Patriot Act and FISA powers, the administration dispatches officials to dictate to The Post a picture of the President as a crusading protector against Terrorism and a careful preserver of civil liberties.  They exploit fears over a recent Terrorist plot to justify the continuation of these powers (while praising themselves for refraining from doing exactly that).  And it’s all done anonymously to cast the appearance that we’re getting a valuable (though unauthorized) investigative glimpse into super-secret, high-level, dramatic Terrorism deliberations at the highest levels of government.  All that’s missing is Bob Woodward (though the new one is now clearly on the way).

So, to summarize:  why can’t we reform the Patriot Act and FISA excesses as Democrats long insisted they would do if and when they had power?  Because of this:

That doesn’t exactly feel like “attempting to turn a page” on the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism.

UPDATE:  In the video below, Cato’s Julian Sanchez examines — and absolutely destroys — the fear-mongering claims from Fox News about efforts to reform the Patriot Act and FISA, with a particular focus on Fox’s efforts to use the Zazi plot to justify the need for these powers.  Note, however, that many of the plainly fallacious claims from Fox which Sanchez dissects — particularly the ones related to the Zazi investigation — are quite similar to the ones from the anonymous Obama officials dictated today to Kornblut in the Post: