Rep. Rogers: We Should Have Considered Executing Daniel Ellsberg

We had Congressman Mike Rogers on MSNBC today regarding his controversial comments calling for capital punishment of Pvt. Manning, who is charged with releasing classified information to Wikileaks.

Rep. Rogers was very clear and re-iterated his call for execution of Bradley Manning if he is convicted of the charges because he believes they are tanamount to treason.

But he went further when I asked him what he would have done with Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers. He said he wasn't clear on the facts of that case, but if Ellsberg had released information that put soldiers in the field at risk that he would have "absolutely" callled for his execution. I don't think even Nixon went that far.

I've actually said before that I understand why the military has to arrest and punish leakers like Pvt. Manning. As much as those leaks added clarity to the kind of wars we've conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can understand why the military can't have privates making that decision on their own. However, I do think there is an option between not doing anything and executing him.

And what would happen if we held other leakers like Scooter Libby, Bob Novak and Karl Rove to Congressman Rogers' standard? Eventually, all three admitted that they released the name of a secret operative to the press when they outed Valerie Plame (they claimed they didn't know how secret her role was and eventually there was no trial on the substance because Scooter Libby obstructed the investigation -- and was convicted for doing so). Leaking her identity could have gotten her and her contacts in the field killed. Should Libby, Novak and Rove been tried for treason and executed?

Finally, it also seems pretty clear that someone close to Gen. McChrystal leaked his plan for Afghanistan before President Obama made his decision on escalation (this was before the on-the-record interviews with Rolling Stone). Should we find who that guy is and hang him, too? What if it was Gen. McChrystal himself? And how come Republicans weren't calling for executions during all of those leaks?

It turns out that things get pretty messy once you start calling for executions. Let's take a deep breath and figure out what the real solution is to a whistleblower that reveals important information that the public has a right to know but violates clear military rules to do so. That's a complicated question and one that doesn't get solved by killing anyone.

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Rep. Rogers Wants to Execute Manning, But Voted for Taliban Funding

Rep. Mike Rogers has called for the death penalty for Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, but himself last week voted for funds which a congressional report shows end up funding weapons and explosives used by the Taliban for attacks on American troops.  The amount of U.S. funds going to the Taliban in "protection payments" for truck convoys is estimated between $100 million to $400 million per year.  For comparison, the amount the Taliban takes in from opium profits is about $300 million per year.

CBS News reports:

"(CBS)  Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are fueling corruption in Afghanistan and funding the insurgency, according to a six-month investigation by the House subcommittee on National Security and Foreign affairs.

The committee's chairman, Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., told CBS News: "the business is war and the war is business and you've got ‘Warlord Inc.' going on over there."

Committee investigators found that private contractors in Afghanistan have been paying local warlords, criminals, government officials and a list of others for security on Afghanistan's roads, to get much needed supplies to U.S and NATO bases. But even worse, anecdotal evidence indicates that U.S. tax dollars are also going into the hands of the Taliban, who own many of the roads and areas through which the trucking convoys have to pass, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

That would mean that the U.S. is literally funding the enemy, as violence escalates daily in Afghanistan and more U.S soldiers and Marines are dying than ever before in this war.

"This is the tip of the iceberg," Tierney said in an interview with CBS News"

It also means that while the U.S. has been publicly pointing fingers at the Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai for not cleaning up corruption in his government, in fact the U.S. is a huge part of the corruption problem..."What shocked me is the constant call of the contractors to bring it to the attention of the Department of Defense," Tierney said."

The report was issued to the House of Representatives on June 22, one month before 308 members of the House, including Rep. Rogers, voted for more funding for the war in Afghanistan, including that which would continue going to the contractors in the report.  The payments to the Taliban continue, the report notes, because there is no other way to move such huge amounts of supplies to the 200 American bases.   A former Defense Department contracting officer said in the report:

"the heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The [Afghan security companies run by warlords] don't really protect convoys of American military goods here, because they simply can't; they need the Taliban's cooperation."

 Knowledge of the payments to the Taliban go far back in time.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in testimony to Congress last November 2009:

"You offload a ship in Karachi and by the time whatever it is – you know, muffins for our soldiers’ breakfasts or anti-IED equipment – gets to where we’re headed, it goes through a lot of hands. And one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money."

 In addition, the Wikileaks documents shows that supposed American allies in Pakistan beyond a doubt helped attack American troops.  An ABC News report entitled "WikiLeaks Data Seem to Show Pakistan Helped Attack American Troops" says:

  "Perhaps the single most damming collection of data in a massive trove of secret documents from Afghanistan released by the website WikiLeaks is some 180 files that seem to show Pakistan's premiere intelligence service, the ISI, helping the Afghan insurgency attack American troops. The United States provides more than a billion dollars to Pakistan each year for help in fighting terrorism, but the papers seem to link the ISI with major Afghan insurgent commanders..."

Shadowy connections between the Pakistani military and the Taliban have long been suspected.  However, it has never revealed by the Army's own classified documents to extend to the participation of high-ranking ISI officers in the planning of attacks on American troops.  

Rep. Rogers' campaign contributions from the military contracting industry are consistently in the top 20 out of over 400 congressmen. And Rep. John Tierney has handed those in Congress who would stop the wars a cannon with which it could be done. The question is, why aren't they using it?

Defense industry contributions, Rogers, aerospace:

Aggregated Defense contributions, Rogers:

Rep. Mike Rogers contact form:

(he only takes form email from constituents but can ask campaign manager to forward to him: Tripp Skipper, Campaign Manager  )



AL-03: Race to Watch(Segall v. Rogers)

The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) recently updated its Red to Blue list, which highlights the most promising Democratic campaigns across the country. Added to the list was AL-03, where Joshua Segall is making an exciting bid to unseat GOP incumbent Mike Rogers.

What makes this a race to watch? At just Twenty-nine years old, newcomer Joshua Segall is shaking up an historically GOP-locked district, running a campaign that promises to put government back in the hands of the people our tax dollars where we need 'em most - in good paying jobs here at home, green fuels, rebuilding our infrastructure, expanding affordable broadband access, and better health care for our veterans.

Josh's momentum is good evidence of what many of us already knew - voters are tired of representatives paying lip service to their constituents then siding with big business and oil. Rogers, responsible for casting the deciding vote in CAFTA (a trade deal that resulted in the loss of more than 15,000 jobs in his state) and handing out billions in tax giveaways to oil companies, is learning this lesson in a painful way. In just the last couple of months, Segall has dented Roger's lead by 18%, making this a winnable seat for the Dems.

With Obama heading the Democratic ticket, come November Segall can count on a galvanized African-American vote to shrink, and possibly, seal the gap. Keep your eye on this one. It's going to be exciting.

There's more...

Time to get serious about expanding the field (AL-03, NJ-05, CA-46, KY-01, IA-05)

Americans appear ready to sweep a lot of Democrats into office on November 4. Not only does Barack Obama maintain a solid lead in the popular vote and electoral vote estimates, several Senate races that appeared safe Republican holds a few months ago are now considered tossups.

Polling is harder to come by in House races, but here too there is scattered evidence of a coming Democratic tsunami. Having already lost three special Congressional elections in red districts this year, House Republicans are now scrambling to defend many entrenched incumbents.

In this diary, I hope to convince you of three things:

1. Some Republicans who never saw it coming are going to be out of a job in two weeks.

On a related note,

2. Even the smartest experts cannot always predict which seats offer the best pickup opportunities.

For that reason,

3. Activists should put resources behind many under-funded challengers now, instead of going all in for a handful of Democratic candidates.

Allow me to elaborate.

1. A lot of seemingly safe incumbents have lost in wave elections, even in districts tilted toward their own party.

The Republican landslide of 1994 claimed my own Congressman Neal Smith, a 36-year incumbent who had a senior position on the House Appropriations Committee. Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley spent "what aides say may total $1.5 million to $2 million, a staggering amount for a House race" in 1994, but he still lost to George Nethercutt in Washington's fifth district.

Many of you probably remember long-serving House and Senate Democrats in your own states who were swept away in the Reagan landslide of 1980.

By the same token, a lot of entrenched Republicans lost their seats during the 1974 post-Watergate wave. That was the year Iowans elected Tom Harkin and Berkley Bedell in the fifth and sixth Congressional districts, where both candidates had lost elections in 1972.

2. Even the political pros and the best analysts cannot always handicap Congressional races accurately, especially House races where public polls are scarce.

In 2006, could anyone have predicted that Lois Murphy (who almost beat Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach two years earlier) would fall short again in PA-06, while the massively under-funded Carol Shea-Porter would defeat Jeb Bradley in NH-01?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poured millions into IL-06 in 2006, only to see Tammy Duckworth lose to Peter Roskam. Meanwhile, Larry Kissell didn't get the time of day from the DCCC and came just a few hundred votes short of beating Republican incumbent Robin Hayes in NC-08.

My point is that we can't always know where our best chances lie. Sometimes a stealth candidate can catch an incumbent napping in a race that hasn't been targeted by either party.

Look at the seats Republicans are now worried about, according to Politico:

GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives, a reversal of fortunes that has caught even the most astute campaign observers by surprise.

Markos commented on the Politico piece,

Shadegg's AZ-03 is R+5.9.
Terry's NE-02 is R+9.0.
Brown's SC-01 is R+9.6
Lungren's CA-03 is R+6.7.

We haven't had any public polls in Iowa's fourth or fifth district races, but last week Republican incumbent Tom Latham (IA-04, D+0) released his first negative television ad, suggesting that his internal polls may show Becky Greenwald gaining on him.

I can't tell you today who will win on November 4, but I guarantee you that some Democrats in "tossup" seats will lose, even as other Democrats take over "likely Republican" or "safe Republican" districts. Which brings me to my third point.

3. We need to expand the field of Republican-held districts we're playing for.

Thankfully, the bad old days when the DCCC would target 22 races, hoping to win 15, are just a memory. The DCCC has put more than 60 Republican-held seats in the "Red to Blue" category. Not all of those seats have seen media buys or other significant financial investment from the DCCC, however.

Plus, as I mentioned above, Dan Lungren is sweating bullets in CA-03, which isn't even on the Red to Blue list.

In 2006 we won at least two seats that were not in the Red to Blue program (IA-02 and NH-01) and came oh, so close in NC-08.

The bottom line is that a lot of Democratic challengers with the potential to win are not getting the support of the DCCC. This post at Swing State Project lists lots of seats once thought safe for Republicans, which are becoming competitive.

Where can netroots fundraising have the most impact? In my view, it's in the winnable districts where there will be no influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the DCCC or other outside groups. Many of these are districts where an additional $50,000 or even $25,000 can make the difference.

The mother of all moneybombs dumped three-quarters of a million dollars into Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign in 24 hours over the weekend. It was a strong statement against the intolerance and bigotry Michelle Bachmann (MN-06) displayed on Hardball.

While I respect the enthusiasm, I can't agree with those who are still asking the netroots to give to Tinklenberg, even after he's collected more than $750,000 and the DCCC has promised to put $1 million into this race. Tinklenberg now has the resources to run an aggressive paid media and GOTV effort for the next two weeks. He probably has more money than he can spend effectively with so little time left.

Raising $50,000 for each of ten good challengers would be a better use of our energy than continuing to push activists to give to Tinklenberg.

Remember, few challengers are able to match incumbents dollar-for-dollar, but that doesn't mean they can't win. They don't need to match incumbent spending, but they do need the resources to improve their name recognition and capitalize on the Democratic wave.

Which House races should we target for a moneybomb? I would suggest looking at the list of candidates on the Blue America '08 page at Act Blue, as well as the candidates endorsed by Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund. We have good reason to believe that those candidates will stand up for progressive values.

I would then pick a few Democrats on those lists who are not benefiting from large independent expenditures by the DCCC or others. Some of the late additions to the Red to Blue list deserve more help from the netroots, such as Josh Segall in AL-03, whose Republican opponent recently bragged about his plans to be "the biggest pain in Nancy Pelosi's ass."

Our money will go further in districts with relatively inexpensive paid media. On a thread at a different blog, someone suggested GA-10, where the Democratic candidate is Bobby Saxon.

I would also favor candidates taking on particularly odious incumbents, such as Dennis Shulman (running against Scott Garrett in NJ-05) and Debbie Cook (facing Dana Rohrbacher in CA-46). RDemocrat has written a book's worth of material on why we should support Heather Ryan against "Exxon Ed" Whitfield in KY-01.

And what kind of Iowan would I be if I didn't mention Rob Hubler, who is taking on Steve King in IA-05? My fellow Iowa blogger 2laneIA published this comprehensive diary showing that if we're talking about the most ignorant and bigoted wingnuts in Congress, King gives Michelle Bachmann a run for her money. Click the link to read all about King's "greatest hits," including his suggestion that we electrify the border fence with Mexico like we do "with livestock," his prediction that terrorists will be "dancing in the streets" if Obama becomes president, and his pride in working to scale back funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (which he calls Socialist Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents). King considers his work to reduce SCHIP funding a "key moment" in his Congressional career.

Amazingly, there's even more to dislike about King than 2laneIA had room to mention in that piece. For instance, while still a state senator, King was a leading advocate for Iowa's "official English" law, which was adopted in 2002. Then he filed a lawsuit in 2007 to stop the Iowa Secretary of State's office from providing voter information in languages besides English. It's not for nothing that Ann Coulter calls King "one of my favorites."

Hubler is a good progressive who spoke out against the FISA bill and supports the Responsible Plan for Iraq. I just found out recently that during the 1980s he was INFACT's national director of the boycott against Nestle. Hubler also happens to be running a great campaign, but he is not getting much outside help except from Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund, which has sent an organizer to work on the campaign.

Two dozen House Democrats already represent districts with a partisan voting index of R+5 or worse. We should be able to increase that number in two weeks and send home Republicans who didn't even realize they were in trouble.

Few people have enough money to donate to every worthy Democratic candidate. But if the netroots could raise more than three-quarters of a million dollars for Elwyn Tinklenberg in just over 48 hours, we ought to be able to raise $50,000 each for ten good challengers, whose races are relatively low-profile.

Who's with me on this, and which districts should we target?

There's more...

Turn Alabama True Blue, Progressive Blue in AL-03 with Josh Segall

Want to help defeat conservatism right in the heart of Red America?  How about Alabama, Heart of Dixie, where 29 year old attorney Josh Segall is the latest addition to the DCCC's Red to Blue list.  If elected, Segall won't be just another Blue Dog Democrat -- he's a true progressive, a better Democrat in a place where merely more Democrats would be welcome.

The Democratic party can and should take back Alabama's 3rd District this year. The seat was held by a Democrat from 1875 until the 1996 election when Glen Browder retired and (now governor) Bob Riley won election to Congress as a moderate Republican. It was an open seat in 2002, a terrible year for Southern Democrats. The DCCC pulled out of the race late and Joe Turnham was completely off the air for a full two weeks before election day.  He lost by only 3800 votes. It's kind of poetic justice that the DCCC is stepping in to help Segall -- late, but not too late to make a critical difference in the race.

There's more...


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