President George W. Bush tried to stop Attorney General Michael Mukasey from launching a criminal investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s destruction of tapes showing torture of a prisoner and has ordered top White House officials to stonewall the probe, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.
Bush is reportedly “livid” that Mukasey went ahead with the investigation and even discussed firing the attorney general but senior administration officials talked the President out of taking an action that would add fuel to suspicions of a cover-up.
While the administration may put on a public face of cooperation, the White House will take a tough stance from prosecutors who will seek interviews with current and former administration officials who participated in a meeting where destruction of the videotapes was discussed.
The Bush Administration "condemned former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to death" by ignoring warnings from that she would "almost certainly be assassinated" if she returned to her native country, intelligence sources tell Capitol Hill Blue.
An assessment prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency said Bhutto would not be safe if she returned to Pakistan but the Bush White House ignored the warning and dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to London to persuade Bhutto to go home and seek political office.
"If the former Prime Minister were to return to Pakistan, she would almost certainly be assassinated," said the CIA assessment, prepared by agency operatives on the ground in that country.
"The Bush Administration murdered Benazir Bhutto by convincing her to return to Pakistan," a former CIA operative said this week. "She was doomed the second the set foot on Pakastani soil. The White House condemned her to death by talking her into returning."
President George W. Bush clashed again with Congress over the Iraq war Friday, rejecting a US military spending bill on the grounds it would throw up legal obstacles to reconstruction money.
"The aggregate financial impact of these provisions on Iraq would be devastating," Bush said in a memo released by the White House, outlining his reasons for rejecting the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
President Bush, still voicing concern about special project spending by Congress, signed a $555 billion bill Wednesday that funds the Iraq war well into 2008 and keeps government agencies running through next September.
Bush's signed the massive spending bill as he flew on Air Force One to his Texas ranch here to see in the new year. His signature on the legislation caps a long-running fight with the Democratic-run Congress.
A federal judge appeared reluctant Friday to investigate the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes while the Justice Department is conducting its own inquiry.
U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy is considering whether to delve into the matter and, if so, how deeply. The Bush administration is urging him to back off while it investigates.
"Why should the court not permit the Department of Justice to do just that?" Kennedy asked at a court hearing.
President Bush, successful in forcing the Democratic Congress to bend to his will, complained that lawmakers had wasted time and taxpayers' money. His aggressive stand set a confrontational tone for Bush's final year in the White House.
Bush used a year-end news conference Thursday to scold lawmakers for stuffing 9,800 special-interest projects into a $550 billion spending measure. He directed his budget director to explore how to erase what Bush considers wasteful spending.
The Bush administration has made its position clear in legal filings and now gets a chance to say it to a judge in open court: Hold off on inquiring about the destruction of CIA videotapes that showed suspected terrorists being interrogated.
U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy ordered the hearing Friday over the objection of the Justice Department after lawyers raised questions about the possibility that other evidence also might have been destroyed.
Kennedy, appointed to the trial court by President Clinton, is considering whether to delve into the matter and, if so, how deeply.
Under a subpoena threat, the CIA is expected to quickly begin turning over to Congress documents related to the destruction of videotapes showing the harsh interrogation of two terror suspects.
The agency could begin producing the material as early as Thursday, according to senior intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ongoing investigations into the destruction of the tapes in 2005.
The White House on Wednesday defended its response to disclosures about the CIA's destruction of videotapes that showed harsh interrogations of two terrorism suspects.
The New York Times reported that at least four White House lawyers participated in discussions with the CIA between 2003 and 2005 about whether the tapes should be destroyed.
The Times said the lawyers' participation showed White House officials were more extensively involved than the Bush administration has acknowledged.
Thick smoke billowed from a fire Wednesday in Vice President Dick Cheney's suite of offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House.
Cheney's office, known for its historical furnishings and ornate decorations, was damaged by smoke and water from fire hoses, officials said. There was concern about water damage to the floor, made of mahogany, white maple and cherry and considered to be very delicate.
The adjacent office of the vice president's political director, Amy Whitelaw, was heavily damaged by fire, said Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride.