Thursday, March 22, 2007

GOP’s Sixteen Least Accountable to Square Off in
2007 Unsweet Sixteen

Washington, DC – With the NCAA men’s Sweet Sixteen set to tip off today, the Democratic National Committee announced the brackets for the 2007 GOP Unsweet Sixteen. From the scandal surrounding the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys, to the decision to ignore the American people and escalate the President's failed Iraq strategy, to the failure to provide proper care for our wounded soldiers, the Bush Administration has been one of the most corrupt, least competent and least accountable Administrations in decades. Since taking office, they have consistently focused on protecting their own power instead of doing the people's business. That pattern continues to this day, with President Bush's refusal to allow top White House aides like Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify publicly and under oath about their role in the politically motivated plan to fire eight U.S. Attorneys.

This year's Unsweet Sixteen pits the top eight Bush Administration officials whose incompetence, corruption or cronyism have already cost them their jobs against the eight current Administration officials who most deserve to be fired. Millions of Democratic activists and American voters will have a chance to go online and decide which four officials are so unaccountable and so corrupt they belong in this year's Filthy Four. People can log on to and vote for the Bush Administration official in each bracket who you think deserves to advance to next week's Filthy Four as we work our way to the winner of the 2007 Bushie Award as the most corrupt, least accountable, most incompetent but most loyal past or present Administration official.

In last year's Unsweet Sixteen, Vice President Cheney, former Republican Senate Majority Bill Frist, disgraced former Congressman Bob Ney, and convicted felon and former Bush Pioneer Jack Abramoff advanced to the Filthy Four. Of last year's Unsweet Sixteen, 13 are in jail, out of a job, or lost their election. Visit For a recap of last year's bracket. The following is a breakdown of the brackets for the 2007 GOP Unsweet Sixteen.

Handicapping the 2007 GOP Unsweet Sixteen
Next to Go Bracket I
1. Vice President Dick Cheney: The only veteran of the 2006 Unsweet Sixteen, Cheney returns as a top seed. From his role in the campaign to smear a critic of the Iraq War by outing a covert CIA agent, to his central role in the effort to manipulate pre-war intelligence, to his ongoing ties to Halliburton, to his secret energy task force that recommended huge tax cuts for Cheney's friends in the oil and gas industry, if there's a scandal in the Bush Administration, chances are Cheney's involved. [USA Today, 12/5/05; New York Times, 1/30/01; New Yorker, 10/27/03; Associated Press, 7/18/02]

2. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: His dreadful tenure as White House counsel and his role in the unfolding scandal over the politically motivated firing of eight U.S. Attorneys earns Gonzales a high seed . After first calling the incident "an overblown personnel matter" in a USA Today op-ed, Gonzales went before the cameras just a week later to admit that "mistakes were made" but that he wasn't directly involved. [USA Today, 3/07/07; Washington Post, 03/14/07] Now, newly released "e-mails also show how Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse while he was still White House counsel - weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general." [ABC News, 3/15/07]

3. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson: In the wake of the scandal over the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Nicholson's dreadful tenure as head of the Veterans Administration has catapulted him from a virtual unknown, to a member of the Unsweet Sixteen. From chronic budget shortfalls that have profoundly effected our government's ability to care for America's veterans, to his department's threatening their financial security by first losing the personal information of more than 26 million veterans then reneging on its promise to pay for credit monitoring, Nicholson has proven one of the least competent members of the Administration. [CNN, 5/23/06; New York Times, 8/6/06]

4. White House deputy political director J. Scott Jennings: Perhaps not as well known as the rest of the bracket, Jennings has proven to be a key participant in the plan to fire eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons. Deputy to the White House political director, who reports to Karl Rove, Jennings faces a Congressional subpoena after reports revealed he used an email address registered to the Republican National Committee to discuss the possible firing of the U.S. Attorneys. [AP, 3/16/07; AP, 3/14/07]

Next to Go Bracket II
1. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove: Another perennial powerhouse, Rove is a clear frontrunner in this year's tournament. His role in orchestrating the Bush campaign's despicable fear and smear campaign tactics and his role in the Bush White House putting electoral politics ahead of the interests of the American people are legendary. But he sealed his No.1 seed this week when we learned that the politically motivated plan to fire eight U.S. Attorneys may have started at his desk-or at least his BlackBerry. Despite the fact that the White House initially denied his involvement in the firings, "new unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys was raised by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged." [ABC News, 3/15/07] Of course, by now this sort of deception is hardly a surprise. After all, we learned that Rove was involved in outing Valerie Plame after he denied it, and that Rove had connections to Jack Abramoff after he denied it.

2. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: A true power player, few bear more responsibility for the Bush Administration's dangerously incompetent foreign policy than Rice. As National Security Advisor, Rice was there when the President took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and oversaw his Adminstration's failure to plan for the occupation of Iraq. Now, on her watch as Secretary of State, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and Iran is moving closer to acquiring their own nuclear weapon. Worse still, Rice was the architect of some of the most egregious misrepresentations in the run-up to the war (remember, "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"; "there were ties going on between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime"; etc). Rice was also a member of the White House Iraq Group formed to sell the Iraq War to the American people. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

3. Cheney Chief of Staff David Addington: After Scooter Libby's resignation last year, Addington has carried the mantle. More than just a key player in the Bush Administration's campaign to smear critics of the Iraq War, Addington was a leading architect of Vice President Cheney's campaign to broaden the scope of the Executive Branch's authority, expand executive privilege and limit Congressional oversight and accountability.

4. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson: The consummate team player, Jackson may have taken his zeal for cronyism a little too far when he told an audience in Dallas that Bush Administration critics are less likely to get government contracts. In an April 2006 speech, Jackson told an anecdote about a prospective African American HUD contractor who had made a "heck of a proposal" and was selected upon the basis of that proposal, but upon thanking Secretary Jackson for being selected the bidder, mentioned that he did not like President Bush. As a result, Jackson said, the bidder who had criticized Bush did not receive the contract. Jackson asked the crowd, "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract." [Dallas Business Journals, 5/08/06]

Out Already Bracket I
1. Former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld: His incompetence aside, Rumsfeld earned his No. 1 seed based on the impact his mismanagement has had on our armed forces. Through his failure to plan for the post-war occupation of the Iraq, his mismanagement of the war, and his refusal to tell the American people the truth about the realities on the ground there, Rumsfeld's failed leadership put our troops in the middle of a civil war and stretched the military dangerously thin. As a Military Times editorial noted days before he was ousted, "Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt." [Military Times, 11/6/06] Of course, Rumsfeld was also the architect of some of the most egregious misrepresentations used to sell the war to the American people. Rumsfeld called estimates that the war would cost $300 billion "baloney," said the idea that "it's going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind" was wrong, and denied that the Administration was painting a too rosy picture of the war. [This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 1/19/03; Steve Croft Interview with Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02; Duluth News-Tribune, 6/24/05]

2. Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers: If only that Supreme Court thing had worked out. Since right-wing activists torpedoed her nomination, Miers' role in the politically motivated firing of eight U.S. Attorneys has come to light. Emails reveal that Miers had been involved in the discussion on whether to fire the U.S. Attorneys at least as far back as February 2005 and that her office was deeply involved in shaping the list of Attorneys fired. [Washington Post, 3/13/07] Now, the White House continues to refuse to allow Miers to testify publicly and under oath about her role in the firings. [, 3/20/07]

3. Former Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley: Fired after allowing the conditions facing wounded soldiers receiving outpatient patient care at Walter Reed to reach deplorable levels on his watch, Lt. Gen. Kiley clinched his spot in the Unsweet Sixteen with his sheer audacity. Everyone else in the country knew the Walter Reed scandal was another Hurricane Katrina moment for the Bush Administration. Yet, before he was fired, Lt. Gen. Kiley "denied that there had been a 'breakdown of leadership' and criticized the Washington Post stories that exposed problems at the hospital." [Los Angeles Times, 3/3/07]

4. Former FEMA Administrator Michael Brown: In an Administration stocked with unqualified and incompetent-but well connected-cronies, none stands out more than former FEMA Director Michael Brown. More than 18 months after his resignation, Brown's presence in the Unsweet Sixteen is a stark reminder of the Bush Administration's failure to keep its promises to Gulf Coast residents. More than 110,000 families still live in temporary housing, violent crime in New Orleans has surged, health care is limited, parts of New Orleans are "still in ruins," and promised recovery funds remain unspent. [AP, 2/28/07; Cox News, 2/26/07; Wall Street Journal, 1/30/07]

Out Already Bracket II
1. Former Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby: Widely regarded as the fall guy for the Bush Administration's campaign to smear critics of the Iraq War, Libby's selfless commitment to the team earns him a top seed. Libby could face up to 25 years in prison after being convicted on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from the investigation into who leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative in a time of war in order to smear critics of the Administration's plan to invade Iraq. [Associated Press, 3/7/07] A member of the White House Iraq Group, which was formed to sell the war to the American people, Libby's conviction makes him the "highest level White House official convicted of a crime since the Iran-Contra scandal." [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/07]

2. Former Gonzalez Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson: The Justice Department official Attorney General Gonzales put "in charge of the dismissals" of eight U.S. Attorneys, Sampson appears to have been a key point of contact with the White House as the plan was developed. Following Libby's lead, Sampson seems to be taking the fall for his superiors. He resigned last week, reportedly because "he did not tell key Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress." [Washington Post, 3/13/07]

3. Former White House Procurement Chief David Safavian: Arrested on charges of making false statements to an ethics official and obstruction of a General Services Agency investigation, Safavian was the Bush Administration's chief contracting and procurement official at OMB. Led out of the White House in handcuffs, Safavian faced charges stemming from his efforts to avoid being held accountable for taking undisclosed golf trips to Scotland with Republican mega-lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff and disgraced former Congressman and convicted felon Bob Ney. [DOJ Release, 9/19/05] The investigation into Safavian was the start of the long litany of lies and denials about the connection between members of the Bush Administration and other Republicans in Washington and convicted criminal and former Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

4. Former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles: Formerly the No. 2 person at the Interior Department, Griles "was told last month he faces possible criminal charges of lying to Congress and fraud in the Jack Abramoff bribery and influence-peddling scandal." [AP, 2/16/07] A former energy industry lobbyist, Griles used his position to arrange "meetings between Interior officials and former clients and partners," and helped steer millions of dollars in contracts to former clients. During his tenure as Deputy Interior Secretary, "Griles continued to receive $284,000 a year, in addition to his Interior salary, as part of a four-year severance package from his former lobbying and consulting firm." [AP, 1/31/05] Griles is another early example of the Bush Administration denying its links to Abramoff.

No comments: