Reading through Murray Waas' latest piece in the National Journal is an amazing trip into the mental state of a number of folks involved at the highest levels of the Traitorgate scandal. And provides an important glimpse into how maintaining power and having an "ends justifies the means" attitude can get you into a whole lot of hot water when you forget to follow the law (or simply choose to ignore the law altogether because it doesn't suit your needs, you pick).
Waas provides a piece of the puzzle that had long been lingering out there -- what got Novak and Rove on the phone in the first place. Or at least, what they say got them on the phone.
Instead, the voluminous material on Rove's desk -- including talking points, related briefing materials, and information culled from confidential government personnel files -- involved a different woman: Frances Fragos Townsend, a former senior attorney in the Clinton administration's Justice Department whom President Bush had recently named to be his deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.Waas also provides some context for Adam Levine, Rove's protege, who provided some cover for Karl back in October -- we can now surmise that cover related to some of this Townsend rationale for the Novak conversation, in addition to the after-Cooper conversation that he and Rove are said to have had.
Bush had personally assigned Rove to help counter what the president believed to be a "rearguard" effort within his own administration, by persons unknown, to discredit Townsend and derail her appointment, according to White House documents and accounts given by former and current officials.
One interesting aspect to Waas' article that intrigues me is that Libby and Addington and the VPs office (including, presumably, Dick Cheney himself) opposed Francis Townsend with much the same intensity that they did Joe Wilson. Same modus operendi: gather substantial oppo research, including personnel records and any classified materials they could lay their hands on; lay blame on the spouse (in Townsend's case, her husband, because he was an Andover and Yale graduate just liek the Preznit); and use high pressure tactics and selective media leaks to sink her nomination and credibility.
Sound like any other case we might be following? That pattern of behavior is sure to have caught Fitz and his staff and investigators' eyes as well, I can tell you that. Especially if Townsend and Wilson aren't the only ones to have received the full on Cheney and Libby Special.
A few observations on my first full pass through this article:
-- Bob Novak does not like to be ignored. And he gets exceptionally peevish when he feels that is happening. Wonder if Bob was piqued for the same reason when he spouted off to the Locke Foundation? How many other revelations in this case can we attribute to ego, pique and crankiness?
-- If this represents a pattern of behavior in political take-down and payback for Libby, Addington and Cheney, there will be more people who will recognize this having happened to them. And as revenge is a powerful motive, they may come forward. A pattern of behavior isn't proof, but it sure can be a whole lot of circumstantial information alongside evidence. I'd bet Fitz and staff have already been looking into this in spades.
-- Was there the same sort of talking points dossier prepared for every potential media contingency by the WH press machine? If so, wonder if Fitz has gotten his hands on the whole of the Wilson work-up? Both from the WH and from the VPs office -- and I wonder how those differ?
-- David Addington's name sure is mentioned a lot. Hmmmm...
Am going to have to take some time, and piece back through some further thoughts on this. There are a number of loose ends that I want to try and tie down, but that's my first pass on the article. It's a lot, especially on inner workings of a WH that prides itself on keeping the doors firmly shut on thought process, which leads me to believe that there are a few people very unhappy with Rover and his mouth, and are hoping maybe things won't go so well for him. Or maybe this is some other public relations backflip from Luskin's pals, trying to paint everything as a Libby and Co. plot. Either way, its a glimpse into an operation that could make Machiavelli envious, and that is truly saying something.
Oh, and for everyone who has been fretting over Novak's retirement funds, since CNN cut him loose, not to worry: Fox picked up his contract.
Crooks & Liars and TalkLeft have more.