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Saturday, October 15, 2005

How Should I Say This...

As many of you know, the NY Times finally published their initial version of the Judy, Judy, Judy story. Its...interesting. And at times infuriating. But mostly just chock full of what ifs for me. Thought I'd do a run-through of the things that jump out at me the most, as a quick pass, and then will go back and hit some points more in depth in individual posts today and tomorrow. I took two initial pages of notes on my first read-through, but I'm going to condense on this first pass.

Well, I'll say this for Judy Miller -- she knows how to blow a lot of smoke at her fellow reporters at the NY Times. The reporters' tone in their initial story on the Judy connection in all of this was...erm..pissed, to put it mildly.

My first "arrrrgh" moment in the article came at it's 4th paragraph. You know, the one where Judy says she believes the "Valerie Flame" notation comes from another source other than Libby. But, um, she, um, can't remember that source, either.

And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how "Valerie Flame" appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard it from him. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall," she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today.
Come on! You had 85 days to sit on your butt and do nothing but think about this case, and you can't remember who first told you the name of the CIA NOC at the center of this mess? You have to be kidding me if you think any of us are buying that, let alone Patrick Fitzgerald.

I mean, honestly, there are memory lapses. And then there is just plain idiocy and obstruction. I'm voting for the latter.

The next thing that hit me was that Pinch Sulzberger heard that Judy had been told about Plame, including her name and, presumably then, that Judy was also told that Valerie Wilson was a WMD specialist in WINPAC -- not from Judy, but from Times reporters working on this story.

But Mr. Sulzberger and the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, knew few details about Ms. Miller's conversations with her confidential source other than his name. They did not review Ms. Miller's notes. Mr. Keller said he learned about the "Valerie Flame" notation only this month. Mr. Sulzberger was told about it by Times reporters on Thursday.
Good heavens, how dense do you have to be to not ask your reporter why she is protecting her source? It was a written policy of the NY Times, and still is, that sources who are using a reporter for criminal means or who are lying to the reporter are not protected sources. Shouldn't Keller and Sulzburger at least asked Judy why it was so damned important that she keep her mouth shut for Scooter Libby? Since when is it whistleblowing to out someone who works for the CIA because her husband pissed you off?!?

And yet, does Pinch have any regrets about how things were handled? Nope. Sure doesn't. I swear, the man is an ostrich with his head buried so far down in the sand he doesn't even remember what the light of day looks like.

But as I'm reading the article, the thing that keeps creeping into my mind is that the reporters are really painting Judy as an egotistical bitch, and a massive Diva -- the Maria Callas of the newsroom, but without the awesome voice any longer to justify the kid glove treatment she is clearly getting from the management.

Douglas Frantz, who succeeded Mr. Engelberg as investigative editor, recalled that Ms. Miller once called herself "Miss Run Amok."

"I said, 'What does that mean?' " said Mr. Frantz, who was recently appointed managing editor at The Los Angeles Times. "And she said, 'I can do whatever I want.' "

Ms. Miller said she remembered the remark only vaguely but must have meant it as a joke, adding, "I have strong elbows, but I'm not a dope."

The snark over Judy's hotel, spa and martini jaunt after being sprung from prison was especially thick, wasn't it? Why do I feel like this story isn't even half-way out yet in terms of NY Times leaks to other news organizations from pissed off reporters. (btw, feel free to e-mail me if you are one -- I'm more than happy to help dish on this.)

Of course, why wouldn't they be pissed. She wouldn't cooperate with them over two interviews. Guess she has to save something for the book deal -- and she couldn't really be bothered to help the newspaper where she has been doing her reporting, what with having to trot off to receive a First Amendment award for keeping her mouth shut and all.

The relationship with Libby? Very cozy -- her "good faith source?" More like cooperative philosophies than source and skeptical, independent reporter. Her tone softens in quotes about Libby, which is odd considering she just spent all that time in jail because of him. She did, apparently, give the goods to Fitz on him though -- the knife twist of saying the letter from Libby regarding prior testimony seemed like coaching to her, too, was unexpected, I must say. But good.
At least she was clearly saying that the information about Wilson's wife came from Libby and not the other way around. We were all thinking that, but couldn't be sure until we heard it from the weasel's mouth. Ahem.

Don't know what to make of the whole Libby/Tate/Judy/Abrams mess of who was telling what to whom about testimony. But I will say this: if Tate was in any way trying to tell her how to testify, or to tell her not to testify if she would be adverse to Libby's interests, then he could be in trouble along with his client.

I was appalled on behalf of reporters at the Times that they knew Judy's source from independent reporting, but weren't allowed to report it. That the editorial staff sat on stories that might hint at anything that would touch on Judy's issues. I mean, there is (a) protecting your reporter and her first amendment rights, and there is (b) a cult of personality and protecting the paper's asses from anyone finding out that it was complicit in enabling the Administration to br4eak the law. Raise your hand if (b) sounds more plausible.

The one other bit that jumped out at me was the wording on what her testimony was limited to -- the article says "Libby and the Wilson matter." To me, it would be nice to know whether that was vetted wording from Bob Bennett. And, if so, that is worded much broader than just about Libby. Maybe. Or, it is just about Libby and everything dealing with Wilson, and no potential illegalities that Judy might know about prior to the Wilson matter coming up. Or...well, it is pointless to speculate on this, but some clarification from someone at the Times on how this was meant would be nice.

As I said, that's my first pass. I'm going to go line by line now and will post more detailed analysis this evening and tomorrow. As will Jane. Can't wait to wade through comments on this -- whew! For a weasel, she at least knows how to throw a lot of smoke up in the air.

UPDATE: And I see that Karl Rove cancelled this morning's appearance at the Kilgore pancake breakfast fundraiser in Tyson's Corner. Curious. Didn't go back to work yesterday. No appearance today. Hmmmm....

UPDATE #2: Missed this and caught it as I was going back through my notes. Why would Miller lie to her editor, Taubman, when he asked if she was one of the journalist to whom disclosure was made about Plame that were reported in the WaPo? If she had, indeed, been trying to get Abramson to let her write a story about Wilson and his wife, and had told Abramson that she had sources on the story, why then turn around and lie to Taubman and say that no one from the WH had told her about Plame? That makes absolutely no logical sense and just paints her as a big liar. (Like she needs help with that, anyway, with all the "I don't recall." crap, but still...)


"Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby."

Noted fiction writer Judith Miller has her latest work up at the New York Times. Elsewhere in the Times others try to fathom why she is sometimes referred to as a journalist.

Please feel free to leave your observations, impressions and snarks in the comments, we'll be posting on all of this shortly and anxious to hear what everyone has to say.

Boy, emptywheel and Tom Maguire sure picked a helluva weekend to go on vacation.


Let Me Explain It To You Slowly

Matt Yglasias is right. If the new line of defense on Traitorgate is, as Bill Kristol's piece in the Weekly Standard implies, that worse leaks than this happen all the time in DC, it's a really perverse argument:
From where I sit, if Bill Kristol has a credible allegation of criminal conduct on the part of Richard Armitage or George Tenet to make, I'd be happy to hear it. Not "happy" as in "call Kristol's bluff happy," but "happy" as in "we can throw as many Bush administration officials in jail as he likes" happy.
On the other hand, Roger Simon is on 'ludes:
I don’t know Judy Miller, but I doubt any journalist would spend 85 days in jail for money, even a lot of money.
Methinks Roger is a tad out of touch with the economic realities of everyday Americans. Everyone who wouldn't do 85 days in the can for $1.2 million dollars raise your hand.


The Last Pieces?

Karl Rove spent 4 1/2 hours before the Special Grand Jury yesterday, answering questions from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the men and women of the jury regarding discrepencies in his testimony in three prior grand jury appearances and from prior discussions with the FBI during the investigation of this matter.

In my mind, 4 1/2 hours is an awfully long time to be talking just about differences between Rove's testimony and Matt Cooper's, so what else did Karl spill -- or not -- while on the stand?

The clues to this testimony are in the always cryptic remarks of sources familiar with Rove's testimony, i.e. from Rove himself or from someone on his legal defense team, which is the most likely source in my mind.

From the WaPo:
The grand jury investigating the CIA leak case pressed White House senior adviser Karl Rove yesterday to more fully explain his conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame, including discrepancies between his testimony and the account provided by a key witness in the investigation, according to a source familiar with Rove's account.

Making his fourth appearance before the grand jury, Rove answered a broad range of questions for 4 1/2 hours, including why he did not initially tell federal agents about a July 2003 conversation about Plame with the witness, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, the source said.

Note that this is conversation(S) and reporter(S) (as in multiple, and we know about Cooper and Novak, but does this include also Chris Matthews and the famous "Wilson's wife is fair game."? Does this include Tim Russert from Meet the Press?

Does this also include Judy Miller -- and is that why her second day of testimony was vital, or was that all about Libby and nothing else? Or Walter Pincus? Or....well, we know a lot of the other players, but at this juncture most of them aren't reporting about what they, the reporters, know, so we have to guess. How about some reporting on this, instead, huh? (looking forward to the Judypalooza article, as I'm sure everyone else is.)

The "source" went on to say that the grand jury itself was very interested in discrepencies in testimony. And regarding the "missing e-mail" and how it "refreshed" Rove's recollection of his talk with Cooper -- conveniently in my mind right before Rove had to testify again in this matter. (ooooh, what I wouldn't give to know whether Fitz or Rove found that e-mail or information about it first.)

While Rove's defense team continues using the "no crime committed here, no, uh uh, no intent to be mean at all" defense, the next paragraph in the WaPo article struck me. Either the reporter caught the source in a serious moment of weakness (and perhaps one brewski too many) or they are already trying the pre-indictment spin out to see if it flies.

...nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks, the source said.

The "source" (cough...Luskin...cough) is clearly floating the "creative charges" theory that Toensing has been muttering all over the known universe over the last week. Wow, who knew a statute that has been on the books since 1917 could be a creative charge? I mean, I thought the Espionage Act and the requirements of the SF 312 for security clearance were pretty clear and straightforward and on the books for ages. Ahem.

Clearly Carol Leonnig and Jim VandeHei of the WaPo are thinking that something bigger than just an after-investigation report is coming down the pike. They've named Libby and Rove outright as potential indictments and added the "other administration officials" possibility as a kicker. Rove didn't go back to the White House after testimony -- maybe he needed a shower. Or maybe he went up to Camp David to meet with the Preznit, deciding to drive his Jag instead of taking the 'copter.

A bit of interesting news buried in the middle of the WaPo report is that La Vida Judy has apparently been told that she will not be charged in this matter, but will only be a witness, at least according to her attorney, Bob Bennett. Dunno, sounds an awful lot like someone cut a deal to me to tell everything she knew. Judging by the company she keeps, that could be an awful lot of hot potatoes. This could be awfully interesting in the next few days.

Also in the WaPo, a tick tock piece on how the reporters dealt with the length of their stay on "Monica Beach" while awaiting Rove's departure from testimony. We learn a couple of things here: (1) When Fitz has had coffee, his bladder will go about 3 hours before needing relief. (Um, thanks, Dana. Proof that Fitz is a human being. Useful.) and (2) Reporters are as antsy as the rest of us waiting for some news on this case.

It is interesting to note that the jurors were described as average people in jeans, sweaters and such, with 11 of them being African American and 4 white that were seen exiting the building around the same time. I should note that this doesn't mean that this was the full grand jury, since at times exits can be delayed by bathroom breaks or someone having left early or something. But it was an interesting detail nonetheless, since we know next to nothing about them other than what Matt Cooper already reported.

The NYTimes also has a piece out on this. They indicate that lawyers in the case are also playing wait and see, and seem to be using the "cross your fingers and hope for the best" method of protecting their clients because Fitz and crew aren't talking. I'd bet that they are also trying to cut deals, but no one wants to say that publicly, given the folks their clients would have to rat out.

The article oddly indicates that the focus has shifted from Libby to Rove, but gives no supporting facts to indicate why other than the fact that it was Rove, and not Libby, testifying. Hmmmmm, curious, and I hope there will be a revelation on this in the Sunday Judy piece extravaganza.

Sure seems like some more pieces may have been put into the puzzle, but who knows where they fit in all this mess. And we wait...


Friday, October 14, 2005

WHIG vs. The CIA: My Money Is On The Company, Part II

Continuing our story from Part I.

It is no secret that Dick Cheney and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his chief of staff, took a close interest in intelligence gathering efforts regarding Iraq after 9/11. Between efforts with WHIG to shape the policy toward Iraq and the public's perception of it, and the ongoing relationship between WHIG and intelligence gathering and interpreting groups within the DoD (most specifically one run by another Cheney power player, Douglas Feith -- for more on the OSP, take a peek at Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski's story in this article.), the neocons within the highest levels of defense and national security "cherry picked" the intelligence that would support the claims necessary to secure the desired outcomes in Iraq and the greater Middle East.

Dissent on these issues was shut out, and CIA analysts and DIA analysts were encouraged to manipulate their work product in a way that suited the ends desired, not via overt demands, but through more subtle pressure tactics: the Vice President or his Chief of Staff (Scooter Libby) appearing at the CIA to speak directly with an analyst whose conclusions they questioned, with requests made to have the report in question re-examined on the grounds that the analysis did not match theirs on the issue; going directly to analysts whose reports produced desired outcome recommendations and pulling them from the usual peer review process for analysis to take them directly to the White House in their raw form; cutting out dissenters from decisionmaking or policy recommendations altogether; and so on.

Testimony given at a Senate hearing regarding the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name elicited testimony from a number of witnesses, including Vincent Cannistraro, Former Chief of Operations and Analysis, CIA Counterterrorism Center, who testified that:

Toward December of 2001, intelligence report was received in Washington that alleged that Saddam Hussein had been attempting to acquire yellow cake uranium ore in Niger and two other African countries. The vice president of the United States and other senior officials in the administration seized on this information as a proof that Saddam was that clear and present danger and needed to be addressed immediately in order to eliminate that danger.

The vice president and his chief of staff went out to CIA headquarters on a number of occasions -- at least on two occasions -- specifically to address the questions of weapons of mass destruction and the attempt to acquire a nuclear capability. These meetings, I'm told secondhand, were contentious, but the vice president insisted that there must be some support for this reporting of the yellow cake acquisition attempt. CIA analysts, I'm told, didn't have any independent data to verify that, but as a result of the insistent pressure being applied to the analysts and particularly to the nonproliferation center, the CIA did send, as they've said publicly, Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Niger.
(Huge hat tip to TalkLeft (warning: PDF of transcript here) for making the entire transcript available. This particular transcript link was found at this story, which is an excellent summation on many aspects of WHIG, the Rove connection, and why this is important to Fitzgerald, and well worth the read.)

Despite public denials to the contrary it was, in fact, Dick Cheney's requests that set in motion the series of actions that led to Joseph Wilson being sent to Niger to investigate what later turned out to be claims in a set of forged documents. (Claims of Hussein's attempted acquisition of yellow cake uranium that was tried only once, unsuccessfully, and never again repeated.)

Once the President made the claims in his State of the Union address in January 2003 that Hussein was attempting to obtain yellow cake uranium, the wheels were set in motion for the public criticism by Wilson, and the counter-attack by at least some of the membership of the WHIG. What happened with Wilson's report stating that the Hussein claim was unlikely is one of the mysteries that Fitzgerald is likely sifting through in this matter. (See Wilson's op-ed from the NY Times, dated July 6, 2003, for some information from his perspective on this. See also this brief but decently sourced analysis at that was put together during the last Presidential campaign for an overview on the arguments, although be aware that the conclusions are a bit outdated due to more recently discovered information.) [UPDATE: Huge hat tip to Eriposte on this. Ignore the, and instead check out this Left Coaster summary, as it is much more detailed and thorough.]

How the yellow cake claim was inserted into the State of the Union, though, is one of the questions that involves the fight between the WHIG and the CIA, and that is where the story gets good.

Prior to the State of the Union, the President delivered a speech in Cinncinnati, Ohio, on October 7, 2002, regarding national security matters and his thoughts on Iraq. That speech originally contained references to the yellow cake uranium which were struck out by George Tenet prior to the speech. Tenet also notifed Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Advisor that the reference was not to be used in any public speeches due to there being no hard evidence to support it. (Hadley is currently the National Security Advisor, taking over that position when Rice moved to State.)

Between the October speech and the State of the Union in January of 2003, numerous members of the WHIG had been bouncing around the media making claims regarding the possibility that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire or had already acquired nuclear materials, despite the statement from the Director of the CIA to the contrary.

Judy Miller enters the picture here as well, fronting her story on the aluminum tubes and other matters, using some members of WHIG as background sources while using others as stating on the record that they are "very concerned about the possibility" that nuclear/chemical and biological weapons might be in the hands of Hussein. It was an ingenious public relations move, if not incredibly dishonest, to use each other as repeating and confirming sources throughout this period, with Ms. Miller as a participant in getting this story to the public. (See the excellent work by Digby in both these links. Very informative and well done. See also the fantastic work by emptywheel on The Next Hurrah and this TPM Cafe post.)

The claim re-surfaced in the State of the Union, but strangely there is a dispute as to the placement of it and whether or not the claim received any review from CIA. In any event, after Amb. Wilson's op-ed went public on the matter in July of 2003, Tenet was forced to take full responsibility for the misstatement by the President. (See the press release here.) Thus, the CIA was set up to publicly take the fall for the error made by the overreaching of the WHIG. (See, for example, this interview with Dr. Rice. Hat tip to The Left Coaster.)

More to come in Part 3 of this series.

UPDATE: Edited to reflect that yellow cake is not an ore but is uranium oxide. Hat tip to Thad Beier on this (clearly, I am not a chemist). He suggests this excellent Slate summary for explanations on yellow cake, its uses, and such. Highly recommend the read.


Grand Jury Barbecue Time

Life began early for young Turd Blossom today. He awoke promptly at seven, chose a somber yet earnest black for his fourth appearance before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury, then hopped in his sexy, rich-boy gun metal gray Jaguar S-Type and drove off....

No, no, Karl! Bad idea! This'll never work. Think of the cameras...they'll all pounce on you for being a rich'll be just like those photos on Air Force One...can't pass yourself off as a poor simpleton hounded by an overzealous prosecutor if you show up in an $80,000 ride with skidmarks on the tires from running over the're smarter than that...think, Karl, think...

Humble public servant Karl Rove arrived today at the courthouse in a beige Toyota Camry. which point Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald skewered his nuts and roasted them over a slow fire for four and a half hours.

Adam Entous, Reuters:
Friday's testimony appeared to be Rove's last opportunity to convince grand jurors that he did nothing illegal following the disclosure that he had spoken to two reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, despite earlier White House denials.
Do you suppose he was off the Manuel from Faulty Towers bit? Four and a half hours is an awfully long time to endlessly repeat, "I know nothing."
People close to the case said Rove's unusually lengthy grand jury appearance on Friday suggested prosecutors closely scrutinized his earlier testimony, asked him to explain any inconsistencies and may have confronted him with additional information.

"Being in there that long after testifying three times before can't be viewed as a particularly positive sign," said a legal source in the case.
"Inconsistencies." That's an SAT word that means "lies."
Fitzgerald could send out letters to senior administration officials advising them they are targets of his probe, and bring indictments as early as next week, the lawyers said.

Fitzgerald also might decide that no crime was committed and issue a report of his findings.
Yeah and I could sprout wings and fly to Cancun for the winter, but not bloody likely.

Pete Yost, AP:
For the White House in 2004, the good news about Fitzgerald's probe was that it didn't become an issue during the presidential election year.
Thank you, Time Magazine.
The power to create even more trouble for the administration or wrap up the investigation and return to Chicago, where he is U.S. attorney, lies with Fitzgerald. An experienced prosecutor with a Republican pedigree...
Fitzgerald's a nothing. He was registered as an "independent" before they started sending him shit and he realized it was a party, so he re-registered with no party affiliation. I just got off the phone with Mary Jo White, who used to be his boss at the US Attorney's office in New York, who says that "he is apolitical, and clearly he would judge things objectively, without any consideration of politics."

(He's probably referring to the feeble GOP attempt to draft Fitzgerald for a suicide run against Obama in 2004 -- but mostly just to get him off everyone's fucking back, IMHO. They would've given that nod to anyone, as they proved when they tapped Alan Keyes. Fitzgerald was disinterested.)
Press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday rejected suggestions that the investigation of two key players was distracting the White House.

"We're aware of all those things," he said. "But we've got a lot of work to do and that's where we're focused."
Tell me about it. Rehearsals are a bitch.

(Best line of the day, from The General: "Allison Barber made a bunch of soldiers rehearse lines for a televised conversation with Our Leader. There's nothing wrong with that. She's prepped God for the President's prayers since 2003, and He's never complained.")

Update: WaPo:
Rove's defense team asserts that President Bush's deputy chief of staff has not committed a crime but nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks, the source said.
When your own defense team is preparing the media for the worst, man you are fucked.



Turns out that soldiers who have been wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are now facing combat once they have arrived home -- except this time the battle is with credit agencies sent by the US Government according to this article in the Washington Post.

Yes, that's right. Soldiers who serve this country and risk their lives come back home, sometimes missing limbs or eyes or with other severe injuries, only to find that the Army has decided to hound them for the extra $500 or so they were paid in combat pay while they were recuperating in the hospital from their wounds.

In one case, a soldier arrived at Walter Reed to find a bill already waiting for him for the return of his sign-up bonus. He'd been wounded before the period of service required for the bonus had expired. "Oh, I'm sorry you lost your LEG, but give us our money back?" That is what our veterans get these days? Shameful!

The WaPo does a fantastic job of chronicling the case of one particular soldier, Robert Loria, which is particularly poignant. Loria returned from Iraq missing a hand and part of his left arm, his body riddled with shrapnel and unable to walk. After recouperating in Walter Reed, he went home to find that the Army had garnished his wages right before Christmas, and set debt collection agencies on him to recover the money from their clerical error.

"They call and they call and they call," he said. "They're nasty to me." Sometimes, he said, he feels outraged. "I don't know how much you want from me. I already gave you one arm and a part of a leg."
Look, I know we have a lot of people in uniform. I don't expect everyone to get everything right all the time. But these people see things that those of us here at home never have to face, they fight in battles that scar them for the rest of their lives emotionally, if not physically. Hell, I have a great uncle who still won't talk about what he did in WWII without being so drunk he can't stand up. They deserve treatment that is much better than this. I'm appalled.

It took intervention by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Maurice Henchey (all Dems. from NY where Loria lives) to intervene with the Pentagon to get this cleared up, after Loria and his wife spent months dealing with this mess. The man lost his hand and his biggest worry was losing his car or house because of these extra payments, instead of worrying about the therapy required to get better. That is so wrong!

And it should not take phone calls from Senators to get it through someone's head that our wounded veterens deserve better treatment than being treated like a deadbeat. For shame!

Photo by Dominick Fiorille - Middletown Times Herald Record.


Law and Order Party? Not So Much.

Tom Delay has some moronic friends. Take a peek at this video of an ad that has graciously been posted on the fabulous Crooks and Liars. (What would we do without you, C&L? You rock!)

What is this, the "you're being a jerk, so we'll be a jerk, too," defense? Wow, doesn't look like you are trying to influence the jury at all with this one, now does it? The "taint the jury pool before we even get to pick one" strategy can backfire, you know.

What ever happened to fighting things out based on the merits of the case? Oh, right. You're trying to defend Tom Delay against corruption, influence peddling and conspiracy charges. Guess personal attacks are all you have in the arsenal.

Note to The Free Enterprise Fund: most states have laws on the books that allow prosecution for attempts to interfere with public officials trying to do their jobs. Might want to check Texas law on that, I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: He just can't help himself, can he? Seems Delay is using his campaign and donor mailing lists to send out "information" on Ronnie Earle, start a letter writing campaign to newspapers from his "supporters," and raise some funds for his legal defense fund, all at the same time. What a.....surprise. Ahem.


Rove Arrives in Court

According to the AP, King Rat has arrived in court for his fourth try at the Grand Jury today. No guarantee that he won't be indicted. No guarantee that things will go well. Pretty much, no guarantee that his butt won't be in front of a Federal Magistrate as early as this afternoon. (Hey, a girl can dream...)

News and rumors flying fast today. Will update as we get anything remotely solid. In the meantime, speculate away. My contribution, wonder how many times Fitz will hammer him on his "poor memory?"

PS -- Wonder if he's regretting the "I'm a Source, not a Target" button photo now? Mwee hee.

UPDATE: Reuters has their take and review of facts up as well. It's a good summary. My favorite line: "Fitzgerald could send out "target" letters to senior administration officials at any time, and bring indictments as early as next week, the lawyers said."

UPDATE #2: And he's out. According to the latest Reuters wire report, Rove left the courthouse today at 1:15 pm ET. He had no comment. More to follow if we get any details.

UPDATE#3: Can I just say that I luv Dan Froomkin? Today's column in the WaPo is fantastic, and a fun read. Thought it would be a nice news summary for those of us waiting on news in the Traitorgate universe. Just sharing one of my favorite reads of the day.

UPDATE #4: Bloomberg has an update up as well. They actually got a quote out of our boy Fitz as he was leaving the courthouse. "I'm going back to my office." Gotta love that guy.

My favorite snippet -- because reporters are clearly desperate for some news on this today -- is that some protesters were standing outside the courthouse, some dressed as giant condoms according to the Bloomberg report, chanting "Some things should never leak." and calling for Rove to be fired. Yep, it's officially Friday now. [And Atrios has a pix -- man, I love the blogosphere. Instant...erm...gratification. Ahem.]

UPDATE#5: From Bob Franken on CNN, Luskin (Rove's Attorney) has issued a statement that Rove has finished his testimony and that Fitzgerald has indicted that he no longer needs Rove's "co-operation" in this matter. And that Fitz has not given any indication of indictment. Um, yeah, your client just finished his testmony. Give Fitz's secretary time to do a little typing, would ya? Sheesh! No assurances that an indictment will not be forthcoming, so essentially good try at spin, but no news other than Rove won't likely have a fifth trip to testify on the record. (And Reuters has the Luskin statement up as a news brief.)

UPDATE #6: CNN has its story up on the Rove testimony today. My favorite bit was McClellan being asked today if Rove still has the President's confidence, and his response being that "Karl continues to do his duties." Ouch.


"Some Allies in a Near Panic"

Not a good week in Bush World this week. I'm trying to tamp down the schadenfreude, but it is certainly difficult and the newspapers this morning are not making it any easier. Let's review, shall we?

Today, Karl Rove testifies for the fourth time before Patrick Fitzgerald's special grand jury. Both the
New York Times and the Washington Post feature front page articles this morning on how jittery the Preznit's staff has become -- and how terrifying our boy Fitz truly is.

It is worth a mention here that only yesterday morning on the Today Show, the President himself said that Fitzgerald was conducting himself in a "dignified manner" during this investigation (take that Toensing) -- makes one wonder how true all the rumors are that he's more than ready to throw Rove under the bus, doesn't it? (See Jane's post below for more details.)

The NYTimes article does a good job of capturing what the mood in the WH has been, and I can't help but smile at the image of Rove and Libby "squirming" under Patrick Fitzgerald's direct gaze.

But the inquiry has swept up a dozen or more other officials who have been questioned by investigators or have testified before the grand jury, and, should it lead to the indictment of anyone at a senior level, it has the potential to upend the professional lives of everyone at the White House for the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.

The WaPo article piles on from there, detailing the vast array of scandals, legal troubles, cronyism worries and failed governmental efforts that have hit the Bush Administration and the GOP in Congress broadside in the past few months. (There goes that schadenfreude again...)

"It looks like a perfect storm," said Joseph E. diGenova, a Republican and former independent counsel, who noted that so many investigations can weigh on an administration. "People have no idea what happens when an investigation gets underway. It's debilitating. It's not just distracting. It's debilitating. It's like getting punched in the stomach.".

And just when you think it can't get any worse, Jack Abramoff and the far-reaching probe into his political dealings on the Hill rears up again.

Maybe its karma, coming back to bite these people in the butt for all their dirty tricks and greedy power grabs. For the whole smearing of McCain in South Carolina in 2000. For terriifying people in this country for weeks with false claims of "mushroom clouds." Some sort of Shakespearian ending for all the hubris and ego and nastiness over the years.

Come to think of it, with all my schadenfreude these days, maybe I ought to go and volunteer somewhere and build up some good karma. Just in case.

(Photo credit to Larry Downing at Rueters for the "What You Talking About, Willis?" pix above. Really good one! Hat tip to Wonkette for the pix.)


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Okay Kids, Clear the Room, Daddy Wants to Hit it With Mommy Again...

We should not condemn these people for cranking out children like pasty-faced pies on a conveyor belt and should realize that they are good parents to their sixteen children and that they have taken up this task for the greater glory of God who shines his light upon them.

They also like to fuck a lot.

Praise the Lord and pass the Astroglide.
TBogg's just funny, that's all.


Keep Your Chins Up, Karl

On the eve of his rumored fourth testimony before Patrick J. Fitzgerald's grand jury, things are not looking so good for our chubby little smear muffin. Even the bookies have turned on him:
With Karl Rove's future as White House Deputy Chief of Staff in serious doubt, is the only online sportsbook to offer updated odds on the long-running scandal that continues to plague the Bush Administration. Current odds are 1-2 that Rove will have to leave the White House in the wake of an ongoing criminal investigation, and 3-2 that he will not.


The significant shift from the opening odds of 1-6 that Rove would not be dismissed or resign is a reflection of the grand jury's increased focus on Rove and of the growing consensus that he will not emerge unscathed. Recent testimony from jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller may have given the grand jury reason to doubt previous statements made by Rove regarding the leak.
I've been watching talking heads on TV all day (yes, I turned it on again) sputtering about how Bush will be devastated by the loss of his "brain."


There is another camp of people who think Bush is only too ready to cut Turd Blossom loose. People from the Beltway in-crowd who have seen the delight Bush takes in personally taunting and humiliating Rove (which he does publicly and frequently by all accounts) think that this is the inevitable result of the single most damaging blow to Rove's career -- when the meme "Bush's brain" entered the popular lexicon.

"Think about it," said a source who has watched Dubya treat Rove like some white, puffy version of Mr. Bill. "If anyone had called Stephanopolous 'Clinton's brain,' how do you think Clinton would've felt? But because it's Bush, nobody considers it."

The psychology certainly fits. Preznit Horse Cranker quite obviously has an ego that can barely be constrained within the Crawford city limits, and his reputation as C Plus Augustus has got to rankle. It would have looked too much like Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation was leading BushCo. around by the nose to dispense with Rove when Matt Cooper's article came out, but the sports books are not the only ones who are predicting that Dubya will soon find a convenient moment to throw Rove under the bus, if only to prove he can function without him.

Fitzgerald may be the hangman, but it looks like Dubya's tying the noose.


What's Wrong With This Picture?

The effort to slap a coat of whitewash on Ol' Judy and truss her up as First Amendment Heroine is on:
New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source to federal prosecutors investigating who leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent, will pick up a First Amendment Award at the 2005 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Convention & National Journalism Conference on Oct. 18 in Las Vegas.

According to a press release for the event, Miller will speak to participants and then join a panel discussion titled "The Reporter's Privilege Under Siege." Joining Miller on the panel are Associated Press reporter Josef Hebert, Patricia Hurtado of Newsday, and Bruce Sanford of Baker and Hostetler law firm.
Well that's just swell. Bruce Sanford, partner in crime of that old war wagon Victoria Toerag (who has been on the Smear Patrick Fitzgerald tour this week) will carry water for the benefit of Ms. Miller. How lovely.

Why, one has to wonder, isn't the award being given to Matt Cooper, who has acted all along like a paragon of integrity that all others should be measured by in this very difficult situation? (I'm still waiting for the straight poop from Pumpkinhead, and word has it we will all be treated to a delightful fiction from Judy herself tomorrow in the pages of the NYT if they can get them off the presses before they burst into flames.)

For those who have no interest in being served a plate of bad banquet food with Judy's self-serving stories, you can hear Matt Cooper's take on it all today on the Abrams Report on MSNBC.

OT, Johnny Wendell will be for Randi Rhodes on Air America LA from 3-7pm PT, and you can listen to me on Air America Phoenix from this morning with Charles Goyette here.

Should be an interesting day tomorrow with Turd Blossom on the hot seat, no?

Update: I guess Judy has better things to do than sweat over her impending story. Per reader Stephen J., Judy will also make a special appearance this weekend at an event at Cal State Fullerton by the First Amendment Coalition honoring Mark Felt. From the press release:
Miller, who went to jail to honor a pledge of confidentiality to her sources, will present a special award Saturday honoring Mark Felt (aka "Deep Throat"), the ultimate confidential source.
I will unfortunately be otherwise engaged, but if anyone goes, please do email and dish. You can find more about this revolting mockery of the First Amendment here.


Dear Richard Cohen...

Hello Richard.

Should I call you Dick -- or do you prefer "connected beltway hack with no understanding of the point of prosecuting people who break the law?"

your column in today's Washington Post. Thought I would drop you a line to ask if you have upped your medications or if you were drunk at your deadline time or something? Do you know any real prosecutors -- or only the political wannabes that you meet at DC social functions?

If you don't know any actual prosecuting attorneys, let me help you out. For people who uphold the law as their vocation -- and there are an awful lot of them in this country who take their jobs very seriously -- putting people in jail for breaking the law, and seeking justice, is their job.

Sure, they are mean to the jerks who break the law. (btw, these people are called criminals.) These criminals may be poor, uneducated and even mentally unstable -- and sometimes they are wealthy, highly educated and people you seem to want to continue to hang out with at cocktail parties.

Here's a clue: the laws apply to EVERYONE, across the board, whether they are rich and powerful or poor and powerless. (You might want to read up on what Martha Stewart has been doing for the last year or so. Might be illuminating on this point.)

This goes for ALL the jerks who break ALL the laws, not just the laws you happen to have thought were important at the time you turned in your column. And not just the jerks who are too poor or too ignorant or too mentally unstable to hire a really good defense attorney.

When I say all of them, I mean it -- even the ones who are bestest friends with Dick Cheney do not get a pass on abiding by the laws of this nation. And that goes double to the ones regarding national security matters during a time of war. You might want to peruse the text of the SF 312 and the Espionage Act, since you seem to need some assistance in researching this matter. Also, try phoning a friend or two who works for "the Company," and see what they think of politicizing intelligence gathering. I suggest Larry Johnson -- he's a really fun guy, and he thinks people who out CIA NOCs are neat. (Well, not really, but please call him anyway. It could be fun for the rest of us.)

By the way, punishment for breaking the law goes double for the political leaders of our nation, who have a fiduciary obligation to uphold the laws they are sworn to serve and to use their power wisely to benefit the whole of our country, and not just their political cronies and wealthy supporters. (Another personal note here: using political power to get even with someone just because he says you are wrong, in a way that puts his wife, his family and the families of everyone who works with his wife in jeopardy just for payback -- not so nice, and definitely deserving of the full prosecutorial treatment.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering how Judy Miller got caught up in all of this mess, we prosecutors like to call it "accessory" -- as in potentially prosecutable along with all the other folks involved if she was aiding and abetting the conspiracy to commit a crime. Poor Judy, carried water for people breaking the law and got caught. How dare a prosecutor want to see her treated like every other living, breathing citizen in this country?!? (Okay, I'm not really outraged, but I was trying to appear empathetic to you here. How am I doing?)

Perhaps you journalists (if I can be so bold as to count you among them) ought to reconsider being human shields for people who use you to commit odious crimes, and then leave you to rot in jail because they are too craven to accept responsibility for what they have done.

Try cultivating more friends who work in law enforcement. Might do you some good.

PS -- Kevin Drum was nice enough to try and help you out today because everyone is jumping on you for your idiotic column. He makes a good point that bad prosecutions help no one (even though you, Richard, thought that Ken Starr was doing fantastic work at the time -- what were you thinking?!? Try looking up "consistency" and "hypocrite" in your dictionary.), and that Kevin hopes that Fitzgerald turns out to have the goods rather than bring a bad prosecution. I happen to agree with Kevin on this, because a bad prosecution really is a waste of resources that ought to be going toward a more deserving perp.

However, Kevin worded things a little inartfully and is now taking heat that ought rightfully be going to you, Richard. You should send him some chocolates or something -- you owe Kevin big time.

(In case Kevin reads this, keep your chin up and have faith -- this will be a good prosecution because Fitz is that sort of guy. He's a boy scout, he doesn't leak, and he builds his case artfully, like a good prosecutor should -- starting with the smaller charges on the lower level people to flip them against the next level, and so on -- just like he has done many times with the mafia and terrorists. If you don't have enough faith in this yourself, you can borrow some of mine. I have it in spades. Fitz rocks -- and I'm keeping a Guiness in my fridge in case he ever wants to stop by my house and chat. I'm just sayin'...)

UPDATE: I'm going to use my editing perogative and raise up a response of mine from the comments, so that it is clear to everyone that I personally think that this case should be prosecuted properly and to the fullest extent of the law. Period. I think my ever-growing migraine (and I do mean a headache and not my toddler) is getting the better of my way with words, today, so I want to be certain that I'm clear where I stand on this. No free passes for these clowns. Here's what I wrote below, and I hope this is clear enough:

I'm emphatically NOT accepting that perjury or conspiracy or obstruction are either soft or wrong as charges. I think they ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent, especially given that lying in this context has so many potential after-effects on other agents, recruiting of assets, and so on and so on. And someone most emphatically SHOULD be brought to account.

What I was trying to say, perhaps inartfully as well, if Kevin was trying to give Richard Cohen a hand up from his idiotic slog in the gutter, that people shouldn't just flay him for that alone. I took Kevin's post as just trying to be nice and help out a friend -- and simply asking that any charges that are prosecuted be solid ones (unlike a lot of what we saw Ken Starr trying to gin up from one press leak to the next).

But don't misunderstand where I am on this -- I absolutely think this is worth pursuing to the end of every charge, if for no other reason than the lesson needs to be learned, and this needs to be a moment of education for everyone in government, that national security matters are NO place for political hackery. Period. And those who cross that line will be punished -- swiftly and severely. Our national security personnel deserve nothing less.

UPDATE #2: Sorry, this is going to be a drive-by posting because I need sleep. But I wanted to be sure everyone saw this post by Larry Johnson, former CIA officer on TPM Cafe. Some of you may remember him as one of the officers who testified before the Conyers sub-panel on the damage caused by leaks of classified information. Mr. Johnson worked with Valerie Plame Wilson at CIA -- was a member of her entering class when they started -- and speaks directly to why Richard Cohen is full of crap.


Cheney Admires Harriet? Not So Much.

According to John Fund of the Wall Street Journal (whom I always read with an accompanying large sea salt grinder), Dick Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted a last-ditch effort to stop the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

The effort, according to Fund, was rebuffed because Laura Bush is apparently more powerful than any of us ever knew. (Last month's theme of blame the wife appears to be alive and well.)

The description of Miers' number two (Kelly) and his clearly inadequate vetting process would be laughable, if it weren't for that pesky lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court hanging in the balance.

The op-ed also indicates that Republican staffers both in the White House and on the Hill are depressed about the nomination and that key issues that should have been addressed in a thorough vetting process were circumvented in favor of friendship. (Essentially saying that it was a cronyism appointment without ever having to actually say the word.) Apparently, the new WH strategy of the Texas Lottery Commission scandal over which Miers presided will be now cast as a pesky matter of personnel issues. Somehow, I'm thinking that may not be good enough for Arlen Specter, but I guess we'll see.

Fund places the blame mainly on the shoulders of Andy Card, the Preznit's chief of staff. (For a rolicking read on Andy Card's intellectual prowess, try Billmon from earlier this week.) The article does a good job of detailing the inherent conflicts of interest involved in vetting your own boss (oh, like you couldn't see that from a mile away?!?), and of the blindness of the WH to "sowing its own minefield."

Remember when Howard Fineman reported that White House staff feud on Hardball the other night? Looks like the pushback game is up and running on Card.

Sweet! Pass me some popcorn.

(Apologies to Warner Bros. and Foghorn Leghorn.)


WHIG vs. the CIA: My Money Is On the Company, Part I

You see the term WHIG thrown all over the blogosphere these days, hear the pundits say the words "White House Iraq Group," and you wonder -- what the hell is that all about, anyway? Most of the readers of this blog have a passing familiarity with all things Traitorgate (if not an intricate knowledge that borders on the encyclopedic, at times), but up until the last couple of weeks, the White House Iraq Group (or WHIG) has remained an obscure little group whose mission statement was buried under the mounds and mounds of speculation and rumor that is rife around this case.

The truly obsessed among us have known bits and pieces about this group, and have speculated about how its tentacles reached into the intelligence community and perhaps shaped intelligence product coming back into the White House, as well as intimidated and silenced critics both inside and outside the Administration.

What has changed at this juncture is the fact that Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be turning his laser gaze to this group as a whole -- and not just to its members Karl Rove and Scooter Libby -- and trying to piece together the series of meetings and directives which may have lead to people at the highest levels of our government deciding to work in concert to get even with an Administration critic by revealing his wife to be a CIA agent, and exposing her family and her WMD network of agents and assets, as payback for him having the gall to open his mouth.

How does it happen that at the highest levels of our government a CIA operative cannot be assured that her true vocation -- that of a CIA NOC, the most protected class of CIA operative there is -- would not be considered sacrosanct? That the national security interests of the nation as a whole would pale in comparison to the need for immediate retribution to staunch a political wound? That the long-term consequences, the ripple of this single name being dropped like a bombshell into the international intelligence community, would not rise to the level of trumping personal payback for the persons involved in making this decision?

How do we have people at this high level of government who are more concerned with maintaining their own power than they are with protecting the nation's security secrets during a time of war?

There has been some excellent coverage of the group by certain media outlets -- the Washington Post, in particular, had an excellent article detailing WHIG background information in its August 10, 2003, edition. This article spelled out, in some excellent detail, how the erroneous theory of the aluminum tubes captured attention at the highest levels of the Administration, and how those claims which later turned out to be completely false were sold to the American public leading into the war in Iraq. (See also the story that went up yesterday on Raw Story for a quick review of the WHIG genesis and its influence within the Administration.)

The WaPo article also contains some fascinating details about the inner workings of WHIG, and the tensions between those involved in WHIG and those outside it who were fighting to shape the policies of the Bush Administration. The backdrop of all of this was the first Gulf War, and the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11 -- and a fundamental clash of political philosophies between institutionalists and neocons at the highest levels of American foreign policy and national security decisionmaking. Ultimately, this is a story which opens the lid on the can of worms that is governmental policy making, and the clash of ideas and facts -- and how those may be bent to fit a particular end in order to maintain a hold on influence and power.

Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff, formed the WHIG in August of 2002. It was tasked with setting the strategy for each stage of the US efforts in Iraq -- from the lead up to the war to the planning for post-war operations, and especially all of the public relations efforts which would feed into these plans. It's primary task was to "educate the public" on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein -- at least the threat as the members of WHIG wanted the public to see it.

The group met weekly in the Situation Room, producing a series of "white papers" on WMD and other threats they thought they saw in Iraq, as well as strategizing how best to publicize these threats to maximize the political potential in our build-up to war.

One of the earliest tasks for the group was to plan for the President's September 12th, 2002, address to the United Nations and to come up with the demands he would make to that body on how to most effectively deal with Saddam Hussein. This was especially important given this speech's potential effects on the upcoming Congressional mid-term elections and how those results would impact whether or not war would be possible depending on the election outcome.

A continued Republican gain in the elections for both the House and Senate was essential in solidifying a momentum toward war with Iraq -- without this momentum, taking on Saddam would be less likely, because support for the WH agenda in general would erode in the face of Democratic gains.

A core group of participants in WHIG stayed fairly constant: Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser, who also chaired many of the meetings; communications/public relations strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative guru Nicholas E. Calio; and policy wonks, Condoleeza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. Additionally, the Vice President, himself, attended a number of the meetings and provided his stamp on policy initiatives considered and implemented. These were the highest level of trusted advisors to the President on policy initiatives and strategy and on public relations and image crafting for both the White House and its political campaigns.

It sounds like a great idea for information review and policy implementation at first blush -- something put together in order to accomplish the mission without the hassle of added layers of bureaucracy hindering what needed to be done. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, things got skewed, and there was no built-in buffer to sift the grain from the chaff, no means to slow down the political decision-making because that portion of the usual process had been banished from the group at its inception.

What was left was a core group of people used to having their decisions immediately implemented, and who thought in the same terms, and no one who had the stature and the political wherewithal to question their actions was invited to participate -- Colin Powell, for one, was not a participant, neither was any analyst or higher up from the CIA that might have offered competing views. In effect, WHIG was doomed from its start as an organization self-designed to promote ideas it already had -- it was it's own self-fulfilling stove-pipe of intelligence and policy-making.

The genesis of the feud between the members of WHIG and the CIA may have begun with the internal assessment argument over the aluminum tubes, that is detailed so well in the aforementioned Washington Post article. There has long been a tension between the analysts at CIA who provide the "non-political" interpretation of intelligence data and their customers at the Department of Defense and the White House.

The conflict is especially snarky between the CIA and DoD -- and Dick Cheney was very familiar with this, having been the Secretary of Defense during the first Bush Administration, and was heightened by Cheney's learning of mistakes made regarding our lack of intelligence on nuclear weapons programs Hussein was starting at the time of our invasion of Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War. That CIA analysts missed this only solidified the mistrust that Cheney and other neocons have long had in the analystical systems put in place at CIA which tend to be conservative in terms of their findings when some might prefer a more hawkish stance.

How does this fit in with the investigation that Fitzgerald is currently doing in Traitorgate? Because the WHIG was also tasked toward dealing with opposition to the Administration's policy decisions, both for dissent within the Administration and from the outside. And it was this tension between the WHIG, the CIA, and other policy makers in the government that led to Joseph Wilson's fact-finding trip to Niger -- and the subsequent revelation that his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA NOC.


More to come on this in Part II.

For some great information and analysis on WHIG background, btw, check out the fantastic work that Digby has doing at Hullabaloo lately. The PDF link is particularly interesting, and I wonder why this issue has not gotten more play in the media. Perhaps with the renewed focus that Fitzgerald is said to be putting on this group, we'll learn even more about these issues. Also, emptywheel has been doing fantastic work at detailing a lot of these issues and her diaries at The Next Hurrah are illuminating and invaluable in terms of putting together the copious bits and pieces into some coherent whole.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Did Dr. Evil Take Out a Hit?

From Raw Story:
Two officials close to Fitzgerald told RAW STORY they have seen documents obtained from the White House Iraq Group which state that Cheney was present at several of the group's meetings. They say Cheney personally discussed with individuals in attendance at least two interviews in May and June of 2003 Wilson gave to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, in which he claimed the administration “twisted” prewar intelligence and what the response from the administration should be.

Sources close to the investigation have also confirmed that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to determine Vice President Cheney's role in the outing of Mrs. Wilson, more specifically, if Cheney ordered the leak.
You have to wonder where this came from -- Fitzgerald's investigation has been as tight as a tomb, with no leaks coming from anywhere. If this isn't bullshit, I'm betting PF will spend tomorrow one hopping mad Irishman.

Reddhedd will have more on WHIG tomorrow, after her daily dose of The Wiggles. I'll be on the radio in Arizona. And Patrick Fitzgerald may be putting a fist through a wall somewhere.



I have to admit I was beginning to wonder. The cooler minds of people I respect absolutely were looking toward the simplest solution to the Judith Miller diary enigma -- namely that Miller has been cooperating with Fitzgerald all along, and he learned about her June notes during her September 30 testimony.

But sometimes being a bit of a loose cannon gives you the inside track into the psychology of wack jobs. Via Swopa, we learn that the Wall Street Journal says Miller might have been a bit evasive in her first appearance before the GJ:
She first appeared before the grand jury on Sept. 30 to talk about two conversations she had in July 2003. She made a second appearance Wednesday to disclose a third conversation in late June that she had previously failed to mention to the grand jury.
Over at Reuters, Adam Entous underscores the obvious question:
It was unclear how Fitzgerald learned of the June 23, 2003, conversation.
Well if you read yesterday's WSJ, her helpful lawyers leaped into the breech:
Since then, her lawyers have told Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the leak of the CIA agent's identity, that Ms. Miller's notes show that she also spoke with Mr. Libby in late June, information that was not previously given to the grand jury.
It implies they all woke up one morning and spontaneously pulled the notebook out of their collective asses, with no prosecutorial prodding.

I'm not convinced.

Todays' WSJ also goes on to note that following Judy's September 30 testimony, her order of contempt was not lifted:
Her appearance Wednesday, which lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, won her a judge's order releasing her from the contempt-of-court citation that landed her in jail. The contempt order was still in place until her testimony was complete.
If Judy had gone in initially and told the GJ about the June meeting and said "oh you know, I just might have some notes," the contempt order most certainly would've stayed in place until she produced them. But she didn't do that. Her lawyers imply that her testimony was complete on the 30th, then she suddenly remembered her notes the following week, had Bob Bennett get Fitzgerald on the horn and say "St. Judith wants to step into the confessional again."

But if Fitzgerald thought Judy had told him everything on the 30th, why wasn't the contempt citation lifted then? He knew she was holding out.

I'm sticking with my initial guess -- Judy lied and Fitzgerald nailed her.

Oh but not in a biblical sense. Image be gone.

Update: Eriposte has a superb post outlining why Miller was probably not honest (aka, the "dust bunny" theory). Go now.


Straight From the Rumor Mill

A source close to the Plame case is saying that Fitzgerald met alone with Judge Hogan yesterday, presumably to ask for an extension of the Grand Jury.

BushCo. sphincters to be set on "pucker" for a little while longer.


Judith Miller Had More Than One Source (Duh!)

CNN is reporting that in Judy Miller's testimony today before Patrick Fitzgerald's Grand Jury she revealed she had more than one source.

How CNN would know I have no idea (must be some sort of lawyer or FBI leak) but it means one of two things:

1) Miller bold-faced lied in her press conference about the fact that the scope of her deal with Fitzgerald was limited to testimony about Libby alone:
Once I got a personal, voluntary waiver, my lawyer, Mr. Bennett, approached the special counsel to see if my grand jury testimony could be limited to the communications with the source from whom I had received that personal and voluntary waiver. The special counsel agreed to this and that was very important to me.
Since her attorneys Bob Bennett and Floyd Abrams both said in interviews that her testimony was limited to the entire Plame affair (meaning it excluded testimony about the Niger uranium matter, which Fitzgerald's original subpoena sought), this may well be true.

2) Fitzgerald busted Judy in a lie before the Grand Jury, and all deals are now off.

Neither possibility offers a particularly flattering portrait of the Gadfly Girl.

When Judy stood on the courthouse steps and preened about how she'd stuck it to Fitzgerald and only had to testify about Libby, there was a collective heart sink in the blogosphere that her "other sources" (John Bolton?) were going to skate.

Sphincters in DC must be all a-puckered today.

Update: The CNN sub-head said "Times reporter disclosed conversation with second source." I contacted Susan Petitt at CNN in Washington DC, who contacted the writer of the headline and now says it was an error they are going to correct. Sorry no "second source" was discussed.


Update 2: They've not changed it to read "Times reporter details previously undisclosed conversation." That's us. Keeping the MSM honest, one sub-headline at a time.


Judy's On the Stand

Judy Miller, NY Times reporter and now testimonial pro, testifies again today before the Special Grand Jury looking into the Traitorgate mess. Updates as we get them.

Meanwhile, what to do with your time?

Maureen Dowd has an excellent and snarky op-ed on the Miers mash-note nomination. Unfortunately, it's up behind the pay-to-play NY Times firewall, so no link. Suffice it to say that reality and snark are curiously blurring after the release of more than two thousand documents from the State of Texas. I can't help but think of yearbook day in junior high, but I suppose she was just being polite and sweet and shouldn't have her entire intellect judged by her choice of Hallmark card sentiments. Trying to wait for the hearings, but it is getting increasingly difficult when real life imitates snarky blog language.

A great review posted on Talk Left of WHIG bits that tie in with the WSJ article that has everyone buzzing. Kudos on this -- good resource material and analytial bits here.

Billmon has a don't miss history of interactions with Andy Card. B-Team indeed.

That should keep you busy for starters, anyway.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, I couldn't resist posting this one. Need a job? Can you forget about the little guy and only serve your friends and political cronies? Boy, have I found the website for you:

UPDATE #2: Judy had a second source. Waas was right on in his article. More as I digest the news. Holy crap. Bolton, Rove, Fleitz, Cheney or door number five?

UPDATE #3: Thank goodness Dan Froomkin is back from his vacation.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why This Matters

The news is flying fast and furious this evening: Raw Story has an excerpt from tomorrow's WSJ saying that the investigation may have broadened to include the whole of the White House Iraq Group. (More on this soon, I promise.) They dragged Victoria Toensing out from under her rock again to flog the IIPA bandwagon on Olberman's MSNBC show this evening (Note to Vicki: that is sooooo last year.), and to talk about prosecutorial overreach and general meanness. (Note to Norah O'Donnell: try getting legal information from sources on both sides of the issue.) Hardball was good again today, but a summary of the show will have to wait until tomorrow, I'm afraid, due to my desperate need for some sleep.

But there is something that has been bugging me, and I have to get it off my chest. I have been thinking about this all day long, ever since someone made a stray remark about this investigation that just set my teeth on edge. Thought I would share my thoughts with everyone else in the Traitorgate obsessed world.

Imagine that one day you wake up to the incessent ping of your beeper. It is still dark outside your window, and you slide out of bed, pad quietly down the hallway and try not to wake up the wife and kids, as you slip into your home office and place a call on a secure phone. You are told that your cover has been blown, that your family may be at risk. You have to make instant decisions for your own safety, that of your family, and of every asset you have in the field - and to do that, you have to prioritize which assets are more valuable and which you can afford to lose, if necessary. You have to decide then and there which of the people you cultivated, the ones you promised safety in exchange for information and cooperation, which of them may have to die because you may not have time to save them all.

Why has your cover been blown? Because you work as a CIA colleague of the wife of a man who dared to question the veracity of the President of the United States on a matter of national security, a matter of an exaggerated claim that was inserted in his State of the Union address to bolster his case for war in Iraq. And the President's cronies and hatchet men decided to out this man's wife for political payback, as a lesson to anyone else who would dare to question their decisions and as a means to staunch the bleeding from this initial salvo of criticism. Damn the consequences.

No consideration for all the lives interconnected in this network of agents and field assets, or the years it took to cultivate them. No thought of the impact that this betrayal by highly placed governmental officials would have down the line -- how hard it would make it to recruit human intelligence assets in the field at the very time that we need them most to gather information inside the terrorist networks that threaten us more and more each day.

No concern for the years of set up it took for Brewster-Jennings and Company, the cover company set up by the CIA that both you and this man's wife used, to get up and running. The fact that you and she worked along with a number of other highly trained CIA officers around the world -- trained in tracking down the weapons used by terrorists and thugs and the very people that threaten our nation's safety every single day wasn't important to them. Nor was the loss of the millions of taxpayer dollars it took to set this up and maintain it as viable cover in a number of countries worldwide.

Seemingly, no thought of the loss of ongoing investigations. If there was any consideration or calculation, a discounting of the loss of human intel assets dealing with WMD issues at a time of war, with terrorists who would like nothing more than to get their hands on the very chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and materials that you have risked your life to keep out of their hands.

The next time someone opens their yap and says to me that this case doesn't matter. That everyone does it. That it was just politics. That this is how things are done in Washington. That the President is going to pardon them anyway. That they'll find a way to weasel out of it. That she wasn't really under cover anyway. That they didn't know she was a NOC when they outed her CIA status. Or whatever other talking head pundit crap comes out of the pipeline on the next talking points bilge memo...well, it just doesn't matter.

Fitzgerald is going to do is job, and all the spin in the world is not going to stop him. What does matter is that everyone -- on the right and on the left -- understand what it means to out a CIA operative. And that it never, ever happens again as a sanctioned means for political revenge.

Look at the picture. Just look at it for a moment. Every star on that wall represents a CIA officer lost in the line of duty. Every single star. Below those stars is a book of names that records the officer and the loss. Some of the names attached to those stars cannot be revealed publicly, because the operation in which they lost their life was either so secret that it can never, ever be revealed, or because those agents have other friends and assets still in the field who would be jeopardized by their simple name being printed on a piece of paper inside the walls of Langley. In a few cases, the families of these agents are not told how the death of their loved one occurred, because the safety of others and of other agents is paramount, even to the satisfaction of a grieving widow and her children.

How dare anyone say that this case does not matter. You tell that to the family of anyone who has a star on that wall. Or to anyone who has ever had the honor of knowing and working with or living with any law enforcement hero who walks out their front door every day, knowing that it could be the last time they ever see their family. Knowing that a deep cover assignment risks not only their own life, but sometimes the lives of everyone close to them.

These officers do not serve this nation for glory. They do not seek fame, or fortune, or even accolade. Officers who serve on the line -- be they CIA, or special forces ops, or undercover local narcotics cops in your town -- these people serve because they must. Because someone has to keep the bogeyman at bay. They risk their lives so the rest of us can kiss our children goodnight, crawl into our comfortable beds, turn out the light, and feel safe. They put their body in front of all of ours as our last shield against the darkness.

The next time someone says to you, "What's the big deal?" you tell them. What was done to Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie and their twins is despicable, and goes much further than political payback ever should. It crossed way over a line. They will have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, just in case. But it did not just touch their lives. It touched the life of every CIA agent working under Brewster cover, every employee of a Brewster company in ever country in which they maintained an office. And every single person with whom those people ever met, because all of them would be considered national security risks in their own nations for meeting with a potential CIA agent.

You see, it wasn't just payback. Take a long, hard look at that wall of stars. None of us will know how many were added because of this. But if Patrick Fitzgerald can ascertain who was responsible, then each and every person should be held to account. And I am not the only person who thinks so.

"Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors." President George H. W. Bush, on the 26th of April, 1999, at the dedication ceremony of the George Bush Center for Intelligence.

Too bad his son doesn't seem to have listened to the old man.

UPDATE: After reading a comment from Gotham Image, I feel obliged to point out that those stars on the wall represent CIA officers who have died while on duty for this country. There are no stars for any of the assets who have given their lives assisting us and our agents in protecting this country -- no way of assessing the loss of life of our human asset network from all of this from the outside. The CIA will have done an internal assessment of the losses and difficulties caused by this breach of national security, but it is something the general public will never know (for good reason, I might add.) Just something to think about. Collateral damage ripples out endlessly in this environment, and we may never know how far to the edge of this particular pond that this has gone.