This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Scooter Bond: Shaken, Not Stirred

The contours of the Scooter Defense begin to take shape in the MSM. How do they find time in between carrying Rove's water? Remarkable.

The NYT adopts the John Dean spin:
But friends and associates said Mr. Libby is not at heart a political animal. They suggest that whatever legal problems he faces from his role in pushing back at criticism by a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, of the administration's use of pre-war intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs, he was acting not as a political hatchet man but in defense of ideas and policies he believed in.
(((BWA HA HA HA HA!!!)))

Then there's the WaPo article so glowing Scooter could've written it himself. On his "aspen clusters:"
The spy-novel dexterity of Libby's mind and the odd flamboyance of his prose raised questions that he might have been trying to say something more.
We on earth call it "dreck."
Libby greatly admires the work of Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian who posits that warfare is an inevitable part of civilization, evil is a basic condition of humanity, and tyrants must be confronted by the harshest possible means.
I guess that's supposed to make him sound like a real renaissance man. Bloggers who know Victor Davis Priapus Gravitas Hanson, the bard of Fresno, as an inveterate boner waver and all-around jackbooting creep know this fact alone should earn Scooter three squares in the federal pen for the foreseeable future.
"Cheney and Scooter play chess on several different levels," Matalin says. "That's how their minds work. It's not about what's right in front of him. They look at things in the sweep of history.

"The Wilson thing was almost mosquitoesque."
I'm getting it. These men are great patriots, brilliant statesmen with a dash of Malraux thrown in for good measure, acting on such a grand stage that L'affair Plame hardly registered.

Let's be clear: I don't really care why you shot the clerk and robbed the liquor store. You can tell your story to the judge.


Times Staffers Duke it Out

The dogs and I arrived safely in Oregon today after three days on the road. We got to have a delightful coffee with fellow Plame-ologist eRiposte from The Left Coaster and owe a great debt to ReddHedd for holding down the fort while we were cut off from the steady drip of the high-speed internet IV. She did a terrific job and although the withdrawal symptoms were acute we are very happy to be settled in on the beach for what promises to be one of the most rip-snorting news weeks in recent political history.

We'd also like to thank Maureen Dowd for finally weighing in on Judy Miller. Sounds like things with MoDo just got more vituperative for having been held back so long. A free version is here, but from what I can tell it really boils down to "accuracy is hard to come by when you do your reporting with your legs in the air."

Then tonight Public Editor Barney Calame weighed in with his delicately worded investigation of the Judy matter. His take:
The apparent deference to Ms. Miller by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, and top editors of The Times, going back several years, needs to be addressed more openly, especially in view of the ethics issues that have come to light.
"Deference?" "Going back several years?" Is that, like, code or something?

He doesn't exactly answer Jay Rosen's query about whether Judy had government clearance or not, but he agrees it's a damn good question. One would not say the Times ventures perilously far out on a limb with this piece.

But Judy is nonetheless bristling, shooting back a reflex memo after Bill Keller tried to salvage what little remains of the Times' journalistic authority by questioning her (*urp*) " principles."

Sez Judy:
"As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source."
Do you get the feeling that they're all having a conversation amongst themselves they're only vaguely aware we're eavesdropping on?

Update: Roger adds his two cents, which, per usual, are worth more than anyone else's Benjamins.


Up or Down?

I previously addressed here some of the issues that a grand jury and prosecutor face in weighing the evidence and determining whether or not indictments are appropriate given the evidence and testimony in front of them. Additionally, I've covered potential charges that Fitz and company might be considering for potential defendants in the Traitorgate matter. There has been some fantastic coverage of these issues at TalkLeft, Mark Kleiman and the Left Coaster, as well as a number of other stops around the blogosphere.

The latest article from John Dean moves the ball a little further down the field in terms of speculation. It's that "calm before the storm" weekend -- you can feel that tension rising as the rhetoric among pundits and leakers escalates.

Dean is correct in saying the following:

First, he could close down his Washington office; return to his work in Chicago, where he serves as the U.S. Attorney; and simply issue a statement that his investigation has ended. (He has no authority to write a report, for the information he has obtained is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus is secret).

Second, he could extend the grand jury for whatever time he needs to complete his investigation. And third, he could issue one or more indictments.

Fitzgerald, and those who work for him, have acted throughout the investigation just as prosecutors should. Lips are zipped. Fitzgerald has held his information so close to his chest that, as one wag put it, he's got it in his underpants. Accordingly, Washington is filled with rumors.
Fitz and his staff and investigators have conducted themselves brilliantly in all of this. Truly, well done in terms of maintaining secrecy and integrity of the process. However, it's obviously not something Washington insiders are used to, hence the enormous amount of public sweating and whining from the chattering classes, especially.

It is in the speculation as to who will or won't be indicted that I think Dean's analysis breaks down a bit. He is correct that a sitting President has been determined to be unindictable -- but impeachable -- while in office.

The analysis for the DOJ was done by none other than Robert Bork when he was the Soliciter General in the 1970s, and so far as I have been able to find, even during the Clinton/Monica mess, has not been fully contradicted by any solid legal scholarship. (See here and here for more information on the indictment/impeachment issue.) While it is not a settled question in "black letter" law, it is a fairly accepted standard among a large number of legal and historical scholars.

Dean is also correct in saying that Fitzgerald has a number of issues to weight against each other in determining who, if anyone, to charge with criminal misconduct.

As I have said previously here, prosecutors work under a quasi-judicial mantle, meaning they have both the power to work to exact legal punishment for misdeeds by prosecuting a crime to the fullest extent of the law, but also the responsibility to ensure that any charges brought are fully supported by the evidence and the law and that justice and the public good are served by the prosecutor's actions.

It is a very tough position to be in, I can tell you from personal experience, because you must personally assure your own conscience that what you are advocating in terms of charges to the grand jury are appropriate and just, and that the punishment exacted by those charges fits the crime. You must be fair -- to both the victims of the crime and the person accused -- and I do not envy Fitz and his staff having to make charging recommendations on matters of national security. And you must be thorough, persuasive and well-prepared in addressing all of these issues for the grand jury, who is the ultimate arbiter as to whether charges will or will not be brought.

And John Dean is correct in saying that there is always a chance with a Grand Jury and an investigation that no charges may be brought at all. This is never a sure thing, no matter how much defense attorneys may try to publicly make that case to belittle their client's legal jeopardy. (I've made that argument, myself, a time or two for clients.)

But this is also where my perspective on this case and John Dean's differ. Dean feels as though a seasoned prosecutor will weigh all the political and security and other Beltway sorts of consequences into his calculations on what can and cannot be made successfully as charges.

But national security is a very gray area. Was the Bush/Cheney White House operating in the best interest of the country, or did they have a private agenda (oil fields in Iraq)? Did Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby believe they had national security reasons to discredit Wilson's claims, and act accordingly? This is an area where there is no law, and it compounds the assessment of the actions of those involved.
Well, of course, Fitz will be doing that, but Dean misses one very important point about Fitz: he was selected for the job by Comey because of his apolitical nature, because of his exacting expectations for conduct of officials who have been entrusted with the fiduciary obligations of the public, and because of his past high-level case cajones in not being cowed by the implications of the matter at hand.

John Dean's background is one of working within the government toward compromise and considering political implications in every move and decision. Fitz appears to have an entirely different set of criteria for determining charges -- and that rests solely in the province of the law. If there were laws broken, then people will be charged for breaking them. Period.

It is difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security. While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.
What Dean misses here, and this surprises me considering his extensive history with Watergate, is that the cover-up can also be a substantial breach of the law.

If there was a concerted effort to coach testimony from a group of conspirators to avoid prosecution for what they believed might have been behavior that crossed the line, that conspiracy is no less a crime than the original breach.

In this country, rule of law must be upheld by everyone, but especially by the persons to whom the responsibility of governance is entrusted. Otherwise, we lose the authority to demand that any person be honest with the police investigating any serious criminal matter -- from the routine domestic batteries dealt with in every magistrate court in the country to murder to matters of treason. Flouting the requirements of the law cannot, under any circumstances, be tolerated.

A breach of the law is a serious breach, be it a violation of national security secrecy through IIPA or the Espionage Act, or perjury under oath to a grand jury, or lying to investigators -- or conspiring to do any of these things. And if any of the President's employees -- or the President himself -- conspired to do any of these acts, then the full weight of the law should, and most likely will, fall on their heads.

If, as Wolcott speculates today, Libby is contemplating turning his aspen toward a plea bargain, the storm could break directly over the White House before Monday. The Wolcott article is a great read. And if I were in Libby's shoes, having Miller as my heave ho, and Rove as my Brutus...well, let's just say I might be contemplating having a long chat with Fitzie myself. And I'd be bring all of my copious, tabulated and properly indented notes along for the ride.

Perhaps Mary Matalin was thinking clearly speaking well of Scootie Poot to the LA Times yesterday. Never cross a man who is meticulous about recording everything he does -- and everything done by those around him.

If Libby flips, it will be game over. That weekend at Camp David is looking less and less relaxing for the Preznit.

UPDATE: To be fair to John Dean, I should have also included this:

In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further. Unless, of course, these folks were foolish enough to give false statements, perjure themselves or suborn perjury, or commit obstruction of justice. If they were so stupid, Patrick Fitzgerald must stay and clean house.
Sorry, didn't mean to leave that out of the article here. Dean wasn't saying no one would be charged at all, or that charges shouldn't be forthcoming at all, and my omission should be noted in the context of trying to blog while chasing a small, dinosaur-costume-wearing toddler around the kitchen while getting dinner started. (And who is now playing with Mr. ReddHedd, so my brain can have a moment of clarity.)

My disagreement with Dean's conclusions on the national security matter is this: certainly, the intent and the thought process behind what happened is something the prosecutor will consider for every potential defendant. But the effect that all of this will have had on our ability to recruit CIA assets and other undercover assets, when an agent of this nation was outed by her own government cannot be just thrown aside as a consideration as well.

I think there are a number of matters that Fitz and company will be weighing on this, not the least of which is the potential chilling effect that the actions of Rove, Libby, and whomever else was involved, may have had on our very ability to recruit future CIA and other law enforcement and intelligence agents and assets when they can't trust their own government to protect them at all costs. This is an issue that needs much more discussion in the days ahead.



The Washington Times is reporting this morning that White House political staffers are floating questions about how a withdrawal of the Harriet Miers nomination might be accomplished with minimal political damage to the Preznit. According to the WaTimes, the conversation goes like this:

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times.
The White House, through spokesman Trent Duffy, is denying that the calls are being made.

Given the fact that the WH has had to stop scheduling one-on-one sessions with Miers with Republican Senators because they were losing support after getting actual face time with the nominee among conservative and presumably friendly members of the Senate, discussing a potential withdrawal of the nomination ahead of confirmation hearings isn't exactly surprising.

Republican lawyers on the committee staff have said Miss Miers' meetings with senators have gone poorly. That's why, they say, the White House has shifted its strategy from the private meetings to "boning up" for the hearings.

Publicly, senators on both sides of the aisle have said Miss Miers needs to spend more time preparing for the hearings.

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, said Miss Miers needs a "crash course" in constitutional law.
Ouch! When the chairman of the Judiciary Committee says you need a crash course in the case law and principles you must interpret properly to do your potential job, that is not good news no matter how you spin it.

What is a bit unusual is that Republicans are leaking the information to the Washington Times and it is being printed there. Sure sounds like there are a whole group of unhappy GOPers trying to give the Preznit a great big nudge. In public. With a sledge hammer.

"The political people in the White House are very worried about how she will do in the hearings," the second conservative leader said. "I think they have finally awakened."
The White House is denying having awakened to conservative opposition as well.

The new strategy on minimizing damage? Blame the Democrats. Those meanies want someone competent on the Court, someone well-versed in Constitutional and analytical legal knowledge and skills, and someone whose qualties befit that of a Supreme Court Justice. Ooooh, how dare they?!?

"So there are some in the White House and some Republicans in the Senate who are worried the Democrats can now build a case that she is not competent enough or knowledgeable enough to be a justice on the Supreme Court," he said. "Really, that is the most damaging case you can build against a nominee."

The reason, he said, is that "non-ideologues would be responsive to that competence argument, and Republicans won't be able to argue that her defeat was ideological -- that the reason the Democrats beat her was that she was too conservative."

I stand by what I said about Miers way back on October 3, 2005, the date of her nomination announcement.

Meanwhile, the WaTimes concludes with a stab at Andy Card.

Republican insiders said the choice of Miss Miers, who has had no judicial experience, over a list of sitting judges with records of having written opinions on constitutional matters and who are conservative in their political views, probably was made by Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.

Some White House aides privately acknowledge astonishment at the administration's response.

"Who would have believed the wheels would be coming off this early in the second term, and with our own people firing at us?" a White House aide confided yesterday.
Guess Karl still has some friends in print places.

UPDATE: Tony Blankley just confirmed on MSNBC that the sourcing was accurate with regard to "at least one staffer" who was reaching out on this question. He says that no decisions have been made on whether or not to withdraw the nomination, but that the Senate is sending the strongest possible message to the WH that there are substantial problems with the nomination, short of saying directly that she should be withdrawn.

Guess that weekend at Camp David with Bush and Andy Card won't exactly be a relaxing spa-looking-at-the-fall-leaves-sipping-mulled-cider sort of time. And when you add in Hurricane Fitz...

(Apologies to Warner Brothers, Foghorn Leghorn and Prissy, but the pix was just too perfect for this story.)

UPDATE #2: Of course, Harriet is still plugging away, according to her latest blogpost.


Friday, October 21, 2005


It's a Friday night. What are you doing for fun?

If you are hanging out here, there's still more news hitting the wires. Thought I'd do another round-up of the latest tidbits for everyone.

For an excellent profile of our boy Fitz, take a peek at the latest from the New York Times. Some good quotes from friends and colleagues -- and even a few nice things from opposing counsel on his bigger cases.

Am anticipating the latest salvo -- this one from Brent Scowcroft in the New Yorker on Monday. (Hat tip to Steve Clemons from The Washington Note on this one.)

Still no answer from the NY Times on
Judy's special super secret clearance. (Hat tip to PressThink, who has been on this from moment one.)

And I'm working on something about the Wilkerson speech from yesterday, but today's news kind of crowded it out. Since it's not nearly done, and I think the speech was well executed in a lot of its critiques and concerns, I thought everyone might enjoy the read. You can find the link here, to the full text. (Thanks again to Washington Note for putting this up.)

Massive graphics love to Hail Dubyas. Can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this cartoon. (And so many others on the website. Major kudos!)


Throw Judy From The Train

In advance of Public Editor Byron Calame's extensive article on the Judy escapade for Sunday's NYTimes, Bill Keller took his own case to the staff of the Times directly today. Crooks and Liars has the text of the letter up here.

It is blunt in some places, and brutal toward Judy in a back-handed way that shows that Keller is fairly unhappy (to put it mildly) about her keeping him in the dark about a lot of things between her and Scooter.

I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and followed up with some reporting of my this case I missed what should have been significant alarm bells. Until Fitzgerald came after her, I didn't know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign. I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact. (In November of 2003 Phil Taubman tried to ascertain whether any of our correspondents had been offered similar leaks. As we reported last Sunday, Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.) This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper.
Jane's source within the NY Times confirms that the letter was sent out to the entire staff of the Times this afternoon at 2:30 pm. The source also confirms that the issues addressed in Keller's letter have been circulating around the Times all week long, as the staff and management grapple with the fact that Judy was way less than forthcoming with them about her own actions, and her involvement in the mess that Scooter Libby and others within the Administration have gotten themselves into with all of this.

Jane's source tells us that "this is as much as you will ever see someone in Bill Keller's position saying that mistakes were made."

Keller's letter addresses the broader issue of the Times reporting on WMD issues, and his role in decisionmaking in how the Times would deal with discrepencies in that reporting once he came on board after Howell Raines was ousted from his post in the wake of the Jayson Blair fiasco. He also talks about specifics with Judy Miller, including:

But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.
Sounds like the bloom is entirely off the rose for Keller, anyway.

When asked if Keller would survive this mess, Jane's source was circumspect, saying that Keller had broader support than Raines did when he was asked to step down. The source said that Keller has more good will, more likeability and that "nobody wants to see his head on a pike, at this point."

The news is not as good for publisher, Arthur A. "Pinch" Sulzberger, Jr., however. His role in this fiasco is being questioned by everyone on the NY Times staff. Jane's source says, "At some point, the newspaper had a journalistic principle and interest that diverged from Judy Miller's interests. Not sure that Sulzberger appreciated it at the time -- or now."

Keller also said the following:
By waiting a year to own up to our mistakes, we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers. If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time, the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty to its readers.
Well, that's an understatement if I ever read one, but I'll give Keller the chance to show that he means this. The first step to making things better is to admit you have a problem.

Can't help but feel like this is the first step to throwing Judy from the train.

UPDATE: AP has picked up the story. You can read it here.


Big Friday News Round-Up

What a week. It's been leak central, and no indictments to show for it...yet. Dig in -- some of this is good stuff, some just stokes the schadenfreude fires, and some contains some intriguing clues on what we might expect for the weekend and the week to come. Put on your seat belts, it's about to get bumpy.

David Johnston has another layer story in the NYTimes today. Sources tell Johnston:

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.
Sounds like indictments are coming down the pike to me, but there is a weekend to finalize plea negotiations, so get your deals while they are hot. (For a good review of this article, take a peek at this from TalkLeft.)

The WSJ article contains a couple of nuggets, most particularly regarding the Congressional staff leaks on whether or not there was an after-action report done by the CIA. I am told that this is an internal requirement, but am unsure as to whether that report would be shared with Congress when there is an onoing criminal investigation. One would think so, but it is possible with the poisoned political atmosphere these days that the report might be restricted to the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members if deemed necessary to do so, which would restrict staffer access at this point, just to be certain that no elements important to the investigation matters leaked out to those who were potential targets. In any case, I'm not sure on this -- maybe a reader who has staffed on this could shed some light.

The WSJ mostly employs the latest angles from the Republican spin cycle -- complaining about the broad wording of the Espionage Act, on the books since 1917 and clearly unnoticed by this Administration until the last few months. The most laughable moment in the entire article is when they argue that the Administration and the government as a whole have been too keen to mark documents as "secret" -- what a turnaround, considering just how secretive this particular Administration has been throughout. (Energy task force, anyone?)

Note to the WSJ: "Everybody does it" is not an adequate defense to breaking the law. Nor is it an excuse for divulging information regarding national security matters, especially in a time of war. My dad wouldn't have accepted that as an excuse, and I'm quite certain that US Attorneys aren't that happy with it either.

The WaPo has another "inside the WH" piece on how staffers at all ends of the spectrum are dealing with the possibility of a Rove indictment (even though they don't talk about it). It's interesting if, for no other reason, than to see the dance of who gets mentioned and who doesn't from story to story as Rove's replacement candidates.

As always, Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing provides an excellent overview of a lot of the news coverage. Today's edition includes his discussion with the Fitz spokesperson on the inauguration of the new Patrick Fitzgerald DOJ website, and it's an intriguing read for the parsing of more non-statement statements. Note to Richard Cohen: Doesn't look like a man who is ready to take your "pack your bags" advice. Get used to it.

Josh Marshall has an interesting tidbit on the NY Daily News story from yesterday, and it's analysis that is worth a read and a bit of thought.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog has this intriguing little nugget: Andy Card has cancelled appearances at a GOP fundraiser in RI this weekend because he needs to be with the Preznit at Camp David. Anyone want to lay odds on whether they'll be talking indictments, staff changes, withdrawing the Miers nomination or all of the above?

And for everyone who needs a Judy Miller fix today, PressThink has a follow-up information piece on what they have and have not found out about Judy's "security clearance" from queries to the NY Times.

There's a lot more -- a new article from John Dean and one from Michael Isikoff that I'm reviewing. But that should keep you busy for a couple of minutes, anyway. And no news from "Monica beach" in my e-mail in-box as yet...but I'll be sure to post if I get anything.

UPDATE: Forgot to add this link to an excellent bit of analysis by Digby on that LA Times piece from this morning. It's a great read.


Obsessive Compulsive, Much?

Today, in the LA Times, we learn that Scooter Libby was obsessed with getting even with Joe Wilson. And when I say obsessed, I truly mean it. The kind of obsessed that makes you buy a whole lotta binders and fill them with tabbed sections, highlighted passages, and meticulous formatting.

Look, I'm clearly sympathetic to the plight of the anal retentive. I try to be a detail-oriented kind of gal in dealing with large amounts of information and documents, and I can appreciate someone wanting to have everythihg formatted in an easy to read style.

But the LA Times article is giving off a distinctively creepy vibe with regard to Scooter Libby, and I'm wondering who in that WH inner circle is craven enough to plunge that knife deeper into Libby's back to save his own skin. (*cough* Rove? *cough* Bartlett? *cough* McClellan *cough*...well, I could go on, but it's a long list of possibilities.)

After Wilson published a book criticizing the administration in April 2004, during the closely fought presidential campaign, Libby became consumed by passages that he believed were inaccurate or unfair to Cheney, former aides said. He ordered up a meticulous catalog of Wilson's claims and public statements going back to early 2003.

The result was a packet that included excerpts from press clips and television transcripts of Wilson's statements that were divided into categories, such as "political ties" or "WMD."

The compendium used boldfaced type to call attention to certain comments by Wilson, such as one in the Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa student newspaper, in which Wilson was quoted as calling Cheney "a lying son of a bitch." It also highlighted Wilson's answers to questions from television journalists about his work with Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

The intensity with which Libby reacted to Wilson had many senior White House staffers puzzled, and few agreed with his counterattack plan or its rationale, former aides said.
Okay, that's not so beyond the pale. I mean, opposition research is a way of life in Washington, D.C., right? Of course they'd want to keep track of what a critic of the Administration was doing, right? I mean, the extreme anger is a bit unusual, considering you do your best oppo with a cool head -- loyalty is one thing, but outright, intense and sustained hatred suggests something a bit deeper than "he said something bad about my boss, that jerk," doesn't it?

Then we get to this:
The documents and interviews portray Libby as highly attuned to detail. He dictated the format for internal memos, including that paragraphs be indented.

The documents and interviews show that, when it came to monitoring media coverage of Wilson and other issues affecting the vice president's reputation, Libby was meticulous. Staffers were instructed to use Nexis and Google to watch even the most obscure publications.
Is it me, or is this anonymous leaker trying to twist that knife a little more in Libby to do some serious damage control for everyone else involved in this mess? But in doing so, are they willingly throwing Cheney under the bus as well?

The article goes on to say that Libby was still working to monitor and engage the debate on Wilson even after the DOJ was contacted by the CIA for an investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name to the press. And that he had to be smacked down by Dan Bartlett, WH Communications Director from publicly countering Wilson.

Sure, creating this public perception of Libby as obsessed, nutball, loyal staffer might be useful to some others under scrutiny, but is this the strategy that the WH has come up with to distance the Preznit from all of this? "The people who work for me are unstable. It's not my fault."

One of the intriguing bits in the article was this piece regarding Liz Cheney excluding a NYTimes reporter from the VP's plane because he was tired of having to answer difficult questions from them.
During a time of tension between the New York Times and the campaign over coverage, aides recommended that a reporter from the paper be allowed to fly aboard Cheney's plane with others in the press corps. Liz Cheney had a different idea.

Writing from her Blackberry, a mobile e-mail device, she noted that her father was upset with a story that appeared in that morning's newspaper, saying: "vp has totally had it with nytimes. This is really not the right time to ask him to charm a reporter from that paper."
Yes, heaven forbid a public official should have to answer tough questions about decisions that were made in their government. Who could possibly think that might be appropriate or anything? (snark definitely intended)

This case just gets more odd by the moment.


Whew! What a Week...

It's been a week rife with speculation, rumor and quite a few leaks. My brain is moving a little slowly this morning -- and while I'm thankful for coffee, I'm sure you want a tidbit or two to tide you over to the next post. So here goes:

For a review of some of the players in this mess, take a peek at
this WaPo article.

Reuters has
another take on the "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up" beat.

And then, there's
this. (Warning: This link can be disturbing for some.)


(Major graphics love to Maria at 2PoliticalJunkies.)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Crap! Those Pesky Records!

New Waas article up on National Journal. Reading right now -- will post shortly.

Judy...Judy...Judy. You were so nailed.

The beauty of being a Federal Prosecutor with a mind like a steel trap and a loyal staff of lawyers and investigators is that you have all the means at your disposal to try and track down every single piece of evidence: every scrap of paper, every note, every receipt, every entry log every photo, everything you can get your hands on, before ever asking a question of anyone on the record in court.

As an aside, having defended clients in federal court in criminal matters, I can tell you the first major drug case that I worked was an eye opener in terms of just how thorough federal agents can be. After my client was arraigned by the federal magistrate, agents brought my discovery in to me: nine full boxes of it. And promised to deliver the remainder of my discovery items to my office the next day, because they didn't want to weigh me down all at once. These guys mean business, and they are also quite good with the theatrics involved in making their point to a defendant.

In this particular matter, what Judy and Scooter forgot is that they are dealing with a professional. Not some slackass, just out of law school, wet behind the ears kid. Not some political social climber who would sell his mother for a Senate seat or a nomination to the Federal bench. Not some guy who was going to phone it in because he didn't want to piss off the high and mighty and powerful. This guy is a professional prosecutor, who does his job. Period.

You don't prosecute the Gambinos, Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman, Osama Bin Laden and former Governor Ryan of Illinois just for kicks. Those cases are all long, hard slogs, and potentially very deadly to your career as well as your person.

And when you do your job, you find things like this: all government buildings after 9/11 (and even before 9/11 in a lot of cases) require that you sign in and out. That goes double for buildings where you have the potential for someone being around national security documents or highly placed government officials, because you don't want something disappearing without some written record of who has had access to the building. You follow the paper trail, the evidence in hand, the usual patterns of behavior, and sometimes even your gut -- but it is the little details that nail someone to the wall.

During her first go at her testimony, Judy was evasive and could not recall whether or not she had ever met with Scooter on June 23rd, when asked specifically about this by the Special Prosecutor. (Note to witnesses: If the prosecutor is asking you about a date certain, he has something that he will nail your ass with unless you are completely truthful. Keep that in mind in the future.) According to Waas, it went something like this:

When a prosecutor first questioned Miller during her initial grand jury appearance on September 30, 2005 sources said, she did not bring up the June 23 meeting in recounting her various contacts with Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. Pressed by prosecutors who then brought up the specific date of the meeting, Miller testified that she still could not recall the June meeting with Libby, in which they discussed a controversial CIA-sponsored mission to Africa by former Ambassador Joe Wilson, or the fact that his wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.
A gotcha moment can be a rare and beautiful one for any attorney, and usually occurs over some very specific detail on which you can hang the person on the stand. But it is almost always a detail that the witness thought was so insignificant that no one would ever bother with it in a million years.


For Judy Miller, that detail was a Secret Service log from June 23, 2003. It showed her entering and exiting the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House to meet with Scooter Libby.

When a prosecutor presented Miller with copies of the White House-complex visitation logs, she said such a meeting was possible.

Gee, ya think? "Now that I have confronted your weaseling ass, could you perhaps stir that organ you call your brain and see if something pops out of it regarding the June 23rd meeting, before I have to charge you with obstruction, perjury and perhaps even conpiracy to obstruct with Mr. Libby? That would be most helpful."

According to Waas, after Judy's "fear of God" moment with the Special Prosecutor, she then "found" her "missing" notes and came back for the second round of testimony. Sure does explain why the contempt citation was held over until the completion of her testimony, doesn't it? And the look on her face as she left court that said she'd just been made to swallow a whole gallon of vinegar.

But the Times pieces where Judy was laying her soul bare for all the world to see the glory of her commitment to the First Amendment? As it turns out, not so truthful, since Judy neglected to tell us all about the fact that Fitz caught her hedging and nailed her with everyday, commonplace records. Ooops.

Waas also writes:

Miller also testified about telephone conversations she had with Libby regarding Plame and Wilson on July 12, 2003. In her Times article she wrote of a single phone call from Libby that day.

But telephone records presented to Miller during her grand jury testimony indicate that she twice spoke with Libby on July 12, although one conversation was brief, according to attorneys familiar with her grand jury testimony.

The first phone call lasted three minutes, the phone record indicated. Miller testified that she believed she might have taken the call on her cellphone in a cab, and told Libby she would soon talk to him after she arrived home, although she was unsure of this, according to the sources familiar with her grand jury testimony.

The second telephone conversation between Libby and Miller lasted for 37 minutes, according to telephone records examined by attorneys familiar with her grand jury testimony. Miller told the grand jury that she believed that telephone conversation took place after she had arrived at her home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., although she was not entirely sure.
Seems like our boy Fitz and his investigative team have been very thorough indeed. Bravo. And to all the potential defendants in this matter, you had best cut a deal now -- because the blue light specials will end soon, and full price is a heavy one to pay indeed when a prosecutor is this good at dotting all his i's and crossing all his t's.

What does this do down the road for this case? Waas previously wrote that Libby also failed to disclose the June 23rd meeting. Well, it certainly puts the letter from Scooter into an even sharper focus with its July conversations with reporters with whom I never discussed Valerie Plame in a whole new bright and shiny spotlight, doesn't it? It's not as though we didn't all know that it sure seemed like coaching. But the fact that Judy seems to have tried to run with the coaching, now that's a bit of news.

Wouldn't you think in Washington, D.C. that the phrase "It's not the crime, it's the coverup." would be plastered in humongous posters in every office, just in case? Clearly, no.

My read on all of this is that Scooter is in very big trouble. And Judy is on a very, very short leash. If Fitz finds out that she has lied about anything else, held back anything, tried to cover for anyone else's ass, she's toast. As in big, burnt up piece of toast. If I had to predict, sitting here today, I would say that Judy has spilled every single thing that she knew -- and that may include her other sources, if indeed there ever were any other sources beyond Scooter -- she just didn't bother to be honest with her Times "tribe" about this because she was trying to preserve her First Amendment martyr persona. Being a prevaricating, co-conspirator kind of ruins that mojo, doesn't it?

Wonder how the most recent public shaming will go down at the Times newsroom? If I were Judy, I'd be getting my own coffee from now on.

That Fitz was ready and waiting for her? Well, I believe
Jane had it right the whole time. (And so did Emptywheel at Next Hurrah.)

UPDATE: Also, please take a read at Swopa's post on Needlenose. This dovetails nicely into my theory of all crimes I ever prosecuted: if the criminals weren't so stupid, we'd all be out of a job. (Fabu title, btw.)

UPDATE #2: Crooks and Liars has posted an excellent interview with Lawrence O'Donnell that is a must watch/listen. Fantastic information and insights. Kudos -- C&L, as always, gives up awesome video for the benefit of our obsessive little brains. Thanks!

UPDATE #3: This is hilarious! Hat tip and thanks to reader Valley Girl for the link.


I Call This "Smartass with Congressional Pin"

Is it me, or does this photo say to you that the person in the mug shot feels above the law? That being indicted is a big joke and that he and all his buddies are gonna beat this rap?

Some days, as a prosecutor or a police officer, the knowledge that you will soon wipe the shit eating grin off the face of the jackass that you have just charged with a crime makes the whole thing all the more worthwhile.

Smile while you can, Bugman. The Abramoff investigation is just picking up steam...and that's not even the charges for which this picture was taken. This photo was taken for a series of other felonies. Hey moron -- you have been charged with a number of crimes, not invited to a kegger.

Smile while you can.

(Hat tip to The Smoking Gun for posting the pix.)


Behind the Curtain

David Greene of NPR has a new Pennsylvania Avenue commentary up that gives a little glimpse behind the White House curtain. He reminds us of statements made by Ari Fleischer at the same podium where Joe Lockhart struggled through the Monica briefings only scant months before:
"You all will use your own judgment in determining whether this administration is acting in a proper and ethical fashion," said Mr. Bush's press secretary at the time, Ari Fleischer. He was standing in the very spot where Lockhart had dodged Lewinsky questions almost daily.

"The president has said that he will return honor and dignity to the White House," Fleischer continued. "I think, by every fair measure, the American people are satisfied that that is what he is doing."
Ooops, maybe it didn't quite work out as well as they hoped this week.

The spin machine has a hitch in its giddy-up, and it is truly starting to show. Scott McCellan has been all but frothing at the mouth during briefings of late, and the Preznit has developed a couple of annoying facial tics. Thankfully for Matt Lauer, there were witnesses around during the Today Show interview in Louisiana earlier -- that hammer the Preznit was carrying on his George the Builder tool belt looked a little scary.

Staying on message becomes a little more difficult when the people who craft that message are facing the possibility of indictments.
For a president who likes his aides to dress well, be on time and act above dirty politics, for a White House that draws a clear distinction between public and private, the revelations about Rove and Libby and their background conversations with reporters have been troublesome, striking a blow to the persona Mr. Bush has striven to project.
Once that curtain is raised, the huckster salesman has an awfully hard time convincing anyone that he truly is a wizard after all.


Oh Russert, Where Art Thou?

At some point, the desire to report the news and the desire to be the person that gets to report the news battled it out -- and the big contract, cocktail party access and TV face time won out. With so many reporters becoming the news themselves, and sitting on information that they have all heard around town because it might strain their background sourcing and their inside connections to the halls of power, one wonders whether a majority of the press corps is suffering from some sort of battered press syndrome.

Are they fearing the next set of blows to their access could doom their cozy face-time contracts with the networks and sink their careers before the wrinkles take hold? That the backlash from actually doing their jobs properly could mean losing their means to do their jobs? I will say this, Rove has done a good number on a lot of these folks -- just look at who is holding something back.

Tim Russert from Meet the Press: What sorts of conversations did he have with Libby and/or Rove and anyone else? Has anyone at the NBC news division asked him to account for that? Oh, that's right, Russert is the Washington news bureau chief -- what are the odds he's been asking himself to do a proper public accounting on this? What sort of accounting has he given to Patrick Fitzgerald? Why hasn't Timmy been asked abotu any of this on the air -- can't Katie Couric jab him with her Manolo's and get him to at least answer something on this one morning before his coffee has kicked in?

And now that Scooter Libby has fingered Russert as his source in
this AP article, you really have to wonder how much longer Russert will be keeping his mouth closed on what he knows, consdering he works for a news division that, presumably, isn't as dysfunctional as the NY Times has been. Or is it.

Bob Novak: This is the ultimate question mark, isn't it? How much cooperation has he truly given to Fitzgerald? One assumes quite a bit, considering his ass never got parked in jail, but really, wouldn't we all like to know just what it is that Bob was doing writing an article outing a CIA agent's name after the CIA told him directly not to do so?

Andrea Mitchell: Again, with the NBC news division. Seems Mrs. Greenspan was sitting right next to Dick Cheney and got some juicy tidbits for dinner above and beyond the rubber chicken meal served. But she saved them up for months, only letting them out in dribs and drabs now after the election. "Um, hello. Conflict of interest and Hypocrites anonymous hotline? I'd like to stage an intervention..." Just once, I'd like to see someone ask her straight out about this -- my vote is for David Gregory or David Schuster.

Chris Matthews: Are you seeing a network pattern here, NBC? Why were you the go to leak network? What other things were discussed between Matthews and Rove other than the fact that "Wilson's wife was fair game?" And just when did this conversation occur? Was Matthews calling Wilson to warn him of this Rove statement, or to get some sort of confirmation from him on his wife's occupational choices? Enquiring minds and all that.

Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler: Buried in the most recent WaPo article, was a bit that piqued my interest. Was it just sloppy writing, or a more accurate attribution when they said this:
Who was the White House official who leaked word about Wilson's wife to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, who has never publicly revealed his source?
Previous reports from Pincus read "Administration source" if I'm not mistaken. A more specific White House sourcing tends to narrow down the list ever so slightly. How did this contact occur? Who initiated it? For what purpose?

There are a lot of others involved in this as well, these aren't the only reporters holding stuff back, but a serious discussion needs to be had on this issue. And not just in the insular journalists talking to other journalists and patting each other on the back and covering each others' asses sort of way.

Those of us in the general public depend on reporters to dig into the dirt for us, to bring out the filthy little lies and secrets that can rot the government from its core to the outside. We expect that the doing of the job will be more important that the keeping of the job -- and the maintaining of the powerful friendships and whatever other incentives this may bring along with it.

Instead, in this Traitorgate mess, and in the run up to the Iraq War, what we got was a lot of superficial factual reporting, sourced to layered secret sourcing that turns out, now, to have been the same group of 8 or 9 people confirming each others' stories. That's just plain lazy. And dangerous -- just ask all those soldiers who have lost limbs or the families of those who have lost their lives how important it might have been to know the actual truth from all sides of the issue, instead of just reporting the easy bits that were spoon-fed to you from WHIG, that clearly had its own agenda ahead of everything else.

One of the good things that can come of this Fitzgerald investigation is a closer look at the incestuous relationship that journalists and the politicians they cover have built up in Washington, D.C. Just as we lament the interrelationship of K Street and big money and politics, we shouldn't forget that most media conglomerates are also attached to big money these days. Is there overlap? Are there foxes in the henhouse?

Oh Russert, where art thou?

For some great reading on the Russert issue further, take a peek at
Susan Hu's take at Booman Tribune.

UPDATE: I want to add a personal caveat in here. I think that the reporting done by Pincus and Kessler in the WaPo has been quite good in a lot of cases, and that needs to be addressed. Kudos to both of them for having some cajones to actually do some digging when so many others (*cough* Judy *cough*) sat back and allowed themselves to be unquestioning conduits of dreck. Asking the tough questions doesn't get you invited to the cool kids parties, but it sure as hell earns you the gratitude of the rest of the country who has to live with their decisions.

There are certainly other reporters who do the tough work every day. But with the closing of the Nightline shop, and the continued trend toward wacky tabloid shows and talking head roundtable showcase extraordinaires, I despair sometimes that the public's needs are getting pushed further and further to the bottom of the pile by everyone. We really need to have some public discussion on this issue and soon.

UPDATE #2: And here's a great example of what is right in journalism these days. I love
Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing column in the WaPo. And the stories to which he links today are excellent in their coverage, especially of the Wilkerson criticisms that I touched on briefly in last night's round-up. The video link is a must see.

Digby's latest hits this issue out of the park. Great analysis. (Hat tip to reader jdw for the heads up on this. Thanks!)



One of the cornerstones of a criminal prosecution is the notion of motive. When you are working a case, you want to have some idea of what pushed the particular defendant forward in his or her actions, because motive is one of the elements that needs to be shown to the jury for conviction.

In the Traitorgate case, the initial assumption has always been (at least in the MSM) that there was some sort of political payback going on toward Amb. Joseph Wilson for publicly calling the WH's spin on the Iraq War for what it was. The identification of his wife as a CIA agent was just political hardball, according to this theory, something done in Washington fairly frequently, if not usually to the detriment of a covert CIA operative's cover.

This morning's Los Angeles Times has an article regarding one possible motive for this action that exceeds just anger with Joe Wilson. There has been a long-running series of articles around the blogosphere regarding the tension between the WHIG/neocons and the CIA and other traditional intelligence gathering and analytical agencies (i.e. the intelligence arm at the State Department). (I am working on a series on this here and here.)

According to the LA Times:

Fitzgerald has learned about ongoing tensions between Cheney's circle and the CIA. According to a former White House official interviewed by The Times, Libby and others in the White House were incensed by Wilson's public criticism, in part because they saw it as a salvo fired by the CIA at administration officials, including Cheney, who was perhaps the most outspoken advocate of the case against Iraq.
Anger can be a substantial motive. But anger at being publicly criticised during an ongoing fued, in an arena where large egos are a standard issue can result in some very bad decisions. In this case, some extremely stupid and overreaching decisions -- with consequences for national security that we can't truly know from our vantage point in the general public.

This article is a good review of Cheney's history through his tenure as Secretary of Defense through to today. It also tracks his close working relationship with Scooter Libby, and their joint mistrust of CIA analysts fostered by disagreements over interpretation of intelligence information and policy recommendations over those years. It's certainly worth a read, if only for some interesting background on this ongoing story.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday Evening News Round-Up

News tidbits, leaks and think-pieces are hitting the wires and the internets faster than...well, I can't think of anything pithy, but they are plentiful, let me tell you. It's been a long day of waiting for indictments, and reading through the news of lots of little bits of things that could add up to something big. Or nothing at all.

Dan Froomkin, at the Washington Post, does his usual fantastic job at summarizing the major bits of the day in his White House Briefing. Froomkin quotes an article from the Chicago Tribune, in which a senior administration official says:

Inside the White House, one senior administration official said, reports of the prosecutor homing in on Rove and Libby have had an effect "like Novocain." The official said: "Everyone's trying to act like normal, but it's not."

Sure seems like a whole lot of senior administration officials are talking these days, doesn't it?

At Newsday, Nedra Pickler gives a whole lotta details on the excuses Rove has been making to a whole lotta Republican events that he keeps cancelling this week.

At the NY Times, David Johnston and Richard Stevenson (reporters who actually do their jobs well for the Times) report that Fitzgerald is not planning to issue a report at the close of the grand jury. My interpretation of this is that he plans to file charges -- knowing that there would be severe public ramifications without some explanation of no charges were brought -- but it's tough to second guess these things from the outside or to prejudge evidence that you don't intimately know, so I'm trying to keep my powder dry and wait with everyone else. My favorite nugget dropped into the middle of the piece:

Given the political ramifications attached to Mr. Fitzgerald's decisions, officials at the White House have begun discussing what would happen if Mr. Rove was indicted.

Among the names being discussed to take some of Mr. Rove's responsibilities should he have to step aside, an outside adviser to the White House said, are Dan Bartlett, currently Mr. Bush's counselor; Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee; and Robert M. Kimmitt, the deputy Treasury secretary.
Well, now isn't that interesting? Andy, is that you again?

David Corn also has a review of a couple of issues bedevilling us Traitorgate addicts. He addresses the NY Times piece and its implications and also the NY Daily News report that the Preznit knew that Rove planted Plame stories sometime in 2003. It's a good review of the stakes in both articles, and worth a read.

Newsweek has a couple of pieces on how the spin machine went into overdrive in its vengeance against an Administration critic -- and how they are now reaping that crop in spades.
Howard Fineman's piece addresses the issue of Poetic Justice, in terms of living and dying by the means the Administration used to rise to power. And Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey, in Crossing the Cabal, detail the scorched earth policy that some members of the Administration -- the VP, members of WHIG, primarily -- used to silence critics or dissent within the walls of the WH, notably Colin Powell and the State Department staffers, and outside them.

As the president said in his 2003 State of the Union address, “Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a president can make.” The Plame game gets to the heart of how that decision was made—and whether anyone could offer an alternative view and survive with their reputation intact.
For more from the State Department's perspective on this, take a peek at this article in the Financial Times.

Finally, and this is strictly a Rumor Mill posting because I am not at all familiar with this particular source, but the detail was extraordinary and I thought it might make for some interesting reading and reading between the lines and speculating and...well, something to do while we all wait for indictments. Take a peek at
this post on One Good Move blog, and see if it doesn't make the hairs stand up on your neck just a little. Like I said, no personal knowledge of this sourcing, but it does make for a good read in the wee hours. (Hat tip to Crooks and Liars for this link.) UPDATE: Looks like the One Good Move post is total bunk. That's what I get for posting a quickie link when I'm tired. Ignore it entirely.

And one matter out of the Traitorgate universe, but tangentially related via Halliburton to Cheney (it's just like that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon these days in Washington, isn't it?). If you don't know the name Bunnatine Greenhouse, you should. Read about her in
this great Washington Post piece and think about how hard it would be to try and act as a whistleblower in the current environment in Washington. It would be bad enough most times, but this woman has some serious moxy.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has also put up a story on the "Libby Told Me" storyline from Rove. Some good background information here on the players we've been discussing the last few weeks, and a little more detail on some of the folks who have testified or been interviewed by investigators.


Rove: Get Back Under That Bus, Scooter

This is obviously the third act of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. From AP:
Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby's recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.

Rove testified he probably first heard of Wilson's wife in a casual social setting outside the White House in the spring of 2003 but could not remember who provided the information.
Forget the Avian flu, contact memory loss seems to be spreading like wildfire.
In testimony shown to Rove, Libby stated that numerous journalists appeared to have learned about Plame's identity in the period before her name was published and that he and Rove talked to each other about their contacts with reporters.

Libby's testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from NBC's Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove.

Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The network has said Russert told authorities did not know about Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it.
Poor old Pumpkinhead. Tried to hide behind oblique non-statements. Wonder how he's going to feel when his testimony gets used to hang Scooter by the yardarm.

Hey Timmeh, hows about you have yourself on Press the Meat this Sunday and grill yourself over it?
Rove was pressed by prosecutors on several matters, including why he failed to mention during the first of his four grand jury appearances that he also had discussed the Plame matter with a second reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

Rove testified during the first appearance about his contacts with Novak in the days before Novak wrote a column outing Plame's identity. When asked generally if he had conversations with other reporters in that session, he answered "no."

Rove and his lawyer subsequently discovered an e-mail Rove had sent top national security aide Steve Hadley referring to a brief phone interview he had with Cooper.

The e-mail jogged Rove's memory and during a subsequent grand jury appearance, he volunteered his recollections about his conversation with Cooper, and his lawyer provided the e-mail to prosecutors. Cooper also wrote a story about Plame.
Well hallelulah, I have seen the light. The internets can now cure amnesia.


Judith Miller and the WHIGs

New York Daily News:
It was called the White House Iraq Group and its job was to make the case that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and biochemical weapons.

So determined was the ring of top officials to win its argument that it morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim at critics who questioned its claims, sources told the Daily News.


Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.

"They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member," the source said.
How could such a cozy relationship come about? Alterman paints us a hypothetical picture of the WHIG game plan to scam the world:
Working through Miller, and taking advantage of her closeness to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and the fact that she wouldn’t let anybody edit her but somehow managed get almost anything to the paper—[She called herself "Miss Run Amok," and said it meant “I can do whatever I want.”]—the guys figured out that by feeding Judy bad stuff, they could not only avoid the Times laborious editing process but they could sell their war through its pages.

1. Get Judy to write a whole bunch of phony stories about what a meanie Saddam was.  Give her unlimited access to that Chalabi guy and promise her that he always tells the truth.

2. Have a war.  Give Judy her favorite unit to hang with.  Let her pin medals on the guys if she wants.  Hell, let her wear the goddam uniform.  If they give her any flack, have her call Rumsfeld--or threaten to—that ought to be good enough.

3. When nobody finds any weapons, get Judy to somehow convince her editors to print stuff from an “engineer” whom she is not even allowed to talk to, confirming all the lies she’s been printing, on the front page.  Allow the Pentagon to edit her copy.  Tell Rush and everybody to go crazy with this stuff because, you know, it’s in the Times, they’re Commies, so if they admit it....

4. Give her a “security clearance” so she can’t legally write anything you don’t want her to write, though that may not be necessary…

5. Tell her what a meanie Joe Wilson is and that his wife works for those other meanies, the CIA, even though that’s against the law.  Pretend you’re a “former Hill staffer” when she brings it up, though.  Get Novak to write it if her editors start to feel funny about you know, breaking the law.  (Tell him it’s an order if he whines about losing his CNN gig.)

6. When they finally figure out how badly she screwed them on the WMD stuff, have her tell them she wants to cover Bolton.  No really.  He can give her some of that crap about Cuba having WMDs, too.  I promise you we’re not kidding.  It’ll work.

7. When that stops working—it will have to, eventually--get her to go to jail for the principle of not telling her readers who lied to her—or whom she lied to.  Make it sound like something else, though.  (Duh.)
Wrap in First Amendment. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Wanted: Boy Genius?

File this is the completely hilarious folder. Had to post this for everyone, after cleaning up the tea that I spewed all over my keyboard laughing.

According to Wonkette, the following was a listing posted on Craigslist (since removed):

Excellent career opportunity for Boy Genius

Excellent career opportunity!!!

Seeking Deputy White House Chief of Staff to take over all United States domestic affairs! Run the entire country from your office in the West Wing. Direct and instruct POTUS, CIA, and top journalists (NYT, Time, etc.) on all issues of national importance.

You must have excellent contacts with evangelical Christians, NASCAR fans, true patriots, and angry white males. You are equally friendly with billionaire corporate raiders, oil barons, and godless capitalists.

The ideal candidate is very comfortable speaking exclusively on "deep background" and avoiding public appearances. You are the kind of person who does not have to say anything publicly -- you make journalists, folks at town hall meetings, and American troops say it for you.

Note: We will only consider applicants with a flair for dramatic and patriotic settings, including but not limited to aircraft carriers, Mount Rushmore, Ground Zero, rustic ranches, and well lit statues (Liberty, Andrew Jackson, etc.). Need to be skilled at supervising POTUS bike rides, brush clearing, video conferences, and segway rides.
Experience with push polling and direct mail a plus.

Job may start as soon as NEXT WEEK!!!! Maybe even sooner. Please send your resume and references to, with "Boy Genius" in the subject line.

The White House is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.

Mwahahahahahahahahaha...okay, I'm punchy. I admit it. I've been waiting on indictments for days. Then I had to spend hours wading through the dreck that was Judy Miller's version(s) of what happened...well, you know, you've been slogging right along with us. This may not be all that funny, but man did I need a giggle. Thought everyone else could use one, too.


Wurmser Sings Too?

Raw Story:
A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say.


Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.

Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.

According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings.

Wurmser did not return a call seeking comment.


The sources say that Hannah and Wurmser were given orders by senior officials in Cheney’s office in June 2003 to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson. The White House Iraq group was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s offices.


To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, WHIG relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.

Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The revelation that Hannah and Wurmser have become prosecution witnesses, as well as being identified as the original sources of the leak, indicates Fitzgerald now may be looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Administration officials sought to derail a vocal critic of Iraq intelligence.


Hannah and Wurmser were first named as possible suspects in the Plame leak by Wilson, Plame’s husband, in his book, The Politics of Truth.

“In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime,” Wilson writes.

“John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level,” Wilson notes.
All I can say for Raw Story is -- so far Larisa's been right, and way ahead of the curve.

If this is true, Fitzgerald has a frigging NeoCon choir on his hands.


Bill Keller and the View From Down There

Via Crooks & Liars, we hear the New York Daily News is eavesdropping at the Times:
The New York Times gave Judith Miller 3,454 words in Sunday's paper to defend her actions in the Valerie Plame affair. But we hear Miller didn't appreciate the scourging she got in an accompanying 5,805-word analysis of "The Miller Case." We're told that colleagues heard Miller and executive editor Bill Keller screaming at each other in the hours before the story went to bed. (A Times spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Miller and Keller had traded words.)
So now he's upset? Right as all hell is breaking loose he takes of to China? Could he find any place more remote? (As Digby said, "what -- Antarctica was booked?) He is by all reports well liked within the Times (i.e., not an asshole), but it's time for him to suck this one up.

People do skeevy shit to hold onto their jobs all the time. Keller booted Miller off of WMD reporting in July 2003 shortly after he became Editor in Chief at the Times. But in light of what's happened, how do you live down statements like this? (From August of this year, in Salon):
"While the questions of what Judy knew, and what she was working on, may be matters of general curiosity, the answers don't touch the heart of the case," he claims. "The question of what is going on with the case -- meaning what the special prosecutor is up to, and why he seems to regard Judy as important to the case -- is a mystery to me. It's something I'd like to have answered -- not just for our staff, but for our readers."
You were absolutely right, Bill. We're still plagued by a buttload of "general curiosity" that the Times article did little to satisfy. So sorry it did not live up to the turgid drama Judy is writing about herself in her head (and sadly, on the front pages of the Times.)

Hope all is swell in China. We hear the lamb skewers with cumin and chili are the bomb.


From a Sinking Ship

Someone is talking to the NY Daily News, and they aren't very happy with Karl Rove. He made Bushie look bad, and that is simply unacceptable. The fact that he may have broken the law in doing so doesn't seem to have registered with the Daily News' source, but that it may rebound on the Preznit is clearly a big no no in Bushworld.

According to the Daily News, the Preznit took Karl to the woodshed when he learned of his involvement in Traitorgate two years ago. Funny that we are just hearing about that now, since the Preznit's poll numbers are in free fall -- guess that whole loyalty thing goes out the window when someone starts to make you look bad, doesn't it?

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
Of course, not miserable enough to pull his security clearance. Not miserable enough to follow through with his public promise to fire anyone who leaked information. Guess that whole "my word is my bond" thing has a few caveats in Bushworld. According to the Daily News, Bush has "circled the wagons" around Rove -- not enough to prevent someone high on his staff from stabbing him in the back on background, but hey, who's keeping track of that?

Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."
Wow, how appreciative. Here's your gold watch, thanks heaps, by the way, someone will be saying publicly that you have to go, don't take it personally. Thanks for doing all my dirty work over the years, now get the hell out, you're making me look bad.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson...
Gee, ya think? A bad job -- wow, who knew outing a CIA NOC for payback against her husband was "a bad job." Clearly they should have just roughed him up or something, can't have people airing factual differences with anything the Administration says without some form of payback, now can we?
But the rats can't even get their stories straight these days, as they scurry for cover before Hurricane Patrick hits the White House. (Andy? Dan? Is that you?)

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
Bush-league? Man, was that a poor choice of words! Running like rats from a sinking ship, and the indictments haven't even hit yet.

(Major graphics love to Dubyasworld.)

UPDATE: Hotline Blog has posted a list of everyone who has been interviewed and/or testified in Traitorgate. Just for fun and speculation, take a peek. It's an illuminating list. (Hat tip to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo for highlighting this list.)

UPDATE #2: Reuters is reporting that Congressional Democrats are now asking when, exactly, the President learned that Rove had any involvement in this matter. And what, if any, information he gave about that conversation to Patrick Fitzgerald. So far, it's a "no comment" from Scott McClellan.