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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Horror! The Horror!

Dear God, anything but that:
According to the New York Observer and sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Miller is demanding the right to reply to her critics in an opinion piece and a non-disparagement agreement as condition of her departure. Otherwise she has threatened to return to work.
Around the third or fourth week of any movie shoot people start muttering "who do I have to fuck to get off this picture." To the Times editorial staff: you can have that one.


The Crumbling Moral Authority of the Left

Shocking many of us who have long argued against the use of torture under any circumstances, noted liberal blogger TBogg has come out in support of Vice President Dick Cheney and his plea to Republican senators to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in US custody.

As he says:
There is nothing less than our precious freedoms at stake here, and when push comes to shove, we shouldn't let quaint antiquainted notions about human rights take precedence over our freedom from fear and harm when it comes to those who would attack us or who pose a danger to our men and women in uniform or the others who serve our country in covert ways through our intelligence services.

Therefore I think we should torture Scooter Libby.
TBogg leaves the rest of us weak-kneed sob sisters in his wake with the power of his logic:
[I]f we are going to get to the bottom of who put an American CIA agent in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon us to torture Scooter.

Water board him, strip him naked and smear him with his own feces and walk him on a leash down the mall, beat him with rolled-up copies of Condolezza Rice's unread National Intelligence Estimates, keep him awake for hours on end while reading to him from James Lilek's new book, Cute Things Gnat Said While I Was Lurking Around the Bra Department At Target, until he tells us who tipped him off about Valerie Plame.

A secure America demands no less.

We might want to smack Karl Rove around too. That fat prick knows something.
My resolve falters. I admit it, he's convinced me.

Update: John over at Crooks & Liars has an interview up with Wes Clark who talks about torture and the moral authority of the left. With a bit more gravitas than TBogg.

Update: Atrios sends us to a Newsweek piece on Dubya's "series of covert directives" to use "new, harsher methods" of interrogation that lead to the crap intelligence derived from al-Libi.


Later, Dick

Tom Gilroy over at the HuffPo has a word or two for those feeling warmed by BushCo's polar poll numbers:
They’re so humbled they just last week passed landmark changes gutting Florida’s Medicaid and Medicare programs, to be used as a model for other red states so their Republican governors can appear fiscally responsible. So you crippled grandmother better not exceed her spending cap next year, or she’s shit out of luck; her dog food rations will have to go up to 3 meals a week just to pay for her meds. Boy, thank God the GOP’s been humbled by the ethical quagmire.

They’re so humiliated by their treasonous lies and media intimidation in the lead-up to the illegal war, they just nominated a raving puritan lunatic to the Supreme Court, a brown-shirted lemming so in thrall of corporate power and totalitarian government control he makes Maggie Thatcher look like a feminazi. Running scared!

Dick Cheney’s act of contrition for the public discovering he’d sacrifice a CIA agent ‘s head on a silver platter so an illegal war could funnel money to Halliburton was to replace his indicted chief of staff with David Addington, a stealth gorgon who’s hatred of democracy reaches back to Iran/contra and co-authoring Gonzales’s Torture Memo.

Dick’s so horribly ashamed he’s even bucking the entire Congress to force a torture loophole into a bill that would otherwise compel America to abide by The Geneva Conventions. You remember The Geneva Conventions, those rules of ethics drafted by all of humanity in response to the Nazis gassing 6 million Jews? Clearly, our VP is so demoralized he must be triple popping Prozac just face his morning coffee.

W is so decimated by the embarrassment of his (and his mother’s) classism, racism and venal cronyism in the wake of Katrina, he could barely muster the courage to eliminate minimum wages and environmental protections in the great domestic funneling of cash to Halliburton , otherwise known as the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just look at the chickenshit run! We got ‘im now!
He's right, of course, but GOP party discipline is certainly waning. Will Bunch lays out the argument for impeaching the roundly-loathed Dick Cheney, whose arrogance and entitlement probably renders him physically incapable of making any kind of public atonement for the acts of his chief of staff. As Will says:
Could it get out of committee? We don't know, but it's possible that a few Republicans -- facing a Democratic landslide in '06 -- could decide that good government really does make good politics.
No, I don't think the Rethugs are on the run.

Not yet, anyway.

Update: Lukery, from the comments: "According to the latest zogby/afterdowningstreet poll, 53% of Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq. Bush's 'popularity' is twice as high as cheney's - can we infer that 106% of americans want cheney impeached?"

(graphics thanks to jaysea courtesy NYBri)


Rover Redux

A couple of NYT articles have launched considerable new speculation about Rover and the hot water he may be in. Jeralyn has a fabulous post up on Rove's history with the grand jury, replete with all kinds of links. She sketches a fascinating history and concludes that Rover is far from off the hook:
Rove reportedly told Novak on July 8 after Novak mentioned Wilson's wife that he had heard this too. From whom did he hear it? That seems to be what Fitzgerald wants to know. Rove said he heard it from other journalists, but couldn't remember which one. It seems more likely he heard it from Libby.
By about June 12, Libby had learned of both Wilson and his wife from a variety of sources - the undersecretary, a top CIA official and Cheney himself.

And it was after Wilson went public on July 6, 2003, that Libby appears to step up his focus on Wilson as the White House tried to decide how to beat back his claims. In a series of conversations - with former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, Cheney's counsel, and an official believed to be Karl Rove - Libby asks: How should we deal with media inquires about Wilson? In each conversation, prosecutors say, Libby discussed Wilson's wife.
I suspect Fitzgerald now has his answer. The question is, will he charge Rove with making a false statement to FBI investigators or with perjury before the grand jury, both or neither? While recantation is a defense to a perjury charge, it may not apply to Karl Rove, as I explained here. There is no recantation defense available to making a false statement to investigators.

It seems to me a false statements charge is the easiest for Fitzgerald to prove against Rove. The guidelines would not be as high as they are for perjury, but it's still a felony and even charging it would result in Rove having to leave the White House.
Elsewhere, the Hadley email regarding Matt Cooper looks like it is going to take center stage in whatever case there is to be made against Rover. In his new must-read magnum opus, Tom Maguire says:
[I]f Fitzgerald knew enough to subpoena Cooper's evidence about a conversation with Rove in late August, what do we take from this Times report that "the [email] message was not discovered until the fall of 2004"?

This certainly suggests that Fitzgerald had independent evidence of the conversation between Cooper and Rove.  But from whom?  Might Hadley, as recipient of the email, have found it to be memorable?  But if Hadley remembered, why did the author of the email forget?  Was Rove really that much busier than Hadley?
And Anonymous Liberal takes issue with the bit of Luskin spin from yesterday's article indicating "a lawyer in the case said that White House documents were collected in response to several separate requests that may not have covered certain time periods or all relevant officials." Says Anonymous Liberal:
There is simply no way that the failure to turn over that email in a timely matter can be attributable to a lack of specificity in the requests themselves. There is no way that the dates of the requests did not include July 11. Moreover, if White House email was searched using search terms, as Isikoff's source suggested, "Cooper" would have to have been one of those terms. It's possible, of course, that the email was innocently overlooked during the White House's effort to comply with these requests, but it's entirely ridiculous to assert that the prosecutors in this case did not draft their document requests with enough specificity to capture this key email. If I were Fitzgerald, that blind quote in today's Times article would really make me mad.
The notion of Fitzgerald mad about all the stonewalling and spin his case has been subjected to? Somehow that just doesn't bother me.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartborad)


Dubya Orders White House Staff to Take Ethics Classes

#1 - The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

#2 - The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.


Lights! Camera! Taxes!

Remember what a love fest Bubba had in South America? Well history isn't repeating itself for Poor Hapless Dubya, who tried to flee DC in the wake of Hurricane Patrick and finds no shelter from the storm in Argentina. Reader zaba sends this email:
Regarding the demonstrations and melees in Buenos Aires and La Plata today -  98 percent of the Argentine population was against the invasion of Iraq. For weeks prior to the summit, there have been numerous articles and commentaries  in the Argentine media regarding the deep feelings of animosity towards George W. Bush. It has not been reported in the U.S. media that Bush traveled to the summit with a retinue of 2000 (yes, two thousand) security/staff.  Last week, according to the daily Clarin, 3 airplanes loaded with arms for security as well as food for the entourage arrived in Argentina   Also,  four AWAC spy planes are surveying the area. Sikorsky helicopters were transported to Argentina, U.S. navy ships have been deployed off the coast of Mar del Plata,  all in anticipation of unrest due to the unpopularity of Bush in Argentina and in all of Latin America. The size of the Bush security detail has been a topic of articles in Argentina. It did not merit a single mention in the U.S. media. I find it incredible.  One cannot help but wonder what the price tag will be for the Bush trip to Latin America.
You do have to marvel at the expense of this particular photo op whilst Congress is simultaneously pulling food out of the mouths of the poor.

There is some nasty-ass karma cooking up for ol' Dubya. The man's got telltale hearts beating everywhere.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Pushing the Least of These to the Brink

The Senate approved budget cuts last night in the neighborhood of $35 billion dollars over the next five years. Programs cut? Federal student loans, prescription drug benefits and agricultural subsidies, along with the whiff of attempting to cut down on Medicare fraud (again).

The Senate bill would raise billions of dollars by auctioning off parts of the broadcasting spectrum for digital television. It would raise $2.5 billion through leasing parts of the Alaskan refuge to oil and gas interests. Companies with traditional pension plans would be charged higher premiums for insurance coverage under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. And the profits of student lenders would be squeezed by $9.7 billion over five years.

Some of the savings would be spent on relief for Katrina survivors and higher payments to health care providers helping Medicare patients.
The House plan? Cuts much more.

The focus now shifts to the House, where the Budget Committee voted 21 to 16 yesterday to approve a more extensive bill saving nearly $54 billion through 2010 with cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, agriculture subsidies and child support enforcement. The House measure would allow states to impose premiums and co-payments on poor Medicaid recipients for the first time.

With so many controversial provisions, the House measure is forcing Republican leaders to scramble for support in what could be the most difficult vote of the year. Some Republican moderates are balking at cuts to anti-poverty programs, especially in light of a $70 billion tax cut that could come to a vote soon after the budget bill, more than wiping out the first bill's deficit reduction.
Good to know that some people think stomping on the poor while spending ourselves into the poor house isn't the nicest of plans.

Having spent a great deal of my legal career working with the very poor -- especially working to protect vulnerable children in abusive and neglectful households -- these proposed cuts to safety net programs, already hanging on by a thread from previous cuts, are disturbing.

At a time of soaring profits for oil companies nationwide, a proposed cut to heating subsidies this winter is especially infuriating. And that's just one proposed measure. I could go on and on, but I won't -- mainly because it will just piss me off even more.

The children of the least of these in our nation deserve better.

(Photo Credit to Dorothea Lange. This is one of my all-time favorites of her FSA work, and it seemed highly appropriate for this piece. This photograph is entitled "Destitute pea-pickers in California; a 32-year old mother of seven children" from February, 1936.)


Holy Crap! Cheney Leaves a Big, Slimy Trail

Well, I'll say this about Lawrence Wilkerson -- he's definitely off the Cheney Christmas card list. But he just made mine -- in spades. In fact, he may have just earned himself a tin of homemade cookies and candies.

Today's Froomkin column (man, he's indespensible, isn't he?) points to an NPR audio file of Lawrence Wilkerson's Thursday interview on the network, and it is explosive, detailed and did I mention scorching?

The interview was conducted by NPR's Steve Inskeep. Although the transcript is not publicly available, Froomkin provided some quotes on the subject of Cheney's office being the catalyst for the change in military policy regarding torture.
"INSKEEP: While in the government, he says he was assigned to gather documents. He traced just how Americans came to be accused of abusing prisoners. In 2002, a presidential memo had ordered that detainees be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions that forbid torture. Wilkerson says the vice president's office pushed for a more expansive policy.

"Mr. WILKERSON: What happened was that the secretary of Defense, under the cover of the vice president's office, began to create an environment -- and this started from the very beginning when David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, was a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander in chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions. Regardless of the president having put out this memo, they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to, in my view, what we've seen.
You remember David Addington? The newly promoted replacement VP Chief of Staff for the indicted Scooter Libby, former VP Chief of Staff?

You know, how hard can it be to sit your ass down and think, "Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea to find someone to work in my office who doesn't come with an ethical taint -- maybe start fresh -- since my Chief of Staff just got indicted and all." Must be difficult, I suppose. Especially when all your chums seem to favor torture and drumming up a war out of thin air, well paid intelligence sources and specially forged documents.
"INSKEEP: We have to get more detail about that because the military will say, the Pentagon will say they've investigated this repeatedly and that all the investigations have found that the abuses were committed by a relatively small number of people at relatively low levels. What hard evidence takes those abuses up the chain of command and lands them in the vice president's office, which is where you're placing it?

"Mr. WILKERSON: I'm privy to the paperwork, both classified and unclassified, that the secretary of State asked me to assemble on how this all got started, what the audit trail was, and when I began to assemble this paperwork, which I no longer have access to, it was clear to me that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of Defense down to the commanders in the field that in carefully couched terms -- I'll give you that -- that to a soldier in the field meant two things: We're not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence, and, oh, by the way, here's some ways you probably can get it. And even some of the ways that they detailed were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war.

"You just -- if you're a military man, you know that you just don't do these sorts of things because once you give just the slightest bit of leeway, there are those in the armed forces who will take advantage of that. There are those in the leadership who will feel so pressured that they have to produce intelligence that it doesn't matter whether it's actionable or not as long as they can get the volume in. They have to do what they have to do to get it, and so you've just given in essence, though you may not know it, carte blanche for a lot of problems to occur."
AFP provides even more information on the interview, including the fact that Cheney's office became involved in this before we went into Afghanistan. (My question of the day: did Cheney help to hand-pick Gen. Miller for the torture patrol? Shouldn't the media and the Senate Armed Services Committee start asking that -- right now?)

And that the orders and directives coming from the VPs office on torture directly contradicted a 2002 memo from the Office of the President.

You know, back in the old days, we made fun of Alexander Haig for pretending to be President after Reagan was shot. Cheney isn't even bothering to pretend.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the interview, and something covered by the AFP article, is this:
Wilkerson also told National Public Radio that Cheney's office ran an "alternate national security staff" that spied on and undermined the president's formal National Security Council.

He said National Security Council staff stopped sending emails when they found out Cheney's staffers were reading their messages.

He said he believed that Cheney's staff prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council memo arguing strongly that the US needed far more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
We've known for some time that there was a substantial fight between the CIA and the WHIG group. But nothing like this. Read that section again -- the NSC staff stopped sending e-mails between themselves because members of the VP's staff were spying on them. What in the hell is going on with these people?!?

Meanwhile, in Congress, despite passing by an overwhelming margin of 90 to 9 in the Senate, McCain's anti-torture provision is being blocked by Dick Cheney's good friend in the House, Denny Hastert. I didn't think it was possible, but these asshats have sunk to an even lower level of hackery and ethical depravity.

The saving grace for my mood is that Cheney appears to have left a big, slimy trail -- and Powell and Wilkerson have both taken some excellent snapshots of it. Now if only someone in DC had to cojones to do some oversight. *snerk* Oh, that was painful.



Okay, this is my audition for editor at the NYT (caps mine):
The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has narrowed his investigation of Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to whether he tried to conceal from the grand jury a conversation with a Time magazine reporter in the week before an intelligence officer's identity was made public more than two years ago, KARL ROVE'S FURIOUSLY SPINNING lawyers in the case said Thursday.


Mr. Fitzgerald no longer seems to be actively examining some of the more incendiary questions involving Mr. Rove ACCORDING TO ROVE'S WANKY LAWYERS WHOSE WARES NOBODY THIS SIDE OF MICHAEL ISIKOFF IS BUYING. At one point, he explored whether Mr. Rove misrepresented his role in the leak case to President Bush - an issue that led to discussions between Mr. Fitzgerald and James E. Sharp, a lawyer for Mr. Bush, an associate of Mr. Rove said, IN AN ATTEMPT TO FLOAT A MORE PLAUSIBLE STORY AFTER THAT ONE ABOUT FITZGERALD STOPPING BY TO TELL SHARP EVERYTHING THAT WAS GOING ON IN HIS CASE WENT OVER LIKE THE HINDENBURG.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, declined to discuss his client's legal status, BUT HAD SOME MINION ON SPEED DIAL WHO WAS HAPPY TO DO THE HONORS, but AND THEN TRIED TO THROW EVERYBODY OFF THE SCENT WHEN HE referred to a statement issued last week in which he expressed confidence that Mr. Fitzgerald would conclude that Mr. Rove had done nothing wrong, AT LEAST NOT IN THE PAST FIVE MINUTES.

Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn THE MAN WITH THE WORLD'S SLIMMEST JOB DESCRIPTION, declined to discuss Mr. Rove's legal status AND COULD FOR ALL WE KNOW BE SCUBA DIVING IN THE BAHAMAS. If nothing else, the uncertainty that continues to surround Mr. Rove's legal case has led to intense speculation about his standing within the White House LIKE SHARKS TO CHUM. People with close ties to Mr. Bush and Republicans who work with officials in the top ranks of the White House staff said there had been no discussion about Mr. Rove stepping down if he is not indicted AS THEY TRIED TO MUFFLE THE GUFFAWS.
Don't worry, I won't give up my day job.

(graphics courtesy of Valley Girl)


We Don't Call It "TraitorGate" For Nothing

Ooooh, John Dean has a barn-burner of a column up, and there ain't no fat lady singing, that's for sure. Gee thee behind me, Dick Cheney:
Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.

Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.
Dean goes on to note, as Billmon has, that Fitzgerald said a whole lot more in the indictment than he had to, and took great pains to delve into the statutes under which Libby is not charged.
Count One, paragraph 1(b) is particularly revealing. Its first sentence establishes that Libby had security clearances giving him access to classified information. Then 1(b) goes on to state: "As a person with such clearances, LIBBY was obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order13292), not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise to exercise proper care to safeguard classified information against unauthorized disclosure." (The section also goes on to stress that Libby executed, on January 23, 2001, an agreement indicating understanding that he was receiving classified information, the disclosure of which could bring penalties.)

What is Title 18, United States Code, Section 793? It's the Espionage Act -- a broad, longstanding part of the criminal code. (my emphasis)
Espionage, bitches, espionage!

Fitzgerald is a man who speaks very carefully. And like Dean, I went back and read very slooooowly the transcript of his press conference about invoking the Espionage Act. Specifically the Espionage Act. As Fitzgerald said:
We have not charged him with [that] crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated [the Espionage Act]. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, go into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight.
Fitzgerald can't do his job because Libby is lying to him. And once again as Dean noted on Countdown last week, he says Libby is acting as a firewall to Cheney:
[I]n Fitzgerald's words, Libby's story was that when Libby "passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls."

This story is, of course, a lie, but it was a clever one on Libby's part.

It protects Cheney because it suggests that Cheney's disclosure to Libby was causally separate from Libby's later, potentially Espionage-Act-violating disclosure to the press. Thus, it also denies any possible conspiracy between Cheney and Libby.

And it protects Libby himself - by suggesting that since he believed he was getting information from reporters, not indirectly from the CIA, he may not have had have the state of mind necessary to violate the Espionage Act.

Thus, from the outset of the investigation, Libby has been Dick Cheney's firewall. And it appears that Fitzgerald is actively trying to penetrate that firewall.
Dean goes on to speculate, and I agree, that Fitzgearld is trying to flip Libby, and thinks he is unlikely to do so:
Neither Cheney nor Libby (I believe) will be so foolish as to crack a deal. And Libby probably (and no doubt correctly) assumes that Cheney - a former boss with whom he has a close relationship -- will (at the right time and place) help Libby out, either with a pardon or financially, if necessary. Libby's goal, meanwhile, will be to stall going to trial as long as possible, so as not to hurt Republicans' showing in the 2006 elections.

So if Libby can take the heat for a time, he and his former boss (and friend) may get through this. But should Republicans lose control of the Senate (where they are blocking all oversight of this administration), I predict Cheney will resign "for health reasons."
I'm not sure I'm with Dean on this last one. As long as Libby stalls a trial, it stays in the headlines. The public hunger for answers will grow ravenous. The White House will have to play Pin It All On Scooter, which his attorneys will be forced to defend in the court of public opinion. And the press, against whom Libby will have to wage his war (it's going to be his story vs. those of Matthews, Cooper, Miller et. al.) is going to turn hostile.

The stage is set for a circular firing squad.

And then there's the yet-to-be-played-out Karl Rove saga. BushCo. would love to see Scooter out of the headlines as quickly as possible so they could get back to feeding like pigs at the public trough. A few lavishly expensive photo-ops are not going to steal the headlines back from this one any time soon.

(graphic courtesy of Monk)


Abramoff: The E-mails That Keep On Giving

Oh, that silly Jack Abramoff. Keeping all the e-mail around for investigators and enterprising journalists to sift through in their off hours. And find things like this:
Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.
Gosh, perhaps its just me -- but isn't using a charity to launder political donations...erm...illegal. And, gasp, couldn't that mean old prosecutor in Texas use conduct like this to show...erm...a pattern of behavior and corruption in poor old Tom Delay's fundraising andpolitical action committee practices?
"Did you get the message from the guys that Tom wants us to raise some bucks from Capital Athletic Foundation?" Mr. Abramoff asked a colleague in a message on June 6, 2002, referring to the charity. "I have six clients in for $25K. I recommend we hit everyone who cares about Tom's requests. I have another few to hit still."

The e-mail was addressed to Tony Rudy, who had been Mr. DeLay's chief of staff in the House before joining Mr. Abramoff's lobbying firm. Mr. Abramoff said it would be good "if we can do $200K" for Mr. DeLay.

The e-mail traffic was released this week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has conducted a yearlong investigation into whether Mr. Abramoff and a business partner, Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former House press secretary, defrauded Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations out of tens of millions of dollars. There was no immediate comment on the e-mail from spokesmen for Mr. Abramoff or Mr. DeLay, who has stepped down as House majority leader because of an unrelated criminal indictment in his home state.
Ooops. And in a signal that things may just be getting bumpier for Delay, the DoJ signaled last week that it would be taking a good, hard look at his connections with Abramoff, including trips that Delay and his wife took on Abramoff's dime. But wait, there's more:
The hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee have shown that through a network of outside companies and charities, Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon funneled tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees from Indian tribes into activities that often had little connection to the interests of the tribes and their lucrative gambling operations.

Mr. Abramoff's private charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, has come under scrutiny by Senate investigators since the foundation was used to underwrite overseas travel by members of Congress and senior government officials, as well as a Jewish day school that Mr. Abramoff had established and paramilitary training for kibbutz residents in Israel. Mr. Abramoff's e-mail messages describe the training program as a "sniper school."
Well, that doesn't sound good at all, does it? Next thing you know, Delay will be whining about not knowing Mr. Abramoff very well at all.
In e-mail on July 8, 2002, to the lobbyist for a Texas Indian tribe, Mr. Abramoff asked about the status of the tribe's contribution to the foundation for Mr. DeLay: "I am getting daily calls on this. When they return tomorrow, I have no doubt, Tom himself is going to call." Mr. Abramoff appeared to be referring to Mr. DeLay's return to Washington after the Fourth of July holiday.
But e-mails like this are going to make that claim a little difficult, aren't they?

And Delay's attempt to rig his Texas trial by getting a Republican-friendly judge to appoint his trial judge? Not going so well, after all.
Late Thursday, Justice Jefferson announced that he had named a new trial judge, Pat Priest, a retired Democratic judge from San Antonio. It was not immediately clear if Judge Priest would be acceptable to lawyers on both sides.
Guess Delay is going to have to go back to that old standby -- criminalization of politics. Well, here's a clue for Tom: politics only gets criminalized when criminals are in office.

And on a related note: why did Fox News pay Tom Delay close to $14,000 in "travel expenses" to appear on their Sunday show the weekend after he was indicted? Just askin'. (Hat tip to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.)


Can't Even Be Honest With Each Other

Doug Jehl of the New York Times is reporting this morning that Eric Edelman fudged the truth in response to a questionnaire sent by the Senate Armed Services Committee. And Sen. John Warner, chairman of the committee doesn't sound at all pleased.
Eric S. Edelman, an under secretary of defense and former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, "would have been well advised" to tell Congress this spring about his "involvement" with the investigation into the C.I.A. leak case, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a statement on Thursday.
What does it say when you can't even be honest with members of your own party about how things are going with the Traitorgate mess?

Let's see, didn't John Bolton try a similar tactic with his questionnaire and the Foreign Relations Committee, before also receiving a recess nod to the United Nations? Can you say utter disrespect of the Senate -- and a great way to piss off a lot of people with big egos and long memories that really Bushie needs now that his poll numbers have tanked? Ahem.
As under secretary of defense for policy, Mr. Edelman holds one of the most senior positions in the department, a post previously held by Douglas J. Feith. Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Edelman on March 31, 2005, but his appointment was blocked by Senator Carl M. Levin of Michigan as part of a dispute unrelated to Mr. Edelman over the release of documents on Iraq that Mr. Levin had sought.

Mr. Bush used his appointment powers to install Mr. Edelman in the position on Aug. 9, when the Senate was in recess. Mr. Edelman faced only a cursory hearing from the Senate committee, on June 29, and he was not asked about his work for Mr. Cheney or any involvement in the leak investigation. He addressed those issues only in a letter to the committee on May 18, in response to a standard written questionnaire required of all nominees.
More of that exceptional oversight work from the Republicans in charge, I see. Good to know they are thoroughly vetting people for important positions, isn't it?
Asked in the 20-page questionnaire whether he had ever been "investigated, arrested, charged or held by any federal, state or other law enforcement authority for violation of any federal, state, county or municipal law, regulation, or ordinance," Mr. Edelman answered no.
Ooops. Wonder what the meaning of "no" is in that context? Ahem.

If I were Mr. Edelman, whose position requires him to brief members of the Armed Services Committee pretty frequently, I'd take along some kevlar to my next committee appearance. Just be sure it isn't one of those kevlar vests that still hasn't been distributed to National Guard troops in Iraq -- that would just be tacky.

UPDATE: Have I mentioned today that Digby rocks? No? Well, Digby rocks!


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Say It If You Don't Mean It, Tough Guy

Masquerading as First Amendment crusaders, the Wall Street Journal is already trying to mess with Patrick Fitzgerald's case. As Atrios would say, unleash the waaaaaahhh:
Thanks to the disastrous New York Times legal strategy, the D.C. Circuit of Appeals dealt a major blow to a reporter's ability to protect his sources. Prosecutors everywhere will now be more inclined to call reporters to testify, under threat of prison time. And if Mr. Libby's case goes to trial, at least three reporters will be called as witnesses for the prosecution. Just wait until defense counsel starts examining their memories and reporting habits, not to mention the dominant political leanings in the newsrooms of NBC, Time magazine and the New York Times. "Meet the Press," indeed.
"Dominant political leanings?" Since when did the WSJ have a problem with abject capitalism?

I've heard this several times today, it's going to be Scooter vs. the press. Hey Tweety, hey Pumpkinhead, they're calling you liars. Maybe you ought to think about that before you let the likes of Deborah Orrin float her right-wing tabloid bilge unchecked all over your network, okay?
Rather than join this parade of masochism, we thought we'd try to speed things along, as well as end one of the remaining mysteries in the probe. That's why Dow Jones & Co., this newspaper's parent company, filed a motion late Wednesday requesting that the federal district court unseal eight pages of redacted information that Mr. Fitzgerald used to justify throwing Judith Miller of the New York Times in the slammer.
In which, as ReddHedd has said on numerous occasions, Fitzgerald probably laid out his case. How helpful it would be to know exactly what he's got at this point, no? The WSJ is bleating like fair Nell tied to the railroad tracks, but their intent is pure Snidley Whiplash.
The pages were part of Judge David Tatel's concurring opinion in the ruling against Ms. Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper. Judge Tatel said the eight pages showed that, with his "voluminous classified filings," Mr. Fitzgerald had "met his burden of demonstrating that the information [sought from the reporters] is both critical and unobtainable from any other source."
What helpful little GOP elves the Journal crowd are, trying to put Fitzgerald on the defensive. Who thought we'd long for days when they were happy to publish the fevered ditherings of dolphin worshipping knuckle-sucker Peggy Noonan.
The pages remain sealed, but now that Mr. Fitzgerald has indicted Mr. Libby and said "the substantial bulk" of his probe is "completed," there's no reason to keep those pages secret. The indictment itself discloses the nature and "major focus" of Mr. Fitzgerald's grand jury probe, including the fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. The special counsel's own extensive public discussion of the facts in the case should also have vitiated any protection from disclosure under grand jury rule of evidence 6(e). Future prosecutors and judges trying to decide whether to throw a reporter in jail should be able to inspect the evidence in this case, which will be an influential precedent.
For the benefit of those who ride the special bus to school:

a) Fitzgerald has long said he was finished with his investigation in October, 2004. That does not mean his case is finished.

b) "Extensive public discussion of the facts of the case?" He had a press conference. He spent a whole lotta time saying a whole lotta nothing. He basically reiterated what is in the indictment. Google "held his cards close" and watch the name Patrick Fitzgerald pop up at the top. Every unimaginative goof on the internets, including myself, used that phrase.
Unsealing the eight pages would also help put to rest the wilder "conspiracy" claims that continue to circulate about the case. Residents of the Internet fever swamps can now point to the sealed pages and say, aha!, dark secrets are being covered up.
"Wilder conspiracy claims?" Mousetraps? Dust bunnies? Hey we were right.
Beyond this motion, we think Mr. Fitzgerald also has a broader duty, as well as some self-interest, in wrapping his probe up quickly. By keeping the case open even though his grand jury has been shut down, he keeps a cloud over the Bush Administration and hampers its ability to function. If after two years of digging he hasn't found any other crimes, he has an obligation to close up shop.
You have to be shitting me. Fitzgerald isn't the one who put a cloud over BushCo., they pissed it up there themselves. And how would you know he hasn't found any other crimes? His only obligation is to investigate the treasonous acts of political operatives who don't give a happy hooty who they destroy in the process. That's what the public has a right to know. If the 1600 crew are having a rough time keeping their powder dry in the midst of it, tough darts.
As for his own self-interest, Mr. Fitzgerald is going to have a hard enough time proving that Mr. Libby lied based largely on the testimony of three journalists.
Mr. Libby lied based on his own testimony. He told one whopper to the FBI and then a surgically modified whopper to the grand jury. No ho-bag reporters necessary.
Rest assured that Ms. Miller's evocative self-description, "Miss Run Amok," will surface on cross-examination.
I guess that means the job interview didn't go so well? How sad. You two were meant for each other. No, really.
Sounds like Mr. Fitzgerald has a fight on his hands.
I will leave you with the words of Tommy Corrigan, one of Patrick Fitzgerald's best friends from the NYPD who has known him for the past 11 years. I asked him point blank yesterday if he thought Fitzgerald was done. Quite emphatically, without any hesitation at all, he said "No. It's not over for him until the last bell is rung."

Unseal that, you bastards.

(extreme graphics love to Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)

Update: In the comments, PollyUSA reminds us that if the WSJ really wants to inform the public, they should start by talking abou their own role in this mess:
In my view the WSJ should be in the middle of this investigation. Three weeks after the investigation began the WSJ published an article discussing the contents of the INR memo.

This WSJ article was the first mention of the INR memo in the press. The memo was and still is a classified document. The leaking of classified material is at the heart of this investigation and the WSJ received just such a leak in October 2003. Who leaked to the WSJ?
Fess up, fellas. Won't cost you a dime.

Update 2: Several people have noted that Libby's lawyers will, over the course of time, have access to the 8 pages. This isn't about getting it to Libby's lawyers. If Redd is correct and Fitz laid out his conspiracy case in the 8 pages (and let's remember, he's known for a very long time what happened -- he's just been about proving it for the past year) this is an attempt to let BushCo. know, who up until now have been gnawing each other's tails off in the wake of Fitzgerald's maddening silence. They can't spin what they don't know and it's killing them. Nothing good can come from forcing his hand at this early...and I emphasize EARLY... stage of the game.


Slow Your Roll

The day's events dampened hopes among some Republicans for a quick resolution to a case that has already cast a long shadow over the White House. Immediately after the arraignment, Mr. Libby's lawyers sought to quell any speculation about a possible plea deal to resolve the politically volatile case.


At his arraignment, Mr. Libby waived his right to a speedy trial, as lawyers on both sides pointed to the complicated and protracted nature of the case. Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court said, "I want to try to have this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible," but he also said he understood that the unusual complications might make that difficult. He agreed to schedule the next hearing in the case on Feb. 3 to give the lawyers time to resolve issues involving classified documents.

The prospect that the case will progress slowly means that the White House may be forced to buffet extended criticism of Mr. Libby's conduct - and by implication, of the administration's polices on Iraq - through 2006, even as it seeks to regain its footing for the Congressional midterm elections.
Take yer time, boys. Wouldn't want anyone to feel shortchanged by a quick -- er -- resolution?


Thanks For the Memories, Irv

Dubya races Big Time for the bottom. WaPo:
For the first time in his presidency a majority of Americans question the integrity of President Bush, and growing doubts about his leadership have left him with record negative ratings on the economy, Iraq and even the war on terrorism, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows.

On almost every key measure of presidential character and performance, the survey found that Bush has never been less popular with the American people. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office -- the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls.


The indictment Friday of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, in the CIA leak case added to the burden of an administration already reeling from a failed Supreme Court nomination, public dissatisfaction with the economy and continued bloodshed in Iraq. According to the survey, 52 percent say the charges against Libby signal the presence of deeper ethical wrongdoing in the administration. Half believe White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, the president's top political hand, also did something wrong in the case -- about 6 in 10 say Rove should resign his position.
While it's hard to relate to the profound lack of attention being paid by anyone who wasn't hip long ago to the fact that Dubya has always been a petulant rich jerk and a world-class beatoff, I'm not gonna slam 'em for being late to the party. The way I look at it, now they'll just get to enjoy all the jokes about out-of-season brush clearance, drunken bicycle rides and White House man-whores that have kept the rest of us amused for so long.

In the mean time, the 1600 crew probably have more of this to look forward to. From Knight Ridder:
As they passed, one heckler outside the courthouse shouted at Libby: "Guilty of taking the U.S. to war on a pack of lies! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

(thanks to poputonian and Dena for the graphic)


We're Not the Only Ones Calling Them Wackos

Listen to how Michael Scanlon, former aide to Jack Abramoff, talks about the "base:"
"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them." The brilliance of this strategy was twofold: Not only would most voters not know about an initiative to protect Coushatta gambling revenues, but religious "wackos" could be tricked into supporting gambling at the Coushatta casino even as they thought they were opposing it.
You know there has got to be a lot more damning paperwork like this floating around out there. All those crocodile tears for Terry Schiavo notwithstanding, the bugman isn't exactly opting for the seat on the bus next to any of the unmedicated bipolars for Jesus crowd, now is he?

(via C&L)


The Doorman's Son vs. the Cabbie's Son

Well well well. Looks like Scooter's trial is going to be a barn burner. For the prosecution there's Brooklyn born Patrick Fitzgerald, son of Irish immigrants from County Clare whose father worked as a doorman. And for the defense, Ted Wells:
When New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli realized he was in trouble with a New Jersey prosecutor investigating potential bribes, he called a Washington-born cabbie's son, Ted Wells, now co-chair of white-collar litigation at one of the premier New York-based law firms. And when New Yorker lawyers depend on a Washingtonian to lead them, he must be something.

Ted Wells is definitely something. In the 1960s he was a star lineman at Northwest DC's Coolidge High School. Two colleges got into a dispute over where he would play: Wells believed he had agreed to play at Pitt. Then he got a call from Holy Cross board member Edward Bennett Williams telling him to report to Holy Cross and that he, Williams, would deal with Pitt. Wells knew then and there that he wanted to be a lawyer. Williams became his mentor.

As a litigator, Wells does not rest until he gets the outcome he wants. In court he is assertive, quick on his feet, and convincing. Torricelli seemed headed for indictment until Wells was brought into the case. In a matter of months, Wells convinced prosecutors to drop their investigation into Torricelli's campaign finances.
Am I the only one hoping this one goes to trial? Man, that is going to be the hottest ticket in town.


Looking Dark for Rove?

Is the noise on removing Rove getting louder? Jane's excellent review of the WaPo article on the subject is below. And now, the exceptional Dan Froomkin has more on the subject in his WaPo White House Briefing.
The hunker-down strategy doesn't seem to be working very well for President Bush right now.

So faced with an increasingly festering problem, there are signs that some blood-letting may be in the cards.
And that's just for starters. Froomkin includes a link to a letter from Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi calling for Rove to be fired.
"With three years remaining in your term, we believe it is imperative that you move quickly to remove the cloud that hangs over your presidency," they wrote.

"It is totally unacceptable that anyone involved in the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of a CIA officer, including your Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, should remain employed at the White House with a security clearance."
Hmmmmm....Democrats and Republicans can sometimes agree on things, it seems.

There are some excellent article summaries and links in Froomkin's blog today -- it's a must read, as always, and today is truly an exceptional column. Great stuff!

Mark Kleiman also has more on the "Rove should get out" meme, concentrating on the McClellan angle and the increasing gap between the interests of the different factions within the WH. My favorite bit:
So to discuss the quarrel between Rove and McClellan as if it were merely a personal spat, to be resolved by dumping whichever of the disputants is less valuable to the organization, is to leave out entirely the difference between right and wrong.
I have to say, watching the maneuvers from the outside is awfully amusing -- especially given the asshats who are rushing around to stab each other in the back to save their own political skins.


Report or No Report: That Is the Question

Greg Sargent has an interesting article in the American Prospect on the issue of whether or not a report can be issued detailing the findings and decisionmaking process for charging (and not charging) Administration officials caught up in the Traitorgate investigation.

The focus of the article is on whether or not Alberto Gonzales, the AG, can issue a report based on the Code of Federal Regulations section that establishes how a Special Counsel operates. (28 CFR 600 series [available as text and/or PDF docs])

I read through the article and did a run-through of the CFR as well. I think there is no question that a briefing for Congress could be done, and perhaps even a general report at the end at the discretion of the Attorney General for the public.

However, in this case, because Gonzales has recused himself, I think an argument could be made that the attorney supervising the probe -- the guy to whom Fitz is reporting now (used to be James Comey, and now is David Margolis) -- would be the one who would decide on this.

Comey transferred supervisory authority, without limiting the scope of Fitzgerald's power, to Margolis on August 12, 2005 in this letter. (warning: PDF link) (For further information about Margolis, take a peek at Mark Kleiman's post at the time of the appointment -- very helpful info.)

This is why: once you have recused yourself for an ethical conflict of interest, that should mean that you are recused from all decisions pertaining to the matter. Period.

There will be some argument that once the probe has ended, then that recusal ends as well -- but in a public interest and public trust question, I think a very good argument could (and should) be made that someone who was "Chinese walled" from the matter while it was ongoing for political and personal reasons should not, therefore, make decisions on a matter where political and personal considerations could influence whether or not information becomes public.

Also, I would argue that the decision ought to be made by the DOJ person who is a disinterested party appointed to supervise the matter. Since the purpose of the rules was to prevent partisan activity, either in overzealous prosecution or in underdone prosecution, I would argue that the same spirit should apply concerning who decides what information, if any, becomes part of the public record -- either in Congress or through a public report on its own.

Specifically, it is 28 CFR 600.9(c) that piqued my interest in this:

(c) The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions. All other releases of information by any Department of Justice employee, including the Special Counsel and staff, concerning matters handled by Special Counsels shall be governed by the generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation, and relevant law.
In this case, Margolis has been given, for all intents and purposes, the "Acting Attorney General" position in terms of being the person to whom Fitzgerald reports; the person at DOJ from whom Fitz is to seek guidance, recommendations and such; and the person who oversees the actions of Fitz and his team to be certain that they are complying with the requirements of 28 CFR 600.

Thus, it should be a determination made by David Margolis, and not Alberto Gonzales, as to whether or not a public report should be issued at the conclusion of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation.

The determination on what the public should or should not know about criminal and otherwise questionable conduct, which may have been condoned and/or encouraged at the highest levels of the Administration, should be made by a party who does not have a personal or political interest in the outcome of the case. That person should not be Alberto Gonzales, who has already declared his ethical conflict of interest in the matter -- that person should be David Margolis.

I still think that this is a long way off, considering how many rumbles about Rove alone we have been hearing, but it doesn't hurt to start discussing this now. Especially since, whatever happens with the criminal investigation, the political tendency in the GOP will be to immediately sweep all of this under a big ole rug -- whether or not a whole bunch of sunshine would better serve the public.

My vote is for a whole lotta sunshine. We have a right to know what members of our government were or were not doing to stifle dissent from an American citizen to cover their own asses.


How Do You Plead, Guilty Or Not Guilty?

It's arraignment day for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the indicted former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. I previously covered some basic information on arraignments here, but wanted to remind everyone that likely what we'll see if the following this morning:

-- Libby will most likely plead "not guilty" to the five charges contained in his indictment from last week.

-- He will likely have new legal counsel with him for this phase. He's been shopping around D.C. for a criminal trial lawyer (smart move), although I expect that Tate will also appear with him for the arraignment, since he is still attorney of record (unless paperwork on change in representation has been filed without anyone in the media picking it up).

-- There may be dates set for motion filings, hearings and potentially a trial date. And Libby's attorney(s) will receive some of the discovery from the Special Prosecutor.

Looks like Libby is still pursuing the
"honesty is overrated" defense.

Libby attorney Joseph Tate said inconsistencies in recollections among people regarding long-ago events should not be charged as crimes. Libby, who says he is confident he will be exonerated, is accused of one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of lying to FBI agents and two counts of perjury before a federal grand jury.
Sure. Those FBI interviews within a few weeks of the Novak article hitting the paper were sooooo distant in time from Libby opening his yap. Over and over again. Uh huh.

Clearly the grand jury bought that one hook, line and sinker since Libby wasn't....erm, never mind. The arraignment is scheduled for 10:30 am ET.

UPDATE: TalkLeft has some interesting analysis on the latest Raw Story news. Good read.

UPDATE #2: David Shuster is reporting on MSNBC that Ted Wells and William Jeffress (? -- thanks to Pach for catching what the name sounded like on this one -- missed it due to a toddler interruption) will be representing Scooter for the trial. Both are experienced white collar crime trial attorneys. Big questions being raised about who will or will not have to testify at trial if this goes to trial. MSNBC tying all of this in to pre-war intelligence questions. Also discussing Rove is on the ropes -- talking about whether Rove should stay on the job.

UPDATE #3: The WaPo (via AP) has more on the arraignment and new legal representation for Libby.

UPDATE #4: No shocker here, but CNN is reporting that Libby has plead "not guilty" to all charges. This allows motions and trial scheduling to move forward from here, now.

UPDATE#5: David Shuster reporting that the next status hearing set for this case for Feb. 3, 2006. Defense counsel are having to fill out paperwork for clearance to review classified docs in discovery, so that will slow discovery review and motions filings. No trial set as yet -- makes sense, since the clearance paperwork will need to be processed and that takes a while before Libby's attorneys can do any substantial document and discovery review.

UPDATE#6: WaPo has updated (via AP) here.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

And Away We Go

Yippee kay-yay. From tomorrow's WaPo:
Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.


While Rove faces doubts about his White House status, there are new indications that he remains in legal jeopardy from Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's criminal investigation of the Plame leak.
You mean that Adam Levine thing was all bullshit? No, say it ain't so!
The prosecutor spoke this week with an attorney for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about his client's conversations with Rove before and after Plame's identity became publicly known because of anonymous disclosures by White House officials, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.
What? Did Luskin lose his gig doing exclusive legal commentary for every major outlet in town? Sweet Mary mother o' Bill O'Reilly on the cross, I almost don't know what to make of a lawyer who doesn't want to be cited as an "anonymous source." I'm not smelling a trend.
Fitzgerald is considering charging Rove with making false statements in the course of the 22-month probe, and sources close to Rove -- who holds the titles of senior adviser and White House deputy chief of staff -- said they expect to know within weeks whether the most powerful aide in the White House will be accused of a crime.
Sort of our very own version of "boxing day," no doubt.
"Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl," said a GOP strategist.
(((BWA HA HA HA!!!)))

If Rove has no real enemies in the White House it's only because he ate them all for breakfast. Anyone that dictatorial and egotistical is probably not one who "plays well with others."
Many mid-level staffers inside have expressed frustration that press secretary Scott McClellan's credibility was undermined by Rove.
Fear not, young mid-level staffers. We've long known he was full o'shit. We kept repeating it because it was funny not because it qualified as a "revelation."
Fitzgerald made it clear to Rove's attorney in private conversations last week that his client remains under investigation. And he signaled the same in his indictment of Libby on Friday, in which he identified a senior White House official who had conversations related to the Plame leak as "Official A." White House colleagues say Rove is clearly "Official A," based on the detailed description.

That kind of pseudonym is often used by prosecutors to refer to an unindicted co-conspirator, or someone who faces the prospect of being charged. No other administration official is identified in this way in Fitzgerald's indictment.
As a rule I don't bash my own side and won't start now, but to everyone floating the "Fitzgerald's done" story -- you really didn't have any way of knowing that, just a suspicion. And we had ours. You may well be right. And we may well be wrong. But it's not looking good for either you or Rover at the moment.
Rove was interviewed by FBI agents in the fall of 2003. He subsequently testified four times before the grand jury, which legal experts say is an unusually large number of appearances given that he was told he was a subject of the investigation and his actions were being scrutinized as possible criminal violations.
My favorite Clash album -- Give 'Em Enough Rope.
Sources close to Rove say one pressing problem for him is that he initially did not tell investigators he had a conversation with Cooper, then he produced an e-mail to a colleague in which he reported he had spoken to Cooper. He told the grand jury he could recollect very little of the conversation other than a discussion of welfare, sources said.
Kinda like Scooter's story that he didn't remember the VP told him about Plame, then he did? Yeah. Fitzgerald bought one too, as I recall.
White House critics said Rove's continued presence would expose Bush as a hypocrite.
Go on! Next you'll try to tell us all that gay bashing was just for show and the only time he sings Nearer My God to Thee is when he's snorting coke off some stripper's ass.
Political pressure is rising from the outside. A few conservatives have suggested it is time for Rove to go. William A. Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, told Reuters on Tuesday that Bush has to "sacrifice" some top aides starting with Rove, who he said has given good campaign advice but poor guidance on getting legislation passed.
Forget about circling the wagons, the vultures beat 'em to it.


Immanaentize This

Via Crooks & Liars we learn that Mr. immanentize the eschaton himself, William F. Buckley, reverts to English momentarily so as to wax nostalgic about his own day-and-a-half in the CIA and scold the rabble who minimize the outing of Valerie Plame:
We have noticed that Valerie Plame Wilson has lived in Washington since 1997. Where she was before that is not disclosed by research facilities at my disposal. But even if she was safe in Washington when the identity of her employer was given out, it does not mean that her outing was without consequence. We do not know what dealings she might have been engaging in which are now interrupted or even made impossible. We do not know whether the countries in which she worked before 1997 could accost her, if she were to visit any of them, confronting her with signed papers that gave untruthful reasons for her previous stay — that she was there only as tourist, or working for a fictitious U.S. company. In my case, it was 15 years after reentry into the secular world before my secret career in Mexico was blown, harming no one except perhaps some who might have been put off by my deception.
Before anybody gets all misty-eyed over ol' Bill as a "true conservative" as opposed to the current cabal of kleptocrat usurpers within the Republican party, remember that he rose to prominence defending Joe McCarthy and segregation. Bill is something less than a Great Man. He is the author of God and Man at Yale, and it was never quite clear which one Bill thought he was. Buckley could've pulled the plug on the yippy Chihuahuas of The Corner calling for Joe Wilson's blood long ago if he cared so damn much, robbing half the blogosphere of its best material in the bargain. He didn't.

Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby last week emboldened the Democrats, and no doubt a few others. The outing of Valerie Plame never sat well with the Bush 41 contingent, and Brent Scowcroft for one has been mighty chatty lately. Remember, Buckley got the Medal of Freedom from Poppy. There were many long-time GOP honchos who got pushed off the stage when the NeoCons made their unholy alliance with the College Republicans for control of the hearts and...okay, well the hearts of Christo-crazed America. That they might be ready for some payback too should surprise no one.

Update: BTW, we made Newsweek this week. Thanks to M for the tip.


The Amazing Psychic Wankery of Max Boot

Max Boot must be a clairvoyant. Or so he claims in his most recent LA Times outing:
But with his investigation all but over, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives.
Okay don't get hinky on me, Max, I know how sensitive you astral projection and colonic irrigation types can be. Over here -- we're gonna go a little left-hemisphere for a moment but don't worry, it won't hurt you -- we have a few facts.

I know, I know, Patrick Fitzgerald said in his Friday press conference that his investigation is by and large over. But Patrick Fitzgerald has said all along that his investigation has been over for a year.

WaPo from April, 2005:
In the court documents, Fitzgerald said that by October 2004, "the factual investigation -- other than the testimony of Miller and Cooper . . . was for all practical purposes complete."
Ask around, Max. Talk to anyone who covers this thing, or has been caught in its wake. Fitzgerald doesn't need to investigate shit at this point. What he needs to do is prove his case. Oh he may dance around and send a few FBI agents out to fact check Rover's cock-and-bull stories, but that's just window dressing. Fitzgerald knows what happens, he's known for a long time. The two year stretch hasn't been about figuring out what happened, it's about getting the people who know and will make reliable witnesses to tell him the truth.

But maybe I sell Max short. Perhaps his clairvoyant skills are better than I assume. Did he stick his hand in the hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch to learn that Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violation of the IIPA?

Is that your secret source, Max? Or are you privy to the details of Fitzgerald's investigation that we are not? 'Cos the rest of us are on the outside thinking that just because something isn't charged doesn't mean it didn't happen. And in your previous Penthouse Forum fantasies of a world filled with white men in shiny back jackboots, I think you've lamented as much.
Among other problems, Plame doesn't seem to fit the act's definition of a "covert agent" someone who "has within the last five years served outside the United States."
Again, Max has apparently been gazing into his own crystal balls. If only he'd hipped us two years ago to amazing psychic gifts, he could've spared us the embarrassing faux pas of the CIA, who seemed to think that a crime was committed when they asked the Justice Department to look into it in September of 2003. And the Justice Department seemed to think that something had gone afoul when they appointed a Special Counsel in December of 2003. But the all-seeing Boot Boy clearly knows much more than those he accuses of being a bunch of wanky time-wasters.

Well I suppose everyone has to be an expert on something

The rest of the article is spent bashing Joe Wilson. Young Max might better devote his skills to resolving the theory of relativity with quantum physics because his Madam Blavatsky act is going to have a right hard time getting around the fact that ultimately Joe Wilson was fucking right.

Of course, I could be wrong in all of this. Larry Johnson seems to think that Max doesn't have any balls, crystal or otherwise, and is simply swapping pills with Big Pharma. From his post entitled Is Max Boot Using OxyContin:
[W]hy can't conservative talkers and bloggers accept the fact that Valerie Plame was undercover until exposed in Bob Novak's column? Patrick Fitzgerald spoke in English and did not stutter when he said very clearly at the start of his press conference last Friday, Valerie Wilson's cover was blown.” You can only blow a cover if a cover exists.
I guess I may be trying to overcomplicate things needlessly. Larry's probably right, they're all just on drugs.

Update: Over at Dependable Renegade, Watertiger has breaking news on Patrick Fitzgerald.


Afternoon Round-Up

First the television notices:

-- Hardball looks like it will be a doozy. David Schuster is digging in to the Cheney angle on the lead-up to the war and the Libby indictment. You can catch Hardball on MSNBC at 5 pm ET and 7 pm ET.

-- Lawrence Wilkerson will appear on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. (Check local listings, but where I am it comes on at 7 pm ET.) [NOTE: Kate says that Wilkerson will be on tomorrow night, not tonight. Just FYI.]

-- Jimmy Carter will be on Larry King this evening, discussing mis-use of religion for political purposes and undoubtedly the CIA out-of-country prisons issue, among other things. (That's on CNN at 9 pm ET.)

-- And a reminder, Scooter Libby will be arraigned at 10:30 am ET tomorrow morning.

If anyone has more guest information for other shows, let me know and I will update here for everyone.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the WaPo is chock full of goodness today, including these great questions from WaPo reporter Peter Baker:

"I can think of lots of questions to ask the president when he deems to take them again," Baker wrote.

"1) Did Karl Rove tell you the truth about the CIA leak and did you tell the American people the truth?

"2) A variant: What did you know and when did you know it?

"3) You promised in your first campaign to clean up Washington. 'In my administration,' you told voters in Pittsburgh in October 2000, 'we will ask not only what is legal but what is right, not what the lawyers allow but what the public deserves.' Do you think your White House has lived up to that standard in this episode?

"4) You promised to fire anyone involved in the leak and your spokesman said anyone involved would no longer work in the administration. Last week's indictment makes clear that Official A, identified as Karl Rove, was involved. Are you going to fire Karl Rove?

"5) Even giving Scooter Libby the benefit of the doubt legally, do you approve of the conduct that has now been documented?"
Definitely a great read, as always. Yesterday's WHBriefing was excellent as well -- didn't get to post a link yesterday, so for anyone who missed it, you can find it here.

Steve Clemons has some great information on Rumsfeld, Powell and Larry Wilkerson in the Washington Note. He also points to a great article on Addington which you can find here.

Someone is finally questioning Rove's continued security clearance in detail in the MSM. Jonathon Alter addresses this issue in Newsweek. A tantalizing tidbit from the article:

That means the only proper answer to a reporter’s questions about Joseph Wilson’s wife would have been something along the lines of, “You know I cannot discuss who may or may not be in the CIA.” The indictment makes clear that this was not the answer Official A provided when the subject was discussed with reporters Bob Novak and Matt Cooper.
Here's hoping we get a few answers on this front soon, considering every other human being in the country would have had their clearance yanked before they left the building the day that anyone found out they were involved. (According to the leaks, that would be some time in 2003 that Bush learned. Clock is ticking...)

Murray Waas updates the story that keeps on giving from last night's Democratic cojone-finding extravaganza. Seems the Dems aren't ready to trust the GOP leadership to follow-through, nor are they prepared to just let the issue go without oversight. Waas has the goods on some potential upcoming moves on this issue.

It's great that the questions are finally being asked about all of this. Wish it would have happened earlier -- say 2003 -- but better now than never.

UPDATE: Mrs. K8 reports that Joe Wilson will be on Keith Olberman's MSNBC Countdown show this evening as well. That's on at 8 pm ET, following Hardball.

UPDATE #2: Crooks and Liars has an hilarious clip from Imus this morning. Rick Santorum is babbling on with Imus and then tries to crack a joke about Imus' wife and a three-way. Hello?!? Santorum -- the gift that keeps on giving.


Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks sat down, so the rest of America could stand up. May she rest in peace. And may she serve as an example to all of us that one gentle soul can make all the difference.


Hey, I Know, Just For Kicks, How About We Actually Try Doing Our Job?

Yesterday's Senatorial Smackdown was seriously entertaining television, what with the indignant Bill Frist whine-a-thons, and the GOP spin camps set up outside the Senate chambers within minutes of Sen. Harry Reid's outflanking rules maneuver under the archaic Standing Rule 21. (And does anyone else sense Sen. Byrd's hand in the planning of this? Thank goodness someone reads the rules now and then.)

Dana Milbank's Washington Sketch column in the WaPo provides an amusing glimpse into the personalities behind the scenes of the serious discussion yesterday.

And, may I say, it's about damn time -- I spoke with Sen. Rockefeller over a year and a half ago regarding some of these issues and how stymied he and the Democrats were on the Intelligence Committee in getting any decent oversight going. He was attempting to be very vague and polite in his discussion with me, but his anger over a number of issues that I brought up regarding matters that needed oversight was visibly clear -- not just from him, but also from staffers who were with him at the time.

The Intelligence Committee has had a long tradition of nonpartisan action on these issues, because action on national security matters and intelligence issues had always been about what was best for the nation as a whole. Guess that's gone right out the window -- not a surprise given Pat Roberts history of partisan activity and this Administration's view on anyone asking tough questions about anything they do.

Too bad for him the Democrats appear tired of trying to go along to get along.
Democrats did not deny it was a stunt: a brazen effort to change the subject from the Supreme Court confirmation of Sam Alito, which Republicans prefer, to war deaths and Scooter Libby's indictment. "Alito had his day," a Democratic leadership aide said as the chamber dissolved into confusion. "We're going back to our story."

It was a cheap trick -- and it worked brilliantly. Reporters dropped their stories about Alito and covered the melee in the Senate. CNN titled the episode "Congress in Crisis." MSNBC displayed a live shot of a mostly empty hallway outside the Senate chamber and a clock showing elapsed time since the Senate went into closed session.
Republicans knew they were licked. They agreed to set a schedule for the long-delayed intelligence committee investigation Democrats demanded. "Today, the American people had a victory," Reid declared.
Cheap trick my ass -- this was a brilliant maneuver and it was executed flawlessly. And they achieved exactly what they wanted -- changing the subject back to the fact that the Republicans in Congress haven't been doing their jobs, that the Administration has had a free pass far too long, and that Pat Roberts was aiding and abetting them all along.

The Republican response? Well, Sen. Frist appeared to be personally insulted. (Maybe he should diagnose his mental state today by watching footage of himself from yesterday. Mweee hee. Sorry, couldn't help myself.) And then there was this:
"Republicans are outraged," Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) reported. "I just ate lunch, and it's upset my stomach."
Let me get this straight? The fact that the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee has been stimying real oversight into potentially jimmied and forged intelligence foisted on the American public and the Congress in order to drum up a war in Iraq which has cost more than 2,026 American lives and counting (not to mention injured soldiers), didn't bother you one bit.

But Kit Bond's lunch was disturbed because his party was called on their rubber stamping?!? THAT upsets his lunch?!?

How about this for a concept? How about the folks in Congress start actually doing their jobs -- even the Republicans -- instead of allowing Dick Cheney and his little band of cronies to tell them what to do. After all, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are supposed to be separate and distinct. It's called "checks and balances" for a reason -- we aren't a damned monarchy.


As Long as We're Looking Into Things...

The Washington Post's Dana Priest is doing Congressional oversight work this morning. On the heels of yesterday's closed session in the US Senate, this article stings. And it should.

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.
So, let me get this straight. The existence of these facilities has been kept from the very people who are supposed to be providing oversight of the conduct of our personnel running them?

And why would that be, pray tell? Perhaps because our personnel are conducting themselves in a manner that is beyond what the laws and our moral code allow -- just like, erm, say a pattern of behavior shown at such lovely vaction spots as Guantanimo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram? Lovely.

And, who knows about what might be going on and is providing any sort of oversight?
The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.
Oh, great. That makes me feel better. The Preznit knows all about it and is making sure everything is on the up and up. (You can literally see my eyes rolling, can't you? Look of disgust? Check.)

But we put a lot of thought into this before setting up the system and implementing these actions right? I mean, gee, there was a whole lot of consideration on this by Gonzales (got promoted to Attorney General), Addington (now the VP's Chief of Staff), and lots of others, right? Making sure we were not fully in violation of the Geneva Conventions and all, to protect our own soldiers down the road as much as anything else, right?

Erm....not so much.

Mid-level and senior CIA officers began arguing two years ago that the system was unsustainable and diverted the agency from its unique espionage mission.

"We never sat down, as far as I know, and came up with a grand strategy," said one former senior intelligence officer who is familiar with the program but not the location of the prisons. "Everything was very reactive. That's how you get to a situation where you pick people up, send them into a netherworld and don't say, 'What are we going to do with them afterwards?'
Like everything else about this Administration that has pissed me off, again the long-term consequences and the moral implications of this over the long haul were pushed aside for expediency's sake. Lovely. How was this initially set up?
Six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush signed a sweeping finding that gave the CIA broad authorization to disrupt terrorist activity, including permission to kill, capture and detain members of al Qaeda anywhere in the world.

It could not be determined whether Bush approved a separate finding for the black-sites program, but the consensus among current and former intelligence and other government officials interviewed for this article is that he did not have to.

Rather, they believe that the CIA general counsel's office acted within the parameters of the Sept. 17 finding. The black-site program was approved by a small circle of White House and Justice Department lawyers and officials, according to several former and current U.S. government and intelligence officials.
Great, so the parameters were not narrowly drawn to serve a specific purpose but, rather, were writ in broadly sweeping terms by a President who could have given a rats ass about the long term moral, ethical and legal implications by comparison to his need for immediate revenge and the satisfaction of his need to "bring it on." Just great.

Look, I am not so naive to think that there are not instances where crossing the line -- or several lines -- isn't necessary to prevent loss of life or massive catastrophe. To be the person who has to make that on the spot decision as to what conduct is or is not appropriate for the matter at hand is a blessing -- those people have to live with those demons for the rest of their lives, and they are often demons acquired protecting the rest of us.

But this...this conduct goes well beyond that occasional, instantaneous sort of behavior in response to a crisis situation. This is approved, systemic torture and circumvention of our laws of due process, and deliberate snubbing of the laws of those countries housing these black sites.

It is wrong. It is shameful. And it only serves to manufacture more and more terrorists to rise up against us, by making this nation look as though we all support this behavior.

And further review? That's happening, right, as our needs and perspectives shift over time?
Several former and current intelligence officials, as well as several other U.S. government officials with knowledge of the program, express frustration that the White House and the leaders of the intelligence community have not made it a priority to decide whether the secret internment program should continue in its current form, or be replaced by some other approach.
Erm...not so much. Great.

There is at least some hope now for some transparency, some Congressional oversight, and some reform, right?

But the revelations of widespread prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S. military -- which operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress -- have increased concern among lawmakers, foreign governments and human rights groups about the opaque CIA system. Those concerns escalated last month, when Vice President Cheney and CIA Director Porter J. Goss asked Congress to exempt CIA employees from legislation already endorsed by 90 senators that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoner in U.S. custody.
Ahhhh, well Cheney's involvement in trying to exempt CIA personnel from the McCain-sponsored legislation and Porter Goss' appointment to be Director of CIA are so much clearer now, aren't they?

Here's a clue for all those "patriots" who are frothing at the mouth saying you can't coddle terrorists and that "liburals" want to give them therapy and lawyers: John McCain knows a hell of a lot more about torture than most people. And he's as disgusted by this crap as I am.

Wake the hell up -- we either stand for our principles, even in the days when it is dark and difficult -- especially then -- or we might as well just give up because the terrorists will have won. Governmentally implemented programs of systemic torture. It's no wonder we are keeping some of these prisoners in former Soviet facilities. Stalin would have been envious of what we've achieved here.

UPDATE: CNN and the AP have this story, too.

UPDATE #2: The New York Times has a related story on the proposed McCain anti-torture regs and the debate within the Pentagon and among Administration personnel/CIA/DoD on this. Looks like the pro-Cheney and anti-Cheney camps are working this into a pitched battle.

A central player in the fight over the directive is David S. Addington, who was the vice president's counsel until he was named on Monday to succeed I. Lewis Libby Jr. as Mr. Cheney's chief of staff. According to several officials, Mr. Addington verbally assailed a Pentagon aide who was called to brief him and Mr. Libby on the draft, objecting to its use of language drawn from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

"He left bruised and bloody," one Defense Department official said of the Pentagon aide, Matthew C. Waxman, Mr. Rumsfeld's chief adviser on detainee issues. "He tried to champion Article 3, and Addington just ate him for lunch."

Despite his vehemence, Mr. Addington did not necessarily win the argument, officials said. They predicted that it would be settled by Mr. Rumsfeld after consultation with other agencies.
You remember Mr. Addington, the VP's new Chief of Staff, appointed to replace the indicted old one?

Seems to me that some of the long-timers at the State Department, the CIA, the DoD and elsewhere in the government have had enough. And this information coming out now, when Cheney is at a weak point, is calculated to twist that knife deeper into his back.

UPDATE #3: Got a couple of questions from people who think I'm trying to say that torture is an a-okay choice. Wanted to clarify where I stand on this -- well, not so much clarify, because there are some things that are just muddy in this and that's all there is to it for me -- but perhaps at least make it a little more clear.

Personally, I think torture yields bad results in intel, regardless of the reasons used, and for that reason alone shouldn't be used -- not even getting into the numerous ethical and other arguments against it that are valid and long-argued worldwide, including in Israel and other areas where domestic threats are constant and ongoing.

That said, I've been around the block with drug enforcement cases and other undercover domestic criminal matters (in cases I've prosecuted) to know that sometimes a spur of the moment decision has to be made when lives are endangered that might not otherwise be made with additional time and thought on the subject matter. What I think needs to happen is more public discussion of this -- the cleansing public light of scrutiny -- along with some actual Congressional oversight, not just the lip service crap we've been getting. All we know now on the policies is the selective leaking we've seen in the papers -- and, frighteningly, that also seems to be all a whole lot of Senators and Congresspeople know.

Torture, under any circumstances, is morally reprehensible, and against everything I think is appropriate in terms of behavior. But there is a whole lot of gray out there in the world -- some of which I've seen up close and personal in some of the cases I've prosecuted and in some of the people I represented as a criminal defense attorney -- and for that reason, I'm not willing to say that I should be the ultimate arbiter of all things on this, just based on my own understanding that individual cases sometimes require individual solutions. But should there be some bright line rules on what is and is not gray -- and how far over any individual line anyone is allowed to even consider going -- or not going at all? Absolutely. That is the job of Congress and the Administration and, I think everyone can agree, they've been failing miserably at that.