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Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I don't have any reason to challenge the story in general circulation that Vivac is going to testify tomorrow because Luskin dragged her into the picture in the waning days of Scooter's gainful employment as a civil servant. Still unexplained is why it took Fitzgerald over a month to get around to interviewing her, but we'll cast that into the realm of the unexplainable for the moment and move onto more entertaining conjecture.

Time magazine disclosed on Nov. 27 that one of its reporters, Viveca Novak, would soon answer Fitzgerald's questions about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin in 2004. Sources familiar with the case said Luskin told Fitzgerald in October that those conversations would help buttress Luskin's argument that Rove did not intentionally conceal his contacts with reporters from the grand jury.
When David Corn recounted his defense of Vivac, he indicated that there was just one conversation where she "pushed back" and said "this is not what I hear" after Luskin said he thought his client was in the clear. But the Nov. 27 Time article, and again the WaPo today, refer to "conversations." Plural. And seem to do so quite deliberately.

Fitzgerald originally asked for information on conversations taking place after May, 2004. A subsequent article in the NYT on December 2, 2005 -- which appear to have Luskin-esque sources -- said that:
Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, spoke in the summer or early fall of 2004 with Viveca Novak, a reporter for Time. In that conversation, Mr. Luskin heard from Ms. Novak that a colleague at the magazine, Matthew Cooper, might have interviewed Mr. Rove about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the case, the people said. (my emphasis)
But on Saturday, December 3, the WaPo reported that "the conversation" took place before Rove's grand jury appearance in February 2004, and appears to be quite Viveca-centric in its sourcing.

It would appear that Mr. Luskin and Vivac may have spoken more than once on the topic. And it seems likely that when Luskin offered up his good friend Vivac in order to save his client, he told Fitzgerald that the relevant conversation (or conversations) happened a good while after Rove's testimony in February, 2004 where Rove presumably did not tell the grand jury about the Cooper conversation, because Fitzgerald's request for information starts in May 2004.

One can only imagine that Mr. Fitzgerald's eyes lit up and his response to the Dec. 3 WaPo article was "WTF?" It also seems like Vivac's memories of her Luskin chitchats might differ dramatically from Luskin's. Was Luskin planning on her pegging him to a February, 2004 (or earlier) conversation when he thought she would provide testimony exonerating his client? Was Fitzgerald the only one who read the Saturday article and said "WTF?"

It sounds quite probable that Vivac might not be providing the Rove-friendly testimony his lawyer was hoping for. If indeed there were multiple conversations and Vivac's recollections don't support the tight timeline that lead to the Hadley email's discovery and Rove's recantation of his earlier testimony in the way that it seems like it was originally relayed to Fitzgerald, this whole thing may just have blown up in Rover's pasty face.


Could George Tenet Be Bob Woodward's Source?

I've heard some recent speculation that George Tenet might be Bob Woodward's source. I don't have any reason to think it is anything more than just that -- speculation -- but the possibility that it was Tenet is certainly interesting.

There are many who presume that Tenet was the original 1x2x6 leaker (that is, the one who told the Washington Post that two administration officials had leaked to six journalists), and there has also been much speculation that he has been cooperating with Fitzgerald all along. But Tenet is a slippery character whose loyalties are hard to pin down. To the best of my knowledge he's never denied anything, and during the time in question he most certainly had the requisite information.

So what do you think?


Will Rover Skate?

CBS News is reporting that Fitzgerald spent three hours with the grand jury today, accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent. Since Judge Hogan's ruling last summer said that anybody testifying before the grand jury had to walk in through the front door, it's unlikely anyone made an appearance today and Fitzgerald was probably bringing this new grand jury up to speed on whatever it is he hopes to bring to them.

I also hear that Viveca Novak will be giving a deposition tomorrow, though not before the grand jury.

Lawrence O'Donnell sketches a withering indictment of Vivak's defense in this matter as laid out by her good friend David Corn:
Corn’s stated mission in this account is to prove what a good person and honorable reporter Novak is. “Novak wasn’t trying to tip off Luskin …” Uh huh. But she did. Why was a Time reporter discussing Time’s secret source with Rove’s lawyer? No other Time reporter did that. Corn’s Novak defense could not be more tortured. He says she didn’t know who Cooper’s source was, that she didn’t tell him anything, she just “pushed back.” Then he quotes another friend of Novak saying, “She assumed that Luskin did know about the Rove-Cooper conversation and that she was not telling him anything he did not already know.” So, according to that friend, Novak did know Rove was Cooper’s source and she did tell Luskin. With friend/defenders like these … Hey, I like Viveca Novak too. Everyone does. But in this case, she may have more to answer for than any other reporter involved.
He then goes on to detail just how he thinks Vivak's testimony might very well get Rover off the hook. And he might be right, but I have still not heard enough to convince me of the rectitude of this particular argument.

For Karl Rove to be able to recant his early testimony before the grand jury where he stated he did not remember his conversation with Matt Cooper, he has to be able to prove that he did not come forward because of the likelihood that his lie would be exposed.

I want to underscore this because it is critical and I think sometimes I take it for granted that people understand this. Vivac either did or did not tip off Luskin to the fact that his client was Matt Cooper's source, and it really doesn't matter whether his client had been forthcoming with him or not. The piece of information Luskin gleaned from this conversation is that Matt Cooper was not the only one who knew this, the story was in circulation and even if Cooper was successful in his bid to invoke journalistic privilege the story might out anyway. No matter what happens, O'Donnell is right. Vivac gave her good friend Luskin -- and I'm told they are very good friends -- extremely valuable information.

Because as a result, Luskin began to lay the groundwork for a plausible excuse that would serve Rove if he ever needed to recant -- the Hadley email. Now, nobody knows whether the Hadley email was given to Fitzgerald before or after Time Magazine and Matt Cooper lost their bid to quash the subpoena in October 2004. But the timing is quite convenient -- Rove appeared to correct his testimony two days later.

Further, if the WaPo is correct and Luskin and Vivac had their little highball gab fest prior to Rove's February 2004 testimony, they've got to explain why:

a) there's a 9-10 month delay until the email is produced and Rove recants
b) how Rove knew of Vivac's story and still went before the grand jury and didn't tell them about Cooper
c) his conveniently timed amnesia cure when it became evident that Cooper would have to testify, and
d) his refusal to grant Cooper a waiver for another ten months ('til July 2005) about a conversation he testified to in October, 2004.

I'm of the mind that Vivac's testimony makes Rove look more oily and guilty, not less.

O'Donnell also thinks that Fitzgerald will shy away from indicting someone as powerful as Rove if there is a plausible explanation for his behavior. I absolutely don't agree. Fitzgerald is dogged. He may not indict until he thinks he has enough to do so, but if he thinks Rove's guilty -- and my guess is he most certainly does or he would not still be pursuing him after two years -- he will keep digging and keep digging until he has enough to go after him.

I think Fitzgerald is perfectly happy to run around on Luskin's goat ropes because it gives him an excellent look into Rover's defense, and he can shape his indictment accordingly. If Luskin was so confident that this particular defense was exculpatory I think he would've offered it up long before the final days before Libby was indicted. I think he held onto it until the last moment because he knew it was incredibly dangerous, as likely to hurt his client as it was to help him, but he was willing to do anything at the last minute to keep Karl from being indicted on the same day as Scooter. In the smoke and mirrors world Rove lives in, appearances are everything and he was more than willing to roll the dice to push Libby out on that limb first.

And by the way, I admire Lawrence O'Donnell absolutely, and I know he has had much fun going back and forth with Luskin in the press. But I am more inclined to buy the Ryan Lizza portrait of Luskin than the full-lipped hummer he gets in today's WaPo.

Let's remember. If Luskin hadn't shot his big mouth off in the press, Matt Cooper might never have testified. If Rove skates, it might very well be due to Viveca Novak as O'Donnell speculates. But if he goes down, it's equally likely his own chatty lawyer had a hand in it.

Update: Over at the Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelly says DC bets are on Rover to be indicted.

And the NY Observer is saying that Vivac will testify tomorrow.


The Moral Low Ground

Lately, it's been one story after another on political corruption accusations, rumors of indictments, actual indictments, and plea deals among the GOP elites. It's getting so a girl can't keep up with the slime -- so I'm offering some hip waders and a primer for the less initiated among us. Wade in.

-- Have I mentioned that Fitz is back in front of a grand jury with his deputies and investigators on the Traitorgate mess today? Oh yeah, I did. The New York Times is reporting that Fitz and company spent almost three hours with the grand jury today. Oh, and that Rover and Bushie appear to have patched things up and made nice -- at least so long as the Preznit needs his brain to get past the low poll numbers (or until he's indicted, anyway).

-- Duke Cunningham looks like he isn't the only hog at the trough of defense contractor dollars. Ellen Miller has a list up at TPM Cafe. Josh Marshall is, of course, all over this story. Hello, Duncan Hunter, John Doolittle, Tom Delay, how's the weather? Enjoy it while you can.

-- Speaking of Tommy Boy, House Republican leadership types are leaving his job open in case his money laundering charges evaporate before January 31st. Hmmm...nothing better than a majority leader with multiple criminal investigations and an indictment hanging over his head.

-- Voting machines are back in the news again. Here's hoping for some action with teeth in it, instead of the usual gumming up the political works with spin and baloney.

-- Robert Scheer has a great summary of all the corruption sewer of the Abramoff mess in his SFChronicle editorial. Well worth a read.

-- And speaking of excellent reads, if you miss this Wolcott gem, you'll be sorry. Go and read it.

(Graphics love to 2politicaljunkies.)


In Memorium

I don't know about all of our readers, but Pearl Harbor has some serious significance in my family. One of my Great Uncles was on the Arizona, and survived the day. He still won't talk about his military service and what happened to the guys who didn't make it without substantial amounts of whisky, and even then it's a grudging discussion.
The Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and other military bases on Oahu lasted two hours, leaving 21 U.S. ships heavily damaged and 323 aircraft damaged or destroyed.

It killed 2,390 people and wounded 1,178.
Pearl Harbor was a direct attack on American soil. People in this country responded to this threat by sacrificing everything -- their family members, their lives, moving heaven and earth into the war effort, everything for the cause of fighting against what they saw as tyranny and wrongful actions on the part of the Axis powers.

In that case, America attacked only after provocation, which had been our policy until the current Administration decided otherwise in attacking Iraq in 2003. The Preznit gave what he called a major address today outlining his latest attempt to whitewash the piss poor job that he and his surrogates have done in prosecuting a war that we never should have started in the first place.

Afghanistan? We're still fighting the Taliban there, a group which harbored actual terrorists and which has had a resurgance in the past few months.

And Iraq? Well, Jack Murtha pretty much covered his thoughts on that again today.

Our military deserves better than what they are getting today. Those who serve this nation do so at great risk to their own safety, and at a cost that is very high to them and their families to protect the rest of us at home. To send them into a war that need not have ever been fought, on what we now know was false pretext, and without any real plan on how to truly accomplish whatever the mission might be (it changes so frequently these days, I don't even want to guess what the current edition happens to be) -- well, it's unconscionable.

The greatest generation is dying out. Those who served at Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Bulge and on D-Day and all those other enormous and significant battles put their butts on the line so that this nation could remain free from tyrranny. Today's military puts their butts on the line so the Preznit can save his political ass. What's wrong with that picture?

UPDATE: John from Crooks and Liars has the video up of Murtha's speech. Well worth the watch, if only to see the intensity with which he gives his response. And note that he takes questions afterward. Hmmmm...oh, yeah, that's right. He can actually answer them.


DC Love Match: Unka Karl and Gold Bars Luskin

Even as the indictment drums beat again at the courthouse, the WaPo has an enormous puff piece on Karl Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin this morning, who seems to think his own apple needs a press polishing these days. He tells them to laud him as the perfect attorney for Karl Rove because he "knows how to do the sharp lawyering required to wage a strong criminal defense -- all the while nudging reporters toward his position, attempting to soften public perception of Rove and getting out his client's side of the story," and as if to prove the point they quite dutifully transcribe it.

But we think they get to the "perfectly suited" bit a little further down in the story:
Luskin had to do a lot of spinning for himself when the U.S. attorney in Rhode Island accused him of "willful blindness" for accepting 45 gold bars worth more than $505,000, as well as Swiss wire transfers of $169,000, for his work on the case of a precious-metals dealer convicted of laundering millions in drug money. In 1998 Luskin settled with the government, forfeiting $245,000 in fees.

Luskin says he did due diligence to assure that the money he got was legit, even if it was paid in "a somewhat unusual fashion," but now admits it looked bad. "I kind of got lost in what I thought were the legalities of the situation and didn't take a step back and say, you know, how would people regard something like this?"
In old "Gold Bars Luskin," it sounds like Rove found the perfect, morally flexible counterpart to do what it takes to get him off the hook. And as for his "skill" in handling the press, it seems about as ham-handed as Karl's own efforts.

According to the NY Observer this morning, Luskin is still angry at Matt Cooper because "[i]t just looks to me like there was less a desire to protect a source." Maybe he's still just a tad scalded because he blabbed to the press that "[i]f Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, itÂ’s not Karl heÂ’s protecting," and Cooper's lawyer seized on it to get his client a waiver?

Sounds like the skillful press manipulator's attempt to provide appropriate lighting for his client might be the very thing that leads to a big, fat indictment for Unka Karl to chew on.

Are they attempting to redefine "skill" as a bunch of high priced, loud-mouthed wankery that plays right into the Special Counsel's hands?


Nope, No Cronyism Here...

Haley Barbour's relatives secured some of those no-bid contracts awarded in Katrina's wake in the Gulf Coast. A whole lotta contracts.
...$6.4 million in contracts received by her company, Alcatec L.L.C., have also elicited questions about possible favoritism....According to a review of federal contracts awarded since Hurricane Katrina, her company ranks seventh in total contracts out of 88 Mississippi-based concerns that have received deals worth $100,000 or more.
The most valuable of these contracts was awarded in September and October when the government was handing out candy-coated no-bid contracts to its pals.

Both Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and his niece-in-law say that their family relationship, Gov. Barbour's former RNC chairmanship, and their connections to the Administration's GOP hierarchy had nothing to do with her shower contracts whatsoever -- especially those plum, no-bid ones. (Wonder if Harriet vetted the contracts for the WH?) Nope, no cronyism here.

UPDATE: Oh, and what is Barbour doing today? He's on the Hill, according to an update from CNN, complaining about money being stuck in Congress for reconstruction efforts in the Gulf Coast. Last I checked, Republicans were in charge of both Houses of Congress and the White House -- guess the reconstruction efforts got stuck in the same in box as the failing grade requests for updates after 9/11. Oh yeah, I'm feeling loads safer. *snerk*

UPDATE #2: For those who have been following the Murtha story, Cong. Murtha will be providing a Democratic response to the Preznit's CFR speech -- CNN reports that the Murtha response will occur around 1:30 pm ET.


He's Baaaaack

Guess who? Fitzy is back before the grand jury today, along with several deputies and lots of briefcases full of material, according to the WaPo and CNN.

No news as yet whether testimony will be presented today (NOTE: And when I say testimony here, I mean from witnesses other than Fitz and deputies and investigators.), but we'll certainly update as we learn anything. In the meantime, check your popcorn supply -- it could be a banner week.
Fitzgerald, accompanied by several deputies seen carrying files as they walked into the grand jury area of the courthouse, made no comment to reporters about the nature of his visit.
Oh, and if you live in the D.C. area, just a warning: antiacids may be in short supply for a while. Mwee hee.

UPDATE: Hat tip to reader Wilson for the link to this NY Observer piece on Vivak, Luskin and Time's management of sources. Interesting stuff.

UPDATE #2: And isn't this interesting? No idea how much weight to put on this since the article notes that the WH and Commerce Department is confirming nothing at this point and it appears based on a single "source close to Ralston", but the timing of this article (if it is correct) is quite intriguing. Seems that the Philippine News online is reporting that Susan Ralston has left Rove's office due to *cough* too much pressure. Hmmmm....would that be from the Abramoff investigation or the Traitorgate one? (Hat tip to reader Carrie for the link.)


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Late Nite at FDL

-- TBogg sends this along for the true Fitzgerald fans. BTW I'm pretty sure it was skin cancer and not adult onset acne, but regardless you can rest assured that with democracy hanging in the balance and all I would've done a full-on Edina Monsoon and barred the door until I'd had my way with a little Chanel concealer and some T. Le Clerc powder but this is probably why they feel adequate to handle things without the benefit of my help.

I'll just save democracy from over here.

-- Here's a spiffy photo of our good friends Johns Taylor and Amato (of Crooks & Liars fame).

-- Brian Linse says OG Blogger Mickey Kaus is on talking about Tom Maguire and FDL and giving us props for being on opposite sides of the political fence but working from the same set of facts to try and get at some kind of truth. It's a nice bit, and your chance to see Mickey Kaus live. Roger, are you there?

-- Several bloggers have made their way onto Cafe Press stamps, t-shirts and holiday ornaments. Digby is chortling that I am an angel. I guess until "shady character smoking unfiltered Gauloise and playing midnight baccarat while breaking up Chinese high-tech spy rings" becomes appropriate for Christmas ornamentation, a snowman will just have to do.


Five Big Ones

Proving that it is possible to talk out of every orafice and still not be honest, the Preznit and Congress were awarded five big, fat Fs for failure to take adequate steps for security by the 9/11 Commission. (Which had to secure private funding to keep up its watchdog activities, since Congress and Bushie didn't want anyone actually performing oversight on their failure to do any work.)
F's were cited for the lack of an adequate radio band for first responders, poor airline passenger pre-screening, the "burying" of the overall intelligence budget within the defense budget, and coalition standards for terrorist detention.

The report card gave an F to Congress for allocating homeland security funds "without regard for risk, vulnerability, or the consequences for an attack."
Nothing like a little pork with your security preparedness planning.

The NYTimes has more, including specific criticism of the Administration's detainee policies (or lack thereof). Specifically, the commissioners point to the fact that our detainee policies make it even more difficult to forge intelligence and other alliances that are vital in tracking al quaeda and other terror groups -- in the very nations with which strong alliances are necessary for our own security. Well, duh. But there it is...someone please pass this along to the Preznit, because I'm tired of having to repeat it.

With a grand total of 17 Ds and Fs (warning: PDF of entire commission report), do you think we might get some work out of the Administration and/or Congress after their lengthy winter break? Yeah, I didn't think so either.


Mata Whori Rides Again

I'd heard Vanity Fair was trying desperately to get Judy Miller to write a deep dish piece for them, but I guess they were unsuccessful and instead got Seth Mnookin. Still nothing from either Judy or Pinch himself, but looks like plenty on-the-record disgust from her colleagues. I remember reading that story about Judy's glorious return to the newsroom and thinking "my God, they must've kidnapped their kids."
Mnookin describes step-by-step how the reporters, including Don Van Natta and Janny Scott, were picked to write that October piece and how Miller often failed to cooperate fully with them. She allegedly refused to talk to Scott because she had not bothered to write to her in jail.

Von Natta talks about Miller putting him off even as she had time to talk with Lou Dobbs and Barbara Walters. "That was pretty amazing to me," he tells Mnookin, author of "Hard News," the recent book about the Jayson Blair/Howell Raines blowout. "I'm a colleague of hers, I'm trying to get an interview, and she doesn't have time for that, but she has time for Barbara Walters."

Von Natta came to believe that what Miller was saying at the time was so "preposterous" she must be "saving it all for a book.”

The Vanity Fair article reveals that the Times team actually finished a draft of that piece exactly a week before it appeared. Adam Liptak, one of the team members, recalls printing it out at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning and reading it in the cab home, before deciding, "This thing sucks and I don't want my name on it. ... There was no logical reason why she couldn't tell us her testimony." So it went through another week of drafting, with Miller finally convinced, partly on the advice of her Times friend David Barstow, to reveal her grand jury testimony.

Elsewhere, Mnookin pulls no punches in stating that over the years Miller "had built a reputation for sleeping with her sources," had dated one of Sulzberger's best friends, Steve Ratner, "and had even, for a time, shared a vacation home with Sulzberger," whatever that means.

He hits Sulzberger hard with quotes from various unnamed Times people, who say things like, "Post-Howell, Arthur and Judy were both looking at resurrecting their reputations. And Arthur was so oblivious he didn't care about the repercussions."
Like her WoodMill counterpart, I guess Judy is holding back all the sizzle for her own book deal, which there is reportedly abject little interest in outside of fellow sex-in-disaster aficionado Judith Regan. I think they should collaborate, something catchy like War Tips for Hot Chicks: Gettin' It On at Ground Zero and the Green Zone.

I know, I know. They can thank me later.


Strip Search Sammy Saves Christmas

It looks like they're relaunching Alito:
"Liberal groups like People for the American Way and the A.C.L.U. have opposed public Christmas and Hanukkah displays and even fought to keep Christmas carols out of school," declares a radio commercial paid for by the conservative Committee for Justice beginning Monday in Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia, states whose senators are considered pivotal votes on Judge Alito.

"Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito," it continues. "Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution's protection of free religious expression."
I guess this is an attempt to "shore up the base" but things can get a little sticky when you inherit your wedge issues from Bill O'Reilly. The super social conservatives, the really repressed fundie freaks who screech on cue whenever Ralph Reed says "Indian Gambling" think Christmas is an attempt to commercialize the birth of Jesus with secular symbols (you know, like Santa Claus). I'm not sure if they're going to rally behind Strip Search Sammy for making sure Rudoph stays in Macy's and they damn sure don't care about the right of Muslim police officers to wear beads.

It's more of an issue for O'Reilly viewers -- the Velveeta and Wonderbread set who don't really pay a lot of attention to the Supreme Court and just tune in to see Bill get hot under the gyros. Maybe I'm making too fine a distinction between loons here. I mean, Dobson gives it the knuckledragger seal of approval. But I've just always thought of it as more of an opportunity to enfranchise the middle rather than rally the true snakehandlers who will spend their last nicklel to see the embryo killers burn in hell.

Whatever. Maybe it will turn Alito into a national hero. In the mean time I'm bucking for a seat on the War on Christmas steering committee. I'm thinking my superior hillbilly fundamentalist bona fides may just put me over the top.


George Avoids Questions Whenever Possible

According to today's Froomkin (and its a good one -- go read it!), Bushie will be speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations tomorrow, in his second of four planned speeches on the Iraq mess.

The format of his speech is a bit odd -- in an unusual move for the critical think tank, Bush is being allowed to speak without taking any questions afterward. He's just going to speak and go.

Awwwww, poor wittle Georgie is scawed of dee big intewectual qwestons.

The big question in my mind? What the hell is the Council on Foreign Relations doing allowing themselves to be used as a prop in the Preznit's "propaganda campaign to call a mess a success"?

Of course, the intellectual set will applaud politely to the end of the speech, out of respect for the Office of the Presidency. The Preznit will get his video clip of people being polite and spin it as agreement.

I mean, please, I'm not asking for boos or unsportsmanlike conduct -- but can you at least make him earn any sparse applause he gets? For heaven's sakes, even the Preznit ought to earn his marks, just like the rest of us. Even if he is acting like a big ole chicken by running from any questions he might not like -- heaven forbid that critical thinking might actually occur on his watch.

(Graphics love to And a less scary graphic for reader Harry.)

UPDATE: btw, so you don't miss it, Froomkin also has a fantastic poll summary in today's column. Thumbnail sketch: things look crappy for POTUS. Guess not taking questions keeps Bubble Boy from learning that he's losing friends and not influencing many people.


Dang! No Time for Shopping? This Trip Sucks!

Poor Condi. In Europe before Christmas (No saying "holidays" for this Secretary of State, thank you! It's not a religion, it's a lifestyle!), and no time for shopping.

Poor Condi has been spending her time issuing non-denials about CIA torture and secret prisons and renditions, trying to make nice with allies we've been...erm...deceiving, and attending press conferences where the newly minted German Chancellor publicly upbraided the United States for unlawfully detaining a German national.

How is Condi supposed to do her Christmas shopping for her husband's Bushie's present when she actually has diplomacy to do and stuff? Man, this trip is sucking.

UPDATE: Warning: Take blood pressure meds before reading this. (Hat tip to reader Percy for the link.) Some days being less informed looks more and more enticing -- but then, what would I do with all my free time?


Coal In His Stocking?

The latest ruling in the Delay case is in -- and things don't look great for The Bugman. According to the WaPo, the felony money laundering charge stands, dashing Delay's hopes of regaining his leadership position before the New Year.

Because there's nothing better in your leadership than damaged goods with the possibility of more indictments hanging over his head. Erm...what does Delay have on the whole of the Republican caucus that he thought would force him back into power, anyway, after all of this? Especially with the Abramoff investigation closing in on his KStreet machine?

But back to Texas. It sounds like Judge Priest thinks the money laundering charge has some meat to it.
If the state can prove that "these defendants entered into [such] an agreement . . . then they will have established that money was laundered. The money would have become 'dirty money' at the point that it began to be held with prohibited intent," Priest wrote in his decision, which he posted on his Web site and filed with the court clerk in late afternoon.
Delay is being told that he has until January to clear this mess up (not gonna happen) or there will likely be an election to permanently replace his leadership position (et tu Blunt?)

Oh, and the final lump of coal for Tommy Boy? He's currently polling at 36% in his district for re-election. I do believe in Santa. I do. I do.

[And a personal big thanks to Jane for the fabu (and exhausting) job of blogging alone while I was on my trip. It's awfully good to be back.]


Monday, December 05, 2005

And Just When That Racial Profiling Thing Was Working So Well

Muriel Degauque, believed to be the first European Muslim woman to stage a suicide attack, started out life as a good Roman Catholic girl in this coal mining corner of Belgium known as the black country. She ended it in a grisly blast deep inside Iraq last month.

Ms. Degauque, 38, detonated her explosive vest amid an American military patrol in the town of Baquba on Nov. 9, wounding one American soldier, according to an account received from the State Department and given to the Federal Police in Belgium.

Her unlikely journey into militant Islam stunned Europe and for many people was an incomprehensible aberration, a lost soul led astray. But her story supports fears among many law enforcement officials and academics that converts to Europe's fastest-growing religion could bring with them a disturbing new aspect in the war on terror: Caucasian women committed to one of the world's deadliest causes.

European women who marry Muslim men are now the largest source of religious conversions in Europe, the experts say. While a vast majority of those conversions are pro forma gestures for moderately religious in-laws, a small but growing number are women who willingly adopt the conservative comportment of their fundamentalist husbands.

Most of those in the conservative ranks are motivated by spiritual quests or are attracted to what they regard as an exotic culture.

But for some, conversion is a political act, not unlike the women who joined the ranks of South American Marxist rebels in the 1960's and 1970's.

"They are people rebelling against a society in which they feel they don't belong," said Alain Grignard, a senior official in the antiterrorism division of the Belgian Police. "They are people searching through a religion like Islam for a sense of solidarity."
I have no idea why this is happening, except to say that when the power structure is exceptionally fucked up people are drawn to all sorts of weird extremes as a form of rebellion (and by that I mean the blowing yourself up part). And then some people are just crazy. But now that the Face of Extreme Islam is no longer conveniently brown, I've got twenty bucks on The Corner to be the first to Blame It On The Feminists.

And I don't mean to mock the tragedy. I mean to mock those who will most certainly exploit it in an attempt to put down women for demanding dignity for themselves.

So anybody want to go 2:1 on Cap'n Ed?


And the Winner Is....

Our good friends over at Crooks & Liars are up for the Best Video Blog award over at the 2005 Weblog Awards, and we urge you to take a moment and go over and vote for them. The General is up for Most Humorous Blog, James Wolcott is up for Best Media/Journalist Blog, and both TBogg and Jeralyn are up for Best Liberal Blog. There are many fine blogs in the Best Blog category (I myself voted for Atrios, who as far as I'm concerned after this week of blogging by myself is an iron man) but since Michelle Malkin is winning I urge you to go over there and exercise your discretion in any way you see fit. She really shouldn't be encouraged. (NB: It has been brought to our attention that both Needlenose and Roger Ailes are up for Best 501-1000 Blog. Since we are totally torn over that one we leave it to you, but recommend checking them both out in any event.)

And I did not realize it until I started poking around, but firedoglake is nominated for Best of the Top 250 Blogs. I'm not even sure what that means but I don't really care, we've never won a blog award before and it sounds good to me.


The Misery of Duke

Howie Klein has a good roundup of Duke Cunningham's shenanigans, including a link to a site that lets you listen to MP3s of the Dukester in all his wingnut glory:
Mr. Cunningham, who underwent prostate surgery in August, compared prostate cancer treatment to gay anal sex before the above-mentioned group of elderly cancer patients at Alvarado Hospital. Cunningham said no man would enjoy prostate cancer treatment “unless he’s Barney Frank.”
But Howie also points us to the Washington Blade, who now claim that the Dukester is yet another self-loathing GOP closet queen. Oh please. This cliche is growing a bit threadbare, don't you think?

(hat tip Johnny Wendall)

Update:: Okay, let me spell it out. It's not the story that's a cliche, it's the being a self-loathing GOP closet queen that's cliche. I thought that would be obvious from the many, many posts I have done on the topic of hyporcritical, repressed Republicans, but I guess I need to be more vigilant about ambiguity these days.


A Few Questions for Viveca Novak

Well Viveca, your good friend Robert Luskin seems to have catapulted you into the middle of political bedlam. How exactly does one get through this present situation with one's journalistic integrity intact? Judy Miller and Bob Woodward have subsequently rendered their credibility insufficient to hawk the Popeil Drain Buster and offer no guidance. Matt Cooper, having had the foresight to understand that the leak was a "War on Wilson" and having written the first (and best) account of his grand jury testimony, offers a road map.

Your friend David Corn admirably leapt to your defense, referring to you as "my old friend Viveca Novak, a kick-ass reporter for Time magazine." He claims that Luskin was a longtime source of yours and "not a close friend (as has been wrongly reported)," without mentioning that the day before he was the one who wrongly reported it. Never mind the fact that Corn, approaching 50, uses the phrase "kick-ass" without irony as if he were still lighting a match at a Foghat concert.

We applaud his chivalry and are willing to overlook the fact that his blog now appears to be written by Harriet Miers. But it does raise the awkward question -- what exactly was your relationship with Robert Luskin? We will do you the courtesy of presuming you were not buttering each other's toast at the St. Regis like Scooter and Judy, but where does it fall along the contiuum, say, from narc/snitch to "let's load up on Manhattans and hit the handbag sale at Barney's?"

So in the spirit of being helpful we offer up a few suggestions for questions it would be nice to have answered in your upcoming piece for Time, which we read will be forthcoming after you tell-all to Patrick Fitzgerald:

1. When and where did the fated "over drinks" conversation with Luskin take place, and what did you say that purportedly "tipped him off?" How many drinks had you had and did it affect your judgment? Did you in any way indicate you knew who Cooper's source was? It's been reported that when Luskin said Karl was out of danger your response was "that's not what I hear." What were you trying to garner from him? Isn't that a tip-off pure and simple? Didn't he get more out of you than you got out of him?

2. Did you go back to your editors immediately afterward and say "hey, funny thing, you'll never believe what Rove's lawyer says..." Or did the significance of the encounter not occur to you at the time? If it DID occur to you and you DIDN'T speak up, why the delay?

3. How exactly did you know Matt Cooper's source? When did you know it? How widely was it known around Time?

4. Did you wait until it became apparent that your colleague would very likely go to jail for a man who never intended to give him a waiver before you went to your editors and said "hey, I don't know exactly how this fits in, but before they ship Matt off to some Romanian gulag for waterboarding I thought I should mention...?" Or did you wait until after July 2005 to mention this all to your editors?

5. Why aren't you fighting talking to Fitzgerald? Why isn't Time, Inc.? Why comply without even so much as a brief? Is it because Luskin was not a confidential source? If he wasn't, what was he?

6. Will you turn over notes as well? If so, what is contained in those notes? Will you publish at least part of them?

7. When will you testify? Where? Will you tell us if you refused to answer any questions?

8. Who is your lawyer? How long has he/she represented you and is Time, Inc. paying for them?

9. Have you had any previous formal or informal communication with Fitzgerald or his staff prior to this point?

10. When did Luskin inform you that he was going to Fitzgerald about your conversation? Did it put a crimp in your relationship? Did you ask him not to?

11. Please describe your friendship with Luskin. Have you ever had, say, a social dinner or Cosmos with him or been to his home or had him to yours for a social visit?

12. How do you feel about claims that you will now provide the backbone of Karl Rove's defense? I mean, Karl Rove. The man who was perfectly happy to cause a First Amendment crisis over a conversation he'd already testified about? The man who spends his days trying to shred the Bill of Rights into a tidy heap of cat box litter? The man who would have happily seen your colleague rot in prison to save his sorry ass? David Corn says you're not a resident of wingnuttia, and this we believe. It's got to rankle.

13. Did you apologize to Time, Inc, your editors, and to Matt Cooper? Do you think you owe it to them? If not, why not? If tipping off Luskin was in the service of reporting, what did you as a reporter and Time Magazine get out of it?

14. Will you sit for interviews with serious reporters (and by that we don't mean Larry King) or will you hide out like Bob Woodward?

15. Who will pay your legal bills? Assuming there is a clause in your contract that requires employees to act in good faith before the employer assumes their legal bills, do you think that Time, Inc. should have to pay yours?

16. Did you ever mention to anyone else besides Luskin either personally or professionally that you knew who Cooper's source was?

I think you have a really wonderful opportunity here Viveca to go to school on Woodward and Miller who denied their own culpability and ratholed the juicy bits for fat book deals that may never materialize and blamed it all on Patrick Fitzgerald, with predictably disastrous results. Bob Woodward is looking at life in the remainder bin while Judy Miller will probably languish in the Regnery ghetto or battle Kay Grogan in some steel-cage death match for column inches over at Renew America. But even if those options were available, it is unimaginable that you -- or anyone -- would want them.

Your upcoming reconciliation of all these disparate threads is anxiously awaited.

By the way, did any of this come up in your interview with Bob Woodward?


Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can't Whine

Screenwriter Samm Hamm is interviewed this morning over at Corrente about the show Homecoming that he and Joe Dante did for Showtime (which I hope everyone watched, it was great.):
For the last few years Joe Dante and I have been exchanging at least a dozen e-mails a day, mostly links to blog entries and news items we stumble across and insist on sharing with the poor hapless bastards on our e-mail lists. We probably both suffer from some newshound version of ADD, and because misery loves company we’re trying to spread it to everyone we know. So yeah, blogs clearly had some influence on the issue-a-minute machine-gun style of “Homecoming.”
But for those who think intelligence is highly overrated, TBogg has the real scoop -- the response of that Liberty Film Festival never-had-anything-but-a-wingnut-welfare-job-who-nonetheless-always-manages-to-get-himself-quoted guy Jayson something who complains because people say the Liberty Film Festival is responsible for "politicizing" film:
Actually I don't think anyone was telling the good folks at the Liberty Film Festival about their being responsible for 'politicizing film'. There have been political films going back to Birth of A Nation. It was much more along the lines of not looking at every film for hidden political agendas that might somehow disturb your narrow worldview while shouting "dibs!" on anything that you like and then, on the chance that the film is successful, proclaiming it as sign from God that Hollywood needs more conservative films and hey, c'mon, throw me a bone, I'm dyin' out here.

Begging and whining and snivelling is so unattractive...
Have some pity, TBogg. The guy is trying to carve out a career and he can't get a gig directing traffic. It's all he's got.


Sunday, December 04, 2005


I've really left the Pajamas Media thing to superior wits. But you have to wonder what part of boardmember Michael Ledeen they didn't get?

With all the kindness in my heart that I could scrape together on short notice, I tried to warn The Nation's David Corn that by lending his name to the blog roster of Pajamas Media, he risked being associated with the worst sort of wharf rats and riffraff. None would condemn him for seeking other inklings of steady income, but not if it meant working the piano bar in a house of ill-repute. Corn spurned my well-intentioned counsel, deflecting my Polonious advice by casting aspersions upon Vanity Fair. If he had only listened, he might have spared himself needless shame. That's what happens when you let pride overrule the nagging voice of reason. Today Corn no doubt wishes he had heeded mine and similar admonitions, given the industrial-strength stinker Pajamas Media has become, the internet's first Edsel. I mean, it renames itself Pajamas Media--after the inept interlude of branding itself Open Source Media--and unveils its new cartoon logo: a bathrobe. To quote a line from David Mamet, these guys could fuck up a baked potato.
It's a bit of a bad day to be David Corn, I suppose. Probably explains why he took John Amato's gentle ribbing a bit too seriously. But oh lord, the comments. I don't wish that on anyone.

Well, maybe Michael Ledeen.


Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Katherine Harris can't understand why she got so many mysterious donations from defense contractor MZM, Inc., but now that the company has become toxic in the wake of the demise of her good friend Duke Cunningham, she's decided to unload them:
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris has changed her mind and is now ready to dump more than $51,000 in campaign donations that are tied to the growing scandal around former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.


Harris spokeswoman Morgan Dobbs said Harris doesn't want to be linked with Cunningham and thought it was best to donate the money to a charity. Harris could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Cunningham and Harris have been helping each other on their campaigns for the past few years. In October 2004, Harris brought Cunningham to Sarasota to help her raise money and to attend a candidates debate with her.


In June, Harris was identified as one of the members of Congress that former MZM employees say they say they were pressured into giving campaign donations to.


In March 2004, when MZM officials first offered the contributions, Harris said they told her that the firm planned to open a facility in Sarasota.

Harris said she saw no downside: The deal would have brought at least 40 jobs to her district, and the firm's agents were writing checks to her campaign account. Harris said she was a little puzzled by the donation, since she wasn't assigned to any committees that handled defense budgets or policy that could have helped MZM win contracts.


Harris isn't the only member of Congress trying to return money from MZM and Cunningham. A dozen other members of Congress announced last week that they are giving money they received from Cunningham to charity.

They include Reps. Richard Pombo of California, Jim Nussle of Iowa, Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Charles Dent of Pennsylvania; Sen. John Thune of South Dakota; and Minnesota Senate candidate and Rep. Mark Kennedy.

This summer, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., returned $6,000 she received from MZM officials over the past six years, a spokesman for Dole said.
...who neglected to mention that all these people are Republicans.

Can we have a round of applause for the Cunningham Eight?

Update: Shez from the comments points out that it's more like the Cunningham Sixty.

(thanks to reader DB)


The Price of Access

Stephen Hadley spoke with the bearded one this morning in a performance so finely choreographed that when Hadley defended rendition by saying that it had happened to Carlos the Jackal, his picture flashed on up the screen.

With only moments to go in the interview, assuring that Hadley would only be on the spot for the briefest of time, Wolf popped the question everyone had tuned in for:
BLITZER: One final question on a totally unrelated matter, the CIA leak. Your name came up. Supposedly Karl Rove had sent you an e- mail about a conversation he had with Time magazine's Matt Cooper involving the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson. What can you tell us about your role in the CIA leak investigation?

HADLEY: I've seen press reports of that, the e-mail. The question puts me in a difficult position because there is an ongoing investigation. We have all at the White House have gotten instructions from the president that we are to fully cooperate with that investigation. And we all are. And that we are also not to talk about it publicly until it is concluded. And that's really all I can say.
Wouldn't it have been nice if Wolf had surprised us all and taken some courses in journalism 101 over the past week, say, and followed up with a question like "hey, Steve, nice Scott McClellan impression there, but didn't you officially deny being Bob Woodward's source? And what was that little dance in South Korea about? Seems to me like you get right chatty when it suits you, but clam up when the questions cut too close. Is it getting hot in here? 'Cos I can turn the heat down if it's bothering you. So anyway, back to the memo. What's up with that?"

But alas it was not to be.

In the New World Order WE ARE ALL FOX NEWS.

(Thanks to reader Patty M. for the tip)


Sunday Morning Counter-Programming

Spotted in the comments over at Atrios:
Luskin's strategy so far has been to pretend that grand juries are made up of the kind of people who book Sunday pundit wankshows.
And so we present our counter-programming moment. If you didn't catch Redd's appearance on the Charles Goyette show on Friday where she outs herself and mentions her real name, Charles has it archived here (it's the third segment).

A faculty for critical thinking not absolutely required, but it will certainly enhance your listening pleasure.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Hadley Email

This morning's WaPo article contained a new bit about the Stephen Hadley email sent by Karl Rove on July 11, 2003 following his conversation with Matt Cooper. According to the article:
Shortly before his client's second appearance before the grand jury in October, Luskin personally conducted a review of thousands of e-mails Rove had sent during the crucial weeks in 2003, including those from accounts reserved for personal and political correspondence, a source familiar with the situation said.

Amid the e-mails, Luskin found one sent from Rove to Stephen J. Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, in which Rove mentioned his conversation with Cooper. The e-mail was written from Rove's government account, which investigators searched early in the inquiry. It is unclear why the e-mail was not discovered at that time.

Once found by Luskin, the e-mail was shared with Rove and then quickly turned over to Fitzgerald, the source said. Rove then testified that the e-mail "established that he had in fact had a conversation with Cooper," the source said.
Up until now, the explanation -- as dictated to the Rove-friendly Michael Isikoff -- has been:
Why didn't the Rove e-mail surface earlier? The lawyer says it's because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right "search words" weren't used.
This new information about the email production just makes no sense. I can't even figure out why they would want to put it out there. And someone who knows more about document production can correct me, but based on my limited experience, the chain of events as sketched by Camp Rove is supposed to look something like this:

1. Abu Gonzales sends the an email telling everyone to turn over relevant documents regarding Joe Wilson, the Niger forgeries and any contact with media.

2. White House IT people do a document search that curiously does not contain the words "Wilson," "Niger" or "Time Magazine."

3. Hard copies are usually made of all the relevant documents and in addition to being turned over to Gonzo for production to the DoJ, copies would most certainly go to Rove's personal attorney.

4. Luskin combs over the documents for the low low price of $900/hr. or whatever the hell he charges.

5. After hearing from ViVak whatever he heard about his client, he has all Rove's emails delivered to him in some form. (Does Luskin even have the security clearance to view all Rove's emails?)

6. Luskin reads all the emails, discovers the incriminating document 10 months later, calls Karl and says "oh my gosh, Karl, you'll never believe what I just found!" Karl faints from shock.

None of this, of course, makes any sense. Presuming we know even a fraction of what is going on, there are only two explanations I can come up with. One, they are going for something really weird like it took Luskin 10 months to read them all.

Or, we are in a situation like we were when the Dick Cheney leak got floated in the NYT four days before the Libby indictment: somebody may feel like indictment day is just around the corner and is trying to get information out there so its impact can dissipate before the boom lowers.

Poorly Chosen Words

Then there is the wording of the Hadley email, which has always been peculiar:
"Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote Hadley, who has since risen to the top job of national security adviser.

"When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."
But as we know from Matt Cooper's account that the conversation went nothing like that. Combine that with the fact that it was not produced in response to the initial September 30, 2003 document request and in fact did not surface until some time before Rove's October 15, 2004 appearance before the grand jury and it has lead many to presume it might have been forged ex-post-facto. I'm not of this theory, but understand why many are.

Anyway, pollyusa leads us to a comment by Billmon over at Jeralyn's which makes a lot of sense:
The memo itself is an interesting artifact. When I first read about it, I interpreted it as Rove's attempt to establish an alibi -- i.e. "Cooper tried to get me to talk about Wilson's wife, but I didn't go for it, nosirree." But in hindsight, it looks more to me like Rove was trying to con Hadley into believing that he (Rove) was not poaching on his turf. My guess is that there was an agreement in place that the NSC would respond to questions about Niger, which Rove and Libby of course were violating with their trash Joe Wilson campaign.

Rove and Luskin, of course, have tried to spin the email as exculpatory, even it doesn't jibe at all with Cooper's account of the conversation. I'm sure Fitzgerald doesn't see it that way, which is why I think the LONG gap between Novak's chat with Luskin and the production of the email may end up playing a role in his decision to indict.
That's the most plausible explanation I've heard so far for the wacky wording, and if so it may mean that Hadley was not in fact part of the "get Wilson" campaign.

Most everyone I speak to agrees that this Hadley email is going to take center stage in whatever happens to Rove, and possibly to others. But the thing that argues against Hadley not being part of the campaign is that a search on his end did not turn up the document, either. Coincidence? I'm having a hard time with that one.

Update: Swopa has more on the Hadley enigma.

Update 2: Hadley will be on whatever that Sunday morning CNN show with the bearded one is called.



David Corn announces that he has "solved the Not-So-Great Mystery of the Second Novak--at least in part:"
Luskin, according to sources close to Viveca Novak, was a longtime source of hers, not a close friend (as has been wrongly reported).
Well that's good to know. It was not a social engagement, it was an official, job-related interview. Then as a good reporter, she most certainly took notes in between highballs that she turned over to her editors about a meeting with the lawyer of the man who was going to let her colleague go to jail. I'm sure they came in handy when Time, Inc. was spending millions to defend itself in court.
Now, according to completely trustworthy sources close to Viveca Novak, this is what happened. Novak wasn't trying to tip off Luskin or to help him. During a conversation, Luskin said to Viveca Novak that Rove had never spoken to Cooper about Valerie Wilson. Novak instinctively pushed back, in the way many a reporter would challenge a source whom he or she believes is spinning or lying. "She assumed that Luskin was giving her BS," one close-to-Novak source says. "And she replied with something along the lines of, 'This is not what I hear.' She assumed that Luskin did know about the Rove-Cooper conversation and that she was not telling him anything he did not already know."


I've known Viveca Novak for close to 20 years, and this all squares with my nothing-but-positive impression of her. (Interest disclosed: I used to regularly play basketball with her husband, a career labor lawyer, whom I always had trouble guarding.)
Maybe if they'd been a little better friends she might have told him that her meeting with Luskin took place "over drinks" in February, 2004 before he went out on a limb defending her.

I guess she's better friends with Jim VandeHei.


GI Jokers

As if by accident, John Tierney almost writes a column worthy of reading today. He takes a swing at the Pentagon for planting articles in the Iraqi press, though with a Tierney twist: "the private sector could have done it cheaply and discreetly, but the Pentagon made a mess of it."

Anyway, no news here. The amusing part comes when Tierney quotes one of the articles written by the Pentagon that they tried to have placed, which includes the line that soldiers "fight for freedom, wherever there is trouble."

For a hundred million bucks you might expect something more nuance and cultural sensitivity than the theme song from the GI Joe cartoon. But then again, when you consider the fine minds of the deep thinkers who launched this fiasco of a war in the first place, probably not.

(hat tip to reader Jeff)


Product Image Disaster

No, not the Jaguar, although you think Ford might be a bit concerned.

In a new WaPo article, the Rovians further engage in what Pachacutec so aptly describes as the octopus ink strategy: swim fast and try to cloud the waters:
Now, Rove is relying on that casual exchange [between Vivica Novak and Robert Luskin] as part of a broad effort to convince a prosecutor he did not lie about his role in the CIA leak case, the sources said.
V. Novak is now providing the backbone of Rover's defense. Nice.
According to a source familiar with Novak's conversation with Luskin, the two were having a casual conversation over drinks sometime in early 2004 when Luskin insisted that his client, Rove, faced no danger in the leak investigation. Novak, described as fishing for information or trying to test Luskin's statement, begged to differ. She said she had heard at the magazine that Rove had been a key source for Cooper on information he published about Plame.
What, no cocktail weenies?
One person familiar with the case said the Novak-Luskin conversation is not what prompted Rove to change his testimony in the case. In fact, this person said, Novak told Luskin about the Rove-Cooper connection before Rove's first appearance before the grand jury in February 2004.
Well that's certainly a new spin. I guess the story has changed now that the earlier saga was greeted by such thundering rounds of derisive laughter. Someone should tell Mr. Fitzgerald that the conversation took place in or before February. He had requested her testimony for any conversation with Luskin after May 2004. Oddly, this is never addressed. A small quibble I guess in an article otherwise stunning for its unquestioning stenographic excellence.
Shortly before his client's second appearance before the grand jury in October, Luskin personally conducted a review of thousands of e-mails Rove had sent during the crucial weeks in 2003, including those from accounts reserved for personal and political correspondence, a source familiar with the situation said.

Amid the e-mails, Luskin found one sent from Rove to Stephen J. Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, in which Rove mentioned his conversation with Cooper. The e-mail was written from Rove's government account, which investigators searched early in the inquiry. It is unclear why the e-mail was not discovered at that time.
What happened to the "bad search parameters?" I thought it was the computer's fault?
"There's no way that Viveca Novak knowingly, wittingly gave up a confidential source to Robert Luskin," [Time's managing editor Jim] Kelly said.
Did he slip her a couple of roofies? I'm not getting that one.
A source familiar with the exchange said the fact that Rove was Cooper's source was known by only a few at the magazine, including Cooper, his Washington bureau editor and Kelly, but it was not as closely guarded a secret as Time editors now believe it should have been.
I guess not.
Kelly declined to comment on when Novak notified the magazine that Luskin planned to seek her testimony before Fitzgerald.
Matt Cooper quite nearly went to jail. Karl Rove never intended to give him any kind of waiver, it happened by pure fucking big-mouth Luskin accident. Do you think Karl Rove lost one minute of sleep thinking he was provoking a constitutional crisis? And can you imagine? Going to jail to protect Karl Rove? Think about that. You think V. Novak might have wandered into her editors at some point over the past year and a half and said "you know, I don't know how this might fit into anything, but before they send Matt to Romania for waterboarding maybe I should mention..."

Karl Rove would be quite happily driving around in his Jaguar scarfing White Castles with no remorse whatsoever for all of this. Even if you accept that stuff like this travels around newsrooms with more freedom than it should -- and it does -- once the stakes become clear you have to decide what team you're on. And it is not entirely apparent at the moment to what team Ms. Luskin Novak thinks she owes her allegiance.


Friday, December 02, 2005

It's a Blue Highlighter Kind of Night

I've been poring over Patrick Fitzgerald's response (PDF) to Dow-Jones motion to unseal the 8 redacted pages of Judge Tatel's concurrence to the decision that ultimately sent Judith Miller to jail, one of the long-time "Holy Grails" of Plame-ologists.

Just to recap a bit: On February 15, 2005 Judges Tatel, Henderson and Sentelle handed down a decision saying that Judy Miller and Matt Cooper could not claim journalistic privilege and refuse to testify in the CIA leak case. Eight pages were redacted from Judge Tatel's concurrence, and people have been speculating wildly ever since about their contents. Dow-Jones filed a motion saying that the eight pages should now be released, and Fitzgerald is agreeing to release certain sections.

Basically, what Fitzgerald says is:

1. The documents have been reviewed for classified information, and as of November 30, 2005 there is none.

2. Continued secrecy relative to portions that relate only to Libby is not necessary, since most of the investigation into his participation has been publicly revealed in the indictment.

3. However, he says that:
"[T]he Special Counsel has concluded that secrecy continues to be necessary with respect with the remainder of the redacted pages, in order to protect from embarrassment or ridicule individuals whose status as grand jury witnesses or subjects has not been publicly disclosed as well as to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation."
If they haven't been revealed as witnesses before, it ain't gonna happen now.

4. He says that as a result of the indictment, certain information from the redacted pages has become publicly known, and thus can be released:
a. The fact that Libby was a subject and target of the investigation.

b. The names of witnesses who gave testimony that directly contradicted Libby's testimony -- this would include Cooper and Russert but presumably not Miller, who as of February 15, 2005 had not testified before the grand jury at all (Cooper having testified at this point about Libby but not Rove).

c. The substance of the testimony of witnesses who were summarized or quoted in the indictment -- again, Russert and Cooper.

d. Curiously: "All but one of the witnesses discussed in this portion of the redacted pages have publicly disclosed the substance of their own testimony before the grand jury." Presumably Russert and Cooper have made such public disclosures." So there is one more witness discussed who has not talked about what they testified to, though presumably they are known to have testified or they would have been knocked out under (3) above.
Fitz also claims that "the additional details include quotations from testimony summarized in the indictment, and the identities of certain persons who were identified in the indictment solely by job title."

That would include, from the Libby indictment:

"Under Secretary" -- p. 4 -- Marc Grossman
"Senior CIA Officer" -- p. 4 -- unknown
"Vice President of the United States" -- p 5 -- Richard B. Cheney
"CIA briefer" -- p. 5 - unknown
"Libby's principle deputy" -- p. 6 --Eric Edelman
"White House Press Secretary" -- p. 7 - Ari Fleischer
"Counsel to the Vice President" -- p. 7 -- David Addington
"Assistant to the VP for Public Affairs" -- p. 7 -- Catherine Martin

Though one would assume just by virtue of being named in the indictment all of these people have testified, the only ones I know of who have had it publicly acknowledged are Martin, Fleischer and Cheney.

Since we know "Official A" is Karl Rove, and Rove is still a subject/target, he would not be this person.

But potentially I suppose it could be anyone who is publicly known to have testified, and that list is rather long.

Further, Fitz says that "the part of the investigation that specifically focused on Mr. Libby's conduct has largely been concluded." But considering how carefully he parses his words and the fact that he's been saying the investigation has been "largely concluded" for over a year, I take this with a grain of salt.

Jeralyn, Emptywheel and Armando have more.


All Aboard

This sounds about right. From Media Matters:
Recent revelations in the CIA leak investigation indicate that Time magazine Washington correspondent Viveca Novak may have injected herself in the investigation by alerting a lawyer for White House senior adviser Karl Rove in mid-2004 that her colleague, Time White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, might be forced to disclose to a grand jury what Rove had told him about then-undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak reportedly warned Rove attorney Robert Luskin that Rove could face legal scrutiny over omitting mention of the conversation with Cooper in his own grand jury testimony, thereby providing Luskin with information that might prove crucial to Rove's defense in the case. Novak never disclosed her conversation with Luskin or her knowledge of Rove's conversation with Cooper to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald or to Time readers, despite working on several articles about the case after her reported conversation with Luskin.
There are rumors that Vivac may have been questioned in the matter already. If true it does not bode exceptionally well for her that she is being hauled into Principal Fitz's office once again.
Novak, an experienced journalist working for a prestigious publication, disclosed to Rove's lawyer information that she did not give to her readers and that Cooper would zealously try to withhold for more than a year on the basis of the purportedly sacrosanct anonymity agreement between a reporter and a source. Second, Novak may have affirmatively helped Rove -- a source the magazine covers and will continue to cover -- beat a perjury rap, not by exonerating him through a story in the course of her job, but by providing his lawyer with information in a private conversation.
She's really bucking for that Judith Miller Excellence in Journalism Award, eh?
Whether Rove is guilty of intentionally hiding his conversation with Cooper, Viveca Novak undoubtedly aided Rove's defense by telling his lawyer that inaccuracies in Rove's testimony would likely become apparent to Fitzgerald.
They will most certainly have to invent some new circle of hell just for her if it turns out Rover skates because of her actions.
Novak's alleged involvement in the case did not prevent her from continuing her reporting on it, though she wrote no reports on the key information she gave Luskin.

As recently as October 24, Novak co-wrote an article with Time White House correspondent Mike Allen, which reported that "Fitzgerald appears to be seriously weighing a perjury charge for Rove's failure to tell grand jurors that he talked to Time correspondent Matthew Cooper about Plame, according to a person close to Rove." Novak wrote more generally on the Plame case for Time as recently as November 18.
Before everyone breaks out the kazoos and starts screaming partisanship, I just want to mention the fact that ViVac wrote a scathing book about Guantanamo Bay and Luskin himself is a Democrat. People who want to divide this drama into black/white, liberal/conservative, us/them dramaturgy fail to see that these players are at the very least triangulated -- at a certain point money, access and power trump politics and it is the failure of people in the media to maintain appropriate boundaries with their subject matter just such as this that has compromised their ability to play the role of ethics watchdogs.

As Wolcott recently said of Bob Woodward, "he's got a heavy lineup of Christmas parties to attend. Those cocktail wieners don't eat themselves, you know." If there's a failure in this particular instance it probably comes not from an apparachik's desire to preserve BushCo. hegemony as much as it is a base desire to keep one's seat on that free weenie train.



Showtime is free for cable and satellite viewers this weekend, so be sure and take the chance to see Homecoming, part of the Masters of Horror series that is playing tonight at 10pm. It transposes the political horror show we're all currently being treated to over an actual horror movie, with more comedy than your average SOTU speech. Thinly disguised versions of Ann Coulter, George Bush and Karl Rove turn out to be the real monsters who are far more frightening than the undead soldiers who just want to make some sense of their tragically truncated lives.

It's directed by Joe Dante and written by Sam Hamm, and its unapologetically political tone is a delight -- nobody else has the guts to be showing rows of flag draped coffins on television right now. And even though the actress who plays the thinly-veiled Coulter isn't really manly enough for the job, since the role calls for sex scenes I think a grateful public will happily grant the filmmakers artistic license on that front.


Not So Fast, Mr. Rove

This is all becoming a bit clearer. Today on CNN, Bob Franken says:
We're picking up that there could be two principals in this getting deposed next week giving sworn statements. Those two would include Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin and Viveca Novak of "Time Magazine."

Now it really comes down to, when all is said and done, a question of who said what to whom when.

And the who is very important because we're being told by a variety of sources that the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was planning to indict Karl Rove for misrepresenting during the investigation an interview comments that he had made to a reporter. However, there was a key conversation, sources say, and there may have been a misunderstanding by the special prosecutor that a conversation that he was attributing to Rove with Viveca Novak of "Time Magazine" may, in fact, have really been held by Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin.

As we've talked many times before, you and I, and just about any reporter who's been involved in this, has had conversations on the record with Luskin.

So now comes the process where Luskin is going to be testifying under oath during this deposition then Novak. Then Fitzgerald is going to have to make a decision on whether he will change his mind about indicting Rove.
What we're supposed to believe (i.e., the Rovian spin) is that Fitzgerald erroneously thought that Rove had "mis-testified" about a conversation he had with Viveca Novak (and there are rumors that she has been interviewed by Fitzgerald before). But, voila! Turns out the conversation was not with Rove but with V. Novak's good pal Robert Luskin. Fitzgerald's mistake. Luskin will go in, clear up the whole mess, and poor honest Karl will go into the back yard and chop down a cherry tree then confess to Karen Hughes over pie and ice cream before bedtime.

I am hearing through sources that the Franken story is crap, 100% spin. Fitzgerald is supposedly busy right now dealing with Bob Woodward, who may have earned himself a trip to the grand jury next week for his efforts, and with Woodward's source, whoever that may turn out to be. Only then will he start dealing with Viveca Novak, and the "Fitzgerald made a mistake" rumor is pure bullshit. And nobody at this point is buying the story that Luskin himself is going in to testify.

(thanks to bkny in the comments for the transcript link)



From Atrios:
According to CNN both Luskin and Viveca Novak will be testifying next week. At issue appears to be the fact that Fitzgerald "misinterpreted" (uhh) and thought that a conversation between Luskin and Novak actually happened between Rove and Novak.
I did not see the Bob Franken segment, but Digby did and emails that according to the report, Fitzgerald misunderstood and was about do indict Rove based on the fact that V. Novak had spoken to him and tipped him. Then Luskin came forward and said V. Novak had spoken with him, not Rove, which is why Luskin is now going to be deposed.

I find this all confusing, and I frankly don't see how Rove getting the information directly via V. Novak as opposed to through his lawyer makes that much difference. It's also one helluva mistake for a "very careful" prosecutor to make. If anyone saw the segment and can shed any more light on it please let us know in the comments.

PS: Jacki Schechner had a really good spot on the Situation Room where she gave us props for beating the NYT to the punch on the V. Novak story. Much appreciated.


Let the Frogmarch Begin

From the comments over at Jeralyn's, I thought these observations by Grampa really help to clarify why Luskin might think Viveca Novak's testimony could help Karl Rove. It also outlines what a risky gamble this is for his client, who obviously must not have many options left:
Novak's testimony is as likely to hurt Rove as to help him. In the summer of 2004, Rove is probably feeling pretty safe because the White House missed his email to Hadley (he would know that because Luskin would see everything produced), and because Cooper is either resisting the subpoena, or is agreeing to testify only about Libby. It is quite possible that Rove also kept Luskin in the dark about Cooper. Rove admitted being a confirming source for R. Novak, but he was an original source for Cooper, so that is the interview he would prefer to forget.

Then, two things happen that shake Rove's sense of security. Luskin learns about Cooper from V. Novak, and Fitzgerald begins pressing Cooper for the name of his original source. I'm not sure it matters which of those events came first, but together, they provide a powerful incentive for Rove to recant.

Luskin confronts Rove about Cooper. It wouldn't be the first time that a guilty client lied to his lawyer. Luskin says, "we need to have the White House check again for any evidence of discussions you had with Cooper." Again, Luskin would have reviewed any evidence produced, and so, once he found the email, he would have told Rove that the email must be handed over to Fitzgerald. Faced with that, Rove says, "you know, Bob, I think I now kind of do remember a brief conversation I had with Cooper." Whereupon, Luskin would have to advise Rove to go back to the grand jury and correct his testimony.

Luskin is not obligated to tell Fitzgerald about his conversation with V. Novak, but he does need to come up with SOME plausible story about how, when, and why Rove forgot and then remembered something so important. Luskin's first effort was probably to say that they had discovered this email. But that would not have satisfied Fitzgerald, who would naturally ask what caused them to take a second look. Eventually, Luskin would get to his conversation with V. Novak.

Bringing in this conversation is a very risky and desperate strategy. First, as mentioned above, it is as likely to incriminate as to exculpate. Equally important, Luskin cannot explain this sequence of events without testifying himself, and possibly exposing his conversations with his client. Once that Pandora's box is opened, it is not at all clear how much they can limit the waiver of attorney-client privilege. If Fitzgerald starts asking Luskin how Rove responded when he was told Novak's news, the results could be very damaging to Rove.
The story makes perilously little sense, but then again it rests on an assumption that nobody I talk to is willing to make -- that Karl Rove did indeed "forget" these critical conversations for over a year.

It can't bode well for Hadley either. With so much riding on the production of this email, you have to wonder when, exactly, he made his own appearance before Fitzgerald. Was he a victim of the virulent DC amnesia virus too? Given how rampant it is in the nation's capitol these days, we might speculate that it was a sexually transmitted disease were the thought just not too abjectly horrible for words.


American Penitente

I have to admit that having watched one too many interviews where Judy Miller struggles to nail herself to the cross, I just didn't have the stomach to sit through the new BBC interview. But Brad Blog has it up, and it is indeed further proof that if you keep talking long enough it becomes difficult to keep your stories from shimmying out from underneath you:
BBC INTERVIEWER: Who was it who told you that Valerie Plame was a spy?

JUDY MILLER: I don't remember who supplied the name. I remember and I testified before a Grand Jury to who it was that told me that Valerie Plame worked at the agency in the WMD area and that individual was Lewis Libby.. Scooter Libby.
She doesn't remember. Okay. We get it.
BBC INTERVIEWER: But if it was Karl Rove, for example, you'd remember.

JUDY MILLER: I'm not going to talk about who my other sources were or were not.
B..but, I thought you couldn't remember, Judy?

She better get her story straight before Libby's attorney gets her on the stand -- which he most certainly will -- and grills her about other administration officials she "can't remember" -- which he most certainly will. I don't frankly think she's clever enough to keep it together under that kind of pressure.

Oh and then there's always that enjoyable moment with the Beeb when she says she is "deeply sorry" for everyone else being wrong about WMDs.

I hear sack cloth and ashes will be all the rage at the trunk shows this year.

(hat tip PollyUSA)