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Saturday, December 17, 2005

We Got Gamed

Would Dubya have offered up his "kiss my ass in Macy's window" taunt to the public about the authorization of the NSA's warrant-free wiretaps had it been revealed a year ago when the New York Times first knew it was happening? Which would have put it... take off my shoes, 10, 11, 12...around election time last year?

This isn't the first time we've heard of a major news media outlet rolling over for the White House as they sought to keep their dirty laundry out of the election headlines. As emptywheel reminds us, the New York Times was also at this very same time covering up the fact that Scooter Libby was quite possibly trying to obstruct Judy Miller's testimony.

And let's not forget the fact that Time Magazine did not even seek a waiver from Karl Rove on behalf of Matt Cooper until long after the election. From the LAT:
Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year....The result was that Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection.
Much of this probably comes from not wanting to suffer the fate of Dan Rather at the hands of White House thugs -- after all, the same news outlets who became so delicate about "influencing the election" had no trouble giving those Swift Boat nutjobs the copious amounts of time they needed for their deranged accusations to induce a national fugue state. But for whatever reason they decided they had priorities that superseded reporting important stories during an election year which could quite possibly have changed the outcome.

The GOP found a much more effective and subversive way to steal an election in 2004 that avoided all the flap and hubub of 2000. And the next person who pops off about the "liberal media" takes one in the eye.


Three Million? That's K Street Chump Change

From China Daily:
Lu Wanli, former head of the Communications Department of southwest China's Guizhou province, was executed Friday in Guiyang for taking huge amounts of bribes, according to the Supreme People's Court.

The supreme court, which re-examined and approved the execution, holds that Lu had taken more than 25.59 million yuan (US$3.16 million) worth of bribes from June 1998 through January 2002 when he served as the provincial communications chief and general manager of the provincial expressway development company.

In addition, he failed to account for another 26.51 million yuan (US$3.27 million) of property, said the supreme court.
Would Ahnold or Dubya be quite so sanguine about torture and execution if it wasn't, say, someone swarthy, female or retarded but rather a white male hot tub aficionado with a penchant for five finger discounts from the taxpayer trough?

They might want to rethink their orgasmic enthusiasm for lethal injection before this thing goes global and wipes out the entire Republican party.

(hat tip Granite State Destroyer)


What the Times Didn't Say

In an astonishing display of cover your assitude, the NYTimes failed to disclose the following regarding why it may have held back its NSA story:
The paper offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.
Hmmm...guess Bill Keller's been in DC recently. He's clearly caught a case of what Digby has so perfectly dubbed CRS disease: can't remember shit. Or is that CYA disease in his case?

(Hat tip to reader "AE" for the link.)



Well well well. What do we have here?

George W. Bush has picked new nominees for the FEC. One is a Republican, Hans von Spakovsky, whom Ted Kennedy says "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws." And in an uncharacteristic moment of cheerful bipartisanship, Bush is also appointing a Democrat, Robert D. Lenhard, who was quite helpful to the 1600 Crew as part of the legal team that challenged the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

But there is perhaps another reason why Mr. Lenhard is being rewarded by BushCo. at just this moment. He's the husband of Viveca Novak, whose testimony now provides the foundation for Karl Rove's defense in the CIA leak case.

A small but rather key fact that both the Washington Post and the White House Press Release manages to leave out, wouldn't you say? They WaPo is having quite a stint in the GOP stenography department this week, it would seem.


Calculated Machinations and Lies

How does one sit down to write about the deliberate circumvention of law in a nation of laws by the Chief Executive? Especially, when the actions taken by that executive ignore the lessons that were hard learned and codified into law for the express purpose of preventing the very actions taken?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (or FISA) provides the framework for how surveillance by covert agencies may or may not be done. The Bush Administration has put forth the argument that FISA had to be circumvented due to immediate need for surveillance of subjects in the aftermath of 9/11 due to urgent national security concerns. But this is a lie.

FISA provisions already provide for emergency surveillance measures. Under 36 USC 1805, the Attorney General may authorize emergency surveillance (including wiretapping and other regulated surveillance methods) for up to 72 hours, so long as application for approval by the FISA supervisory court is made before that time expires. The Administration already had all the emergency measures it needed to do surveillance without illegal encroachment on American civil liberties.

Further, this was a calculated effort to circumvent the law, resting these efforts on a matter of urgent national security -- which was designed to ensure that any opposition would have to occur privately in the interests of the nation. The "Gang of Eight" would have to have been informed of this Presidential directive -- this is the leadership of the House and Senate, and the leadership of the Intelligence committees in both houses -- at the time that the initial directive was put into place.

On John Yoo's recommendation (according to reports here and here), the President issued the first order within a very short framework after 9/11. The Gang of Eight does not have to give unanimous agreement by any means for a Presidential Directive to become effective, there is simply a notification requirement of actions of this nature prior to the order going into effect.

Because there was an ongoing threat of potential sleeper cell activity in this country at the time, any opposition would have to have been maintained behind intelligence walls, simply on the basis of urgent national security interests. The Administration knew that would be the consideration weighed in by all of those members notified, because first and foremost the immediate safety concerns would have been paramount at that time. And they used this to their advantage in this power grab that violates the principles of separation of powers and the prohibition against violation of Fourth Amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The wholesale, willful and deliberate circumvention of this Constitutional principle by the Bush Administration is appalling, not least because it was wholly unnecessary, given the emergency provisions already in place in the FISA laws. (This FindLaw link provides a wealth of information on Fourth Amendment considerations and case law. Very useful.)

The question comes as to what oversight, if any, has been given to this matter after the immediate threat of 9/11 subsided. Why was this circumvention of the FISA law allowed to continue? The recent articles on the subject indicate that there was oppostion by Democrats, particularly by Sen. Rockefeller, but with an Administration and a Congress controlled by Republicans who have made it a policy to shut out the minority and any opposing opinions, how much if any of this got through?

Since the implementation of FISA, the FBI has primarily been responsible for domestic surveillance. The NSA, rather gratefully, retreated to foreign surveillance after the turmoil of the Vietnam era. (And it isn't just the NSA involved, it's also the DoD.)

The Bush Administration has thoughtlessly and needlessly breached that wall and, despite all indications being that the NSA program was very limited in terms of personnel being involved, has tainted the entire operation -- again -- and shined a light on an agency that thrives in the shadows. Which does not help us in terms of national security considerations. (NPR has had a series of reports on this matter, including an particularly exceptional interview with James Bamford which can be found here. Well worth the listen.)

But this is an Administration that appears to think only in short term needs and wants, and not in long term consequences and worst case scenarios. The President acknowledged today that he did, indeed, authorize this domestic surveillance. Reports are that he did so on multiple occasions.

Congressional leaders of both parties have called for hearings on the subject.

They would do well to remember that, in a nation of laws, neither the President nor members of Congress are above the rule of law. And that the nation is watching to see if anyone will be held to account for the machinations and lies of King George. If the Congress does not hold this Administration to account, then the public will do so in the 2006 elections. Period.

Digby, Atrios and Josh Marshall have more.


Give Me Liberty

There are a number of issues raised by the NSA homeland spying disclosures, but one of the largest ones looming in my mind is the constitutionality of the actions. The separation of powers framework as established by the Founding Fathers is one of constant tinkering -- one side becomes more powerful over the course of time, and another branch of government eventually rises to balance it back into alignment, and on it goes.

But in the last few years, there has been a concerted effort to move toward a strong executive, undercutting the power of the legislative branch by their abdication of most oversight and independent legislative prerogatives by their deferrment of those responsibilities to the President and his priorities.

Additionally, there has been a decided movement toward disrespect of the judiciary branch, which has held out as an aspect of government independent of political control over the last few years. And, as all of us who have been watching this Administration know, it has been about control and building more power -- just take a peek at any of Karl Rove's speeches on how he wants to build a lasting Republican dynasty to see his intent in all of this.

To that end, Glenn Greenwald has an exceptional post up this morning regarding the conflict between the NSA decisions by the Administration and their relationship to all of the dangers forseen by the Founding Fathers. And how this Administration has patently ignored the Constitutional implications of their actions in favor of consolidating control.
If the naked assertion of absolute power by the Bush Administration -- and the use of that power to eavesdrop on American citizens without any judicial review -- does not finally prompt the public regardless of partisan allegiance to take a stand against this undiluted claim to real tyrannical power, then it is impossible to imagine what would ever prompt such a stand.
This is a great read, and one that ought to perk up the ears of every American, regardless of political affiliation. The term is "separation of powers" not seizure of every bit of power you can grab for your own purposes.

(Image from Jim Emery Photography. This fellow has some amazing photos, which are available for purchase. Very fine work indeed, and worth a peek.)


Friday, December 16, 2005

Twenty-Three Skidoo and CJR Too

Although I'm quite flattered to have my blue line about penis-shaped ornaments on the Clinton Christmas tree quoted in a respectable publication like the Columbia Journalism Review (Hey, Mom, guess what?, no need to go read it...) I am a bit disconcerted to find such an august periodical dismissing the Froomkin flap and the GOP extortion of the Washington Post as a figment of the overheated liberal imagination:
[T]he brouhaha has some liberal bloggers revving their engines (froom, froom, frooooom ...) and chasing down what they imagine to be yet another right-wing conspiracy.
As Anonymous Liberal says quite well, this position wholly misstates both the nature of the problem at hand, and the quote-unquote "liberal critique:"
In other words, we don't think the media is actively pursuing conservative interests; we think that the media, through its rigid adherence to certain journalistic conventions, has unintentionally contributed to the cheapening of political discourse. Put another way, unscrupulous partisans have learned to game the system. They've realized that the painfully formulaic structure of today's mainstream political reporting allows even the most dishonest and misleading talking points to gain currency.


Conservatives already dismiss all the reporting they don't like as the work of liberal critics. They've been doing this for over two decades and to great effect. In fact, it is this very allegation that has led political reporters to adhere so religiously to a format in which accuracy is routinely sacrificed in the name of "balance," and neutrality is valued above even truth. What a sad irony it is that Harris thinks these journalistic conventions make life more difficult for the White House. The truth is that the White House's political strategy entirely depends on this style of reporting. The key to Karl Rove's political success was his realization that he could count on mainstream journalists--who now fear, above all, the dreaded 'liberal bias' charge--to present almost any talking point, no matter how ludicrous, in a dueling narrative format free from any independent editorial judgment. Fear of the bias charge has essentially tied reporters hands behind their backs, making them unwilling or unable to do more than present differing narratives. The beauty of this strategy for the White House is that it's self-reinforcing: the more conservatives yell "liberal bias," the more rigid the balanced format becomes. And it certainly doesn't help matters when people like Harris contribute to the problem by accusing colleagues of liberal bias. The reality is that the White House has absolutely no desire to do away with this system. Why should they? It has served conservative political interests remarkably well over the years. As it stands, conservatives can dismiss reporting they don't like as the work of liberal critics while at the same time using the self-imposed neutrality of the press to facilitate the spread of misinformation. And those two strategies actually reinforce one another.
That the analysis of the situation by "the country's premier media monitor" is that glib and shallow and seemingly lacking in any appreciation whatsoever of the political dynamics working to hobble modern journalism is quite sad. I don't want to get on a high bloggy horse about the whole thing but I haven't seen anything that didn't come out of the blogosphere worth a damn on the whole topic.

The CJR wants to dismiss this as a "liberal blogosphere" phantom? Fine. They can just go spoon in the rumble seat with their Wilkie buttons, we'll wake them when the war's over.


It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated. Really.

Well it looks like we've won our first blog award. Which is a little weird because I always thought the Weblog awards were a little wingy, but they seem to have been quite dominated by lefties this year. The lgf camp must have been otherwise occupied bidding for Jesus pretzels on ebay or something.

Congratulations to Bob Geiger, Crooks & Liars, Pam Spaulding, Sadly No, Roger Ailes, Daily Kos, AmericaBlog and of course the General, who has kindly translated our name as LacDogduFeu. I'm kinda liking it. Kinda classy.

And let me just say up front that if there was any justice in this world Digby would've kicked everyone's ass


Oh the Injustice

Keenly spotting a vacuum in the Tammy Faye Baker 1986 Contempo Casual fashion niche no one else was aware of, the rode-hard-and-put-up-wet wife of Mets Pitcher Kris Benson is now opining on the aesthetics of Michael Moore and displaying a a finely nuanced reading of Kant, I believe:
"...Forget about how un-American you are, how politically retarded you are, or how fat you look while slobbering your political garbage all over everyone, mainly, I despise you for the fact that you make money off of influencing the young minds of America to be Bush-haters."


"You are a selfish, pathetic excuse for an American, and you can take your big fat ass over to Iraq and get your pig head cut off and stuck on a pig pole. Then, you can have your equally as fat wife make a documentary about how loudly you squealed while terrorists were cutting through all the blubber and chins to..."
Could Anna Benson's strip mall perm be all in a tangle because the ungrateful Mets are trading her?
"We would never, ever have signed with New York if they had said they were going to trade us," said Anna Benson, 29. "I was Miss [Politically Correct] for the Mets the entire time I was there.
I don't really follow baseball so I wasn't aware the Mets had entered the pole dancing business, but be that as it may why would Fox News sign cranky, cadaverous old Robert Novak to a contract when such an obvious source of understated political wisdom goes begging?

(via Wolcott)


Erm...Yeah...Completely Believable...

Roy Blunt, acting Majority Leader for the House, sent his spokeswoman out to say that the House wasn't timing its return date for late January to help Tom Delay. Erm...yeah. Totally believeable.

At least the Democrats picked up on the Preznit's jury tampering comments appearance with Brit Hume. And called him on it publicly.

Meanwhile, all those incredibly well-trained Iraqi police forces? Seems they did capture Zarqawi after all but...oops...let him go again because they didn't recognize him. So much for the man having his face on posters attached to every telephone poll in town.

There is so much information to sift through on the NSA spying revelations in the NYTimes, that I'm only briefly going to mention them.

Will be diving into the FISA issues and others this weekend when I have time to do it in more depth, but I wanted to share with you a concern I received from a former National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake. He told me that "this pushes to or beyond the limits for the NSA's mandate and it raises serious Fourth Amendment concerns." To say that the intelligence community and thoughtful members of Congress have concerns is understating it. And it hasn't just been Democrats that have voiced these concerns, either.

It is one thing to push the envelope on a specific threat and later seek appropriate oversight. It is another thing entirely to attempt to bypass oversight so that you can do as you please, when you please. Which is exactly why our system was set up with checks and balances in the first place. But FISA is dense, and requires more time for review than I have had today, so I am hoping to get to something in more depth this weekend.

While I finish my research on all of this, the WaPo did a decent summary on the issue as well today. As did TalkLeft.

And Jack Cafferty on CNN has a great rant today on this Administration -- "You want to invade people's civil liberties without even considering the legal consequences? Just do it. Who cares about the accuracy of WMD intelligence. You want to invade Iraq? Just do it. What a joke." Sometimes even a curmudgeon hits one out of the park.

UPDATE: Forgot to add this -- that whole "Congress saw the same intelligence I did" excuse from Bushie? Not true.

UPDATE #2: Larry Johnson has a great article up on the NSA revelations and their relationship to John Bolton's stalled confirmation hearings. File this in the "Things that make you go hmmmmm...." category. (Hat tip to Rayne.)


Waas Adds Another Piece

Reading through Murray Waas' latest piece in the National Journal is an amazing trip into the mental state of a number of folks involved at the highest levels of the Traitorgate scandal. And provides an important glimpse into how maintaining power and having an "ends justifies the means" attitude can get you into a whole lot of hot water when you forget to follow the law (or simply choose to ignore the law altogether because it doesn't suit your needs, you pick).

Waas provides a piece of the puzzle that had long been lingering out there -- what got Novak and Rove on the phone in the first place. Or at least, what they say got them on the phone.

Instead, the voluminous material on Rove's desk -- including talking points, related briefing materials, and information culled from confidential government personnel files -- involved a different woman: Frances Fragos Townsend, a former senior attorney in the Clinton administration's Justice Department whom President Bush had recently named to be his deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.

Bush had personally assigned Rove to help counter what the president believed to be a "rearguard" effort within his own administration, by persons unknown, to discredit Townsend and derail her appointment, according to White House documents and accounts given by former and current officials.
Waas also provides some context for Adam Levine, Rove's protege, who provided some cover for Karl back in October -- we can now surmise that cover related to some of this Townsend rationale for the Novak conversation, in addition to the after-Cooper conversation that he and Rove are said to have had.

One interesting aspect to Waas' article that intrigues me is that Libby and Addington and the VPs office (including, presumably, Dick Cheney himself) opposed Francis Townsend with much the same intensity that they did Joe Wilson. Same modus operendi: gather substantial oppo research, including personnel records and any classified materials they could lay their hands on; lay blame on the spouse (in Townsend's case, her husband, because he was an Andover and Yale graduate just liek the Preznit); and use high pressure tactics and selective media leaks to sink her nomination and credibility.

Sound like any other case we might be following? That pattern of behavior is sure to have caught Fitz and his staff and investigators' eyes as well, I can tell you that. Especially if Townsend and Wilson aren't the only ones to have received the full on Cheney and Libby Special.

A few observations on my first full pass through this article:

-- Bob Novak does not like to be ignored. And he gets exceptionally peevish when he feels that is happening. Wonder if Bob was piqued for the same reason when he spouted off to the Locke Foundation? How many other revelations in this case can we attribute to ego, pique and crankiness?

-- If this represents a pattern of behavior in political take-down and payback for Libby, Addington and Cheney, there will be more people who will recognize this having happened to them. And as revenge is a powerful motive, they may come forward. A pattern of behavior isn't proof, but it sure can be a whole lot of circumstantial information alongside evidence. I'd bet Fitz and staff have already been looking into this in spades.

-- Was there the same sort of talking points dossier prepared for every potential media contingency by the WH press machine? If so, wonder if Fitz has gotten his hands on the whole of the Wilson work-up? Both from the WH and from the VPs office -- and I wonder how those differ?

-- David Addington's name sure is mentioned a lot. Hmmmm...

Am going to have to take some time, and piece back through some further thoughts on this. There are a number of loose ends that I want to try and tie down, but that's my first pass on the article. It's a lot, especially on inner workings of a WH that prides itself on keeping the doors firmly shut on thought process, which leads me to believe that there are a few people very unhappy with Rover and his mouth, and are hoping maybe things won't go so well for him. Or maybe this is some other public relations backflip from Luskin's pals, trying to paint everything as a Libby and Co. plot. Either way, its a glimpse into an operation that could make Machiavelli envious, and that is truly saying something.

Oh, and for everyone who has been fretting over Novak's retirement funds, since CNN cut him loose, not to worry: Fox picked up his contract.

Crooks & Liars and TalkLeft have more.


Ongoing Patriot Act Debate in Senate

The vote on cloture for debate on the Patriot Act just failed -- by a vote of 47 nays to 53 yays -- in the Senate. Debate will be continuing on whether or not the Patriot Act ought to be renewed as it stands from the House/Senate conferees.

There have been a number of articles on some of the issues with this bill:

-- ABC News
-- Talk Left
-- NYTimes here, here, here and here.

Given the stakes with the recent revelations of the NSA being given authorization to spy domestically, this debate is critical for protecting civil liberties as balanced against a need for security in an increasingly divided nation and world. We'll update on this as news occurs as well.

That sound you hear just might be some of our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves at some of the issues being debated today.
James Madison:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and . . . degeneracy of manners and of morals. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . . .
Words spoken so long ago still ring so true today.


Guess Who's in DC This Morning?

MSNBC reports that Patrick Fitzgerald is back before the Grand Jury this morning. Am trying to track this down from other sources as well, and will update as I get news.

UPDATE: As of 11:20 am ET, MSNBC has not repeated their report. (Neither has CNN that I have seen.) Am still trying to confirm. The clerk's office at the courthouse will not confirm one way or the other today, so I'm trying to go through other channels. Will update as I get any news. If anyone has a solid link to a wire report, please add it to the comments and I will link (with due credit, of course).

UPDATE #2: Just got off the phone with a staffer at MSNBC. He said that MSNBC is following up on a number of leads this morning (fast news day for them too, go figure! Whew!) Bob Kerr should be doing an update from the WH around noon, but he wasn't sure if David Shuster or anyone else would be on soon to deal with any Fitz updates. Again, will get you confirmation on this when I get something.

UPDATE #3: Dana Milbank confirms the G/J is meeting this morning during the WaPo's Politics Hour chat:
Bangor, Maine: Any new news on the Plame affair? When or is the grand jury meeting to determine Karl Rove's fate?

Dana Milbank: The grand jury is meeting as we chat this very morning. As for where this is heading, I will use by "reporter's prerogative" to say: I haven't a clue.
Hat tip to reader John Casper for the tip. Hopefully there will be more soon -- am waiting on a call back and some e-mails. (Now back to the Waas article and cleaning up the rest of this morning's yogurt.)

UPDATE #4: PattyLou heard Fitz was meeting as well, on CNN, via the AP, this morning:
ReddHedd, I have been looking for the link too. What I was repeating in my post was the the CNN story I had just heard, which said, "the AP was reporting that Fitz arrived with 2 assoc. and the FBI investigator to the GJ at 9 am this morning. PattyLou | 12.16.05 - 9:11 am
Still not seeing anything in print other than the Milbank comment in the WaPo chat quoted above, but if we're hearing it from multiple news outlets, then I'm satisfied I didn't mis-hear this morning. And I'll await the next Shuster update on MSNBC, if and when I get one.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fight the Power

It's too bad Mean Jean and her broom were in Washington yesterday when FDL regulars Karen Allen and froggermarch went to her office with a group of 25 people to present her with a "Bring Our Troops Home From Iraq" petition signed by 800 people. Says Karen:
Jean's office is at all times locked.  At first, the staff member who answered the door didn't want us to even enter the office; she just wanted to reach out and take the petition.  We changed that.
After convincing them that they had not been prodded by out-of-town agitators but were legitimate constituents, they met with Mean Jean's chief of staff.

Says froggermarch:
BTW, as we left Mean Jean's office yesterday, it was interesting to note that she had a Yellow Ribbon on the door by a picture for a local serviceman who is MIA in Iraq.

The irony was resplendent. We are there to demand that the troops be brought home as soon as practicable and she who calls such people cowards has a symbol which expresses the same sentiment.

Actions, Jean, speak louder than ribbons.
Unfortunately Karen's camera went on the fritz so there is no photographic record but we're really proud of them both and thrilled that they met up here in the comments section and decided commit this poignant piece of political activism together.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Patrick Fitzgerald is a Busy Boy

What a delightful stocking stuffer. In a case totally unrelated to the Plame affair (unless you want to count the cosmic neocon comeuppance factor), Patrick Fitzgerald has added a superseding indictment for racketeering and obstruction to the fraud charges already faced by big neocon chiseler Conrad Black.

Meanwhile, the SEC is tantalizing us all by serving up Wells notices to Hollinger board members Marie-Josee Kravis (wife of Henry Kravis), Richard Burt, former US ambassador to Germany, and former Republican Illinois Governor James Thompson. A Wells notice is "a formal warning that the agency's enforcement staff has determined that evidence of wrongdoing is sufficient to bring a civil lawsuit."

You'll recall that Richard Perle was recently on the receiving end of a one of these babies in the Hollinger case.

While Kravis, Burt and Thompson are in the crosshairs for having served on the board's audit committee and rubber stamping Black's efforts to loot the company, it's worth noting that a) the SEC doesn't seem to be done, and b) their fellow board member at the time was Henry Kissinger.

A girl can dream, can't she?


I Forgot

Interesting article up at Slate by former Time Magazine staffer John Dickerson, who wrote the original War on Wilson article with Matt Cooper back in July, 2003:
According to several witnesses who have been interviewed by Fitzgerald and who have talked to me about their testimony, he appears to be suspicious about that change in Rove's narrative. The special counsel seems to think Rove remembered his conversation with Cooper all along but only testified about it when it became clear that Cooper was going to be forced to give up Rove as his source. If Fitzgerald thinks Rove willfully held back on him, it could be the basis for a perjury or obstruction of justice charge.

Rove's lawyer says there's an innocent explanation. He says it was Viveca Novak's suggestion that Rove might have been her colleague Cooper's source that sent Rove and his lawyer to re-examine Rove's records. In their search, they found an e-mail Rove had sent, shortly after speaking with Cooper, to Stephen Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, telling Hadley about the conversation. After finding the e-mail, Rove revised his account to the grand jury.
This is the version of the story that most reputable journalists (David Shuster et. al.) seem to be following, that Luskin claims his Vivac conversation sent him hunting through the files. But Luskin seems to be telling different stories to different people.

Jim VandeHei:
I don‘t think that this conversation between Viveca Novak and Luskin is about this whole change testimony and the e-mail that happened about seven months later.

I think what‘s happening is Luskin is probably trying to convince Fitzgerald that it would be foolish for Rove to have testified that first time before the grand jury that he did not have a conversation with Matthew Cooper when he knew from Luskin, who had learned from Viveca Novak, that everybody at “Time” was buzzing about the fact that there had been that conversation. 
VandeHei seems to be the only one promoting this particular theory. Does he have an incredible scoop or will he wind up looking like a credulous chump for being the only one to buy a batch of ludicrous ex-post-facto spin when the whole thing outs? I guess we'll know in time.

Dickerson also does a good job charting the major events of the time period that call into serious question Rove's "I forgot" defense. And he says:
A source close to Rove confirmed to me the widely held speculation that Rove was one of Novak's sources.
Did Rove cop to this when he talked to the FBI, or during one of his many grand jury appearances, and if so which one?

Dickerson then goes on to mention the fated Hadley email. In January 2004 when Fitzgerald subpoenaed the White House for emails from specific journalists, Cooper included, Dickerson was also on the list due to having co-written the "War on Wilson" article:
White House staffers searched for e-mails containing my name, and I know of at least two who handed over what they had to Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald is not only going to have to buy Rover's "I forgot" line of defense, he's also going to have to buy that an electronic search of emails did not turn up the Hadley memo in response to the original subpoena. Were they counting on the fact that Fitzgerald would never seize their computers to know if a memo or two never made its way to him like he would if he were prosecuting, say, the Gambinos? The next time someone bitches about how long the investigation is taking and how much money it's cost, just remember the kid gloves with which he's had to treat all these people who have worked so diligently to obstruct him.

(thanks to Pollyusa for the always useful links)

Update: Add Joe Conason to the list of people being told by Luskin that the Vivac conversation sent him on document hunt:
By October 2004, when [Rove] revised his flawed testimony in the grand jury, his recollection had improved, evidently thanks to a suggestive conversation between his defense lawyer, Robert Luskin, and Cooper's Time colleague Viveca Novak. As Novak recently explained, she had indicated to Luskin, in a meeting over drinks sometime between January and May 2004, that Cooper was saying he had spoken with Rove about Plame. According to Luskin, this alarming news prompted Rove to search his e-mail, where he found a contemporaneous message he had sent to Stephen Hadley in July 2003, then the deputy national security advisor, about his chat with Cooper.
VandeHei still maintains his source is "anonymous," while all the others source Luskin. I've always assumed VandeHei's source was Luskin too, but it makes you wonder who he's talking to, huh?

Update: Joe Conason was kind enough to email and clarify that he had not in fact spoken with Luskin, but was relying on the accounts of both Dickerson and Viveca Novak. The Salon piece is being changed to reflect that.


Let's Play Dodgeball!!

Sweet. John Harris, in his WaPo online chat this morning, graced us with these pearls of wisdom about the Plame affair:
To be honest, I've always regarded the "can't comment, under investigation" as a transparent dodge. But every politician uses it. As journalists, we should (and pretty often do) keep pressing even when we know the answer is likely to be no comment.
But what about himself? Why was he not answering Brad DeLong and the voluminous numbers of questions he no doubt received about his critique of Dan Froomkin and subsequent toplofty rebuttal?
As a journalist, I hate not answering questions, even from (in this case) someone who clearly was coming from a point of view quite hostile to me. But I had jointly decided with colleagues that I had responded enough to the blogosphere, so I took a pass.
One yardstick for others, a much more convenient one for himself. You can't say he hasn't learned much from his GOP masters.

He also referred to his critics as "the crankosphere." Cranky? I guess we are. Sorry if we're a bit peeved with so-called "journalists" acting as the long arm of the Republican party to crush all dissent from the pages of a major media outlet. But you make it so easy, John, by being such an imperious, lazy, supercilious partisan dick.

He says he is anxious for this to all blow over. Unlikely. The WaPo is now locked in the crosshairs for its kowtowing to power, and Harris just put a target on his back as an enthusiastic part of the problem who can't help running his mouth at the absolute worst moment.

Everyone's going to be watching, John. Just be who you are naturally. The rest will take care of itself.

Oh and I didn't get my question answered during the chat:
You wrote: "It has long also seemed to me that Joe Wilson's own activities -- publishing op-eds etc. -- were not exactly calculated to maintaining secrecy about himself and his family."

Given that you have now stepped out of your reporter role and into an advocacy role for the GOP by promoting the viewpoints of Patrick Ruffini (part of the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign), does that mean that others are within their rights to go rooting around into your private life and make public the names and occupations of your family members? That is what you suggest when you comment that Joe Wilsons writing op-eds somehow makes his family fair game.

Just curious.
No need to respond, John. Your uncharacteristic silence tells us all we need to know.


Oh man! It's the Mean Jean Smackdown by the DNC!

ROTFLMAO!!! (Via Crooks and Liars.)

Oh, and Byron York got back to me yesterday and said he intended only the conversations which had previously been reported in the WaPo between Libby and Woodward, and NOT that Libby was THE source. Guess it is still a mystery on the right side of the aisle, too. (Or at least so far as anyone is willing to tell me, anyway.)

Also, Newsday has a report on the Novak speech, saying that Novak "thought the speech was off the record." But the Locke Foundation says otherwise. (And has a report up on the whole speech here. Hat tip to Tom Maguire for the link.) Did Novak really think it was off the record, or is that just his excuse because he had one to many gibsons with a sodium pentathol chaser before speaking?

UPDATE: Froomkin picked up on the same "we only comment when it suits us" hypocrisy from the WH, and has several links to articles along the same lines. Interesting -- blatant hypocrisy may not be selling so well. At least not on Traitorgate. (Not holding my breath on that just yet, but it's a nice moment anyway.)


Shocked by Gambling in the Casino?

William Arkin reports on his Early Warning blog that the Pentagon will be conducting an internal review of allegations of domestic spying by CIFA.
In other words, all of the compilation of material, and all of the rules about domestic spying, indicate that the military should focus its limited resources and attention elsewhere. But that would actually take someone saying 'knock it off' and that hasn't happened and likely won't happen in this crazy post-9/11 world where even our "homeland" is considered a foreign country by the intelligence community and the military.
Arkin has covered this issue the last two days, and the posts are worth a read.

A number of bloggers have noticed CIFA checking in on their posts in the past few months (because, you know, people at home in their sweatpants drinking way too much coffee and trying to, say, keep their toddler from smearing yogurt on the dachshund while chatting about separation of powers issues are so threatening...I'm just saying), so this has not just been limited to potential terrorist threats or Quaker peace meetings. Given the House passage of renewal of the Patriot Act yesterday, it's a good time to discuss how you feel about all of this with your Senator.

UPDATE: And here's a piece of cheery news: A big congrats to TalkLeft for hitting 10 million visitors today. Great milestone for a great blog.


No Comment...Except to Tamper with the Jury Pool

Okay, now I'm pissed. For months and months, we've had to deal with the stonewalling from McClellan, the Preznit and everyone at the WH that they can't comment on anything regarding the Traitorgate case because it is an ongoing criminal matter.

I don't like it, because I think they are all using this as an excuse to cover each other's asses instead of respecting the law -- but since I do respect the law, and I understand the importance of not tainting an investigation nor tampering with a jury pool for the indicted Scooter Libby, I'm accepting the excuse at face value. The Preznit is, after all, the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

But today, I read this in the WaPo:
President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.
Um, hello??!?? The President of the United States and former Governor of the State of Texas says he thinks that Tom Delay is innocent to a national news outlet after a presiding judge has just ruled that the charge stands as proper to be tried by a jury of Delay's peers. Did he or his staff even stop to think about the consequences of this public display of affection for Delay? Has anyone explained to the Preznit the meaning of the words "jury tampering?"

I mean, it is one thing for me, a private citizen, to gripe about this or that thing. But the President of the freaking United States? That's a whole other mess entirely.

If the press doesn't collectively rise up in today's briefing and demand answers from Scott McClellan, then there is no hope at all for public accountability. The level of disrespect shown to the court system by this Administration and their cronies in Congress has been astonishing on so many levels -- remember Congressional comments on how judges should be treated when the Schiavo ruling came down? -- but for the Preznit to interject his opinion into a case that is set to go to trial in the next few months is an enormous breach of separation of powers, and he absolutely must be called to account for it. Man, I am royally pissed this morning.


No Questions...Period

The entire Republican party must have morphed into an episode of South Park this week, with everyone auditioning for the role of Cartman.

Eric Ueland, Bill Frist's chief of Staff, completely lost it with an AP reporter yesterday, and then with a reporter from the WaPo. All because the AP reporter, Jonathon Katz, had the temerity to ask Frist to clear up his "I don't know how much stock I have in my investment account on which I have been regularly briefed, but which I term a blind trust anyway" baloney.

Josh Marshall has the scoop from Roll Call (sub. req.). What's more, Josh got further information from a reporter who was on scene.
As we left the floor, Eric Ueland started berating Katz in a loud voice while still in the Senate chamber. It continued just outside the chamber, as Roll Call reported. At one point Washington Post reporter Chuck Babington asked Ueland if he wouldn't agree that "the issue was confusing." Even before Babington could finish his question, Ueland turned to him and in the same loud voice accused him of not understanding what was a very simple issue.
Well, let's get this straight once and for all, shall we? Elected officials do not have carte blanche to do whatever they please to enrich themselves, their family, friends, and cronies, without anyone asking questions about their actions. They are supposed to be serving the public, and as such, the public has the right to ask questions. It's called accountability.

Between the Froomkin flap of the last few days, the continuing non-answer briefings from Scotty Potty McClellan, and this latest example of Cartman-esque behavior from Frist and his staff toward a reporter who was actually doing his job in the public's interest (note to Frist: that's what you are supposed to be doing, too, maroon), the overriding theme is "the hell with you in the public, I'll do what I want."

Need I remind these folks that Santa is watching? No one likes a spoiled brat. And if you want someone to respect your authority, trying earning the respect by obeying the law and doing your freaking job instead of demanding it at the top of your lungs. Guess when the Preznit is setting the example, that piece of wisdom can get lost in the spin.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dawn of the Dead

Somewhere a tomb lies empty and several virgins no doubt bloodless. Robert Novak walks again.

What is that crafty old fucker up to saying yesterday that his source and Woodward's might be the same (good on Redd for sorting that out this morning), and that the President no doubt knows so why not ask him?

Number one -- Novak does not lob a grenade like that casually, despite Kate O'Bierne's protestations tonight on Hardball to that effect. Anybody catch that, by the way? Matthews damn near cut her head off. (And if that should happen Chris make sure you stuff the mouth with garlic and bury it at least a thousand yards away from the body, we don't want a repeat on our hands.)

Number two -- Novak knows who he works for, Karl Rove. Why would Rove want that out there and Bush on the hot seat like that? Well the answer of course is that I have no idea. But the best guess came from Frank Probst today in the comments:
I think Rove is nervous, and he's prodding Bush (via Novak) into saying something like, "I don't know who the leaker was." Or "Karl Rove has my complete support." Bush knows damn well that Rove leaked this. This is Rove fishing for a public defense from Bush. He has to tie himself to Bush in order to save himself. Because he knows that if he doesn't, his career--and possibly his freedom--is about to end.
And -- voila! -- today, like a trained monkey:
In an interview with Fox News, Bush said his relationship with Cheney had "only gotten better," and he remained "very close" to Rove, who could face charges in the criminal investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

"We're still as close as we've ever been," Bush said of Rove, brushing aside reports he was angry at his deputy chief of staff, who initially denied any role in the Plame leak. "We've been through a lot. You know, when we look back at the presidency and my time in politics, no question that Karl had a lot to do with me getting here, and I value his friendship."
Swopa reminds us that Novak in an egregious, habitual, bold-faced liar and argues that it is unlikely he was chatting up the same source as Woody, but thinks Bob's source could quite likely be Armitage.

Digby says if Woody and Novak have the same source it sure ain't Armitage, and notes that somebody in the administration took the trouble to program the WoodyBot to run in "Fitzgerald is out of control" mode. Does he realize he's been played for a fool now? Unlikely.

And if there is one don't-miss post today it is emptywheel's argument against Woodward's source being Armitage. I know Armitage is the favorite Woody leaker amongst the DC journalist set, but I'm not buying it and I think emptywheel thinks these things through a lot better than any of them do anyway. If any of them are thinking of taking the rings out of their noses, this is an excellent place to start.


A Little Holiday Cheer

Get into the holiday spirit by decorating your very own interactive Fitzmas tree with a treasury of GOP corruption ornaments. Is there really anything you want this year more than Rove's name on a 15 count indictment? If you take "world peace" and compromising photos of Jeff Gannon and just about any senior administration official off the table not much, that's for sure.

It's brought to you by the same folks who did the Rove's War DVD, a really informative and well-researched 120 minute look at Traitorgate and everything they hoped to cover up in the "War on Wilson." Lots interesting bits -- ARAMCO has an oil tanker named "Condoleezza Rice," who knew? It's a very good primer for everyone who's still scratching their head and wondering how it all got so complicated.

Oh and don't forget to open the package under the Christmas tree. Merry Fitzmas.


Feel the Magic

GOP political operative John F. Harris -- or, as Atrios has dubbed him, "Whiny-Ass Titty-Baby" -- will be having an online chat at the WaPo tomorrow morning at 11am ET/8am PT.

Stop by and show this dedicated professional journalist some love.


Fair and Balanced

If Brad DeLong's conversation with John Harris is any indication, the sad bastard is sweating bullets right now. I mean, how did this happen, really? Just because he tried to pass off an obvious GOP operative, former Bush/Cheney '04 webmaster Patrick Ruffini, as a "citizen blogger" to Jay Rosen? It worked so well when the GOP ginned up that whole crock with the TANG documents and those rodeo clowns at Powerline. Did anyone care that their "proof" was bullshit and their quote-unquote "document expert" Buckhead was a big Republican operative who knows about as much about obsolete typefaces as I do about string theory? No. "Dan Rather" is now the all-purpose hand grenade thrown by witless wingnuts everywhere whenever facts start to vex them.

Do you think he's probably regretting that he didn't check Ruffini's website before he went out there and said what Rover told him to, did not take a look around to see what an obvious shill the guy was? Is he worried that those extra cocktail weenies he was promised will not be forthcoming? When I clicked the link yesterday it took all of oh, five seconds to look up Ruffini's bio and figure out this was hardly the off-hour chicken scratchings of some Idaho potato farmer.

Karl fucked him up. And now rumor has it Harris might not survive this obvious stint as the GOP's go-to guy inside the WaPo. I mean, it's one thing to jump when Rove snaps his fingers. It's quite another to blab it to the world.


No Grand Jury Today: MSNBC Says

David Shuster reported on MSNBC on Dan Abrams show at 4:35 pm ET that they were informed yesterday eveing that the G/J was prepared to meet today with Patrick Fitzgerald. But as of today, Fitzgerald was not at the courthouse today, neither were the members of the G/J. Additionally, this is a period of high anxiety for the Rove side of things, according to Shuster.

Dan Abrams then spoke with Byron York of the National Review and Ryan Lizza of The New Republic regarding their take on the situation. Neither said anything truly substantial, other than thinking that Fitz is up to something. Well, duh.

In any case, according to MSNBC anyway, there was no meeting of Fitz with the Grand Jury today.

(Photo from Media Bistro.)


Next Time, Try Catered Lunch

Guess the Libby defense team won't be eating at Cafe Phillips again any time soon. According to the WaPo, some savvy lunchers recognized Scooter and his legal team and overheard some strategery they were discussing in the crowded eatery.
Libby -- the former veep aide indicted in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, the most closely shrouded federal prosecution in recent years -- was at the next table, she said, while his defense attorneys, Ted Wells and William Jeffress, had a loud and "lively discussion" about matters such as who will draft discovery letters and petitions. She heard Wells say he hopes Karl Rove will not be indicted because he fears the press coverage would complicate Libby's defense. Jeffress, meanwhile, speculated that Time's Viveca Novak could be the next reporter to lose her job because of the probe.

The only time the group showed concern about potential eavesdroppers was when Wells uttered "Scooter!" -- then "they all froze," our spy said. (Libby, looking "thinner and paler" these days, drank a diet Dr Pepper and bought cookies on the way out.)
Guess Scooter isn't looking thinner because he's doing South Beach with that cookie buy on the way out, but I'd bet he and his team will be ordering in next time they have a meeting. Conference room for three?

UPDATE: And just so we're clear, if you were hanging out in Cafe Phillips and overheard the Scooter and his Attorneys luncheon extravaganza, and you are dying to dish with a willing listener, e-mail me. I'm ALL ears.



Bob Novakula emerged, from whatever secret vault they've been keeping him in since the CNN fight with Carville, to reveal a few tidbits to the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday. According to the Under the Dome column in the News and Observer, Novak said that his source and Woodward's source were one and the same.
Woodward, a Washington Post editor, recently disclosed that he, too, had been told by an administration figure about Plame's secret identity -- probably, he said, by the same source who told Novak.
This passage was a little mystical for me, so I confirmed with Rob Christenson that, indeed, that was what was intended, and was told that "Novak made the comment in his speech -- referring to earlier remarks by Woodward." Hmmm...isn't that interesting?

Additionally, Novakula is peevish. And he's taking his pique out on the Preznit:
"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."

"So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' " cocktail weenies for Novakula this year if he keeps that up. Or maybe he wasn't invited to the WH Holiday Soiree this year. It stinks when you get a rotting pumpkin instead of a coach and glass wingtips for the ball, doesn't it, Bob? Guess without his CNN gig and his sagging public appeal in some circles *cough*, Novakula just isn't as useful as a Rethug mouthpiece these days. All together now...awwwwwww.

Of course, in Novakula's mind, it's all the WH's fault. Not because they blew the cover of a CIA NOC mind you, but because they suck at message control.
But he also blamed "extremely bad management of the issue by the White House. Once you give an issue to a special prosecutor, you lose control of it."
Um, yeah. Nice remorse. I'm sure the Wilson's really appreciate the thought.

Meanwhile, at the National Review Online, Byron York just dragged Scooter Libby out of the closet kicking and screaming. (No, not that closet...)
Rove's supporters believe it would be a weak case, a good deal weaker than the perjury and obstruction case Fitzgerald has made against Libby, which itself was somewhat undermined when it turned out that there was at least one significant part of that story — Libby's conversations with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward — that Fitzgerald didn't know about at the time he indicted Libby.
Is York saying that Libby was Woodward's source? How does he know this -- since he's not including that information in his tidy little snow-job piece for wingnuttia? Well, I have no idea, but I do have an e-mail out to Byron and will let you know if and when he responds.

It's a day that could make even a vampire slayer a little dizzy. (Or two dedicated Plameologists.) Sure hope Fitz keeps his own version of Mr. Pointy handy -- with Novakula on the prowl, maybe the Preznit should get a stake of his own.

(Hat tip to reader "CR" for the link to the Raleigh article.)

UPDATE: Point of curiousity? Did Novakula know all along that his source was also one of Woodward's -- and did he tell this information to Fitz, FBI investigators and/or the G/J? Or has Bob been in touch with his source recently -- or with Woodward? And if it was Woodward, if he felt free to tell Bob Novak who his source was, why not tell the rest of us? And who is going to be the nervy reporter to pounce on Scotty McClellan on this one today and ask when Bushie is going to come clean on what he knows -- being a public servant and all, doesn't the public have a right to know? I'm just saying.

UPDATE #2: Big thanks to PollyUSA for the link to this WaPo article from 11/16/05, wherein Booby Woodward tells us that he spoke with Andy Card and Libby, but not as he recalls about Valerie Wilson. Still waiting to hear back from Byron York as to whether or not he meant Libby as THE source, or just someone who spoke to Booby. Will update here when I know one way or the other. And thanks to Jane for her superb memory on this detail as well.


This Ought to Give You Pause

Look who is planning to ride on planes, trains, automobiles, boats and buses near you?
According to internal Transportation Security Administration documents, the program calls for newly created "Visible Intermodal Protection and Response" teams -- called "Viper" teams -- to take positions in public areas along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; ferries in Washington state; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Viper teams will also patrol the Washington Metro system.
I'm all for security. But after the shooting incident in Miami, I'm wondering how much training and what sort the air marshalls get before they are sent out to patrol. It can be incredibly difficult to ascertain the difference between a true threat and a mentally unstable individual -- it takes years of training and experience, and frankly a very good sense of intuition in a lot of cases, for an officer to know the difference.

This is another one of those cases where some public discussion is certainly warranted. Sorry, but I don't trust the DHS to make this decision for me without some input from the outside. Officers need to be given clear guidelines on action and threat assessment -- the incident in Miami ought to give everyone pause. Anything less is unfair to the officers involved, let alone the general public.

Especially given that Homeland Security is now putting a plainclothes Air Marshalls on a whole host of modes of transportation. Security is essential given the threats to this nation and the number of people pissed at us at the moment, but that security cannot be achieved in a way that encroaches on our personal liberties any more than is necessary -- and it must be considered from every angle, rather than simply being hastily cobbled together without proper guidance to everyone involved, including passengers on the modes of transportation which will be affected.

Next up, a fun ride in to work on the subway. Or the ferry. And not knowing whether a shooting could occur at any moment -- from the "good guy" side of things. If that doesn't give you pause, then you aren't thinking hard enough.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sweet Dreams, Little Wingnut

Karl Rove, Robert Luskin and various vacuous overly hairsprayed TV mannequins have managed to deflect most of the media attention onto Rove's legal liability over the sudden discovery of the Hadley email, but as Digby points out in a post today his culpability probably goes much deeper than that.

Rove has said at various times that he first learned of Plame from reporters, but he can't remember which one (or ones), and also that he heard from Scooter Libby. But as we know from the Libby indictment, Fitzgerald says that Rove -- or "Official X" -- is the one who mentions it to Libby, and not vice versa. He either did or didn't confirm or tell Robert Novak, and his Matt Cooper story has so many incarnations (or "rolling disclosures") it's a veritable urban legend all on its own.

Many, many opportunities for Rove's flexible (and one might say pathological) relationship with the truth to rear its ugly head.

But Digby notes an interesting chain in the Cooper tale. Despite the absurd "Luskin spoke to Viveca Novak" in January theory that only Jim VandeHei seems to be pursuing, most people reasonably assume that Rove probably testified the first time before the grand jury and said, in effect, "Matt who." And then some time after that, Luskin talks to Viveca Novak, who probably doesn't shake any earth when she tells him his client is Matt Cooper's source. But she does let him know that the story is in circulation, and that any one of a number of people might wag their chins at Fitzgerald.

So by the time Rove goes before the grand jury in October 2004, he still thinks Cooper might keep the details secret, but he'd better acknowledge some kind of conversation with Cooper lest people he can't control get gabby behind closed doors. Hence the cover story about "welfare reform" that eventually drifted off and momentarily touched down on Plame.

What Rove wasn't counting on was the fact that Time Magazine would eventually cave and turn over Cooper's notes and dash the whole welfare reform nonsense. And that is what ultimately led to Rove's next grand jury appearance, which some argue happened in early July 2005. Whether there is another grand jury appearance in there that makes the October 2005 the fifth one is open to debate, but I think that rumor just may be the result of sloppy reporting.

If anyone would like to argue that Rove somehow dripped this in front of Patrick Fitzgerald in staggering bouts of recovered memory in a way that seems plausible, I'm all ears. Because all I see is an inveterate liar being busted time and time again in his lies by a dogged and thorough prosecutor, even with Rove's own highly paid spinners being the sole dispenser of public information as Fitzgerald remains unflinchingly silent.

And the next time you hear some empty head on TV talking about how Fitzgerald will think twice before indicting someone as powerful as Karl Rove, don't believe it. I've spoken with people he's worked with in both the FBI and the justice department who say that while some US attorneys are reluctant to prosecute the high and the mighty for fear that as political appointees they'll ruin their careers, Patrick Fitzgerald is not one of them.

The wingnuts can tell that one to their little wingnutty offspring as they tuck them into bed at night if they want. Because that's all it is, a wingnut fairy tale.

(thanks to Pollyusa for links & heavy lifting)


Pauvre Tinkerbell

If John Harris wants to balance out Dan Froomkin at the WaPo with some wingnut twit, maybe he should do a Dick Cheney and nominate himself. Swopa digs out this bit from an online chat with Harris in October:
Washington, D.C.: Bottom line -- who is the source of the leak, if you had to make an educated guess?

John F. Harris: . . . We certainly know a lot more about how this story got spread than we did before, and the essential role of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and probably others in playing damage control against Joseph Wilson's allegations....

Blacksburg, Va.: Could you comment on US News & World Report's article from the 18th that stated that due to the CIA Leak case "the vice president might step aside..." Have you heard this from your sources as well? Do you think Cheney might be culpable in this probe as well as Libby and Rove?

John F. Harris: I saw that US News item and have to confess I laughed. I think that is getting waaay ahead of the story.

[Note: Later in the chat, Harris admits that his newsroom has been discussing Cheney's possible indictment.]

Danbury, Conn.: . . . Was the position within the CIA, of their employee whose name was leaked, one which really was "secret", "covert" . . causing revealing the individual's name [to be] a crime under any statute? . . .Would revealing the name of even a janitor or receptionist be a crime?

John F. Harris: I think you are identifying important questions. What was the actual degree of intelligence damage by the disclosure of Plame-Wilson's name, and what was the specific crime?

It has long also seemed to me that Joe Wilson's own activities -- publishing op-eds etc. -- were not exactly calculated to maintaining secrecy about himself and his family.
In the 90s, the WaPo dedicated teams of crack reporters to charting the incremental movements of Clinton's jock. Now they whine about their need to play White House lapdog for the purpose of maintaining "access." That this seismic shift neatly dovetails with John Harris's own political bent is just a big, fat fucking coincidence, I guess.


Fire in the Cat House

Holy shit some people just don't know when to shut up. I mentioned yesterday that the Washington press corps has no idea of the smoldering public rage that threatens to engulf them, but I had no idea that it was about ready to immolate WaPo's National politics editor John Harris so quickly.

After his haughty laird-of-the-manor remarks about Dan Froomkin and what an embarrassment his column entitled "White House Briefing" was to the real reporters who cover the White House, readers struck back with some 675 comments supporting Froomkin.

Then Harris told Froomkin supporters to pipe down and dismantled their piffling complaints with his masterful strokes of lairdly logic, if he did say so himself. And then OH MY GOD IT GOT UGLY. My favorite:
Don't be so hard on poor Mr. John Harris. The only thing in his post that I take issue with, is that he forgot to start with: "Hey Rubes !" After that, his whole post makes more sense.
Now Jay Rosen interviews him. Does he care anything about the thousand plus readers who have written in almost unanimous support of Froomkin, whose column the paper acknowledges to be consistently amongst its most popular?

Not a damn. Says Harris:
Without agreeing with the views of this conservative blogger who took on Froomkin, I would say his argument does not seem far-fetched to me.
If you follow the link, you will find it leads to Patrick Ruffini, webmaster for the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign, who calls Froomkin a "second-rate hack," a "trite Democratic partisan" and accuses him of writing "fluff."


But here's the money quote. Rosen asks if White House officials are the ones complaining about Froomkin's column:
John Harris: They have never complained in a formal way to me, but I have heard from Republicans in informal ways making clear they think his work is tendentious and unfair. I do not have to agree with them in every instance that it is tendentious and unfair for me to be concerned about making clear who Dan is and who he is not regarding his relationship with the newsroom.
This flap is brought to you courtesy of the Republican Party, who will not stand to see itself criticized by a major media outlet without seeking to take down the one who is doing so. And John Harris bends over and spreads 'em. Of course, considering Harris's past as one of the people who hijacked the nation and started speaking in tongues over rumors of penis-shaped ornaments on the Clinton Christmas tree, this is hardly surprising.

I normally wouldn't suggest this. But any uppity peon who wants to speak back to Massa Harris can do so here.

Says Digby:
Fine. Fuck it. Change the name if it bothers the "real" white house reporters so much. Call it The Whorehouse Report. It amounts to the same thing.
And Brad DeLong:
I look at what Dan Froomkin has done today and I find John Harris's complaints incomprehensible. Liberal bias? There is a bias, but it is toward the snarky, not the liberal. The quality of the work? As a doorman directing customers to good daily news taxis, Dan Froomkin is superb: is extremely lucky to have him. Confusion with the print Washington Post's news operation? John Harris should be so lucky.
I'm there.

Update: Over at E&P, Len Downie removes any doubt about which master the WaPo serves in this matter: "We want to make sure people in the [Bush] administration know that our news coverage by White House reporters is separate from what appears in Froomkin's column because it contains opinion," Downie told E&P. "And that readers of the Web site understand that, too."


A Holiday Plea

Residents of a middle class neighborhood in New Orleans have pooled their resources to take out an ad in Roll Call directed at members of Congress. It was the only way they could figure out to get the attention of their representatives in Washington that all is not well on the Gulf Coast, and that all they want for the holidays is to be able to go home. And that they need help -- instead of being forgotten.

If only they had the money to hire Jack Abramoff or some of Tom Delay's KStreet buddies...and how sad is it that you are sitting there, right now, thinking "Hey, that's so true."

It should not take a payoff to get members of Congress and the Administration to help citizens of this nation through the most difficult time of their lives. Especially when the Preznit went down to New Orleans in October and made a whole bunch of promises that aren't being kept.

Jodi Wilgoren of the NYTimes reports that a Federal judge has extended the FEMA relief period for housing until February. (And, btw, Jodi has been doing great work on this -- her reporting in today's Times very well done.) How sad is it that it takes a judge to make this point clear to the Federal government:
"Underlying FEMA's position is a theme that every person ultimately has to take care of him or herself," he wrote. "Certainly as a general rule this is true, but perhaps that position is unduly callous under the circumstances wrought by Hurricane Katrina."
When Barack Obama said earlier this week that Republicans have been practicing "social Darwinism," he could have been speaking directly to the FEMA position on housing in the Gulf Coast. "If you can afford it on your own great, if you can't, too damn bad." That is shameful, wrong, and not what one would expect from a "Christian, compassionate conservative" Preznit -- no room at the inn is simply unacceptable.

Consider how it must feel for Tracy Jackson and her family, who have had to move 14 times in the 14 weeks since they were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and who still have no home.

Or for the several other folks who have e-mailed me over the last few weeks to tell me their own, heartbreaking stories. People who had jobs, worked hard to get the things they had, and took pride in their jobs, their homes, their business -- and who have lost everything, but are still trying to remain optimistic in the face of so much tragedy and loss. And who feel forgotten and slapped down by their own government. Unacceptable.

But the hardest of all is thinking about how this must be for the children of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Reuters reports that Santa has had to deal with some heartbreaking requests this year -- and bless him for doing so with so much compassion and care.
John Vollenweider -- aka Santa Claus -- is used to kids asking him for stuffed animals or remote control cars, but after Hurricane Katrina ripped apart New Orleans, the questions got much tougher.

"How will Santa find me? I'm not in my house any more," one child said....

"Can Santa make sure no more hurricanes get here?"...

"I tell them, 'Santa is magic. He'll find you wherever you are. He won't forget you,'" Vollenweider said, taking a break from listening to children's Christmas wishes on Monday.

To children who asked him to prevent future hurricanes, he said: "Santa will do his best, but some things even Santa can't control."
We have to do better. How pathetic is it that these residents, who have so little now as it is, felt that the only way they could get members of Congress to listen to them was to take out an ad in a newspaper? Here's an idea for Congress: let's do the right thing for a change, without being bribed or pressured before we are willing to get off our butts.

(The photo above is my own peanut at her first Christmas (which seems awfully long ago, looking at how big she is now). My heart aches for all those children who are dealing with the trauma and stress of Katrina's damage, and for their parents, who must be so lost in how to best help their children get things back to any level of normal.)


...And the WaPo Confirms My Little Bird

The WaPo reported this morning, during the political chat online, that Jim VandeHei "misspoke" and meant to say Libby on last night's Hardball instead of Hadley.
Lawrence, Kan.: Did Jim VandeHei misspeak on Hardball when he attributed Rove's knowledge of Valerie Plame to Hadley?

Peter Baker: Thanks for the question. Jim informs me he did misspeak. He meant to say chatter between Rove and Libby, not Hadley. That's the trick with television, it's hard to correct. Appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight here.
I bet he did appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. Wonder how that conversation went, exactly?

(Hat tip to reader Bush's Jaw for the heads up on the chat.)

UPDATE: Atrios is absolutely right in saying that the head nodding is shameful by Norah and Tweety. Especially given the fact that up until this point no one had reported any freaking person as expressly being Rover's source for the Valerie Wilson information. So even if VandeHei meant "Libby" instead of "Hadley," this is still news that takes us to a more concrete piece of information than all of us speculating based on innuendo in previous Luskin leaks.

It's nice to correct the record on just who VandeHei meant -- but how about letting those of us not on the WH cocktail weenie circuit know just how long the WaPo was planning to sit on the Libby piece of information? And how much other information they and all their cocktail weenie compadres might also be holding back from "reporting"? And, just because I'm the curious sort, how exactly did VandeHei know that it was simply "office chatter" about someone who was a CIA NOC, that people should only have been discussing on a "need to know" basis? I'm just saying.

UPDATE #2: Oh, and while I'm at it, if this is true that Rove heard it directly from Libby, doesn't this blow the whole Rover spin of "I heard it from a journalist." clean out of the water? I mean, I know there's been some selective leaking before the Libby indictment that tried to shade things this way, but it was never this concrete. If VandeHei truly meant to say "Libby," then this is not good news for Rover's "reporters told me and I was just gossiping" (to every freaking human being that I could put my hands on in the DC area).


A Little Bird Tells Me...

A little bird tells me this morning that, when pressed for an explanation of yesterday's Hardball bravura performance, Jim VandeHei claims that the only involvement of Hadley's was with the e-mail sent by Rove to Hadley after Rove's conversation with Matt Cooper. At least the only involvement that VandeHei is claiming he is aware of at this point. (Officially, in public...whatever.)

And that VandeHei doesn't believe that he said any such thing about Hadley to the contrary on Hardball. Guess we'll see if he has anything further to say once he reviews the transcript from the show.

At this point, an enormous sea salt grinder is going to have to go on my wish list, since I clearly need to start taking everything with large grains of salt (As if I wasn't doing that already *snerk* including this latest explanation.). You can decide for yourself what was said, since Crooks and Liars has the whole video up.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Bimbo-rama Part Deux

More from Norah O'Donnell and Jim VandeHei's Mensa moment on Hardball tonight:
O'Donnell: In that period of time, Luskin even says before the first grand jury appearance, he knew from Viveca Novak that everybody at Time said that Cooper said that Rove was his source.
Then the Pool Boy chimes in:
VandeHei: I think what's happening is Luskin is probably trying to convince Fitzgerald that it would be foolish for Rove to have testified that first time before the grand jury that he did not have a conversation with Matthew Cooper when he knew from Luskin who had learned from Viveca Novak that everybody at Time was buzzing about the fact that there had been that conversation.
But what did Viveca actually say?
I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, "Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around TIME."
Now, the VandeHei and O'Donnell stories about Viveca saying "everyone at Time knows" sound entirely believable, but that is not at all what Viveca Novak maintains. And VandeHei to be sure has been drinking large doses of Luskin's Kool-Aid. Either O'Donnell and VandeHei have both gotten quite puffed up with their own bombast or Luskin is telling people that Viveca was much less circumspect than she claims.

Imagine that.