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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Is BushCo. Shitting Itself Over Fitzgerald's New Supervisor?

I'm feeling some self-generated pressure these days to stop just making shit up and check out my facts before I start banging on the keyboard. There actually is an up side to having a blog you figure nobody is ever going to read. It's a whole lot less work.

Which brings us to poor Mark Kleiman. I've already pestered him repeatedly this week with emails on a post I'm working up about meth, and then I read that James Comey has gone and appointed David Margolis to assume the task of supervising Patrick J. Fitzgerald within the Justice Department on the Plame investigation. I google around and I come across this post by Mark where he says he knows Margolis. So I figure, with the fate of the free world riding on the back of this investigation, what's one more email when democracy hangs in the balance, eh?

So I send him an email, saying "you are gonna be really sorry you ever met me," but asking him what he thinks of the Margolis appointment. 'Cos enquiring minds want to know. This is his reply:

I'm already sorry I ever met you.

My hatred of the Bush Administration and everyone in it is my most prized possession.  I'd rather have a root canal than admit that any Bush appointee would ever do anything honest, especially in a politically touchy situation.  But you're forcing me to do just that.
Margolis isn't just a good choice, he's the perfect choice.  As the head of the Organized Crime program, he spent most of a career supervising complicated conspiratorial cases, some of which used rather extreme investigative methods and many of which involved getting lower-level hoods to flip on their superiors.
He's tough as nails, and can't be pushed around by anybody.

And now that you've told me about it, I have to say so publicly. 
I hate you.

I think I'm in love. I may have to have that tattooed on my ass.

Anyway, Dr. Kleiman is much too decent a guy to leave hanging in the lurch like that. You know, worried that the Bush Administration might actually have done something ethical. Which brings us to an email from my friend, former prosecutor and fellow Wiggles fan ReddHead, who thinks the appointment of Margolis may have been Comey's decision alone:
Comey has a reputation as a very straight shooter, and as someone who doesn't tolerate manipulative politics as a rationale for stupidity or malice, so that gives me quite a bit of hope that he has been able to select his replacement in monitoring Fitzgerald.  This sort of selection process is how things often work in the regular legal world, btw, when a supervisor has been "chinese walled" from a particular matter and the attorney in charge of the matter has to be replaced for whatever reason (maternity leave being a common reason as well as illness and family issues or getting a better offer from another firm and leaving, as examples).  The attorney in charge of the matter essentially selects the successor once those higher up on the chain have been walled off precisely because that attorney does not share the ethical quandries and conflicts of interest that attorneys further up the chain would have to deal with in selecting a successor. 

(emphasis not mine)
Fitzgerald is the godfather to one of Comey's children. When Comey empowered Fitzgerald he gave him a great deal of independence, assuring that he did not have to report to a supervisior and that the only power the supervisor had over him was to fire him. Comey left the Justice Department in large part because he got passed over for the AG job in favor of Abu Gonzalez. His appointment of Margolis, in addition to being the right thing to do, may also have been his parting gift to the Bush Administration. As in the "how many fingers am I holding up?" kind.

Based on comments I've read and Mark Kleiman's rage meter, Margolis does indeed seem like a decent guy, unlike either Timothy Flanigan or David McCallum who appeared to be quite loyal to the Bush junta.

And speaking of David McCallum, how about that Michael Isikoff article in Newsweek last week where he claimed that McCallum would now oversee Fitzgerald, huh? Even though anyone who was only paying remedial attention knew that the story was ungodly bullshit.

I can see 'em now. "We'll tell Mikey -- he'll buy anything! Hey Mikey, all's forgiven over that Koran piss business, we're gonna pay you back for your righteous Lewinsky coverage -- you can have the exclusive, man." One week later, after Isikoff runs around screaming "Oooh! Skull and Bones!" he looks like a chump. Dan Froomkin, who got it right when no one was looking, must still be rolling his eyeballs.

Catch up with you tomorrow after Kobepalooza.

Update: Dr. Kleiman would like it known that he "managed to escape from the situation without having to acknowledge good behavior by the Bushies." As he is the future author of my ass I feel I must honor his request.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Iggy and the Stooges: The Early Years

Iggy reminisces:
"When we first started out, our fans were JUST A MESS -- it was like early Christianity. It was the ugliest chicks and the most illiterate guys -- people with skin problems, people with sexual problems, weight problems, unemployment problems, mental problems, you name it, they were a mess."
Oh, sorry, it's the people who showed up for the anti-Cindy Sheehan rally in Crawford, Texas. My bad.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tucker Carlson: How Low Can You Go?

Recently, the TV Talking Head Most Likely to Annoy Me -- Tucker Carlson -- has made two comments on his desperately inadequate ratings debacle The Situation wherein he praised the French government for sending two agents to blow up the Greenpeace Ship The Rainbow Warrior in 1985 when it was used to protest against French nuclear testing at Muroroa Atoll:
June 22: "Actually, I am objectively pro-France. You know, France blew up the Rainbow Warrior, that Greenpeace ship in Auckland Harbor in the '80s. And I've always respected them."

July 15: "Yes, yes. Third, they blew up the Rainbow Warrior. Twenty years ago on Sunday, they blew up the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbor. It was a bold and good thing to do."
Bold and good thing to do? Hmmm. Well, that would depend on your perspective I suppose. It probably didn't look that way to the family of the ship's photographer Fernando Pereira, (pictured above with his daughter Marelle), who was killed in the blast.

It also didn't set too well with Greenpeace's John Passacantado, who wrote to Neal Shapiro and Bill Wolff of MSNBC to demand the network hold Tucker accountable. Budding Novak that he is, Tucker was outraged by Mr. Passacantado's impertinence, and placed a call to him:
TC: Your letter is wrong.  It was vandalism, not terrorism…Your point that I support terrorism is wrong.  I don’t support terrorism.  It was not an act of terrorism, that is an important distinction.  Since you are the head of Greenpeace you should do your research.  The French government did not intend to kill anyone, therefore it is not terrorism.  This is an important distinction.  Vandalizing the ship was impressive on France’s part. I don’t support terror. 

JP: Bombing a ship is terrorism.  Killing a man is murder.

TC: You should know about vandalism, you guys engage in it all the time. 

JP: We are a peaceful organization that does not engage in violence to people or property.

TC: Spraying paint on seals is the same kind of vandalism, blocking entrances with your bodies…

JP: So would you call Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi vandals?

TC: I don’t want to make a generalization. 

JP: Just answer two questions for me: are you proud of what you said and would you say it again?

TC: I have answered all your questions.  Unlike you, I am a busy man and have things to do but I know if I hang up you are going to send out a fundraising letter saying that I hung up on you…

JP: Just answer my two questions.

TC: I am not hanging up.  I am returning the handset to the cradle.
Tucker Carlson was cast in the role of right wing fluff job because he fit the suit. He was willing to play the pudgy creep in the bow tie so the shuffleboard crowd could nod approvingly at the "nice young man" who understood his peers were nothing but drug-gobbling Commie porn hounds and did not appreciate the value of a good day's work.

He has been and always will be an opera of mediocrity, the archetypal white male full of rage that his gender, class and race did not automatically confer upon him dominion over the world. Now he wants to throw over the aging Geritol set whose boots he so scrupulously licked for so long in favor of a new "hip" audience and pop culture credibility.

My dad died when I was a teenager. Not a day goes by that I don't miss him and wish I could bring him back if only for five minutes so he could see me as an adult and we could say the goodbyes that circumstances did not afford us.

With his new "it's only terrorism when brown people do it" mantra, I'm sure Tucker will draw in a whole new legion of fans.

I'm equally certain that Marelle Pereira, who this year celebrated the twentieth anniversary of her father's death, will not be one of them.


Anti-Sheehan Rally Cancelled Due to the Fact That -- Well, It Was A Really Bad Idea

I guess Clear Channel got an overwhelmingly negative response to DJ Jack Hammer's plans for an anti-Cindy Sheehan rally on Saturday. Seems even people in Texas weren't too happy about him inviting soldiers down from Ford Hood to mock Ms. Sheehan for honoring her dead son. There will still be a rally, which the overcompensating Mr. "Hammer" is designating as a "Pro-Bush" rally, but it will not be in Crawford.

I do not care where or when it happens, I emailed the General this morning, this guy needs to be a target of Operation Yellow Elephant in the absolute worst way.

There is not enough alcohol in the world. Seriously I would have to be in a fucking coma to do this guy.

(thanks to torridjoe for the heads up)


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The GOP Liar's Club

Seemed like every time I turned on the Tee Vee there was some GOP shill lying his or her face off about the Plame scandal, and the point they kept hitting over and over again is that Joe Wilson is not credible because his wife sent him to Niger on a boondoggle.

Aside from the high hilarity of watching serial hypocrites like John Fund who reportedly fucked his girlfriend's kid then told her to have an abortion sitting in judgment of Joe Wilson, all evidence points to the fact that the claim simply isn't true. So says Walter Pincus today in the WaPo, anyway.

What Pincus says is more clarification than news, but he reiterates that according to the CIA, Wilson was chosen for the trip by senior officials in the Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division because he had made a similar trip for them in 1999. On that particular trip, Plame had suggested him for the task. But intelligence officials support Wilson's assertions that Plame's only role in the 2002 trip was to write a memo at the request of her bosses regarding Wilson's credentials, and to introduce him at a Feb. 19, 2002 meeting she did not attend.

Why is Pincus bringing this up now? Well, as Swopa notes, the article points out that the only two known documents that spread the GOP lie intended to "feminize" Wilson are the INR memo of June 2003 where the information regarding Plame was marked "top secret," and the statement of views of Pat Roberts in the 2004 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (and not in the report itself, as Fund and other Rovians repeatedly claim). Since the Roberts statement is based on the INR report and happened long after the original lies were spread by "senior administration officials" to Novak and others, that means the only known source document would be the INR memo.

Which puts Rove, Libby et. al. in a precarious position. Because that memo clearly states that the information regarding Plame's identity is "top secret," and if Fitzgerald can prove that this was the source of Rove and Libby's information they become a lot more culpable for having knowingly leaked classified information.

Pincus goes on to mention that he was one of the people this erroneous information was "leaked" to. What he doesn't say is that he promised confidentiality to someone who bold-faced lied to him and tried to use him as a tool for spreading political misinformation, and that by refusing to now identify this person he shows he really doesn't care much about the vaunted principle of journalistic privilege nearly as much as he does continuing to collect a paycheck.


GOP Hate Barbecue! Bring the Kids!

Clear Channel station KLFX is having an Anti-Cindy Sheehan rally with free burgers and Coca Cola this Saturday afternoon in Crawford, hosted by the subtly-named and no doubt overcompensating Jack Hammer. They're inviting soldiers from Ford Hood to come down and say that they would be ashamed of their mother if she did what Cindy Sheehan is doing. Of course, not having died yet as a result of being poorly equipped Iraqi cannon fodder, this is pure speculation.

Smells like Team Rove.

I'll be curious to know how many service men and women show up to mock this woman's grief for her son.

My cousin Larry sent me this today:
Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience... Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty.

Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That's our problem.
--Howard Zinn
Think I'll take a Pasadena on the free hate burgers. The price is way too high.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sir Michael and the Warmongers

New Stones single (sorry, no link to Drudge):
You call yourself a Christian,
I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself a patriot
Well, I think your are full of shit!
How come you're so wrong, my sweet neo-con.
Haven't been to a Stones concert since Steel Wheels (w/Guns & Roses), haven't bought a record since Black & Blue. Am I gonna have to pony up?


Too Much Blood in My Alcohol Level

Christopher Hitchens:
Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become without the steadying influence of coalition forces. None of the many blunders in postwar planning make any essential difference to that conclusion. Indeed, by drawing attention to the ruined condition of the Iraqi society and its infrastructure, they serve to reinforce the point.
Uh, the infrastructure wasn't helped by the fact that we blew it up. You remember. That business with all the bombs.

Do not look to the man with the bottle in his hand for a definition of the term "steadying influence."

See: wet brain

Update: I see Roger is already on this. He, of course, has the superior snark.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Abu Gonzales Says Fitzgerald Will Keep His Job in Chicago

In a press conference in Chicago today, Alberto Gonzalez says that when his term as US attorney expires in October, he sees no reason why Patrick Fitzgerald would be out of a job:
The US attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez made it clear in Chicago Monday that a controversial and high-visibility justice department subordinate, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, will probably be reappointed by President Bush when his four-year term expires in October.

"You'll have to ask the president as to whether or not he intends to find a new US attorney for this district. I will say from my vantage point as the attorney general, I have great confidence in Pat Fitzgerald," said Alberto Gonzalez, attorney general.

(my emphasis)
It's an interesting development, because unlike other members of the 1600 crew, Gonzalez hasn't cowered behind a wall of McClellan-esque "ongoing investigation" silence, but answered questions about his involvement in the 12 hour gap from Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation two weeks ago. He wasn't too happy about letting Frank Rich's assertions in the New York Times the day before go unanswered, and although he most certainly had a permission slip to do so, it made McClellan look like a bigger tool than he already was.

The article goes on to note that Dennis Hastert could probably give Fitzgerald the boot if he wanted to, but Hastert did a Pontius Pilate a couple of weeks ago too and said that Fitzgerald's future was up to Preznit Never Responsible. It seems like Gonzalez might be doing the same thing, and doesn't want to get set up to play the Robert Bork role in Saturday Night Massacre -- Part II.

Of course, the whole situation could change tomorrow. But maybe he's thinking that falling on his sword for a lame duck president isn't such a swift career move?

Update: Jeralyn over at TalkLeft says "It seems like it's getting to be 'each man for himself' time over at the White House, and Rove is starting the dump on Libby. No way is Rove going to allow himself to go down alone." Her analysis of the Libby waiver hoopla is quite compelling.


Quote of the Day

According to the WSJ, the only thing Novakula did wrong on his CNN appearance was fail to defend their honor in a more physical fashion when Carville goaded him by saying the "Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching. You show 'em you're tough..."

Via Think Progress ('cos I'm not giving a dime to the WSJ):
“Mr. Novak has since appropriately apologized for losing his cool, but Mr. Carville is lucky he didn’t get punched in the nose.”

“Mr. Carville is the professional political wrestler, but CNN has asked only Mr. Novak to take a vacation.”

“The members of the liberal press pack owe Mr. Novak an apology, not vice versa.”
From Alan in the comments:
I really would like to see Novak, cadaverous swivel chair hussar, attempt to punch Carville, ex-Marine, in the nose. I really would.

It would surpass Paris Hilton’s boink video as the most downloaded video of all time. Crooks and Liars would have to expand to Google-class bandwidth.
I bow down before Alan. "Cadaverous swivel chair hussar?" That's genius. I don't think I can ever bring up Novak again without invoking that description. Brilliant.


Fitzgerald Going After NYT Editors?

Aside from Arianna the closed loop that is the beltway bunch say very little about the potential hoisting of the media petard by Patrick Fitzgerald. But last week James Carville appeared on the Don Imus show (before his stint at the Novak meltdown) and said that the New York Times editors may soon be called on the carpet.

Says Carville:
"My sense is he's coming after more people at the New York Times. He's going subpoena Bill Keller and all of them and ask them what Judy Miller told them. And if they don't talk, he's going to stick them in jail."
Now, maybe it's just spin at this point, but it's about fucking time. Although NYT Editor Bill Keller has been playing violin accompaniment in the sonata of the martyred Judy, he has refused to answer questions as to whether she was actually officially working on a story for the paper at the time, and he's certainly never explained her apparent lack of any supervision that allowed her to peddle a bunch of unsubstantiated shit she saw scrawled on some bathroom wall as hard fact.
Carville said there was "heavy, heavy speculation out there" that Miller was being used by the White House to "disseminate this" - an apparent reference to CIA employee Valerie Plame's name.

"There are all sorts of rumors and I hear second hand that [Miller] was screaming out in the news room about this."

The Times, said Carville, "to some extent is going to have to come clean. Because they're going to have to tell us what Judy Miller knew, when she knew it and who she told."

"And there's a lot of people at the Times - and I know this to be a fact - who believe that," he insisted.

"It's going to be very interesting to see," Carville mused, "whether [Miller's] problem is a First Amendment [problem] - i.e., I want to protect a source - or a Fifth Amendment [problem] - I was out spreading this stuff too."
It seems like the Times is starting to worry about their Enquirer-like image as big fucking suckers (although I happen to know that the lawyers for the Enquirer require a lot higher burden of proof before they write those big snitch checks). Arianna writes that Times reporter Doug Jehl has been assigned to do an in-house investigation of the whole Miller matter.

Jehl is an interesting choice for two reasons. One, he already wrote a story on July 28 where he showed he wasn't afraid to bitch slap Keller:
In e-mail messages this week, Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, and George Freeman, an assistant general counsel of the newspaper, declined to address written questions about whether Ms. Miller was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write a story about it, or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at the newspaper that she had obtained information about the role played by Ms. Wilson.
And two, as emptywheel over at the next hurrah reported recently, when Miller wrote the story fabricating a quote by chemical weapons expert Amy Smithson, it was Jehl who shared the bi-line. When the NYT printed the retraction, however, they didn't lay the blame at Judy's feet, so Jehl had to share the shame.

Jehl is one of the only voices at the NYT who has been openly critical of Judy's "work," and as emptywheel points out, he's taken every available opportunity to bag on it. In September of last year, Jehl wrote:
An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.

In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.
Emptywheel's article is excellent background, and it speculates that Jehl may in fact have been naming Judy's editors at the time and painting a big fat road sign for Patrick Fitzgerald about where to start digging.

Interestinger and interestinger.


Cindy Sheehan to Be Declared "Threat to National Security"

Cindy Sheehan, the mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq and who has been camped out at Crawford, Texas until the Idiot in Chief will meet with her has been told that as of Thursday she will be considered a threat to national security and will be arrested.

Coincidentally, Rice and Rummy arrive on Thursday, and on Friday the rich people arrive for a GOP fundraiser. It would be embarrassing to have cranky poor people littering the lawn, so the mother of a fallen American soldier is now equated with Osama Bin Laden and is being stripped of her right to protest and dissent.

I don't invoke Bubba a lot, but there is no way Bill Clinton would let these people go to jail when all it would take is a few minutes of his time to meet with her. I do believe that above all Bill really cared about people and would never act like a spoiled rich brat who calls the cops and tells them to get all those dirty homeless people off the frat house lawn in time for the beer bust.

From pb on Kos:
According to the Bush administration... what constitutes a threat to national security?

Letting Osama escape? No...

Outing a CIA operative? No....

Destabilizing the Middle East? No...

Potentially interfering with a GOP fundraiser? Yes!
Isn't it nice that terror alerts can now be turned on an off like tap water in time for the Friday news dump.

If you haven't seen TruthOut's short documentary on demonstrations by military people against the war where they talk about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and what they risk for speaking out, you can watch it here. It features Cindy Sheehan, and if you can hear her talk about her son without tearing up you are made of stronger stuff than me.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rain Man

Dear Glen,

Until the fundies back off the anti-science crusade and allow us to start cloning CIA agents whole hog to be released from their incubators fully formed with no personal history at the time they are deployed under deep cover, the United States will be forced to use real people who have inconveniently been saddled with real names and real lives.

Tragically, they will still have to drive themselves to work.

Yours truly,
The Masters of the Bleeding Fucking Obvious


Jeebus Do These People Actually Get Paid?

Michael Isikoff in Newsweek:
The departure this week of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who has accepted the post of general counsel at Lockheed Martin, leaves a question mark in the probe into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Comey was the only official overseeing special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation. With Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recused, department officials say they are still trying to resolve whom Fitzgerald will now report to. Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum is "likely" to be named as acting deputy A.G., a DOJ official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter tells NEWSWEEK. But McCallum may be seen as having his own conflicts: he is an old friend of President Bush's and a member of his Skull and Bones class at Yale. One question: how much authority Comey's successor will have over Fitzgerald. When Comey appointed Fitzgerald in 2003, the deputy granted him extraordinary powers to act however he saw fit — but noted he still had the right to revoke Fitzgerald's authority.

(my emphasis)
It would lead one to believe that McCallum is going to be Comey's replacement. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already been holding confirmation hearings on Bush's nominee to replace Comey -- former Tyco attorney Timothy Flanigan. Whom Isikoff mentions - let's see, scan the page -- um, nowhere.

And the Committee Chairman, Arlen Specter, is reportedly not too happy with how cute Flanigan has been getting in his testimony. From Newsday, on July 28:
A peeved Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has hinted he might not support President George W. Bush's choice to serve as No. 2 man at the Justice Department if the nominee isn't more willing to allow lawmakers to look over his shoulder.

Specter (R-Pa.) said Tuesday that his backing for Timothy Flanigan, a former deputy White House counsel, would depend on his "understanding of oversight" as explained in written questions from the committee.

It's too early to tell if Specter's pique will jeopardize Flanigan's confirmation as deputy attorney general. A committee vote will follow Congress' return from its August recess.

But Specter's veiled threat underscores the frustration among some congressional Republicans at what they perceive as a continual stiff-arm from the Bush administration when it comes to looking closely at how the executive branch goes about its business, particularly regarding the war on terror.
Specter wanted to know about the Administration's opposition to the prohibition of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees and from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross:
Flanigan, 52, told Specter he believed that the administration and lawmakers could reach an informal understanding about how much congressional scrutiny of the Justice Department is appropriate.

"In the real world these things get worked out," Flanigan said.

But Flanigan demurred when Specter prodded him to agree to a detailed definition of what oversight would entail.

"I can't brush away two centuries' worth of experience in the executive branch," Flanigan said, referring to his belief that the president must zealously guard against too much supervision from Congress.
Like you thought what, he was going to be some surprise humanitarian?

According to Dan Froomkin, Flanigan may have conflicts of his own and not be able to take over Comey's oversight of Fitzgerald, in which case it might ultimately fall to McCallum, the number three man at the Justice Department. But according to comments made by Comey himself when he empowered Fitzgerald, the only power his supervisor has is to fire him.

As a side note, if Democrats pull a Karen Hughes redux and don't set their alarm clocks to question Flanigan about his potential conflicts of interest re: l'affair Plame, I may just shoot myself.

You can go back to your nap now, Mike.