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

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Wait Til I Tell 'em About the Pie

So on my dad's crazy Southern side of the family, there are three liberals -- my Uncle Dee who's in his 80s and lives in Texas, my cousin Larry in Tennessee and cousin Wendell in Kentucky who are both I believe in their 70s -- and about a hundred angry, armed redneck wingnuts. We lone lefties send stuff amongst ourselves to kind of keep the faith. Used to be they'd send me things that circulated endlessly in emails, but lately I've been noticing that their stuff is remarkably up to date.

So tonight I'm copied on an email from Larry to Uncle Dee who says "in case you missed this on THE BLOG." It's a post about Terry Rodgers, the wounded vet who refused to meet with Bush . And I'm like, what's THE BLOG? So I go to the link, and find these guys are sitting around reading Kos.

No shit. A bunch of red state senior citizens tired of being the only liberal in town have found their crew. I'm gonna be laughing about that one all weekend.


What Do You Want For a Lousy $200 Billion?

Well hoo-fucking-ray. We have now officially destroyed the largest secular state in the Middle East and created an Islamic fundamentalist state. Islam will now be the "main source" of Iraq's law. Digby has an aneurysm on behalf of the rest of us:
Well, we're not really talking about human rights now are we? We're talking about women's rights, which are always negotiable.

And what say you Hitchens, you useful fucking idiot? Americans just "freed" the Iraqis so they could live under Islamic law. That's quite a goddamned achievement. You must be so proud.

How about you Condi? Are you proud of what you've done? You just "freed" 13 million women into second class citizenship -- probably into hell. Tough luck ladies. Don't worry, though, your granddaughters might get their rights back in their lifetimes. You can't stop progress, you know.

And what about you, George you misbegotten cretin. Is this what you were talking about in all these windy speeches about freedom being the gift of the almighty and all that other flatulent twaddle you peddle to the silly rubes who confuse leadership with frat boy swagger? Did you free the Iraqis so they could live under Ayatollahs?

Iraqi women's lives have already become demonstrably less free. This will codify it. And tough shit if you're gay or secular or different in any way. Some fucking freedom.

I hope that everyone makes it their business to remind every Republican asshole they know that it wasn't the liberals who turned Iraq into a theocracy. This is happening on their watch, under their auspices. We don't believe in theocracy. They do. They do not believe in freedom. We do.

I am now officially an isolationist. Not because I don't think that Americans should spend its blood and treasure on foreigners. It's because I don't think the world can take much more of our "freedom and democracy."
To the women of Iraq: my sincere apologies. But karma is on the march, John Roberts is in the wings and we American girls are not far behind you.

Just ask the US Senate. Women's rights are negotiable everywhere.


Traitorgate: A Violation of the Patriot Act?

When Republican spokesmodels (such as Bob Dole) dip their foot in the dark netherworld of defending Valerie Plame's outers, they inevitably focus on the letter of he law of the 1982 Identities Protection Act, and ignore not only any larger moral culpability but also any other statute that may have been violated in their eagerness to let Rove, Libby and others off the hook.

But in October of 2003, shortly after Robert Novak publicly exposed Valerie Plame's CIA identity and the case was referred to the Justice Department, Samuel Dash -- Georgetown law professor, former counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee and ethics advisor to Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation -- wrote an article in Newsday where he said the leak might well have been a violation of the Patriot Act.

A lot of people at the time thought Dash was being extreme, but much more is known about the actual nature of he leak today than was known then, so I thought it would be interesting to revisit his argument:
If, as now seems likely, top White House aides leaked the identity of an American undercover agent, they may have committed an act of domestic terrorism as defined by the dragnet language of the Patriot Act their boss wanted so much to help him catch terrorists.

Section 802 of the act defines, in part, domestic terrorism as "acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state" that "appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population."

Clearly, disclosing the identity of a CIA undercover agent is an act dangerous to life - the lives of the agent and her contacts abroad whom terrorists groups can now trace - and a violation of the criminal laws of the United States.

And what about the intent of those White House officials in disclosing this classified information? Surely, this mean-spirited action on their part was for the purpose of intimidating the CIA agent's husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had become a strong critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policies. And not just Wilson. By showing their willingness to make such a dangerous disclosure, the White House officials involved were sending a message to all critics of the administration to beware that they too can be destroyed if they persist. That apparent intention "to intimidate or coerce a civilian population" - in this case American citizens - also meets the Patriot Act definition of domestic terrorism.

We can anticipate the angry protests of the officials in the White House, who wear the American flag pins, over being labeled terrorists. They would be right, of course, to be shocked by such a charge. They neither are nor could they have perceived themselves to be terrorists. But just as shocked and angry must have been the thousands of Muslim aliens and some American citizens when they were detained under the Patriot Act as suspected terrorists. The Patriot Act distorts the criminal law, and its dragnet provisions threaten the liberty of too many innocent people.

Be that as it may, the conduct of the White House officials may still amount to domestic terrorism under the Patriot Act.
As someone who thinks much of the Patriot Act is bad law, any joy on my part at seeing it invoked would have to fall under the category of "grand irony." But I dropped a note to former prosecutor Reddhead (sorry to keep endlessly referring to her in that way, but "mother of a two-year-old and chronic Wallace & Grommit watcher" just doesn't seem to carry the same authority on this particular topic) to see what she thought about it.

Her response is long, but I'm going to reprint most of it for the benefit my fellow Plame-obsessors, because it is helpful to our ever-evolving understanding of what is going on here:
Thanks for forwarding the copy of the article. It is an excellent read -- making a number of points that I completely agree with regarding the dangers of the Patriot Act in the hands of people who misuse their power.  As a former prosecutor, I sympathize with the need for expanded investigatory tools when you are dealing with a foe as intelligent and crafty as that of Al Quaeda and all its splinter tentacle groups.  They have maximized the possibilities of technological communication -- and why not, many of them were educated in our finest schools and have learned from some of our brightest minds how our information networks are put together and how to get around them -- and, at times, it is all we can do to keep up with the next technological advance around the bend, and we need every tool at our disposal to be able to do so.  When fighting terrorists, time truly is of the essence, with minutes often being the difference between being able to apprehend a cell before an attack has been launched successfully.  That said, with the power to overreach comes the twinned responsibility of treating that power with a healthy measure of respect and fiduciary obligation toward the persons against whom these overreaching powers will be used.  Prosecutors and investigtors have an obligation to use these additional powers sparingly, if at all, and only in those instances where the facts warrant such a use and where there is no other means of achieving the investigative goals of the particular action.  We risk losing everything we are, everything we were meant to be as a "shining city on a hill" for human rights in the international community, everything that the terrorists seek to turn us into by their actions by moving from a free society into a police state.  I completely agree with Sam Dash's assessment that the Bush Administration has woefully misused and abused these powers, and that this threatens to undo the very foundations of law and citizen's rights upon which this nation was founded.  If we continue to turn a blind eye to this as a society, we risk losing what little credibility we have left with other nations and with ourselves.

I have mixed feelings about employing provisions of the Patriot Act for the purpose of prosecution in the Traitorgate investigation.  I do agree with Dash that the acts being investigate in Traitorgate were meant to be threats against a civilian -- that the very outing of Valerie Wilson was a shot across the bow of every potential critic of this Administration that dissent was not to be tolerated and that the families of the dissenters would be fair game as well, something that had heretofore been taboo in the world of undercover ops.  That this taboo would be broken by a high ranking Administration official was something I have never contemplated -- the level of mendacity required to out a NOC simply for personal political payback, without regard to the ripple effect of the consequences to all of the other NOCs working with Mrs. Wilson, the agents who were tasked with maintaining the cover of her workplace identity and that of all other agents using Brewster-Jennings as cover, and the lives of the countless assets these agents had cultivated on WMD and nuclear issues, the lives potentially lost because of information we not cannot gather, and all of this occurring at a time this nation is at war and under constant threat from Islamic extremists -- I would never have believed this particular plot if it had come in a work of fiction, let alone as a real life tale of political payback, even from the Bush White House and Karl Rove.  And yet, here we are.
Yet to use the Patriot Act as a means of taking down this scheme, it seems like something that should be used sparingly at best, even for a lot so craven that they would endanger national security and the lives of the Wilson's twin children (and any spouses, children, and families of any other exposed agents and assests in the Brewster-Jennings network, for that matter). Technically, I do believe that Dash is onto something in terms of this particular passage.  Whether it is a good idea for Fitzgerald to use it or not, though, is another thing, particularly as it could be seen as an overreach -- something that almost never sits well with a jury in a criminal trial.  Not knowing all of his evidence in hand, though, it truly is tough to say whether this would accurately apply.
The reason that Republicans have been confining all of their responses on Traitorgate to the Identities Protection Act is that they know that successful prosecution under that particular area of the law has proved to be quite difficult, solely because the "knowingly" language makes it a tough row to hoe for a prosecutor.  In court, you must prove each and every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction.  Proving that someone has done something "knowingly" can be exceedingly difficult unless you have a defendant who does a lot of bragging before and after the fact or you are able to crack a couple of co-conspirators who will testify against your defendant of the plans to commit the criminal act, thus showing that the defendant had full knowledge of the act and its consequences prior to committing it.  Republicans know that this will be a tough sell to a jury for Fitzgerald, and so this is what they bring up ad naseum to show that, at least in their world of spin, no conviction will be secured.  What they do not say, and what the MSM truly needs to educate themselves about in a hurry, is that there are an enormous number of other provisions in criminal law which are much simpler for Fitzgerald to use.  Prosecutors often employ Occam's Razor when requesting indictments -- you may employ a kitchen sink approach and ask for every potentially provable charge, but that wastes the jury's time and yours, so what you do instead is select those charges which are dead on provable or which are very close to provable and, thus, you put maximum pressure on defendants to plead AND you gain credibility with the jury for not overreaching.  No one likes an abuser of power.  (Rove would do well to remember that before he goes to trial.)  Juries like it even less -- if you overreach, you are likely to get a lot of "not guilties" out of pique from the jury at having to sift through a lot of nonsense.  The dismissal, for instance, of some charges against Martha Stewart before the case went to the jury, was an exceptional moment for the prosecution precisely because it limited the case before the jury during deliberations and focused their attention solely on those matters which were more ripe for decision.  If I had to guess, I would say that Fitzgerald is weighing all of that.  He is a very experienced prosecutor -- he has done a large number of trials, many very complex ones, and he has the breadth of experience to evaluate what will and will not work in terms of his evidence precisely because he uses the grand jury as an investigative testing ground.  What we see come out of this grand jury in terms of indictments, I think, will be fairly solid and will stand on fairly substantial legal grounds.  I would not be surprised if what we see is obstruction/conspiracy/perjury as a triad in a lot of the matters before the jury if Fitzgerald has evidence that people were trying to cover their tracks or fudge to the FBI or the Grand Jury.  Liars may be tolerated on the White House payroll, but a good prosecutor doesn't tolerate them at all and will hammer a liar harder than anyone else.  And Fitz is a good prosecutor from all account that I have read. 

Beyond that, though, I think that John Dean had it absolutely right in his column of July 15th,, that a good testing ground for prosecution is Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.  For me, this is where Judy Miller comes into the picture and why the Federal court allowed her to be jailed.  Those eight redacted pages of the memorandum are a major teaser for those of us on the outside, but I would bet that Judy and whomever else was included on those eight pages point directly at a prosecution under this section.  I continue to believe that Bolton and Judy are intertwined in this investigation somehow, especially since he appears to have been a regular source for her to the neocon interpretation of WMD reports in the build-up to the Iraq conflict, and I would say this is especially true if Bolton had anything whatsoever to do with the drafting or transmittal of the State assessment memorandum on Wilson.  Whatever her role, the NY Times has dug itself into an indefensible hole -- their journalist is at best protecting a lying traitor who was using her as a tool for political payback on a story for which the paper got no credit since Judy never wrote it anyway.  At worst, Judy Miller was a shill who was used to transfer information from one Administration officulpability other in as a means to avoid criminal culpibility (which, btw, does NOT avoid it precisely because there is a scheme involved, if that can be proved), which means that she wasn't acting as a journalist at all but as an Administration tool -- which would put the Times in a sticky situation if that ever came out, wouldn't it?  Whatever the story, I find Judy Miller and the NY Times to be completely contemptuous of what it means to truly be a journalist -- there should be no instance where someone who is using you to perpetuate a lie or to commit treason is ever protected.  Period.  And yet, here we are.  If I were Fitzgerald, I would be yanking in every member of the NYTimes masthead who discussed this case with Judy Miller -- from the publisher on down -- and reminding them that their mission is not to secure journalistic sainthood but to actually report the truth.  In fact, I publicrtain he is probably doing just that no matter what pulic protestations we may have been hearing to the contrary from the editorial board.  Whatever the reason, indictments cannot come soon enough for me. 
Undercover officers -- be they local drug enforcement cops or CIA NOCs or something in between in terms of risk -- live their lives constantly looking over their shoulders.  They do this for the good of the general public, keeping the rest of us out of harm's way when they can.  They put their lives on the line, risking injury and death, in order to secure neighborhoods or entire countries, and most of the time people who don't know them or work with them never even know their names, their faces, or the risks that they take on our behalf.  That Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or whomever else wouldn't hold this risk in high regard just shows how low they have sunk in this Administration in terms of their ends justifies the means agendas -- and how little experience these people truly have with real danger and threat.  This isn't some video game or movie that you can start over when you reach the tough part -- in the real world, people are injured, or killed, when something like this happens.  A callous political calculation that political payback was more important than the safety and lives of every person in the Brewster-Jennings network, that getting even was more important than national security matters during a time of war that dealt with WMD issues and nuclear proliferation, that...well, I can't even begin to explain how moronic that is, let alone how treasonous.  I only hope that Fitzgerald has a big enough hammer to make them wish they had never, ever entertained this idea of revenge -- and I have a feeling that Fitzgerald is an intelligent and shrewd enough prosecutor to do this right, all the i's dotted and t's crossed and every charge backed up in triplicate.  I have rarely seen an act so deserving of the full treatment in terms of prosecution, and I wish Fitzgerald all the best.  Myself, I'm gonna stock up on popcorn before October. 
BTW, part of what Reddhead is referring to are emails we've exchanged regarding the possibility that John Bolton has not been questioned by Patrick Fitzgerald precisely because he is a target of the inquiry, and I have to give credit to emptywheel for putting that notion in my head. There is certainly a compelling argument to be made on that front.

And special thanks to Reddhead for taking the time to explain the finer points to those of us who pin so many hopes for the future on this case. Much appreciated.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Great Moments in Public Mendacity

According to a CNN documentary scheduled to run on Sunday:
A former top aide to Colin Powell says he regrets his involvement Powell's presentation to the United Nations on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff when Powell was U.S. Secretary of State, is one of several people interviewed for the documentary "Dead Wrong -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown," scheduled to air on CNN Sunday night.

"I wish I had not been involved in (Powell's U.N. presentation)," said Wilkerson. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."
Well it wasn't a bright moment in mine either, Larry.
"(Powell) came through the door ... and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, 'This is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'" Wilkerson says in the program. "It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."
A lot of people think Colin Powell is a good guy who just got done dirty by BushCo. Hogwash. He's a whore, he's always been a whore, his son's a whore, whore whore whore. Nobody put a gun to his head and made him lie to the UN, and any argument that he questioned the necessity of the war only goes to show that he put his own political meal ticket ahead of any sort of principle. He'd still be shilling for that bunch of crooks today but for the fact that they tossed him out like a bulging sack of garbage.

No heroes here. Move along.


Watch Out, Sally, 'Cos It's Raining Bullshit

Much flap about John Roberts yesterday and his comments that we women should just lie still and think of the empire:
Roberts, who if confirmed by the Senate would replace the Supreme Court's first female justice, questioned whether "encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.''


White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said of that comment that Roberts "was making a lawyer joke."
Funny. Ha ha. See Jane laugh.

Roberts also criticized California's attempts to secure equal pay for equal work:
In one memo from Jan. 17, 1983, Roberts summarized a report on what he termed states' efforts to "address perceived problems of gender discrimination.'' Roberts told his boss, White House Counsel Fred Fielding, that "many of the reported proposals and efforts are themselves highly objectionable.''

Roberts criticized a California law to guarantee equal pay for men and women performing comparable though different jobs as "a staggeringly pernicious law codifying the anti-capitalist notion of 'comparable worth' (as opposed to market-value) pay scales.''

Roberts said: "I think it is imperative that the report make clear (as it presently does not)'' that it's an inventory of state efforts "and that proposals appearing in it are not necessarily supported by the administration.''
Okay, let's rerun that one more time for those in the cheap seats. Roberts is arguing that the market should be the sole wage determinant for men and women, and that it does so based on "market value," i.e., worth. If men are paid more, they are therefore "worth" more, and to suggest differently would be "anti-capitalist" (which, during the Reagan era still dominated by the cold war, was the all-purpose commie flame-toss that "why do they hate America" is today).

Many women do opt for careers as homemakers and take on the most important job there is, raising children. And they are all too often cast into poverty as a result of that choice. When they try to return to the marketplace, hey, they may do they same job as a man, you know, the equal work part, but they certainly can't ask for the same salary, can they, because they they don't have the years of experience?

See Jane open her purse. See Jane haul out her wallet. See Jane promise a hundred bucks to any pro-choice candidate who runs against any Democratic Senator that votes to confirm this bastard.

And yeah, I'm looking at you, Lieberman.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pimpin' For the DNC

Mark my words. He will leave office the most unpopular president in history. The junta has done too much wreckage. - Gore Vidal

Brian Linse made the comment yesterday that fifty years from now, when the young nurses come to light our cigars for us (because they won't let you have matches in the home, you know) they are going to walk away muttering "how could they have let it happen?"

Well here's your chance to bear witness to the fact that you did not go quietly. On Monday the DNC will file a Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to John Roberts' work as a political appointee under the first Bush administration that the White House has so far refused to turn over to the Senators who have asked for them. The request will come from Howard Dean and anyone who wishes to put their name to it. You can read the formal request and add your name here:

I gotta say, adding my name to that gave me a bit of a thrill. Kinda like firing up a stolen Marlboro in 7th grade.

(Thanks to Dan W. for the nifty graphic)


It Ain't Really Swift Boating Until They Crack Out the TV Ads

I have a cousin who is really pro-war. She's got two sons who are of an age to be in the service, and when the "extended family" of Cindy Sheehan wrote a letter to talk radio host Melanie Morgan of San Francisco KSFO (which was instantly forwarded to Matt Drudge) saying that the family knew Casey wouldn't like what his mother was doing, it made me wonder what I would do if the situation were flipped and something happened to my cousin's kids.

Because she is someone who is perfectly capable of starting Gold Star Mothers for War. How would I react to something like that, as a person who is vocally and explicitly anti-war? I concluded that I'd probably write about how I missed her kids and that I thought it was tragic their lives were lost in a war that made no sense. But there is no way that I would ever criticize my cousin for any way she chose to express her grief, no matter how political it turned.

Then again, I actualy love my cousin.

And I can sure as shit tell you right now that there is no way me and my other anti-war cousins would get together, claim some special Sylvia Brown one-too-many-cocktails-before-closing-time knowledge of what her kids would've thought about her choices and then hurl it off to the media to be thrown in her face through some slime machine.

But that is the stuff this bunch is made of. And Melanie Morgan is at it again. According to today's SF Chronicle:
As Sheehan supporters gathered at vigils Wednesday, Deborah Johns of Roseville was in Sacramento filming an anti-Sheehan commercial.

"I'm here to tell you that military families support our troops AND their mission -- in spite of what people like Cindy Sheehan say," Johns says in the ad, according to an advance script reviewed by The Chronicle. Her son William, a Marine who has served two tours in Iraq, is stationed in Florida.
Notice her kid is not dead.
"Cindy Sheehan certainly doesn't speak for me, our military families or our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," Johns says in the ad.

Republican strategist Sal Russo produced the ad, and a spokesman for his consulting firm expects it to begin airing on CNN and Fox News within a week. And Johns will lead a caravan, dubbed "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy," that departs San Francisco on Monday for Crawford. That effort is organized by talk- show host Melanie Morgan of San Francisco's KSFO-AM.
O'Leilly, OxyLimbaugh, David Horowitz and others are piling on and saying Cindy Sheehan is being "used" by the left. But evidently it is only possible to be "used" by the left, anything that happens on the right qualifies as patriotism:
Johns and other Bush supporters, pointing to the many prominent liberals who have praised Sheehan, say she is being used. But Johns said her support by the GOP doesn't make her feel used.

"I made my son a vow (before his second tour of Iraq last year) to get out their positive stories that are happening in Iraq," Johns told The Chronicle on Wednesday. "And if Sal Russo and the Republicans are going to help get that message out, well, that's OK."
I think I'll start teaching a class in "GOP logic 101." First day, everybody gobbles a fistful of OxyContin and watches Waiting for Godot. End of class.

Really, it's the only way you can get your brain in shape to comprehend how the party that controls all three branches of government feels it's necessary to spend its time and money attacking ordinary citizens for exercising their first amendment rights.

But hey, anything to take the heat off Traitorgate for a little while, know what I mean?

Update:: It's over. Cindy fought the good fight and she's leaving to take care of her mom, who had a stroke. Normal people, no matter how well intentioned, just aren't equipped to deal with that kind of sudden noteriety and institutionalized hate, especially on the heels of a violent death. Congratulations to her and bravo for her courageous effort and the inspiration she gave us all.

(hat tip to patrioticliberal)


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bye Bye, Doc

Hunter Thompson takes to the skies:
Things are shaping up nicely for Hunter Thompson’s final blast-off this Saturday. The 150-foot tower, from which Hunter’s ashes will be blasted, is on Hunter’s Woody Creek property. The ashes have been placed in 34 shells by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale.
Zambelli workers custom-designed brown paper cylindrical shells that will be used in the aerial display. The shells will be launched from a monument modeled after Thompson’s Gonzo logo: a clenched fist, made symmetrical with the addition of a second thumb, perched atop a dagger....

Actor Johnny Depp is funding the event, which organizers estimate will cost roughly $2.5 million, to fulfill the vision that Thompson detailed in a 1978 BBC documentary and to his friends and family leading up to his suicide.
Some more details:
Held up by a dozen guide wires toward the edge of a horseshoe-shaped landscape, the gonzo sculpture is positioned less than a half mile from Thompson’s main house and is encompassed by two tree-covered hills and a red canyon wall. Fifty feet of faux boulders encircle the sculpture, which is 12 feet around at the base and 7 feet at the tip. The red-clothed fist rises 17 feet, 6 inches and is 16 feet wide and 10 feet deep. A rainbow of colors will shimmer through two peyote buttons — one of which will be spinning — implanted in the fist.
Not surprisingly, the construction effort was labor intensive. 60 workers put in 10 hour days for weeks on the project.
The guy had a flair for the dramatic, no two ways about it.

After me and all the dogs are gone I want our ashes mixed together and carried to some high, rocky point overlooking the Oregon coast and buried at the foot of a tall pine tree so we can always look down on the beaches where we put in so many mornings chasing sea gulls, romping in the waves and peeing with impunity on random pieces of drift wood. Well actually I was the one who got to carry the tennis ball launcher and wear the leashes around my neck (where I kept them in case of emergency and more than one person commented "well we see who's in charge here har har"), but you get the idea.

I keep forgetting to entrust this task to my 12 year-old nephew Jacob, so I'm hoping he reads this. And Jacob, make it a nice, high, hard-to-get-to and impossible-to-build-on spot, okay? If you get lazy and dump me under some tree behind the Newport Wal-Mart I'll come back and haunt you, I swear I will.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Denial: It's a Family Disease

Salon is reporting that while the NYT staff may be presenting a unified "go, Judy!" front, privately they put down the pom-poms and admit she's the family embarassment:
"She is obviously a very contentious person," one co-worker, who requested anonymity, said. "There are people who have a question about the integrity of [her] reporting." Another colleague called her WMD reporting "a dark chapter." "I'm not sure there is a lot of sympathy or support," a third fellow reporter said about Miller.
None of this seems to be reaching the ears of Editor & Chief Apologist Bill Keller, whose consciousness remains ungrazed within his glass menagerie. He was also quick to invoke the Novakian "I'd really love to but my attorney says I can't" Cone of Silence:
Keller also spoke to the questions surrounding what Miller's assignment was at the time she learned Plame's identity, but declined to spell it out. "While the questions of what Judy knew, and what she was working on, may be matters of general curiosity, the answers don't touch the heart of the case," he claims. "The question of what is going on with the case -- meaning what the special prosecutor is up to, and why he seems to regard Judy as important to the case -- is a mystery to me. It's something I'd like to have answered -- not just for our staff, but for our readers."
Right. So despite the fact that the federal prosecutor is prevented by law from discussing the case with anyone outside the investigation for a host of reasons regarding judicial prudence, Patrick Fitzgerald should start talking because the poor Times staff has had their curiosity piqued. While the Times, who is under no prohibition to discuss the matter whatsoever other than a desire to cover its own hopelessly compromised ass, won't answer any questions because they "don't touch the heart of the case." And how would we know this? Well, I guess we'll just have to trust Bill.

One final insult:
Observes Times columnist Thomas Friedman, "People really support Judy and this principle."
If I'm ever in the slammer and he wants to come to my defense, just tell him to shut the fuck up.

Update: Arianna in Editor & Publisher, on why the Depends media are such a bunch of fish: "The Judy-as-First Amendment-hero angle is the easy first response to the story. It's the conventional wisdom -- and the mainstream media like nothing better than going with the flow of the 'CW.' It's also the path of least resistance. ... Just hit the hot key on your computer and out pops the jailed-journalist-as-martyr story. It's much harder to swim against the current, to rethink, to reexamine, to reopen closed doors. And you risk stepping on toes -- maybe even the toes of people you socialize with."


Lest We Not Forget

It's about the children.

From Needlenose: President George W. Bush signs S.3, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003., at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003.

Okay, I'm done being a humorless feminist for the day. Go read TBogg. He can still be funny about this.


Democrats to Women: Maybe Next Time, Girls

The WaPo is reporting that Democrats do not plan to "spend any political capital" to seriously challenge the Roberts nomination:
In one 1985 memo, Roberts concluded that a controversial memorial service for aborted fetuses, organized by a group of California doctors who opposed Roe vs. Wade, was ``an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy.''

Legal experts on the right and the left cautioned against interpreting Roberts' writing from that era as a certain predictor of how he would vote on abortion cases that might come before him today. Still, the memo is consistent with subtler clues to Roberts' stance on the landmark abortion case that have been emerging since his nomination in July by President Bush.

In 1981, while working at the Justice Department, Roberts had referred to the legal underpinnings of a woman's right to an abortion as the ``so-called `right to privacy.' '' Later, as a deputy solicitor general in President George H.W. Bush's administration, Roberts co-wrote an administration Supreme Court brief arguing that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned.
Although the "just shut up and make me a sandwich while I sit over here and clean my gun" crowd are taking swipes at NARAL for (among other things) supporting Republican Lincoln Chaffee, Digby had it right -- NARAL is sending a strategic message to Democrats. If they want to auction off reproductive rights in some push to pitch a "big tent" in the center, don't expect women to just sit in the corner and smile pretty while they do it.

Digby notes:
For the pro-choice advocates, the stakes could not be higher. If Roe vs Wade is overturned, they are looking at spending years -- decades -- fighting tooth and nail in places like Alabama, Missouri, Utah and Mississippi to try to win back for women the rights they have had for the last 30 years.
I'd think twice before I ate that sandwich.


Some Thoughts on Morality From Bob Dole

In a gift from the heavens, I was just reading Bob Dole's editorial in the NYT on Jailhouse Judy and thinking I really needed to blog on it when "pop!" comes and email from the spectacular David Ehrenstein alerting me to the fact that he has already done so, and far better than I could:
The New York Times, as part of its ongoing campaign repair the public image of "journalist" Judith Miller, and indicted co-consirators in our famously "free press" has seen fit to engage the services of one Bob Dole, "the Republican candidate for president in 1996, was a senator from 1969 to 1996," for an op-ed hand-job equipped with the breathtakingly specious title The Underprivileged Press.
Like many Americans, I am perplexed by the federal investigation into the alleged leak of classified information that exposed Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.
I'm perplexed by Plame-o-rama too Bob. But not in the way you are. And there's nothing "alleged" about it.
So far the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has achieved one notable result: putting a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, in jail for refusing to break her promise of confidentiality to her sources in response to a grand jury subpoena. The incarceration of Ms. Miller is all the more baffling because she has never written a word about the C.I.A. flap.
And here we get to the central lie, the New York Times and the rest of the "mainstream press" is ceaselessly promulgating. As Judy Miller has "never written a word about the C.I.A. flap" there is no "source" for her to "break" that most sacred of all political spins, "her promise of confidentiality." In investigating the revelation of Valerie Plame's identity, Patrick Fitzgerald (a Total Babe, by the way) has a considerable number of questions to ask Judy Miller, "Was in Scooter in the Library with the lead pipe?" being in all likelihood the least of them.
I think they're hauling out the big carpers because Fitzgerald is, as James Carville speculated, ready to start making the Times answer some questions. Like, was she on assignment at the time she spoke to Libby? Who was she reporting to? Rumor has it that it was no one less than publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. who was giving Judy cover to indulge in her specious, fact-free war mongering, so expect no end to the parade of this kind of mewling crap.

Which will hopefully also bring the added benefit of more David E., so I suppose we must look on the bright side.

Update: Arianna caught something from the Times that neither Bob Dole nor the the Times themselves seems to be mentioning: an editor's note which said that "The Times's policy does not permit the granting of anonymity to confidential news sources 'as cover for a personal or partisan attack.'" Wonder how that fits into Big Bob's Campaign for Justice?


Monday, August 15, 2005

A Salute to the American Worker

"Robust economy?" Mmmm....not so much. Hale Stewart:
Despite claiming an economic recovery is at hand or that the US in experiencing "boom times", the New York Federal Reserve notes: "Our current recovery has been the worst in US economic history in terms of jobs creation."  Bush started his term in January of 2001 with 132,454,000 million jobs. The total non-farm payroll number for July 2005 is 133,786,000.  This means Bush's economic policies have created 1,332,000 jobs over 4 and a half years.  However, the economy must create 150,000 a month to keep up with natural economic attrition - people changing jobs, businesses going under, people entering the workforce etc...  Therefore, over the same time span, the economy should have created 8,100,000 new jobs to simply keep up with natural economic conditions.  That means Bush is 6,768,000 jobs behind what the economy should create.

The New York Federal Reserve study notes the overall lack of robust jobs creation. Compared to the last 6 recoveries, all major economic areas are creating fewer jobs than in preceding recoveries.

(emphasis not mine)
He goes on to note that the US has "no official statistic for jobs outsourced in the labor reporting methods" (how is that possible?) but that many of these jobs were probably shipped overseas.

More tragic fallout from the wrath of the idiot son.


Judy, Judy, Judy

Oh the breathless excitement in the land of Judy!

In a dramatic overture today, the NYT pleads for her release. Now Arianna tells us about a highly unusual prison visit from the newly inserted ambassador to the United Nations, John R. "Disco" Bolton. Well we know that he has been one of her sources in the past, but WTF?? Was he whispering sweet nothings in her ear? (We'll always have Baltimore...) Is BushCo. consumed with fear she's getting ready to flip? 'Cos if I were them, I sure as shit would be.

We already know Judy loves drama ("I won't testify. The risks are too great. The government is too powerful.") A Bolton visit certainly plays to that.

I'd get that commitment to any presidential pardon in writing, Judy.


Frog March Update

I know everyone is turning cartwheels over the Murray Waas article in the Village Voice today in which he states once again that Rove lied to the FBI early on in the investigation, but there's nothing really new about the "DC cocktail circuit defense" wherein Rove claimed he couldn't remember who told him about Valerie Plame in the first place. That Ashcroft had horrendous conflicts of interests that caused to him to recuse himself from the investigation after three months is also not news, though what the exact chain of events was leading up to that decision is still not known.

But it does raise the question as to who the leakers are who are giving Murray Waas his information -- FBI? They retiring Comey? It doesn't seem to be coming from inside Fitzgerald's investigation, since by all accounts he runs a very tight ship. Which, aside from being a testament to his ethics in the situation, is also strategic -- if nobody knows what he's got, they start panicking, sweating, and making mistakes. As the always-insightful former prosecutor ReddHead writes:
There are a number of reasons why you wait on issuing indictments.  One is to complete a thorough investigation.  Once you indict, if you do so with charges that are erroneous or if you have further charges that should have been filed, your options are limited if that in terms of correcting things.  You don't want to screw up an indictment if you can help it, so you want all of your ducks in a row before you drop the hammer.  Two is that drawing things out starts to make people seriously anxious and more ready to talk or flip -- especially if Fitz and the G/J start issuing small peripheral indictments as a sort of drip, drip, drip of more to come.  I would look for that mid-September if Judy Miller hasn't started singing -- along with some action against everyone else at the NYTimes that she discussed her "sources" with at any point.  As a prosecutor, you want everything in line, you want to know the entire picture, and you want to have gathered every tiny shred of evidence before you make your theory of the case public -- as you do once you indict, because the targets are informed of the particular charges under which they have been indicted, and that is a huge sign as to what evidence the prosecutor has in hand.  You want to have all of that locked down before indicting, or you risk destruction of key bits of evidence, people covering their tracks, etc.
Once Patrick Fitzgerald hands down an indictment, he can no longer be fired. But Reddhead's post goes to show why Fitzgerald wouldn't just file some indictments in order to "inoculate" himself -- it would blow his hand. And I suspect there may have been a strong attempt to force that hand on the part of Rove and Co. in all the flurry of dis-information regarding Fitzgerald's future on the Plame case that came down last week (thank you, Michael Isikoff).

I had a chance to finally meet Mark Kleiman yesterday, and we spoke about Ashcroft's failure to recuse himself. I offered up my theory that Novak might have made his deal during the Ashcroft period, that it was a cushy one which didn't compel him to reveal very much, and Fitzgerald had to live with it. I think it made Novak feel very confident about swaggering around on television like a cadaverous swivel chair hussar (told you I'd use that one again), but now that it's apparent Novak may have lied, the deal might be off and Novak might be soon be sharing a cell with Judy Miller if he doesn't spill the beans, which is driving him over the edge. Mark thought it was quite possible, and Murray Waas's article only shores up the theory by pointing to how involved professional partisan hack John Ashcroft was early on in the case.

Also, the NYT today is singing the Threnody For the Victims of Patrick Fitzgerald, aka Love Song for Judy Miller. They can kiss my soon-to-be-tattooed ass. Really. The Times shameful defense? If she hasn't stopped breaking the law now she's never going to, so just let her go. As Atrios notes this morning, there is absolutely no reason why she should not answer the question about what she might have told Rove and Libby. None. There is no notion of journalistic privilege that gives her that right. Zero. Zip. Zilch. And any journalist making pilgrimages to the Shrine of the Blessed Martyr really ought to think about that (eh, Brokaw?)

Update: The LA Times has a good article on Patrick Fitzgerald's history of buttressing his cases with perjury charges. Evidently he takes it quite personally when he's lied to. Tee hee.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Kobepalooza: The Coda

Well Kobepalooza (the LA Blogger Bash) is officially over. It happened without the participation of Kobe himself, and since those in attendance are notoriously camera shy, Kobe gets to make his appearance in the photo above, taken in happier days after he became jealous that Sean Hannity had been nominated for a Nobel Prize and he had not. (He thinks the fact that he had to stay at home is jive, considering he started the ball rolling with his "coffee with Kobe" series, but he does not yet understand that white carpet and big poodle feet do not go together).

Many thanks to SteveAudio and his lovely wife Pam for letting us all invade their home. In attendance were TBogg, Kevin Drum, Skippy, Arianna Huffington, Elton from BusyBusyBusy, John from Crooks & Liars, Greg from The Talent Show, RJ Eskow from Night Light, Ezra Klein, Leah from Corrente, Pamela Leavey, Ellen Nagler, Brian Linse, Scoobie Davis, Mark Kleiman, Joseph and Alex from Martini Republic, David E., their various spouses, fiances and companions, and people I know I must be forgetting and for doing so I deeply apologize.

When everyone arrived I thought oh God, this is going to be a disaster, everyone is uncomfortable and what was I thinking inviting a bunch of socio-phobic people who like to sit behind a computer to a gathering with others like themselves. Of course that wore off and it soon turned into a shout fest. I had a ball. Nobody was who I expected them to be, except Ezra Klein who was exactly who I expected him to be. John from Crooks & Liars? I'm counting down the days until he takes O'Reilly apart on tee vee. Trust me, he's got star quality written all over him.

And of course the first question I asked Arianna was about the Roger Ailes dust up on the first day of the Huffington Post over the blog roll. I had to race home and tell Roger immediately. I'll leave it to him to pass along as he sees fit. But it's a good one.

Digby was in Mexico but sent his best and counseled that we LA bloggers "gotta knock that chip off those Philly bloggers' shoulders." It was a damn good start.