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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ante Up

Odd paragraph in the NYT today that jumped out at me. Not quite sure how to read the tea leaves on this one:
A lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account said the administration efforts to limit the damage from Mr. Wilson's criticism extended as high as Mr. Cheney. This lawyer and others who spoke about the case asked that they not be identified because of grand jury secrecy rules.
Okay, "a lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account" -- well, you mean Libby's lawyer, no? WTF is he doing implicating Cheney in all this on the front page of the New York Times?

Is Libby not so happy about being scapegoated? Trying to secure a pardon or increase his payday down the road? Threatening to take down Cheney with him? Just a big coincidence?

Your guess is as good as mine.


The Mighty Wurlitzer Sez: Kill Miller

It's "throw Judith Miller Under the Wheels" day at the Power Tools. I guess she's been of all the use she can be to BushCo., and now her Harlequin Romance with Scooter Libby can serve as a good diversion from RoveCo's culpability in Traitorgate. To wit, the willing RoveHo's at Powerline are devoting much ink to dredging up her involvement with the Islamic Charities scandal several years ago, and trying using it to muddy the waters of the Plame investigation.

As he breathlessly strokes himself, Hindlicker announce that "A New York lawyer has another theory, which is plausible. It's also light years beyond anything you'll read on this topic in the newspapers tomorrow."

If true, it's only because even the sloppiest of rags has some kind of editor who would eventually refuse to run such complete fucking bullshit.

Several years ago, Judy Miller and Patrick Fitzgerald previously crossed swords when Miller got wind of an upcoming FBI search of an Islamic charity in New York. Being the stud reporter she is, she promptly called the charity and asked them for a comment -- before the search was executed, both tipping them off and potentially endangering the lives of the FBI agents involved. Fitzgerald was furious, but when he tried to force Miller to give up her sources, she effectively invoked journalistic privilege and managed to evade questioning.

Now, if you are looking for a defense of Judy Miller here, you'll have to look elsewhere. Her actions were traitorous, she endangered the lives of FBI agents, and no doubt she deserved to be thrown in the clink for a very, very long time. But Hindlicker then goes on to reach the stunning conclusion that this is really the information Fitzgerald wants, and that poor lovesick Scooter was just in the wrong place at the wrong time:
If that's right, maybe it's good news for Libby: he's not being set up by the prosecutor, he's just the PR fall guy for Miller and her lawyer, who don't want to mention a discreditable incident about which the public knows nothing. I hope that's the right explanation.
Is he on crack?

According to a REAL lawyer, prosecutor Reddhedd:
First of all, a court would not allow [Fitzgerald] to do that because you can't use one case against the other like that as a basis for holding someone.  You may want to do so and, in the case of prior convictions, you can use them as a basis for argument against bail or something related, but you can't just sock a defendant or witness in jail on one charge in retribution for another charge -- you have to have evidence of the particular case in order to make something like that stick with a judge.  Second, I thought the Islamic Charities case had already closed ages ago....

A move like that would be out of character for Fitz, in my mind -- especially on a case that I am fairly sure has closed out quite a while ago.  He's tough, but he doesn't strike me as an asshole.  And I know that Judge Tatel would NEVER have allowed something like that, given his record on prior first amendment cases -- that would be absolutely outside the scope of his prior precedents and his philosophy on this sort of thing.

This stinks of a tangent to me, and one that is designed to take the heat off Judy and put it on Fitzgerald to explain his motives.  Classic Karl, dontcha think?
Yeah, I think. In fact, the entire Miller/Libby document leak today smacks of Unka Karl, although the NYT certainly could've got them from Judy and decided to put them up in her defense (so much for "source confidentiality"). If Fitzgerald didn't have those documents before, he's got them now, and if he was getting ready to release his indictments early in the week he's probably been effectively stalled. Much to the detriment of Libby, no doubt, who certainly looks like he's trying to witness tamper in his letters to Judy, but that would certainly meet with the idea of warring camps within BushCo. and the lifeboat mentality that is obviously consuming all of them at the moment.

Cos with all the scrambling they're doing today, what's really scaring he crap out of them right now is this...

Update: Hindlicker is peddling this same line of bullshit in the Daily Standard. I guess they can't find anyone else gullible (or craven) enough to push it.

(graphics love to The Heretik)


Well Isn't That Interesting -- The Powertools Edition

The Powertools have done it again -- bent over and offered themselves up as BushCo. leak toys. They have somehow "mysteriously" been provided with letters between Libby, Miller and their attorneys.

Sayith the Hindlicker:
I still think it almost inconceivable that Judith Miller, or anyone else, would sit in prison for three months, if all she needed to get out was a letter from Libby saying, in effect, "I meant what I said a year ago," without ever asking Libby for such a letter or communicating to him that it was on his behalf that she was in prison. That scenario, as outlined by Abrams, seems senseless to me. It also doesn't explain, as Paul noted last night, why Miller stayed in jaiil for another ten days after getting Libby's letter.
Haven't had a chance to go over them in detail yet, but on the surface it strikes me as a salvo back at the NYT editorial of this morning:
Why, then, did she agree to testify yesterday? Could Ms. Miller have gotten the permission earlier? Why didn't she just pick up the phone and ask?

When a journalist guarantees confidentiality, it means that he or she is willing to go to jail rather than disclose the source's identity. We also believe it means that the journalist will not try to coerce the source into granting a waiver to that promise - even if her back is against the wall. If Ms. Miller's source had wanted to release her from her promise, he could have held a press conference and identified himself. And obviously, he could have picked up the phone. Ms. Miller believed - and we agree - that it was not her place to try to hound him into telling her that she did not need to keep her promise.
I really do think this is a Rove orchestrated distraction. There has long been a rumor of big animosity between Cheney's office and RoveCo. over who fucked up in TraitorGate, and who will take the fall, with Rove's and Libby's lawyers doing amusing "anonymous source" battles in the press. To focus all the attention on Miller and Libby's pointless kabuki seems meant to keep the heat off of Rove himself. Nothing more.

Predictably, the only thing the Tool Time crowd can stop rimming themselves about is to put into play another distracting piece of bs from their Sith Lords.

Hey, Time Magazine? You ready to suck this one up yet?

Update: From this morning's Editor and Publisher, via Kos:
This “Dear Judy” letter repeatedly expressed his admiration for her and cited everything she was losing in jail, from missing out on covering new biological threats to enjoying the aspens turning out West. He noted that the aspens "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

But maybe the personal tone is not so surprising. The letter suggests that the two, who saw eye to eye on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which never materialized, are either very close—or Libby was just pretending, to make her go easy on him if she did testify.

The text of the entire letter, which was mailed to Miller's attorney, Robert Bennett, has not been printed in the Times or elsewhere.
Oh yes it has...

Update: Guess the NYT wasn't happy about being scooped by a bunch of beat-offs. They now have the letters available here (PDF).

Update III: Emptywheel says they were up on the NYT at 4:30 this morning. Guess Hindlicker's big "expose" wasn't much of one after all.


Friday, September 30, 2005

It's Still Miller Time

Okay, this is starting to make a bit more sense.

When the NYT ran their article on Judy's release, they mentioned curiously that attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had assured Miller and Libby's attorneys that they would not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice for speaking to each other.

According to the LA Times:
The situation began to resolve itself in late August and early September, in part because of an Aug. 25 article in the Los Angeles Times that quoted some attorneys in the case about their concerns with the obstruction issue. Abrams said Fitzgerald, citing The Times story, sent an e-mail to lawyers saying that those concerns should not stop them from facilitating testimony. "That sort of e-mail, that just made life easier," Abrams said.

Around the same time, one of Miller's other lawyers, Robert Bennett, placed a phone call to Tate inquiring about the waiver, and a deal was eventually struck
It makes a weird sort of sense -- Judy and the NYT had recently engaged Bennett, who specialized in criminal law, and came to rely less on First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams. Fitzgerald saw that everyone was just sitting around with their thumbs up their asses and decided to give them all a nudge.

I've written about the hapless Floyd Abrams before, and the Official Miller Story seems to rely heavily on a belief that he just Fucked It All Up. As intellectually challenged as he seems to be, I'm still having a hard time buying this. The tin foil hatter in me still thinks this is BushCo.'s attempt at pro-activity, throwing Libby under the bus (with Judy's full cooperation), and promising him a pardon on the other end if he takes the heat for all of them.

He's the perfect villain. Nobody is going to have sympathy for some smirking, Ivy League, summer-in-the-Hamptons silver spoon clown named Scooter.

Here's the rub. And I've thought about this a lot today. In setting up Libby to take the fall, BushCo. can only guess what the tight-lipped Fitzgerald is sitting on. They really don't know, and can only base a strategy on what they THINK he's got. This is a very dangerous thing to do, because it is an attempt to cover up a conspiracy involving a lot of people (and Judge Tatel, in his decision to send Judy to the big house, called it "the plot against Wilson," so they already know it).

It requires many, many people to lie in concert. Privately. Behind the closed doors of a grand jury. Who must both place their faith in BushCo., and risk going to jail for their efforts.

The more I think about it the more I don't think this Libby plan (if that's what it is) will hold. It would require an inveterate bunch of liars to coordinate those lies to a degree that their disaster management skills would indicate is thoroughly impossible.  And it's a very risky thing to even attempt with a vast coverup involving people with conflicting goals (Tenet, Powell) and degrees of loyalty (Fleischer, Matalin, etc.)

Remember -- Bush really can't pardon everyone involved. Rove? Absolutely. Libby? Well now, probably. Ari Fleischer? Mary Matalin? She was a member of WHIG. Is she going to risk lying? Having the whole thing collapse on her?

Too many people had to know. Too many loose ends. Too many uncontrollable elements. Too many details to finesse by a group who only know how to control by brute force, who are already rife with in-fighting, blame casting and paranoia.

As Digby said today, Judy's actions are those of a political operative, not of a reporter. She has never shown tremendous judgment with regard to the people in whom she has chosen to invest her trust. When it all falls apart -- and I am ever more convinced that it will -- I don't think she's going to be able to blame Floyd Abrams' filing system for her fate.


Ask Me How I Missed This

I was reading the NYT at the coffee shop this morning & didn't look at the LA Times, who obviously borrowed the layout crew from NARAL.

Good spot by Greg at The Talent Show.


What's a "Source," Judy?

A lot of folks were disheartened when NYT Editor Bill Keller made a statement regarding the limitation of Judy's testimony to the Traitorgate grand jury, which many took to mean that the only thing she would be questioned on was her conversations with Scooter Libby:
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."
Further, this morning in the WaPo, "anonymous sources" inform us yet again:
One lawyer involved in the case said Miller's attorneys reached an agreement with Fitzgerald that may confine prosecutors' questions solely to Miller's conversations with Libby. [Miller's attorney Robert] Bennett, reached last night, said he could not discuss the terms of the agreement for Miller's testimony. Abrams did not return a call seeking comment.
But according to prosecutor Reddhedd, who just saw Bennett interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, the "narrow testimony" Judy was so proudly trumpeting on the courthouse steps today was more likely limited to anything regarding the Plame matter -- i.e., Bolton or anyone else she spoke with would be fair game.

On the other hand, Fitzgerald doesn't have the right to pump her for details of gettin' sexed up by, say, Muammar Gaddafi.

But then, who would want to.

(Sorry for the gross-out. Blame Gavin.)

Update: Miller herself seems to be confirming that her testimony is limited to conversations regarding her "source," whom she refuses to name:
Mr. Bennett, approached the special counsel to see if my grand jury testimony could be limited to the communications with the source from whom I had received that personal and voluntary waiver. The special counsel agreed to this and that was very important to me.
But as Reddhedd points out, she was in there for four hours. The members of the grand jury are free to ask her anything they want, regardless of what the deal with the special counsel is. She can refuse to answer based on her agreement with Fitzgerald, but as Reddhedd notes, even people with their lawyers present get up there and start jabbering. Judith Miller could not have her lawyers present during her testimony. Oh to be a fly on that wall.

Update II: David Corn, via Digby:
"For anyone following the matter, it's impossible not to guess about what's going on and what Fitzgerald will do. His grand jury expires at the end of October. He could impanel a new one and keep investigating. But all indications suggest he's close to done. One person who recently had contact with Fitzgerald and his attorneys says that they seem confident about whatever it is they are pursuing. The Miller matter was something of a sideshow that at times drew more attention than the central issue."
Digby also talks about a conventional wisdom building that no indictments will be handed down. I've been working on my Fitzgerald piece for Arianna and having looked over this guy's career with a microscope I have to say that it would be entirely out of character for him to spend two years on an investigation with no indictments to show for it. Judy Miller didn't tell him anything he didn't already know, presumably; he was looking for her testimony to shore up a case he already had.

I'm not buying it.


Hooray for Froomkin

Froomkin in the WaPo:
Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources' secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don't have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is "Hooray, now I can tell the world" -- not "Sorry, that's not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate." And if you're going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply.
If the media response this morning is any indication, Judy Kneepads got some 'splainin to do this afternoon.

(thanks to Kate H. for the tip)


How's Your Day Going There, Scooter?

Oh and one more thing.

I keep forgetting to mention this, but regardless of who gets indicted for what, Traitorgate threatens to take down the Rethugs in more than one way. Remember, this Congress would not impeach George Bush for on-air pedophilia and cannibalism. But as prosecutor Reddhedd explains, the timing of the trials will be key:
All of that to say that it could be anywhere from three months to three years, with the most likely time frame being a year to a year and a half for trials to begin.  Depends on the jurisdiction, the number of indictments -- because clearly if there are several indictments, all to be heard in the same jurisdiction, scheduling will become problematic in a short time frame -- and a lot of other factors, but that tends to be the calculation for most trials....

For this case, I'm certain the judge will have some open space considering the national security and political ramifications of a trial on all of these issues.
Assuming Fitzgerald hands down his indictments in the next few weeks (he's long said Judy's testimony was the thing he lacked), it means -- the trials kick into gear right around the time of the 2006 elections.

Karl Rove's worst nightmare come true.

Will anyone be able to generate any public sympathy for a grown man who calls himself "Scooter?" I'm thinking not.

A happy thought for the day.


It's Miller Time!

Within moments after the announcement that Judith Miller had been released from jail and was going to testify tomorrow before the TraitorGate grand jury, the NYT posted a lengthy article by David Johnston and Doug Jehl regarding the events leading up to her liberty.

In the article, they confirm that as Jeralyn Merritt has long speculated, Scooter Libby was Miller's source (or at least one of them). It has been known that Miller met with Libby on July 8, 2003, and spoke with him a week later. They then go on to claim that Miller had never been satisfied by the fact that the waiver Libby gave her was not coerced, but that Libby finally assured her personally that everything was okay, and Miller now feels good about talking about it.

What a load of crap. Who do I look like, Curveball?

Two Washington Post reporters (Glenn Kessler and Walter Pincus) testified last year under a waiver of confidentiality granted by Libby. So did Time's Matt Cooper. Libby says he granted the same waiver to Miller more than a year ago. And yet St. Judy, the Martyr of Times Square, decided to squat in jail for 85 days, and only then talk to Libby on the phone to confirm that the waiver was "freely given." And now, thanks of that one phone call, she's ready to spill her guts to the grand jury? Does this make sense?
No, it doesn't. Something's rotten, and the writers of the story seem to know it and hint at the fact that this is merely the latest chapter in Miller's running line of First Amendment bullshit:
Ms. Miller said she believed the agreement between her lawyers and Mr. Fitzgerald "satisfies my obligation as a reporter to keep faith with my sources."
Yeah, we see your big quotation marks, boys. But here's the part that on the surface really bugs:
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."
Now, Keller is a walking dirtbag who -- according to the article -- still refuses to say whether Miller was working on a Plame story for the NYT at all, which if she was not would entitle her to lay about as much claim to First Amendment protection in the matter as I would have for failing to bag my dog shit in the park. But there is no reason to doubt that he's telling the truth here, which means that if Miller did have other sources -- say, John Bolton -- she doesn't have to testify about them.

That's an ouch at first glance.

But here is what we know about the sequence of events:

1. Early August, Bolton visits Judy in jail.

2. Late August, Judy's lawyers start playing Lets Make a Deal. She now has Robert Bennett negotiating for her (which explains why dithering Floyd Abrams could tell Reuters two weeks ago that he had never spoken with Fitzgerald's office). Bennet begins discussions with Libby's attorney Joseph Tate in some weird kabuki designed to provide cover for Saint Judith's much-vaunted "principles" (*cough* *cough*).

3. Two weeks ago, Judy obtains a "satisfactory waiver."

4. Somewhere in here, Judy cuts a deal with Fitzgerald that limits her testimony to Libby. He probably gets some sort of signed statement from her before letting her hit the streets and run into, say, Karl Rove. At the same time, Bennett says they have agreed to turn over "edited versions of notes taken by Ms. Miller about her conversations with Mr. Libby."

5. Fitzgerald now has two corroborating sources (one presumably being Matt Cooper, who testified in August 2004 that he spoke with Libby) attributing their information to the ill-suited-for-life-in-the-pen-with-a-nickname-like-that Scooter.

Jehl and Johnston indicate that sources within the Times "urged Ms. Miller to testify," by saying that executives of the Times refused to identify who those sources were. Emptywheel speculates that with Fitzgerald leaning on the Times and the Times going soft and getting ready to turn over their materials just like Time Magazine did, it would've been enough to convict Judy on conspiracy charges had she not agreed to testify.

Much more plausible.

In her musings regarding the Libby/Miller connection, Jeralyn has always speculated that Libby's involvement may lead straight back to WHIG -- the White House Iraq Group -- that Libby was a part of (it also included Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, James R. Wilkinson and Nicholas Calio). I've written before that Fitzgerald has reportedly subpoenaed notes and records from WHIG, and Jeralyn thinks this is why Judy's testimony could be so damning to more than just Libby:
I think the issue is, did Libby tell Miller about a meeting he was at with Dick Cheney - or other members of the White House Iraq Group - at which a plan to discredit Joseph Wilson using his wife's CIA status was hatched? It's seeming more and more likely.
And Fitzgerald probably has more than anybody knows. An angry George Tenet has reportedly been "cooperating" with the investigation. And Fitzgerald may, as emptywheel suggests, already have Bolton and not need Miller to get there. There has been ample evidence that the 1600 crew has turned into every man for himself these days, and being the inveterate bunch of serial liars that they are the possibility that a good prosecutor can pry apart the network of coverups woven by this bunch of corrupt fuckheads is still, to my mind, a pretty strong one.

If he can just get 'em taking aim at each other -- my oh my, wouldn't the show be on.

See ya in the morning, this is getting good.

Update: Wapo: "One lawyer said it could become clear as early as next week whether Fitzgerald plans to indict anyone or has negotiated a plea bargain."

Update II: Digby: "Do you think that Fitzgerald was impressed with Judy's "principles" or her desire for a super-special-in-person-blood-oath waiver from Scooter? Right. He didn't do this for meaningless testimony or just for fun. He got something important."

(graphics love to Billmon)


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shit Hits Fan: Judith Miller Out of Jail

Every phone in my house is ringing off the hook. It's all going to happen now:
Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to identify a source, has been released, The Inquirer has learned.

Miller left an Alexandria, Va. jail late this afternoon, a jail official said.

She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said. In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said.
I got into an otherwise pointless email swap with Paul McMasters today from the First Amendment Center, who wound up his email with this:
I think it is a shame that a two-year, multi-million-dollar investigation appears likely to conclude next month with no finding of a crime, let alone a criminal, and our government has nothing more to show for that use of taxpayer resources than a reporter in jail who wrote nothing about the case.
Suppose he'd like to make a side wager now? According to NBC news, Judy will testify tomorrow. I think the whole "Libby gave her a release" story is just so much bs, a fig leaf for her to hide behind, and I doubt whatever "deal" she cut at this point allows her to do much more than keep her ass out of jail. And if her testimony didn't incriminate anyone, she would have given it long ago -- any examination of her behavior to date show her to be a complete stranger to commonly held notions of "principle."

People keep asking me "how high up is this going to go?" And my answer is, as high as Fitzgerald can get anyone to talk. I can only guess, but the thing to keep in mind about this crowd is if you are counting on copious amounts of character to keep someone from ratting out the whole bunch, it's going to be flip city.

You think Bolton's gonna do 20 years to protect Cheney? Surely you jest.

Update: David Johnston and Doug Jehl have a must-read four page article up at the NYT on Judy's deal, and they indicate that Libby was indeed her source. The "Libby waiver" story still sounds like bunk, but it does allow Judy to bray a bit about how she lived up to her "principles." (Yawn)

More soon.

Update II: Favorite comment so far, from Talk Left: "Scooter" is a cute name for a guy doing hard time in an FCI. That will make him plenty of "friends."


Clash of the Titans

I'm off to lunch. I get to introduce TBogg to Digby. Talk about out of my league.

And before you say it, even I'm jealous of me.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Many Faces of Bob Woodward

January, 2005 (and cited by Patrick Fitzgerald in his memorandum in support of sending Judith Miller on Pruno Patrol):
Woodward, an assistant managing editor at the Post, agrees that confidential sources should be used only for important matters and clearly thinks the Plame matter didn't meet that test. "This is not the Pentagon Papers,” Woodward dryly observes. “It's not the case you'd choose to make law on."
Tuesday night:
"People can do their jobs without sending reporters to jail," Woodward said. "Reporters shouldn't have to risk jail giving representation. That happens in banana republics, China and Russia, and that should not happen here.
Unka Karl says your check's in the mail, Bob.

Who ever looked at this guy and said to themselves, I see Redford?


Joementum to the Rescue: Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

From the WaPo:
Former representative Vin Weber (R-Minn.) said yesterday that he thinks DeLay and Frist are victims of "bum raps," but nonetheless said Republicans should be worried by the prospect that the issue of corruption will become a central theme in the upcoming campaigns.

"I think that the Democrats are unable to exploit issues like energy, taxes and Iraq because they have nothing to say," said Weber, who remains an important GOP strategist. "The problem with the issue of corruption is the opposition party doesn't have to have anything to say. All you've got to be is the other party, so it worries me."
Don't worry, Vinnie. Give 'em time, they'll fuck it up.

Kos is reporting that Lowell Weicker is seriously thinking of challenging Lieberman as an independent. Considering Lieberman got the backing of GOP honchos like William Buckley to help oust Weicker for his liberal views, well -- you just let me know where to send the check, okay, Lowell?


Justice Served: "It's About Time, I Was Pretty Friggin' Hungry"

We just got back from our walk and heard about Tom DeLay's indictment. If you were with us right now you would see the poodles doing the happy dance.

I don't remember who I was talking with the other day, I think it was Digby, but we were discussing the Justice Department and how -- with the ReThugs controlling all the halls of power in this country -- the career people within it are probably our only hope of going after the corrupt dons of the kleptocracy, murderers and warmongers all, both by limiting the damage they can do in the future and holding them accountable for what they have done in the past.

Hence I keep writing about Patrick Fitzgerald, and for those who have been around this blog since the start (all 10 of you) Ronnie Earle. Fitzgerald was wise to never declare a political party, as anyone who has turned on the TV in the past 15 minutes can tell. I mean, is CNN capable of mentioning Ronnie Earle's name without saying he is a Democrat? Does that somehow make Tom DeLay less guilty?

How about "Ronnie Earle, dedicated public servant who could be pulling down beaucoups bucks in the private sector but who has settled for a humble life of doing the right thing, and whose career has been marked by incredible dedication and a commitment to rising above partisan politics that has lead to the indictments of corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle?"

I just realized the other day I hadn't turned my TV on for weeks. As long as the GOP keeps writing copy for the talking heads, it's staying off.

Update: Rove already has his hand up Hindlicker's ass. See his lips move. Lordy that was fast.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mr. Fitzgerald and the NeoCons, Pt. 2

Oh, how we are lovin' this.

When we last left our villain Richard Perle, fearless vampire hunter Patrick J. Fitzgerald took time off from Plame patrol to take aim at his black, bloodless heart as part of the Hollinger International scandal. Perle, as you'll recall, was on the board of Hollinger, one of the country's largest media empires, when big neocon chiseler Lord Conrad Black was looting it of some $540 million.

According to shareholders who are desperately trying to get their money back, Perle both enabled Black's generosity to himself and was also one of the beneficiaries of Black's largesse.

Well, things have gotten decidedly darker for Mr. Perle since then. When last we looked in on him, as part of the SEC investigation Perle had received a Wells notice, "a formal warning that the agency's enforcement staff has determined that evidence of wrongdoing is sufficient to bring a civil lawsuit."

Then late last week, in his dogged climb to the top of the shit heap upon which Black himself is perched, Fitzgerald managed to flip Chicago Sun-Times publisher David Radler, who has agreed to serve 29 months and turn state's evidence.

We'll pause here for a moment to enjoy a roundly amusing side note regarding Radler, which ought to entertain anyone who relishes the thought of these kleptocratic white collar creeps behind bars:
Radler... is a notorious germaphobe and hypochrondiac, according to an ex-colleague.

During his years traversing the country as an executive for Black's Hollinger International, he refused to stay in any hotel other than the Four Seasons. A source related the tale of when, years ago, company execs were on a road show meeting with prospective investors in a Four Seasons-less Cincinnati.

When meetings wrapped up, Radler insisted the group fly back to Chicago and then return to Cincinnati for more meetings the next day — rather than stay in a non-Four Seasons.

On the company's Challenger jet, Radler stocked pantries with antibiotics and cleaning supplies. And when he arrived in Toronto during the SARS scare, Radler de-planed wearing a surgical mask. "It was a flying pharmacy," said a source. "He'd better be working in the prison laundry."
Stateville Prison/Four Seasons. Been to both. Big difference.

Anyway, as part of Radler's deal, he'll be cooperating with the SEC's case that already has Perle in the crosshairs and which Fitzgerald asked to intervene in this last March.

And to make matter's worse, Hollinger's board just censured Perle in an internal company report, and they are reportedly suing him. Fellow board member Henry Kissinger and others settled a $50 million lawsuit with Hollinger shareholders in May, which also delightfully teases that there may criminal charges waiting for that old warmonger, too. But it is Perle who really has his neck in the noose.

Fitzgerald's investigation has already inflicted a severe case of dyspepsia to the BushCo. PR machine who bungled the Katrina show in his wake, and it looks like he's also having an effect on the international front since many of the bad guys are running for cover.

In an article entitled Corridors of Power: Return of Diplomacy UPI reports that after the recent deal with North Korea went down, one diplomat quipped, "This would never have happened if Richard Perle were alive."

Let's hope Mr. Fitzgerald can put a few more NeoCons in the "posthumous" category before this is all over.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Reason to Believe

I've been feeling a little cynical lately so I thought I'd write about Jackie Speier just to make myself feel better about what's going on in the state of California and GOP attempts to paint it red. Besides I met her a couple of weeks ago and she was pretty cool.

She's the California State Senator who took Ahnold down recently after he vetoed her bill to cut the use of supplements among high school athletes. She thought "that's weird," did some checking, and found out about his lucrative contracts to endorse said supplements. His polls then started their big tank-aroo.

But Speier is also a notable character in California history, having been one of the assistants to Congressman Leo Ryan when he went to Guyana in 1978 to investigate rumors about the People's Temple. Speier was shot along with Ryan and left to die on the tarmac for 22 hours by Jim Jones' death squad. Part of her thigh was blown away and she sipped Rum to kill the pain. (Gotta love her for that.) She still carries some of the bullets.

Anyway, Speier is running for Lieutenant Governor of California, and admits it's the first step in running for the Governor's seat. I don't know enough about either her or her politics to know if she'd be good, bad or otherwise, but I sure like her spirit.


No. No. Just...No.

It seems that Michael Brown, who was desperately trying to shop his resume for a PR job (with no takers) after the Katrina debacle, has found a new job. Yes, somebody actually hired the guy.

But gets better. He's been hired by FEMA -- to help evaluate how FEMA responded to the disaster.

I...just...I need a nap.


DC Police Study for Gyno Exams

Sorry for the hit-and-run posting. More afternoon dentistry.

(Photo thanks to Kate H.)


Because a Girl Can't Have Too Many Hobbies

Daniel Schorr: wanker.


Quote of the Day

Fuck Nader. The next time I want to hear his name is in an obituary.
I think that just about says it.

That guy does have a way with words, doesn't he?


Place Your Bets -- It's Miller Time!

With October just around the corner, emptywheel peers into the Chinese Box that is the Plame case and takes a stab at the chain of events. Since nobody follows this more closely or insightfully than emptywheel, I thought it well worth posting:
Dick, Libby, Hadley, and a few other recognized the threat of Wilson and started looking for dirt on him in March. They likely put out an APB for dirt, which if Fitz has found it is exhibit A in a conspiracy case.

Because of events marginally related, Bolton and Fleitz discovered Plame was Wilson's wife in June. Either Fleitz filled in the additional details (that Plame was NOC and her cover was Brewster-Jennings) or perhaps they put out another APB for more details on Plame's role at the CIA and David Shedd revealed to Stephen Hadley some more. I doubt that either Fleitz or Shedd are guilty of any violations--except perhaps a violation of rules surrounding Secure Compartmentalized Information, which I'm fairly confident Fleitz broke fairly commonly (more on that in my next Bolton post).

So now we've got the information, but not an official leak. I do think Bolton leaked it to--at least--Miller, in June. That would be the first real charge here, probably a violation of the IIPA.

I also think there would be a set of talking points on Plame circulated, at this point, internally. For a variety of reasons, I think this was drawn up at NSC, perhaps by Hadley who seems to have no fear of lying under oath. This document will be exhibit B in a conspiracy case. But again, its circulation internally is probably only a violation of SCI rules.

Then there was additional leaking the week of July 6, if not before. Rove is almost certainly guilty of one of these, since Cooper first found out Plame's identity from him. I suspect Libby will also be guilty, in his conversation to Russert and perhaps his conversation to Miller. I also think there's the possibility that Bartlett will have leaked Plame's identity that week, too. These will probably be generic security clearance violations, because neither Libby nor Rove nor Bartlett would have had the need-to-know Plame's identity.

During the week of July 6, I think the INR Memo only served as a talking point in Air Force 1. So it's no longer the source of the leak. But it's the document that gives Powell the material to defend his story that there was a discussion about outing Plame on Air Force 1--That is, Powell is the witness that corroborates the two earlier documents. And Powell is the witness that fingers Condi, Bush, and Bartlett in addition to all the earlier conspirers.

I suspect there is also some kind of evidence--probably some emails--that show ongoing discussions between Libby, Rove, and Hadley during this week. I think Rove's attempt to explain away his email to Hadley suggests there's something incriminating there. And I suspect George Tenet is a witness to this conspiracy in some fashion--associated with the drafting of his mea culpa. I suspect Tenet is a cooperating witness, but perhaps not as cooperative as Powell.

So you have any number of people who are implicated in the conspiracy to out a spy: Rove, Cheney, Libby, Matalin (waived for her testimony), Hannah, Wurmser, Bolton, Hadley, Bush, Bartlett, Rice, Ari (waived for his testimony). I don't think there's a chance in hell they'll all be indicted. I think a lot of it depends on whether Fitz has found Exhibits A and B.

Then, during the month of September, when Ashcroft tipped Rove and Libby off that there would be an investigation, Rove, Libby, and Novak organized what I'll call the second conspiracy, to get off of the charges. They all lied in conversations with the FBI, making up the story that Judy Miller and maybe some other journalists told them all and they just passed it on from there. Cooper's testimony is evidence of Rove's lying. Russert, we don't know about, wrt to Libby's lie. And I'm not sure how they're going to prove that Novak lied; I think they know he did, but Rove and Novak are the only witnesses who could testify about it.

Finally, I think Abu Gonzales may be involved in obstruction, but again, I'm not sure Fitz will be able to prove it. I would bet money that an NSC talking points document on Plame exist(s) but that Abu Gonzales skimmed it during his two week review. I also think Libby may have altered some of his hand-written notes about the WHIG, which Fitz might be able to prove if someone from the WHIG (Matalin?) cooperates. But I'm less sure these charges are going to be proven.
I have to wonder about two things -- one, that Fitzgerald is evidently after documents Miller either gave OR received, which I suppose could be the "Exhibit B" emptywheel talks about. Given that Tenet is reportedly upset that Miller might skate, though, it implies that he thinks her involvement in the whole thing may have been a bit more active than, say, Matt Cooper's, and might certainly involved spreading information, so I'd probably beef that aspect of the story up a bit.

And secondly, to Novak: as I've said before, early on he had an incredible swaggering arrogance which made it look like he thought he was protected, and I wondered if in fact he may have cut some sort of deal with Ashcroft (pre-Fitzgerald). As time went on, Novak seemed to break down, and by the time he walked off CNN he looked like whatever safety net he thought he had just disappeared. Based on psychology alone, I think the investigation took some sort of turn relative to him, either he became a target or Fitzgerald got him on perjury and he now had to rat out his buddies to keep from becoming one.

I certainly do hope Powell's mea culpas regarding the UN are his attempt to set the stage for a giant rat-out of the whole bunch. That would certainly be a pleasant fall diversion, no?


Sunday, September 25, 2005

More GOP Family Values

It just gets worse and worse.

In May I did a post about Great Moments in Republican Family Values that kind of creeped people out. In it I wrote about John Schmitz, a big California Republican during the 70's, a member of the John Birch Society who thought Nixon and Reagan were liberals:
He won a US House seat in 1970 trumpeting family values. "They like to be called gays," he said. "I prefer to call them queers." He described pro-choice supporters as "a sea of hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces," and made a career decrying America's moral decrepitude. When George Wallace was shot and dropped out of the 1972 Presidential race Schmitz stepped in and ran as the candidate for the American Independent Party, garnering 1 million votes.

He had a picture-perfect family and a cheerleader daughter named Mary Kay he liked to call "Cake" who absolutely adored him. But all was not as it seemed to be. In 1982 a woman named Carla Stuckle was accused of child abuse and was forced to name the father of the child as a condition of his return -- and she named her former professor, John Schmitz, who it turned out had another family on the side. Schmitz acknowledged that the boy was his, as well as the child's older sister, but he said "I do not and will not support him financially. It is her responsibility to take care of him." Conservative voters had slightly different standards in the 80s, I guess, because it ended Schmitz' career. When Stuckle died the two children were taken in by psychic Jeanne Dixon, and when Dixon died in 1997 the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.

Young "Cake" was evidently devastated by the experience. Or so she claimed when she was on trial years later for statutory rape under her married name, Mary Kay LeTourneau.
I wish I could say there was a happy ending to all of this, but it just gets worse. Johnny Wendell sent me an article today from the LA Times about what happened to her brother Joseph, who grew up to join the Bush Administration, of course, and has now been forced to resign in scandal:
When Joseph E. Schmitz took over as the Pentagon's inspector general in 2002, the largest watchdog organization in the federal government was under fire for failing to fully investigate a senior official, falsifying internal documents and mistreating whistle-blowers. He publicly pledged to clean it up.

Three years later, similar accusations now surround Schmitz.

Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general's office, congressional investigators and a review of internal e-mail and other documents.
For the past three years, Schmitz's job has been to throw a monkey wrench into any attempt to look into the multitudinous wrong-doings of any senior BushCo. appointees:
At one point, investigators even stopped telling Schmitz who was under investigation, substituting letter codes for the names of individuals during weekly briefings for fear that Schmitz would leak the information to Pentagon superiors, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Joe Schmitz is a sad, sad case, which does not excuse his guilt. But the larger -- and much sadder -- story is that even if the sick fucks of BushCo. are run out of office in the next election and never heard from again, their legacy of aggressive hate-mongering, intolerance, mental illness and complete moral bankruptcy will be with us for decades to come.

John Schmitz is long dead, we're still paying for his crimes.