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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Overheard in Blogtopia*

. From Kid Oakland: "Occasionally, Tenet had breakfast with Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser, in the White House mess and joked that he would share secrets with Rove that even Rice was not allowed to know."- Bob Woodward, "Plan of Attack," p. 67-8

. Tom Maguire, on the enigma of Libby's notes: "[O]ne wonders whether the other contacts mentioned by Fitzgerald were in Libby's "copious" notes.  If so, Libby needs to sue his attorneys for malpractice, since they should have reviewed that material before submitting it to Fitzgerald and allowing Libby to testify.  Of course, attorney ineptitude notwthstanding, if his notes included these contacts then it is easier for Libby to argue that he had no real intention of obstructing the investigation.  On the other hand, if they were not in his notes, why not?"

. Crooks & Liars gives us a bit of Nick Kristof: "Mr. Cheney said in a written statement: 'Because this is a pending legal proceeding, in fairness to all those involved, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding.'

Balderdash. If Mr. Cheney can't address the questions about his conduct, if he can't be forthcoming about the activities in his office that gave rise to the investigation, then he should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his resignation."

. Frank Rich: "To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in. But Watergate played out for nearly two years after the gang that burglarized Democratic headquarters was indicted by a federal grand jury; it even dragged on for more than a year after Nixon took "responsibility" for the scandal, sacrificed his two top aides and weathered the indictments of two first-term cabinet members. In those ensuing months, America would come to see that the original petty crime was merely the leading edge of thematically related but wildly disparate abuses of power that Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, would name 'the White House horrors.'"

. Meanwhile, the NYT sayd the idiot son remains ignorant if not blissful: "[S]ome insiders say they are not sure if Mr. Bush fully grasps the degree of the political danger he faces and the strength of the forces arrayed against him. And Republican strategists and members of Congress say that while the components of the renewal strategy are easy to identify, they will be hard to carry out in the current environment.

Should Mr. Fitzgerald not wrap up the investigation into Mr. Rove soon, it would at a minimum divert news media attention from Mr. Bush's effort to highlight his agenda."

. Roger: "I can see why Scooter thought Russert would lie for Cheney, given Russert's hosting duties in Cheney's informercials for war. But he should have known that Little Russ wouldn't give up his beachfront properties for the federal pen."

* And yes, Skippy coined that phrase.


More Scooter Blues

Since others have referenced it, I thought I'd transcribe exactly what John Dean had to say on Countdown last night (you can see it for yourself at Crooks & Liars):
OLBERMANN: There's only one Vice President, and he is mentioned by title if not by name. Is that the end of the damage this will do to him, or as you suggested could the whole thing be boiling down here to Mr. Libby at some point having decided to protect him and could this reference in this indictment be a kind of wormhole to some future investigation of the Vice President?

DEAN Well clearly Scooter Libby is the firewall for Dick Cheney at this point. I don't think they could go very far on any further investigation unless Mr. Libby were to change his mind and start talking about only things that he would know and was privy to with relation to the Vice President. I have no indication that he would do so, it may well be this is an effort by the Special Counsel to put some pressure on Mr. Libby to see how much heat that firewall will take, because he's got it on him right now.
Will Scooter bow to the pressure and give up Big Dick? Hard to say. But Josh Marshall has more on what Fitzgerald could hope to hear from Scooter. Citing Paragraphs 22-24 of the indictments (PDF), which state that Libby talked with "other officials" about what he should say about Joe Wilson in response to media inquiries, one of his readers connects the dots to a New York Times article from the same period which indicates that Cheney did, indeed, take part in these conversations that Fitzgerald is hoping to use against Libby.

Nicely done, we might add.

Update: Commenter Susan S. points us over to the BooMan Tribune, where lawyer and former SEC official Marty Ausssenberg has this to say:
[T]he real reason to lay out as much factual detail as he did was for Fitz to show the world (and in particular, the world within the White House) that he has the goods, and that he won't hesitate to drop the dime on some additional malefactors, particularly, Cheney. Let's face it: Libby is only the consigliere to Cheney's don. Even though the threat of spending 30 years in the pokey will be a powerful incentive for Libby to cut some kind of deal that might include turning on his boss, the possibility of the additional charges of revealing classified information, particularly against Cheney, is even more powerful since, presumably, Cheney does't appear to be at risk of a truth-telling-related indictment.

Let's agree on something else right now: Libby's case will never get to trial, primarily because Bush and Cheney will never allow such a trial to become precisely the kind of exposé of the administration's motives and actions in the run-up to the war they were worried the indictments would constitute. It would be their worst nightmare to have their war machinations presented to a jury of 12 ordinary citizens in the District of Columbia (read: predominantly African Americans) who would be sitting as proxies for the families of 2,000 plus military fatalities in Iraq and the plurality of the country that opposes the war. The risk there is not just exposure to the possibility of conviction in Washington, D.C., but a subsequent prosecution in The Hague as well.

Yes, my friends, Fitz is about to grab the pine tar rag, choose another, very special, piece of lumber and step back into the on-deck circle for the home run that is sure to follow. Batter up!
Oh yeah.



. Looks like everyone's struggling to keep up with Patrick Fitzgerald. NYT:
With the term of his grand jury at an end, Mr. Fitzgerald said he could present any new evidence to an already impaneled grand jury if needed.
Already impaneled? That's new.
Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, said in a statement he was confident Mr. Fitzgerald would conclude Mr. Rove had done nothing wrong.
Yeah and I remain confident that my dog Kobe will win the Nobel Prize. Whatever.
Mr. Libby could face a trial that seems likely to expose to the public some of the administration's innermost workings and probably require testimony by Mr. Cheney. And it only highlighted how many elements of the case remained obscured by the secrecy of the legal proceedings.
As Redd has said, you don't put everything you've got in the indictment. You know those fuckers are poring over the indictments right now wondering what else Fitzgerald has unearthed from underneath that slimy rock. Rove's probably on the phone right now. "Hey Ari! Long time no speak. No, no, not mad at all. Say, what exactly did you say to the big Irish dude?"
Mr. Fitzgerald was spotted Friday morning outside the office of James Sharp, Mr. Bush's personal lawyer. Mr. Bush was interviewed about the case by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what discussions, if any, were taking place between the prosecutor and Mr. Sharp. Mr. Sharp did not return a phone call, and Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.
Wow. I have absolutely no way to read that one, and certainly nothing that swings positive for Dubya.
At his news conference, Mr. Fitzgerald did not explain his reasons for taking no action against Mr. Rove, even though the prosecutor had advised him that he might be indicted and had continued interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence as recently as midweek.
Well, fortunately Mr. Rove himself provided some illumination through statements this morning to the LA Times:
As recently as Tuesday, for example, prosecutors began to focus on a 2003 e-mail exchange between Rove and a White House colleague. The exchange could be seen as supporting Rove's contention that he had not intentionally misled investigators.

Lawyers familiar with the case believe these e-mails were one element of a broad, eleventh-hour review of evidence — coupled with negotiations by Rove's lawyers — that led Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald not to include him in Friday's action.


The e-mail exchange reviewed by prosecutors was between Rove and former White House media spokesman Adam Levine, and it focused on a topic unrelated to Plame or Wilson.

The exchange occurred several hours after Rove had talked to Time reporter Cooper. Prosecutors went back and interviewed Levine again this week, asking whether Rove had mentioned his conversations with Cooper. Rove did not initially tell investigators about his conversation with Cooper. In another session, Rove recalled that he had spoken with the reporter.

Levine told investigators that Rove had not brought up Plame or the Cooper conversation — suggesting that the topics were not priorities for Rove at the time.

"Levine's acknowledgment that the Cooper conversation did not come up in my client's conversation with Rove seems to support a theory that it just wasn't that important to Rove and could therefore have been easily forgotten," said Daniel French, Levine's attorney.
Okay. So let me get this straight. This is your fucking defense? After twenty-two months and untold man hours, we're supposed to believe that Fitzgerald abandoned the idea of pressing perjury charges against Rove because he didn't mention something to Adam Levine?

Fucking hell, I'll be your alibi, Turdy. I didn't talk with you about it, either.

If that's the best spin Rove can come up with, stick a fork in him 'cos he's done.

. For some wonderful edification on the finer points of the indictments, go and visit emptywheel over at the next hurrah, who is going over them with a fine tooth comb. The depth of her knowledge is just amazing.

. Oh and take a peek over at DKos, where one of the top o' the recommended list is a diary about how Redd got it right and the MSM got it wrong.

. Digby: "Can there be any doubt that the Bush administration bet the farm on the idea that the press would keep their mouths shut? And can we all see that they were very close to being right? If Fitzgerald hadn't been willing to take it to the mat, they would have gotten off scott free. "

. Gilliard: "The funny thing is that after five years of Bush, people are so cynical that they think he can just throw up a few lies and walk away. He can't, much less pardon anyone. All the conservative bleeting about the indictment is just that, bleeting. It isn't serious....No, this is isn't Watergate, this is worse, because the criminality goes right to the WH. No henchmen acting on their own. It is likely this came from Cheney himself."


Friday, October 28, 2005

Big Dick, the Big Squeeze and the Smoking Gun

That Patrick Fitzgerald considers lying in the course of an investigation a very serious crime is certain after today's press conference. If you lie to him and it inhibits him from pursuing information he needs to complete his task, he is not going to take it lightly. As the indictments against Libby showed today, he is not fucking around here.

Who has lied to him? Well, we know Judy Miller wasn't exactly forthcoming with him -- he had to jog her memory with a few notes before she gave complete testimony. But she was not indicted, presumably because he was more interested in the information she had to offer with regard to the "bigger fish" he has to fry.

He notably asked her questions about Dick Cheney.

Did Karl Rove lie? Well, his four trips before the grand jury indicate that Mr. Fitzgerald might think so. And many news organizations are reporting he is not yet off the hook.

Scooter lied. We know that, or at least today have damn good reason to believe it. Today the indictments name (by job title) individuals who presumably will testify against Scooter if it ever comes down to that, Catherine Martin and Ari Fleischer among them.

Let's take a look at one of the assertions in the indictment, p. 5, pp. 9:
On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.
Now, later in the indictment, p. 20 to be exact, we are given Libby's testimony from March 5, 2004:
I was very clear to say reporters are telling us that because in my mind I still didn't know it as a fact. I thought I was -- all I had was this information that was coming from reporters.
Then again, on p. 21, from his March 24, 2004 testimony:
Q. And you're, you're certain as you sit here today that every reporter you told that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, you sourced it back to other reporters?

A. Yes, sir, because it was important for what I was saying and because it was -- that's what -- that's how I did it.
Now, Dick Cheney was questioned by Patrick Fitzgerald in June of 2004. We know that Fitzgerald knew about the June 12 meeting with Cheney because Libby's notes told him so.

Let's take an abject, flying leap of logic here and presume that Cheney told Fitzgerald the truth about this meeting, as verified by Libby's notes, which was that he told Libby that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA at this time. Why oh why did it take another year and a half for Fitzgerald to bring Libby up on perjury and obstruction charges if that's all he was going to bring? And why did he need to throw Judy in the can to do it if he already had the corroborating testimony he needed to prove Libby was lying?

Okay, now let's make the more reasonable assumption and say the VP didn't tell this to Fitzgerald at the time, but that in the wake of the discovery of the notes, Cheney indulged in the Judy Miller "I forgot" excuse. After all, Fitzgerald gave Karl Rove three subsequent opportunities to "refresh" his memory, right? Right. It's only logical that he would give the VP the same opportunity to come in and play it straight with him, right?

Except as far as we know, he hasn't.

Fitzgerald takes attempts to obstruct his investigation really, really seriously. He doesn't like being lied to. So he just lets Cheney skate, right? Never even follows up? Somehow I don't think so.

Maybe you can come up with another more reasonable explanation for all of the above, but the only one I can come up with is that Fitzgerald is still gunning for Big Dick.


John Dean Says Scooter is the Cheney Firewall

Crooks & Liars is taking a nap and then going to a party with Mark Kleiman but tomorrow they will have the video up of John Dean on Countdown tonight with Keith Olbermann. The transcript is not available yet but Dean basically reiterated what David Gergen said earlier today, that Fitzgerald's tactics are probably meant to squeeze Scooter. He referred to Scooter as the firewall to Cheney, and said that the indictments brought down today were quite probably intended to test the resilience of that firewall.

We've known since Judith Miller's testimony that Fitzgerald has been inquiring about Cheney. At the very least today's indictments, if brought to trial, will give Fitzgerald the opportunity to question Cheney on the witness stand as he testifies against his former Chief of Staff. And at worst? Well, the threat of thirty years might make a guy like Scooter rat Big Dick out sooner rather than later.

Then again, maybe loads of character will cause Scooter to do the honorable thing and take the thirty years.

(((BWA HA HA HA HA!!)))

Update: Swopa, on the WaPo comment that Rove said something which "gave Fitzgerald pause" at the last minute:
But what about Rove? It's weird enough to consider what Karl could possibly have offered that kept Fitzgerald from deciding whether to prosecute him -- although it's easy to imagine Rove and his lawyers devoting every waking moment the past few weeks trying to invent something. (Aside from the probably vain hope that Fitzgerald would accept a bad deal out of a desire to wrap up his investigation by the time his grand jury expired, there's the simple incentive of staying out of the headlines as the first Bushite official indicted ... even if he gets nailed next week, the font size won't be quite so large.)

But maybe there's a connection between the two postponed sets of decisions. Did Rove tease Fitzgerald with the possibility of turning on the president or vice president? If so, is there a chance in hell that he meant it?
Now that would be positively Rovian.

Update 2: Eriposte sends us this link. Anything sound familiar?

Update 3: There is a video of John Dean on Countdown here. Thanks to netro in the comments for the link. The one of Lawrence O'Donnell is excellent, too.

Update 4: Mark Kleiman:
There was nothing to keep Fitzgerald from saying, had it been true, something like: "The investigative phase of this case is now over. The grand jury has indicted the only person we thought, on the evidence we now have, had provably committed a crime worthy of prosecution. Of course it's possible that, in the course of the trial, new information might emerge that would implicate other people, and if that happened those people might be indicted. But as of now, we're not investigating anything or anyone else, and my previous request that witnesses and lawyers not discuss the case with one another or with the press is therefore no longer in effect."
Mark Kleiman is a very smart man. Have I said that today? Hope he and Amato (C&L) are having a bang-up time at the Wes Clark bash.

Update 5: Sweet leapin' Jesus -- me, Kevin Drum and Andrew Sullivan all agree on something, namely that Fitzgerald may be contemplating prosecuting the leak itself. No, I'm not kidding, read the Sully link, you won't be sorry.


Patrick Fitzgerald, David Radler and the Ghost of Fitzmas Future

Aug 19, 2005 (AXcess News) Chicago - F. David Radler, the ex-publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, was charged with criminal fraud by federal prosecutors for his role in stealing $32 million from the paper's parent company, Hollinger International.

Patrick Fitzgerald acquitted himself superbly today. A country weaned on the corrupt, leering hackery of Ken Starr -- who squandered millions of taxpayer dollars in a partisan witch-hunt -- got to watch as a guy with an inner core of decency got up and frankly spoke about his investigation with professionalism and honesty. We got to be proud of the Justice Department again. We got to enjoy a moment of confidence that if there is a bottom to be gotten to in all of this there is a man in charge who will honorably and doggedly find it.

But hopes were set high that an array of GOP scalps would be waving in the wind by this time today, and that was not the case. Did we pin them unrealistically on a man and a situation to whom they did not rightfully belong? Perhaps.

But perhaps the only thing in the situation that is wonting is time.

If I were Karl Rove right now, I'd be kicking myself around the room. The thing that got him into this mess in the first place is spinning shit he didn't need to spin, and it looks like he's done it once again.

Fitzgerald held his cards close today, and gave no indication that Rove was on the hook for anything, giving pause to many who were hoping that he would give some signal that Turdy's goose was yet to be cooked. But on Thursday evening, Rove's people were spinning furiously to everyone who would sit still -- NYT, WSJ, AP -- telling them that Rove was not going to be indicted today, but his attorneys had been told that he was "still under investigation."

Wow. If they'd just shut up, all the talking heads would be chattering today about how Rove was in the clear. Flip on the TV and listen for a while, and hear how even partisan wonks like Andrea Mitchell and Bob Woodward -- who are certainly parroting every other talking point Unka Karl sent them out with today -- are still not saying that Rove is in the clear. They don't know what the fuck to say. The queen is dead and the Borgs are are wandering around aimlessly bashing into one another.

So what are we to think of all of this? Well, consider:

1. Fitzgerald gave nothing away today. Or, damn near nothing. However he let it be known that he could not investigate the underlying claims of violations of the Identities Protection Act because another crime was being committed that prevented him from doing so, namely the crime Libby stands accused of.

2. He's not done. As he said, "We recognize that we want to get this thing done. I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently to be sure that we've done what we could to make intelligent decisions about when to end the investigation.

3. In the Libby indictment, most individuals who are cooperating witnesses are indicated by their job title -- Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs, Under Secretary of State, White House Press Secretary (guess that explains where Ari Fleischer's been in all this, he's a cooperating witness). The exception is the anonymous "Official A," who purportedly spoke with Robert Novak in the week prior to July 11, 2003 (p. 8, pp 21). That's a distinction you would make if you were still investigating someone and you did not want to prejudice that investigation.

4. When pressed about whether members of the press (read: Novakula) could not discuss their dealings with the grand jury openly, Fitzgerald said he had requested that they remain circumspect so as not to compromise the investigation. But when asked later whether this now meant that they were released from this obligation, it was the only time I saw Fitzgerald waffle during the press conference -- he wasn't prepared for that one, and he said he couldn't answer. If the investigation were really over, then why not? Given the statements he made regarding the importance of the press, wouldn't he want to free everyone up as soon as possible?

5. As Josh Marshall and Billmon have noted, it was indicated both in the indictments and in Fitzgerald's press conference that there might have been enough evidence to go after Libby for Identities Protection. Why didn't he? Especially since the one time Fitzgerald stepped beyond his role as Special Counsel to editorialize was when he underscored the damage that had been done to the intelligence community by the outing of Plame. This guy probably hugs the Patriot Act in his sleep. He is a total law'n'order true believer. He would not pull his punches on that front, and has in the past been extremely aggressive -- some would say draconian -- in protecting what he saw as threats to the national security.

Now we enter the realm of -- admittedly -- pure speculation. But Fitzgerald has Libby on 30 years worth of counts, and he's got him cold. No wiggle room. Libby may not do 30 years, but he ain't doing 6 months. He is F-U-C-K-E-D fucked. It was the Veep's boon companion himself, David Gergen, who said on MSNBC today that this is squeeze time. It really matters little to a man of 55 whether he is looking at 30 years or 60 -- he'd rather have 60 thrown at him if some of them were shaky and he thought he could use the wobbly ones to get out of the rest.

There is no wobble in the indictments handed down today. It's pretty clear. Libby can deal or swing.

Which brings us to David Radler. Who is David Radler? David Radler was the #2 man at Hollinger International. The day after he was indicted by the US Attorney for the State of Illinois Patrick J. Fitzgerald for looting money from the stockholders of Hollinger, he announced he'd rather "cooperate with investigators" (read: rat out his boss, Conrad Black) than spend the rest of his life perfecting the ultimate starch job in the prison laundry. Radler decided he would take Door #2 and do twenty-nine unpleasant months and pay a fine when the prospect of life in prison became a reality.

That's just the way Patrick Fitzgerald works. If the Hollinger case, and the Ryan case, and the Daley Case, and the Al Quaeda case and the Gambino case are any indication, Fitzgerald will now use what he's got to get more.

So if I was Big Dick Cheney, I wouldn't be sleeping very easy tonight. At the very best, his chief aide was just popped for lying to protect him. Do you think Andrea Mitchell could spare some TV time from mewling over what a loss it will be not to have Scooter in the Hamptons during the summer to discuss the serious implications of the Vice President's role in this highly dubious affair? Well probably not, but if there's a God in his heaven tonight the tightly-stretched skin of her face will soon snap and whiplash her into inactivity.

Do not make this mistake of thinking a presidential pardon will be a panacea for those involved. Fitzgerald's honorable and straighforward presentation today made it nigh impossible for the Rovians to fall back on their old tricks and launch a smear campaign -- Matthews damn near crowned him Pope this afternoon, and any attempt at a pardon will just make Bush look like an impeachment-worthy crook out to thwart the efforts of an honest public servant. Every solution they can come up with seems to beget more problems.

There is no joy in Bushville tonight.


Smoking Guns

There are smoking guns all over the place in the Libby indictment.

1. p. 7 - 19. "Not earlier than June 2003, but on or before July 8, 2003, the Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs learned from another government official that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, and advised LIBBY of this information."

Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs from 2001-2004 was Catherine Martin. From Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article, 10/20/03:
In response to claims that Joe Wilson had circulated his Niger report prior to the State of the Union Address, Martin denied that Cheney had any knowledge of it. “The vice president doesn’t know Joe Wilson and did not know about his trip until he read about it in the press,” said Martin.
She learned from ANOTHER governmentn official? Whole lot of people got some 'splainin to do.

2. p. 8 - 21. "On or about July 10 or July 11, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House ("Official A") who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson's trip. Libby was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson's wife."

Who is "Official A?" Rove?

3. How many friggin' people told Libby that "Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?" In addition to Catherine Martin:

. The Vice President (June 2003)
. "a senior CIA officer" (June 11, 2003)
. Undersecretary of State (Bolton? Grossman?) June 12, 2003

Can you spell "conspiracy?"

Fitzgerald coming on TV now with Jack Eckenrode. One of the Chicago Trib people who covers him told me he never needs to look down at his notes and speaks from memory, even when reciting complex charges. Looks to be true (no Bushian bozo teleprompter here).

Update: John over at C&L will have press conference & questions up as soon as Fitz is finishd.

Update 2: Think Progress has the PDF of the indictment.

Update 3: Digby: "This is the first time in 130 years that a sitting White House official has been indicted. The last time was in the Grant administration. Honesty. Integrity. Honor. Dignity."

Update 4: Gergen on MSNBC -- "I feel like the prosecutor feels he hasn't gotten the truth from [Libby] yet and he's going to squeeze him."

(graphic by Valley Girl)


Libby Indicted on Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and False Statements

Andrea Mitchell Can't Fucking Read -- MSNBC just announced that Fitzgerald is telling the Democratic members of the House that in response to their letter, he is going to give them the report they are requesting wrapping up TraitorGate.

Then she read it again and went "oops" -- he's NOT going to issue the report, he doesn't have the authority to do so.

Hopelessly compromised, dissembling shill and GOP political operative Mitchell accused Democrats of wanting a report so they could "politicize" the matter. How about you stop reporting on this until you tell us what your involvement is? Maybe people just want to know what's going on. Is that a political request, Andrea? To want to know what happened here? To want the truth about why we went into Iraq in the first place? Are you saying Democrats are the only ones who want to know why 2,000 Americans are dead?

Well I guess that just might be true.

Update: 9:30 am - Still no docs up at Fitzgerald's website. John from Crooks & Liars is on the case, calling DC and Chicago, who both say that they thought the documents were up. Amato is trying to smooth talk the chick who answers the phone. I'm sure that means it'll be up any moment.

Update: Libby has been indicted on false statements, obstruction of justice and perjury. Five count indictment.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rumor Mill


Rumor mill says announcement of Libby's indictment comes tomorrow, Rove's does not (sorry) but only because he is still under investigation -- this gj gets extended for a short while -- the notes that hung Libby were part of the original document discovery but they were on a hard drive Libby tried to wipe and Fitzgerald reconstituted -- take this all with LARGE GRAIN OF SALT washed down with some hard cider because as we all know by now Fitzgerald's done a superb job of plugging leaks in his office and we are all just extrapolating from very scant information.

Fitzmas eve stocking stuffers:

. video of Fitzgerald testifying before the 9/11 commission, his testimony starts 1 hr. 39 min. into it (it's quite long)

. video profile of Fitzgerald on PBS NewsHour

And via David E., we came across this by Darrel W.:

Twas the night before Fitzmas, and in the White House
Every one was scared shitless, and Bush was quite soused
The indictments were hanging like Damoceles’ sword
As verminous oxen prepared to be gored

The perps were all sleepless, curled fetal in bed
While visions of prison cells loomed in each head
And Dick in his jammies, and George in his lap
Were sweating and swearing and looking like crap

When out on the web there arose such a clatter
The blogs and the forums were buzzing with chatter
Away to the PC Rove ran like a flash
He booted his browser and cleared out his cache

The rumors that flew through the cold autumn air
Made Dubya shiver with angry despair
When what to his horror-filled eyes did he spy?
A bespectacled man with a brown suit and tie!

With an impartial manner that gave Bush the shits
He knew in a moment it must be St. Fitz!
With unwavering voice, his indictments they came
He cleared out his throat and he called them by name:

Now Scooter, Now Libby,
Now Blossoming Turd,
Now Cheney, dear Cheney,
Yes, you are the third
To the bench of the court
Up the steps, down the hall
Now come along, come along,
Come along, all!

He then became silent, and went right to work
He filed the indictments and turned with a jerk
And pointing his finger at justice’s scale
Said, “The people be served, and let fairness prevail.”

He then left the room, to his team gave a nod
And the sound could be heard of a crumbling facade
And we all did exclaim, as he faded from sight
“Merry Fitzmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Update: NYT and Drudge reporting same things -- but Times also says:
Mr. Fitzgerald's preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the case did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.
I would imagine Blackberrys are still flying and anything is still possible.

Update 2: From the WaPo, who have been wrong on just about everything this week:
Though there was considerable speculation among lawyers for witnesses in the case that Fitzgerald could choose to empanel a new grand jury and extend his investigation, two legal sources said he has indicated he does not plan to take that route and will wrap up the case today.
Well even a blind pig can find a turnip every now and again, we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Update 3: From the LA Times:
People close to the investigation said that, as of late Thursday afternoon, Rove had received no notice that he was going to be indicted. Some observers took that as a sign that the longtime Bush strategist might emerge from the investigation without being charged.

But others said that Fitzgerald might be waiting until Friday to alert those being charged to reduce the chances of last-minute leaks about his intentions.
High-stakes poker is behing played here, throughout the pages of these papers and beyond. They are hardly objective, dispassionate observers.

Update 4: Can we just say the timing on this one is fucked? Just up from the NYT, an article by Doug Jehl on the FBI counterintelligence case into the Niger documents:
The continuing inquiry into the source of the forged documents has been conducted separately from the investigation by the special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald into the leak case, which has to do with whether Bush administration officials committed crimes related to disclosing the identity of Mr. Wilson's wife, an undercover C.I.A. officer.

Law enforcement officials say they do not believe that the two issues are related.
I am so not happy about having THIS thrown at me just as I was getting ready for a good night's sleep before tomorrow's whatever-it-may-bring.

Update 5: AP hearing the same thing:
A person outside the legal profession familiar with recent developments in the case said Thursday night that Rove's team does not believe he is out of legal jeopardy yet but likely would be spared bad news Friday when the White House fears the first indictments will be issued.

Fitzgerald signaled Thursday he might keep Rove under continuing investigation, sparing him from immediate charges, the person said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the grand jury probe.
"Outside the legal profession." Wow, did Marc Corallo get on it that fast?

Update 6: From the WSJ (I'll spare you the bs about Turdy being "a superb political strategist") :
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff, was informed yesterday evening that he may not be charged today but remains in legal jeopardy, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, who meets with jurors this morning, has zeroed in on potential wrongdoing by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and is likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements. The testimony of reporters who have been witnesses in the case has contradicted Mr. Libby's public statements.


It is possible that others in the administration could face indictment as well, including whoever originally leaked the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak, the first to publish it in July 2003.
Boy I sure would like an answer to that one tomorrow, eh?

No, no. And this is not even a firecracker, but it's true. They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.

So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.
Or so he said on Larry King tonight. Hey Bob, while you're spewing bullshit, can we hear the one about how Patrick Fitzgerald is turning the United States into a banana republic by jailing Judy Miller?

And you thought we forgot.


Mortituri Te Salutamus

. Reuters reports a Fitzgerald sighting today:
Fitzgerald spent the day in Washington with his deputies as he prepared to wrap up the two-year investigation.

The prosecutor, who has joked about not looking good in photos, took a short break to walk to nearby Antons barber shop, where he got a shoe shine.


"He was very friendly and he looked happy. He was very relaxed," one of the owners of the shop said, adding: "The shoe shine guy doesn't ask questions. Customers have a right to privacy."
Boy, we hope he didn't take our rumpled suit comments to heart. Ken Starr was always quite polished and he was a dick.

. Jonathan Chiat has an interesting rebuttal to Kay Bailey Bitcheson and others who are pooh-poohing perjury:
It's certainly true that not even Karl Rove deserves to go to prison for accidental or inconsequential misstatements. But, if Rove didn't do anything illegal in the first place, then why would he obstruct justice or perjure himself in some substantive way? Clinton's motive for lying was perfectly clear: He wanted to avoid the personal and political embarrassment of confessing his perfectly legal affair with Monica Lewinsky. Indeed, a whole strand of Starr's investigation was set up in order to trap Clinton into lying under oath about his sex life. What motive would Bush's men have to lie except to thwart the prosecution? 
. Jeralyn (who called the whole Scooter/WHIG thing from the get-go) places her bets.

. Digby offers advice to professional bloviators:
This is why we shove their previous mantras about perjury and obstruction and "rule of law" in their faces. This is why we repeat the words that Bush used in the 2000 campaign about "not only doing what is legal but what is right." This is why we always, always, bring this back to the fact that 2000 Americans are dead and tens of thousands are disabled because of a war that the administration lied about --- lies that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby tried to cover up.
. Sean Hannity takes a break from his role as king of the chronic masturbators of Hannidate to bash Fitzgerald, according to Think Progress. Wow. I mean, what, no unpaid parking tickets?

. TBogg wonders if Condi has been a-late night cavorting though the DC piano-bars with Kenn Mehlman, "who can belt out a mean The Man I Love after a few Sweet Bad Mamas, lemme tell you."

. NY Daily News: "While White House staffers were tense, Fitzgerald's team relaxed from their stoic, all-business demeanor. The cheery prosecutors shared an elevator ride with a News reporter and cracked up over a private joke." Roger: "Must be the one that starts, "Libby, Rove and Dick Cheney go into a cell...."

. And IBD is reporting that an announcement of indictments tomorrow could trigger a sell-off of the dollar, Treasurys and stocks. For all the robber barons who put these crooks in office -- don't say we didn't warn you. Everything they touch turns to shit.


The Wheels Are Coming Off

Q. What's the worst thing that will happen to BushCo. today?
A. Well it ain't Harriet Miers

Murray Waas:
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.
Boy when it comes to treason these clowns make Aldrich Ames look like a piker.


The Viagra Pen and the Non-Speaking Spokesman

"The spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Sanborn, refused to comment." I can't tell you how many times I've read that line. Every time I open a paper, it seems. And I'm always thinking, I want this guy's job -- he could be phoning it in from the high Himalayas for all we know.

So when I called him up the other day I expected the same thing. Since I'm working on a post on Fitzgerald, I had to do the obligatory request for an interview, which I knew he'd turn down, which he did.

"One more thing," I said. "I'd like to know if you could confirm the Viagra pen story."

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.

"Refresh my memory," he said.

I said I was told that Mr. Fitzgerald likes to wave a pen around in his press conferences, and that someone planted a Viagra pen in the green room prior to one of them. He picked it up and spent the entire press conference waving it around like -- well, like a Viagra pen.


"I will confirm that Pat has been seen on occasion holding a pen."

"Okay," I said. "I've also heard that you now regularly sweep the green room for pens."

More silence. Then finally:

"I'm tempted to say something sarcastic..."

Come on, Randall, you can do it, come on...I know you've got it in you...all those pent up comments from all those years of "no comment"...

"...but I'm a non-speaking spokesman. I've got to stick to my reputation," he laughed.


"I will confirm that it's been a while since I've seen him with a pen or any other sharp object."

Okay, Randall. Well, that's more than anyone else has gotten out of you in two years.

We may be hearing more soon. I spoke with a veteran Washington insider last night (at 12:30 in the morning, no less) who indicated that even if there are no indictments coming down this week, we'll probably see some sort of statement from Fitzgerald. The nation is all wound up for a Friday deadline, and the source speculated that the good will Fitzgerald had engendered would be compromised if nothing was forthcoming.

The source indicated we might see Fitzgerald on the courthouse lawn, giving a careful, general explanation of what is going on. "Prosecutors need legitimacy," said the source, who says that Fitzgerald might explain that since the testimony of the New York Times reporter was only recently forthcoming, and more information about what happened is coming down every day, his office needed time to follow it all up.

"I would hope that Fitzgerald would have just enough sensitivity to realize that he's got to be really careful and shouldn't piss people off," said the source, who indicated that a vacuum of silence would be likely to bring down a flurry of half-angry editorials that have heretofore been scant.

But let's be clear -- Fitzgerald has not been silent. His actions have spoken volumes. Showing up at Karl Rove's attorney's office was meant to publicly telegraph that Rove was still on the hook and keep the pressure up on him, and keep him from shifting all the public scrutiny onto Libby. Signing a new office lease was a big -- well, Viagra pen to those who have been chirping in the media that he might just fold up his tent and go home. It was a clear indication that indictments will most certainly be coming down and he is digging in for the long haul.

I have a feeling Mr. Sanborn's single-sentence job is about to get a lot more complex. And that we will speak again.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ugly/Not Ugly?

New article in the WaPo, who are still smarting after having their asses handed to them when the NYT scooped them earlier this week:
But after grand jurors left the federal courthouse before noon Wednesday, it was unclear whether Fitzgerald had spelled out the criminal charges he might ask them to consider, or whether he had asked them to vote on any proposed indictments. Fitzgerald's legal team did not present the results of a grand jury vote to the court Wednesday, which he is required to do within days of such a vote.
Doesn't sound like anybody needs to be setting their alarm clocks early tomorrow morning.
Wednesday's three-hour grand jury session came after agents and prosecutors this week conducted last-minute interviews with Adam Levine, a member of the White House communications team at the time of the leak, about his conversations with Rove, and with Plame's neighbors in Washington D.C.
Who is Adam Levine? Well, he worked in the White House as a Communications Aide from 2001-2003. According to the NYT, "Levine left the Bush administration in December after working as the principal liaison between the White House and television networks." And according to CNN, he was "one of the few press officials at the White House to answer reporters’ calls [during the Africa trip].”

Laura Rozen wrote in Feb. 2004:
The White House press aide interviewed this week by FBI officials in relation to the Plame leak investigation, Adam Levine, apparently left the White House in December. Which is when John Aschroft recused himself from the investigation. Now several news organizations report that Levine's job was to serve as a link between the White House press office and television networks. An old Knight Ridder story refers to "Adam Levine, the assistant press secretary at the White House who coordinates the Sunday appearances."


It's kind of interesting -- that Adam Levine's job was to book White House officials on TV news and talk shows. He doesn't sound like he's the kind of senior official or has the job description to have likely known in intimate detail who's who at the CIA. He would have no reason to know about Plame's role, except had he been told by his superiors to try to get his contacts say at NBC to follow this other side of the Wilson story. (my emphasis)
"Kind of interesting" -- well now that you mention it, yes it is.

But not wanting the big boys to feel left out, our Mr. Fitzgerald is sweating them, too:
People close to Rove said he fears a perjury charge because he did not initially tell the grand jury that he had spoken with Time reporter Matthew Cooper about Plame before her name was publicly disclosed. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to comment yesterday.

A lawyer other than Luskin who is familiar with Rove's legal strategy said the aide testified that he believed he was trading on publicly available information in discussing Plame with reporters.
Yeah, now if he could just remember who it was publicly available to.

And in other news that should be heartening to those who feel themselves in a protracted state of coitus interruptus, Steve Clemons reports:
Patrick Fitzgerald is expanding not only into a new website -- but also into more office space.

Fitzgerald's office is at 1400 New York Avenue, NW, 9th Floor in Washington.

What I have learned is that the Office of the Special Counsel has signed a lease this week for expanded office space across the street at 1401 New York Avenue, NW.

Another coincidence? More office space needed to shut down the operation?
My knowledge of architecture is sketchy, but I would say this building has an inner beauty that totally mitigates its ugly factor.


The Man With the Plan

When I was an 18 years old, I worked as a lackey at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. I had to do the stuff nobody else wanted to do -- consigned to writing about the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival or spending the afternoon at City Hall looking through microfiche and counting the number of radio waves in the air because some wack job had wandered in off the street and convinced Editor-in-Chief Bruce B. Bruggman (or "B3" as we knew him) that they were giving everyone brain cancer, More often than not, my efforts turned up fruitless, to which B3 would always respond: "there is no story -- that's a story!"

Proving once again to my eternal vindication that this is not always true, Salon Magazine runs a filler piece on Fitzgerald today:
It can also be recorded in these pages that rumors had already been making the rounds through the courthouse for nearly an hour about the substance of the first "off-the-record" utterance, a major event by the man who holds the nation's political future in his briefcase. Apparently, he had said, "I'm leaving," according to several secondhand accounts. In other words, Fitzgerald appears to have told reporters, "off-the-record," that his session behind closed doors with the grand jury was done for the day. There would not be, at least immediately, a press conference at the courthouse steps. No frog marching of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby or Karl Rove. No relief to the weeks of building speculation over the fate of the Bush White House.

For the nearly two dozen print reporters and television producers who had spent the day scrambling through the corridors of the courthouse like fevered rats sniffing for cheese, this was a bit of a letdown. The pack had proved itself particularly inept Wednesday, always standing on the wrong side of the grand jury door or in the hallways, rustling papers and thumbing BlackBerrys, as confused as everyone else. Reporters nodded and smiled in unison at members of the grand jury as they filed in and out of the elevator, cradling coffee or walking on canes, wearing winter coats or shouldering large purses. But that was it. Hardly a word was exchanged. To pass the time, reporters traded theories about what was going on. One cable news producer cradled a walkie-talkie and could be heard at one point saying to an associate at another position in or around the courthouse, "Red dog, this is Grey Fox." Another reporter, betraying some frustration, mused about her own profession, "We sound like such losers, and that's because we are."

The morning had certainly started on a somewhat more optimistic note. Fitzgerald, upon entering the courthouse, had stayed firmly "on-the-record."

"Today the day?" one reporter asked him after he had passed through the metal detector. "I've got no comment, sorry," he said, striking a sympathetic tone.

Another reporter tried a less direct tack. Referring to the swarm of cameramen outside the courtroom who had all but assaulted him with their lenses when he arrived at the courthouse, she said, "They are getting some good shots of you."

Fitzgerald, who knows the whole world is waiting for him to speak, took the bait. "Oh," he said, in an admirably self-deprecating tone. "There is no good shot of me."
Well, they got one thing right -- the future of the nation is riding on the shoulders of the big man in the rumpled suit. All in all, I have to say that compared to the deeply furrowed brows and haggard grimaces worn by those he is pursuing, he seems to be holding up remarkably well.

Which goes to show that nothing does wonders for the complexion like a clean conscience. Maybe there is a story after all.


Is That A Kevlar Vest Under Your Coat, Patrick?

Okay, watched Hardball & Countdown, several points:

1. Somebody needs to press Fitzgerald's suit, pronto.

2. Since when are Tucker Carlson and Bob Shrum experts on anything but world-class wankery?

3. Mike Allen (Time Magazine) sez if Fitzgerald got indictments today, he can go back to the targets and say "plead to this or have a few more on Friday."

4. Allen says of Fitzgerald's appearance on Tuesday at Rove's attorneys -- "he knew he'd be seen." Can we say we appreciate that kind of flair for the dramatic?

5. On Countdown, Jim Vandehei (WaPo) went on the line -- no GJ extension, everything will definitely be over by Friday. You're on the line now, Jim. With so much activity still going on, it's really remarkable of you to stick your neck out like that. We'll all see how good your crystal ball is.

5. For TraitorGate: The Movie, Atrios was the first one to suggest Harriet Sansom Harris for Judy Miller (above). Agreed. And Philip Seymour Hoffman as anyone.


Today on the Tom-Toms

Just got off the phone with a source who has appeared before Fitzgerald's grand jury who thinks that the Special Counsel is going to "go wide" with indictments -- i.e., a lot of people are going to get nailed. And from what I'm hearing, I agree. Which is why I put so little stock in anyone who's running around saying "oooh, this just in -- Rove and Libby are going to be indicted! Announcement tomorrow!" That just lights my bullshit meter up like a pinball machine. Man, you are really out on a limb with that prediction, aren't ya?

Also, a grand juror was overheard waving to a reporter and saying "see you Friday" when they left today. So we may not be quite there yet.

The bottom line in all this is that at this point, I think nobody knows what's going to happen, so take all predictions with a grain of salt, even this one. I hate to throw cold water on everyone's expectations for tomorrow, but even amidst the hearty speculation we like to engage in around here we also like to ground things in reality. And the reality is if Fitzgerald is still pursuing an investigation, he's probably going to want some time to use that info in his "come to Jesus" talks with the perps.

So in the mean time relax, have yourself a chocolate milk and pay our new friend Ron Rosenbaum a visit, he admitted to being a "firedoglake-aholic" today in the New York Observer (he's got a crush on Redd).

You gotta love him for that.

Update: Lawrence O'Donnell agrees: "Experienced federal prosecutors are saying today that they expect Fitzgerald to extend the term of the grand jury even if he obtains indictments this week."


Sic Transit Judy

Atrios points us to the WSJ:
New York Times reporter Judith Miller has begun discussing her future employment options with the newspaper, including the possibility of a severance package, a lawyer familiar with the matter, said yesterday.
Known in the vernacular as THE BOOT.
Mr. Sulzberger and New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller both indicated they wished they had known more about the circumstances that led Ms. Miller to go to jail rather than reveal who told her the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
Which is why it strikes us as odd that they never bothered to ask. I mean, how hard could it have been to roll over and say "hey baby, as long as you're up can you grab me a piece of pie, and by the way that WMD stuff...was it all just bullshit?"
Ms. Miller's attorney has said the reporter isn't a target of the investigation, but she could be called as a witness if Mr. Fitzgerald obtains indictments in the case. New York Times Co. has been paying Ms. Miller's legal bills, but it isn't clear whether they would continue to do so if she is no longer employed by the company.
Well if Judy's going to be footing her own legal bills, I guess a $1.2 million book deal would sure come in helpful, huh? Well, I spoke yesterday with someone directly involved with the negotiation of that book deal, who says -- there is no book deal.

Let's print her up a sign and plunk her down in front of the Times building -- "Will shill for legal bills."

(graphics love to Valley Girl)


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bon Appetit

Bill Frist (R-TN): To not remove President Clinton for grand jury perjury lowers uniquely the Constitution's removal standard, and thus requires less of the man who appoints all federal judges than we require of those judges themselves.

I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail.

Lindsey Graham: Should he be impeached? Very quickly; the hardest decision I think I will ever make. Learning that the president lied to the grand jury about sex, I still believe that every president of the United States, regardless of the matter they called to testify about before a grand jury should testify truthfully and if they don't they should be subject to losing their job.

I believe that about Bill Clinton and I'll believe that about the next president. If it had been a Republican, I would have still believed that and I would hope that if a Republican person had done all this that some of us would've went (sic) over and told him, You need to leave office.

Henry Hyde (R-ILL, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee): But when circumstances require you to participate in a formal court proceeding and under oath mislead the parties and the court by lying, that is a public act and deserves public sanction. Perjury is a crime with a five-year penalty.

James Sensenbrenner: (R-WI): What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law. Our failure to bring President Clinton to account for his lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering equal justice under law, will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations. I want those parents who ask me the questions, to be able to tell their children that even if you are president of the United States, if you lie when sworn "to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," you will face the consequences of that action, even when you don't accept the responsibility for them.

Chuck Hagel (R-NB): There can be no shading of right and wrong. The complicated currents that have coursed through this impeachment process are many. But after stripping away the underbrush of legal technicalities and nuance, I find that the President abused his sacred power by lying and obstructing justice. How can parents instill values and morality in their children? How can educators teach our children? How can the rule of law for every American be applied equally if we have two standards of justice in America--one for the powerful and the other for the rest of us?

Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Perjury and obstruction hammer away at the twin pillars of our legal system: truth and justice. Every witness in every deposition is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God. Every witness in every grand jury proceeding and in every trial is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth. Every official declaration filed with the court is stamped with the express affirmation that the declaration is true. In the words of our nation's first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay: `if oaths should cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights would become insecure.'


Come On, Seven, Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes

New LA Times article out that says Fitzgerald is still questioning people, this time Rove associates about contact he had with reporters in the days leading up to his outing of Valerie Plame. We can only imagine he is cross-checking Rove's recent four-hour testimony, thus giving Unka Karl a case of prickly heat. Sounds like his command performance did not impress Mr. Fitzgerald with its bravura.

Fitzgerald has also got FBI agents combing the Wilson's neighborhood, asking neighbors whether they were aware Mrs. Wilson worked for the CIA before she was outed by Robert Novak. Again, it sounds like an attempt to head off a defense that claims "no foul" because her place of employment was common knowledge, and something that is going to be a lot easier to establish now than after the whole thing turns into a bigger media circus than it already is.

It's an impressive attention to detail. And then there's this delightful stocking stuffer:
Some of the questioning indicated that Fitzgerald may still be considering indictments on charges that some have viewed as too difficult to pursue, including a prosecution under a federal law that makes it a felony to reveal the name of a covert agent.


But neighbors contacted by The Times said they told the FBI agents that they had no idea of her agency life, and that they knew her only as a mother of twins who worked as an energy consultant.

Critics of the leak investigation have argued that it was an open secret that Plame worked for the CIA; if many people knew that she worked for the agency, it would make prosecution under the 1982 law protecting covert agents impossible. (my emphasis)
Oh please, let it be true. If only to send Victoria Toensing into inchoate rage.
Some people familiar with national security investigations said they found this week's questioning to be curious at a time when Fitzgerald appeared to be wrapping up his investigation. They said establishing her covert status should have been a priority at the outset of the case; if her employer was already well known, the prosecutor would not have a case to bring under the agent-protection law.
Or maybe the claim is just so specious and absurd nobody bothered to try and disprove it until someone raised it like it actually made sense.

As a bonus stocking stuffer, stop by World o'Crap and read the Rovegate Talking Points for Dummies. Something they should distribute to all the Hardball guests prior to air time, IMHO. And yeah I'm talking to you, Andrea Mitchell.

Update: Jeralyn says the Raw Story post about Fitzgerald having been seen at the offices of Rove's attorney today means that he was probably interviewing the "cooperative Rove" once again.


I'll Believe in Santa Claus Before I'll Believe Dubya Didn't Know About TraitorGate

It looks like Cheney is bloodied if not out of the game entirely. Junior sits on the sidelines like a dispirited waterboy watching one fallen warrior after another carried off the field. But are we really to believe that he is nothing more than a thick-witted victim of his compatriots' malfeasance? What are the odds?

Pretty fucking low, if you ask me.

This week saw the nick-of-time release of the New Yorker article where Poppy's best friend, Brent Scowcroft, rushes in to save Junior by hanging all his cronies out to dry. "Poor Dubya, he just doesn't know how to pick his friends." But Scowcroft is a player in a much larger and much more telling drama with regard to Junior that is only hinted at in the New Yorker piece.

As Digby writes:
The underlying narrative... is the subconscious rivalry between the father and the son, Scowcroft becoming the stand-in for 43's resentment toward 41. You wonder how many of the tragic blunders of the last five years are the result of crafty neocons playing into Junior's desire to gainsay his father.
Although the Bush family junta will pull together when it's time to collect their checks from the Carslyle group and preserve family hegemony, I think Digby is right in observing that there is a keen competition going on between the ne'er-do-well son and his patriarchal father that is positively Shakespearean.

Which has everything to do with why I'll never be convinced that Junior was not in on the attempt to smear Joe Wilson from the get-go, despite the desperate efforts of GOP playmakers to keep the focus away from him even as they offer up the head of the much-hated Cheney on a plate.

But let's dial it back a bit.

Bush's rush to war was a clear indictment of everything his father stood for. Where Bush 41's war with Iraq was a carefully measured campaign that sought to build alliances, share internationally the responsibility and expense and carefully court the world of public opinion, Bush 43's war resembled a pack of drunken cowboys riding into town and recklessly shooting up the saloon.

Junior's war was a mockery of his father's efforts, and he didn't want to waste time on things like National Intelligence Estimates, an analysis of all the pre-war intelligence regarding Iraq which might have caught many of the specious claims that were waved through by partisan yahoos playing spy. Dick Durbin had to make a special request for an NIE to even be done prior to a declaration of war (p. 12 of the SSCI). National Intelligence Officers say that "ideally they would like about three months to produce an NIE;" this one was produced in less than twenty days, and its findings were never sent out for peer review or to a panel of outside experts because BushCo. said there wasn't time. (p. 13, SSCI)

Ergo, Curveball. And 2000 dead Americans.

I remember when Bubba Clinton and Bush Sr. were doing their tsunami tour and good son Bubba slept on the floor so Poppy could have the bed. Ouch. That had to rankle Junior. Then Poppy invited Bubba up to Kennebunkport (site of Junior's DUI). When I read that, my back went straight up. There is no way that a loadie like Junior didn't take that as an implicit criticism of everything he was and everything he'd done.

So when Joe Wilson appeared on the BushCo. radar as an administration critic, I'll believe Bush didn't register it when I'll believe Cheney came clean during his first tete-a-tete with Fitzgerald.

Wingnutia may want to impugn Wilson shamelessly, but Poppy called him a "true American hero" and raised him to the rank of Ambassador for the skillful way he handled himself in the midst of a very delicate and dangerous situation during the first Iraq war.

Moreover -- Scowcroft loved him.

Scowcroft and Wilson were chummy. They both sat on the American Turkish Council. As Wilson said in his book:
We fell into an easy relationship and would banter back and forth about the new administration and its predecessors. After board meetings or other events, we'd often Metro back across town together. As the obsession with Iraq overtook many influential members of the Bush administration, our conversations turned frequently to the emerging debate on Iraq and the merits of the approach being advanced by the prowar crowd.
Hallo! Wilson would pal around with Poppy's best friend and trash Junior. Then Scowcroft publicly called Junior out:
Brent Scowcroft was becoming increasingly concerned that perhaps his earlier optimism had been misplaced. No longer certain that the administration would shun the neoconservative path, he wrote a piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. on August 15, 2002. He warned of potential disaster if we tried to deal with Saddam militarily.
Before Wilson published his October 13, 2002 article for the San Jose Mercury News in which he was openly critical of BushCo.'s ramp up to war, he sent it to Scowcroft and Baker for review, as well as Poppy. Catch this:
Brent called me when he received the article. He kindly asked if he could "take it over to the White House," only about two blocks from his downtown office. He said that he thought senior officials ought to read the views of somebody who actually had experience in Iraq and with Saddam's government. (p. 296, my emphasis)
So Poppys best friend Scowcroft (who's already on record for publicly calling Junior a fuckup) carries Wilson's article down to the White House and swats Junior over the head with it like a dog that had peed on the rug. Acting as a stand-in for his war veteran dad, holding Wilson up as a model of patriotism and bravery while laughing at Nintendo boy for launching a foolish war from the comfort of his Barcalounger.

Jesus tapdancing Christ. You think THAT didn't raise every hair on the back of Junior's neck?

The day after Joe Wilson's July 6, 2003 op-ed piece in the NYT was published, Bush and his entourage were on their way to what they hoped would be a historic tour of Africa. Bush was hoping to trump Bubba by arranging for a longer and more extensive trip than any American president had thus far undertaken.

Yet from the moment the plane took off, all Ari Fleischer seemed to want to talk about was Joe Wilson. I mentioned it yesterday, but I'll quote it here again, from Wilson's book:
Within a day, Fleischer was putting a different spin on the situation and downplaying the importance of my report. At one briefing after another, he had something to say about me, and by doing so gave the journalists another news cycle to talk about the sixteen words rather than about the president's trip. Instead of containing the burgeoning press frenzy, Fleischer kept giving the story legs, so much so that it soon overwhelmed the president's agenda in Africa.
If Bush wasn't in on the "smear Wilson" campaign and didn't care about it, I have to believe he would've told Ari to put a sock in it and focus instead on all the great photo ops this current trip was affording him. It was his big chance to con Tony Blair into believing he actually gave a shit about Africa, and pretend his medieval policies on contraception weren't responsible for wiping out large swaths of the population.

Why would he allow Joe Wilson to have the limelight and shit all over his big PR campaign? 'Cos Wilson was Poppy's guy, that's why, Bush is his mama's boy -- as Arianna noted, he's a guy born on third base who thinks he's hit a triple. He can't talk back to Poppy. Hell, he can't even talk back to Scowcroft. But he sure could grind Joe Wilson into the ground with a faux-cowboy boot heel.

They've tried to argue that this was all Cheney's doing, but I don't buy it. This wasn't the kind of thing Rove needed to "protect" Junior from. It's the kind of dirty, junior high politics that Junior delights in.

May it come back to haunt him.


On the Tom-Toms Today

According to the NYT, they made a mistake, Cheney was not under oath when he answered questions for Fitzgerald in June of 2004. However, as Jeralyn noted in the comments:
I don't think the oath matters. If he wasn't under oath, it's a false statement charge. If he was, it's a perjury charge. But both have the same penalty - 5 years.

Perjury in this kind of case, if it does not occur before the grand jury, requires two witnesses. Perjury before the grand jury, or a false statement charge, does not have that requirement.

Also, a putative defendant may be able to cure a perjurious statement before the grand jury by going back and 'fessing up, if it was not particularly material to the crime, as Rove may have done with his Matthew Cooper conversation, but that option does not appear in the false statement or general perjury statute.
We also hear that more is going to emerge on the Cheney front...Fitzgerald probably wasn't interested in the Italian report on the Niger documents for more than just background...and don't get "too far out" on Tenet's denial that he was the source of Cheney's info.

Additional amusement: Reader Zack points out that Cheney's questioning by Fitzgerald would've been right around the same time he dropped the "f" bomb on Patrick Leahy for having the unmitigated gall to question Halliburton's no-bid contracts in Iraq.

Evidently the Veep thinks he is above quite a bit, no?

Wonkette: "Word on the rainy streets of Washington is that Patrick Fitzgerald will be recalling some witnesses soon. Conflicting word is that he will announce indictments Thursday. Whatever the case, things are ugly and it's not just the weather....According to a reporter intimately familiar with White House operations, 'these slimy thugs are turning on each other like runner-up beauty queens.'"

Steve Clemons: "An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN:
1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday."
Steve is also reporting the rumor that McCain has been approached to replace Cheney if "health problems" force him to step down.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Dick Cheney: Perjury, Bitches, Perjury!

A lot of people are saying that the NYT article does not indicate that Dick Cheney committed a crime, it simply says he was aware of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson situation. I beg to differ.

Here is the key paragraph:
Mr. Cheney was interviewed under oath by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what the vice president told Mr. Fitzgerald about the conversation with Mr. Libby or when Mr. Fitzgerald first learned of it.
Cheney was interviewed by Fitzgerald last year under oath. That would make it perjury to tell a lie. Although Republican logic tells us that perjury is only a crime if you're getting a blow job in the bargain, a legitimate US attorney might not see it that way.

What indication do we have that Cheney lied? Well, if Cheney he had told the truth when he was interviewed last year, i.e., that he was Scooter Libby's source, Fitzgerald would not have needed to threaten Judy Miller and Matt Cooper with jail in order to counter Scooter Libby's testimony that he first heard about Valerie Plame's identity from journalists.

Also from the Times article:
It also explains why Mr. Fitzgerald waged a long legal battle to obtain the testimony of reporters who were known to have talked with Mr. Libby.

The reporters involved have said that they did not supply Mr. Libby with details about Mr. Wilson and his wife.
In other words: the testimonies of Cooper and Miller were necessary to bust Libby in a lie.

The decision of Judges Tatel, Henderson and Sentelle against Judy Miller was decided on February 15, 2005 and reissued April 4, 2005. Without getting into elaborate quotes, basically they agreed that there was no other way to get the information they needed other than from these journalists. They did not resort to jailing Miller or Cooper lightly without first having exhausted all other possibilities.

Which means Fitzgerald was not sitting on some big cathartic confession from Dick Cheney at the time.

Cheney lied. Under oath. Put any Republican (and a few DINOs) in the wayback machine, and they will tell you -- this is an impeachable offense.

Update: Everyone seems to be concerned that the Times may have gotten the "under oath" thing wrong. My inclination is to believe the Times is being VERY CAREFUL about this shit at this point in the game, but I promise to check it out tomorrow and report back. Regardless of whether Cheney was under oath or not, lying to Fitzgerald would still be a crime.

Update 2: Swopa, from the comments: "If Cheney goes down with Scooter and Karl, I'm not sure how Dubya survives -- it would be tantamount to admitting he's just an empty suit they send out to read the teleprompter while other folks run the country. Granted, they'd need the jaws of life to pry him out of the Oval Office, but Republicans in Congress might realize that he's going to drag them down with him."

CORRECTION: According to the Times this morning, Cheney was not under oath at the time he was interviewed by Fitzgerald.

Sorry, Dick.


NYT: Libby Learned of Plame's Identity From Cheney

According to the NYT, somebody got ahold of notes from a "previously undisclosed conversation" between Scooter and the Veep on June 12, 2003 that "appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said."
The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers said the notes show that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.


It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government’s deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.


But the notes, now in Mr. Fitzgerald’s possession, also indicate that Mr. Libby first heard about Ms. Wilson — who is also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame — from Mr. Cheney. That apparent discrepancy in his testimony suggests why prosecutors are weighing false statement charges against him in what they interpret as an effort by Mr. Libby to protect Mr. Cheney from scrutiny, the lawyers said. (my emphasis)


Mr. Cheney was interviewed under oath by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what the vice president told Mr. Fitzgerald about the conversation with Mr. Libby or when Mr. Fitzgerald first learned of it.
I'm thinking he went in, spilled his guts and gave Fitzgerald everything he's using to blast holes in Scooter right now.

The note written by Mr. Libby will be a key piece of evidence in a false statement case against Mr. Libby if Mr. Fitzgerald decides to pursue it, according to lawyers in the case. It also explains why Mr. Fitzgerald waged a long legal battle to obtain the testimony of reporters who were known to have talked with Mr. Libby.

The reporters involved have said that they did not supply Mr. Libby with details about Mr. Wilson and his wife.
Okay, let me get this straight. Fitzgerald needs the reporters' testimonies to prove that Libby is lying about where he first heard about Valerie Wilson or whatever the hell they were calling her at the point. So fine, he gets verification from both Miller an Cooper that Scooter boy is telling fibs.

Presumably at that point Fitzgerald did not have Scooter's notes which indicate that Cheney told him, but now Fitz has them. So those must've materialized recently. Where did they come? And when? Is Scooter trying to play "Let's Make a Deal?" And is the fact that they were leaked to the press -- with all their damning implications for Cheney -- an indication that Scooter is no longer willing to fall on a sword for his boss?

Then there's this bit:
Mr. Russert, in a statement, has declined to say exactly what he discussed with Mr. Libby, but said he first learned the identity of Mr. Wilson’s wife in the column by Mr. Novak, which appeared on July 14, 2003.
G.E. Pumkinhead needs to come clean real fast or be consigned with Judy Miller to lecturing at the Barbezon school for disgraced reporters.

Comments are open for freelance tea leaf reading.

Update: Steve Clemons: "According to Scooter Libby's notes, George Tenet was the source for the information about Valerie Wilson lining up the trip -- so to speak -- for her husband, but did not necessarily include the information that she was a covert operative. This is where things get interesting. Although Fitzgerald may not need to establish this connection, it seems increasingly plausible to TWN that Tenet and Cheney had some kind of exchange regarding Joe and Valerie Wilson. Cheney then passed off the information to Libby along with a few expletives about Wilson, implying that the @#$%@%er should be done in."

Update II: Lisa in the comments reminds us of Big Dick's September 14, 2003 Press the Meat appearance :
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...


VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I don’t know.
One would imagine that Dick will be stepping down soon.

Update 3: Larry Johnson: "Although the NY Times story reports that Libby's notes indicate that George Tenet told Cheney about Plame, there are some intriguing unanswered questions. For starters it is highly unlikely that George Tenet showed up at the White House and just happened to know the name of Valerie Plame. Someone at the White House asked for it first. Tenet clearly came prepared to respond to a White House request. I'm sure the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, knows who called CIA to ask the question."


Is the Smoking Gun Turning Into a Mushroom Cloud?

Last week, Justin Raimondo at AntiWarcom ran a story that said Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation had expanded to include looking into the Niger forgeries. From October 19, 2005:
Even as the FBI was following the trail of the forgers, the Italians were looking into the matter from their end. A parliamentary committee was charged with investigating, and they issued a heavily redacted report: now, I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:
"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."
Now UPI seems to be backing up Raimondo's claims in a story that ran this morning:
NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.

Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.
If true, as UPI notes, this "opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated."

Emptywheel has long believed that the Niger uranium forgeries were something Fitzgerald had in his sights, and has argued that Judy Miller might have been involved in them somehow. You'll remember that Judy's subpoena contained this language:
seeking documents and testimony related to conversations between her and a specified government official “occurring from on or about July 6, 2003, to on or about July 13, 2003, . . . concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description as the wife of Ambassador Wilson) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium. (my emphasis)
This differed from Matt Cooper's subpoena, which contained no language about uranium. While Miller maintains she successfully got Fitzgerald to exclude testimony on this matter, this NATO information indicates that he might well have got what he needed elsewhere.

Every day I wake up and this thing gets bigger and Fitzgerald's inquiry appears to be more bold and audacious than even I imagined.

Quite possibly the worst moment leading up to the 2004 election happened when 60 Minutes pulled their piece on the Niger forgeries and replaced it with (*shudder* -- yeah, you remember) their story on Bush in the Air National Guard and the TANG documents. Will CBS now locate its testicles and run the piece?

And maybe now we'll finally get the inquiry that corrupt old Pat Roberts has successfully stonewalled by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's "Phase II" investigation into intelligencee prior to the Iraq war. In the mean time, if you'd like to have a look at an excellent and succinct rundown of what is known about the Niger forgeries, see eRiposte's piece at the Left Coaster here.

Haloscan Working Now: I know everyone with HaloScan is having a problem. If you go into Haloscan settings, click on the Beta Features, and turn off Enable Redirect in Spam Filters it should fix it. Appears to be a glitch in HaloScan but some techie posted a fix-it on the message boards. Seems to be working fine for me now.

Update Mark Kleiman: "If you're holding your breath anticipating that Fitzgerald is going to walk down the Yellowcake Road, exhale. He's going to charge people with exposing Valerie Plame Wilson's connection to the CIA and with trying to cover up that act of exposure, or he's going to charge the coverup but not the original act, or (least likely in my view) he's going to fold up his tent and go home. "

Josh Marshall: "It's been variously reported and rumored that Patrick Fitzgerald has either cooperated with, received critical information from or even taken over Paul McNulty's Franklin/AIPAC investigation in Northern Virginia. My reporting and intuition tells me there's real reason for skepticism on each of those counts. Yet I hear versions of these claims and allegations from more and more seemingly knowledgable sources. So I'm trying to keep an open mind."

Billmon: "For the Bushaviks, McNulty's appointment may be too little, too late. By the time he takes office, Fitzgerald will have either handed down indictments or gone home. On the other hand, if charges are brought, a long, drawn-out prosecution presumably will present plenty of opportunities for the Justice Department to make its influence felt. And, if worse comes to worse, I suspect McNulty would be perfectly willing to play the role of Robert Bork in the new Saturday Night Massacre, and fire Fitzgerald -- and probably with more alacrity than Bork, who had to be talked out of resigning by Elliot Richardson."