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Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Horror! The Horror!

Dear God, anything but that:
According to the New York Observer and sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Miller is demanding the right to reply to her critics in an opinion piece and a non-disparagement agreement as condition of her departure. Otherwise she has threatened to return to work.
Around the third or fourth week of any movie shoot people start muttering "who do I have to fuck to get off this picture." To the Times editorial staff: you can have that one.


The Crumbling Moral Authority of the Left

Shocking many of us who have long argued against the use of torture under any circumstances, noted liberal blogger TBogg has come out in support of Vice President Dick Cheney and his plea to Republican senators to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in US custody.

As he says:
There is nothing less than our precious freedoms at stake here, and when push comes to shove, we shouldn't let quaint antiquainted notions about human rights take precedence over our freedom from fear and harm when it comes to those who would attack us or who pose a danger to our men and women in uniform or the others who serve our country in covert ways through our intelligence services.

Therefore I think we should torture Scooter Libby.
TBogg leaves the rest of us weak-kneed sob sisters in his wake with the power of his logic:
[I]f we are going to get to the bottom of who put an American CIA agent in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon us to torture Scooter.

Water board him, strip him naked and smear him with his own feces and walk him on a leash down the mall, beat him with rolled-up copies of Condolezza Rice's unread National Intelligence Estimates, keep him awake for hours on end while reading to him from James Lilek's new book, Cute Things Gnat Said While I Was Lurking Around the Bra Department At Target, until he tells us who tipped him off about Valerie Plame.

A secure America demands no less.

We might want to smack Karl Rove around too. That fat prick knows something.
My resolve falters. I admit it, he's convinced me.

Update: John over at Crooks & Liars has an interview up with Wes Clark who talks about torture and the moral authority of the left. With a bit more gravitas than TBogg.

Update: Atrios sends us to a Newsweek piece on Dubya's "series of covert directives" to use "new, harsher methods" of interrogation that lead to the crap intelligence derived from al-Libi.


Later, Dick

Tom Gilroy over at the HuffPo has a word or two for those feeling warmed by BushCo's polar poll numbers:
They’re so humbled they just last week passed landmark changes gutting Florida’s Medicaid and Medicare programs, to be used as a model for other red states so their Republican governors can appear fiscally responsible. So you crippled grandmother better not exceed her spending cap next year, or she’s shit out of luck; her dog food rations will have to go up to 3 meals a week just to pay for her meds. Boy, thank God the GOP’s been humbled by the ethical quagmire.

They’re so humiliated by their treasonous lies and media intimidation in the lead-up to the illegal war, they just nominated a raving puritan lunatic to the Supreme Court, a brown-shirted lemming so in thrall of corporate power and totalitarian government control he makes Maggie Thatcher look like a feminazi. Running scared!

Dick Cheney’s act of contrition for the public discovering he’d sacrifice a CIA agent ‘s head on a silver platter so an illegal war could funnel money to Halliburton was to replace his indicted chief of staff with David Addington, a stealth gorgon who’s hatred of democracy reaches back to Iran/contra and co-authoring Gonzales’s Torture Memo.

Dick’s so horribly ashamed he’s even bucking the entire Congress to force a torture loophole into a bill that would otherwise compel America to abide by The Geneva Conventions. You remember The Geneva Conventions, those rules of ethics drafted by all of humanity in response to the Nazis gassing 6 million Jews? Clearly, our VP is so demoralized he must be triple popping Prozac just face his morning coffee.

W is so decimated by the embarrassment of his (and his mother’s) classism, racism and venal cronyism in the wake of Katrina, he could barely muster the courage to eliminate minimum wages and environmental protections in the great domestic funneling of cash to Halliburton , otherwise known as the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just look at the chickenshit run! We got ‘im now!
He's right, of course, but GOP party discipline is certainly waning. Will Bunch lays out the argument for impeaching the roundly-loathed Dick Cheney, whose arrogance and entitlement probably renders him physically incapable of making any kind of public atonement for the acts of his chief of staff. As Will says:
Could it get out of committee? We don't know, but it's possible that a few Republicans -- facing a Democratic landslide in '06 -- could decide that good government really does make good politics.
No, I don't think the Rethugs are on the run.

Not yet, anyway.

Update: Lukery, from the comments: "According to the latest zogby/afterdowningstreet poll, 53% of Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq. Bush's 'popularity' is twice as high as cheney's - can we infer that 106% of americans want cheney impeached?"

(graphics thanks to jaysea courtesy NYBri)


Rover Redux

A couple of NYT articles have launched considerable new speculation about Rover and the hot water he may be in. Jeralyn has a fabulous post up on Rove's history with the grand jury, replete with all kinds of links. She sketches a fascinating history and concludes that Rover is far from off the hook:
Rove reportedly told Novak on July 8 after Novak mentioned Wilson's wife that he had heard this too. From whom did he hear it? That seems to be what Fitzgerald wants to know. Rove said he heard it from other journalists, but couldn't remember which one. It seems more likely he heard it from Libby.
By about June 12, Libby had learned of both Wilson and his wife from a variety of sources - the undersecretary, a top CIA official and Cheney himself.

And it was after Wilson went public on July 6, 2003, that Libby appears to step up his focus on Wilson as the White House tried to decide how to beat back his claims. In a series of conversations - with former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, Cheney's counsel, and an official believed to be Karl Rove - Libby asks: How should we deal with media inquires about Wilson? In each conversation, prosecutors say, Libby discussed Wilson's wife.
I suspect Fitzgerald now has his answer. The question is, will he charge Rove with making a false statement to FBI investigators or with perjury before the grand jury, both or neither? While recantation is a defense to a perjury charge, it may not apply to Karl Rove, as I explained here. There is no recantation defense available to making a false statement to investigators.

It seems to me a false statements charge is the easiest for Fitzgerald to prove against Rove. The guidelines would not be as high as they are for perjury, but it's still a felony and even charging it would result in Rove having to leave the White House.
Elsewhere, the Hadley email regarding Matt Cooper looks like it is going to take center stage in whatever case there is to be made against Rover. In his new must-read magnum opus, Tom Maguire says:
[I]f Fitzgerald knew enough to subpoena Cooper's evidence about a conversation with Rove in late August, what do we take from this Times report that "the [email] message was not discovered until the fall of 2004"?

This certainly suggests that Fitzgerald had independent evidence of the conversation between Cooper and Rove.  But from whom?  Might Hadley, as recipient of the email, have found it to be memorable?  But if Hadley remembered, why did the author of the email forget?  Was Rove really that much busier than Hadley?
And Anonymous Liberal takes issue with the bit of Luskin spin from yesterday's article indicating "a lawyer in the case said that White House documents were collected in response to several separate requests that may not have covered certain time periods or all relevant officials." Says Anonymous Liberal:
There is simply no way that the failure to turn over that email in a timely matter can be attributable to a lack of specificity in the requests themselves. There is no way that the dates of the requests did not include July 11. Moreover, if White House email was searched using search terms, as Isikoff's source suggested, "Cooper" would have to have been one of those terms. It's possible, of course, that the email was innocently overlooked during the White House's effort to comply with these requests, but it's entirely ridiculous to assert that the prosecutors in this case did not draft their document requests with enough specificity to capture this key email. If I were Fitzgerald, that blind quote in today's Times article would really make me mad.
The notion of Fitzgerald mad about all the stonewalling and spin his case has been subjected to? Somehow that just doesn't bother me.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartborad)


Dubya Orders White House Staff to Take Ethics Classes

#1 - The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

#2 - The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.


Lights! Camera! Taxes!

Remember what a love fest Bubba had in South America? Well history isn't repeating itself for Poor Hapless Dubya, who tried to flee DC in the wake of Hurricane Patrick and finds no shelter from the storm in Argentina. Reader zaba sends this email:
Regarding the demonstrations and melees in Buenos Aires and La Plata today -  98 percent of the Argentine population was against the invasion of Iraq. For weeks prior to the summit, there have been numerous articles and commentaries  in the Argentine media regarding the deep feelings of animosity towards George W. Bush. It has not been reported in the U.S. media that Bush traveled to the summit with a retinue of 2000 (yes, two thousand) security/staff.  Last week, according to the daily Clarin, 3 airplanes loaded with arms for security as well as food for the entourage arrived in Argentina   Also,  four AWAC spy planes are surveying the area. Sikorsky helicopters were transported to Argentina, U.S. navy ships have been deployed off the coast of Mar del Plata,  all in anticipation of unrest due to the unpopularity of Bush in Argentina and in all of Latin America. The size of the Bush security detail has been a topic of articles in Argentina. It did not merit a single mention in the U.S. media. I find it incredible.  One cannot help but wonder what the price tag will be for the Bush trip to Latin America.
You do have to marvel at the expense of this particular photo op whilst Congress is simultaneously pulling food out of the mouths of the poor.

There is some nasty-ass karma cooking up for ol' Dubya. The man's got telltale hearts beating everywhere.


Friday, November 04, 2005


Okay, this is my audition for editor at the NYT (caps mine):
The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has narrowed his investigation of Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to whether he tried to conceal from the grand jury a conversation with a Time magazine reporter in the week before an intelligence officer's identity was made public more than two years ago, KARL ROVE'S FURIOUSLY SPINNING lawyers in the case said Thursday.


Mr. Fitzgerald no longer seems to be actively examining some of the more incendiary questions involving Mr. Rove ACCORDING TO ROVE'S WANKY LAWYERS WHOSE WARES NOBODY THIS SIDE OF MICHAEL ISIKOFF IS BUYING. At one point, he explored whether Mr. Rove misrepresented his role in the leak case to President Bush - an issue that led to discussions between Mr. Fitzgerald and James E. Sharp, a lawyer for Mr. Bush, an associate of Mr. Rove said, IN AN ATTEMPT TO FLOAT A MORE PLAUSIBLE STORY AFTER THAT ONE ABOUT FITZGERALD STOPPING BY TO TELL SHARP EVERYTHING THAT WAS GOING ON IN HIS CASE WENT OVER LIKE THE HINDENBURG.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, declined to discuss his client's legal status, BUT HAD SOME MINION ON SPEED DIAL WHO WAS HAPPY TO DO THE HONORS, but AND THEN TRIED TO THROW EVERYBODY OFF THE SCENT WHEN HE referred to a statement issued last week in which he expressed confidence that Mr. Fitzgerald would conclude that Mr. Rove had done nothing wrong, AT LEAST NOT IN THE PAST FIVE MINUTES.

Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn THE MAN WITH THE WORLD'S SLIMMEST JOB DESCRIPTION, declined to discuss Mr. Rove's legal status AND COULD FOR ALL WE KNOW BE SCUBA DIVING IN THE BAHAMAS. If nothing else, the uncertainty that continues to surround Mr. Rove's legal case has led to intense speculation about his standing within the White House LIKE SHARKS TO CHUM. People with close ties to Mr. Bush and Republicans who work with officials in the top ranks of the White House staff said there had been no discussion about Mr. Rove stepping down if he is not indicted AS THEY TRIED TO MUFFLE THE GUFFAWS.
Don't worry, I won't give up my day job.

(graphics courtesy of Valley Girl)


We Don't Call It "TraitorGate" For Nothing

Ooooh, John Dean has a barn-burner of a column up, and there ain't no fat lady singing, that's for sure. Gee thee behind me, Dick Cheney:
Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.

Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.
Dean goes on to note, as Billmon has, that Fitzgerald said a whole lot more in the indictment than he had to, and took great pains to delve into the statutes under which Libby is not charged.
Count One, paragraph 1(b) is particularly revealing. Its first sentence establishes that Libby had security clearances giving him access to classified information. Then 1(b) goes on to state: "As a person with such clearances, LIBBY was obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order13292), not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise to exercise proper care to safeguard classified information against unauthorized disclosure." (The section also goes on to stress that Libby executed, on January 23, 2001, an agreement indicating understanding that he was receiving classified information, the disclosure of which could bring penalties.)

What is Title 18, United States Code, Section 793? It's the Espionage Act -- a broad, longstanding part of the criminal code. (my emphasis)
Espionage, bitches, espionage!

Fitzgerald is a man who speaks very carefully. And like Dean, I went back and read very slooooowly the transcript of his press conference about invoking the Espionage Act. Specifically the Espionage Act. As Fitzgerald said:
We have not charged him with [that] crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated [the Espionage Act]. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, go into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight.
Fitzgerald can't do his job because Libby is lying to him. And once again as Dean noted on Countdown last week, he says Libby is acting as a firewall to Cheney:
[I]n Fitzgerald's words, Libby's story was that when Libby "passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls."

This story is, of course, a lie, but it was a clever one on Libby's part.

It protects Cheney because it suggests that Cheney's disclosure to Libby was causally separate from Libby's later, potentially Espionage-Act-violating disclosure to the press. Thus, it also denies any possible conspiracy between Cheney and Libby.

And it protects Libby himself - by suggesting that since he believed he was getting information from reporters, not indirectly from the CIA, he may not have had have the state of mind necessary to violate the Espionage Act.

Thus, from the outset of the investigation, Libby has been Dick Cheney's firewall. And it appears that Fitzgerald is actively trying to penetrate that firewall.
Dean goes on to speculate, and I agree, that Fitzgearld is trying to flip Libby, and thinks he is unlikely to do so:
Neither Cheney nor Libby (I believe) will be so foolish as to crack a deal. And Libby probably (and no doubt correctly) assumes that Cheney - a former boss with whom he has a close relationship -- will (at the right time and place) help Libby out, either with a pardon or financially, if necessary. Libby's goal, meanwhile, will be to stall going to trial as long as possible, so as not to hurt Republicans' showing in the 2006 elections.

So if Libby can take the heat for a time, he and his former boss (and friend) may get through this. But should Republicans lose control of the Senate (where they are blocking all oversight of this administration), I predict Cheney will resign "for health reasons."
I'm not sure I'm with Dean on this last one. As long as Libby stalls a trial, it stays in the headlines. The public hunger for answers will grow ravenous. The White House will have to play Pin It All On Scooter, which his attorneys will be forced to defend in the court of public opinion. And the press, against whom Libby will have to wage his war (it's going to be his story vs. those of Matthews, Cooper, Miller et. al.) is going to turn hostile.

The stage is set for a circular firing squad.

And then there's the yet-to-be-played-out Karl Rove saga. BushCo. would love to see Scooter out of the headlines as quickly as possible so they could get back to feeding like pigs at the public trough. A few lavishly expensive photo-ops are not going to steal the headlines back from this one any time soon.

(graphic courtesy of Monk)


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Say It If You Don't Mean It, Tough Guy

Masquerading as First Amendment crusaders, the Wall Street Journal is already trying to mess with Patrick Fitzgerald's case. As Atrios would say, unleash the waaaaaahhh:
Thanks to the disastrous New York Times legal strategy, the D.C. Circuit of Appeals dealt a major blow to a reporter's ability to protect his sources. Prosecutors everywhere will now be more inclined to call reporters to testify, under threat of prison time. And if Mr. Libby's case goes to trial, at least three reporters will be called as witnesses for the prosecution. Just wait until defense counsel starts examining their memories and reporting habits, not to mention the dominant political leanings in the newsrooms of NBC, Time magazine and the New York Times. "Meet the Press," indeed.
"Dominant political leanings?" Since when did the WSJ have a problem with abject capitalism?

I've heard this several times today, it's going to be Scooter vs. the press. Hey Tweety, hey Pumpkinhead, they're calling you liars. Maybe you ought to think about that before you let the likes of Deborah Orrin float her right-wing tabloid bilge unchecked all over your network, okay?
Rather than join this parade of masochism, we thought we'd try to speed things along, as well as end one of the remaining mysteries in the probe. That's why Dow Jones & Co., this newspaper's parent company, filed a motion late Wednesday requesting that the federal district court unseal eight pages of redacted information that Mr. Fitzgerald used to justify throwing Judith Miller of the New York Times in the slammer.
In which, as ReddHedd has said on numerous occasions, Fitzgerald probably laid out his case. How helpful it would be to know exactly what he's got at this point, no? The WSJ is bleating like fair Nell tied to the railroad tracks, but their intent is pure Snidley Whiplash.
The pages were part of Judge David Tatel's concurring opinion in the ruling against Ms. Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper. Judge Tatel said the eight pages showed that, with his "voluminous classified filings," Mr. Fitzgerald had "met his burden of demonstrating that the information [sought from the reporters] is both critical and unobtainable from any other source."
What helpful little GOP elves the Journal crowd are, trying to put Fitzgerald on the defensive. Who thought we'd long for days when they were happy to publish the fevered ditherings of dolphin worshipping knuckle-sucker Peggy Noonan.
The pages remain sealed, but now that Mr. Fitzgerald has indicted Mr. Libby and said "the substantial bulk" of his probe is "completed," there's no reason to keep those pages secret. The indictment itself discloses the nature and "major focus" of Mr. Fitzgerald's grand jury probe, including the fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. The special counsel's own extensive public discussion of the facts in the case should also have vitiated any protection from disclosure under grand jury rule of evidence 6(e). Future prosecutors and judges trying to decide whether to throw a reporter in jail should be able to inspect the evidence in this case, which will be an influential precedent.
For the benefit of those who ride the special bus to school:

a) Fitzgerald has long said he was finished with his investigation in October, 2004. That does not mean his case is finished.

b) "Extensive public discussion of the facts of the case?" He had a press conference. He spent a whole lotta time saying a whole lotta nothing. He basically reiterated what is in the indictment. Google "held his cards close" and watch the name Patrick Fitzgerald pop up at the top. Every unimaginative goof on the internets, including myself, used that phrase.
Unsealing the eight pages would also help put to rest the wilder "conspiracy" claims that continue to circulate about the case. Residents of the Internet fever swamps can now point to the sealed pages and say, aha!, dark secrets are being covered up.
"Wilder conspiracy claims?" Mousetraps? Dust bunnies? Hey we were right.
Beyond this motion, we think Mr. Fitzgerald also has a broader duty, as well as some self-interest, in wrapping his probe up quickly. By keeping the case open even though his grand jury has been shut down, he keeps a cloud over the Bush Administration and hampers its ability to function. If after two years of digging he hasn't found any other crimes, he has an obligation to close up shop.
You have to be shitting me. Fitzgerald isn't the one who put a cloud over BushCo., they pissed it up there themselves. And how would you know he hasn't found any other crimes? His only obligation is to investigate the treasonous acts of political operatives who don't give a happy hooty who they destroy in the process. That's what the public has a right to know. If the 1600 crew are having a rough time keeping their powder dry in the midst of it, tough darts.
As for his own self-interest, Mr. Fitzgerald is going to have a hard enough time proving that Mr. Libby lied based largely on the testimony of three journalists.
Mr. Libby lied based on his own testimony. He told one whopper to the FBI and then a surgically modified whopper to the grand jury. No ho-bag reporters necessary.
Rest assured that Ms. Miller's evocative self-description, "Miss Run Amok," will surface on cross-examination.
I guess that means the job interview didn't go so well? How sad. You two were meant for each other. No, really.
Sounds like Mr. Fitzgerald has a fight on his hands.
I will leave you with the words of Tommy Corrigan, one of Patrick Fitzgerald's best friends from the NYPD who has known him for the past 11 years. I asked him point blank yesterday if he thought Fitzgerald was done. Quite emphatically, without any hesitation at all, he said "No. It's not over for him until the last bell is rung."

Unseal that, you bastards.

(extreme graphics love to Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)

Update: In the comments, PollyUSA reminds us that if the WSJ really wants to inform the public, they should start by talking abou their own role in this mess:
In my view the WSJ should be in the middle of this investigation. Three weeks after the investigation began the WSJ published an article discussing the contents of the INR memo.

This WSJ article was the first mention of the INR memo in the press. The memo was and still is a classified document. The leaking of classified material is at the heart of this investigation and the WSJ received just such a leak in October 2003. Who leaked to the WSJ?
Fess up, fellas. Won't cost you a dime.

Update 2: Several people have noted that Libby's lawyers will, over the course of time, have access to the 8 pages. This isn't about getting it to Libby's lawyers. If Redd is correct and Fitz laid out his conspiracy case in the 8 pages (and let's remember, he's known for a very long time what happened -- he's just been about proving it for the past year) this is an attempt to let BushCo. know, who up until now have been gnawing each other's tails off in the wake of Fitzgerald's maddening silence. They can't spin what they don't know and it's killing them. Nothing good can come from forcing his hand at this early...and I emphasize EARLY... stage of the game.


Slow Your Roll

The day's events dampened hopes among some Republicans for a quick resolution to a case that has already cast a long shadow over the White House. Immediately after the arraignment, Mr. Libby's lawyers sought to quell any speculation about a possible plea deal to resolve the politically volatile case.


At his arraignment, Mr. Libby waived his right to a speedy trial, as lawyers on both sides pointed to the complicated and protracted nature of the case. Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court said, "I want to try to have this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible," but he also said he understood that the unusual complications might make that difficult. He agreed to schedule the next hearing in the case on Feb. 3 to give the lawyers time to resolve issues involving classified documents.

The prospect that the case will progress slowly means that the White House may be forced to buffet extended criticism of Mr. Libby's conduct - and by implication, of the administration's polices on Iraq - through 2006, even as it seeks to regain its footing for the Congressional midterm elections.
Take yer time, boys. Wouldn't want anyone to feel shortchanged by a quick -- er -- resolution?


Thanks For the Memories, Irv

Dubya races Big Time for the bottom. WaPo:
For the first time in his presidency a majority of Americans question the integrity of President Bush, and growing doubts about his leadership have left him with record negative ratings on the economy, Iraq and even the war on terrorism, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows.

On almost every key measure of presidential character and performance, the survey found that Bush has never been less popular with the American people. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office -- the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls.


The indictment Friday of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, in the CIA leak case added to the burden of an administration already reeling from a failed Supreme Court nomination, public dissatisfaction with the economy and continued bloodshed in Iraq. According to the survey, 52 percent say the charges against Libby signal the presence of deeper ethical wrongdoing in the administration. Half believe White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, the president's top political hand, also did something wrong in the case -- about 6 in 10 say Rove should resign his position.
While it's hard to relate to the profound lack of attention being paid by anyone who wasn't hip long ago to the fact that Dubya has always been a petulant rich jerk and a world-class beatoff, I'm not gonna slam 'em for being late to the party. The way I look at it, now they'll just get to enjoy all the jokes about out-of-season brush clearance, drunken bicycle rides and White House man-whores that have kept the rest of us amused for so long.

In the mean time, the 1600 crew probably have more of this to look forward to. From Knight Ridder:
As they passed, one heckler outside the courthouse shouted at Libby: "Guilty of taking the U.S. to war on a pack of lies! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

(thanks to poputonian and Dena for the graphic)


We're Not the Only Ones Calling Them Wackos

Listen to how Michael Scanlon, former aide to Jack Abramoff, talks about the "base:"
"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them." The brilliance of this strategy was twofold: Not only would most voters not know about an initiative to protect Coushatta gambling revenues, but religious "wackos" could be tricked into supporting gambling at the Coushatta casino even as they thought they were opposing it.
You know there has got to be a lot more damning paperwork like this floating around out there. All those crocodile tears for Terry Schiavo notwithstanding, the bugman isn't exactly opting for the seat on the bus next to any of the unmedicated bipolars for Jesus crowd, now is he?

(via C&L)


The Doorman's Son vs. the Cabbie's Son

Well well well. Looks like Scooter's trial is going to be a barn burner. For the prosecution there's Brooklyn born Patrick Fitzgerald, son of Irish immigrants from County Clare whose father worked as a doorman. And for the defense, Ted Wells:
When New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli realized he was in trouble with a New Jersey prosecutor investigating potential bribes, he called a Washington-born cabbie's son, Ted Wells, now co-chair of white-collar litigation at one of the premier New York-based law firms. And when New Yorker lawyers depend on a Washingtonian to lead them, he must be something.

Ted Wells is definitely something. In the 1960s he was a star lineman at Northwest DC's Coolidge High School. Two colleges got into a dispute over where he would play: Wells believed he had agreed to play at Pitt. Then he got a call from Holy Cross board member Edward Bennett Williams telling him to report to Holy Cross and that he, Williams, would deal with Pitt. Wells knew then and there that he wanted to be a lawyer. Williams became his mentor.

As a litigator, Wells does not rest until he gets the outcome he wants. In court he is assertive, quick on his feet, and convincing. Torricelli seemed headed for indictment until Wells was brought into the case. In a matter of months, Wells convinced prosecutors to drop their investigation into Torricelli's campaign finances.
Am I the only one hoping this one goes to trial? Man, that is going to be the hottest ticket in town.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

And Away We Go

Yippee kay-yay. From tomorrow's WaPo:
Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.


While Rove faces doubts about his White House status, there are new indications that he remains in legal jeopardy from Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's criminal investigation of the Plame leak.
You mean that Adam Levine thing was all bullshit? No, say it ain't so!
The prosecutor spoke this week with an attorney for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about his client's conversations with Rove before and after Plame's identity became publicly known because of anonymous disclosures by White House officials, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.
What? Did Luskin lose his gig doing exclusive legal commentary for every major outlet in town? Sweet Mary mother o' Bill O'Reilly on the cross, I almost don't know what to make of a lawyer who doesn't want to be cited as an "anonymous source." I'm not smelling a trend.
Fitzgerald is considering charging Rove with making false statements in the course of the 22-month probe, and sources close to Rove -- who holds the titles of senior adviser and White House deputy chief of staff -- said they expect to know within weeks whether the most powerful aide in the White House will be accused of a crime.
Sort of our very own version of "boxing day," no doubt.
"Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl," said a GOP strategist.
(((BWA HA HA HA!!!)))

If Rove has no real enemies in the White House it's only because he ate them all for breakfast. Anyone that dictatorial and egotistical is probably not one who "plays well with others."
Many mid-level staffers inside have expressed frustration that press secretary Scott McClellan's credibility was undermined by Rove.
Fear not, young mid-level staffers. We've long known he was full o'shit. We kept repeating it because it was funny not because it qualified as a "revelation."
Fitzgerald made it clear to Rove's attorney in private conversations last week that his client remains under investigation. And he signaled the same in his indictment of Libby on Friday, in which he identified a senior White House official who had conversations related to the Plame leak as "Official A." White House colleagues say Rove is clearly "Official A," based on the detailed description.

That kind of pseudonym is often used by prosecutors to refer to an unindicted co-conspirator, or someone who faces the prospect of being charged. No other administration official is identified in this way in Fitzgerald's indictment.
As a rule I don't bash my own side and won't start now, but to everyone floating the "Fitzgerald's done" story -- you really didn't have any way of knowing that, just a suspicion. And we had ours. You may well be right. And we may well be wrong. But it's not looking good for either you or Rover at the moment.
Rove was interviewed by FBI agents in the fall of 2003. He subsequently testified four times before the grand jury, which legal experts say is an unusually large number of appearances given that he was told he was a subject of the investigation and his actions were being scrutinized as possible criminal violations.
My favorite Clash album -- Give 'Em Enough Rope.
Sources close to Rove say one pressing problem for him is that he initially did not tell investigators he had a conversation with Cooper, then he produced an e-mail to a colleague in which he reported he had spoken to Cooper. He told the grand jury he could recollect very little of the conversation other than a discussion of welfare, sources said.
Kinda like Scooter's story that he didn't remember the VP told him about Plame, then he did? Yeah. Fitzgerald bought one too, as I recall.
White House critics said Rove's continued presence would expose Bush as a hypocrite.
Go on! Next you'll try to tell us all that gay bashing was just for show and the only time he sings Nearer My God to Thee is when he's snorting coke off some stripper's ass.
Political pressure is rising from the outside. A few conservatives have suggested it is time for Rove to go. William A. Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, told Reuters on Tuesday that Bush has to "sacrifice" some top aides starting with Rove, who he said has given good campaign advice but poor guidance on getting legislation passed.
Forget about circling the wagons, the vultures beat 'em to it.


Immanaentize This

Via Crooks & Liars we learn that Mr. immanentize the eschaton himself, William F. Buckley, reverts to English momentarily so as to wax nostalgic about his own day-and-a-half in the CIA and scold the rabble who minimize the outing of Valerie Plame:
We have noticed that Valerie Plame Wilson has lived in Washington since 1997. Where she was before that is not disclosed by research facilities at my disposal. But even if she was safe in Washington when the identity of her employer was given out, it does not mean that her outing was without consequence. We do not know what dealings she might have been engaging in which are now interrupted or even made impossible. We do not know whether the countries in which she worked before 1997 could accost her, if she were to visit any of them, confronting her with signed papers that gave untruthful reasons for her previous stay — that she was there only as tourist, or working for a fictitious U.S. company. In my case, it was 15 years after reentry into the secular world before my secret career in Mexico was blown, harming no one except perhaps some who might have been put off by my deception.
Before anybody gets all misty-eyed over ol' Bill as a "true conservative" as opposed to the current cabal of kleptocrat usurpers within the Republican party, remember that he rose to prominence defending Joe McCarthy and segregation. Bill is something less than a Great Man. He is the author of God and Man at Yale, and it was never quite clear which one Bill thought he was. Buckley could've pulled the plug on the yippy Chihuahuas of The Corner calling for Joe Wilson's blood long ago if he cared so damn much, robbing half the blogosphere of its best material in the bargain. He didn't.

Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby last week emboldened the Democrats, and no doubt a few others. The outing of Valerie Plame never sat well with the Bush 41 contingent, and Brent Scowcroft for one has been mighty chatty lately. Remember, Buckley got the Medal of Freedom from Poppy. There were many long-time GOP honchos who got pushed off the stage when the NeoCons made their unholy alliance with the College Republicans for control of the hearts and...okay, well the hearts of Christo-crazed America. That they might be ready for some payback too should surprise no one.

Update: BTW, we made Newsweek this week. Thanks to M for the tip.


The Amazing Psychic Wankery of Max Boot

Max Boot must be a clairvoyant. Or so he claims in his most recent LA Times outing:
But with his investigation all but over, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives.
Okay don't get hinky on me, Max, I know how sensitive you astral projection and colonic irrigation types can be. Over here -- we're gonna go a little left-hemisphere for a moment but don't worry, it won't hurt you -- we have a few facts.

I know, I know, Patrick Fitzgerald said in his Friday press conference that his investigation is by and large over. But Patrick Fitzgerald has said all along that his investigation has been over for a year.

WaPo from April, 2005:
In the court documents, Fitzgerald said that by October 2004, "the factual investigation -- other than the testimony of Miller and Cooper . . . was for all practical purposes complete."
Ask around, Max. Talk to anyone who covers this thing, or has been caught in its wake. Fitzgerald doesn't need to investigate shit at this point. What he needs to do is prove his case. Oh he may dance around and send a few FBI agents out to fact check Rover's cock-and-bull stories, but that's just window dressing. Fitzgerald knows what happens, he's known for a long time. The two year stretch hasn't been about figuring out what happened, it's about getting the people who know and will make reliable witnesses to tell him the truth.

But maybe I sell Max short. Perhaps his clairvoyant skills are better than I assume. Did he stick his hand in the hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch to learn that Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violation of the IIPA?

Is that your secret source, Max? Or are you privy to the details of Fitzgerald's investigation that we are not? 'Cos the rest of us are on the outside thinking that just because something isn't charged doesn't mean it didn't happen. And in your previous Penthouse Forum fantasies of a world filled with white men in shiny back jackboots, I think you've lamented as much.
Among other problems, Plame doesn't seem to fit the act's definition of a "covert agent" someone who "has within the last five years served outside the United States."
Again, Max has apparently been gazing into his own crystal balls. If only he'd hipped us two years ago to amazing psychic gifts, he could've spared us the embarrassing faux pas of the CIA, who seemed to think that a crime was committed when they asked the Justice Department to look into it in September of 2003. And the Justice Department seemed to think that something had gone afoul when they appointed a Special Counsel in December of 2003. But the all-seeing Boot Boy clearly knows much more than those he accuses of being a bunch of wanky time-wasters.

Well I suppose everyone has to be an expert on something

The rest of the article is spent bashing Joe Wilson. Young Max might better devote his skills to resolving the theory of relativity with quantum physics because his Madam Blavatsky act is going to have a right hard time getting around the fact that ultimately Joe Wilson was fucking right.

Of course, I could be wrong in all of this. Larry Johnson seems to think that Max doesn't have any balls, crystal or otherwise, and is simply swapping pills with Big Pharma. From his post entitled Is Max Boot Using OxyContin:
[W]hy can't conservative talkers and bloggers accept the fact that Valerie Plame was undercover until exposed in Bob Novak's column? Patrick Fitzgerald spoke in English and did not stutter when he said very clearly at the start of his press conference last Friday, Valerie Wilson's cover was blown.” You can only blow a cover if a cover exists.
I guess I may be trying to overcomplicate things needlessly. Larry's probably right, they're all just on drugs.

Update: Over at Dependable Renegade, Watertiger has breaking news on Patrick Fitzgerald.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ah The Good Old Days

In perhaps one of the most ill-timed second act revivals in American history, Ahmed Chalabi is headed stateside once again to provide his services as human anvil for Dubya's already flagging poll numbers. Says Arianna:
For his comeback tour, Chalabi has lined up meetings with Condi Rice, John Snow, and national security advisor Stephen Hadley (no word on whether he and Hadley will have a friendly showdown to see who helped pass along the most bogus pre-war intel. I can see Chalabi offering up Curveball only to have Hadley top him with the phony yellowcake info he passed along).
And what of his partner-in-crime, NYT albatross Judy Miller? Seems the reports of her departure are premature, according to Arianna who says her pals Pinch and Collins are trying to make a place for her in the Times family players. (Has the role of Bertha Rochester been cast yet?)

As a side note, someone who's appeared before Fitzgerald's grand jury called me to see if Arianna had recovered from the fact that Sulzberger wasn't indicted. I should probably give her a call.

Update: Alert reader Gayle points us to this article which says:
In Washington, administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make announcements to the media, said efforts were under way to arrange meetings for Chalabi with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Wow, Big Time is just a pig for scandal this week, eh? Should we tell him?


The Chickenhawk Conspiracy

In the new issue of the Nation, Elizabeth de la Vega outlines the case against BushCo. for criminal conspiracy:
The Supreme Court has defined the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States" as "to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement "between two or more persons" to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn't have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.

The concept of interfering with a lawful government function is best explained by reference to two well-known cases where courts found that executive branch officials had defrauded the United States by abusing their power for personal or political reasons.

One is the Watergate case, where a federal district court held that Nixon's Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his crew had interfered with the lawful government functions of the CIA and the FBI by causing the CIA to intervene in the FBI's investigation into the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters. The other is U.S. v. North, where the court found that Reagan administration National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Poindexter's aide Oliver North, and others had interfered with Congress's lawful power to oversee foreign affairs by lying about secret arms deals during Congressional hearings into the Iran/contra scandal.
It's an interesting article, and one of the things she calls for is Phase II of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report to be completed, so maybe Harry Reid is just answering a clarion call today. Her analysis of the Libby indictments, which is also quite compelling, is online here.


Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Lott

Hurricane Katrina victim Trent Lott seems to be going for the payback gold. After all, it was Rover who took advantage of Lott's Strom Thurmand woes and engineered Herr Cat Killer's ascendence to majority leader in the Senate.

But today on Hardball, cranky ol' Trent is calling for Rover's resignation:
Look, [Rove] has been very successful, very effective in the political arena. The question is should he be the deputy chief of staff under the current circumstances? I don't know all that's going on, so I can't make that final conclusion. But, you know, how many times has the top political person become also the top policy advisor? Maybe you can make that transition, but it's a real challenge, and I think they have to -- I do think they need to look at bringing in some more people, you know, old gray beards that have been around this town for a while, help them out a little bit at the white house.
Rover's made a lot of enemies over they years who have been afraid to strike back. Now that his power is on the descent, it looks like revenge is reaching some sort of DC tipping point.

C&L has the most entertaining video.


Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

Pat Roberts has long said that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee just didn't have the time to take up Phase II of their investigation into pre-war intelligence.

But what DID Roberts think they had the time to do? From Reuters, July 25, 2005:
The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could hold hearings on the use of espionage cover soon after the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess, said Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little.

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.
That came right on the heels of the announcement that Rover was Matt Cooper's source by Lawrence O'Donnell.

No time to look into why 2000 Americans lie dead, but plenty of time to look over Fitzgerald's shoulder. Fitzgerald was smart enough to go to school on Lawrence Walsh's mistakes with Iran Contra and eventually sent a letter telling everyone in congress to get off his back, but it's not like Roberts didn't try. He's a political tool who has abused his role of chairman of the committee to act as a figleaf for BushCo. It's about time somebody started screaming about it at top volume.

Update: C&L has clip of Harry's blistering press conference up. Smokin'!


Git Yer Boots On

Pat Roberts has been stonewalling the long-promised Phase II Senate Select Intelligence Committee investigation into the misuse of intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Now the Democrats are finally getting some backbone -- Harry Reid released a statement calling for the Senate investigation to proceed, then called for (and got) a closed session to discuss the matter.

Durbin was on C-Span 2 answering stupid questions about whether this is an attempt to "politicize" the Special Counsel's investigation. Durbin quite rightly noted that since this is the first time in 130 years a member of a White House administration had been indicted, it was hardly a matter of "politicizing" it.

Frist went on and bellyached about how the Senate was "hijacked" by the Democratic leadership. He's stammering all over the place. Started talking about how the American people were pushed out of the process. Would Bill REALLY like that session to be open? Wow, they really are terrible when they try to freelance this shit.

(thanks to Dan W. for the most excellent Halloween costume photo)

Update: From Reid's statement, thanks to Me in the comments:
This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.

The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration’s mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.

And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.

Let’s take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.

The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.

There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.

The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq “has reconstituted its nuclear weapons.” Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.

Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities were false.
The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, “We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization.”

The Administration’s assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government’s top experts did not agree with these claims.

What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.

There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.

For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration’s claims of Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

Given this Administration’s pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.

This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone – the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm’s way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.

The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:

o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration’s assertions?
o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?

Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and Ѕ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.

At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.

We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee’s annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests.
Well that's been a long time coming.

Update: Each party will appoint 3 members to a committee to look into why the Senate Select Intelligence Committee has been goldbricking and report back by November 14. Wow. For those of us who have been watching, nobody EVER thought that anything less than dynamite would get Roberts off his ass. Reid appoints Rockefeller, Levin and Feinstein, who are already on the committee.

Roberts is on TV now dissembling, boy this thing really threw him. He's stammering, and I think he was just talking out of school about what happened in the closed session, although I'd have to look at a transcript to be sure.

Is it dawning on him that his role as White House bag man could see him wind up the goat in all of this?

BTW, good on the Dems for dragging Traitorgate back into the middle of the debate and not allowing Dubya to hijack the dialog with his odius SCOTUS nominee. We like.


What Does the President Know and When Will He Know It?

EJ Dionne nails it:
In his impressive presentation of the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby last week, Patrick Fitzgerald expressed the wish that witnesses had testified when subpoenas were issued in August 2004, and "we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005."

Note the significance of the two dates: October 2004, before President Bush was reelected, and October 2005, after the president was reelected. Those dates make clear why Libby threw sand in the eyes of prosecutors, in the special counsel's apt metaphor, and helped drag out the investigation.

As long as Bush still faced the voters, the White House wanted Americans to think that officials such as Libby, Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney had nothing to do with the leak campaign to discredit its arch-critic on Iraq, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.
He then goes on to note what many have noted, that the administration counted on the fact that reporters would shield their actions from scrutiny.

(Digby reminds us of Dubya's admonitions to the media from October 2003, "I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.")

The administration, says Dionne, is trying to spin the story that Libby is a lone wolf in a pack of boy scouts. Nice try, Dubya:
You can tell the president worries that this won't work, because yesterday he did what he usually does when he's in trouble: He sought to divide the country and set up a bruising ideological fight. He did so by nominating a staunchly conservative judge to the Supreme Court.
Dionne urges Democrats to stand up to the White House and refuse to vote on Alito until Bush and Cheney 'fess up about their role in TraitorGate. And they need to pledge to the American people that they are not conspiring to obstruct justice:
Fitzgerald has made clear that he wants to keep this case going if doing so will bring us closer to the truth. Lawyers not involved in the case suggest that the indictment was written in a way that could encourage Libby, facing up to 30 years in prison, to cooperate in that effort.

But there is a catch. If Libby, through nods and winks, knows that at the end of Bush's term, the president will issue an unconditional pardon, he will have no interest in helping Fitzgerald, and every interest in shutting up. If Bush truly wants the public to know all the facts in the leak case, as he has claimed in the past, he will announce now that he will not pardon Libby. That would let Fitzgerald finish his work unimpeded, and we would all have a chance, at last, to learn how and why this sad affair came to pass.
As I've said before, I'm not sure how much of a carrot a pardon will actually be to Libby. As the multitude of scandals that have plagued the GOP continue to play out in the press, the possibility that the Democrats would take control of either or both houses of congress becomes ever more plausible, and if getting an oval office bj is grounds for impeachment then "fill in the fucking blank" White House scandal certainly is. Is Scooter willing to risk the rest of his life that after three years of microscopic media scrutiny and horrendous legal bills Dubya will still be around to pardon his ass?

Wow, that is an awfully big gamble. But every Democrat should be screaming at top volume on every talk show that Preznit Horse Cranker and his evil buddy Big Time need to come clean and pledge they will not gum up the works any more than they have.

Side note: story on ABC news about Matt Cooper saying Libby told him Plame was "a covert CIA operative" is bullshit. ABC will be changing the story soon.


Monday, October 31, 2005

We're Ready For You, Mr. Libby

Libby, who was charged with five felonies, is putting the finishing touches on a new legal and public relations team. It will argue in court and in public that he is guilty of nothing more than having a foggy memory and a hectic schedule, according to people close to him.
If Scooter's truly awful prose is any indication, he is now writing his own defense.
A senior White House adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic, said the Bush team believes it dodged a bullet when Fitzgerald charged only Libby on Friday and then pointedly said in his news conference that the indictment should not be read as a condemnation of the war or its run-up.
Would anyone like to tell me what was so important about that little gem of information it was worth granting anonymous sourcing to?
A source familiar with the discussion between Rove and Fitzgerald said the Tuesday meeting was about a lot more than "just an e-mail from Levine." He would not elaborate.
Translation: Okay, that Levine story we tried to float with human fax machine Spikey Isikoff was about as convincing as a Dick Cheney smile, let's try again.
Rove remains a focus of the CIA leak probe. He has told friends it is possible he still will be indicted for providing false statements to the grand jury.

"Everyone thinks it is over for Karl and they are wrong," a source close to Rove said. The strategist's legal and political advisers "by no means think the part of the investigation concerning Karl is closed."

Cooper's attorney, Dick Sauber, said Fitzgerald certainly meant it when he told Luskin last week that Rove remains in legal jeopardy and under investigation.
Cue the Bernard Herrmann music.

I also tried to get more info about the sentence regarding Ari Fleischer that was pulled from the WaPo article yesterday. Didn't get very far, but someone from the WaPo did tell me that the story of what happened on Air Force Two that day, especially as it relates to the Vice President's role in TraitorGate, is only just now starting to be told. More definitely to come on that one.

And as long as you're still up, go read emptywheel's excellent post on the possibility of Ari as the Third Man. The perfect late night snack.


Scooter Agonistes

Unka Karl avoided the scythe of Patrick Fitzgerald last Friday, but Lewis Libby is looking at 30 years. Conventional wisdom says this is because Karl went in and tried to change his story and tell the truth to Fitzgerald, convinced him he'd just had a temporary "memory lapse, while Libby went down protecting Big Dick Cheney. Not true.

One of the big mysteries that followed the October 24 publication of the bombshell NYT article about the VP being Libby's source was why Libby would testify before the grand jury and contradict what his own notes said regarding the fact that he first heard about Valerie Wilson's CIA employment history from Dick Cheney. And the answer is, he didn't.

From the NYT:
Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, 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. (my emphasis throughout)
"Appears to" -- but didn't. After re-reading Fitzgerald's press conference transcripts, that isn't what happened. But in order to understand what did happen, let's dial it back a bit:

On September 26, 2003, the Department of Justice authorized the FBI to commence a criminal investigation into the leak.

On October 14 and November 26, Scooter Libby is questioned by the FBI. During those interviews, according to the indictment for obstruction of justice pp 26, Libby first began spinning the now-famous story that he heard it all from reporters, and when he repeated it, said he did not know if the information was true.

At the time, John Ashcroft is Attorney General. He questionably continues to be briefed about the DoJ's investigation on a daily basis, despite the revelation in Time Magazine that Ashcroft paid Rove $746,000 at one time as a political consultant.

According to Murray Waas, this didn't sit too well with career people at the Justice Department. They finally got together and approached the number two guy, James Comey, and told him he had to go to Ashcroft and tell him he had to recuse himself. Ashcroft finally does so on December 30, 2003, and on December 31, Comey appoints Patrick Fitzgerald as Special Counsel.

Fitzgerald immediately begins smacking everyone around with subpoenas. Although Fitzgerald never makes reference to Libby's notes, the NYT article (which might have been the result of some administration over-spin) says that notes Libby turned over to Fitzgerald indicated that on June 12, 2203 Libby was told by Cheney that Wilson's wife worked in the Counterproliferation division.

Okay. Up until this point, many have speculated that Libby et. al. were counting on Ashcroft to keep a lid on this mess. Well, now Ashcroft's gone. For whatever reason -- maybe the notes were too widely disseminated to be reliably shredded -- the notes are turned over to Fitzgerald. Now Libby actually does have to testify before the grand jury in March of 2004. What does he say?

According to Fitzgerald's press conference:
He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife but he had forgotten it and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new.
It's easy to skip over this bit in Libby's testimony but it's there, p. 18, count four of the indictment, when he talks about his conversation with Russert:
And then he said, you know, did you know that this -- excuse me, did ou know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the CIA? And I was a little taken aback by that. I remember being taken aback by it. And I said -- he may have said a little more but that was -- he said that. And I said, no, I don't know that. And I said, no, I don't know that intentionally because I didn't want him to take anything I was saying as in any way confirming what he said, because at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning.
So, Scooter's reading from the same playbook that Karl is, the Steve Martin "I forgot" defense. He goes in and tells the grand jury the truth about Cheney and tries to make some sense of it in light of his previous statements to the FBI, but he's still spinning the "reporters told me" story.

Why did he cook up the whole "reporters" crock? And why did he try to peddle it for so long? Most people I talk to believe that at this point they were betting that the reporter firewall would hold. That the reporters would collectively refuse to talk about conversations they had conducted with confidential sources. Well that one didn't hold, did it.

Now, this is a side note regarding Scooter's testimony before the grand jury, but I think an important one. The opening paragraph from the New Yorker contains a dangerous sentiment I have heard elsewhere:
It'’s probably safe to assume that nobody who participated in the outing of Valerie Plam Wilson as a C.I.A. agent, in the summer of 2003, was mindful that the result of the process —the publication of Wilson's name in Robert Novak's syndicated column might be federal crime.
Libby was a lawyer. We now know that he was practically wild posting Valerie Wilson's CIA status all over Washington DC. We can't know everything that went on with regard to her outing, but there are a group of people who have heard as much as anyone has, and who are very skeptical that Libby's actions and statements were not carefully crafted to skirt the stipulations of the IIPA and the Espionage Act. And that would be the members of the grand jury themselves.

From p. 21, count 5 of the indictments:
Q. The next set of questions from the Grand Jury are -- concern this fact. If you did not understand the information about Wilson'’s wife to have been classified and didn'’t understand it when you heard it from Mr. Russert, why was it that you were so deliberate to make sure that you told other reporters that reporters were saying it and not assert it as something you knew?
I would find it odd that the grand jurors themselves would feel the need to pose this question to Libby, and in just this way, if after hearing all they've heard they were not possessed of a deep suspicion that all these stories were crafted expressly for the purpose of getting the leakers off the hook from underlying charges they believed they were most certainly guilty of.

Fitzgerald may not be able to prove it, at least not at this point in time. And we may never know. But the people who have the best shot at having the answers found reason to question the motives for these specific fabrications. And for whatever reason, Fitzgerald took pains to include their suspicions in the indictments.

(BTW -- I owe Big Dick an apology. I said the other day that if what the NYT was saying was true, and Libby had lied to the grand jury in contradiction of his notes, Cheney probably had too. But the NYT story was evidently wrong, any my extrapolations were too. Sorry, Dick.)


Ride 'Em, Scooter

. According to ABC News online, Matt Cooper today on GMA said that Libby confirmed to him that Valerie Plame was "a covert CIA operative." Anyone keeping an IIPA score for Scooter? Cooper also says that he first heard about Wilson's wife from Rove. "Before I spoke to Karl Rove I didn't know Mr. Wilson had a wife and that she had been involved in sending him to Africa."

(note: as Swopa noted in the comments, this seems to contradict what Cooper said in Time Magzine this weekend. I tried to call GMA and some chick named Sarah who wouldn't give her last name hung up on me when I asked quite nicely if they could confirm the story. If anyone knows someone at GMA let me know, it's a bit too important to let some PMSing receptionist be the end of it.)

. Evan Thomas at Newsweek is sniffin' Scooter's panties with a love sonnet that claims "he was on a mission to protect the country from harm."

"A man with such a heroic, romantic sense of his boss and his own role in history is bound to take some chances," says Thomas, who goes on to refer to Patrick Fitzgerald as "son of a doorman and scourge of the powerful, a modern-day Inspector Javert." Really, how DARE he of such low birth challenge A Great Man Like Scooter. Wow, Newsweek's bid to beat out Fox News as the Great Water Buffalo of TraitorGate is right on track.

. Last night on Hardball:
KATE O'BEIRNE: Maybe Joe Wilson was so insignificant to him, they had bigger problems than Joe Wilson with the CIA...Maybe Joe Wilson, even though he himself thinks the whole White House revolved around him, was such a small piece of their problem with the CIA that it is something Scooter Libby...

MATTHEWS: OK.  Let me say something.

O‘BEIRNE:  ...didn'‘t pay all...


MATTHEWS:  ...they were...—I can tell you, by being on this program every night all those weeks, they were obsessed with Joe Wilson, they were obsessed, complaining relentlessly about anybody that even put him on the air..."
Can we put that particular canard to bed now? Well, probably not. But a girl can dream.

(thanks to reader GR)



Reader Susan sends us this Salon bit about Scooter Libby's twisted prose:
Crimes against good taste: Lloyd Grove at the New York Daily News has a quick overview of Laura Collins' New Yorker summary of Scooter Libby's fiction debut, the 1996 novel "The Apprentice." The story is a thriller set in turn-of-the-century Japan, but Collins writes that "certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum." For instance: "The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the 'mound' of a little girl," and the "brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter." Collins says that "other sex scenes are less conventional," and quotes one longer passage: "At age 10 the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest." A suspiciously enthusiastic reader review on Amazon writes: "Libby's story builds and builds and builds until it reaches a crescendo of sexual and political tension. What a great read! Hope he is working on something new." (Also worth quoting is the opening image in the Daily News item: "The last time I saw Scooter Libby, he was trying to persuade Maureen Dowd to join him in doing tequila shots at the celebstudded Bloomberg party after the 2003 White House Correspondents Association Dinner.") (Lowdown, Amazon)
And who is Bigus Dickus tagging to replace the future Jack Henry Abbot? According to C&L, he has chosen David Addington as his chief of staff and John Hannah as his national security adviser, both of whom are named in the Libby indictment.

Keep your friends close and your prosecution witnesses closer.

Update: Steve Soto: [W]hat does it say about Bush’s commitment to separating himself from this mess if he didn’t stop Cheney from immersing himself even further into the morass of what he’ll be forced to testify upon at Libby’s trial. It looks like either Bush doesn’t care about the Fitzgerald indictments, or he still has no control whatsoever with Cheney’s office.

Update 2: TChris:
As TalkLeft noted here, Addington “attended strategy sessions in 2003 on how to discredit Wilson when the former ambassador publicly charged that the Bush administration misled the country in pushing its case for war,” and he “played a leading role in 2004 on behalf of the Bush administration when it refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee documents from Libby's office on the alleged misuse of intelligence information regarding Iraq.” Addington seems to be Libby’s “mini-me,” and Hannah was also involved in the Plame outing, a fact that TalkLeft discusses here and here. Their new roles assure that it will be business as usual in Cheney’s office.
Update 3: The ThinkProgress link that C&L cites has it wrong -- Hannah was not named in the indictment. According to Ryan Lizza in The New Republic, those who stuck around after Fitzgerald's press conference on Friday were told by spokesman Randall Samborn the identities of those mentioned only by titles in the indictment, "but not those left purposely vague." (?) The "Libby's principal deputy" is in fact not Hannah, it's Eric Edelman. Thanks for those in the comments who mentioned this.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Let's Tell Mikey, He'll Print Anything

It wasn't like Michael Isikoff didn't already have plenty to be ashamed of. After all, it was he who turned the pages of once-respectable Newsweek into a lurid bodice-ripper of Brobdingnagian proportions during Monicagate. I really didn't think it was possible to top a journalistic career built on three-ways with Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp, but it seems I have underestimated the boy.

Isikoff really contorts himself into a shameless media pretzel in order to give Turdy a clean bill of political health today. I mean, I know Luskin is out there spinning -- that's his job as Rove's attorney -- but the idea that any journalist would unquestioningly accept whatever he says as an objective statement of fact and then print it as such is really quite remarkable even in a world of ever-escalating MSM shilling one-upsmanship, especially when Rove's new "alibi" includes accusing Patrick Fitzgerald of prosecutorial misconduct.

That's right. The rest of the world is lauding Fitzgerald's press conference performance on Friday, while Isikoff gives Turdy a free pass by saying Fitzgerald is a White House operative who violated his principles and his mandate to please the President.

Isikoff reports:
Fitzgerald made another visit early Friday morning —shortly before the grand jury voted to indict Dick Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby —to the office of James Sharp, President George W. Bush's own lawyer in the case, to tell him the president's closest aide would not be charged.
That is just a remarkable claim. Listen to Digby:
Can someone tell me why Fitzgerald would go to President Bush's personal lawyer on Friday to tell him that Bush's "closest aide wouldn't be charged?" Is it in any possible sense ethical for the prosecutor to be telling the president's lawyer information that isn't available to the public about members of the president's staff in the middle of an investigation?

If this is true, I think Mr Fitzgerald has some splainin' to do, otherwise it might look like he's got some back channel communication with the White House about a case that directly affects it. This would not seem in character for Mr Fitzgerald, who is by all accounts a very ethical prosecutor. If this is true, it's a bomb shell. Fitzgerald has no business discussing Karl Rove with anyone but Karl Rove and Karl Rove's lawyer.
I think it was Maureen Dowd who said that investigative reporting is not just stenography. Since when did Isikoff turn Newsweek into the fucking White House fax machine? Can he not be bothered to pick up a phone and call an impartial attorney and figure out this action on the part of Fitzgerald, if true, is totally, utterly and completely illegal?

But let's not interrupt Mikey, he's on quite a roll:
Rove remains in some jeopardy, but the consensus view of lawyers close to the case is that he has probably dodged the bullet.
Consensus view of who? Luskin and his team of lawyers? The same people who were out spinning their guts on Thursday night, saying Rove was still on the hook, only to have their asses handed to them on Friday when Fitzgerald was completely inscrutable about the whole Rove question? Would Isikoff like to say what has happened between now and then to change their opinion of the situation? Oh, I forgot, Fitzgerald went to the offices of Bush's criminal attorney and talked out of school. Doh!!

So sorry, then there is also the fabulous "Adam Levine" excuse, which Isikoff dutifully and credulously transcribes as if it actually makes sense:
Two sources close to Rove who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing said Luskin presented evidence that gave the prosecutor "pause."
Yeah, "pause" as in this is your fucking defense?
One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper —the same conversation (in which White House critic Joe Wilson's wife's work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper.
Wow. Now it all makes perfect sense. Rove's flunky sashays into his office and Rove doesn't tell him he's just engaged in criminal activity, therefore he didn't. This is the rock upon which Rove will build his defense. I can see it now. Fitzgerald turns tail and abandons 22 months of hard work and his case against Rove based on this ineluctable logic.

If that's all they've got, Turdy's next gig will involve a power grab in the license plate shop.
The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin's arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists.
Help me, 'cos I've missed the logic leap here. Are they claiming that since Rove didn't mention the conversation moments later, he forgot it? That really just does not seem remarkably helpful to any defense. Then I suppose that in his haste to play the Jeff Gannon role in all of this, Isikoff might have failed to transcribe some sort of transitional statement that indicated Levine could also attest to the fact that Rove regularly forgets things.

What an interesting claim. It was Digby who points us to the Dallas Observer in 1999:
Early on, Rove showed he had the brainpower to go places. His sister remembers that the family used to rely on Rove's photographic memory for evening entertainment. "The game was, 'See if you can stump Karl,'" she says. His older brother Eric would read a passage from a book Karl had read the week before. The challenge was to guess which word his brother had intentionally left out.
I think Rove may be possessed of what my father would refer to as a "convenient forgetter."

Isikoff then spends the rest of the article shouting "hey, look, over there! Robert Novak! Let's not forget about him!" How very helpful.

You know, I'm really making an effort these days to go light on the four-letter words, but this entire article is just an outrage. A shameless, embarrassing excuse as a journalistic effort, and whether it is out of sheer laziness, mental infirmity or partisan hackery it is hard to say, often these things are unleashed upon the world as the toxic cocktail of all three.

But if what Isikoff is saying is true, then Newsweek should be all over Fitzgerald and calling for him to recuse himself from the investigation. If it's not true, the rest of us should be calling on Newsweek to recuse Michael Isikoff from using their pages as a radioactive waste dump for misinformation from criminals trying to influence an ongoing investigation.

I don't normally do this, but you can contact Newsweek here. If this is the standard that the MSM is holding itself to in the inquiry into the administration's role in a series of crimes, we're all doomed.

Update: David E. has visual aids.