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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tom DeLay's Hot Tub Party

A few more of the Bugman's cronies are in hot water over the ever-widening Abramoff scandal, this time (Oh sweet Jesus, thank you) Ralph Reed and John Cornyn:
In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young of Second Baptist Church in Houston would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston." (my emphasis throughout)
Abramoff at the time was working for the rival Louisiana Coushatta tribe who wanted to eliminate the competition from the Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta casinos. Cornyn did in fact shut them both down.
The previously released e-mails that showed in 2002 Abramoff and Scanlon secretly funneled millions to Reed to help fund the campaign to get the Tigua casino shut down. The lobbyists then persuaded the Tiguas to hire them to reopoen it.
McCain's Senate Indian Affairs Committee helpfully blocked out Cornyn's name when the emails were released last week, but in previous emails it was not.


All in all the Indian tribes paid Abramoff and Scanlon nearly $80 million to be played off one against another. And in a final rat-fuck, after the Alabama-Coushatta casino finally closed, Reed sent this inspired missive to Abramoff highlighting what a bit fat con all this faith-based shit really is to them:
"This is total victory and should lead friends in TX to now want to launch the grassroots effort to insure that those elected officials who stood up for families and against the casino gambling have support this fall," Reed said.
He cannot get sucked down into the flames of hellfire fast enough, that one.

(graphic from, of course, Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Pantload Rising

In what I can only regard as the seventh sign of the apocalypse, the end of civilization as we know it or the worst PMS I have ever had, the LA Times has replaced Robert Scheer with Jonah Goldberg.

TBogg: "I'm sure they have their reasons: some sort of Doughy Pantload Affirmative Action Program but, in a time when newspapers are cutting back on personnel, does it make any sense to hire someone who need a private editor 24/7?"

SteveAudio: "And now the page has changed its name from "Opinion" (simple, clear) to "Currents" (pretentious, silly). Instead of 'Current' call it 'Undertow' as good writing and common sense are swept out to sea to drown. In their piece on the troubles of the United Nations last week, the front page offered reasoned opinions by David Bossie, Ron Silver, and some tool from the American Enterprise Institute. Imagine! That's like asking David Duke, Strom Thurmand, and Clarence Thomas to offer opinion on the NAACP. Such balance, such fairness."

Roy: "As fans of his lumpy prose can attest, Goldberg himself clucks quite loudly and frequently during intellectual endeavors, never more so than when he is clearly full of shit, and seems to think this clucking holds said shit together.'"

And just for fun, let's resurrect Jesus' General's Letter to Jonah, Roxanne's Best Jonah Goldberg Nickname Contest, the Juan Cole/Jonah Goldberg Celebrity Smackdown, and of course the gold standard -- TBogg's "Jonah and the Ocean of Lotion" fan fic series.

At least we can read Robert Scheer at the HuffPo. And the LA Times will remain a highly absorbent cat box liner.


May You Have the Body

Wolcott, of course, says it best:
Torture, black sites, indefinite detention and deprival of due process--the United States has forfeited its right to lecture other nations about freedom and democracy. Red, white, and blue are no longer the true colors of this country's flag; the flags that fly in the Capital should be henceforth be prison gray. And in Paul Craig Roberts' book of tyrants, trailing behind Lindsey Graham, should traipse the five miserable excuses for Democrats who voted for this wormy bill. Each should have an interrogation room at Guantanamo named in their honor.
Let's name the ones in need of a civics lesson, shall we?

Kent Conrad - North Dakota
Joe Lieberman - Connecticut
Mary Landrieu - Louisiana
Ben Nelson - Nebraska
Ron Wyden - Oregon

My favorite quote:
Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Ms. Snowe, characterized her boss's concerns this way: "Do we need all those lawyers going down there to hear their complaints? It seems a little extreme to her. After all, we're talking about enemy combatants.
Oh heavens how inconvenient. Let's just chuck the Constitution in the shitter and all go shoe shopping, eh? I hear there's a two-for-one sale on jackboots at Ferragamo.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Did Judy Grab All the Kool-Aid On Her Way Out the Door?

The NYT editorial page seems to be running low:
Mr. Graham is a careful and principled senator who argues eloquently for his measure. The Senate should adopt his proposal for a federal court review of detentions, preferably by a huge margin, and the House should follow suit. We'd love to see Congress then defy the inevitable veto threats from the White House, driven by Vice President Dick Cheney, who is still skulking around Capitol Hill trying to legalize torture at the C.I.A.'s secret prison camps around the world. But we cannot support Mr. Graham in trying to rewrite the habeas corpus law.

Fewer than 200 of the approximately 500 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have filed petitions for habeas corpus hearings. They are not seeking trials, merely asking why they are being held. And according to government and military officials, an overwhelming majority should not have been taken prisoner in the first place. These men have been in isolation for nearly four years, subject to months of interrogation. Do they really have anything left to say?

The habeas petitions are not an undue burden. And in any case, they are a responsibility that this nation has always assumed to ensure that no one is held prisoner unjustly.
Well there's always Tierney, he's got the mad stash.


Happy Veteran's Day

We'd like to honor our veterans today -- not with some disrespectful half-assed warmed-over speech, but by bringing you some of the finer veteran voices in the blogosphere, who have a word or two for the Commander in Cheap:

Bob Geiger: "Mr. President, it's not the toy-soldier, "bring-it-on" thrill that your protected, sheltered experience would lead you to believe. It is terrifying. You're scared to death, shoot at almost anything that moves and pray to whatever deity you worship that you see tomorrow. But you would have no way of knowing that -– not even through the stories of the sycophants you are surrounded by, most of whom have never served a day in uniform in their lives.

Jo Fish: "Hmmm....cooked intel, Downing Street Memo, Joe Wilson, Yellowcake, Powell's former Chief of Staff, and an indictment of an intel-cooker for what in any other war would be treasonous allegations for leaking to discredit someone calling bullshit on the intel-cooking. Rewrite history? Not's all documented out here on the internets...for better or for worse, the atrocities have been documented. Nice try though on that deeply irresponsible revision of history, too bad it's not going to work unless everyone turns into Monica Crowley by midnight tonight."

And Gord, on the 230th birthday of the US Marine Corps, which was yesterday: "On this night, somewhere in Western Iraq near the Syrian border, in a fighting hole with a tarp pulled over them so the light from the match used as a birthday candle won't show, two Marines, tired, dirty, smelly, maybe scared, cut a piece of MRE pound cake with a K-Bar fighting knife. The first piece goes to a 21 year old Corporal, the second to an 18 year old PFC. Even out on the sharp end, Marines will do this small thing in honor of those who have gone before, and each other.

"This old Marine's thoughts are of those young Marines, stuck in the middle of nowhere on a mission they won't know much about until the books are written years from now. They probably don't give much of a shit about whether it's right or wrong. They go where they're told and do what they've been trained to do. They do their duty as they see it to do. They're Marines.

"Semper Fi."

Show 'em you appreciate their efforts today. Visit a veteran blogger and leave a nice comment.

(graphic via Fixer at Alternate Brain)


Stephen Hadley is a Big, Fat Dissembling Piece of Shit

Steven Hadley, running from the twin scandals of TraitorGate and being the go-to guy on the Niger Forgeries, wants to make it a trifecta.

Says Atrios:
I think that the recent statements of Stephen Hadley are really all we need to put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's credibility on anything. These people are just quite literally loathsome.

Hadley argues that Democrats had the same intelligence because "parts of" the NIE "had been made public."

Right, and the parts of the NIE which weren't made public were the parts which suggested that the parts which were made public were full of shit.

Any talking head who overlooks this fact to try to claim that "democrats had the same intelligence as Republicans" is just completely full of shit. They only the had the bits that made their case, not the bits which took away from it.
He's absolutely right. And just so I won't feel I slogged through that 568 page SSCI report for nothing, I would like to add my two cents.

That NIE (or National Intelligence Estimate -- a compilation from the various intelligence departments of all the available information relating to a particular situation) was a crock from the git-go. BushCo. didn't even want to do one, even though they are typically done before launching any major military operation like oh, say, a war. Unbelievably, Dick Durbin had to make a special request to even get one prior to granting Dubya the authority to declare war (p. 12 of the SSCI).

National Intelligence Officers assert that ideally it takes three months to produce an accurate NIE, but Preznit Itchy Trigger Finger and the Stovepipe Posse claimed that the threat Sadaam posed was so imminent that they couldn't wait.

The NIE 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 Bush and company said there wasn't time. (p. 13, SSCI).

Hence the most specious claims about aluminum tubing and Curveball that had been waved through by the likes of mediocre-novelist-playing-spy Scooter Libby and his faithful sidekick Big Time as they poked their noses into raw intelligence never got vetted by professionals not under the thrall of the powerful who knew what they wanted to find long before they found it.

To say the Democrats had access to this intelligence is hogwash. Unless someone's got photos of Dick Durbin running around CIA headquarters sniffing at the britches of low-level analysts and eating Mu Shu Pork off Colin Powell's Chinese menu that claim is just bunk.

Dubya had a boner for war, a premature ejaculator who simply couldn't wait. In short order he quickly screwed the Iraqis, the intelligence process, the US military and the American people.

The Democrats had nothing to do with it. The end.

(graphic courtesy The Heretik)


Rover Goes Long

To read the new NYT piece by Ann Kornblut about Karl Rove, you'd think his life was all beer and Skittles at this point. Vindicated, spunky, back to running the federal budget like a corporate chop shop:
He is running meetings and pursuing candidates for the 2006 elections - and, associates say, devising long-term political plans that suggest he does not believe he will face future legal trouble despite the C.I.A. leak investigation in which he has been involved.
No mention that Gee Dubya has stepped anywhere near the toxic "boy genius," but okay. Are we to believe this unquestioning story, where gushing reports of blue skies for Rover are all there is to be had? Not according to Murray Waas, who says Fitzgerald still has the "boy genius" in his sights, and wants to know what evidence there is to be had from Libby:
Fitzgerald did not seek an indictment of Rove, opting to present any potential new evidence on the White House deputy chief of staff to a new grand jury. In recent days, Fitzgerald has reinterviewed several witnesses with knowledge of Rove's role in the Plame leak and talked with attorneys of other potential witnesses.

The ongoing investigation means that Rove's legal status is likely to remain up in the air until the final disposition of Libby's case. That could be two years from now, or even longer. Rove's predicament contradicts recent news accounts indicating that Fitzgerald will conclude his probe of Rove in the near future.
This jibes with what I heard from a slightly less credulous New York Times source yesterday, who said that Fitzgerald's inquiry into Rove was likely to play out over a longer period of time than had heretofore been assumed. Sounds like Fitzgerald not only wants to turn Libby against Big Time, he's also hoping to break up any sort of mutual defense between Rove and Libby, and deal with Libby to bring down Rove:
Rove testified to the grand jury that in discussing Plame with Novak and Cooper, he was simply repeating what he had heard from a journalist or from Libby. Rove said he believed that Libby, too, had only learned about Plame from journalists.

Sources close to Rove say that Libby very likely misled Rove when he told Rove that he had learned about Plame from journalists. Investigators also want to learn from Libby whether that's true, or whether Libby told Rove a different source for the Plame information -- specifically other government officials with access to highly classified information.
Is Libby willing to tack on a few more years of canned corn and trading smokes with the screws to back Karl up? Well that is a very good question.

Crooks & Liars has more.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why I Love the Wingnuts

Paragraph 1:
The one piece that was still - as far as I knew - missing from the puzzle then was whether or not Plame had been based abroad during the five years prior to the leak. Joe Wilson's book makes it clear that she had not. This nails down beyond any possible doubt that there was no breach of the Act, and could not have been.
Paragraph 2:
Wilson is, afterall, a proven liar.
They always do the heavy lifting for you.



Bill Keller: "But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises."

Judith Miller: "I am gratified that Bill Keller, The Times executive editor, has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."

Pinch on Charlie Rose tonight (sorry no Drudge linky):
Arthur Sulzberger: [T]he truth is, this is the right time. She's become too entangled with the story. She knew it. We knew it.

Charlie Rose: What does "too entangled" mean?

Arthur Sulzberger: I shouldn't have used that word.
Well you would certainly know, Arthur.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)



Laura Rozen says that before meeting with Big Time next week, Ahmed Chalabi will visit wounded US soldiers at Walter Reed. Touching.

Pat Roberts has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to look into the activities of Doug Feith and the Office of Special Plans. Democrats on the SSCI, including John Rockefeller, say Roberts' action could "delay the Senate investigation of Feith's office by up to a year." Moreover, Roberts didn't tell vice chair John Rockefeller about the letter until after it had been sent. Can we hear that all that bullshit about "comity" again?

Steve Soto, on the new Newsweek story: "So the presidential inquiry report is now garbage as well? We now know that both the CIA and DIA had reservations about the claims that Saddam was training Al Qaeda on chemical weapons, yet those reservations never made their way to Colin Powell, who got his information for the UN speech from, where else, Dick Cheney’s office. So are we to believe that both Rummy and George Tenet withheld these concerns from the White House?"


Judy We Hardly Knew Ye

Just got off the phone with a source at the NYT, who says:

1. As of yesterday, the story that Susan Ralston is going before Fitzgerald's grand jury again did not check out. (Note: A second source now says the Ralston story is bs.)

2. They believe Fitzgerald may be pursuing "a new line of inquiry" regarding Rove. Whatever Rove produced at the last minute "may have fallen under the heading of 'more difficult to prove intent to mislead.'" But whatever happens, the Hadley memo is going to play a "serious part of any indictment," and Fitzgerald's investigation may be "longer rather than shorter."

3. They were sorry to see Judy go. "Many people were hoping for an actual execution in the town square but it was not to happen," they said. "It's hard to imagine how dreadful it is to work with her," and "a twenty year nightmare is over."

4. Despite her contention that she has "many job offers" (and no, Judy, wingnut welfare from Regnery is not employment), they see her "sinking into the shadows of some right wing think tank."

5. For those who just can't get enough of Judy's "tropism", she will be on Larry King tonight, opposite Pinch on Charlie Rose.

And I was not the one who dubbed it "dueling ex-lovers."

Update: Rover will be on CNN tonight at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Quite the TV evening for Plameiacs I would say.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The President's Outreach to the Continent of Africa

I know I shouldn't get too happy that Jack Abramoff is going down. Oh well yes I should. Via Atrios:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

"This went through normal staffing channels," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, who said the meeting was "part of the president's outreach to the continent of Africa."
Actually the price was probably only $4.5 million until Bush heard it was Bongo. Dubya has a real bug up his ass about one of Bongo's pals, a former US Ambassador to Gabon.

Oh somebody's having a good laugh at the fountain of cosmic irony tonight.


It's the Judy Miller Show!

Now that Judy has said goodbye to her beloved cohorts at the NYT, she flips one to us, her faithful readers, on her blog.

Says Miller:
On July 6 I chose to go to jail to defend my right as a journalist to protect a confidential source, the same right that enables lawyers to grant confidentiality to their clients, clergy to their parishioners, and physicians and psychotherapists to their patients. Though 49 states have extended this privilege to journalists as well, for without such protection a free press cannot exist, there is no comparable federal law. I chose to go to jail not only to honor my pledge of confidentiality, but also to dramatize the need for such a federal law.
...which would not have applied to you.
Though some colleagues disagreed with my decision to testify, for me to have stayed in jail after achieving my conditions would have seemed self-aggrandizing martyrdom or worse, a deliberate effort to obstruct the prosecutor'’s inquiry into serious crimes.

Partly because of such objections from some colleagues, I have decided, after 28 years and with mixed feelings, to leave The Times.
Name one. Just one. One person at the Times who was so offended by your betrayal of the First Amendment that you could no longer remain there, Judy. Just one. That's all I want, just one name.
But mainly I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be.
You mean all that Indiana Jones shit from Bagdad was not intended as self-aggrandizing camp and melodrama? Wow, to think that was an accident. The mind reels at what you could achieve if you actually tried, Judy.
Even before I went to jail, I had become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war. Several articles I wrote or co-wrote were based on this faulty intelligence, and in May 2004, The Times concluded in an editors’ note that its coverage should have reflected greater editorial and reportorial skepticism.
...although you yourself have never accepted anything approaching responsibility in the matter other than acknowledging you were lied to. When are we finally going to have a chorus of "I was proved fucking wrong?"
At a commencement speech I delivered at Barnard College in 2003, a year before that note was published, I asked whether the administration's prewar W.M.D. intelligence was merely wrong, or was it exaggerated or even falsified. I believed then, and still do, that the answer to bad information is more reporting. I regret that I was not permitted to pursue answers to the questions I raised at Barnard.
Yes, if only you'd been allowed to go back to Iraq, pin a few more medals on and churn just a bit more bullshit, everything would've been made clear. How dare your editors reign you in after all your shoddy reporting. After all, you once made a comment at Barnard to the effect that you might be a complete credulous dupe. I guess you were proved fucking right on at least one point.
The right of reply and the obligation to correct inaccuracies are also the mark of a free and responsible press.
Yeah. And we're still waiting.
I salute The Times'’s editorial page for advocating a federal shield law before, during and after my jailing and for supporting as recently two weeks ago my willingness to go to jail to uphold a vital principle.
...which would not have applied to you.
I will continue speaking in support of a Federal shield law.
...which would not have applied to you.
I intend to call attention to the internal and external threats to our country'’s freedoms -- Al Qaeda and other forms of religious extremism, conventional and W.M.D. terrorism, and growing government secrecy in the name of national security -- subjects that have long defined my work.
Why don't you start with telling everybody what the hell went on? Maybe take a crash course in the Roseanne Barr School of Repressed Memory Recovery and figure out who else was indicated in your notes? How you "forgot" about the June 23 meeting with Scooter Libby and had to have a bit of assistance (under threat of indictment) and suddenly remembered in a flash of inspiration?

There are many, many services you could render to the country and to posterity just by coming clean, Judy. Employment opportunities look scarce as Wingnuttia gets ready to use far worse words than "entanglement" as they assault your credibility to save Scooter and the administration. Those powerful men you love so much are poised to tear you to shreds. I think you need some new friends.

Some honest self-appraisal and a little candor would be a good start.


Colin Powell, Still 1 for 6

My friend, the notable LA write Paul Cullum, sends me the following (edited slightly to embed links):
Here's something that's always troubled me:

When Powell gave his presentation at the U.N., he presented the following evidence:

o A tape of two Republican Guard officers discussing how to hide mobil weapons labs.
o Satellite photos of chemical munitions bunkers, indicated by the removal of trucks and materiel in the weeks before IAEA inspections.
o Interviews with an Iraqi scientist attesting to mobil weapons labs on wheels and rails.
o No evidence that their VX nerve gas was ever destroyed.
o Aluminum tubes that were alleged to be parts of centrifuges to create fissionable material.
o A high-ranking Al Qaeda member who alleged a link between terrorists and Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi scientist was the notorious Curveball, a famed dissembler, alcoholic and con man.  The Al Qaeda operative is this week identified as a current Guantanamo prisoner who officials knew was  lying at the time.   The aluminum tubes were substituted by Powell at the last minute to replace the Niger-yellowcake connection favored by the President in his State of the Union speech, a claim that was demonstrably false, and the tubes were later identified as rocket fuselages with no connection to uranium.  The VX nerve gas was apparently destroyed, unless of course Saddam Hussein is still saving it for when he really needs it.  And the movement of of trucks, etc. prior to weapons inspections, according to chief inspectors Blix and ElBaradei, could easily have occurred in the normal course of business, and in no way suggest the presence of chemical over more traditional weapons.

That leaves the high-level surveillance tape, compared at the time to "something out of Beckett."

Yet in February 2003, when the U.N. presentation occurred, the local Pacifica affiliate contained an interview with a correspondent in Baqhdad, non-embedded, who watched the live broadcast of Powell's speech with a room full of Republican Guards.  When the tape of the intercepted phone conversation was played, widespread laughter erupted in the room.  The accents employed by the alleged Iraqi officers were so geographically inappropriate -- attributed by the actual Guards as either Saudi or Jordanian -- that the immediate effect was comical.  I don't recall the reporter and can't identify him now.  But with all the other pretexts for war now being identified as ill-considered at best and fraudulent at worst, this experiment is easily reproduced:  Play the tape for a selection of Iraqi sources and have them identify where the speakers are from.  If the result is as described, this would seem more of a smoking gun than possibly even forged memos:  Somebody recorded fake audiotapes and couldn't even be bothered to cast the right nationalities -- or else couldn't tell the difference.
The clip itself is here, it's the third clip, labeled "Modified Vehicle." If anyone knows someone out there with a knowledge of Iraqi dialects who isn't presently in some CIA black ops prison camp and could review the tape, we'd certainly love to hear about it.


Editing Reality, One Press Conference At a Time

Yesterday's Oct. 31, gaggle, according to the White House web site:
Q Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's accurate.
Yesterday'sOct. 31 gaggle, according to Wonkette (and verified by the video on the White House website):
Q: Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.

Mr. McClellan: That's accurate.
Poor sad bastard. You know he's probably still got Dubya's faux cowboy boot wedged up his ass all the way to the fancy double stitching just for that.

Then today, everybody wanted to ask poor Scotty whether the Preznit was a giant GOP buzzkill in yesterday's election. Well he can't exactly say "yes" now can he. He tries to evade the question only to have Voice of America's Paula Wolfson grill him on ethics violations, and finally takes refuge in the loving arms of Les Kinsolving:
Q And then President Carter also said, quote, "I've never been convinced that Jesus Christ would approve abortion." And my question: Does the President believe that a 13-year-old victim of gang rape or incest by her father or mother should be denied the right to abortion because he believes Jesus opposes all abortion?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has made his views very clear about the sanctity of life and promoting a culture of life.

Q I wonder if you could clarify on this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is a pro-life President. Go ahead. Roger, go ahead.
There you have it. A reliable stealth shot from the Depends Media. Who says the spirit of Jeff Gannon isn't alive and well?

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

And We Thought We Had a Zell Miller Problem

Pat Roberts:
Defending the military's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, he added: "There are more senators and congressmen with ethics cases pending than there are problems with interrogation right now in Gitmo."
I guess "only slightly more popular than Trent Lott" is something to aspire to after all.


Typhoid Dubya -- Coming Soon to An Election Near You

Chris Bowers calls it for Kaine and Corzine. Shades of 2006. Can you say "impeachment?" I thought you could.


Ahmed and Condo's Excellent Adventure

During a whirlwind tour of DC that includes sit-downs with Condo, Hadley, Big Time and Snow, Ahmed Chalabi probably doesn't have a moment to steal. But just in case anybody decide he's way too toxic for a high profile grip'n'grin this political season, Arianna helpfully provides an alternate itinerary. Her first stop:
FBI Headquarters. Chalabi is currently under investigation, suspected of telling the Iranian government that America had broken the code it used for secret communications -- an offense the administration said could “get people killed”. When this information came to light 17 months ago, Condi Rice promised a criminal investigation of the charges. But close to a year and a half later, the FBI has still not questioned Chalabi. Now seems like a perfect time. Condi can walk him over to the Hoover Building after their meeting and make all the necessary introductions.
Arianna's tour also includes US Congress (at least the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), the NYT Washington bureau, and Arlington National Cemetery -- it's always fun to admire your own handiwork, no?


Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Without Queen Rove to spoon feed them their talking points, the wingnut borg have ceded control of the tom-toms to the tin foil hat brigade. Dig it: Joe Wilson was a French spy. No, really:
Enter our hero, Joseph C. Wilson, from stage left. The French forgery about Niger led straight to Wilson's bogus trip to Africa. Wilson supposedly went there to find out the truth for the CIA. But every government involved already  knew the truth about the bogus document, because it showed incorrect names of Niger officials. A single telephone call to Niger would have established that fact.
How exactly this is helpful to any cogent argument is open for speculation. I guess when you can produce reptilian brain rage just by stringing the words 'French", "Joe Wilson" and "CIA" together in a paragraph, any attempt at erudite logic would be overkill.

And now Sean Hannity is dragging out some old GOP war horse named General Paul Vallely, noteworthy only for a conspicuous silence on the matter up until now, to claim that Joe Wilson was jabbering to him about how his wife worked for the CIA in the spring of 2002 while they were both in the green room at Fox News. Never mind that Joe Wilson never appeared on Fox News until July 2002. Vallely has now changed his story to accommodate this discrepancy. Apparently this is supposed to make him more plausible, since if his intent was to lie he would've checked his dates first.

They may have to run the one about how an inconsistent story makes it more plausible past me a few times before it starts to make sense. The only salient commentary I found on the whole situation came from the comments at Tom Maguire's: "One thing's for damn sure: this Plame/Wilson leak thingy is way too complicated for Sean Hannity to understand."

Update: Crooks & Liars spoke to Joe Wilson today, and evidently a team of Swift Boaters is being assembled: Fox veteran Lt. General Tom McInerney seems to be another graduate of the Roseanne Barr School of Repressed Memory Recovery. Maybe they should offer up Pell Grants to everyone appearing before Fitzgerald's grand jury, this thing seems to be spreading faster than the Bird Flu.

Update 2: Digby has a must-read backgrounder on McInerney and Vallely: "These two men specifically are Jack D. Ripper and Buck Turgidson come to life. I think Pat Fitzgerald needs to talk to them. Immediately. "

(photo by Alexis Robie)


Some CIA Leaks Are Better Than Others

That was then:
A day of dueling news conferences ended with a Senate debate that turned unusually personal. It began when Democratic leaders proposed an amendment, aimed at Rove, to deny access to classified information to any federal employee who discloses a covert CIA agent's identity.

Republican leaders retaliated with a measure designed to strip the security clearances of the chamber's top two Democrats. Even as he urged support for his amendment, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) acknowledged the blatantly political tone of the debate. "This is a sad and a disappointing afternoon here in the United States Senate," he said.

Frist's amendment failed, 64 to 33, when 20 Republicans joined all present Democrats in voting against it. The Senate then rejected the Democrats' measure aimed at Rove, by a 53-to-44 vote along party lines. Both items were offered as amendments to a homeland security appropriations bill.
This is now:
Dear Chairman Hoekstra and Chairman Roberts:

We request that you immediately initiate a joint investigation into the possible release of classified information to the media alleging that the United States government may be detaining and interrogating terrorists at undisclosed locations abroad. As you know, if accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks.


The leaking of classified information by employees of the United States government appears to have increased in recent years, establishing a dangerous trend that, if not addressed swiftly and firmly, likely will worsen. The unauthorized release of classified information is serious and threatens our nation's security. It also puts the lives of many Americans and the security of our nation at risk.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


William H. Frist, M.D.
That kind of desperation would be downright sad if it wasn't so damn funny.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Immortality Calling

James Bond author Ian Fleming:
Fleming's amateur intelligence work paid off. In 1939 he was offered a job as personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence. The position allowed Fleming to indulge his love of plotting and gadgetry, to exploit his networking skills and to develop unsuspected organizational talents. It also gave him the naval rank of Commander, a relatively lowly rank, but one with a resonance he enjoyed.

He set up an intelligence commando unit, which would follow invading troops and recover intelligence-related material. The unit saw action in the Allied invasion of Germany. Fleming was also in charge of Operation Goldeneye,– a contingency plan for a Nazi invasion of Spain, and devised Operation Ruthless. This was a plan to obtain a German codebook by crashing a captured aeroplane into the Channel, where the crew would be rescued by a German minesweeper. The 'survivors' would then kill the German crew and hijack the ship. The operation hit repeated snags and was eventually shelved.
Vice President of the United States Richard B. Cheney:
Having figured out that the general was being too cautious with his fourth combat command in three decades of soldiering, Cheney got his staff busy and began presenting Schwarzkopf with his own ideas about how to fight the Iraqis: What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad? Schwarzkopf charitably describes the plan as being "as bad as it could possibly be... But despite our criticism, the western excursion wouldn't die: three times in that week alone Powell called with new variations from Cheney's staff. The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait." (Throw in a Pete Rose rookie card?) None of this Walter Mitty posturing especially surprised Schwarzkopf, who points out that he'd already known Cheney as "one of the fiercest cold warriors in Congress.
I hereby volunteer to help Big Time find a book deal. Enough with the Vice Presidenting already.

Time to buy a small Greek island, sip a little Grappa and share your bountiful literary talents with the world, Dick. No really, I mean it man, you've got the gift. Call me.


Legal Jeopardy

Shoot the Messenger, Please: Oh my god this is getting pathetic. Sounds like 90% of today's press conference was just hounding McClellan about TraitorGate. He may very well have just been doing his job when he assured everyone Rover never leaked, but nobody told him that the zealotry of Saul of Tarsus was appropriate to the occasion. Sorry -- wrong link.

Bang the Drum Loudly: Arianna says that a bunch of big wig Dems are joining together and writing a letter to Preznit Pendejo asking him to pledge not to screw up Fitzgerald's investigation and take a pardon of Libby off the table. Of course he won't, but it ought to be a lethal 2006 campaign meme and it's good to get it into heavy rotation. Bet Junior's cussing a blue streak over Poppy and that Cap Weinberger thing right now.

Serious Plame-a-holics Only Need Apply: eRiposte is tearing it up at the Left Coaster over the Niger forgeries. His conclusions? That the CIA most likely did not receive some of the fake information in the Niger documents because Italian intelligence (SISMI) held back the overtly fraudulent material. So much for the FBI's lone "forgery for fun and profit" conclusion.

Dick Cheney, Bondage Freak? So says The General: "Of course, the kind of maiming Mr. Cheney ordered goes far beyond anything practiced by the consenting adults who engage in BDSM activities, but I bet they still felt like he was giving a shout out at them."

Manifest Destiny and the Republican Revolution: Greg at the Talent Show runs down the California ballot initiatives and lets us know what, exactly, Judge Wapner has to do with anything. And Fixer over at Alternate Brain lets potential New Jersey and Virginia goldbrickers know that failure to vote is not going to be an easier, softer option.

(graphics thanks to Monk)


True Believer

Newsday has a story up about Patrick Fitzgerald and his days as one of the "bomb boys" from the US attorney's office in Manhattan who spent much of the 90's crafting ways to prosecute terrorists following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:
U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, who helped prosecute six men sentenced to life in prison for the attack, recalled prosecutors cobbling together laws about commerce, destruction of vehicles, assault on federal officers and immigration -- anything to create long potential sentences.

"We were left with a big hole in the ground, six people dead, and there really was no crime, no terrorism statutes. We had to struggle to find crimes in the books that fit the conduct here," Garcia said.
Hence the genesis of the GOP talking point regarding Fitzgerald getting "overly creative" with the law. Funny that the war party now looks back and wishes Mr. Fitzgerald had looked into that smoking hole, muttered "hmmm, no law broken here," collected his marbles and gone about his business.

One of the people Fitzgerald put behind bars for the 1993 bombing was Sheikh Omar Abdel Raham, better known as "the Blind Sheikh." Fitzgerald wound up writing a set of rules or Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) to hinder the Sheikh's ability to communicate to his followers from jail. (It was the violation of the SAMS rules that got Lynn Stewart in hot water.)

The New Yorker has an interesting snippet from a surreptitiously taped conversation between Rahman, his translator Mohammed Yousry and Lynn Stewart from 2000, comparing Fitzgerald and Andrew McCarthy, another member of the anti-terrorism squad:
ABDEL RAHMAN: We thought that McCarthy was more dangerous.
YOUSRY: We thought that McCarthy was really a, a devil.
STEWART: A devil. Well, Fitzgerald I think is more so. He's, uh . . . he'’s like a crusader.
YOUSRY: She says, sir, that— --
STEWART: He has it in the heart.
YOUSRY: Fitzgerald is different from McCarthy. Fitzgerald believes in all these things in his heart, he has the faith of doing them in the same way the crusaders did; crusader, I mean, same as the crusaders'’ battle. He is more dangerous this way.
STEWART: "“This will never happen again. There will never be a bomb [that] explodes [in] an American Embassy again!" You know.
YOUSRY: When he stands up to speak, he says, this will never happen again to any American Embassy. We have to exterminate them all, we have to defend ourselves. He believes in that.
YOUSRY: He is not saying it in the same way McCarthy did, to gain the support of the jury.
Too early to be talking about Time Magazine's Man of the Year? Evidently not.


Extreme Web Surfing

Mickey Kaus hears rumors that the reason MSNBC has been so quiet about which episode of Hardball Scooter Libby was bitching to Russert about is because Libby was branding Matthews an "anti-Semite" for bashing the NeoCons (thanks to Jeralyn),...Arianna then speculates that Russert may now have decided to give Fitzgerald the "information provided in confidence" that he previously wanted excluded from his questioning about conversations with Scooter... Jay Rosen writes a letter to Romenesko saying that when Judy Miller said she had "security clearance" in Iraq what she meant to say was that she had "temporary access" and a "non-disclosure form." Still doesn't explain why she told Patrick Fitzgerald she "did not know" whether she was cleared to discuss classified information with Scooter or not -- is she trying "just delusional" on for size now? (thanks to David E.)...MoDo tells Imus that Judy Miller may write an op-ed responding to her critics. Cue the waaaahhhh (via Crooks & Liars) (okay I got that one over the phone, video link up as soon as C&L gets back from paying late fees to Blockbuster).


The Circus is Coming to Town

New article in the WSJ outlining a plausible Scooter defense -- journalists have bad memories. I for one hope he goes with that. Both Jeralyn and Emptywheel have really good analyses of the article, but even a casual observer of Plameology is certainly rubbing their hands together with glee that the most vulnerable journalist in this case, Judith Miller, is also the one that Scooter was feeding bogus info to during the lead up to the Iraq war.

Judy knows where the bodies are buried. It's going to be damned near impossible to slam someone in court like Judy, who can't hear a single word uttered against her in the Times without flying into a tailspin, and hope that she doesn't decide to flush the whole damn lot of them down the shitter. While a jury may be forced to sit and listen to your attorney spin for days on end, those stories would leak out to the American public who are not subject to such captivity and take on a life on their own. It could get really, really interesting.

As emptywheel says:
Pinch has been trying hard to find some way to silence Judy and hide the NYT's own complicity in this manner. But given how closely this line of attack on Judy's credibility aligns with the crime at hand, it will be very difficult to claim First Amendment privilege to shield this information. Moreover, Judy never wrote a story on this matter, Libby, better than anyone, is likely to be able to paint Judy's involvement as a malicious actor and not a journalist.
A trial like this will pit the White House against Judy Miller. It does not bode well for Libby that the fulcrum will be his own, extremely vindictive super-shill.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ya Gotta Have Friends

Laura Rozen says that Newt Gingrich's appearance on ABC's This Week gives us a good indication of what we'll soon be hearing from Pat Roberts about the Phase II investigation of the SSCI -- namely, "Roberts will leak to the White House and the GOP the pre-war statements by Democrats about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein."

Let me cancel my manicure. Wouldn't want to risk being out of the house for that one.

But as Laura says, this leaves out a few critical point the committee previously agreed to cover, namely "the use by the intelligence community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC)."

Might we suggest that the committee take advantage of that wonderful piece of kismet, the fact that Ahmed Chalabi is going to be hitting DC this week, to ask him a few pointed questions? Maybe he can carve out some time in between admiring Condi's shoes and swapping the finer points of waterboarding with Big Time to let them know how cousin Curveball fares these days.


White House Musical Chairs

Is Bush looking to unload Rover, Snow, Rummy and McClellan? According to Mike Allen of Time Magazine, anyway:
Despite Rove's flashes of ebullience in recent days and the insistence of friends that he is out of legal jeopardy, several of the most important lawyers who deal with special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said they saw more clues last week that Fitzgerald is continuing to look into the possibility of charging Rove with lying to investigators or the grand jury or both. If that happens, Rove almost certainly would resign immediately, as did I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, when Libby was indicted two weeks ago. Otherwise, Rove is likely to wait for a chance to minimize the perception that he is being hounded out or leaving under a cloud. And he's got one constituency rooting for him, the conservatives who rely on him to be their voice. If he leaves, he will not be alone. Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.
Andy Card had wanted Snow's job, but the threat of indictments may have opened up the possibility that he will be Bush's new "brain."

And what, exactly, does that portend? Billmon:
[T]he Andy Card I'm familiar with (although admittedly only in passing) sure doesn't seem like a serious contender to be the new power behind the throne -- especially when the guy currently holding the position is named Karl Rove.


On the other hand, given Bush's well-demonstrated weakness for servile sycophants, maybe Card really has talked his way into a promotion from chief cheeseburger chaser to Grand Vizier.

I guess it could be argued that since the smart guys -- i.e. Bush's cracker barrel version of the Best and the Brightest -- have gotten us into so many messes, why not let the dumb guys take a crack at getting us out. But that doesn't always work out so well in practice. If Andy Card truly is (or is about to become) Bush's "brain," then the next three years are likely to be pretty amusing -- at least for those with a morbid sense of humor.
What the hell, I like a good laugh.