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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Veni Vidi Gucci

I got taken to task by some guy over at Kos a while back who found my language coarse and offensive and wondered how the left could hope to win any debate when those on the right were such towering intellects, steeped in the classics and quoting Cicero at will.

At long last, I think the General finally provides the perfect riposte, as it were:
Steven S. Hoffmann
Washington University College Republicans

Dear Mr. Hoffman,

The French love the race card. Sometimes, it seems like there's nothing we can do that the left won't condemn as being racist. We suppress the black vote and they bring up Jim Crow. We write books about how white people are genetically endowed with greater intelligence and the left goes crazy. The Republican Senate Majority says that the world would be better if segregation was still around and he's hounded out of office. It's like the liberals are looking for the tiniest of excuses to brand us as racists.

I haven't had much success refuting their accusations. Everything I try just makes it worse. That's why I'm intrigued by the novel approach you took to rebut a columnist's charge that many College Republicans are racist. Calling him a "nigger" was a brilliant response. I'm eager to see how that works out for you.

Heterosexually yours,
Gen. JC Christian, patriot
I hope the General will forgive me for quoting his letter in toto. (That's French, right?)


Picking Up the 7-10 Split

Emptywheel has an amazing post up right now on the Woodward/Mr. X connection, and in the comments today she points out the following little factoid.

Today's WaPo:
Woodward, who was questioned by Fitzgerald on Monday, has refused to reveal the source's name publicly, but a person familiar with the investigation said the source had testified earlier in the case.
Adam Entous, Reuters:
A lawyer in the case said Woodward's source had not previously testified before a grand jury in the leak case.
The only two people known to have testified in the matter, but not under oath and not before the grand jury: Richard B. Cheney and George W. Bush.

On the other hand, Jeff sends us over to the London Sunday Times, where Michael Smith -- who, as Valley Girl reminds us, was the man who turned up the Downing Street Memo -- says that "Mr. X" is Stephen Hadley.

Can I just say that we have the most amazing comments section anywhere in the blogosphere? I'm really grateful for the effort that people put into it. It's where I get all my best tips, theories and links, and I really appreciate the opportunity to test out ideas (both good and bad) with people who follow the story closely before I post them. And the more I read around the blogosphere, the more I recognize stuff I've seen hashed out here in the comments. Which is totally cool, I couldn't be happier. But you guys and gals should just know, I think you've got some pretty big lurkers.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Scott McClellan's Head is Set to Explode

Bob Woodward certainly has caused a kerfluffle. While Preznit Never Responsible has fled to Asia in the wake of the wreckage caused by Hurricane Patrick, the White House came out from underneath the cone of silence on November 16 to announce that neither George Bush nor certain senior members of his staff were Woodward's source.

Anyone want to count the number of times Scott McClellan has said "we will not comment on an ongoing investigation?"

Rumors have already circulated that McClellan will soon take the big stroll down pink slip alley, and I really don't see how he can survive this. He's already been a human pinata for the likes of David Gregory and Terry Moran for months now, and there has been no gaggle since November 6. The decision by the White House to break its own rule means that nobody this side of Les Kinsolving is going to provide Scottie with any shelter from the storm. Although the next gaggle should sure be some entertaining fodder for Crooks & Liars, McClellen was effectively neutered by the announcement.

He's toast.

So it begs the question -- why did the White House suddenly decide, after all this time, to announce on the 16th that Dan Bartlett, Andy Card, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Karl Rove, John McLaughlin, Karen Hughes and Dubya himself were not the source for Woodward? And when many (including ourselves) noticed the conspicuous absence of Stephen Hadley from the list, why did they announce the following day that Hadley was not amongst the guilty? The new list also included Wolfowitz, Grossman, Feith, Edelman, Karl Ford, Alan Foley and David R. Shedd. (Oh, and we shouldn't need to note but we will, none of these people speak without White House permission.)

Why should we believe them?

I'll start with the assumption that Rove/Bush know who Woodward's source is. Aside from the fact that these events didn't happen in isolation, Woodward knows who he works for and it sure ain't the Washington Post.

The second assumption is that the White House is still looking forward to Life After Traitorgate. We may think it's not going away (and oh how our ranks have swelled since Libby's indictment, no?) but Rove and Co. dream of isolating the problem from the White House and pushing it over "there," wherever "there" may turn out to be. Allowing virtually everyone in the administration, including Dubya himself, to knowingly step up to tell a big, fat lie right now when this thing is getting ready to bust wide open makes little sense. It threatens to boomerang right back at them the minute Woodward's source is revealed, and too many people now know who that is for that secret to be kept much past next month, let alone for the next 30 years.

So -- the only reason I can think of to start announcing who isn't the source is to douse the person who is the source with gasoline and hope someone sets him on fire.

Then began the weird parade of denials by "unidentified sources" who said that Cheney was not Woodward's source. In the AP article by John Solomon, the source noted that "Woodward did not talk with the vice president that day." As Laura Rozen pointed out, Woodward never said what "that day" was.

Then the WSJ had this weird bit, completely unsourced:
Vice President Dick Cheney isn't believed to have talked to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald since last year, nor has he given a waiver to Mr. Woodward. That removes him as Mr. Woodward's source.
No attribution at all, provided as a pure statement of fact. I emailed one of the writers, John D McKinnon about it. He never got back.

I need me one of those magic 8 balls that peers into the black heart and scheduling log of Dick Cheney.

According to the same NYT article that says it's not Card et. al, Big Time refuses to confirm or deny that he is Woodward's source. And again the next day for the NYT article on the 17th. Perfectly in character for the crusty Cheney, who probably bristled at the audacity of any who dared to ask. It's only weird in light of the fact that he then went and launched a bunch of anonymous people to go defend him with some really weird claims that anyone who's even paying half attention is going to challenge.

It may well be that it's not Cheney. But if the White House is indeed trying to lay the whole thing on him and then cut him loose, this is certainly a way they'd do it. And it's a strategy they might pursue even if Cheney wasn't the source, just to get it off their doorstep.

One other note -- Hadley is reported to have shrugged off questions about whether he is "Mr. X" or not. I just don't think this means much. Nor do I think it is Armitage, who -- as David Corn notes -- is the only person on the "Official Speculation List" who has not yet denied it. And I'll take Condi off the list myself, Len Downie specifically said "he" and "him" with regard to Woodward's source when he appeared on CNN the other day. That would just be intentionally misleading in a way I would expect from someone more like -- oh, Bob Woodward.

Update: Condi and Bolton spokespeople have both said they were not Woodward's source as well.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


I Call Double Super-Secret Bullshit

Many fine thinkers trying to sort their way through the maze created by Mr. Run-Amok tonight, all riffing off the erudite Kevin Drum who speculates as to why either Woodward and/or his source finally called Patrick Fitzgerald after his press conference on October 28, 2005. And their theories may well prove correct.

But I think Arianna is much closer to the mark on this one -- the chain of events starts well before the Libby indictment was handed down. Trouble is, between Bob and Len Downie they are spinning about six different stories in time. The most recent of these is an interview given by Bob to Time Magazine as he takes yet another page out of the Judy Miller playbook and tells them stuff he withholds from his own paper.

Well nobody at the WaPo short of Richard Cohen would content themselves with such a horrible pack of inconsistencies anyway, so maybe it's just as well. But it would be nice for all of us if Bobby could remember the stories he's told in the past, 'cos it's damn hard to keep up with them. But let's have a go.

Thursday night, October 27: Bob Appears on Larry King

As I've mentioned before, many denizens of Traitorgate world -- including Steve Clemons, myself, the Washington bureau at the NYT, Michael Isikoff and apparently Len Downie himself -- had spent the day before the Libby indictment trying to track down the rumor that Bob is working on a "blockbuster" story that some had heard involves Fred Fleitz.

Isikoff asks Bob about the rumor on Larry King. To which Bob replies:
WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best 'New York Times' reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell. . . .Finally, Len Downie, who is the editor of the 'Washington Post' called me and said, 'I hear you have a bombshell. Would you let me in on it.'...And I said I'm sorry to disappoint you but I don't."
Everybody goes home, Bob's thrown a wet blanket on the whole thing, the rumor is not true. Only it is true. Bob is sitting on a blockbuster. And the lie about Len Downie is quite unnecessarily elaborate.

Tuesday night, November 15: First WaPo article appears

Includes the comment that "Downie said in an interview yesterday that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story."

Wednesday, November 16: Len Downie speaks to E&P

It was just a few days before the indictment of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was announced on Oct. 28 that Downie learned from Woodward that the Watergate legend had his own connection to the Valerie Plame case.
Okay, so it was "a few days before" the indictment that Downie first learned about Bob's "connection." So was that Larry King moment about Downie calling him and Bob saying there was no "blockbuster" just bullshit?

Today: Woodward in Time Magazine
In the final weeks before the grand jury indicted vice presidential aide I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby on Oct. 28 for perjury and obstruction of justice, Woodward says he was asked by Downie to help report on the status of the probe. In the course of his reporting, Woodward says, "I learned something more" about the disclosure of Plame's identity, which prompted him to admit to Downie for the first time that he had been told of Plame’s CIA job by a senior administration official in mid June 2003.
So when exactly did Bob tell Downie about his "source?" I'm inclined to believe Downie's assertion, that it came a couple of days prior to Oct. 28. Downie probably had asked him to do some reporting on Plame in the weeks prior, and why wouldn't he. I'm surprised he didn't ask a whole lot sooner.

The story about Downie calling him and asking him if he was sitting on a bombshell also sounds true. The Post has been held out on before. Ask their own staff:
"Woodward has periodically faced criticism for holding back scoops for his Simon & Schuster-published books."
Now, I have no idea how the cat got let out of the bag, but it did. There seem to be two threads that, by Bob's own admission, came to intersect in the days before the indictment such that he had to come clean to Downie:
1. A story Bob was working on
2. A source he could not reveal
To hear Bob tell it, the two are completely unrelated. Suddenly bingo, Bob is sitting there watching Fitzgerald's press conference. As he tells Time Magazine, he was so struck with conscience he just had to come forward:
In his press conference announcing Libby’s indictment, Fitzgerald noted that, "Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson." Woodward realized, given that the indictment stated Libby disclosed the information to New York Times reporter Miller on June 23, that Libby was not the first official to talk about Wilson's wife to a reporter. Woodward himself had received the information earlier.

According to Woodward, that triggered a call to his source. "I said it was clear to me that the source had told me [about Wilson's wife] in mid-June," says Woodward, "and this person could check his or her records and see that it was mid-June. My source said he or she had no alternative but to go to the prosecutor.
Does anyone have something to help digest this extra big super heaping helping of bullshit? 'Cos it just will not stay down.

Woodward and/or his source suddenly feel compelled to come forward and tell the prosecutor something that is absolutely no help at all to Libby in his case. Libby is not charged with being the first to disclose the information to reporters, now is he? So we're supposed to buy that the source -- and Woodward is "not sure" whether they've spoken to Fitzgerald before or not (sure, Bob, sure) -- is going to come forward, possibly admit they're guilty of obstruction, false statement, and/or perjury, over a story which is of absolutely no benefit to Libby?

And then there's the fact that he admits he's willing to go to such lengths to help Libby but wouldn't even tell his own paper what's going on until he had to. Shit, he even told Ben Bradlee about Deep Throat. It's clear where Bob's loyalties lie. These are the actions of a political operative and not a reporter.

Something happened in the days before Libby's indictment came down that set this all into motion, and how it all links together I am not sure. My money says Mr. Fitzgerald somehow set this ball rolling, and not Mr. Woodward or his ne'er-do-well source. The only thing I am sure of -- Woodward's cover story is a crock. And he seems to think he is justified in his dissembling now just as he was during the decades he protected the identity of Deep Throat.

Bob got lucky in Watergate -- serving Bob Woodward also served the public interest for a moment in time. But since then the service of Bob's massive ego has meant trotting along behind the crooks as bootlick to power, and I think he is about to find out that in this instance a curious public will cut him even less slack than his compatriots in the WaPo newsroom.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Friday, November 18, 2005

Are We Lovin' It Yet?

What foul beast gave birth to Ahmed Chalabi and the INR? Rolling Stone says that in some sort of horrible cross-pollination of Buck Turgidson and Jerry Della-Femina, it's a guy named John Rendon:
Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before al-Haideri took the lie-detector test, the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam.
You gotta read this. Truly, it makes Wag the Dog look like amateur night in Dixieland. And it only gets better:
The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years. Not long after the CIA polygraph expert slipped the straps and electrodes off al-Haideri and declared him a liar, Miller flew to Bangkok to interview him under the watchful supervision of his INC handlers. Miller later made perfunctory calls to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, but despite her vaunted intelligence sources, she claimed not to know about the results of al-Haideri's lie-detector test. Instead, she reported that unnamed "government experts" called his information "reliable and significant" -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies.
My but doesn't she just keep turning up like the original bad penny?

One would think that if this country had a responsible Congress with some notion of oversight more than just providing a warm place for Jean Schmidt to forget to take her thorazine at, somebody might be looking into this.

One would think, anyway.


Jean Full of Schmidt

Jean Schmidt, who defeated Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett for her seat in Ohio, shuts down the House of Representatives by challenging the courage of decorated Vietnam War veteran Jack Murtha and saying that "cowards cut and run." The place exploded. It was probably everybody pulling out their Blackberries and Googling Jean Schmidt's war record. I guess her history as the head of Cincinnati Right to Life must qualify.

This is what she said about Hackett during their recent run-off election:
NOVOTNY: His opponent, Republican frontrunner Jean Schmidt, a former state representative who is not convinced that time served in battle can compare to experience at home.

JEAN SCHMIDT, OHIO REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Everything’s local. Of course, it’s more important here. The issues that the people have are more important to those individuals than anything outside of that region.
Presumably if Murtha's combat experience had been blowing up local Planned Parenthood clinics, that would have qualified.

Update: From AP:
The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.

Democrats booed and shouted her down - causing the House to come to a standstill.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack. "You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.
And her little dog Toto, too.

Update 2: ThinkProgress has the video. Really, you should see it. The minute she steps up there you can just feel she's itching to make trouble.


Gimme a Break

First of all, many thanks to the 15, 642 people who have now emailed me John Dean's article from last night. Yes, I did see it. And we actually had quite the discussion in the comments section, but for all those who missed it, here it is again.

Basically, Dean said to Fitzgerald:
Those who leaked the information about Valerie Wilson breached signed contracts they had made with the government. These contracts, moreover, were not to be taken lightly: They enforced profoundly important obligations to national security, on the part of the very people who were supposed to be serving that end.

Why are you not enforcing those contracts? Why have you not urged the president to sanction those who have released national security information? The president has said he would fire those who committed crimes -- but breach of such profoundly important contracts, even if it does not rise to the level of a crime, is surely cause for dismissal, as well.

You should so urge the President. And if he is not willing to take appropriate action with those who have dishonored their offices, and broken their contracts, you ought to go to court and get an injunction to remove their security clearances.
Now I have tremendous respect for John Dean, but let's just say that his politickin' skills might not always be as polished as his legal ones.

Fitzgerald is trying to gracefully waltz through landmines. The moment any of the foaming lunacy of Joe DeGenova and his fingernails-on-a-chalkboard wife Victoria Toensing threaten to gain traction in the media and turn public opinion against him, there will be all manner of obstruction thrown in his way. Being quite humble, quiet and crafty has served him well, and what Dean is suggesting has the potential to completely derail his efforts to land the Great White Cheney. Dean's offstage urging of him into the role of Ahab risks dooming him to Ahab's watery fate.

I think these kind of suggestions are better laid at the feet of members of Congress. Fitzgerald has his hands quite full at the moment, and I see no reason to believe that he is not handling all the players with considerable skill as he maneuvers them into unleashing all their worst impulses on one another unfettered by any restraint.

Maybe Dean ought to be sending letters to this guy. He seems to need something to do.

(BTW, should note, thank you very much to all those 15,642 people who emailed me the Dean article, I appreciate the trouble you took to do so.)


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Us vs. Them

As the great Bob Adams once said (and I paraphrase), "A Democratic '2' is a Republican '10,' and that's why they'll always hate us."

The Clenis couldn't have said it any better. It's not just that they're all white, flabby and old -- being young just seems to add to the creepy factor. Witness Jonah Goldberg, Rick Santorum or Ralph Reed (who may not even be young, but we're told the undead don't age).

Case in point: Ken Starr. A pervy blabbermouth who went on a forty million-dollar panty raid, his image will forever be etched on the retina of America's collective unconscious as a professional peeping Tom who hijacked the nineties by dumpster diving for used condoms with Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp. An unrepentant PR disaster, he is the envy of no one but the sexually frustrated and the perennially angry.

Compare that to the Gary Cooper-esque figure cut by Patrick Fitzgerald, whose investigation cost $723,000 in the first fifteen months and whose tight-lipped mien has reduced his Republican opponents to reenacting the final shoot-out scene from the Wild Bunch. (I know he's quite adamant about his political neutrality but like it or not fate has shoved him into the arms of the left, and we feel it's the natural habitat for one with such a well developed superego).

And it appears People Magazine is of the same mind. According to an interview on the Today Show, Fitzgerald has made the list in their Sexiest Man Alive issue:
Katie Couric: "Do you have the thinking woman's sex symbol in there at any point?"

Julie Jordan, People magazine: "Yes. Yeah like we got lots of smart men. Patrick Fitzgerald. I love that he actually is..."

Couric: "The special prosecutor. Oh my gosh he must've been so freaked out when he got the call! He keeps dirty socks at work and apparently has pizza boxes up to the ceiling at his house."
So to all you little Yellow elephants out there huffing insecticide in hopes of perfecting that Tom DeLay wall-eyed glaze, just remember. The money is good, but there is a price tag attached.


I Call Bullshit

From the AP:
WASHINGTON --Vice President Dick Cheney is not the unidentified source who told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward about the CIA status of the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, a person familiar with the investigation said Thursday.

Woodward did not talk with the vice president that day, did not provide the information that's been reported in Woodward's notes and has not had any conversations over the past several weeks about any release for allowing Woodward to testify, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Fine, then why the anonymity? Somebody afraid Big Time's gonna get all bent out of shape because they're defending him? I'm not 100% convinced Woodward's source is Cheney, but until someone is willing to come out and state this for the record, this is just so much meaningless hogwash. The AP ought to be embarassed to print it at this point.

Meanwhile, the NYT people must be breathing with pure relief as they watch the WaPo's bacon sink swiftly into the fire:
Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from readers since yesterday's revelations about Bob Woodward's involvement in the Valerie Plame case, and none of them are positive.

"I am getting a lot of reaction and, from readers, it is all bad," Howell told E&P today, referring to the fallout from Woodward's disclosure that he spoke to a confidential White House source about Plame in 2003. "We are being barraged with calls. They think it was wrong for him not to tell his editors and wrong for the Post not to tell readers."
The damage caused by Judy Miller to the NYT is looking positively small potatoes next to the damage being wrought by Mr. Run-Amok. The Post may yet be forced into choosing between its future and its past.

Thanks to ck in the comments who says that our headline, "Mr. Run-Amok," made it onto the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight. We already got props from Froomkin for dubbing Woodward thusly, so we happily bequeath the moniker along with our deepest sympathies to those writers of integrity at the WaPo who are living through the shitstorm Woodward has brought down upon their house.

(thanks to reader James G. for the graphic)


Big Time Has a Big Mouth

Oh boy here come the fireworks. Reuters:
A White House official said on Thursday that national security adviser Stephen Hadley was not Woodward's source on Plame.
If that's true, as far as I can tell, that only leaves Big Time.

Emptywheel has a must-read post on the critical timing of the Woodward leak and how, if it came from Cheney, it almost certainly represents and Espionage or IIPA violation. Cheney probably got his information from Tenet (despite Tenet's protestations to the contrary, according to people at the NYT anyway), and as Fitzgerald took pains to outline in the Libby indictment, Cheney knew quite well that Plame worked in counterproliferation which meant her status was covert. More on this later, but I'm thinking this will make for an explosive Christmas -- look for Bush to be doing some brush clearance at the VP's office before the SOTU in January.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Quote of the Day

Arianna has some questions she'd like to ask Woodward. I have one of my own.

From the CJR, in March/April 2005:
Bob Woodward, perhaps the preeminent investigative reporter of his time, believes in supporting journalists who are protecting sources. Yet he sees the use of confidentiality in this case — to hide the sources who identified Valerie Plame — as a weak reed to lean on. “I use confidential sources more than most anyone,” Woodward concedes, “but it has to be worth the risk involved. I don’t think outing Plame was worth the risk.”
Since you don't believe it was "worth the risk" to offer confidentiality to those who outed Valerie Plame, when exactly can we expect to be hearing the identity of your "source," Bob?

(thanks to reader l. strauss for the image)


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Plan of a Hack

I've spent the afternoon listening to Bob Woodward try to explain why he used his Watergate credibility to convince people that a legal imbroglio he was intimately involved in was nothing more than "gossip" even as he failed to admit he was one of the gossipers. Then Len Downie got to go to school on Bill Keller and try to bail his paper out of the Official White House Stenographic Pool. Neither were particularly successful.

Woodward's cast-iron refusal to act like a journalist and name a source who will undoubtedly be revealed as time goes on most assuredly and permanently bestows upon him perpetual Chief Stenographer status. His mea culpa was even more embarrassing than Judy Miller's (at least the Times named Libby as Miller's source upon her release from jail -- shit, who thought that sordid affair would ever be invidiously compared to anything?) The Post's up-and-comer status as the "paper of record" to replace the NYT was dealt a serious blow as they refused to buck their star reporter's desire to play White House suck-up. Today he verily laughed at any suggestion that he bore some professional obligation to the Post.

But enough Woodward bashing for the moment -- we have other fish to fry. What did we learn about Woodward's source from today's round of dissembling? Well we learned a hell of a lot more from Len Downie than we did Booby, that's for sure. Let's review:

1. The source is a man. Downie was quite specific that "he" did not want to be publicly identified at this time (and Downie apparently knows).

That lets out Matalin, Condi and Hughes (apparently).

2. Bush released a statement today saying that neither he, Andy Card, Dan Bartlett, Colin Powell, George Tenet nor John McLaughlin were responsible. Since in all likelihood the identity of Booby's source will become known sooner rather than later, we are going to give a group of known liars the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

From the NYT:
Mr. Cheney did not join the parade of denials. A spokeswoman said he would have no comment on a continuing investigation. Several other officials could not be reached for comment.
3. The source was interviewed by Woodward for his book, Plan of Attack. Now while he may well have interviewed people he never mentioned, we'll assume for the moment that if he had a casual, friendly relationship with the person he would most certainly want to flatter them with inclusion, because that's the kind of hard-hitting, edgy journalist he is.

Not mentioned: Bolton, Fleitz, Wurmser, Hannah.

Mentioned: Hadley, Cheney, Fleischer.

Okay, I'm knocking Fleischer out because he's cited in the indictment, a good indication that he came in and played straight with Fitzgerald from the start. Whoever this person is he either didn't tell Fitzgerald about the Woodward interlude, or hasn't been questioned by Fitzgerald yet.

In order to telescope it down further, I'm going to leap over to what potential scenarios of events could've been.

A few days before the Libby indictment was announced, Woodward evidently went to his editors and said "um, Houston, I think we have a problem," and mentioned he might be needing to do a story about his own involvement.

Oh the laughs they must've had in the Post newsroom over that one.

This was around the same time that Rover was doing one of those furious Wylie Coyote backpeddle things trying to get out of the way of the anvil that was poised to drop on his head.

And the night before, on Thursday, October 27, Michael Isikoff asked a question of Woodward on Larry King:
ISIKOFF: I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don't know, maybe this is Bob's opportunity.
But Woodward put everyone's suspicions to rest:
WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.
Protecting your sources is one thing. Nobody put a gun to your head and told you to lie your face off in the process, Bob.

The reporter at the New York Times was Doug Jehl, and evidently the whole NYT Washington crew had spent the day trying to track down the rumor that Steve Clemons was also privy to -- namely that Fred Fleitz was going to be the subject of a Woodward article

Now as Swopa notes, Michael Isikoff has a history of being a Rove water carrier. But Fitzgerald probably isn't as easily distracted by bright lights and shiny objects as Isikoff is. It's entirely possible -- and I'm guessing probable -- that in order to hold Fitzgerald off at least for a while, Rove had to give up somebody quite real. I doubt any of his lame Adam Levine excuses gave Fitzgerald "pause," but it would definitely suit Rove's agenda to have Libby be the first guy out there on the limb. And as Digby noted, it probably served the White House's agenda too -- they might have even made some sort of sacrifice play to evade the mortal blow of losing Rove and Libby on the same day.

Which puts Cheney in the possible category and places pretty damn good odds on Hadley.

Hadley was Deputy National Security Advisor at the time, and putatively the information clearing house for leaks. After Karl Rove spoke with Matt Cooper, he reported back to Hadley about it with the now-infamous email on July 11. The Washington Post described him as the "eyes and ears" for Cheney at the NSC, having served under him as assistant secretary of defense during Bush 41.

It was also Hadley's job to coordinate Tenet's apology for the "16 words" he didn't put in Bush's speech, and perhaps more significantly, was a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG). He was also reportedly running around at one point and telling people he thought he was going to be indicted.

Although I've seen his name listed online as having appeared before the grand jury, I can't find any hard evidence of it. It seems likely that Hadley would've made an appearance, given his membership in WHIG and the fact that he was a recipient of the Rove email, but if it is him, he must've conveniently left out his early conversation with Bobby. In which case I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now, because having listened to himself mis-quoted on the news all day and called "Inspector Clouseau," Patrick Fitzgerald is probably in quite the mood.

Second possible scenario -- Scooter is indicted. He hasn't got much hope of mounting a defense, but what hope he does have could entail calling reporters with whom he spoke and didn't talk shit about Wilson. He calls Woodward and says "listen, man, I just want to tell you -- this is coming down the path." Woodward knows he's going to get the Fitzgerald nod, phones his other source and warns them, and they come forward. Problem with this is, Woodward was already talking to his editors before Scooter was indicted. So I'll put this in the "unlikely" column.

Third possible scenario -- and this one is the wild card. Reddhedd thinks that with all the extra stuff in the indictment that didn't need to be there, Fitzgerald may have been telegraphing to someone that he had the dirt on them, and that's what provoked the sudden attack of candor and/or memory retrieval. And the Digby corollary is that watching Fitzgerald come down on Libby for perjury with 30 years' worth and a demand for hard time probably scared the living bejesus out of some of them who decided they just didn't want to play spin the bottle with the Special Counsel just now.

Which could mean Cheney. But as both Digby and Pachacutec have noted -- it is totally out of character for Cheney or Bush to back down and give Fitz (or anyone else) anything. Which leads back to Hadley or Cheney in the Rove sacrifice play.

One thing is for certain -- we will probably know sooner rather than later who Booby's source is. Libby will no doubt put any such information in his pleadings, and my guess is that the White House is going to want to get all this stuff aired and out of the way before the SOTU in January. So I think this is going to be a very, very festive holiday season for all of us.

And to everyone who was crying "it's over, Fitzgerald's done" after the Libby indictment, I'd like to say...Merry Fitzmas, y'all...

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)

Update: Steve Soto thinks Libby and Cheney gave up Hadley to establish Libby wasn't the first leaker. What this gives Libby in Fitzgerald's eyes I'm not entirely sure, but if true it's getting ugly.

Laura Rozen thinks it's not Cheney because Woodward says his source didn't believe the information was classified, something Cheney would most certainly have known.

John at Americablog likens the Post to a roomful of monkeys typing and says there is something quite peculiar with Woodward's timeline (via Jeralyn).

Crooks and Liars also has the clip of Downie's tour-de-force performance on CNN. You can see for yourself What Woodward Hath Wrought.


WoodMill: The Distaff Side

While Little Mr. Run-Amok has his return moment in the spotlight after several decades in an undistinguished chorus, his counterpart in WoodMill (so dubbed by Digby) -- Judy Miller -- takes the stage again, this time at the Open Source Media shindig in New York this afternoon.

Jay Rosen of PressThink was there and he got a chance to ask the question we all want to know the answer to: why the hell is Judy Miller running around the country demanding a federal shield law that she herself would not have been covered by?

Jay emailed the delightful details:
They were webcasting it, so they gave me a mike that didn't work, a second mike that didn't work, and during my question three other mikes that didn't work.

Even so, I got to tell her about watching the PBS Newshour (July 6, 2005) when Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune said that a federal shield law would cover more than 90 percent of the cases where confidential sources are used, but it would not have applied to her case.  Then Bill Keller, who was on the program as Judy's defender and supporter, said Chapman was correct.  Judy Miller's decision to go to jail was an act of civil disobedience, he said, because she had "run out of legal protection."

My question for Judy:  Why is it that as you travel the country speaking out for a federal shield law--before journalism groups, legal societies, on TV, and the Congress--you invariably fail to mention what your champion (then) Bill Keller understood: the shield law would not have protected you because of the weird facts in this case?  It certainly matters to how effective you can be in making a case to the nation for the shield law, I said.  Yet you leave it out.  And your remarks today were a perfect example.

Miller said it was a good question.  She said Keller was wrong.  The law would have protected her.  Her lawyer told her so.  The only exception in the bill is for matters of national security. "It's not the only thing I disagree with Bill Keller about," she said with a chuckle and toss of the head.  But even if the law didn't apply to her and Fitzgerald, Miller added, it was a good law and important to talk about. 

True, and that's exactly why the law needs a different advocate, someone who is not Judith Miller.
The law, as Jay notes, is the Senate's Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, which says you cannot be compelled to give up a source unless "disclosure of the identity of such a source is necessary to prevent imminent and actual harm to national security."

Says Jay:
I've asked a lot of people with knowledge of Washington, and of this bill.  I haven't found one who thinks there can be a vote on a federal shield law without an exception in it for revealing the identity of a covert agent.  A case in which that happened is not going to be a covered case; and anyone with political sense knows it.
Indeed, Professor Geoffrey Stone, former board member of the ACLU, writes:
In the Plame case, we have a relatively unusual circumstance where the source is essentially using the press in an effort to commit a federal version of a reporter-source privilege in my view or my judgment would cover the particulars of this situation.
As one of the commenters over at Sadly, No! said, "you know you don't have a leg to stand on when the ACLU tells you to shut up and take your medicine! They defended Rush Limbaugh. Jesus tapdancing christ, LIMBAUGH!

Evidently Judy still isn't taking her medicine. But boy don't we keep trying to give it to her.

(late nite graphic artistry by Billmon)


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bobby Has a Secret

Atrios put up a post about Woodward's appearance on Larry King the night before Fitzgerald announced the Libby indictments, where Michael Isikoff asks him about a "bombshell" revelation that he was supposedly sitting on. Woodward poo-poohs the whole thing. But it jogged my memory, because that night I remember hearing that same rumor and I took it seriously enough to call both Arianna and the NYT about it, and I could not remember for the life of me where I heard it.

I remembered.

From the Washington Note:
[A] short while ago -- one of America's top journalists called me to ask what I knew about Fleitz. He said rumors were swirling everywhere and that a "really wild rumor" was that Bob Woodward had a piece appearing in tomorrow's Washington Post focusing on Fleitz. Realize -- NOTHING substantiated here.

Part of the rumor is that Fleitz is on leave.

I just tried to track that down. I just called Fred Fleitz, but got his answering machine and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I then called Under Secretary of State Bob Joseph's office and talked to a person who told me that Fleitz was on leave for two days but would return to the office Monday morning.

I know nothing more. But here is what I wrote on Fleitz and the possibility of a Plame connection a while back. . .plus if you use the search function on the site for "Fleitz", you will find a lot of commentary on this website about him. He's an interesting, swashbuckling, rough-and-tough character who kept his CIA WINPAC portfolio despite being seconded to the State Department.
Arianna has said in the past that Fleitz was one of Judy Miller's sources. He was Bolton's go-to guy. To the best of my knowledge he has never been questioned by Fitzgerald, which would make sense, because otherwise Fitzgerald would've tripped to Woodward earlier.

It looks like Mr. Fitzgerald may finally be on the Bolton trail after all.

Update: BTW, while we're wildly speculating here, I'll mention that I was talking to one of the journalists who was leaked to at one point, and I asked them if they thought anyone other than Rove and Libby might be indicted. And they said "who was that guy who worked for John Bolton?" and I said "Fred Fleitz?" and they said "yeah, him." But they did it in a bit of a jokey fashion so I didn't take it entirely seriously (it was someone who knew, undoubtedly, who Fred Fleitz was). I just offer that up as more fodder.

Update 2: Jeralyn also thinks it might be Hannah, Fleitz or Wurmser, and has a side bet on Wurmser.

Update 3: A lot of speculation that Woodward's "source" is someone who has appeared before the grand jury. While it's possible I would say it was unlikely, because unless the person lied Fitz would've known about Booby and hauled him in long ago. As much as I'd love to believe Rove gave Fitz "pause" by ratting Cheney out, I think realistically it's much more likely that whoever this person is, they have never been questioned by Fitzgerald before. And I believe that short list includes both Bolton and Fleitz.

Update 4: emptywheel: "Well, maybe the reason Fitzgerald didn't hit Libby with the full force of the Espionage Charges that are obviously just beneath the surface of Libby's perjury indictment is because he wanted to smoke out all the journalists that Libby would produce as evidence that, either he's an idiot, or he's an idiot. Libby's probably searching his contact files for discussions about Wilson he had before the tell-tale conversation with Ari Fleischer. So perhaps former kingkiller Bob Woodward won't be the only one who we hear of learning of Wilson's wife in June?"


Mr. Run-Amok

Bobby just can't stand to be out of the limelight.

For tomorrow's WaPo, Woodward is writing that he testified under oath before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury Monday, and says "a senior administration official" told him about Valerie Plame and her position at the CIA more than a month before Robert Novak's column appeared (which would've been July 11, 2003):
In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in the investigation.
Woodward says he did not hear it from Libby, and also claims that he was the first journalist anyone in the Bush administration leaked Plame's identity to.

Rover is also denying it is him:
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.
Libby's lawyer also goes on the attack with a bit of strategic nonsense:
"If what Woodward says is so, will Mr. Fitzgerald now say he was wrong to say on TV that Scooter Libby was the first official to give this information to a reporter?" Jeffress said last night. "The second question I would have is: Why did Mr. Fitzgerald indict Mr. Libby before fully investigating what other reporters knew about Wilson's wife?"
I'm sure if it turns out to be true Fitzgerald will happily acknowledge the change in chronology. And if Bobby didn't pipe up about this earlier, how was Fitzgerald supposed to know about it? I'm certain if Mr. Jeffres'' client had been honest about everyone he and all his cronies had spoken with Mr. Fitzgerald would've given them all ample opportunity to testify before the grand jury.

Woodward says he told Walter Pincus that "Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst," although Pincus says he doesn't remember Woodward telling him that, and can't imagine how he would have forgotten. Is Bobby just making a desperate bid to relive his Watergate glory and thrust himself into the center of things? You have to wonder.

And it seems that Woodward is his paper's own little Miss Run-Amok:
Woodward never mentioned this contact -- which was at the center of a criminal investigation and a high-stakes First Amendment legal battle between the prosecutor and two news organizations -- to his supervisors until last month. Downie said in an interview yesterday that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story. He declined to say whether he was upset that Woodward withheld the information from him.
I wonder if he had to answer questions from Fitzgerald about how he supposedly saw a CIA report that said there was no damage done as a result of Valerie Plame's outing.

I doubt it. Fitzgerald, like the rest of us, probably knew it was bullshit.

(more coming as I pull out the timelines etc.)


You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Sidney Schanberg on the utter uselessness of Bob Woodward, here talking about Traitorgate with Larry King:
"Technically they might be able to be charged with perjury. But I don't see an underlying crime here, and the absence of the underlying crime may cause somebody who is a really thoughtful prosecutor to say, you know maybe this is not one to go to the court with."

Is this the same Bob Woodward whose Watergate scoops were dismissed by Richard Nixon's press secretary, the late Ron Ziegler, as piddling stories about a "third-rate burglary"? Doesn't Woodward remember the reaction by many in the White House press corps, who initially sneered at the story and brushed it off as the fevered product of two lowly cityside reporters covering crime and the courts—which is what Woodward and Bernstein were at the time?


I wonder what Woodward's newsroom colleagues at The Washington Post think of his put-down of this investigation, especially the reporters—Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Barton Gellman, Jim VandeHei, and others—who have been doing such an impressive job of digging deep and informing the public about the White House machinations and the larger Iraq story. I doubt they're throwing him any parties.

To write his books, Woodward needs special access to major people in the White House and the key cabinet departments. He is presently working on what he says may be a multivolume treatment of Bush's second term. He had access to the president himself for his book on the first term. But with this scandal still unfolding, lots of government biggies have suddenly zipped their lips. This has complicated Woodward's work. Perhaps that explains, in part, his reluctance to mouth any full-blown criticism of Bush administration missteps.
Woodward isn't just reluctant to criticize the Administration -- he's become the water carrier of choice. Schanberg doesn't report the big, fat whopping lie that Woodward went on to tell in that interview, that he had seen the CIA damage report done on the Plame leak:
They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.
Two days later, the WaPo ran a story saying that no such CIA report was ever done. I guess that was the official answer as to what Woodward's "news room colleagues" thought of his put-down of their efforts.

Larry Johnson went further:
I have spoken to some people who are in a position to know. There has been damage. My source, however, declined to share classified information.
Woodward stopped being a "journalist" in the true sense of the word long ago -- when he decided celebrity status and book sales meant more than the truth. He has gone from being -- well, whatever he was, to something much worse: an official peddler of lies told by powerful people to whitewash their criminal activities.

I'd sure hate to be the publisher trying to launch his "Books on Crooks" series. But then again, I can't imagine a world where being the official BushCo. ass waxer -- and fodder for countless generations of grad students to tear limb from tedious limb as they dissect this criminally incompetent junta -- would be any kind of privilege to protect at the price of one's integrity.

Maybe it's just the money, after all.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Why Scooter is Screwed -- in Plain English

Much talk recently about poor how poor Scooter is falling on his sword to save his boss Dr. Evil. The WaPo over the weekend wanted to know why Scooter would lie to the Grand Jury in direct contradiction of his own notes, and came up with the notion that he was protecting Cheney. For which he, no doubt, probably deserves to be counted a Great American.

Color me dubious.

While he may well be protecting Cheney in the bargain, Scooter's lies were meant to protect himself -- from an Espionage indictment. Sort of a two-vultures-with-one-stone deal. Fitzgerald knows it, and hammering away at the lies that keep him from indicting Libby under the Espionage Act are at the heart of his case.

He has Scooter dead-to-rights on a handful of lies, but let's start with his claim that Tim Russert told him on July 10 that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. According to Russert, the two never discussed it. Now according to The Wall Street Journal and others, Libby's planned defense will be to attack the credibility of Big Russ and others. All I can say is, good luck.

Let's say that by the time Scooter's case comes to trial We Are All Tom Maguire and we believe Russert is full of shit. What Fitzgerald is maintaining is that Libby lied to both FBI investigators and the Grand Jury when he went in and told them that when he spoke to Russert, he had forgotten that he first heard that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA from Cheney (and thanks to Grandpa over at The Next Hurrah for setting me straight on this one). Russert's story one way or the other plays no part in it.

That Scooter would tell such an outrageous, weird lie is made even weirder by the number of people amassed by Fitzgerald who claim to have discussed Valerie Wilson with Scooter prior to the purported July 10 conversation with Russert:

. June 11 or 12 -- Mark Grossman, Under Secretary of State told him Wilson's wife worked at the CIA
. June 11 -- "A senior officer of the CIA" told him Wilson's wife worked at the CIA
. June 12 -- Dick Cheney told him Wilson's wife worked at the CIA
. June 14 -- He discussed "Joe Wilson" and "Valerie Wilson" with his CIA briefer
. June 23 -- He told Judy Miller that Wilson's wife might work at the CIA
. July 7 -- He told Ari Fleischer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA
. July 8 (or earlier) -- Catherine Martin told him that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA
. July 8 -- Libby told Judith Miller that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA

And yet, in his testimony before the grand jury, Scooter could still look everybody in the eye (we assume) and say that on July 10, when he purportedly spoke with Tim Russert, he had totally forgotten he'd ever heard this information before:
Libby: And then he said, you know, did you know that this excuse me, did you 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. And so I said, no, I don'’t know that because I want to be very careful not to confirm it for him, so that he didn't take my statement as confirmation for him.
Note that Scooter is very careful to say that he thought that this was the first time he had heard this. And he goes on to say that when he went forth like Scooter Appleseed to scatter this tidbit of news to journalists, he always told them he had heard it from another journalist:
Fitzgerald: And you're, you'’re certain as you sit here today that every reporter you told that Wilson'’s wife worked at the CIA, you sourced it back to other reporters?

Libby: Yes, sir, because it was important for what I was saying and because it was that'’s what...that's how I did it.
Why would he tell such a stupid lie? Fitzgerald certainly has an idea:
Fitzgerald: And let me ask you this directly. Did the fact that you knew that the law could turn, the law as to whether a crime was committed, could turn on where you learned the information from, affect your account for the FBI when you told them that you were telling reporters Wilson'’s wife worked at the CIA but your source was a reporter rather than the Vice-President?

Libby: No, it'’s a fact. It was a fact, that's what I told the reporters.
Repeatedly telling an outrageous lie like that, both to the FBI and the grand jury, one that would never stand up in court (unless the "I forgot" defense is a lot stronger than I have any reason to believe it is) is because admitting the truth -- namely, that he was knowingly and recklessly spreading classified information to people who were not authorized to have it -- made him guilty under the Espionage Act.

Here is Fitz from his press conference:
I think, knowing that he gave the information to someone who was outside the government, not entitled to receive it, and knowing that the information was classified, is not enough. You need to know at the time he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness. (my emphasis)
As a lawyer, Libby knew that as long as he maintained he was only passing on heresay from other reporters they might get him for charges related to egregious lying, but at least they couldn't get him for Espionage, and they kill people for that. If he can throw a little shade Big Time's way in the bargain, well so much the better.

The indictments go on in an attempt to crack holes in Libby's contention that every time he talked to a reporter, he sourced it back to another reporter, and said he did not know if the information he was passing on was true. In each and every count of the indictment, Fitzgerald seems to be punching holes in the aspects of Libby's story that would keep him from being indicted on Espionage.

With regard to Tim Russert, he basically blasts the source of the lie -- that Russert told him in the first place (Counts 1, 2 & 4)

With regard to Matt Cooper, he asserts only that Libby told Cooper without qualification that Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA and never said that he first heard this information from other reporters (Counts 1, 3 & 5)

And with regard to Judy Miller, he only claims that Libby didn't tell her he heard it from other reporters, and that he never asserted that he didn't know if the information was true or not.

Now, Judy's credibility may indeed be dubious. But if Libby was claiming he first thought he heard this info from Russert on July 10, the fact that Judy has notes backing up conversations about Valerie Wilson from June 23 and July 8 are going to do much of the talking for her. The indictments don't really rely on her for much more than that.

Scooter is screwed. Half the administration is going to be dragged in to bust him in his "I forgot" defense, and the journalists his lawyers are so anxious to devour play a much smaller role than I am sure they would like.

And if the grand jury was treated to Mr. Fitzgerald's open skepticism as to Scooter's motives in all of this, i.e. lying to evade an espionage indictment, here's hoping that a jury of his peers is likewise entertained.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Innocents Abroad

Well the war party neatly jettisoned habeas corpus with nary an hour's debate today. Is it a great day to be an American or what? But before they all go celebrate by rolling around naked in a greasy pile of cash while The Fountainhead plays in the background, Philippe Sands -- counsel for Human Rights watch -- raises the specter of August Pinochet and warns that those who are complicit in enabling torture (no names, please) might think twice about international travel any time soon:
The convention sets up an elaborate enforcement mechanism. The United States and the 140- plus other countries that have joined the convention agree to take certain actions if any person who has committed torture is found on their territory.

Such a person is to be investigated, and if the facts warrant, must either be prosecuted for the crime of torture or extradited to another country that will prosecute.

The convention intends to avoid impunity for this most serious of international crimes by removing the possibility that the torturer will be able to find any safe haven. This was the basis for Pinochet's arrest in Britain.

The potential problem for [John] Yoo, vice presidential chief of staff David Addington and others who may have been associated with torture, is to be found in Article 4 of the convention. This section criminalizes not only the act of torture itself but also other acts, including "an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

Can the mere drafting of legal advice that authorizes a policy of torture amount to complicity in torture?

Any case will turn on its particular facts. A prosecutor would have to establish that there was a direct causal connection between the legal advice and the carrying out of particular acts of torture, or perhaps a clear relationship between the legal advice and a governmental policy that permitted torture (or turned a blind eye to it).

That evidence is not yet established, and it would be inappropriate to prejudge the outcome of any investigations that may be carried out in the future.

Nevertheless, those associated with the legal opinions and their surrounding policies should be aware that there is case law from Nuremberg that suggests that lawyers and policymakers can be criminally liable for the advice they have given and the decisions they have taken.

In the case of United States vs. Josef Altstotter, some of the accused were lawyers who had been involved in enacting and enforcing Nazi laws and Hitler decrees that permitted crimes against humanity. None of the defendants was charged with murder or the abuse of a particular person. They were charged with participating in a governmentally organized system of cruelty. As the tribunal put it: "The dagger of the assassin was concealed beneath the robe of the jurist." Eight of the 14 were convicted in December 1947 for "complicity in international crime."

It is not just lawyers who should beware. Some media reports have suggested that a chief architect of the policy that gave rise to the legal advice was Addington, who has recently been appointed as the vice president's chief of staff, after Lewis Libby's indictment and resignation.

If Addington did play such a role, and if further evidence emerges that acts of torture resulted from the existence of any such policy, then he too may wish to reflect carefully before embarking on foreign travels.
While the enablers of torture may think themselves safe from domestic prosecution, the international community is not doped up on Fox News soma and may not be ever willing to look the other way when our latter-day Mengeles decide to seek cleaner shores after they've rendered ours uninhabitable.

(thanks to reader Linda)

Graphic by A. Simons


Did Rover Roll Over?

Jeralyn makes a persuasive argument today that Rover's last-minute reprieve from the hangman's noose in Traitorgate came as a result of a deal with Fitzgerald in exchange for cooperation against Libby or Cheney:
I think there are two issues of timing with respect to Karl Rove. One pertains to whether he made a deal with Fitzgerald in exchange for cooperating against Libby and/or Cheney, and the other pertains to what he gets from Fitzgerald for that cooperation. I think we will learn the first within weeks and we won't learn the second for a long time.

This leads back to the question of what Rove told Fitzgerald about Libby or others in the 11th hour before Libby's indictment. I think Rove may have turned over additional documents, such as an e-mail (besides the one with Adam Levine) establishing who first told Libby that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in sending Wilson to Niger — and that it was either someone at the CIA or a member of the White House Iraq Group. Perhaps Rove was copied on an e-mail between them and only recently located it. This would be confirming evidence that Libby lied when he told investigators and the grand jury that he initially learned about Wilson's employment with the CIA from reporters.

Maybe it was these e-mails that Fitzgerald picked up when he visited Rove's lawyer's office the day before the indictments were issued.
She may well be right, it would certainly be an explanation as to why Fitzgerald backed off at the last minute.

However, I think that if Rove gave anybody up, it had to be Cheney. I read over the Libby indictment again last night, and Fitzgerald has him cold (more about that later this afternoon). I don't think he would let Rove skate for another nail in Scooter's already air-tight coffin.

And Jeralyn does draw a couple of enticing scenarios for an upcoming Libby trial:
It's doubtful Fitzgerald would move against the vice president of the United States based solely on information from Karl Rove. But if, down the line, Fitzgerald could turn Libby, he might have two corroborating sources and decide to take a stab at Cheney.


Many (including me) have theorized that Libby would never give up Cheney because of their closeness. But Libby will receive a copy of Cheney's statement to Fitzgerald in discovery. If Rove has provided proof that Cheney lied, Libby might just decide it’s hopeless and join Fitzgerald's team.

The second possibility is that Libby goes to trial, gets convicted, loses his appeals, and then, with no more 5th Amendment protection, is hauled in front of a grand jury by Fitzgerald who extracts information about Cheney. Waas mentions this possibility in his article.
If true, this is one dangerous game they are playing. While I'm sure Dubya would sacrifice Cheney to save Rove, it really is hard to contemplate that this arrogant administration is already making that kind of concession to Fitzgerald. It's the kind of move that threatens to bring down the whole house of cards, especially when you're talking about someone as vicious and vindictive as Dick Cheney.

Whatever is going on behind the White House wall of silence, I'm quite certain it is not the portrait of amicable let's-get-back-to-screwing-the-poor relief that the Rove machine is zealously painting.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

All Politics Are Local

With everyone enthusiastic about Democratic prospects for 2006 in the wake of last week's elections, I've been reading a lot of comments around the blogosphere by people wanting to know how to get hooked up with local organizations. So I woke up this morning all excited, thinking there would be a ton of organizational information on the web and I would do this great big post about it.

It's really pathetic what's out there. Small wonder the GOP kicks our ass. That skeevy little weasel Ralph Reed really did manage to set up a remarkable organizational infrastructure that just does not exist on the left.

The DNC website has links to each state's Democratic Party. The quality of these state websites seem to vary widely, and my state (Oregon's) is pretty minimally maintained, although most do have information for county and/or legislative district contacts. I managed to find an email for my local district contact person here.

Democracy for America has community meet-ups listed by zip code. It was the only place I found an event near me, a screening of Robert Greenwald's WalMart movie in Newport on Thursday. And yes, I have it calendared.

Then is there is Drinking Liberally, who have their web site and map of affiliate groups here, and over at Kos they have a list of reader blogs by state. But I could not find any centralized, district-by-district resource for grass roots action throughout the country.

If you know of any other online resource, please post it in the comments. Boy this sure does seem to be a practical and effective way the Dems might be spending some of that cash, no?


Define "Imminent"

The new GOP meme, as repeated by White House marionette Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this morning, is that "The President never said Saddam posed an imminent threat." (You can watch it at Crooks & Liars.)

I'm guessing Chris pinched this off the daily Fox News "official opinion" crib sheet and didn't actually do much research into the claim himself, because that is just some remarkable revisionist history. Sadly Jay Rockefeller was ill-prepared to answer the charge, so mindful of being ever-helpful, we present this little historical refresher:
"Well, of course he is.”
• White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question.“is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

• White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat," 5/7/03

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03
Okay, fine, we know Scottie doesn't speak for anybody, he's just David Gregory and Terry Moran's puffy pinata. So what about Preznit Remedial Reading himself?
"The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands."
• President Bush, 11/23/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
• President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
• President Bush, 10/2/02
You're right. He didn't use the specific word "imminent."

Too many syllables.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Tabloid Lies

This is such bullshit. Bush doesn't believe in therapy.

(via Atrios)

Update: Crooks & Liars documents the atrocities.

And you can help Gee Dubya pick his favorite drink over at Corrente.