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Saturday, February 11, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Pushback Edition

That is going to be one hell of a fuckin' detox. Good luck with the pink cloud, hon.

Crooks & Liars, Matt Stoller and Kos all respond to Church Lady Brady. (Update: So does Lambert. And LP has visual aids.) If the WaPo ever decides they can do without a full-time whiner running the WPNI, I personally think he has just aced the interview for Fourth Power Tool.

And over at the Guardian they have a nice piece on Patrick Fitzgerald:
Fitzgerald let no one stand in his way. Novak testified almost immediately, but other journalists supplied with the same leaked information about Plame did not. One, the New York Times's controversial Judy Miller, swore she would go to jail before revealing her source. Miller spent 85 days behind bars before she, too, cracked, as her career disappeared and her tarnished newspaper plunged into an orgy of self-recrimination. It was a remarkable feat by the Untouchable. He stood up against two of the most powerful and politically diametric institutions in America - the Bush administration and the New York Times - and beat them both. Along the way, whether he wanted it or not (and he probably did not), he has become a new force in American politics.


Fitzgerald's pursuit of both terrorists and politicians came together in a perfect storm. Suddenly, with Plamegate, the Untouchable was taking his crusade to the highest powers in the land, dealing in issues at the very heart of the war on terror. And he was winning. When he indicted Libby he had done the seemingly impossible. He had taken on the Republican Party machine and emerged bloody, unbowed and clutching a scalp.

Yet, he should be careful. Chicago's toughest streets cannot hold a candle to the Washington establishment when it is riled. Certainly, critics are firing off the first shots. The Wall Street Journal opinion page, a boiling pot for Republican America, has dubbed him 'a loose cannon' and an 'unguided missile'. Some of Washington's biggest names, such as Watergate journalist Bob Woodward, have labeled him a 'junkyard dog prosecutor'. 'The far right is very unforgiving and he has hurt them. They have long memories,' said Abner Mikva, a former White House counsel and an admirer of Fitzgerald.
Yes we know, Ms. Comstock, you have him in your sights. And we have you in ours.

Meanwhile via Atrios we learn that Ciro is picking up key labor endorsements, and the steelworkers have said that defeating the DINO Cuellar is "our No. 1 primary target in the United States." It's pretty exciting, Ciro is gaining momentum and it all started when the blogs got behind him. We've now raised over $14,500 from FDL, and over 50 people have donated in the past 24 hours. Thanks so much for everyone who reached down into their pockets for so much as a dollar. That makes you part of the pushback.

Anyone who wants to deliver some pushback can do so here.

(photo courtesy Dependable Renegade)



Shorter Jim "Church Lady" Brady: I'm still full of shit, Deborah Howell is just a bad typist and bloggers are so very mean.

Thin-skinned WATBs have such a hard time moving on.


It's Evil Harpie Time With Barbara Comstock

When Digby sounded the warning about Barbara Comstock, head of Scooter Libby's defense fund, I had no idea what a toxic waste dump the comments section would turn into as people went to work delving into the sewage pit that is her past.

This is fucking heart of darkness stuff.

This is a woman who is the author of some of the most despicable and destructive memes the GOP has used to both artificially prop itself up and decimate the Democrats through endless repetition in the mighty Wurlitzer. She's had her skeevy hands on some of the most foul dirty tricks ever perpetuated by the modern Rethugs. She's a high-level GOP operative. She's best buds with Kate O'Beirne. What else can you say.

A brief history of Barbara Comstock's corrupt shenanigans:
. Principal in Blank Rome LLP, major lobbying firm contracted to distribute all that Department of Homeland Security pork for huge corporate clients, who then turned around and made enormous contributions to GOP candidates. Shades of Jack Abramoff, she's a key player in the Rethuglican money machine that rips off the taxpayers, lards its benefactors and keeps itself in the chips.

. Assembled debate materials for GWB, helped prepare Ashcroft for his Senate confirmation. Headed up the media distortion team in Florida in 2000 that manipulated the press narrative to Bush's benefit following the election.

. Former head of research at the RNC, as Digby pointed out her specialty is combing through source material on Democrats, culling and twisting things to embarrass and humiliate Democratic candidates. Gave dictation to Steno Sue.

. Author of many of the "Attack Kerry" memes, including accusations that he wanted to "gut intel" in the NRO. Employed emasculating language to make him appear weak and effeminate. Also wrote that vicious "John Kerry gave mouth-to-mouth to a rodent" story.

. Lobbying clients are a rogues gallery of pork-fed crooks

. Tried to steal Moynihan's legacy and paste it on to John Bolton in promoting him for UN job

. Best friends with the Ledeens, Barbara Olson and the O'Beirnes, dubbed part of the "Barbarellas" by Bill Bennett after their hatchet work on the Florida recount. Lauded for their "traditional virtue" by Michael Ledeen.

. Played a huge part in the campaign to smear the Clintons -- David Brock in "Blinded by the Right" described her passion to bring them down as "almost unhinged." Served as "chief investigator" for Dan Burton.

. Appointed by Ashcroft to the Justice Department's Director of Public Affairs. According to Murray Waas, strongly suspected of cronyism and ultimate loyalty to the RNC during her tenure there. Waas quotes a question posed to James Comey during his confirmation hearings for his job at the DoJ:
Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked Comey: "How could there not be an appearance of a conflict given the close nexus of relationships?"

"I agree with you that it'’s an extremely important matter," Comey said.
. Close ties to Bush family bag man and child torturer Mel Sembler, whom she also brought on to the Libby Defense fund.

. One of the stars of the anti-Michael Moore movie, Celsius 41.11

. Failed to identify herself as a political operative and strategic advisor for Progress for America during the confirmation of John Roberts when she appeared on Fox News criticizing NARAL's anti-Roberts ads.

. Smeared and misled people into believing that ads submitted to a MoveOn contest portraying Bush as Hitler were actually prepared by MoveOn themselves.

. Suspiciously left the DoJ on October 1, 2003 -- right on the heels of the Plame case being referred by the CIA for investigation.

. Head of the ready-response team that portrayed Tom DeLay as the innocent victim of Ronnie Earl within hours after his indictment; concocted bs excuses about DeLay's wife and daughter being paid huge sums for little discernible work.

. On the Executive Committee of the Susan B. Anthony PAC (with William Kristol) trying to pass themselves off as feminists as they work to dismantle pro-choice (hijacking the language of the left and twisting it for the purpose of dissembling seems to be her specialty).

. She's given money to a bunch of hefty GOP creeps.

. She also appears to be in violation of DC Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct in jumping from the DoJ to work with Scooter Libby's defense fund. Redd will have much more on this later.
It is quite obvious that this woman is a high level GOP operative and the fact that they are putting her at the top of the Libby shit heap can only mean that her job is to build up the Libby narrative, spread filth about those who could damage him and above all keep the cancer from spreading to the other members of the war party who are probably already infected. The press release she put out yesterday doing damage control for Cheney is a good indicator of what her job is.

We'll have more (and it sounds like emptywheel might have her teeth in some delightful aspects of the story -- man if there is one person in the world I wouldn't want looking into my shit it would be her, she is absolutely dogged when it comes to document retrieval and analysis).

As anonymous said in the comments, "You know, Comstock loves doing 'opposition research' and then going on TV and bashing people. It will be interesting to see how she likes getting the same treatment back in return."

Thanks to everyone who is participating in the effort. This is really inspirational.

I need a shower.


The Risen Witch Hunt Begins

We slog through a lot of partisan muck and unsavory characters every day on this blog, but as Glenn Greenwald points out, the NYT article by David Johnston outlining how the partisan hacks at the Justice Department are going after the people who leaked the NSA wiretap information -- as well as the journalists involved -- is ringing all the alarm bells.

Glenn says:
[T]his flamboyant use of the forces of criminal prosecution to threaten whistle-blowers and intimidate journalists are nothing more than the naked tactics of street thugs and authoritarian juntas. There is much speculation over whether other eavesdropping programs exist, including domestic eavesdropping programs, as well as whether other lawless programs have been authorized based on the Administration's theories that it has the right to wield war powers against American citizens on American soil.

Our hope for finding out about the existence of other illegality depends upon the willingness of whistle blowers to come forward and journalists to investigate and report such misconduct. That is precisely why the Administration is so aggressively seeking to attack and silence those two groups, and it is why the significance and danger of those attempts really can't be overstated.
As Digby noted yesterday, with the Democratic party practically pummeled into silence and the press either intimidated or bribed into submission, one of the last hopes for checking the unlimited grasp of the BushCo. criminals are the career people at the Justice Department, and that's why BushCo. has been working so hard to stack it with cronies who will do their bidding. They pushed Comey out, gave Alice Fisher a recess appointment, tried (and failed) to crowbar Timothy "Tyco" Flanigan into the number two seat, and now this. The fact that Tom DeLay now sits on the congressional committee that oversees the Justice Department (even as they investigate him) is really just the icing on the cake.

The NYT piece does get one thing wrong, and it's quite critical. It claims that Fitzgerald's actions in the Plame case have opened up the doors for this, and while that may be the battle cry of the BushCo. cronies it completely ignores what Fitzgerald actually did and says.

In the recently released 2004 affidavit in the CIA leak case, Fitzgerald gives a very good outline of the need to protect true whistleblowers, and how this is is actually furthered by prosecuting the smear merchants in the Plame case who disingenuously hoped to hide behind "whistleblower" status:
In deciding whether to issue subpoenas to reporters, I have carefully weighed and balanced the competing interests of the First Amendment and the public interest in the free dissemination of ideas and information and the countervailing interests in effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice: namely determining whether a crime was committed and whether someone should be prosecuted for that crime. One key factor in deciding whether to issue a subpoena has been whether the "source" to be identified appears to have leaked to discredit the earlier source (Wilson) as opposed to a leak who revealed information as a "whistleblower" (e.g. the source for the September 28 Washington Post column). The First Amendment interests are clearly different when the "source" being sought may have committed a crime in order to attack a person such as Wilson who, correctly or incorrectly, sought to expose what he perceived as misconduct by the White House. Indeed, failure to take effective steps to identify such sources might chill future whistleblowers such as Wilson, this impairing "a reporter's responsibility to cover as broadly as possible controversial public issues." (28 CFR Section 50.10).
In ignoring this critical distinction and commencing a witch hunt for the purposes of political intimidation and thuggery, the DoJ is twisting the law to political purposes. And if the New York Times (who clearly have an interest in the matter) doesn't get that distinction, the BushCo. cronies launching this thing certainly won't.

Sometimes I sit here in my pile of papers and my notebooks and wall charts with all the stickies and I watch shit like this go down and I think of all the money and the access and the manpower the GOP corruption machine has at its disposal and I think my god, what hope do we have of combating this. It's overwhelming.

Then I look in the comments section, other blogs and my email and see how smart, how determined, how resourceful and committed people are without hope of any financial gain, based solely on principle and strength of character and I realize that no amount of cash and corruption can beat that down.


Friday, February 10, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Stalking Satan's Mistress

We have a mission. In the comments section regarding the Libby Defense Fund, Digby has this to say about the head of the fund, Barbara Comstock:
Comstock is key.

Here's a little excerpt from Josh Green's seminal article in the Atlantic called "Playing Dirty," about the 2000 campaign:
Political campaigns always attempt to diminish their opponents, of course. What was remarkable about the 2000 effort was the degree to which the process advanced beyond what Barbara Comstock, who headed the RNC research team, calls "votes and quotes"—the standard campaign practice of leaving the job of scouting the target to very junior staff members, who tend to dig up little more than a rival's legislative record and public statements. Comstock's taking over the research team marked a significant change. She was a lawyer and a ten-year veteran of Capitol Hill who had been one of Representative Dan Burton's top congressional investigators during the Clinton scandals that dominated the 1990s: Filegate, Travelgate, assorted campaign-finance imbroglios, and Whitewater. Rather than amass the usual bunch of college kids, Comstock put together a group of seasoned attorneys and former colleagues from the Burton Committee, including her deputy, Tim Griffin. "The team we had from 2000," she told me recently, to show the degree of ratcheted-up professionalism, "were veteran investigators from the Clinton years. We had a core group of people, and that core was attorneys."

Comstock combined a prosecutor's mentality with an investigator's ability to hunt through public records and other potentially incriminating documents. More important, she and her team understood how to use opposition research in the service of a larger goal: not simply to embarrass Gore with hard-to-explain votes or awkward statements but to craft over the course of the campaign a negative "storyline" about him that would eventually take hold in the public mind. "A campaign is a lot like a trial," Comstock explained. "You want people aggressively arguing their case."
She is a very highly placed political operative. Her job in this case is to craft the narrative.

Your job, Jane, should you and all the Plameologists decide to accept it, is to put a stop to this evil harpy once and for all. She is Satan's mistress.
Sounds like Ms. Comstock has a bit of a Kato thing going on.

Okay here's the plan: find what you can about Barbara Comstock and leave it in the comments. I'll do some sort of round-up on a subsequent Late Nite. When Digby speaks, we should all listen.

Meanwhile things are heating up on the Ciro Rodriguez/Henry Cuellar front. DFA have jumped in to back Ciro and they definitely have a major bone to pick with the Club for Growth who were responsible for so many ads trashing Howard Dean -- and they are supporting the DINO Cuellar.

We're now raised over $12,000 for Ciro just on this blog alone. That comes from 196 people. It would be great if we could have over 200 donations tonight, even if they were small. Five dollars from the heart means a lot.

(Update: Forgot to mention that Jacki Schechner mentioned blogs that were fundraising for Ciro today and FDL was shown. Carry on...)


Could Cheney Declassify the NIE?

Did Dick Cheney have the right to declassify information just on his say-so? Hell if I know.

But irony and hackery abound in his decision to let Scooter release information from the NIE to Judy Miller for no other reason than to lead her to political kool-aid that contradicted what they well knew to be true. And since the subject of the NIE is a sore spot on my gum that I just like to poke at from time to time this allows me to revisit the topic once again.

Thanks, Dick.

I've actually slogged through the 568 page SSCI report, a document so interminably boring and politically biased it would be unreadable were it not for the periodic outrage it elicits. In one of many bitchfests I've pitched about the NIE I wrote this back in November 2005:
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).
At the time they compiled the NIE, an INR dissent was included which stated that "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

And what happened to this dissent when the NIE was published on October 1, 2002?
The language on Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium from Africa appeared as it did in the draft version and INR's position that "claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are highly dubious" was included in a text box, separated by about 60 pages from the discussion of the uranium issue.
And what happened when people started to ask questions in July 2003 about the 16 words and wondered why BushCo. had never taken the INR dissent into consideration before launching a full-scale war?
A senior administration official who briefed reporters yesterday said neither Bush nor national security adviser Condoleezza Rice read the NIE in its entirety. "They did not read footnotes in a 90-page document," said the official, referring to the "Annex" that contained the State Department's dissent.
Okay so here we have a critical document compiled under duress by people who didn't care for people who didn't want to read it. Except, that is, Dick Durbin, who had also requested that a white paper be prepared at the same time that wasn't classified so the public could know why the country had to be taken to war. But when the white paper was prepared, there was no mention of the INR dissent. Dick Durbin was having kittens. He referred to it the other day when Abu G was being questioned by the Judiciary Committee on the NSA wiretaps:
I've been on the Intelligence Committee. And I can tell you that when you're briefed with classified material -- I sat in briefings not from here, just a few feet away and listened to what I thought was very meager evidence about weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq.

Based on that, I voted against it. But I couldn't walk outside that room until it became public much later and say this administration was at war within when it came to this issue.
So Dick Durbin had to bite his tongue and watch the country go to war on what he knew to be a steaming pile bullshit because the NIE was classified and he couldn't speak about the INR dissent. The public remained blissfully ignorant and thousands died.

But Cheney told Scooter he could fling it around like a dirty napkin while he and Judy were buttering each other's toast at the St. Regis for no other purpose than perpetuating a public, ass-covering hoax.

Such is the regard that Dick, Scooter and the rest of the future perps treat national secrets and their own security clearances. People should be screaming at the top of their lungs that these callow political hacks have access to anything more sensitive than a three month old copy of People Magazine.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Curiouser and Curiouser

Some very odd happenings today on the Libby front. Yesterday the blogosphere was alive with the "Libby has flipped" meme after the publication of Murray Waas' National Journal article which actually said nothing of the sort. But it was evidently worrisome enough to Team Libby that they felt it necessary to make a statement today, and the nature of that statement reveals some very weird goings-on behind the scenes.

Ever since the Oceans of Motions were released last week, those of us who make it a practice to slog through this shit knew that Libby was claiming Cheney authorized him to release information regarding the National Intelligence Estimate to Judy Miller 10 days before it was declassified in order to shore up BushCo.'s sagging case for war. Reddhedd noted it, and so did Emptywheel.

But Fitzgerald's redacted affidavit and his letter of Jan. 23 refer to the testimony Libby has been giving all along to the effect that he was entitled to leak this information because Cheney told him to. It's probably just a reflection of the internal logic BushCo. has been cruising on for a long time, it isn't related to any "new defense strategy" concocted by Libby's lawyers nor is it anything Libby has testified to for well over a year (Libby's last appearance before the grand jury was in 2004).

If anything, it's just a testament to Dick Cheney's arrogance. I'm sure he believes he's entitled to do whatever he damn well pleases with classified information, as his imperious treatment of Valerie Plame indicates.

But be that as it may, a commenter over at Tom MaGuire's named Clarice provided a helpful quotation from a new press release that came out today from one of Libby's lawyers, William Jeffres, stating that:
There is no truth at all to the story that Mr. Libby's lawyers have advised the Court or the Special Counsel that he will raise a defense based on authorization by superiors. Indeed, there has never been any conference call between Mr. Libby's defense lawyers and Judge Walton. We do not know who reporters are relying on as sources for this story, but any such persons are neither knowledgeable nor authorized to speak for Mr. Libby's defense team.
In the comments, emptywheel asked where this came from, and Clarice responded that she should contact Barbara Comstock, "Libby's press contact," and volunteered to help them get in touch with each other.

Barbara Comstock isn't "Libby's press contact." She's head of his defense fund, which essentially seems to be covering Libby's legal defense bills so that they can use his case to protect the other neocons for whom Libby is acting as a firewall.

As we noted yesterday, one of Libby's other attorneys is John Cline, a greymail specialist. And as immanentize writes in our comments, this may be an indication that there is a struggle going on within the Libby defense squad, between those who see their job as defending Libby and those who want to protect those he's standing in front of:
[Cline] is a very hard working attorney who works with one of the nation's great criminal defense attorneys, Nancy Hollander. He is tireless in his pursuit of paper and broke the Wen Ho Lee case on the government's own record (as is often the case in these matters) More high profile and lazier attorneys would have let Wen Ho Lee take a serious rap. His experience as a US Attorney certainly taught him a tremendous amount about the pressures, real and imagined that defendants face. He is honest, like Fitz is honest which always makes for the best prosecutions.

What I see in this exchange is a little litigation strategy power struggle. Will it be full-bore grey mail -- which would mean that Libby would have to, in the end, be willing to implicate his "bosses" in many ways (Rove Cheney, Hadley?). What I mean by that is that grey mail forces the inspection, if not the production, of documents and leads which the prosecutor might not yet have. In the end, the prosecution might not be able to use the stuff in court, but the point of grey mail is generally to turn attention to other/bigger fish. Think the Noriega trial and the attempts to drag the CIA and former Reagan officials into the defense in Florida.

The other defense strategy seems to be a "protect everyone" strategy -- sort of a stalling tactic that does not focus on saving Libby's ass as much as it is to delay until a pardon is politically possible (December 2008) without any information being developed beyond Libby. This is a risky defense strategy for Libby because it is not really a pro-Libby/proactive defense. It is a wink and a nod action.
So essentially, the defense that is designed purely to help Libby -- the greymail one -- is by its very nature going to make Cheney et. al. extremely nervous by bringing their actions under scrutiny by both Fitzgerald and the judge. And even though the disclosure of this NIE information doesn't really do that, the people paying Libby's bills are quickly trying to scotch any notion that higher ups could be implicated.

Barbara Comstock, of course, is in charge of Libby's defense fund, not Libby's press contact office. So this suggests that the Neocon moneybags didn't like yesterday's big news. Maybe they've even jettisoned the greymail strategy (note, this statement came over Jeffress' signature, the guy who, in addition to being the Nixon lawyer on the team, is also the guy who shares a board room with Bush consligliere James Baker III. It didn't come from Cline, the greymail specialist.) for fear it would tax Cheney's always-fragile heart.
Don't really see that anything that Comstock and Jeffress are trying to do actually helps Scooter.

(graphic by Eric)


Comey Update

Glenn Greenwald talks about Comey testifying on the NSA wiretap program and so does Digby:
All evidence suggests that I would not agree with James Comey's politics, but I can't be sure since he has scrupulously guarded his poltical leanings. I very much doubt that this law and order prosecutor sees the world through my ACLU lens. However, like many of the growing numbers of law enforcement officers who have grown alarmed by this administration's lawless governance, he is by all accounts a straight arrow. He was the number two man in the Justice Department when all the recent affronts to the constitution (torture, spying, the death of habeus corpus, indefinite detention, presidential infallibility) were delivered and from what we know he objected vociferously. It is, therefore, no surprise that this non-political career civil servant is no longer in government.

It is vital that he testify in a future hearing on the illegal NSA spying hearings. I do not know what he will say, and he may even defend the program on some level. But there is a reason why Comey refused to sign off on reauthorizing this program, forcing Gonzales to go to the hospital and try to strong arm a man who just had surgery to sign off on it instead. In his testimony earlier this week, Gonzales implied that it may have been a problem with another program. How very interesting.

We need to know just what in the hell was going on during the period between the time the program was instituted and the time Comey and others refused to reauthorize it. Why was it suspended? We need to know if there were other illegal spying programs. Comey is the man who can answer those questions.
Thanks to everyone who spoke out here on your desire for Comey to testify, all 549 of you. Your comments were hand delivered to a member of the Judiciary Committee today and I'll keep you updated as I know more.


Oh Those Dirty Bloggers Are At It Again

Really top-drawer effort by the White House pool boy Jim VandeHei this morning in the WaPo:
President Bush met lobbyist Jack Abramoff almost a dozen times over the past five years and invited him to Crawford, Tex., in the summer of 2003, according to an e-mail Abramoff wrote to a reporter last month.

Bush "has one of the best memories of any politicians I have ever met," Abramoff wrote to Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine. "The guys saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids."

In an interview last night, Eisler confirmed the contents of the e-mail and said he recently provided portions of it to the liberal Web log ThinkProgress because he thought he was dealing with a fellow reporter. The blog posted the contents of the Abramoff-Eisler communication.
The Washingtoninan hardly rises to more than a local blather sheet. ThinkProgress is the blog for the Center for American Progress. Why is Deborah Howell quite proud to tout the information she gets from the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation, but suddenly ThinkProgress is a bunch of grubby, uncouth, beer-swilling louts?

Yes we are familiar with the standards to which the WaPo in particular holds itself, and they really need to get off the fainting couch. I don't expect them to start acknowledging that blogs even exist as something other than to excoriate, but the fact remains that we're covering a lot of ground they aren't and there are good reasons our readership is growing every day while theirs continues to plummet.

When we broke the story about Viveca Novak and Robert Luskin it wasn't acknowledged at the New York Times despite the fact that we wrote about it first and they got it from us -- and I both sent it to them and discussed it with them so it wasn't for lack of awareness. (Update: It should be noted that VandeHei himiself followed with his own day-late-and-a-dollar-short version that included a Luskin-friendly story so cockamamie it has yet to be explained. Credit where credit is due.)

Likewise yesterday Neil A. Lewis of the NYT credited Murray Waas's (excellent) article with both "first reporting" Patrick Fitzgerald's January 23 letter and breaking the story about Cheney authorizing Libby to release the NIE. Tom MaGuire does an excellent job of reconstructing blog history on this matter, which Murray would be the first to quickly acknowledge predated his article by a week.

As far as they're concerned, blogs really don't exist for any other reason than to ridicule. Oh and to mine for scoops that go uncredited. And of course to search Technorati for one's own name -- hey Jim, how ya doin'?


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Gonzales on Comey

Glenn Greenwald sends along the following exchange between Schumer, Specter and Gonzales during the recent Judiciary Committee NSA wiretap hearings. As Glenn notes in the email, Gonzales seems to agree that Comey could appear under the same rules of testimony as Gonzales, i.e., give his own views of the program but not disclose what he did or said while at the Justice Department:
SCHUMER: It's been reported by multiple news outlets that the former number two man in the Justice Department, the premier terrorism prosecutor, Jim Comey, expressed grave reservations about the NSA program and at least once refused to give it his blessing. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, here's the response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements.

There has not been any serious disagreement -- and I think this is accurate -- there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations which I cannot get into.

I will also say...

SCHUMER: But there was some -- I'm sorry to cut you off -- but there was some dissent within the administration. And Jim Comey did express, at some point -- that's all I asked you -- some reservations.

GONZALES: The point I want to make is that, to my knowledge, none of the reservations dealt with the program that we're talking about today. They dealt with operational capabilities that we're not talking about today.

SCHUMER: I want to ask you, again, about -- we have limited time.

GONZALES: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: It's also been reported that the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, respected lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School, expressed reservations about the program. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, rather than going individual by individual, let me just say that I think the differing views that have been the subject of some of these stories did not deal with the program that I'm here testifying about today.

SCHUMER: But you were telling us that none of these people expressed any reservations about the ultimate program, is that right?

GONZALES: Senator, I want to be very careful here, because, of course, I'm here only testifying about what the president has confirmed.

And with respect to what the president has confirmed, I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you're identifying had concerns about this program.

SCHUMER: There are other reports, I'm sorry to -- you're not giving me a yes-or-no answer here. I understand that.

Newsweek reported that several Department of Justice lawyers were so concerned about the legal basis for the NSA program that they went so far as to line up private lawyers. Do you know if that's true?

GONZALES: I do not know if that's true.

SCHUMER: Now, let me just ask you a question here.

You mentioned earlier that you had no problem with Attorney General Ashcroft, someone else -- I didn't want to ask you about him; he's your predecessor -- people have said have doubts. But you said that you had no problem with him coming before this committee and testifying when Senator Specter asked, is that right?

GONZALES: Senator, who the chairman chooses to call as a witness is up to the chairman.

SCHUMER: The administration doesn't object to that, do they?

GONZALES: Obviously, the administration -- by saying that we would have no objection doesn't mean that we would waive any privileges that might exist.

SCHUMER: I understand. I got that.

But I assume the same would go for Mr. Comey, Mr. Goldsmith and any other individuals. Assuming you didn't waive executive privilege, you wouldn't have an objection to them coming before this committee.

GONZALES: Attorney-client privilege, deliberative privilege. To the extent that there are privileges, it is up to the chairman to decide who he wants to call as a witness.

But let me just say that if we're engaged in a debate about what the law is and the position of the administration, that is my job and that's what I'm doing here today.

SCHUMER: I understand. And you are doing your job.

And that's why I am requesting, as I have in the past, but renewing it here today, reaffirmed even more strongly by your testimony and everything else, that we invite these people, that we invite former Attorney General Ashcroft, Deputy Attorney General Comey, OLC Chair Goldsmith to this hearing and actually compel them to come if they won't on their own.

And as for privilege, I certainly...

SPECTER: If I may interrupt you for just one moment...

SCHUMER: Please.

SPECTER: ... you'll have extra time...

SCHUMER: Yes, thank you.

SPECTER: ... I think the record was in great shape where I left it at. If you bring in Attorney General Ashcroft, that's a critical step.


SPECTER: It wasn't that I hadn't thought of Mr. Comey and Mr. Goldsmith and other people, but I sought to leave the record with the agreement of the attorney general to bring in former Attorney General Ashcroft.

SCHUMER: Mr. Chairman, I respect that. I think others are important as well.

But I want to get to the issue of privilege here.

SPECTER: I'm not saying they aren't important. I'm just saying, what's the best way to get them here?

SCHUMER: OK. Well, whatever way we can, I'd be all for.

On privilege -- because that's going to be the issue, even if they come here, as I'm sure you will acknowledge, Mr. Chairman -- I take it you'd have no problem with them talking about their general views on the legality of this program, just as you are talking about those; not to go into the specific details of what happened back then, but their general views on the legality of these programs.

SCHUMER: Do you have any problem with that?

GONZALES: General views of the program that the president has confirmed, Senator, that's -- again, if we're talking about the general views of the...

SCHUMER: I just want them to be able to testify as freely as you've testified here, because it wouldn't be fair if you're an advocate of administration policies, you have one set of rules and if you're an opponent or a possible opponent of administration policies, you have another set of rules. That's not unfair, is it?

GONZALES: Sir, it's up to the chairman to...

SCHUMER: No, but would you or the administration -- you, as the chief legal officer -- have any problem with them testifying in the same way you did about general legal views of the program?

GONZALES: I would defer to the chairman.

SCHUMER: I'm not asking you -- sir, in all due respect, I'm not asking you what the chairman thinks. He's doing a good job here, and I don't begrudge that one bit.

GONZALES: Sir, my answer is...

SCHUMER: I'm asking you what the administration would think in terms of exercising any claim of privilege.

You're not going to have -- I'm sorry, here -- you're not going to have different rules for yourself, an administration advocate, then for these people who might be administration dissenters in one way or another, are you?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't know if you're asking what are they going to say...

SCHUMER: I'm not asking you that.

Would the rules be same? I think you answer that yes or no.

GONZALES: If they came to testify?

SCHUMER: Correct.

GONZALES: Well, sir, the client here is the president of the United States. I'm not sure it's in my place to offer...

SCHUMER: Or his chief...

GONZALES: ... up a position or my recommendation to you about what I might recommend to the president of the United States would not be appropriate here.

SCHUMER: What would be -- I just am asking you, as a very fine, well-educated lawyer, should or could the rules be any different for what you are allowed to say with privilege hovering over your head and what they are allowed to say with those same privileges hovering over their heads? Should the rules be any different?

If you can't say "yes" to that, then that's fundamentally unfair. It's saying that these hearings, or that -- it's saying really that the administration doesn't have the confidence to get out the whole truth.

GONZALES: Sir, my hesitation is, quite frankly, I haven't thought recently about the issue about former employees coming to testify about their legal analysis or their legal recommendations to their client, and that is the source of my hesitation.

SCHUMER: I was just -- my time...

SPECTER: Senator Schumer, take two more minutes for my interruption...

SCHUMER: Oh, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SPECTER: ... providing you move to another subject.




Again, I think this is very important, Mr. Chairman...

SPECTER: Oh, I do too.

SCHUMER: ... and I think you would agree.


SPECTER: If this were a courtroom, I'd move to strike all your questions and his answers, because the record was so much better off before.


SCHUMER: Well, I don't buy that, Mr. Chairman.

SPECTER: But take two more minutes on the conditions stated.

SCHUMER: I don't buy that. I think we have to tie down as much as we can here, OK.
It was an odd exchange -- Gonzales seems to be saying that Comey objected to another program. Digby has long speculated that the questions posed by the Democrats on the Committee indicate they have knowledge of some other surveillance program that they can't talk about, and it would certainly be interesting to hear from Comey himself if he will back Gonzales up on this one. If it's okay for Gonzales to say there was not internal dissent at the Justice Department over the program surely it would be okay for Comey to either confirm or deny this.

I'll believe Gonzales hadn't thought about the issue of former employees testifying before the Committee when Britney and her deep fried Oreos make it onto the New York Social Register. He was obviously very nervous about committing himself on the topic. I have absolutely no idea what Comey would say if he appeared, but since this is a program that needs a whole lot more light shined on it I can't help but feel that his testimony and that of others (like Bob Barr and Grover Norquist) would be anything but welcome.

(graphic by Graham G.)


Comey Asked by Specter to Testify Before Judiciary Committee

Sources familiar with the potential witness list of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings into the NSA wiretapping scandal say that Arlen Specter has asked James Comey to appear before the Committee, and that Comey has expressed concern that his testimony would bring about a situation where the White House would invoke executive privilege.

For those not familiar with Comey, read Redd's superb post here. Comey was a Bush Administration appointee to the Justice Department who tangled with them almost from the day he arrived, challenging their positions on torture, illegal wiretapping and the CIA leak case. He appointed Patrick Fitzgerald and gave him the authority and the protection he needed in order to do his job. It was Comey who, when Ashcroft was sick in the hospital, refused to re-authorize the illegal NSA wiretaps in the first place. He eventually resigned from the Justice Department.

There can be no meaningful hearings by the Judiciary Committee or any other committee on this matter without the testimony of Comey who was so integrally involved in raising alarms about the whole affair.

If you would like to see Comey testify before the Committee please voice your opinion in the comments, they will be seen.


Will the Comey-to-Margolis Handoff Hold?

Murray Waas has a new article up at the National Journal regarding Scooter Libby and his defense strategy. As the recently released case documents indicate, Libby is trying to pull an Ollie North by claiming Dick Cheney gave him the okay to release parts of the then-classified National Intelligence Estimate to journalists in order to buck up the Administration's case for war. (He does not, however, appear to be claiming that Big Time told him to out Plame.)

Whether it was legal for Cheney to declassify these documents or not for purely propaganda purposes is for legal experts preferably not named Victoria Toensig to debate. Given the fact that Cheney and Libby knew as of June 17, 2003 that the Niger uranium claims were bunk and Libby began this crusade with Judy Miller anyway on June 23, the service to which these documents were put remain safely outside of "ethical" territory.

But more interesting is the graymail question that arises. Libby has hired John Cline, one of North's attorneys who helped keep Ollie out of the clink:
Among his detractors, Cline is what is known as a "graymail" specialist-an attorney who, critics say, purposely makes onerous demands on the federal government to disclose classified information in the course of defending his clients, in an effort to force the government to dismiss the charges. Although Cline declined to be interviewed for this story, he has said that the use of classified information is necessary in assuring that defendants are accorded due process and receive fair trials.

In the Libby case, Cline has frustrated prosecutors by demanding, as part of pretrial discovery, more than 10 months of the President's Daily Brief, or PDBs, the president's morning intelligence briefing. The reports are among the most highly classified documents in government, not only because they often contain sensitive intelligence and methods, but also because they indicate what the president and policy makers consider to be the most pressing national security threats. In the past, the Bush administration has defied bipartisan requests from the Intelligence committees in Congress to turn over PDBs for review.
So assuming the judge decides Libby is entitled to any of this, who is it that decides what gets handed over? That is a very good question:
Is it possible that a prosecution of Libby might be impeded or even derailed entirely by the refusal of the Bush White House or its Justice Department to declassify information that might be necessary to try Libby? "Under the current statute, it may well be the attorney general's call-or whomever he designates-to ultimately decide what should be declassified, and what might not be, in the Libby case," said Michael Bromwich, a former associate Iran-Contra independent counsel and a former Justice Department inspector general.
People who have been following this particular soap opera know that in the fall of 2003 John Ashcroft recused himself from the Plame investigation because of conflicts of interest and turned all his powers in the matter over to his then-deputy James Comey. Comey appointed Fitzgerald only to lock horns with the administration over the NSA wiretaps and other matters and finally resigned last year. Abu Gonzales likewise recused himself from the matter shortly after being sworn in. Despite BushCo.'s best efforts to put croneys Timothy "Tyco" Flanagan and David McCallum into the Fitzgerald supervision business, Comey did an end run around all of them and delegated his powers to the ethical, non-crony David Margolis on his way out the door.

Redd says that the DoJ handbook is not clear as to whether Abu's recusal would also mean that his hands would be off any decision to declassify material. I really just cannot imagine that we live in a world where he would not at the very least argue that this is a different matter and thus not a decision Margolis should be making. Nonetheless Abu has already acknowledged his conflict of interest in the case when he recused himself, and by any ethical standards he has an admitted bias that should force him to step back and let Margolis handle it. Not that he will, mind you. But he certainly should.


The Ned Lamont Report: Bad News For Lieberman

I've known Howie Klein since I was a teenage punk rock nitwit in San Francisco and Howie was starting indie 415 Records. Howie went on to become the head of Reprise Records and has now retired from the music business to devote himself to blogging on his site Down With Tyranny. He does a lot of due diligence with candidates ever since he got conned into contributing to Zell Miller's campaign years ago and he's been trying to make up for it ever since. He's exactly the kind of guy who would get invited to the first fundraiser for Ned Lamont, and this is Howie's report:
I was a little nervous because all I had read about him was that he was a millionaire businessman. His story is a lot more compelling than that. First of all his a quintessential all-American kind of entrepreneurial guy-- a living embodiment of the best in the American dream. He's as far from a corporate type of Big Business monster as you can be. He completely understands why it's essential for business that reforms like universal health care get hammered out. (He reminded me of Howard Dean when he talked about that.) This guy teaches entrepreneurship in Bridgeport High, a tough inner city school.

Although he was a town selectman, not only is Ned not a politician, he has a vibe that told me that even if he's elected to the U.S. Senate, he'll never become some kind of careerist self-server, but will always look at his role as that of a civil servant and guardian of his constituents' interests.

As soon as he walked in the door, just a few minutes after me and a good 30 minutes before the crowd showed up, I got to chat with him about the issues. The first thing I wanted to get a sense of was how he felt about Iraq. I was wary of hearing any double-talk or weasel words. There were none. He went right to Jack Murtha and showed me immediately that not only does he support a plan for withdrawal but that he has a far better grasp of what the war is all about than old-line Democratic "thinkers" like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Wes Clark (all of whom are still babbling nonsense about "winning," an absurd concept to begin with). Later when he talked to the whole group he contrasted Bush's (latest) approach (shared not just by Lieberman but by even some well-meaning-- if limited-- Democrats) which is basically that the U.S. will step back when "the Iraqis" step up with a more well-reasoned and thought-out approach which is that the Iraqis will step up when-- and not until-- the U.S. starts stepping back in a serious way. "The invasion of Iraq was a colossal foreign policy disaster." That's clear. That's simple. That's what Democrats running for office should all be saying.

He talked a lot about the harmful trend of the Federal Government increasingly intruding into the private lives of American citizens and how that trend has to be turned around. He told us that for him Alito was not a close call. I have no doubt that he saw Alito as much a dangerous threat to American liberty as I did. In fact, he seems like the kind of guy who's going to carefully consider every issue and come up with the right approach across the board-- kind of a polar opposite of Joe Lieberman.
Howie came away extremely impressed with Lamont. I find this very comforting. You can sign up to volunteer to help Ned rid the US Senate of the dreaded Lieberman here.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Late Nite FDL: We Have A Winner

Our Name Norah contest is over, and not without its share of attendant drama. Atrios was accused of stuffing the ballot box, our Diebold machines broke down when punaise cast a write-in vote for "Ole 60 Grit" O'Beirne, Wolcott was taking furious exit polls and TBogg wrote to say that if "Noron" was not the winner I could expect to find Tim Russert's head in my bed.

Fortunately the democratic process has liberated me from this ghastly fate and "Noron" is, in fact the winner. As author of the new epithet, Dave Latchaw will receive a copy of Kos's new book, about which we will most certainly be having a discussion upon its release. (Note: Dave's MP3 of "Preznit Gone" is available here.)

Glenn Greenwald is back from his trip to DC and has a great recap of the NSA hearings so far. I wonder what the chances of ever seeing James Comey appear before the committee would be -- now that would be a hot ticket event.

And because we just can't resist -- reader Nancy T. sends us this missive about Ole 60 Grit herself (reprinted with the kind permission of the author, JR Ford):
Kate O'Beirne, in her tousled Britney Spears moptop, salmon rucksack blouse, mortician's waistcoat, and Wal-Martian costume jewelry, should think twice before choosing the word "cheap" to describe former President Jimmy Carter, the former pastor who spoke in a church in his home state of Georgia yesterday, lauding the late Coretta King and her legacy. One can only imagine, if it were Mrs. King at the pulpit and President Carter in the sarcophagus, would not her remarks about racial inequity and civil rights have been similar?

O'Beirne, the author of Women Who Make the World Worse, rails against the late Betty Friedan and the feminist agenda, while as a baby-boomer herself, she became one of the glaring beneficiaries thereof when she abdicated motherhood of her two young sons in 1986 to become a Washington insider.

In 1992, while vice president of the Heritage Foundation, O'Beirne was named by George H. W. Bush to the Presidential Commission on Women in the Armed Forces, although she never served in the military.

In 1976, Katherine Walsh married James O'Beirne, now head of the Office of the White House Liaison (OWHL), who may be single-handedly responsible for the post-conquest descent into chaos and disorder in Iraq, and the Pentagon's failure to make adequate plans for the occupation. In 2003, senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy, FERC, and Commerce were denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC contributors. OWHL hired retired military personnel, many of whom had run for public office as Republicans and been defeated in 2002, to staff its recruiting arm. James O'Beirne then staffed the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) with people in their twenties and early thirties who had no foreign service experience. They were put in positions of authority that they had no clue about; their only common criterion being that they had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation.

"Cheap," is a word usually reserved for Bourbon Street madames, and editors in their late fifties who dress fifteen years younger; and who wed incompetent, bureaucratic cronies.
This is the craven, dessicated old buzzard MSNBC hauls on to do George Bush's racist dirty work. Nice choice.

And on the Ciro Rodriguez front, his opponent Henry Cuellar is using the time-tested GOP tactic of proudly claiming endorsements he does not have, this time from the Texas State Teachers Association. You can contribute to Ciro's Fight the DINO fund here. We've now raised $11,546 in just a few days. That is quite a bold statement on behalf of progressive candidates.


Random CIA Leakery

One of the things I noticed when reading over Fitzgerald's newly released August 27, 2004 affidavit (PDF) was this:
Libby has testified that he spoke with Tim Russert on July 10 or 11, when Libby called to complain to Russert in Russert's capacity as NBC Washington Bureau chief about what Libby perceived to be unfair coverage by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (Matthews was reporting that the Vice President and/or his staff knew about Wilson's trip to Niger and thus, in Matthews' view, knowingly allowed the President to mislead the public in the State of the Union.)
This would appear to put to bed one of the rumors that circulated about that Russert/Libby call to the effect that Libby was complaining about Matthews' use of the word "neocon" as being anti-semitic. Russert could've killed these rumors himself simply by being candid about these exchanges but it's become quite obvious that Father Tim's loyalty is to slavering at the feet of power and not to performing any kind of news function.

If Murray Waas's reporting is correct (and given that Murray's coverage of this matter has a far better accuracy record than anyone else's, so it probably is) Cheney heard on June 17, 2003 from George Tenet that the Niger information was bogus. He probably realized some day of reckoning might be at hand. With Joe Wilson speaking out about his early trip to Niger in the NYT on July 6, 2003 and some (though not Wilson himself) connecting the Vice President to this trip, it makes perfect sense that Libby and his fellow OVP jackanapes would kick into overdrive to try and distance Big Time from any association with foreknowledge before Tenet threw himself under the bus on July 11, 2003. Bullying the media is one of their standard issue bag of tricks, and with classic Cheney overreach they could not stop with merely protecting him, they defaulted to organized crime mode and tried to ruin Wilson as well for what they could only perceive as ratting them out.

No cries of anti-semitism. Just straight-up mob tactics. Fitzgerald prosecuted the Gambinos, after all. He's no doubt seen it before.


Tom DeLay to Oversee Justice Department

No I am not drunk. AP:
Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.

DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers. The subcommittee also has responsibility over NASA — a top priority for DeLay, since the Johnson Space Center is located in his Houston-area district.

"Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA — Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


DeLay was able to rejoin the powerful Appropriations panel — he was a member until becoming majority leader in 2003 — because of a vacancy created after the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.
Somewhere up in the higher echelons of the wingnutosphere they are chortling like a bunch of drunken frat boys over that one.

(thanks to Stacyb)



Red State has their comment section, we have ours.

From it hurts:
Is there a hotline for black people to call to get eulogy approval? Or approval on how to behave during a hurricane? Or for approval on how many kids we have? Or for what we name our kids? That would make my life so much easier, even though I don't work, but I still have kids and they don't have fathers, but I digress.

As an uneducated black woman, and by uneducated I mean that I want to learn how not offend the likes of Kate O'Beirne, Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews, Don Imus, Matt Drudge and any other offendables, even if they themselves have made racist comments or done things to hurt the world. Oooops, I should remember my place. Sorry about that last dig. I did not mean it.
The black church is one of the few institutions in this country that isn't about white people or white peoples' power. Whites don't understand the black church and what blew their minds about what they saw yesterday is that it's something they don't or can't control (the occasional sellouts like T.D. Jakes excepted). Think about it----a black man told George Bush like it is with George Bush sitting right there to hear it. Can any of you think of a time, ANY time, when ANYONE told George Bush like it is to his face?

Rev. Lowery had all of the power yesterday in the church and George Bush had none and, in the minds of Tucker and Friends, that's not the "natural" order. That's why they're all atwitter.
Too bad David Frum has left the speech writing employ of the White House. Based on the executive branch's view of recent race awareness, New Orleans, Detroit and Atlanta, they could have coined the term 'Axis of Darkness.' I'm sure the media outlets would oblige.
[T]hey had to consider the possibility that would happen. Amazing coincidence that McCain went on the offensive with Obama at the same time. McCain dashed off his letter even before he received one from Obama.
No, I think they really are that stupid. I think the thought was it would make him look statesmanlike. I don't think Bush has a lot of handlers who have, you know, been to a service at a black church. This is a guy whose running mate voted against MLK day. I don't think may other reps voted against that.
Last poll showed Bush at 2% voting approval amongst African-Americans. Is he actually trying for a shut-out this time?
I think the poll was 2% approval, with a margin of error of 3%, so it's possible that the only African American in the country that likes him is Condi.
Note to Tweety and Sandpaper S. O'Bierne: nobody booed your Preznit yesterday, or did anything the least bit disrespectful. The speakers and guests were more than kind to him. So what's your problem?
For these racists, Reverand Lowry isn't the founder of the SCLC and a great American who has spent his life bravely and courageously fighting injustice, he is a partisan no-name black preacher that doesn't understand his place before the President.
Since Kate O'Bierne was tapped to provide commentary on Dickhead's show, does that mean Kanye West gets to do the same at Dick Cheney's funeral?
Digby got more right wing hate mail on yesterday's post calling them on their overt racism than ever before. Boy you hit the wingnut bigot flipper and they light up like a pinball machine, huh?


George Bush and the Full-Scale Bigot Launch

From the Left Coaster:
President Bush was humiliated at Coretta Scott King's funeral yesterday by Reverend Lowery and the thunderous applause for the Clintons. What the blogosphere has termed The Mighty Wurlitzer just got cranked up in response, for public, televised put-downs of The Almighty George cannot be countenanced under any circumstances.

The Wurlitzer -- talk right radio, backed up by cable TV news and eventually harmonized with network news -- will endlessly blather on for the next 48 hours how uncouth, crude, and disrespectful-of-all-that-is-decent those liberals and democrats were yesterday at the funeral; semi-freaks like that surely can'’t accurately reflect the All America Love that the US basks in for Bush.
Bubble boy didn't like a bunch of uppity darkies talking like that to his face so he dispatched his doughy bigoted foot soldiers out to put them back in their place. With that kind of paper thin skin he ought to think about a job with the Washington Post.

This is an emblematic cry from the right:
I also think I have a clearer understanding of why the culture of so many black Americans in this country is below what it should be and is capable of being.
They really don't seem to like being called racists. After putting so much effort into it you think they'd be proud.

Update: Froomkin:
Bush and his aides are known for going to great lengths to avoid such public confrontations.

Bush has broken with presidential tradition by boycotting the annual NAACP convention. After his administration came under fire for its bungling response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush reached out to black leaders -- but only in closed-door meetings cloaked in secrecy. (See my December 9 and December 22 columns.)
Always nice to be reassured that the WaPo still has people with the courage to speak the truth to power and hasn't become a complete swamp of simpering kow-towing pantywaists.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Battle-Ax Bigots Once More Into the Breech

It's nice to know that whenever MSNBC needs something said that is so ugly, so fulminatingly rancid and dog-whistle racist that even Bill Bennett will not show up and do the honors that a vile, bilious hatchet-faced nag like Kate O'Beirne is always at the ready (see video at C&L).

Why didn't she just come out and say "negroes don't know how to act at funerals?" Because that's exactly what she meant.

Digby , John and Gilliard think almost as much of Kate for having the courage to come out and scold the coloreds about remembering their place on the day of Coretta Scott King's funeral as I do.

We have slightly more hope for Norah O'Donnell, who has now entered the MSNBC pantheon and must needs earn a nickname to equal the status of her male peers Tweety, Pumpkinhead and Banjo Boy. Rather than deliver it to her by fiat, we are using the democratic process and have now narrowed it down to five candidates. Here are the finalists:

Nora Bora

Please vote only once, Norah's blogospheric future depends on your careful deliberation.

Atrios and Kos both posted today about their page view-to-donation ratio for the Ciro Rodriguez fundraising drive. I'm quite proud to announce that we have the highest percentage of donors relative to readership of any of the three and we also have the highest donor average. And we've now raised almost $10,000 for Ciro's campaign. Need more reason to dig into your mad money? Cuellar supports more more more war, while Ciro voted against Bush's war authorization. People do a great job around here of getting involved, writing their representatives, penning damn-the-torpedo LTEs and in general celebrating their right to participate in the democratic process. The blogs will begin to be taken seriously as a political force when we prove we can enter a race and back a winner, so please treat yourself and enjoy kicking a little DINO ass by contributing to Ciro here.


Time Magazine's Unclean Hands

In reviewing John Dickerson's Slate piece this morning, one thing becomes clear -- Time Magazine has been doing an awful lot of ass-covering for BushCo. that does not exactly accrue to is journalistic integrity.

In August of last year, the LA Times published a story that indicated Time did not ask Rove for a waiver until the summer of 2005 because:
Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.

The story concludes: "The result was that Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection."
Refuse to cooperate in an investigation that might not reflect well on the Administration in an election year? Perish the thought. Much better to obstruct everything until Bush was safely ensconced in a second term and things cooled off, because reporting the news obviously takes a back seat to other considerations.

As Dickerson noted in his Slate piece last December, he was aware that his name had been one that Fitzgerald had searched for in White House emails. But according to his story this morning, he was never the recipient of a leak about Valerie Wilson's job at the CIA -- which probably explains why Fitzgerald has never questioned him. To date, Fitzgerald seems to have stayed true to his original mandate to investigate the outing of a CIA agent. While Dickerson makes his bid for the hottest ticket in DC (a trip to the grand jury) it's not clear that the story adds anything to Fitz's investigation if conspiracy charges are not at the moment being pursued.

If Dickerson's story contradicts anything he's already heard, Fitz can just haul in the two Senior Administration Officials who spoke to him and tried to smear Wilson. Dickerson indicates that both have spoken to Fitzgerald, and the only hint that their stories might not jibe with his is with regard to the dates involved.

In his January 23, 2006 letter (PDF) Fitz notes that:
...we were not aware of any reporters who knew prior to July 14, 2003, that Valerie Plame, Ambass. Wilson's wife, worked at the CIA, other than: Bob Woodward, Judith Miller, Bob Novak, Walter Pincus and Matthew Cooper.
Dickerson indicates that he was informed by Matt Cooper on Friday, July 11 that Rove had told him Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. If any of this is news to Fitzgerald it is probably that, although Matt Cooper sharing information with a fellow reporter on a story is hardly a crime. As Jeff indicates over at emptywheel's, there seem to be quite a few time inconsistencies in Dickerson's story that it would be nice to see reconciled.

But it is Time Magazine's role in all of this that becomes extremely alarming. As Dickerson tells it, he was walked up to the story by two SAOs on July 11, 2003 while traveling with Bush on his Africa trip. Dickerson himself has identified Ari Fleischer as one of the people who pushed him toward the Wilson story (so it's funny he doesn't mention it now) and as emptywheel notes he is probably Dickerson's SAO #1. Both Walter Pincus and Howard Fineman have reported that Dan Bartlett also had a hand in this so it's likely he is Dickerson's SAO #2 (hat tip pollyusa).

Robert Novak's hit piece on Wilson appeared on Monday, July 14. So did Time's print edition, which carried the Administration's water about Joe Wilson. As Dickerson notes, the story did not originally report about the coordinated attack by the Administration on Wilson. And Dickerson more than hints that this was over the objections of the writers:
Our editors delayed publication of the Web piece, uncertain there was enough evidence the White House was trying to undermine Wilson's credibility. That was frustrating, since by that time the White House spokesman, Fleischer, was undermining him on the record. Bob Novak's story revealing Plame's name had come out, but those of us working on the story in Washington, which now included Massimo Calabresi, thought we still had a few facts Novak didn't. Our piece finally ran on the Web on July 17, 2003, six days after Cooper had learned about Wilson's wife.
How helpful that the story which turned out to be one of the most hotly debated of the past two and a half years was kept out of the widely circulated print edition.

And then as Media Matters notes, despite the fact that Cooper and Dickerson knew that Rove had been one of the principal Plame outers, as did editor Michael Duffy, Time felt no compunction about printing a story on October 13, 2003 suggesting that Rove had nothing to do with it:
When word spread last week that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was launching a full criminal probe into who had leaked Plame's identity, Democrats immediately raised a public alarm: How could Justice credibly investigate so secretive an Administration, especially when the investigators are led by Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose former paid political consultant Karl Rove was initially accused by Wilson of being the man behind the leak? A TIME review of federal and state election records reveals that Ashcroft paid Rove's Texas firm $746,000 for direct-mail services in two gubernatorial campaigns and one Senate race from 1984 through 1994. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said accusations of Rove's peddling information are "ridiculous." Says McClellan: "There is simply no truth to that suggestion."
As Viveca Novak wrote in her Time Magazine piece covering her questioning byFitzgerald, Rove's involvement in spreading the Plame story was not exactly a huge secret at Time. Under what journalistic principle is a magazine obligated to print bold, outright lies perpetuated by Administration spokesmen that it knows for a fact are untrue?

While Dickerson's article is one of the better ones to date acknowledging his involvement in all of this, his name is on that October 13 article. He does not appear to be particularly happy about Time's willingness to spike aspects of the story critical of BushCo., and one would imagine he wouldn't be too happy about having his name appended to outright propaganda. If he's thinking about a follow-up story, as the only one of the original writers no longer tethered to Time he has the opportunity to write about what the hell was going on behind the scenes in all of this.

It grows ever more apparent that Time Magazine's hands are exceptionally dirty here, joining the New York Times and the Washington Post in the Plame Hall of Shame. It would be nice to see someone step up and address what actually happened.


Will Lieberman Support McCain's Smear of Obama?

John McCain did his part for the GOP slime machine in talking to Barak Obama like he was an errant child and fabricating a "character issue" for the rising Democratic star. As Matt Stoller notes, it should be on Joe Lieberman to jump into this one and come to Obama's defense:
There were two other people at the meeting - Susan Collins, moderate Republican from Maine and Democrat Joe Lieberman, the moderate Democrat from Connecticut. Lieberman can and will weigh in on this conflict, and were he a reasonable man I would imagine he would take one look at the series of letters and realize that John McCain was way out of line. Now, this is the critical point to keep in mind - Lieberman is the only Democratic Senator who was in the room at the time, so the press will pay special attention to what he says. Lieberman can call out McCain on his partisan slash-and-burn strategy, and buttress Obama's claim to bipartisanship. Or he can participate in the smear and ask both sides to calm down, even though this attack is entirely one-sided and it is very clear that Obama is seeking a bipartisan good ethics bill.

That's what I'm watching. Will Lieberman support his fellow Democratic Senate colleague in pursuit of a well-structured bipartisan approach to ethics reform? Or will he support John McCain's (who he quasi-endorsed for President) attempt to derail the whole process?
On the good news side today, Ned Lamont is officially a candidate in the Connecticut race now -- he's created a candidate committee, named a campaign manager and has begun searching for a headquarters. It would be nice if, after this November, we didn't have to just assume Lieberman was going to stick the knife in -- the only question always seems to be how hard he will twist it.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Name Norah O'Donnell Semi-Final

Remind me that there's no such thing as an easy post. Okay we have the nominees in the Name Norah O'Donnell Contest, and we are going to narrow it down to the top 5 vote getters and have a run-off tomorrow night (with the normal caveat of "if the news cycle cooperates"). Although I bow to no one in my appreciation of the vulgar (actually that's probably not true but I like to think so) I took the liberty of trimming out some of the more coarse references, I do have a few principles left.

No-no Dunno
Dumbass O'Dumbass
Norah O'Don't
Abhora O'Donnell
No Morah
Trixie NoClue
Rah Rah O'Donnell
Norah Don'tKnow
Nora Bora
Sweet Nell
Nod Off
Norah Oh' Don't know
"Empty" O'Donnell
Whistling Nora
Nora in Wonderland
Porah O'd Nell
Snora O'Noodle
Bore-ya O'Donnell
Noodle Head
Nora O'Newsbabe
Mary Worth
Prom Queen
Ol' Don't Know
Emily Latilla
Noron O`Bot
Norahbot 0-3000
Norah the Barnacle
Whorah O'Do Me
Norah Bore-ah
Senora Drone-on’ll
Cat Eyes
Bloody Norah
Rahrah O'Dumbbell
no o'do
Princess Perfect
Ding Dong
The White Ho
Tweety O'Donnell
Numb Norah
Rahs, Oh Donkey
No-ah Dontknow
NoKnow O'Donnal
norah o' duuuuuuuuuuh
Norah Titoff
Duncel in dis dress
Noodle Ho'donnell
Slow Donnell
Nora Bora
unnosy nora
Nancy Shrew
Madame Huh?
M. T. Head
NORAD? Donhell?
Nora IDunno
nora blank
nora o'gannon
Borbie O'Doll
Hard-on Loony
Mind the Gap
Norah the Explorer
Kris Matthews
Norad Mobile Moon Unit
Agent 00G-Dub
Luvya O'Dubya
Lois Flame
Novocaine Nora
dumb as a box of hair
Pretty Empty
Norah "the Parrot" O'Donnell
Norah Newsmodel
Snoozie Buttons
The NODster
"Kneepads" Nora
Ingnorah (d'fact) O'Donnell
Nora O'Funnel
Doe-y McLipgloss
Tallulah Blankhead
Norah "Big Asset" O'Donnell
Numb Norah
Lois Lame
Norah Affront
The Helmet
Empty Dress Nora
Noddy O'Dozey
Snorah Borah
Venus fly-trap
Oh Donna
"Rah-Rah" O'Donnell
Ignorah O'Donnybrook
dumbie o'donnell
N.O.R.A.H. 3000
Norah O'Duh-nell
No Se Norah
Norah O'Dammit
No nutin' Nora
The Noralator
Princess Kittykat
Norphine Mo'Coddle
horn laden loon
Ms. Crabtree
HAL 2006
Cathy O'Brien
Eyes Wide Shut
Little Miss Sunshine
O’Norah bin Lazy
NoKnow O'Donnal
Don't Know, Norah Do I Care O'Donnell
Nora-gard for the truth
Neither a care Nora clue
Our Lady of the Kool-Aid.
Nitty Nora, the bug-explorer

The winner will receive a copy of Kos's new book. Please vote only once because I hate it when I have to take my shoes off to count.

It's looking like tomorrow's heavyweight bout is going to involve Glenn Greenwald, competing in the flyweight division:
Tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. EST, I'll be on NPR's To the Point to discuss the NSA hearings with Powerline's John Hinderaker. John is confused that there are any hearings at all, because there is nothing to discuss; it's so clear that the President had the right to eavesdrop outside of FISA that there's no issue at all. I'm looking forward to that discussion.
And Kos has this bit from Ann Richards' former campaign manager about Ciro Rodriguez' opponent, Henry Cuellar:
Cuellar, like Sanchez from Laredo, was an Hispanic-surnamed opportunist who readily agreed to work over Sanchez behind the scenes. And he did. Cuellar had been elected some years earlier as Democrat to the state House. He began his twisted, self-loathing, race-baiting among his former House colleagues. Cherub-faced, Cuellar played the innocent. He himself leaked a story that Sanchez had a private eye investigating rumors about his sexual preference.
This is the kind of guy the GOP is recruiting to run in Democrat-owned districts to further weaken the Dems. He represents everything that's wrong with the party and then some.

I got a nice note from Ciro's campaign thanking us for all the money we've raised, now close to $8,000. Atrios has raised $16,460 and the group page is up to $32,815. The primary is going to be in early March so if you like the idea of unseating a DINO and replacing him with a true progressive, you can donate here.

And special thanks to everyone who has already contributed. To you the doggies say "namaste."