Monday, October 31, 2005

Good morning, Karl

Apparently, word is it ain't over for you , my . You see, some think the "Official A" moniker bestowed upon you in the Libby indictment is a warning sign. Innocent persons do not need to be referenced by moniker in indictments. We shall see. But for now, let's take a look at Monday's update, shall we?
But two legal sources intimately familiar with Fitzgerald's tactics in this inquiry said they believe Rove remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as being relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution -- and his willingness to consider Rove's eleventh-hour pleading of a memory lapse is merely a sign of Fitzgerald's caution.

The two legal sources point to what they consider Fitzgerald's careful decision not to charge Libby with the leak of a covert agent's identity, given that the prosecutor had amassed considerable evidence that Libby gave classified information, which he knew from his job should not be made public, to reporters. Another prosecutor might have stretched to make a leak charge, on the theory that a jury would believe, based on other actions, that Libby acted with bad intentions.

Another warning sign for Rove was in the phrasing of Friday's indictment of Libby. Fitzgerald referred to Rove in those charging papers as a senior White House official and dubbed him "Official A." In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.
Or maybe it's just "A" for "A*#hole"...?

Yeah, what with the story of Scooter's impecuniosity in the face of his own personal legal mountain that's out, I'd be a little worried if I were "Official A"...

Herbert right on today

From Herbert's column today:
The art of Bush-speak is to achieve the effect of a lie without actually getting caught in a lie. That's what administration officials did when they deliberately fostered the impression that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and thus was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. This is an insidious way of governing, and the opposite of what the United States should be about.

It should tell you something that the administration's resident sleazemeister, Karl Rove, who is up to his ears in this mess but has managed so far to escape indictment, continues to be viewed not as an embarrassment, but as President Bush's most important and absolutely indispensable asset.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Someone looks a little tired and irritated

Bush returning to the White House after a weekend at Camp David...tanned, rested and ready? I don't think so...

At Halloween, the White House unmasked

Reid, quoted here, is also calling for resignation. What the Democrats need to do is continue to make Rove part of a drumbeat effect, creating a campaign for '06 on the Republican culture of corruption. Rove is likely to be kept on staff by Bush, perhaps with some kind of symbolic reduction of his role. That is what I would be expecting in the coming days. Bush lopping off his right arm completely is an unlikely scenario, barring Rove's being indicted by Fitzgerald, and that is an unknowable outcome at the moment. Bush needs Rove too much.

So keep the spotlight on the poor optics of this spectacle...Rove's been outed as a danger to national security who negligently passes on such information to journalists, yet Bush is keeping him as his right hand man. Bush would rather house such crass political opportunism in the White House than keep to his pledge of restoring honour and integrity...

The supreme irony of all of this is that the Bush White House has been exposed for the sleazy operation that it has truly always been. The mask of "honour and integrity" has always been just that.

Rove should be demoted, if not removed

One of the first such calls by Nicholas Kristof, in his column today, "Time for the Vice President to Explain Himself," in which he nails the impropriety of continued presence in the White House:
Mr. Rove escaped indictment, but he has been tarred. He apparently passed information about Valerie Wilson to reporters and then conveniently forgot about one of those conversations. He also may have misled the president, and the White House ended up giving false information to the public. It's fine for Mr. Rove to work as a Republican political adviser, but not as White House deputy chief of staff.
Bingo. And there's still the possibility that he ends up indicted as well.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not your typical townhall, hey W?

Nasty protesters, yelling "war is terrorism" and "torture is terrorism" did they get in there? And wearing that t-shirt? Whatever happened to the '04 crack Secret Service censorship team? Free speech sure is a bitch, ain't it, Jr.?

The squeeze theory

Very astute pick up here, on firedoglake on what should have been obvious to anyone who's followed Patrick Fitzgerald's modus operandi. Indict the #2 guy and squeeze him to go after the bigger fish, i.e., in this case, Cheney or perhaps (aka "Official A"). That's exactly what he did in indicting Hollinger's David Radler, Conrad Black's longtime executive, and causing Radler to turn on Black. Another good summary of how the squeeze could play out is found here. A reader e-mail to Andrew Sullivan summarizes how close Fitzgerald is to nailing the underlying crime - the intentional outing of a CIA operative contrary to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act - but needs the goods on intent. Some leading examples of the squeeze theory getting full play in the blogosphere...

Rove's trump card

Apparently has kept something up his sleeve all this time, in the form of ass-saving information, to pull out at the last minute to save his skin, as reported in the Washington Post today,"Cheney Aide Libby Is Indicted." And true to form, that mystery trump card may yet work for him:
The biggest piece of unfinished business involves Rove. Fitzgerald appeared set to charge Rove with making false statements until the White House deputy chief of staff provided new information on Tuesday that gave the prosecutor what two people described as "pause."

It is unclear what information Rove turned over. It is also unclear if it will be enough to prevent a grand jury from indicting him in the weeks ahead. If he decides to seek charges against Rove, Fitzgerald would present the evidence to a new grand jury because the one that indicted Libby expired yesterday and its term cannot be extended.

"The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges," Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said in a statement. "We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Fitzgerald refused to comment on Rove. A source close to Rove added, "There is still the chance that Mr. Rove could face indictment." Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald is likely to put pressure on Libby to provide evidence against Rove or other potential targets.
So it could be that Rove's smiling demeanour of the past few days may indicate he's been given some assurance that his provision of "new information" has helped his situation. Or, as the above quote suggests, Fitzgerald might simply be pausing to analyze the information and perhaps test it with Libby or others.

You've got to hand it to our man Karl, whenever he's in need of a cluster-f*#k to divert attention or culpability away from him, he comes up aces with just the right tactic.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A thought for the day

A liar should have a good memory.
Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria
Roman rhetorician


Appropriate backdrop for Friday's announcements from Fitzgerald...look and see what has been wrought by the chickenhawks...

Rove's most important political campaign

In a Washington Post article today,"Rove, Libby Prepare for Possible Indictments," we see this quote, and it's about enough to make you want to be sick:
People close to Rove said the senior Bush strategist and his legal team have worked assiduously in the past week to convince Fitzgerald that Rove did not mislead the grand jury.
There you have it. the political slimemaster who has never encountered a campaign he couldn't manipulate and lie his way through seems to be applying his tried and true methodology to this, his most important save his own skin. Anyone else wondering what it means to read that he and his legal team "have worked assiduously in the past week to convince Fitzgerald that Rove did not mislead the grand jury"? You see, an onslaught of public and private p.r. has been can feel and see the talking points taking hold, just as Karl must want. Let's run through a few of Karl's developing themes here...

He really didn't do anything terribly wrong here. Libby is the one who told him about Valerie Plame. This is Dick & Libby's thing, not mine. It's that guy over there in the Veep's section. Novak mentioned Valerie Plame to me and all I said was, "I heard that too." And Matthew Cooper? I honestly didn't remember that call. You see, I'm Karl Rove. I am the master of skating right up to the edge, as far as I can go, but I always know the limits I can push. That's why you should believe me on this.

I get away with everything. I'm Karl Rove.

I'm walking around Washington with a big smile on my face, saluting for the media and posing in my driveway. Cause I'm just a happy go lucky kind of guy with not a care in the world. Do I look like a guy who's about to be indicted? I'm not skulking around like Libby. I'm waging a p.r. campaign of massive proportions and things are starting to swing my way.

You see, I'm Karl Rove. And I smile when I'm getting away with murder.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Impolitical went to Washington

My apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. You see, Impolitical was in Washington, DC attending a conference along with the Impolitical husband. Proof seen above. The White House at night, in darkness.(Impolitical is an amateur digital camera user.) Photo was taken at @9 pm and all the lights seemed to be out. No midnight oil for these guys.

And we left Washington just before all the excitement was to unfold...Cindy Sheehan's protests, the imminent ...

Now it's back to the blog and I'm sure there'll be something to write about this week...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Knives are out for Libby

Best fix of the day on the CIA leak investigation has to be in the LA Times today: Bush Critic Became Target of Libby, Former Aides Say.

Focus is on Libby and how fixated he was on Joe Wilson, leading the charge to have the White House take him on. And it seems that information on his Wilson obsession is pretty easy to come by these days:
Libby's anger over Wilson's 2003 charges has been known. But new interviews and documents obtained by The Times provide a more detailed view of the depth and duration of Libby's interest in Wilson. They also show that the vice president's office closely monitored news coverage.
And now former aides say he was, essentially, out of his mind about Wilson:
The intensity with which Libby reacted to Wilson had many senior White House staffers puzzled, and few agreed with his counterattack plan or its rationale, former aides said. (emphasis added)
And lest anyone get the impression Libby may have leaked Valerie Wilson's status accidentally, there's this testimonial to his fastidiousness:
The documents and interviews portray Libby as highly attuned to detail. He dictated the format for internal memos, including that paragraphs be indented.

The documents and interviews show that, when it came to monitoring media coverage of Wilson and other issues affecting the vice president's reputation, Libby was meticulous. Staffers were instructed to use Nexis and Google to watch even the most obscure publications.
Doesn't sound like someone who would forget where they learned of Wilson's wife's CIA status, does it? It appears that Libby is the man of the hour, and at least would like us to continue to think so.

Tom DeLusional

The Defiant One sits for his Mug Shot - October 20, 2005.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's "every man for himself" week at the White House

If this story is true, is in trouble, "big time." There are other rumours circulating tonight as well on Cheney's involvement. Here's the gist of who's supposedly turned on Cheney's office:
A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say.

Late Monday, several sources familiar with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe said John Hannah, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, was cooperating with Fitzgerald after being told that he was identified by witnesses as a co-conspirator in the leak. Sources said Hannah was not given immunity, but was likely offered a “deal” in exchange for information that could result in indictments of key White House officials.

Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.
Brutal stuff...still in wait and see mode...

Rove points at Libby

Some further developments in the CIA leak case, the daily leaking by witnesses and lawyers, today's version here:Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case. What is interesting about this article is that it could be leaking to the media now about his own testimony. Rove's lawyer is cited as declining to comment. So it's likely Rove here or a shill. Manipulate the coverage and direct the focus to the VP's office. What other reason to point the finger at Libby. Should be a fun day tomorrow at the White House:
White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.

In a talk that took place in the days before Plame's CIA employment was revealed in 2003, Rove and Libby discussed conversations they had had with reporters in which Plame and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV were raised, the source said. Rove told the grand jury the talk was confined to information the two men heard from reporters, the source said.

Rove has also testified that he also heard about Plame from someone else outside the White House, but could not recall who.
So Karl's story is that Libby may have told him, and Rove seems to suggest that their discussion was "confined to information the two men heard from reporters"...I don't recall any reporter, on record in this thing anyway, stating that they provided the information about Valerie Wilson working at the CIA to anyone at the White House. So if this is Rove's story, it still doesn't appear to measure up. The "I heard it from a reporter" line has raised more eyebrows than substantiation.

Other new information here is the name of John Hannah, a Cheney aide, who "...has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials." More clues that Cheney is perhaps a focus, or at least his staff...

The drip, drip, drip of this story is enough to drive anyone mad.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So sad, no fundraisers for Karl Rove cancels three appearances before conservatives in the past week. What will Republicans do without their fix of partisan red meat being fed to them by our man Karl, mudslinger-in-chief?

In the wake of reports that there is a White House official who has "flipped" and is assisting Fitzgerald with his investigation, we see this report on cancelled appearances on Saturday and Monday night, three in total reported in the article......due to "scheduling conflicts"... and word is that he "currently has no plans to appear at upcoming RNC events."

Happily watching the story develop...

With friends like these...

Evidence today of disharmony in Bush's base:In Sign of Conservative Split, a Commentator Is Dismissed - New York Times. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative commentator, has lost his job at a conservative "research group" in Dallas. Apparently when you write a book with this title, "The Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," you lose your club membership....

Cheney, the bell tolls for thee

This is a potentially huge development - that must, as always, be couched in the "anything can happen" warning, until Fitzgerald announces indictments, or not - but this article suggests that a "senior White House official has flipped and may be helping the prosecutor in the case..." This comes as Dick Cheney is increasingly rumoured to be a focus of the investigation as it wraps up. Who could this source be? Hmmmm...sounds like a current official, if this story is true. Might or Libby have decided to save their own hide and give up the big cahuna? The image of someone singing like a bird on the administration is just priceless. The heat these guys have dished out, the livelihoods and reputations they ruin...and yet when the heat comes their way...this should be good.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Arianna tears Russert a new one

Arianna Huffington has a bee in her bonnet on the CIA leak story of late and has been tweaking some angles that few others dare to raise. This column, Arianna Huffington: Russert Watch: Let Me Count the Ways continues her beat, targeting Tim Russert, the self-important blowhard and his failure to date to devote any time to the fact that he, himself, was indeed interviewed by Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak inquiry. The "elephant in the room" that he never raises when hosting shows on the topic. One more reason to root for the day when all of this comes out in the open.

One of Russert's most consistently annoying ploys is his obsequious chumminess with guests near the end of their interview, questioning whether they intend to run for President. He never gets an answer, guests anticipate the question and have their responses prepped in advance. You'd think by now he'd have come up with a way to cleverly follow-up the initial inquiry to actually get something newsworthy out of the exchange. Or how about this - come up with something new Russert...
I'm sure Tim would just love to tell us about his testimony, but every week there's a new person on the show, and whenever there's a new person on the show, it's apparently mandatory that Tim ask his hard-hitting "Are you going to run for president?" question. By now, it's as much of a “Tim thing” as those bow ties are a “Tucker Carlson thing.” What would Tim be without the "Are you going to run in the next presidential election" question? Sure, it's never been answered, nor has the inevitable non-answer to it ever been in the slightest revealing of anything, but it's Tim's "thing."
Bravo to Arianna for deflating this Washington-insider-media blowhard, who has thus far enjoyed the unexamined spotlight, one pin-prick at a time.

The "Criminalization of Politics"

Hunter at Daily Kos takes on the latest Republican spin on the spate of investigations, indictments and pending indictments all centered around Republican leaders. A rant well worth the read as usual:
Party over country. You can hear it in Miller's accountings of her conversations with Libby; you can hear the "crimes aren't crimes if they're done for the sake of politics" meme from pundits like Chris Matthews and William Kristol; you can hear it everywhere in Washington, for that matter. Lying about sex had many of these same pundits foaming and frothing at the outrage of it all; compromising our intelligence assets against weapons of mass destruction, at the very same time the government is warning us to stock up on duct tape and watch out for swarthy bearded types holding glow-in-the-dark suitcases, is considered too shallow a crime to pursue -- if a Republican does it.

There's something beyond mere politics in all of this. Politics, one would hope, is not sufficient reason to damage the country. This is different. This is the cult of power, and of corruption, that is not just defended, but celebrated by pundits, by journalists, and by politicians alike.

The Republican pundit machine wails, and wags their fingers, and is shocked by the investigations, and depositions, and prosecutions, and calls it the "criminalization of politics".

Most of the rest of us call it crime, disguised as politics.

Crime, disguised as politics, and defended by crooks, cowards, and blowhards.

What goes around comes around article today on the possibility that Cheney may be indicted as part of a conspiracy charge in the Valerie Plame outing...wouldn't that be a shame?

Gotta love this little nugget added at the end of the story:
In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time.
You reap what you sow... Jones v. Clinton might come back to haunt the crew that vowed to bring "honour" and "dignity" back to the White House...

"Valerie Flame"

Another article, here: Miller's Lawyer Says Aide May Face 'Problem' in Probe in today's Washington Post providing a good update on where things stand. From the looks of things, it appears Rove and Libby are in legal jeopardy but it remains to be seen whether the charges are for perjury, obstruction of justice, violations of federal espionage law or perhaps conspiracy charges in relation to it.

On this weekend's developments, notably Judy Miller's own account in the Times yesterday of her story...I also found the revelation of the notation of "Valerie Flame" in Judy Miller's notes to be interesting. So to join in on the speculation, here's an idea. Libby expressed anger to Miller, during one of their meetings, at the CIA's "selective leaking" " distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments." So was there a discussion between Libby and Miller on Plame herself as one of those whom Libby was angry with? Did he characterize her as Valerie "Flame" as in "flamethrower"...? We're all just throwing darts in the dark here, so I'll throw out that thought...

Secondly, it seems rather unbelievable that Miller can credibly clam that "...I did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not appear in the same part of my notebook as the interview notes from him." Maybe she put it there, away from the principal notes of the session, for that reason. When the information gets crucial, move it elsewhere to deflect its attribution...

The more significant aspect of her claim here was that she doesn't recall from whom she heard the name "Valerie Flame." When asked by Fitzgerald where this information came from, she wrote: "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall." Simply not believable. Now maybe Fitzgerald doesn't care much about her response as he has enough information on other administration sources. But Miller really is stretching crediblity here.

It appears Fitzgerald is wrapping up his investigation and it has been noted that Rove cancelled an appearance on Sunday. All I will say for tonight is that it is high time that this White House gets a taste of some of what it has given for the past five years.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

That's a shame

United Press International - NewsTrack - Rove to quit if indicted.

Rice says No

Rice: No presidential ambitions:
In response to questions from host Tim Russert on NBC News' "Meet the Press," Rice said she is "flattered" by groups pressing her to run, but, "I don't know how many ways to say no ... I don't know how many ways to tell people that this -- I have no interest in being a candidate for anything."
And also stated:
"I appreciate and I'm flattered that people think of me in those terms," Rice said, "but it's not what I want to do with my life. It's not what I'm going to do with my life."
I don't know how anyone could backtrack from language like this. She knows that if she were to run, everything she did during the Bush administration would be dissected like a frog in Grade 12 Biology...right now, her image is pristine, despite her culpability in propagandizing a war without the evidence she claimed to have, in speeches touting the "mushroom cloud" that could become a "smoking gun"...wouldn't that make a great campaign ad against her? No, she's not going to run, despite all the calls from desperate Republicans. She's escaped the magnifying glass until now and does not appear to relish the prospect of a presidential campaign's scrutiny.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

One last wish

Chicago Tribune - Obituaries. Saw this link on Americablog and had to pass it on. Read the obituary carefully.

Evan Bayh calls out Rove

Bayh chides Rove over role in CIA probe:
"Even if he's not indicted, if it appears that a top adviser to the president of the United States was trying to harm someone personally for having a different public policy point of view, that's unacceptable behavior in the White House," Sen. Evan Bayh said.

The Indiana senator said Bush's strategists have divided the nation for short-term political gain.

"That kind of cynical strategy has worked well for Karl Rove and the people whose advice he takes, but it's not good for America and it's not the kind of politics I'm going to practice," Bayh said.
Our man is quite the albatross these days.

Bush uses military in photo-op, again

Once again, the shamelessness of the Bush administration on full display, Bush Uses Video Hookup to Bolster Troops in Iraq:
On the screen today could be seen 10 soldiers of the army's 42d Infantry Division, based in Tikrit. They sat stiffly in three tight rows, joined by an Iraqi officer, apparently atop a building, under a blue-gray sky.

While the president asked the troops a half-dozen questions, appearing to do so extemporaneously, the troops evidently had prepared their answers. The format did not lend itself to more frank exchanges.
The military used, once again, in support of Bush's flailing political fortunes, in the guise of bostering U.S. troop morale. And key the gratuitous September 11th reference:
When the only woman present, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo, mentioned Mr. Bush's visit to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the president interrupted to ask whether she had been there. When she said that she had, he quipped, "Yeah, I thought you looked familiar."
Strategy seems to be to milk any last perceived strength of his presidency, the man is clearly desperate.


Let This Leak Go, a column in the Washington Post by Richard Cohen sarcastically trivializes the work that Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney has been doing in pursuing the perpetrators of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Wilson. He seems to mock Fitzgerald by suggesting he is "dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press" more voice in the "it's all just politics and Washington business as usual" camp.

Me, I'm in the camp that believes Fitzgerald would not be pursuing this case if there were no underlying damage that had been done. As his investigation nears an end, we may get a sense of the real injuries caused by the petty outing of Wilson. What were the effects on intelligence gathering caused by the loss of her undercover work, her contacts? Has there been any loss of life as a result of the outing? These are questions rarely addressed by the Washington insider crowd. Discussions appear to be devoid of any of this underlying context. Hopefully when Fitzgerald finally does conclude his investigation there will be indications of what real life damage has been caused by treacherous political operatives who played games with classified information.

Gergen weighs in on Miers

When the voices of reason and moderate objectivity in the Republican party like David Gergen start weighing in on the Miers nomination battle, you know there really is a problem. Gergen usually crystallizes an issue with a degree of judiciousness and focus that makes people pay attention. In the above link, Gergen highlights the can of worms Bush has ineptly opened up in touting Miers' religious views as a reason for her appointment:
Now by raising the relgious issue there’s an implication that she may turn to her religioius faith; that conservatives can trust her because of her religious faith to bring conservative views to interpretation, in other words, to look beyond the Constitution.
That’s exactly what he’s been saying justices should not do. They should not legislate from the bench. You can't have it both ways.... You can't say she’s going to be all about the law, but "look at this over here, she’s very religious and now we know we can trust her.
Whammo. Another illustration of the clumsy Bush trying desperately to calm conservatives by extolling her religious faith, yet completely oblivious to how that undermines his principal argument on what judges should do - i.e., not legislate from the bench. Case in point that Bush is, without , a ship unmoored, without a rudder or anchor...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Way to make a girl feel special

Title of the article says it all: Miers Chosen After Others Withdrew, White House Says. McClellan, however, insists she was Bush's first choice. He of the "Rove and Libby were not involved" whopper. Tell us another one Mr. Propaganda.

What to make of this latest spin? Others withdrew and she's an evangelical Christian. Hmmm. She's all we had, she's a woman and she's religious. The defense of this nominee gets worse by the day, like they are being backed into a corner. And to be relying on her religion as a principal qualification for her being nominated is an outrage. The damage done to the separation of church and state by the Bush administration is galling beyond belief. It's gotten out of their control, with Dobson et al. in the wings, blathering on with their unhelpful background comments that end up dominating the daily news on this. The behind the operation is clearly missing and the White House operation appears to be showing it on a daily basis.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Must we really be exposed to this inanity

WTF? Why is this drivel being laid bare before all the world: Documents Show Miers's Close Ties to Bush - New York Times. I actually felt embarrassed and uncomfortable reading this article. Who among us would want their thank you notes and personal letters splashed in a national newspaper? Even if the point is to show how obsequious has been to Bush, her promoter, and how that deference might carry on, it's just cringeworthy. This is the kind of pile-on that makes you empathize with the woman.

The latest this morning...Pat Buchanan was actually touting John "Let the Eagle Soar" Ashcroft as a possible replacement for Miers this morning on Imus given that Ashcroft too is a born again Christian...

The effect of all this may well be that the bar is being set so low for Miers she can't help but exceed these expectations.

Monday, October 10, 2005

This just in

McCain Considers '08 Presidential Run.

Can I get an Amen?

Daily Kos: Specter: What Did Rove Tell Dobson on Miers?

Chucky don't like Harriet

Gary Bauer, who has been described as the human Chucky doll (for a distant resemblance), apparently is also a little upset over the Harriet Miers nomination, found here:
Nathan L. Hecht, a Texas Supreme Court justice who has dated Miers on and off for years, said yesterday that Miers has been an abortion opponent for 25 years but would decide cases based on legal merits, not personal views.

"Legal issues and personal issues are just two different things," Hecht said on "Fox News Sunday." "Judges do it all the time."

That provided no comfort to conservative activist Gary Bauer, a critic of the nomination who appeared on the same program.

"I'm confused here," Bauer said. "I can't tell whether Judge Hecht is arguing that she is going to overturn Roe or she's not going to overturn Roe. If he wants to reassure his fellow pro-life conservatives, that's the last argument he should be making, the argument that he just made."
See Chucky get upset. See Chucky throw a tantrum over the thought Miers might not overturn Roe. See Chucky doing his best to demolish the separation of church and state. See Chucky, exasperated that he can't have a guaranteed set of votes from a nominee. See Chucky and his whole cabal doing their darnedest to destroy the institutional integrity and impartiality of the Supreme Court...

That's a shame

Apparently the Republicans are having a hard time finding candidates to run in the House and Senate for 2006: For GOP, Election Anxiety Mounts. Yeah, that's a real shame. Staying away in droves due to Bush's political misfortunes, Iraq, a plethora of GOP scandals - DeLay indicted, et al. on the eve of possible indictments - it just couldn't get any better for Democrats. Let's hope they can take advantage of the times and get their act together...


In New Book, Ex-Director of the F.B.I. Fights Back - New York Times. What if you wrote a book and nobody cared?

"Touch 'em all, Joe..."

Impolitical's blog site flag is at half staff today for Tom Cheek , the Jays' longtime broadcaster who died on Sunday. Listening to the Jays broadcast will never be the same.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Go away Karl

"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." David Brin

Update on lawyer fired for comment in Rove article

This article updates the situation of Elizabeth Reyes, the staff attorney at the Texas Secretary of State's office who was fired in the wake of comments she made about Karl Rove's voter status under Texas electoral law appearing in the Washington Post last month: Fired for Comment in Rove Article, Texas Attorney Explores Legal Options.

She has sought to be reinstated - she claims the Washington Post reporter did not identify herself as a reporter and secondly, the Post failed to print her advice in its entirety, skewing her comments in a manner unfavourable to Rove - but her request was denied. To her knowledge, the press request she answered over the phone was a typical one made commonly to her office and to which staff lawyers typically responded.

She and her lawyer are "exploring my legal options." From what I've read, it certainly appears she has a case. And while Karl is in a testifying kind of legal groove, why don't you subpoena along with the Texas Secretary of State to find out exactly what was said in their telephone conversation that somehow mysteriously preceded your termination?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Interesting theory on the Miers' opposition

Daily Kos: Rove's secret meeting with Dobson on Miers : LOOK OUT. This diary suggests some conservative opposition to Miers is being essentially "staged" in order to trick Democrats into accepting her. If conservatives are upset by her nomination, the theory goes, then Democrats will think she's acceptable. A Rovian trick in the eyes of some. Miers has no experience and will blindly follow Roberts, leading to Roe being overturned. The White House knows there's no way an anti-Roe nominee will be confirmed if it's out in the open, so they're creating a diversion - privately assuring some conservatives like Dobson but creating a guessing game for the rest...

Rove Assured Bush He Was Not Leaker

There are new details in the CIA leak investigation revealed in the National Journal by Murray Waas. This article provides perhaps the best sense yet of the legal problems faced by as he prepares to testify before the grand jury for a fourth time. The article also details Rove's dubious behaviour throughout the investigation and in doing so, it raises serious questions about whether Rove should be in the position of power that he currently possesses.

Perhaps the most interesting factual detail revealed is the following:
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove personally assured President Bush in the early fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an administration critic, was a CIA employee, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the accounts that both Rove and Bush independently provided to federal prosecutors.
Why is this significant? For this reason:
Another potential issue is whether Fitzgerald determines that Rove either purposely or inadvertently lied to the president, experts say. "The president is the top law enforcement official of the executive branch," said Rory Little, a professor of law at the University of California and a former federal prosecutor and associate attorney general in the Clinton administration. "It is a crime to make a false statement to a federal agent. If the president was asking in that capacity, and the statement was purposely false, then you might have a violation of law."(emphasis added)
Whether Rove's failure to disclose the extent of his involvement in the leak to Bush was a violation of the law will apparently depend on whether Bush was asking Rove in his capacity as President or as "longtime friend" about whether Rove was involved in this leak.

To give you an overall sense of the questionable aspects of Rove's story as he has progressed through this investigation, I will set out the key problems for Rove as reported in the article:
  • his personal assurance to Bush that he was not the leaker of Valerie Wilson's identity as a CIA agent;
  • his failure to tell Bush about his conversation with Matthew Cooper which actually did include discussion of the Plame matter;
  • his failure to tell FBI agents initially that he had spoken to Cooper;
  • later changing his account before both the grand jury and federal investigators, indicating he had forgotten about his conversation with Cooper;
  • failing to tell Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary about his conversation with Cooper or apparently telling McClellan much of anything which led to McClellan categorically denying, during a press conference, that Rove (or Libby) had been involved in the Plame leak...
The problem with this picture, as you set it out in its entirety, is that suggested by these law professors:
But Randall Eliason, a former chief of the public corruption section for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and currently an adjunct law professor at American University, said that if Rove purposely misled the president, the FBI, or the White House press secretary, a reasonable prosecutor might construe such acts as "overt acts in furtherance of a criminal plan."

Added Gillers: "Misleading the president, other officials of the executive branch, or even the FBI might not, in and of themselves, constitute criminal acts. But a prosecutor investigating other crimes-such as obstruction of justice or perjury-might use evidence of any such deception to establish criminal intent. And a lack of candor might also negate a claim of good faith or inadvertent error in providing misleading information to prosecutors."
When you take in all of Rove's actions and omissions and think about them, I wonder how many of us would give someone with this track record the benefit of the doubt? Especially when such important national security issues were at stake. If this article is accurate and the details true, then surely someone with this demonstrated incapacity for truthfulness and recollection of important information should not be exposed to delicate security information.

It will be interesting to see whether the same issues arise for Libby or others. Was there a similar lack of candour on the part of others or is it only Rove in this situation? Does he stick out like a sore thumb to Fitzgerald or are there a bunch of offenders he's got his eye on? Questions, questions, and more questions...

Friday, October 07, 2005

That's a shame

Bush approval rating at 37%: CBS Poll: Bottom Drops Out for President, and 6 in 10 Want Out of Iraq, Now.

Krauthammer joins Kristol in the withdrawal camp

"Withdraw This Nominee" in the Post today:
There are 1,084,504 lawyers in the United States. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them, other than her connection with the president? To have selected her, when conservative jurisprudence has J. Harvie Wilkinson, Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell and at least a dozen others on a bench deeper than that of the New York Yankees, is scandalous.

It will be argued that this criticism is elitist. But this is not about the Ivy League. The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence.
Leading conservatives are lining up against her: Will, Kristol, now Krauthammer. If a conservative Republican Senator follows shortly, the Miers nomination will be in serious jeopardy.

Rove & Libby contradict each other?

So says the New York Daily News in" Rove on the hot seat":
A former CIA official familiar with the investigation told the Daily News there are contradictions in the testimony of Rove and Vice President Cheney's top aide, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, two of the administration's heaviest hitters.
And there's this opinion offered on fourth appearance before the grand jury:
Impartial legal observers, however, described Rove's eleventh-hour return to the grand jury as an ominous development.

"It would cause me great concern if my client, at the end of an investigation, got called in a fourth time to testify," said Solomon Wisenberg, a former deputy to independent counsel Ken Starr.

"It sounds like Rove may be closer to being indicted. There's no way somebody in Rove's position would go in a fourth time unless he was trying to save his own professional skin," he added.
The article also states that several "callers" told the Daily News on Wednesday that "a multicount indictment was being readied." Things sound like they are about to go from bad to worse for the Rovians...

The big news of the day

making news again: Rove Ordered to Talk Again in Leak Inquiry. Some are speculating he will sing like a bird. Or perhaps cop a plea bargain. Lots of theories. We live in interesting times.
The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has summoned Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to return next week to testify to a federal grand jury in a step that could mean charges will be filed in the case, lawyers in the case said Thursday.
And the original statute that most have assumed was applicable, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, does not appear to be the likely focus of any charges that may result. Fitzgerald appears to be pursuing the conspiracy aspect, also raised in the Washington Post this past week:
Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on whether there was a deliberate effort to retaliate against Mr. Wilson for his column and its criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Recently lawyers said that they believed the prosecutor may be applying new legal theories to bring charges in the case.

One new approach appears to involve the possible use of Chapter 37 of the federal espionage and censorship law, which makes it a crime for anyone who "willfully communicates, delivers, transfers or causes to be communicated" to someone "not entitled to receive it" classified information relating the national defense matters.

Under this broad statute, a government official or a private citizen who passed classified information to anyone else in or outside the government could potentially be charged with a felony, if they transferred the information to someone without a security clearance to receive it.
Whether this is Ari Fleischer's potentially passing on the contents of the infamous State Department memo which referenced Valerie Wilson's covert status - a classified matter so identified in the memo - on to Rove, Libby et al., we shall see...

And finally, word from the legal camps is not good:
Several lawyers who have been involved in the case expressed surprise and concern over the recent turn of events and are increasingly convinced that Mr. Fitzgerald could be poised to charge someone with a crime for discussing with journalists the identity of a C.I.A. officer.
"Surprise" and "concern"..."concern" I understand, expressing "surprise" I do not. A subtle way of perhaps publicly influencing Fitzgerald's decision right to the end, I suspect.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg rides the subway after his press conference advising the city of the threat to the subway system. Good for him.

Miers nomination is now a battle

Bill Kristol is not pulling any punches on this one, evidence here:
... Mr. Kristol said it was "not out of the question" that Ms. Miers could withdraw.

"She did not come to Washington to be a Supreme Court justice," he said in a telephone interview as he drove to Richmond, Va. "And she could well decide that this is hurting the president, and could continue to hurt the president, and that the best thing to do would be to step aside and go back to serving the president and let him make another pick."
Trying to get the nominee herself to drop out. Nice. The arrogance that comes through in this quote is almost offensive, even for those of us who are actually enjoying this spectacle. The conservative consigliere advising the nice lady she had no rightful claim to such a power position in the first place, to stay in her place - "go back to serving the president" - and everyone will be happy.

The muscle is being flexed by conservative leaders in the Senate as well:
Amid uproar among conservatives over the candidacy of Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court, one of the most ardent abortion opponents in the Senate said Thursday that Ms. Miers had not persuaded him to vote to confirm her.

The senator, Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, told reporters that in an hourlong meeting with him, Ms. Miers had steered clear of discussing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to abortion, and had done little to assure him that she would be open to revisiting or overturning that case.

"No promises were made either way," Mr. Brownback said. He said he would consider voting against the nomination, even if President Bush made a personal plea for his support.

Asked if he was impressed with Ms. Miers, Mr. Brownback paused, and then offered a careful reply: "She's a very decent lady."
Once again, the condescension could not be more apparent. The optics on this are not good for the Republicans. It looks like the conservative faithful are trying to muscle out this "decent lady" in the hopes of getting some professed right wing hardliner to be nominated instead. She's certainly not any less qualified than Clarence Thomas was. What's getting them is the lack of commitment from her on Roe and abortion. And since John Roberts didn't provide this commitment, at least, not that most of us know about, why it's something to hang her with seems to smack of a double standard. And since she's a woman, their posturing is all the more troubling. These guys are likely going to turn off a lot of women voters with their truculent demands that Roe be condemned by this nominee. And so, I wish them well as they continue on this course over the next few weeks...

So sad: another headache for Karl, in Texas

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "CREW Announces New Complaint Filed Against Karl Rove...":
Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced that Frances Lovett, a registered voter in Kerr County, Texas, sent a complaint this week to Kerr County District Attorney, E. Bruce Curry, urging an investigation into whether Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush, violated Texas state law by illegally registering as a voter in Kerr County, despite never residing there.
Just what our man needs right now...a little legal karma coming right back at him...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Dick "Out of the Loop" Cheney

Interesting little exchange between Chris Matthews and Howard Dean on Hardball :
MATTHEWS: If Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, says that the vice president's office was involved in leaking the name of that CIA agent, do you believe — what do you think his status would be, the vice president, if his office was named to be involved in this?

DEAN: Well, I think that depends on what kind of evidence there is, if that's true. Obviously, the person, I think, who's indicted would have to step down immediately. And then we'd have to ask the question, was the vice president himself personally involved in this? And that of course extends the —

MATTHEWS: Do you believe it's credible that the vice president's chief of staff, his office, his operation, were involved in such a scheme to hurt somebody like Joe Wilson, that he wasn't personally involved in his own office's activities? Do you think it's credible?

DEAN: Sure — well, I don't think it's very credible that he didn't know anything about it, because the MO of the Bush administration is to discredit your opponents and attack them personally rather than attack them for their position, which this is an example of.

These guys are bad for democracy. They're not interested in ideas; they're interested in power. And frankly they're not very much interested in the best interests of the American people. They're interested in the power for the right wing of the Republican Party, and that's why they'll be gone after 2006.
Interesting not so much for Dean's answers which are careful and a bit convoluted but for the way Matthews frames the questions. Sounds like the precursor to a likely defence to come from the VP's office. Imagine, Cheney was out of the loop.

Karl Rove watch: see Luskin clam up

Editor and Publisher has a reminder today about the possibility of news on indictments for our man and others possibly involved in the outing of Valerie Wilson. Quoting Reuters:
"As a first step, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was expected to notify officials by letter if they have become targets, said the lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

"Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to say whether his client had been contacted by Fitzgerald. In the past, Luskin has said that Rove was assured that he was not a target.

"[I. Lewis] Libby's lawyer was not immediately available to comment."

We shall see soon enough...

A fine mess you've made, Jr.!

Watching the conservative right in disarray is such a treat these days, an encouraging development since over the past five years it's been only Democrats who seemed capable of self-implosion. The world is righting itself, grasshopper. Details on who's currently dissing the nomination are here . Here's former Republican Senate Majority leader Trent Lott:
"There are a lot more people - men, women and minorities - that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, told MSNBC on Wednesday. "Right now, I'm not satisfied with what I know. I'm not comfortable with the nomination, so we'll just have to work through the process."
Payback's a bitch, ain't it W? You went with Frist in taking over Lott's fiefdom and now you're getting "Lottsa" comeuppance in return. It's at times like these you find out who your real friends are...

And apparently Dr. Dobson may have misunderstood whatever private assurances he claims to have received from or others at the White House on Miers' views. Pat Leahy went right to Miers on this and here's what Leahy claims she had to say:
Democrats, delighted by the division on the right, pushed Ms. Miers to repudiate assurances about her views that the administration has reportedly made through private conversations or closed conference calls with conservatives. "No Supreme Court nomination should be conducted by winks and nods," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Referring to statements by the evangelical conservative James C. Dobson that he had been given confidential information about Ms. Miers's views, Mr. Leahy said: "I asked her about that specifically. I said, 'Has anybody been authorized to speak on your behalf or have you spoken to anybody about how you would vote?' She assured me, 'Absolutely not.'

"I said, 'Would you disavow anybody who send out assurances that they know how you would vote?' She said, 'Absolutely.' "
This should really drive the wing nuts batty. First of all, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when Karl Rove talks with James Dobson? Secondly, if anyone at the White House, like Rove, gave Dobson or anyone else private assurances on how she would vote, Miers is disavowing it, as well she should.

As we all know by now, what with the "internets" being abuzz with the rumours, our man Karl is allegedly on the eve of indictment, so it would be entirely possible that he's not on his game at the moment. Indeed some are suggesting he's been removed from the field of play itself, so whatever Dr. Dobson is peddling may be a product of the discombobulated White House of the moment. Without Rove, apparently it's a house of cards.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A taste of Dowd today

"All the President's Women" is her theme today:
I hope President Bush doesn't have any more office wives tucked away in the White House.

There are only so many supremely powerful jobs to give to women who are not qualified to get them.
Condi Rice, Karen Hughes, Harriet Miers...Dowd has zeroed in on the odd coincidence of so many "bachelorette" women in W's Presidency who have devoted substantial parts of their lives to his career advancement. In her words, "... W. loves being surrounded by tough women who steadfastly devote their entire lives to doting on him, like the vestal virgins guarding the sacred fire, serving as custodians for his values and watchdogs for his reputation." Pretty tough words. Humourous, in the spirit of the pile on these days. And very cleverly written, as always. But I must say, if these were men I'm sure there would not be any attention drawn to their devotion to their candidate.

With this column, Dowd gives a big assist to the growing characterization of the Miers appointment as a patronage reward...

George Will tears W a new one

Ouch, George Will's column today in the Washington Post,"Can This Nomination Be Justified?", provides more evidence the nomination is in trouble:
It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.
Will also concurs with the "crony" aspect of the Miers choice, stating that she should not be confirmed:
...unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.
The verdict on Miers is far from in. There is plenty of blood in the water and plenty of sharks from both right and left circling. Echoes of the days prior to Brownie's exit from FEMA...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

You have to watch this

Watch Dick "Scarface" Cheney on Crooks and Liars. Hilarious.

Brian Pallister: WTF?

Singing Pink Floyd in the House of Commons. They get the ball rolling with a decent issue and they still manage to f*#! it up...


Billmon on reaction to the Miers nomination:
Meanwhile the hardcore Bush loyalists kinda have their backs pressed up against the wall, with big, round, white eyes -- like a bunch of guards in an asylum for the violently insane who've just realized the Thorazine shots aren't working any more.

Miers: Brownie lite

Well you've gotta hand it to W. The crony inclinations don't die easily with this guy. Even after the rough ride he just endured with old pal Brownie. Now while Miers is certainly not in the same league as the uber-crony, Brownie, let's call her a Brownie of the "lite" persuasion.

She's certainly a crony, that's for sure. She met W in the 80's in Texas and latched on to that last name. She's been with him ever since. She even calls him "brilliant" according to David Frum. So she's got the crony aspect down pat, in spades.

As to her qualifications, usually lacking in a Brownie hack...she's certainly somewhat qualified for the Supreme Court but as many have pointed out, like David Gergen, she was not at the top of anyone's list. A solid litigator for over 20 years, rising to lead her city and state bar associations and becoming managing partner of a Texas law firm are admirable accomplishments for a lawyer, let alone a woman lawyer from her generation. But from the reaction of the day, she certainly isn't considered to be a leading light, let alone one of the great legal minds of the day. So unlike Brownie, she is somewhat qualified for the job. So what we have here is a Brownie lite.

On to some other points raised in today's discussion of Miers...

I don't agree with the point made by David Frum on his blog and by other conservatives that with a 55 member majority of Republicans in the Senate that this would be sufficient to allow Bush to appoint a Scalia or Thomas-like justice. That this is a missed opportunity to reset the direction of the Court in a more conservative fashion. Bush doesn't really have that opportunity now. The Republicans in the northeast were making noises over the weekend about having a hard look at the next nominee, subjecting him or her to a greater degree of scrutiny on issues than was Roberts. Chafee and Collins were quoted to this effect. Throw in Snowe and things get a little less certain than your 55.

I also tend to agree with a point made by Susan Estrich tonight. Regarding the conventional wisdom that has quickly sprung up that even though Miers' views are not widely known, Bush must know them as he's spent a lot of time with her over the years. She was his personal attorney in Texas, he appointed her to a state position in Texas (why not the Texas bench then? no foresight Junior?), she came on board the White House, etc., etc., etc. So conservatives should trust Bush that he knows her views. Estrich's point was essentially this: does anyone really think Bush is the kind of guy who sits around debating the leading constitutional and legal issues of the day with his White House staff? A President renowned for being anti-intellectual and prideful in being a gut instinct kind of guy? It just doesn't jive. Intellectual curiosity is not something for which this President is known. So it's unlikely he actually does know her views and liberals should be glad for it. If I were a conservative voter in the U.S. who had gone to the polls for this reason, like many evangelical Christians who turned out in record numbers for Bush, I think I'd be a little peeved. It's a risk he has taken for the '06 elections but who knows, maybe is actually wishing in his deep black heart for a Democratic Congress, as it might be the best thing to happen to Bush given his rock bottom approval ratings now.

As for me, as I've said before, Clinton appointed his two justices of a liberal persuasion and they both passed the Senate with strong votes. So like it or not, Bush should get the same opportunity. And if he chooses a Brownie lite, a less than stellar pick, then it'll only reflect upon him for, say, the next 20 years or so. Looks good on ya W!

Monday, October 03, 2005

It's about time

CBC News: CBC, Canadian Media Guild reach memorandum of agreement. I was getting a little tired of the one channel monopoly (Global doesn't count). Count Floyd is OK and all, but they just don't cover enough news in that broadcast. 10 minutes and you're done. And what's with Robert Fife's hair colour of late? Borrowed some dye left over from Craig Oliver, now that he's not dying his remnants anymore? Why do men do this to themselves? It can look ridiculous. Who's next to show up with red hair, Mike Duffy?


Saw this: Harriet Miers's Blog!!! on firedoglake and had to pass it on. Comic genius.

Hey there Scooter

Washington politico most likely to have a big week...

Time adds some details on Miller deal

Time's Oct. 2 issue contains some new details, mostly background type, to Miller's deal.

On the scope of her deal:
In his deal with Miller, the prosecutor agreed to limit the scope of her testimony before the grand jury, focusing only on the reporter's conversations with sources about Plame, according to her lawyer Bennett. Miller wanted to rule out of bounds any questions about her reporting on WMD, a lawyer involved in the case told TIME.
So the idea that her deal with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had limited questions to Libby and only Libby appears not to be true if Time has it correct. The scope of questioning appears to be much greater than thought and could extend to and perhaps others.

And some interesting details on why Libby reached out now and provided Miller the assurance she needed on the voluntariness of his waiver, there's this:
Miller had spent nearly two months in jail on civil contempt-of-court charges when negotiations between the two camps resumed. Another Miller lawyer, Robert Bennett, picked up the phone on Aug. 31 to call Tate. Bennett told TIME that the Miller camp had received an indication from a third party that it might be a good time to approach Libby with a new request to personally waive the confidentiality agreement.
And also on this point:
Pressure had been growing on Libby from G.O.P. lawmakers to take whatever steps necessary to free Miller from her imprisonment.
This still really doesn't explain the "why now" aspect to Libby agreeing to this "full" waiver, especially if his story ( according to his own personal pen letter to Miller) is that Miller's testimony would help him. Seems to me he was feeling the heat from Fitzgerald more than anything. And it seems ludicrous to be even discussing the notion that Libby had the freedom to decide when and how he would grant Miller the same fully voluntary waiver he had given others. I wonder how this stalling and the failure of those such as Libby to heed Bush's own public (at least) instructions for his White Houe to fully cooperate has factored into Fitzgerald's investigation.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Red Sox in wild card

Yes, perhaps an odd photo but somehow it seems appropriate for today in light of the news that there could be criminal conspiracy charges coming from U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald out of the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Wilson...

The C Words: Conspiracy & Cheney

We see some potentially big news today about where U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald might be heading in his CIA leak investigation and it is the Washington Post today which perhaps moves the ball a little further down the field...

The first "c" word we're hearing now is "conspiracy." Here's what the report is in the Post:
Many lawyers in the case have been skeptical that Fitzgerald has the evidence to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which is the complicated crime he first set out to investigate, and which requires showing that government officials knew an operative had covert status and intentionally leaked the operative's identity.

But a new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose. (emphasis added)
First of all, my reaction is that this would be pretty earth shaking if it were to happen. Whether it will, let's wait and see. But a conspiracy charge would explain the length of the investigation in terms of the need to look at a number of actors potentially involved and the need for Fitzgerald to take the time to ensure he has a case. A criminal conspiracy emanating from the White House? Better be pretty sure about that, given its monumental implications.

Now why is this appearing in Sunday's Washington Post? It is "two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case" who suggest that conspiracy is where Fitzgerald might be going. I take it that this is due to possible plea bargaining discussions that might have been going on between the lawyers and Fitzgerald. How else would they have this impression and why else would they have had extensive discussions with him? He hasn't been talking to anybody. So if that is the case, that they are plea bargaining, this would explain a few things. Namely the White House, as most agree, being "off its game" of late, occupying perhaps Libby & Rove's time.

This is also likely to tick off Fitzgerald to have a leak such as this to the Washington Post, practically daring him to bring it on this coming week. What does leaking this information accomplish? Give them some control of the reporting of it, deflate the impact of his announcement? Or are these lawyers not involved in plea bargaining at all and simply speculating...

I must say, as well, this article is pretty carefully and intricately crafted in terms of building the case for conspiracy. Prior to mentioning the possibility of a conspiracy charge, the reporters are careful to set out what Libby's account of his involvement was:
Libby, a central figure in the probe since its earliest days and the vice president's main counselor, discussed Plame with at least two reporters but testified that he never mentioned her name or her covert status at the CIA, according to lawyers in the case.
...and then setting out story:
His story is similar to that of Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser. Rove, who was not an initial focus of the investigation, testified that he, too, talked with two reporters about Plame but never supplied her name or CIA role.
Apparently, Rove and Libby neatly have the same stories. The article then points out this fact:
Their testimony seems to contradict what the White House was saying a few months after Plame's CIA job became public.

In October 2003, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that he personally asked Libby and Rove whether they were involved, "so I could come back to you and say they were not involved." Asked if that was a categorical denial of their involvement, he said, "That is correct."
The characterization of Libby's & Rove's alleged testimony in the article subtly suggests a possible obstruction element, especially when placed in direct contrast to the White House's public utterings of innocence via McLellan. The claims that Rove & Libby were not involved may have pointed Fitzgerald in the direction of a conspiracy given this private-public discrepancy of stories...

And while many still share the prediction put forth by another lawyer, here:
Other lawyers in the case surmise Fitzgerald does not have evidence of any crime at all and put Miller in jail simply to get her testimony and finalize the investigation. "Even assuming . . . that somebody decided to answer back a critic, that is politics, not criminal behavior," said one lawyer in the case. This lawyer said the most benign outcome would be Fitzgerald announcing that he completed a thorough investigation, concluded no crime was committed and would not issue a report.
This opinion ignores that the "politics" involved here had the effect of outing a CIA undercover operative, thereby exposing her contacts, cover operations, and cover itself to the world. Whether this caused significant damage is likely to have been the subject of a CIA damage assessment report. This could have been information supplied to the judge who ordered & Cooper's testimony and if it is as damaging as many think, the view that all Libby & Rove are guilty of is "political" behaviour is a hard one to maintain. Again, we'll wait and see.

Finally, the second "C," Dick Cheney. I'm sure others may notice this - the article's inclusion of Cheney in the reporting is somewhat new. I have not really noticed, until now, his being characterized as an active participant in the reporting on events in question. But here, in this article, it's "Cheney's staff" now who are reported to have been looking into Wilson. It's Cheney who started making inquiries of the CIA as to how Wilson came to be sent to Niger. It's "Cheney and Libby" who were involved in building the case for the Iraq war. All of a sudden, there are references to Cheney in the mix, beyond Libby who has thus far been the front man in a lot of these reports. A subtle and perhaps inconsequential thing to notice? Or a significant one that portends a conspiracy charge that rises higher than most expected?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bush "Left Behind"

Photo AFP chose today to illustrate the story currently dogging the White House on their illegal use of propaganda to sell their education initiative, "No Child Left Behind." Essentially, the story is this:
Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.

The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities.
It's hard to keep up with the GOP these days, what with the daily scandals emanating out of this White House and Republicans in Congress like DeLay, Frist, et al. A blog can almost write itself at times like this.

Lighter, happier news from Friday