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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Winning Hearts and Minds

Mission accomplished:

Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph. Less than 1 percent of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security, according to poll figures. Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops.

Write Your Own Caption

The Bush-Cheney Divide

There have been rumors swirling around regarding a possible civil war being waged among the White House staff; add this to list of supportive evidence: While Andrew Card suddenly canceled a fundraiser to join Bush at Camp David (to discuss Plamegate fallout strategy?), it's business as usual for Dick Cheney in Missouri.

Ah, Memories... The Gravity of Such Crimes, Circa 1998

Representative Henry Hyde:

Today the committee holds an oversight hearing on the consequences of perjury and related crimes, like subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, misprision and criminal contempt. All of these crimes thwart the proper workings of the justice system.

We hold this hearing because Rule 10 of the House of Representatives requires us to exercise continuing oversight over the -- quote -- "application, administration, execution and effectiveness" -- close quote -- of the laws under our jurisdiction.

Of particular relevance here, we have jurisdiction over the judicial system and the criminal code. Commentators of all types have fiercely debated the gravity of these crimes in recent months.

Otherwise responsible and thoughtful people have argued they are not so serious -- particularly when they occur in civil case or when they relate to hiding private sexual matters.

Indeed, some have even suggested that being a gentleman requires one to lie under oath about sex. By their very nature, these kinds of crimes attack the integrity of the judicial system. Indeed, that's why they are crimes.

To argue that in certain instances these crimes mean little is to say that our judicial system means little. I reject that notion.

Two More Republican Officials Indicted

The Lexington Herald reports:
A Kentucky Republican Party official, whom Gov. Ernie Fletcher let have a Capitol office and taxpayer-funded secretary, and another party official were indicted Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit political discrimination. State GOP Treasurer Dave Disponett, who is also on the state Board of Elections, and Bowling Green attorney J. Marshall Hughes were indicted on misdemeanor charges for allegedly plotting with administration officials and others to base rank-and-file personnel decisions on candidates' political affiliations.

GAO Report Finds Flaws In Electronic Voting

I'm shocked:

Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) computer systems that fail to encrypt data files containing cast votes, allowing them to be viewed or modified without detection by internal auditing systems; (2) systems that could allow individuals to alter ballot definition files so that votes cast for one candidate are counted for another; and (3) weak controls that allowed the alteration of memory cards used in optical scan machines, potentially impacting election results.

Countdown: Imminent Indictments?

Keith Olbermann covers the latest Plamegate developments, particularly the significance of Fitz's new web site (video).

Woman of Mass Destruction

By Maureen Dowd

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times's seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.

She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."

Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that Senator Bob Graham, now retired, dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.

Even last April, when I wrote a column critical of Mr. Chalabi, she fired off e-mail to me defending him.

When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D. issues. But he acknowledged in The Times's Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?

Judy admitted in the story that she "got it totally wrong" about W.M.D. "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography.

The Times's story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said yesterday in an e-mail note to the staff, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.

She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.

She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.

It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."

An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.

Judy refused to answer a lot of questions put to her by Times reporters, or show the notes that she shared with the grand jury. I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Read the rest...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Plamegate Falsehoods

Via Media Matters:

False: It is legally significant whether the leakers disclosed Plame's name in their conversations with reporters.

False: Wilson said that Cheney sent him to Niger.

False: Plame suggested Wilson for the trip to Niger.

False: Wilson was not qualified to investigate the Niger claims.

False: Plame's CIA employment was widely known.

False: Fitzgerald must prove that Plame's covert status was leaked.

False: Fitzgerald's investigation was originally limited to possible violation of 1982 law.

False: Leak investigation is the result of partisan motivations.

False: Leaks go on all the time in Washington.

The Road To Damascus

For reasons unbeknownst to us mere peasants in the Neocon kingdom of power and fortune, not Iran, but Syria appears to be the next target:
President Bush on Friday said the U.N. should deal quickly and seriously with a report implicating Syria in the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, a killing that led to protests and withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after nearly 30 years as overlord. "The report strongly suggests that the politically motivated assassination could not have taken place without Syrian involvement," Bush said.

Turd Blossomed

Is Rove really this much off his game, or is he steps ahead as usual?
Until this week, "the news media did it" was a standard defense among Republicans trying to protect the Bush administration from the political fallout of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. Loyalists said that even if White House aides had passed on information, they didn't get it from classified sources and were simply repeating what they heard from journalists.

The Internets Have Been Eerily Quiet Today...

The calm before the storm?

Don't Read Too Much Into This One Either...

The Providence Journal reports:
A Rhode Island Republican Party fundraiser scheduled for tonight featuring Andrew H. Card, White House chief of staff, has been canceled because Card is spending the weekend with President Bush at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Patricia Morgan, Republican state chairwoman, said yesterday. [...] "All we know is that the White House called and said he had to be with the president," Morgan said. "He needs to be at Camp David this weekend."

Fitz's New Web Site

Scooped by Froomkin:

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has just launched his own brand-new Web site.

Could it be that he's getting ready to release some new legal documents? Like, maybe, some indictments? It's certainly not the action of an office about to fold up its tents and go home.

Fitzgerald spokesman Randall Samborn minimized the significance of the Web launch in an interview this morning.

"I would strongly caution, Dan, against reading anything into it substantive, one way or the other," he said. "It's really a long overdue effort to get something on the Internet to answer a lot of questions that we get . . . and to put up some of the documents that we have had ongoing and continued interest in having the public be able to access."

OK, OK. But will the Web site be used for future documents as well?

"The possibility exists," Samborn said.

"Syria Must Be Held Accountable"

Putting ideological debates aside as to whether or not our nation should police the globe, what right does the White House have to make demands of the international community. Have they not yet realized giving the world the proverbial middle finger does in fact have it's consequences?

The international community must find a way to hold Syrian authorities accountable for the death of a leading Lebanese reformer, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday. Rice said she was deeply troubled by a U.N. report implicating Syria in the killing last February of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Rice spoke to reporters after the release of a report by U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis that established a clear link between Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies in Hariri's murder. She declined to discuss next steps, beyond saying that some kind of international mechanism must be established to ensure that Syria is held accountable.

Your Morning Traitorgate Fix...

Larry Johnson: Dick Cheney's Covert Action

James Moore: The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

New York Times: Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry

Washington Post: A Palpable Silence at the White House

William Rivers Pitt: Diary of a Plamegate Junkie

The Daily Show: Reconstructing Harriet

Stewart is as informed and hilarious as usual, as he covers the latest on George's little crony (video).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

White House Concerned With Image Over New Abuse Charges

While under ideal circumstances - ideal being: having an administration in the White House that has respect for human rights and international law - I would be disgusted that the primary concern for said administration is political fallout. But in light of the last 5 years of mind numbing arrogance, the current administration's relatively prompt concern with their image being tarnished by more human rights violations, it is rather quaint:
In the midst of a public diplomacy campaign to repair the U.S. image abroad, the Bush administration on Thursday tried to stem the fallout from the fresh abuse allegations as Islamic clerics expressed outrage and warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash. The U.S. military declared the abuse "repugnant" and vowed to investigate, while the State Department directed U.S. embassies to say the actions don't reflect American values.

Two Traitors

One less than forthcoming and possibly caught in a lie:
New York Times reporter Judith Miller told the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case that she might have met with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby on June 23, 2003 only after prosecutors showed her Secret Service logs that indicated she and Libby had indeed met that day in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, according to attorneys familiar with her testimony.
And the other most likely being hung out to dry:
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald now knows that Libby met three times with a New York Times reporter before the leak of Plame's identity, initiated a call to NBC's Tim Russert and was a confirming source about Wilson's wife for a Time magazine reporter. And in a new twist, presidential political adviser Karl Rove has testified that it's possible Libby was his source before Rove talked to two reporters about the CIA operative.

Write Your Own Caption

Rice Under Fire Over Iraq Strategy...

Or more accurately, lack there of:

"We have to level with the American people," said George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Voinovich read the letter from a father whose son died in Iraq. "In the spirit of helping you gauge public opinion, it's important to tell you that we do not consider the American mission in Iraq noble at all," the father wrote. The father asked Congress to end funding for the "misguided effort that does not speak well for America."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Rice that the American public is "sick at heart at the spin and false expectations. They want the truth, and they deserve it." Putting up a chart, Boxer cited Vice President Cheney's comment in May that the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes," then showed the spike in violent attacks since then.

Although Democrats have long challenged U.S. Iraq policy, Republican senators were also expressing concern. Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said the administration can no longer assume that creating democratic institutions in Iraq in the short term will diminish the insurgency, which could have long-term implications.


As Rice testified, former U.S. diplomat Mary Ann Wright stood up and shouted from the audience, "Stop the killing in Iraq. You and Congress have to be responsible." Wright, a senior envoy in the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan and Mongolia, resigned in protest in 2003.


Is it really that hard for the press to fathom that the same administration that would drum up the case for an unnecessary war - costing thousands of lives, would also sink so low as to out an undercover agent for political purposes?
No one disputes that Bush officials negligently and stupidly revealed Valerie Plame's undercover status. But after two years of digging, no evidence has emerged that anyone who worked for Bush and talked to reporters about Plame -- namely Rove or Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff -- knew she was undercover. And as nasty as they might be, it's not really thinkable that they would have known. You need a pretty low opinion of people in the White House to imagine they would knowingly foster the possible assassination of CIA assets in other countries for the sake of retaliation against someone who wrote an op-ed they didn't like in the New York Times.
A pretty low opinion is needed you say... Mission accomplished.

Political Theatre

While most of the world can agree that Saddam is a "very bad man" and deserves to be punished, his trial is going to be viewed as a poorly written one-act play:

Several said the most positive aspect of the trial for crimes against humanity was that it was quickly adjourned, an indication of the extent of their concerns. "We have our fair trial reservations," said Miranda Sissons, a senior associate with the International Center for Transitional Justice, which offers help to countries dealing with past abuses.


"I was troubled to see the prosecutor make what was effectively a lengthy, pretty political statement that wasn't necessarily legally grounded," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice program. "It didn't appear that the defense lawyers, the accused, the prosecutor and the judge were all operating from the same playbook in terms of the rules of the session," he told Reuters.

My contention is not that this is unfair to the accused, but rather that it is unfair to the countless victims. Ironically, the trivial manner in which this trial is being staged, does nothing but diminish the crimes against humanity for which it serves to bring justice to.

"Cheney Cabal Hijacked US Foreign Policy"

Via the Financial Times:

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran. It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions. "If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran."

Conservative Compassion: Save the Rich First

Neal Boortz (audio):

OK, now here's the story. And it says, "The Homeland Security Department launched internal probes yesterday into whether its officials tipped off friends and relatives to a possible subway terror plot days before average New Yorkers were alerted." So the real gripe here is that it seems that some wealthy people got notified of the terror plot before the great unwashed, before the others. Now, the Daily News in New York has a headline: "Rich got terror tip." Rich got terror tip. OK, let's get logical about this, folks. Let's play logic with this. This is as it should be. OK? If we are faced with disaster in this country -- let me ask you this, OK? You just be logical. Get all of the emotion out of this. Get all of the emotion out of this. But if we are faced with a disaster in this country, which group do we want to save? The rich or the poor? Now, if you have time, save as many people as you can. But if you have to set some priorities, where do you go? The rich or the poor? OK? Who is a drag on society? The rich or the poor? Who provide the jobs out there? The rich or the poor? Who fuels -- you know, which group fuels our economy? Drives industry? The rich or the poor? Now if you -- all of a sudden, somebody walks up to you and says, "Hey, Boortz listener. You're gonna have a -- you have to make a choice. You're going to -- we're gonna move you to another country. And you're just gonna have to make your way in this other country. We have a choice of two countries for you. In this country, people achieve a lot and they are wealthy because of their hard work. In this country, people don't achieve squat. They sit around all the time waiting for somebody else to take care of them. They have children they can't afford. They're uneducated. They can barely read. And the high point of their day is Entertainment Tonight on TV. Which country do you want to live in? The country of the high achievers, or the country of sheep, the country of followers?" You know what you're gonna do. I don't see what the big problem is. I just don't. I mean, if you -- who do I want to save first? The rich. Save the poor first. Then, when everything's over, where are you gonna go for a job? OK, hey, if I get a tin cup, can I sit next to you and sell pencils too?


I'm serious about that, folks. You see, that's the kind of thing that's going to end up in news stories: "Neal Boortz said that in times of disaster we should save the rich people first." Well, hell, yes, we should save the rich people first. You know, they're the ones that are responsible for this prosperity. I mean, you go out there and you look at this vast sea of evacuees, OK? You want to get an economy going in some city? Well, who you gonna take back? The people who own businesses? Or the people that sit around waiting to get their minimum wage job, work 'til Friday, get a paycheck and then not show up again until the following Wednesday? Come on. Just put a little logical thought into this, folks.

The Most Insidious of Traitors

So says, Papa Bush:
Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Naughty Harry

By Maureen Dowd

I was just coming to grips with the idea that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't need to have any experience for the job.

Now it turns out that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't even need to always be a lawyer in good standing.

Harriet Miers shared a little secret about herself on her application to be an associate justice: "Earlier this year, I received notice that my dues for the District of Columbia bar were delinquent and as a result, my ability to practice law in D.C. had been suspended."

Did that little dog on the birthday card she sent W. eat her dues?

Ms. Miers, then the White House counsel, remedied the situation after she got the letter. But weren't the Bush spinners making a case for her by reporting that she was really great at managing the paper flow when she was the president's staff secretary?

Now we discover that she could be such a scatterbrain about paperwork that a little tiny thing like being able to legally practice law slipped her mind while she was serving as the lawyer for the leader of the free world?

There was another odd, unfocused episode with the Republican senator Arlen Specter this week. He said that he and Ms. Miers had talked privately on Monday and that she had expressed support for two Supreme Court rulings that established a right to privacy and are viewed as the foundation for Roe v. Wade.

Before Ms. Miers could even forget her bar dues again, the White House said that Senator Specter was mistaken, and Ms. Miers called to tell him so. Mr. Specter was willing to say he'd misunderstood, and will surely want to clear all this up in the hearings.

But maybe he'll wind up sticking by his earlier statement: "She needs a crash course in constitutional law."

The White House gambits to soothe the wrath of the right and flesh out the views of Ms. Miers, in lieu of an actual judicial record, are creating more confusion. In order to sell her, officials had to expose her by sending her anti-abortion positions from 1989 to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She's on record as favoring one of the most restrictive positions on abortion: "actively" supporting a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal except when the mother is actually about to die (never mind if her health might be severely impaired or she's a victim of rape or incest).

When she was running for City Council in Dallas, Ms. Miers answered yes to all the questions from Texans United for Life, an anti-abortion group, elaborating on only one: whether she would vote to keep anyone who supported abortion rights out of city jobs dealing with health issues. After saying yes, she added "to the extent pro-life views are relevant."

"The answers clearly reflect that Harriet Miers is opposed to Roe v. Wade," Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said. "This raises very serious concerns about her ability to fairly apply the law without bias in this regard."

With Karl Rove on grand jury watch and Dick Cheney snugly tucked into his underground bunker, W. and Andy Card are in control, and the West Wing ineptitude is comic.

First the White House tried to make Ms. Miers seem more conservative by peddling her pedigree as a member of an ultraconservative evangelical church to its right-wing base. When injecting religion into the hearings backfired, officials started backpedaling and saying she shouldn't be asked about her faith, even though the president himself had said that her faith was a big part of her appeal.

Then when her draconian views on abortion came out, the White House immediately tried to assuage the left. The White House flack Scott McClellan turned on his fog machine, saying, "The role of a judge is very different from the role of a candidate or a political officeholder."

Mr. McClellan's answers about the questionnaire were opaque, but were meant to leave the impression that a Justice Miers might view abortion differently than the candidate Miers.

That's very interesting, since the president cited her constancy as one of her chief attractions, implying, to quell conservative worries, that she would not be another David Souter.

"I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today," W. said.

Some Democrats who have interviewed her recently have failed to see in her the intellectual rigor that W. saw and find her résumé so thin that it would not even earn a "Heavy Hitter" profile in The American Lawyer magazine. Answering the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, she said that in her two years on the City Council she dealt with such weighty constitutional issues as ... zoning.

Read the rest...


Don't delay, print this out and put it on your fridge.

Hardball: Indictments Imminent?

The saga of speculation continues, get your fix to take the edge off (video).

Timing Is Everything

George may get into a wee bit of trouble over this statement, from October 7, 2003:
I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.
For more information, read the post over at Anonymous Liberal, The Talent Show, and Mark Kleiman.

Bye-Bye DeLay

Apparently, not only can a "ham sandwich" be indicted, but it can be arrested as well:
A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid. Bail was initially set at $10,000 as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking. [...] DeLay is charged with conspiracy to violate state election laws and money laundering, felony counts that triggered House Republican rules that forced him to step aside as majority leader.
Hey, you learn something everyday.

No Sacred Cows With Fitzgerald

Are all the rumors of indictments for Cheney and Rove, and dare we say Bush as well, pure speculation and media hysteria; or could Fitzgerald really be aiming for the top? If his past record is any reliable indication, he is indeed setting his sights high:

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has prosecuted mobsters, terrorists and even journalists. He has investigated and charged state and city officials in this notoriously crooked state with pit bull tenacity. And always, he has methodically, inexorably pursued his investigations to target the man at the top of the organizational pyramid.


His investigation is continuing and senior White House staffers, including top presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been implicated in the leak, which may have contravened federal law that prohibits the identification of a CIA agent. People who have watched Mr. Fitzgerald operate in Chicago, and before that as assistant U.S. Attorney in New York City, are not surprised by his zeal in pursuing the journalists. But don't expect him to stop there. That's how he operates: Apply maximum pressure to reluctant witnesses in order to build an air-tight case against the most senior member of a criminal conspiracy.


"You get the sense that there are absolutely no sacred cows with him. He aims straight for the top."

Spanish Judge Issues Arrest Warrants To US Troops

More troops about to take the fall for following Bushco's corrupt war policies:
A Spanish High Court judge issued international arrest warrants on Wednesday for three U.S. soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish cameraman during the war in Iraq. [...] The United States has cleared the men of any blame, although it acknowledges a shell was fired from their tank into the Palestine Hotel where Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk were killed. A U.S. investigation concluded the men were justified in opening fire. [...] Pedraz said an investigation had shown the three soldiers involved in the tank attack on April 8, 2003 could be responsible for murder and crimes against the international community. The charges carry jail sentences of 15 to 20 years and 10 to 15 years respectively.

Be Republican

Hilarious. The benefits of being a Republican (animation).

Thanks to H for the tip.

Supporting the Troops

The Bushco way:
The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle). [...] A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses. Krenke said some soldiers had been paid the re-enlistment bonuses, but she was unsure how many or whether the money would have to be repaid. Murray’s office said that as far as it knew, no active Guard or Reserve members had received the bonuses.

Saddam Is On Trial Today...

If convicted, Hussein could be executed after his first trial for his role in the 1982 Shiite massacre. But take note, who supplied the weapons:
Washington's support for Iraq became more open after Iran succeeded in driving Iraqi forces from its territory in May 1982; in June, Iran went on the offensive against Iraq. The U.S. scrambled to stem Iraq's military setbacks. Washington and its conservative Arab allies suddenly feared Iran might even defeat Iraq, or at least cause the collapse of Hussein's regime. [...] Using its allies in the Middle East, Washington funneled huge supplies of arms to Iraq. Classified State Department cables uncovered by Frantz and Waas described covert transfers of howitzers, helicopters, bombs and other weapons to Baghdad in 1982-83 from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

Indictments Likely...

But unfortunately, not this week:
The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday. The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Countdown: Pentagon Punishment?

Big Ed Schultz gives his take on being canceled from Armed Forces Radio (video).

Hardball: CIA Leak Probe

Cheney and possible indictments (video).

Mitchell and her crisis of journalism (video).

Counting Our Chickens

Or more specifically, possible prison time for the Plamegaters...

The best case scenario for those involved would be a conviction of only a single count of perjury or obstruction of justice, either of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Under the Guidelines, that would result in the maximum sentence because both charges have a base offense level of 14, and those convicted will most probably receive enhancements of 3 levels for substantial interference with the administration of justice, 6 levels for victimizing a government employee and family member, 2 levels for abuse of the public trust, and 4 levels for being a leader. These total 29 levels, which equals 87-108 months in federal prison under the Guidelines, far above the five-year statutory maximum, so the final sentence will be five years.

However, federal prosecutors rarely issue one-count indictments, but rather charge every possible violation. In the instant case, it is highly likely that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will throw the book at them, by charging conspiracy and violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of l982 ("IIPA") (50 U.S.C., section 421), each carrying a maximum sentence of ten years, and multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, each carrying five years. Moreover, because there was an agreement among many people in this case, there will most probably also be an overarching conspiracy charge to violate multiple statutes. It is significant that the IIPA mandates that any sentence under the Act be imposed "consecutively" to any other sentence in the indictment. Id. at section 421(d).

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines reflect the seriousness of a conviction under the IIPA by setting a base offense level of 30 for disclosure "by a person with, or who had access to, classified information identifying a covert agent." In the case of White House officials, the same enhancements mentioned above will be added to that base level, for a total of 42 levels, which requires a LIFE sentence. Of course, since the IIPA only allows for a maximum sentence of ten years, that life sentence could be imposed only by a conviction on multiple counts, such as conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice, running consecutively to the IIPA sentence.

Write Your Own Caption

Rumors Fly

Larry Johnson (bio):
Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment. These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.
US News:

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren't focused on the future of the vice president. "Not that, at least not seriously," he said.

Cheney Aide Cooperating With Fitzgerald

Via Raw Story:

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald's case tell Raw Story that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald's probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson's name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation. Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.


"John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak. Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level," [Ambassador Joseph] Wilson notes. The revelation that Hannah has become a prosecution witness strongly suggests that Fitzgerald is now looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Wilson's complaints threatened to destroy public support for the war, which the Bush administration worked diligently to win.

Pony Up

Bob Herbert:

While Americans are turning increasingly against the war in Iraq, for example, the support for the war among major Democratic leaders seems nearly as staunch and as mindless as among Republicans. On that and other issues, Democrats are still agonizing over whether to say what they truly believe or try to present themselves as a somewhat lighter version of the G.O.P. [...] Democrats need to put together a serious proposal for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq over a reasonable (which means reasonably short) period of time, and couple that with a broader national security plan that focuses on Al Qaeda-type terrorism and domestic security.

Democrats need to tell the country the truth about taxes, about the benefits of investing in the nation's physical infrastructure, about the essential need to bolster public education from kindergarten through college, and about the shared sacrifices that will be necessary if anything approaching energy independence is to be achieved. They need to be optimistic and hopeful as they deliver their message to the country, explaining that all of these things are doable, that they will strengthen the U.S. in the short term and create a better future for the next generation and the one after that.

Miers Supports Banning Abortion

So Harriet passes the evangelical litmus test after all:
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers pledged support in 1989 for a constitutional amendment banning abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother, according to material given to the Senate on Tuesday. "If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature," asked an April 1989 questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group. Miers checked "yes" to that question, and all of the group's questions, including whether she would oppose the use of public moneys for abortions and whether she would use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off city health boards and commissions.

Valerie Who?

It seems that we will know soon, quite soon, how big a deal all of this is. It still could amount to nothing at all, or it could be the equivalent of a nuke lobbed into official Washington. If it's the latter it'll be quite fascinating. It is, after all, a story which official Washington, which includes the Cohens and the Tweeties and the Russerts and the Mitchells of the world, was at least until recently largely dismissive of and one which they did their best to run from. Some of this is due to the lack of leaks from Fitzgerald, but not all of it. If it does hit big much of the American public will be rather clueless about where it all came from.

First-Responder Federal Funding Cut By 17%

As Grover Norquist once stated, the goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where it can drown in a bathtub...
President Bush is expected to sign homeland security legislation Tuesday that will slash federal funding to prepare police and firefighters to respond to terrorist attacks, prompting criticism from New England lawmakers who say it will leave the region less prepared for a major emergency. The $32 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security contains $3.3 billion to train first-responders, 17 percent less than last year and substantially less than the president's own request last spring. First-responders include police, paramedics, and local emergency management authorities that would probably be the first to arrive on the scene of a domestic terrorist attack.

The Latest On Flamegate

Associated Press:
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff apparently gave New York Times reporter Judith Miller inaccurate information about where Valerie Plame worked in the CIA, a mistake that could be important to the criminal investigation. [...] The incorrect information about where Plame worked in the CIA could be a significant lead for investigators. Accurate information presumably can come from any number of sources, while inaccurate information might more easily be traceable to a single document or a particular meeting, suggested Lance Cole, former Democratic counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee and now a law professor at Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law.
Financial Times:
Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name to include questioning about the administration's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence. According to the Democratic National Committee, a majority of the nine members of the White House Iraq Group have been questioned by Mr Fitzgerald. The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to "educate the public" about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.
New York Daily News:
A special prosecutor's intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday. At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame affair. [...] Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch. "They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.
The possible discrepancy comes amid signs the federal prosecutor investigating who leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, will announce whether he will bring charges in the case as early as Wednesday, people close to the case said.
Washington Post:
As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.

Up To 99% Favor Iraq Constitution

Apparently subtlety is not an Iraqi a Bushco strong suit...
The investigation by Iraq's election commission has raised the possibility that the results of the referendum could be called into question. As many as 99 percent of the voters reportedly approved Iraq's draft constitution in some of the provinces being investigated. [...] The high numbers were seen among the nine Shiite provinces of the south and the three Kurdish ones in the north, al-Lami said. Those provinces reported to the AP "yes" votes above 90 percent, with some as high as 97 and 98 percent.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Senior White House Official May Be Helping Fitzgerald

Via Raw Story:
The case of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is set to explode. The New York Daily News is set to report in Tuesday editions that a well-placed source interviewed by the newspaper believes a senior White House official has flipped and may be helping the prosecutor in the case, Raw Story has learned. The Daily News will reveal that a top source believes that based on the questioning of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and his other contacts with the investigation, someone in the White House has turned. All eyes are on Dick Cheney, the News says, as the investigation wraps up.

Halliburton Exploits Poor From Third World Countries


Contractors working for the United States, including KBR, a Houston-based subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., have brought tens of thousands of workers into Iraq from impoverished countries including Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh to do menial jobs, from cooking and serving food to cleaning toilets. In relying on third-country nationals, however, the United States has embraced a system of labor migration rife with abuse, corruption and exploitation, according to dozens of contractors, migrant workers, labor officials and advocates interviewed in four countries.


Violence is the greatest risk. At least one-third of the 255 contractors reported killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 came from Second or Third World countries, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data maintained by a Web site that tracks the deaths.


After questions from the Los Angeles Times, KBR said it would investigate whether benefits were owed. KBR is the largest employer of third-country nationals, with about 25,000 workers in Iraq, typically through Middle Eastern subcontractors. Because of the danger of exploitation, the Philippines and Nepal have forbidden their nationals to work in Iraq. But labor brokers bring in such workers using loopholes. An estimated 5,000 Nepalese work in Iraq.

Biggest Inflation Jump In 25 Years

Buckle up:
The median estimate of 21 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC has soaring oil and natural gas prices pushing up overall PPI to 1.4 percent in September. The core nonfood, non-energy reading is expected to rise by 0.2 percent. The headline consumer price index for September showed a 1.2 percent increase last week, the largest one-month gain in 25 years, though the nonfood, non-energy increase was a much more modest 0.1 percent. Federal Reserve policy-makers have been a veritable choir in recent weeks, alerting markets to the risk of inflationary price pressures at a time when the bond market had started to view high energy prices as a tax on consumption rather than a driver of inflation.

The Big Squeeze

By Paul Krugman

In 1999 Delphi, the parts division of General Motors, was spun off as an independent company. Now Delphi has filed for bankruptcy. Its chief executive, Robert S. Miller, wants the company's workers to accept drastic wage cuts, from an average hourly wage rate of about $27 to as little as $10 an hour.

There are a lot of questions about how Delphi and the auto industry in general reached this point. Why were large severance packages given to Delphi executives even as the company demanded wage cuts? Why, when General Motors was profitable, did it pay big dividends but fail to put in enough money to secure its workers' pensions?

But Delphi's bankruptcy is a much bigger deal than your ordinary case of corporate failure and bad, self-dealing management. If Delphi slashes wages and defaults on its pension obligations, the rest of the auto industry may well be tempted - or forced - to do the same. And that will mark the end of the era in which ordinary working Americans could be part of the middle class.

There was a time when the American economy offered lots of good jobs - jobs that didn't make workers rich but did give them middle-class incomes. The best of these good jobs were at America's great manufacturing companies, especially in the auto industry.

But it has been a generation since most American workers could count on sharing in the nation's economic growth. America is a much richer country than it was 30 years ago, but since the early 1970's the hourly wage of the typical worker has barely kept up with inflation.

The contrast between rising national wealth and stagnant wages has become even more extreme lately. In 2004, which was touted both by the Bush administration and by Wall Street as a year in which the economy boomed, the median real income of full-time, year-round male workers fell more than 2 percent.

Now the last vestiges of the era of plentiful good jobs are rapidly disappearing. Almost everywhere you look, corporations are squeezing wages and benefits, saying that they have no choice in the face of global competition. And with the Delphi bankruptcy, the big squeeze has reached the auto industry itself.

So what are we going to do about it?

During the 1990's optimists argued that better education and worker training could restore the economy's ability to create good jobs. Mr. Miller of Delphi picked up that argument as part of his public relations campaign for wage cuts: "The world pays knowledge workers far more than it pays manual, industrial workers," he said. "And that's what's sweeping over here."

But that's a very 1999 sort of answer. During the technology bubble, it was easy to believe that "knowledge workers" were guaranteed good jobs. But when the bubble burst, they turned out to be as vulnerable to downsizing and layoffs as assembly-line workers. And many of the high-paid jobs that vanished when the technology bubble burst have never come back, partly because they have been outsourced to India and other rising economies.

Today, some of us like to stress the depressing effect of the dysfunctional American health care system on wages. A large part of the problem facing the auto industry and other employers that still provide good jobs is the cost of providing health insurance, both to their current employees and to retired workers.

If we had a Canadian-style system - which is enthusiastically supported by the Canadian subsidiaries of U.S. auto companies - the big squeeze might be averted, at least for a while. One more reason to be angry with auto executives is that they never threw their support behind national health care in this country, even though such a system is clearly in their companies' interest.

What if neither education nor health care reform is enough to end the wage squeeze? That's the possibility that makes free-trade liberals like me very nervous, because at that point protectionism enters the picture. When corporate executives say that they have to cut wages to meet foreign competition, workers have every right to ask why we don't cut the foreign competition instead.

I hope we don't have to go there. But denial is not an option. America's working middle class has been eroding for a generation, and it may be about to wash away completely. Something must be done.

Read the rest...

Military Censors Big Ed

Via Think Progress:
Barber told Holm that the Ed Schultz show would not start on AFR today because her boss, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, was out of the country and couldn't approve it. Barber also said she was going out of the country soon for a week-and-a-half. Holm asked Barber if the show would begin when DiRita and Barber returned. Barber said she couldn't guarantee that. Here's the really interesting part. Barber told Holm she heard Ed announced that he would begin on AFR during his show Friday. Schultz's show Friday began with audio outtakes of Barber sounding foolish as she rehearsed the troops "Q&A session" with Bush.

Iraq Electoral Commission Finds Voting Irregularities

I'm shocked:

Iraq's electoral commission said Monday it intended to audit "unusually high" numbers in results coming from most provinces in Saturday's landmark referendum on the draft constitution. The commission's statement came after Sunni Arab lawmaker, Meshaan al-Jubouri, claimed fraud had occurred in the vote — including instances of voting in hotly contested regions Saturday by pro-constitution Shiites from other areas — repeating earlier comments made by other Sunni officials over the weekend. [...] The commission said it would take random samples from ballot boxes from areas reporting very high or very low percentages. It did not specify which provinces the unusual reports were coming from, or say to what extent it could affect the outcome.

Detainee Abuse Investigator Found Dead

Chalk this one up to the same "dark actors playing dark games" that weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly spoke of:
A senior British military police officer in Iraq involved in the investigation of alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians by soldiers has been found dead at a camp in Basra. The body of Captain Ken Masters, the commander of 61 Section of the Special Investigations Branch (SIB), was found in his bed at the airport at the weekend. The death is being investigated by the SIB. Defence sources said the death was "not due to hostile action and also not due to natural causes".

More Evidence On Fitzgerald Targeting Cheney

Dubya without Rove and Cheney to prop him up, oh my...

A special counsel is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent's name, according to people familiar with the probe that already threatens top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has questioned current and former officials of President George W. Bush's administration about whether Cheney was involved in an effort to discredit the agent's husband, Iraq war critic and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, according to the people.

Fitzgerald has questioned Cheney's communications adviser Catherine Martin and former spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise and ex-White House aide Jim Wilkinson about the vice president's knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff, the people said. The information came from multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of the secrecy and political sensitivity of the investigation.

Rice Prematurely Stated Iraq Constitution Outcome

In London, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Sunday that the constitution had "probably passed", but later adopted a position of wait and see. Hindawi told AFP that he was "astonished" by Rice's statement. "As far as I know, she's not a member of the electoral commission," he said. Officials might have an indication of the direction of the vote late Monday, he said.

No Cheney In '08

I guess he just doesn't have the heart to run...
Vice President Dick Cheney will not run for the presidency in 2008, his wife, Lynne Cheney, said in an interview published yesterday. She told Time magazine she was restating what her husband had made clear -- that he had no intention of seeking the presidency.

Taliban Assassinated Muslim Cleric?

This little event contradicts everything we have been told about the Taliban's Islamic roots:
At least 5,000 Afghans protested in eastern Afghanistan today against the assassination of a pro-government Islamic cleric in a suspected Taliban attack. Mullah Mohammad Khan was killed on Friday when a bomb planted in his mosque in Tanai district in eastern Khost province exploded. A dozen worshippers were wounded. President Hamid Karzai condemned the killing as "an attack on the religion of Islam." There have been several attacks, some of them deadly, against influential Muslim clerics this year. Most have been blamed on suspected Taliban.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Supporting the Troops

The Bushco way:

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.


Why does Judith Miller have double super-secret security clearance?
In my grand jury testimony, Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly turned to the subject of how Mr. Libby handled classified information with me. He asked, for example, whether I had discussed my security status with Mr. Libby. During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment "embedded" with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons.

Has Bush Given Up?

John Nichols:

The evidence of his surrender is all around. The man who spent years denying global warming is now borrowing talking points from Jimmy Carter to call for energy conservation. He can't even convince himself -- let alone anyone else -- that the "mission-accomplished" occupation of Iraq is functional, let alone a success story. He has essentially abandoned his primary domestic-policy initiative for 2005, admitting during a Rose Garden press conference that there is a "diminished appetite" for his scheme to privatize Social Security. And when it came to what is arguably the most important appointment of his presidency -- the selection of a replacement for the critical "swing" justice on the U.S. Supreme Court – he didn't even try.

In defending his selection of his attorney, Harriet Miers, to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Bush claimed that, "I picked the best person I could find."

He obviously did not look very hard. Maybe that's because the guy who used to tell him who to nominate for judicial openings, Karl Rove, is busy trying to avoid a indictment by a federal grand jury. Maybe it is because Vice President Dick Cheney's office is in crisis, as the veep's chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, is targeted by the same investigation into who in the White House revealed the identity of an intelligence operative in order to punish the husband of that operative, Ambassador Joe Wilson, for revealing that the administration had warped intelligence in order to make the "case" for invading Iraq.

Whatever the explanation, the Miers nomination is a signal of surrender.

Sunnis Disenfranchised


Less than two hours after polling stations opened Saturday morning, potential voters in the Sunni town of Ishaki were convinced the Iraqi government had rigged the referendum in favor of Kurds, Shiites and Iran.

Dozens of locals, all planning to vote against the draft constitution, had been turned away from the single polling station in town. Lying 40 miles north of Baghdad and just south of Samarra, Ishaki is in the middle of Iraq's Sunni central region, Saddam Hussein's old heartland.

According to election officials here, all those rejected were registered at another polling station 3 miles away -- the only place they would be allowed to vote under the referendum's stringent rules. But a driving ban inside all urban areas, designed to stop suicide bomb attacks, meant these Sunnis, entering the democratic process for the first time, had effectively been disenfranchised.

Rove's Planning Ahead

Via Time:

Karl Rove has a plan, as always. Even before testifying last week for the fourth time before a grand jury probing the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, Bush senior adviser Rove and others at the White House had concluded that if indicted he would immediately resign or possibly go on unpaid leave, several legal and Administration sources familiar with the thinking told TIME.

Resignation is the much more likely scenario, they say. The same would apply to I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the Vice President's chief of staff, who also faces a possible indictment. A former White House official says Rove's break with Bush would have to be clean—no "giving advice from the sidelines"—for the sake of the Administration.

Severing his ties would allow Rove—who as deputy chief of staff runs a vast swath of the West Wing—to fight aggressively "any bull___ charges," says a source close to Rove, like allegations that he was part of a broad conspiracy to discredit Plame's husband Joseph Wilson. Rove's defense: whatever he did fell far short of that.

Sex, Envy, Proximity

By Maureen Dowd

President Bush started his weekend early. He decided to leave for Camp David at 2 p.m. yesterday.

Can you blame him?

The White House has lost its mind - and its survival instincts. The monomaniacal special prosecutor is moving in for the kill. Republicans are covered in dirt. And we may be only moments away from another Newsweek cover on another President Bush headlined "The Wimp Factor."

W.'s political career was structured to ensure that he would never suffer his father's problems by seeming weak or wobbly on conservatism. Everything would be about projecting strength and protecting the base.

But the reverse playbook got washed away with Katrina, when Karl Rove and W. did not jump to attention at the word hurricane. W. ended up with a job approval rating of 2 percent among African-Americans, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. He missed the golden hour, as it's called in combat medicine, the precious time when acting fast may save those in jeopardy.

W.'s presidency has become branded with rushing into one place too fast and not rushing into another fast enough.

Astonishingly, with the choice of Harriet Miers, this Bush has ended up exactly where the last Bush ended up: giving affirmative action for the Supreme Court a bad name and angering conservatives, who call him a mollycoddle.

Just as the father clearly missed the wily strategist Lee Atwater after he died, so the son clearly misses the Atwater protégé Karl Rove, who has been distracted by kidney stones and trips to testify to the grand jury looking into the outing of Valerie Plame.

Lyndon Johnson said the two things that make politicians behave more stupidly than anything else are sex and envy. You might add one more: proximity. I always think men are more prone to get seduced by proximity into making unwise choices. They tend to be a bit lazy. They'll grab the closest doughnut off the platter. Like Jude Law and the Nanny.

It was Monica Lewinsky's proximity that caused Bill Clinton to forget the dignity of his office. It was Harriet Miers's proximity - she has spent more time with W. than any aide except Andy Card - that caused George Bush to forget that flattery and catering to his every need are not qualifications for the Supreme Court.

"We're innately lazy, like lions," a male friend said. "We like whoever happens to be around."

President Bush is still the same loyalty enforcer he was in his dad's White House. He likes deference and dislikes checks and balances. Having one of his handmaidens on a Supreme Court designed to be free of "obsequious instruments," as Alexander Hamilton called cronies, makes perfect sense to him, just as paying conservative columnists to spread the administration agenda made sense.

Without his "Boy Genius," Mr. Bush has turned to other shields. Laura gave the fidgeting and blinking president support on the "Today" show on Tuesday, telling Matt Lauer that criticism of Ms. Miers might be sexist.

That's silly. The conservatives want a female justice - they just want one who will be reliably certain to influence the court to curb women's rights.

On Thursday, again with weird and stilted body language, and an earpiece that kept falling out, W. held a teleconference and tried to use 10 American soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit and one Iraqi soldier as props to offer a more upbeat assessment of the security preparations for the weekend vote.

The surprise wasn't that it turned out to be rehearsed, although that angered some uniformed officers at the Pentagon who felt the troops were being politicized and used as military wallpaper. If these brave young men and women can be trusted to carry guns and kill insurgents, these officers reasoned, why can't they be trusted to speak into a microphone without stage-managing and a rehearsal from a civilian Pentagon spin doctor?

The surprise was how inept the event was. The White House was always able to pull off these stagey, scripted events during the campaign and when selling the Iraq war.

It's hard to believe sunny reports from Tikrit with Syria turning into Iraq's Cambodia. As James Risen and David Sanger write in The Times today, "A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops ... has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war."

It was hard to tell whom that teleconference was aimed at impressing - unless it was just meant to cheer up the edgy W. Instead, it just made him seem more lost than ever.

Read the rest...

Rove Canceled Fundraiser

I can only speculate why...
The man scheduled to deliver the keynote address in support of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore would be Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser who is embroiled in the investigation of a leak that revealed the name of a CIA operative. Tickets were hot. The press was barred. But soon after party activists sat down inside the ballroom of the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner, it was announced that Rove had been scratched from the lineup. No detailed reason was given. The 300 breakfasters listened instead to Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Take what you want, leave what you don't.

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