Friday, July 29, 2005

I Smell a Deal?

I don't know what deal Frist made the the Devil (Rove) but I refuse to believe he did this without permission from Rove.

Everyone knows Frist doesn't think for himself. God only knows what concession he gave to the WH, but I suspect as the Plame matter unfolds, it will eventually become clear.

Frist Backs Stem Cell Research

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Biden Thinks Bolton a Liar

And he wants Condi to investigate.

From Think Progress.

Original in PDF

July 28, 2005

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

It has just come to my attention that then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton was interviewed on July 18, 2003 by the State Department Office of the Inspector General in connection with a joint State Department/CIA IG investigation related to the alleged Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger. This information would appear to be inconsistent with information that Mr. Bolton provided to the Committee on Foreign Relations during the Committee’s consideration of his pending nomination to be Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The Committee on Foreign Relations expects all nominees to provide to it accurate and timely information. Indeed, in submitting the Committee’s questionnaire, all nominees are required to swear out an affidavit stating that the information provided is “true and accurate.” It now appears that Mr. Bolton’s answers may not meet that standard. I write, therefore, to request that you review this matter to determine whether incomplete or inaccurate information was provided by Mr. Bolton.

Thank you for your assistance.


Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Ranking Minority Member

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

1.5 Billion Dollar in Pork!

That's "B" for Billion.

From Think Progress

Tom DeLay thinks the federal treasury is his personal piggy bank. DeLay slipped “a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas” into the energy bill.

But this isn’t a normal case of government pork. DeLay has completely dispensed with the democratic process. From a letter Rep. Henry Waxman just sent Speaker Dennis Hastert:

The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure.

The $1.5 billion won’t be administered by the government by a private consortium in DeLay’s district:

The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Ordinarily, a large fund like this would be administered directly by the government.

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

Cut and Run?

Per my post yesterday, Iraq is slowly but surely melting down into a civil war.

And with US Congressional elections next year, looks like it's time to cut and run,
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari and the top U.S. commander in Iraq Wednesday and discussed specific steps to speed preparations for the withdrawal of some of the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq beginning as early as next spring.

The tone of statements by Rumsfeld and Jafari, as well as the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, suggested a heightened determination and immediacy to planning for the U.S. troop reduction, despite the continuation of lethal daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq.
General Casey, paddling up the river Denial said,
...the insurgency in Iraq is stagnating. "Insurgencies need progress to survive, and this insurgency is not progressing. What you're seeing is a change in tactics to more violent, more visible attacks against civilians, and that's a no-win strategy," he said.

But despite more lethal attacks, Casey said, "the level of attacks they've been able to generate has not increased substantially over what we've seen over the past year."
apparently, Gen Casey doesn't know that the goal of the insurgents is civil war, in which case attacking those with whom you wish to have a civil war is a probably the best strategy.

At this point, pulling out is probably the best course, for the US. For the Iraqis I'm not so sure. We have foisted this situation on them. They didn't ask to be "liberated" and now it looks like we will be leaving just as the civil war begins.

And yet my R friends see nothing wrong with Bush's policy choices and can't understand why he has so many critics.

Fitzgerald's Drag Net

As info on the Plame investigation filters out, we are beggining to learn that Fitzgerald's investigation is much wider than had previously been believed. This seems to alway be the case with special prosecutors.

Josh has an excellent post up that is not to be missed if you are following this matter.

He comments on the WaPo story in today's paper that reveals the administrations twin attacks on the Wilson / Niger story.

If your following this story, go read Josh.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

'The Illusionists'

The Sunday NYTs had a series of articles on Iraq that do not paint a very rosey assessment.

Regular readers know that I've always thought it childishly naive to think that simply by toppling Saddam, and with a handful of troops we could bring 3 groups of people who hate each other together in a Jeffersonian Democracy. And having said this, I've been surprised at the progress made. As I write, a Constitution is being drawn up and a vote on that constitution is supposed to take place later this year.

But, as is always the case, the devil is in the details. And not surprisingly, the Sunnis refuse to participate in any numbers, and those brave Sunni leaders who call for participation are gunned down on crowded city streets for all to see.

As the NYTs pointed out Sunday, the insurgency is stronger, and more deadly than ever.
A string of recent attacks, including the execution of moderate Sunni leaders and the kidnapping of foreign diplomats, has brought home for many Iraqis that the democratic process that has been unfolding since the Americans restored Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 has failed to isolate the insurgents and, indeed, has become the target itself.
American commanders say the number of attacks against American and Iraqi forces has held steady over the last year, averaging about 65 a day.

But the Americans concede the growing sophistication of insurgent attacks and the insurgents' ability to replenish their ranks as fast as they are killed.

"We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents," said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. "But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge."

At the same time, the Americans acknowledge that they are no closer to understanding the inner workings of the insurgency or stemming the flow of foreign fighters, who are believed to be conducting a vast majority of suicide attacks. The insurgency, believed to be an unlikely mix of Baath Party die-hards and Islamic militants, has largely eluded the understanding of American intelligence officers since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government 27 months ago.
And in a companion article, the term "civil war" is starting to be used.
From the moment American troops crossed the border 28 months ago, the specter hanging over the American enterprise here has been that Iraq, freed from Mr. Hussein's tyranny, might prove to be so fractured - by politics and religion, by culture and geography, and by the suspicion and enmity sown by Mr. Hussein's years of repression - that it would spiral inexorably into civil war.

If it did, opponents of the American-led invasion had warned, American troops could get caught in the crossfire between Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen, secularists and believers - reduced, in the grimmest circumstances, to the common target of a host of contending militias.

Now, events are pointing more than ever to the possibility that the nightmare could come true. Recent weeks have seen the insurgency reach new heights of sustained brutality. The violence is ever more centered on sectarian killings, with Sunni insurgents targeting hundreds of Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. There are reports of Shiite death squads, some with links to the interior ministry, retaliating by abducting and killing Sunni clerics and community leaders.

The past 10 days have seen such a quickening of these killings, particularly by the insurgents, that many Iraqis are saying that the civil war has already begun.
And finally, some hope that a more pragmatic approach is being undertaken by the Americans on the ground now,
The first signs that America's top officials in Iraq were revising their thinking about what they might accomplish in Iraq came a year ago. As Iraq resumed its sovereignty after the period of American occupation, the new American team that arrived then, headed by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, had a withering term for the optimistic approach of their predecessors, led by L. Paul Bremer III.

The new team called the departing Americans "the illusionists," for their conviction that America could create a Jeffersonian democracy on the ruins of Saddam Hussein's medieval brutalism. One American military commander began his first encounter with American reporters by asking, "Well, gentlemen, tell me: Do you think that events here afford us the luxury of hope?"

Ok, I'll admit this last part was really just a petty dig on my part, because I've been saying this so long, and to tie up the title of this post.

Sen Roberts Absurd Hearings

Kevin has an excellent post up at The Washington Monthly on the absurdity of the hearings Sen Roberts intends to coduct.

Sen Roberts, pre-emptively striking for the WH and Rove, thinks the real problem at the CIA is that they give too many agents secret covers!

That's right. The problem with the CIA is the Plame should have never had a cover to begin in the first place.

Kevin concludes,
Until Patrick Fitzgerald finishes his investigation, we won't know everything that really happened here. In fact, we still might not know even then. But we've learned one thing already: when presented with even a hint of evidence that someone on their team has treated national security with cavalier disdain, conservative concern with national security gets thrown overboard without a second thought. Dealing with Plamegate as a factual matter — did someone in the White House expose Valerie Plame's identity to reporters? — is no longer acceptable, because, after all, when facts are involved, there's a chance they can turn against you.

Instead, for most conservatives, Plamegate has now turned into the public relations task of convincing the public that even if Rove did out Plame, outing a covert CIA agent is a perfectly acceptable thing for a White House aide to do.

Welcome to the modern Republican Party.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Energy Crisis

As Congress continues to debate a long list of tax breaks and Federal subsidies for the oil companies, aka The Energy Bill, we learn that the same oil companies literally have more money than they know what to do with,

Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond should be enjoying a victory lap right about now. But instead of celebrating the fact that surging energy prices have brought his company to within shouting distance of the top spot on this year's FORTUNE 500 (it's No. 2 again), the soon-to-retire CEO suddenly has a new anxiety: how to spend the windfall wrought by $55-a-barrel oil. By the end of April, Exxon will have a cash hoard of more than $25 billion. And if crude prices stay... Continue

Friday, July 22, 2005

Looking Forward to Roberts Conf Process

Cliff Sloan headed up the Breyer confirmation team. Cliff has some thoughts for the Roberts Team.

An Interesting Take

If you are following all the Plame stories, you should read this post.

This is Really Scary

Go read this.

Correcting the Record on Valerie Plame

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative, sets the record straight.

He concludes,
.....At the end of the day we are left with these facts. We went to war in Iraq on the premise that Saddam was reacquiring weapons of mass destruction. Joe Wilson was sent on a mission to Niger in response to a request initiated by the Vice President. Joe Wilson supplied information to the CIA that supported other reports debunking the claim that Saddam was trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. When Joe went public with his information, which had been corroborated by the CIA in April 2003, the response from the White House was to call him a liar and spread the name of his wife around.

We sit here more than two years later and the storm of invective and smear against Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie, continues. I voted for George Bush in November of 2000 because I wanted a President who knew what the meaning of "is" was. I was tired of political operatives who spent endless hours on cable news channels parsing words. I was promised a President who would bring a new tone and new ethical standards to Washington.

So where are we? The President has flip flopped and backed away from his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in a leak. We now know from press reports that at least Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are implicated in these leaks. Instead of a President concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a President who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson. This is wrong.

Without firm action by President Bush to return to those principles he promised to follow when he came to Washington, I fear our political debate in this country will degenerate into an argument about what the meaning of "leak" is. We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot expend its efforts attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I haven't written about Roberts because I just don't have much to say.

Bush's choice was brilliant. If fact, the choice of Roberts is probably the smartest things these guys have done since taking office in 2000.

As I've said before, we on the left must understand that this is not our pick. The GOP controls congress and the WH, and so they get to fill this vacancy.

As the minority party, we are only as strong as the public support we can muster. My hope was that they would pick some loon from the far right that we could cream.

Unfortunately for us, they chose wisely.

We should exercise our right to grill him at his conformation hearings, but barring a pubic hair on a Coke can, he will replace Sandy and we need to be prepared to live with that.

The GOP would love nothing more than for us to go off the deep end and try to take down this guy who graduated 1st in his law school class at Harvard and whose resume is stunning.

The GOP can't stand alone and needs to demonize the Ds. As concerned as I am for our right to privacy, this is not the guy to go to the mattresses opposing.

I'll have more later.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

African Uranium A Red Herring

Josh today wrote about Hitchen's piece in Slate pushing the old story that Iraq really did want uranium from Africa, as Bush asserted in his no infamous 2003 SOU address.

Josh does a good job of batting this nonsense down again, but there is another point that needs to be made.

The whole African uranium story was nothing more than a red herring from the start.

Kevin Drum does a great job of explaining why Bush & Co needed the red herring. The short version is that bio or chemical weapons weren't sufficiently scary enough to excite the GOP base. Only a nuclear threat was enough to keep the base in lock-step on Iraq.

But the problem with the whole African uranium story is that Saddam didn't need any yellow cake from Africa or anywhere else. As the CIA explains in this press release, Saddam had 550 METRIC TONS of yellow cake LEGALLY and under IAEA regulations following the first Gulf War.

So forget everything else about Iraq and nuclear weapons that we now know to be true and all the allegations from both sides. If Saddam wanted to build a crude bomb, he had all the uranium he needed.

The whole GD story is nothing but a red herring.

Bush is Firm: No Felons.

Josh points to this and it's really pretty funny. They need to be grilled on this.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

Asked at a June 10, 2004, news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

And The Nominee Is,.......

It is hard to imagine that an article could appear in a newspaper and reveal less information than this one in today's WaPo.

The entire piece on Bush's Supreme Court nominee can be summed up thusly: Bush has quietly narrowed the field and may or may not be looking at some women. He will pick a nominee soon. Specter thinks he should pick a politician.

While we wait for Bush to make his choice, I want to share an interesting story about the last two nominees to the court and bipartisanship.
President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, consulted then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R., Utah) before nominating Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer to the court in the 1990s.

In his 2002 autobiography, Hatch said he dissuaded Clinton from naming Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and suggested Breyer and Ginsburg.

"I told him that confirmation would not be easy," Hatch wrote regarding Babbitt. "I explained to the president that although he might prevail in the end, he should consider whether he wanted a tough, political battle over his first appointment to the court."
Not everyone agrees with Hatch's recollection, but it is food for thought.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Judy's in the County Hole

Something to keep in mind when reflecting on Judy Miller's situation. It seems most people incorrectly assume Judy is at Club Fed. Not so my friends.

Judy is cooling her heals in the Alexandria County Jail. This is a very different experience.

Only those convicted of federal crimes are sent to federal prisons. Those not sentenced for federal offenses, like prisoners awaiting trial or those held temporarily say for contempt, are held in local jails where the feds rent space for such purposes.

No basket weaving or cooking classes for Judy.

Follow the Uranium

Frank Rich in the Sunday NYTs is on fire.

He points out that all the subplots surrounding Wilson and Rove are just red herrings.
It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players.

This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.

So put aside Mr. Wilson's February 2002 trip to Africa. The plot that matters starts a month later, in March, and its omniscient author is Dick Cheney. It was Mr. Cheney (on CNN) who planted the idea that Saddam was "actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time." The vice president went on to repeat this charge in May on "Meet the Press," in three speeches in August and on "Meet the Press" yet again in September. Along the way the frightening word "uranium" was thrown into the mix.

By September the president was bandying about the u-word too at the United Nations and elsewhere, speaking of how Saddam needed only a softball-size helping of uranium to wreak Armageddon on America. But hardly had Mr. Bush done so than, offstage, out of view of us civilian spectators, the whole premise of this propaganda campaign was being challenged by forces with more official weight than Joseph Wilson. In October, the National Intelligence Estimate, distributed to Congress as it deliberated authorizing war, included the State Department's caveat that "claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa," made public in a British dossier, were "highly dubious." A C.I.A. assessment, sent to the White House that month, determined that "the evidence is weak" and "the Africa story is overblown."
There is much more. Read the whole column, and make a point of reading Frank Rich every Sunday. He seems to be one of the few people who gets it.

Learning From London

Learning from London

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Miller May Face Criminal Contempt

The WaPo reports today that Judy's problems may be just beginning. Fitzgerald is considering criminal contempt charges.

She's now in jail on civil contempt charges, so what's the difference?

There is no bright line difference. From a legal perspective, it's one of intent. From a practical perspective, it is available punishments. If Judy is found in criminal contempt her confinement could extend beyond the life of the grand jury for the purpose of punishment, like any other criminal. And she would have been convicted of a crime. On the other hand, for criminal contempt she would be charged with that crime and have the right to a trial by jury.

Findlaw offers these definitions of contempt. But again, they are not much help.

Here is how I would explain the difference between civil and criminal contempt. It is the intent of the person being held in contempt.

The purpose of civil contempt to force compliance with an order of the court. In a court case, civil or criminal, both sides seek information from the other and rulings from the court on matters on which they cannot agree. The court's rulings take the form of orders by which all parties must abide. Most commonly civil contempt comes up when the subject of an order believes they cannot comply with the order. In this case, Miller could not reveal her source. In civil cases a company may not want to make certain information public, for any number of reasons. To protect the dignity of the court, the court must be able to enforce that order, so they find the subject of the order in contempt and use the court's power to coerce compliance with the order. People go to jail, and corporations get fined. Always the goal of civil contempt is compliance with the order. This is why Judy would get out of jail when the term of the grand jury expired. No grand jury makes the order for her testimony moot.

Criminal contempt is not just about compliance with an order, but about the intent of a party to attack the power of the court or obstruct the court from proceeding in it's lawful business. In other words, it is about much more than just not wanting to make a secret public. Criminal contempt, like an other crime, must be charged and the accused has the right to a trial by jury. There is no such right in civil contempt. The point of this proceeding is not to get information, but to punish someone who disrespect the authority of the court.

Criminal contempt charges are rare, in my opinion, for a couple reasons. Frist, most people who disobey a court's order, don't do so with criminal intent (they just don't want to tell their secret), and second, prosecuting a criminal contempt charge isn't worth the hassle (the prosecutor just wants the info).

If I had to guess, I would guess that Judy will not be charged with criminal contempt. But if the entire prosecution went down the tubes because of Judy's conduct, the likelihood would be greater that Fitzgerald would charge here.

But having said that, here is why Judy might be convictable of criminal contempt. As I explained earlier, it is the source that holds the privilege, not the recipient of the information. And numerious reports tell us that the source or sources have waived any pledge of confidentiality. So even aside from the courts rulings finding no privilege, Miller really doesn't have any basis not to testify. She has no one to protect.

And as for the stories that she is actually protecting herself, as she might have been a source -- if she went to testify and asserted her rights under the Fifth Amendment, she would at least be out of trouble for contempt.

I think from Miller's view, she can't rat for simple business reasons, but that is the basis for another post.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Plamegate Video

Watch the video.

And then send it to all your friends.

The Precedent of Jonathan Randel

While I'm still not holding my breath on any Rove indictments, I found an interesting article by John Dean at Findlaw that offers me some hope.

I know what you're thinking about John Dean. He is forever writing about how the scandal de jour is worse than Watergate.

But this article is worth a read because he tells us what happened to leaker Jonathan Randel, and thus why Karl Rove might be in serious trouble.

First, Dean does a very good job of explaining why an indictment under the Intelligence Identities And Protection Act is not very likely. Suffice it to say, the burden of proof Fitzgerald would face is a bitch.

But then Dean gives us all real hope,

Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)

Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.

By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count "kitchen sink" indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Facing 500 years if convicted on all counts, Randel coped a plea. The US attorney prosecuting Randel boasted that he had set an example as to how the Bush Administration would treat leakers.

Dean goes on the explain how Sec 641 and the Randel precedent could be used by Fitzgerald as a much easier -- from a prosecutorial perspective -- method to indict and convict the Plame leakers. Think of it as the path of least resistance.

Fitzgerald, by all accounts is nobody's fool and a very serious professional. He's not indicting any top WH official -- Rove, Libby or whoever -- unless he knows he can nail them. His career and professional reputation would be destroyed by an acquittal.

This is why I'm not holding my breath. But, the Randel story suggests that Fitzgerald might have some options available to him that make convictions much more likely.

What do you think?

Plame Bottom Line

As the Plame stories go on and on and the excuses pile up, Josh gets to the bottom line.
No presidential advisor should ever disclose the identity of a covert agent at the CIA. That doesn't require elaboration.

If it's done knowingly, it's a felony. Joe Wilson could be the biggest hack in the world. Plame could have cooked the whole trip idea up to damage the president -- as some GOP loopsters are now claiming -- and it wouldn't matter.

....If Rove et al. didn't do anything wrong, why have they spent two years lying about what they did? No law was broken? Then what is Fitzgerald looking at? Why is a grand jury investigating Rove? A prosecutor like Fitzgerald, a Republican appointee, wouldn't be throwing journalists in jail unless he thought he was investigating a serious crime.

What's their answer to that? They have none. Rove runs the Washington Republican party, owns it. So it's anything but hold him accountable.
While I agree with Josh completely, I'm not holding my breath on any Rove indictments.

If Rove does get indicted, I think it will be for obstruction, although I would certainly love to see him indicted on the underlying charge of outing a CIA agent.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

It's Not Just About Plame

With Rove exposed as one of the traitors who betrayed his country for political revenge the GOP fog machine has moved into high gear.

In case you have forgotten or never knew, Ms Plame worked as a 'NOC' for the CIA under the cover of a company called Brewster-Jennings & Associates. NOC means that she was under 'non-official cover'. In other words rather than working as a diplomat, she had a private sector job that often took her abroad. She had no diplomatic protection and as such, was very exposed. You can learn more here.

Early reports suggest that the major pushback will be that Rove had no idea Plame was covert as he knew her to be a desk jockey. Since she no longer worked covertly no harm done.

Utter bullshit.

When Valerie Plame was outed everyone she ever dealt with covertly then knew they were dealing with a CIA agent,.....or that their trusted co-working was dealing with a CIA agent.

Not only was Plame's life placed in danger of a possible revenge killing, but all her sources lives were in danger as well as anyone currently working for Brewster or working her old contacts.

And then there is the cost of outing. How many hours of work and dollars spent went down the tubes using Brewster, and all the sources now exposed?

It is for these reasons that the law in question was passed and this is why Rove has betrayed his country.

The 'no harm done' defense is complete bullshit and we should call anyone -- journalist or pol -- who tries to peddle that crap.

White House Grilled Over Rove

Go read this. It's very amusing.


Some Thoughts of the Nature of Confidentiality

By now everyone knows that Karl Rove was the source that Matthew Cooper of Time trying to protect.

Much that has been written about the is whole sordid affair seems to cast the events as very dramatic.

From today's NYTs
..."The question that was on his mind," said Steven Waldman, a college classmate and former national editor at U.S. News and World Report, "and this is my words, is: do you go to jail to protect the confidentiality of a source whose name has been revealed, and not by you but by someone else?"

Mr. Waldman, ...exchanged several e-mail messages with his friend in the days leading to Mr. Cooper's decision to end his resistance.

"I remember saying to him," Mr. Waldman continued, " 'Look, there are two principles you're trying to balance. One is the confidentiality of sources. The other is an obligation to your family. They're both moral principles. It's totally appropriate to view that as a balance.' "

Mr. Cooper was resistant to that notion, Mr. Waldman said.

Later, Mr. Waldman asked whether Time's disclosures and a blanket waiver form his source had signed were enough to allow him to testify. In an e-mail message on Tuesday night, Mr. Cooper said he believed the forms could have been coerced and thus worthless.

The only thing that would do, Mr. Cooper wrote, was a "certain, unambiguous waiver" from his source.
What a load of bull!

Forget that the courts have not found that a privilege of confidentiality exists between a reporter and his source, because even if such a privilege did exist, Cooper still had no basis not to testify.

Here is why: a privilege of confidentiality belongs to the source, not the reporter. Once Rove signed the waivers, Cooper or any other reporter protecting Rove, had no legal basis not to testify.

Coopers supposed concerns about coercion are absurd. Rove had counsel and courts decide the validity of any waivers -- not Matthew Cooper.

For lawyers these issues are not abstract. We learn in our first year of law school that the attorney-client privilege belongs to the client, not the attorney, and where the client waives this privilege, the attorney must testify. For attorneys this is not a controversial issue.

This is not unique to the attorney - client privilege. It is the nature of confidentiality privileges in general. As this article from FindLaw notes,
Since privileges are meant to vindicate a private or public interest in confidentiality, and since they are disfavored, they can be waived by the persons or entities they are meant to protect.
In light of the waivers that Rove signed in 2003 and 2004 the drama leading up to Cooper finally agreeing to testify is just plain silly.

Having read about the Rove's waivers, I always assumed Cooper and Miller were protecting someone else.

Knowing what we now know from the public record, I suspect Miller is protecting herself and her own reputation.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Myth Well Spun

Rs love to talk about the estate tax destroying the family farm. In 2001, Bush told us he has talked to such farmers.

Big surprise, Bush lied.

The Congressional Budget Office has tried to find these poor folks and has basically come up empty handed.
The number of farms on which estate tax is owed when the owners die has fallen by 82 percent since 2000, to just 300 farms, as Congress has more than doubled the threshold at which the tax applies, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released last week.

All but 27 farmers left enough liquid assets to pay taxes owed, the budget office found, although it hinted that the actual number might be zero. The study examined how much in cash, stocks and bonds these farmers left to pay estate taxes, but the report noted that no data existed on how much life insurance the farmers had put into trusts. Virtually all wealthy farmers own life insurance in trusts, say estate tax lawyers who specialize in working with farmers.

.... Neil E. Harl, an economics professor at Iowa State University whose expertise in estate tax planning for farmers has made him a household name in the grain belt, said many Americans had a false impression that the estate tax was destroying family farming.

He said the Congressional study "adds to the weight of the evidence that this is a myth that has been well spun."

"Farms, in particular," Mr. Harl said, "are not in jeopardy because of estate taxes."
And for those who haven't figured it out, here is why we should all care,
The estate tax raised an estimated $23.4 billion last year. Repeal would shift part of the burden of taxes off the fortunes left by the richest 1 percent of Americans, some of whose fortunes were never taxed, onto the general population. The lost revenue could be made up in three ways: through higher income taxes; reduced government services; or more borrowing, which would pass the burden of current government spending to future generations.
But this part is my favorite,
Michael J. Graetz, a professor at Yale Law School who was a tax policy official in the administration of President George Bush, said repeal was primarily a benefit to people with large estates held in stocks and other securities, not to farmers.

Professor Graetz is a co-author of "Death by a Thousand Cuts," a study of how estate tax repeal became a political issue. He said that rather than repeal the tax, Congress should raise the threshold to as much as $5 million, double that for married couples, and keep rates at or near current levels.

Because of details in the repeal bill, it would also force a large majority of farms and small businesses to pay larger tax bills in the future, said John Buckley, the chief tax lawyer for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Buckley criticized farm and small-business groups as not explaining to their members that the repeal as written would cost them money while primarily benefiting those with vast fortunes.
The GOP are masters at screwing the middle class into the ground repeatedly while simultaneously convincing them that they are helping.


Newsweek has Rove nailed.

Robert Novak, citing "two senior administration officials," betrayed his country in a July 14, 2003 column by disclosing that Joseph C. Wilson IV was married to a CIA specialist Valerie Plame. More background .here

3 days before Novak's Plame column was published,
...on a Friday morning, July 11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael Duffy. "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation..." Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA.

Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger... "
Of course, there's much more,including info suggesting Rove didn't know that Plame was a NOC, etc.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

'A Few Thoughts on a Terrible Day'

Josh has got it right. Go read Josh.

It's all too important to excerpt.

Today We Are All Londoners

You've no doubt heard about the terrorist attacks in London today. The death toll continues to rise.

Ed Kilgore has made the sobering observation,
In the wake of the horrific attacks on London today, there's little doubt a dangerous and predictable idea is kicking around the world, mostly unspoken: Britain was targeted for these attacks strictly because of its involvement in Iraq. The corollary, of course, is that countries that don't want to be next in line for attacks--say, the rest of Europe--can make themselves safe by distancing themselves from Anglo-American policy in Iraq and elsewhere.
Dangerous idea or not, given the Madrid bombings last year, it seems a fair conclusion that these countries are targeted as a result of their involvement in Iraq.

And a transit attack in the US is inevitable.

Commuter train systems are an easy and obvious target. It is just not possible to screen the millions of daily commuter passengers that ride the trains in our major cities. They all carry packages, backbacks, brief cases, etc.

Maybe more security personnel in stations looking for suspcious activity, more bomb sniffing dogs, etc, might offer some help, but anyone, Republican or Democrat, who tells you that mass transit can be made safe is lying. London has been dealing with this issue for years (the IRA), and has spent millions on Underground security with cameras, station attendants etc. and we see how well that has worked.

In the wake of the Madrid bombings, CBS had this report.

What we need is for Homeland Security to be honest about mass transit security and educate the public about what to look our for, how to report suspious packages, etc. Given the size of our transit systems and the numbers that pass through them each day (millions of passangers in NYC alone) it is only an educated and vigilent public that can make those systems safer and perfect safety will never happen.

Prattling on about the need for 'sweeping security upgrades' may have a positive political benefit, but isn't going to make anyone safer.

UPDATE: Greg Anrig does a better job than I at making the point: The False Promise of "Homeland Security"

This is Refreshing

Click on Image to Enlarge

I'm very relieved to see the Democratic leaders steer such a reasonable course for O'Connor's replacement.

Those on the left need to realize that this is not our pick, and it would be absurd to seek a liberal judge by insisting on the filibuster of any candidate who is not what we would want.

Our ability to shape the choice of O'Connor's replacement as well as any other SC pick from Bush is completely dependent on public support. And the only way to maintain public support is to be very, very reasonable.

As the minority party, we must be very diligent in speaking with one voice, relentless in getting our message out to the public and staying 'on message'.

As the Rs are starting to learn, the public are not the conservatives they believed them to be. If we remain reasonable and stay united on message, they will over play their hand once again, and be even further wounded emerging from this fight.

Using Sandy as the Democratic model is exactly where we should be, with a GOP WH and Senate.

With the public on our side, any attempt by Frist to ram through a wingnut by killing the filibuster will be a disaster for the Rs -- and enough Rs know this to make it very unlikely that Frist could get the votes -- even with the aid and comfort that Lieberman will no doubt provide.

Miller and Fitzgerald Old Foes

Josh has an interesting backstory on Miller and Fitzgerald.
A little more than a year ago, I reported on TPM how Fitzgerald had quite aggressively investigated another Bush White House leak in late 2001 and early 2002. Fitzgerald had been investigating three Islamic charities accused of supporting terrorism -- the Holy Land Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation. But just before his investigators could swoop in with warrants, two of the charities in question got wind of what was coming and, apparently, were able to destroy a good deal of evidence.

What tipped them off were calls from two reporters at the New York Times who'd been leaked information about the investigation by folks at the White House.
Josh has more.

Interesting that this hasn't received more attention.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

Don't Cry for Judith Miller

There is way too much web-based hysteria going on right now as Judy Miller is being packed off to jail.

Attytood does a very good job of explaining why Judy Miller should be in jail and I would encourage you to read it, before launching into any impassioned constitutional arguments.

Although there is much more, here is the crux,
Ultimately, the heart and soul of real journalism is not so much protecting "sources" at any cost. It is, rather, living up to the 19th Century maxim set forth by Peter Finley Dunne, that journalists should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

That is why the ability of reporters to keep the identity of their true sources confidential is protected by shield laws in 31 states and the District of Columbia (although not in federal courts). Without such protections, the government official would not be able to report the wrongdoing of a president (remember "Deep Throat," the ultimate confidential source?), nor would the corporate executive feel free to rat out a crooked CEO. The comfortable and corrupt could not be afflicted.

But the Times' Judy Miller has not been afflicting the comfortable. She has been protecting them, advancing their objectives, and helping them to mislead a now very afflicted American public. In fact, thinking again about Watergate and Deep Throat is a good way to understand why Judy Miller should not be protected today. Because in Watergate, a reporter acting like Miller would not be meeting the FBI's Mark Felt in an underground parking garage. She would be obsessively on the phone with H.R. Haldeman or John Dean, listening to malicious gossip about Carl Bernstein or their plans to make Judge Sirica look bad.
There is a reason why there has not be a public outcry of Miller or Cooper. They don't think the press is fair or honest and so they don't care about them.

And they are right. The press has completely abdicated it's role to always challenge authority. I suspect it is a byproduct of the corporate culture now running the mainstream media.

And while this problem as no doubt been made worse by the events of 9-11, as this story makes clear, the problems didn't start with 9-11.

And the Plame outing, as Attytood points out, is the poster child of this problem. Those being protected were committing a political drive by shooting to get revenge for a whistleblower.

To those concerned that Millers time in jail may have a chilling effect, I certainly hope so.

Let this case be a lesson to those reporters all too willing to be stooges for partisans who serve up distortions and out right lies as well as character assassinations and libels. You better think long and hard about your anonymous sources, their motives and the truth, because you may be called upon to have the courage of your convictions and actually do the time to protect the source.

If the reporter was protecting someone who leaked evidence of fraud, ala the Pentagon Papers, does anyone really think we would be where we are today?

Judith Miller can route in jail for all I care.

Miller Off to Jail

And Cooper has decided to rat.

Details here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

'Ideology: Fair Game Since 1795'

Lifted from Think Progress.

Conservatives Senators are tripping over themselves to claim ideology is off limits in questioning a Supreme Court nominee. History shows that’s not true.

In 1795, President George Washington nominated Justice John Rutledge to be Chief Justice of the United States. Rutledge, a former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and current Chief Justice of South Carolina, was “well qualifed” by any standard, but Senate partisans blocked his nomination for one simple reason: ideology. Justice Rutledge opposed the Jay Treaty, a hot button issue in 1795. Because Senate Federalists couldn’t bear to see a Jay Treaty opponent on the Court, Rutledge’s nomination was rejected 14-10.

Unlike President Bush, President Washington respected the right of the Senate to reject judicial nominations. In 1789, Washington had even explained just how free the Senate was to do so: “Just as the President has a right to nominate without assigning reasons, so has the Senate a right to dissent without giving theirs.”

I'm back from my break. More later.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandy Quits

Justice O'Connor is retiring from the Supreme Court.

It is not possible to overstate how big this is, for all the reasons I wrote about here.

Rehnquist doesn't matter. O'Connor does and her replacement could overturn not just Roe, but Griswold, et al.