30 July 2005

Cheesy Book Review: The Tilt

Hey kids! Look who's here... It's M!

* * *

There have been many many times, gentle reader, that I
have been given things to listen to, read, or look at (you
know, A.R.T.) by friends and acquaintances. And, as you
all out there probably know too well, what is given by
friends for review and consideration is, much more often
than not, BAD.

Not good.


Trying to be funny but in fact is not.

Harsh and boring and trying too hard.

There have been, of course, exceptions to this rule.
One exception was when, amazingly, none other than
K. himself gave me a CD of songs he had written and
performed, and it was AWESOME. [K: In your face,
But that story perhaps is for another
time. [K: wha..?]

Two recent exceptions to this hammer-to-the-head rule
I will expound upon here. One now, another later.

[K: This is where Monty Python would place a Viking
holding a rubber chicken, yelling 'Get on with it!']

A friend of mine, more of an acquaintance really,
[K: They've never met] named Robin Romm, told me
she had written a book and I should buy it.

Knowing "The Rule" (refer to paragraph one if you're a
bit confused) [K: But keep reading if you are already
very confused]
my first instinct was to run, or maybe
cry. But instead I bought the book.

It's called The Tilt and it's fucking amazing. It's beautiful
and tender. It's unquestionably funny. It makes your
heart shine, like E.T.'s. It makes you cry like when E.T.
almost died. This story has nothing to do with E.T.

[K: Whatever happened to E.T. ? Didn't Lucas put
some E.T.'s. in one of his crappy "prequels"? Whatever
happened to those guys? Did they flee for safety, like
Yoda? Or did they become corrupt and evil E.T.'s who
serve the Emperor? Does Lucas even know? Fuck!]

Where was I?

[K: Something about E.T.]

The Tilt is a collection of short stories that all have
something to do with death. And it's funny sometimes.

[K: Unlike certain blogs.]

You can read one of the stories, here. It's not my
absolute favorite of the collection, but it's still really
good. And you can buy a copy, here or here.

Next time: Another brush with "The Rule"

- M.

* * *

M. lives in San Francisco. He is one half of the band,
The Speakers. He also plays guitar in Jolie Holland's
band -- touring the world and wooing hearts with his
uncomfortable stage presence and looks of pain
and doubt.

29 July 2005

Bye, Bye Bolton?

Conservative blogger Robert A. George made a
bold prediction last weekend:

John Bolton will never be U.S. ambassador
to the United Nations…

…Josh Marshall points out, as part of her
confirmation hearings for a State Department
public relations position, Karen Hughes was,
by law, obligated to answer a questionnaire,
that among other things, asked whether there
were any legal proceedings to which she might
be a be part of: She admitted that she had
testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury. Marshall
points out, Bolton answered "no" on the
questionnaire -- though, it turns out he also
testified before the grand jury on the contents
of the Plame memo.

If Bolton intentionally misled the Senate in his
questionnaire, he's toast.

And from today's Reuters:

John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for
U.N. ambassador, neglected to tell Congress
he had been interviewed in a government
investigation into faulty prewar intelligence
that Iraq was seeking nuclear materials in Africa,
the State Department said.

Democratic senators said the admission should
forestall Bush from using his authority to give
Bolton a temporary appointment to the U.N. post,
without Senate confirmation, when the Senate
goes on vacation in August.

Bolton was interviewed by the State Department
inspector general in 2003 as part of a joint
investigation with the CIA into prewar Iraqi
attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger,
State Department spokesman Noel Clay said

His statement came hours after another State
Department official said Bolton had correctly
answered a Senate questionnaire when he wrote
that he had not testified to a grand jury or been
interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over
the past five years.

Clay said Bolton "didn't recall being interviewed
by the State Department's inspector general" when
he filled out the form. "Therefore, his form, as
submitted, was inaccurate," Clay said. "He will
correct it."

We already know that Bush is willing to employ leakers
of classified information. That's no biggie. So what's the
big deal about appointing a man who lied to the U.S.
Senate to U.N. ambassador?

Mr. George explained it all last week:

The key is revealed in [Steven] Clemons' latest
post: He asserts that Bolton was a major source
for NYT's Judith Miller, currently incarcerated for
refusing to surrender a source's name to the
Fitzgerald grand jury. Now, one has to toss in a
couple of caveats here: Steve, of course, has to
depend on an anonymous source that somehow
"knows" that Bolton was an anonymous source for
many of Miller's stories.

Still, bringing it all together: DC now has two
major players potentially facing legal peril, a
reporter in jail -- and the most contentious
confirmation process ever for a nominee to the
United Nations. But the link of Bolton to Miller --
and thus to the Plame-Rove story -- is what can
turn a confusing, "silly summer season" story
into Washington nuclear pyrotechnics.

The other new wild card?
SCOTUS nominee John Roberts.

His existence makes it impossible for the White
House to recess appoint Bolton: If that were to
occur, with speculation of Bolton possibly deceiving
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on top of
the fact that he might be the source that Miller is
protecting Democrats would go ballistic. Even
Democrats supporting Roberts might be inclined to
filibuster the nomination in protest.

There's no way the administration would let that
occur. Many like Bolton and feel that he is important
-- but not so important that they would let an
appointment that could only last until January 2007
endanger a lifetime appointee to the Supreme Court
and while mustering all other necessary resources on
a legal-political fight involving the president and
vice president's closest aides. Too much to handle
all at once.

Say good night, John.

28 July 2005

More Random Cheese

Despite all the twists, turns and revelations in the
CIA leak case, New York Times reporter Judith Miller
is the still only person serving jail time.

Arianna Huffington offers a compelling theory
about Miller's role in the affair. Read it here.

Meanwhile, Walter Pincus says there is a third leaker
in the White House. Read all about it here.

Also, Harry Shearer has solid evidence that cable
news is a bullshit farce (and that Tucker Carlson
is a bow-tie wearing jackass). Watch the video here.

And move over Dixie Chicks, Jessica Simpson speaks
against wartime censorship. I guess she hates
America too.

Coming soon: The return of M!

24 July 2005

Mind the Gap

NOTE: Posting will be a bit less regular these
next few weeks, as I am in the process of
moving across the country.

As you may have noticed, the Rove/Plame
investigation has been on the front burner
for a few weeks now. I hope to return to
some lighter subjects in the near future
(and also feature more contributions from
other cheesy writers around the globe). But I
must admit I find the whole affair endlessly
fascinating (and more than a little important).
So if it's not your cup of tea, read no further.

This week, two more characters have been
added to the cast of this political thriller:
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
and former White House counsel Alberto
Gonzales (now U.S. Attorney General).

Frank Rich writes in today's New York Times:

As White House counsel, [Gonzales] was the one
first notified that the Justice Department,
at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an
investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's
wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m.
on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales
12 more hours to inform the White House staff
that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to
the investigation.

On this morning's Face The Nation, Bob Schieffer
asked Gonzales why he waited so long to inform
the White House of the investigation:

Mr. GONZALES: When I was the counsel, it
was always my practice to work very, very
closely and carefully with investigators and
to seek permission with respect to every step
that I took with respect to an investigation.
In this particular case, we were notified by
the Department of Justice late one evening.
I guess it was about 8:00. And I specifically
had our lawyers go back to the Department
of Justice lawyers and ask them, 'Do you want
us to notify the staff now, immediately, or
would it be OK to notify the staff early in the
morning?' And we were advised, 'Go ahead
and notify the staff early in the morning.
That would be OK.' And again, most of the
staff had gone home. No one knew about
the investigation. And we made...

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you the
obvious question, Mr. Attorney General. Did
you tell anybody at the White House, 'Get
ready for this, here it comes'?

Mr. GONZALES: I told one person in the
White House that--of the notification and...


Mr. GONZALES: ...then immediately--I told
the chief of staff. And then immediately the
next morning, I told the president. And
shortly thereafter, there was a notification
sent out to all the members of the White
House staff.

So Andrew Card got the heads-up a full 12 hours
before the White House was formally instructed
to "preserve all materials" related to the case.

Back to Frank Rich:

This 12-hour delay, [Gonzales] has said,
was sanctioned by the Justice Department,
but since the department was then run by
John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused
to recuse himself from the Plame case,
inquiring Senate Democrats would examine
this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute
tape gap. "Every good prosecutor knows that
any delay could give a culprit time to destroy
the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer,
correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was
first revealed almost two years ago.

And now that Gonzales has admitted to informing
Andrew Card in advance, Democrats have some
more questions they'd like to see answered.
Senator Joe Biden was the next guest on Face The
Nation and had this to say:

Senator JOSEPH BIDEN: Well, it raises a lot
of questions. I don't doubt the attorney
general's sincerity. But it does seem to me it
wasn't the soundest in judgments. There's
been a real inertia at the White House to look
into this to begin with, number one. And
number two, the real question now is who
did the chief of staff speak to? Did the chief
of staff pick up the phone and call Karl Rove?
Did the chief of staff pick up the phone and
call anybody else? Ordinarily, you would
think that he would immediately send out
an e-mail to every member of the staff and
say--you know, you don't have to call them.
Every of those staff members carries around
a BlackBerry and--send an e-mail saying
'Boom.' But I'm sure what's going to happen
now isthe investigators will take a look at--
to see who, in fact, the chief of staff spoke to.


20 July 2005

Random Cheese

Did Karl Rove lie to federal investigators?

from The American Prospect

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove
did not disclose that he had ever discussed
CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine
reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first
interview with the FBI, according to legal
sources with firsthand knowledge of the

The omission by Rove created doubt for
federal investigators, almost from the inception
of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's
name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether
Rove was withholding crucial information from
them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to
them, the sources said.

Meanwhile… in the The Boston Globe

New investigations by the Saudi Arabian
government and an Israeli think tank --
both of which painstakingly analyzed the
backgrounds and motivations of hundreds
of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the
United States -- have found that the vast
majority of these foreign fighters are not
former terrorists and became radicalized
by the war itself.

So the war in Iraq is creating more terrorists.

But thankfully, our brave and wise Republican
congress have never let a painstakingly analyzed
study get in the way of partisan politics…

House Votes Against Early Iraq Withdrawal

Calls for an early withdrawal from Iraq are a
mistake that will only embolden terrorists, the
House resolved Wednesday. The resolution
drew opposition from Democrats, who said it
implied that questioning President Bush's Iraq
policies is unpatriotic.

The measure, approved 291-137, says the
United States should leave Iraq only when
national security and foreign policy goals
related to a free and stable Iraq have been

"Calls for an early withdrawal embolden the
terrorists and undermine the morale" of U.S
and allied forces and put their security at risk,
the amendment to a State Department bill reads.

By the way…

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Report Low Morale


Uncle Sam wants you – even if you’re 42 years old

19 July 2005

Raising the Bar

Scotty went another round with the press
yesterday. See the video and read the full
transcript here.

The latest focus concerns this statement made
yesterday by President Bush (emphasis added):

PRESIDENT BUSH: We have a serious
ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.)
And it's being played out in the press.
And I think it's best that people wait
until the investigation is complete before
you jump to conclusions. And I will do so,
as well. I don't know all the facts. I want
to know all the facts. The best place for
the facts to be done is by somebody who's
spending time investigating it. I would like
this to end as quickly as possible so we
know the facts, and if someone committed
a crime, they will no longer work in my

Careful readers will remember this exchange
between the president and reporters in June

Q: Given -- given recent developments in
the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President
Cheney's discussions with the investigators,
do you still stand by what you said several
months ago, a suggestion that it might be
difficult to identify anybody who leaked the
agent's name?

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's up to --

Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge
to fire anyone found to have done so?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. And that's up to the
U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

And back in September 2003, McClellen said this:

McCLELLAN: The president has set high
standards, the highest of standards for
people in his administration. He's made it
very clear to people in his administration
that he expects them to adhere to the
highest standards of conduct. If anyone in
this administration was involved in it, they
would no longer be in this administration.

So the bar has clearly been raised. Back in 2003,
the president vowed to fire anyone in the White
House who was “involved” in the leak. But now
they get to stay unless they have “committed a

See the difference? Of course you do. But good
luck trying to explain it Scotty:

Q: Does the President equate the word
"leaking" to a crime, as best you know, in his
mind? Just the use of the word "leaking," does
he see that as a criminal standard? And is the
only threshold for firing someone involved
being charged with a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we all serve at the
pleasure of the President in this White House.
The President -- you heard what he had to
say on the matter. He was asked a specific
question, and you heard his response.

Q: Is leaking, in your judgment of his
interpretation, a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll leave it at what the
President said.

Go ahead.

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he
can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is
going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find
out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of
dollars, two years, it tied up how many
lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the
President. He said he doesn't know all the
facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the
facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because
there's an investigation that is continuing at
this point, and the appropriate people to
handle these issues are the ones who are
overseeing that investigation. There is a
special prosecutor that has been appointed.
And it's important that we let all the facts
come out. And then at that point, we'll be
glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be
getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting
into prejudging the outcome.

17 July 2005

The Big Picture

[photo: Reuters]

Required reading from Frank Rich:

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 CIA operative
who posed for Vanity Fair.

16 July 2005

Who is Number One?

Is the Lawrence O’Donnell quote posted below
simply a hypothetical argument -- or is it a hint
of what we can expect to see in the prosecutor’s

Was “witness number one” a “CIA administrator”
whose testimony will confirm that a crime was
indeed committed?

If so, that person deserves the Medal of Freedom.

Unless he’s already got one.

Didn't you get the memo?

Today’s New York Times has more info on the
infamous State Department memo.

The memorandum was prepared at the
State Department, relying on notes by an
analyst who was involved in meetings in
early 2002 to discuss whether to send
someone to Africa to investigate allegations
that Iraq was pursuing uranium purchases.
The C.I.A. was asked by Mr. Cheney's office
and the State and Defense Departments to
look into the reports.

According to a July 9, 2004, Senate
Intelligence Committee report, the notes
described a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at C.I.A.
headquarters on whether Mr. Wilson should
go to Niger.

The notes, which did not identify Ms. Wilson
or her husband by name, said the meeting
was "apparently convened by" the wife of a
former ambassador "who had the idea to
dispatch" him to Niger because of his
contacts in the region. Mr. Wilson had been
ambassador to Gabon.

The Intelligence Committee report said the
former ambassador's wife had a different
account of her role, saying she introduced
him and left after about three minutes.

But the Times neglects to mention that the memo
is not a credible source for what happened at
that meeting.

The Washington Post (Dec. 2003):

Sources said the CIA is angry about the
circulation of a still-classified document
to conservative news outlets suggesting
Plame had a role in arranging her husband's
trip to Africa for the CIA. The document,
written by a State Department official who
works for its Bureau of Intelligence and
Research (INR), describes a meeting at the
CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was
discussed, said a senior administration
official who has seen it.

CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of
the INR document, the official said, because
the agency officer identified as talking about
Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip
could not have attended the meeting.

The memo is just a sloppy smear job.

But whoever had access to this memo would have
known Wilson’s wife was an undercover agent --
and could have leaked that information to
Robert Novak.

So who had access to the memo?

Click here to find out.

15 July 2005


The man who broke the Karl Rove story was the
host of ''Left, Right & Center'' this afternoon on KCRW.

Here’s what I think is definitive on this question.
Patrick Fitzgerald has represented to the courts that
he is pursuing a serious, national security, criminal
violation. It seems to me in this grand jury, witness
number one -- and Tony you’ve been a prosecutor,
you know how they assemble cases -- witness
number one would have been a CIA administrator
who comes in and testifies about how Valerie Plame
does indeed fit the law’s requirements. Because if
witness number one doesn’t do that successfully for
the prosecutor, there is absolutely no reason to call
witness number two, because there is no crime to


Yeah--well--I mean--that’s one way to approach it.

Click here and have a listen.

Who told Novak?

We know that Robert Novak had two administration
sources for his column that revealed Plame’s
identity. Novak himself confirmed this in a follow-up
column dated October 1, 2003.

Novak wrote:

During a long conversation with a senior
administration official, I asked why Wilson was
assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson
had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation
section at the suggestion of one of its employees,
his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this
official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I
called another official for confirmation, he said:
"Oh, you know about it."

We now know from the New York Times that the
second “official” who confirmed Novak’s information
was Karl Rove.

Tim Grieve writes in today’s Salon:

Novak said that the "senior administration
official" with whom he spoke was "no partisan
gunslinger," which has always seemed to rule
out Rove. But Novak said that he got confirmation
of the story from "another official" who told him,
"Oh, you know about it." And although the Rove
and Novak accounts differ slightly -- "I heard
that, too" vs. "Oh, you know about it" -- the
Times' source says that Rove was indeed that
second "official."

What are the ramifications of this new information?
Media Matters explains it.

(Nice and slowly so that even CNN can understand)

…the most significant revelation in the Times
article -- and a similar article in the Associated
Press -- was that prior to Rove's July 11
conversation with Cooper, he already knew not
only that Plame worked for the CIA, but also her
actual name. This new disclosure contradicts
Rove's statement nearly a year after the Novak
conversation that he "didn't know her name."

It will be interesting to see how Republicans explain
that point -- if the press ever bother to ask about it.

But this revelation also begs the next big question
on everyone’s mind:

If Rove was the second leaker, who was the first?

The NY Daily News has some possible clues:

Along with Bush political guru Karl Rove, the
grand jury is investigating what role, if any,
ex-White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may
have played in the revelation that the former
covert operative Plame was married to former
Ambassador Joe Wilson.

"Ari's name keeps popping up," said one
source familiar with special prosecutor
Patrick Fitzgerald's probe.

Another source close to the probe added there
is renewed interest in Fleischer, "based on
Fitzgerald's questions."

A State Department memo that included
background on Wilson - and who in the White
House had access to it - appears to be a key
to revealing who gave conservative columnist
Robert Novak Plame's name, both sources said.

Another person of interest in the case is
Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Lewis
(Scooter) Libby, who was described as "totally
obsessed with Wilson," the sources said.


from the New York Times:

Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser,
spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak
as he was preparing an article in July 2003
that identified a C.I.A. officer who was
undercover, someone who has been
officially briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he
learned from the columnist the name of
the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by
her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the
circumstances in which her husband, former
Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled
to Africa to investigate possible uranium
sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the
person who has been briefed on the matter
said, Mr. Rove told the columnist:

"I heard that, too."

Click here and keep reading.

14 July 2005

Father Knows Best

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.

- George H.W. Bush (April 26, 1999)

A helpful reminder from the Los Angeles Times:

During George H.W. Bush's second presidential
campaign, Rove was fired from the campaign
team because of suspicions that he had leaked
information to columnist Robert Novak — the
same columnist who first reported Plame's CIA
role in 2003, citing anonymous administration

At the time, Bush's campaign was in trouble,
and there was concern that the president might
not even win his home state of Texas. The Novak
column described a Dallas meeting in which the
campaign's state manager, Robert Mosbacher,
was stripped of his authority because the Texas
effort was viewed as a bust.

Mosbacher complained, expressing his suspicion
that Rove was the leaker. Rove denied the charge,
but was fired nevertheless.

So what gives, Mr. President?

Joe wants to know…

Wilson: The president said in — in the middle of
2004 that he would fire anybody who was caught
leaking in this matter. Karl Rove has now been
caught. The president has said repeatedly, I am a
man of my word. The president really should stand
up and prove to the American people that his word
is his bond and fire Karl Rove.

Peter King: Shoot the Journalists

from Editor & Publisher:

SCARBOROUGH: The last thing you want to do at a
time of war is reveal the identity of undercover CIA

KING: No. Joe Wilson, she recommended—his wife
recommended him for this. He said the vice
president recommended him. To me, she took it off
the table. Once she allowed him to go ahead and
say that, write his op-ed in “The New York Times,”
to have Tim Russert give him a full hour on “Meet
the Press,” saying that he was sent there as a
representative of the vice president, when she
knew, she knew herself that she was the one that
recommended him for it, she allowed that lie to go
forward involving the vice president of the United
States, the president of the United States, then to
me she should be the last one in the world who
has any right to complain.

And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I
think people like Tim Russert and the others, who
gave this guy such a free ride and all the media,
they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove.

Panic is in the air, cheese lovers.

Sidney Blumenthal explains why:

The sound and fury of Rove's defenders will soon
subside. The last word, the only word that
matters, will belong to the prosecutor. So far, he
has said very, very little. Unlike the unprofessional,
inexperienced and weak Ken Starr, he does not
leak illegally to the press. But he has commented
publicly on his understanding of the case.

"This case," he said, "is not about a whistle-blower.
It's about a potential retaliation against a

Oh, and that stuff King was saying -- about how
Plame recommended her husband for the trip to
Africa. Pure cheese.

Blumenthal saved this nugget for the second page:

Curiously, the only document cited as the basis for
Plame's role was a State Department memo that
was later debunked by the CIA. The Washington
Post, on Dec. 26, 2003, reported: "CIA officials
have challenged the accuracy of the ... document,
the official said, because the agency officer
identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in
arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended
the meeting. 'It has been circulated around,' one
official said." Even more curious, one of the outlets
where the document was circulated was Talon
News Service and its star correspondent,
Jeff Gannon (aka Guckert). (Talon was revealed to
be a partisan front for a Texas-based operation
called GOPUSA and Gannon was exposed as a
male prostitute, without previous journalistic
credentials yet with easy and unexplained access
to the White House.) According to the Post,
"the CIA believes that people in the administration
continue to release classified information to damage
the figures at the center of the controversy."

Stonewall Scotty

[photo: Reuters]

You may be whatever you resolve to be.

-- Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

How many more rounds can Scotty go?

Watch day three, here.

The dance continues.

(but it’s getting harder to keep a straight face)

13 July 2005


Scotty is starting to sweat.

from War Room:

Salon's David Paul Kuhn was at the White House
[yesterday], and he reports that the press once
again grilled McClellan about Karl Rove's
involvement in the Plame case -- and that
McClellan, once again, refused to say anything
of substance about it. When Rove's name came
up, McClellan "retreated immediately to the
defensive, to his talking points, wiggling his
back foot nervously behind the podium," Kuhn
tells War Room. At one point, Kuhn says, Helen
Thomas mumbled loudly, "He doesn't even
express confidence in a top senior adviser."
Kuhn says that McClellan was "visibly bothered"
by the comment but didn't respond to it.

and Dana Millbank online:

I asked McClellan at [monday's] briefing
whether he was concerned that this would
ruin his entire credibility. He said he hoped
people would know he's a decent guy. It's true
that he's a decent guy, but this episode has
badly discredited him by making him look
either dishonest or duped.

But remember cheese lovers, Scotty is
just the appetizer in this tasty scandal.

from Wonkette:

All this proves is that no one tells
Scotty anything. It's not really his job to
know anything. His job is to say what he's
told to say, or, in some extraordinary cases,
what he intuitsthey might say with the
power of his mind.

and Joshua Zeitz:

It’s encouraging to see the White House
press corps hold Scott McClellan accountable
for his past statements about the Valerie
Plame case.

But in the emerging controversy over
Karl Rove’s alleged exposure of Plame’s
identity, media outlets have been slow to
ask what may yet prove the most explosive
and historically important question of all:

“What did the president know,
and when did he know it?”

This question, famously posed by former
Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN) during the Senate’s
Watergate hearings (and drafted by then-
committee counsel Fred Thompson), bears
as much relevance on the Rove scandal as
it did in the early 1970s, when the Nixon White
House was embroiled in a sordid cover-up
of the Watergate break-in.

Speaking of Watergate (and who isn’t?)
Did you read this?

Political pressure didn't force Mr. Ashcroft
to relinquish control of the Wilson
investigation to a special prosecutor,
Patrick Fitzgerald, until Dec. 30, 2003, more
than five months after Mr. Novak's column
ran. Now 18 more months have passed, and
no one knows what crime Mr. Fitzgerald is
investigating. Is it the tricky-to-prosecute
outing of Mr. Wilson's wife, the story
Judy Miller never even wrote about? Or has
Mr. Fitzgerald moved on to perjury and
obstruction of justice possibly committed
by those who tried to hide their roles in
that outing? If so, it would mean the Bush
administration was too arrogant to heed
the most basic lesson of Watergate:
the cover-up is worse than the crime.

Murray Wass has the latest scoop:

Also of interest to investigators have
been a series of telephone contacts between
Novak and Rove, and other White House
officials, in the days just after press reports
first disclosed the existence of a federal
criminal investigation as to who leaked
Plame's identity. Investigators have been
concerned that Novak and his sources might
have conceived or co-ordinated a cover story
to disguise the nature of their conversations.
That concern was a reason--although only
one of many-- that led prosecutors to press
for the testimony of Cooper and Miller,
sources said.

12 July 2005

Question of the Day

[photo: Reuters]

Eric Alterman asks:

Where is the conservative outrage?

After all, the man outed an undercover CIA agent,
blew numerous operations, cost the country millions
of dollars and quite possibly endangered national
security and could conceivably have cost lives.
(For all we know, he did.) And he did it all for pure
political advantage. There was a reason that law
was passed. And it was to prevent people from
doing stuff like this. Whether what Rove did was
within the law strikes me as beside the point.
What is the president doing keeping a man in his
job who treats the national security of the nation
and the lives of its dedicated public servants as
pawns in his political chess-match? And what are
CNN and The Washington Post doing keeping his
cowardly accomplice? Isn’t that the kind of thing
about which patriotic conservatives profess to care?


Isn’t it amazing how quickly the American
press can grow a backbone when a reporter
gets thrown in jail?

As predicted by everyone, this morning’s
White House press briefing was a doozy.

Here are some highlights:

Q: Does the President stand by his
pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak
of a name of a CIA operative?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I appreciate your
question. I think your question is being
asked relating to some reports that are
in reference to an ongoing criminal
investigation. The criminal investigation
that you reference is something that
continues at this point. And as I've
previously stated, while that investigation
is ongoing, the White House is not going
to comment on it. The President directed
the White House to cooperate fully with
the investigation, and as part of
cooperating fully with the investigation,
we made a decision that we weren't
going to comment on it while it is

Q: Excuse me, but I wasn't actually
talking about any investigation. But
in June of 2004, the President said
that he would fire anybody who was
involved in this leak, to press of
information. And I just want to know,
is that still his position?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but this
question is coming up in the context
of this ongoing investigation, and that's
why I said that our policy continues to
be that we're not going to get into
commenting on an ongoing criminal
investigation from this podium. The
prosecutors overseeing the investigation
had expressed a preference to us that
one way to help the investigation is not
to be commenting on it from this podium.
And so that's why we are not going to
get into commenting on it while it is an
ongoing investigation, or questions
related to it.

Q: Scott, if I could -- if I could
point out, contradictory to that
statement, on September 29th, 2003,
while the investigation was ongoing,
you clearly commented on it. You were
the first one who said, if anybody from
the White House was involved, they
would be fired. And then on June 10th
of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the
midst of this investigation is when the
President made his comment that, yes,
he would fire anybody from the
White House who was involved. So why
have you commented on this during the
process of the investigation in the past,
but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain
around it under the statement of, "We're
not going to comment on an ongoing

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate
the question. I know you want to get to
the bottom of this. No one wants to get
to the bottom of it more than the President
of the United States. And I think the way
to be most helpful is to not get into
commenting on it while it is an ongoing
investigation. That's something that the
people overseeing the investigation have
expressed a preference that we follow.
And that's why we're continuing to follow
that approach and that policy.

Now, I remember very well what was
previously said. And at some point, I will
be glad to talk about it, but not until after
the investigation is complete.

You can read the entire briefing (and watch
the video) here.

Also, check out Swing State Project,
where you can read today’s statements
side-by-side with what McClellan has said
in past briefings.

Like this:


Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove
commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question
relating to a ongoing investigation, and you
have my response related to the investigation.
And I don't think you should read anything
into it other than: We're going to continue
not to comment on it while it's ongoing.


QUESTION: Has the President either asked
Karl Rove to assure him that he had nothing
to do with this; or did Karl Rove go to the
President to assure him that he . . .

McCLELLAN: I don't think he needs that.
I think I've spoken clearly to this publicly . . .
I've just said there's no truth to it.

QUESTION: Yes, but I'm just wondering if
there was a conversation between Karl Rove
and the President, or if he just talked to you,
and you're here at this . . .

McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President
knows he wasn't involved.

But if you want the most bang for your buck,
watch this report from Countdown on MSNBC.

Things look bad for Rove, and not much better
for McClellan.

Anyone want to predict how many indictments?
Or Presidential pardons?

11 July 2005

And he's the smart one.

Our military is confronting the terrorists,
along with our allies, in Iraq and Afghanistan
so that innocent civilians will not have to
confront terrorist violence in Washington
or London or anywhere else in the world.

- Vice-President Dick Cheney (2003)

Read the official White House transcript here.

Special thanks to TPM Cafe for finding the quote.

10 July 2005


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top White House
advisor Karl Rove was one of the secret
sources that spoke to reporters about a
covert CIA operative whose identity was
leaked to the media, Newsweek magazine
reported in its latest edition.

The magazine said Rove's lawyer,
Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove talked
to Time magazine about former ambassador
Joseph Wilson and his wife, CIA agent
Valerie Plame.

Luskin said Rove recently gave Time
magazine reporter Matt Cooper permission
to testify about the conversation to a grand
jury investigating the leak in 2003, according
to Newsweek.

Read the rest here.

Now that Newsweek has confirmed something that
everyone in Washington already knows, do you
think reporters will finally have enough guts to
ask the White House Press Secretary a few
questions on the subject?

The folks over at Salon would like to see them
return to these statements McClellan made back
in October 2003:

Q: Scott, earlier this week you told us
that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams
nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified
information with regard to the leak.
I wondered if you could tell us more
specifically whether any of them told
any reporter that Valerie Plame worked
for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals --
I talked -- I spoke with those individuals,
as I pointed out, and those individuals
assured me they were not involved in this.
And that's where it stands.

Q: So none of them told any reporter
that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that
they were not involved in this.

As that great political sage, Ricky Ricardo
often said:

Lucy! You’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

09 July 2005

Join the Fight!

In case you may have forgotten, our country is fighting
a war in Iraq -- and our military desperately needs more


By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Army, already likely to miss its
recruiting goal this year, may have even
more trouble filling its ranks next year,
the service's chief of staff said Thursday.

"We've got enormous challenges,"
Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the
Senate Armed Services Committee.

In written testimony, he said the Army's
goal of 80,000 recruits this year "is at
serious risk," and recruiting woes will
stretch "well into the future." Next year,
he wrote, "may be the toughest recruiting
environment ever."

Schoomaker's testimony came a day after
officials said the Army met its recruiting
goal for June after four months of shortfalls.

Despite that progress, the active-duty
Army is still 7,800 recruits behind its
year-to-date goal. The service hoped
to recruit 80,000 into its ranks between
Oct. 1, 2004, and this Sept. 30.

Read the rest of the article here.

The situation is serious, and it’s time for the honorable
Americians who support our actions in Iraq to step up
to the plate and answer their country’s call to arms.

Your military needs you. Your country needs you.

It’s time to stop talking about freedom and start
fighting for it. The future of our nation, if not the
entire world hangs in the balance.


That is, unless you are simply a chickenhawk…

Or perhaps a Yellow Elephant.

07 July 2005

What does it all mean?

photo: Associated Press

JUAN COLE has a translation of the statement
claiming credit for the London bombings
posted on the web.

Some comments from both sides of the Atlantic…


Absolutely nothing is achieved by responding
to such terrorism in the way the terrorist most
wants, by behaving differently. The terrorist
most wants people to stop using the Tube.
The terrorist wants tourists to stay away from
the central area. The terrorist wants Londoners
to remain at home, stop working, haul their
children out of school. The terrorist wants shops
and theatres to suffer, the Stock Market to crash,
the Olympic spirit to fade. The terrorist wants
everyone to feel perpetually terrorized, to look
askance at every Arab faces and dress, to
overreact, cut and run for cover from the world.

That is precisely why today's outrage should in
the literal sense of the word be ignored. It should
be treated as an accident in London's history, the
random act of madmen. We should do as Guiliani
said after 9/11. We should go about our business,
take the kids to the park, see a show and wave
defiance to the world. London is not to be
terrified by anyone.


Whoever carried out these attacks managed with
a minimum of expense and a modest amount of
planning and ruthless execution to upstage the
G8 Summit, instantly deflate London's euphoria
over winning the Olympic nod for 2012, and wipe
the smile off of Tony Blair's face--Blair, for whom
the G8 summit was to be his big comeback stage
and an opportunity to get out from under his
poodle image by taking the high moral ground
over Bush on the issues of global warming and
African relief. It's been over three years since
3000 Americans died on 9/11, Bin Laden is still
at large, Iraq is turning into quicksand, oil has
crested $60 a barrel, and yet the Steadfast and
Resolute politicians and pundits still insist on
underestimating the strategic and tactical
intelligence of Al Qaeda. Why, I don't know.


The immediate answer to this is to hunt down
the people immediately responsible, root out the
primarily non-state terror networks that support,
plan and make these attacks possible and start
getting serious about homeland defense --
port security, rail security, nuclear power plant

On that last count, what we've accomplished in
the US over the last few years has been painfully
inadequate, largely because of our focus on
nation-states that have only a tenuous connection
to this threat -- a lot of lies, mumbojumbo, and
scurrilous and dark motives by the usual suspects

Finally, I think we should look very closely at what
actually happened today. It took a lot of coordination
and it took a lot of lives. But it was extremely low-tech.
It didn't take mad scientists or proliferated technology.
And in a way that makes it all the harder to prevent.


We argued, as did the security services in this
country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq
would increase the threat of terrorist attack in
Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the
price of the Government ignoring such warnings.


Bush's latest rationale for maintaining the course in
Iraq adventure has been the "flypaper strategy" - it's
better to fight the terrorists over there than at home.
Nevermind that the Iraqis never asked to have their
country turned into a dangerous den of terrorism,
insurgency, violence and death. For war supporters
looking for an excuse, any excuse, to justify the
continued disastrous American presence in Iraq, the
flypaper rationale was as good as any.

Except that it's not working. The war isn't making
the West any safer. In fact, it's creating a whole new
class of terrorists. Today it was London. Next time it
could easily be the United States. And waging the
war in Iraq, rather than make us safer, is further
motivating Islamic terrorists to strike at the West.


I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on
a personal basis, when I heard there had been this
attack and I saw the futures this morning, which
were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm,
time to buy."


The natural state of the English is a kind of gloomy
diligence, which is why they do so well in hard times.
In 1940, Londoners went dutifully on with their
business while the Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of
them. Today, most of them are doing the same. I was
in Washington for 9/11, and the whole city went into
a panic. Offices emptied, stores shut, downtown D.C.
became a ghost town. But in London today, everyone
still has a cell phone clutched to their ear. The delivery
vans are still racing about, seeking shortcuts around
all the street closures. The Starbucks is packed.

And when I walked by the Queen's Larder Pub, not
half a mile from the Tavistock Square wreckage, at
11 a.m., a half-dozen men were sitting together at a
sidewalk table, hoisting their morning pints of ale.
Civilization must go on, after all.

London Calling

I just received an email from our TCS London

* * *

Just to let you all know that I am ok.

I missed the Kings Cross Station (my regular arriving
point) explosion by about 8 minutes. I was waiting for
the cheaper time of day to travel.

Hasn't really sunk in yet.

The train I was on was stopped just before Kings Cross
and I bussed and walked to work from Kentish Town
(Northwest London).

Al Queda are claiming responsibility, and now we reap
the rewards of Bush and Blair's insane foreign policy.

London looks like War of the Worlds right now.
Tons of people in the streets on cellphones. Cops and
ambulances trying to drive through huge amounts of
traffic and a very tangible sense of unease.

I cannot call or text from my phone right now (networks
overloaded) so this email will have to do. So far all my
friends, colleagues and family are accounted for.

Thanks for the emails and texts.

- T.

Oh Shit.

Details still coming in…


LONDON - At least six blasts rocked
the London subway and tore open a
packed double-decker bus during the
morning rush hour Thursday, police said,
killing at least two people and injuring
nine, prompting officials to shut down
the entire underground transport network.

The near simultaneous explosions came
a day after London was awarded the
2012 Olympics and as the G-8 summit
was getting underway in Scotland. Initial
reports blamed a power surge, but officials
were not ruling out an intentional attack.

UPDATE: Tony Blair confirms they were
terrorist attacks. Death toll reaches 30.

06 July 2005

Money! It's a hit.

I've had mixed feelings about the Live 8 concert
ever since I discovered (quite recently) that it
wasn't actually raising any money to fight poverty.
It's goal was simply to raise awareness.

Never thought the day would come when I'd find
myself agreeing with Noel Gallagher, but I think
the young man has a good point:

Correct me if I am wrong, but are they hoping
that one of these guys from the G8 is going to
see Annie Lennox singing Sweet Dreams and
think 'fuck me, she might have a point there'.

Or Keane doing Somewhere Only We Know
and some Japanese businessman looks at him
and says 'we should really drop that debt, you

It isn't going to happen is it?

But at least one act has decided to back up their
words with their wallet…


LONDON (AFP) - Rock group Pink Floyd
vowed to donate all profits made from
their greatest hits album to charity, after
record sales soared following the group's
performance at Live 8.

The legendary British band, who had not
played together for 20 years before
Saturday's concert in London -- part of
a series worldwide to draw attention to
the campaign to reduce poverty in
Africa -- saw sales of Echoes increase
by 1,300 percent in the British capital alone.

Guitarist Dave Gilmour said the money
should be used to "save lives".

"Though the main objective has been
to raise consciousness (of the plight of Africa)
and put pressure on the G8 leaders, I will
not profit from the concert," he said.

Nice. Now who's next?

Incidently, you can see the reunited Pink Floyd
performance over at Crooks & Liars.

A few wobbly moments, but they pull it off.
They even dedicate "Wish You Were Here" to Syd.

Very classy.

UPDATE: Annie Lennox, The Who, and Sir Paul
have joined the party. But still a bit vague about
how much they'll donate.

Let the games begin.

Congratulations London.

That gust of wind blowing across the Atlantc
is no doubt the huge sigh of relief exhaled by
eight million New Yorkers.

I didn't catch any of the Olympic presentations,
but I did a double-take when I read this bit
from King Kaufman's sports column in Salon:

London's presentation involved reminding
the committee that the city stepped in to
host the Games in 1948 as Europe was
trying to recover from the devastation of
World War II.

"Remind me again," one British presenter
said, turning to the French with a raised
eyebrow, "what you lot did during World
War II?"

London was playing for keeps.

Did he really say that?


05 July 2005

Karl takes the Plame

Gather round boys and girls, it’s story time.

Remember that epic tale called Watergate? The strange
but true mystery that gripped the nation and ended a
corrupt presidency? Well, there’s a sequel in the works
and it’s time to get up to speed…

At the heart of this story are the infamous forged
government documents from Niger that supposedly
proved that Saddam Hussein was attempting to
purchase “yellowcake” (milled uranium oxide which
can eventually be converted into weapons-grade
enriched uranium) from that same African nation.

According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker and
the Associated Press, these documents first surfaced
in the fall of 2001 when a journalist for Italy’s Corriere
della Serra
gave them to the Italian intelligence service,
who then passed them along to the US embassy.

In February 2002, Vice-President Cheney sent former
Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to uncover any
evidence that might support the claims made in the
documents. By March, Wilson had discovered no such
evidence and concluded that the documents were
probably forgeries. This view was shared by the
International Atomic Energy Agency and the CIA,
as the Washington Post reported a year later

…Knowledgeable sources familiar with the
forgery investigation described the faked
evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi
agents and officials in the central African
nation of Niger. The documents had been
given to the U.N. inspectors by Britain and
reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence.
The forgers had made relatively crude errors
that eventually gave them away - including
names and titles that did not match up with
the individuals who held office at the time
the letters were purportedly written, the
officials said…

…The CIA, which had also obtained the
documents, had questions about "whether
they were accurate," said one intelligence
official, and it decided not to include them in
its file on Iraq's program to procure weapons
of mass destruction.

But President Bush and his cabinet, trying to make the
case that Saddam was a nuclear threat to the United States,
continued to use the false documents as justification for
invading Iraq. In January 2003, ten months after he was
informed by the CIA that the Niger documents were fake,
the president made this infamous statement in his State
of the Union Address:

The British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa.

By March of 2003, only weeks before the Iraqi invasion,
the facts about the forged documents began to appear
in newspapers around the world, including the previously
quoted article from the Washington Post. But by then, war
was a foregone conclusion and the issue soon fell off the
media radar.

But the story regained the spotlight when Joseph Wilson
went public with a July 6th editorial in the New York Times
titled “What I Didn’t Find In Africa.” The editorial gives a
step-by-step account of Wilson’s mission in Niger and his
subsequent briefing to the CIA . He reveals that despite
their debunking by himself, the CIA and the IAEA, the
Niger documents were included in a fact sheet created
by the State Department in 2002. The editorial concludes
with a strong indictment against the White House,
suggesting it deliberately used unreliable evidence
to deceive the American public into supporting a war
against Iraq.

If my information was deemed inaccurate, I
understand (though I would be very interested
to know why). If, however, the information was
ignored because it did not fit certain precon-
ceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument
can be made that we went to war under false
pretenses. (It's worth remembering that in his
March "Meet the Press" appearance, Mr. Cheney
said that Saddam Hussein was "trying once again
to produce nuclear weapons.") At a minimum,
Congress, which authorized the use of military
force at the president's behest, should want to
know if the assertions about Iraq were warranted.

I was convinced before the war that the threat
of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of
Saddam Hussein required a vigorous and sustained
international response to disarm him. Iraq possessed
and had used chemical weapons; it had an active
biological weapons program and quite possibly a
nuclear research program — all of which were in
violation of United Nations resolutions. Having
encountered Mr. Hussein and his thugs in the run-up
to the Persian Gulf war of 1991, I was only too aware
of the dangers he posed.

But were these dangers the same ones the
administration told us about? We have to find out.
America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of
its information. For this reason, questioning the
selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq
is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as
Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last
option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave
threat to our national security. More than 200
American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq
already. We have a duty to ensure that their
sacrifice came for the right reasons.

Needless to say, the Bush administration was highly embarrassed
by this editorial. The retribution was swift and severe. Conservative,
syndicated columnist Robert Novak dropped this bombshell in his
July 14th column:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie
Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass
destruction. Two senior administration officials told
me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to
investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter
proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his
wife to contact him. "I will not answer any question
about my wife," Wilson told me.

In case you didn’t catch that, Novak just exposed Joseph Wilson’s
wife as an undercover CIA operative. Michael C. Ruppert, author
of Crossing The Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire
at the End of the Age of Oil,
explains the consequences of
this act:

Not only was Plame's cover blown, so was that of
her cover company, Brewster, Jennings & Associates.
With the public exposure of Plame, intelligence agencies
all over the world started searching data bases for any
references to her (TIME Magazine). Damage control
was immediate, as the CIA asserted that her mission
had been connected to weapons of mass destruction.

However, it was not long before stories from the
Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal
tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil
and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company,
or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder
of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's principal

And what was Valerie Plame doing in Saudi Arabia? Ruppert
speculates that she was gathering intelligence to determine
how much oil was left in the country that produces 25% of
the world’s most valuable resource. Despite denials from
the Saudi government, the New York Times has published
articles claiming that Saudi oil production is in a state of
irreversible decline.

If anybody has the real data on Saudi fields it is
either ARAMCO or the highest levels of the Saudi
royal family.

The answer to the Saudi peak question will
determine whether Saudi Arabia really can increase
production quickly, as promised. If they can't, then
the US economy is going to suffer bitterly, and it is
certain that the Saudi monarchy will collapse into
chaos. Then the nearby US military will occupy the
oilfields and the U.S. will ultimately Balkanize the
country by carving off the oil fields - which occupy
only a small area near the East coast. That U.S.
enclave would then provide sanctuary to the
leading members of the royal family who will
have agreed to keep their trillions invested in
Wall Street so the US economy doesn't collapse.

Sounds like a pretty important mission, no?

Even if Ruppert is totally wrong about the nature of Plame’s
work for the CIA, it is still a felony to disclose the identity of
a covert agent -- and that is precisely what someone in the
Bush White House did when that information was leaked to
Robert Novak (and other journalists, including Matt Cooper
and Judith Miller.)

Still with me?

Good. Because here is where it gets really interesting.

The obvious question until now has been “Who is the White House
Novak, protecting an anonymous source, won’t tell.
In February 2004, President Bush made the following statements:

If there's a leak out of my administration, I want
to know who it is. If the person has violated law,
that person will be taken care of. I welcome the
investigation. I am absolutely confident the Justice
Department will do a good job.

Of course, if Bush really wanted to know the leaker, he could
find out pretty quick by demanding the answer from his
White House staff. But the president’s search for answers
bares a striking resemblance to O.J. Simpson’s search for the
real killer -- willfully ineffective.

The case took on another fascinating twist when both President
Bush and Vice-President Cheney hired private criminal defense lawyers in June 2004, anticipating the possibility that they would
be forced to testify in the case that was now being investigated
by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Nixon,
was more than a bit surprised by this move as he wrote in
his June 4th column in findlaw.com:

This action by Bush is a rather stunning and
extraordinary development. The President of the
United States is potentially hiring a private criminal
defense lawyer. Unsurprisingly, the White House is
doing all it can to bury the story, providing
precious little detail or context for the President's

…But from what I have learned from those who
have been quizzed by the Fitzgerald investigators
it seems unlikely that they are interviewing the
President merely as a matter of completeness, or
in order to be able to defend their actions in front
of the public. Asking a President to testify - or
even be interviewed - remains a serious, sensitive
and rare occasion. It is not done lightly. Doing so
raises separation of powers concerns that continue
to worry many…

…If so - and if the person revealed the leaker's
identity to the President, or if the President decided
he preferred not to know the leaker's identity - then
this fact could conflict with Bush's remarkably broad
public statements on the issue. He has said that he
did not know of "anybody in [his] administration who
leaked classified information." He has also said that
he wanted "to know the truth" about this leak.

If Bush is called before the grand jury, it is likely
because Fitzgerald believes that he knows much
more about this leak than he has stated publicly.

So it all comes down to this:

Who leaked the information, and did the president know about it?

Keeping all this background in mind, it is now easy to see why it
is such a big deal that the leaker has now been identified as
Karl Rove.

Yep, that Karl Rove -- longtime advisor and political guru to
George W. Bush, currently serving the administration as deputy
White House chief of staff.

Rove, his lawyer and the White House are already in full-spin mode,
claiming that the Boy Genius didn’t really break the law because
he didn’t knowingly expose a covert agent. But again, this is small potatoes.

The big questions -- the ones that are no doubt depriving Bush
of his much needed beauty sleep are:

Is there any way that the president’s most trusted confidant and
important advisor could have leaked this information without
Bush knowing about it?

And if so, will Bush make that claim under oath?

Words of Wisdom

When men yield up the privilege of thinking,
the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.

- Thomas Paine

Any society that would give up a little liberty
to gain a little security will deserve neither
and lose both.

- Benjamin Franklin

Liberty doesn't work as well in practice as
it does in speeches.

- Will Rogers

Happy Birthday America.

03 July 2005

This just in…

Why does all the exciting news have to happen
over a holiday weekend?

First, Justice O'Connor announces her retirement.

And now a journalist has identified Karl Rove as
the leaker in the Valarie Plame/CIA case.

Boy, it's going to be hot summer in Washington.
You can't even escape politics at the ballpark.

Stay tuned for more after the holiday.

01 July 2005

Communication Breakdown

Ah, upstate New York…

It's where I grew up, you know.

Lots of history. (Cradle of the American Revolution)
Beautiful scenery. (The mighty Hudson River)

And some of the dumbest politicians to ever get
elected. (I'm looking at you, Governor Pataki)

But this guy sets a whole new standard for the word dumbass:


The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Thinking he was sending
an e-mail to an aide, Assemblyman Willis Stephens
instead sent a note to nearly 300 constituents,
making the following comment on their listserv:

"Just watching the idiots pontificate."

In the message, meant for aide Beth Coursen,
Stephens wrote that he subscribes to the Brewster
based online discussion group to monitor area
happenings, but he doesn't post messages.

The accidental note went out early Monday
morning. Within an hour, Stephens sent
another e-mail apologizing for the first one.

"To all who read and post on this group,
I honestly enjoy reading most of what is
exchanged on this site and do not direct my
indiscreet characterizations to anyone in
particular or to the group in general," he wrote.
"In fact, now I most closely resemble the
type of poster I described."

When reached for comment Tuesday, Stephens
said he was embarrassed and reiterated what
he said in his e-mailed apology.

Michael Santos, a Brewster resident and
Democratic village trustee who created the
discussion group, said he's a longtime political
adversary of Stephens. Stephens has called him
a lot worse than a pontificating idiot, Santos said,

"I guess I was taken a little aback at first,"
Santos said. "On the other hand, I should probably
send Will a thank-you note, since my in-box is
now full with requests from people asking to be

Stephens, a Republican, represents an area that
includes a handful of towns in Putnam and
Westchester counties and the Town of Pawling
in Dutchess County.