29 October 2005

Quote of the Week

Patrick Fitzgerald:
[T]he truth is the engine of our judicial system.
And if you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost.

28 October 2005

Merry Fitzmas!

[photo: Associated Press]

Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - The vice president's chief of staff,
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., was indicted Friday on
charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making
false statements in the CIA leak investigation, a
politically charged case that could cast a harsh light on
President Bush's push to war.

Libby, 55, resigned and left the White House.

. . .

"Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain
of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he
heard from another, was not true. It was false," the
prosecutor said. "He was at the beginning of the chain of
the phone calls, the first official to disclose this
information outside the government to a reporter. And
he lied about it afterward, under oath, repeatedly."

Read the full text of the indictments, here.
And watch Fitzgerald’s opening statement, here.

But first, raise your glass and sing along...

We wish you a Merry Fitzmas
We wish you a Merry Fitzmas
We wish you a Merry Fitzmas

Now let’s drink some beer!


Scooter replies... "I am confident that at the end
of this process I will be completely and totally

His lawyer adds..."To say we are disappointed
is an understatement. Mr Libby testified to the best
of his honest recollection on all occasions."

27 October 2005

And now for something completely different.

Harriet Miers Withdraws Nomination

Maybe she wanted to spend more time on her blog.

26 October 2005

The Last Days of Rosa Parks

The president called her "one of the most inspiring
women of the 20th century."
Can’t argue with that.
But the 21st century wasn’t too kind to Rosa Parks.

Money woes plague legacy of Rosa Parks
Family wary of her caregivers' motives

November 23, 2004


Two charities created to preserve and protect the name
and legacy of civil rights legend Rosa Parks and her
late husband have spent the last seven years entangled
in lawsuits for nonpayment of bills, been slapped with
$25,000 in tax liens by the IRS and the state, and had
a vehicle repossessed.

In addition, Parks has twice received eviction notices
from her Detroit home, a Free Press investigation has

Parks' doctors have said the 91-year-old matriarch of
the modern civil rights movement is in poor health and
has dementia, a condition suggesting she is likely
unaware of the financial problems. She has rarely been
seen in public in recent years. Some of her family
members have questioned whether Parks is receiving
the care she deserves.

"We never had proof, but we always suspected
something was amiss with Auntie Rosa," said Rhea
McCauley, a niece who tried to become Parks' guardian
in 2002. "The way they're caring for our aunt is not
professional at all. They've virtually shut the family

. . .

Friends and family have fretted about Parks' well-being
for years. When her Detroit home was broken into and
she was assaulted in 1994, outraged business and
community leaders raised funds for Parks' relocation to
Riverfront Apartments, a luxurious, high-security

When she moved in, Archer, who was then Detroit's
mayor, welcomed Parks to the building and cited her
spectacular view of the Detroit River. He said her
surroundings offered "peace and tranquility."

But in 2002 -- in October and again in November -- the
complex took her to court for nonpayment of rent and
tried to evict her. Management filed complaints in 36th
District Court in Detroit, stating that Parks owed the
complex $4,471.

Steele said Parks' rent was paid. She said the eviction
notices were mistakenly filed and should have been
removed from court records. Steele said someone from
Riverfront's office told her that an error occurred, but
she couldn't supply the name of that person.

"I really don't want to discuss Mrs. Parks' personal
finances," said Steele, who would not say how Parks'
bills are paid. According to documents obtained by the
Free Press, Parks receives a pension from the Federal
Civil Service and Social Security benefits.

Nearly fifty years after “this humble seamstress stood up to
injustice,” how did America show its gratitude to Rosa Parks?

Go to the back of the bus.

25 October 2005

It's Worse than Car Talk

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the extra clicks -- I really do.
But if your readers want an excerpt of what this blogger is saying,
they’ll have to search pretty hard in your bizarrely punctuated blurb.

Why didn’t you go with the Animal House material?

That was gold, Jerry!

And thanks for the kick in the balls, Technorati.

23 October 2005

Signs of the Times

My how the times have changed.

It was only last July that the New York Times editorial
page made favorable comparisons between Judy Miller
and Rosa Parks, proudly declaring:

Ms. Miller has taken a path that will be lonely and
painful for her and her family and friends. We wish
she did not have to choose it, but we are certain she
did the right thing.

She is surrendering her liberty in defense of a greater
liberty, granted to a free press by the founding fathers
so journalists can work on behalf of the public without
fear of regulation or retaliation from any branch of

I can almost hear Keller and Sulzberger humming the
Star Spangled Banner as those words were being
printed -- just as Otter’s Delta brothers did when he
offered an equally bogus, patriotic defense of incorrigible

But the Times isn’t Animal House, and Judy Miller isn’t
John Belushi. The party is finally over and it is time to
clean up the mess.

The Times needs to review Ms. Miller's journalistic
practices as soon as possible, especially because she
disputes some accounts of her conduct that have come
to light since the leak investigation began.

. . .

Neither Mr. Keller nor the publisher had done much
digging into Ms. Miller's contacts with any of her
confidential sources about Ms. Plame before the
subpoena arrived on Aug. 12, 2004. Neither had
reviewed her notes, for instance. Mr. Keller also didn't
look into whether Ms. Miller had proposed a story
about the Plame leak to an editor.

"I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been
subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I
had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and
followed up with some reporting of my own," he
wrote to me, adding later, "If I had known the details
of Judy's engagement with Libby, I'd have been more
careful in how the paper articulated its defense."

What does the future hold for Ms. Miller? She told me
Thursday that she hopes to return to the paper after
taking some time off. Mr. Sulzberger offered this
measured response: "She and I have acknowledged
that there are new limits on what she can do next." It
seems to me that whatever the limits put on her, the
problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom
will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a

And those problems do seem to be piling up, don’t they?

But they’re nothing compared to the problems facing the
Bush Administration

Nearly a year after his re-election, President George W.
Bush is in a slump caused by the Iraq war, two
hurricanes and a criminal investigation centering on
two top White House aides. Republicans are nervously
hoping for a rebound.

Bush's agenda is in tatters. His ambitious plan to
change the Social Security retirement system, already
faltering, has been submerged by the need to rebuild
New Orleans and other areas devastated by
hurricanes Katrina and Rita and his fellow Republicans
are getting heartburn over the cost.

His bid to divert criticism over the slow federal
response to Katrina and improve the daily onslaught
of negative headlines by nominating White House
counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court failed.

Her nomination triggered anger from conservatives
who doubt Miers's credentials and skepticism from
Democrats who worry that she is anti-abortion.

The American death toll from the Iraq war, launched
over weapons of mass destruction that were never
, nears 2,000 amid a raging insurgency and no
firm timetable for withdrawal.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room at meetings of
Bush's inner-circle is a special prosecutor's
investigation into who leaked the name to the media
of a covert CIA agent in 2003 to try and undermine a
former diplomat who became a prominent critic of the

If that’s a slump, I’d hate to see what the press considers
a full-fledged political crisis.

(It would probably require oral sex in the Oval Office.)

But remember, one man’s slump is another man’s holiday.

My how the times have changed.

21 October 2005

All You Need Is Cheese

Speaking of Lennonists...

I just finished reading Janet Maslin’s glowing review
of Bob Spitz’s The Beatles: The Biography.

Here's the new angle: Mr. Spitz means to outdo these
conventional tactics by elevating the Beatles' story to
the realm of serious history. Imagine "John Adams"
with music and marijuana. "The Beatles" is written
for the reader who seeks deep, time-consuming
immersion in the past and can look beyond
traditionally lofty subjects to find it. Like Mark
Stevens's and Annalyn Swan's recent biography
of Willem de Kooning, it means to meld the forces
of personality, culture and art into a broad and
emblematic story.

At first this is worrisome. Yeah, yeah, yeah: Mr. Spitz
goes back centuries to link the slave trade with
American and West Indian exports shipped back to
Liverpool. He locates John O'Leannain and James
McCartney II as Irish refugees from the potato famine
of the 1840's. He embroiders the atmosphere of his
subjects' early years, imagining how young John
Lennon (as the family name evolved) was awakened
by "a clatter of hoofbeats as an old dray horse made
milk deliveries along the rutted road."

But the built-in momentum of the material quickly
takes over. And this book - with its eerily gorgeous
cover, unguarded photo illustrations and enchanting
endpapers that reproduce a teenage Beatlemaniac's
love-struck scrawl - begins to exert its pull. With
sweep already built into its story and the cumulative
effects of the author's levelheaded, anecdotal
approach, the book emerges as a consolidating and
newly illuminating work. For the right reader, that
combination is irresistible.

And that “right reader” would definitely be me.
Time to start composing the holiday wish-list.

Fab Four fanatics will also enjoy hearing this episode
of Soundcheck on WNYC public radio. Author Tim Riley
previews the new batch of Beatles product coming out
this season. He also explains why Paul McCartney is just
like Prince, and where to find the best sounding version
of Rubber Soul. (Answer: German vinyl, mono)

And if that’s still not enough, check out the latest news
at cyber-beatles.com -- a massive, frequently updated
list of anything and everything happening in Pepperland.

Déjà Vu

Bush has been doing a spot-on Nixon impression for months now.
But I’m surprised to see Bono going for the Elvis routine.

Always had him pegged as a Lennonist.

20 October 2005

You did a heck of a job, Brownie.

Excerpts of newly-released emails from FEMA officials
during Hurricane Katrina:

To: FEMA Director Michael Brown
From: Marty Bahamonde, regional director
for New England
August 31, 11:20 am CDT

Sir, I know that you know the situation is past
critical. Here some things you might not know.

Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in
the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still
being rescued from homes.

The dying patients at the DMAT tent being medivac.
Estimates are many will die within hours.
Evacuation in process. Plans developing for dome
evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We
are out of food and running out of water at the dome,
plans in works to address the critical need.

. . .

To: Cindy Taylor, FEMA deputy director
of public affairs & others
From: Sharon Worthy, Brown’s press secretary
August 31, 2:00 pm CDT

Also, it is very important that time is allowed for
Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Gievn [sic] that Baton Rouge
is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He
needs much more that [sic] 20 or 30 minutes. We
now have traffic to encounter to get to and from a
location of his choise [sic], followed by wait service
from the restaurant staff, eating, etc.

. . .

To: Cindy Taylor & Michael Widomski, public affairs
From: Marty Bahamonde
August 31, 2:44 pm CDT

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won't go any further, too easy
of a target. Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and
crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with
30,000 other close friends so I understand her
concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will
have time to move my pebbles on the parking
garage floor so they don't stab me in the back while
I try to sleep.

19 October 2005


Cheeselovers may remember that earlier this month the
National Journal reported that President Bush testified
that Karl Rove assured him that “he had not disclosed
Plame as a CIA employee and had said nothing to the
press to discredit Wilson, according to sources familiar
with the president's interview.”

But today the New York Daily News tells a much
different story.

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru
Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie
Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a
presidential counselor told The News. "He made his
life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to
Rove, who friends and even political adversaries
acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise
from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

. . .

A second well-placed source said some recently
published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush
about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack
were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides
trying to protect the President.

Oops. Looks like someone’s got some 'splaining to do.

War Room cuts to the chase:

In the end, it's hard to see how either story helps
Bush all that much. If the first one is true -- that is, if
Rove lied to Bush -- then the president has known
since at least July that he's employing someone who
lied to his face about something he himself has called
"a very serious matter." And if the second story is
true -- that is, if Bush has known all along -- then he
allowed his spokesman to mislead the American
people and he misled them himself when he suggested
it would be hard to identify the person who leaked
Plame's identity.

Maybe it would be better to just tell the truth.

UPDATE: Chuck Schumer throws down the gauntlet, here.

17 October 2005

Giant Squid!

[Illustration: National Geographic Society]

It's alive! National Geographic has the photos.

16 October 2005

It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby

A helpful reminder from Frank Rich:

Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not
whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty
conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower,
Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a
covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's
investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its
illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty:
the one that took us on false premises into a reckless
and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was
instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and
Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Any explanation as to why today's column is available
for free -- instead of being offered as an “exclusive”
for TimesSelect members only?

Mickey Kaus has a theory.

When it was launched, TimesSelect promised:

“exclusive access to 22 columnists of The Times
and the IHT, including online dialogues with
Thomas L. Friedman, Paul Krugman and Frank

Hmmm. Read that sentence closely and you
realize that for $49.95 you've only really been
offered "exclusivity" with respect to the "online
dialogues," not the actual columns. Where is
Elliot Spitzer when you need him?

UPDATE: Well that free lunch didn't last long.
The Frank Rich link now says "page not found."
Use this other free link instead.

It's Miller Time

Judy Miller and the New York Times finally put their cards
on the table, here and here. It’s pretty anti-climactic, to
say the least. The money quotes:

Asked what she regretted about The Times's handling
of the matter, Jill Abramson, a managing editor, said:
"The entire thing."


Last week, [NYT publisher] Mr. Sulzberger said it was
impossible to know whether Ms. Miller could have
struck a deal a year earlier, as at least four other
journalists had done.

"Maybe a deal was possible earlier," Mr. Sulzberger
said. "And maybe, in retrospect, looking back, you
could say this was a moment you could have jumped
on. If so, shame on us. I tend to think not."

And Judy Miller writes:

On one page of my interview notes, for example, I
wrote the name "Valerie Flame." Yet, as I told Mr.
Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came
from, when I wrote it or why the name was

I testified that I did not believe the name came from
Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not
appear in the same part of my notebook as the
interview notes from him.

So basically, she doesn’t remember who her source was.

As you might expect, Arianna isn’t buying it.
Read her comments, here.

UPDATE: Obviously the blogs will be chewing on these
articles for many days to come. If you're hungry for
more, check out the insightful analysis at The Left
and Editor & Publisher.

15 October 2005

Cheesy Writing

Last thursday, conservative columnist David Brooks
declared, “Of all the words written about Harriet Miers,
none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote
herself.” He proves his point quite convincingly by
sharing the following gems from Ms. Miers “President’s
Opinion” column for The Texas Bar Journal:

"More and more, the intractable problems in our
society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of
unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to
fix problems."


"We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate
conduct and increase education in professionalism."


"An organization must also implement programs to
fulfill strategies established through its goals and
mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies
are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals,
strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in
place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."


"We have to understand and appreciate that achieving
justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to
assist in obtaining support for the justice system will
be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding
and appreciation of why the challenge is so important,
we can then turn to the task of providing the much
needed support."

Not exactly Cicero, is she?

But wait, there’s more. ePluribus Media reports:

Last year, then Deputy Chief of Staff Harriet Miers
hosted four sessions of Ask the White House -- "an
online interactive forum where you can submit
questions to Administration officials and friends of the
White House."  Miers' responses suggested some
characteristics that one might not necessarily
associate with a prospective Supreme Court justice:

• She appeared to be comfortable with allowing
blocks of text borrowed from other authors to be
published under her name without any
acknowledgement or formal attribution.

• She did not seem to feel obligated to ensure that her
writings published at the official White House Web
Site were proofread to identify and correct glaring

• She appeared willing to continue to recite partisan
political talking points after they had been largely
dismissed as inaccurate or misleading to the public.

Not just a plagiarist -- a sloppy plagiarist.

The horror.

14 October 2005

Questions of Character

Paul Krugman knocks it out of the park in today’s Times.

Right now, with the Bush administration in meltdown
on multiple issues, we're hearing a lot about President
Bush's personal failings. But what happened to the
commanding figure of yore, the heroic leader in the
war on terror? The answer, of course, is that the
commanding figure never existed: Mr. Bush is the
same man he always was. All the character flaws that
are now fodder for late-night humor were fully visible,
for those willing to see them, during the 2000

 And President Bush the great leader is far from the
only fictional character, bearing no resemblance to the
real man, created by media images.

Read the speeches Howard Dean gave before the Iraq
war, and compare them with Colin Powell's pro-war
presentation to the U.N. Knowing what we know now,
it's clear that one man was judicious and realistic,
while the other was spinning crazy conspiracy
theories. But somehow their labels got switched in the
way they were presented to the public by the news

Why does this happen? A large part of the answer is
that the news business places great weight on "up
close and personal" interviews with important people,
largely because they're hard to get but also because
they play well with the public. But such interviews are
rarely revealing. The fact is that most people - myself
included - are pretty bad at using personal
impressions to judge character. Psychologists find, for
example, that most people do little better than chance
in distinguishing liars from truth-tellers.

More broadly, the big problem with political reporting
based on character portraits is that there are no rules,
no way for a reporter to be proved wrong. If a
reporter tells you about the steely resolve of a
politician who turns out to be ineffectual and unwilling
to make hard choices, you've been misled, but not in a
way that requires a formal correction.

And that makes it all too easy for coverage to be
shaped by what reporters feel they can safely say,
rather than what they actually think or know. Now
that Mr. Bush's approval ratings are in the 30's, we're
hearing about his coldness and bad temper, about how
aides are afraid to tell him bad news. Does anyone
think that journalists have only just discovered these
personal characteristics?

Read the entire column, here.

13 October 2005

How High Will It Go?

The latest bombshell from Raw Story:

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to
determine whether Vice President Dick Cheney had a
role in the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie
Plame-Wilson, individuals close to Fitzgerald say.
Plame’s husband was a vocal critic of prewar
intelligence used by President George W. Bush to
build support for the Iraq war.

The investigation into who leaked the officer's name
to reporters has now turned toward a little known
cabal of administration hawks known as the White
House Iraq Group (WHIG), which came together in
August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam
Hussein. WHIG was founded by Bush chief of staff
Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s

. . .

Two officials close to Fitzgerald told RAW STORY they
have seen documents obtained from the White House
Iraq Group which state that Cheney was present at
several of the group's meetings. They say Cheney
personally discussed with individuals in attendance at
least two interviews in May and June of 2003 Wilson
gave to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof
and Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, in which
he claimed the administration “twisted” prewar
intelligence and what the response from the
administration should be.

Cheney was interviewed by the FBI surrounding the
leak in 2004. According to the New York Times,
Cheney was asked whether he knew of any concerted
effort by White House aides to name Ms. Wilson.

Sources close to the investigation have also confirmed
that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to
determine Vice President Cheney's role in the outing
of Mrs. Wilson, more specifically, if Cheney ordered
the leak.

11 October 2005


So Judy Miller suddenly finds notes from a conversation
she had with Scooter Libby back in June 2003 -- before
Joseph Wilson wrote his op-ed piece -- and now finds
herself facing more questions from special counsel
Patrick Fitzgerald.

Since the New York Times seems unwilling or unable to
connect the dots, bloggers are posting some plausable
theories of their own. The current blockbuster comes
from Jane Hamsher at firedoglake. In a follow-up post,
she summarizes the “dust bunny theory” as follows:

In a nutshell: it posits that Judy thought she could get
cute, cut a deal with Fitzgerald to limit her testimony
and then lied to the Grand Jury (possibly about the
first time she met with Libby, having been coached by
him). Fitzgerald busted her, and she's now scrambling
to save her ass and offering up her notes from a
heretofore unknown meeting with A Boy Named
Scooter on June 22.

Mark Kleiman offers a more detailed summary, here.

Latest news from Murray Waas confirms that Libby did
not disclose the June conversation with Miller to the
grand jury and FBI investigators.

10 October 2005

Best of Times / Worst of Times

Frank Rich: The Faith-Based President Defrocked

Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid. The
most distressing aspect of Mr. Bush's press conference
last week was less his lies and half-truths than the
abundant evidence that he is as out of touch as Custer
was on the way to Little Bighorn. The president seemed
genuinely shocked that anyone could doubt his claim
that his friend is the best-qualified candidate for the
highest court. Mr. Bush also seemed unaware that it was
Republicans who were leading the attack on Ms. Miers.
"The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is
up to the Democrats," he said, confusing his antagonists
this time much as he has Saddam Hussein and Osama
bin Laden.

Click here for a free link.

Note to New York Times: Your TimesSelect program is
a joke -- just like your reporting on the Plame leak
investigation. How much longer do we have to wait for
Judy Miller to file a freakin’ story?

And is this really your idea of all the news that’s fit to

The tradition of girls' nights out - or girls' lunches out -
is hardly unique to the Bush White House. Among
other Washington women who get together are White
House social secretaries, who last assembled earlier
this year. "We call ourselves the social secretaries'
sorority," said Ann Stock, a social secretary in the
Clinton administration, who gave a lunch at her home
in January to welcome Lea Berman, Laura Bush's most
recent social secretary, to the clan.

A favorite topic, Ms. Stock said, was stories about
people desperate for invitations to White House
dinners. Ms. Stock gave up no names. ("We did a
pinkie swear that what goes on at the table stays at
the table.") But she offered a generic version of a tale
common to all administrations.

"A king and a queen are coming for a state visit, and
the social secretary gets a call from a man who is
close to hysterical," Ms. Stock said. "All the invitations
have gone out, everybody's accepted and there's no
room, but he comes in and tells this long story about
his wife dying of cancer, and how they have to have
an invitation. So the social secretary makes a special
exception and creates a table of 12, which is bigger
than all the others. And guess what? She's still alive
today, and so is he."

Hooray! The “man” lied about his dying wife -- or was it
the king's wife...? Who cares!? It’s a happy ending to a
meaningless, “generic” story that may or may not have
actually occurred!

Thanks, New York Times!

07 October 2005

Did Rove lie to Bush too?

Another juicy bit of information from Mr. Waas:

In his own interview with prosecutors on June 24,
2004, Bush testified that Rove assured him he had not
disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and had said
nothing to the press to discredit Wilson, according to
sources familiar with the president's interview. Bush
said that Rove never mentioned the conversation with
Cooper. James E. Sharp, Bush's private attorney, who
was present at the president's interview with
prosecutors, declined to comment for this story.

Sources close to the leak investigation being run by
Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald say it was the
discovery of one of Rove's White House e-mails-in
which the senior Bush adviser referred to his July
2003 conversation with Cooper-that prompted Rove
to contact prosecutors and to revise his account to
include the Cooper conversation.

Lets assume Bush is telling the truth and Rove “assured
him he had not disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and
had said nothing to the press to discredit Wilson.” That
would mean the president’s top advisor lied to his boss
to protect his own job. Sure, he told Bush the answer he
wanted to hear, but it is now abundantly clear that his
statement was false and dishonest. The proof is in the
testimony of Time reporter Matthew Cooper.

Waas again:

Cooper's testimony to the federal grand jury
investigating the Plame leak has directly contradicted
Rove's assertions to the president. Cooper has
testified that Rove was the person who first told him
that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, although Rove
did not name her. Cooper has also testified that Rove
told him that Plame helped arrange for Wilson to
make a fact-finding trip for the CIA to the African
nation of Niger to investigate allegations that then-
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to buy
uranium with which to build a nuclear bomb.

In his first interview with FBI agents working on the
leak probe, Rove similarly did not disclose that he had
spoken to Cooper, according to sources close to the

But in subsequent interviews with federal
investigators and in his testimony to the grand jury,
Rove changed his account, asserting that when the
FBI first questioned him, he had simply forgotten
about his phone conversation with Cooper. Rove also
told prosecutors that he had forgotten about the
Cooper conversation when he talked to the president
about the matter in the fall of 2003.

Ah yes, the old “I forgot” defense. That excuse may
work in the oval office, but I have a feeling the grand
jury (and the American public) will find it pretty hard to

And in case you forgot, here is what White House
spokesman Scott McClellan said back in October 2003:

No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more
than the President of the United States. If someone
leaked classified information, the President wants to
know. If someone in this administration leaked
classified information, they will no longer be a part of
this administration, because that's not the way this
White House operates, that's not the way this
President expects people in his administration to
conduct their business.

06 October 2005


Karl’s back in the hot seat.

NY Times: Rove Summoned to Testify Again in
C.I.A. Leak Investigation

The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has
summoned Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser,
to return next week to testify to a federal grand jury
in a step that could mean there will be charges filed in
the case, lawyers in the case said today.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has held
discussions in recent days with lawyers for several
Bush administration officials suggesting that that he is
considering whether to charge them with a crime over
the disclosure of an intelligence operative's identity in
a 2003 newspaper column.

. . .

Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, said Mr. Rove
has not received a target letter. Target letters are
sometimes used by prosecutors to advise people that
they are likely to be charged with a crime. Mr. Luskin
said today that "the special counsel has said that he
has made no charging decision."

Mr. Luskin has said he had offered for Mr. Rove to
return to the grand jury if needed to clarify any
questions that were raised by the testimony in July by
Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine, who
was questioned about a conversation that he with Mr.
Rove regarding Mr. Wilson's trip in July 2003.

"Karl's consistent position is that he will cooperate
any time, any place," Mr. Luskin said.

Several lawyers expressed surprise and concern over
the recent turn of events and are increasingly
convinced that Mr. Fitzgerald could charge someone
with a crime for discussing with journalists the
identity of an undercover officer of the Central
Intelligence Agency.

If you aren’t yet up to speed on the basics of this
investigation, check out this handy outline.

So what’s the big deal about Rove going back to testify?

Tim Grieve explains:

It's always risky to go before a grand jury. You can't
take your lawyer into the room with you, and you
don't know what the grand jury knows or doesn't
know. It's especially risky if you've already testified
once -- or, in the case of Rove, three times -- before:
The odds of introducing inconsistencies into your
testimony increase each time you give it. That's why,
the former prosecutor tells us, a defense lawyer
would advise his client to make a return appearance
before the grand jury only in extreme circumstances.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers
offers a similar assessment to the Associated Press.
He calls Rove's return trip to the grand jury room an
“ominous sign" that suggests Fitzgerald "has learned
new information that is tightening the noose" around
Rove's neck. “It shows Fitzgerald now, perhaps after
[Judith] Miller's testimony, suspects Rove may be in
some way implicated in the revelation of Plame's
identity or that Fitzgerald is investigating various
people for obstruction of justice, false statements or
perjury. That is the menu of risk for Rove.”

“It's possible, of course, that Rove is returning to the
grand jury in the hope of saving someone other than
himself. Conversely, it's also possible that he's
testifying in the hope of implicating someone other
than himself.”

Before this latest news, Lawrence O’Donnell--the
journalist who broke the story that Rove leaked Plame’s
identity to Matthew Cooper--made this prediction:

[A]t least three high level Bush Administration
personnel indicted and possibly one or more very high
level unindicted co-conspirators.

Add now that Karl is scheduled for an encore before the
grand jury tomorrow, O'Donnell adds:

What this means is Rove's lawyer, Bob Luskin,
believes his client is definitely going to be indicted.

So, Luskin is sending Rove back into the grand jury to
try to get around the prosecutor and sell his innocence
directly to the grand jurors. Legal defense work
doesn't get more desperate than this. The prosecutor
is happy to let Rove go under oath again--without his
lawyer in the room--and try to wiggle out of the case.
The prosecutor has every right to expect that Rove's
final under-oath grilling will either add a count or two
to the indictment or force Rove to flip and testify
against someone else.

Murray Waas puts it in even sharper focus:

Rove will appear voluntarily, but during tomorrow's
session, Rove will be pressed about issues as to why
his accounts to the FBI and grand jury have changed,
or evolved, over time. He will also be questioned
regarding contacts with other senior administration
officials, such as then-deputy National Security
advisor Stephen J. Hadley and I. Lewis Libby, the
chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney in the
critical week before the publication of columnist
Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, which outed
Plame as a covert CIA operative.

Rove is also likely to be asked more detailed questions
about his conversation with Time magazine Matthew
Cooper on July 11, 2003, in which Cooper himself has
testified to the grand jury that Rove had told him that
Valerie Plame was employed by the CIA, and had
played a role in having her husband, ambassador
Joseph C. Wilson IV, selected to go on his
controversial fact-finding mission on behalf of the CIA.
Rove's previous grand jury appearances had occurred
prior to Cooper's own testimony to the grand jury.

Stay tuned. This party’s just getting started.

04 October 2005

Random Cheese

It sure is hard trying to keep track of all the scandals
and investigations happening in Washington these days.
Fortunately, Tim Grieve compiled this handy scorecard
last week at Salon.

Since then, we’ve seen Judy Miller released from the big
house (prompting all sorts of questions and theories,
here and here) and a second indictment brought against
The Hammer.

Meanwhile, the war marches on. Click here for the latest
bullshit excuses (with a dash of humor).

And now we have a new Supreme Court nominee whose
popularity doesn’t extend much further than the Oval

Thank God we still have baseball. (For only a just and
merciful deity would allow the White Sox a ten-run lead
over Boston in the 6th inning).