28 January 2007

Let the record show...

Like most Americans, I do my best to avoid jury duty.
But I would have paid good money to sit on this case.

No one served up spicier morsels than
Cathie Martin, Vice President Dick
Cheney's former top press assistant .
Martin described the craft of media
manipulation -- under oath and in
blunter terms than politicians like to
hear in public.

Most of the techniques were candidly
described: the uses of leaks and
exclusives, when to hide in anonymity,
which news medium was seen as more
susceptible to control, and what timing
was most propitious.

Even the rating of certain journalists as
friends to favor and critics to shun -- a
faint echo of the enemies list drawn up
in Richard Nixon's White House more
than 30 years ago.

And guess who made the top of Dick Cheney’s roster of
softball journalists?

Flashed on the courtroom computer
screens were her notes from 2004
about how Cheney could respond to
allegations that the Bush administration
had played fast and loose with evidence
of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1:
"MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the
pros and cons of a vice presidential
appearance on the Sunday show. Under
"pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president
on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic
we often used," Martin testified. "It's
our best format."

Heck of a job, Timmy. Fox News must be pissed.

And we’re only just getting started. Things should really
heat up this week when Ari “No-time” Fleischer takes
the stand.

4:46 p.m.: The jury—and Martin—has
been dismissed for the day. It's time
for a highly entertaining lawyer slap
fight. It turns out Ari Fleischer will be
the next witness, once court resumes
Monday. (Damn, just missed him!) The
defense team wants to note—for the
jury's benefit—that Fleischer
demanded immunity before he would
agree to testify, because this might
cast Fleischer's testimony in a
different light.

And here Fitzgerald makes a nice little
chess move: Fine, he says, we can
acknowledge that Fleischer sought
immunity. As long as we explain why.
Turns out Fleischer saw a story in the
Washington Post suggesting that
anyone who revealed Valerie Plame's
identity might be subject to the death
penalty. And he freaked.

It’s gonna make a helluva movie when it’s all over.

Until then, you can get a great summary of all the
action, here.

14 January 2007

Thanks Joe!

Lieberman to Katrina victims: Drop dead, suckers!

Sen. Joe Lieberman,  the only Democrat to
endorse President Bush’s new plan for Iraq,
has quietly backed away from his pre-
election demands that the White House turn
over potentially embarrassing documents
relating to its handling of the Hurricane
Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

. . .

Last year, when he was running for re-
election in Connecticut, Lieberman was a
vocal critic of the administration’s handling
of Katrina. He was especially dismayed by
its failure to turn over key records that
could have shed light on internal White
House deliberations about the hurricane,
including those involving President Bush.

Asserting that there were “too many
important questions that cannot be
answered,” Lieberman and other committee
Democrats complained in a statement last
year that the panel “did not receive
information or documents showing what
actually was going on in the White House.”

Among the missing material: the record of a
videoconference in the White House
Situation Room in which former Federal
Emergency Management Agency chief
Michael Brown said he warned senior
officials about the dire situation in New
Orleans, but was greeted with “deafening
silence.” Also missing: records believed to
include messages and conversations
involving the president, Vice President Dick
Cheney and their top aides during the days
in late August and early September 2005
when the Katrina disaster was unfolding and
thousands of city residents were flocking to
overcrowded shelters and hanging onto
rooftops awaiting rescue.

But now that he chairs the homeland
panel—and is in a position to subpoena the
records—Lieberman has decided not to
pursue the material, according to Leslie
Phillips, the senator’s chief committee
spokeswoman. “The senator now intends to
focus his attention on the future security of
the American people and other matters and
does not expect to revisit the White House’s
role in Katrina,” she told NEWSWEEK.

Note to Newsweek: Joe Lieberman ain’t a Democrat.
He lost the primary, remember?