spook of the ozarks

unapologetic liberal

Monday, October 31, 2005

This is weird

In a post tracing the origin of the phrase "criminalization of politics," Kevin Drum writes:

At any rate, it's a phrase with a fine conservative pedigree, so I think we can expect to hear a lot more of it. What's more, since it was the stated reason for George Bush Sr. to pardon his pals in the Iran-Contra affair, who knows? Maybe George Bush Jr. will follow family tradition and use it as an excuse to pardon his pals in the Valerie Plame affair, whoever they might turn out to be. Stay tuned.

We read Political Animal all the time. Maybe that explains this. And it's not the first time, although we're too lazy to dig through our vast archive for another instance.

Stormy weather

Hinders blogging. This Samuel Alito sounds like a real reactionary, which is problematic. So much for the Gang of 14. Maybe he'll have a nanny problem or something.


Over at truthout.

The record of policy failure is truly remarkable. It sometimes seems as if President Bush and Mr. Cheney are Midases in reverse: everything they touch - from Iraq reconstruction to hurricane relief, from prescription drug coverage to the pursuit of Osama - turns to crud. Even the few apparent successes turn out to contain failures at their core: for example, real G.D.P. may be up, but real wages are down.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


When someone ends a post with "more soon," they should post more soon. Otherwise, they should write "more later."

SF honors Garcia

From the AP:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Call it a "deadication." Jerry Garcia's hometown has named a 600-seat amphitheater in his memory. On the bill for the grand opening Saturday were Jefferson Starship, David Gans and master of ceremonies Wavy Gravy, who, like Garcia, has been honored with his own flavor of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
The amphitheater is in a park in the same neighborhood where Garcia grew up and started his strumming.
On Wednesday, some of The Grateful Dead guitarist's artwork was installed at San Francisco City Hall as part of an inaugural exhibit for a new gallery. The exhibit includes drawings from Garcia's childhood and days as a student at The California School of the Arts.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Evil bastards watch

Replacing Scooter Libby as Snarl's chief of staff will be David S. Addington, the vice president's counsel.

The task of summarizing the competing points of view in a draft letter to the president was seized initially by Addington. A memo he wrote and signed with Gonzales's name -- and knowledge -- was circulated to various departments, several sources said. A version of this draft, dated Jan. 25, 2002, was subsequently leaked. It included the eye-catching assertion that a 'new paradigm' of a war on terrorism 'renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.'

A.k.a. the torture memo. The cream really rises in this administration, no?

Slow-scrambled eggs


Friday, October 28, 2005

That felt more like Lent than Christmas

Fitzmas was sort of a letdown. Guess we set our expectations too high. Maybe we'll still get Official A eventually. And even though there was an undersecretary of State involved, it wasn't the one we wanted, and he didn't do anything wrong. If Libby goes to trial, that should be fun. Will W let that happen? Or will he turn out to be like Dad after all? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Looky here.

Craig Cannon

Libby "indicted on perjury and other minor charges."

Why does Wall Street hate Scooter Libby?

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 172+ points. (Actually, it's attributed to better-than-expected GDP growth.)

Read the indictment

At Fitzgerald's Web site. Indictment here (pdf).


Blogger is glacial right now.

Libby hit with five felony counts

So it begins:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. was indicted Friday on charges of obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak case.
Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status a looming political problem for the White House.
The indictments stem from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators.
The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about Plame's identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. The information was classified.
Any trial would shine a spotlight on the secret deliberations of Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shorter 'Nightline'

W's having a shitty week.


Clemons says story about new office leasing by Fitzgerald was wrong.

While we wait

Murray Waas in National Journal:

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

All here. Gathering storm. Our joints ache for denouement.
via Josh.


Thank you very much. Can't make it this year.

Wonder ...

Sidney Blumenthal

How W has wrecked the GOP.

Channeling Tina Brown

From her Post column, which we hadn't read last night:

Unlike Kenneth Starr's late, unlamented operation, neither Fitzgerald nor anyone around him leaks.

Our tax dollars at work

A day late, but:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Former FEMA Director Michael Brown said Wednesday he was asked to stay on the job another 30 days to help the agency complete its review of the response to Hurricane Katrina, a "completely legitimate thing to do."
Brown, who resigned under fire Sept. 12 after being heavily criticized for the slow reaction to the hurricane, told The Associated Press that he's also reviewing for the agency a large number of Freedom of Information requests dealing with the response.
Asked in a telephone interview if he expects to complete that work by the end of his second 30-day extension, Brown replied, "Absolutely. I'm motivated to wrap it up. I'm ready to move on."

So do so. That's $12,000 and change.


We hope Fitzmas delayed isn't Fitzmas denied.

A spokesman for the prosecutor said there would be no public announcements Thursday. The term of the grand jury that could bring indictments expires Friday.

Maybe someone will leak a hint. Didn't detect any in the linked AP thing.

Harriet Miers

AP here. Unqualified crony. Not wingnutty enough for the extreme right. Too enigmatic for the left. Curious timing. A bid to hijack the Fitzmas news cycle? The document request was just a smoke screen. Her replacement nominee will probably be some Roy Moore-like Promise Keeper type.

The 'Five O'Clock Follies' are back

KR's Joe Galloway:

WASHINGTON - When you pay the sort of tuition that we Americans paid in Vietnam - 58,249 Americans dead and more than 300,000 seriously wounded - it would seem incumbent on us to remember the lessons we learned for at least a generation or two.
One important lesson was that using enemy body counts as a metric of success corrupts the system and makes liars out of soldiers and officers.

All here. Even at the age of 12 we knew the "Five O'Clock Follies" were bullshit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Go-to guy Steve Clemons

From his sickbed. The beat goes on:

Well, news has just reached TWN that Patrick Fitzgerald is expanding not only into a new Web site -- but also into more office space.

This Italian business is gonna take some time to sort out.

Out-of-control partisan prosecutor

Ken Starr. Seven, eight years ago, we could have expected a NYTimes or WaPo scoop right about now. Patrick Fitzgerald's shop doesn't leak much.

Glad somebody cleared this up

What was Fitzgerald talking to the judge about today? LATimes:

A ... possibility was that Fitzgerald was seeking the judge's permission to extend the term of the grand jury. But people close to the case said they considered that unlikely.
Among other factors, they noted that the grand jury that Fitzgerald has been using has already been extended once, and that federal court rules do not provide for further extensions.
At the same time, it was possible that he was discussing with the judge using another grand jury to present his case, these sources said.

Thank you. Because Reuters, AP and others have repeatedly reported that it might be extended.

White House forced to reverse dumb policy

The Post:

The White House reversed course today and reinstated a key wage protection for workers doing Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, bowing to pressure from a group of moderate House Republicans who argued that local residents were being left out of the recovery and that the Gulf Coast was becoming a magnet for illegal immigrants.
The Bush administration had decided in the days after Katrina devastated the region to waive the Davis-Bacon Act, a Depression-era law that guarantees construction workers the prevailing local wage when they're being paid with federal tax dollars. At the time, the administration insisted the waiver on hurricane-related work would save the government money and speed recovery efforts.
The move immediately came under vocal criticism from Democrats and labor unions. More quietly, a group of moderate Republicans -- many from districts in industrial areas with a high concentration of blue-collar workers -- began to lobby the White House and the congressional leadership for Davis-Bacon to be reinstated.
This morning, leaders of that group were summoned to the White House by Chief of Staff Andrew Card and told that the administration had changed its mind. The law goes back into effect Nov. 8, exactly two months after the original decision to suspend it.

That had to hurt. Now if they'll just reverse every other wrongheaded policy.

DeLay: my bad

So much money:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Tom DeLay has notified House officials that he failed to disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund as required by congressional rules.
The fund is currently paying DeLay's legal bills in a campaign finance investigation in Texas, where DeLay has been indicted, and in a federal investigation of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist arranged foreign travel for DeLay and had his clients pay some of the cost.
DeLay, R-Texas, has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
DeLay wrote House officials that he started an audit and it found that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 to the defense fund was not reported anywhere.
An additional $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report -- a separate requirement. Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800 when the figure should have been $4,450.

What's a few thou here and there?

Memory hole

President George W. Bush, March 6, 2003:

Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament. And in order to disarm, it would mean regime change. I'm confident we'll be able to achieve that objective, in a way that minimizes the loss of life. No doubt there's risks in any military operation; I know that. But it's very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won't change. Our mission is precisely what I just stated. We have got a plan that will achieve that mission, should we need to send forces in.

via Progress Report.

The Poor Man Institute presents

Jeralyn has a theory

She thinks Rove might have made a deal to rat out others in exchange for leniency.

Culture of life

Why is the GOP so keen to kill people?

If all 12 members of a jury in a capital case in federal court cannot agree on whether to impose the death penalty, a convicted defendant is automatically sentenced to life in prison.
But that may be about to change. A little-noticed provision in the House bill that reauthorized the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act would allow federal prosecutors further attempts at a death sentence if a capital jury deadlocks on the punishment. So long as at least one juror voted for death, prosecutors could empanel a new sentencing jury and argue again that execution was warranted.

They call themselves "pro-life." In fact, they're only pro-birth. After that, you're on your own.

Big Oil rakes in the windfall profits

Spends a little of it on PR campaign. The Post:

Now, even as high gasoline prices continue to anger motorists and aggravate financial problems at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the oil companies have begun to report record quarterly profit. Yesterday, British energy giant BP PLC reported a $6.53 billion third-quarter profit, up from $4.87 billion in the same period last year. And tomorrow, analysts expect Exxon Mobil Corp. to show that it earned nearly $9 billion over the past three months -- the largest corporate quarterly profit ever.

The API's guy says, "[M]ost consumers and lawmakers do not fully grasp how the energy industry works and why prices go up and down at the pumps." Yeah, right. "The largest corporate quarterly profit ever" is not that hard to grasp, dude.

Wednesday starters

Joe Conason on the CIA leak scandal. Gene Lyons on Wilkerson, Scowcroft blistering the junta.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No scoop for WaPo

The only news we detect in this report is that the grand jury must decide unanimously to indict.

No Fitzmas at washingtonpost.com yet

They'll have surely have something good within the hour, or we'll be surprised. They're really close to the vest before a scoop. Back to the game.

This works with our theory


WASHINGTON -- Prosecutors investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity returned their attention to powerful White House advisor Karl Rove on Tuesday, questioning a former West Wing colleague about contacts Rove had with reporters in the days leading to the outing of a covert CIA officer.
Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald also dispatched FBI agents to comb the CIA officer's residential neighborhood in Washington, asking neighbors again whether they were aware — before her name appeared in a syndicated column — that the agent, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

Rove, Libby: obstruction, perjury, false statement? Novakula's original source, Mr. X: Intelligence Identities Protection Act violation. No partisan gunslinger?

It's almost Fitzmas Eve

So says Steve Clemons. Adding The Washington Note to links, too.
Second thought: Actually, we guess, Santa comes tomorrow, but we don't get to unwrap our presents until Thursday.

More from Lawrence Wilkerson

In the LATimes, the chief of staff for ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell elaborates on his recent speech excoriating what he calls the Cheney/rumsfeld cabal.

IN PRESIDENT BUSH'S first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

One man's cabal is our junta.



BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military death toll in the Iraq war reached 2,000 with the announcements Tuesday of three more deaths.
Iraq's constitution was adopted by a majority in a fair vote during the Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday.
A prominent Sunni politician called the balloting "a farce."

The Pentagon announced that Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas, died Saturday in San Antonio of injuries sustained Oct. 17.

Steve Clemons shares our Fitzmas wish

via Kos.

RIP Rosa Parks

An icon passes:

DETROIT (AP) -- Nearly 50 years ago, Rosa Parks made a simple decision that sparked a revolution. When a white man demanded she give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the then 42-year-old seamstress said no.
At the time, she couldn't have known it would secure her a revered place in American history. But her one small act of defiance galvanized a generation of activists, including a young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and earned her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."
Mrs. Parks died Monday evening at her home of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years. She was 92.

Amoral sadists rule our country

Having granted themselves authority to torture anyone they want, the Cheney/Rumsfeld junta will resist relinquishing it.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - Stepping up a confrontation with the Senate over the handling of detainees, the White House is insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempted from a proposed ban on abusive treatment of suspected Qaeda militants and other terrorists.

It's seems odd that they would so publicly fight for the right to torture. The only conclusion is that they're evil bastards.

Cheney told Libby

Looks like maybe unindicted co-conspirator status for Snarl.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.
Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.
The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about
Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.
Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.
Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from
George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Merry Fitzmas to all

And to all a good night. Looks like goodies under the tree on the morrow.

Added to the links

Mikevotes over at Born of the Crest of the Empire is quite prolific. And not only has he linked to us here, he leaves comments. Check him out. Also, Editor & Publisher.

'Criminalization of politics'

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Fox host Sean Hannity and other conservatives are complaining bitterly about what they call the "criminalization of politics."
I agree, it's a problem. In fact, the sooner we run the criminals out of politics, the better.

Sounds like Luntz's work. The rest.

Wilma wrecks South Florida

Amazingly, only one death reported so far. Herald mainbar.

Are they all liars?

Or just their leaders?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was given considerable information about his stake in his family's hospital company, according to records that are at odds with his past statements that he did not know what was in his stock holdings.
Managers of the trusts that Frist once described as "totally blind," regularly informed him when they added new shares of HCA Inc. or other assets to his holdings, according to the documents.
Since 2001, the trustees have written to Frist and the Senate 15 times detailing the sale of assets from or the contribution of assets to trusts of Frist and his family. The letters included notice of the addition of HCA shares worth $500,000 to $1 million in 2001 and HCA stock worth $750,000 to $1.5 million in 2002. The trust agreements require the trustees to inform Frist and the Senate whenever assets are added or sold.
The letters seem to undermine one of the major arguments the senator has used throughout his political career to rebut criticism of his ownership in HCA: that the stock was held in blind trusts beyond his control and that he had little idea of the extent of those holdings.

Files show FBI misbehavior

The Post:

The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.
Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.

Whole thing. The potential for abuse of the Patriot Act has now been demonstrated.

Bernanke named Fed head


WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush named top White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board on Monday in place of near-legendary Alan Greenspan as the official in closest control of interest rates.

Being unqualified to comment, we'll just observe that Wall Street looks happy.

Someone's cranky

Thomas DeFrank of the Daily News reports:

WASHINGTON - Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.
... Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Keep making those good decisions, pal. We're counting on it.
via Don.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What we want for Fitzmas

Let's revisit this:

It is still not publicly known who first told the columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Novak identified her in a column on July 14, 2003, using her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald knows the identity of this source, a person who is not believed to work at the White House, the lawyers said.

We think Scooter Libby -- Salon says Rove -- was Novak's corroborating source. We believe Novak told Patrick Fitzgerald who this other senior administration official was. Judith F. Miller apparently got the name from someone besides Scooter. So who could it be? Didn't/doesn't work at the White House? Check. Senior administration official? Undersecretary of state for arms control at the time. Arms control? That was Plame's brief. Miller's too. Clearance to see classified State Department memo? You bet. Friendly with Miller? Visited her in jail. Connected to Cheney? Big time. Loaned him John Hannah, in fact. Called before grand jury? Unknown, but his ex-boss, Colin Powell, was.

More confirmation of what everyone knows

Larry Johnson says:

The CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, has finally got approval to publish his book, which will hit the streets on December 27, 2005.

Of course bin Laden was there, and Tommy Franks is a liar.
via Atrios.

Cry us a river in Egypt

Public editor sees no future at Times for Miss Rum Amok:

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 reporter.

See yah. Enjoy your AEI fellowship.

Makes sense

Don't miss this

Despicable. Actually, we missed the part where she slithered out of the gutter and grew legs and learned to walk upright.
via Atrios

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Introducing Alpha

Here we go:

Tropical Storm Alpha formed Saturday in the Caribbean Sea, setting the record for the most number of storms in an Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters said. Alpha is the season's 22nd tropical storm and marks the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names is used up. The previous record of 21 storms stood since 1933.
At 4 p.m. CDT, the storm had sustained winds of about 40 mph. It was moving northwest at about 15 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. A tropical storm warning was in place for Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic, and a tropical storm watch was in effect for the Turks and Caicos islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

Speaking of CDT, in a couple of weeks it will be dark at 5:30. Bleh.

Finally got around to reading this

Leak case nicely summarized, put into perspective, here:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 - The legal and political stakes are of the highest order, but the investigation into the disclosure of a covert C.I.A. officer's identity is also just one skirmish in the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq.

Wish we'd said that

Tim Rutten, LATimes media writer:

The [New York] Times is a great news organization with a newfound capacity for self-criticism and a demonstrated capacity to renew itself. Miller, the reporter, represents something far more persistent and pernicious in American journalism. She's virtually an exemplar of an all-too-common variety of Washington reporter: ambitious, self-interested, unscrupulous and intoxicated by proximity to power.
Unfortunately, she has also become the poster child in the push for a national reporter's shield law, and this week she went before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify for the Free Flow of Information Act. There, she didn't even blush when she told the lawmakers: "Confidential sources are the life's blood of journalism. Without them ... people like me would be out of business."
Probably so, but there's still a case to be made for this legislation.

Heh. Read it all.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Not going away anytime soon


Please address all correspondence to the Washington Office.

Incompetent crony flops in Indonesia

She's also ignorant:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Karen Hughes, who has faced a rocky road since being named Washington's public relations chief, answered tough questions Friday about the invasion of Iraq, and wrongly stated that Saddam Hussein gassed to death "hundreds of thousands" of his people.
... One student said the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States should be taken as a warning to America for interfering in the affairs of other countries. Another compared Bush to Hitler.

Next flop, Malaysia.

Sounds like somebody's obsessive

The LATimes reports:

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was so angry about the public statements of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a Bush administration critic married to an undercover CIA officer, that he monitored all of Wilson's television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him, former aides say.
Those efforts by the chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, began shortly after Wilson went public with his criticisms in 2003. But they continued into last year — well after the Justice Department began an investigation in September 2003, into whether administration officials had illegally disclosed the CIA operative's identity, say former White House aides.
While other administration officials were maintaining a careful distance from Wilson in 2004, Libby ordered up a compendium of information that could be used to rebut Wilson's claims that the administration had "twisted" intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

Whole thing.

NRO makes mockery too easy

Reading War Room at Salon, we found Rich Lowry opining:

Republican presidents have long been drawn to the “stealth strategy” on judicial nominations, picking conservatives, or supposed conservatives, without a public record so it will be harder for Democrats to oppose them. In the John Roberts nomination, a modified stealth strategy reached its height, giving the Court what is likely to be a conservative chief justice for the next 30 years. In the Harriet Miers nomination, the stealth strategy has all but collapsed, producing what might be the most catastrophic political miscalculation of the Bush presidency.

We'd just suggest that there's some competition for that achievement.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

When will they ever learn?

The answer's gonna blow. The Times tries to catch up:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.
Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.
Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.
With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.

This is intriguing:

... It is still not publicly known who first told the columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Novak identified her in a column on July 14, 2003, using her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald knows the identity of this source, a person who is not believed to work at the White House, the lawyers said.

Let's see. Who might've seen that State Department memo? Maybe Judy's got a second source she's protecting. Oh, wait.

This is really inexcusable

The AP account, first thing this morning, seemed kind of incoherent, or maybe that describes us. (The writethru up now is better.) But this Post version suggests that maybe somebody should face prosecution for criminal negligence if not negligent homicide.

For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday.
Marty Bahamonde, sent to New Orleans by Brown, said he alerted Brown's assistant shortly after 11 a.m. that Monday with the "worst possible news" for the city: The Category 4 hurricane had carved a 20-foot breach in the 17th Avenue Canal levee.
Five FEMA aides were e-mailed Bahamonde's report of "water flow 'bad' " from the broken levees designed to hold back Lake Pontchartrain. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally after 7 p.m. to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater and that he had photographed a 200-foot-wide breach.
"FEMA headquarters knew at 11 o'clock. Mike Brown knew at 7 o'clock. Most of FEMA's operational staff knew by 9 o'clock that evening. I don't know where that information went," said Bahamonde, a 12-year FEMA staffer who has worked full time since 2002 as a public affairs official.

Miller -- poor memory for a trained observer

Murray Waas has sources:

New York Times reporter Judith Miller told the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case that she might have met with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby on June 23, 2003 only after prosecutors showed her Secret Service logs that indicated she and Libby had indeed met that day in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, according to attorneys familiar with her testimony.

Still holding out to protect Scooter. What else did she forget?

This will have repercussions

The Koran-in-the-toilet episode will seem like a practical joke compared to this:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Islamic clerics expressed outrage Thursday at television footage that purportedly shows U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters to taunt other militants and warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash.

Scratch that "possible." U.S. troops in Afghanistan should probably take corrective action without delay.

Wilma taking her time

When it comes to hurricane coverage, especially one likely to hit Florida, nobody matches The Miami Herald.

We're with Atrios

Here. Until about a week ago, we had never heard of Pamela Vitale or Daniel Horowitz. Someone please bitch-slap some members of the media and tell them this is not another O.J. case.

Not piling on

Others are posting the mug shot of Tom DeLay. That's just wrong. Besides, it gives us the creeps.

Courting disaster

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell, on U.S. policy under the Cheney/Rumsfeld junta:

And I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven’t done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence. ...

Speech partial transcript.

W's not wingnutty enough for 'the base'

So sayeth Sidney Blumenthal. Some people can't be satisfied.

Cheney's vendetta against the CIA

The LATimes has a good backgrounder about how the veep's belief that the CIA constantly bungles intelligence morphed into paranoia that the agency was trying to torpedo the White House case for war against Iraq and then blame the junta for the absense of WMD afterward. It adds some context to the Fitzgerald investigation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Too bad we're not in the NBA

Because we'd tell David Stern to kiss our ass. The NBA's not freaking high school.

Still smarting from image problems nearly a year after players and fans attacked one another during a game at Auburn Hills, Mich., the National Basketball Assn. has cracked down on … apparel.
The NBA says it will require players to wear "business casual attire" when they are on league or team business and not in uniform — apparently the first attempt by a major U.S. pro league to regulate how its millionaire athletes dress when not competing.
Deemed "quite liberal and easygoing" by NBA Commissioner David Stern, the code bans sunglasses worn indoors, sleeveless shirts, shorts, T-shirts, chains and do-rags, while requiring players on the bench and not in uniform to wear sport coats.
No longer will Kobe Bryant of the Lakers be seen arriving at Staples Center wearing a vintage jersey. Nor will Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers be allowed to wear caps cocked sideways during team functions or Rasheed Wallace of the Detroit Pistons to don headphones during news conferences.
Players who violate the code could be fined. Repeat violators could be kicked out of the league, Stern suggested Tuesday.

No sunglasses indoors? STFU.

Warrant issued for DeLay

Dead or alive, we say:

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid.
Bail was initially set at $10,000 as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking.
The warrant was "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said.
The lawyer declined to say when DeLay would surrender to authorities but said the lawmaker would make his first court appearance Friday morning.

Pic purloined from the general's HQ.

Better hurry up


Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was "overwhelmed" by Hurricane Katrina and called for a buildup of the government's "preparedness capability" to deal with major natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Something else not to miss

PBS "Frontline" on The Torture Question. Gen. Geoffrey Miller comes off as a psychopath in this. Rummy and others, too. It's a national disgrace that only some grunts are being held accountable for such barbarity.

Just in case someone missed it

If you haven't heard, you really ought to get around more. The NYTimes says Patrick Fitzgerald won't issue a final report on his investigation of the CIA leak, which signals indictments, but he won't indict anyone this week. And they've never been wrong. The New York Daily News says Bush knew about Rove's involvement almost from the start. Also, the Daily News has a good sidebar about the White House Iraq Group, created to sell the war.

Miller urges passage of federal shield law

AP report. Here's an idea: Let's pass one that just covers "Miss Run Amok." It's unreasonable to expect her to relinquish her ability to report whatever she wants with impunity. That would impede her efforts to justify the next invasion.

They know whereof they speak

Joe Conason and Gene Lyons could write volumes about the foibles of The New York Times -- oh, wait. Anyway, their columns today are about Judith F. Miller and the CIA leak case. We're a bit surprised by Gene's reference to "Scooter Lewis." Relying on the Demo-zette's copy editors is folly.

That didn't take long

Look out:

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) -- Hurricane Wilma swirled into the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded Wednesday, a Category 5 monster whose 175 mph winds and heavy rains were blamed for killing at least 11 people in Haiti and one in Jamaica as it bore down on Central America.
... Computer models showed Wilma possibly making a sharp turn as it hits upper-level winds blowing east, moving through the narrow channel between Cuba and Mexico, where it threatened Cancun, before bearing down on Florida over the weekend.

Those upper-level winds might weaken it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

They bite the dust in clusters

Because their roots connect them:

As federal officials pursue a wide-ranging investigation into the activities of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his arrest on fraud charges in the purchase of a Florida casino boat company has increasingly focused attention on a little-known congressman from rural Ohio.
Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) placed comments in the Congressional Record favorable to Abramoff's 2000 purchase of the casino boat company, SunCruz Casinos. Two years later, Ney sponsored legislation to reopen a casino for a Texas Indian tribe that Abramoff represented.
Ney approved a 2002 license for an Israeli telecommunications company to install antennas for the House. The company later paid Abramoff $280,000 for lobbying. It also donated $50,000 to a charity that Abramoff sometimes used to secretly pay for some of his lobbying activities.
Meanwhile, Ney accepted many favors from Abramoff, among them campaign contributions, dinners at the lobbyist's downtown restaurant, skybox fundraisers, including one at his MCI Center box, and a golfing trip to Scotland in August 2002. If statements made by Abramoff to tribal officials and in an e-mail are to be believed, Ney sought the Scotland trip after he agreed to help Abramoff's Texas Indian clients. Abramoff then arranged for his charity to pay for the trip, according to documents released by a Senate committee investigating the lobbyist.

Have we mentioned that Abramoff's taking a bunch of their corrupt asses down with him?

Is John Hannah the whistle-blower?

We can't remember ever having linked to The Raw Story, because some of their stuff hasn't panned out, we think. But this seems plausible, in light of other reporting elsewhere. And it might explain this. Nice redesign, BTW.

W tanks in Survey USA poll

He's at 38%/59% national approval rating, 38/58 in Arkansas. He's even lost Texas.

Crunch time in the Plame case

This would be sweet:

WASHINGTON - A special prosecutor's intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday.
At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame affair.
In addition, at least six current and former Cheney staffers - most members of the White House Iraq Group - have testified before the grand jury, including the vice president's top honcho, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and two top Cheney national security lieutenants.
Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.
"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

Jeralyn Merritt thinks some people might be ready to roll over.

Plane crash victims text message for help

A couple of people whose plane crashed into a ravine in the Ozark National Forest were rescued after they text messaged for help. It turns out that you can text message from cell phones even when there's virtually no signal. That's helpful to know if you're ever lost in the woods.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone -- Uganda

Intro. The Lord's Resistance Army is one of the more bizarre guerrilla movements. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for its leader, Joseph Kony, and some deputies for war crimes. Here's Sites' first dispatch from Uganda.

Cliches in news copy

Paul McLeary over at CJRDaily laments their appearance in news stories, specifically "15 minutes of fame" and "perfect storm." There's an old J school saw, "Avoid cliches like the plague." And it reminded us that apparently the fine folks at KFSM news skipped class that day. Because a few months ago, as the Base Realignment and Closure Commission prepared to release its recommendations, Channel 5 reported -- honest, we heard it twice -- that officials at the Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith were "sitting on pins and needles with their fingers crossed."

At least he's consistent

Still dragging his heels:

WASHINGTON — Almost two months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and a month after promising in a nationally televised speech to help rebuild the region "quickly," President Bush has settled on a cautious, piecemeal approach that even many members of his own party fear will stall reconstruction and sow economic disarray.

W is ideologically incapable of helping ordinary Americans. Maybe he figures that with six weeks left in hurricane season, what's the point? Wilma, or Alpha or Beta, will just fuck everything up again.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Follow-up on Miller, Plame inquiry

Arianna & Co. are all over this story. Adam Entous of Reuters contributes. Hunter does some parsing. Greg Mitchell of E&P has some thoughts.

Another Jack Abramoff opus

In the Post. This guy's shady lobbying on behalf of an online gambling outfit in 2000 ensnares Tony Rudy, a top DeLay aide at the time. Maybe DeLay, too. Also, these hypocrites:

Abramoff quietly arranged for eLottery to pay conservative, anti-gambling activists to help in the firm's $2 million pro-gambling campaign, including Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, and the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. Both kept in close contact with Abramoff about the arrangement, e-mails show. Abramoff also turned to prominent anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist, arranging to route some of eLottery's money for Reed through Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform.

Fascinating tale of the Byzantine way lobbyists manipulate the process to kill a bill that's on a fast track to passage. Abramoff's taking a bunch of weasels down with him, all deserving.

Meet Wilma

Another chance at a do-over for W:

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) -- A tropical storm warning was in effect Sunday for the Cayman Islands and residents began preparing for the worst. The U.S. Gulf Coast could be affected later in the week, forecasters said.
The system could become Tropical Storm Wilma, which would make it the 21st named storm of the season, tying the record for the most storms in an Atlantic season, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

We've still got time for Alpha, Beta, maybe Delta.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Nobody, not Judy Miller, Scooter Libby, Bill Keller, Arthur Sulzberger, the lawyers, nobody comes out of this looking good. The story's simply a narrative of who did what, when and why. No blockbuster revelations we could discern -- a reporter's inability to get someone's name right or spell it correctly is not news to anyone who's ever worked as an editor. But it does call into question Libby's assertion that he never mentioned the name of Joe Wilson's wife -- how else did it (or some variation of it) find its way into Miller's notes?

Miller says, in her sidebar, that it was in a different part of her notebook from her notes from meeting with Libby. As she describes her testimony, it's hard to say she incriminated Libby. The name Karl Rove never appears, conspicuously. So maybe her exoneration of Libby implicates Rove as the source who named Plame. Who knows.

I'll find and link to more informed analysis later.

Here we go

Mainbar. Miller first-person sidebar. Commentary later.

Miller story in pipeline

Partly written by her, should be online soon, E&P reports.

'Walker, Texas Ranger'

New TV movie Sunday night. We didn't watch this show when it was on CBS originally. But later, the CBS affiliate over in Tulsa picked it up in syndication and showed reruns at like 2 a.m. It's one of those things so bad it's good, starting with the corny theme song, written(?) and sung(off-key)/narrated by Chuck Norris himself. The dialogue seems like it's written by 10th-graders, the storylines by eighth-graders. There was actually one episode where a guy shot Walker but his badge stopped the bullet. Very campy.

We're winning the War on Terror

Another victory:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq said on Saturday that they were holding a man suspected of acting as a barber to senior al Qaeda militants and helping them change their appearance to evade capture.


Getting a real, live person on the phone

In case someone didn't see this at DailyKos, here's a cheat sheet that tells you how to go directly to a live rep at a bunch of companies.

Let's start another war

Crappy approval rating? GOP solution:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials.

Deja vu:

Increasingly, officials say, Syria is to the Iraq war what Cambodia was in the Vietnam War: a sanctuary for fighters, money and supplies to flow over the border and, ultimately, a place for a shadow struggle.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Follow-up on British Katrina food aid

Not destroyed yet:

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The United States on Friday offered needy countries more than 330,000 packaged meals donated by Britain to feed Hurricane Katrina victims but rejected due to a U.S. ban on British beef.
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the "Meals Ready to Eat," or MREs, had been held in a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, for more than a month after U.S. Agriculture Department officials said they could not be distributed in the United States because they contained British beef products.
"We are certainly, for our part, looking to dispose of these MREs that were offered in the spirit of friendship and charity. We are looking to dispose of them in the same way," Ereli told a State Department briefing.
The United States bans the import of products containing British beef because of fears of mad cow disease, a chronic, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle.


Robert Cray on Tuesday at George's. Verified.

This looks like a good move

The Times:

A major Indian drug company announced yesterday that it would start making a generic version of Tamiflu, the anti-influenza drug that is in critically short supply in the face of a possible epidemic of avian flu.
"Right or wrong, we're going to commercialize and make oseltamivir," said Dr. Yusuf K. Hamied, chairman of Cipla of Bombay, using the drug's generic name and acknowledging that he might face a fight in the Indian courts with Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant that holds the patent.
Although generic manufacturers cannot legally sell the patented drug in the West, all national patent laws, including those of the
United States, allow governments to cancel patents during emergencies and either buy generics or force patent holders to license their formulas to rivals.

Since there is no vaccine for H5N1, and probably won't be until it mutates into something else transmissible person-to-person, this may save a lot of lives. Screw Roche.

UPDATE: On the other hand:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The bird flu virus that infected a Vietnamese girl was resistant to the main drug that's being stockpiled in case of a pandemic, a sign that it's important to keep a second drug on hand as well, a researcher said Friday.

Sauce, goose, gander

Jon Chait notices that wingnuts opposing the Harriet Miers nomination weren't expecting the White House to slime them the way it routinely does foes on the left. Their typically phony indignation may be genuine.

Rove, Libby, Miller, Plame

It's wrapping up. Karl Rove testified yet again before the grand jury. Judy Miller has had her contempt order lifted, so she can spill what she knows to her colleagues at the Times, which is promising a comprehensive account of everything that went down. The grand jury's term expires in two weeks. Patrick Fitzgerald should announce whether he'll indict anyone. Salon has a nice package today. Should be an interesting weekend.

Time for a woman president?

Tina Brown:

Twenty years or even 10 years ago ABC's "Commander in Chief" would have been a sitcom, not a drama. Now it's Bush who's the sitcom, though the laughs are bitter. He's the biggest reason why female leaders suddenly seem so relevant. He has debased the currency of machismo. From Iraq to New Orleans and back to Washington, his empty posturings, bonehead mistakes and panicky pratfalls have turned testosterone into Kryptonite. The cultural stage is being set for a woman president, even if the current understudies, from Hillary to Condi, end up stumbling over their own props or never come out of the wings.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

His lame-duckness blows photo-op

Well, not completely. The NYTimes writer went along:

WASHINGTON, Oct.13 - President Bush used a new tool - a videoconference hookup - to rally American troops in Iraq today, telling them that they were helping to "defeat a backward, dark philosophy with one that's hopeful."

And the Post:

President Bush, speaking to U.S. troops in Iraq today ahead of Saturday's referendum on a new constitution, thanked them for "being a part of this global war" and vowed to press on until "total victory" over an enemy he described as ruthless and cold-blooded.

But not AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

The Times hed: "Bush uses video hookup to bolster troops in Iraq"
Post hed: "Bush rallies U.S. soldiers ahead of Iraqi constitution vote"
AP hed: "Bush teleconference with soldiers staged"
The Times and Post writers did note that it was scripted, but AP pretty much inverted their formula, giving short shrift to the event. ABC also focused on the choreography.