Monday, October 31, 2005


Two more ERM award winners: My friend Ken who is not a professional journalist but should be, and Arianna Huffington. LS

From Ken today:

This piece is so dazzling - concerning the right wing trying to swat down their calamity by minimizing it, talking about 'getting past' it. There isn't a single aspect of this story that hasn't just begun.

Arianna watched Meet The Press with admitted republican Tim Russert playing stroke stroke bail bail on the leaky rowboat that is the Bush Admin. This is her take.

A choice line: '(watching today's Meet The Press) was like watching a bunch of people play "fantasy baseball." I'm sure it's fun, but it doesn't change the real game.'

Enjoy. -K

Russert Watch: The Comeback
Arianna Huffington


Thank God this whole Libby thing is finally over, and Bush can "focus on some big issues," "overcome the energy prices," become a "foreign policy big-stroke leader," "restore trust," "re-establish that presidential leadership that the whole country looks for," and "bring some people who are going to bring some new ideas."

The Bush White House is on its way to a clean start. How do I know this? Easy. I watched Meet the Press while my partner, Kenny Lerer, watched "Pet Keeping." I learned nothing, as Steve Lovelady explains in CJR Daily, about Russert's role in Libby's pending trial. But I learned a lot about how President Bush can put this whole little affair behind him and "repair his second term."

The suggestions from the first segment's guests -- three former White House Chiefs of Staff, Ken Duberstein, Hamilton Jordan and Leon Panetta, and historian Michael Beschloss -- on how Bush should change course barely even matter, since the defining characteristic of his presidency is his inability to change course. (Unless he runs out of road, as he did on social security and Harriet Miers.)

But the Scooter Libby case has just begun (for the latest potential indictment in Cheney's office read Murray Waas and Paul Singer at the National Journal), and it is intricately linked to a war which continues to go from bad to worse. Yet such is the bubble that many Washington journalists and political operatives live in that today's show was like watching a bunch of people play "fantasy baseball." I'm sure it's fun, but it doesn't change the real game.

For a look at what the non-fantasy world is like, I kept clicking on HuffPo's homepage, where I could read Lawrence O'Donnell ("As long as Karl Rove stays in the White House... the Bush presidency will remain a powerless gang that couldn't shoot straight."), Nicholas Kristoff ("If Mr. Cheney can't address the questions about his conduct... then he should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his resignation."), Jonathan Alter ("Fitzgerald was wrong on one count, at least metaphorically. 'This indictment is not about the war,' he said. Oh, yes, it is."), David Remnick ("In his anger, and after all his many failures, the President, quite suddenly, seems unpopular, alone, and adrift."), and Frank Rich ("Watergate's dirty tricks were mainly prompted by the ruthless desire to crush the political competition at any cost... but this administration has upped the ante by playing dirty tricks with war.")

Ultimately, as Rich writes, the Libby indictment is just "one very big window" into what we've just begun to put together: "the full history of a self-described 'war presidency' that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well."

This is what this case is about, no matter how much White House apologists want it to be about a White House aide being busted for a "technicality." And they will no more be able to spin this away than they've been able to spin away the consequences of a disastrous war.

Fantasyland continued in the second segment, a roundtable featuring Judy Woodruff, David Brooks, David Broder and William Safire. (Tim really sets a well-balanced table, doesn't he?) Safire spent most of the segment looking down -- at what, I have no idea. Though if I were repeating such absurd talking points as his, I would not want to look anyone in the eye either.

And what's up with David Brooks? Has he switched to writing fiction for the New York Times? (He's hardly alone -- the New Yorker had better watch its back.)

"But listen, nobody's going to remember most of the details of this six months from now. ... What Fitzgerald showed, you know, he was in there for 22 months. He had full cooperation from everybody."

Full cooperation? FULL COOPERATION? Fitzgerald's main witnesses litigated their refusal to cooperate all the way to the Supreme Court. And false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice hardly indicate "full cooperation." Indeed, as Fitzgerald put it, it was like the umpire getting "sand thrown in his eyes."

Tim, of course, could not be bothered to challenge any of this. In the same way that he left unchallenged the untruths coming out of the mouth of Bill Safire, who was still identified as a New York Times columnist. I guess this refers to his language column in the Times magazine, unless being a NYT columnist is like being an ambassador, and you get to keep the title for life -- which would be particularly apt for Safire, since being an ambassador from the administration, and from Millerland, is exactly what he was doing today. "What the special counsel found," he said, "is that law was not broken."

As Safire surely knows, Fitzgerald found that perjury and obstruction-of-justice laws were broken, and was prevented from finding out if the Intelligence Identities Protection law was broken because of the small matter of sand being thrown in his eyes.

And for anyone wondering why someone "as smart and as organized as Scooter Libby" (Broder's words) would perjure himself, the answer is that maybe, just maybe, he was covering up a crime.

Unchallenged and emboldened, Safire went on: "The wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. ... And so the story will be the comeback." Safire's proposed new narrative, along with the comeback, is that the economy is "booming."

Here are some quick facts that Russert could have brought up to dispel the Safiric, let-them-eat-cake notion of a booming economy:

"Consumer confidence dropped, home sales were down and the number of people who lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina climbed above the half-million mark....Pension funds are going bankrupt, health care costs and gasoline prices are soaring and jobs are being shipped overseas."

So in what universe is the economy's performance as stellar as Safire would like us to believe? In the same universe, it turns out, in which Judy Miller is "a tough-minded, hard-driving investigative reporter who did wonderful work" and whose critics don't like her because she's "a tough-minded, hard-driving investigative reporter who did wonderful work."

Yes, that's right, Bill. The reason why Miller will not return to the New York Times, the reason why five of the six WMD stories the Times had to apologize for had her name on them, the reason why editor after editor is now running away from her is her wonderful, tough-minded, hard-driving reporting.

Toward the end of the show, summing up its "comeback" tone, was this question from Russert: "If the president does try to recover, does try to reach out, will the Democrats join with him or will they resist him?"

So there you have it. If those damn Democrats stop resisting the president, he will quickly get out of rehab and we can all look forward to a big-idea, booming, bipartisan second term. Except, that is, for the war and all those pesky people who don't like being lied to about the war, and don't like senior administration officials perjuring themselves to cover up their lies about the war.

For everyone else -- you heard it on Meet the Press first -- things are going to be A-OK.


Paul Krugman ranks among those who are deserving of the Edward R. Murrow Award for courage and integrity in journalism. LS


The New York Times
October 31, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
Ending the Fraudulence

Let me be frank: it has been a long political nightmare. For some of us, daily life has remained safe and comfortable, so the nightmare has merely been intellectual: we realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but spent a long time unable to get others to see the obvious. For others - above all, of course, those Americans risking their lives in a war whose real rationale has never been explained - the nightmare has been all too concrete.

So is the nightmare finally coming to an end? Yes, I think so. I have no idea whether Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, will bring more indictments in the Plame affair. In any case, I don't share fantasies that Dick Cheney will be forced to resign; even Karl Rove may keep his post. One way or another, the Bush administration will stagger on for three more years. But its essential fraudulence stands exposed, and it's hard to see how that exposure can be undone.

What do I mean by essential fraudulence? Basically, I mean the way an administration with an almost unbroken record of policy failure has nonetheless achieved political dominance through a carefully cultivated set of myths.

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.

The point is that this administration's political triumphs have never been based on its real-world achievements, which are few and far between. The administration has, instead, built its power on myths: the myth of presidential leadership, the ugly myth that the administration is patriotic while its critics are not. Take away those myths, and the administration has nothing left.

Well, Katrina ended the leadership myth, which was already fading as the war dragged on. There was a time when a photo of Mr. Bush looking out the window of Air Force One on 9/11 became an iconic image of leadership. Now, a similar image of Mr. Bush looking out at a flooded New Orleans has become an iconic image of his lack of connection. Pundits may try to resurrect Mr. Bush's reputation, but his cult of personality is dead - and the inscription on the tombstone reads, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Meanwhile, the Plame inquiry, however it winds up, has ended the myth of the administration's monopoly on patriotism, which was also fading in the face of the war.

Apologists can shout all they like that no laws were broken, that hardball politics is nothing new, or whatever. The fact remains that officials close to both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush leaked the identity of an undercover operative for political reasons. Whether or not that act was illegal, it was clearly unpatriotic.

And the Plame affair has also solidified the public's growing doubts about the administration's morals. By a three-to-one margin, according to a Washington Post poll, the public now believes that the level of ethics and honesty in the government has declined rather than risen under Mr. Bush.

So the Bush administration has lost the myths that sustained its mojo, and with them much of its power to do harm. But the nightmare won't be fully over until two things happen.

First, politicians will have to admit that they were misled. Second, the news media will have to face up to their role in allowing incompetents to pose as leaders and political apparatchiks to pose as patriots.

It's a sad commentary on the timidity of most Democrats that even now, with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, telling us how policy was "hijacked" by the Cheney-Rumsfeld "cabal," it's hard to get leading figures to admit that they were misled into supporting the Iraq war. Kudos to John Kerry for finally saying just that last week.

And as for the media: these days, there is much harsh, justified criticism of the failure of major news organizations, this one included, to exert due diligence on rationales for the war. But the failures that made the long nightmare possible began much earlier, during the weeks after 9/11, when the media eagerly helped our political leaders build up a completely false picture of who they were.

So the long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn't we tell the public?


It is no accident that a movie such as Good Night and Good Luck, a film depicting the difficulties and bravery of a TV news anchor for CBS News, Edward R. Murrow, has been produced today. The film is more like a historical documentary. It revisits the Senator Joe McCarthy witch hunting era of the 50's in which the Senator had a paranoid obsession with communism. If you have not seen the movie, you are missing out on something great. The movie will give you great pause as you will see how TV is being used in our society.

This week, I am dedicating my blog to the journalists who measure up to the standards created so admirably and courageously by Mr. Murrow.

Continuing on with the Edward R. Murrow Awards in Courage and Integrity in Journalism: Ms. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.

For October 31, 2005

Maureen Dowd "Who's on First?"

Who's on First?
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Saturday 29 October 2005

It was bracing to see the son of a New York doorman open the door on the mendacious Washington lair of the Lord of the Underground.

But this Irish priest of the law, Patrick Fitzgerald, neither Democrat nor Republican, was very strict, very precise. He wasn't totally gratifying in clearing up the murkiness of the case, yet strangely comforting in his quaint black-and-white notions of truth and honor (except when his wacky baseball metaphor seemed to veer toward a "Who's on first?" tangle).

"This indictment's not about the propriety of the war," he told reporters yesterday in his big Eliot Ness moment at the Justice Department. The indictment was simply about whether the son of an investment banker perjured himself before a grand jury and the F.B.I.

Scooter does seem like a big fat liar in the indictment. And not a clever one, since his deception hinged on, of all people, the popular monsignor of the trusted Sunday Church of Russert. Does Scooter hope to persuade a jury to believe him instead of Little Russ?

Good luck.

There is something grotesque about Scooter's hiding behind the press with his little conspiracy, given that he's part of an administration that despises the press and tried to make its work almost impossible.

Mr. Fitzgerald claims that Mr. Libby hurt national security by revealing the classified name of a CIA officer. "Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life," he said.

He was not buying the arguments on the right that Mrs. Wilson was not really undercover or was under "light" cover, or that blowing her cover did not hurt the CIA

"I can say that for the people who work at the CIA and work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected," he said, adding: "They run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad could happen to them, but they have to make sure that they don't run the risk that something bad is going to happen to them from something done by their own fellow government employees."

To protect a war spun from fantasy, the Bush team played dirty. Unfortunately for them, this time they Swift-boated an American whose job gave her legal protection from the business-as-usual smear campaign.

The back story of this indictment is about the ongoing Tong wars of the CIA, the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon: the fight over who lied us into war. The CIA, after all, is the agency that asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate how one of its own was outed by the White House.

The question Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly declined to answer yesterday - Dick Cheney's poker face has finally met its match - was whether this stops at Scooter.

No one expects him to "flip," unless he finally gets the sort of fancy white-collar criminal lawyer that The Washington Post said he is searching for - like the ones who succeeded in getting Karl Rove off the hook, at least for now - and the lawyer tells Scooter to nail his boss to save himself.

But what we really want to know, now that we have the bare bones of who said what to whom in the indictment, is what they were all thinking there in that bunker and how that hothouse bred the idea that the way out of their Iraq problems was to slime their critics instead of addressing the criticism. What we really want to know, if Scooter testifies in the trial, and especially if he doesn't, is what Vice did to create the spidery atmosphere that led Scooter, who seemed like an interesting and decent guy, to let his zeal get the better of him.

Mr. Cheney, eager to be rid of the meddlesome Joe Wilson, got Valerie Wilson's name from the CIA and passed it on to Scooter. He forced the CIA to compromise one of its own, a sacrifice on the altar of faith-based intelligence.

Vice spent so much time lurking over at the CIA, trying to intimidate the analysts at Langley into twisting the intelligence about weapons, that he should have had one of his undisclosed locations there.

This administration's grand schemes always end up as the opposite. Officials say they're promoting national security when they're hurting it; they say they're squelching terrorists when they're breeding them; they say they're bringing stability to Iraq when the country's imploding. (The U.S. announced five more military deaths yesterday.)

And the most dangerous opposite of all: W. was listening to a surrogate father he shouldn't have been listening to, and not listening to his real father, who deserved to be listened to.


Thanks to my friend, Ken, I have been able to stay well-informed despite the many distractions that drive my life. Here is a gem from two jewels of reporters, political and voters' rights activists from Ohio - Mr. Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman. LS

Powerful Government Accounting Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 26, 2005


Electronic voting systems aren't likely to be sufficiently secure even by the 2006 elections, government auditors warned Friday. Existing systems are rife with problems, the Government Accountability Office said in a 107-page document
(click for PDF)

As a legal noose appears to be tightening around the Bush/Cheney/Rove inner circle, a shocking government report shows the floor under the legitimacy of their alleged election to the White House is crumbling.

The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the General Accounting Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.

The government's lead investigative agency is known for its general incorruptibility and its thorough, in-depth analyses. Its concurrence with assertions widely dismissed as "conspiracy theories" adds crucial new weight to the case that Team Bush has no legitimate business being in the White House.

Nearly a year ago, senior Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) asked the GAO to investigate electronic voting machines as they were used during the November 2, 2004 presidential election. The request came amidst widespread complaints in Ohio and elsewhere that often shocking irregularities defined their performance.

According to CNN, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee received "more than 57,000 complaints" following Bush's alleged re-election. Many such concerns were memorialized under oath in a series of sworn statements and affidavits in public hearings and investigations conducted in Ohio by the Free Press and other election protection organizations.

The non-partisan GAO report has now found that, "some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."

The United States is the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non-transparent software. Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, has asserted that "public elections must not be conducted on privately-owned machines." The CEO of one of the most crucial suppliers of electronic voting machines, Warren O'Dell of Diebold, pledged before the 2004 campaign to deliver Ohio and thus the presidency to George W. Bush.

Bush's official margin of victory in Ohio was just 118,775 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast. Election protection advocates argue that O'Dell's statement still stands as a clear sign of an effort, apparently successful, to steal the White House.

Among other things, the GAO confirms that:

1. Some electronic voting machines "did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, thus making it possible to alter them without detection." In other words, the GAO now confirms that electronic voting machines provided an open door to flip an entire vote count. More than 800,000 votes were cast in Ohio on electronic voting machines, some seven times Bush's official margin of victory.

2. "It is easy to alter a file defining how a ballot appears, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and actually be recorded as voting for an entirely different candidate." Numerous sworn statements and affidavits assert that this did happen in Ohio 2004.

3. "Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards" can easily be done, according to the GAO.

4. The GAO also confirms that "access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network." This critical finding confirms that rigging the 2004 vote did not require a "widespread conspiracy" but rather the cooperation of a very small number of operatives with the power to tap into the networked machines and thus change large numbers of votes at will. With 800,000 votes cast on electronic machines in Ohio, flipping the number needed to give Bush 118,775 could be easily done by just one programmer.

5. Access "to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords," says the GAO. So even relatively amateur hackers could have gained access to and altered the Ohio vote tallies.

6. "The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy," says the GAO, meaning, again, getting into the system was an easy matter.

7. "One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail," says the GAO, re-emphasizing the fragility of the system on which the Presidency of the United States was decided.

8. "GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel," confirming still more easy access to the system.

In essence, the GAO study makes it clear that no bank, grocery store or mom & pop chop shop would dare operate its business on a computer system as flimsy, fragile and easily manipulated as the one on which the 2004 election turned.

The GAO findings are particularly damning when set in the context of an election run in Ohio by a Secretary of State simultaneously working as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Far from what election theft skeptics have long asserted, the GAO findings confirm that the electronic network on which 800,000 Ohio votes were cast was vulnerable enough to allow a a tiny handful of operatives -- or less -- to turn the whole vote count using personal computers operating on relatively simple software.

The GAO documentation flows alongside other crucial realities surrounding the 2004 vote count. For example:

# The exit polls showed Kerry winning in Ohio, until an unexplained last minute shift gave the election to Bush. Similar definitive shifts also occurred in Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico, a virtual statistical impossibility.

# A few weeks prior to the election, an unauthorized former ES&S voting machine company employee, was caught on the ballot-making machine in Auglaize County

# Election officials in Mahoning County now concede that at least 18 machines visibly transferred votes for Kerry to Bush. Voters who pushed Kerry's name saw Bush's name light up, again and again, all day long. Officials claim the problems were quickly solved, but sworn statements and affidavits say otherwise. They confirm similar problems in Franklin County (Columbus). Kerry's margins in both counties were suspiciously low.

# A voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry. The problem was allegedly fixed.

# In Gahanna Ward 1B, at a fundamentalist church, a so-called "electronic transfer glitch" gave Bush nearly 4000 extra votes when only 638 people voted at that polling place. The tally was allegedly corrected, but remains infamous as the "loaves and fishes" vote count.

# In Franklin County, dozens of voters swore under oath that their vote for Kerry faded away on the DRE without a paper trail.

# In Miami County, at 1:43am after Election Day, with the county's central tabulator reporting 100% of the vote - 19,000 more votes mysteriously arrived; 13,000 were for Bush at the same percentage as prior to the additional votes, a virtual statistical impossibility.

# In Cleveland, large, entirely implausible vote totals turned up for obscure third party candidates in traditional Democratic African-American wards. Vote counts in neighboring wards showed virtually no votes for those candidates, with 90% going instead for Kerry.

# Prior to one of Blackwell's illegitimate "show recounts," technicians from Triad voting machine company showed up unannounced at the Hocking County Board of Elections and removed the computer hard drive.

# In response to official information requests, Shelby and other counties admit to having discarded key records and equipment before any recount could take place.

# In a conference call with Rev. Jackson, Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, Attorney Bob Fitrakis and others, John Kerry confirmed that he lost every precinct in New Mexico that had a touchscreen voting machine. The losses had no correlation with ethnicity, social class or traditional party affiliation---only with the fact that touchscreen machines were used.

# In a public letter, Rep. Conyers has stated that "by and large, when it comes to a voting machine, the average voter is getting a lemon - the Ford Pinto of voting technology. We must demand better."

But the GAO report now confirms that electronic voting machines as deployed in 2004 were in fact perfectly engineered to allow a very small number of partisans with minimal computer skills and equipment to shift enough votes to put George W. Bush back in the White House.

Given the growing body of evidence, it appears increasingly clear that's exactly what happened.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE
AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available via
<> and <> Their WHAT
HAPPENED IN OHIO, with Steve Rosenfeld, will be published in Spring,
2006, by New Press.

Posted by Tim


The MSM is alive with the sound of relevant news.

It took a catastrophic hurricane, a disastrous, unnecessary and now unpopular war in Iraq, as well as the indictment of a powerful aide to, or the alter ego of the Vice President of the United States, for the mainstream media to wake up to the Bush Administration. For five years, most in the MSM lacked the integrity, courage and ethical backbone to report news that held our government accountable for its actions. Instead, many in the MSM were either afraid of recriminations from the Rove slash/trash/take no enemies arm of Bush government, or they had allowed themselves to fall under the black magic spell of the corrupt and evil puppet master Cheney.

What would Mr. Edward R. Murrows have done?

Tonight's and this week’s postings will be those from the journalists who had the courage to report relevant and crucial news, before it was “safe” and “in” to so. LS

Mr. Rich was one of the first to report news critical of the Bush Administration and he did so, at first, from the ARTS and LEISURE Section of the NYT. His pieces soon found their way to the Op-Ed section.



The New York Times
October 30, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
One Step Closer to the Big Enchilada

TO believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in. But Watergate played out for nearly two years after the gang that burglarized Democratic headquarters was indicted by a federal grand jury; it even dragged on for more than a year after Nixon took "responsibility" for the scandal, sacrificed his two top aides and weathered the indictments of two first-term cabinet members. In those ensuing months, America would come to see that the original petty crime was merely the leading edge of thematically related but wildly disparate abuses of power that Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, would name "the White House horrors."

In our current imperial presidency, as in its antecedent, what may look like a narrow case involving a second banana with a child's name contains the DNA of the White House, and that DNA offers a road map to the duplicitous culture of the whole. The coming prosecution of Lewis (Scooter) Libby in the Wilson affair is hardly the end of the story. That "Cheney's Cheney," as Mr. Libby is known, would allegedly go to such lengths to obscure his role in punishing a man who challenged the administration's W.M.D. propaganda is just one very big window into the genesis of the smoke screen (or, more accurately, mushroom cloud) that the White House used to sell the war in Iraq.

After the heat of last week's drama, we can forget just how effective the administration's cover-up of that con job had been until very recently. Before Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation, there were two separate official investigations into the failure of prewar intelligence. With great fanfare and to great acclaim, both found that our information about Saddam's W.M.D.'s was dead wrong. But wittingly or unwittingly, both of these supposedly thorough inquiries actually protected the White House by avoiding, in Watergate lingo, "the big enchilada."

The 601-page report from the special presidential commission led by Laurence Silberman and Charles Robb, hailed at its March release as a "sharp critique" by Mr. Bush, contains only a passing mention of Dick Cheney. It has no mention whatsoever of Mr. Libby or Karl Rove or their semicovert propaganda operation (the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG) created to push all that dead-wrong intel. Nor does it mention Douglas Feith, the first-term under secretary of defense for policy, whose rogue intelligence operation in the Pentagon supplied the vice president with the disinformation that bamboozled the nation. 

The other investigation into prewar intelligence, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is a scandal in its own right. After the release of its initial findings in July 2004, the committee's Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, promised that a Phase 2 to determine whether the White House had misled the public would arrive after the presidential election. It still hasn't, and no wonder: Murray Waas reported Thursday in The National Journal that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby had refused to provide the committee with "crucial documents," including the Libby-written passages in early drafts of Colin Powell's notorious presentation of W.M.D. "evidence" to the U.N. on the eve of war.

Along the way, Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has prompted the revelation of much of what these previous investigations left out. But even so, the trigger for the Wilson affair - the administration's fierce effort to protect its hype of Saddam's uranium - is only one piece of the larger puzzle of post- and pre-9/11 White House subterfuge. We're a long way from putting together the full history of a self-described "war presidency" that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well.

There are many other mysteries to be cracked, from the catastrophic, almost willful failure of the Pentagon to plan for the occupation of Iraq to the utter ineptitude of the huge and costly Department of Homeland Security that was revealed in all its bankruptcy by Katrina. There are countless riddles, large and small. Why have the official reports on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo spared all but a single officer in the chain of command? Why does Halliburton continue to receive lucrative government contracts even after it's been the focus of multiple federal inquiries into accusations of bid-rigging, overcharging and fraud? Why did it take five weeks for Pat Tillman's parents to be told that their son had been killed by friendly fire, and who ordered up the fake story of his death that was sold relentlessly on TV before then?

These questions are just a representative sampling. It won't be easy to get honest answers because this administration, like Nixon's, practices obsessive secrecy even as it erects an alternative reality built on spin and outright lies.

Mr. Cheney is a particularly shameless master of these black arts. Long before he played semantics on "Meet the Press" with his knowledge of Joseph Wilson in the leak case, he repeatedly fictionalized crucial matters of national security. As far back as May 8, 2001, he appeared on CNN to promote his new assignment, announced that day by Mr. Bush, to direct a governmentwide review of U.S. "consequence management" in the event of a terrorist attack. As we would learn only in the recriminatory aftermath of 9/11 (from Barton Gellman of The Washington Post), Mr. Cheney never did so.

That stunt was a preview of Mr. Cheney's unreliable pronouncements about the war, from his early prediction that American troops would be "greeted as liberators" in Iraq to this summer's declaration that the insurgency was in its "last throes." Even before he began inflating Saddam's nuclear capabilities, he went on "Meet the Press" in December 2001 to peddle the notion that "it's been pretty well confirmed" that there was a direct pre-9/11 link between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence. When the Atta-Saddam link was disproved later, Gloria Borger, interviewing the vice president on CNBC, confronted him about his earlier claim, and Mr. Cheney told her three times that he had never said it had been "pretty well confirmed." When a man thinks he can get away with denying his own words even though there are millions of witnesses and a video record, he clearly believes he can get away with murder.

Mr. Bush is only slightly less brazen. His own false claims about Iraq's W.M.D.'s ("We found the weapons of mass destruction," he said in May 2003) are, if anything, exceeded by his repeated boasts of capturing various bin Laden and Zarqawi deputies and beating back Al Qaeda. His speech this month announcing the foiling of 10 Qaeda plots is typical; as USA Today reported last week, at least 6 of the 10 on the president's list "involved preliminary ideas about potential attacks, not terrorist operations that were about to be carried out." In June, Mr. Bush stood beside his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and similarly claimed that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects" and that "more than half" of those had been convicted. A Washington Post investigation found that only 39 of those convictions had involved terrorism or national security (as opposed to, say, immigration violations). That sum could yet be exceeded by the combined number of convictions in the Jack Abramoff-Tom DeLay scandals.

The hyping of post-9/11 threats indeed reflects the same DNA as the hyping of Saddam's uranium: in both cases, national security scares are trumpeted to advance the White House's political goals. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC recently compiled 13 "coincidences" in which "a political downturn for the administration," from revelations of ignored pre-9/11 terror warnings to fresh news of detainee abuses, is "followed by a 'terror event' - a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning." To switch the national subject from the fallout of the televised testimony of the F.B.I. whistle-blower Coleen Rowley in 2002, John Ashcroft went so far as to broadcast a frantic announcement, via satellite from Russia, that the government had "disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot" to explode a dirty bomb. What he was actually referring to was the arrest of a single suspect, Jose Padilla, for allegedly exploring such a plan - an arrest that had taken place a month earlier.

For now, it's conventional wisdom in Washington that the Bush White House's infractions are nowhere near those of the Nixon administration, as David Gergen put it on MSNBC on Friday morning. But Watergate's dirty tricks were mainly prompted by the ruthless desire to crush the political competition at any cost. That's a powerful element in the Bush scandals, too, but this administration has upped the ante by playing dirty tricks with war. Back on July 6, 2003, when the American casualty toll in Iraq stood at 169 and Mr. Wilson had just published his fateful Op-Ed, Robert Novak, yet to write his column outing Mr. Wilson's wife, declared that "weapons of mass destruction or uranium from Niger" were "little elitist issues that don't bother most of the people." That's what Nixon administration defenders first said about the "third-rate burglary" at Watergate, too.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Thursday, October 27, 2005


It is somewhat comforting to know that the MSM is actually engaged in real news for a change after at least 5 years of hard news denial and Bush cheerleading. However, the MSM still has a long and tough road to hoe before it is completely where it needs to be. I wonder if they (the journalists and TV anchors) will measure up to the task at hand. Today’s talking heads and journalists (except for a rare few) seem unable or unwilling to deeply probe issues or hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. Instead, there seems to be an ethos of high worship of those in power.

Unfortunately, few of today’s anchors and journalists are made of the same cloth as many in the past.

Earth to MSM anchors and reporters…it is not about YOU and FACE TIME or STENOGRAPHY or SHOWTIME or ACTING. You are not a STAR in a FILM…Your job is to report the EVENTS and POLITICS of the day, without spin, that profoundly effect us as a nation. Er, try to, uh, search your souls deeply, really, really deeply, for a modicum of guts, integrity and ethical backbone… As I mentioned above, you have a long and tough road to hoe. Please do try to measure up. LS




Raw Story is more forthcoming on Plamegate than the corporate MSM, in my view. Perhaps this is the case b/c they are not owned by Bush loyalists and opportunists. LS


It seems that the WH and CIA were at each other's throats over intelligence on Iraq. Now, who would you believe? An incompetent Bush appointed political hack or buddy boy/girl , a quintessential money/power mongering opportunist, i.e. Cheney, or, a well-educated and seasoned CIA official who had to undergo a rigorous selection process and training? LS



Former U.S. Senator Dansforth is a minister and Clarence Thomas's mentor. dudes courted this group of extremists to get into power. You sold your souls to the devil all right. LS

Found via Buzz Flash



Great piece by Jane Hamsher of the Huffington Post


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Alas, justice, at last? No commentary here, the articles posted tell the entire miserable story...the outcome of an illegitimate administration. LS

From the Financial Times via Raw Story










I suppose the N.Y. Times is trying to make up for all lost pertinent and crucial reporting thanks to the Judith Miller Great Bamboozle.


Things must be really bad at the White House right now.



I watched Meet the Press on Sunday morning, while having breakfast, and I must admit the entire meal founds it way back to my throat when I heard Senator Hutchison’s shocking and dismissive statements about the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice. It seems that her handlers and supervisors in the GOP have instructed her on how to label a crime as a silly little technicality. The goal of Senator Hutchison’s handlers is, of course, to downplay the criminal charges that may be brought against Rove and Libby. Perjury is not a crime, if you are a member of the club. Rather, the crime is not a crime but is instead a plot on the part of the prosecutor to attempt to assign a technicality that seems like a crime, but isn’t. Talk about convoluted and twisted reasoning..

Well, Kay honey, it won’t work anymore. We are not all that stupid, thank you very much and we know what lies behind the puppet master’s curtain now. Your magic shows have lost their power, the mirrors are shattered and the smoke has cleared. We know too, that you are merely another Stepford Wife for George W. Bush and the neoconservative agenda.

My friend Ken sent the article below this morning from the Huffington Post on Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. It is entitled “Hutchison used to think differently” by Robert Schlesinger.

Before I post the entire article I would like to remind Senator Hutchison of a letter I had written to her in June about the Downing Street Memo in which I had respectfully requested that the Senator please investigate the matter. Of course she did not and instead did the usual thing a Stepford Wife does. She rallied around Bush ideology, thereby thumbing her nose at a constituent’s deep concern about a serious issue, giving the usual neocon cookie cutter and dismissive response. The Senator’s letter can be found in the archives on July 17, 2005. My letter to the Senator can be found in the archives in June. LS

Hutchison Used To Think Differently
Robert Schlesinger


Kay Bailey Hutchison didn‚t always feel this way. Once upon a time she rejected the notion that perjury had to be accompanied by other underlying charges to make it a serious crime.

As noted on the HuffPo‚s front page, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison fretted on Meet the Press Sunday that potential perjury and obstruction of justice charges against I. Lewis „Scooter‰ Libby and Karl Rove might be just a „technicality.‰

Of course back in the day (read: President Clinton‚s impeachment trial), perjury and obstruction of justice were a pretty big deal. I believe the exact phrase used at the time was „high crimes and misdemeanors.‰

(A digression: Careful readers might recall that I predicted last week these results of what I call the Hypocritic Oath ˆ that GOPers would start to downplay the importance of perjury and obstruction.)

Hutchison said Sunday:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

The estimable Tim Russert noted that perjury was once more important, saying: „Perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate.‰

Hutchison responded:

Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country.

Well actually, there weren‚t other charges against Clinton. Or more precisely there weren‚t other charges that were approved by the House. It was as if they couldn‚t indict on a „real‰ crime and so they went to something just to show what their years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. One might even call it a gotcha mentality.

Of course Hutchison sang a different tune back in February of 1999, when the senators went behind closed doors to discuss how they would vote in the impeachment trial.

At the time, according to the closed-door impeachment statement she entered into the Congressional Record:

This Senate on numerous occasions has convicted impeached Federal Judges on allegations of perjury. Moreover, the historical fact is that 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' as used and applied in English law on which portions of our Constitution were founded, included the crimes of 'obstructing the execution of the lawful process' and of 'willful and corrupt perjury.'

She went on to specifically reject the notion that perjury and obstruction required underlying charges in order to be legitimate:

The President's Counsel and a number of Senators advance a 'felony-plus' interpretation of the Constitutional terms 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' ∑ To this Senator, this astounding application of the plain language of our Constitution strikes at the very heart of the rule of law in America. It replaces the stability guaranteed by the Constitution with the chaos of uncertainty. Not only does it obliterate the noble ideal that our highest public officer should set high moral standards for our Nation, it says that the officer is free to commit felonies while doing it if the economy is good, if the crime is just about sex, or if, except for the crime, 'things are going pretty well right now,' or simply that 'they can indict and try the President for the crime after leaving office in a couple of years.' I will not demean our Constitution or the office of the Presidency of the United States by endorsing the felony-plus standard.

Of course now that the crime in question is about national security, not sex, the standard is apparently completely different.

Friday, October 21, 2005



Found on the Washington Post via Raw Story
This is a great piece. It includes a number of links that provide a historical background to Treasongate. It also addresses how bad things are politically for the Bush Administration with the aftermath of Katrina, the war in Iraq, high gas prices, the Harriet Miers nomination fiasco and the CIA leak.

Many of us have known all along that the Bush Administration, one that has been illegitimate since Day 1, could have been nothing but a dismal failure. The problem is that after six years of Bush & Co lies, fabrication, an unnecessary and criminal war with the attendant disgrace of too many killed, too many tortured; propaganda, corruption, reckless and irresponsible spending, the impact of cronyism and hack appointments to important if not crucial positions in our government; the over abundance of no bid contracts to the buddies and hacks; the outing of a CIA agent for political payback, the nomination of an inept and clueless crony to the highest court in the land....In short, our country has been seriously compromised on a complex and myriad number of levels. This Administration has a lot of blood and mayhem on its hands. LS


You go girl.

From The API via Raw Story



Of course there are problems. Remember Florida and Ohio?



He wrote an extensive piece in this morning's edition. Keller says Judy misled the Washington Bureau Chief on her involvement with Libby and the Plame case. Of course she did! Miller has been a head cheerleading journalist for the Bush Administration for some time. It is been so appallingly obvious to long time readers such as myself. Why was her complicity lost on Keller and Taubman? LS



UH OH! This is really, really bad news for Bush the Son. His conservative base is already beginning to disintegrate. Criticism from one of such stature and influence in the Republican realm as General Scowcroft could be a lethal blow.


(Sorry - I am having problems with this link. You can copy and paste
in your browser to find the story from UPI).


Great piece written by John Dickerson of

Excerpt of piece - quote from Libby's letter to Miller while she was in jail. Author suggests Libby wrote to Miller in a "Straussianism" code. Leo Strauss was a German-Jewish philosopher who is believed to be one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism. He greatly influenced Wolfowitz. Straussianism code means that one version of a message would be understood by the uninformed masses (you and I) and another by an elite group of thinkers who would "get it" (Libby, Wolfowitz, Miller).

Au contraire even the "uninformed masses" will "get" Libby's pathetic little message.

"You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover—Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work—and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. With admiration, Scooter Libby."


Thursday, October 20, 2005


Ken sent this brilliant article this morning from the Huffington Post. LS

James Moore is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976. He is currently writing a book on the long term consequences for America of Bush and Rove policies, which will be published next year. K.


If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.
We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.

Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.

We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic. Because far too many of us know and are aware of the crimes committed by our government in our name, we are unlikely to settle for a handful of minor indictments of bureaucrats. The last thing most of us believe in is the rule of law. We do not trust our government or the people we have elected but our constitution is still very much alive and we choose to believe that destiny has placed Patrick Fitzgerald at this time and this place in our history to save us from the people we elected. If the law cannot get to the truth of what has happened to the American people under the Bush administration, then we all may begin to hear the early death rattles of history’s greatest democracy.

Fortunately, there are good signs. Fitzgerald has reportedly asked for a copy of the Italian government’s investigation into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source of the forged documents. The blatantly fake papers, which purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get yellowcake uranium from Niger, turned up after a December 2001 meeting in Rome involving neo-con Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin, Harold Rhodes, and Niccolo Pollari, the head of Italy’s intelligence agency SISMI, and Antonio Martino, the Italian defense minister.

Is Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that Ledeen was executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for invading Iraq? Ledeen has long ties to Italian intelligence agency operatives and has spanned the globe to bring the world the constant variety of what he calls “creative destruction” to build democracies. He makes the other neo-cons appear passive. He brought the Reagan administration together with the Iranian arms dealer who dragged the country through Iran-Contra and shares with his close friend Karl Rove a personal obsession with Machiavelli. Ledeen, who is almost rabidly anti-Arab, famously told the Washington Post that Karl Rove told him, “Any time you have a good idea, tell me.”

The federal grand jury has to at least consider whether Ledeen called Rove with an idea to use his contacts with the Italian CIA to hatch a plan to create the rationale for war. Ledeen told radio interviewer Ian Masters and his producer Louis Vandenberg, “I have absolutely no connection to the Niger documents, have never even seen them. I did not work on them, never handled them, know virtually nothing about them, don't think I ever wrote or said anything about the subject.” It is strictly coincidence then that some months after he and his neo-con consorts and Italian intelligence officers met in Rome that the Niger embassy was illegally entered and nothing was stolen other than letterhead and seals. And equally coincident that forged papers under those letterheads were slipped to Elisabetta Burba, a writer for an Italian glossy owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, and a backer of the Bush invasion scheme. Unfortunately for the pro-war neo-cons, even an Italian tabloid would not publish the fake documents and turned them over to the CIA and US government in Rome.

The other American attendees at Ledeen’s Roman Holiday are also worthy of scrutiny. Larry Franklin was recently arrested for leaking classified US government information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Ledeen sprang quickly to his defense but Franklin faces prosecution next year and is most probably cooperating with prosecutor Fitzgerald. Harold Rhode, the other American actor in this tragicomic affair, worked the Office of Special Plans (OSP) at the Deptartment of Defense for Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Harold Rumsfeld. Characterized as a “counter-intelligence shop,” OSP simply interpreted intelligence in a manner that fit the need for evidence that Iraq had WMD. If the CIA gathered data that said otherwise, OSP analyzed it differently or ignored the facts and then reported to the vice president precisely what he wanted to hear. Rhode also was the liaison between Ahmed Chalabi, the convicted embezzler the Bush administration was using to feed information to them and Judy Miller about the distortions and lies required to fuel the rush to war.

No great extrapolation is necessary to assume that OSP, sitting inside the CIA, got early word that Joseph Wilson was being dispatched to Niger to investigate the sale of low-grade uranium to Iraq. Rhode needed only to pick up the phone and call the vice president’s chief of staff Scooter Libby, who would tell his boss and Karl Rove. How hard is it for even Republicans to believe, at this point, that Rove is capable of launching a plan to discredit Wilson and punish him by exposing his wife? Rove and his boss were not simply in danger of losing the prime cause for the war; they faced an even graver political wound of being discovered as covert agents who defrauded the government and the public.

I have seen the spawn of Rove’s tortured mind and watched a hundred of his political scams unfold and I am confident I know how this one played out. Rove might have brought it up with his fellow big brains in the White House Iraq Group, a propaganda organization set up to disseminate information supporting the war. There was likely a consensus to move the plan to smack down Wilson out of the White House. Rove always keeps a layer of operatives between himself and the person he gets to pull the trigger. Libby was probably told to manage it out of the VP’s office to protect the president because Karl always takes care of his most prized assets. Libby then likely ordered John Hannah and possibly David Wurmser to call the ever-friendly Judy Miller at the New York Times and columnist Robert Novak to give them Valerie Plame’s identity. Rove knew that Miller would call Libby of Aspen for confirmation and his old friend Novak was certain to call Rove who, as an unidentified senior White House official, would confirm the identity on background only. Because Novak is a partisan gunslinger, he wrote more quickly than Miller and when she saw the firestorm his story created, she backed off and has since been trying to cover for herself and Libby. Miller’s later claim that she cannot remember who gave her the “Valerie Flame” name is as much dissembling as Rove’s unconvincing argument that he “forgot” he met with Time reporter Matt Cooper. Karl Rove can remember precinct results from 19th century presidential elections. He neither forgets nor forgives.

There you have it, Mr. Prosecutor. To quote an unreconstructed former Republican presidential candidate, “You know it. I know it. And the American people know it.” We expect you also to have sufficient evidence to prove all of this. There are many of us who are on the verge of losing faith in our democracy. We are convinced that there are people within the highest ramparts of American government who are willing to put our country at great risk to advance their geo-political vision. We want our country back. And all we have left is the power of the law. From what we know, you are the right man come forth at the right time.

Prove to us we still live in a democracy and a nation of laws.
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Read all posts by James Moore


A predictable and normal outcome when one sells one's soul to the devil as the Bush Admnistration has obviously done. All of the WH inner circle will most likely be squealing on one another very soon. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the lesser criminals. LS

From the Washington Post via Raw Story



Top Aides Talked Before Plame's Name Was Public
By Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 20, 2005; A01

White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.

In a talk that took place in the days before Plame's CIA employment was revealed, Rove and Libby discussed conversations they had had with reporters in which Plame and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV were raised, the source said. Rove told the grand jury the talk was confined to information the two men heard from reporters, the source said.

Rove has also testified that he also heard about Plame from someone else outside the White House, but could not recall who.

The account is the first time a person familiar with Rove's testimony has provided clues about where the deputy chief of staff learned about Plame, and confirmed that Rove and Libby were involved in a conversation about her before her identity became public. This further undermines the White House's contention early in the case that neither man was involved in leaking her identity to the media.

But it leaves unanswered the central question of the more than two-year-old case: Did anyone commit a crime in leaking information about Plame to the media?

Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, did not return calls for comment last night. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to comment. The development was first reported last night by the Associated Press.

Lawyers in the case have said Rove and Libby are the central focus of Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's 22-month investigation, which is scheduled to end by the time the grand jury expires Oct. 28. But they are not the only officials worried about the uncertain conclusion to the case.

John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Cheney and one of two dozen people questioned in the CIA leak case, has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials.

It is not clear whether Hannah had any role in unmasking of Plame, or why he should fear Fitzgerald's probe. But the eleventh hour emergence of another possible target speaks to a larger truth about the secretive investigation: Fitzgerald has cast his net so widely over the past two years that it is impossible to know who, if anyone, it might ensnare.

Fitzgerald and his team have interviewed or taken before the grand jury at least two dozen officials or staffers from the White House, the vice president's office, the State Department and the CIA, according to people involved in the case.

Fitzgerald has dug into the deepest and most discreet corners of the administration, pressing for information about everything from the mechanics of a secretive group of officials tasked with selling the Iraq war, to the State Department officials who assembled information on Wilson, the diplomat-turned-Iraq war critic, according to people familiar with the case. The focus has been on who leaked Plame's name, and who else knew about it.

But many unknowns remain. What role did Hannah play? What, if any, role was played by former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer? Who was the second source for Robert D. Novak, the columnist who first disclosed Plame's name and role in July 2003? Who was the White House official who leaked word about Wilson's wife to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, who has never publicly revealed his source?

It is possible the public will never learn the answers to these and other questions, because Fitzgerald is not required to produce a report and could complete the investigation without charging anyone with a crime.

But White House officials and lawyers are prepared for Fitzgerald to charge at least one official, and maybe more. Fitzgerald began the probe seeking to determine whether any government official illegally leaked Plame's identity to the media in retaliation for Wilson's criticism that the administration had twisted intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. President Bush had said that Baghdad had tried to obtain uranium in African for a nuclear weapons program.

The new information about Hannah signals how broadly the prosecutor has probed for answers. As Cheney's deputy national security adviser, he was intimately involved in Iraq policy.

Hannah is one of at least five people in the Cheney operation who have been interviewed by federal investigators.

Fitzgerald's interest in the vice president's office became clearer as the case continued: Cheney was central to building the case that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sought nuclear weapons-grade material in Niger and Libby helped discredit Wilson in part by talking about his wife, according to lawyers in the case.

Fitzgerald talked to Cheney personally near the beginning of the investigation, though according to a person familiar with the case, he has not questioned him since. Fitzgerald and his investigative team interviewed Mary Matalin, a former top Cheney adviser; Catherine Martin, his former communications adviser; and Jennifer Millerwise, his former spokeswoman.

Among the media, most of the focus has been on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify about her conversations with Libby, and Time magazine's Matt Cooper, the other reporter who Fitzgerald threatened to jail if he did not reveal his sources.

Cooper, after receiving permission from sources, testified before the grand jury and later said publicly that Rove and Libby had talked to him about Plame. But other reporters were contacted by other White House officials about Plame during the crucial week in July 2003 after Wilson's views became public, according to government officials and people involved in the case.

This leaves open the possibility of a broader leak campaign. In September of 2003, a senior administration official told The Post that at least six journalists were contacted about Plame by two top White House officials.

One of the longest-running mysteries of the case is the identity of Novak's second source. Rove has testified that he discussed Plame in passing with Novak, but it is not clear who else did. Novak has provided scant information about the person's identity. It is unknown whether Novak has cooperated with Fitzgerald, but many familiar with the case believe he has because he did not face the same contempt of court charges levied against Miller and Cooper.

A staffer for James Hamilton, Novak's lawyer, said he has no comment.

Pincus, who spoke with Fitzgerald early in the case after his source said he could, has never revealed who told him that Wilson's wife helped arrange Wilson's trip to Niger. Pincus has said the source was not Libby, and has described the person as a "White House official" who called him. The source came forward to the prosecutor and released Pincus to discuss their conversation with Fitzgerald but not with the public.

Many White House officials have been called before the grand jury, including spokesman Scott McClellan, senior adviser Dan Bartlett, former communications aide Adam Levine and Fleischer, among others. Bush spoke personally with Fitzgerald early in the probe.

One reason Fitzgerald expressed interest in Fleischer, administration officials said, is his presence on a July 2003 presidential trip to Africa. On that flight aboard Air Force One, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had a memo that mentioned Wilson's wife, in a section marked "S" for secret, according to some administration officials. But Powell said on CNN this week the memo he saw did not mention Plame.

According to people involved in the case, prosecutors believe a printout of that memo was in the front of Air Force One during the July 7-12 trip Bush took to Africa, but investigators are unsure who saw it. The prosecutor has also examined the role of Stephen J. Hadley, Bush's national security adviser. In an e-mail that surfaced earlier this year, Rove told Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, about his conversation with Cooper, saying he waved the reporter off Wilson's allegations. The e-mail was not turned over until long after the probe began.

One person in the probe said Fitzgerald showed considerable early interest in the White House Iraq Group, a task force created by Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. in August 2002 and charged with "marketing" the war in Iraq to the public.

The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Its regular participants were Rove, Libby, Hadley, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, adviser Karen Hughes, Matalin, and White House director of legislative affairs Nicholas Calio.

The special prosecutor has talked to a number of Foggy Bottom officials about the State Department memo, drafted about a month before Plame's identity was disclosed. Fitzgerald has questioned Powell about his knowledge of the document, according to people familiar with the case.

Former CIA Director George J. Tenet and Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin, were both interviewed by prosecutors. Bill Harlow, CIA public affairs director, went before the grand jury and was questioned about a conversation he had with Novak before Novak's column appeared. Sources said he was contacted by Novak about the Plame information and told Novak not to publish Plame's name or information about her.

Staff writer Dafna Linzner contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company
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Found on the Financial Times of London via Buzz Flash


Cheney 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy
By Edward Alden in Washington
Published: October 20 2005 00:00 | Last updated: October 20 2005 00:19

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Transcript: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.
It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.

“If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.”

The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

■ The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

■ Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

■ The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either”.

“There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today.”


Tuesday, October 18, 2005


TEARING DOWN THE PUPPET MASTER'S SCREEN? Developing story found on Raw

Gosh! After posting this piece I thought about Rove's testimony of over four hours - a fact made so prominently clear in the national news the other day. Is ROVE, of all the UNLIKELY people, the one who is "cooperating" and spewing “truth?”

This would be truth according to ROVE, of course. Rove truth could mean anything that would protect Bush, and of course Rove’s own self-serving derriere. We know that Rove truth has little to do with reality or the meaning of truth as you and I know it.

It could be a case of who can assign blame the fastest in the quest to save oneself and one’s corrupted, pathetic and now useless leader.

Is this the reason for the frostiness between Dick and George right now? Perhaps Dick got even richer at George’s expense? George's presidency is, well, to be perfectly frank and extraordinarily vulgar, rather royally screwed isn’t it?

Bush couldn’t go the Presidency alone and needed the manipulative and self-serving Dick to prop him up. Bring in the hacks, aka Libby and Rove to do George and Dick’s dirty work, all too willingly and happily. And then there are the likes of Rumsfeld, Pearle and Wolfowitz among other corporate opportunists.

Did Dick do George?

Where this group of sewer rats is concerned, anything is possible.

My deep apologies for the offensive and disgusting language. I could say that 6 years of living in the Bush/Cheney sewer of lies and greed warrant such depiction.

But alas, I have no one to blame for my chosen vulgarity but myself. LS
New York Daily News source believes senior White House official has flipped in leak case

10/17/2005 @ 9:54 pm

Filed by RAW STORY

The case of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is set to explode.


The New York Daily News is set to report in Tuesday editions that a well-placed source interviewed by the newspaper believes a senior White House official has flipped and may be helping the prosecutor in the case, RAW STORY has learned.

The Daily News will reveal that a top source believes that based on the questioning of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and his other contacts with the investigation, someone in the White House has turned.

All eyes are on Dick Cheney, the News says, as the investigation wraps up.

The piece follows on the heels of on a story by Bloomberg News and an article by RAW STORY last week confirming that the prosecutor is probing the Vice President.

Also under a microscope is the White House Iraq Group, an ad-hoc strategy group started by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card aimed at selling the war in Iraq.

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.




The Heart of the Matter
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 17 October 2005

Well, I screwed it up real good, didn't I?

- Richard M. Nixon
In a New York Times article published on Sunday, columnist Frank Rich buried the dart right in the center-black. "What matters most in this case," wrote Rich, "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."

That last sentence strikes sparks, for it takes us beyond the minutiae of a case surrounding two senior White House aides. However important Rove and Libby may be to this administration, neither represents the end of the story. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, with deliberation and intent, took this country to war in Iraq based on false premises, inflated intelligence and bald-faced scare tactics. They used September 11 against their own people to get what they wanted. That is the heart of this matter. If Fitzgerald's investigation ends at Rove and Libby, it will have ended too soon.

Rich, in his article, details the existence of the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. "Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq," wrote Rich, "was never announced. Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq. Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration was ensuring that 'the intelligence and facts' about Iraq's W.M.D.'s 'were being fixed around the policy' of going to war."

WHIG, and its intention to sell an unnecessary war to a shell-shocked public, is only half the story. The other half of the manipulative sales team could be found in the neighborhood occupied by the Department of Defense. The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in Iraq. Think of it like baseball: the OSP pitched, and WHIG caught.

The OSP was on no government payroll and suffered no Congressional oversight. Their tainted information and interpretations overtopped the Iraq data being provided by the State Department and CIA. The OSP was able to accomplish this thanks to devoted patronage from high-ranking members of the administration, most prominently Vice-President Cheney.

The highest levels of the OSP were staffed by heavy-hitters like Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and William Luti, a former Navy officer who worked for Cheney before joining the Pentagon. When the OSP wanted to intimidate analysts into shaping conclusions to fit the already-made war decision, Cheney went to CIA headquarters on unprecedented visits. Once there, he demanded "forward-leaning" interpretations of the evidence. When Cheney was unable to go to the CIA, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, went in his place.

That's it, right there. Mr. Libby may be a target of Mr. Fitzgerald, but no one should forget the trips Cheney personally made to Langley in order to wring war-supporting evidence out of the analysts. He went himself. His fingerprints are all over the scene.

One name that has been lost in the shuffle of history is that of Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement. Kwiatkowski charged two years ago that the operations she witnessed during her tenure in Feith's office, and particularly those of the OSP, constituted "a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress."

"What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline," Kwiatkowski wrote after her retirement. "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense."

According to Kwiatkowsky, the political appointees assigned there and their contacts at State, the NSC, and Cheney's office tended to work as a "network." Feith's office often deliberately cut out, ignored or circumvented normal channels of communication both within the Pentagon and with other agencies. "I personally witnessed several cases of staff officers being told not to contact their counterparts at State or the NSC because that particular decision would be processed through a different channel," wrote Kwiatkowsky.

That "different channel," we now know, was almost certainly WHIG.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson's public attack on Bush for using the now-rubbished Niger uranium evidence, his attack upon the entire rationale for invasion, was a direct and ominous threat to the latticework of disinformation and lies put forth by WHIG and OSP. They didn't attack Wilson's wife because they didn't like her, or because they were bored. They did it because Wilson could have almost singlehandedly dismantled the administration's case for war. They did it to warn any other insiders who might have wanted to talk that there would be serious consequences for public statements. The administration's case for war was championed not by Rove and Libby, but by Bush and Cheney. It was their party, and Wilson was looking to stop the music.

Two questions remain: why would the administration take such a fantastic risk in attacking Wilson, and where are Bush's fingerprints on this thing? Both questions can be answered by another tidbit that has fallen down the memory hole. On May 22nd, 2003, two months after the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush signed an Executive Order titled "Protecting the Development Fund for Iraq and Certain Other Property in Which Iraq Has An Interest."

The so-called "Development Fund for Iraq" was, by the way, one of the most grandiose money-laundering schemes ever devised. All of the profits made from plundering Iraq's oil were to go into this fund, ostensibly for use by the Iraqi people. In fact, this was the clearing-house for payouts to companies like Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellog Brown & Root.

The May 22 Executive Order reads:

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that the threat of attachment or other judicial process against the Development Fund for Iraq, Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations, or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, obstructs the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq. This situation constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

I hereby order: Unless licensed or otherwise authorized pursuant to this order, any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void."
This Executive Order, declaring a national emergency, gave complete and total legal cover to Halliburton and every other petroleum and quasi-petroleum corporation currently operating in Iraq. No one can sue them, no one can touch them, no matter what they may do. By Executive Order, George W. Bush released Halliburton and the others from the need to display any kind of responsibility or legal behavior. Halliburton was removed from the sphere of civilization, and the laws that govern civilization, with the stroke of Mr. Bush's pen.

George W. Bush declared a national emergency in this Executive Order for one reason: to lock down the oil, and to give total legal cover to Dick Cheney's Halliburton, so they could do whatever they wanted to get their hands on it, and to get paid for it. Here we have Bush's fingerprints, and here is the reason for not only attacking Wilson, but for chucking up a war that was not necessary.

The payout.

The Office of Special Plans to the White House Iraq Group, Cheney to Langley and Bush with his Executive Order, a war to get paid and cash money, honey, for Halliburton and friends. Rove and Libby are small fish. If and when they get fried, the stink may well fill the Oval Office. If George and Dick come out of this unscathed, Mr. Fitzgerald may as well have stayed in Chicago.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


There is enough incredible news on this post to keep us all busy with reading materials for the weekend. Enjoy! LS


Paul O'Neill (aka Pablo - the name assigned to him by Bush) wrote in his book The Price of Loyalty that Cheney is the administration's puppermaster. He hides behind a curtain pulling all of the strings necessary to make the Bush hacks shove the neocon agenda down our throats. When things go wrong, others are blamed. Cheney's fingerprints are always missing from failures, crimes and screwups. Maybe not this time. Fitzgerald wants to take a hard peek behind the curtain.

This is a great piece because it reveals how Judith Miller was used as a tool by the Bush Administration to move The White House Iraq Group's mission into the mainstream media. My question is, was Judy used and abused by the WHIGs or was she a willing accomplice?



In this Washington Post piece, Rove is pressed to explain why he offered differing accounts on the Plame issue when questioned by the Prosecutor. Fitzgerald could very possibly take the high level inner circle of the Bush administration down. The article indicates that some lawyers think, based on his questions, Fitzgerald might be going in the direction of violations to the Espionage Act.


Some lawyers in the case think Fitzgerald may no longer be interested in proving whether Plame's name was illegally leaked to reporters. That would require the difficult task of showing that an official knew the material was classified, that the official knew that the CIA was actively working to keep it a secret and that the person purposely leaked the information.

Instead, the lawyers, who based their opinions on the kinds of questions Fitzgerald is asking and not on firsthand knowledge, think the special prosecutor may be headed in a different direction. They said Fitzgerald could be trying to establish that a group of White House officials violated the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified material, or that they engaged in a conspiracy to discredit Wilson in part by identifying Plame.











UH OH! Just in from Raw Story



From Raw



Mon Dieu!