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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Karl Rove Indicted?!?!?!?!?

Karl Rove has been indicted. This is the latest report from Jason Leopold.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.

An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week, sources close to the case said. However, the day and time is unknown. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the special prosecutor was unavailable for comment. In the past, Samborn said he could not comment on the case.

The grand jury hearing evidence in the Plame Wilson case met Friday on other matters while Fitzgerald spent the entire day at Luskin's office. The meeting was a closely guarded secret and seems to have taken place without the knowledge of the media.

The mechanics described here by Jason sound odd to me, so wait for confirmation from another source before you do your happy dance. (Talkleft seems to think the process is quite reasonable, and postulates that if Obstruction is off the table that Rove could do no jailtime. Also postulates that a 15 hour meeting(2 days?) with Rove's attorneys indicates a failed plea deal. I agree. definitely one was discussed. But, if a plea deal was discussed, as I said earlier today, the investigation goes on! On to Cheney as the final target?)

Almost all of the mainstream Plame reporters, Schuster, Vandehei, Isikoff, have been keeping an eye on Jason's reporting, so, I would expect that they would be working the hell out of their contacts tonight, and, if it's true, we should be seeing some kind of confirmation over the next 24 hours. Maybe tonight. (by the Sunday shows?)

Also, this is what I was saying about the indictment being under seal, that Rove could be indicted and we wouldn't even know it. It will be very telling whether the indictment is sealed or not. If it is sealed, that would certainly indicate that there is information in it that Fitzgerald doesn't want public until he's finished. Which would mean he's not finished.

I will be doing alot of writing about what's in it, what's not, and especially how Fitzgerald refers to other officials in and around this investigation. If someone is referred to obliquely(ala "Official A"), that probably means that they may be next under Fitzgerald's microscope. Lots of possibilities right now, and not too many answers.

And, don't draw too much of a conclusion from Luskin not offering a comment, he has not commented in almost all of Jason Leopold's stories.

So, probably get some confirmation tonight/tomorrow. Then, on Monday morning we'll get an announcement of a press conference. I wonder about the timing of a Rove resignation or a Bush statement.

(Oh, and huge congratulations to Jason Leopold on the political scoop of the year. I couldn't be happier for him.)

Update: Talkleft seems to be the only other Plame focused place that's carrying this right now. There was an interesting bit in the comments by emdee. "Karl is scheduled to speak at the AEI on Monday at 11am (I know this because CNN Pipeline has it in their Monday webcast schedule). If we don't have confirmation on this by Monday it will be very telling if the speech is canceled."

There's a second statement that the appearance has already been cancelled, but that seems to be simply a matter of confusion by the commenter, (Following the thread over to Kos, there is a link showing there certainly is/was a policy speech planned for Rove at the AEI on Monday per the WSJ blog. So, if nothing else, we can watch to see if he shows up.)

I know I'm grabbing at straws here, but there's been nothing else, yet.

Picture of the Day - 3

"See, I don't have a soul to sell you. I already traded it to George for his donors list."

(John McCain speaks at the commencement of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University where he received an honorary degree.)

More Plame speculations

I first ran across this tidbit over at The Next Hurrah last night(tons of detail but long), but it's pulled out a little more cleanly at Firedoglake this morning.

From the May 5 hearing transcript regarding motions arguments in the Libby case.
(This was Fitzgerald speaking.)
So the issue of potential damage from discussing it may come up. In a different conversation that Mr. Libby was present for, a witness did describe to Mr. Libby and another person the damage that can be caused specifically by the outing of Ms. Wilson. It was before the grand jury. It was back in July of 2003.

The actual timing of when this took place is critical as to the specifics, but just as a general matter, tell me that doesn't say to you that the administration KNEW that Plame was covert, and that Fitzgerald has a witness to testify to that effect.

Also, she finds some support for my current working theory of Fitzgerald's overall prosecutorial strategy. It is my opinion, that right now, in this phase, Fitzgerald is clearing the decks as it were. He's simply going through all the elements of the coverup, working out the cases of perjury and obstruction before going forward to prosecute the underlying crime of outing Plame.

It would be absolutely necessary to establish the evidence, including any efforts to obstruct the discovery of evidence, before a final case on the underlying crime could be made. If I were betting, I would say that the "missing emails" might be the next phase of the investigation followed by indictments around the conspiracy to out Valerie Plame. (In many different documents and filings, Fitzgerald has made it quite clear that he believes Plame was covert, and thus outed, regardless of what pundits may say.)

Also, while on the topic, if you're deep into all this, Emptywheel also has some little bits collected through the various transcripts and filings that offers further evidence that Fitzgerald believes Cheney was behind the conspiracy. Not a revelation that Cheney was at the core, but that Fitzgerald has some evidence indicating that is a pretty big deal.

And, if you're not following this too closely, just remember in the short term that Rove believes he'll be indicted and he told the President and Bolten that.

Update: Isikoff at Newsweek focuses on one of the little bits that puts Cheney in the center of the conspiracy to out Plame.

Newsweek poll on the NSA phone records

Newsweek has a new poll on the NSA's phone database. (Pointer from Reality Based Educator.)
According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

This stands in pretty strong contrast to the WaPo "flash poll" that showed majority support on Friday morning. That poll seemed to establish a general consensus from which the arguments flowed, but it was riddled with some pretty critical flaws. I had my own criticisms, but Greyhair pointed to a much more comprehensive Glenn Greenwald piece.

Cheney wanted full on warrantless domestic wiretapping - Surprise

There's this on the NYTimes site: (did it miss the morning paper?)
WASHINGTON, May 13 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

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Rove informs White House he will be indicted!!!

I just don't want this post to roll off the bottom before everybody sees it. So, I'll keep reposting links at top throughout the weekend.

Rove informs White House he will be indicted!!!

More on Dusty Foggo

Talking Points and its sister site do a review of the Dusty Foggo coverage with a few interesting new bits. One of the vacations Dusty Foggo allegedly received from Brent Wilkes cost $20,000 per night. Also, several interesting bits here. Goss didn't know Dusty Foggo before he plucked him from obscurity for the No. 3 spot? And, oh yeah, Mary McCarthy who was recently fired for leaking to Dana Priest, just happened to be in the Inspector General's office.

Mike's Tinfoil Hat

About twelve hours after NSA spying program leaker Russell Tice says that he is going to reveal far more "unlawful activity" that took place at the NSA under Michael Hayden including "the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens," suddenly, out of nowhere, there's an AP story benignly describing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency turning its assets on America.

It describes all the beneficial things that have flowed from this satellite spy agency watching Americans, help during Katrina and Rita, not to mention helping prepare security for super bowls, conventions, etc.

With no news peg at all, this story shoots to number four on the AP top stories list.

This reads to me like a story designed to innoculate against whatever Russell Tice is going to reveal next week. The head of this agency just happens to be retiring and available for an interview. Happens all the time, right?

The head of a super secret classified program resigns and gives an interview to the AP which appears in local papers across the country rather than the higher profile NYTimes or WaPo.

Don't you remember all those interviews over the years from NSA officials, communications and encryption experts, weapons designers, and the other satellite office, the NRO?

(Sorry, haven't had the tin foil hat out in a week or so.)

Picture of the Day

US soldiers taking the oath to enter the Army.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rove informs White House he will be indicted!!!

Jason Leopold filed late this Friday afternoon, answering at least some of our questions.
Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources......

Late Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning, several White House officials were bracing for the possibility that Fitzgerald would call a news conference and announce a Rove indictment today following the prosecutor's meeting with the grand jury this morning. However, sources close to the probe said that is unlikely to happen, despite the fact that Fitzgerald has already presented the grand jury with a list of charges against Rove. If an indictment is returned by the grand jury, it will be filed under seal.

If it is to be filed under seal, it is possible that Rove has already been indicted.

There are two different mentions in this article which confirm my belief that the investigation will continue on after Karl Rove. One is Jason's mention that the indictment will be returned under seal, which would imply an effort to keep the details from interfering with a further ongoing investigation, and the other is the very deliberate description of closing the "Rove case," not "closing the investigation."

Also, notice that "Fitzgerald has already presented the charges to the grand jury." And, if Rove doesn't resign until it's announced, will he continue to work at the White House if the indictment is under seal? Will our first official knowledge of this come out of an announcement or resignation? Hmmmm....

Video of Minutemen rally from WaPo

Before Bush's speech Monday, take a few minutes to watch this WaPo video of a Minutemen rally today. These are the people Bush is going to try to appeal to Monday night.

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Previously I'd heard it said by administration defenders that Iraq wasn't in a civil war until there was open armed warfare in the streets, and so long as the military didn't start fighting with each other.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Clashes erupted Friday between two Iraqi army units following a roadside bombing north of the capital, and Iraqi police said a Shiite solder was killed in an exchange of fire with a Kurdish unit.

And, I thought Mel Gibson was one of the boys. Apparently, not. As he has pretty good street cred with the fundies, if he keeps saying this, I would expect alot of mentions of anti-semitism to cut him down.

More NSA to come?

Russell Tice, the source for the NYTimes on the original warrantless wiretapping story, is going to testify next week, and he claims that,
"Thursday he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens." (Sorry, the original is behind subscription wall, so I'm linking to ThinkProgress's excerpt until I find a better source.)

I don't know, it certainly is something to keep an eye on. He says what we know is just the tip of the iceberg.

(In the future, when there are no more icebergs, will that metaphor die out or will it continue as a "mythic" allusion? What about moving at a "glacial" pace?)

Also, I guess I should have known there would be no action on Rove today when Tony Snow announced the President will be addressing the nation Monday night.(during May sweeps. I'm sure the networks are overjoyed) If Rove had gotten a target letter this AM, I'll bet that wouldn't have happened. But the President's immigration talk has reset the headlines.

Foggo's home searched!

The Feds are serving search warrants on Dusty Foggo's home, office, etc., and best of all, on CNN, they're carrying live aerial shots of the search, the type usually reserved for murderers, kidnappings, and manhunts.

But, Porter Goss quit over a turf battle just one week ago today....

Also: Laura Rozen has this very cryptic post with documents from the Wilkes/ Cunningham/ Lewis bribery scandal. Is she trying to imply that Josh Bolten (starts with J, ten letters) may be somehow involved? (Correction: Josh Bolten was my guess. She updated, and added guesses. Duncan Hunter and Jerry Lewis (J, ten letters.) Sorry.)

So is Tony Snow stupid?

Yesterday I asked the question, "where is Tony Snow?" Well, he finally showed up at a press briefing, and the early reporting is that it was a disaster. He wasn't prepared to talk on issues that could've been expected. And his first full press conference won't be until next Tuesday.

Is the reason for all the delays that, like most commentators, Snow is strong on opinion but has trouble with facts?

Later: Here is a quick transcript of the Press Briefing in question, and oh, is he in over his head!

Later still: Dana Milbank - Snow Melts at Debut 'Gaggle.'

Picture of the Day - 2

An Iraqi street cleaner collects shoes after a bombing.

A little more NSA

The early polling by the WaPo says that "Most Americans support NSA's Efforts." If this polling holds up over time, we don't deserve our freedoms.

But this might impact that number. Josh Marshall found this buried in a WaPo story.
Government access to call records is related to the previously disclosed eavesdropping program, sources said, because it helps the NSA choose its targets for listening.

The Middle Class "Welfare Queens"

I just found this article an interesting parallel back to Reagan's propaganda about "welfare queens" who drove their Cadillacs to pick up their welfare checks. Remember that? It was a very calculated, racially loaded image designed to offer political cover for cutting social programs for the weakest in our society.

Well, I think the image of debt may be a middle class version of the same thing. (WaPo)
Why are Americans so deeply in debt? It's not because they are using credit cards to buy plasma TVs and premium coffee drinks at Starbucks. The real culprits, according to a new analysis, are the rising costs of housing, health care and education.

See, if people are in debt because they're they're spending money frivolously, that's their fault, and under that set of beliefs, $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy is okay because those who are suffering under debt are simply foolish with their money. It's an unstated argument of social darwinism.

The propaganda of social darwinism is very appealing to "the elite" because it paints them as superior. But, left unsaid in their self flattering beliefs, is what it implies for the rest of society. Social Darwinism has been used since its inception to justify inequality from the robberbarons to Edwardian England to the Nazis. It's no longer stated outright, but the underlying beliefs have been incorporated into the "dog eat dog" conception of modern American capitalism.

This understanding of society as a darwinist struggle justifies sweatshops and other exploitations as an expected and necessary outcome. But this conceptual model ignores the reality of excess, that "the successful" are making millions, far beyond their survival requirements, while that little girl in Indonesia who is doing their labor is struggling to help feed her family.

I find myself thinking of the anarchist criticism, "Your wallet is full of blood."

(Man, I don't know where all that came from.)

(In nature, even assuming an individualist interpretation of animal behavior rather than the more common group social structure, the "most successful" life forms do not eat more than than they need.)

(Also, Lynne reproduced a nice chart on the distribution of the benefits of the proposed tax cuts.)

Picture of the Day

It could be today.

Assuming a Rove indictment, the sequence would be:

1) Rove receives a target letter.
2) Fitzgerald meets with the grand jury to submit Karl Rove's name for indictment.
3) Fitzgerald issues a brief press release stating there will be a news conference later in the afternoon.
4) Release of the indictment.
5) Fitzgerald holds a press conference where he says very little.
6) Karl Rove resigns.
7) The president issues a very terse statement before leaving Nixon-like for the weekend.

(and all throughout, the press goes apeshit.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where in the world is Tony Snow?

There has finally been a Tony Snow sighting, sort of. He's sending emails to reporters criticizing White House coverage by the NYTimes, CBSNews, and USA Today. That his first act would be to go after reporters is really pretty amazing.

But my main point is this: Tony Snow, who officially started the job on Monday, still hasn't stood in front of the cameras or the White House reporters yet!!!

Last week, the statement was that McClellan would end Friday and Tony Snow would take over Monday. That didn't happen. Then, on Tuesday, they said Wednesday was supposed to be McClellan's last day.

Today's press gaggle was held aboard Air Force One by Dana Perino. Where the hell is Tony Snow? If they're waiting on a good day for him to start, they may be waiting awhile.

(Just today, around 1:45 PM, they finally removed Scott McClellan's picture from the press briefings page replacing it with a generic blue banner. What, the Fox News reporter didn't have a spare head shot laying around?)

The false 9-11 argument on the NSA database

Watching Hardball tonight, and Chris Matthews kept asking this question, "If before 9-11 the NSA had used this information to break up 9-11, wouldn't this be OK?"

Look, the issue here is the government gathering this information without a warrant. The phone companies are required by law to keep these call details. This information would be readily available through a warrant, either FISA or a regular warrant if officials deemed it necessary.

The argument is not about whether the government should have access to this information, it already does through an established judicial process; it is an argument about whether the government should have permanent possession of this information without any oversight, judicial or otherwise.

The "what if it stopped 9-11?" question is merely a red herring designed to question the commitment of those who disagree with this overreaching program.

(Sometimes you get so angry you type a post just using your middle fingers!!!!)

Picture of the Day - 3

Body Blow, Body Blow... Go for the Knockout!!

Reporters at the major cable television networks plan to be on the ground Friday outside a federal district court where the jury considering the fate of President Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove.

No formal indication has been given of Rove's status, though lawyers close to the case have said his fate is likely to be determined soon. Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is investigating the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, is scheduled to meet with the grand jury in the case Friday.

The major networks plan to have reporters live on the ground, a senior reporter said.

And, again, I'm not sure on the precision of the language here. The grand jury is scheduled to meet every Friday, but if Fitzgerald is indeed meeting with them, then tomorrow could well be the day.

One little bit more on the NSA story today.

I'm not writing much on the NSA revelations today, as it's everywhere and I have nothing substantive to add beyond my own anger and disgust.

One little thing, CNN reported that the White House cancelled Hayden's preconfirmation meetings today without explanation. The source mentioned a cancelled meeting with Santorum.

Later: Alright, I lied. Several good comments in the NSA post below got me thinking, so I just want to make one quick point about the politics and timing of this.

Before this revelation, the White House was spinning that they were looking forward to a fight on the Domestic Warrantless Wiretapping program(aka Terrorist Surveillance Program) and I actually kind of believe that, as they could use it to paint the Dems as not as hard on Al Qaeda.

They had charged ahead with the theory of this confrontation being a political winner for them, got everything lined up, and now, suddenly, they'll be on the defensive. This fiendishly planned leak changed the political ground beneath them.

By waiting until after the confirmation hearings were announced, the leaker cleverly put the Bush administration in a box canyon.

The administration is now in a position where fighting that battle is no longer their choice. There is no way politically to withdraw Hayden's nomination without admitting that the program is wrong and so they find themselves in a position of having to defend a program that is far less popular today than it was yesterday.

To top that off, the leaker has also put the Republicans in Congress in a spot. Each of them is now doing their own reelection calculus trying to figure out if they're better off sticking with Mr. 31%, or turning against Hayden. We'll have to wait and see what level of chaos this creates among the Republican Congressmen and Senators.

And, just as a sidenote. Hats off to the leaker, eh? This could be the textbook case of how to use a leak to achieve political ends. I mean, had this been released in November, for instance, when the rest of the NSA stuff came out, it would've been bad, but it wouldn't have cut to the core. This is leaking at a master's level. Whether you approve or not of this leak, take a minute to appreciate the political brilliance with which it was executed.

(One more afterthought. To get a temperature reading on the Congressional politics of all this, keep an eye open for my state's shame, Senator John Cornyn. He's not up for election until 2008 and has been sent out to support every other unpopular Bush policy from torture to Guantanamo to the last NSA revelations. I think who the defenders are and how fervently they defend will tell us alot.)

Bomb Iran

Rawstory's Larisa Alexandrovna has a big piece up on asset readiness and possible strikes on Iran by June at the earliest. It's mostly circumstantial and seems based on rumor and speculation, but I would say it's worth a quick read.

If I remember right, Scott Ritter in the Q&A after a speech months ago was talking about June being the target date for having the assets ready for a strike. Reading between the lines of this Rawstory piece, that's kind of what I'm seeing here, too.

The question is now down to diplomacy, I guess. Talks have stalled at the UN as China and Russia have thus far refused to allow a "section 7" resolution which would allow the use of force under UN resolution. So, the question is, if there is no UN sanction, would the Bush administration do it anyhow?

AND, I guess it's time to plug the "Date the Iran Bombing Contest" again.

Picture of the Day - 2

Cindy Sheehan's ankle.

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

Now, it needs to be said that this is call detail information, not direct recordings of calls, but I think the scale of this monitoring purely domestic calls makes this a huge story. (I guess that whole effort to remove the word "domestic" from the program's description was just political crap, eh?)
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. ...

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.....

When is Michael Hayden's confirmation hearing again? (And no, I don't think it's a coincidence this leaked now. Somebody who knows Michael Hayden's work doesn't want him to become Director of the CIA bad enough to leak this. Interesting, eh?)

UPDATE: Maybe this has something to do with spawning the leak.
WASHINGTON - The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

Think Hayden will actually get to confirmation hearings? Also, notice that this leak and story came after Sen Pat Roberts announced the confirmation hearings. How could Bush withdraw the nomination now? There's no deniability that Hayden did this on his own. Interesting political timing of this.

US backing warlords in Somalia

I've been tracking this story in the background. (1, 2) There are allegations that the US is backing a "self-styled anti-terrorism coalition in Mogadishu, comprising most of the capital's powerful warlords."
The AP is reporting that 122 have died over the last five days, "26 people killed since nightfall Wednesday. Most of the victims have been civilians caught in the crossfire."

AFP is reporting thousands of refugees driven from their homes and that UN experts now believe the Islamic alliance(the non-US backed side) controls 80% of Mogadishu.

BBC - "The US has not confirmed or denied the reports.... A report by a UN committee on Wednesday warned that an unnamed country is flouting the arms embargo on Somalia."

This appears to be an attempt at an Afghanistan-style effort in Somalia, backing warlords against Muslims trying to impose Sharia law.

My computer is telling me to vote Republican again

Can you find the hidden message?

(These were both yesterday.)

(I like this one, so, I'll probably leave it on top through tomorrow morning and update between this post and the next one tonight.)


The Duke Cunningham/Wilkes/Wade probe has now swung around to focus on Republican Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Jerry Lewis (R - Ca.)

Ann Coulter may lose her voting rights for her actions in the last election.

The Army is refusing to let National Guard officers leave the service. According to the Army, they are to stay on service ""for an indefinite term and are held during the pleasure of the President." They don't show that part in the ads, do they?

And, a major public step forward on the US weaponization of space. Technically, any such effort is in violation of international treaty.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Making Your Bones" in the Bush administration

Jonathan Turley has a provocative piece in the Chicago Tribune,
Despite the vocal surprise, Hayden's nomination is actually all too predictable. While alleged violations of federal laws have long been viewed as a negative resume item, it doesn't appear to be a problem for Bush's inner circle.

From his very first appointments, Bush appeared inclined toward officials who appear willing to treat the law as a mere technicality.

They're all there, Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter, Otto Reich, John Negroponte even Al Gonzales and the center of the piece Michael Hayden. He also throws in a Sopranos reference which will help this make the rounds. If you find yourself looking for something to read.....

Turley was interviewed on Olberman tonight, and the site TruthStream.org has the video up already.

Picture of the Day - 3

Only two Abramoff visits to the White House?

I don't buy that there were only two visits by Abramoff to the White House, for common sense reasons. We know that there are at least five pictures of Abramoff and Bush from at least two occasions, the famous one when Abramoff got his picture taken in the background, and the "holiday party" where there's another picture and Bush asked him about his kids. And neither of these dates match up with the visits logged.

Also, this stands in stark contrast to AP reporting from just May 2.
Abramoff was a $100,000 fundraiser for Bush and lobbying records obtained by the AP show his lobbying team logged nearly 200 meetings with the administration during its first 10 months in office on behalf of one of his clients, the Northern Mariana Islands.

Are you trying to tell me that the Secret Service keeps such poor records that they couldn't name someone who entered the White House and could've stolen state secrets? Are you trying to tell me that just anybody can wander in and out of the White House without any records?

I don't buy it. This is bullcrap! Shenanigans!!!!

A scandal teaser.

From a local San Diego paper(via Josh Marshall.)
"This is much bigger and wider than just Randy 'Duke' Cunningham," he said. "All that has just not come out yet, but it won't be much longer and then you will know just how widespread this is."

Ooooohhh. Don't tease me, baby. Don't tease me.

Picture of the Day - 2

U.S. troops killed during the war in Iraq are seen in this photo combo. Top row from left: Cpl. Michael D. Anderson, Lance Cpl. Jeffery S. Blanton, Sgt. Thomas J. Dostie, Sgt. Cari A. Gasiewicz, Pfc. George D. Harrison, Pfc. Joshua A. Ramsey, Cpl. Ian W. Stewart, Capt. Mark N. Stubenhofer, Lance Cpl. Franklin A. Sweger, Staff Sgt. Darren D. VanKomen, Pfc. Brent T. Vroman, and Pfc. Andrew M. Ward. (AP Photo/Files)

On my computer screen, this image takes up about 3 inches vertically. If I were to display all the pictures of those that have died in US service in Iraq in a similar fashion, the pictures would extend downward for over 50 feet.

Was Harriet Miers "jumping the shark?"

As I was lying in bed last night I got to thinking about the great Bush slide in approval ratings. (yes, I know I'm obsessed) Was Harriet Miers the "jumping the shark" moment?

You could certainly make the case that it is Iraq or Katrina that delivered the body blow to Bush's public opinion, but in my memory, it was during the Harriet Miers nomination that the Republican base, first voiced organized dissent. It was at that point that Bush started to lose significant support among the Republicans. (This also says something about Republicans, I think.)

So, keeping with the sitcom analogy, after all, I know more people on TV than I know in real life, Bolten's White House reshuffle is bound to fail.

Because, seriously, when the kids have grown up and they're no longer cute, what sitcom has ever gotten better when they added that new cute kid? (Tony Snow)

"The Year of the Black Republican?"

That's the WaPo headline. Read a little deeper and you find out that "year" consists of three candidates. Blackwell, candidate for Ohio gov., Swann for Penn gov, and Steele in a likely losing Senatorial bid in Maryland.

So, 55 Republican Senators, 230 Congressmen, something like 30+ governors, and three black candidates makes this the year of black Republicans. Says alot, doesn't it?

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Bush poll, new low

The NYTimes has a new Bush poll out(31/61+ if you're keeping score at home.) The also have this nice graphical breakdown on all sorts of individual issues.

The item that really jumped out at me was this question. Which party is "more likely to come closer to sharing your moral values?" Republicans 37%, Democrats 50%. (Take a look.)

(The CBS story has this: "68% believe the United States is worse off today than it was before Bush became president.")

Abramoff logs tomorrow

Just a heads up to keep an eye on the Judicial Watch site tomorrow. They're supposed to get the Secret Service logs from the White House showing Abramoff visits. I assume they'll put them up immediately.

Also: Schuster on Hardball tonight offered a new wrinkle on the poker parties. According to a source who attended the parties, apparently the "defense contractors" intentionally lost money to some of the attendees who then could spend that money on prostitutes.

And, if you don't know, Rovewatch is on again tomorrow.

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The enigma of Bush

Does anybody else see the irony in this? From Sy Hersh,
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership...said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

Now from March 21 (White House transcript)
REPORTER: Will there come a day, and I’m not asking you when — I’m not asking for a timetable — will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

BUSH: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.

Do you see it? If you believe Hersh's reporting, Bush doesn't want to leave the thing that's not a problem yet, Iran, to a weaker president, while at the same time seems more than willing to leave the thing that is a problem right now, Iraq, to a future president more than two and a half years from now.

I think there's something profound in this about the Bush presidency although I can't nail down exactly what. Maybe it says something to me about their sense of their place in history versus the very real and obvious incompetence in the present. Maybe the difference in self image and total unaccountability. I don't know.

(credit to Motherlode for spawning this thought with a comment.)

Emotional tugs

Two quick links. First, in an article on recruiting abuses, a short story about an autistic 18 year old who was recruited "for the army's most dangerous job."

Second, I found this video with a Jackson Browne song emotionally compelling.

Where is Tony Snow?

Not that it matters that much, but McClellan's last day was supposed to be Friday, and yet he's still giving the press briefings today. Is Tony Snow not ready? Do they not want to trust Hayden/Goss to an inexperienced hand?

Is McClellan going to have to have to stay on the job through the Rove indictment? (Which would be incredibly ironic since his worst moment at the podium was when it was revealed that Rove had lied to him about outing Plame.)

What gives?

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Babies die because their parents are poor.

This should be the shame of our nation. Economic discrimination for the unborn. Where are the "pro-life" people on this one? Is it "god's will" that we have an unequal healthcare system?
CHICAGO - America may be the world's superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia.

Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia's rate is 6 per 1,000.....

The U.S. ranking is driven partly by racial and income health care disparities. Among U.S. blacks, there are 9 deaths per 1,000 live births, closer to rates in developing nations than to those in the industrialized world.

And, reading this, I found myself thinking back to the WaPo piece 4 days ago,
Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies, whereas relatively affluent women are succeeding more and more in getting pregnant only when they want to, according to a study analyzing federal statistics.....

Asked what was driving the trends, the authors noted that some state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut or made more restrictive in recent years. State and federal programs have increasingly focused on abstinence rather than contraception, and some analysts have argued that the shift is leading to less use of contraceptives and more unintended pregnancies.

You cannot base public policy on "faith" in contravention of reality. People are dying. It's time to grow up.

(Oh, and the Republicans' healthcare concern yesterday?
The Senate on Monday once again rebuffed a Republican effort to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases, taking the issue — a high priority for both President Bush and the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist — off the agenda for this year....

Mr. Frist knew going into the debate that the measures were likely to be blocked but wanted to put Democrats on record before the midterm elections in November. After the votes, he issued a news release headlined "Frist Denounces Democrat Obstruction of Medical Liability Reform."

AND, it gets worse. Today, the Republicans are trying to get a measure through that would allow a loophole through which businesses could bypass state regulations on healthcare. This graphic from the AP shows by state how many people would be affected.

Fiscal Responsibility and the Debt Ceiling

I never again want to read the phrase "tax and spend democrats."
A $2.7 trillion budget plan pending before the House would raise the federal debt ceiling to nearly $10 trillion, less than two months after Congress last raised the federal government's borrowing limit.

US actions in Somalia

Just a quick mention. Following reports a week ago that the US military is aiding and supporting Somali warlords in what was called a "self-styled anti-terrorism coalition in Mogadishu, comprising most of the capital's powerful warlords," there has been more violence.
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - The latest flare-up in fighting between Islamic militia and a self-styled "anti-terrorism" alliance of warlords in Somalia's capital Mogadishu has killed at least 35 people, sources on both sides said on Tuesday.

Fighting, which many believe is being fueled by U.S. support for the warlords, continued for a third day on Tuesday in the run-down Siisii area of the lawless coastal city.

Just kind of a heads up, I guess. It echoes so many other US semi-covert foreign operations.

The violence is a setback to plans by an interim Somali government -- the 14th attempt to restore central rule in 15 years -- to move from its provincial base Baidoa to the capital.

It is also impeding relief efforts in a nation where nearly 2 million people rely on emergency food aid. Around Mogadishu, thousands of internal refugees live in squalor in the war-scarred shells of former government buildings.....

The alliance has denied receiving U.S. funding. U.S. officials have mainly avoided comment.

Western and African diplomats believe the United States is involved, but had different views on which side would emerge victorious in the battle to control Mogadishu.

"It's the Americans who are behind all this, it's known everywhere even if they continue denying," said an African diplomat involved with peace efforts in Somalia. "I see the coalition losing this battle because they lack public support."

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Counting down to Rove

Just a quick note. The three MSNBC shows I caught parts of tonight all had a countdown to a Rove indictment feel in at least one segment. Hardball did two bits where everybody but winger/outsider John Fund said he was going down. Olberman talked with Schuster who said, "And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why...."(Transcript at Rawstory.) (ThinkProgress has the video.)

And then I caught part of Scarborough in a commercial break for something else and they had three rightwingers(Scarborough, Tucker, Buchannon) and Larry O'Donnell who all said he's going down soon.

It's coming, folks. It's coming soon.

Hastert on Hayden and Goss

Okay, this isn't Hastert himself, but a spokesman, but still....
But it might not be enough to get everyone's support. House Speaker Dennis Hastert added his voice to those of influential Republicans signaling they may oppose the White House's quick pick of a military officer to run CIA. "The Speaker believes they should not have a military person leading the CIA, a civilian agency," Ron Bonjean, Hastert's communications director, told time this evening. Bonjean was confirming the tone of comments Hastert made at an appearance in Aurora, Ill., in which Hastert praised Goss and said moving Hayden to CIA smacked of a "power grab" by Negroponte — adding that Negroponte had visited Hastert's office last week and not noted any problems with Goss.

Harriet Miers. Dubai Ports. Immigration. After all these mistakes, the Bush administration appears to have nominated Michael Hayden without running him by Congress first. I thought that was one of the main elements of the "new blood" campaign of turnover in the White House, to improve relations with Capitol Hill.

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I don't normally watch individual polls, but I do try to watch the trends, and the USAToday/Gallup continues the six month Bush slide with another "lowest of his presidency." 31% approval - 65% disapproval.

For some reason I find myself thinking of inertia and Newton's first law.

Afterthought: At some point, these low poll numbers are going to begin to strike some fear in me. A president in the low 30's acts within limitations because he believes the numbers can be turned around, but at some point, if they're low enough and considered unsalvageable, attention may be turned out of the present and towards the legacy. And if there is no concern about polls, no limiting factor of contemporary public opinion, an action towards the legacy, no matter how unpopular, could become more attractive after the 2006 midterms. And the possibilities of that scare me a little.

It's not like this administration hasn't pushed the envelope before, and then, they were concerned about the politics.

Run, Al, Run

I have been unabashed in my wish to see Al Gore run for President in 2008, and articles like this, give me heart.

All the pieces are in place, contacts, fundraising, national profile, signature issues, a seeming goodwill among the party faithful. The only real complication is how do the Dems resolve the Hillary Clinton situation. (Sorry, Marisa)

Exploitative but fun

ABC reporters found that many members of Congress, including Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), could not sing the entire national anthem. One spokesperson spotted the film crew and sent out a warning to others: “Heads up. We have been informed that there is a news organization with a camera crew outside (between the Capitol and Longworth) asking members to recite or sing the national anthem.”

Confirmation from RollCall. (Nightline tonight.)

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(In the near future) "I'm quite honored to be President Bush's nomination as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...."

Ag Dept presses "The War on Terror" under threat

How desperate has this administration become in looking for positive spin? And, I really like the veiled threat that the White House will be monitoring your speeches for compliance.

Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.....

Another attachment "contains specific examples of GWOT messages within agriculture speeches. Please use these message points as often as possible and send Harry Phillips , USDA's director of speechwriting, a weekly email summarizing the event, date and location of each speech incorporating the attached language. Your responses will be included in a weekly account sent to the White House."

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Plame Gossip - Rove focused on Wilson

Rawstory has a teaser up on a WaPo story tomorrow saying that Rove was very involved in the politics around the outing of Valerie Plame.(Jim Vandehei) This story sounds like confirmation of some of the elements of Jason Leopold's story earlier.

Short version: Rove was deeply involved in the campaign to discredit Joe Wilson so any claims that he can't remember or was focused on other things are bunkum.

It's interesting to me that this story has White House officials anonymously confirming this storyline. Is this a preemptive effort to pin it all on Rove if he goes down? Do you think anybody would tell this to the Post if they didn't think Rove was going to be indicted and out of there? Does this tell me the White House thinks Rove is going down soon? Just interesting.

LATER: Not too much to add after reading the Vandehei piece this morning. Vandehei still seems to be getting alot of his information out of Rove's defense team, so I greet the minimizing storyline that Fitzgerald's interest is confined to the Matt Cooper contacts with some skepticism.

One interesting defense offered up (again unsourced but certainly from the defense team) is that if Rove really wanted to damage Wilson, he could have sought ought reporters he "knew better and trusted more" rather than Cooper, a newbie on the White House beat. My rebuttal is that a knowledgeable reporter probably wouldn't have even thought about outing a covert agent.

The main useful information here is that Rove was very involved in the campaign to rebut Wilson. The efforts to spin this off as Cheney and Libby are transparently from Luskin, and the defense that he was truthful because he told Fitzgerald about the conversation with Novak is a smokescreen.

Rove was a confirming(second) source for Novak, and thus faced no legal jeopardy for disclosing Plame's identity. With Cooper, he was the primary source, and, so, that's the conversation he lied about.

Also, I'm guessing that Hadley took that deal Fitzgerald apparently offered awhile back as he was making the rounds on the morning shows today talking up Michael Hayden.

Think we got the whole story on Goss?

Laura Rozen doesn't think so either.

Next Day:
She is just all over the Goss thing. Check out the email from someone who was at a luncheon with Goss where he seemingly had no idea he would be announcing his resignation in just two hours.

Also, she's got an article up from the NYSun which says that Negroponte's plan, presumably through Hayden, is to strip "everything except for the human intelligence collection role of the CIA to be removed from the agency. This source said that Mr. Negroponte "is going to strip analysis, strip out covert operation, science, and technology."

Last, She's got a little bit about Duke Cunningham cutting the F-22 Raptor program as payback for a military official not abiding by a contract with Brent Wilkes.

Every once in awhile a blogger catches fire, and Laura Rozen is on fire right now.

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"George, there's gonna come a time when I'm not around anymore..."

Rove Did It!!!!

Jason Leopold has the latest on the Rove Case, and it sounds like we'll soon be referring to it as the Rove indictment.

According to Jason's reporting here, Karl is far more involved than his defense attorney's leaks have presented(which is the only version of the story previously out,) and the "lingering question, sources close to the case said, is whether Fitzgerald will add obstruction of justice to the list of charges that he has already drafted against Rove."

It all revolves around the 250 "missing" emails in which the broad campaign to discredit Wilson is outlined with Rove as a key player. (Notice the name of "former administration official" Andy Card is mentioned among the officials(plural) on the mailing list.)
Hundreds of pages of emails and memos "discovered" by the White House in February and turned over to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald show that Karl Rove played a much larger role in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak case than he had previously disclosed to a grand jury and FBI investigators. ...

While that issue(the Cooper lie - mike) continues to be a central focus in the case against Rove, what has not been previously reported is the fact that there are dozens of other memos and emails Rove sent to White House officials in June 2003, including former Chief of Staff Andrew Card, in which Rove suggests the White House launch a full scale public relations effort to attack Joseph Wilson for speaking out against the administration.

Rove did not disclose the communications when he was questioned by FBI investigators in 2003 and during his subsequent grand jury appearances, sources familiar with his testimony said. Some of those emails and memos recently discovered by the White House mention Valerie Plame Wilson's employment with the CIA....

While some news accounts over the past 10 days have reported that Rove's fifth appearance before the grand jury two weeks ago was to clear up testimony as to why he failed to disclose his conversation with Cooper and the email he sent to Hadley afterward, according to sources the bulk of Rove's testimony centered on why he had not disclosed the emails and memos and the larger role he played in the campaign to smear Wilson's reputation.

That's probably why Rove was so shaken after the testimony. He went into the Grand Jury prepared to cover the Matt Cooper lie, and suddenly had to answer questions about all sorts of other implicating things. Rove thought he knew the game and Fitzgerald laid new cards on the table.

One question I still have is the details on the "missing" emails. The only real description given so far is that they were not "preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." It's still not fully clear the context in which these emails were "not archived." (By the way, note that the "missing" emails are from both the Vice President and President's office, meaning that somebody either had unbelieveable access to both or they were "non-archived" in a conspiracy.)

For the spectator, I think when the indictment comes, it will be very telling to notice if we get all the details and how Fitzgerald refers to Dick Cheney. If we get all the details, the investigation will probably be over, but if the indictment is once again cagey in what it offers, it will give some indirect indication where the investigation will go next.

Not knowing the exact circumstance of the missing emails I can't say for sure, but I would expect that would be the next phase. Willfull destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, conspiracy will all be on the table. And, whoever is named in the oblique prosecutor's custom as "official C" will probably be the next target. (I chose C for Cheney. Not knowing what Fitzgerald has in his pocket, I'd put that in the definite maybe category.)

Two last little bits. Al Gonzales is still withholding "some emails that had not been turned over to Fitzgerald because they contain classified information in addition to references about the Wilsons."

And, Luskin, Rove's attorney is travelling and will not return until Tuesday. Wednesday submittal for indictment? Maybe Friday? Jason seems to be telling me it will be very soon.

You don't support the troops!!!

Sometimes I notice things that aren't there.

With the majority opinion moving well against the Iraq war, have you noticed that the Whitehouse response to antiwar voices no longer includes charges of "not supporting the troops" or, like they did with Murtha, "aiding the terrorists?"

Perhaps it reflects the growing doubts about the war among the Bush base in whom these accusations were intended to resonate, or perhaps it is a reflection of the broader questioning of the President's values (honesty/integrity,) or moral authority. I don't know.

I just haven't run across any real red-baiting lately out of the big time Republicans.

And while I'm on things that aren't there... Hey George Snuffleopogus, how in the hell can you have Tom Delay on your interview program, and not ask him about the article yesterday that prosecutors have emails stating plainly that Delay's office knew he was in violation of the law on his Abramoff/Scotland trip?

How can you have him on the show and not ask about that?

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This is Bush

(AFP)President George W. Bush, battling a slump in his poll ratings, expressed frustration that bad news from Iraq is drowning out what he called good news on the US economy.

In an interview with the financial news network CNBC, Bush said he had "been spending a lot of time on the economy" in his public pronouncements, to little avail.

"The problem is that we're in war, and sometimes it's hard for people to get a positive message about the economy when they're troubled by scenes of violence on the TV screens," the president said.


BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

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