Saturday, July 30, 2005

Don't believe the hype: the energy bill is a disaster.Carl Pope: Black Friday - Yahoo! News

Friday, July 22, 2005

While you weren't looking: our civil liberties are about to disappear with the passage of an expanded Patriot Act. Whiskey Bar: Kissing the 4th Amendment Goodbye Here's the ACLU's page, with an opportunity to write your Senator (the U.S. House of Representatives has already acted to take away our civil liberties). Incidentally, did you hear much about it in the so-called liberal mainstream media or even alternative media and blogs before today? No, me neither. The Senate may move to modify what the House just passed, but there's not much time left. Below are some of the provisions that have passed the House of Representatives. As the ACLU noted, "This sweeping legislation must be fixed if Americans are to preserve our basic freedoms and protect ourselves from broad government searches of our personal records and information. Under the Patriot Act, the government can:





Act now! As the Societas blog noted, "Please e-mail and/or call Congress. Please spread the word. Protect the 4th Amendment and your other rights. We are in the final hours for the Patriot Act. Take a brief break from the Rove-Roberts controversies, just a few hours, and defend your rights as American citizens.
Thank you. "

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Indictments for Rove and Libby? Trashing the First Amendment and jailing Judith Miller wasn't necessary to nail these White House leakers, but if they're going to be indicted, liberals are doubtless gleeful that the country can look forward to a few more years of Republican scandal and disgrace -- right into the 2006 and 2008 elections. Speaking of leaks, who is doing all the leaking about the prosecutors' perjury case against White House leakers? Think Progress � BREAKING: Bloomberg Reporting That Rove, Libby May Be Subject To Perjury Charges

New evidence shows Rove knew the information was classified.Plame's Identity Marked As Secret

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Good overview from right and left voices on the Roberts choice.The Moderate Voice - Bush Picks Roberts And THE Battle Begins

A balanced look at Roberts: the best we can get from this administration? A conservative with few hard edges | csmonitor.com

Monday, July 18, 2005

In case you didn't notice, George Bush has made firing Karl Rove even harder to do. See Salon.com Politics (day pass available): "Bush flip-flops on firing leaker :

News flash: George W. Bush is apparently unwilling to have a convicted felon working as a senior official in his White House.

At a brief press availability this morning, a reporter asked Bush about the Valerie Plame case: 'Mr. President, you said you don't want to talk about an ongoing investigation, so I'd like to ask you, regardless of whether a crime was committed, do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case?'

Bush's response: 'We have a serious ongoing investigation here, and it's being played out in the press,' the president said. 'And I think it's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.'

Got that? The reporter asked whether Bush would fire the leaker regardless of whether a crime was committed, and Bush said he'd fire the leaker if a crime was committed. That's called not answering the question. It's also called -- and we hate to say it because we know George W. Bush doesn't do this sort of thing -- a flip-flop. At a press conference on June 10, 2004, Bush was asked if he stood by his 'pledge to fire anyone found' to have leaked Plame's name. The president said: 'Yes.' "

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Rove still in trouble, even if he didn't break the law -- which he probably did. Reporter: Rove was first source on CIA leak - Politics - MSNBC.com

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What role did Valerie Plame really play? Sidney Blumenthal has the answers in a column in Salon (day pass available if you don't subscribe):
When the Italian report on Niger uranium surfaced, Vice President Cheney's office contacted the CIA's counter-proliferation office to look into it. Such a request is called a "tasker." It was hardly the first query the task force had received from the White House, and such requests were not made through the CIA director's office, but directly. Plame's colleagues asked her if she would invite her husband out to CIA headquarters at Langley, Va., for a meeting with them, to assess the question.

It was unsurprising that the CIA would seek out Wilson. He had already performed one secret mission to Niger for the agency, in 1999, and was trusted. Wilson had also had a distinguished and storied career as a Foreign Service officer. He served as acting ambassador in Iraq during the Gulf War and was hailed by the first President Bush as a "hero." Wilson was an important part of the team and highly regarded by Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Wilson was also an Africa specialist. He had been a diplomat in Niger, ambassador to Gabon and senior director for Africa on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. (I first encountered Wilson then, and we have since become friends.) No other professional had such an ideal background for this CIA mission.

Plame's superiors asked her to cable the field in Africa for routine approval of an investigation of the Niger claim. At Langley, Wilson met with about a dozen officers to discuss the situation. Plame was not at the meeting. Afterward, Wilson informed his wife that he would be traveling to Niger for about 10 days. She was not particularly enthusiastic, having recently given birth to twins, but she understood the importance of the mission. She had no authority to commission him. She was simply not the responsible senior officer. Nor, if she had been, could she have done so unilaterally. There was nothing of value to be gained personally from the mission by either Joe or Valerie Wilson. He undertook the trip out of a long-ingrained sense of government service.

CIA officers debriefed Wilson the night of his return at his home. His wife greeted the other operatives, but excused herself. She later read a copy of his debriefing report, but she made no changes in it. The next they spoke of Niger uranium was when they heard President Bush's mention of it in his 2003 State of the Union address.

Attributing Wilson's trip to his wife's supposed authority became the predicate for a smear campaign against his credibility. Seven months after the appointment of the special counsel, in July 2004, the Republican-dominated Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on flawed intelligence leading to the Iraq war. The blame for failure was squarely put on the CIA for "groupthink." (The Republicans quashed a promised second report on political pressure on the intelligence process.) The three-page addendum by the ranking Republicans followed the now well-worn attack lines: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."

The CIA subsequently issued a statement, as reported by New York Newsday and CNN, that the Republican senators' conclusion about Plame's role was wholly inaccurate. But the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt reported only the Republican senators' version, writing that Wilson was "specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly," in a memo she wrote. Schmidt quoted a CIA official in the senators' account saying that Plame had "offered up" Wilson's name. Plame's memo, in fact, was written at the express directive of her superiors two days before Wilson was to come to Langley for his meeting to describe his qualifications in a standard protocol to receive "country clearance." Unfortunately, Schmidt's article did not reflect this understanding of routine CIA procedure. The CIA officer who wrote the memo that originally recommended Wilson for the mission -- who was cited anonymously by the senators as the only source who said that Plame was responsible -- was deeply upset at the twisting of his testimony, which was not public, and told Plame he had said no such thing. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Wilson that the Republican Senate staff never contacted him for the agency's information on the matter.

Curiously, the only document cited as the basis for Plame's role was a State Department memo that was later debunked by the CIA. Apparently, this memo (or a related document) are getting new scrutiny from the special prosecutor because it's being used as the basis of cover stories by Rove and others under scrutiny. The Washington Post, on Dec. 26, 2003, reported: "CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the ... document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting. 'It has been circulated around,' one official said." Even more curious, one of the outlets where the document was circulated was Talon News Service and its star correspondent, Jeff Gannon (aka Guckert). (Talon was revealed to be a partisan front for a Texas-based operation called GOPUSA and Gannon was exposed as a male prostitute, without previous journalistic credentials yet with easy and unexplained access to the White House.) According to the Post, "the CIA believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy."
Over at www.isbushwired.com , new questions about the Gannon-Rove connection are raised. How and why could this male prostitute with extraordinary access to the White House be the conduit for some of Rove's smear and counter-attack talking points? Some surprising speculative ideas -- a possible gay link, for instance -- are offered for your consideration.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Spin -- or perjury? Karl Rove claims to have gotten Plame's name from the media itself ( including Robert Novak) so, the Republican argument presumably will be: what's the crime? It's still classified information and he isn't allowed under federal law to disclose it. The Left-Coaster blog has perhaps the most complete debunking of the Republican spin, including why Rove's disclosure is still a crime even if he didn't know that Valerie Plame was a covert operative. David Corn shreds the Republican defense even further in his commentary on save-Rove spin, while Joe Conason makes clear why Rove must go and why he's deserving of criminal prosecution. John Dean (who knows something about illegal White House activity) explains why Rove is legally vulnerable, but not under the covert agent dislcosure law most commentators are discussing:

No Apparent Violation Of The Identities Protection Act
As I pointed out when the Valerie Plame Wilson leak first surfaced, the Intelligence Identities And Protection Act is a complex law. For the law to apply to Rove, a number of requirements must be met.

Rove must have had "authorized access to classified information" under the statute. Plame was an NCO (non-covered officer). White House aides, and even the president, are seldom, if ever, given this information. So it is not likely Rove had "authorized access" to it.

In addition, Rove must have "intentionally" -- not "knowingly" as has been mentioned in the news coverage -- disclosed "any information identifying such a covert agent." Whether or not Rove actually referred to Mrs. Wilson as "Valerie Plame," then, the key would be whether he gave Matt Cooper (or others) information that Joe Wilson's wife was a covert agent. Also, the statute requires that Rove had to know, as a fact, that the United States was taking, or had taken, "affirmative measures to conceal" Valerie Plame's covert status. Rove's lawyer says he had no such knowledge.

In fact, there is no public evidence that Valerie Wilson had the covert status required by the statute. A covert agent, as defined under this law, is "a present or retired officer or employee" of the CIA, whose identity as such "is classified information," and this person must be serving outside of the United States, or have done so in the last five years.

There is no solid information that Rove, or anyone else, violated this law designed to protect covert CIA agents. There is, however, evidence suggesting that other laws were violated. In particular, I have in mind the laws invoked by the Bush Justice Department in the relatively minor leak case that it vigorously prosecuted, though it involved information that was not nearly as sensitive as that which Rove provided Matt Cooper (and possibly others).

The Jonathan Randel Leak Prosecution Precedent

I am referring to the prosecution and conviction of Jonathan Randel. Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)

Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.

By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count "kitchen sink" indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually, 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. Attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush Administration would handle leakers.

The Randel Precedent -- If Followed -- Bodes Ill For Rove

So that may still apply to Rove, despite his excuse before the grand jury: Source: Rove Got CIA Agent ID From Media - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

See the right spinning the Rove affair. Howard Kurtz's excellent overview. Media Notes Extra

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

News junkie overdose here: An hourly update of the best and latest of both the mainstream news reports and commentary, plus blog opinion-makers and links, too. memeorandum: A newfangled news tangle

Republican spin campaign to defend Rove: talking points revealed.The Raw Story | Exclusive: GOP talking points on Rove seek to discredit Wilson

The press mauls White House spinmeister over Rove. Why weren't they this tough on Iraq?Press Briefing by Scott McClellan

Here's a good overview of the political blogosphere. Good one-stop shopping for political stories, and worth bookmarking. The Hotline's Blogometer

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bremer's $8 billion disappearing trick.Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | So, Mr Bremer, where did all the money go?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

What's Tom Cruise's Scientology is all about: the cult's leading defector speaks out.SCIENTOLOGY

Friday, July 01, 2005

Now a majority of Dems want to impeach Bush. And I just thought that was a fringe cause for just the kookiest left-wingers. Zogby International

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