Sunday, October 30, 2005

Libby's "Steve Martin" defense: "I forgot!"
Remember the Saturday Night Live skit when Steve Martin could talk his way out of any problem before a judge, including a murder rap, by announcing, "I forgot"? That's the whole of Libby's current defense. Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly's political blog quickly dissects that notion, including pointing out that his first lies were made to the FBI a few months after the leak took place, and he repeated the same bogus cover story four times to the FBI and grand jury. He must have really wanted to protect his boss, Vice President Cheney (who actually told him about Valerie Plame), from any scrutiny in the leak investigation.
Why did a lawyer like Libby do something so stupid? The New Republic hazards a reasonable guess:

Scooter Libby is a smart and cultured man. So why did he lie so blatantly and ineffectually to FBI agents and the grand jury? Why did he spin a story that could be so easily disproved?

One theory holds that he wanted to protect his boss. Of course, he did. But, it also seems pretty clear that his boss did nothing illegal, and played no role in the outing of Valerie Plame. So Libby could have accepted culpability for himself and simultaneously exonerated Cheney. And if he truly wanted to protect his boss, he still could have lied with greater forethought and artfulness. Libby, after all, has a reputation for meticulousness. You don't get to be The Guy Behind the Guy without that trait.

I'm guessing that his sloppiness can be attributed to a) his initial belief that reporters would never sell out a confidential source; b) his initial belief that the leak investigation would go nowhere. Before Ashcroft (somewhat mysteriously) recused the Department of Justice from the case, Deputy Attorney General James Comey had handled the investigation. With Comey and Ashcroft running the show, Libby must not have worried too much about the prospects of a perjury indictment. He probably assumed, with good reason, that this investigation would die a quiet death at the hands of Bush loyalists. Once Comey handed the case over to Fitzgerald, Libby was already locked into his mendacious storyline. From then on, he was screwed.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention one other fact about Libby's lack of seriousness about this case. When he hired a laywer to represent him, he turned to a guy who specializes in intellectual property and antitrust. Only now has he begun shopping for a white-collar crime attorney.
--Franklin Foer
This comes from a thoughtful new blog, The Plank, from The New Republic.
posted 5:12 p.m.

Friday, October 28, 2005

See Scooter lie: the full indictment here. Libby Indicted In CIA Leak Case - October 28, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

How unqualified is Miers? Read her answers for yourself, and excerpts from her dumb answers here. Here's a sample of her errors (it may sound technical, but shows a fundamental lack of knowledge of the Constitution that's shocking for a Supreme Court nominee). As one account noted:

Meanwhile, several constitutional law scholars said they were surprised and puzzled by Miers's response to the committee's request for information on cases she has handled dealing with constitutional issues. In describing one matter on the Dallas City Council, Miers referred to "the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause" as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.

"There is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause," said Cass R. Sunstein, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. He and several other scholars said it appeared that Miers was confusing proportional representation -- which typically deals with ethnic groups having members on elected bodies -- with the one-man, one-vote Supreme Court ruling that requires, for example, legislative districts to have equal populations.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Harriet Miers, upbeat blogger. You go girl! Harriet Miers's Blog!!!

Colin Powell's top aide: a secret Cheney cabal hijacked American foreign policy. Hear Larry Wilkerson confirm -- you can see the video below -- how the neo-cons stole U.S. diplomacy and weakened our country. This article summarizes his talk. One of his key points:

"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."

New America Foundation : event -520- "Weighing the Uniqueness of the Bush Administration�s National Security Policy: Boon or Danger to American Democracy?"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gene Lyons' smart take on the WMD cover-up mentality driving the Plamegate scandal.NWAnews.com :: Northwest Arkansas' News Source Although some Times' editors have referred to Miller's initial refusal testify about her sources as a "whistleblower case," Lyons points out:

It wasn’t a whistleblower case at all. It was the exact opposite : the most powerful people in the United States using the press to damage a whistleblower by endangering his wife, something even the Mob won’t do. Indeed, it’s intriguing to speculate that Wilson, outspoken critic of pre-war propaganda about Iraq’s nuclear weapons programs, wasn’t the leak’s main target. White House apparatchiks may have been more leery of Plame, a specialist in nuclear proliferation, and her CIA colleagues.

Here’s why : In a Times interview, “Little Miss Run Amok,” as Miller dubbed herself due to her ability to avoid editorial supervision on her way to fame and glory, admitted what the Times called “serious flaws in her articles on Iraqi weapons.” “ WMD—I got it totally wrong, ” she said. “The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them—we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong. I did the best job that I could.”

But that’s simply not so.

“Infighting among U. S.

intelligence agencies fuels dispute over Iraq” was the headline of an October 2002 article by Knight Ridder’s Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay. The article detailed a “bitter feud over secret intelligence” between the CIA and Bush administration appointees at the Pentagon. “The dispute,” they wrote, “pits hardliners long distrustful of the U. S. intelligence community against professional military and intelligence officers who fear the hawks are shaping intelligence analyses to support their case for invading Iraq.” In an earlier article co-written with John Walcott, the authors quoted an unidentified official who said that “analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books.” Nobody else they interviewed disagreed.

Maybe that’s the story Scooter Lewis and the country-club toughs in the White House really feared. What’s more, it was always there to be written, but not by Washington courtier-journalists who pride themselves more on the quality of their dinner party invitations and TV appearances than their professional integrity and skepticism. Do I believe that Miller can’t remember who told her “Valerie Flame’s” name ? A child wouldn’t believe it. The more clever of my two basset hounds would be suspicious. The real shame is that, absent an aggressive prosecutor, none of this would have become known.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How we lost our way on torture: 9 p.m. tonight on most PBS stations. It's grim but important viewingFRONTLINE: coming soon: the torture question | PBS

Thursday, October 13, 2005

See Miers gush about,like, the bestest governor ever!!!!! (or words to that effect), now-President George Bush. Check out the cutesie picture of a dog to go with her mash notes. The question for Democrats is: do you want a mediocre non-entity who might vote moderate on some cases, or a hard-right brilliant judge who will please the GOP's right-wing base? Sunday's Washington Post explores this dilemma facing Democrats as they may hold the key to her ability to win confirmation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A great writer's works live on: The late Marjorie Williams writing about cancer in Vanity Fair and her political profiles featured in a forthcoming book, The Woman at the Washington Zoo. VANITY FAIR : ROUNDTABLE : CONTENT

Monday, October 03, 2005

How New Orleans was killed.25 Questions About the Murder of New Orleans

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Freakonomics vs. Bill Bennett. Since Bennett's racist claim that, theoretically, aborting black fetuses would cut crime, it's worth seeing the views of Freakonomics author Steven Levitt, who promoted a non-racist theory about the link between increased abortion and lowered crime. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - William Morrow, 2005

Common sense from Barack Obama about divisions among DemsDaily Kos: Tone, Truth, and the Democratic Party

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