Monday, October 31, 2005


Lost in the shuffle of last week's Traitorgate indictments was a great little bit o' new style, courtesy of the Springfield News-Leader.

The changing of the name from Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University has created a style issue for the Gannett-owned daily. The acronym "MSU" is used in headlines -- but last Thursday, a local-front brief revealed a new name for the school:
M State University fans plan to show school spirit with a bonfire tonight on the campus, the first attempt at such a celebration since sometime in the 1990s, said Fred Marty, assistant vice president for administrative services.
Maybe the school should go all out and adopt Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as a theme song. It worked just fine for Peter Lorre.


Good to see that our Canadian friends are not immune from the old flaming-bag-of-feces prank. According to the Ottawa Sun:
A Winnipeg teen is being hailed as a hero for helping his family to safety after a prank got out of hand and destroyed his home.

Jordan Feasey, 16, was sleeping in his family's mobile home last weekend, when his mom awoke and noticed something was amiss.

"She got up and looked out the window, and saw there was a fire on our outside deck," said the teen's dad, Mel Ottenbreit.

The fire was started by someone who left a flaming bag of fecal matter on the family's doorstep, police said yesterday.

It quickly spread, blocking both the trailer's exits, so Jordan's mother woke him up and called on him to help.

Jordan then rushed to wake up his little brother and sister.

His mom, Susan Feasey, had already called 911, so the family could do little but watch as flames engulfed their home.

Damages are estimated at $120,000.

Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy, known to the family, who faces arson charges.
Man, that's one expensive trailer. Happy Halloween.


Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellwegger met in January, married in May, broke up in September. She filed for an annulment. He talked to Life magazine.

Says Chesney: The break-up "was like opening the door to your house and having someone come in and take your big-screen TV off the wall during the big game, and there's nothing you can do about it."

At least she rated up there with a big-screen TV; maybe he even meant a plasma.

The metaphorically challenged Chesney has a new album, "The Road and the Radio," coming out on Nov. 8.


Named Monday by President Bush to the Supreme Court, Alito is:

Not a woman, which means Harriet Miers apparently was the only woman in the United States who qualified for the Supremes. Tough luck, ladies.

•Fairly young at 55.

•Born on April Fool's Day.

•Catholic, which would make him the fifth Catholic on the high court.

•A raging anti-Roe voice.

That last point will be much discussed over the next few days, so here's the background. Alito sits on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1991, he was the only judge on the Third Circuit to vote in favor of an anti-abortion law that required women seeking abortions to "inform" their husbands. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito said many reasons for an abortion -- "economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition -- could be "obviated by discussion prior to abortion."

Is this the sort of legal mind we want on the U.S. Supreme Court?

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Aaaaaay! Henry Winkler had a birthday on Sunday. We are all closer to death.


Friday's indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby has made many Democrats giddy and thirsty for sweet, sweet revenge.

We've heard a few Dems discuss whether former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, should civilly sue President Bush and other White House officials. Paul Begala, former Clintonista and current CNN talking head, says Dems could cite the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Paula Jones harassment lawsuit to proceed against Bill Clinton (you'll remember the Supremes voted 9-0 that a sitting president is not immune from a civil suit).

So why not sue Bush? Some activists on Democratic Underground are trying to make that case. We won't be surprised when Wilson and Plame file suit.

Speaking of Wilson, he's the Sunday night interview on "60 Minutes."

Seeing the Wilson promo on "Face The Nation" made us cringe, because the last thing Wilson ought to be doing is opening his mouth. He's a big target and has been since May or June 2003. Anything he has to say now is just piling on. Democrats don't need to do that right now.

"By any means necessary" sounded good coming from Malcolm X, but it casts the Dems as vindictive. Hey: fine to be vindictive. Just don't let it show in public.

Democrats should let Patrick Fitzgerald do his work and stay above the dirt, while offering substantive ideas (and legislation) to lead the country. When 45 percent of the country "strongly disapproves" of the job Bush is doing as president -- and only 39 percent gives thumbs-up -- no further pushing is necessary. Bush is a lame duck. A Plame duck, if you prefer puns.

Democrats have a great story to tell right now; they should tell it. They should grab control of the debate on policy and convince voters that it's time to vote Democratic, for a change.

That's what they should do. What they will do is likely to be the precise opposite, and helps explain why Republicans rule Missouri and the country.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Most Americans believe in the first two. We cite from the third item:
Most Americans believe in God, heaven, miracles and angels, and while the numbers are not quite as high, large majorities say they believe in hell and the devil.

The latest FOX News poll finds that more than nine in 10 Americans (91 percent) believe in God and almost as many believe in heaven (87 percent). In addition, 84 percent say they believe in miracles and 79 percent in angels.

What about the dark side? Almost three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) say they believe in hell and two-thirds in the devil (67 percent).

As Halloween (search) approaches, the poll also asked about ghosts and witches. A third (34 percent) believe in ghosts and a quarter in witches (24 percent). In addition, almost four in 10 Americans (37 percent) say they believe in astrology and one in four believe in reincarnation (27 percent). Hardly any say they believe in vampires (4 percent).

These results are in line with past FOX News surveys on these beliefs going back to 1997.
Dammit, what about mummies? Werewolves? Intelligent design?


Casper Schilling says he's 44, lives in Holland and participates in historic digs in places like Bam, Iran.

About a year ago, Schilling posted information on his site about "the skeleton of Jebal-Barez." This month he updated with a new photo and a graf or two of fresh information. He says the skeleton was apparently unearthed in the December 2003 earthquake.

We don't know what to make of the skeleton, but we're skeptical. Perhaps one of our smarter readers can enlighten everyone else. Click here and read all about it.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Friday morning's media outlets were filled with speculation that White House brain Karl Rove would escape indictment but remain "under investigation." The early rumors had the stink of Turd Blossom clinging to them. Later Friday, Rove's lawyer, Robert Ruskin, even issued a statement saying pretty much the same thing.

After special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- but not Rove -- the chattering heads began wondering and asking what lay ahead for Rove.

Had Rove resisted the urge to leak, Friday night's coverage would be all about how the Brilliant Rove escaped the prosecutor's clutches. Instead, he's Damocles to Fitzgerald's Dionysius. The sword dangles and twists. So does Karl Rove.


Buried in the indictment handed up by a federal grand jury on Friday is a telling paragraph that proves Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, knew that Valerie Plame Wilson was a clandestine CIA asset.

The important graf:
On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.
The Counterproliferation Division works in the Directorate of Operations, the place where spies hang out.

Cheney and Libby are not Washington virgins. They know where CPD resides. They know the Directorate of Operations is the clandestine service.

One other thing to remember about Libby: Not only was he chief of staff for Dick Cheney; he was also assistant to the president. Republicans will try to brush off the indictment as "no cancer on the presidency," as David Brooks is trying to do on PBS. But when an assistant to the president is indicted for lying and obstruction of justice, it's a huge deal.


Now that the grand jury has handed up indictments and the special prosecutor has finished his news conference (you'll find live entries further downthread), we're waiting for President Bush to make his statement before choppering off to Camp David.

Bush is scheduled to speak at 2:50 p.m. Central. Posters on Free Republic are dreaming that Bush might appoint a new Supreme Court justice. Or maybe he'll start a war in Iran.

Foes of Karl Rove, begin to weep. The president's brain remains unindicted, and it doesn't sound like Fitzgerald will push much further. Rove's Democratic lawyer apparently saved his client's rump.

Bushbots, beware. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial won't take place for six months, maybe more. Dissection of the indictment (and of Patrick Fitzgerald's news conference) will create more noise. Very little of it will put this White House in a good light.

Here comes the Bush statement. Prez in blue suit, red tie, straight spine. No smiles as he approaches the podium. Says he accepted the resignation of Scooter Libby. Calls him "Scooter." That's so weird. Bush says investigation is "serious, and now the process moves into a new phase." Does the "presumed innocent" bit. Says "we're all saddened by today's news." Says he's got a job to do, a la Bill Clinton. Says "pretty soon" he'll be naming someone to the high court. This is all.


2 p.m.
We wish Patrick Fitzgerald would quit saying "at the end of the day."

Convicting Libby "will vindicate the interests of the public," the prosecutor says. He will be involved in the prosecution, but he will not be the lead prosecutor.

The breakdown: Investigation remains open, but no "great expectations" of future indictments. Prosecutor might use an existing grand jury; that would not be unusual. Libby is a big fish, and the prosecutor says he deliberately and repeatedly lied to cover his tracks, and quite possibly the tracks of bigger creatures.

"This indictment is not about the war. This indictment is not about the propriety of the war," Fitzgerald says. "The indictment will not seek to prove the war was justified or unjustified ... this is focused on a narrow transaction."

1:53 p.m.
President Bush is speaking at the White House. Cheney is speaking in front of a bunch of soldiers in Georgia. CNN has the sound down on the nation's two most-powerful men. All ears are on Patrick Fitzgerald, who keeps pounding on the "very, very serious matter" he's investigating.

1:45 p.m.
Will there be a congressional investigation? Fitzgerald dances around the question. "I don't think it's my role to opine on whether the Justice Department will oppose or not oppose" another investigation.

About his critics: "One day I read I was a Republican hack, one day I read I was a Democratic hack. In between, all I did was sleep."

Will Fitzgerald issue a final report? Probably not. Does not have authority to write a report. "Charge someone, or be quiet." He's chosen to do the former.

1:42 p.m.
Fitzgerald says reporters should not be routinely called into court via subpoena, but in this case, reporters "were eyewitnesses to the crime." Says he wished Judith Miller didn't have to spend any time in jail, "but I think it had to be done."

1:41 p.m.
Wasn't looking to pick a fight with The New York Times, but "couldn't walk away" from mandate to investigate evidence of obstruction. "We thought long and hard" before subpoenas issued to reporters.

1:38 p.m.
Fitzgerald talks about leaks. "I would prefer, for the integrity of an investigation," that witnesses didn't talk, but they weren't breaking the law if they did. Prosecutor and GJ are bound by secrecy.

No comment on whether he's "bothered" by so many government officials talking about a CIA agent's identity.

1:34 p.m.
Michael Isikoff of Newsweek asks about "Official A." Can he identify him by name? Says the prosecutor: "We just can't do that."

Is Rove off the hook? Same answer. No comment. Either charged, or no comment.

1:33 p.m.
"It's not over," but it pretty much is. No new grand jury. The prosecutor doesn't say it, but it doesn't sound like any further indictments will be forthcoming. No leak charge, he notes, but obstruction is just as serious. The national security was damaged by the leak, Fitzgerald says.

Any evidence that veep broke a law? "We don't talk about people not charged in the indictment. We make no allegations" Cheney committed a crime.

1:28 p.m.
"It appears Mr. Libby's story ... was not true. it was false," Fitzgerald says. Libby wasn't at the end of the gossip chain; he was at the front, shoveling furiously, the prosecutor says.

"This is a country that takes its law seriously, that all citizens are bound by the law," Fitzgerald says. "Let's let the process take place. Let's take a deep breath" and let the system work.

1:26 p.m.
At least four people within the government told Libby about Valerie Wilson, according to Fitzgerald. Not illegal, the prosecutor stresses -- but Libby then told Ari Fleischer "something on a Monday that he claims to have learned on a Thursday." Oops.

At least seven total discussions with government officials before Libby claimed he learned about Valerie Wilson from Russert.

1:21 p.m.
Now to interviews with Libby by FBI. Focus of interview was what Libby knew about Valerie Wilson. Libby gave FBI "compelling story," prosecutor says. Libby blamed Russert and told FBI that the info "struck him." Libby said he then peddled info to Matt Cooper and Judith Miller. "He passed it on understand this was information he had gotten from a reporter, and he didn't know if it was true."

Libby then testified twice before grand jury and "essentially said the same thing." Libby said he'd "forgotten" he'd gotten the Valerie Wilson info from the vice president. "If only it were true," Fitzgerald. "It is not true, according to the indictment." Youch.

1:19 p.m.
"Investigators do not set out to investigate a statute," Fitzgerald says. Important for probe to be secret, he adds. "It was known a CIA officer's identity was blown. It was known there was a leak," he says. The investigation began from those points.

Obligated to be secret, not to be shared with public. "As frustrating as that may be, it's important," Fitzgerald says. "Equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury ... tell the complete truth. It's especially important in the national security area."

1:17 p.m.
Fitzgerald outlines indictment, puts investigation into context. Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer, the prosecutor says, and before July 2003, very few people knew of her secret identity. "It is important a CIA officer's identity be protected," Fitzgerald says. It's important for national security.

1:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, 2005
The news conference has just begun. Wow, so that's what he sounds like.


He deeply regrets. The veep, Dick Cheney, has just issued a four-paragraph statement on Lewis "Scooter" Libby's resignation. Cheney reminds us: "An accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding" comes from a jury.

Cheney says Libby is resigning to fight the charges against him. He's also resigning to get the scandal out of the White House and keep it from growing. Patrick Fitzgerald's news release, and the indictment handed up by the grand jury, contains enough explosive power to keep official D.C. roaring for weeks.

Fitzgerald is supposed to take questions from reporters. This could be a long and very noisy news conference; there are dozens of unanswered questions:

•What's the dilly with Karl Rove?

•Who's "Official A" in the court documents? He or she is a "senior official at the White House" and is mentioned on Page 8 of the indictment. "Official A" is the preseumed source of in a 2003 column by Robert Novak, the reporter better known as Novakula, Prince of the Undead.

•Will Fitzgerald make use of an existing, sitting grand jury to extend his investigation? Or will he ask for a special grand jury? The sitting panel's mandate ends today, and because it was already working on a six-month extension, its work cannot be extended any further.

•Will Fitzgerald issue a report to Congress?

•Will Fitzgerald use Libby to roll on his bosses, the veep and the prez?

•Why no charge of conspiracy, despite the multiple acts outlined in the indictment that smack of conspiracy.

Stay tuned. We will.


Reading the news release from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, we're struck by the Spy v. Spy tone of the Bush Administration, especially within the office of the vice president.

•On June 9, 2003, "a number of classified documents from the CIA" were faxed over the Dick Cheney's office. Wilson's name wasn't contained in the classified pages, but "Libby and one or more other persons in the Vice President's office handwrote the names 'Wilson' and 'Joe Wilson' on the documents."

•On June 11 or 12, Libby was "orally advised" by an undersecretary of state that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

•On June 11, a "senior officer of the CIA" told Libby that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

•On or about June 12, Cheney told Libby that "Wilson's wife worked at the CIA in the Counterproliferation Division."

•On June 14, Libby met with a CIA briefer "and discused with the brifer, among other things, 'Joe Wilson' and his wife 'Valerie Wilson.'"

•On June 19, a story in The New Republic appeared. Libby spoke with his principal deputy and said they couldn't leak info about Wilson's trip -- "there would be complications at the CIA ... and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line."

•On June 23, Libby met with Judith Miller and mentioned something about Wilson's wife working for the CIA.

Within two weeks of hearing from Cheney that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, Libby was peddling that info to a reporter. All of this, of course, sources as allegations from Fitzgerald, and Libby is innocent until proven guilty.


The indictment against Lewis "Scooter" Libby can be found here. It's a .pdf document.

Patrick Fitzgerald's news release can be found here. Some juicy reading, for sure.


12:15 p.m.
Dem talking point from Paul Begala, former Clintonista: Enormous hit for administration, especially given Bush's promise to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" during the 2000 campaign. Worse for Cheney, who wields more power than any other veep in history. Says Begala: "Even Al Gore was never as powerful."

GOP talking point from Human Rights editor: Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious crimes, just like they were in 1998. And by the way, Joe Wilson is scum.

12:10 p.m.
WH announces Libby's resignation. Written earlier in the day, according to CNN's John King, and accepted a couple minutes ago.

12:05 p.m.
The indictment says Cheney told Libby of Valerie Plame's identity. Joe Wilson, husband of the outed agent, is scheduled to make a statement shortly.

The filed documents aren't yet online, but the chattering heads note that inside noise about Wilson started circulating through the White House in May 2003 -- two months before Wilson published his column in The New York Times.

(CNN's John King notes that a Nicholas Kristof column from May 6, 2003, may have been the spark that set off the blaze inside Cheney's office. King covered the WH at the time and remembers the WH political operation "kicking into high gear" to discredit war critics like Wilson, who was the unnamed source in Kristof's column.)

More details: Libby told FBI agents that Russert asked him if he knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Libby also said (allegedly) that Russert blabbed about "every reporter in Washington" knowing this juicy tidbit. When interviewed by the feds, Russert called BS on Libby.

Ditto for Matt Cooper of Time. Those are the false statement charges.

Re perjury: Libby told the grand jury the same tales about Russert and Cooper. Man, that's some arrogance.

Most damning appears to be the naming of Cheney as the source of Plame's identity. The veep isn't charged, not even as some sort of unindicted co-conspirator, but his political stock has been depleted.

Novakula's name emerges! Documents discuss "Official A" talking with Libby and being told by the veep's chief that Robert Novak was about the write a column about the Wilson mess.

11:52 a.m.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby basically lied his ass off to deceive FBI agents, the grand jury and the special prosecutor. Or so claims Patrick Fitzgerald. The charges against Vice President Dick Cheney's "alter ego" are muy serious, indeed.

NBC's Tim Russert speaks; he's one of the reporters Lewis allegedly blamed for leaking Plame's name. Russert says he was not a recipient of the leak; he did not know Plame's name. Sounds like Libby was playing Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller off each other.

Russert does know he's going to be a witness at Libby's trial, doesn't he? Ditto for Dick Cheney. And -- ye gods -- Judith Miller.

11:46 a.m.
Libby charged one count obstruction, two counts perjury, two counts making false statements. Accused of lying about how and where he got Plame's name. Charges allege Libby lied to FBI agents; committed perjury in two GJ appearances; and engaged in obstruction by impeding GJ investigation.

11:44 a.m.
Five counts against Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury. No charges related to actual leak of Valerie Plame's name.

11:43 a.m.
Libby indicted for false statements, obstruction of justice.

11:40 a.m.
Grand jury has handed up indictments.

11:37 a.m.
CNN's "Situation Room" rocks. Not for Wolf Blitzer, but because we can watch Bob Franken, John King, Candy Crowley and Jeff Greenfield all at once on the big screens. Franken picking up the indictment now.

11:32 a.m.
One more procedural update: Grand jury is not yet in courtroom; still in clerk's office. Fitzgerald & Co. are in courtroom of magistrate.

11:29 a.m.
Bush returns to WH from Andrews.

11:24 a.m.
Fitzgerald's in the magistrate's courtroom. Presentment about to begin.

11:22 a.m.
Dick Cheney is in Georgia, giving a speech on terrorism.

11:19 a.m.
Grand jurors leaving courthouse, MSNBC reports. MSNBC's earlier reporting is off; grand jury going into magistrate's courtroom. Indictment about to be published.

11:15 a.m.
Maybe no public statement from Fitzgerald? So says Andrea Mitchell, now nattering about prosecutor's letter to House Dems.

11:08 a.m.
Notice from special counsel to Dem leaders on House intelligence committee: Patrick Fitzgerald will issue public report on the grand jury investigation. This according to Andrea Mitchell. House Dems had requested such a report. Update: Mitchell says no grand jury testimony to be included in report to Congress.

11 a.m.
Like the climactic scene of a summer blockbuster, all events in Traitorgate dovetail:

•Air Force One lands at Andrews AFB following a speech at Norfolk. It is precisely 11 a.m. Central time -- high noon in D.C. -- and Patrick Fitzgerald is due to release legal documents in the next several minutes. By the time noon strikes in Springfield, this will be a different political world.

•The grand jury files into open court. Extra chairs have been brought in.

•The magistrate is ready to read the indictment.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell says these events will radically and permanently change the landscape for the Bush Administration.

10:45 a.m.
Someone give MSNBC's David Shuster some oxygen before he passes out. Way too excitable right now.

What we do not know is remarkable, given the crush of coverage, especially over the last several weeks. Patrick Fitzgerald does not leak, or if he does, he leaves no fingerprints. Compare this to Ken Starr's office and its "leak of the day" to the media -- you know, the damned liberal media that never slams Democrats.


Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post is reporting that Karl Rove's lawyers presented Fitzgerald with information that "gave the special prosecutor pause." VandeHei also says the Rove portion of this investigation could be over in the next couple weeks, not months.

We're down to the short hairs now, kids.

10:35 a.m.
Ack. CNN is doing one of those "let's look back" timeline pieces -- voiced by Wolf Blitzer. Or, as the anchor might announce, "VOICED by Wolf BLITZER, and YOU'RE IN the Situation ROOM."

Fox reports that Fitzgerald may be walking indictments to the district court as we type.

MSNBC notes that the first page of the indictment (or information) will be read in open court.

The White House spin machine puts out a new line this half-hour: Fitzgerald has taken two years. Why does he need more time? Thing to remember: Judith Miller and Matt Cooper created delays in the case when they refused to testify.

10:15 a.m.
David Shuster, the NBC correspondent, is reporting live from outside the courthouse. His voice is shaking as he reports that at least one indictment will be issued by the grand jury.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has got that honest-boy look. Ozarkers should check the resemblance between Fitzgerald and former state representative (and current top Democrat) Craig Hosmer.

10:10 a.m.
Karl Rove claims he "misspoke" to the grand jury, and anything he didn't tell the grand jury was an innocent mistake and not some type of cover-up. This is according to those pesky sources -- aka, Rove or his lawyer.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby is toast; this seems very certain. Libby is expected to resign his post as chief of staff to the vice president after being indicted or charged in an information. Sources say Libby will be charged with making false statements -- probably not perjury, but the charge is easier to prove and the penalty is the same.

If Libby is the biggest fruit to fall from the tree, will he become an aspen and turn? The White House is furiously spinning the line that no Rove indictment means the Bush Administration is in the clear. You will hear a lot of spin today, but none of it will contain such a high level of equine feces.

10 a.m.
If Dick Cheney ever thought about running for president, those thoughts ended today.

Speaking of Cheney, he and President Bush are giving anti-terror speeches today. Reporters can't remember the last time both men were making similar speeches on the same day. Then again, no one can remember the last time a sitting White House official was indicted.

9:50 a.m., Friday, Oct. 28, 2005
To aid the cubicle-bound, for the next few hours we'll keep a live channel open and update what we see and hear.

This hour's highlights:

•David Gergen raises an ominous issue on CNN -- Bush could be called to testify in a Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial. "That would totally distract the country," Gergen tells Wolf Blitzer.

•Name you need to know is John Eckenrode, FBI special agent in charge of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. He'll appear with Fitzgerald at the 1 p.m. news conference. Media will enter with cameras at 10 a.m. Central.

•Jeff Greenfield, CNN's senior analyst, provides some history to the story, noting the gulf between CIA and defense officials has been present since the 1970s. Vice President Dick Cheney (and his chief, Libby) argued for "sharper intelligence" and didn't trust the CIA. "This is why Scooter Libby is so central to this investigation," Greenfield said.


Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will release documents in the CIA leak probe at 11 a.m. Central. Expect them to be posted on Fitzgerald's web site.

Fitzgerald will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. Central. Now you've got your day planned. And just think, we'll finally be able to hear Fitzgerald's voice.

The allegedly wise men and women of the Washington press corps have come to this consensus:

•Indictment for Lewis "Scooter" Libby casts a bad and long shadow on Vice President Dick Cheney.

•Karl Rove might escape indictment today, but being under "continued investigation" basically freezes the administration. President Bush can't make a speech and get the scandal behind him, so long as his right arm is mired in investigation.

8:45 a.m. update: The "Rove remains under investigation" rumor (tidbit, factoid, leak) indicates that Fitzgerald may still be fishing, and could be trying to flip potential defendants. Also missing from this morning's news flurry is any mention of any other indictments, outside of Libby.

9:05 a.m. update: Fugging Andrea Mitchell, the NBC correspondent, made a jaw-dropping statement just now on MSNBC. She told Chris Matthews that "now we finally know" the roles of Libby and Rove in this scandal. What a steaming pile. Reporters like Mitchell have known what's going on for two years; Mitchell was interviewed in the leak probe. For the past couple years, any number of reporters in Washington could have stood up in a White House briefing and said, "Hey, stop the horsecrap. We know who leaked. They leaked to us." They didn't back then, and now they want to "come clean." Fug 'em.

Urgent update 9:10 a.m. Looks like the 11 a.m. document release will be accompanied by some sort of statement from Fitzgerald's office.

Update 9:40 a.m. David Gergen, wise man of Washington, says even if Rove isn't indicted today, he's a "distraction" to the White House. "This is a very mixed bag for the White House," Gergen told MSNBC. "I don't see where they go with new initiatives to climb out of the hole." Man, if this is the best that Gergen can do for a GOP administration, then things are really very bad inside the White House.

There is also this to consider. The 11 a.m. document dump could well include "information" filed against a defendant or defendants. One indictment could cover several defendants, too. Rove's lawyer announced Friday morning that "no decision" has been made by Fitzgerald on whether to indict Rove. In other words, no new news from the president's right arm.


We're leafing through Bob Edwards' marvelous, slim book about Edward R. Murrow and came across a graf that has the ring of today.

Thursday was the 58th anniversary of Murrow's broadcast about the House Un-American Activities Committee and its bid to root out Communists in Hollywood.

Said Murrow:

"The right of dissent -- or, if you prefer, the right to be wrong -- is surely fundamental to the existence of a democratic society. That's the right that went first in every nation that stumbled down the trail of totalitarianism."

Don't fear the totalitarians.


The New York Times says Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be indicted, but Karl Rove will not.

The Washington Post is more uncertain, reporting that indictments could happen.

ABC, NBC and CNN are all piggybacking with the claim that Rove will be spared an indictment but remain under investigation, while Libby is popped for making false statements.

All of these early reports seem underwhelming, given the week's hype.

Patrick Fitzgerald is due to announce his "direction" in the next half-hour or so (around 8 a.m. Central).

We'll update as it happens.

8 a.m. update Fitzgerald walks into the courthouse, surrounded by a flashing, multi-legged monster also known as a media corps. No comment. Go figure. He's not as rumpled as he usually looks, and he reportedly got a shoeshine on Thursday afternoon. You know there are no leaks; reporters are left to highlight a shoeshine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The swashbuckling Sulu, George Takei, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he's gay.

From The AP:
Takei said his new onstage role as psychologist Martin Dysart in "Equus," helped inspire him to publicly discuss his sexuality.

Takei described the character as a "very contained but turbulently frustrated man." The play opened Wednesday at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Los Angeles, the same day that Frontiers magazine featured a story on Takei's coming out.

The current social and political climate also motivated Takei's disclosure, he said.

"The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," he said. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young."

The 68-year-old actor said he and his partner, Brad Altman, have been together for 18 years.
'Bout time Sulu confirmed the longstanding rumor.


Bob Woodward, also known in journalism circles as The Man, is on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday evening, taking part in a roundtable about Harriet Miers -- and, of course, the Traitorgate scandal.

Woodward surprised everyone on the panel by saying there was a "possibility" that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would announce on Friday that there are no true bills from the grand jury. No likely, Woodward hastened to add -- but then he expressed skepticism that the core of a real crime will be found in the investigation. People in the White House may have gossiped about Joe Wilson and his wife, the CIA employee. But Woodward said the gossip may have inadvertently devolved into unethical behavior.

A crime? Woodward said he doubted that was the case.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff was also on the panel; he said rumors are flying through Washington about every 15 minutes. He asked Woodward about the latest tidbit -- that Woodward had a blockbuster in the works for Friday's Washington Post. Woodward said he wished that was the case. We did, too.


The 21st-century edition of the Scopes Monkey Trial continues in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, things got colorful. The Associated Press reports it this way:
A former school board member who denied advocating that creationism be taught alongside evolution in high-school biology classes changed his story Thursday after lawyers in a federal courtroom played a TV news clip that recorded him making such a comment.

William Buckingham explained the discrepancy by saying that he "misspoke."

Buckingham's testimony came in the fifth week of testimony in a lawsuit filed by eight families who are challenging the Dover Area School District's policy that students hear a statement about intelligent design in biology classes. Critics say intelligent design is a repackaging of the biblical view of creation and thus violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Buckingham, who led the board's curriculum committee when it approved the policy a year ago, confirmed Thursday that he said during a June 2004 board meeting that the biology textbook is "laced with Darwinism." The clip that was shown later in the day came from an interview that he gave to a news crew from WPMT-TV in York later in the month.

"It's OK to teach Darwin," he said in the interview, "but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism."

Asked to explain by a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Buckingham said he felt "ambushed" by the camera crew as he walked across a parking lot to his car and that he had been consciously trying to avoid mentioning creationism.

"I had it in my mind to make sure not to talk about creationism. I had it on my mind. I was like a deer in the headlights. I misspoke," he told U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who is presiding over the non-jury trial.

Earlier in Thursday's court session, Buckingham claimed that he had been misquoted in stories from two newspapers that reported his advocating the teaching of creationism to counterbalance the material on evolution.

"It's just another instance when we would say intelligent design and they would print creationism," he said.

When Stephen Harvey, the plaintiffs' lawyer, noted the similarity of the newspaper reports to what he told the TV crew, Buckingham replied, "That doesn't mean it's accurate."
The trial could go on for another couple weeks; court has been in session since late September.


A follow to our Wednesday posting about some local television stations turning down an anti-Roy Blunt ad created by the Public Campaign Action Fund.

The PCAF ad links Blunt, the southwest Missouri congressman, to Rep. Tom DeLay. PCAF's David Donnelly said KYTV and KSPR -- Springfield's NBC and ABC affiliates, respectively -- "caved in to Blunt's bullying."

But KYTV General Manager Mike Scott said that's baloney. "We were in the process of turning down the ad" when Blunt's legal team called, Scott said Thursday.

The ad was rejected by KYTV, Scott said, because rules governing issue ads are not the same as those covering candidate ads. "Candidate ads can make baseless claims," Scott said, "and they're protected." But a station that airs an issues ad with allegedly specious claims can be held liable for those falsehoods, Scott said.

"Normally, we don't have to deal with these issues until even-numbered years," Scott joked. The campaign seasons, they grow longer with every cycle.

(Candidly, we're only interested in what KYTV has to say about this ad. KSPR may also have rejected the spot, but it's the whole "tree falls in a forest" issue with the ABC affiliate.)

What do you think? Should KYTV have rejected the PCAF ad?


Thursday's urgent/breaking news, now being reported on all the cables.

You know what this means? Bad news from the White House. The best way to bury your mistakes is to slip them into a pile of hurt and hope nobody notices.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Rush Limbaugh, the drug addict and radio host thinks he's stumbled upon an aha! moment in the CIA leak investigation better known as Traitorgate.

Limbaugh on Wednesday made a big show of "proving" that Valerie Plame's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, was the one who "outed" his wife.

The extremely large drug addict said:
The 2003 Iraq Forum, June 14th, 2003, Washington, DC, and it lists -- there's three pages of speakers here, and they're from all over the world, and on the last page, you get to Joe Wilson, under the section "Evening public lecture, a state-of-the-movement address," and it lists the keynote speaker, Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst, and ambassador Joseph Wilson. Now, listen to the bio that accompanies Wilson's picture on the website promoting the 2003 Iraqi forum. Again, this is one full month before Novak's column came out identifying her.

"Joseph C. Wilson IV" blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. "Ambassador Wilson graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in '72. He's been decorated as a commander in the Order of the Equatorial Star by the government of Gabon and as an admiral in the El Paso Navy by the El Paso County commissioners. He is married to former Valerie Plame and has four children."

So he outs his wife's name: Valerie Plame.
Surely Limbaugh isn't so dense as to believe that Valerie Plame's name is the issue. It's her identity as a CIA agent -- someone who performed covert work for the U.S. government -- that's the big deal here.

This is just another Republican talking point -- an addled one, as befits the person who mouthed it -- designed to blur, smudge, smear, conceal and deny the large truth, the one that will wind up as the lede when the grand jury issues indictments: Top officials in the Bush Administration conspired to make public the name of a CIA agent whose husband had angered them.

Punks and hoodlums. That's all they are.


James Guckert -- aka Jeff Gannon, the conservative typist who masqueraded as a member of the White House press corps -- once had sources within the Bush Administration, and he's still erect in his support for the men now running the GOP.

Guckert claims Valerie Plame's secret identity as a CIA agent was anything but. This is the most outrageous of the Republican talking points -- that because people knew Plame was a spook, it was OK to leak her name to the media in an attempt to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson.

Here. Let Guckert spin like a top:
[T]he Washington journalism elites knew all about Wilson and his wife. Let me tell you about Washington, it’s a very small town, a company town. Everyone’s identity inside the Beltway is attached to who it is they work for. By all accounts, Plame has been stateside for the past six years, a disqualifying factor in the “covert” business. In the unlikely circumstance that she had still been classified as a secret agent, her marriage to the flamboyant, self-important, publicity-seeking Wilson and their Washington socializing was what “outed” her, not anyone at the White House.
Guckert's claim is refuted by Plame's neighbors, who told the FBI that they knew Plame as a mom of twins who worked for an energy company. They didn't know she was a spy. But everybody should know that James Guckert is a traitor. He thinks it's OK to out a CIA agent in (as the GOP likes to say) a time of war.


As we recently posted, the ad by the Public Campaign Action Fund links Rep. Roy Blunt to Rep. Tom DeLay.

Now, the Joplin Independent reports that some local television stations are refusing to run the ad. PCAF claims Blunt used lawyers who bullied the local NBC and ABC affiliates into not running the spot. From the story:
“It’s clear that Tom DeLay’s replacement doesn’t want his constituents to see this ad,” said David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “We applaud those stations that have shown their commitment to the facts and the First Amendment by continuing to run this ad, despite Roy Blunt’s attempts to bully it off the air.

“The stations who have caved in to Blunt’s bullying, KYTV, KSPR, KFJX and KOAM, are failing in their role as stewards of the public airwaves, and are complicit in Blunt’s efforts to sweep the facts under the rug,” Donnelly continued, singling out the four stations. “These TV stations are putting their fear of Roy Blunt ahead of their duty to the public.”
Springfield stations KOLR and KDEB are reportedly still going ahead with their ad flights. CHATTER has a call in to KYTV General Manager Mike Scott; we'll let you know what we hear.

Note: Hat tip to John Stone at Curbstone Critic for the heads-up.


The Bush Administration prides itself on being ahead of conventional wisdom; just before last year's election, a senior White House adviser told writer Ron Suskind that he was living in a "reality-based community," laughably far from The Loop. The White House adviser then added:
"That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Karl RoveThe unnamed source wouldn't have gloated had he known that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been living in their "new realities" for quite some time. According to Wednesday's Washington Post:
Two lawyers involved in the case said that, based on Fitzgerald's earlier questions, the prosecutor has been aware of Libby's June 12 conversation with Cheney since the early days of his investigation. The lawyers said Libby recorded in his notes that Cheney relayed to him that Wilson's wife may have had a role in Wilson taking the CIA-sponsored mission to Niger. According to a source familiar with Libby's testimony, Libby told the grand jury he believed he heard of Wilson's wife first from reporters.
All this time, trying to logroll the prosecutor -- and realizing, too late, that he's had two years to study your notes.

Update: Speaking of reality, or the lack thereof, check out this thread on Free Republic, as the GOP faithful predict who will be indicted by Fitzgerald's grand jury. Many Freepers are certain that Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby will emerge unscathed -- but that Judith Miller, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame will be indicted.

Living in a dreamwork doesn't even begin to describe the current Freeper mindset. It's almost as if they believe that Saddam planned Sept. 11 while also acquiring and hiding boatloads of WMD. Wait a minute ...


Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name is almost over. Indictments could come on Wednesday. A roundup of what up:

•Fitzgerald reportedly interviewed mid-level White House officials on Tuesday, while FBI agents did wrap-up interviews with neighbors of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.

•Fitzgerald also paid a visit to Karl Rove's lawyer late Tuesday, at the lawyer's office.

•Fitzgerald is in the courthouse this morning. So is the grand jury.

•Dick Cheney has not had a heart attack, the terror-alert level remains stable and the Rapture hasn't been invoked to stop the coming indictments.

Fitzgerald's official web site can be found here. Check it throughout the day, 'cause it should be updated soon.

11:20 a.m. Update:The cables insist there will be no public announcement today. Indictments could be handed up in sealed fashion. Leaks will probably dribble. Fitzgerald, however, will apparently hold his tongue for one more day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Patrick Fitzgerald is known for his thoroughness. The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday evening affirmed that perception, reporting that the special prosecutor's legmen are doing what appears to be a final round of interviews -- most centering on the question: Was Valerie Plame's CIA identity a secret before it was leaked to the media?

From LAT:
Fitzgerald has returned his attention to White House adviser Karl Rove, interviewing a Rove colleague with detailed questions about contacts that President Bush's close aide had with reporters in the days leading up to the outing of a covert CIA officer.

Fitzgerald has also dispatched FBI agents to comb the CIA agent's residential neighborhood in Washington, asking neighbors again whether they were aware — before her name appeared in a syndicated column — that the agent, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

The questioning, described by lawyers familiar with the case and by the neighbors, occurred as Fitzgerald was thought to be readying indictments in the long-running inquiry into the leak of Plame's identity. It is a felony to knowingly identify an undercover agent, and the renewed questions this week suggested that the prosecutor remained focused on the breach of that secrecy.

The inquiry has reached deep into the White House and focuses on Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

A deputy prosecutor called Rove's colleague this afternoon and interviewed him in depth about statements Rove may have made to reporters about the case, a lawyer familiar with the case said.

"It appeared to me the prosecutor was trying to button up any holes that were remaining," the lawyer said.
Steve Clemons, a plugged-in sorta guy, says over at The Washington Note that his "uber-secret source" predicts:
1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.
Up to five indictments -- we assume that means people, not charges, because each person will likely be charged with multiple counts. Rove, Libby, Hadley, Wurmser -- and Cheney?


Tuesday evening, the White House spun faster than ever, trying to induce mass nausea and make everyone forget that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is about to announce the fruits of his two-year, $1 million investigation into the leaking of a CIA agent's identity.

CBS reported Tuesday that:
Lawyers familiar with the case think Wednesday is when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will make known his decision, and that there will be indictments. Supporters say Rove and the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, are in legal jeopardy. But they insisted today the two are secondary players, that it was an unidentified Mr. X who actually gave the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters. Fitzgerald knows who Mr. X is, they say, and if he isn’t indicted, there’s no way Rove or Libby should be. But charges may not focus on the leak at all. Obstruction of justice or perjury are real possibilities. Did Rove or Libby change statements made under oath? Did they deliberately leave critical facts out of their testimony or did they honestly forget? Some Republicans urged Rove to step down if indicted.
Still time to place your bets before the ponies start to run. Is Larry Franklin the dreaded Mr. X? Or is it Stephen Hadley? Or -- God and Judith Miller forbid -- could it be Ahmed Chalabi? We wouldn't be surprised if any of the three are implicated in this treasonous mess.


Not Iraq, silly. We're talking about the homegrown war on drugs, with the hometown newspaper used to push propaganda.

Tuesday's Springfield News-Leader includes a local-front story by Linda Leicht on a talk given by a former agent of the mythical Drug Enforcement "Agency."

Michael McManus openly acknowledged his mission: get this message to the media:
"When you put the drug wars on the front page, drug use will go down," he told the audience gathered for "Danger in Our Backyard: Meth in the Ozarks," a symposium sponsored by the Females Leaders In Philanthropy.
The story seems to have it all -- horrified college kids from Evangel University; a local good-deeds leader endorsing the former drug man's message -- but it goes too far when it includes quotes from a pair of police officers from Ash Grove, that bustling barrio of evil drug doers:
James Inlow and Chris Hanak, both police officers in Ash Grove, said the reality of drugs, especially meth, in the community is even uglier than that picture.

"Every day I stop people on drugs," said Hanak, describing a recent stop that involved a man who had his young child in the car, as well as used needles.

"Drugs are the root of all evil," added Inlow, who has been in law enforcement for 12 years. The first year on the force he busted one meth lab. "Now it's common to run across several."
Leicht, the person who keyboarded the story, allowed herself a bit of hyperbole with this sentence:
Meth was the focus of the program, but McManus pointed out that there are many drugs young people will encounter, and those who profit from the sale of those drugs are involved in all of them.
The local woman who sells pot to her friends is also peddling heroin, it seems, and the only solution is "more aggressive enforcement, longer jail terms, more drug testing and more money."

Michael McManus also told the gathering, "Drugs is not about people feeling good." Such foolishness from an old drug warrior who should know better. We keep telling kids that drugs don't make people feel good -- that drugs could easily kill them -- and we're dismayed when they experiment, survive and realize that they've been lied to.

Cocaine in the '70s. Crack in the '80s. Meth in the '90s and beyond. The targeted drug changes, but the hype remains the same. And we still love our booze and our fags.


That opinion comes from Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

We told you last week about Wilkerson teeing off on the Bush Administration. Now he's gone and published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that can gently be described as "brutal." Two grafs to whet your appetite:
I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less. More often than not, then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.

Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and "guardians of the turf."
If we weren't on the brink of criminal indictments in the White House, Wilkerson's comments would be on the front page of every major and middling newspaper. They still deserve such prominence.

JUNE 12, 2003

Traitorgate may be started several weeks (or months) before, but the June 12 marker will be significant in the coming court cases.

According to the blockbuster in Tuesday's New York Times, on that day in history:
The Washington Post published a front-page article reporting that the C.I.A. had sent a retired American diplomat to Niger in February 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq had been seeking to buy uranium there. The article did not name the diplomat, who turned out to be Mr. [Joe] Wilson, but it reported that his mission had not corroborated a claim about Iraq's pursuit of nuclear material that the White House had subsequently used in Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.
June 12, 2003, also happens to be the day when Dick Cheney spoke with Lewis "Scooter" Libby and told him where Joe Wilson's wife worked. Within a month, Valerie Plame's identity had been published by the undead columnist Bob Novakula.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Two words: Holy crap.

From The New York Times, the story that will dominate Tuesday's news cycle:
I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers said the notes show that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.
Libby learned that Plame was a spook from Cheney. Holy crap.


Just breaking from Channel 4 in Detroit:
Parks, 92, reportedly died around 7 p.m. Monday at St. John Hospital on Detroit's east side.

Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955 landed her in jail and sparked a bus boycott that is considered the start of the modern civil rights movement. The bus is on display at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn.

Parks, was born on Feb. 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Ala. She lived in Detroit.
A remarkable human whose life changed the lives of many millions more.


Supporters of the Bush Administration on Monday launched more preemptive strikes against expected indictments of top White House officials.

On MSNBC's "Hardball," former Bush-Cheney campaign mouthpiece Terry Holt tried repeatedly to introduce the meme, "People elected the president, not his staff." If staff members got in trouble, Holt said, that was not a reflection on Bush, the elected leader working hard for all Americans. It was almost Clintonian to watch.

Holt also trotted out these lines: Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious crimes. They were seven years ago; they are today. Democrats better not be hypocrites. If Clinton got a free ride, Holt implied, why not the same for Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

Radio talkers like Sean Hannity have already trampled out a vintage whine: Where was the media when the Clintons stole furniture and vandalized the White House? For Hannity, the best defense is being incredibly offensive. It also helps that he's a liar.

For those who care to know:

•Reports that Clinton staffers vandalized the White House? Pure bull, according to the government's General Accounting Office. From the New York Times, this oldie from May 2001:
Accounts that departing Clinton administration officials destroyed office equipment and committed other acts of vandalism in the White House during the presidential transition were significantly overblown, a manager at the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said yesterday.

The General Services Administration found nothing unusual about the condition of White House offices after Clinton officials left, and President Bush's staff said it had no records that indicated damage or subsequent repair work, the accounting office manager said.
Who was responsible for peddling the lies in the first place? Also from the story:
On Jan. 25, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer had declined to detail the nature of any vandalism but criticized such behavior indirectly by asserting that the new administration would lead Americans toward greater civility.
•Air Force One was not vandalized by the Clinton people, despite what you may have heard on Fox. From the Kansas City Star:
Typical was Tony Snow, a syndicated columnist and former presidential speech writer for President Bush's father, who ... also said that Air Force One, after taking Clinton and some aides to New York following the inauguration, "looked as if it had been stripped by a skilled band of thieves -- or perhaps wrecked by a trailer park twister."

He went on to list all manner of missing items, including silverware, porcelain dishes with the presidential seal and even candy.

"It makes one feel grateful that the seats and carpets are bolted down," Snow fumed.

Except none of it happened. An official at Andrews Air Force Base, which maintains the presidential jets, told The Kansas City Star at the height of the controversy that nothing was missing. Bush himself acknowledged the same a few days later.

And now GSA has made it official.

"They told me that there were papers that were not organized lying on the floor and on desks; there were some scratches here and there, but the bottom line was they didn't see anything really in their view that was significant and that would appear to some as real extensive damage," said Bernard Unger, director for physical infrastructure for the General Accounting Office, which asked GSA to look into the allegations."
At least Snow had enough class to 'fess up. "I'm perfectly willing to admit my error on the aircraft," he told the Star, and then moaned: "What often happens in Washington is gossip becomes news. That's not a good thing."

•The Clintons did not accept a bonanza of last-minute gifts before leaving the White House. From Salon, this chestnut from February 2001:
During the nearly month-long controversy surrounding the gifts Bill and Hillary Clinton accepted last year, the political press has established three details as fact and repeated them endlessly.

First, anxious to fill their new private homes, the Clintons received $190,000 worth of gifts in the last year. Second, Hillary pursued this by registering like a bride for gift at Borsheim's Fine Jewelry & Gifts. Third, they moved fast, because once Hillary was sworn in as New York's new senator, she would be barred from accepting gifts worth more than $50.

The first detail showed the Clintons were greedy. The second? That they were tacky. The third, that they were duplicitous, plotting to circumvent Senate ethics laws.

From the perspective of the press, just one of those items would have constituted a good news story. A combination of any two was worth a running commentary. But all three justified a bona fide feeding frenzy.

Problem is, none of them are true. The gifts in question were received over an eight-year period, not one. Hillary was never registered at Borsheim's. And the Senate gift ban would not have forbidden Sen.Clinton from receiving all the generous items.
More baloney from "sources" in the Bush White House.

•Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Marc Rich was a slimy favor to a crook, according to Republican partisans. Well, according to some Republican partisans. Lewis "Scooter" Libby vehemently disagrees. As Rich's lawyer, he argued for a presidential pardon -- until he went to work for the Bush campaign in 2000.

•The Clintons did not take furniture from the White House that didn't belong to them. This one's the biggest load on many anti-Clinton plates. Once more, from Salon:
After assigning three reporters and four researchers, the Washington Post reported on Monday that some of the gifts the Clintons took may have been given to the White House, and not to them personally. The Clintons insist there was a clerical snafu and that any gifts intended for the White House would be returned. By Monday afternoon, the White House's nonpartisan usher and executive manager, Gary Walters, assured CNN the Clintons had not erred in taking their gifts. "Everything that belongs to the government is still here," he said.
But who would you rather believe -- the named White House manager, or the unnamed (and oh-so-mysterious) "administration official"?

The static and noise coming from Bush partisans will increase over the next couple days. If Patrick Fitzgerald convinces a grand jury to hand up indictments, the partisans will yell even louder. Anything to stop comparisons to 1875 and Orville E. Babcock, seemingly the last time a sitting White House official was indicted. Even the Watergate Seven steered clear of the boss before being charged with crimes.


Back in the Bill days, when independent counsel Kenneth Starr investigated a blow job, Clinton hacks bashed the prosecutor as a vile man and a religious zealot. James Carville was especially vicious:
"As with mosquitoes, horseflies, and most bloodsucking parasites, Kenneth Starr was spawned in stagnant water."
Or this Carville gem:
"This man is out of control ... He goes down by the Potomac and listens to hymns, as the cleansing water of the Potomac goes by, and we're going to wash all Sodomites and fornicators out of town."
Move it on up seven years. Patrick Fitzgerald (and sorry, but speaking of sodomy, we have a hard time typing the guy's name without thinking of the juvenile joke about two gay Irishmen) is investigating another sort of White House leak, this one involving the outing of a CIA agent's identity. President Bush's hacks are replicating the Carville model, according to the New York Daily News:
As the White House and Republicans brace for possible indictments in the CIA leak probe, defenders have launched a not-so-subtle campaign against the prosecutor handling the case. "He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things," one White House ally said, referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
Yes, yes, but was he spawned in stagnant water?


Raw Story has been one of a handful of places with the best early news about the CIA leak probe, better known as Traitorgate. On Monday, Raw Story cited sources as laying the blame directly on David Wurmser, formerly a key Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. According to Raw Story:
Wurmser met with Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in June 2003 and told him that Plame set up the Wilson trip. He asserted that it was a boondoggle because she was a CIA agent, the sources said.

Libby then shared the information with Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, the sources said. Wurmser also passed on the same information about Wilson and his CIA to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, they added.

Within a week, Wurmser, on orders from "executives in the office of the vice president," was told to leak her name to a specific group of reporters in an effort to muzzle her husband, Wilson, who had become a thorn in the side of the administration, those close to the inquiry say. It is unclear who Wurmser had spoken with in the media, the sources said, but they confirmed he did speak with reporters at national media outlets about Plame.
Meanwhile, the ultimate site for Traitorgate news -- Jane Hamsher's Fire Dog Lake blog -- notes a most curious development in the case. Citing a UPI report, Hamsher says the special prosecutor's probe appears to be much bigger than anyone expected:
NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.

Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.

This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush's closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair's aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
One more thing before we go. Republicans -- especially the rabid kind -- like to talk about the evil nature of Democrats. All Democrats. Tom DeLay wants a judge off his money laundering case because the judge is a Democrat and has contributed to Democratic candidates for public office. Karl Rove has specialized in excluding Democrats from any substantive public policy discussions. Funny, then, that DeLay's lawyer and Rove's lawyer are both Democrats.


Susan Hom of Springfield announces a major breakthrough in sexuality -- teens are having oral sex.

Not only that, but it's all Bill Clinton's fault.

Ms. Hom's breathtaking news can be found in a letter to the editor of the Springfield News-Leader (first in family living coverage and don't you forget it):
A few thoughts after watching the "Today Show" on Friday, where I learned that more than 50 percent of American 16- to 19-year-olds have had oral sex.

A group interview with several teens revealed that this behavior is considered less intimate than sexual intercourse, that it doesn't really equal having sex and that it doesn't require protection from STDs.

Surprised? Not I.

In 1998, these teens were children watching nightly TV news reports of our president's impeachment. Just as we adults did, over and over they heard him defend himself with: "It depends on what you mean by 'having sex.'" They also saw the rise to near-stardom of the young intern complicit in the Oval Office misbehavior. And although teens should know better than to disregard the risk of STDs — they have had sex education in school, after all — apparently abstinence-based curriculum hasn't quite succeeded in informing them.

So to those who continue to question the abundant evidence that television models have profound influences on young viewers, and to those surprised by reports like the one on "Today" indicating that youth don't know much better even after sex education, I would say this: "Like, duh?!"
When your party's full of crooks and headed south faster than a White House intern, there's only one thing to do: blame Bill Clinton. This week, especially, the Republicans need a diversion.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


11:35 p.m.
Tropical storm force winds now hitting southwest Florida. It's all downhill from here.

9:45 p.m.
Hurricane Wilma is now a Category 3 storm.

8:55 p.m.
Big tornadic activity around Cape Canaveral. Big storm surge expected around the southern tip of Florida proper.

Why the fascination with hurricanes, the most predictable of all natural disasters? Our kidhood in southern California exposed us to the wonder of earthquakes, including an especially memorable one-minute quake that woke up on Feb. 9, 1971. We've seen and covered our share of tornadoes in Missouri.

A hurricane, however, has always seemed like the ideal natural disaster. You've got time to deploy, time to get ready. You can ride out the fury and emerge on the other side with good stories.

Or so we always thought, until Katrina hit New Orleans. Now we're not so cocksure.

MSNBC, by the way, has Omarosa talking about ethics. Nothing more needs to be said.

8:32 p.m.
Wilma is moving at 15 mph across the Gulf. Could wind up being twice that -- about 30 mph -- when it hits Florida, meaning the storm's eye could be in the Atlantic Ocean by noon Monday. Downside: Wilma might not lose a lot of punch over Florida.

Right now the storm looks like it's going a bit south of earlier models. The Keys look especially vulnerable, just south of where Wilma will roar.

An earlier blurb on the storm known as Alpha drew comment from Mr, Curbstone Critic, John Stone, who wondered if Wilma will meet up with Alpha in the Atlantic and destroy Washington, D.C., "as gawd's revenge for electing this miserably corrupt government." Stone shouldn't peddle such nonsense; he knows the Bush Administration has complete control over the secret Weather Machine Device, the only WMD that Bush & Co. can actually locate.

8:23 p.m.
Steve Lyons, the hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, scares us. We cannot squelch this primordial fear. There is something about Lyons' pointing finger, his large head, his obviously big brain. And we don't like his tie. We must change channels.

Anderson Cooper is actually hosting a "special edition of Larry King Live," the obvious inference being that King cannot be awakened from his doctor-mandated coma. Please, God, do not let Anderson Cooper gain any more power at CNN, lest he become his network's Judith Miller.

Damned commercials. Time to hit the World Series; all tied in the fourth inning, 2-2. We're rooting for the Sox because Houston hails from Texas.

8:11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005
Unwilling to devote wall-to-wall time to a thoughtful story -- might we suggest the imminent climax to the Traitorgate scandal? -- the cable networks are nevertheless determined to show their testicular might by deploying all-hands to cover Hurricane Wilma.

The storm is flying through the Gulf, headed for southern Florida. Current models call for it to make landall in Florida as a Category 3.

The Sunday night canned shows have been scuttled for live coverage of the storm. How can a girl resist such a cloying advance? Well, it's pretty easy when the suitors are so repugnant.

MSNBC offers us the unpleasant Joe Scarborough, who at least brings Florida knowledge to the desk (and he is better than Tucker Carlson, the biggest waste of space on cable). We shall continue our boycott of MSNBC -- and now we're certain of it. A flip back to Channel 209 showed the net is running a canned program on gossip and ethics. Pah.

CNN has Anderson Cooper, the little man with an inexplicable talent for making his bosses think he's boffo. We suspect he dyes his hair silver to give him that "mature" presence.

Fox gives us Greta VanSusteren, cute in her ball cap and otherwise absolutely worthless. Former CNN stud Bill Hemmer is flacking for Fox in Naples. Dammit. He ain't Chris Wallace, but his defection to Fox tastes just as bitter. In Fort Myers Beach, Fla., is Fox's Jeff Goldblatt, winner of the "my name sounds like a raspberry" award.

The Weather Channel is, sadly, just the Weather Channel -- boring and cheesy. We don't expect Jim Cantore (live in Key Largo) to excel at WMD coverage. But the weather experts should own the weather story, no?


Growing up in the delightful sunshine of Huntington Park, Calif., we had no trouble identifying members of the various gangs in the neighborhood -- Pirus and Crips, Renegade Slauson and F-13 -- and when rivalries erupted we knew enough to stay the hell out of the way. Better their blood than ours.

The same rule applies today to the nation's most dangerous gang, now awash in crimson.

Members of the gang known as the Project for the New American Century would probably prefer to be called "Centurions" (that whole Roman thing brings out the Flavius in them), but we prefer to call them what they are: Traitors.

The Traitors have been pushing their brand of thuggery since the mid-1990s, when the world was just a little too optimistic and serene for their tastes. In 1998, the Traitors tried to push Clinton into invading Iraq. Failing at that, the gang went one better. It found a blank slate, ran him for president and -- with a little help from the Supreme Court -- rammed the results down America's throat.

The gang made good on its threat to kick Saddam Hussein's ass. Anyone who got in the way got whacked. O'Neill, Clarke, Whitman -- all whacked for disagreeing with the Traitors.

Their arrogance is only now becoming fully known. This week's Newsweek contains a telling anecdote about Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. Seems Libby urged the secretary of state's staff to talk up rumors about a Sept. 11 hijacker meeting with an Iraqi spy in Prague. Libby wanted Colin Powell to include the rumor in Powell's presentation to the United Nations. According to Newsweek:
Powell wanted no part of it. After one long session debating the evidence before the speech, Libby turned to a Powell aide. "Don't worry about any of this," he said, according to someone who was in the room. "We'll get back in what you take out."

They didn't. Powell refused to use the line, but Libby's audacity stunned everyone at the table. "The notion that they've become a gang has some merit," says a longtime colleague of Libby's who requested anonymity to preserve the friendship. "A small group who only talk to each other ... You pay a price for that."
The Traitors may start to pay that price this week, when a grand jury hands up indictments against many of the gang's leaders. But the American people have already paid a greater price for the gang's bloodlust.


For those of you planning your week around pending White House indictments, a hint from Reuters:
Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers involved in case said on Sunday.

Top administration officials are expected to learn from Fitzgerald as early as Monday whether they will face charges as the prosecutor winds up his nearly two-year investigation, the lawyers said.

Fitzgerald could convene the grand jury as early as Tuesday to lay out a final summary of the case and ask for approval of possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury hearing the CIA leak case normally meets on Wednesdays and is scheduled to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.
The story indicates target letters on Monday, summation on Tuesday, true bills on Wednesday, the death of President Bush's second-term agenda thereafter.


Indictments against Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the CIA leak investigation will come this week, or not at all. A grand jury impaneled to hear evidence in the case has a Friday deadline, and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not given any indication that he will ask for an extension.

Officials in the Bush Administration mutter (on background, of course) that the mood inside the White House is somber, dark, brooding -- much like a Nixon meeting, only with more expletive deleteds.

Reality, however, paints a much different picture. Rove and Libby are still on the payroll, and they apparently still have security clearances giving them access to supposedly secure information.

Even if they are not indicted, the men have already admitted to leaking sensitive information to reporters. President Bush can yank their security clearances right now -- if he was serious about securing America's secrets.

Executive Order 12958, issued April 1995 by then-President Clinton, sets the system for "classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information." It remains in effect today, and it's crystal on what to do when administration employees disclose classified information:
Sec. 5.7. Sanctions. (a) If the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office finds that a violation of this order or its implementing directives may have occurred, the Director shall make a report to the head of the agency or to the senior agency official so that corrective steps, if appropriate, may be taken.

(b) Officers and employees of the United States Government, and its contractors, licensees, certificate holders, and grantees shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently:

(1) disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified under this order or predecessor orders;

(2) classify or continue the classification of information in violation of this order or any implementing directive;

(3) create or continue a special access program contrary to the requirements of this order; or

(4) contravene any other provision of this order or its implementing directives.

(c) Sanctions may include reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions in accordance with applicable law and agency regulation.
Rove reportedly admitted to Bush that he was a leaker in the Plame case. Bush could sanction Rove (and Libby, who also holds the title of "assistant to the president") and strip the men of their security clearances. But then who would tell the president what to do next?

Saturday, October 22, 2005


After Sunday's New York Times is digested by the wise ones, Judith Miller will never again work as a reporter for the New York Times.

The public editor of the Times, Byron Calame, has made up his mind: Miller is bad news, and "the problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a reporter."

From Calame's column:
The Times needs to review Ms. Miller's journalistic practices as soon as possible, especially because she disputes some accounts of her conduct that have come to light since the leak investigation began. Since Ms. Miller did the Plame-leak reporting, the paper has made a significant effort to be as upfront as possible with readers about anonymous sources. An update of the rules for the granting of anonymity in The Times's ethics guidelines by Allan M. Siegal, the standards editor, may also be a good idea.
Calame's column is sad reading who love the Times. The U.S. government used Miller to plant propaganda on the front page of the Times. She was a stenographer, not a reporter.


The 22nd named storm of the season sets a record and puts us in uncharted territory. Never before has a season been so active that it's gone through the standard set of names.

From the National Hurricane Center:
8 PM EDT SAT OCT 22 2005






Hope we don't get to Beta, Gamma or Delta.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Thus sayeth John Dean, the Nixon White House insider who spoke of a cancer on the presidency and helped excise the malignancy.

In an essay on FindLaw, Dean says it's "difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security."

Dean continues:
While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.

In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.

In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further. Unless, of course, these folks were foolish enough to give false statements, perjure themselves or suborn perjury, or commit obstruction of justice. If they were so stupid, Patrick Fitzgerald must stay and clean house.
Dean also skewers the New York Times (the paper "should own the story, does not") and says insider tension is "mounting ... This tension was not matched during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation, nor during Iran-Contra."

It feels like Watergate, Dean declares. He also fingers the Four Horsemen of Traitorgate. Read all of it here.


Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the Valerie Plame leak, has set up a website with some documents pertaining to his investigation.

By this time next week there could be plenty of new documents posted. Indictments, for example.

Click here to get to Fitzgerald's official site. And keep it bookmarked. Could soon come in handy.


Next stop: Pinkslip Town. John Solomon of The Associated Press breaks the story:
The New York Times' Judith Miller belatedly gave prosecutors her notes of a key meeting in the CIA leak probe only after being shown White House records of it, and her boss declared Friday she appeared to have misled the newspaper about her role.

In a dramatic e-mail, Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote Times' employees he wished he'd more carefully interviewed Miller and had "missed what should have been significant alarm bells" that she had been the recipient of leaked information about the CIA officer at the heart of the case.

"Judy seems to have misled (Times Washington bureau chief) Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement," Keller wrote in what he described as a lessons-learned e-mail. "This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper."

Keller said he might have been more willing to compromise with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement" with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Miller reportedly tried to hose the special prosecutor by playing cute and not remembering a June meeting with Libby. Only when confronted with Secret Service logs showing a June 23 meeting in the Old Executive Office building did Miller break and acknowledge there "may have been" a meeting.

But -- aha! -- Miller also played another excuse: She had just gotten back from "covering" the Iraq War and "was probably giving Libby an update about her experiences there," The AP reported.

Giving Libby an update. So that's what the kids are calling it these days.