Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Morning copy 10.26.2005

CIA Leak investigation

Whatever may happen today (or Friday) cannot be known by we bloggers. But, this is the environment within which whatever will happen will happen. CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.


Once again, Patrick Fitzgerald uses websites to post important documents and indictments.

All those FBI guys knocking on doors, in the Washington Post:

In a possible sign that Fitzgerald may seek to charge one or more officials with illegally disclosing Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation, FBI agents as recently as Monday night interviewed at least two people in her D.C. neighborhood. The agents were attempting to determine whether the neighbors knew that Plame worked for the CIA before she was unmasked with the help of senior Bush administration officials. Two neighbors said they told the FBI they had been surprised to learn she was a CIA operative.

The FBI interviews suggested the prosecutor wanted to show that Plame's status was covert, and that there was damage from the revelation that she worked at the CIA.


"Lawyers and others involved" tell the New York Times that the special counsel was looking into Karl Rove yesterday. Fitzgerald was in Washington -- where he said he would be for any announcements in this case.

The Los Angeles Times has a blind, but close, quote about these interesting machinations:

"It appeared to me the prosecutor was trying to button up any holes that were remaining," a lawyer familiar with the case said. The lawyer asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing inquiry.


Harriet Miers

David D. Kirkpatrick has a lede sure to raise editor's eyebrows:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 - The drumbeat of doubt from Republican senators over the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers grew louder Tuesday as several lawmakers, including a pivotal conservative on the Judiciary Committee, joined those expressing concerns about her selection.


THAT from the Grey Lady about a SCOTUS nominee? More:

"I am uneasy about where we are," said Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Judiciary Committee who had so far expressed only support for the president's choice. "Some conservative people are concerned. That is pretty obvious."

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, called Republican sentiment toward Ms. Miers's nomination "a question mark."

"There is an awful lot of Republican senators who are saying we are going to wait and see," he said.

Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican in the political middle of his party, said he needed "to get a better feel for her intellectual capacity and judicial philosophy, core competence issues."

"I certainly go into this with concerns," Mr. Coleman said.


The Washington Post on the administration's attempt to boost Miers:

But the fact that presidential aides are considering the unorthodox tactic of having a court nominee speak publicly in advance of a Senate confirmation hearing is a sign of the concern surrounding the appointment, the sources said.


Miers' poll numbers are dropping, Bloomberg reports:

Americans oppose her confirmation by a margin of 43 percent to 42 percent.

Support for Miers has slipped since an earlier survey taken Oct. 13-16 when 44 percent said they favored confirmation and 36 percent opposed it. Both polls were conducted by the Gallup Organization for Cable News Network and USA Today.


The Grey Lady's lede was excessive. That doubt is mostly smart Senators not committing to a nomination that is shaky, at best. But, that doubt can reinforce itself. Miers is also unqualified, and the administration's errors with this nomination have an impact.

While all this is going on, Bush has ceded another Supreme Court term to Sandra Day O'Connor. Thanks, George! You are the Best.President.Ever.


Wal-Mart

The New York Times has an internal memo from the retail giant. The memo discusses ideas for lowering health care costs by hiring younger workers. Less money for 401ks is also mentioned. Wal-Mart closed yesterday at 45.39. Where will it go today?

President Bush gets some good news

The Hill:

For much of 2004 and 2005, Santorum was one of the president’s biggest boosters in the Keystone State, campaigning for him last year and spearheading his Social Security drive this year even as GOP aides were warning him to not to get involved.

No longer.

The senator publicly disagreed with the president’s handling of Social Security reform. Then he took a wait-and-see approach to Harriet Miers, Bush’s Supreme Court nominee.

Santorum, who is facing a tough reelection campaign in a state that has twice voted against Bush, dismisses talk that he’s running against the president.


Syria

The New York Times about U.S., France and Britain in the U.N.:

Under the terms of the resolution, Syria must take into custody and make available to the United Nations investigators officials and others whom they suspect of involvement in the killing. Failure to do so could make Syria liable to economic and diplomatic sanctions, the resolution said.


The torture question

The New York Times editorial:

President Bush's threat to veto the entire military budget over this issue was bizarre enough by itself, considering that the amendment has the support of more than two dozen former military leaders, including Colin Powell. They know that torture doesn't produce reliable intelligence and endangers Americans' lives.

But Mr. Cheney's proposal was even more ludicrous. It would give the president the power to allow government agencies outside the Defense Department (the administration has in mind the C.I.A.) to mistreat and torture prisoners as long as that behavior was part of "counterterrorism operations conducted abroad" and they were not American citizens. That would neatly legalize the illegal prisons the C.I.A. is said to be operating around the world and obviate the need for the torture outsourcing known as extraordinary rendition. It also raises disturbing questions about Iraq, which the Bush administration has falsely labeled a counterterrorism operation.

Mr. McCain was right to reject this absurd proposal. The House should reject it as well.


The tax man

The Hill:

The Hill identified at least eight lawmakers from the 41-member Ways and Means Committee — some 20 percent of the panel — who have been wrongly receiving the homestead exemption and a related tax cap. Those members are Johnson, Shaw, Foley and Doggett, as well as Reps. John Linder (R-Ga.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for writing federal tax laws.

After The Hill contacted the members in September, all but Tanner have changed their status and are paying tax adjustments as far back as 2000, depositing nearly $34,000 in the District’s coffers. A spokesman for Tanner said he too is planning to take steps to eliminate the credit.

A cursory review of the rest of the House’s tax records suggested that dozens of other lawmakers also could be receiving the tax break.


SCO

This is a very important story. The Christian Science Monitor reports on Russian and Chinese efforts to curtail U.S. influence in Asia. Excerpt:

An SCO summit last June demanded that the US set a timetable to remove the bases it put in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan with Moscow's acquiescence in the wake of 9/11. In July, Uzbek leader Islam Karimov ordered the US base at Karshi-Khanabad to evacuate by year's end.

But two recent visits to Kyrgyzstan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appear to have secured the US lease on that country's Manas airbase indefinitely - albeit with a sharp rent increase.

"There is nothing to cheer about," says Mr. Cohen. "Washington has signaled to the Russians that we won't be seeking any new bases in Central Asia. Basically, we are doing nothing to counter the moves against us."

In joint maneuvers last August, Russian strategic bombers, submarines, and paratroopers staged a mock invasion of a "destabilized" far eastern region with Chinese troops. This month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov proposed holding the first Indian-Chinese-Russian war games under SCO sponsorship. "In principle, this is possible," he said. "The SCO was formed as an organization to deal with security issues."

Should states like India and Iran join, the SCO's sway could spread into South Asia and the Middle East. "India sees observer status [in the SCO] as a steppingstone to full membership," says a Moscow-based Indian diplomat who asked not to be named. But he added that India, which has recently improved its relations with the US, does not want to send an anti-US message. "We would hope the Americans would understand our desire to be inside the SCO, rather than outside," he says.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Hmm. I am still standing firm in that this "CIA leak" will be blown over before Christmas (but then again I'm just a hopeful Republican).

It's a big security leak, sure, but what's more damaging - that, or a presidential cum stain?

1:57 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Depends... how nice/expensive is the dress?

2:01 PM  

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