Thursday, November 17, 2005

Morning copy 11.17.2005

Bob Woodward, Deep Throat Jr., Plame and Fitzgerald

The Washington Times goes completely overboard with its editorial: "Withdraw the Libby indictment". It took me about six seconds to compile the following, so any junior copy editor charged with glorified MS Word spell checking should have raised concern.

First, the Times' argument that Libby may be exonerated:

However, given Mr. Woodward's account, which came to light after the Libby indictment was announced, that he met with Mr. Libby in his office -- armed with the list of questions, which explicitly referenced "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife" and may have shared this information during the interview -- it is entirely possible that Mr. Libby may have indeed heard about Mrs. Plame's employment from a reporter.

And that is based on the following (from the Times' introduction):

Bob Woodward's just-released statement, suggesting that on June 27, 2003, he may have been the reporter who told Scooter Libby about Joseph Wilson's wife, blew a gigantic hole in Patrick Fitzgerald's recently unveiled indictment of the vice president's former chief of staff.

This derives from Woodward's statement released yesterday:

I also testified that I had a conversation with a third person on June 23, 2003. The person was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and we talked on the phone. I told him I was sending to him an 18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney. On page 5 of that list there was a question about "yellowcake" and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's weapons programs. I testified that I believed I had both the 18-page question list and the question list from the June 20 interview with the phrase "Joe Wilson's wife" on my desk during this discussion. I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation.

But the indictment clearly shows that Libby was in hot pursuit of Joe Wilson before he ever talked with Woodward:

5. On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names “Wilson” and “Joe Wilson” on the documents.

6. On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson’s wife was involved in the planning of his trip.

The editorial page of the Washington Times derives its entire argument from an anachronism.

More reasonable analysis is that this could be a potential help in raising reasonable doubt: Libby was busy, look at all these meetings. Look at all these Big Names testifying. On and On. What I care to see is on-the-record expert thinking.

Mark Memmott of the USA Today provides just that:

"The talking point I would use would be that (Fitzgerald) had two years to investigate, he brings an indictment and he doesn't know one of the underlying facts," said Aitan Goelman, an attorney at the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder and a former assistant U.S. attorney.

And in cross examination, Fitzgerald would ask when Woodward told his boss at the Post this fact. Woodward would say autumn 2005. A lot of people were in the dark.

Carol D. Leonnig and "Diamond" Jim VandeHei are BURIED on page A15 of the Washington Post this morning. Side bar:

1. This is out in the open, so the Post is not burying this to help Woodward
2. Maybe it's just not that big of a deal?

From their story:

While neither statement appears to factually change Fitzgerald's contention that Libby lied and impeded the leak investigation, the Libby legal team plans to use Woodward's testimony to try to show that Libby was not obsessed with unmasking Plame and to raise questions about the prosecutor's full understanding of events. Until now, few outside of Libby's legal team have challenged the facts and chronology of Fitzgerald's case.

"I think it's a considerable boost to the defendant's case," said John Moustakas, a former federal prosecutor who has no role in the case. "It casts doubt about whether Fitzgerald knew everything as he charged someone with very serious offenses." Other legal experts agreed.

Doesn't a prosecutor pressing "obstruction of justice" admit to not knowing everything? There are many potential reasons for Libby not telling Woodward about this.

Is it interesting that now The Bob Woodward is involved? Yes.

Does it undermine Patrick Fitzgerald's case? At this point, no.

Leonnig and VandeHei also offer:

Randall D. Eliason, former head of the public corruption unit for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District,said he doubts the Woodward account would have much effect on Libby's case, and dismissed such theories as "defense spin."

Defense spin may be a kind characterization. Keith Olbermann shows an important manipulation of Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference by the defense team. (I'm sure Fitzgerald is really fond of them now.):

Wells issued a statement at midday, the key passage of which concludes that Woodward’s "disclosure shows that Mr. Fitzgerald’s statement at his press conference of October 28, 2005 that Mr. Libby was the first government official to tell a reporter about Mr. Wilson’s wife was totally inaccurate."

But Fitzgerald never said that.

The transcript of Fitzgerald’s news conference is not disputed — nobody from his office has called up trying to get it altered after the fact. On October 28, Fitzgerald actually said: "Mr. Libby was the first government official known to have told a reporter" about Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife.

Todd Purdum in the New York Times puts together a good, balanced lede. This could (1.) prolong the investigation, (2.) help Libby and (3.) then there is this:

A senior administration official said that neither President Bush himself, nor his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., nor his counselor, Dan Bartlett, was Mr. Woodward's source. So did spokesmen for former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; the former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet; and his deputy, John E. McLaughlin.

A lawyer for Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff who has acknowledged conversations with reporters about the case and remains under investigation, said Mr. Rove was not Mr. Woodward's source.

Mr. Cheney did not join the parade of denials. A spokeswoman said he would have no comment on a continuing investigation. Several other officials could not be reached for comment.

For a story on Bob Woodward's unique relationship with the Washington Post, see the New York Times.

The war in Iraq

The myth of foreign fighters

More analysis shows that the insurgency in Iraq is homegrown. At first I wondered why this Washington Post story would find itself on page A01, after all expert opinion is that foreign fighters constitute about 5 - 10 percent of Iraqi insurgents, but this stark paragraph grabs attention:

When the air and ground operation wound down in mid-September, nearly 200 insurgents had been killed and close to 1,000 detained, the military said at the time. But interrogations and other analyses carried out in recent weeks showed that none of those captured was from outside Iraq. According to McMaster's staff, the 3rd Armored Cavalry last detained a foreign fighter in June.

Bill Clinton comes out swinging

Recent sharp criticism about the war from the former president is a result of Clinton's anger with the Bush camp, sources tell the NY Daily News:

Clinton has criticized the war before, but knowledgable sources said he is miffed the Bushies are using his old comments from 1998 about what a threat Saddam Hussein was.


Longtime Clinton loyalists said the GOP had picked the fight with Clinton and acknowledged it was an odd way to thank the 42nd President after he agreed to Bush's request to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims.

"Every time [Bush] asked for something, he says, 'Yes,'" a former Clinton aide said.

Iraq and torture

Edward Wong and John Burns in the New York Times have a story on Sunni - Shiite tension increasing after an Iraqi torture chamber was discovered:

The prison was in the basement of a bomb shelter built by Saddam Hussein's government and converted into a major operations center for the Interior Ministry after the American invasion. Several Iraqi officials said the policemen working there belonged to a powerful Iranian-trained Shiite militia called the Badr Organization.

For many Sunni Arabs, the uncovering of the prison and the ensuing investigation have lent support to the widespread rumors that Shiite policemen and soldiers have been abducting Sunni Arabs and torturing or killing them.

Dan Murphy with the Christian Science Monitor says a dark chapter may just have begun:

The revelation of torture of detainees at a secret interrogation center in Baghdad is likely to prove the tip of the iceberg if investigations are widened to look at the overall practices of Iraq's security services, human rights advocates and some Iraqi politicians say.

The Washington Times story on the Iraqi torture dungeon is an AP version headlined: "Baghdad denies all tortured inmates were Sunni".

Iraq, the Senate, patriotism and the White House

If you want a picture worth 1000 (or more) words about the Senate's recent votes on Iraq, check out what Matson drew for Roll Call.

The Washington Post portrays Bush and Cheney circling the wagons:

Bush added his voice hours later during a news conference Thursday afternoon in South Korea, where he is meeting with Asian leaders. Asked if he agreed with the vice president or with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) who said this week that it was patriotic to question the government during a war, Bush's face tightened and he answered sharply, "The vice president."

November's toll

A sad month is developing in Iraq. Five Marines and one soldier died in Iraq on Wednesday, bringing the November toll to at least 51, AP/Chicago Tribune.

Samuel Alito (inching toward 'Scalito')

A bipartisan group of Senators [Republicans Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and John Cornyn (Tex.) and Democrat Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.)] in the Washington Post:

Alito's comments on abortion, affirmative action and other issues in a 1985 memo went beyond personal musings, these senators said, and instead were stated as clear-cut legal opinions. One of those opinions was that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

The Washington Times states that Dems do not consider Alito a "sure thing":

"Even at this early stage, I have a number of significant concerns," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday.

In the Washington Post, Rep. Thomas Davis (R, Va.) finds himself once again in the center of the political spectrum:

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, said the desire of GOP conservatives to see a newly constituted Supreme Court eventually overturn Roe v. Wade could produce a political backlash, particularly in the suburbs. "It would be a sea change in suburban voting patterns," Davis said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The Boston Globe also on Tom Davis.

The U.S. and torture

The Boston Globe has a riveting read if you like Congressional tactics. House Dems are trying to get a vote on the McCain anti-torture amendment into their version of the defense bill. White House loyalists in the GOP appear to be stalling the measure. If it comes to a vote, it is likely to pass. Then:

If that happens, Bush would be in the awkward position of using his first veto to kill a popular measure banning torture even as his own popularity is at an all-time low. More than 90 senators voted for it, and a recent ABC News/ Washington Post opinion poll indicated that a majority of the public surveyed said they disapprove of torturing enemy combatants and terror detainees, even though they think the government is doing it anyway.

Legal status of detainees

Former military brass and human-rights activists have found common cause against the so-called Graham amendment, reports The Hill (gotta' read the whole story):

A day before the amendment was introduced, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also received a letter from the National Institute of Military Justice strongly opposing Graham’s amendment.

“The proposed amendment would sanction unreviewable executive detention that cannot be harmonized with the nation’s longstanding adherence to the rule of law,” wrote Eugene Fidell, the institute’s president.

Bob Novak provides a good summary, even if you don't agree with his politics or his conclusion:

The Senate's action this week keeps non-citizen aliens from using habeas corpus, invoked throughout the country's history to protect citizens from illegal imprisonment.

''Never in the history of the law of armed conflict,'' Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Senate Monday, ''has a military prisoner, an enemy combatant, been granted access to any court system, federal or otherwise, to have a federal judge come in and start running the prison.'' Graham's proposal for the third time in American history would suspend habeas corpus, following Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Remarkably, 44 senators voted Tuesday to permit legal harassment by enemy combatants.

Patriot Act v. 2.0

The Washington Post on the tentative agreement reached yesterday:

The deal would make permanent 14 Patriot Act provisions that were set to expire at the end of the year. Three other measures -- including one allowing law enforcement agents access to bookstore and public library records -- would be extended for seven years, or three years longer than the Senate had agreed to. The House initially extended the provisions for 10 years but later voted to accept the Senate's four-year extension.

The New York Times calls this a victory for Bush.

A Bridge Too Far

The New York Times on fiscal restraint and pork-busting:

Straining to show new dedication to lower spending, House and Senate negotiators took the rare step of eliminating a requirement that $442 million be spent to build the two bridges, spans that became cemented in the national consciousness as "bridges to nowhere" because of the remote territory and small populations involved.

Boy, will Don Young be PISSED. The Hill:

An enraged Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) confronted Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) last week, excoriating them for lampooning his notorious “Bridge to Nowhere” as a multibillion-dollar boondoggle.

George Will will be HAPPY (not happy enough though). Washington Post:

Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government waxes, with per-household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II. Federal spending -- including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 -- has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Bill Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

Can I offer a theory? If one party has too much power, it will cost the tax payers money.

The Washington Times on whether there will be a $50 billion cut in spending:

A band of more liberal House Republicans has opposed cuts to Medicaid, student loans and other programs, and persuaded leaders last week to strip a provision to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

The tension stems from a disagreement about what it takes to keep the Republican majority after elections next year.

Katrina's impact

Today's Houston Chronicle has this alarming report:

Now, for the first time, statistics have become available showing the labor market for evacuees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which surveyed 60,000 households nationwide, suggests that, for all Katrina evacuees who haven't returned home, 33.4 percent who are seeking jobs have yet to find them.

Georgia and the poll tax

The Washington Post:

A team of Justice Department lawyers and analysts who reviewed a Georgia voter-identification law recommended rejecting it because it was likely to discriminate against black voters, but they were overruled the next day by higher-ranking officials at Justice, according to department documents.

"Latest partisan spat"

The Los Angeles Times' account on the Dems trying to recall oil execs:

The latest partisan spat was sparked by Wednesday's Washington Post report that officials from several large oil firms met with Cheney's task force in 2001 while it was drafting the Bush administration's energy policy.

The five chief executives who testified at last week's Senate hearing said that their companies had not met with the task force or that they were unaware of any such meetings.

PFIAB reports on why an intelligence advisory board, with an oversight role and access to intel., would be peopled with oil barons:

For Bush, it appears that campaign cash counts far more than expertise. And few backers have given Bush's campaigns more cash than Ray Hunt, son of the legendary Dallas billionaire bigamist oilman H.L. Hunt. PFIAB membership is a plum position for Hunt, who raised about $100,000 for Bush during the 2000 campaign and also served as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Hunt's position at PFIAB may benefit a familiar entity in the Bush crony network: Halliburton, which is doing billions of dollars' worth of reconstruction and logistics work for the U.S. government in Iraq and on the Gulf Coast. Hunt sits on Halliburton's board of directors. He got his spot on the Halliburton board in 1998 while Dick Cheney was running the company. As soon as Hunt got on the Halliburton board, he was put on its compensation committee, where he helped determine Cheney's pay. Indeed, in 1998, Hunt's committee decided that Cheney deserved a bonus of $1.1 million and restricted stock awards of $1.5 million on top of his regular salary of $1.18 million.


The Dems finally have some (emphasis on some) good news on fundraising. From Bloomberg News:

The Democrats' House of Representatives campaign committee raised more money in September than its Republican counterpart, the first month this year that's happened, Federal Election Commission figures show.


There is a lot of news today, so I am forced to lump some stories together.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's trip to China in SF Gate:

But if California's former movie action hero-turned governor is in China on a weeklong mission to sell the Golden State, it is clear that in the grand tradition of Hollywood, he'll do it by pitching a time-tested product: himself.

Indeed, the trip has revived the "Terminator." Though Schwarzenegger hasn't appeared as his memorable movie character for years, the trip has made it seem as if the Terminator is more active than ever.

The Christian Science Monitor has a story on China's new model army:

In a surprisingly short time, China has accomplished two feats. One, it has focused its energy and wealth on creating an army within an army. It has devoted huge amounts of capital to create a small high-tech army within its old 2.2 million-member rifle and shoe-leather force.

The specialty of this modern force, about 15 percent of the PLA, is to conduct lightning attacks on smaller foes, using an all-out missile attack designed to paralyze, and a modern sea and air attack coordinated by high-tech communications. In other words, this new modern force is designed to attack Taiwan.

Wow, I just used "new model army".

Bush and S. Korea's Roh take a hard line on N. Korea's nukes, USA Today.

"30 Something"

The Boston Globe on late, late night CSPAN. And the obvious question, why?:

This lonely conclave represents the latest attempt by Democrats to inspire young voters. It was the brainchild of the party's ''30 Something" Working Group after noticing that liberal bloggers had joined the insomniacs and scattered political junkies watching late-night speeches in the House.

So Ryan takes the floor alongside two 39-year-old representatives from Florida -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick B. Meek -- and 64-year-old Representative William Delahunt of Quincy, called ''Uncle Bill" by his younger colleagues.


Blogger Ezzie said...

Woah. Waaaay too long... Eliminate some of the spaces when you quote things, it creates gaps. Makes it feel longer than it is.

Quick note on Clinton: Notice he himself has said nothing of the sort, and none of these people (to my knowledge) actually are involved with him on a regular basis - they are likely nothing more than partisan hacks trying to get at Bush.

2:43 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Hahaha. If I wake up at 4 a.m., then the blogosphere must suffer these long posts.

As for Clinton, it was the NY Daily News without DeFrank. Those sources may or may not be speaking for him -- hard to tell. That was the only paper with this story though. But, the paper is anti Dubya and a tabloid.

3:20 PM  

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