Saturday, October 22


Great, entertaining profile of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

"He's got this big old pair of brass balls, and you can just hear 'em clanking when he walks down the halls of Congress," says Paul Begala, who served with Emanuel on Clinton's staff. "The Democratic Party is full of Rhodes scholars -- Rahm is a road warrior. He's just what the Democrats need to fight back."

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For what it's worth, I AM third born.

You Are Likely a Third Born

At your darkest moments, you feel vulnerable.
At work and school, you do best when you're comparing things.
When you love someone, you tend to like to please them.

In friendship, you are loyal to one person.
Your ideal careers are: sales, police officer, newspaper reporter, inventor, poet, and animal trainer.
You will leave your mark on the world with inventions, poetry, and inspiration.


Judy Miller, Armstrong Williams -- What's the diff?

Miller did things a journalist should never do. She shilled for a White House disinformation campaign that was promoting an invasion of Iraq, accepted control from the Pentagon, and deceptively misidentified her sources. Yet she hasn’t been fired by her official employer, the NY Times. Was Times senior management in on the game?
As the Plamegate scandal grows, it now appears that Judy Miller’s role was something akin to that of Armstrong Williams, the “journalist” who was hired by the White House and Department of Education to write articles selling the administration’s No Child Left Behind school “reform” scam.

Miller’s job, it appears, was to use her journalistic role to peddle a war in Iraq. Miller may not have gotten dirty dollars the way Williams did, but she didn’t need that. She was paid differently. With a book out on Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, the more she was out there pushing the WMD scare story, the more books she sold. Then too, there was the notoriety she gained by being known as the N.Y. Times expert on WMD. At the heart of the story, Miller was a sought-after guest on news networks like CNN and Fox.

Of course, there is one big difference between Williams and Miller. William's shilling for the White House just helped to damage the education of millions of kids. Miller's shilling helped lead to the slaughter of 100,000 Iraqis, many of them children, and to the needless deaths of some 2000 American soldiers.

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Dubya likes to staff public office with individuals who aren't familiar with or are willing to disregard the U.S. Constitution. Include Condi Rice among their number.

The Bush administration seems to believe that the President has the power to make war on anybody it chooses without even having to consult with Congress. Senator Chafee observed to Secretary Rice, "Under the Iraq war resolution, we restricted any military action to Iraq." Then he asked, "So would you agree that if anything were to occur on Syrian or Iranian soil, you would have to return to Congress to get that authorization?" Rice's reply? "Senator, I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers. And I think you'll understand fully that the President retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq."

The provisions of the Constitution that limit the power of the President to make war are wisely designed to protect the people of our country from just the kind of dubious war that the Bush administration conducted against Iraq - and that the great majority of Americans now believe was a mistake. Similarly the restrictions on aggressive war in the UN Charter protect not only countries that might be attacked, but also the people of countries whose leaders may be tempted to conduct such attacks. Nothing could do more for American's national security today than a reinvigoration of these constraints on military adventurism.

While we are debating how to extricate ourselves from our quagmire in Iraq, the Congress and the American people need to make one thing perfectly clear: Attack on Iran, Syria, or any other country without the explicit endorsement of the US Congress and the UN is not an "option" for the President.

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MSNBC's David Shuster reports on Hardball that associates of Ahmed Chalabi were responsible for the forged Niger documents. The Fitzgerald investigation into Plamegate, Shuster reports, has opened wider to include the use (or misuse) of faulty pre-war intelligence to sell the Iraq War.

Watch the video -- it's a blockbuster:

QT movie.


It's becoming increasingly clear to me that the administration's war on Joe Wilson was prompted not by his publicly exposing the lies behind the "mushroom cloud" threat that they insisted was posed by Iraq, but by the very fact that he COULD expose them. These guys are thugs, and like any thug they were out to make sure all the loose ends were tied up. Luckily, they're too finicky (I won't say moral) to actually commit MURDER to do so...especially since character assassination has worked so well for them as an alternative tactic, hm?

First reported by

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Michigan Senator Carl Levin thinks the U.S. should use its continued military presence in Iraq as leverage to unite Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish and Arab factions.

Levin says that the one thing all the factions agree upon is that they want the U.S. military to remain (at least for now). Therefore, we should use that consensus, saying that if they don't move toward political compromise and greater unity by a defined deadline, we will begin to withdraw.

Although Levin criticized Bush for extending what he called an "open, unlimited, unconditional commitment" to Iraqis, he stopped well short of demanding an immediate pullout as advocated by antiwar groups.

As such, Levin's remarks were viewed by some analysts as an attempt by the Democrats to stake out a middle ground on the Iraq issue — opposed to the administration, yet still distanced from the antiwar movement.

These kinds of maneuvers may be perceived as politically adept by some in the Democratic Party, but continued U.S. involvement in Iraq is, in my opinion, detrimental to U.S. security interests, to our nation's soul, its character and ideals, to the well-being (mental and emotional as well as physical) of our military personnel, and to our economy. The only way I could support Levin's proposal is to tell the Iraqi factional politicians that the deadline for such cooperation is six months from now. If they haven't forged a workable solution by then, we'll begin to withdraw and cede the training of Iraqi forces to the United Nations.

We should have done that ages ago.

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Tim Rutten of the L.A. Times:

Miller, the reporter, represents something far more persistent and pernicious in American journalism. She's virtually an exemplar of an all-too-common variety of Washington reporter: ambitious, self-interested, unscrupulous and intoxicated by proximity to power.

The truth can be painful.

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This is a priceless article on Harriet Miers' successful attempt to circumvent the U.S. Constitution so that Dick Cheney could be elected Vice President. From the Palm Beach, Florida, Post:

Virtual residence may have been good enough for Ms. Miers and Judge Fitzwater, but it isn't what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. They wrote the same-state rule because they thought it would be bad for the nation if the executive branch were the exclusive preserve of Virginia plantation owners or Massachusetts merchants. Or Texas oilmen.

Ms. Miers' huge victory wasn't the only odd thing that happened to the Constitution in 2000, of course. But the good side is that if Jeb Bush calls me to be his running mate in 2008, there will be no problem. I can simply form the intent to live in New Jersey. Thanks partly to Ms. Miers, there is a precedent.

UPDATE: Just came across this choice nugget via Xpatriated Texan:

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

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

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House Republicans are trying to kill the public financing of presidential elections by sneaking it into a bill for reconstruction of the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

It takes gall to use Hurricane Katrina as cover to undermine the democratic process, but that's what conservative ideologues are attempting in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among their budget-cutting proposals - being sold as "tough choices" for America to pay for the Gulf Coast recovery - is a startling plan to kill public financing in the presidential election system.

That program, financed by $3 checkoffs volunteered by taxpayers on their returns, has been a bulwark of presidential elections. It was enacted about 30 years ago, after the Watergate scandal exposed the big-money bagmen corrupting the heart of the political process. It makes politics more competitive for underdogs, more involving for the public and less reliant on floods of special-interest campaign money.

This is a cynical, but typical, attempt by the Rethugs to kill a program they have long opposed, without public debate or hearings. As the League of Women Voters puts it:

At a time when the American people are deeply concerned about growing issues of corruption and ethics abuses in Congress, it would be the height of irresponsibility to terminate one of the nation’s most important programs to protect our democracy against corruption and the appearance of corruption.

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Shorter Karen Hughes: "I said it every day on the campaign trail and the American press was content to let me get away with it, so who are you guys to challenge me?"

"The consensus of the world intelligence community was that Saddam was a very dangerous threat," she said. "After all, he used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people using poison gas."

Hours later, Hughes was asked twice for the basis for her numbers during a meeting with journalists from foreign news organizations.

"It's something that our U.S. government has said a number of times in the past. It's information that was used very widely after his attack on the Kurds. I believe it was close to 300,000," Hughes said when questioned the first time. She added, "That's something I said every day in the course of the campaign. That's information that we talked about a great deal in America."

...By late in the day, Hughes's aide, Gordon D. Johndroe, offered a correction.

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Friday, October 21


Iraq realities vs. BushCo spin.


Too little too late.

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.


I had several weird moments while filming in the Washington, D.C. area his past week. I was on the roof of a building in Bethesda, Maryland, where I got a terrific shot of a huge to-be-unnamed-governmental-complex that my company built, when I realized that we also had a great vista of the Bethesda Medical Center. I flashed upon how many of our wounded fighting men and women have been processed through it. My assistant, a Republican, asked, "Is that where the presidents go for their physicals?"

We were filming another of our company's building projects, this one in downtown D.C., when I realized that directly across the street was the Homeland Security building. It was virtually empty at 4:00 p.m. That made a huge statement to me, confirming recent media exposure about the department's practices.

As the film crew and I headed back to Dulles for the return home to Dallas, my Director of Photography (a Republican who was driving the SUV I was in) invited my assistant's thanks for his sacrificially and deliberately routing us past all the major downtown D.C. sights (she'd never been to the District before). She responded by saying that she wasn't that thrilled, indicating that our group's political discussion two days before had fallen on deaf ears since she figured all politicians are crooks and therefore she wasn't interested in our nation's capitol. "I never got past the U.S. history class required in my senior year in high school," she said. "When you talk about a 'sense of history,' I just don't have it. I don't see the point."

I thought about that for a minute, and then contributed, "For me, it's never been about the 'politicians.' It's been more like an advanced civics class. It's about me, and people like me. It's advanced citizenship. I hear all the time about the patriotism of Republicans and how we liberals hate America. But here I am, visiting D.C. for about the twentieth time, and I still get a thrill out of seeing the center of our nation's governmental activity. You Republicans are blase. I still have pride and faith in our institutions. You guys are cynical. I find that interesting."

And those, I think, are not uncommon attitudes among U.S. voters.

Wednesday, October 19


Greetings from Washington, D.C., where the traffic makes me wonder why anyone would live in this city if they didn't have to.

An interesting revelation today from the brother (I'll call him Jack) of a very well connected Republican operative (let's name him Joe) who's served three presidents: "Bush has lost me." Jack, a well-known Texas personality and also a loyal Republican, added, "He lost me not long ago, but my brother? Unbelievable." Joe assisted with the writing of the Iraqi constitution, has been chief of staff for state and national Republican organizations, and has backed Dubya, whom he has advised for years and counts as a friend, through thick and thin. The final straw? Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers (whom the brothers have known for 30 years) to a seat on the Supreme Court. According to my source Jack, there are two issues that the brothers and many of their fellow travelers cannot stomach: her lack of qualifications for the SCOTUS and the injection of religious faith into the debate.

I asked Jack if Joe had indicated whether or not Bush had been isolated from his advisors regarding the selection of Miers. No, he replied, Joe said he and others had told Bush not to do it, that it was a mistake, and Dubya had more or less shrugged and said he was going to do it anyway. That attitude has not set well with many of his influential supporters. Karl Rove, he said, is completely absorbed by his problems with Plamegate, and his deft political touch and management abilities are sorely missed.

Jack suggested that it might finally be the right time for a third party, one that could be supported by moderates who are fiscal conservatives but progressive on social issues. Such people, he said, are fiercely opposed to "movement conservatives" and the religious right, which would roll back American society to a fantasy 1950's like that depicted in the movie Pleasantville and destroy the doctrine of separation of church and state.

"Right now I'd vote for Bill Clinton if he could run again," Jack pronounced, "but there's not another Democrat I can think of that I'd back."

Monday, October 17


In case you forgot:

Plame was in charge of a CIA-controlled company, Brewster Jennings, which was working to stop the spread of "non-conventional weapons" (read: WMDs). When Bob Novak blew Plame's cover, he indirectly but immediately exposed her company — and its employees — and their international network of contacts, sources and surrogates. One can only wonder how many people are dead already because someone in the White House wanted to get even with Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, for debunking the Bush Administration's claim that Saddam Hussein was trying to get uranium "yellowcake" from Niger. One is left to wonder whether the absence of Brewster Jennings has allowed violence-minded parties to get their hands on massively lethal materials. And right wing apologists wonder why the sane refer to the exposure of Plame as an act of treason.

More here:

However, it was not long before stories from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's principal founders.

According to additional sources interviewed by Wayne Madsen, Brewster Jennings was, in fact, a well-established CIA proprietary company, linked for many years to ARAMCO. The demise of Brewster Jennings was also guaranteed the moment Plame was outed.

It takes years for Non-Official Covers or NOCs, as they are known, to become really effective. Over time, they become gradually more trusted; they work their way into deeper information access from more sensitive sources. NOCs are generally regarded in the community as among the best and most valuable of all CIA operations officers and the agency goes to great lengths to protect them in what are frequently very risky missions.

By definition, Valerie Plame was an NOC. Yet unlike all other NOCs who fear exposure and torture or death from hostile governments and individual targets who have been judged threats to the United States, she got done in by her own President, whom we also judge to be a domestic enemy of the United States.

Moreover, as we will see below, Valerie Plame may have been one of the most important NOCs the CIA had in the current climate.
Sensitive CIA operations that were compromised by the leak included companies, government officials, and individuals associated with the nuclear smuggling network of Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. In addition, the identities of U.S. national and foreign agents working within the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, North Korea's nuclear laboratory in Yongbyon, Pakistan's Kahuta uranium enrichment plant, banks and export companies in Dubai, Islamabad, Moscow, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, and Kiev, and Kuala Lumpur, and government agencies in Libya, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Iran were severely compromised. The CIA has reportedly given Fitzgerald highly classified details on the damage done to the CIA's WMD tracking network.

Sunday, October 16


Kevin Drum postulates an intriguing, and somewhat convincing, answer to the question, "Who told Judy and Novak about Valerie Plame (not Wilson)?"


While I respect Mark Kleiman's opinion on the motive behind the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, I have a different take on the affair. Here's Mark's:

A reader points out that my preference for the Keystone Kops theory instantiates Hanlon's Law: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Actually, when dealing with Rove & Co. any explanation involving malice starts with surface plausibility, and any explanation involving a political misake (as oppposed to a policy mistake) starts trading at a discount In this case, though, the particularly unpatriotic form of malice that would have had to be involved is hard to believe, so stupidity looks to me like the better bet.

Here's mine:

Yes, it was stupid. But don't discount malice as the real motivating factor. I remember well the defense of Richard Nixon and his henchmen during Watergate, that it was just too stupid and pointless to be true that the White House ordered a break-in of DNC headquarters and chairman Larry O'Brien's offices when Nixon was so far ahead in the presidential voting polls. The defenders were correct about it being stupid and pointless. Where they missed the boat was in discounting malice. Nixon and his cronies hated the Democrats and O'Brien. They were so eager to find some dirt they could use against their perceived "enemies," and so arrogant in their belief of invulnerability, that they did it anyway.

Likewise, I believe, Rove/Libby et al (including their bosses?). Judy Miller's account describes Libby as being "frustrated and ang[ry]." And the history of the Bush administration is replete with instances of smear campaigns against those who actively oppose the administration, particularly former administration officials. Joe Wilson's history in the diplomatic service, particularly his heroic stint as acting ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War, which received kudoes from the first president Bush, had a credibility that, in their mind, had to be destroyed, much like Richard Clarke's and Paul O'Neill's.

Suggesting nepotism (Wilson was delegated to Niger at the suggestion of his wife, a CIA agent) as a discrediting agent for Wilson's allegations was, clearly, stupid. It wasn't true, and it didn't work. But don't discount malice as the driving force behind Plame's outing. The attitude of this administration has been, and is, "don't f--- with us, we'll get you for it."


I'm in Raleigh, NC tonight and tomorrow, Charlotte tomorrow night and Tuesday, and then on to D.C., where I'll be until Friday. I'll be in SCOTUS offices Wednesday night (including those of the Chief Justice) and plan to devote at least a few minutes to soaking up the vibes. What kind of aura will I perceive, do you think?


Why was Pat Fitzgerald so interested in how Scooter Libby handled classified information? Why did he ask Judy Miller if she was cleared to discuss classified information with him? Methinks Fitzgerald just may, after all, be preparing to indict Libby for outing Plame under the Espionage Act or the Intelligence Identities Act. The Espionage Act, though thrice amended since then, continues to criminalize leaks of classified information, regardless of the reason for the leak.

Mr. Fitzgerald also focused on the letter's closing lines. "Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning," Mr. Libby wrote. "They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

I interpret it, and my guess is Fitzgerald does also, as Libby saying in a sort of code that all the other reporters have said we didn't discuss Plame's name or identity, so you shouldn't either. After all, we're all in this together (turning in clusters), we're all connected; what hurts one of us is likely to hurt all of us. We've gotta stick together or we're all going down.

Oh yeah, Scooter's in trouble. Big-time.