ABSURD SIDEBAR: I note from her online bio that Leslie Cauley, who had the original USA Today story, "has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times".
However, per this Pulitzer data base she has never won or even become a "Nominated Finalist". But so what? Obviously, someone thought well enough of her work to nominate it, which is quite an honor.
I only mention this on behalf of Thomas Lipscomb, who is being ripped by various lefty clowns for hyping his own credential as a Pulitzer nominee. Here is an initial attack by Pamela Leavey, with a bit of backpedaling here. And I only noticed as part of my effort to shake the National Journal from their torpor in covering Kerry's Swift boat adventures.
I wonder if Ms. Leavey will tear into Leslie Cauley. No, I don't wonder.
The Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan may represent a Pyrrhic victory for the Democrats - since Bush is now likely to go to Congress for enabling legislation, Dems may be forced into a series of potentially awkward votes just a few months before the election.
Here is the AP:
Congressional hearings on Guantanamo set
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's rebuff of the Bush administration's Guantanamo military tribunals knocks the issue into the halls of Congress, where GOP leaders are already trying to figure out how to give the president the options he wants for dealing with suspected terror detainees.
That way forward could be long and difficult. Congress will negotiate a highly technical legal road - one fraught with political implications in an election year - under the scrutiny of the international community that has condemned the continued use of the Guantanamo prison.
...Within hours of the high court's ruling that the military tribunals were illegal under U.S. and international law, President Bush said he would work with Congress to fix the problem. Still, Bush vowed that the result "won't cause killers to be put out on the street."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would introduce legislation after the July 4 recess that would authorize military commissions and appropriate due process procedures. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., introduced a bill Thursday that did essentially that.
"To keep America safe in the war on terror, I believe we should try terrorists only before military commissions, not in our civilian courts," Frist said.
Sen. John McCain said Friday that, with the Supreme Court ruling guiding the way, "we can now get this system unstuck."
"I'm confident that we can come up with a framework that guarantees we comply with the court's order but at the same time none of the bad people are set free," McCain, R-Ariz., told NBC's "Today" show.
We will know by November whether this ruling was yet another manifestation of a Rovian plot.
MORE: I saw some promo for a t-shirt saying "F SCOTUS". Uhh, "F THAT". We are still the party of the rule of law; we are just having a little trouble figuring out what the law is.
And I am looking forward to lots of commentary about the Supreme Court's new ability to enter into treaties with terrorist groups - extending the Geneva Convention to Al Qaeda seems daft.
Well, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can help sort through this, and good luck to them.
PARTISAN WATCH: Brad DeLong calls me out for cynical Republican partisanship:
Hamdan is not a "Pyrrhic victory" for Democrats. Hamdan is a full-fledged victory for freedom, America, and constitutional government. "Hamdan" says that the United States is not an elective dictatorship, but rather a republic in which there is a legislative branch which legislates and an executive branch that executes the laws--executes the laws, doesn't do what it likes while ignoring Congress.
Well, I am sympathetic to his broad point that not everything should be loooked at through the prism of its political impact. However, handicapping the horse race is part of the pundit's job description, a sis trying to look down the road a bit and say something other than "yea" or "boo".
As to the substance - is this decision a great day for democracy? Well, I suppose so, especially since Bush did not put troops in the capitol or arrest the Supremes.
But I have never thought Bush was on a path to an imperial Presidency; I have believed that Congress was ducking its responsibility to involve itself in these national security issue becasue they are not an accountability-seeking institution. It is far more comfortable for Congress to duck issues and second-guess Bush's mistakes than actually be on the hook for a decision. But they have not lacked the institutional power to oppose the President; what they have lacked is the will.
And now the Supreme Court has forced them to do their job. Fine.
The Anon Lib has thoughts on the approach taken by the Supremes.
Tom Friedman makes an interesting point on an issue being discussed nowhere else - who can monitor and influence the environmental sensitivity of Chinese companies operating in the third world?
Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey have a guest piece (hidden behind the Times Select barrier) on the implications of the outing of the SWIFT monitoring program.
The headline -A Secret the Terrorists Already Knew - is a bit of a give-away suggesting they will re-hash an argument that is beside the point, as discussed here or here; briefly, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said that the Administration's primary argument for quashing the story was not that it would tip our hand to terrorists but that "international bankers would stop
cooperating, would resist, if this program saw the light of day."
Clarke and Gressey slide right past that central point, although they do take some swipes at critics of the Administration:
The current debate about United States monitoring of transfers over the Swift international financial system strikes us as a case of over-reaction by both the Bush administration and its critics.
Going after terrorists' money is a necessary element of any counterterrorism program, as President Bill Clinton pointed out in presidential directives in 1995 and 1998. Individual terrorist attacks do not typically cost very much, but running terrorist cells, networks and organizations can be extremely expensive.
Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have had significant fund-raising operations involving solicitation of wealthy Muslims, distribution of narcotics and even sales of black market cigarettes in New York. As part of a "follow the money" strategy, monitoring international bank transfers is worthwhile (even if, given the immense number of transactions and the relatively few made by terrorists, it is not highly productive) because it makes operations more difficult for our enemies. It forces them to use more cumbersome means of moving money.
Which of course implies that if a public hue and cry results in a loss of European cooperation and suspension of the program, we have suffered a setback at the hands of the Times editors. Ask Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly whether that is possible.
Although Clarke and Gressey defend the legality of the program under United States law they never note this possible loss of international cooperation; they summarize the debate over the leak as follows: privacy arguments and claims of illegality are exaggerated; claims that the leak hurt us are also exaggerated, since the terrorists already knew; and the Administration push-back is a Rovian election-year plot:
...we find the privacy and illegality arguments wildly overblown.
So, too, however, are the Bush administration's protests that the press revelations about the financial monitoring program may tip off the terrorists. ...They want the public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny. How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?
Terrorists have for many years employed nontraditional communications and money transfers — including the ancient Middle Eastern hawala system, involving couriers and a loosely linked network of money brokers — precisely because they assume that international calls, e-mail and banking are monitored not only by the United States but by Britain, France, Israel, Russia and even many third-world countries.
While this was not news to terrorists, it may, it appears, have been news to some Americans, including some in Congress. But should the press really be called unpatriotic by the administration, and even threatened with prosecution by politicians, for disclosing things the terrorists already assumed?
In the end, all the administration denunciations do is give the press accounts an even higher profile. If administration officials were truly concerned that terrorists might learn something from these reports, they would be wise not to give them further attention by repeatedly fulminating about them.
There is, of course, another possible explanation for all the outraged bloviating. It is an election year. Karl Rove has already said that if it were up to the Democrats, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would still be alive.
Now, Clarke and Gressey must know the central argument about the possible pitfalls of publicity, as expressed to Bill Keller - gee, even Patterico and I figured out, noting it in the first sentence of our first reactions to this story. And Scott Shane of the Times paid proper attention to this concern yesterday.
One might almost think that Clarke and Gressey are not being straight with their readers. And since the Times op-ed team chose to print this a**-covering guest piece, one might infer that they are looking for cover too. Evidently the news side has a bit more honor.
One can only hope, probably without any possibility of realization, that the Kerry destruction machine, fueled by a consuming hate and a philosophy of destruction, distortions, and lies, will take the time to thoroughly review the totality of the available records and the facts.
I can speak with confidence for all of Kerry's critics when I say, we would be thrilled to review all of the available records and facts.
As I am sure Reid Wilson and Wade Sanders are aware, John Kerry has never signed the military form known as an SF-180 in a way that would allow full public access to his military records. Kerry claims to have signed an SF-180 designating certain friendly newspapers to look at his records, but that is not at all the same - Kerry's critics still have not had a look at these records. But we'd like to!
Kerry also made his extensive war diary available to Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty"; needless to say, the critics have not seen that, either. But we'd like to!
Since the National Journal has now come out four-square behind a full release of Kerry's records, I can only hope (probably without any possibility of realization) to see them follow up on this. I fully agree that these records *might* resolve unanswered questions and could be very helpful in silencing the Kerry critics once and for all.
Or, they might silence the Kerry apologists. Let's fly under the bridge!
On the specific question of Kerry's first Purple Heart, which Kerry gained during a "skimmer op" on Dec 2, 1968, let me link to this old post to re-visit some interesting questions Kerry's records might help answer.
Very briefly - Kerry claims he was on a three-man mission with two enlisted men, Bill Zaladonis and Pat Runyon. Bill Zaladonis also served with Kerry on PCF-44 from Dec 6, 1968 to Jan 1969.
Kerry was interviewed by both the Boston Globe and Douglas Brinkley in early 2003 and described the skimmer op as part of an overview of his Vietnam experience; both the Globe and Douglas Brinkley also interviewed Bill Zaladonis (Brinkley repeatedly), since he was a member of Kerry's first crew.
However - Bill Zaladonis apparently never mentioned the skimmer op to either the Globe or Douglas Brinkley, since he is not mentioned in any of their accounts. It seems as if their interview technique fell a bit short - questions such as "When did you first meet John Kerry?", or "Tell me about a memorable combat experience with Kerry" should have elicited this story.
Or did Zaladonis forget? Well, he told Lisa Meyers that
...it was one of the scariest nights I've had in my life. And Pat and I have shared this story a few times since we've been out of the Navy. We've been very good friends ever since we've been—when we were in the Navy and out – and this is something that we talked about every now and then.
It doesn't sound like he forgot.
And isn't it odd that Kerry could have had his first combat with Zaladonis on Dec 2, sailed with him for two months beginning four days later, but had forgotten his name when asked to recount the incident years later?
Well - currently there is absolutely no documentary evidence available to support the story that both Zaladonis and Runyon were on the skimmer. But a witness statement from Kerry's Purple Heart application or an entry from his diary might clear this up. And with the National Journal pushing for their release, I have high hopes that the material will become available shortly.
MORE: The skimmer crew included an officer, someone to man the machine gun, and someone to man the engine. Both Zaladonis and Runyon were enginemen; since each SWIFT crew had a machine-gunner, there should have been plenty of prospective "volunteers" for the skimmer op with a more appropriate background. Thomas Lipscomb poked into this.
I would also be curious to see Wade Sanders support his claim that Admiral Schachte is a "Republican activist". That contradicts Schachte's self-description at the end of the Lisa Myers interview, and his donating pattern didn't look real active, but maybe Sanders has other evidence. (Check donations at Open Secrets).
We have no doubt that Mr. Sanders knows an activist when he sees one - he stumped for Kerry in San Diego, he took an appointment to BRAC from Nancy Pelosi, he was in the DoD under Clinton, he was a max donor to Kerry... I see a pattern.
Finally, I love this detail from Mr. Sanders article:
Also, they assert that Schachte's call sign of “Batman” proves he was on the skimmer, since “Robin” was the call sign for the Swift boat. But this contradicts Unfit for Command's statement that “Robin” was Kerry's call sign. However, more to the point, I was on a similar operation in February or March of 1968 with now retired Admiral Jim Taylor and we both clearly remember that we were “Robin” and the Swift Boat was “Batman.” I remember asking the Swift Boat skipper why he got to be “Batman” (since I thought it was “cooler” to be “Batman”) and he smiled at me and said, “Because I am bigger, any other questions?”
Wade Sanders is a retired Captain; he went on a similar operation with a now-retired Admiral. My guess is that they were both officers when they hopped in that skimmer in 1969. And two officers/one enlisted is Schachte's story. Kerry's version is one officer/two enginemen.
The National Journal is on it.
I have hooked up with a Vizu service that will be sending poll questions to my site.
This is sort of an experiment for all of us, but after five minutes into it, so far so good.
Anyway, the first poll question looks interesting - check it out, in the upper right of the screen.
The US Supreme Court ruled today that President George Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion, which said the proposed trials were illegal under US law and Geneva conventions.
The case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a body guard and driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan, 36, has spent four years in the US prison at Guantanamo. He faces a single count of conspiring against US citizens from 1996 to November 2001.
Two years ago, the court rejected Bush’s claim to have the authority to seize and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or lawyers. In this follow-up case, the justices focused solely on the issue of trials for some of the men.
And I want dibs on "GD Hamdan". And spoken variants thereof. Darn it.
MORE: A pre-mortem from Andy McCarthy, whose travel schedule must be irking him (well, if getting away early on a Friday in the summer can irk anyone... I may need a Values Check.)
Scott Shane of the Times manages to present both sides of the debate in evaluating whether the Times disclosure of the SWIFT monitoring program may have harmed national security.
He opens with the argument we tackled in an earlier post, reminding us that "follow the money" had been a public goal of the Administration since 9/11:
Ever since President Bush vowed days after the Sept. 11 attacks to "follow the money as a trail to the terrorists," the government has made no secret of its efforts to hunt down the bank accounts of Al Qaeda and its allies.
However, by paragraph eight he pivots to the point we were emphasizing (and which Administration officials had emphasized to Times Executive Editor Bill Keller) - publicity might make it difficult for Europeans to continue to cooperate:
Experts on terror financing are divided in their views of the impact of the revelations. Some say the harm in last week's publications in The Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal may have been less in tipping off terrorists than in putting publicity-shy bankers in an uncomfortable spotlight.
"I would be surprised if terrorists didn't know that we were doing everything we can to track their financial transactions, since the administration has been very vocal about that fact," said William F. Wechsler, a former Treasury and National Security Council official who specialized in tracking terrorism financing.
But Mr. Wechsler said the disclosure might nonetheless hamper intelligence collection by making financial institutions resistant to requests for access to records.
"I wouldn't be surprised if these recent articles have made it more difficult to get cooperation from our friends in Europe, since it may make their cooperation with the U.S. less politically palatable," Mr. Wechsler said.
Though privacy advocates have denounced the examination of banking transactions, the Swift consortium has defended its cooperation with the counterterrorism program and has not indicated any intention to stop cooperating with the broad administrative subpoenas issued to obtain its data.
Andy McCarthy is quoted offering a different take:
A former federal prosecutor who handled major terrorism cases, Andrew C. McCarthy, said he believed that the greatest harm from news reports about such classified programs was the message that Americans could not keep secrets.
"If foreign intelligence services think anything they tell us will end up in the newspapers, they'll stop sharing so much information," said Mr. McCarthy, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.
And Bob Kerrey of the New School and the 9/11 Commission is offered making a back-door plea to keep the program alive:
But Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 commission and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, took a different view, saying that if the news reports drive terrorists out of the banking system, that could actually help the counterterrorism cause.
"If we tell people who are potential criminals that we have a lot of police on the beat, that's a substantial deterrent," said Mr. Kerrey, now president of New School University. If terrorists decide it is too risky to move money through official channels, "that's very good, because it's much, much harder to move money in other ways," Mr. Kerrey said.
The Times reporting is clear - this is a good program; ending it would harm national security; publicity may kill it.
This was a much better effort by the Times than was produced by yesterday's Clownhouse Group led by Glenn Greenwald. Let's reprint his challenge:
That is why not a single person who ever sermonizes righteously about the traitors at the Times can ever identify what ought to be the first fact that is identified when accusing someone of harming national security -- namely, the disclosure of facts which (a) would enable the terrorists to avoid surveillance detection and (b) was not previously known. Those facts simply do not exist, which is why nobody ever identifies them.
And for more flavor, let's reprint his bold assertion from Tuesday, when he first warmed to this theme (his emphasis):
(1) There is not a single sentence in the Times banking report that could even arguably "help the terrorists."
It appears that Scott Shane, Bob Kerrey and others managed to find that single sentence. Arguably.
WORTH MOCKING SOMEWHERE: Bob Novak had one chat with a CIA press flack, concluded the guy's heart was not in it, and published his column outing Valerie Plame. He has been criticized for not acceding instantly and unquestioningly to the CIA request.
The Times met with and heard from numerous Administration officials over a period of weeks. They decided that some of the Administration arguments were "half-hearted", and proceeded to publish.
Let's see - is it fair to point out that Bob Novak may have had a point when he said that the CIA did not push too hard? Here is Novak from Oct 2003; CIA press spokesperson Bill Harlow from the WaPo, July 27, 2005; and Novak responds. My thoughts here.
A tremendous number of people are missing a key point on the damage done by the NY Times reporting on the SWIFT program. The theme, as articulated by Dan Froomkin, the Boston Globe, Glenn Greenwald, the MahaBlog, MimiKatz of The Next Hurrah, and Jon Henke of QandO, is that the SWIFT program really was not that much of a secret, and consequently the disclosure by the Times did not harm national security.
Mimikatz is a cipher to me (although I hold his/her co-blogger, The EmptyWheel, in high regard); and arguing against Jon Henke is not a proposition with high intrinsic appeal. However, the rest of that group reliably substitutes rhetoric for reason, so I have to like my chances - here we go.
Let's give Glenn Greenwald a chance to state his side:
That is why not a single person who ever sermonizes righteously about the traitors at the Times can ever identify what ought to be the first fact that is identified when accusing someone of harming national security -- namely, the disclosure of facts which (a) would enable the terrorists to avoid surveillance detection and (b) was not previously known. Those facts simply do not exist, which is why nobody ever identifies them.
Greenwald is relying on false and limited choices - the SWIFT program could be highly effective at limiting the effectiveness of terror groups even if terrorists were perfectly well aware of it and had fully adapted, and even if as a result of those adaptations it never led directly to an arrest.
How so, you wonder? Well, consider the example of our enhanced airport security. It is well-publicized, and I don't believe we have caught a terrorist at a United States airport in years (we have certainly not caught many). Is the program a failure?
Well, I am sure it could be improved. But even as currently operated, it forces terrorists to select different targets and use different tactics; ending it would probably be a bad idea.
Similarly, it may well be the case that terror groups routinely send couriers carrying knapsacks stuffed with twentys and hundreds to manage their finances.
If we arrest such a Qaeda courier, or trail him to his contacts, shouldn't the SWIFT program receive partial credit? After all, it was the SWIFT program that forced Qaeda to adapt and use a courier.
Ron Suskind said exactly this in his "One Percent Solution" (and I thank the Maha, who reliably missed the point). The subject is terrorist's adaptations to electronic surveillance:
Eventually, and not surprisingly, our opponents figured it out. It was a matter, really, of deduction. Enough people get caught and a view of which activities they had in common provides clues as to how they have have been identified and apprehended.
“We were surprised it took them so long,” said one senior intelligence official. …
…The al Qaeda playbook, employed by what was left of the network, its affiliates and imitators, started to stress the necessity of using couriers to carry cash and hand-delivered letters. This slows the pace of operations, if not necessarily their scale, and that was, indeed, a victory. …
An intelligence program can be successful if it detects the enemy. It can also be successful if it deters and disrupts our foe, which the SWIFT program may very well be doing - Suskind thinks so, at least.
So what was the harm of the Times leak if terrorists had already adjusted to SWIFT? Well, if Times Executive Editor Bill Keller is reliable, the Administration gave only a "half-hearted" push to the notion that publication by the Times would prompt the terrorists to change tactics.
Per Keller, "The central argument we heard from officials at senior levels was that international bankers would stop cooperating, would resist, if this program saw the light of day." If publication results in a termination of the SWIFT program, a whole new route for moving money opens up for terrorists - would that help or hurt them?
In other words, although the Treasury Department (probably) didn't break any U.S. laws, it's quite possible that SWIFT did break some European laws — and that they'll be forced to stop providing information to Treasury unless European laws are changed, a process that's both lengthy and uncertain of success. Read Henry's full post for more detail and more nuance.
So does this mean the Times shouldn't have published this story? The arguments cut both ways. On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program. On the other hand, it looks like the damage is directly related to the fact that the program probably violated the law — clearly a subject of considerable public interest. On the third hand, it was European law involved, not U.S. law, and the original Times story barely even mentioned possible violation of European law as a motivation for running the story.
I would be thrilled to read a Times editorial explaining that, until they intervened, Bush was trampling European privacy laws merely to protect American lives. Until they write that, I still have the Comedy Channel.
And honestly? I would assume there were some Eurocrats who were perfectly happy to let this program slide by with a wink and a nod, but who won't be able to formally endorse its legality under the relevant European laws. That aligns me with Henry Farrell.
Now, the risk that Euro-sunlight might kill this program was clearly explained to Bill Keller; it was explained in the first Times story; and, although I am not claiming any special insight, I noted it in the first sentence of my first post on this topic, as did Patterico, and in follow-ups.
It's hard to see why this is such a mystery to Dan Froomkin et al. Perhaps Greenwald can perform a quick psychoanalysis of the Left (and Henke, darn him!).
MORE: I relent - to be fair to Mr. Froomkin, he is whacking Press Secretary Tony Snow, who is clinging to the notion that the program had been secret. I can't help Tony, but I'll bet he does not want to stand at the podium and patiently explain that it is mostly European law that we (or the cooperating SWIFTees in Brussels) might be violating. Keller's letter notwithstanding, Treasury Secretary Snow did not exactly belabor that point either - his focus was that yes, we do observe terrorists through SWIFT.
UPDATE: Patterico summarizes arguments and rebuttals here.
THE COVER-UP EXCEEDS THE CRIME: I have corrected a ghastly typo - thilly me.
Scott Shane of the Times picks up the "old news" theme, but makes us laugh with this:
The director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, has ordered an assessment of any damage to counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures, but the review is expected to take months, and its findings are likely to remain classified.
"Likely to remain classified" - that means the Times will print it if the Times is exonerated.
Tom Elia charts the course of the US government:
NYT Announces Formation of Shadow Government
I'm not so sure - if the Times becomes the government, they might also become accountable. Why should they accept a demotion?
Howard Kurtz drops a blog on the (mostly righty) outraged reaction to the NY Times outing of the SWIFT monitoring program, and delivers this false parallel:
...most of those proclaiming horror at the leaking of classified info were willing to give the White House a pass for the outing of the covert Valerie Plame.
If Mr. Kurtz is interested in bringing his readers or himself up to speed on the Plame issue, he might start by chatting with fellow WaPo reporters Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward.
Here is Mr. Pincus, who received a Plame leak on July 12 from a White House source (CJR):
Pincus believes that the Bush administration acted obnoxiously when it leaked Valerie Plame’s identity, but he has never been convinced by the argument that the leaks violated the law. “I don’t think it was a crime,” he says. “I think it got turned into a crime by the press, by Joe” — Wilson — “by the Democrats. The New York Times kept running editorials saying that it’s got to be investigated — never thinking that it was going to turn around and bite them.” The entire Plame investigation, he says, has been a distraction from a more fundamental conversation about how the White House handled evidence before the war.
And he is far the tougher of the two - here is Bob Woodward, who received a Plame leak in mid-June (very probably from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage), on CNN. This is before the indictments and before we learn he received the June leak:
WOODWARD: ... They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.
So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.
And here is Woodward at Harvard - this is after he revealed his role as a leak recipient:
Woodward on fellow reporter and leak recipient Bob Novak:
“His source was not in the White House, I don’t believe,” Woodward said of Novak over a private dinner at the Institute of Politics on Dec. 5. He did not indicate what information, if any, he had to corroborate the claim.
Woodward on the Administration conspiracy to out Valerie Plame:
Responding to Bernstein’s claim that the release of Plame’s identity was a “calculated leak” by the Bush administration, Woodward said flatly, “I know a lot about this, and you’re wrong.”
Well. So far, two in-the-loop WaPo reporters seem to be telling us to beware of the hype on the Plame case. Let's see - it is quite clear that the NY Times was asked repeatedly not to publish their SWIFT story; does Mr. Kurtz have any evidence that White House (or Administration) officials were aware that the Plame leak may have been problematic prior to actually leaking?
If so, he ought to hustle that evidence down to Special Counsel Fitzgerald right away - with respect to I. Lewis Libby anyway, the best Fitzgerald has offered is some testimony that
at some time after Robert D. Novak's July 14, 2003, column identified Plame as a CIA "operative," Libby was part of a conversation with a CIA official and one other Cheney employee who is not identified in court papers. The CIA official discussed "the dangers posed by disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees," according to a May 12 court filing by the government.
That also comes from Mr. Pincus of Mr. Kurtz's own WaPo.
Finally, let's suggest a a clarification to Mr. Kurtz, who wrote about people who were willing "to give the White House a pass for the outing of the covert Valerie Plame".
The odds are excellent that first leak to Bob Novak, as well as the leak to Bob Woodward, came from Deputy Secretary of State Armitage. He is clearly not a White House source.
Was it Armitage? Mike Isikoff has a book coming out and he told Chris Matthews that he would name names there - the public's right to know is trumped by his desire to hawk his book, obviously. But last fall, Isikoff leaned towards Armitage, and the odds have improved dramatically since then.
So, if Mr. Kurzt wants to break a bit of news, he might start there - is the WaPo sitting on the identity of the first Novak leaker (Rove was second) in order to guard the book sales of a member of their media empire?
FWIW, in a follow-up version of the Outrage story, the absurd Plame parallel is dropped.
MORE: Here are Messrs. Isikoff and Matthews from the June 13 Hardball:
MATTHEWS: OK, who leaked to Novak? Who was the prime leaker here, do we know yet? Or is that in your book that‘s coming out?
ISIKOFF: Oh, that will be in the book.
MATTHEWS: Anybody else want to venture who the prime leaker was that leaked to Novak and started this mess back July 14th of 2003? Do you want to give me the name, Jim?
VANDEHEI: I don‘t want to give you the name. I‘m going to read it in his book or you‘ll read it in our paper.
MATTHEWS: OK, nobody‘s going to talk. All this about, we can‘t tell who the original—it wasn‘t Richard Armitage, was it? Anyway, thank you Mike Isikoff, thank you John Dickerson, thank you Jim VandeHei.
The public's right to know - thank heaven we have these guardians working for us, and selling to us.
Sen. Pat Roberts wants a formal assessment of the damage done by the Times reporting of the NSA and SWIFT programs. But the Times has a flash report on the SWIFT damage already:
In London, meanwhile, a human rights group said Tuesday that it had filed complaints in 32 countries alleging that the banking consortium, known as Swift, violated European and Asian privacy laws by giving the United States access to its data.
Simon Davies, director of the group, Privacy International, said the scale of the American monitoring, involving millions of records, "places this disclosure in the realm of a fishing exercise rather than a legally authorized investigation."
The Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has asked the Justice Ministry to investigate whether Swift violated Belgian law by allowing the United States government access to its data.
The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the program, and a Chicago lawyer, Steven E. Schwarz, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Swift on Friday alleging that it had violated United States financial privacy statutes.
Bill Keller anticipated this sort of reaction prior to publication but was unruffled:
We weighed most heavily the Administration's concern that describing this program would endanger it. The central argument we heard from officials at senior levels was that international bankers would stop cooperating, would resist, if this program saw the light of day. We don't know what the banking consortium will do, but we found this argument puzzling. First, the bankers provide this information under the authority of a subpoena, which imposes a legal obligation. Second, if, as the Administration says, the program is legal, highly effective, and well protected against invasion of privacy, the bankers should have little trouble defending it. The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere. And while it is too early to tell, the initial signs are that our article is not generating a banker backlash against the program.
Well, it may have been "too early to tell" on the Sunday evening following a Thursday evening publication (during the World Cup!), but I wonder if Keller has a different opinion now.
Let me add this IHT article to the mix:
BRUSSELS Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium has asked the Justice Ministry to investigate whether a banking consortium here broke the law when it aided the U.S. government's anti-terrorism activities by providing it with confidential information about international money transfers.
...A spokesman for Verhofstadt, Didier Seus, said the prime minister had asked the Justice Ministry to examine whether Swift had done anything illegal by providing access to information from its database to the U.S. authorities without the approval of a Belgian judge.
"We need to ask what are the legal frontiers in this case and whether it is right that a U.S. civil servant could look at a private transaction without the approval of a Belgian judge," he said.
He said that because Swift was based in Belgium and had offices in the United States, it was governed by both European and U.S. laws. He noted that the cooperative had received broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the U.S. Treasury Department, which gave its actions a legal basis, at least outside of Belgium.
But he said that the government wanted to determine whether obeying these administrative subpoenas was compatible with Belgian law, since in Belgium officials must seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions.
Seus said the case was particularly sensitive since it came at a time when the European Union and the United States have been increasingly at odds over the extent to which civil liberties can be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism. In May, the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court, overturned an agreement that provides Washington with personal data on airline passengers flying to the United States from Europe.
Is there anything as delicious as watching the Times editors opine on the benefits of an estate tax in promoting a meritocracy? Here we go, from their editorial lauding the charitable impulse of Warren Buffet:
...The news of this super-donation comes at a time when one of the biggest incentives to give to charity, the federal estate tax, is under assault by antigovernment ideologues who portray it as theft of the fruits of capitalist endeavor. Mr. Buffett himself has publicly dismissed that notion and supported the estate tax for its role in emphasizing merit over inheritance as the means for advancing in American society.
The estate tax spurs giving because gifts to charity are exempt. Several studies, including one by Congress's own budget agency, have shown that repealing the tax — or drastically lowering the tax rate, as the bill now before Congress would do — would sharply curtail charitable contributions.
Philanthropists like Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates are not up in arms over the estate tax because they voluntarily redistribute much of their wealth. But for the mega-rich who aren't so inclined, the estate tax is a useful tool to make sure that from those to whom much has been given, something is required.
To whom much has been given, much is required! Well, one way to promote meritocracy and "give something back" would be to set up a super-classs of shares so that one family can retain control of the business. If shareholders don't like it, well, they can give back somewhere else.
And nothing says "meritocracy" like having a third generation Sulzberger running the family business. Leadership by example:
But there is a dark side to The Times. Until very recently, the company was rife with nepotism. Numerous family members, many only marginally qualified, were given senior positions. An astonishing number of family members have suffered learning disabilities, nervous breakdowns, depression, and other ills. ''[Depression] is in the family,'' Iphigene once said. Yet by some alchemy, the family achieved, say the authors, ''a position of influence they could never have achieved as individuals.''
Well, no doubt they are all "giving back".
New blogger Pat Allen is interesting on the line item veto and its intersection with as-yet-unrepealed Law of Unintended Consequences:
...giving the President a line item veto will probably make things worse. Recently, there has been the start of an effort in Congress to get some control over earmarks. Some representatives and senators understand the problem and are using the power of publicity to try to limit earmarks. The "Bridge to Nowhere" has been stopped. It is a small start, but it is a start.
The line item veto proposal knocks the legs out from under this effort. Now the earmarkers will have the perfect response to the anti-earmark forces: Congress does not need to do anything to stop earmarks. The President has a line item veto. Since he can veto the wasteful projects, Congress does not need to do anything.
Go tell him what you think.
Not everyone makes it to the final credits of the final reel in the final Harry Potter book:
"The final chapter is hidden away although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," Rowling said.
"A price has to be paid, we are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras, do they? They go for the main characters -- well, I do."
Will Harry make it?
Asked whether one of the casualties would be Potter himself, Rowling said she had never been tempted to kill off the magician before the finale.
At the same time, she added: "I can completely understand, however, the mentality of an author who thinks, 'Well I'm gonna kill them off because that means there can be no non-author written sequels. So it will end with me and after I'm dead and gone they won't be able to bring back the character'."
The author said she did not want to commit herself either way on Potter's fate, telling interviewers Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan: "I don't want the hate mail, apart from anything else."
This story will surely prompt a meeting of the Crack Committee on Potterdom (I have not one but two presidents of Potter fan clubs in residence).
As to Harry - the "die" case rests on Book One - when Harry looks in the Mirror of Desire, all he wants is to be with his family, and you know what - his family is dead.
Ron Weasley is also vulnerable, I have been assured - the Book One chess game foreshadows his own death at the hand of Bellatrix, the White Queen. And there are other clues which escape me now.
The article includes this silliness:
The seventh novel is reportedly due to be published next year at the earliest.
The seventh novel will be published on 7/7/07, a Saturday - make your plans now. [Mini-update - well, unless they decide to publish it on 7/21/07, as announced on 2/1/2007]
UPDATE: Some time next spring we ought to call the bets. Until then, here are my current picks:
Marked For Death:
Snape; nothing in his life became him like the leaving it. He's a good guy, or anyway, not bad - his unrequited crush on Lily Potter motivates his desire for vengeance against Lily's killer and explains his loathing for Harry (right mom, wrong dad).
Hagrid - I have lost the link, but in alchemy the colors Red, White, and Black are significant. Sirius Black is gone; Albus (means white, and you could look it up, but you would know it if you were an albino) Dumbledore is passing for dead (time will tell - Aslan and Gandalf made it back, Obi-wan Kenobi not so much), and that leaves Rubeus Hagrid - good-bye, Ruby Tuesday.
Reprieved: Ron Weasely was tagged as a goner, but won a reprieve.
On the bubble: Harry could live or die, but I have a hard time believing that JK Rowling wants to be known to her grandkids as the woman who killed Harry Potter; Neville Longbottom is going to do something heroic, and may die trying - watch out, Bellatrix.
Untouchable (Or, if they die the publisher leaps out a window to join them, joined by the fellow who bought the movie rights): Mrs Weasely, Mr. Weasely, Fred and George, Hermione, Ginny, Luna. Relax people, killing Hagrid will be hard enough for JK; this is a children's series, not a tragedy or a charnel house.
Treasury Secretary John Snow responds to NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's open letter defending the Times decision to reveal details of a formerly secret program to monitor terrorist's international cash movements:
Dear Mr. Keller:
The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.
Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.
Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror. Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.
You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that "terror financiers know" our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.
Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the "public interest" in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.
What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.
John W. Snow, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Wow. There was nothing half-hearted about that.
Here is a relevant excerpt from Keller's letter:
A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way. It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash.
As to "What Can We Do"? The obvious tactic would be to announce some sort of boycott of Times advertisers, or even commence a letter-writing campaign to them. One doubts that many companies would prefer to be involved in this battle.
Based on this report from AJ Strata, such a boycott, or letter campaign, could attract bipartisan support: from a CNN interview with Bill Keller, anti-war icon Jack Murtha "begged" him to sit on this story.
Hmm. At the CNN site, the story is this:
Keller said he knew of only three people outside of the administration who were asked by the administration to contact the paper -- Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton from the 9/11 commission, and Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha.
"Not all of them urged us not to publish," Keller said.
Keller, who was accused of arrogance by Snow, told CNN, "I think it would be arrogant of us to pre-empt the work of Congress and the courts by deciding on our own that these programs are perfectly legal and abuse-proof."
"We spent weeks listening to the administration's case," he said.
Well, I am glad the Times decided to pre-empt Congress by publishing their story rather than deferring to Congressional hearings, legislation, or, dare we say it, Congressional silence.
As to Murtha and AJ, Treasury Secretary Snow says that the 9/11 co-chairmen urged the Times to sit on the story; that makes Murtha the odd man out. That said, I didn't see the interview, and the CNN excerpt may be misleading.
And I know that AJ will be thrilled to pick up support from right-wing favorite CBS:
In an interview Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room," Keller revealed that Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who has been a vocal critic of the Iraq war, also urged the Times not to print the information.
I can't find a proper "Situation Room" transcript at Lexis-News right now, either - the 5:00 PM EST transcript does not include a Keller interview. (Not now and for me, anyway...). Developing...
MORE: Let's count Murtha out, and wonder about the quality of coverage at CBS:
Hold the phone. INDC Bill e-mailed me to point out that Keller says, “Three people outside of the administration were asked by the administration to call us … all of them spoke, they thought in confidence, and I don’t think I’ll, I don’t think I’ll breach the confidence of what they said, um, uh, although I will say that not all of them urged us not to publish.” Snow said Kean and Hamilton urged them not to publish. Which means, by process of elimination…
HotAir has the tape, which is apparently confusing.
KELLER: Well, that's true. Those are strong words. Arrogant? With all due respect, I think it would be arrogant to us to preempt the work of Congress and the courts by deciding on our own that these programs are perfectly legal and abuse-proof. We spent weeks listening to the administration's case. I personally spent a long time in Secretary Snow's office and spoke on the phone to John Negroponte. Others at the paper spoke to other officials.
I believe they genuinely did not want us to publish this. But I think it's not responsible of us to just take them at their word.
BLITZER: When you say, Bill Keller, that their efforts to convince you not to publish were half-hearted, what do you mean?
KELLER: Secretary Snow has misquoted me or misrepresented me on that one. I did not say that their efforts were half-hearted. I said that one of the several arguments that they made struck me as half- hearted. And that was the argument that was really a secondary argument that they made against publishing, which was that the publication of this information would lead terrorists to change their tactics.
"Misquoted or misrepresented"? Let's not do that - the letter, please:
A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way. It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash.
So when Keller wrote "made in a half-hearted way", he didn't actually mean "their efforts were half-hearted", which led to Treasury Secretary Snow misquoting or misrepresenting him.
Yeah, he sure nailed Snow lying there, didn't he? Uh huh. Next, Keller discusses the availability of the Brooklyn Bridge as something an eager viewer might want to buy. Act now.
[Hmm - sometimes you really should not hit the "Post" button and rush off to dinner; that extra minute to reflect can be valuable. Keller is saying that his point was that *a part* of the Admin effort was half-hearted, not the whole effort; maybe in toto, the effort was seven-eighths hearted, or some such.
Snow said this:
Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive.
And a bit later:
Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort.
Tricky - Snow might be reasonably irked at the suggestion that any part of his effort was less than enthusiastic; Keller can reasonably claim that he was only saying that the Admin pushed hard on some points but not others, and that Snow should not imply that Keller said the entire effort lacked zeal. Got it.]
Over the weekend Glenn Greenwald had an interesting 'Kosola' post in which he rode a good point to a laughable conclusion, downplaying key evidence along the way. His good point? There was some problem with one of four emails quoted by TNR writer Jason Zengerle; three emails, attributed to Kos, Mike Stark, and Glenn Greenwald himself, were not in dispute, but a fourth email, ostensibly from Steve Gilliard, had no clear provenance. Steve Gilliard apparently did not write it, so who, we all wonder, did?
The absurd conclusion to which Greenwald effortlessly leaped, in a post titled "Does The New Republic have a new Stephen Glass in Jason Zengerle?", was that the bum email was "fabricated". Let's let him tell it:
Zengerle caused The New Republic to print a completely fabricated e-mail and then falsely attribute it as one Gilliard sent to the Townhouse list.
Completely fabricated? Surely other explanations are in play? Evidently not - Greenwald is wedded to the "fabricated" charge:
It is difficult to see how Zengerle's claim about his sources could be true, to put it generously. It is highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that three different sources would send Zengerle the same fabricated e-mail and falsely tell him that it was sent by Gilliard to the Townhouse list.
Well, I called him on it, pointing out that his original post gave very short shrift to the fact that Zengerle cited three other emails that were not in dispute. My not-so-bold point:
Mr. Greenwald's more complete hypothesis seems to be that Mr. Zengerle had two genuine emails and fabricated a third. Somehow that seems to change the balance of probabilities a bit, especially since the "fake" email makes the same point as the two authentic ones - why, one might wonder, would Mr. Zengerle bother to gild the lily with a fake email supporting two real ones?
Now, I erred in declining to offer some alternative hypotheses of my own; evidently, some readers on the left have failures of the imagination with anything other than a Rovian-led conspiracy involving Cheney, Halliburton, and oil. However, it struck me as perfectly obvious that much less nefarious scenarios would be more plausible, and I described one in my own comment section. Just to jolly the discussion along I'll repeat it, typos and all, right here:
What I have been saying is that the presence of two legitimate emails changes the likelihood pf various scenarios that include a bum email.
For example - suppose Zengerle simply confused a header and a footer on a forwarded list of thirty emails. In that case, all three emails are "authentic", but one was not by Gilliard, but instead by another Clownhouser. That would hardly change the thrust of the Zengerle article.
Of course, someone who did not realize that two authentic emails were part of the story might not hit upon that hypothesis. And someone reading greenwald's post might not realize that two emails were legit.
I am not, Greenwald's distortions notwithstanding, saying that a fake email is irrelevant; I am saying two or three real emails make the fake story a bit harder to understand.
A shorter version would be, never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. Now, I did not think I was blazing a trail of insight here - Occam's Razor is well known and encourages simple explanations, folks can get glitched up in their email, and so on - but little did I know...
Which brings us more or less up to speed. Jason Zengerle has admitted that the "Gilliard" email can not be attributed to Mr. Gilliard, but he has not been able to get ahold of his source to resolve the confusion. Mr. Zengerle does explain that, yes, he had three sources, and yes, the first source did send him the email. At this point, I suppose the adherents to the "fabrication" theory will want to explain either that Mr. Zengerle is lying (backed, presumably, by his editor); or that for reasons unknown the mysterious primary source provided three genuine emails and one short, deliberate fabrication. (For completeness, I should note that Greenwald is pretending (point 4) that the "Gilliard" email is substantially different from the Stark and Greenwald emails; link-clickers can judge the absurdity of that claim for themselves).
Well. The opening question was, "What Would A Weasel Do"? Glenn Greenwald has chosen to double down by pretending that I was making a different point and minimizing his own "fabrication" charge. Note the disappearance of the Stephen Glass insinuation from the lead of his follow-up post:
On Friday, I wrote a post stating -- based on abundant evidence I had compiled that was indisputable and conclusive to all but the most fact-free eyes -- that an e-mail published by Jason Zengerle on the website of The New Republic was fraudulent. The e-mail was one purportedly written to the Townhouse list by Steve Gilliard, and it was clear that Zengerle's claim was false because no such e-mail was ever sent. Zengerle's silence over the weekend led a variety of right-wing bloggers and their commenters to spend the last two days calling me a liar, mocking my claims, giddily exchanging juvenile jokes with one another over my paranoia, and generally insisting that my accusation was false and baseless.
Jason Zengerle finally responded last night and, in doing so, confirmed that every single thing I said was, in fact, true:
Every single thing he said was true except for the bits that weren't. Bits such as "It is difficult to see how Zengerle's claim about his sources could be true, to put it generously." Bits such as "The e-mail was simply fabricated by either Zengerle or his sources." Never mind. Matt Stoller has corrected his lead, but Greenwald opted to bury his.
Greenwald is firing at a number of targets in his latest, so let me pick out his charge against me:
Tom Maguire - in a post entitled "Glenn Greenwald's career in comedy," he wrote:
Somehow that seems to change the balance of probabilities a bit, especially since the "fake" email makes the same point as the two authentic ones - why, one might wonder, would Mr. Zengerle bother to gild the lily with a fake email supporting two real ones? And does it seem "highly unlikely (to put it mildly)" that Zengerle would have three sources confirming two genuine and one fake email? . . .
What a tangled web we weave.
Maguire's characteristically glib, evasive and substance-free attack on my integrity then, as intended, led some of his commenters to say -- without contradiction -- things such as this: [blah, blah, blah...]
"Characteristically glib" - I like that. As to "substance-free", hmm, perhaps we are seeing a small symptom of substance abuse here.
Well. His complaint against me seems to be that some commenters piled on. Welcome to the blogosphere.
But if he would be diligent enough to tell me just what it is I got wrong, that would be lovely - how can I be both "substance-free" and wrong? A time for choosing! And since he has decided that the key evidence of my Evil Heart can be found in my comments section, I exhort him to weigh my comment cited above. Seemed clear to me.
Oh, well - what else would a weasel do? He would willfully mischaracterize the attacks upon him:
And there are plenty of others who, needless to say, followed along, applying a whole range of derogatory attributes to my credibility and judgment this weekend for having pointed out that the Gilliard e-mail is fake and, beyond that, that TNR's journalistic behavior in printing it was questionable at best.
No, I did not question whether the "Gilliard" email was accurate, a point which seems to have confounded him. I questioned his judgment in insisting on his
alien abduction fabrication theory. And how is that theory working out? At this point, we have a strong denial from Zengerle and not even a whisper of a plausible scenario from Greenwald as to why the mysterious source might want to have forwarded three longish emails and then fabricated a fourth.
Let's see - a weasel would build a nest of straw:
All weekend, people who had no evidence or proof whatsoever that the Gilliard e-mail was authentic were insisting -- in the face of waves of evidence to the contrary -- that the e-mail was authentic and that I was a liar, a moron, a hysteric, etc. Their desire for the e-mail to be authentic, and for me to be wrong, swamped any assessment of the evidence.
I am sure that in this wonderful wide world, someone can be found to match that description. But I don't think there were many, not at my site anyway.
I find this interesting, from Greenwald:
Personally, if I told my readers that another blogger was lying or was drowning in paranoia when making certain claims, only for those claims to turn out to have been true all along, I'd be quite eager to retract my accusations and apologize for them as clearly and prominently as I could.
I look forward to his acknowledgment that the Stephen Glass insinuation was over the top.
And I'll stop here:
Maguire pathetically continues to insist that I really was wrong, and Maguire right, and that Zengerle's confession that the Gilliard e-mail was fake somehow does not really support my claim.
Hmm, I'll glumly accede to a certain pathos in trying to talk sense to these people, but - I stand proudly by my Not-So-Bold position that Zengerle's denial that he fabricated the "Gilliard" email does, in fact, undermine Greenwald's insinuation that Zengerle did fabricate it.
As a bonus, I stand by my view that Zengerle's claim to have three sources, one of whom sent him the emails and two of whom verified them (however sloppily) does, in fact, undermine Greenwald's insinuation that Zengerle is lying about his sources.
MORE: Folks who enjoy watching a lawyer double as a psychiatrist will enjoy the balance of Greenwald's post, in which he diagnosis the Delusional Right on the basis of this incident. I am not a shrink myself, but I think he is projecting here:
They swarmed together to make assertions which were plainly false and for which they had no proof, and then used their groupthink to confirm the rightness of their claims (they wallowed in an orgy of incestuous links to one another, all of which were evidence-free and reasoning-free -- not to mention wrong -- as though the endless references to one another constituted "evidence" which justified their accusations).
Let's put that alongside this UPDATE IV from Greenwald:
UPDATE IV: In light of the difficulty (most of it intentional) which some are having in understanding the relevance and implications of Zengarle's publishing a fake e-mail, I highly recommend this post from Lindsay Beyerstein, who spells it all out as clearly as can be.
The no-doubt-charming Ms. Beyerstein then breaks down the possibilities for us:
So, how did Zengerle get ahold of three copies of the same fake email? The most charitable explanation is that he got egregiously burned by the same forger who sent him three copies of the fake, purporting to be different people. If so, Zengerle should burn that source, or if he doesn't know the source, admit that he'll publish anything from anyone. The second-most charitable explanation is that he got one fake email and lied about how many sources he had. The most disturbing possibility is that Zengerle fabricated the letter himself. It's time for Zengerle to burn his source, or resign.
Well, Greenwald and friends can group-think this all they want, but I think they ought to at least identify the fourth-most charitable explanation - someone got tangled up in his email tree.
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein delivers a handsome apology to the sad and aggrieved Glenn Greenwald. (Well, I liked looking at it...).
The NY Times Business section splashes some ink on one of the key issues of the day:
A Blogger Is Bounced From the Huffington Post
By MARIA ASPAN
The Huffington Post, the popular news and blogging Web site, again found itself the subject of commentary last week when one of its bloggers was fired after accusing a site staff member of posting negative comments on his blog entries.
In March, the site began carrying the blog of Dr. Peter Rost, a former Pfizer executive who filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the drug company. Dr. Rost recently noticed that some prominently placed negative comments on his blog entries had been written by a user named "yacomink." In a June 20 post, Dr. Rost revealed that the person making sarcastic comments was Andy Yaco-Mink, the Huffington Post's technology manager. Dr. Rost's entry included Mr. Yaco-Mink's Internet protocol address and photos.
On June 22, Arianna Huffington, the site's editor, announced that she was withdrawing Dr. Rost's password, effectively firing him. (Mr. Yaco-Mink kept his job because the site had not had a policy forbidding employees from posting, although that policy was instituted on Friday.)
In an interview, Ms. Huffington said that her editorial team had discussed blocking Dr. Rost from the site more than a month ago because of the frequently personal nature of his posts. The editors made the final decision after they said Dr. Rost did not listen to their concerns on the post about Mr. Yaco-Mink.
And they go on, but who cares? Shouldn't the Times be covering the outing of Armando, or something really significant? Is it possible that my wild guess that the Times is detemined to trivialize lefty blogs is actually on the mark? Has all this burbling about new media and storming the (star)gates really triggered some territorial impulse at an institutional level? Will these rhetorical questions end?
MORE: Re Armando - Since I am not the Times, I can chime in belatedly. John Cole was irked. But for my two cents, Armando was pretty clearly using his status as a Kos front-pager to get himself a seat on this panel discussing "eDemocracy: When Goverment Goes Online" (Or does anyone think he was invited on the basis of his law practice?). I don't see how a person can claim they are anonymous except when the credential helps land a cool gig. He outed himself.
Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, addresses their controversial decision to
declare war on the United States publish information about a formerly secret program monitoring international funds transfers.
Wizbang provides the condensed version:
1) We have no reason to believe the program was illegal in any way.
2) We have every reason to believe it was effective at catching terrorists.
3) We ran the story anyway, screw you.
The longer version is simply a longer insult to the intelligence of their critics. Hugh Hewitt puts the full letter through the mill, but let me extract a few choice offerings from Mr. Keller:
Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.) Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise. And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.
In other words - Relax, dear Times Reader - we are getting flack from a bunch of right-wing cranks, but proper libs understand that the Times is simply contributing to the public debate.
It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.
Yes, but we also passed laws regarding the disclosure of classified information, and it is entirely possible that these leaks (although presumably not the publication thereof) are criminal. Does that aspect of the decisions made by We the People also count for anything in TimesWorld?
The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly. The responsibility of it weighs most heavily on us when an issue involves national security, and especially national security in times of war. I've only participated in a few such cases, but they are among the most agonizing decisions I've faced as an editor.
Tell me again whether there are any checks at all on this "power that has been given us". Where is the accountability at the Times - can We the People un-elect Bill Keller? How can we make him stop?
Or, if there is no accountability, is that really how we want to run our democracy? Don't We the People have the right to decide that some national security secrets need to be kept secret? Or can any bureaucrat with an agenda overrule his elected superiors?
Let me re-phrase that - can any bureaucrat with an agenda with which the Times is comfortable overrule his elected superiors on national security issues?
FROM THE COMMENTS:
[Keller] mentions that this was an "agonizing" decision, but doesn't do the thing he is forever demanding of other public figures with power- he doesn't touch on what responsibility he will hold if he is wrong. He does't say what made it agonizing. Does he worry he made the wrong choice, and that people might die because of it?
He doesn't even bother to say how he will ever evaluate his own actions. What will tug at the corners of his brain and tell him maybe he made the wrong choice to publish this information?
Good point - just what is the feedback loop here? My guess is that Keller keeps score by counting how many times he is lauded for his courage at cocktail parties in the Hamptons, but maybe it is not that scientific.
The NY Times Sunday Styles section takes a loving look at Robert Kennedy, environmental activist turned election fraud expert.
Dead Tree readers will see that the Times is hyping Kennedy's recent Rolling Stone article accusing the Evil Republicans of election fraud in 2004. That comes through less strongly in the web presentation, but a bit of the flavor is here; I don't see the Dead Tree photo of the Rolling Stone article anywhere on the web.
Despite the hype, the Times seems to have brought up the Rolling Stone article mainly to mock the lefty blogs. Let me excerpt their coverage:
Recently, much of Mr. Kennedy's public focus has been on democracy, and he has taken increasingly audacious leaps into political swamps that transcend the environment. He roiled the blogosphere and cable news shows this month after declaring — in an article he wrote in Rolling Stone — that Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election through a series of voting frauds. "I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004," Mr. Kennedy wrote in the exhaustive, strenuously footnoted article, which relied heavily on the published research of others.
He has repeated the accusation on Air America, the liberal radio network on which he is co-host of a program, and on a procession of television talk-'n'-shout fests (with Stephen Colbert, Wolf Blitzer, Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews). Mr. Kennedy is hitching his iconic name to a cause that has largely been consigned so far to liberal bloggers and which nearly all Democratic leaders and major news media outlets have ignored and which, unsurprisingly, Bush supporters have ridiculed. Tracy Schmitt, the Republican National Committee press secretary, accused Mr. Kennedy of "peddling a conspiracy theory that was thoroughly debunked nearly two years ago."
Farhad Manjoo, of Salon.com, wrote: "If you do read the Kennedy article, be prepared to machete your way through numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data."
It is impossible to read the Rolling Stone article without wondering how Mr. Kennedy's audacious accusations might relate to his philosophical evolution or even affect his political viability. Naturally he is asked all the time what he envisions next for himself, specifically, what he plans to run for.
And we segue to a discussion of his political future. We are brought back to Ohio at the end of the article:
Mr. Kennedy said that he had "continually expanded my realm of interest." His recent focus on the 2004 election exists on that continuum, he added.
He had heard low-grade rumblings about alleged abuses in Ohio, faulty voting machines and minority voters waiting hours in line at the polls. But he remained skeptical, or complacent. "I kept the same kind of deliberate blinders on that much of the media did," he said, bemoaning the news media's relative preoccupation with "Brad and Angelina and the Duke lacrosse team."
THEN Mr. Kennedy spent Christmas skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, at the home of Ms. David and her husband, Larry David, the "Seinfeld" creator and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" protagonist. Mr. David urged him to read a book on the 2004 election by the news media critic Mark Crispin Miller.
Mr. Kennedy did, and a few days later he was skiing with the Rolling Stone publisher, Jann S. Wenner, an old friend and Sun Valley homeowner. Mr. Kennedy suggested that Mr. Wenner commission a story on the "stolen election." Mr. Wenner said he would, provided Mr. Kennedy wrote it. He had written a much-discussed and much-challenged story for Rolling Stone last year linking childhood vaccines and a rise in autism.
After some hesitation, Mr. Kennedy said, he agreed to write the election article. Since it was posted on Rolling Stone's Web site on June 1, the Web has been ablog with a split between those who believe this is the biggest unreported story ever and those who think it's old news, discredited long ago. Mr. Kennedy said it's hard to prove that any election had been "stolen."
"If you're looking for proof and certitude, you're not going to find it," he said. Either way, Mr. Kennedy said he is committed to stoking the outrage of 2004, wherever it leads. "This is going to remain one of my central concerns for a while," he said, adding, "America should be indignant." But is it, beyond certain liberal airwaves and blogs? Congress has not exactly been rocked with speeches on the matter or with calls for investigations.
In a phone interview, Mr. Wenner said that John Kerry, the big loser in 2004, "does not question the validity of the piece," hardly a signal of outrage.
Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and a longtime advocate of electoral reform, called the article "tremendously compelling." But not compelling enough to talk about it: Mr. Dodd's comments were relayed in a statement from his office.
Mr. Kennedy called the silence of leading Democrats "a great disappointment," but declared himself undeterred. If anything, he said, the experience has left him more likely to run for office than before.
"It's all in God's hands," he said on Wednesday night at Treasure Island, a lemony sun setting over the Golden Gate Bridge. He was surrounded by environmentalists swapping stories about protecting the planet's liquid resources (and imbibing other liquid resources).
"I can only control my own conduct," Mr. Kennedy said, shrugging. "And I plan to go down fighting."
We shall not let the NY Times paint with too broad a brush - although I am sure there were plenty of lefty blogs that rallied to Kennedy's fantasy, plenty of other top lefties stayed away (Odd how the Times missed that in describing Kennedy's critics - one might almost think they would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon). I will toss in this link as evidence, cite Democratic Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal, and move on. Dot org.
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is sitting on his back porch in Berkeley, Calif., listening to the hummingbirds and explaining his plans to seize control of the Democratic Party.
Oh, his voices hum to him while he fantasizes of global domination. Breaking news. More psy-ops here:
When The New Republic's Web site published an e-mail from Moulitsas to a group of friendly activists urging them not to talk about Kosola and thus "starve it of oxygen," Moulitsas went berserk in a blog posting, accusing the venerable liberal journal of treason.
"Berserk"? Troubling. But they stay with the madness metaphor:
By the weekend, Moulitsas's allies were sending each other e-mails infected with the paranoia of revolutionaries who've gained power too fast: How should they deal with traitors? How much openness could they handle? Which fellow travelers could they really trust?
The best balm for his new headaches, of course, is victory.
It hurts, it hurts!
Finally, on page three:
The pressure on Moulitsas—to be consistent, to be pragmatic, to win—will only grow as the fall elections approach. Already, the strain of the spotlight is beginning to show in his growing belligerence and paranoia. When Kosola broke, Moulitsas e-mailed fellow progressive activists, wondering who might be shopping the story. "I've gotten reliable tips that Hillary's operation has been digging around my past (something I confronted them about, btw, and never got a denial), and you know the Lieberman/DLC/TNR camp is digging as well," he wrote, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and The New Republic. (Aides to Senators Clinton and Lieberman deny the allegations in the e-mails.)
Belligerence and paranoia! I don't think the MSM loves him.
MORE: But we love this bit of Kos hagiography:
It was the Iraq war that got Moulitsas to log on in the first place. He started blogging in 2002, largely out of frustration at how little the mainstream media were criticizing the Bush administration's apparent rush to invade Iraq. "It was a time that was very stifling for liberal voices in the American landscape," he remembers. "No one could criticize the president because it was considered treasonous to criticize the president in time of war." But as an Army veteran who served in artillery logistics in the first gulf war, he felt he could question the rush to combat with impunity. "I vowed my life for the right to criticize our leaders. Nobody was going to tell me I could or could not criticize anybody."
Emphasis added. We respect everyone who volunteers, and soldiers go where they are ordered. However, Kos was ordered to Germany during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, a point not made clear in what is otherwise a hit piece.
STILL MORE: Kevin Drum also sees a Big Media pile-on on the liberal blogs.
The Times delivers a rainy-Sunday opportunity for edification and reflection with a long piece on the ethanol boom:
For Good or Ill, Boom in Ethanol Reshapes Economy of Heartland
This article was reported by Alexei Barrionuevo, Simon Romero and Michael Janofsky and written by Mr. Barrionuevo.
Dozens of factories that turn corn into the gasoline substitute ethanol are sprouting up across the nation, from Tennessee to Kansas, and California, often in places hundreds of miles away from where corn is grown.
Once considered the green dream of the environmentally sensitive, ethanol has become the province of agricultural giants that have long pressed for its use as fuel, as well as newcomers seeking to cash in on a bonanza.
The modern-day gold rush is driven by a number of factors: generous government subsidies, surging demand for ethanol as a gasoline supplement, a potent blend of farm-state politics and the prospect of generating more than a 100 percent profit in less than two years.
The rush is taking place despite concerns that large-scale diversion of agricultural resources to fuel could result in price increases for food for people and livestock, as well as the transformation of vast preserved areas into farmland.
Despite continuing doubts about whether the fuel provides a genuine energy saving, at least 39 new ethanol plants are expected to be completed over the next 9 to 12 months, projects that will push the United States past Brazil as the world's largest ethanol producer.
But many energy experts are also questioning the benefits of ethanol to the nation's fuel supply. While it is a renewable, domestically produced fuel that reduces gasoline pollution, large amounts of oil or natural gas go into making ethanol from corn, leaving its net contribution to reducing the use of fossil fuels much in doubt.
Let me just seize on that point - does the production of ethanol have a positive energy balance or not?
Who doesn't love Jerome Armstrong? Before he was a controversial political consultant; before he was a co-author, with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, of "Crashing The Gate", in which he heralded the rise of the "Netroots"; and before he was barred from the securities industry by the SEC for his role in some penny-ante stock hustling, he was - I wish I had the nerve and imagination to make this up - an astrologer.
I am not kidding. And neither was he - here is a flavor of his analysis of the then-impending 2002 election, as brought to us by the Providence Journal:
Astrologers there are analyzing the cosmic weather, using a symbolic language, and looking at indicators: Who's moving to another house, who's under a heavy Saturn transit, who's a winner whose precise time has come. Nancy Luber Sommers is looking for periods of elation in the charts of the candidate and leaders of both parties in the next few days and beyond, especially to January. She has on on her own site a chart of predictions in major races based on what she sees in the candidates' charts.
Does this work? No idea. Come back tomorrow.
We might have a surprise.
That's what astrologer Jerome Armstrong says we'll see today, a surprise that's been brewing below the radar: that women voters will pour out to the polls today, while men will be inclined to stay home, for reasons only an astrologer might understand (so I've edited them out here):
Bush and the rulers (in) power could be pierced by something that seems trivial in (its) simplicity, that triggers larger events to occur. Simply put, men will not turn out to vote in near the numbers that women will this election....
Ceres and Venus are representative of younger, and especially feminine energies in the mundane election analysis;... they are holding a secret, their voice has seem(ed) stifled, and their vote will be a secret from Bush & the media...
No one knows how big the vote is, until after it happens, surprising the media, and shifting control of Congress.
It’s an angry vote. The dissatisfaction with the economy is there; but the Sun-Moon’s conjunction in the 7th, where the Rx Venus/Mercury conjunction is also, points towards the threat of war as a strong motivation.
For the full analysis, try this Google-cache of a post by "Jerome" with text that matches the Pro-Jo excerpt. It's pretty heavy stuff.
So one of the leaders of the "reality-based community" is an astrologer - who knew?
Actually, Dan Riehl, RedState and Wizbang knew before I did, and they have plenty of coverage. But what they don't have is Saturday night karaoke - I want all you unreconstructed 60's flower children to put your hands together and join in. I know you know the song:
When the moon is in the seventh house
And MyDD aligns with Kos
Then Mark Warner will be the nominee
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of the Daily Kos
The Age of the Daily Kos
The Daily Kos!
The Daily Kos!
OK, that was a beautiful moment but I have to serious up - these folks might actually anoint our next President. Ooops, now I'm laughing again...
BUT SERIOUSLY: Follow the money. Or, less seriously, learn why Mark Warner won in 2001. Here are lots of links from Glenn, and good background from the National Journal. Golly, those Kos Kidz sure do know how to kill a story, don't they?
ADMIRABLE RESTRAINT: From a disgruntled lefty:
I am feeling a powerful urge to bring up the obvious Democrat's retort here, but I am going to stay strong and Just Say No to that temptation.
UPDATE: Let's hear from Astrologer Jerome:
Another Update [2006-6-25 14:13:39 by Jerome Armstrong]: Oh yea, on the astrological stuff. I have done the new age type things over the years—life’s never boring that way. Down that line, I dabbled with planets and predictions in the most abstract manner, as one of several different predictive mathematical disciplines, when coming out of finances and into politics during my early blogging days (nobody is surprised that remembers the early 2001 days here), and since then have completely tapered out of it over time. So yea, the cons got me on this one being a little out of the ordinary… It has nothing to do with what I consult with in online political strategy. But hey, like JP Morgan once said, “millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do!” I hope to see those wingnuts that are obsessed with every little thing I do at the next bikram yoga or vipassana meditation session in DC-- but fair warning that I believe we evolved from monkeys!
THE BLOGOSPHERE'S SMOKE-FILLED BACKROOM:
Are Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas (of the famous Daily Kos) engaged in a pay-for-play scheme in which politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant get the support of Kos? That's the question that's been bouncing around the blogosphere ever since The New York Times's Chris Suellentrop broke the news last Friday about a 2000 run-in Armstrong had with the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged stock touting. But Armstrong, Kos, and other big-time liberal bloggers have almost entirely ignored the issue, which is a bit surprising considering their tendency to rapidly respond to even the smallest criticism.
Why the strange silence in the face of such damning allegations? Well, I think we now know the answer. It's a deliberate strategy orchestrated by Kos. TNR obtained a missive Kos sent earlier this week to "Townhouse," a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, Matt Stoller, and Christy Hardin Smith.
Interesting - the Kos himself recently explained that
"I used to say this was a leaderless movement, and I was wrong. It's not a leaderless movement; it's a everybody-who's-part-of-it-is-a-leader. And so you can take any single individual down, and it will continue to live on.".
Based on the existence of this Clownhouse Cabal, I infer that some are more leaderless than others, or some are more a part of it than others, or something. But I digress.
The Kos assured his followers that he would commence his pushback any day now, like right after the elections:
I am exploring legal options against some of the wingnut bloggers who are claiming I'm syphoning netroots money into consultants and my own pockets. Note how Glenn Reynolds is fueling it with his typical passive aggressive, "I don't think it's a big deal, but let me provide links to everyone who thinks this is THE BIGGEST STORY EVER!"
And Jerome's case, if it could be aired out, is a non-story (he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money). Jerome can't talk about it now since the case is not fully closed. But once it is, he'll go on the offensive. That should be a couple of months off.
"Exploring legal options"? Oh, stop - do the critical thinkers at the Clownhouse take this seriously? As a Meet The Press guest, touring book author, and prominent blogger, Kos is a public figure who will have a nearly impossible time sustaining any kind of defamation action.
And Jerome won't be going on the offensive any time, unless he intends to violate the terms of his SEC settlement. I posted links to the key legal documents in this old post, but the key bit was this, from the consent agreement (5 page .pdf):
Defendant agrees not to take any action or to make or permit to be made any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis.
Maybe we can anticipate a very quiet pushback in a few months. That's the ticket.
Glenn Greenwald, who never settles for "shrill" when "hysterical ranting" is within reach, tells the world that Jason Zengerle *might* have fabricated an email from Steven Gilliard when he wrote this post. [UPDATE: I respond to Greenwald's follow-up gas-letting here. Hint - my title is "What Would A Weasel Do", and it is emphatically *not* autobiographical.]
However - it is only in an UPDATE that Mr. Greenwald finally presents some highly relevant information: Mr. Zengerle excerpted THREE emails, including one from Mr. Greenwald himself; and Mr. Greenwald confirms the authenticity of two of them, including his own. That UPDATE sort of undermines the high dudgeon on display here in the original Greenwald post:
What makes this all the more disturbing is Zengerle's claim that he was "re-print[ing] some of the e-mails that were going to the 'Townhouse' list, according to three sources . . . " It is difficult to see how Zengerle's claim about his sources could be true, to put it generously. It is highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that three different sources would send Zengerle the same fabricated e-mail and falsely tell him that it was sent by Gilliard to the Townhouse list. And it is equally unlikely that three different sources would confirm that Gilliard sent an e-mail that he, in fact, simply never sent.
I would say that those additional facts are quite pertinent - Mr. Greenwald's more complete hypothesis seems to be that Mr. Zengerle had two genuine emails and fabricated a third. Somehow that seems to change the balance of probabilities a bit, especially since the "fake" email makes the same point as the two authentic ones - why, one might wonder, would Mr. Zengerle bother to gild the lily with a fake email supporting two real ones? And does it seem "highly unlikely (to put it mildly)" that Zengerle would have three sources confirming two genuine and one fake email?
I would think that if he wanted to allude to the possibility of dishonest behavior by Mr. Zengerle, Mr. Greenwald would take extra care to be honest himself. Oh, well - perhaps subsequent UPDATES will offer even more illumination.
MORE: Absurd squirming by Mr. Greenwald in the comments:
(4) I don't actually think the Gilliard e-mail is irrelevant. Even though it is shorter than the other two which Zengerle published, the fake Gilliard e-mail is really the ONLY one which bolsters Zengerle's point (namely - that bloggers wanted to write about this issue but then didn't when Markos requested silence). The first two e-mails (including mine) simply make the point that Jerome should himself respond to these charges because only he can.
Uh huh. I would say that the email cited by Mr. Zengerle (in an earlier post) as having come from the Kos himself makes the point even more clearly:
This story will percolate in wingnut circles until then, but I haven't gotten a single serious media call about it yet. Not one. So far, this story isn't making the jump to the traditional media, and we shouldn't do anything to help make that happen.
My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story.
So the current Greenwald hypothesis is what - no one has disputed the Kos email, but Mr. Zengerle fabricated the Gilliard email a day later in order to buttress it?
What a tangled web we weave.
UPDATE: Jason Zengerle rejoins the discussion on Sunday evening, telling us that there is a logical explanation but he has no idea what it is. Oh, he does a bit better than that:
Steve Gilliard claims that he did not write the email I attributed to him in this post. After doing some further investigating, I'm afraid to say that he is correct. He did not write that email. I apologize to Gilliard for not checking with him before publishing my post, and I regret the error.
Here's how the error happened: A source forwarded The New Republic three emails purportedly written by members of the "Townhouse" list--Glenn Greenwald, Mike Stark, and Steve Gilliard--expressing concern about the Armstrong-SEC story. The emails lacked timestamps and headers, so TNR checked the emails with two other sources who belonged to "Townhouse." Both of these sources vouched for the authenticity of all three emails (and two of the emails, Greenwald's and Stark's, are indisputably authentic). After returning to these two sources this weekend, TNR learned that when initially shown the three emails, both sources immediately recognized the 181-word Greenwald email and the 389-word Stark email; having determined that those two emails were authentic, the sources just assumed the 22-word Gilliard email was authentic, as well. We now know it wasn't. These were clearly honest mistakes on the parts of the second and third sources; and TNR has been unable to determine why the first source--who has not responded to messages--included this one piece of incorrect information along with the accurate information the source sent us. Therefore, I won't abide by Glenn Greenwald's demand to disclose the identities of these sources. If Greenwald thinks that makes me, as he's hyperventilated, "a new Stephen Glass," then he can take that up with my editor Frank Foer, who knows the identities of the sources and has reviewed all the relevant materials they provided.
Mr. Zengerle has kind words for Steve Gilliard:
I sincerely regret not checking with Gilliard before quoting his purported words, not only because this was unfair to Gilliard--who has behaved more responsibly than anyone involved in this particular matter, myself included...
Let me add that I thought Steve Gilliard came across as a stand-up guy in this post, where he explained that he had not written that email to the Townhouse ListServ, but did hold the sentiments expressed therein:
To be fair, I told Glenn I disagreed with the characterization of it being false, because I may have express some kind of sentiment close to that. The issue to me is not that Zengerle created it out of whole cloth, but if he got it from a source that he was too lazy and sloppy to confirm it with me.
...But even if Greenwald goes farther than I would, the question remains why didn't Zengerle do any interviews for his pieces. Why didn't he extend the basic journalism courtesy of asking if these were my words and if they were sending to the Townhouse list? I mean that's basic shit, Reporting I stuff.
...Now, some people may wonder why I didn't hammer Zengerle up and down the blog and call him a bald faced liar.
Let me explain something: presenting something false as something real and attributed to a person is a firing offense. This is not a game, if he was misled by a source; he deserves the chance to prove it. If he just pulled it out of his ass, I expect Frank Foer to fire him.
For myself, the notion that Jason Zengerle cut that email from a whole cloth never made sense. However, one does hope that his mystery source has an explanation. If I had to guess (and I don't, but...) I would say that the first source ended up attributing to Gilliard thoughts actually expressed by someone else, perhaps in a different forum. Still a mistake, but hardly as monumental as the hyperventilating Greenwald wanted to pretend.
But let's pass the mike to Greenwald himself, from his UPDATE III, so that we can be clear about his view:
Let me be as clear as I can be. I re-iterate my statement that the e-mail printed by Zengerle is fake. Scores of individuals on the Townhouse list have confirmed that Gilliard never sent any such e-mail to Townhouse, and Gilliard has said the same thing. He also says he has no record of sending such an e-mail to anyone. Contrary to the claim of Zengarle or his "three sources," it was never sent by Gilliard to the Townhouse list. Thus, what Zengarle reported -- allegedly based on three sources -- is indisptuably false.
The e-mail was simply fabricated by either Zengarle or his sources.
Emphasis added. At this point, we still don't know how the genesis of the "Gilliard" email. However, if it was written by someone other than Zengerle or his primary source but misattributed, then I seriously dispute the use of the words "fake" and "fabricated".
Hmm. We are puzzling over UPDATE IV from Greenwald, which includes this:
I not only look very forward to that moment [when Zengerle addresses this], but also to what I'm certain will be the candid and straightfoward acknowledgments of error by those bloggers and commenters who spent the day giddily claiming that the e-mail was authentic and/or that no basis existed for the claim that it was false. In case it slips their minds, I'll be sure to remind them.
(For non-link-clickers, I am "giddily").
Well, I have no doubt Greenwald will claim vindication regardless of the actual facts as they become available. However, before he reminds me of his glorious victory, maybe he can remind me of just where it was I said that "the e-mail was authentic and/or that no basis existed for the claim that it was false".
Since what I did say was:
Mr. Zengerle excerpted THREE emails, including one from Mr. Greenwald himself; and Mr. Greenwald confirms the authenticity of two of them, including his own. That UPDATE sort of undermines the high dudgeon on display here in the original Greenwald post:
...Mr. Greenwald's more complete hypothesis seems to be that Mr. Zengerle had two genuine emails and fabricated a third. Somehow that seems to change the balance of probabilities a bit, especially since the "fake" email makes the same point as the two authentic ones.
Since my objection was to his near-total suppression of the existence of two authentic emails alongside the email in dispute, I think he will have a hard time with his claim that I asserted there was no basis for saying the email was "fake". Well, he will have a hard time if he confines himself to the facts.
The National Leage has been getting buried in interleague play - through Thursday night, the AL was 77-49 against the senior circuit, for a .611 pct.
More details are here, but what I lack is perspective - I read a Sports Illustrated article a while back explaining to me why the AL was in the ascendancy, but I can neither find nor remember it.
THE BEAT GOES ON: The AL went 9-5 on Friday night. Looks like a typical night for Armando, now blowing big saves for the Giants.
UNRELENTING: The Saturday results - the AL wins 10-2, with Yankees-Marlins postponed until Sunday and the Angels-Diamondbacks tied in free baseball.
As to the imminent demise of the Swift program, let me extract this from the bottom of the Times story:
Despite the controls, Swift executives became increasingly worried about their secret involvement with the American government, the officials said. By 2003, the cooperative's officials were discussing pulling out because of their concerns about legal and financial risks if the program were revealed, one government official said.
"How long can this go on?" a Swift executive asked, according to the official.
Even some American officials began to question the open-ended arrangement. "I thought there was a limited shelf life and that this was going to go away," the former senior official said.
In 2003, administration officials asked Swift executives and some board members to come to Washington. They met with Mr. Greenspan, Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, and Treasury officials, among others, in what one official described as "a full-court press."
The executives agreed to continue supplying records after the Americans pledged to impose tighter controls. Swift representatives would be stationed alongside intelligence officials and could block any searches considered inappropriate, several officials said. The procedural change provoked some opposition at the C.I.A. because "the agency was chomping at the bit to have unfettered access to the information," a senior counterterrorism official said. But the Treasury Department saw it as a necessary compromise, the official said, to "save the program."
Look, there is no way a bunch of Euro-crats can withstand the public reaction that will follow this publicity.
And what program will the Times bury next? They provide some some hints here:
Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing. Much more limited agreements with other companies have provided access to A.T.M. transactions, credit card purchases and Western Union wire payments, the officials said.
I have no doubt that the Times conception of the public interest will oblige them to provide more details about these programs as well; some coverage of the Western Union situation appears in this article:
The F.B.I. began acquiring financial records from Western Union and its parent company, First Data Corporation. The programs were alluded to in Congressional testimony by the F.B.I. in 2003 and described in more detail in a book released this week, "The One Percent Doctrine," by Ron Suskind. Using what officials described as individual, narrowly framed subpoenas and warrants, the F.B.I. has obtained records from First Data, which processes credit and debit card transactions, to track financial activity and try to locate suspects.
Similar subpoenas for the Western Union data allowed the F.B.I. to trace wire transfers, mainly outside the United States, and to help Israel trace the financing of about a half-dozen possible terrorist plots there, an official said.
I don't see how the Times can be stopped.
UPDATE: Dick Cheney attacks the press for disclosing an important and sensitive program; the Times assures us that the SWIFT Euro-crats will stand tall in the face of likely Euroutrage:
WASHINGTON, June 23 — Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and "absolutely essential" to fighting terrorism.
"What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago. "That offends me."
The financial tracking program was disclosed Thursday by The New York Times and other news organizations. American officials had expressed concerns that the Brussels banking consortium that provides access to the database might withdraw from the program if its role were disclosed, particularly in light of anti-American sentiment in some parts of Europe.
But the consortium, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, published a statement on its Web site on Friday, saying its executives "have done their utmost to get the right balance in fulfilling their obligations to the authorities in a manner protective of the interests of the company and its members."
A representative for the cooperative, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk about its internal discussions, said that he knew of no discussions about withdrawing, adding that the group was "very resolute" in its commitment to the financial tracking operation.
Time will tell. Meanwhile, the Times editors defend their continued work as unelected, unaccountable ombudsman of America's security:
What's worrisome is a familiar refrain. Despite a compliant Congress, which was eager to give the administration all the investigative tools it requested, the White House has chosen to operate outside any real scrutiny, and not to seek explicit authorization for what has clearly become a permanent program.
Their explanation of the futility of Congressional briefings is a classic:
A few members were briefed on the program, and a few more told about it once it became clear that newspapers were preparing an article. But the briefings tend to become a trap in which those who are informed about what is going on are required under security rules not to talk about what they know even after it becomes public. Armed with some knowledge, they become more impotent than when they were completely in the dark.
Our poor, helpless Senators and Congressman. The same folks who can earmark legislation and put holds on judges just can't figure out how to get the Administration to talk to them. My guess - Congress preferred to punt on this issue (and many others), since the avoidance of responsibility (and possibility accountability if things go sour) is a key political imperative.
Let's have an open thread on Haditha - this LA Times story about the failure of the Marine chain of command to investigate with vigor can be a launching point.
Marines Missed 'Red Flags,' Study FindsCorps failed to inquire further into killing of civilians in Haditha, a disclosed summary says.By Julian E. Barnes and Tony Perry, Times Staff Writers
June 21, 2006
WASHINGTON — A report on the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines has found that senior military personnel in Iraq failed to follow up on "red flags" that should have indicated problems with and potential inaccuracies in initial accounts of the incident, according to a portion of the report's summary.
The report questions why senior military officers in western Iraq failed to investigate further what happened in the town of Haditha when they learned that civilians there had been killed in the November incident. A portion of the executive summary of the report, by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, was read to The Times by a Defense Department official who requested anonymity because the report had not been released publicly.
John Kerry, Vietnam war hero turnd anti-war leader, has surprised no one by finally finding his comfort zone in opposition to the war in Iraq. However, Ms. Zernike of the Times tells us that he might have picked a better time:
Mr. Kerry has found his resolve. But it has not made his fellow Democrats any happier. They fear the latest evolution of Mr. Kerry's views on Iraq may now complicate their hopes of taking back a majority in Congress in 2006.
As the Senate prepared for what promises to be a sharp debate starting on Wednesday about whether to begin pulling troops from Iraq, the Democratic leadership wants its members to rally behind a proposal that calls for some troops to move out by the end of this year but does not set a fixed date for complete withdrawal. Mr. Kerry has insisted on setting a date, for American combat troops to pull out in 12 months, saying anything less is too cautious.
Some of the details provided by Ms. Zernike are amusing:
Senate Democrats have been loath to express their opinions publicly, determined to emphasize a united front. But interviews suggest a frustration with Mr. Kerry, never popular among the caucus, and still unpopular among many Democrats for failing to defeat a president they considered vulnerable. Privately, some of his Democratic peers complain that he is too focused on the next presidential campaign.
...Mr. Kerry's insistence on pushing ahead with his own plan has left the Democrats divided, and open to renewed Republican accusations that they are indecisive and weak — the same ridicule that Republicans heaped on Mr. Kerry in 2004, when his "I was for it before I was against it" statement about a vote on money for the war became a punch line.
...Stepping into an elevator on Capitol Hill late last week, Mr. Kerry was asked whether he was under pressure in the Democrats' meetings to withdraw his proposal. As he insisted he was not, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, standing behind him, raised his eyebrows, then winked.
In an interview, Mr. Dodd, who is also considering a presidential run, said one danger in the November election was in making Democrats look indecisive. "If the argument comes down to, Is it one year or 18 months, I think we're going to confuse people," he said. "I'm not sure what the value is; I think it hurts us rather than helps."
This Kerry-basher gives new credence to Mickey's theory (June 5) about Ms. Zernike's recent promotion of Kerry's belated effort to rebut the Swift Vets:
Of course. at this point only artificial conventions of objectivity prevent MSM journalists from openly acknowledging that Kerry has no hope of winning the presidency. He's a dead man who doesn't know it, a political zombie refighting a lost campaign by refighting his role in a lost war, long after both conflicts are over. The delusional, obsessive quality of his permanent campaign ("I have the hat!") is something I suspect Zernike--or at least her headline writer--was trying to get across, even though she seems to Lipscomb (and others) like a gullible Kerry sympathizer...
I love the gap between the AP headline and lead:
GOP leaders: No immigration bill this year
In a defeat for President Bush, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday that broad immigration legislation is all but doomed for the year, a victim of election-year concerns in the House and conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
"No bill" is quite different from "no comprehensive bill"; the "enforcement-only" option seems to be the opposite of doomed:
Some officials added that Republicans have begun discussing a pre-election strategy for seizing the political high ground on an issue that so far has served to highlight divisions within the party. Among the possibilities, these officials said, are holding votes in the House or Senate this fall on additional measures to secure the borders, or on legislation that would prevent illegal immigrants from receivingpayments or other government benefits.
"The discussion is how to put the Democrats in a box without attacking the president," said one aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Here is Carl Hulse of the Times:
In a decision that puts an overhaul of immigration laws in serious doubt, House Republican leaders said Tuesday that they would hold summer hearings around the nation on the politically volatile subject before trying to compromise with the Senate on a chief domestic priority of President Bush.
"We are going to listen to the American people, and we are going to get a bill that is right," said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who said he had informed Mr. Bush of the plan.
The unusual decision to set a new round of hearings on legislation already passed by the House and the Senate places a serious roadblock in the way of Mr. Bush's drive for major changes in immigration policy.
The timing means that formal Congressional negotiations will not begin until September, just as Congressional campaigns are entering their crucial final weeks, when lawmakers typically shy away from difficult issues.
"I don't know how likely that is," Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the House Republican whip, said about reaching an agreement before November.
Mr. Blunt suggested that final consideration might have to wait for a lame-duck session after the election. "We clearly are going to be here later in the year," he said.
But advancing significant legislation in lame-duck sessions has proved difficult. If Congress does not act this year, the House and the Senate will have to begin anew in 2007 should lawmakers want to pursue immigration changes.
And the WaPo:
In a move that could bury President Bush's high-profile effort to overhaul immigration law until after the midterm elections, House GOP leaders yesterday announced a series of field hearings during the August recess, pushing off final negotiations on a bill until fall at the earliest.
The announcement was the clearest sign yet that House Republicans have largely given up on passing a broad rewrite of the nation's immigration laws this year. They believe that their get-tough approach -- including building a wall along the border with Mexico and deporting millions of illegal immigrants -- is far more popular with voters than the approach backed by Bush and the Senate, which would create a guest-worker program and allow many illegal immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Interestingly, the WaPo has a longer and slightly more upbeat quote from House Republican Whip Roy Blunt:
Asked whether a deal could be struck with the Senate this fall, in the throes of a difficult reelection season, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) allowed: "I think that's possible. I don't know how likely it is."
As cited above, the Times cut that to "I don't know how likely it is".
Finally, the Times provides their overview of the two bills.
TruthNot, having promised "a more comprehensive accounting" of their "Rove Indicted" debacle from last May 13, delivers a compelling graphic explaining why Special Counsel Fitzgerald can't be stopped in his pursuit of the Evildoers.
At least they remain true to the TruthNot motto - Speak Truth to Power, deliver BS to everyone else.
With almost as much seriousness, Marc Ash provides some text telling us that yes, Rove really was indicted. The short version is a re-hash of the fantasy still prevailing among lefties who can't let go - Rove has given up the key evidence on Cheney, who will be getting his come-uppance within the next 24 business hours (i.e., at about half-past never).
The TruthNot piece makes no sense, but let's highlight this special nonsense:
The electronic communication from Fitzgerald to Luskin, coming immediately on the heels of our Monday morning, June 12 article "Sealed vs. Sealed" that became the basis for the mainstream media's de facto exoneration of Karl Rove was, our sources told us, negotiated quickly over the phone later that afternoon.
Pretty good inside stuff, yes? The phone rings, Luskin is on the line, and the TruthNot source is there!
But wait! Who, other than Marc Ash, has forgotten their classic lead from the May 13 piece?
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.
During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.
Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove...
How could sources who can tip TruthOut to a single phone call be wrong about a fifteen hour meeting? Or does TruthOut still fantasize that such a meeting occurred? Well, here is their current punchline:
Our sources continue to maintain that a grand jury has in fact returned an indictment. Our sources said that parts of the indictment were read to Karl Rove and his attorney on Friday, May 12, 2006.
Wow - they spent fifteen hours reading "parts of the indictment" to Karl Rove and his attorney? That raises the bar on "tedium" to absurd heights - "Like watching paint dry" will never mean "boring" again.
Let's close with this:
That leaves the most important question: If our sources maintain that a grand jury has returned an indictment - and we have pointed to a criminal case number that we are told corresponds to it - then how is it possible that Patrick Fitzgerald is reported to have said that 'he does not anticipate seeking charges against Rove at this time?' That is a very troubling question, and the truth is, we do not yet have a definitive answer.
They don't have a definitive answer, but... the trial is not until next January, prosecutors aren't normally in the business of announcing non-indictments, so Keep Hope Alive!
MORE: J Pod thinks this is all about traffic and donor support at TruthNot. Here is an idea - Marc Ash should hint that Evil Forces are trying to quash and discredit their story, and it is only his readers and fellow fantasists that stand between Truth and the Dark Side. Ahh, yes.
GOOD POINT - I may have misinterpreted the graphic stolen shamelessly from a commenter at Donklephant. Maybe TruthNot is showing us how Evil Dick Cheney can be unstoppable in his intimidation of the Truth-Tellers. You make the call.
PROPS TO DU: A Democratic Underground sleuth debunked the TruthOut "sealed versus sealed" fantasy a while back. The gist - in the DC circuit, cases are assigned a docket number in sequence. A sealed case will still get a number in sequence, but will be missing from the docket.
And the case on which TruthNot pins their hopes, 06 cr 128, falls between two cases assigned numbers on May 16 and May 17.
Since Rove was indicted on May 12, that does not work.
Here is an excerpt. Good job.
The criminal docket doesn't list a 06-CR-128; it's completely missing from the docket. This is typical for sealed cases in the DC courts. However, we can tell when it was filed based on the dates of the surrounding cases. Here's the complete list of criminal cases filed in the DC district court from May 10 - May 23, 2006.
USA v. MANSOER Filed: 05/10/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. DORIUS et al Filed: 05/12/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. ABDOULAYE Filed: 05/12/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. CURRY Filed: 05/16/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. WASHINGTON Filed: 05/17/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. HILLIARD Filed: 05/18/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. MANOR Filed: 05/18/2006 Office: Washington, DC
USA v. GARCIA Filed: 05/23/2006 Office: Washington, DC
No 06-CR-128 listed at all. But the case before it, CR-127, was filed on May 16, 2006. And the case after it, CR-129, was filed on May 17, 2006. Therefore, we know that 06-CR-128 was filed either May 16 or May 17th. According to Leopold's original story, Rove was indicted (secretly) on May 12th. In his new "Sealed vs. Sealed" story, he says "As of Friday afternoon that indictment, returned by the grand jury the week of May 10th, remains under seal.. The case number is "06 cr 128." But based on the dates in the docket, that case cite CANNOT be the Rove indictment. This case was filed on Tuesday, May 16 or Wed., May 17th - NOT May 12th (when Fitz supposedly met w/the grand jury), and NOT during the week of May 7 - May 13th.
JUST IN: Don't ignore the possibility of time traveling aliens. I thought they were working for Karl, but maybe a rival faction interceded.
Marc Ash, TruthNot's foundering founder, offered some scraps on the Rove debacle last Friday and told his remaining readers this:
Expect a more comprehensive accounting of this matter on Monday, June 19.
No worries - Joe Lauria delivered some background on Mr. Leopold's reporting techniques over the weekend:
I met Leopold once, three days before his Rove story ran, to discuss his recently published memoir, "News Junkie."...
... Before we parted, I told him a bit about myself -- that I freelance for numerous newspapers, including the Sunday Times of London. His publicist had earlier given him my cellphone number.
Three days later, Leopold's Rove story appeared. I wrote him a congratulatory e-mail, wondering how long it would be before the establishment media caught up.
But by Monday there was no announcement. No one else published the story. The blogosphere went wild. Leopold said on the radio that he would out his unnamed sources if it turned out that they were wrong or had misled him. I trawled the Internet looking for a clue to the truth. I found a blog called Talk Left, run by Jeralyn Merritt, a Colorado defense lawyer.
Merritt had called Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman who is now privately employed by Rove. She reported that Corallo said he had "never spoken with someone identifying himself as 'Jason Leopold.' He did have conversations Saturday and Sunday . . . but the caller identified himself as Joel something or other from the Londay [sic] Sunday Times. . . . At one point . . . he offered to call Joel back, and was given a cell phone number that began with 917. When he called the number back, it turned out not to be a number for Joel."
A chill went down my back. I freelance for the Sunday Times. My first name is often mistaken for Joel. My cellphone number starts with area code 917.
I called Corallo. He confirmed that my name was the one the caller had used. Moreover, the return number the caller had given him was off from mine by one digit. Corallo had never been able to reach me to find out it wasn't I who had called. He said he knew who Leopold was but had never talked to him.
I imagine we will see that "more comprehensive accounting" within 24 business hours.
UPDATE: Just before 7 PM, Marc Ash delivers. I haven't made it past the second sentence because I can't read with tears of laughter in my eyes:
What will follow will be a rather frank discussion of our reporting of and involvement in the Rove indictment matter. If you like simple answers or quick resolutions, turn back now.
But I want tortured, twisted logic and absurd obfuscations! Bring it on!
Newsweek takes a long look at the Duke lacrosse debacle. Well, fair's fair, since they tell us this:
NEWSWEEK put the mug shots of two of the players—Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19—on its cover the week after they were indicted.
This week's cover looks like a shot of Johnny Depp; I can't tell from the website whether they mention the Duke case on the cover.
Eventually Newsweek gets to the political benefit Nifong may have realized from this case:
Nifong's motives may have been political as well. He was six weeks away from an election when the Duke case came up. Durham voters are almost evenly divided between black and white. One of Nifong's opponents was black and the other was white, but the white lawyer was much better known in the community, thanks to winning a high-profile murder case. (That opponent, former assistant D.A. Freda Black, became a bitter enemy of Nifong's after, she claims, Nifong fired her.) Nifong promised black voters that he would not let the Duke case drop. He indicted two of the players two weeks before the election. He won narrowly, taking a larger share of the black vote than the other white candidate.
After you get past the misleading headline, this story has useful details on the racial breakdown of voting for the Durham DA race:
Grose’s precinct-by-precinct analysis showed that Nifong received 44 percent of the black vote and 46.2 percent of the white/nonblack vote.
Just over half (50.6 percent) of the total number of white voters cast their ballots for Freda Black, the other white candidate in the race. She also received support from 25.2 percent of the black voters. Meanwhile, the only African-American candidate in the race for district attorney, Keith Bishop, received 30.8 percent of the black vote and 3.2 percent of the white/nonblack vote. “Bishop was endorsed by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, a powerful African-American group for endorsements,” said Grose, a Duke University graduate. “Many times, although not in this DA election, the committee can guarantee much black voter support.”
Nifong received a larger percentage of the black vote than the other two contenders, but he did not get a majority of the black vote. His percentage of the white vote was slightly less than 50 percent. “Nifong basically did well among both blacks and whites, demonstrating that Durham voters do not seem to be polarized along racial lines, at least on this issue,” Grose said. “In addition, the voting results suggest that Nifong’s high-profile attention to this case could have helped him with black voters.”
Justice delayed is justice denied, but the Republicans have decided to field an opponent to Nifong this November:
The Durham Republican Party will field a candidate to run against the district attorney leading the investigation in the Duke lacrosse rape case in the November election, ABC News' Law & Justice Unit has learned.
Durham Republican County Chairman Steve Monks told ABC News that he will announce his intention to challenge Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong in a press conference at 4 p.m. ET today. Monks and Durham County Republicans acknowledged that the Duke rape investigation weighed heavily in their decision to field a GOP candidate in a traditionally Democratic county.
"People feel [Nifong] totally sold out the people of Durham,'' Monks said. "They don't feel comfortable with this case. They feel like it was a sellout, that he pandered to the people of Durham.''
Nifong sold out the people of Durham by pandering to them? Pretty abstract - is he telling us that Nifong pandered when he should have delivered tough love? That sound-bite needs a bit of work.
UPDATE: Here is another detailed analysis of how the voting broke for Nifong.
Mickey Kaus and Mark Coffey (1, 2) have coverage of the TimesSelect-sheltered report by Chris Suellentrop about the stock-promotion litigation involving candidate-promoting Netroots guru Jerome B. Armstrong.
The NY Post followed up the Times report - a flavor:
Jerome Armstrong, the political strategist who followed a famous Internet fundraising effort for Howard Dean in 2004 with a book on "people-powered politics," has a sordid past as a shill for a worthless dot-com stock.
Armstrong, 42, touted a dubious Chinese software company, BluePoint, beginning in 1999, without disclosing that he accepted "below-market" shares in exchange for the glowing reports he posted on a site called Raging Bull, according to a 2003 civil suit that named him as a defendant.
Armstrong denied to The Post that he did anything wrong and said the SEC made a mistake in charging him. "This was a long time ago and I settled the case without admitting or denying guilt, and I paid no fine," said Armstrong, who refused to comment further.
Armstrong signed off on a settlement of the charges on Dec. 16, 2003, barring him from touting securities. In addition, Armstrong agreed never to deny any of the SEC charges. It was not immediately known if his statement to The Post denying guilt would violate the settlement agreement.
Chris Suellentrop provided the original SEC complaint but let me throw a few more documents into the mix:
(1) Mr. Armstrong's original denial of the complaint;
(2) The consent order (3 page .pdf)
(3) the consent agreement (5 page .pdf)
The Post wondered whether Mr. Armstrong's statement that "This was a long time ago and I settled the case without admitting or denying guilt, and I paid no fine" might be a violation of the consent agreement. The relevant bit is seems to be on p. three of the five page agreement:
Defendant agrees not to take any action or to make or permit to be made any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis.
Well. I would guess that the Post quote is a pretty dry recitation of the facts and would be allowed. However - has there been any reaction at MyDD or the Daily Kos? I found some stray comments at DailyKos, but otherwise my search was a failure.
Unnereved by the recent spate of bad news - we got Zarqawi, they didn't get Karl Rove, and our President went to Baghdad - Frank Rich lashes into the Democrats:
But in 2006? The war is going so badly that it's hard to imagine how the Democrats, fractious as they are, could fail, particularly if the Republicans insist on highlighting the debacle, as they did last week by staging a Congressional mud fight about Iraq on the same day that the American death toll reached 2,500. As the Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio wittily observed in April: "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."
Actually, though, the Democrats did have some plans, all of them now capsizing. The biggest was the hope that they could be propelled into power by their opponents' implosions. But Mr. Rove was not indicted. And the "culture of corruption" has lost its zing. Tom DeLay is gone, Duke Cunningham is in jail, and many Americans can't differentiate between Jack Abramoff, the Indian casino maven, and William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who kept $90,000 of very cool cash in his freezer.
On the war, Democrats are fighting among themselves or, worse, running away from it altogether. Last week the party's most prominent politician, Hillary Clinton, rejected both the president's strategy of continuing with "his open-ended commitment" in Iraq and some Democrats' strategy of setting "a date certain" for withdrawal. She was booed by some in her liberal audience who chanted, "Bring the troops home now!" But her real sin was not that she failed to endorse that option, but that she failed to endorse any option.
Like Mr. Bush, she presented a false choice — either stay the course or cut and run — yet unlike Mr. Bush, she didn't even alight on one of them.
...the Democrats float Band-Aid nostrums and bumper-sticker marketing strategies like "Together, America Can Do Better." As the linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, "The very ungrammaticality of the Democrats' slogan reminds you that this is a party with a chronic problem of telling a coherent story about itself, right down to an inability to get its adverbs and subjects to agree." On Wednesday Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were to announce their party's "New Direction" agenda — actually, an inoffensive checklist of old directions (raise the minimum wage, cut student loan costs, etc.) — that didn't even mention Iraq. Symbolically enough, they had to abruptly reschedule the public unveiling to attend Mr. Bush's briefing on his triumphant trip to Baghdad.
Those who are most enraged about the administration's reckless misadventures are incredulous that it repeatedly gets away with the same stunts. Last week the president was still invoking 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq, which he again conflated with the war on Islamic jihadism — the war we are now losing, by the way, in Afghanistan and Somalia. But as long as the Democrats keep repeating their own mistakes, they will lose to the party whose mistakes are, if nothing else, packaged as one heckuva show. It's better to have the courage of bad convictions than no courage or convictions at all.
After the 2002 Dem debacle, observers noted that you can't beat something with nothing. Here we go again.
Hold on - I feel a song coming on! Let's set Rep. Murtha's new redeployment strategy for Iraq to music. And since John Kerry's amendment urging a bailout by Christmas got a whole six votes, let's keep him in the mix too:
Where the planes come whistling from the sky
With our redeployed men we can leave right then
And it's just six thousand miles to fly!
Ev'ry night my intel chief and I
Sit alone and talk and watch an AWAC
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.
We know we are here for John Kerry
And to the Iraqis we aren't very scary
And when we say
Yeeow! WTF is it now?
We're only sayin'
Why are we based in Okinawa?
Okinawa, no way.
They say there's a broken light for every heart on Broadway. However, I kinda suspect my new musical won't be opening there, so I may never know.
The Times delivers a poignant look at Dan Rather's sunset:
The 74-year-old man with the Mets cap pulled far down on his forehead slid into a booth at a diner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and ordered a glass of milk without so much as turning a head — so quietly, in fact, that it was hard to believe it was Dan Rather.
In place of the swagger that had served him so well throughout his 44-year career at CBS News was an obvious sadness that his tenure at the network was ticking down to an inglorious end. Mr. Rather complained that since stepping down as anchor of the " CBS Evening News" last year, in the aftermath of a reporting scandal, he had been ill used as a correspondent on "60 Minutes" and had been given virtually nothing at all to do for the previous six weeks.
Among the places he had sought solace, he said on a recent afternoon, was in "Good Night, and Good Luck," George Clooney's homage to Edward R. Murrow and the CBS News of old, a film that Mr. Rather said he had seen five times in theaters, most recently alone.
They describe his possible next venture in Hi-Def cable with Mark Cuban, and then give us this:
Mr. Rather also said that in April, in anticipation of what seemed to be his imminent departure from CBS, he had formed a company — he named it News and Guts, in a nod to what he considers the pillars of his professional life — through which he plans to create several other journalism ventures, including, perhaps, a blog. (Though he has not yet settled on a title, he says he has ruled out one: "I'd Rather Say This.")
Still under consideration: "I'd Rather Be In Philadelphia".
Here is what the Times tells us about Dan's career-ending belly flop, starting with the sixteenth paragraph:
In those comments, and others, Mr. Rather was referring, however obliquely, to his displeasure with the leadership of CBS. He appeared, for example, to fault the network for eventually withdrawing its support for the "60 Minutes II" report that would, in turn, unravel his career. In the segment, he had sought to raise new questions about President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, using memorandums that the network, and later a panel of outside investigators, said they could not authenticate.
...Asked if the network had sought to marginalize him over his role in the disputed Guard report — including his spirited defense of the segment, for more than a week after it was broadcast — Mr. Rather said, "There's a lot I have yet to figure out."
"Sought to raise questions". Whatever. Here is an old WaPo piece, and I had some useless fun here. If someone recalls a great round-up of the RatherGate debacle (probably at Powerline), that would be a big help.
MORE: Kevin Drum, who landed his gig at the Washington Monthly in part because of his own Bush AWOL research, was not kind to Old Dan. Nor was Clarice Feldman.
The Weekly Standard has some background as well.
The NY Times puts some reportorial muscle into the mystery of what happened at Haditha:
Contradictions Cloud Inquiry Into 24 Iraqi Deaths
By JOHN M. BRODER
This article was reported by John M. Broder, David S. Cloud, John Kifner, Carolyn Marshall, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, and was written by Mr. Broder.
What really happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005?
On that day, marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians, including 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair. But how and why it happened and who ultimately bears responsibility are matters of profound dispute.
Interviews with marines who were present that day or their lawyers, Iraqi residents who witnessed the attack and military investigators provide broadly conflicting accounts of the killings. This article, based on those interviews, does not resolve those discrepancies. But it does lay bare the task facing investigators as they try to square the accounts with ambiguous forensic evidence, and suggests that the work will be hindered by the passage of time, the tricks of memory and the fog of fast-paced action at several different locations in Haditha, a tense Euphrates River valley city, seven months ago.
Investigators and townspeople have said that marines overreacted to a fatal roadside bombing and shot the civilians, only one of whom was armed, in cold blood.
Marines and their lawyers, who are only now beginning to speak out after months of harsh portrayals of their actions, contend that they believed they were under a concerted attack, and entitled under their rules of engagement to use lethal force against those who they believed were responsible for a roadside bomb that killed a marine.
The 24 Iraqis killed included 5 men in a taxi and 19 other civilians in several houses, where, marines have contended, their use of grenades and blind fire was permitted under their combat guidelines when they believed their lives were threatened.
However, investigators have found evidence that the men in the taxi were not fleeing the bombing scene, as the marines have told military officials. Investigators have also concluded that most of the victims in three houses died from well-aimed rifle shots, not shrapnel or random fire, according to military officials familiar with the initial findings.
The houses where the killings took place show no evidence of the violent room-clearing assault described by the marines and their lawyers, the officials said.
The bodies have not yet been exhumed for autopsies, and defense lawyers can be expected to challenge the narrow use of photographic evidence on these points. But according to two people briefed on the investigation, one member of the Marine squad at Haditha, himself closely tied to some of the deaths, is now cooperating with investigators.
And they go on, in detail, with helpful graphics.
A useful complement is this June 11 WaPo article which presents the first detailed version from the one of the marines under investigation.
Here is just one of the problem areas in the differing accounts:
The marines have said they believed they were coming under small-arms fire from a house on the south side of the road. A four-man "stack" of marines, led by Sergeant Wuterich, who up to that point had no combat experience but was the senior enlisted man on the scene, broke into the house.
They found no one in the first room, but heard noises behind a door. A marine with experience in the deadly house-to-house fighting in Falluja a year earlier rolled in a grenade and another marine fired blind "clearing rounds" into the room, Mr. Puckett, Sergeant Wuterich's lawyer, said.
The technique is known as "clearing by fire," said a marine who was with a nearby squad that day but who asked not to be identified because his role in the events is under investigation. "You stick the weapon around and spray the room," he said. "It's called prepping the room."
However, investigators saw it differently:
This account, however, does not square with the survivors' recollections and the conclusions of the military's preliminary investigation led by Col. Gregory Watt of the Army.
For several reasons, Colonel Watt does not believe the marines' version is accurate, according to a military official who has been briefed on the investigation but who would not discuss it on the record because it was not yet complete.
Colonel Watt has interviewed more than two dozen people, including all the marines in the First Squad, their reinforcements and Iraqi civilians in Haditha, including the morgue director.
Some marines told Colonel Watt they were let into the houses they entered; others said they conducted forced entries, the military official said. Colonel Watt was also troubled by the fact that marines did not change their tactics after discovering that they had killed unarmed civilians in the first house, the official said. A dozen more civilians were killed after the first encounter.
The wounds of the dead Iraqis, as seen in photographs and viewed by the morgue director, were not consistent with attacks by fragmentation grenades and indiscriminate rifle fire, Colonel Watt found. The civilian survivors said the victims were shot at close range, some while trying to protect their children or praying for their lives. The death certificates Colonel Watt examined were chillingly succinct: well-aimed shots to the head and chest.
In addition, if the marines had violently cleared the houses using automatic weapons and fragmentation grenades, there would be lots of damage and bullet marks in the walls. Early investigators said they found no such evidence, although the walls may have been patched before they arrived.
And this fact (emphasis added) certainly suggests that something is amiss:
About a dozen enlisted marines, including Sergeant Wuterich and Sergeant Wolf, who engaged in or witnessed the shootings are under investigation for possible charges ranging from dereliction of duty to murder. A number of their superiors, up to the division level, are also under scrutiny for failing to report the events accurately and respond appropriately.
Two mid-level officers, including Captain McConnell, have already been relieved, for reasons not yet made public.
Gary Myers, a lawyer who has been retained by a marine under investigation in the Haditha shooting, said he had been told by his client that the marines were operating within existing regulations. Mr. Myers suggested that responsibility should be placed on the commanders who approved those rules of engagement, and not on the soldiers on the ground at Haditha. "I don't want to see these marines isolated and vilified," he said.
Lots of reax at Memeorandum.
Karl is a shameless bastard. Small wonder his mother killed herself. Once she discovered what a despicable soul she had spawned she apparently saw no other way out.
Meanwhile, we repeat a question for Mr. Johnson, hero of the Plame investigation and a reliable anonymous source for anyone who calls:
1) Why didn't you nor Joe Wilson defend [TruthOut]/Leopold at the [YearlyKos] FDL panel last Friday, as he was being thrown under the bus by Waas, emptywheel, et. al.?;
2) You stated on DU that Wilson had confirmed, independent of Leopold's sources, that Rove had been indicted. Do you and/or Joe still consider that to be good info?
Johnson spends enough time in that orbit that he may have an excellent guess as to Leopold's "sources" for the famous "Rove Indicted" fiasco. Here is the latest comedy classic on the Leopold debacle from TruthOut ("If you want the truth, get out of here", from J Taranto), offered up by foundering founder Marc Ash.
MORE: I bitterly dissent from Michelle Malkin's view that Larry J deserves an honorable mention for "Worst Person in the World". Let's not conflate "Worst" with "Dumbest".
The DU link is courtesy of "Sweetness and Light", which has other good stuff too.
OUCH: Conn Carroll at the Hotline Blogometer lets Larry have it:
The Blogometer's job description does not include helping Ann Coulter sell books, so despite the broad blogger interest in the banshee's latest provocations, I've almost entirely ignored her existence. Coulter is very simply a freak show that entertainment outlets like the Today and Tonight Shows trod out for publicity stunts and, more specifically, ratings ploys. While Coulter's success in book sales is still distressing at least nobody in the left or right blogosphere takes her seriously and she has been largely kept out of serious news venues.
This is all a round-about introduction to ex-CIA analyst Larry Johnson's latest comment about Karl Rove on his blog No Quarter: "Karl is a shameless bastard. Small wonder his mother killed herself. Once she discovered what a despicable soul she had spawned she apparently saw no other way out." The Blogometer only posts this despicable comment in hopes that major news outlets that have allowed him to speak in the past (Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC's Nightline, NBC's Today Show, and the New York Times) never provide outlet for his hate again. Johnson was also a featured speaker at the YearlyKos panel on the Plame Affair. The vast majority of lefty bloggers have proven themselves capable of expressing their displeasure with Rove without uttering a comment as low as this. If lefty bloggers want to be taken seriously by Dems they must distance themselves from the Johnsons of the world the way righty bloggers have roundly criticized Coulter.
Maybe this is a beneficial aftershock of the Karl Rove announcement (Can't spell "Over" without "R-O-V-E"), but whatever the cause, Paul Krugman has a sensible column wondering whether the Fed has an exaggerated fear of inflation which imperils the recovery. Allow me to escort a bit of it over the TimesSelect Wall:
Over the last few weeks monetary officials have sounded increasingly worried about rising prices. On Wednesday, Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, declared that inflation "is running at a rate that is just too corrosive to be accepted by a virtuous central banker."
I'm worried too — but not about recent price increases. What worries me, instead, is the Fed's overreaction to those increases. When it comes to inflation, the main thing we have to fear is fear itself.
The classic example of embedded inflation is the wage-price spiral — better described as wage-price leapfrogging — of the 1970's. Back then, whenever wage contracts came up for renewal, workers demanded big raises, both to catch up with past inflation and to offset expected future inflation. And whenever companies changed their prices, they raised them by a lot, both to catch up with past wage increases and to offset expected future increases.
The result of this leapfrogging process was that inflation became a self-sustaining process, feeding on itself. And ending that self-sustaining process proved very difficult. The Fed eventually brought the inflation of the 1970's under control, but only by raising interest rates so high that in the early 1980's the U.S. economy suffered its worst slump since the Great Depression.
Fed officials now seem worried that we may be seeing the start of another round of self-sustaining inflation. But is that a realistic fear? Only if you think we can have a wage-price spiral without, you know, the wages part.
The point is that wage increases can be a major driver of inflation only if workers consistently receive raises that substantially exceed productivity growth. And that just hasn't been happening.
In fact, the distinctive feature of the current economic expansion — the reason most Americans are unhappy with the state of the economy, in spite of good numbers for the gross domestic product and explosive growth in corporate profits — is the disconnect between rising worker productivity and stagnant wages. Over the past five years productivity, as measured by real G.D.P. per hour worked, has risen by about 14 percent, but the real wages of nonmanagerial workers have risen less than 2 percent.
Nor is there much sign that things are changing on that front. The official unemployment rate is low by historical standards, but workers still don't seem to have much bargaining power. (Does this mean that the official unemployment rate makes the job situation look better than it really is? Yes.) The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, an informal survey of economic conditions across the country, reports that over the last couple of months "wage pressures remained moderate over all, with the exception being workers with hotly demanded skills."
It would be an exaggeration to say that there's no inflation threat at all. I can think of ways in which inflation could become a problem. But it's much easier to think of ways in which the Federal Reserve, wrongly focused on the phantom menace of a new wage-price spiral, could be slow to respond to bigger threats, like a rapidly deflating housing bubble.
So I don't fear inflation nearly as much as I fear the fear of inflation. And I wish the Fed would lighten up on the subject.
Well. Let's put Robert Samuelson in the mix to debunk the "myth that high oil prices caused high inflation" and argue that the inflation of the 70's was a monetary phenomenon.
Let's also have a quick (yet still tedious) "I told you so" on the question of productivity, profits, and stagnant wages as they relate to the long term prospects for the equity markets. That was an arcane yet ghastly part of the Social Security debate, and I was a bit more acerbic here.
My main point - I would love to think Krugman is right about this, but mainly, I love to see him writing about this, rather than attempting to endure his 500 hundredth stab at the perfect phrasing of "Bush Sucks".
B-A-N-A-N-A-S: OK, the era of good feeling is over. Back in March 2003, the earnest Prof warned of impending hyperinflation and refinanced his mortgage (then at 5.7%, now at 6.62%) Skyrocketing, out-of-control deficits were to blame - how is that working out? Oh, well - market-induced higher rates due to fiscal insanity are a different issue from over-zealous Fed tightening at the short end anyway.
Mickey Kaus continues to toss darts at the Kosmic Kos. I am all in favor of accountability (although I take for granted the press will never do anything *but* fawn over Kos), but doesn't this look more like a dispute over a name?
MORE: "Wilbur" from the Daily Kos explains it all to us. Wilbur eventually broaches the one topic on which I accept his expertise in his last sentence:
you always try and break the triangle at its weakest points, the joints
Uh huh. Light another one and tell us more.
FYI: The "triangle" in question would be the Daou triangle - it is a concept embraced by folks who can't, or won't, believe in the liberal media. Well, it requires a fairly elaborate belief system, actually - I discuss it here.
Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, takes a victory lap with Anna Schneider-Mayerson of the NY Observer. He is not kind to the blogosphere:
Actually, it’s the media—not the prosecutor’s office—that he’s angry at, and especially the bloggers. Mr. Luskin was eager to portray the suffering of his client as a function of media attention and speculation, rather than real danger of a conviction.Mr. Rove, Mr. Luskin said, had fallen victim to partisans and—more importantly—the bloggers who became their enablers.
...“That is a function of the tension that there is now between the mainstream media and the blogosphere. On the one hand, it seems to me that the CBS National Guard stories were the poster child for the principle that sometimes the blogosphere keeps the mainstream media accountable, and it seems to me that this story is, if you will, the poster child for the fact that the blogosphere is itself often not accountable, and that there are a universe of folks out there who have got personal or political agendas who were masquerading as news sources. That is just as destructive in its own way, or more than the mainstream media’s insularity is on the flip side.”
Meanwhile, the Wash Times names names in the mainstream media:
Unfortunately, at times, some in the media sounded more like cheerleaders for Mr. Wilson, who said in 2003 that "it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." In October, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert referred to Mr. Rove as "the administration's resident sleazemeister, who is up to his ears in this mess but has managed so far to escape indictment"; in November he declared that Mr. Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were "clowns" who had been "playing games with the identity of a CIA agent."
Keith Olbermann of MSNBC turned his TV show, "Countdown," into a veritable repository of misinformation: A Lexis-Nexis search shows that the subject of Karl Rove's demise was discussed 26 times on Mr. Olbermann's program. In an Oct. 28 appearance, Jim Vandehei of The Washington Post quoted "people close to Rove" who "are telling us that there's still a distinct possibility that he could be indicted, and that they probably will know soon." On the same broadcast, NBC News Correspondent Norah O'Donnell said that Mr. Rove "has come within a whisker of being indicted." But even though Mr. Rove had escaped indictment, Mrs. O'Donnell said it was still bad news, because he was still working at the White House: "In a way, it might have been even cleaner and more helpful to the president if Rove had gotten nipped with some minor level of indictment, so that you could just get rid of both of these people [Messrs. Rove and Libby] today." On the May 8 "Countdown" broadcast, MSNBC correspondent David Schuster said flatly, "I am convinced that Karl Rove will in fact be indicted."
How Chris Matthews escaped their lash I don't know.
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman whacked General Motors for fuel inefficiency in a recent 786 word column. His provocative lead:
Is there a company more dangerous to America's future than General Motors? Surely, the sooner this company gets taken over by Toyota, the better off our country will be.
The public relations department at GM asked the NY Times editors for space to respond, and were told to cut their reply from 500 words to 200; eventually, negotiations foundered when GM refused to abandon its characterization of Friedman's column as "rubbish". This was covered at the GM blog and by Mickey Kaus ("The Gray Princess").
But now Tom Friedman is back, and space is no object! He has a new response to GM which comes in at (per MS Works) 1,145 words. Just for comparison, a few of his recent efforts were 736 and 824 words.
To be fair, Friedman does use some of that space to quote from the GM response. Still, this episode does seem to demonstrate the age-old adage - never argue with a man who buys his pixels buy the giga-byte.
The Times coverage of the Rove Release tells us that:
In a statement, a lawyer for the Wilsons, Christopher Wolf, indicated that the couple was considering taking civil action against Mr. Rove.
"The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons," Mr. Wolf said. Mr. Wilson said in 2003 that he wanted to see Mr. Rove "frog-marched" out of the White House.
Update 2: Guys, I guess I need to make this more clear. Christopher Wolf, the guy who would take a lawsuit against Rove if Joe and Valerie were going to sue, just released a statement saying, "The day may still come when Mr. Rove" is called to account.
Well, I am not a lawyer, but some of these fine bloggers are. So perhaps they can help me with a few questions about a possible Wilson civil suit.
(1) In the Libby case Special Counsel Fitzgerald has not exactly been forthcoming with Ms. Plame's classified employment file, although he has been ordered to produce a summary. Is the CIA really going to go all Chatty Cathy with this sensitive (we are told) file in order to assist a Wilson civil suit? Or could the suit somehow proceed without it?
(2) Rove apparently won't be charged with a crime for leaking about Ms. Plame. Doesn't that suggest his first defense against any civil action will be to assert that he is a public official engaged in the performance of his duties? Since Libby was charged with perjury and obstruction rather than criminal leaking, doesn't he have the same defense?
(3) If (2) is correct, presumably the Wilson's can sue the US Government, i.e., the US taxpayer. Although the Wilsons will no doubt be acting purely as private citizens, does that sound like a winning political strategy for the Democrats? I imagine I am not alone in having no interest in seeing my tax dollars go to a book promoter.
In fact, in the spring, Plame was in the process of moving from noc status to State Department cover. Wilson speculates that "if more people knew than should have, then somebody over at the White House talked earlier than they should have been talking."
Was there some special reason that the CIA could not keep her on to do the intelligence liaison assignment Nick Kristof described?
(5) As the civil suit proceeds, perhaps we will find out why Ms. Plame took what was described as an "enforced leave of absence" by the Daily Telegraph; the Times simply called it an "unpaid leave" and dated it from June 1, 2004 to June 1, 2005. The hub-bub following the leak began in late September 2003; however, the SSCI report that was critical of both her husband and the CIA handling of his trip came out in July 2004, just before she left. Just for example, the Senators seemed to be troubled that Joe Wilson claimed awareness of CIA intel that no one admitted to having shared with him. Is there any chance that Ms. Plame was the recipient of some hard stares? And are we sure this is territory the Wilsons are keen to explore?
(6) Any trial testimony from the Libby case is of course public record. But won't the grand jury proceedings gathered by Fitzgerald remain secret? The Wilsons will have to trudge through depositions with everyone all over again, yes? Is that really going to unearth the grand Cheney-led cabal if Fitzgerald could not?
Well. My guess is that if the Wilsons sue the US taxpayer, with the Democrats cheering them on, Rove may see the inside of a courtroom as a witness. But he will face neither jail time nor settlement costs.
On the other hand, Joe Wilson can remain a hero to his audience for years to come simply by threatening to bring this suit... someday. When will Civilmas ever come?
Keep Hope Quashed.
David Johnston of the Times drew fire for his Tuesday statement that the Fitzgerald investigation was essentially over - I am preprinting that from my original post since the Times has rewritten the story with the same URL:
The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.
Well, the Times has doubled down in the revised version:
Mr. Fitzgerald's decision left I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, alone among current and former White House officials still facing legal jeopardy in the three-year-old C.I.A. leak case.
Mr. Fitzgerald's decision is not expected to have a direct legal impact on the case against Mr. Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. But it does free Mr. Fitzgerald to focus exclusively on preparations for that trial, which is scheduled to begin in January and continues to hold the potential for embarrassment to the White House.
In a series of court filings in that case, Mr. Fitzgerald has already indicated that he may call Mr. Cheney as a witness, an unsettling prospect that could expose Mr. Cheney to the uncertainties of being questioned in a criminal trial. The decision to decline a prosecution in Mr. Rove's case effectively ends the active investigative phase of Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry because Mr. Rove was the only person known to still be under active scrutiny.
Emphasis added. Here is the WaPo with a source:
With Rove's situation resolved, the broader leak investigation is probably over, according to a source briefed on the status of the case. Fitzgerald does not appear to be pursuing criminal charges against former State Department official Richard L. Armitage, who is believed to have discussed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame with at least one reporter, according to the source.
"I'm not worried about my situation," Armitage said last night on the Charlie Rose television show.
A source briefed on the case said that the activities of Vice President Cheney and his aides were a key focus of the investigation, and that Cheney was not considered a target or primary subject of the investigation and is not likely to become one. There are no other outstanding issues to be investigated, the source said, though new ones could emerge as Fitzgerald continues to prosecute I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, on charges of lying to investigators and a grand jury.
No Fitzmas. No mas.
Rory Stewart's first book, "The Places in Between," recounts his journey across Afghanistan in January 2002. Even in mild weather in an Abrams tank, such a trip would be mane-whitening. But Stewart goes in the middle of winter, crossing through some territory still shakily held by the Taliban — and entirely on foot. There are some Medusa-slayingly gutsy travel writers out there — Redmond O'Hanlon, Jeffrey Tayler, Robert Young Pelton — but Stewart makes them look like Hilton sisters.
Paul Theroux once described a certain kind of travel book as having mainly "human sacrifice" allure, and how close Stewart comes to being killed on his journey won't be disclosed here. He is, however, sternly warned before he begins his walk. "You are the first tourist in Afghanistan," observes an Afghan from the country's recently resurrected Security Service. "It is mid-winter," he adds. "There are three meters of snow on the high passes, there are wolves, and this is a war. You will die, I can guarantee." For perhaps the first time in the history of travel writing, a secret-police goon emerges as the voice of sobriety and reason.
Recalling an American journalist who wondered if Stewart thought what he was doing was dangerous, he writes, "I had never found a way to answer that question without sounding awkward, insincere or ridiculous." He's then asked if he has read "Into the Wild," Jon Krakauer's account of a well-meaning young man's doomed trek into the Alaskan wilderness. It is, Stewart is told, more than a little pointedly, "a great piece of journalism."
So is "The Places in Between" — a pipsqueak title for what is otherwise a striding, glorious book. But it's more than great journalism. It's a great travel narrative. Learned but gentle, tough but humane, Stewart — a Scottish journalist who has served in both the British Army and the Foreign Office — seems hewn from 19th-century DNA, yet he's also blessed with a 21st-century motherboard. He writes with a mystic's appreciation of the natural world, a novelist's sense of character and a comedian's sense of timing.
It appears that TruthOut has managed to irritate Jeralyn Merritt. What, there was no land war in Asia they could start? No bet with a Sicilian when death was on the line? (And check the reader revolt at TruthNot).
In other news, Richard Armitage will be on Charlie Rose in about 90 minutes (on my NYC outlet) - one might expect his status in the Plame investigation to be discussed.
[It is, briefly, and late in the show. Armitage says he is not worried about his own status, and does not even have an attorney. He declined to answer whether he was Woodward's source, saying that his answers would wait until Fitzgerald had concluded his investigation. He also expressed the belief that the leaks were not intended to harm Joe Wilson - speak for yourself, gnomish-looking one (although that jibes with Woodward, Pincus, Novak, and, one might argue, Miller). Weak and unconvincing, to say the least, but no news.]
ERRATA: Rational Exuberance:
That said, how can we get from (1) "We have no idea what Fitzgerald has" to (2) "Whatever it is [Fitzgerald] wanted from Rove, he obviously got it"? I have no idea whether Fitzgerald got what he wanted from Rove or gave up in frustration, and I think someone telling me differently is talking out of her rear area.
Finally, what about (4):
Rove is not in the clear, not by a long shot. The Wilsons have backed off on their civil suit in order to give Fitzgerald the room he needs to maneuver, but that will not last forever.
Fitzgerald has been very reluctant to release Ms. Plame's classified employment status (although he has been ordered to provide a summary). Is the CIA going to provide that for the Wilson's civil suit? Or how will that suit proceed without it?