Monday, October 31, 2005


Very suspicious: Washington Post article includes line connecting Cheney to Plame leak, which suddenly is deleted in later editions
[Before] On July 12, the day Cheney and Libby flew together from Norfolk, the vice president instructed his aide to alert reporters of an attack launched that morning on Wilson's credibility by Fleischer, according to a well-placed source.

Libby talked to Miller and Cooper. That same day, another administration official who has not been identified publicly returned a call from Walter Pincus of The Post. He "veered off the precise matter we were discussing" and told him that Wilson's trip was a "boondoggle" set up by Plame, Pincus has written in Nieman Reports.

[After] On July 12, the day Cheney and Libby flew together from Norfolk, Libby talked to Miller and Cooper. That same day, another administration official who has not been identified publicly returned a call from Walter Pincus of The Post. He "veered off the precise matter we were discussing" and said Wilson's trip was a boondoggle set up by Wilson's wife, Pincus has written in Nieman Reports.

The consensus interpretation: this account points the finger at Ari Fleischer as “Mr X” (the original source of Novak’s story) and possibly as Walter Pincus’s source as well

How Libby’s lies impeded the rest of Fitzgerald’s investigation
[John Aravosis] Fitzgerald mentioned this on Friday, but it's worth repeating, since the Republican surrogates are now suggesting that no "real" crime occurred because Fitzgerald has yet to charge anyone with leaking classified information. . .


David Addington, Cheney’s choice to replace Libby, is ALSO implicated in the Plame mess

Michael Isikoff reports that Fitzgerald went to see Bush’s lawyer to tell him Rove wasn’t going to be indicted. Digby says that, if true, this is serious professional misconduct by Fitzgerald


Atrios says it’s a bunch of crap

Swopa says it’s probably disinformation put out by one of the defense lawyers to slime Fitzgerald

Rove: so now we know, his eleventh-hour ploy was apparently evidence that he had neglected to mention the Plame conversation with Matthew Cooper to a colleague – this is their proof that he “forgot”

Two problems with this ridiculous excuse: (1) it can equally be taken as evidence that he was COVERING UP his conversation with Cooper

(2) Rove reputedly has a “photographic memory”


The case against Cheney

The oldest trick in political hackery: Rove wasn’t found to have done anything illegal (yet), so this means he’s “exonerated.” Hold on guys, there are a few non-legal questions remaining. . .
[John Aravosis] Senator Cornyn [R-TX] is on THIS WEEK this morning saying that Fitzgerald's investigation proves that Rove broke no laws and did nothing wrong.

Great, then the White House's surrogates are saying the investigation is over and Rove has been exonerated. And finally Karl and Scottie can come clean with everything they know that happened. Did Karl lie to Scottie? Did Scottie lie to the press and the country? Did the president lie when he said he wanted to get to the bottom of this and he already knew it was Karl? Did Cheney lie when he shut up for 2 years while he knew Scooter was the leaker?

Thank you, Senator Cornyn. We now know it's okay to demand answers from the White House since Karl has been "exonerated."

Why Cornyn is wrong:

Rove isn’t off the legal hook yet, either

Even Repubs are calling for an investigation into Cheney and punishment for Rove

Will Bush fire Rove?

The indictment: filling in the missing names

On the genealogy of the phrase “criminalizing politics”

Frank Rich on Plame and other lies: enjoy

Krugman too

The emptiness of most punditry when it comes to actual matters of guilt and innocence
[Hunter] And you can repeat that statement, to a less overtly crass degree, for nearly every Republican and Democratic professional spinner, on both sides. During this particular week, we have actual news. It means something, something important. We don't know all the facts yet, or even whether or not a man is guilty or innocent, and finding out is deadly serious business. So how about we start finding out the facts? How 'bout the media start, instead of turning this story into the same Rolodex-emptying game of Hollywood Squares that producers have managed to turn every major national story into, these last ten years?

Woody smooches Scooter

Josh Marshall, who was onto the Niger forgeries and Italian intelligence story before it was “cool,” offers a comprehensive review of the story: here’s Part One
As you can see, quite a lot of information seemed to suggest that the Italian government played a large role in the story of the Niger forgeries, even if it might be an innocent or unwitting one. Yet neither the CIA nor the FBI, a knowledgeable source told me, seemed intent getting to the bottom of what had happened.

In addition to these clues, there was one more piece of information. And here is where the two streams of information I noted above flowed together. A US government source pointed me toward a series of suspicious points of overlap between the forgeries story and a series of unauthorized meetings between Italian intelligence figures, two Pentagon employees working under Doug Feith, other Americans and the disgraced Iran-Contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar. (These meetings were the subject of an article ("Iran-Contra II?") I published with Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly in early September 2004.) Around the same time, another source -- this one outside the US government – told me a murky series of details about the meetings which purported to connect them to the emergence of the forgeries in Rome in October 2002. . .

Bush’s strange “leadership” style: he’s lost confidence in Andrew Card -- so now he wants to appoint him as Treasury Secretary!

Republicans really are different
[Digby] The Republicans will do anything to advance their agenda. They are fundamentally undemocratic --- they do not believe that the people have a right to vote, to see their elected politicians allowed to serve a full term, to know the reasons for their government's policies or even why they are going to war. They believe that they can do anything.

Brit Hume: wouldn’t he be pulled off the air by any decent news organization?
JUAN WILLIAMS: You can try to minimize it, but the fact that you have Scooter Libby, so involved in justifying going to war, and in the posture of trying to smear a critic of that justification. I think is pretty revealing and pretty damaging to the Bush White House. . .

BRIT HUME: Juan, somebody needs to hose you down. . .

Good way of looking at Bush's 39% approval: How can it be that HIGH?

55% call Bush a “failure”
The WSJ fronts a story that says Bush's decline in popularity is also affecting his ability to get things done abroad. As the president prepares to go on several international missions, some are wondering whether the increasing problems in the administration will force the president to abandon the international arena and focus more on domestic policy. A graphic accompanying the story points out that Bush's approval ratings are close to Nixon's right before he resigned.

$30 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq spent (or stolen), and this is what we have to show for it?

BREAKING NEWS: It's "Scalito" for the Supreme Court. They're looking for a fight (and they'll get it)

Bonus item: Mark Shields
Who said repeatedly some variation of "every judicial nominee and the American people and the president deserve a fair up-or-down vote?" If you answered virtually every Republican senator, especially Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Bill Frist of Tennessee, you would be more than right.

In addition to that "up-or-down vote," every judicial nominee, according to those same honorable folks, was entitled to a fair committee hearing. Every judicial nominee, it turns out, except Miers. She didn't even get the hearing, let alone "the fair up-or-down vote" she deserved.

One clause in Article VI of the Constitution states, "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." So, when some quarrelsome Senate Democrats kept asking if and how John Roberts' Catholicism might influence his opinions, the Bush White House turned away such impertinence with a prepared statement: "Judge Roberts has said in previous testimony that personal beliefs or views have no role whatsoever when it comes to decisions judges make." In other words, butt out!

But by October, the no-questions-about-a-nominee's-religious-faith rule had been conveniently repealed so that President Bush, facing "people [who] ask me why I picked Harriet Miers," could answer, "Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion," while Karl Rove, the man whom Bush calls "Boy Genius," would personally reassure James Dobson, a powerful leader of the religious right, that Miers was "an evangelical Christian" and a member of "a very conservative church which is almost universally pro-life." Religious faith had become a reference and a credential for high office.

"If we're going to give advice and consent, we've got to have a full picture," Brownback said. "We were not asking for documents regarding attorney-client privilege -- or privileged communications," he told CNN. "We were saying, 'Show us some documents of policy issues discussion' so we could get some framework of her policy views."

The Senate is not a rubber stamp, Brownback announced. But Republicans, including Brownback, had scorned and rejected Senate Democrats' requests for similar work from Roberts's time in the White House.

Of course, all conservatives and most Republicans are fiercely opposed to all quotas -- whether based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity. But Miers, as you may have noticed, was nominated to the seat long held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Maybe it's just a coincidence that neither is a man. But Bush kept emphasizing Miers' achievements with a strong gender twist, as the first woman to be president of the Texas bar and the first woman to be managing partner of a big Texas law firm. Not that this was intended to be the woman's seat on the court, because conservatives abhor quotas.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005


Four questions, based on what we KNOW to be true:

1. Clearly, several people in the Administration (at least seven) were actively discussing and circulating the information that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Who? Why?

2. Other people besides Libby talked with the press about this. Who? Why?

3. What did Bush and Cheney ask their staffers about the Plame matter? What were they told ? What did they say?

4. At a minimum, we know that Karl Rove lied to Scott McClellan when he said he had nothing whatsoever to do with the Plame affair. What are the consequences for lying about such an important matter, and sending the Press Secretary out to recycle those lies?

Evidence that Cheney knew, and WAS part of a conspiracy to out Plame

Why was Fitzgerald talking with Bush’s lawyer Friday?

The transcript of Fitzgerald’s press conference


[NB: By the way, I watched the first part of this press conference. In fifteen minutes, barely looking at his notes, Fitzgerald gave a detailed chronology of every aspect of the case against Libby – concise, no tangents, and including a well-conceived argument for why perjury and obstruction in cases like this really are serious crimes. It was an amazing performance]

How the White House plans to handle this (and Miers): “a bad week, but now it’s over”
"I don't think you want to send a signal that this is a crisis bigger than it is," said Vin Weber, a lobbyist and former Republican House member who is a White House ally. "This was a bad week obviously, but you cleared the board of a couple big problems or question marks hanging over us. It's unfortunate for the individuals involved but it gives us a chance to start rebuilding. . . “
House Government Reform Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) was stinging, saying he was "very disappointed in Libby, and the White House, and the vice president and the president. . . They should have taken care of this a long time ago," Davis said in an interview. "They should have done their own investigation. They're going to get very little sympathy on Capitol Hill, at least from me. . . . They brought this on themselves."

The indictment of Libby, but no colleagues, was not the devastating blow that some in the administration had feared. . . Some GOP loyalists dismissed yesterday's indictment as a blip that will quickly be forgotten. "If we are going to reach conclusions about stains on the presidency, let's wait until he's [Libby] convicted," said veteran GOP strategist Charles R. Black. Calling Bush's administration "remarkably clean," he added: "The amazing thing is that they went almost five years without having any kind of scandal."

Things could have been worse. Fitzgerald did not indict White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, the president's most influential adviser, although Rove remains under investigation. Nor did he conclude that any administration official had deliberately leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame -- the original basis for the probe -- or draw any conclusions about whether the administration had deliberately deceived the American people about the rationale for going to war in Iraq.

If this is typical of how the press is going to respond (reporting on political damage, as if the matter were now closed, not on the substance of the accusations or the unanswered questions), then maybe the WH will have its way after all. On the other hand, this IS Elisabeth Bumiller

No, it wasn’t just a bad week, and it ain’t over
A majority of Americans say the indictment of senior White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby signals broader ethical problems in the Bush administration, and nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey. . . The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House. . . And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush. . . In the aftermath of the latest crisis to confront the White House, Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polls. Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left office.


Libby’s unbelievably lame defense
The lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide is outlining a possible criminal defense that is a time-honored tradition in Washington scandals: A busy official immersed in important duties cannot reasonably be expected to remember details of long-ago. . . Libby, who resigned as soon as the indictment was handed up, was operating amid "the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government," according to a statement released by his attorney, Joseph Tate.

"We are quite distressed the special counsel (Patrick Fitzgerald) has now sought to pursue alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby's recollection and those of others and to charge such inconsistencies as false statements," Tate continued. . . "As lawyers, we recognize that a person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred.". . .

The case against Libby: He testified that he learned from NBC correspondent Tim Russert the identity of a covert CIA officer who is the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert says they never discussed it.

The facts, prosecutor Fitzgerald said, are that the month before the conversation with Russert, Libby learned about the CIA status of Valerie Plame from Cheney, from a senior CIA officer and from an undersecretary of state.

But Libby told the FBI and the grand jury that he informed reporters Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times information about Wilson's wife that he had gotten from other reporters — information that Libby said he did not know to be true. Libby testified that he told the reporters he did not even know if Wilson had a wife.

[NB: In others words, HE WAS ALREADY LYING ABOUT IT AT THE TIME: or perhaps his poor overworked memory couldn’t recall at least three separate conversations with different people that occurred during the month preceding his talks with Miller and Cooper.

More on why this defense will never fly:]

Will Libby ever take this to trial? (I say no)
It is Libby’s right to be presumed innocent until proof beyond a reasonable doubt overcomes that presumption in the minds of twelve jurors. Would Libby exercise his right to a trial, knowing that Fitzgerald might call Cheney as a witness to events described in the indictment? And knowing that Karl Rove, Official A, will testify against him? Does Libby want to subject Cheney and Rove to cross-examination?

Fitzgerald won’t write a report, and the Republican controlled legislature isn’t likely to indulge an investigation that would replicate Fitzgerald’s. If Libby doesn’t go to trial, and if Fitzgerald charges no others, few facts beyond those alleged in the indictment may enter the public record. If the true story comes out only in conversations with reporters, the administration will blame a liberal press and could succeed in containing much of the damage that full, public exposure of the facts would bring.

Libby knows this. That's why I still agree with this post's prediction that Libby will fall on his sword. Libby has every right to a trial, but how likely is he to make Cheney and Rove witnesses in a trial that could destroy the administration?

“Mr. X” – the original source of the Novak leak. If Fitzgerald knows (and he almost certainly does), he isn’t saying. Why?

Several candidates:

What did Rove’s lawyer say to Fitzgerald at the 11th hour that made him hold back an almost certain indictment?

Mark Kleiman reminds us of a key point: Fitzgerald went with SEALED indictments. Why? He has only TOLD us about Libby’s. Could someone (cough…cough…karlrove) know that there is a sealed indictment waiting with his name on it?
“This investigation is not yet over,” one of the lawyers in the case said. “You must keep in mind that people like Mr. Rove are still under investigation. Rather than securing an indictment on perjury charges against Mr. Rove Mr. Fitzgerald strongly believes he can convince the grand jury that he broke other laws.”

The lawyers said that in the past month Fitzgerald has obtained explosive information in the case that has enabled him to pursue broader charges such as conspiracy, and civil rights violations against targets like Rove. Rove could also provide information that would allow Fitzgerald to target additional officials.

Specifically, the lawyers said Fitzgerald is focusing on phony intelligence documents that led to the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity: the documents that claimed Iraq was attempting to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Niger. . .

Must-read: a lawyer analyzes Fitzgerald’s strategy
The indictment of “Scooter” Libby, ONLY Scooter Libby, and ONLY on investigation- related charges (perjury, obstruction of justice, lying to investigators), is bound to be misinterpreted (read: spun), by ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum. Lefties (in addition to being disappointed that their favorite bĂȘte noire, Karl Rove, has seemingly evaded the prosecutor's net) will feel like some of the wind has been knocked out of their sails because no crime was charged in connection with the underlying revelation of Valerie Plame's identity (a key element in their assertion that such revelation was motivated by the need to discredit a vocal critic of administration's casus belli for the war--Iraq's possession or acquisition of nuclear weapons capability). And righties will revel in that same fact (i.e., since no crime was committed by the Plame outing, the outing was nothing more than a legitimate defense against the attack on the motivation for the war--in other words, politics as usual). . .

Yesterday's indictment was dictated by time more than anything else. With the grand jury's term expiring today, if any indictment was going to be returned, this was the day, and I, for one, don't question Fitzgerald's statement that Libby's obstruction of the investigation prevented him from getting to the truth about the so-called “underlying” charges (e.g., those associated with outing a CIA operative). Indeed, the obstruction charged against Libby prevented the prosecutor from furnishing the one element of the underlying crimes that may be the most difficult to prove: mens rea, as it's known in the criminal law (i.e., a culpable state of mind). But, be assured: the last out in this game is still to come, and the indictment is a shot across the bow for a whole host of characters in this unfolding drama that should indicate to them sighs of relief would be premature. . .


The Niger (forged documents) story starts to unravel

Did Sismi (Italian intelligence) meet with Condi Rice as well as Stephen Hadley in shopping their phony documents?

What Tim Russert says
“We were subpoenaed at NBC, and myself, in May of 2004. We fought the subpoena and lost. . . On Aug. 7, I sat down with the special counsel, under oath, not before the grand jury, and was asked if I was a recipient of the leak. The answer was no. I was asked whether I knew Valerie Plame's name and where she worked and whether she was a CIA operative. And the answer was no. That was the extent of it.”

But before we give Tim a medal:

Just by the way, what DID Libby call Russert to talk about?

Great analysis: Why the Bush people thought they were safe – they never believed that reporters would talk about the stuff they were leaking, or the fact that they were lying about it

Damage control?
[Bob Woodward, tool] 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 of any kind and there was just some embarrassment.

[WP] The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted. Yesterday, after a two-year inquiry into the leak, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements during the grand jury investigation.

Whatever happened to old Bob, who used to be a real reporter with a nose for scandal?

Republicans, eager to show that despite massive tax cuts and profligate pork spending they are the fiscally responsible party, start looking for cuts to the federal budget. Guess where they start?

Bonus item: “Bush’s Brain Was Leaking”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Hard to see how Libby wriggles out of this
[Josh Marshall] It's true that perjury charges can in some cases amount to 'gotchas', prosecutions brought for minor misstatements or possible lapses of memory.

This ain't one of those cases.

An indictment is always the prosecutor's case, unrebutted by the defense. But Fitzgerald seems to make a very powerful case that Libby repeatedly made claims under oath that he simply must have known were false. . .

Far more important, however, is the rest of the information included in the indictment. If you read the recitation of events which takes up, roughly, the first half of the indictment, one thing is made very clear: Libby was in communication about what he was doing with all sorts of people at the White House while he was doing it.

"It's going to be very difficult for Libby to defend himself here," said former CIA inspector general Jeffrey H. Smith.

The full indictment

The condensed version

A simple question: why did Libby lie?
Sully thinks he was trying to protect Cheney. The only other thing I can think of--and the two explanations are not mutually exclusive: Figuring he might be at legal risk for outing Plame--even though it now appears he didn't overstep in that regard--Libby panicked; he lied, then lied some more to cover up his lies. You don't have to stupid to do that, just human.


What’s next?
[Hunter] From the text of the indictment itself -- and I, like everyone else, have been going over it with a finetooth comb -- it is very clear that the investigation was able to drill down into who knew what, and when, and in front of who, with perhaps more accuracy than the White House was willing to give them credit for. Fitzgerald has a very good idea of the surrounding facts of the case. He also, from reading between the lines of the indictment, has excellent witnesses as to the motives of various officials. And that likely happened very early in the investigation.

What Fitzgerald is saying, and no doubt correctly, is that the investigation has uncovered the facts of the case. But he also said, today, in no uncertain terms, that Libby's repeated obstruction has hampered further efforts to explore the underlying legality of the actions being investigated. He asserted quite clearly that the obstruction in this case has hindered investigative attempts to determine the applicability of statutes to those underlying, already known actions.

That's both an end to the investigation, and a fuse. It means the investigation is over, for the purposes of determining necessary motives and nuances of knowledge required by the IIPA or Espionage Act... unless something else comes along. And the tricky thing is that, in gathering evidence and testimony for public trial, the odds are very, very good that a "something else" may indeed appear. Indeed, the thoroughness of the indictment itself would seem to suggest that there is much, much more evidence perhaps not directly applicable to this indictment in the hands of the special counsel. How much of the rest of it may surface?

The indictment makes a compelling case that Libby himself was the (an?) original leaker, to Miller and others. But it only barely touches on what made other White House officials call other reporters in an attempt to maximize the damage of the leak. Are those actions by other White House officials crimes? Fitzgerald seemed to argue fairly openly that Libby's false testimony was a major factor in obstructing special counsel efforts to analyze any of those actions and find out. . .

Today may be the first day that Libby's legal team has gotten any substantial taste of the evidence arrayed against their client's version of events. It is likely the first real glimpse they have gotten of the carnival of senior White House officials, reporters, and other administration officials who will be testifying against Libby's purported version of events. That, in turn, makes for a very volatile legal situation: they have to decide what to do next. As does the ominously titled "Official A" (Karl Rove), presuming he is so named as a nod to his ongoing legal jeopardy.

I don't want to oversell this, or overstate the odds. The odds may be very, very good that the indictments in this case will begin and end with Libby's obstruction. Certainly, the Republican mantra will be that Libby was a lone gunman, acting without approval or assistance from the rest of the White House. And that may very well be true, at least from the standpoint of the "original" first leak.

But there are certain hints -- good ones -- peppered throughout the previous reporting of this leak that suggest the underlying issues in this case are not about a single administration official, but about, at bare minimum, several. There are hints that the "outing" was a coordinated effort -- we've had anonymous "senior administration officials" saying as much to the press, even as far back as 2003. And I think we can have confidence that Fitzgerald has the cooperation of those same officials.
[Telis Demos] But the WP digs a bit deeper, quoting a senior administration official saying the White House is "still in purgatory for a while," taking a wait-and-see attitude about what to change because they believe immediate changes would be seen as a "sign of panic and surrender." And the WSJ smartly suggests that while Bush may shuffle his staff, any policy changes will depend on how Republicans in Congress react. So far, things look ugly. The WP's Dan Balz and Juliet Eilperin talk to GOP congressmen—notably Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who offers no sympathy and says "they brought this on themselves."

Why they can't let Libby’s case go to trial

My take: there is now tremendous pressure on Libby to cut a deal – and if he does, then the real conspiracy can start unraveling

Why Fitzgerald hasn’t indicted Rove (yet)
Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do.". . . "We're not quite done," Fitzgerald said in an hour-long news conference this afternoon. But he refused to comment on whether anyone beside Libby would be charged in the case or whether additional charges against Libby would be sought. . . This raised the prospect that a new grand jury or another existing one would continue the probe, given the expiration today of the current grand jury's term”


Rove’s lawyer admits he’s still under investigation

Why did Fitzgerald identify Novak’s second source only as “Official A,” after identifying every other participant by name or by office? (It’s Rove.) There are two ways to read this: one, this anonymity is part of a plea deal, and Rove will stab Libby (and others) in the back to save himself; two, Fitzgerald probably still has Rove in his sights. Jeralyn Merritt gives the best analysis here
[Jeralyn Merritt] Read it closely. It doesn't say that Official A is Novak's source. It says he had a conversation with Novak in which it was discussed that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee and that Novak was going to write about it. It doesn't say whether Offical A told Novak about Plame's CIA employement or whether Novak gave Rove the information. . . How is this inconsistent with what Rove's team has previously said he told the grand jury? This New York Times article provides one such instance. . .
[Jeralyn Merritt] As I noted earlier, the news reports on Rove are conflicting. But this statement by one "non-legal" member of his team, who I assume is the P.R. specialist Mark Carballo who signed on to Rove's team the other day, leads me to believe Rove took a deal and Fitzgerald has agreed not to announce it immediately. . .

If they reached a deal, an Indictment is not necessary. A defendant can waive the right to be charged by Indictment and plead to an Information which is filed by the prosecutor. . . If they reached a deal where his continued cooperation is necessary, he can work with the successive grand jury. Or the investigators. After the people he gave evidence against decide to plea or go to trial, that's when he will get an additional 5k benefit. If he works hard enough and brings results, Fitz could request a probation-eligible sentencing zone for him.
[Jeralyn Merritt] Official A is now identified as Karl Rove. . . The Washington Post reports he could now be a witness against Lewis Libby.

I suspect that's one reason Karl Rove hasn't been charged. As I've speculated repeatedly, I think Rove has a deal. But, like most prosecutors, Fitzgerald isn't buying a pig in a poke. He wants to see how helpful Rove is in his trial testimony against Libby (and any future indictees) before agreeing either to give him a complete pass or ask the Court to give him probation if he pleads guilty.

If Rove has a deal in the works, I think it won't be finalized or made public until after he has finished cooperating. And that won't be until Libby's case is over. I still think Libby will never go to trial. It seems he has been intent on protecting Cheney, to the point of lying. His new lawyer may be able to work out a plea agreement that provides for a sentence reduction to an amount Libby can live with to spare Cheney from having to testify at his trial.

Nice catch:
[John Aravosis] The way Fitzgerald is talking about Rove is the same way he talked about corrupt former IL Governor George Ryan, right before he indicted him. . . Fitz even called Ryan "Official A". . .

More unanswered questions

Who was Novak’s other “Mr. X” – not Official A?
'Bush's brain' is not Novak's 'secret source.' He is, however, the senior administration official who said, "Oh, you know about it," when asked by the columnist about Wilson's wife sending him to Niger. . .Novak wrote, "When I called another official for confirmation, he said: 'Oh, you know about it.'". . . In July, the Washington Post reported that Rove 'indirectly' identified Plame to Novak.

Who is the Undersecretary of State who Libby asked to get information about who sent Wilson to Niger? After a flurry of speculation that it was John Bolton, the consensus answer seems to have settled on Marc Grossman

Where is the conspiracy charge?
“On or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discused with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper.”

They all knew Plame was covert

Libby’s replacement for Cheney: David Addington, a lawyer with a background in justifying the suppression of government information (how apt). This tells you just how hard they are going to fight this

The political firestorm to come. . .

The questions Bush and Cheney should be forced to answer now

How they will try to avoid it:

Frist: Senate won’t investigate the leak

Very innerestin’ – PM of Italy Berlusconi coming to see Bush just when the complicity of Italian intelligence in the forged Niger document hits the news. Getting their stories straight?
Italian government stonewalling the FBI in the Niger forgeries investigation, Knight Ridder reports. . .


Why Judith Miller went to jail (hint: it wasn’t over a matter of principle)

How Miller helped elect George Bush

Changing the subject: new Supreme Court nominee early next week
In other news, don't miss the NYT 's Supreme Court update: two Republican insiders say U.S. appeals court judge Samuel J. Alito is currently the favored candidate. Judges Priscilla Owen and J. Michael Luttig are also near the top of the list. Bush aides tell the WP a nomination could come in "days."

Sistani may call for pullout of U.S troops after the Dec 15 elections in Iraq

Bonus item: what a jerk
[AP] After weeks of anxiety about possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation, President Bush showed no signs of strain Friday, smiling and joking with aides as he left to make a speech on terrorism in Norfolk, Va.

"Thanks for the chance to get out of Washington," Bush told a friendly audience in Norfolk. . .

Reporters called out to Bush as he walked toward the helicopter, and the president playfully pivoted as if he was walking toward them. But he quickly turned away, cupping his hand over his ear as if he could not hear.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, October 28, 2005


Well, today we find out, so much more speculation is really pointless – but the current hints are: indictments for Libby, and perhaps others, nothing for Rove (yet), but possibly a continuing investigation
[WSJ] Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff, was informed yesterday evening that he may not be charged today but remains in legal jeopardy, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, who meets with jurors this morning, has zeroed in on potential wrongdoing by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and is likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements. . . Mr. Fitzgerald appeared still to be pondering whether to charge Mr. Rove and has notified the political strategist that he remains under investigation.
Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury. . . Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

[NB: I thought he couldn’t extend it, but would have to empanel a new grand jury]


UPDATE: Libby indicted, then resigns

[NB: The best thing about this is that the WH hoped that they'd have a bad few days, maybe lose a few people, then it would be over. Hey guys, it ain't over.]

Besides Libby, who? (back to Bolton’s office)
[More from Richard Sale] According to the Times account, Cheney told Libby the covert name of the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. diplomat who had publicly alleged that the administration had mishandled of intelligence relating to Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.

But several former and serving U.S. intelligence officials strongly disputed this. "That is simply not accurate," a very former senior CIA official told this reporter. "Libby's notes on this are misleading and inaccurate or both."

This source, supported by three others, alleged that it was a telephone call from the Department of State that first gave Libby the name of Plame.

The name of the caller? No one is sure. But these sources said that the call definitely came from the State Department office of John Bolton, then the arms control chief of the department.

These same sources alleged that two employees of Bolton, David Wurmser, a virulent pro-war hawk, first told Libby that Valerie Plame had sent Wilson to Niger to attempt to discredit the administration's line on Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.

These same intelligence sources alleged that Wurmser, as Bolton's special assistant, got his knowledge of Plame's classified identity from a colleague in his office, Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer detailed to Bolton's office from the agency who worked in the CIA's Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINIPAC.)

"We do not know yet which of the two called," the former very senior intelligence official said.

More on Fleitz:

Parts 4 and 5 of Swopa’s big Plame review

[NB: Part 5 includes a useful profile of the main players]

Steve Clemons retracts his “new Fitzgerald office space” report – though that doesn’t mean Fitzgerald will be finished on Friday

Investigation of forged Niger documents continues

[NB: Though if you read PBD regularly, you already know more about the story than this NYT article tells you]

Jeez: MORE forged documents used to make the case for war in Iraq!

How the Bush gang plans to fight back against the political damage caused by the Plame indictments (and why it might backfire)

How the Right did in Harriet Miers
The tipping point came within the past several days. GOP Senators privately communicated to WH CoS Andy Card that unless they had access to hard evidence that Miers was conversant in constitutional issues, there was no way she would be confirmed. Her performance in private meetings was weak, at best, these senators told Card. Throughout the day yesterday, says a senior Senate aide, there were "conversations throughout the day at the staff level." Late yesterday, Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called Card and told him in no uncertain terms that Miers would probably not be confirmed. An aide: "He provided frank assessment of situation in the Senate. [The] lay of land on committee." After that call, according to White House sources, Bush and Card met privately with Miers, and they decided jointly that preserving WH privilege on documents was too important a principle to risk. [NB: No, what they decided was that this was the best face-saving excuse they could come up with] Miers officially informed Bush at 8:30 pm ET. As late as 8 p.m., one White House aide said the WH counsel's office was rushing to finish a revision to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. (It arrived after 11:00 pm ET). Word began to spread through conservative Washington last night. The White House office of political affairs notified allies at about 8:30 a.m ET this morning but swore them to secrecy until the White House released the President's statement.

More shams:

“Murder boards”
[Eric Umansky] The Post uncovers another potential factor in Miers' demise: She bombed the "murder boards," mock hearings held by the White House. Says the WP, "Her uncertain, underwhelming responses left her confirmation managers so disturbed they decided not to open up the sessions to the friendly outside lawyers they usually invite to participate." As for how she got nominated in the first place, the Post's sources point fingers at the president, who, according to this version, went against advice by picking her. He also had a Miers underling do the vetting. One result was, says the WP, that "no one had done a thorough search of her background."

James Dobson, good Christian, honest man (uh-huh)
“I believe the president has made a wise decision in accepting Harriet Miers' withdrawal as a nominee to the Supreme Court. . . When the president announced this nominee, I expressed my tentative support, based on what I was able to discover about her. But I also said I would await the hearings to learn more about her judicial philosophy. Based on what we now know about Miss Miers, it appears that we would not have been able to support her candidacy. Thankfully, that difficult evaluation is no longer necessary."

Clever Harry Reid
“The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination. Apparently, Ms. Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues.

“I had recommended that the President consider nominating Ms. Miers because I was impressed with her record of achievement as the managing partner of a major Texas law firm and the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association. In those roles she was a strong supporter of law firm diversity policies and a leader in promoting legal services for the poor. But these credentials are not good enough for the right wing: they want a nominee with a proven record of supporting their skewed goals.

“In choosing a replacement for Ms. Miers, President Bush should not reward the bad behavior of his right wing base. He should reject the demands of a few extremists and choose a justice who will protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

What does Harriet think about all this?

[NB: Yes, it’s a parody site]

After Miers, what next?

No more women?

A rough time for George Bush
George W. Bush has been in the White House for 248 weeks, through a terrorist attack, two wars and a bruising re-election. But it seems safe to say that he has never had a worse political week than this one - and it is not over yet. . .
President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers on Oct. 3 was made from a position of weakness by a White House beset by political problems and eager to avoid a fight over the Supreme Court. Twenty-four excruciating days later, the supposed safe choice crashed, exposing the president as even weaker than before.

Bush now has an opportunity to recover from one of the biggest political miscalculations of his term, the failure to anticipate the backlash Miers would cause with his own conservative base. But in repairing that breach, he risks a new confrontation with Democrats and further estrangement from the political center. . .
[Dan Froomkin] Facing unprecedented and ferocious challenges on a variety of fronts, the White House is suddenly adopting a shocking new tactic: Full-out strategic retreat. . . Today's withdrawal of Harriet Miers's bedeviled nomination to the Supreme Court is, of course, Exhibit A. But there's also an Exhibit B: The White House's quiet but total cave-in yesterday, reinstating the wage protections for workers involved in Hurricane Katrina reconstruction. . .

The Next Big Scandal?
[Murray Waas] Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.
"The reason for not misleading the Congress is a very practical one," said Rep. Richard Cheney, R-Wyo. "It's stupid. It's self-defeating. . . Eventually you destroy the president's credibility.". . .
-- From a July 20, 1987 Associated Press report on the Iran Contra investigation

Bush gang punishing Brent Scowcroft for disloyalty

“Massive” profits for Exxon
[Eric Umansky] USA Today leads with Exxon's announcement of massive profits: It netted nearly $9.9 billion this quarter, the second-highest take on U.S. record. Among other things, oil companies have benefited from the fact that Katrina-caused refinery shortages have resulted in wholesale gas prices outpacing the price of oil. In any case, as the LAT previewed earlier this week and NYT fronts today, politicians are making a stink about the profits.

Bonus item: Bush says, “Blame me, not FEMA,” takes a strong and principled stand for executive responsibility

[NB: Not George, Jeb]

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Today we LEAD with our Bonus Item, because it is just too damn funny
[RedState.Org] My sources are relaying to me information that may be very good news re: the Plame Case.

Although I cannot substantiate this info 100%, I am receiving this from sources very close to the investigation and grand jury:

1 No indictments for Rove, Libby or any member of the administration.

2 Probable indictments for Vallerie Plame, Joseph Wilson and one as yet unknown high ranking Congressional Democrat.

3 No wrong doing or misuse of intelligence on the part of the administration.

4 Possible criminal conduct in an attempt to smear the White House on the part of Congressional Democrats, Plame and Wilson.

(Again, take this with a grain of salt but this is what I am hearing from my sources and the D.C. grape vine)

Latest reports are that Fitzgerald will issue indictments AND may ask for a new grand jury. Beyond Rove and Libby he has Somebody Else in his sights. The following articles include a fair amount of guesswork, but they do fit with what we know so far
[Richard Sale] Two top White House aides are expected to be indicted today on various charges related to the probe of CIA operative Valerie Plame whose classified identity was publicly breached in retaliation after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to buy enriched uranium from Niger, according to federal law enforcement and senior U.S. intelligence officials. . . If no action is taken today, it will take place on Friday, these sources said.

I. Scooter Libby, the chief of staff of Vice President Richard Cheney, and chief presidential advisor Karl Rove are expected to be named in indictments this morning by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. . . Others are to be named as well, these sources said. According to U.S. officials close to the case, a bill of indictment has been in existence before October 17 which named five people. Various names have surfaced such as National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, yet only one source would confirm that Hadley was on the list. Hadley could not be reached for comment. . .

[F]ederal law enforcement officials told this reporter that Fitzgerald was likely to charge the people indicted with violating Joe Wilson's civil rights, smearing his name in an attempt to destroy his ability to earn a living in Washington as a consultant. . . The civil rights charge is said to include "the conspiracy was committed using U.S. government offices, buildings, personnel and funds," one federal law enforcement official said. . . Other charges could include possible violations of U.S. espionage laws, including the mishandling of U.S. classified information, these sources said.

That Vice President Cheney is at the center of the controversy comes as no surprise. Last Friday, Fitzgerald investigators were talking to Cheney's attorneys, and detailed questionnaires, designed to pin down in meticulous sequence what Cheney knew, when he knew it, and what he told his aides, were delivered to the White House on Monday, these sources said.

The probe is far from being at an end. According to this reporter's sources, Fitzgerald approached the judge in charge of the case and asked that a new grand jury be empaneled. The old grand jury, which has been sitting for two years, will expire on October 28.

Thanks to a letter of February, 2004 in which Fitzgerald asked for and obtained expanded authority, the Special Prosecutor is now in possession of an Italian parliament investigation into the forged Niger documents alleging Iraq's interest in purchasing Niger uranium, sources said.

They said that Fitzgerald is looking into such individuals as former CIA agent, Duane Claridge, military consultant to the Iraqi National Congress, Gen. Wayne Downing, another military consultant for INC, and Francis Brooke, head of INC's Washington office in an effort to determine if they played any role in the forgeries or their dissemination. Also included in this group is long-time neoconservative Michael Ledeen, these federal sources said.
[Billmon] Color me still skeptical, but if Sale is right, and Plamegate is just the warm-up act for an investigation into the cabal's involvement in the Niger forgeries, then this is officially the biggest story since Iran Contra, if not Watergate. . .
Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY. . . Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent. . .

Two other officials, who are not employees in the White House, are also expected to face indictments, the lawyers said. . .

Those close to the investigation said Rove was offered a deal Tuesday to plead guilty to perjury for a reduced charge. Rove’s lawyer was told that Fitzgerald would drop an obstruction of justice charge if his client agreed not to contest allegations of perjury, they said. . . Rove declined to plead guilty to the reduced charge, the sources said, indicating through his attorney Robert Luskin that he intended to fight the charges. . .

The lawyers said Fitzgerald needed more evidence to convince the grand jury that Plame was in fact an undercover agent. On Monday, he sent FBI agents to her residential neighborhood to obtain testimony from neighbors that they were unaware of Plame’s employment prior to her outing.

Evidence collected in these inquiries was aimed at convincing the jury that she was covert, the lawyers said. A Reuters story indicated that Plame’s neighbors were not aware that she was working at the agency. . .

The grand jury had not yet decided on whether to make indictments at the time this article was published. It appears more likely that the jury would hand down indictments of perjury and obstruction than a charge that Plame was outed illegally.
[WP] The prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation presented a summary of his case to a federal grand jury yesterday and is expected to announce a final decision on charges in the two-year-long probe tomorrow, according to people familiar with the case.

Even as Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald wrapped up his case, the legal team of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been engaged in a furious effort to convince the prosecutor that Rove did not commit perjury. . .

But after grand jurors left the federal courthouse before noon yesterday, it was unclear whether Fitzgerald had spelled out the criminal charges he might ask them to consider, or whether he had asked them to vote on any proposed indictments. Fitzgerald's legal team did not present the results of a grand jury vote to the court yesterday, which he is required to do within days of such a vote. . .

Should he need more time to finish the investigation, Fitzgerald could seek to empanel a new group of grand jurors to consider the case. But sources familiar with the prosecutor's work said he has indicated he is eager to avoid that route. The term of the current grand jury has been extended once and cannot be lengthened again, according to federal rules. . .

People close to Rove said he fears a perjury charge because he did not initially tell the grand jury that he had spoken with Time reporter Matthew Cooper about Plame. . . A lawyer other than Luskin who is familiar with Rove's legal strategy said the aide testified that he believed he was trading on publicly available information in discussing Plame with reporters. . . In his fourth and final grand jury appearance, this lawyer said, Rove was asked why he did not mention his discussion of Plame with Cooper. Rove has told people he simply had forgotten the conversation. . .

There were signs that Fitzgerald was still trying to piece together the Rove case as recently as Tuesday. Peter Zeidenberg, a Justice Department prosecutor working with Fitzgerald, called Levine that day to discuss a conversation Levine had with Rove on July 11, 2003, the day Rove spoke with Cooper, according to Daniel J. French, Levine's lawyer. . .

As jurors left the courthouse yesterday, Fitzgerald exited the sealed grand jury room of the courthouse through a back elevator to avoid reporters waiting outside. He then met with Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan in Hogan's private chambers for about 45 minutes. Hogan confirmed the two had met yesterday, but declined to discuss the substance of their conversation.
[Tim Grieve] Is Fitzgerald buying himself some time in order to work out a deal with one of his would-be defendants? . .
MIKE ALLEN: A lot of activity happening that we’re not seeing. A likely scenario for what happened today, Patrick Fitzgerald got some indictments from this grand jury. He is now able to go to the…

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You think they’re sealed right now?

MIKE ALLEN: Very possible. What I’m told is typically, in a case like this, he could get the indictments and now he can go to the targets and say, you can plead to these or I’ll go back Friday and get more. You have 12 to 24 hours to think about it.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: And he can give them a little Whitman Sampler of suggestions pleading to the charge of obstruction or perjury or. . .

MIKE ALLEN: I can add a bunch of counts. You can take a couple of counts or we can do a bunch more.
[Dan Froomkin] Something appears to have provoked special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald into a last-minute flurry of activity centered around Rove. . . There is every reason to think that Rove is throwing every move he's got at Fitzgerald in an attempt to escape criminal charges. . .

I can't think of any reason for Fitzgerald to put anything under seal -- unless he's offering his targets the opportunity to turn themselves in before it turns into a real circus over there.
[Steve Clemons] The one interesting tidbit that came my way by way of an unnamed senior American journalist is this:

My sense is that the Rove team is feeling more confident today, the Libby team despondent

This is quite fascinating -- and could mean nothing. . .or everything. If Rove did not receive a letter yesterday and Libby did -- then Rove may have missed a bullet.

Whoa Mama
[Steve Clemons] Patrick Fitzgerald's intermediaries denied that there was any significance to the establishment of a new website, minimalist as it is, for the Office of the Special Counsel which is investigating the "outing" of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA responsibilities to the media. . . Fitzgerald's people said that the investigation coming to a close and the website going up was just coincidence.

Well, news has just reached TWN that Patrick Fitzgerald is expanding not only into a new website -- but also into more office space. . . What I have learned is that the Office of the Special Counsel has signed a lease this week for expanded office space. . .

Another coincidence? More office space needed to shut down the operation?. . . I think not. Fitzgerald's operation is expanding.

If they really do expand “Phase two” of the inquiry to look into intelligence lies and the forged documents, look out!

Why it is a bad thing to reveal a CIA agent
[Hunter] For those few pundits who still don't get it -- or are paid to obstinately pretend not to, anyway -- this is one of the primary reasons that the White House went to such great lengths to crucify not only Joseph Wilson, but CIA, State Department and other critics of the crude and fragile contortions of pre-war intelligence analyses -- in Wilson's case, even to the point of causing willful, potentially wide-ranging intelligence damage to do it.

Could it be any clearer?
[AP] In a meeting last week with McCain, R-Ariz., Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss suggested language that would exclude clandestine counterterrorism operations overseas by agencies other than the Pentagon "if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Tuesday that the president has "made our position very clear: We do not condone torture, nor would he ever authorize the use of torture."

McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, said he rejected the administration's proposal because "that would basically allow the CIA to engage in torture."

Put it on his gravestone
[WP] Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.

“Good as gold”

More bashing of Bush II by officials of the Bush I administration
"We always made sure the President was hearing all the possibilities," John Sununu, who served as chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, said. "That's one of the differences between the first Bush Administration and this Bush Administration."

Bush backs off reduction in wages for Katrina reconstruction workers (which was a really stupid idea in the first place – another indication of how politically tone-deaf, or arrogant, these guys have become). The really good part of this story is that it shows the Democrats starting to develop better strategies for turning these kinds of policies against them

Wal-Mart: the mask is off
It's rare that critics of America's messed-up insurance system get an inside glimpse of what companies really think about health benefits. But, as Nathan Newman reports, today's New York Times contains a must-read article on Wal-Mart's covert deliberations about its embattled health plan, based on an internal memo discussing the company's health insurance strategy. And what this memo makes clear is that Wal-Mart's recently touted effort to "upgrade" its health plan ultimately amounts to a gutting of the very concept of health insurance. Since Wal-Mart sets the agenda for the American service sector -- and increasingly the American economy as a whole -- this memo is a chilling reminder of why the United States so badly needs universal health insurance.
In The Price Is Right, August 3, 2005 Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of business administration at Harvard and Ken A. Mark, a business consultant in Toronto, argue that Wal-Mart is good for workers.

More bemusement: both DeLay and Frist have sudden pangs of conscience (now that they know the cops are at the door)
Rep. Tom DeLay failed to comply with House requirements that he disclose all contributions to a defense fund that pays his legal bills, the Texas Republican acknowledged to House officials. . . On October 13 DeLay wrote the clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, that his first inkling of inconsistencies in his disclosures came last February. . .
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged yesterday that he could have been "more precise" two years ago when he told the public in a televised interview that he wasn't sure if he still owned any HCA stock because his holdings had been placed in a blind trust. . . Frist claimed in 2002 and on television in 2003 that he didn't know how much HCA stock he owned, and might not have owned any. But in fact, since 2001, Frist received notification 15 times of sales or deposits into his trust accounts of various stocks, including HCA shares.

[R. Neal] I guess "could have been more precise" is GOP-speak for "I could have told the truth, but chose not to." It's like 1972 all over again, except "could have been more precise" sounds a little better than "those statements are no longer operative."

This is really funny. The delusional Bush WH seems to think that the problem with Harriet Miers is that people just don’t know her well enough, so they want her to give a Big Speech (hey guys, the problem is that the more that people know about her, the LESS they think of her). For them, everything is a PR problem
[Eric Umansky] Miers' rewrite of her Senate questionnaire was due yesterday. And at least by their deadlines, the papers didn't hear she turned it in. (Maybe Miers could snag an incomplete.)

And, now, this. . .


UPDATE: She's out
In her letter to the president, Miers said she was "concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and its staff and it is not in the best interest of the country.". . .

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said. . . But Democratic and Republican senators told CNN's Ed Henry that they hadn't asked for privileged documents.

Looks like Judith Miller will be looking for a new job soon too
[WSJ] New York Times reporter Judith Miller has begun discussing her future employment options with the newspaper, including the possibility of a severance package. . .

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***