Saturday, March 31, 2007


Alberto Gonzales, desperately fighting to keep his job, falls back on the two classic Bush gang defenses: (1) I don’t remember, and (2) I can’t be held accountable for the unfortunate missteps of my subordinates
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, amid a growing clamor for his resignation, acknowledged Friday confusion about of his role in firing eight U.S. attorneys but said he doesn't "recall being involved in deliberations" over which prosecutors were to be ousted.

"I believe in truth and accountability and every step that I've taken is consistent with that principle," Gonzales said when asked why he is not heeding calls to resign. "I am fighting for the truth as well."

Gonzales said he had his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, coordinated performance evaluations for the 93 U.S. attorneys "to see where changes might be appropriate."

"I signed off on the recommendations and signed off on the implementation plan, and that's the extent of my involvement," he told reporters . . .

"From time to time Kyle would tell me things that would tell me that this effort was ongoing. I don't recall being involved in deliberations involving the question of whether or not a U.S. attorney should or should not be asked to resign. I didn't focus on specific concerns about individuals," he said. . . .

The White House, meanwhile, predicted Friday, that Gonzales will survive the crisis. . . .

[NB: Can somebody explain why this isn’t just as bad, or more damning? Hiring and firing US Attorneys must be one of the most important things an Attorney General does. Delegating this to a staffer, merely signing off on it, and not inquiring about the reasons why career prosecutors working under him were being let go – with potentially devastating consequences to their careers – is unacceptable even given the most innocent of motives. And if, as appears certain, political and partisan factors actually underlaid why some were picked out for firing and others were not (and even IF Gonzales didn’t know that, which is hard to believe), why isn’t that still in some sense his fault?]
[Kyle] Sampson rejected the notion that the dismissals were ordered by young or inexperienced Justice Department officials.

"The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I and others made staff recommendations but they were approved and signed off on by the principals...."
[Jason Leopold] [T]he common thread in the thousands of pages of documents released by the Department of Justice in conjunction with a Congressional probe into the US attorney dismissals is that top officials in the DOJ who worked behind the scenes believed that they were doing something improper in selectively dismissing the attorneys and acted with a clear intent to deceive lawmakers if any questions into reasons for the firings arose.

Instead of pointing to the president's broad discretion to fire the prosecutors, Justice officials conceived a plan that they would execute on a specific date and time, and then cooked up a story that they all agreed upon in the event that their actions were scrutinized. . .

With Iglesias out of the way, Republicans get the New Mexico indictment he refused to file – but the story may be more complicated than that
[Josh Marshall] New Mexico Democrat Manny Aragon was indicted yesterday by the guy who replaced David Iglesias. This was the indictment that Sen. Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Wilson (R-NM) wanted Iglesias to pop before the November election, to help Wilson head off the challenge from Democrat Patricia Madrid.

Now, the first thing to say is that I don't know enough about the particulars of the Aragon case to comment on it specifically. But I will say that my assumption has always been that Iglesias was investigating this case as a very real and serious criminal inquiry and probably intended eventually to bring indictments. The article notes that three of the four people indicted had actually reached sealed plea deals earlier this year. So those may actually have been secured during Iglesias's tenure.

However that may be, I would caution people against jumping to the conclusion that Iglesias's successor has brought an indictment that Iglesias himself was unwilling to seek. Given how much wrongdoing we've found in this story I wouldn't say it's impossible either. But my impression has always been that the issue here was timing. Domenici and Wilson wanted Iglesias to rush an indictment in time for the election to help Wilson hold on to her House seat. He refused.

[Josh Marshall] This is a good example of one of the many reasons why political appointees and members of Congress shouldn't start trying to game criminal indictments. Once you start mucking around, politicizing the process, it's very hard to restore any faith that indictments aren't being used as proxies for spin and electioneering. . .

Kyle Sampson: torn and tattered
[Dana Milbank] Sampson seemed content to fall on his sword rather than naming names when he was questioned about the prosecutor mess. Only the red felt on the witness table concealed the blood. "I could have and should have helped to prevent this," Sampson offered. "I let the attorney general and the department down. . . . I failed to organize a more effective response. . . . It was a failure on my part. . . . I will hold myself responsible. . . . I wish we could do it all over again."

The witness fessed up to an expanding list of sins. He admitted that the Justice Department was trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. He confessed that he proposed firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case. "I regretted it," he explained. "I knew that it was the wrong thing to do."

But the self-sacrificing witness still managed -- inadvertently, perhaps -- to implicate Gonzales and Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove. Sampson, who resigned from the Justice Department earlier this month, admitted that Gonzales "had received a complaint from Karl Rove about U.S. attorneys in three jurisdictions." Asked about the accuracy of Gonzales's claim of non-involvement, Sampson confessed: "I don't think it's entirely accurate what he said." . . .

Sampson, however, was a little fuzzy

"I can't pretend to know or remember every fact that may be of relevance," he warned at the start -- and he wasn't kidding. He used the phrase "I don't remember" a memorable 122 times.

It may have been a tactical effort to limit his risk of perjury, but Sampson displayed the recall of a man who recently fell off a ladder.

"Since the 2004 election, did you speak with the president about replacing U.S. attorneys?" Leahy asked.

"I don't ever remember speaking to the president after the 2004 election," he said. (He later remembered that he had.) "Did you have further communications with the White House regarding the plan to regard and replace several U.S. attorneys?"

"I don't remember specifically."

"I wish you did remember," Leahy finally said. "I would hope that you would search your memory as we go along."

Sampson searched. He came up empty. . . .
[Emily Bazelon] Kyle Sampson tried to stand by his man today. But he just couldn't. . . . [read on]

House committee will interview DOJ officials McNulty, Goodling, and others IN PRIVATE. Why?

Appalling, truly appalling. Time magazine’s weekly issue is out, and there is NOTHING in it about the US Attorney case. Not a big enough story for you guys?


More on the Wade/Wilkes/Cunningham scandal

We can’t even be surprised any more
A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has repeatedly altered scientific field reports to minimize protections for imperiled species and disclosed confidential information to private groups seeking to affect policy decisions, the department's inspector general concluded.

The investigator's report on Julie A. MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks -- which was triggered by an anonymous complaint from a Fish and Wildlife Service employee and expanded in October after a Washington Post article about MacDonald -- said she frequently sought to reshape the agency's scientific reports in an effort to ease the impact of agency decisions on private landowners. . . .


Voter suppression is alive and well

Bush’s legacy
[Scarecrow] As we watch daily hearings expose more horrors that define the Bush Administration, we are all groping for theories that explain what the regime has done to America and why the regime continues to command support from the core of the Republican Party. John Dean’s book, Conservatives Without Conscience, describes an authoritarian mentality that drives allegiance to the Bush/Cheney regime and accounts for Republican acceptance of expanding government intrusions into the private lives of individuals. Glenn Greenwald, in How Would a Patriot Act, carries the theme further, cataloguing the regime’s pervasive lawlessness and the theories behind it, while Sidney Blumenthal’s How Bush Rules provides further insights on the ruling mentality. Three recent essays seem to confirm and expand on the main hypothesis and further reveal the monster that confronts us and still controls much of our government. . .

The Dems get serious about oversight – here’s a handy outline of hearings to come

Next up: Rove/Abramoff go-between Susan Ralston

Rats, sinking ship, etc.
White House political director Sara Taylor is out the door at the White House, according to Washington Wire. Taylor came up a number of times yesterday during the Kyle Sampson hearing as having worked closely with Sampson (along with another Karl Rove aide Scott Jennings) to install Rove's former aide Tim Griffin as the U.S. Attorney in eastern Arkansas.

"Barry Jackson, a longtime aide to Karl Rove, also is thought to be leaving soon....”

Subpoenas to come?

Bush says “the clock is ticking” and Congress better send him a troop funding bill to his liking. Of course, he also says he will veto a bill he doesn’t like, seriously delaying the release of much-needed funds. Which is it, George?

Friendly fire
Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that it was friendly fire and President Bush might embarrass himself if he said the NFL star-turned-soldier died in an ambush, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. . . .

Dana Perino, Tony Snow’s replacement, is making the cardinal error of press flacks – spending time correcting the interpretations of her own poorly framed answers. Granted, she has bad material to work with in the first place, but she’s clearly overmatched in this role

Perino projects an earnest, ever-polite demeanor, like an airline ticket agent who keeps smiling as irate customers demand to know why their flight has been canceled. . .

Perino has been flooded with calls of support, including one, she says, from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who told her: "Put your big-girl panties on.". . . [read on]

The Bush gang attacks Nancy Pelosi for a planned trip to Syria – but a deputation of Republicans is already there!
[Dana Perino] I do think that, as a general rule — and this would go for Speaker of the House Pelosi and this apparent trip that she is going to be taking — that we don’t think it’s a good idea. …

I’m not sure what the hopes are to — what she’s hoping to accomplish there. I know that Assad probably really wants people to come and have a photo opportunity and have tea with him, and have discussions about where they’re coming from, but we do think that’s a really bad idea.

More on Bush’s plans for Syria:

Why “Rudy McRomney” is a disaster for the Republicans

The scandals just keep coming
The WSJ reports today, "The wife of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons was hired as a consultant to a defense contractor at the same time that her husband, who was then a member of Congress, helped the company get funding for a no-bid federal contract. Dawn Gibbons got about $35,000 in consulting fees in 2004 from Sierra Nevada Corp., of Sparks, Nev., the company said. Mr. Gibbons, a five-term Republican who served on the armed services and intelligence committees, sought funding that year for Sierra Nevada for a $4 million contract to develop a helicopter radar-landing system. ... One of the military contracts that Sierra Nevada got in 2004 was $2 million for research on a 'helicopter autonomous landing system,' to help pilots land in 'brownouts' of blowing sand, a technology several firms were seeking to develop for the Pentagon. House records indicate that Mr. Gibbons asked for $4 million, and got $2 million in the final bill. In a June 22, 2004, news release, he hailed the project and a separate $3 million for eTreppid as 'cutting-edge technology being developed in Nevada to improve our defense systems.' . . .

Here’s the GOP’s battle plan for 2008

Jesse Jackson blasts the Congressional Black Caucus for dealing with Fox News to sponsor a Presidential debate. Haven’t we already been through this?

It gets worse:

***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, March 30, 2007


Short version of Kyle Sampson’s testimony – give up Gonzales, he’s a goner anyway, but build a big high wall keeping this scandal away from Karl Rove, and squash any suggestion that these prosecutors were fired because they weren’t willing to tilt their investigations to suit Republican interests. Though it's still not clear why they WERE fired

Bye, bye, Alberto:
Specter asked about Gonzales' "candor" in saying earlier this month that he was not a part of any discussions on the firings. He asked about the November 27, 2006 meeting "where there were discussions" and Gonzales allegedly attended. Was Gonzales' statement about taking part in no discussions accurate?

"I don’t think it’s accurate,” Sampson replied. “I think he’s recently clarified it. But I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign, and I believe that he was present at the meeting on Nov. 27.”

"So he was involved in discussions in contrast to his statement" this month? Specter asked.

"Yes," Sampson replied.

Sen. Charles Schumer then asked about Gonzales also claiming that he saw no documents on this matter.

Sampson replied: "I don't think it's entirely accurate."

Schumer: "There was repeated discussions?"

Sampson : "Yes."

Schumer: "As many as, say, five."

Sampson: "Yes."

Schumer then asked if Gonzales was truthful in saying Sampson's information on the firings was not shared within the department.

Sampson: "I shared information with whoever asked....I was very open and collaborative in the process."

Schumer: "So the Attorney General's statement is false?"

Sampson: "I don't think it is accurate."


Take a hint:
Q Kyle Sampson testified today, as you know. He said, "I don't think the Attorney General's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate. I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign." What's the White House reaction to that? Do you feel like Attorney General Gonzales needs to get up to the Hill much more quickly to explain himself?

MS. PERINO: Well, he's said, as the President has said since we were in Mérida, Mexico, that, yes, the Attorney General has some work to do up on Capitol Hill; that he wasn't satisfied with incomplete or inconsistent information being provided to Capitol Hill. . . .

Q But if this right that the Attorney General actually was involved in the process, which is different from what he has said, would that change the President's support for him?

MS. PERINO: I think the key to that is "if," and I know that the Attorney General is going to be testifying in front of Congress, and I think it's best for me to allow the Attorney General to either explain further today, if they choose to, or to wait for his testimony. . .

Q Can you sort of characterize -- because this really, this morning, brought into very sharp focus a dispute -- I mean, essentially, the Attorney General's former chief of staff is calling into direct question the crux of what the Attorney General has said about having never had any conversations. He's counting at least five conversations they've had. So how can the Attorney General, in your opinion, continue to be effective if, apparently, he stood up and said something that was categorically false?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let the Justice Department and the Attorney General speak for himself. And, obviously, I understand how people can have different recollections, and I'm going to have to let the Attorney General speak for himself. . . .

Sampson: what did he mean by labeling some US Attorneys “loyal Bushies”?

Sampson tries to suggest that “political” reasons for firing prosecutors are legitimate
[David Iglesias] Kyle Sampson has never been a prosecutor, much less a federal prosecutor. He doesn't understand what we do.

I couldn't disagree more with his statement that the distinction is artificial. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft told me in his office politics stay outside the door once you become a United States attorney. He told all my colleagues that.

So, I could not disagree more. And we are not rated on political effectiveness. We're rated on performance. And all of us had good performance evaluations by a team of 20 to 25 members of the Justice Department, by career people. . .

Sampson says he thought it would be a neat idea to fire Patrick Fitzgerald
"On one occasion in 2006, in discussing the removal of U.S. attorneys... that I was speaking with Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley and I raised Pat Fitzgerald, and immediately after I did it, I regretted it. I thought, I knew it was the wrong thing to do, I knew it was inappropriate. And I remember at the time that Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley just looked at me.... I said, "Patrick Fitzgerald could be added to this list."... They just looked at me."

Durbin asks why he suggested that. And Sampson says he doesn't know why, that maybe it was just to "get a reaction out of them." . .

[NB: Or maybe, just maybe, this was proof that Sampson thought it was acceptable to target prosecutors who were giving Republicans a hard time. Now, where would he have gotten the notion that this was an acceptable thing to do?]

Did he talk with Rove about it?
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) repeatedly asked Kyle Sampson whether he ever discussed drawing up this ranking with Karl Rove. On eight different occasions, Sampson refused to rule out that he had discussed firing Fitzgerald with Rove or his office. . .

After all this, there STILL isn’t a clear answer from the DOJ about how and why these eight prosecutors were selected for firing (you know, a suspicious person might start to doubt that they HAD good reasons)
[Josh Marshall] A question from TPM Reader PE: "Did Sampson ever explain how names got put on the list? Who was responsible for that? It seems he just kept saying he just kept the list."

[On] every delicate particular Sampson said that he was collecting viewpoints from various administration officials about their views on particular US Attorneys but that he couldn't remember specifics. . . He also said whatever records or notes he kept about the process likely no longer exist.

Kennedy: is it a coincidence that these states are also key 2008 battleground states?

[Daniel Politi] Sampson also acknowledged that David Iglesias, the fired U.S. attorney of New Mexico, wasn't added to the list until shortly before the November elections and after Karl Rove complained to Gonzales about him. This was right around the time when two Republican lawmakers were also expressing that they weren't happy with Iglesias and his handling of a public corruption investigation that dealt with Democrats.

Rove’s role in getting his boy Tim Griffin installed as the US Attorney for Arkansas

Lam: Sampson repeated again that she wasn’t fired for going after Cunningham and CIA corruption, even though we have an email from him saying she’s becoming “a real problem” the day after she announced a search warrant to go after Dusty Foggo!

No, it was supposedly because of her weak performance on immigration issues. Two little problems there
Sampson has just confirmed that for all their deep concern about her border enforcement policy, no one from the DOJ ever raised the issue with Lam. Ever.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein yesterday challenged assertions by a former top Justice Department official that Carol Lam was fired from her job as U.S. attorney in San Diego because of a mediocre record in prosecuting immigration cases.

During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the California Democrat produced a recent letter from a top federal immigration official in San Diego praising Lam's record in combating immigrant smuggling. . . .


The letter:

Liveblogging Sampson’s testimony, from FDL

How Monica Goodling rose so quickly in the Justice Dept, and the larger tale it tells

What Bush’s people have done to the Justice Dept
[Joseph Rich, the former head of the Voting Section of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division] I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections. . .


Henry Waxman is NOT going to let the GSA scandal go away just because of Lurita Doan’s ridiculously spotty memory (thanks to Steve Benen for the link)

Bonus item: McCain further cements his reputation as the putative standard-bearer of the Republican party – he was ready to switch over to the Democrats in 2001
[Mark Schmitt] This has really been the McCain M.O. He's neither a maverick, nor a classic flip-flopper who goes where the wind blows, rather, his consistent pattern has been to maneuver to put himself in the position where his consent can be the make-or-break factor. . . .

***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, March 29, 2007


Terrible news for the Bush gang, and more to come. Things could change (again), but right now the Bush machine is leaking oil at every joint and the wheels are falling off

First, Bush blusters that the Dems better drop any troop withdrawal deadline, or he just won’t sign the troop funding bill, then blame them for not supporting the troops – yeah, that’ll work
A defiant President Bush vowed today not to negotiate with Congress about setting a date for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, and he said the American people would blame lawmakers if there is any delay in approving money for the war effort.

“Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders . . . That’s not going to happen. . . .
Congressional Democrats are showing no signs of backing down on their rebuke of the Iraq war, insisting President Bush will have to accept some sort of legislative timetable in exchange for the billions of dollars needed to fund the war.

"We would hope that the president understands how serious we are," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev . . .
[Reid and Pelosi] Given the importance and urgency of this legislation to our troops and our security, we are quite disturbed by your insistence to veto it. Rather than work with the Congress to develop a bill you could sign, you apparently intend to follow a political strategy that would needlessly delay funding for our troops. . . .
[Pelosi] "On this very important matter I would extend a hand of friendship to the president, just to say to him: 'Calm down with the threats, there's a new Congress in town. We respect your constitutional role, we want you to respect ours. This war must end, the American people have lost faith in the president's conduct of the war, let's see how we can work together.'"

And Bush thinks he has public opinion on his side!
[Bush] Members of Congress need to stop making political statements, and start providing vital funds for our troops. They need to get that bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.

Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely. That's not going to happen. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.

[Pew poll, March 26] A solid majority of Americans say they want their congressional representative to support a bill calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by August 2008. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they would like to see their representative vote for such legislation, compared with just 33% who want their representative to oppose it.

Bush’s dilemma
[Dan Froomkin] Yesterday's Senate vote has put President Bush in a real bind.

The combination of veto power and a sizeable Republican minority means the president can reliably block any Democratic legislation he dislikes from becoming law.

But in this case, Bush affirmatively needs Congress to send him a war funding bill so he can keep fighting the war in Iraq. Now that the Democrats have succeeded in attaching a timetable for troop withdrawal to the funding bill, he is left with two basic options: negotiate with the Democrats -- or play a hugely consequential game of chicken. . . .

Things fall apart
[Eve Fairbanks] In the last couple of weeks, even in the minds of the lawmakers tasked with oversight, the administration's scandals and screw-ups have started to blur together into one Meta Screw-Up -- a situation in which every procedural safeguard, institutional norm, and carefully designed plan seems to have "just melted into oblivion with this sloppy administration," as Senator Dianne Feinstein put it at the Mueller hearing. The impression that we are, by now, witnessing the unfolding of one giant, undifferentiated scandal is compounded by the sense that this is some kind of watershed moment: The U.S. attorneys affair unleashed last Thursday's complaint that Bush partisans meddled with a Justice Department tobacco prosecution, which unleashed Monday's accusation that the General Services Administration was misused for political ends, and on and on.
[Bloomberg] The Justice Department said it provided inaccurate information to members of Congress in a February letter about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Writing today to lawmakers investigating the terminations, the agency's acting head of legislative affairs, Richard Hertling, said that "certain statements" in the Feb. 23 letter were contradicted by documents that the department provided to Congress this month. Hertling didn't specify what the misstatements were. . . .

Another document dump
[Josh Marshall] They appear to clearly show that [Kyle] Sampson attempted to mislead Congress by proxy -- that is to say, he gave false information to DOJ officials who were preparing to provide information to Congress.

Update: And it looks like those false statements were cleared by the White House.

[Josh Marshall] The White House Counsel's Office gave explicit sign off to the DOJ's letter falsely claiming Rove and Miers played no role in Tim Griffin's appointment as US Attorney. And the sign off came from Chris Oprison, the guy at the Counsel's office who Sampson had told about Rove's and Miers' role only a couple months earlier.

Background for Kyle Sampson’s testimony later today
[AP] Eight federal prosecutors were fired last year because they did not sufficiently support President Bush's priorities, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff says in remarks prepared for delivery to Congress on Thursday. . .

Gonzales' former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, in remarks obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, spoke dismissively of Democrats' condemnation of what they call political pressure in the firings.

"The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial," he said. "A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective ... is unsuccessful." . . .

In his prepared testimony, he maintained that adherence to the priorities of the president and attorney general was a legitimate standard.

"Presidential appointees are judged not only on their professional skills but also their management abilities, their relationships with law enforcement and other governmental leaders and their support for the priorities of the president and the attorney general," Sampson said.
[Josh Marshall] This use of the word 'political' is at the heart of Sampson's and others effort to lie their way out of what happened here.

'Political' can mean many things in different contexts. US Attorneys are 'political' appointees, in that they are overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, drawn from among the president's political supporters. They are also subject to 'political' direction, in that they are expected to follow the administration's law enforcement priorities -- more or less gun prosecutions, crack downs on dead beat dads or pornography, etc.

Neither of these meanings of the word 'political' are what this investigation is about. And, like others, Sampson is using these multiple meanings of the word as a dodge. The charge against Sampson and crew is not that they fired them for 'political' reasons. The charge is that they fired these prosecutors for not using their law enforcement powers to help the Republican party. . . [read on!]


The Dems make clear that they are going after those non-WH email accounts too – which are not covered by executive privilege
[Sidney Blumenthal] The rise and fall of the Bush presidency has had four phases: the befuddled period of steady political decline during the president's first nine months; the high tide of hubris from Sept. 11, 2001, through the 2004 election; the self-destructive overreaching to consolidate a one-party state from 2005 to 2006, culminating in the repudiation of the Republican Congress; and, now, the terminal stage, the great unraveling, as the Democratic Congress works to uncover the abuses of the previous six years. . . .

The discovery of a hitherto unknown treasure-trove of e-mails buried by the Bush White House may prove to be as informative as Nixon's secret White House tapes. Last week the National Journal disclosed that Karl Rove does "about 95 percent" of his e-mails outside the White House system, instead using a Republican National Committee account. What's more, Rove doesn't tap most of his messages on a White House computer, but rather on a BlackBerry provided by the RNC. By this method, Rove and other White House aides evade the legally required archiving of official e-mails. . . .

When I worked in the Clinton White House, people brought in their personal computers if they were engaged in any campaign work, but all official transactions had to be done within the White House system as stipulated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. (The PRA requires that "the President shall take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are maintained as Presidential records.") Having forsaken the use of Executive Office of the President e-mail, executive privilege has been sacrificed. Moreover, Rove's and the others' practice may not be legal. . . .

[Josh Marshall] White House personnel appear to have been systematically avoiding using their government emails on the job because they knew they might some day be subpoenaed.

But as we noted earlier with Karl Rove, this may have been too clever by half. If the president's aides were using RNC emails or emails from other Republican political committees, they can't have even the vaguest claim to shielding those communications behind executive privilege.
[Laura Rozen] A reader who has a security role at a federal agency writes, "On the issue of using outside/unofficial e-mail address from official sites, the CIO at [redacted] has expressly forbade the practice for security reasons as it is all too easy to put sensitive information in an e-mail. ... Needless to say, hearing that the WH does not mandate that practice and lets [Rove] do 95% of his e-mailing from a blackberry, presumably with access to an unofficial address, is quite shocking. . .

[Josh Marshall] Mike Isikoff notes that Karl Rove is one of the recipients of an email Sen. Domenici's Chief of Staff, Steve Bell, sent on January 8th thanking Rove and two other White House aides for help getting Iglesias replaced. "Thanks for everything," writes Bell. . .


Monica Goodling was reportedly part of the phone call between Pete Domenici and David Iglesias (in which Domenici was pressing him to push forward a corruption probe against a Democratic official) – thanks to Josh Marshall for the link

Iglesias speaks
[Josh Marshall] Mike Battle, the apparently apolitical former Director of the Executive Office of the United States Attorney, was the one who actually placed the firing calls to the seven US Attorneys. During Iglesias's call, Iglesias asked Battle what was going on. "I don't know, and I don't wanna know. All I know is that this came from on high," Battle told Iglesias.

Battle resigned his post in early February. . .


Since there is nothing the Republicans can say to defend what they’ve been doing, their only option is to attack. And sure enough, they’re launching radio attack ads against Iglesias!

Who’s behind it:

The conservative bellwether, the National Review, says resign, Alberto!
The story of the eight fired U.S. attorneys has been relentlessly overhyped. We do not know that any of them was fired because the administration put its political interests ahead of his or her prosecutorial judgment. . .

We do not need more evidence, however, to reach a conclusion about the suitability of Alberto Gonzales for the leadership of the Department of Justice. While we defended him from some of the outlandish charges made during his confirmation hearings, we have never seen evidence that he has a fine legal mind, good judgment, or managerial ability. Nor has his conduct at any stage of this controversy gained our confidence.

His claim not to have been involved in the firings suggests that he was either deceptive or inexcusably detached from the operations of his own department.

Worse and worse
[Evans-Novak] "The attitude of Capitol Hill Republicans toward President George W. Bush has reached a new low with Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales's incompetent handling of the U.S. attorneys matter. It is not just that there is so little GOP support for Gonzales, but that there is considerable distancing from the President. There is a consensus among congressional Republicans that Bush's policies -- starting with Iraq -- are at the heart of the party's problems."

"While congressional Republicans are furious that a Gonzales aide is invoking the 5th Amendment before Congress, the Democratic leaders are interested in much more than embarrassing the GOP. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is targeting the case of three deposed U.S. attorneys who were investigating major cases of public corruption. Emmanuel is after what he thinks is a major story."
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales endured blunt criticism Tuesday from federal prosecutors who questioned the firings of eight United States attorneys, complained that the dismissals had undermined morale and expressed broader grievances about his leadership, according to people briefed on the discussion.

About a half-dozen United States attorneys voiced their concerns at a private meeting with Mr. Gonzales in Chicago.

Several of the prosecutors said the dismissals caused them to wonder about their own standing and distracted their employees, according to one person familiar with the discussions. Others asked Mr. Gonzales about the removal of Daniel C. Bogden, the former United States attorney in Nevada, a respected career prosecutor whose ouster has never been fully explained by the Justice Department. . . .

They’re ALL wrapped up in it
[Laura Rozen] Check out Ari Berman's report on the alleged role of now deputy attorney general Paul McNulty in suppressing a DOJ report that would have been damaging to clients of Jack Abramoff. . . [read on!]

Also interesting to note that Justice Department official Monica Goodling was prosecuting low level cases out of McNulty's US attorney's office in Alexandria VA in 2004. McNulty has reportedly in recent communications with Judiciary committee member Sen. Chuck Schumer blamed his false testimony to Congress on Goodling, who has invoked her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid testifying before the committee. McNulty's boss Gonzales is taking a similar tack, blaming any of his misstatements on his fired chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, set to testify Thursday. . . .

GSA director suffers massive memory loss
The chief of the General Services Administration testified on Capitol Hill yesterday that she could not recall details of a Jan. 26 videoconference in which a White House official briefed top political appointees at the agency about targeting 20 congressional Democrats in 2008.

Lurita Alexis Doan, the GSA's administrator, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer questions about her 10-month tenure at the government's premier contracting agency, including her attempt to award a no-bid job to a business associate and her alleged intervention in a contract dispute with a technology company.

Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the committee was focusing on the videoconference at GSA facilities because it might have violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts government agencies and employees from engaging in political activity on the job.

Waxman's investigators said they took statements from six political appointees involved in the videoconference who maintained that Doan asked her employees how they could help Republicans in the upcoming elections.

Under sharp questioning, Doan acknowledged attending the videoconference. She and up to 40 of the agency's Republican appointees scattered around the country watched a PowerPoint presentation by J. Scott Jennings, White House deputy director of political affairs, who works for Karl Rove.

On at least 10 occasions, she testified that she could not recall asking employees to help the GOP or remember details of the presentation.

"I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but I can say that I honestly don't have recollection of the presentation at all," she said.

In a slide called "2008 House Targets: Top 20," the presentation named 20 Democrats the GOP will key on in 2008. Another slide, called "2008 House GOP Defense," had a list of Republicans the party wants to protect.

"I do not recollect this," she said. "I honestly and absolutely do not recollect this."

Doan also said she did not recall asking appointees what they could do to "help our candidates," as alleged in a letter to Doan from Waxman citing the multiple sources.

"I do not have any recollection of saying that," she said. . . .

Watch it:

Listening into the live webcast of the GSA hearings just now, the camera was down, but the audio was still up and you could here GSA Administrator Lurita Doan griping about the investigation and telling one of her people to take her glass, cause she doesn't want "them to have my fingerprints. They've got me totally paranoid!" . . .
Even as the head of the General Services Administration prepares to address allegations of improper conduct at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, new information about her actions continues to emerge.

A March 27 memorandum from committee Democrats states that GSA Administrator Lurita Doan overrode longtime contracting officers to intervene on behalf of Sun Microsystems in a pricing dispute with the agency “after direct intervention by Sun representatives with Doan herself.”

That and other details show that Doan misled Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in a March 13 letter playing down her involvement with the Sun Microsystems contract, the memo says. Grassley was added to the committee’s witness list on Tuesday. . . .
[Kagro X] This is as corrupt as corruption gets, folks . . .

Times have changed
[Harold Meyerson] The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year. . . .

GSA, US Attorneys, secret email systems. . . it’s all well and good to say that we’re finally learning about these things because the Dems control the Congress and have subpoena power now – but as we learn more and more about how this administration has run its business for the past six years, the question arises, Has this been common knowledge within the Beltway? How could we not have been told this earlier?
[Atrios] It's late so I don't have it in me to support this thesis, but it really seems that we're getting to a level of corruption and coverup that wouldn't even be close to being possible without sycophants in the media who enable it. . .

Let’s call the Republican obsession with “voter fraud” exactly what it is


Pork city
[Sam Rosenfeld] A page 1 story in The Washington Post today passes on the president's harsh criticisms of Congress's Iraq supplemental bills, devoting many paragraphs to Bush's indignant recitation of several porky domestic spending provisions in the packages. Could it have hurt the authors to at least briefly mention that every emergency Iraq supplemental devised and passed by Republican Congresses in the last several years -- and happily signed by the president -- has included such provisions? . . .

Bush’s BFF doesn’t want to be friends any more
[NYT] "King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arab leaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq is 'illegal.' . . The king’s speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit meeting here, underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration as the Saudis take on a greater regional leadership role, partly at American urging. The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to the policies of their longtime ally. . .”

Angry senators accused FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday of management failures that resulted in the dispatch of hundreds of national security letters and intelligence surveillance warrants containing erroneous information, and Mueller said he accepted that characterization.

Both Republicans and Democrats at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing said the abuses have undermined the FBI's reputation and its authority to continue using such letters and warrants under conditions that Congress eased in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. . . .

More defeats
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and other Democrats are raising concerns about Fox's nomination to be ambassador to Belgium because of a $50,000 contribution Fox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth . . .

With a vote on Fox expected Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry's Vietnam crew mates on Tuesday sent a letter urging committee members to oppose Fox's nomination. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

“In our judgment, those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don't deserve to represent America on the world stage,” said the letter signed by James Rassman and 10 other Vietnam Swift Boat veterans who served with Kerry.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday he opposes the nomination because Fox “refused to apologize for his behavior” during his confirmation hearing last month. . . .

Nomination withdrawn:

And now they’ve lost the charming liar Tony Snow to handle press briefings. Instead, they have this nitwit

Theocracy watch: the religious right vetoes Fred Thompson too

Bonus item: Ick. Double-ick. Karl Rove “raps” at the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner

More “humor”:;_ylt=AmbH5nyfjWfkhPgxCejptgLMWM0F
[Bush] "A year ago my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my vice president had shot someone," President Bush said Wednesday night during the annual gathering.

"Ah," he said, "those were the good ol' days." . . .

***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.***

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


The Senate takes a big step toward a funding bill for the Iraq war with a cut-off date. This is being spun by Cheney and the pro-war right as capitulation, even treason. Setting a cut-off date is equated with defeatism and betraying the troops. But let’s remember that there are at least three PRO-VICTORY arguments for setting a cut-off date: (1) Our continued presence may be making things worse -- as long as the troops stay there, they are a prime target for insurgent attacks (this is separate from the factional killing of the civil war, which we’ve also made worse but in a different way); (2) The Iraq govt says they can never gain stability or legitimacy as long as we are there – our continuation as an occupying force undermines their ability to do some of the things we expect them to do; (3) The prospect of a US troop withdrawal would hasten the day when the Iraq govt is forced to get serious about dealing with some of their own problems. I’m not saying that pulling out troops would make things instantly better – it may make things worse, especially in the short term. But staying longer is DEFINITELY making things worse. The Dems shouldn’t let their stance be spun as defeatism
The Senate went on record for the first time on Tuesday in favor of a withdrawal date from Iraq, with Democrats marshaling the votes they needed to deliver a forceful rebuke to President Bush’s war policy. . . .
Democrats voting for amendment (or the wrong way): Mark Pryor (AR)

Independents voting for it: Joe Lieberman (CT)

Republicans voting against it: Chuck Hagel (NE), Gordon Smith (OR)

Not voting: Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tim Johnson (D-SD)

This means that the following Republicans facing tough or potentially tough reelection battles in 2008 just voted to escalate Bush's war with no accountability. These guys just voted to attach themselves even closer to Bush's hip:

Norm Coleman (NM)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Cornyn (TX)
Liddy Dole (NC)
Pete Domenici (NM)
Mitch McConnel (KY)
Pete Sessions (AL)
John Sununu (NH)
John Warner (VA)
[John] McCain called the provision “one of the most shameful things I’ve ever seen.”

Fox News adds its own subtle commentary:

What will Bush do?

Sunny Joe
"It is clear that for the first time in a long time, there is reason for cautious optimism about Iraq." . . .

His buddy John
[Juan Cole] Senator John McCain has contracted Rumsfeld's Disease. This malady consists of a combination of bad temper, misuse of language to obfuscate reality, and a Panglossian optimism in the face of stubborn, sanguinary facts on the ground. . . .

Those stubborn facts
An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus and 16 other senior U.S. commanders.

"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate.". . .


What does the Right REALLY think about Bush’s war?

When the British magazine The Lancet reported a figure of 650,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the war, the outraged response from war defenders was instantaneous – it was a wildly exaggerated figure, driven by anti-war hysteria and dubious methodologies. Well, guess what?
[Richard Horton] Immediately after publication, the prime minister's official spokesman said that The Lancet's study "was not one we believe to be anywhere near accurate". The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that the Lancet figures were "extrapolated" and a "leap". President Bush said: "I don't consider it a credible report".

Scientists at the UK's Department for International Development thought differently. They concluded that the study's methods were "tried and tested". Indeed, the Hopkins approach would likely lead to an "underestimation of mortality".

The Ministry of Defence's chief scientific advisor said the research was "robust", close to "best practice", and "balanced". He recommended "caution in publicly criticising the study".

When these recommendations went to the prime minister's advisers, they were horrified. One person briefing Tony Blair wrote: "are we really sure that the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies?" A Foreign Office official was forced to conclude that the government "should not be rubbishing The Lancet".

The prime minister's adviser finally gave in. He wrote: "the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones".

How would the government respond?

Would it welcome the Hopkins study as an important contribution to understanding the military threat to Iraqi civilians? Would it ask for urgent independent verification? Would it invite the Iraqi government to upgrade civilian security?

Of course, our government did none of these things. Tony Blair was advised to say: "the overriding message is that there are no accurate or reliable figures of deaths in Iraq". . . .

Bush’s Monica
[Dan Froomkin] [W]hen a fairly minor player in what had heretofore not been considered a criminal investigation suddenly admits that she faces legal jeopardy if she tells the truth to a Congressional panel? Well, in that case, wild speculation is an inevitable and appropriate reaction.

For one, it's not at all clear what she's trying to say. Undeniably, if she chose to lie to the panel, she could face perjury charges. Her recourse, therefore, would appear to be to tell the truth.

So is she saying that if she told the truth, she would have to admit a crime? What crime?

Or is she saying something else: That she'd have to admit someone else's criminal behavior? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid. Sorry.

Or is she just afraid of being grilled by an antagonistic bunch of congressmen? Well, that's not something you can take the Fifth to avoid either. . .
[Digby] Last night I noted that Monica Goodling, Alberto Gonzales' senior counsel and white house liason graduated from Pat Robertson's Regent University law school. Apparently, she did her undergraduate work at someplace known as Messiah University, so it's pretty clear that this 33 year old is a dyed in the wool social conservative who was likely hired for that reason. Apparently, the Bush Emerald City hiring practices were more systemic than we thought: there are more than 150 graduates of Regent University serving in the Bush Administration

It sure does make you wonder about the ethical and moral instruction at these conservative Christian colleges, doesn't it? . . . [read on]

Why Monica Goodling may have a reason to plead the Fifth after all
[BK] Monica Goodling does have a good faith basis for pleading the Fifth Amendment - just not the ones in her lawyer's letter that are getting all the attention.

Under the federal False Statements statute, 18 USC 1001, it is a felony to cause another person to make a false statement to Congress. Since McNulty has allegedly told Senator Schumer that he made a false statement to Congress based on information provided to him by Monica Goodling, Goodling could very well be prosecuted for a Section 1001 violation.

All the rest of the crap in her lawyer's letter is intended to sooth as much as possible WH anger at her for invoking the Fifth.

Paul McNulty has a story to tell
[A] pair of senior Justice officials gave accounts to lawmakers that were, at best, incomplete. At a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, William Moschella, a top aide to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, vigorously defended the firings of the U.S. attorneys as a purely managerial move that had originated within the Justice Department. He said nothing about any nudging from the White House. McNulty had earlier given similar testimony, saying the attorneys had been let go for "job performance" reasons, an assertion that infuriated the fired prosecutors. But the two Justice officials have told colleagues that when they saw the e-mail accounts showing the attorney-purge idea had originated in the White House, they were surprised and appalled. "I felt sick," Moschella told NEWSWEEK. "I basically saw my professional life flash before my eyes." Moschella and McNulty blamed [Kyle] Sampson. The attorney general's chief of staff had sat in as they prepped for their testimony and "never said a word," according to a Justice Department official who wished to remain anonymous discussing a private meeting. . . .


[Chicago Sun Times] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dashed out of a Chicago news conference this afternoon in just two and a half minutes, ducking questions about how his office gave U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald a subpar rating.

Gonzales. . . had planned a 15-minute press availability. He left after taking just three questions over a firing scandal consuming his administration.

Before leaving, Gonzales said he wanted to "reassure the American people that nothing improper happened here."


And just think: this is his EXCUSE
[NYT] "The attorney general said Mr. Sampson was in charge of the process but periodically told him about his progress in identifying under-performing prosecutors. 'I was never focused on specific concerns about United States attorneys as to whether or not they should be asked to resign,' Mr. Gonzales said. "'I was more focused on identifying, or making sure the White House was appropriately advised of the progress of our review.'"

[Jeralyn Merritt] Think about that for a second. The Attorney General of the United States is saying that he delegated to his chief of staff - a thirty-something political type with absolutely no law enforcement experience - the decision on whether to fire United States Attorneys, the chief law enforcement officer of the district - and the Attorney General's only concern was to make sure that the White House was kept informed. What basis did Sampson have for judgment of someone's effectiveness either as a manager or as a prosecutor? Is it really appropriate to delegate to a political operative the authority to determine which Presidentially appointed and senatorially confirmed officials should be fired? And what does it say about the competence and the priorities of the Attorney General that his only concern was the White House side of this? . . .;_ylt=AnGLUgkctMcpR236EB.ocY.s0NUE
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' allies on Capitol Hill grew scarce Tuesday as he left it largely to aides to carry out President Bush's order to straighten out the story behind the firing of eight federal prosecutors. . . .
[Meteor Blades] OK, everyone, here's your chance to provide $25 to your favorite charity, blog, activist group or political candidate.

Predict when Alberto Gonzales will announce his departure. Or when somebody will do it for him. . . .

Just in case you had any doubts that the whole purpose of senior WH staffers using secret RNC email accounts was to avoid recording their transactions, here’s a clue from the Abramoff case. . .
[WP] Susan B. Ralston, while she was executive assistant to Rove, similarly used "" and "" e-mail accounts to confer in 2001 and 2003 with Abramoff, her former boss, about matters of interest to Abramoff's clients.

In a related e-mail, an Abramoff aide said Ralston had warned that "it is better to not put this stuff in writing in [the White House] . . . email system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc."

Abramoff's response, according to a copy of his e-mail, was: "Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her rnc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system." . .

In the continuing focus on individual US Attorney cases, here’s the run-down on the Carol Lam case
[Paul Kiel] Having spent some time digging into the administration's stated reason for U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's firing, it's time to cleanse the palate with the reasons why we're so suspicious.

So here we go.

-- Lam was never confronted over her approach to immigration prosecutions, the given reason for her dismissal.

-- In November, shortly before Lam was fired, a Justice Department official brainstormed about how to explain firing several U.S. attorneys: "The one common link here is that three of them are along the southern border so you could make the connection that DoJ is unhappy with the immigration prosecution numbers in those districts."

-- Lam was fired midway into a historic, wide-reaching public corruption investigation that targeted a number of Republican members of Congress and the executive director of the CIA. Even Karl Rove has acknowledged the reasonableness of not dismissing U.S. attorneys who are leading "high profile cases, important investigations" -- though for some reason, this one didn't qualify.

-- Despite the fact that it was one of the highest profile federal investigations being undertaken at the Department, Lam's investigation into Duke Cunningham and others is never mentioned in the Justice Department emails that have been released. Not once. This must have been discussed at the highest levels, but we've seen no record of those communications.

-- The FBI's bureau chief in San Diego has said, "I guarantee politics is involved" in Lam's firing. When asked about the given rationales for her ouster (that she pursued corruption cases to the detriment of gun and border prosecutions), he responded “What do you expect her to do? Let corruption exist?”

-- May 11, 2006, the day after Lam informed the Justice Department that she planned to execute a search warrant on CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and the same day that it was reported that her investigation had spread to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote to a White House official: "The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

-- On January 5th, 2007, less than a month after Lam had been told she was fired, but before it had been made public, Sampson wrote to his Justice Department colleagues, "... we granted 1-month extensions for [U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden] and [Western Michigan's Margaret Chiara], but not Carol -- right?" Lam was widely known to be leading a grand jury investigation into Foggo and others. Ultimately, she was granted a fifteen day extension, from January 31 until February 15; she ordered her office to bring the indictment against Foggo before she stepped down, and she succeeded.

[Josh Marshall] Back in January, Dan Dzwilewski, the FBI's special agent in charge of the San Diego field office, told to the San Diego Union-Tribune that Carol Lam's dismissal would jeopardize on-going corruption investigations and that "I guarantee politics is involved."

After his quotes were published, the folks back in DC told him to keep quiet.

Are Cheney and his people working against Condi Rice’s efforts to secure a Middle East agreement?

As obsessive readers of PBD have followed, the whole Cunningham/MZM mess started with a $140,000 contract for “office furniture,” originating out of the WH. Now we learn what this contract was really for

The return of the ERA?

I have nothing to say about Tony Snow’s re-emergent cancer here, except to say that I hope the right wing is as generous and sensitive in their reactions to his announcement as they were to Elizabeth Edwards’s announcement

Oh no, now we’re going to have to put up with Dana Perino!
Q Let me ask you about the email that shows the Attorney General in a meeting on November the 27th, and then the Attorney General's statements on March 13th, "We never had a discussion about where things stood." Do you find anything inconsistent in that?

MS. PERINO: The Justice Department, when they gave their statements on Friday night, said that they weren't inconsistent. And my reading of it is that the Attorney General has said -- I understand that there's a March 13th piece, but I also looked back on March 14th, when he did interviews back and forth -- I think it was with a CNN network -- in which he said, and he said consistently, that he does not recall being involved in deliberations about who -- which U.S. attorneys might be asked to be replaced for the remainder of the term. But he does say that he signed off on the final list. And my reading of that meeting was that was the final decision -- the decisions had been made, the final plan had been in place, and they were asking the Attorney General for a sign-off.

Q So what's he getting out of the 13th, when he said, "We never had a discussion about where things stood"?

MS. PERINO: I think what he's referring to -- and, again, I'm going to refer you to Justice Department for exactly what his thinking is, but when he says he doesn't recall having recollections about having deliberative discussions about the ongoing process over that two-year period, but that he does take responsibility for signing off on the final plan. . . .
Q I'd like to ask you about Monica Goodling. Her decision to take the Fifth contradicts the Attorney General's promise that his staff would be forthcoming. What are your thoughts about that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think it's unfortunate that a public servant no longer feels that her testimony would be treated fairly before the Congress. And, yes, the Attorney General, with the support of the President, urged all the members of the Justice Department to cooperate with Congress's request for testimony. However, we must respect the constitutional right of the individuals involved, and we are not going to question decisions that she made in private conversations with her and her attorney to protect those right. . .

Q Dana, is pleading the Fifth signifying that a crime has been committed?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that's an unfortunate interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, which is available to all of us, that in our public -- in our judicial system, invoking the Fifth Amendment is not an admission of guilt. But I would refer you to her lawyer for anything more. . . .

Q Once again -- and I asked Tony this last week -- was a crime committed in firing --

MS. PERINO: There is absolutely no indication that there was any crime committed, nor was there anything improper done.

Q You're saying, "indication;" you're not giving me a flat-out no.

MS. PERINO: I'm telling there's absolutely no indication that would point to that. Absolutely no indication to point to that. . . .

Funny. Someone dug up a fascinating video of Dan Rather doing a piece on Nixon’s 1972 campaign, and the birth of fundraising techniques that have shaped modern politics – it features a VERY young Karl Rove

More (well-earned) Politico bashing
[Glenn Greenwald] The new online political magazine, The Politico, is a pernicious new presence in our media landscape. As I noted the other day, it really is nothing more than the Drudge Report dressed up with the trappings of mainstream media credibility. Today, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News writes on his blog about what is merely the latest episode (of many) proving how closely coordinated The Politico is with The Drudge Report. It is not hyperbole to say that the former is all but an arm of the latter.

Last night, The Politico's Mike Allen published a petty, trite hit piece on Barack Obama -- entitled Rookie Mistakes Plague Obama -- claiming that Obama "has also shown a tendency toward seemingly minor contradictions and rhetorical slips" and referencing "imprecise or incomplete statements by Obama over the years." As Bunch noticed, Allen's story was "highlighted on the Drudge Report no later than 18 minutes after it was filed by Allen (how does he do it!)." . . .

No, it was posted one hour BEFORE:
The Drudge Report flagged the article by posting its headline verbatim approximately one hour before The Politico posted the article on its website on the evening of March 26, according to Google News. . . .

Our liberal media
[Greg Sargent] The Associated Press launches a cheap, factually questionable hit on Barack Obama.

Update: It gets better. Now the Republican National Committee is aggressively pushing the AP piece to reporters. . . .
[Steve Benen] When the RNC is using an AP article as a press release, chances are, there’s something wrong with the AP article.

Interesting: the past, and the future, of American democracy

Well, we knew this, didn’t we? (thanks to Holden for the link)
Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject.

Researchers for the non-profit watchdog Government Accountability Project reviewed thousands of e-mails, memos and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and from government whistle-blowers and conducted dozens of interviews with public affairs staff, scientists, reporters and others.

The group says it has identified hundreds of instances where White House-appointed officials interfered with government scientists' efforts to convey their research findings to the public, at the behest of top administration officials. . . .

The mental challenges of maintaining a wingnut world view
[John Quiggin] There’s been a lot of discussion of a recent Pew Research Center study of US voters . . . which certainly suggests a strong reaction against the Bush Administration and the Republican Party . . .

But the underlying picture is much worse for Republicans than this, as Gary Kamiya observes. On the one hand, the Pew Survey shows that Democrats and Independents are becoming pretty similar in the views to people elsewhere in the developed world (such as Europeans) – liberal on social issues, moderately social-democratic in social policy, preferring peace to war and so on. Not surprisingly, this translates to a strongly negative view of the Republican party, just as it does everywhere else in the world.

On the other hand, Republican support is contracting to a base of about 25 per cent of the population whose views are getting more extreme, not merely because moderate conservatives are peeling off to become Independents, but also because of the party’s success in constructing a parallel universe of news sources, thinktanks, blogs, pseudo-scientists and so on, which has led to the core becoming more tightly committed to an extremist ideology.
[Atrios] [The] wingnut worldview has gotten complex and sprawling. Its cast of characters, bizarre understanding of history, and policy positions have grown and expanded so that only obsessed true believers can really feel a part of it. They've established an entire mythology, and its adherents have become cultlike. . . .


Bonus item: OK, can’t resist this one – it’s just too damn funny. A while back Bill Clinton hosted a lunch with various lefty bloggers. Ann Althouse criticized one of the participants, Jessica Valenti of Feministing, for (supposedly) posing with her breasts stuck out while standing right in front of Clinton. This led to a wild blogging spree on all sides (breasts! breasts!). The latest chapter is a video “conversation” between Althouse and Garance Franke-Ruta of Tapped. Watch what happens next. . . .

The photo:

The start of the blogging spree:

The video:
[Don’t – miss - it!]


***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.***