Saturday, October 29, 2005

Libby's replacement

This is from AlterNet:

Unitary Executive theory
Posted by Jan Frel on October 28, 2005 at 2:23 PM.
Scooter Libby's insta-replacement,
David Addington, believes in the Unitary Executive theory. If you guessed that this meant the power of one CEO who decides liberty and justice for all, you wouldn't be far off. It's not too far from King of Everything, really.
Here's a description of how it works by a
legal theorist from Michigan Law School:
Several scholars have recently rearticulated the "unitary executive theory" of Article II [of the Constitution], arguing that Article II vests the power to execute federal law solely in the President of the United States. Unitarians do not maintain that the President must personally execute all laws; Congress may establish an administrative bureaucracy and identify particular officials to assist the President in carrying out legislatively prescribed tasks. But, unitarians argue, such officials must always remain subject to the President's direction.
According to
Raw Story, Bush has made at least 95 decisions since 2001 using this unitary logic, including many of his ill-fated choices relating to torture and the Geneva Conventions. And who was the author of the infamous "torture memo?"
David Addington.

GOP speaks on perjury

From the Democratic Party:

Recently, Republicans have been implying that an indictment for perjury is simply a "technicality." But they didn't always feel that way.


Former Senator Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) – "Lott declined to fully define what constitutes an impeachable crime but said "I think clearly perjury is an impeachable offense ... I think bad conduct is enough for impeachment." [Market News International, 9/29/98]

Current Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) – "There is no serious question that perjury and obstruction of justice are high crimes and misdemeanors...Indeed, our own Senate precedent establishes that perjury is a high crime and misdemeanor...The crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice are public crimes threatening the administration of justice." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Former Speaker (Elect) of the House Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) – "And so, perjury, a felony punishable by up to five years in the penitentiary, is a crime for which the President may be held accountable, no matter the circumstances." [ABC Special Report, 12/19/98]

Current Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL)— "Mr. Speaker, I am sadden that there is clear and convincing evidence that the president lied under oath, obstructed justice and abused the powers of his office in an attempt to cover up his wrong doing. I regret that the president's behavior puts me in the position of having to vote in favors of articles of impeachment and pass this matter onto the U.S. Senate for final judgment. In facing this solemn duty, I look to the wisdom of our founding fathers. According to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65, impeachment concerns offenses which proceed from the misconduct to public men -- or in other words, from the apt abuse of violation of some public trust. The evidence in President Clinton's case is overwhelming that he has abused and violated the public trust." [US. House Of Representatives, 12/18/98]

Former House Majority Leader Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) – "But Mr. Speaker, perjury before a grand jury is not personal and it is not private. Obstruction of justice is not personal and it is not private. Abuse of the power of the greatest office in the world is not personal and it is not private." [ABC Special Report, 12/19/98]

Former House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) – "'It became obvious to me that he had undermined his ability to lead not only at home but in the world,' DeLay said. His call for Clinton's resignation is 'based solely on the fact that the president lied.'" [Los Angles Times, 10/1/98]

Former House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) – Tim. What we have here, and what I've seen, is this pattern of conduct. And it goes back as far as Arkansas, where the president has lied, covered up, stonewalled and tried to destroy his enemy. And if you just look from the very beginning--and what I've tried to do is advise the president that in order to accept the consequences of his action and put all this behind him, the honorable thing to do would be to resign. [Meet the Press, 9/13/98]

Current Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) – "This is not about the president's personal conduct...When the president commits perjury that clearly is an attack on the judiciary, on the rule of law." [AP, 12/16/98]

Former RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson - "Perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice are public, not private matters, and we must rely on the Independent Counsel and the constitutional process to determine the truth. Tragically, America could have been spared this entire sad saga if the president had told the truth in the first place." [U.S. Newswire 8/18/98]


Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – "Clinton not only lied to the public, creating perhaps permanent mistrust, but he lied under oath ... [T]his is very serious indeed. Honesty is always the best policy; but, lying under oath is perjury, and it is a crime. Other people who commit perjury sometimes go to jail for it." [Salt Lake Tribune, 2/15/99]

Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-NE) – "Defined a "high crime" as an 'abuse of power.' And when perjury and obstruction of justice are committed by a president, Hagel added, 'they constitute an abuse of the highest power.'" [The Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/12/99]

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) – "Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious offenses which must not be tolerated by anyone in our society." [Washington Post, 2/12/99]

Senator Sam Brownback (R- KS) – "Perjury and obstruction of justice are crimes against the state. Perjury goes directly against the truth-finding function of the judicial branch of government." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) – "...there can be no doubt that perjurious, false, and misleading statements made under oath in federal court proceedings are indeed impeachable offenses...John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, said `there is no crime more extensively pernicious to society' than perjury, precisely because it `discolors and poisons the streams of justice.'" [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator Michael DeWine (R-OH) – "Obstruction of justice and perjury strike at the very heart of our system of justice...Perjury is also a very serious crime...The judiciary is designed to be a mechanism for finding the truth-so that justice can be done. Perjury perverts the judiciary, turning it into a mechanism that accepts lies-so that injustice may prevail." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – "I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors...Perjury and obstruction hammer away at the twin pillars of our legal system: truth and justice." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) – "As constitutional scholar Charles Cooper said, `The crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, like the crimes of treason and bribery, are quintessentially offenses against our system of government, visiting injury immediately on society itself.'" [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) – "The reason that I voted to remove him from office is because I think the overriding issue here is that truth will remain the standard for perjury and obstruction of justice in our criminal justice system and it must not be gray. It must not be muddy." [AP, 2/12/99]

Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) – "There is no question in my mind that perjury and obstruction of justice are the kind of public crimes that the Founders had in mind...it seems to me that creating such loopholes would require tearing holes in the Constitution-something that cannot be justified to protect this president, or any president." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Senator John Sununu (R-NH) – "These acts are not merely technical violations of federal law; they demonstrate a broad and consistent pattern of behavior designed to corrupt our system of due process. To withhold or delay swift and appropriate action would be to hold a single individual above the law; and, herein lies the tragic precedent which a vote against impeachment creates. A vote against impeachment holds a single individual to a unique standard, above all other citizens, and outside the boundaries of our judicial system." [Union Leader, Sununu Editorial; 12/13/98]

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) – "Gregg said the idea that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors 'is a little hard to understand, for it is very obvious that our society treats both perjury and obstruction of justice as extraordinarily serious crimes, ones for which people are put in prison.' He said such thinking undermines the judicial process." [AP, 2/12/99]

Former Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) – "In the event that the president changes his story, and in the event that the president tells a different story now which would result in his having committed perjury, that's a high crime. That's a serious disregard. That's undermining the system of justice which he has sworn to uphold." [The Hotline, 8/17/98]


Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) – "So for my friends who think that perjury, lying and deceit are in some circumstances acceptable and undeserving of punishment I respectfully disagree." [House Judiciary Committee, 12/1/98]

Rep. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) – "It isn't polls that count, it's right and wrong...the evidence is overwhelming that these offenses occurred, the crime of perjury and obstruction of justice have traditionally been high crimes under our Constitutions." [Senate Impeachment Trial of President Clinton, 2/8/99]

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) – "To me, making a false statement under oath to a criminal grand jury is an impeachable offense, period. This committee and this House decided that issue by a vote of 417 to nothing nine years ago in the Judge Nixon impeachment." [Opening Statement, 12/10/98]

Former Homeland Under Security Secretary and Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) "As the Supreme Court said in the "United States vs. Holland," quote, "Perjury, regardless of the setting, is a serious offense that results in incalculable harm to the function of the legal system, as well to private individuals," end quote. In my judgment, perjury goes to the heart of our judicial process and our very system of government and constitutes a "high crime and misdemeanor." [Opening Statement, 12/11/98]

Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) – "'Like the one hundred or so individuals currently in jail for perjury, the President must be held accountable for failing to tell the truth while under oath,' Bass said. 'We are a nation of laws, not men, and no man including the President is above the law.'" [Union Leader, 12/15/98]

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) – "We are here today because the president is charged with breaking criminal laws which, for constitutional purposes, are high crimes and misdemeanors. One of those crimes is perjury and by committing perjury, the president harmed the integrity of our judicial branch of government, which is a central component of the government. Since 1993, when President Clinton took office, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted and convicted over 400 people for perjury. Many of those people are in prison today or under house arrest." [Congressional Record, 12/18/98]

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) — "Perjury and obstruction of justice are akin to bribery in many ways. Perjury and obstruction go to the corruption of the judicial system. Bribery amounts to the corruption of a bureaucrat. Both prevent citizens from enjoying their rights under the rule of law. Their treatment by the United States Sentencing Commission, the entity that helps set forth penalties for federal crimes, supports the comparison." [Congressional Record, 12/18/98]

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) – "I cannot as a man, a husband, elected official or a father say that President Clinton did not commit perjury and did not do it willfully and calculated, right from the beginning." [Times-Picayune, 12/17/98]

Rep. John Thune (R-SD) – "There's one other issue -- an important issue that I'd like to address -- and that is the matter of trust. Lying to the American people is a betrayal of trust. All of us, including our public leaders, make mistakes. We're all subject to the same universal truth: we all fall short. To err is human, to forgive is divine. But to err repeatedly and willfully with impunity, defies another universal truth and that is the law of the harvest. In other words, you reap what you sow. And the pattern of deception and dishonesty that acts as a bodyguard to this president, strikes at the very core of his ability to lead." [Congressional Record, 12/18/98]

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) – "I believe there is ample evidence that felonious conduct -- and perjury is a felony -- falls well within the bounds of what our forefathers intended the phrase 'high crimes and misdemeanors' to include." [USA Today, 12/17/98]

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) – "Lying under oath is perjury, plain and simple," said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz. "Can you imagine what happens in court when you suddenly eliminate perjury, if you say you can make exceptions for perjury? . . . For me, it's just a very fundamental question." [Dallas Morning News, 10/11/98]

Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) – "No one is above the law, not even the president." [News & Observer, 12/16/98]

Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) – "The chief executive has the duty and the obligation to be completely honest." [Sun-Sentinel, 12/19/98]

Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) – "He lied under oath and that's perjury and that's a high crime." [Miami Herald, 12/16/98]

Rep. Jim McCrery (R - LA) – "As a lawyer, if I were to have done that, I would have been disbarred - no question. How can the president be treated in a different manner than every other lawyer in the country?" [Associated Press, 12/16/98]

Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) – "I don't think personal conduct that's between himself and his family constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors," the standard for impeachment. "The only way this would continue forward toward impeachment would be a finding by the grand jury that there had been an obstruction of justice," Baker said. [The Advocate, 8/18/98]

Rep. James Leach (R-IA) – "Lying under oath amounts to an absolute breach of an absolute standard and makes it impossible to justify a vote against impeachment." [USA Today, 12/17/98]

Rep. Steve Chabot (R - OH) – "It would be wrong for you to tell America's children that some lies are all right. It would be wrong to show the rest of the world that some of our laws don't really matter." [AP, 2/9/99]

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) – "By committing perjury, obstructing justice and corroding the rule of law that is the basis of a civil society, President Clinton has led the U.S. House to the path it must now take," Ney said. "Impeachment may not be the most comfortable way out of the constitutional crisis our country faces, but it is the right decision for the right reason." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/17/98]

Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH) – "It's going to boil down to whether there's hard evidence of obstruction of justice. ... You can't eliminate a felony by just apologizing" [Akron Beacon-Journal, 9/12/98]

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R - OH) – "If it is wrong for the defendant at the courthouse in Painesville, Ohio, to lie under oath in a civil proceeding, it is wrong for the president," said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio), a former county prosecutor who has put people in jail for perjury. "President Clinton was the master of his own demise, in both words and deeds." [Washington Post, 12/17/98]

Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH) – "As a former judge, I cannot look upon the offense of perjury lightly," Pryce said. "My decision is based not on any personal disdain for the president or any partisan advantage, but rather a close reading of the facts, the law, and the Constitution." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/17/98]

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R - AR) – "I believe there is ample evidence that felonious conduct -- and perjury is a felony -- falls well within the bounds of what our forefathers intended the phrase 'high crimes and misdemeanors' to include. [USA Today, 12/17/98]

Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) – "The seriousness of the charges - perjury, subornation of witnesses, obstruction of justice - strike at the heart of our basis of our Constitution, the rule of law." [Associated Press, 10/8/98]

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-NC) – "My vote will be to go forward with the impeachment," said Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. about the Clinton scandal in 1998. "I want to see what the committee recommends, but my feeling is when the president lied to the American people and to a grand jury he severely damaged his credibility as leader of this nation. . . . Based on what I know today, my feelings are the president has violated the law." [Washington Post, 11/22/98]

Rep. John Mica (R-FL) – "If you commit perjury or obstruct justice, you will be held accountable. If you are a member of Congress or president . . . you will be held accountable. Even if you . . . do a thousand good deeds, you will be held accountable." [Orlando Sentinel, 12/20/98]

Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) – "Bill Clinton is not being judged by the members here . . . he is being judged by the law itself . . . to lie under oath, to encourage others to provide false testimony or to conspire to conceal evidence is a felony." [Orlando Sentinel, 12/20/98]

Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) – "The matter before us today has nothing to do with the president's private life . . . This has to do with perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power - violations of the law." [Orlando Sentinel, 12/20/98]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – "All that stands between any of us and tyranny is law." [Sun-Sentinel, 12/19/98]

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) – "Unless a man is honest," said Coble, "we have no right to keep him in public life. It matters not how brilliant his capacity." Coble added, "It is not sex. It is indeed perjury. It is the lie." [News & Record, 12/19/98]

Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY) – "I certainly have had conflicting feelings about it. But in the end, I believe that the president did not tell the truth, that he lied under oath." [AP, 12/16/98]

Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA) – "I conclude that the president intentionally, on more than one occasion, did not tell the truth in a federal criminal grand jury. That is very serious. That is impeachable." [AP, 12/16/98]

Rep. Jack Quinn (R-NY) – "The more I learn about the serious details of perjury and obstruction of justice, the more I am concerned about the president's failure to tell the truth under oath." [AP, 12/16/98]

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) – "You would set in place an awfully cancerous growth if you let people out there think, 'I know the president lies, so I can too."' [AP, 12/16/98]


Sean Hannity – "Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Sean Hannity...Congresswoman, I want to go back to you. You know, I'm -- if I hear that one more time, I'm going to go nuts, that it doesn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense because perjury and lying under oath has played a central role in the four most recent cases of impeachment." [Fox, 1/21/99]

Sean Hannity – "Certainly, perjury is a felony, the last time I checked." [Fox, 9/10/98]

Former RNC Spokesman/ CNN Contributor Cliff May: "Bribery and perjury are equivalent crimes." [Fox, 1/18/99]

Former RNC Spokesman/ CNN Contributor Cliff May: "The problem is if he committed perjury; if he lied under oath; if he obstructed justice; if he tampered with witnesses, these are real crimes." [CNN, 9/2/98]

Bill O'Reilly – "He used government employees, Blumenthal and the rest of the White House counsels, Begala, Lewis, all of these people, to promote an untruth, to promote a perjury, and I believe that's abuse of power. I think that's where he's most shaky...Because you and I are paying for him. You and I are paying for that, and those people are going out there not only saying that President Clinton is innocent but attacking the federal prosecutor, attacking the justice system. That looks to be abuse of power to me." [Fox News, 1/1/99]

Bill O'Reilly –"... that a president of the United States using government officials paid for by you and me and everybody watching this program to protect a perjury is a high crime." [Fox News, 1/1/99]

George Will –"If this is not a ground for impeachment ... then we're disregarding the pedigree of the phrase 'high crimes and misdemeanors'." [ABC, 8/23/99]

Ann Coulter – "Perjury? I think perjury's pretty important." [CNBC, 6/12/98]

Ann Coulter – "This is obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements. This is completely a different matter now. It is much higher, much higher level, much bigger deal." [CNN, 1/27/98]

Fred Barnes – "[I]t's going to be hard not to impeach the president for perjury." [Fox, 10/2/98]

Bill Kristol – In response to a question as to whether perjury was a grave enough crime to remove Clinton from office, Kristol responded "Yes, I think so. Perjury under oath." [MSNBC, 11/5/98]

Authorities say ExxonMobil workers got fake flu shots

Here's a AP story from USA Today:

"Fake flu shots were given out last week at a health fair at ExxonMobil Corp.'s Baytown complex and an investigation was underway, authorities said.
ExxonMobil spokeswoman Treacy A. Roberts said Thursday that the FBI told the company that what was administered "definitely not the flu vaccine."
It doesn't appear that the fake shots were harmful, but steps were being taken to ensure workers' safety, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement Thursday.
ExxonMobil offered blood tests and counseling to the up to 1,000 employees who took part in the health fair at the oil company's vast complex of refineries and chemical plants just east of Houston.
The FBI and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating what was in the syringes and whether others might have received the fake vaccine, Rosenberg said.
Jeanne Miller, another ExxonMobil spokeswoman, said a doctor provided the shots in Exxon's first use of an outside contractor to administer the shots. She declined to identify the doctor because of the federal investigation.
In the past, Miller said, company medical staff had offered flu shots at health fairs.
FBI officials did not explain how they found out about the potential fraud, Roberts said.
In May, a nurse in Minnesota, Michelle Torgerson, pleaded guilty to dispensing a drug without a prescription, admitting she used diluted vaccine left over from an earlier clinic and pocketed the cash when she gave college students shots at $20 each."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bye Bye

Libby resigns

Well, this Aspen has turned...

Libby has been charged with five counts: (2) perjury, (2) false statement, (1) obstruction of justice.

The indictment


Yahoo news has reported that "Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. resigned Friday after being charged with obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that could throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war."

First time in a 130 years a White House official has been indicted

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Miers nomination was Bush's personal failure

According to a New York Daily News article by Thomas M. DeFrank, “Bush jettisoned contrary advice from his advisers and appointed his longtime personal lawyer. ‘He must know that the way he did that, relying on his own judgment and instinct, was not good,’ [a] key adviser said."

But Bush expected Congress to be able to learn enough about Miers to be able to confirm her. "He's confident that she will be confirmed because, as senators come to know her like the president knows her, we're confident that they will recognize she will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice," Whitehouse spokesperson Scott McClellan said.

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers. They want to know Harriet Miers's background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions” Bush said on October 12, 2005.

But as Terry M. Neal wrote in the Washington Post:
“In nominating his long-time friend, the president gambled that her lack of a paper trail would focus the debate on her qualifications, rather than her views on hot-button issues such as abortion. But the lack of a paper trail only amplified the focus on her qualifications, which conservatives and liberals alike agreed were underwhelming.”

Bush would have obviously known that he would refuse to release documents relating to her work as his chief lawyer. So how did he expect Congress to ‘get to know’ her, when she has never been a judge and has had little experience with constitutional law? And certainly, how would Bush expect them to know her like he does, when he wouldn’t release their shared history?

Apparently, he expected Congress to have blind faith in their ‘War President’s’ ability to choose.

''I know her heart. I know her character" was how Bush explained her qualifications.

But this expression of support was reminiscent of how Bush has characterized his trust in Russian President Putin: “The more I get to know President Putin, the more I get to see his heart and soul, and the more I know we can work together in a positive way.”

It is now clear that Bush’s familiarity with Miers’ heart was not an adequate qualification for sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

And why wouldn’t Bush release her Whitehouse record? “We are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office to say, Mr. President, this is my advice," Bush said.

This has long been a common Bush Administration reason for unprecedented secrecy, including the withholding of details concerning Cheney’s Energy Taskforce.

I have always wondered about this argument. Who would choose not to advise the President of the United States unless it was secret, and why? And is this the kind of advice we want in our democracy?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

La Repubblica's scoop

A lot of attention is being given to Italalian newspaper La Repubblica's recent stories about the Niger forgeries.

As Laura Rosen explains in the American Prospect, the crux of the matter is this:

La Repubblica reveals that Pollari met secretly in Washington on September 9, 2002, with then–Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Their secret meeting came at a critical moment in the White House campaign to convince Congress and the American public that war in Iraq was necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons. National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones confirmed the meeting to the Prospect on Tuesday.

Pollari told the newspaper that since 2001, when he became Sismi's director, the only member of the U.S. administration he has met officially is his former CIA counterpart George Tenet. But the Italian newspaper quotes a high-ranking Italian Sismi source asserting a meeting with Hadley. La Repubblica also quotes a Bush administration official saying, "I can confirm that on September 9, 2002, General Nicolo Pollari met Stephen Hadley."

Following the exposure of the discredited Niger allegations in the summer of 2003 by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, White House officials at first sought to blame the CIA for the inclusion of the controversial "16 words" in the president's speech. Although then–National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Hadley eventually accepted some responsibility for the mistake, the White House undertook a covert campaign to discredit Wilson and exposed the CIA affiliation of his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.

Yet if anyone knew who was actually responsible for the White House's trumpeting of the Niger claims, it would seem from the Repubblica report that Hadley did. He also knew that the CIA, which had initially rejected the Italian claims, was not to blame. Hadley's meeting with Pollari, at precisely the time when the Niger forgeries came into the possession of the U.S. government, may explain the seemingly hysterical White House overreaction to Wilson's article almost a year later.

Although Berlusconi's government clearly sought deniability while pushing the Niger uranium claims, the Bush White House went still further by trying to blame its citation of exaggerated and discredited Iraq WMD claims on the CIA, the very same agency that consistently discounted the Niger claims. The White House's war on the CIA and on the Wilsons --the extent of which has been revealed in recent news reports emerging from the Fitzgerald investigation -- has always had an excessive and almost hysterical quality. Why was the White House so worked up over Wilson and the Niger hoax, when there was so much evidence that the administration had based its drive for war on claims that were so thoroughly discredited from top to bottom? Why did Wilson and his CIA wife become the primary targets, when Wilson was hardly alone in pointing out that the White House should have known better about the Niger claims?

For excellent analysis of this story, in a 'breaking news' style format, check out Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo (TPM).

Who Is Scooter Libby?

That's what Slate attempted to answer with a story by John Dickerson.

One interesting passage discusses the 'Aspens Turning' lines from Libby's letter to Judith Miller.

Now no one is giving Libby the benefit of the doubt, at least in interpreting his mysterious jailhouse note to Judy Miller. That letter ended with a personal passage that seemed to cry out for accompaniment by moody background music: "You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover- Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning.
They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work- and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. With admiration, Scooter Libby."

Was this a hint to Miller about staying on the same page- either with her journalistic colleagues who seem to have backed Libby's story to the grand jury, or with her fellow former believer in Saddam's WMD stockpiles? Patrick Fitzgerald
certainly wanted to know if Libby was trying to coach the reluctant witness to bolster his own case. Libby helpfully pointed out earlier in the letter that "every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call."

Or, Scooter may have been playing with coded meanings that most of us are too dull to see. This suspicion arises naturally because of Libby's connection with
Straussianism. Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish political philosopher, is seen by many as one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism. Wolfowitz, Libby's teacher at Yale, was a graduate student at the University of Chicago during Strauss' ascendancy, and Libby won membership into that conservative club via Wolfowitz. Part of Strauss' teaching is that ancient philosophers wrote on two levels: for the mumbling masses, but also, and often in contradiction of the literal message, on an "esoteric" level that only initiates could make out. Some Straussians have adopted this code themselves. So, where Homer Simpson would interpret Libby's note as ham-handed fawning over Judy, a Straussian close reader might discern something more devious: a literary file in the cake for both of them.

Another interesting passage is where Dickerson compares Libby to Rove:

The daily communications operation is not something he cares much about. Rove, by contrast, spends a portion of every day running his own press operation. He sends BlackBerry messages, forwards polling data, and argues his case to influential journalists.

Thcharacterizationion departed from the normal MSM reports about the Whitehouse. What I mean is that Rove is often called "Bush's Brain" and is said to be behind nearly all of Bush's political moves. Alwidelydly reported is Bush's self-proclaimed stance that he "doesn't do polls." Reconcile these two "known facts" with the image of Rove forwarding polling data (to whom?).

Cheney Speculation

The David Johnston, Richard W. Stevenson and Douglas Jehl story in the New York Times that says that I. Lewis Libby learned Valerie Plame's name from Vice President Dick Cheney is causing all kinds of speculation and discourse from the MSM and the Blogesphere.

As Fox New points out, "It would not likely have been a crime for Cheney and Libby to have discussed Plame, since both presumably possessed security clearances."

But the Guardian UK reminds readers that "If this is accurate, it would appear to differ from Mr Libby's evidence to a grand jury that he first heard the name of the agent, Valerie Plame, from journalists."

Dan Froomkin asks the following questions in the Washington Post:

* Who told Cheney, and under what circumstances?
* Did Cheney acknowledge his own role when he spoke to prosecutors last summer? If not, could he be indicted himself?
* Did Cheney encourage Libby not to disclose their conversation?
* Did President Bush know about Cheney's role?
* Who leaked this latest development -- and what was their motivation?
* Does this mean the White House will stop blaming reporters for everything? (That one was rhetorical: The answer is no.)
What is really behind all the questions and speculation is the idea that Cheney was in charge of an organized effort to discredit Joseph Wilson through his wife.

Bush's Anger

According to Thomas M. DeFrank and the New York Daily News, Bush is said to be “frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter."
In a story that's been reprinted as far as Pakistan, Bush is charactarised as being moody as he deals with strains including Hurricane Katrina, The Iraq War, Miers' nomination, and the seemingly likely indictment of top Whitehouse aids.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."
Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At the same time, these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

The vice president remains Bush's most trusted political confidant. Even so, the Daily News has learned Bush has told associates Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues in the runup to the Iraq war that have been seized on by Bush critics.

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

A second senior Bush loyalist disagreed, saying Bush knows "some of these things are self-inflicted," like the Miers nomination, where Bush jettisoned contrary advice from his advisers and appointed his longtime personal lawyer.
"He must know that the way he did that, relying on his own judgment and instinct, was not good," another key adviser said.
This report comes after last months National Enquirer claim that Bush was drinking again. Also last month, Mary MacElveen wrote a story in which she expressed doubts that Bush had ever been sober. Alchoholism could certainly explain the mood swings described in DeFrank's story. On the other hand, maybe the insulation around him can't keep up the facade that 'all is great and well' in 43's Whitehouse.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Avoiding Plame

In anticipation of indictments this week, here are previous quotes and denials that came from the Whitehouse:

March 30, 2003 – Scott McClellan
“I’m saying no one was certainly given any authority to do anything of that nature, and I’ve seen no evidence to suggest there’s any truth to it.”

September 16, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Wilson now believes that the person who did this was Karl Rove…Did Karl Rove tell that --

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard that. That's just totally ridiculous. But we've already addressed this issue. If I could find out who anonymous people were, I would. I just said, it's totally ridiculous.

Q But did Karl Rove do it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said, it's totally ridiculous.

September 29, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q All right. Let me just follow up. You said this morning, "The President knows" that Karl Rove wasn't involved. How does he know that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion, backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it's public knowledge. I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove --

Q But how does --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into conversations that the President has with advisors or staff or anything of that nature; that's not my practice.

Q But the President has a factual basis for knowing that Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: I said it publicly. I said that --

Q But I'm not asking what you said, I'm asking if the President has a factual basis for saying -- for your statement that he knows Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: He's aware of what I've said, that there is simply no truth to that suggestion. And I have spoken with Karl about it.

Q Does he know whether or not the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby --

MR. McCLELLAN: If you have any specific information to bring to my attention -- like I said, there has been nothing that's been brought to our attention. You asked me earlier if we were looking into it, there is nothing that's been brought to our attention beyond the media reports. But if someone did something like this, it needs to be looked at by the Department of Justice, they're the appropriate agency charged with looking into matters like this –

Q Well, obviously, someone contacted Karl Rove. There was some effort to knock down a specific allegation here. So I'm wondering, why not contact others? Were others contacted in the -- among the President's senior advisors?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there was a specific allegation leveled -- I saw it has now since been backed away from -- about Karl Rove. And that's why I responded to that question. But I think we could go down the White House directory of every single staff member and play that game. I'm not going to do that. What I've made clear is that if anybody has information relating to this, they need to report it to the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice should pursue it to the fullest. It is a serious matter. But I'm not going to go down a list of every single staffer in the White House, when there's not specific information that has been brought to my attention to suggest --

Q -- is it inappropriate in your view? Or is it just too diffuse, it's too difficult? I don't understand exactly what the reason is that you wouldn't expand the effort from Karl Rove to, perhaps, another dozen or so people who might have been knowledgeable.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've got important work to do here in Washington, D.C. for the people of this nation. And the President will continue to focus on the priorities we are pursuing: the war on terrorism, strengthening the economy. There are a number of important priorities we are focused on. There are a lot of anonymous media reports that happen all the time. And it's not our practice to go and try to chase down anonymous sources every time there's a report in the media. If there's specific information that comes to our attention, that's another matter. But there has not been any information beyond what we've seen in just anonymous media reporting to suggest that there was White House involvement.

Q You said that the President knows that Karl Rove was not involved, and you specifically have spoken to Karl Rove and gotten those assurances. By those statements, you've implied that the President has not talked to Karl Rove specifically about this.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said that --

Q Is that a correct inference, or did we --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've already answered this question, when Terry asked it earlier, and I said that it's not my habit to get into conversations the President has with staff or with advisors. I'm not going to get into those conversations.

Q So he has --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've made it clear that it simply is not true, and I'm speaking on behalf of the White House when I say that.

September 29, 2003 – Karl Rove
ABC News producer Andrea Owen: "Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?"

Rove: "No."

October 7, 2003 – George W. Bush
Well, the investigators will ask our staff about what people did or did not do. This is a town of -- where a lot of people leak. And I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information. And I want to know, I want to know the truth. I want to see to it that the truth prevail. And I hope we can get this investigation done in a thorough way, as quickly as possible.

You tell me, how many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed? Probably none. I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out.

October 7, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Scott, you have said that you, personally, went to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliot Abrams to ask them if they were the leakers. Is that what happened? Why did you do that, and can you describe the conversations you had with them? What was the question you asked?

MR. McCLELLAN: Unfortunately, in Washington, D.C., at a time like this, there are a lot of rumors and innuendo. There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made. And that's exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They're good individuals, they're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did.

Q So you're saying -- you're saying categorically those three individuals were not the leakers or did not authorize the leaks; is that what you're saying?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct. I've spoken with them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no. Let me answer what the President has said. I speak for the President and I'll talk to you about what he wants. And what he wants is to get to the bottom of this matter, the sooner the better. That's why we are doing everything we can to assist the Justice Department investigators in their investigation, and we will continue to do that.

Q You speak for the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear --

Q -- you asked these individuals. Did the President ask you to ask those individuals whether they were the leaker?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear that we should cooperate fully with the Department of Justice. And in that, keeping with that direction, I am making sure that we are doing that, from my standpoint. And I think part of cooperating fully is looking into these unsubstantiated accusations that were made to make it clear to everybody that those individuals were not involved.

Q During the pool spray, the President seemed to contradict himself just a little bit. He said, I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. And then later, he said, but we'll find out.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we talked a little bit about this earlier today in this room, as well. Obviously, it is difficult to find out who anonymous sources are. We all know that that oftentimes doesn't happen. But the President was saying that we will do everything we can to get to the bottom of this.

MR. McCLELLAN: Back in August, at a partisan forum in Seattle, he said, "It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog marched out of the White House in handcuffs." This was back in August in Seattle.

Let me also remind you, he later backtracked from those remarks and went on to say, and this is from the Wall Street Journal on October 1st, "I freely admit I got carried away. If I left the impression that Karl Rove was the leaker or approver of the leak, I didn't intend to." And then he went on to say that "Mr. Rove's name is a name I am prepared to use as a metaphor for the office." So this is -- so he has made previous statements to that effect, and then later backtracked from those statements.

I think it's very important to understand that there is a Washington, D.C. game of rumor and innuendo. It's the ugly side of Washington, D.C. And I'm not going to play that game, and you shouldn't read anything into that. But let's make very clear that the subject of this investigation is whether someone leaked classified information. And there are a lot of names being floated, and a lot of unsubstantiated accusations being leveled against good people. And, unfortunately, that's what happens when -- in times like this in Washington, D.C. The ugly side comes out.

No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the President of the United States. If someone leaked classified information, the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates, that's not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business.

October 10, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Q Can I follow up on that?

Q They were not involved in what?

MR. McCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information.

Q Did you undertake that on your own volition, or were you instructed to go to these --

MR. McCLELLAN: I spoke to those individuals myself.

February 11, 2004 – George W. Bush
Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

And so I welcome the investigation. I -- I'm absolutely confident that the Justice Department will do a very good job. There's a special division of career Justice Department officials who are tasked with doing this kind of work; they have done this kind of work before in Washington this year. I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative.
I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.

Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there's all kinds of allegations. You've heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.

And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.

June 10, 2004 – George W. Bush
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

Q My final point would be -- or question would be, has Vice President Cheney assured you --

THE PRESIDENT: It's up to the --

Q -- subsequent to his conversations with them, that nobody --

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to the Vice President about this matter, and I suggest -- recently -- and I suggest you talk to the U.S. Attorney about that.