Monday, October 31, 2005

Talking out of both sides of the microphone

Take a look at this Amicus Brief. It was filed by a consortium of major news media orgs back in March 2005 in support of Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller's appeal case taken before the Supreme Court. Keep in mind they were trying to save their fellow journalists from testifying. Here's a snippet:

There are sufficient facts on the public record that cast considerable doubt as to whether the CIA took the necessary "affirmative measures" to conceal Plame's identity. Indeed, these facts establish such sloppy tradecraft that, at minimum, the CIA was indifferent to the compromise of her identity.

And regards Wilson:

The following facts are public:

* The CIA sent a non-CIA employee, Joseph C. Wilson IV, on a mission to Niger to determine whether Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase "uranium yellow cake," an ingredient for making a non-conventional weapon.

* Wilson had not served in Niger for over two decades, and, unlike his supposedly undercover wife, was not an expert in nuclear weapons.

* Wilson was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement about his mission.

* Wilson was not prevented by the CIA from writing his Op-Ed for The New York Times, an article that not only criticized the Administration, but also detailed his mission and findings.

Now that you've seen the strategy used by the media to defend their own butts, let's hear what Joe had to say today:

"I believe that as Americans we should all be appalled by this sort of behavior from the senior reaches of this administration," said Wilson during an appearance at Washington's National Press Club.

"I don't believe that Mr Rove should be permitted to resign. I believe this is a firing offense," he said.

"To be so cavalier in the handling in the secrets of this great nation really is an abuse of the public trust."

Without further comment.

hat tip Weekly Standard.

Scott Ritter jumps back into the fray

****For updates on his debate with Christopher Hitchens, click here.

Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter, a vocal critic of both the Clinton and Bush perspectives towards Iraq, has a new book. "Iraq Confidential" is on the shelves now, but Ritter sat down with Seymour Hersh for an interview recently. It will be interesting if the left wants to get in bed with Ritter, since although they are simpatico on the war, the left would have to stomach Ritter's disdain for the Clintons.

But let's get into some quotage:

Well, the fact of the matter is the United States was never interested in disarming Iraq. The whole Security Council resolution that created the UN weapons inspections and called upon Iraq to disarm was focused on one thing and one thing only, and that is a vehicle for the maintenance of economic sanctions that were imposed in August 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait. We liberated Kuwait, I participated in that conflict. And one would think, therefore, the sanctions should be lifted.

Can't say I disagree. Iraq was never going to win the UNSCOM inspection game with us acting as referees. However, it's hard to see how ending sanctions was going to help anything.

Hersch asks about the WMDs and suggests we've known since 1997 that Iraq was clean. Then he asks Ritter why he thinks Saddam "didn't tell us" (that he was clean):

People ask why didn't Saddam Hussein admit being disarmed? In 1992 they submitted a declaration that said everything's been destroyed, we have nothing left. In 1995 they turned over the totality of their document cache. Again, not willingly, it took years of inspections to pressure them, but the bottom line is by 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq's industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.

Maybe Iraq wasn't clean. I'd be curious as to Richard Butler's opinion. The two didn't get along, but Butler wasn't particularly cruel to Ritter in his own book. I'm also wondering if Kay, Duelfer, or other former inspectors will take to the airwaves.

As to mindset, wonder if he thinks Saddam would have taken a "forgive and forget" attitude towards the West for the butt-whipping we gave him in 1991? From what I've read the answer would be a big no. Arabs are patient, as we've seen.

As to his thoughts about Clinton's role mentioned above:

And I'm all in favor of that, bring on the indictments, but don't stop at the Bush Administration. If you want to have a truly bipartisan indictment, you indict Madeleine Albright, you indict Sandy Berger, you indict every person on the Clinton Administration that committed the exact same crime that the Bush Administration has committed today. Lying during the course of your official duty: That's a felony, that's a high crime and misdemeanor.

Ok, he's apparently a member of the "send them all to the Hague" group. I haven't quite decided whether these folks really feel that way, or are just using a clever debate tactic.

That aside, it'd be nice to know more about the bio weapons dossiers found in 1998 by one of Butler's crew, which was one of the events that led to the removal of inspectors. Another ruse by Saddam?

And of course, what does Scott think about the Oil For Food scandal? Were there any rumors about Saddam trying to buy off people involved in the inspections or diplomatic process? Christopher Hitchens recently said that Rolf Ekeus, former Chief weapons inspector, was offered a million dollars by Tariq Aziz for a favorable report.

Still more. As to a future strategy, if we leave "yesterday" as he recommends, what would his future strategy be to combat the terrorist bases that would surely spring up? Would it be more bombing or cruise missiles? Does he believe in Bin Laden? Maybe I'll have to get the book and find out.

In sum, it's hard to judge the entirety of a book based on snippets, but I also find it hard to lay heavy scorn on Ritter. Unlike internet keyboard cowboys such as myself, he's got the resume to undergird his opinions and the thick neck to back them up. He deserves a hat's off for his service, and I welcome him back into the debate.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Matt Cooper speaks

Between tuna sandwiches. And he says he asked Libby about Wilson's wife during their conversation.

On Aug. 23, I had a tuna sandwich and gave a deposition in Abrams' Washington office about the conversation. The Wilson part that really interested Fitzgerald was tiny, as I told TIME readers. Basically, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife having been involved in sending him to Niger. Libby responded with words to the effect of, "Yeah, I've heard that too."

In the indictment, Fitzgerald didn't say "words to that effect", he said Libby's comment was "without qualification". Again, let's hear the tapes.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds weighs in on the Plame game wrapup, and smacks one out of the park:

Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative -- something that's not actually quite clear from the indictment -- the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson's oped appeared, Plame's covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.

This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn't care much about Plame's status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.

The other possibility is that they're so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they're so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn't find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.

Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired. And it's obvious that the CIA, one way or another, needs a lot of work.

The whole thing was so ridiculous on it's face that the administration must have done some laughing behind the scenes-- it had to be obvious. Guess they're not laughing now, since the plan to gingerly get the word out on Wilson backfired, although Libby could just be taking a bullet and hoping 2008 gets here soon.

Drudge is flashing that Fitzgerald wants to call Cheney in open court. Executive privlidge is being bandied about, but the media will go to work getting that fly out of the ointment. The game is on, folks.

Jimmy and Karen

The wife just got through watching "Jimmy and Karen". For those unaware, they run a marriage ministry. Their TV show, "Marriage Today" is one of those shows most men would only watch at gunpoint. This morning the wife got the gun, so I watched. But it was actually an interesting half hour. We each saw some of ourselves in Jimmy and Karen. Their anecdotes illustrating the differences between the sexes were right on target.

It's risky to endorse TV ministries, since occasionally the people end up on the police blotter at some point. But I'll make a shameless plug for these guys anyway. I'm not an affiliate, related to them, or involved in the business of religion. This isn't a splog. I simply think their work is important. Nearly everyone I know has been divorced at least once. It's a painful and disruptive event, not only for the spouses, kids and immediate family, but for society as a whole.

But...since this is a political blog I'll approach it thusly. If the divorce stats are correct, 1 in every 2 American homes is 'broken'. Consider the lost work-hours and productivity that could be recovered if the rate was lowered. I'm tempted to make a gloomy comparison between the west and Islam based on those stats, but such a thing can get lost in minutae due to economic factors. But I'm sure the jihad recruiters use our crumbling societal fabric as a selling point. After all, who wants to adopt a system featuring a high divorce rate, high out-of-wedlock birth rate--high rate of mental and physical health woes--and with defenders of morality like Madonna? I'll take the Jimmy and Karen approach anyday.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The no-defense defense

Sounds like a bad football strategy. But it's actually the current Bush administration strategy regards the Iraq war.

Stephen Hayes lays out the entire thing in his latest Weekly Standard column. The admin has been rope-a-doping the Iraq question for awhile now. Hayes explains why:

So for most of his second term the president would claim that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror without stopping to explain why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

This reluctance comes not from a lack of arguments to make but from a fear that if the administration aggressively makes its case, the CIA will promptly seek to undermine it through leaks that wind up on the front pages.

He's correct, Bush is leaving all the detailed defenses to the few journalists or pundits willing to go there, like Hayes or Hitchens. Bush is hamstrung by the fact he put most of his eggs in the WMD basket upfront, so he risks sounding cheesy if he resorts to pounding reason B--sort of a casus belli du jour.

One can see the possible tie-in to Plamegate. Libby, talking through Miller, described what he called a "perverted war" between the CIA and WH regards the WMD issue. I'm sure there is some major league bureaucratic arse covering in all bureaucracies involved. It's the culture. But as Hayes says, credible information still exists about Iraq's nefarious ambitions, intel that wasn't created by Chalabi or now discredited tall tales from expat fortune hunters. Why aren't they using it?

For example, Hayes goes on to describe a warehouse in Doha, Qatar that contains documents removed from Iraqi Intelligence after the fall of Baghdad. Some of the doc titiles are real doozies, like "IIS Report on How French Campaigns are Financed", "Improvised Explosive Devices Plan", and "Ricin research and improvement". Perhaps they've not been completely verified yet, but they are ALL sitting there unclassified and unused.

Just throw it on the weirdness pile with everything else: Bin Laden hasn't been caught, yet he's been invisible since the election...we've seen a lot of Saddam , yet he still hasn't been tried...Miller went to jail, got a very strange letter from Libby, and now Libby might be replacing her there...and we still haven't caught that darned anthrax mailer.

(hat tips Powerline, Hatfill Deception)

The charges

I realize there are bigger and more important things in life than this story, however I just can't help but remain interested in it. I think the outcome might affect us all down the line. So, here goes my WAG on the indictments. Correct me if I'm wrong--hey this is the blogosphere.

In reading the nine page overview it would appear Fitz pins most of the case on the veracity of the testimony of Time's Matt Cooper and NBC's Tim Russert. Libby tried to exonerate himself by telling grand jurists that the reporters kept asking him about Plame but he was purposefully evasive, or lied, since he wasn't sure of Plame's actual indentity. Now, this could be true since the indictment itself never alleges that Scooter was definitively aware of Plame's name beforehand, only that he knew Wilson's wife worked at CIA. Perhaps that's why he wasn't charged with outing an agent.

So, am I missing something here, or does it seem Fitzgerald believes the testimony of the journalists rather than the the advisor's? This seems to be presented as rock hard fact rather than allegation. Makes me wonder if any tapes exist.

In the first count of obstruction, Fitzgerald characterizes Libby's alleged crime by saying his GJ testimony doesn't comport with the reporters' versions:

when, in fact, Libby knew Russert did not ask Libby if Libby knew that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, nor did Russert tell Libby that all the reporters knew it.

I'm missing how, in fact, Libby knew Russert didn't say those things. As to Cooper,

when, in fact, Libby did not advise Cooper during that conversation that Libby had heard other reporters were saying that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, nor did Libby advise him that Libby did not know whether this assertion was true. Rather, Libby confirmed to Cooper, without qualification, that Libby had heard that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA;

Same as Russert. Regards Miller, here we go again:

when, in fact, Libby did not advise Miller during that conversation that Libby had heard other reporters were saying that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, nor did Libby advise her that Libby did not know whether this assertion was true.

Is this not a he said-she said? Again, I wonder where the tapes are. And notice in all of this, nothing to do with outing Plame, just charges of lying about what he said the journalists said. The other counts all involve lying about Cooper and Russert.

It's fairly clear to me that Libby discovered who sent Wilson to Africa in May or June. He also appeared to know her position was sensitive. It's hard to believe he didn't know her name was Plame, but the WH might have had the smarts to cover their ears before actually learning her covert name, only to claim later they were told by journalists. Typical Washington politics. Kinda sleazy.

I think Libby might go to trial unless he wasn't offered a deal upfront. I still have many questions about the mess: Who sent Wilson? Who was complicit with Wilson in dealing with NY and DC journalists? Was Cooper's dem strategist wife Mandy Grunwald spreading any of this to others in the party? Did Aldrich Ames blow Plame's cover years ago, and why was she known as Valerie Plame in Who's Who?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Did Rove turn?

Powerline points out something weird in the WaPo article about Rove's fate:

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

"New information" and "those issues". Hmm. What new information could Rove have provided to give Fitz "pause"? National security? Or maybe something to do with the roles of Kristof, Pincus, or other journalists.

Meanwhile, Celebrity Joe Wilson will be a very popular TV guest this weekend, no doubt telling us how sorry he is for America and how many death threats Valerie has received. That's terrible. I sure hope they weren't exacerbated as a result of their Vanity Fair cover.

Let's keep something in perspective in this mess. Saddam was a bad guy, no matter what Wilson said about Niger. Personally, I would have been in favor of taking him out without the spectre of nukes due to everything else. Also, is there any doubt he would have manuevered the UNSC to drop sanctions and reconstituted the program? Cheney was witness to how far along his program had come after the Gulf War when everyone thought he was 5-10 years away. They had technical know-how on hand. Add to that the Butcher had several countries and thousands of people bribed. Taking him out was hardly a poor decision in a post 9/11 world.

The Bush-haters, in their quest to retake DC, might just screw the pooch for everyone by continuing to politicize the War on Terror. And make no mistake--Iraq was, and is, a part of the WoT. There is much here we aren't being told.

The long winding road to Baghdad

Scooter is now indicted, Rove's in limbo. So, what comes next?

Well, it's not hard to see the democrat strategy--they are going down the "Bush lied people died" highway. Question is, does that highway lead anywhere?

The dems cannot reasonably make the argument that Bush invented Saddam Hussein and his arsenol after 9/11. There is just too much on public record dating from 1991 to 2001 covering his reputed WMD programs in detail. There are too many speeches from Clinton, too many newsmagazine stories about Saddam-Bin Laden connections, and too many archived security reports from the CIA, DIA, NSA, et al.

The central question here should be this--did team Bush use 9/11 to start a war that really didn't need to be fought-- and did they know this ahead of time? Other than that, the Iraq war was simply a judgment call. No way anyone gets prosecuted for making a poor judgment call so long as they use all the available sources of information, aren't acting in a negligent fashion, and don't break any laws. The only way to remove such people is via the ballot box.

But the dems' tactic is on thin ice and will be made to fall through quite easily. They must prove the Bushies had foreknowledge that ALL the intel and hyperbole spouted regards Saddam during the Clinton adminstation and leading up to 2003 was actually just manufactured garbage to cover Bubba's personal scandals. Such a revelation could certainly implicate many dems, individuals in the MSM and even CIA folks. Bush didn't invent Ahmed Chalabi or fund the INC. As long as all those ends are loose, it will be hard to single out just the Bushies, since they were mainly users of that large batch of intel.

If the dems think they have a case here-- let's hear it. Did Clinton lie about Saddam? Did the MSM mislead us? Did we drop umpteem cruise missiles on that country for nothing? Was the CIA instructed to go easy on Ahmed Chalabi and the INC?

With Hillary still in play politically, I just can't see the dems and their cohorts in the MSM traveling down that bunny trail.

Just a thought....

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In my view, Harriet Miers at times seemed to be playing dumb. She would answer questions rather ridiculously, embarrassing the Bush faithful trying to back their president. Some suggest Bush didn't come out strongly enough in support of her. Howard Dean thinks Bush let her die on the vine.

That leads me to my thought. What if Miers' selection was nothing but a Rovian manuever all along? Let's say Rove suggested picking Miers, with her knowledge, knowing it would cause a firestorm on the right and keep DC in a buzz. With Fitzgerald breathing down their necks, the Miers nomination would then get withdrawn near the time any indictments were announced. Doing so would keep the SCOTUS nomination story alive as Fitz' GJ session came to an end. As I say, just a thought.

UPDATE 10/31

I see other bloggers are thinking the same thing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Volcker Report is hitting the fan today

CNN this morning has picked up an AP story about the latest report from the Volcker commission investigating the UN Oil for Food Program. According to the report, to be released in full later today, Saddam had about half the 4000+ companies involved in the program on his payroll. His shenanigans netted a billion and half for Ba'ath.

That was in addition to the under-the-table oil sales program, which netted about 11 billion. That's a lot of set-up money for a terrorist network if Saddam was inclined that direction. Or, a pretty decent get-out-of-jail rainy day bribe fund. Keep in mind, Saddam has still not faced justice. Wonder how many more continuances he'll get?

As to the report, c'est la vie, I reckon:

According to the findings, the Banque Nationale de Paris S.A., known as BNP, which held the U.N. oil-for-food escrow account, had a dual role and did not disclose fully to the United Nations the firsthand knowledge it acquired about the financial relationships that fostered the payment of illegal surcharges.

Notice the word "journalists" in this:

He allegedly gave former government officials, journalists and U.N. officials vouchers for Iraqi oil that could then be resold at a profit.

Tracing the politicization of oil contracts, the new report said Iraqi leaders in the late 1990s decided to deny American, British and Japanese companies allocations to purchase oil because of their countries' opposition to lifting sanctions on Iraq.

At the same time, it said, Iraq gave preferential treatment to France, Russia and China which were perceived to be more favorable to lifting sanctions and were also permanent members of the Security Council.

Wonder which journalists got vouchers? Maybe we'll find out later today. And dare we ask if this undermines the pre-war voting record of France, Russia and China on the security council? Hey, I'm just an uncultured hick asking a question.

I'm gonna make a prediction here. Even though Iraq blocked American companies from sharing in the scam, it will come out that Marc Rich-like intermediaries acted as conduits for US companies to participate. This will be what the MSM focuses on, in an attempt to diminish the impact. "We are just as guilty". My lefty friends have already been using this tactic for a year.

Here is the coup de grace:

According to the findings, the program was just under three years old when the Iraqi regime began openly demanding illicit payments from its customers. The report said that while U.N. officials and the Security Council were informed, little action was taken.

On the timing--I don't know whether this report was scheduled for a release today or not, but I can't see it getting top billing over Miers. Either the UN got lucky, or they pulled the ole "release the bad report during the hurricane" trick used by Aruba with the Natalee Holloway perp release during Katrina. And even if it does get some limited play today, if Fitzgerald releases indictments tomorrow, buh bye OFF scam.

Do you recognize the guy in the accompanying picture? It's Benan Sevan, the UN bureaucrat tasked with overseeing the program, who has also been accused of taking kickbacks. Anyone know where he is? Last I heard he had taken an extended vacation in Europe.

UPDATE. 11:45am 10/27

Well, I'm an idiot. I forgot to link to the original story. Now CNN has polished up their report, and there is no longer a mention of journalists. But, the quotes above were from the first story.

As predicted they pointed out Marc Rich's role and the fact that Security Council members were tasked with overseeing and approving the contracts. However, it appears both those lines of inquiry point a finger of blame to the Clinton adminstration. In regards to Rich, he was pardoned by Clinton (also defended by Scooter Libby in front of Congress, by the by) but the report suggests his financial dealings were with the French. It also hammers the Russians hard.

It's flat amazing to see the raw power of manipulation Saddam had, but it clearly provides a reason why some would not want their OFF can-o-worms opened by Bush.

Wiping people out

That sentiment seems to be going around in the news lately. There was a story about Al Franken suggesting Libby and Rove should be executed. Was he kidding? I guess, but it's only a guess. Tonight Franken's friend Bill O'Reilly had a story about a former NC State University teacher who was quoted as saying whites needed to be exterminated. He justified it earlier by saying that whitey wanted to kill all the blacks. Apparently he favors a Bushian preexemption strategy.

Meanwhile across the world, Iran's new terrorist president says Israel needs the same treatment. Nice of them to stop their daily "death to America" chant long enough to convey that heartwarming policy.

Yet who, praytell, remains the "king of kill" around the globe?

Why this man, of course...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fitzgerald's Indictment Casino

Step right up and spin the wheel to see who gets indicted! That's what this whole thing feels like to me.

By the way, is anyone else surprised that FBI agents would wait this long to go trapsing around Plame's neighborhood asking if they knew about her top secret position at Langley? If Plame's status was unquestionable from the start, why the need to ask neighbors about her? It simply wouldn't matter as to whether Rove or Libby committed a crime.

Perhaps it has something to do with the testimonies of a particular journalist or ex-Ambassador now on the banquet and book signing circuit. From reading Just One Minutes' extensive coverage of this affair I seem to recall someone mentioning a backyard barbeque, with invited journalists, held at the Wilson house sometime before this whole thing sprouted wings.

Katrina light

CNN has a headline story this morning about the aftermath and cleanup from Wilma in southern Florida. One quote stands out:

On Florida's southwest coast, in Naples, residents were angry when FEMA staff didn't show up to distribute water when they said they would.

"What are we supposed to do? We're supposed to count on FEMA. It's disgusting," resident Nilsa Colon said.

I'm no stranger to extended power outages. I've been through two, one of three days and the other six days over the past 12 years due to storms. I've been through a Cat 1 hurricane.

So pardon the frankness, but give me a friggin break. This storm was first reported to be targeting southern FLA a week ago Sunday. This morning marked only 48 hours since landfall. After the hurricane season we've just had, and after a week's worth of warnings, anyone dumb enough not to buy themselves a 5-10 dollar case of bottled water should be embarrassed to publicly admit it.

I predict CNN will find more of these victims who'll blame FEMA or the Bush brothers, especially after the indictments hit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hitchens smacks down Galloway

The Christopher Hitchens versus George Galloway verbal game of rock-em sock-em robots has taken a turn in favor of Hitch. The Senate has released a report suggesting Galloway might have profited from the Oil For Food scam.

During their New York debate, Hitchens had asked Galloway if he'd sign an affadavit stating he had no contact with Tariq Aziz regarding OFFP monies. He would not. In light of the report, Hitch accelerates into fifth gear:

Just before my last exchange with George Galloway, which occurred on the set of Bill Maher's show in Los Angeles in mid-September, I was approached by a representative of the program and asked if I planned to repeat my challenge to Galloway on air. That challenge—would he sign an affidavit saying that he had never discussed Oil-for-Food monies with Tariq Aziz?—I had already made on a public stage in New York. Maher's producers had been asked, obviously by a nervous Galloway, to find out whether I had brought such an affidavit along with me. I replied that this was not necessary, since his public denial to me was on the record and had been broadcast, and since it further confirmed the apparent perjury that he had committed in front of the U.S. Senate on May 17, 2005. I added that I wanted no further contact with Galloway until I could have the opportunity of reviewing his prison diaries.

By the way, just like the Able Danger story, the Galloway story is another potato the MSM doesn't care to touch.

If Galloway is indeed dirty on this, it brings to question just how many people Saddam had (or still has) on his worldwide bribery payroll.

hat tip Jim Rose.

Limbaugh gets it right

Was listening to Rush today while driving. He was blustering about Plamegate, and not surprisingly he cut right to the bone. His thesis--lying indeed might be the underlying cause of this whole mess.

Rush basically set up a mathematical if-then corrolary. I.E.- if Bush lied, then Clinton also lied, the CIA also lied, and the MSM reported all the lies. Many, including myself, have been saying this to friends for two years, but it can't be said often enough, because nobody seems to get it. The MSM folks just won't critique themselves, unless it means trashing someone like Judy Miller.

Can you see a reason why the Times might want to target their war correspondress Judy and turn her into the sacrificial lamb for the whole WMD thing? Their editor's drippy hit piece last week almost seemed to suggest that ALL the blame for bogus WMD stories about Saddam's weapons, even through the 90s, can be blamed on her. She also becomes a convenient deflection for ALL THE OTHER stories through the entire MSM spectrum, like this Sheila MacVicar story referenced below. Cheap and tawdry, if true.

Clinton had some motivation to drum up Saddam's power--he needed a deflection from his own peccadillos. Perhaps the MSM was just trying to help. And the CIA's motivation? Rather obvious. We don't need to waste words there. The problem came when Bush actually believed the stories/intel and decided to actually do something.

But the attention span of the American public is short regards politics. The players know that many people get their daily news from short top-of-the-hour blurbs on the radio driving to work, or from the evening news or morning papers. Almost all those are controlled by the mainstreamers. For example, CNN is heralding a poll about 9 out 10 people thought the Bush aides did something wrong. Wonder how that poll was worded?

Let me take a guess:

"If it turns out that Bush political aides leaked the identity of a double secret covert CIA agent engaged in protecting the USA from WMD threat, in retribution against her husband who had earlier reported (after a dangerous fact-finding mission) that Saddam had no WMDs, nor did he covet any, would such a despicable act be right or wrong?"

How do you think a sample of the population would respond, most probably not even knowing who Libby, Rove, Wilson or Plame are?

Cheney knew, Cheney knew!

According to this article on CNN from the AP (before I forget, nice picture of Libby with the story, eh--vintage MSM bias I'd say). "Cheney knew" was splashed on some of the message boards last night and this morning by hopeful libs. To that I say, "well I hope so."

Cheney probably knew well before June that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. Consider Wilson had gone in 2002, and Nic Kristoff's article in the Times came out in May. Maybe Cheney cross referenced her from Who's who. Or maybe he just asked Tenet.

Or maybe he already knew. Consider that Cheney was the Sec of Defense during the first Gulf War. It's not beyond belief to think that he might have remembered Wilson, since Bush 41 had called him a hero for his work as Charge D Affairs in Baghdad at the time. I'm not saying Cheney actually knew Wilson's subsequent marriage to Agent 99, but surely there was an immediate curiosity as soon as Wilson's trip report began hitting the MSM. He is the VP, and we should presume has some connections, no?

Now, the libs will say that Cheney probably directed Libby and his other staff to get the word out about Wilson. I don't doubt that's far off, but I do doubt it's easily provable. Chances are when the WH got wind the CIA had sent a partisan hack such as Wilson to Niger, they figured something nefarious was afoot. Naturally they'd want to know how Wilson got appointed. Naturally they'd put up a defense in the media.

The key here has always been Plame's covert status. If Plame was just an analyst at WINPAC, there is nothing wrong with pointing such a thing out to bring context to Wilson's pontifications. That's why I believe the whole thing was an elaborate trap. Wilson and friends knew the WH (mainly Cheney/Rove) would go after him. They knew the only way would be to undermine his credibility by charging nepotism. I can't see them not brainstorming this ahead of time.

But did the WH actually know about the trap? During Rove's testimony we learned that about an email he sent mentioning "not taking the bait" in his dealings with Cooper. It very well could be that Cheney's office and Rove knew his wife might be covert, or that disclosing her job might put them in jeopardy, and decided to use legal trickery to avoid putting themselves in danger. It worked fairly well, and it probably derailed Fitzgerald's case under the Intelligence Protection Act, but it backfired in the sense that the resulting investigation set them up for other crimes.

No one can reasonably say whether Wilson's allegations would have stayed in the headlines had the WH just left well enough alone. My guess is that the MSM would have continued to give Wilson top billing until the WH got fed up and ventured into the mouse trap. The Sunday pontificators would have demanded answers. I'm sure they would have gotten high kicks watching WH officials squirming in the interviewee's chair with deer-in-the-headlights faces, trying to refute Wilson's charges without bringing up Plame, when everyone on the set knew.

In the end-game, if indictments come down this week it may well be Martha Stewart redux-- crimes not related to the initial alleged crime. I really think Micheal Barone's comments on the Radio Blogger hit the nail, i.e., the advisors are in trouble for telling the truth about someone who was bending the truth. But perhaps that's just politics in the big city.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Judy fights back

Times reporter Judith Miller sent a sharp email to the public editor of the Gray Lady yesterday, addressing all the charges he and other Timesians jackals have laid on her doorstep of late.

A few things pop into mind when looking over her defense narrative. One, she insinuates that her editor had no interest in pursuing a story contradicting Joe Wilson's Niger piece. Miller:

Soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby in July, I did so. I remember asking the editor to let me explore whether what my source had said was true, or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower. I don’t recall naming the source of the tip. But I specifically remember saying that because Joe Wilson’s op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to pursue this.

We could surmise a couple of things here. Maybe that Abramson didn't want Miller to go after Wilson's story because she knew it had some holes in it. That would suggest, in a conspiratorial kinda way, that editors at the paper might have known what Wilson and Plame were up to, and supported it. They didn't want the pesky Miller pooping all over their get-Bush scandal (and something that could resurrect a dying circulation and reputation).

Or, it might simply suggest Abramson knew Miller's career was riding on the WMD reports and needed to do a hit piece on Wilson herself to save face. I have no idea.

Later Miller mentions her role in searching for WMD in Iraq, and her resulting security status:

No one doubts that I had access to very sensitive information or that I did work out informal arrangements to limit discussion of sensitive intelligence sources and methods to the most senior Times editors.

Did I just read that senior Times editors had access to what she knew about sensitive information regards Iraq? Wonder how common that is. Wonder if they have clearances? Wonder what's so sensitive about that information that it can't be told now? That is, if Judy told them everything.

Problems in Nigeria?

The plane crash that occurred Saturday near Lagos, Nigeria killing several Nigerian government officials could perhaps become a crime scene. Media were intially indicating the presence of thunderstorms in the area as the plane took off, so there were vague inferences that weather might have been a factor. Storms and wind shear present on takeoff have been known to down a commercial jet here and there, such as the Pan Am incident near Kenner, Louisiana back in the 80s.

However, today it was revealed that the FBI has been dispatched to the scene. Recall that the FBI took an immediate interest in TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, and held sway over the NTSB for years.

The crash is opening eyes about the mess currently in Nigeria (and other African nations). The Counterterrorism Blog has details about armed men in the area of late, and name drops the term al Qaeda. Wonder if there's any coincidence that Nigeria pumps out millions of gallons of light sweet crude per day, some destined to the good ole US of A?

I suppose we shouldn't "get too far out ahead" on this story yet. But, when I first heard about the crash I couldn't help thinking about shoulder fired missiles.

Loose nuts on parade

First Howard Dean, now Al Franken. Between them they've got the Bushies indicted, convicted, and now executed.

Great show, guys!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The UN needs a few more geeks

The mighty UN-- done in by Microsoft Word. Instapundit has the link to the UK Times Online report about the UN's last minute redaction of their final report about the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that includes the implication that Syria was involved. Evidently, the most senstive part of the report was edited out after a meeting Thursday between the report's author and Kofi. The UN is saying Kofi had nothing to do with it. Of course.

Who were the sensitive individuals who hit the bit bucket? None other than Syrian President al-Assad's brother, and a few others in his inner circle. Actually, it's not surprising Annan would have something like that removed. My question is whether the Security Council members would have been privy to that info behind closed doors?

But the larger question is this-- how many times have we seen large organizations done in by computer intricacies that a 14 year old PC geek could figure out?

Does anyone take Howard Dean seriously?

He's at it again. This is the same guy who recently opined about republicans, that they've "never made an honest living in their lives", and they "all behave the same" and "they all look the same" and finally "it's pretty much a white Christian party".

That would be enough to deep six the career of almost any republican or even a libertarian. But that's not all! He also recently compared repubicans and democrats by saying, "this is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good".

So, what has he done now? In a speech for the DNC last night at the Armory in Lewiston, Maine, Dean laid it on thick and heavy:

LEWISTON — The Bush White House is the most corrupt administration in U.S. history since President Warren G. Harding's, said Howard Dean

Really, Howard? Read off the indictments and jail terms, I wanna hear em. Sounds like he might believe republicans are always guilty until proven innocent. That would fit, since he did say the republicans were evil. Side note--in the article, the skillful reporter included in the opening paragraph the fact that Tom DeLay had been indicted, even thought DeLay has nothing to do with the Bush administration. It's an art, folks.

Dean continued:

"The first thing we're going to do is we're going to have ethics come back to Washington again," said Dean, the keynote speaker at Saturday night's annual fundraising dinner for the Maine Democratic Party at the Lewiston Armory.

To deal with the "culture of corruption," Dean said, there needs to be an ethics code in Congress and stronger campaign finance laws.

Well, at least he's trying to lay out a message for the dems. However, it still sounds like the old one--"vote for us because we're not republicans". Keep trying, Howie. You are entertaining if nothing else. By the way, I wonder what Dean would do to promote better morals and ethics in DC? Don't know, but I guess it wouldn't be to reference a Bible:

"I'm tired of the ayatollahs of the right wing," Dean said. "We're fighting for freedom in Iraq. We're going to fight for freedom in America."

"Ayatollahs". Must be his new code word for "religious wacko". Perhaps they are trying to rein him in a bit.

I've always found the diverse criticisms of Bush from the left humorous, to the point of making it hard to recognize legitimate criticisms. For example, on the one hand Bush is said to be a fascist warmonger dictator hell-bent on world conquest, while on the other he's a dangerous born-again Christian, heaven-bent on turning America into a theocracy. Apparently the contradiction is missed, but that's ok. Understanding the candidates is crucial.

A strange nexus

The United States Department of Justice, Southern District of New York office has certainly been terrorism central this past decade. A listing of those who've worked there include our current Special Counsel in the Plamegate scandal Patrick Fitzgerald, who helped prosecute the Blind Shiek Abdul Rahman, and Detrick (aka Deiter) Snell, who was involved in the prosecution of Ramzi Yousef for the Bojinka plot.

Mr. Snell is now being thrust into the Able Danger crosshairs by Congressman Curt Weldon, who has accused him of purposely derailing the story before it could be investigated by the 9/11 Commission. That's a pretty serious insinuation.

Captain's Quarters has a post about this, remarking on the Newsmax story about Weldon. I have to admit, Weldon has not totally convinced me that Able Danger is a story yet, though I'd like to believe it. His rant this past week is a possible sign of frustration over the weakening limb he's teetering on. Unless concrete evidence appears showing that Atta and the other two were actually pegged, I doubt the story will ever get real legs. The DoD will stonewall him, and with only verbal testimony sans any documents, he'll have a tough time getting others to jump onboard ship with him. Well, maybe Michael Savage. But does Weldon have anything but "he said, she said" evidence?

That Snell and Gorelick were chosen as part of the 9/11 Commission Staff (rather than being called as witnesses) remains mysterious. Weldon claims Snell stonewalled the Able Danger folks to protect Jamie Gorelick's "wall" (commonly thought to be a hindrance in connecting terrorists to foreign governments). Guess he thinks if those two weren't on the staff, Able Danger would have gotten more play. But that's not cut and dried. They still don't have any concrete evidence. And there's that little Posse Commatatus thing.

But is there anything to this weird nexus? These people are all professionals, and sometimes they cross paths in many legal endeavors. If there were a conspiracy afoot, let's brainstorm as to what it would be..

Gorelick, Snell, and perhaps Sandy Berger could easily be accused of covering the tracks of Clinton administration terrorism strategies in the 90s. Apparently the plan was to treat them as isolated criminal cases and when faced with evidence of state sponsorship, start playing see no evil. One could say that Clinton wanted to avoid military engagements around the world in order to keep a domestic agenda on the front burner. Of course there was that little thing about his own military history. Ahem. Anyway, by treating terrorism as he did, the attacks continued and escalated leading up to 9/11.

Tunnelling deeper, Laurie Mylroie's main theory was that Ramzi Yousef was working for Iraq, but she also provided information that strongly suggested Sudan was behind a foiled bombing of landmarks around NYC in the mid 90s. Recently Louis Freeh came forward with information that suggested Iran was behind the Khobar Towers bomb, and that Clinton knew it. Conspiracists for years have claimed the administration covered up what really happened to TWA Flight 800. I would add that Egypt Air 990 also seemed like a really strange event. The Able Danger people now say they had information suggesting the USS Cole would be attacked.

So, in the backdrop of 9/11 there could be compelling reasons for certain players to bury events before close scrutinization occurred. They don't want the blame for 9/11, and they certainly don't want the democrat party to get that label. But hey--we are also using 20/20 hindsight to judge here. They obviously thought their strategy was correct, since I DO NOT believe Clinton wanted horrible terrorist attacks anymore than anyone else. His administration was successful in rounding up a number of thugs.

That Mr. Snell ended up a 9/11 Commission staffer is indeed interesting, and I remain open to a conspiracy. But without more hard evidence, it's still just a coincidence.

The Perfect Scandal

Drudgereport is featuring an email from the New York Times' Bill Keller to his employees regarding the Miller escapade. Since we know Keller didn't include Drudge's email addy in his addressee block, this story was leaked by someone. Funny, isn't leaking exactly why we're in this mess? But nevermind. The email was a pitiful attempt at CYA, and if I worked at the Times I'd be ashamed:

So it was a year before we got around to really dealing with the controversy. At that point, we published a long editors' note acknowledging the prewar journalistic lapses, and _ to my mind, at least as important _ we intensified aggressive reporting aimed at exposing the way bad or manipulated intelligence had fed the drive to war. (I'm thinking of our excellent investigation of those infamous aluminum tubes, the report on how the Iraqi National Congress recruited exiles to promote Saddam's WMD threat, our close look at the military's war-planning intelligence, and the dissection, one year later, of Colin Powell's U.N. case for the war, among other examples. The fact is sometimes overlooked that a lot of the best reporting on how this intel fiasco came about appeared in the NYT.)

So, it appears Keller is trying to say they missed a huge story about the war because they were busy with damage control over a fake reporter. Alrighty, then.

The BS-o-Meter spiked on this one. The Times had to know that Miller was a confidant of some uppitys in the White House, and not just the present adminstration. They had to know Libby was one source and they probably also knew she had a few others. For Keller this is about saving face and subscribers.

It's interesting that when the Times "forced" Miller to write her diary of grand jury testimony, she managed to do something interesting-- she became the mouthpiece for Libby. It allowed Libby to broach the theory that the CIA was out to get team Bush using the Plame leak and Wilson as bait.

So, let's look over what motives might exist for either the CIA, MSM, democrat party, and GOP to run a scam here.

MSM-- the MSM basically went along with the Clinton adminstration hook, line and sinker regards Iraqi WMD and Saddam's threat to the world. They rarely dug very deep into the veracity of the WMD reports, which was really the only major distraction from Monicagate during the 90s. Anyone remember this Sheila MacVicar report on ABC? Geez. So, along came Bush and his neocons, followed shortly by 9/11. Meanwhile, all their previous stories about mean ole Saddam were sitting there on the web waiting to be used against anyone who took a dovish turn. Backtracking and saying "well, he really wasn't that much of a threat" would laughingly expose their reporting as at best fluff, and at worse a partisan cover for a democrat president. But AC, the MSM isn't bias. Right.

CIA - they had their own leaky boat. Whether by laziness or other reasons, their intelligence on Iraq was horrid. They were nowhere near rigorous enough with the INC, Chalabi, and the ubiqitous "Curve Ball". Their coup failed in the mid 90s, and they were never able to get any assets deep into Saddam's braintrust. They sat there whistling Dixie while the UNSCOM inspectors were tossed out of the country, leaving them with nothing but polaroids to keep track of the Butcher's toys. Couple those grand items with the fact they completely missed 9/11, and that doesn't make for many smiley faces on the ole bulletin board.

Democrat Party -- they wanted their power back.

GOP - they didn't want a fiasco in Iraq to cause the above to occur.

So, they all had motive. But, who had the most? Libby was referring to in Miller's narrative when she quoted him saying:

As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq.

Then later..

I recall that Mr. Libby was displeased with what he described as "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. He told me that the agency was engaged in a "hedging strategy" to protect itself in case no weapons were found in Iraq. "If we find it, fine, if not, we hedged," is how he described the strategy, my notes show.

This doesn't prove the CIA and MSM were in cahoots to "get" the Bushies, but it does make a compelling case for an outbreak of "CYA" perhaps larger than ever seen before inside the Beltway. Wilson's role perhaps had more to do with democrat-promotion than CYA. Perhaps more of a two birds with one stone affair?

Anywho, the Plame scandal remains the perfect political scandal. It features a complicated, hard to follow plot that keeps changing, is attractive only to hard core followers of politics, and has aspects of both national security and petty soap opera. Part of the perfection lies in the fact that both theright and left, with only a tiny leak every now and then from the Special Counsel, have BOTH convinced themselves they've solved the puzzle, and that their side is gonna win big as a result. How can everyone be correct? We'll soon find out.

First Post

Welcome. After many feeble attempts to find a home, I think this is it. This blog will be my attempt to de-spin today's politics-- hence back spin. And for any golfers out there, we all know back spin is good.

My politics tend towards conservatism, but my views are less and less set in concrete. The old adage about "if you're not a liberal at 21 you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at 41, you have no brain" is a good one. And I'm in that general range now. But, reflecting upon my father's life, he might add "and if you don't trend back towards the middle by 61, you have no soul".

Sorry to the original Backspin blog, didn't see you out there. I've changed the name to FORE LEFT! For you non-golfers, "fore" means take cover, and when followed by left, it means take cover on the left.