October 2005 Archives

October 31, 2005

Bush Picks a Presumably Safe White Male to Replace O'Connor

President George W. Bush today nominated Judge Samuel A. Alito of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

By doing so, he once again failed to pick a Hispanic or an African-American woman. Expect an outcry from Hispanic activists. But their outcry will not have the potency of the conservative activists and intelligentsia in the Republican party, who forced White House Counsel Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination on October 27, 2005.

The bottom line is that Hispanics can be ignored for now. In the U.S., in 2005, a white man is always a safer bet for a President than a woman or a minority for a seat on the court. The exception is if his or her credentials are so impeccable that critics would be ashamed to challenge them less they be charged with racism, sexism or both. Otherwise, their qualifications will be challenged simply because of who they are.

Meanwhile, pundits will soon let Mr. Bush know if his pick is ok with them. For a sober assessment of Alito and what to expect, see Lyle Denniston's piece at Scotus blog.

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Fred Barnes' Says 'Rove Should be Safe'

Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, William Kristol's journal of opinion that led the attacks on the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination until she withdrew it last week, writes in the November 7, 2005 issue that:

If Karl Rove, Bush's top adviser, had been indicted, that would have produced a crisis. Rove is the most important presidential adviser, the "glue," as a Republican senator said, that holds the White House together on politics and policy. He would have been forced to resign, leaving a huge vacuum on Bush's staff and hampering Bush's effort to recover.

Rove may yet be indicted, but that's unlikely. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent two years investigating the case, called Rove to testify four times before a grand jury, and still had doubts about prosecuting him. Fitzgerald, at his press conference last week, wouldn't discuss the subject. But to indict Rove, he would have to go to a new grand jury and outline the entire case, an arduous and improbable step. So Rove should be safe.<

Unlike Barnes, I don't think Fitzgerald had doubts about Rove. What he had, at that point, was insufficient evidence to indict for his alleged role in exposing CIA Agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a Bush critic.

Rove, Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Vice=President Dick Cheney were reportedly obsessed with punishing Wilson for criticizing the Bush Administration in a July 6, 2005 Op-Ed piece in The New York Times headlined "What I Didn't Find in Africa." He wrote:

Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?
He said, "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

Those words put Wilson on a character assassination list and the Bush Administration on a collision course with disaster.

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Will Bush Pick Alito to Replace O'Connor?

"Judge Samuel Alito of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey is emerging as a leading candidate to be the next nominee for the Supreme Court, conservative activists said yesterday," Newsday's Tom Brune reported October 31, 2005.

"President George W. Bush is expected to make an announcement on his nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as soon as today [October 31, 2005] and most likely this week, wrote Brune, a staffer in Newsday's Washington Bureau. The Opinion Gazette cannot confirm this report.

For more, please see "Judge from NJ tops list." See Scotus Blog for more on Alito.

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Is Libby Indictment, Rove's Involvement ‘On Level of Watergate’?

Monica Lewis at BlackAmericaWeb.com noted in an October 30, 2005 article that:

On a day when former White House aide I. Lewis Scooter Libby was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, he hobbled his way out of the West Wing on crutches, thanks to a broken foot he suffered earlier in the month playing touch football."

However, Libby's crutches may now be needed to carry Presidents Bush's hobbled administration through some of its toughest times yet, political observers predict.

Lewis said, "Libby's indictment, announced Friday [October 28, 2005] by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, could be the first of many shoes to drop for Bush and his closest, most trusted confidants, including his top strategist Karl Rove, who was spared an indictment pending further investigation." Read more here.

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Not Even Bush is Above the Law

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Editorial Board opined October 30, 2005 that, "There is a cancer on the presidency, and it cannot be exorcised by the resignation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby."

Can it be exercised with the resignation of Vice-President Dick Cheney and Presidential Adviser Karl Rove? Some observers seem to think Rove definitely should resign.

For more of the Post-Intelligencer's editorial, please see "CIA Leak: Not above the law."

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October 30, 2005

Plame Reportedly Treated as a Leper at CIA Headquarters

Former CIA Analyst Larry Johnson, who was part of Valerie Plame's 1985 CIA training class at The Farm, the agency's training facility, told Associated Press Correspondent Nancy Benac that some spooks at the CIA headquarters, where Plame "now holds a desk job, treat her as a leper, afraid that association with her could damage their own career."

"She's radioactive," Johnson said, according to Benac. "She's keeping her sense of humor but she's legitimately angry, It has completely destroyed her ability to ever work as a case officer, which is what she was trained to do."

For more, please read "Plame Now Spends Her Days at CIA Desk Job."

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Did Rove Cut a Deal With Fitzgerald?

It is interesting to read in the New York Daily News that Karl Rove's lawyer may have sought a deal with federal prosecutors investigating the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame. Rove certainly knows where the skeletons are buried, isn't burdened by a conscience and has the goods the prosecutors want. It may also be a way for the Bush/Rove control capsule to jettison itself from the doomed mother-ship and fly to safer territory. Whoever gets indicted will surely be pardoned at the end of Bush's term.

"Scooter" Libby, who was indicted October 28 by a federal grand jury, could plead guilty to keep all the deep dark secrets from being exposed in an open court room. Libby is a good soldier but I don't see Rove going down with the ship.

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'It's Time for New Blood Inside the White House'

David Frum over at the conservative National Review Online says "It's obviously well past time for some new blood inside the White House." Read why.

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Siddiqui: Bush Administration as Dangerous Now as Before

Haroon Siddiqui, a columnist for the Toronto Star who writes Thursday and Sunday, told Star readers today that:

The crises engulfing the White House could not have come a day too soon, considering the consistent and blatant abuse of power by the Bush administration over five years.

The indictment against Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Dick Cheney, and the ongoing investigation of Karl Rove, the top political adviser to George W. Bush, speak to more than the crime of outing a secret CIA agent.

That was just a small part of a broad pattern of deceit and double standards set by the president and his cabal of ideologues.

Siddiqui said, "Their mode of governance has been to do whatever they could get away with, including waging an unwarranted war on false pretences by fixing intelligence and exploiting public fears."

For more of Siddiqui's analysis, please read "Bush administration as dangerous now as before."

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Can Bush Make a Comeback From Recent Political Disasters?

Linda Feldmann and Warren Richey, staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor, reported October 30, 2005 that, "The indictment of a top White House aide [Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby]has left Washington asking the classic second-term question: Can a struggling president make a comeback?"

For their analysis, please see "Trying times for White House."

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October 29, 2005

Transcript of Patrick Fitzgerald's October 28, 2005 Press Conference

On October 28, The Washington Post published a transcript of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's October 28, 2005 press conference announcing the indictment of Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

As might be expected, pundits have already begun to dissect it.

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The Seattle Times: 'The System is Working'

The Seattle Times' editorial writers contend that "Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal attorney investigating the CIA leak in the Bush White House, is a powerful antidote to a pervasive mood of cynicism."

"His five-count indictment Friday [October 28, 2005] of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff proves the system is working," they asserted in an October 29, 2005 editorial.

They noted that, "Fitzgerald wrapped up a two-year investigation of leaks that exposed the identity of an undercover agent of the United States, the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had angered the Bush administration with a public challenge of the White House rationale for going to war with Iraq."

See "White House indictments: The system is working" for the entire editorial.

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The Los Angeles Times on 'Fitzgerald's Moment'

Like many publications around the nation, the Los Angeles Times opined on the Lewis "Scooter" Libby indictment. Times editorial writers said:

The rule of law can be a nebulous concept, hard to define and easy to manipulate, but it was present Friday [October 28, 2005] in all its majesty in a 7th-floor conference room at 950 Constitution Ave. in Washington. That's where Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald explained to the nation the charges in his investigation into the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Those charges are at once disappointing and inspiring. They do not go to the heart of the matter Fitzgerald is investigating namely, who leaked Plame's identity, or even whether doing so was a crime. What they do show is the rule of law working to hold officials accountable to the public they serve.

To read the editorial, please see the "Fitzgerald's moment." The Times concluded that Fitzgerald's investigation is a "credit to both him and the public he serves."

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Is the Libby Indictment the Way to the Truth?

In an October 29, 2005 editorial headlined "Libby is way to the truth: Indictment is a legitimate step in pursuit of justice for CIA agent," New York Newsday said:

At first blush it may seem like much ado about nothing. After a two-year probe that saw a reporter jailed for months, a federal grand jury has charged a lone White House staffer, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, with lying to the FBI and a grand jury. What's the big deal? Who is Libby and don't they all lie?
Editorial writers make an attempt to answer those questions and more. The editorial is worth reading.

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'Lies Upon Lies'

Editorial writers at the San Francisco Chronicle think "the significance of the indictments handed down Friday [October 28, 2005] by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff goes far beyond who said what, when and to whom."

"Just as the prosecutions of administration officials in the Watergate scandal were only tangentially tied to a "second-rate burglary," the charges against Lewis "Scooter" Libby cast a bright glare on the extent to which the White House has gone to pre-empt scrutiny about how this nation was lured into a war on false pretenses," the Chronicle opined.

For more, please read "Lies upon lies."

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The Most Powerful Man Most People Had Never Heard Of

At Vice-President Dick Cheney's behest, Irvin Lewis "Scooter" Libby, 55, who was indicted October 28, 2005 by a sitting federal grand jury, "turned the vice president's office, usually a backwater, into a large and formidable power center to influence foreign policy," according to Craig Gordon of New York Newsday's Washington Bureau.

"Together," Gordon said in an October 29, 2005 article, "they used it mainly for one purpose - to press the case to topple Saddam Hussein, a cause they had pursued since working together at the Pentagon when Cheney was Defense secretary in the early 1990s."

For more of Gordon's insightful article, please read "A man so secretive he refuses to say what the 'I' stands for." It's quite revealing.

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October 28, 2005

Can the Conservative Punditocracy Help Libby?

Washington Post Staff Writer Howard Kurtz offers insights into the power of the conservative punditocracy in an October 28 article headlined "Power of the Punditocracy." That power was evident in the attack on President George W. Bush's nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination infuriated the conservative intelligentsia-punditocracy led by William Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Charles Krauthhammer of The Washington Post, with support from Washington Post Columnist George Will, David Frum, Syndicated Columnist Robert Novak and others.

It will interesting to see if they can help "Scooter Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted today by "a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia. It "returned a five-count indictment against Libby.

According to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, "The grand jury's indictment charges that Mr. Libby committed five crimes. The indictment charges one count of obstruction of justice of the federal grand jury, two counts of perjury and two counts of false statements."

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“Scooter” Takes The Fall: Conservatives Breathe A Sigh Of Relief

After months of rising dread in President Bush’s Administration, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald gave both the administration and its critics something crow about. Fitzgerald announced a five-count indictment centering on perjury and obstruction of justice against only “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff and advisor to the president. President Bush and Karl Rove, a/k/a Bush’s brain, must be in a party–hardy mood tonight because Rove has apparently beaten the rap – for now at least. Although we all know Rove must have been involved in the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent, Fitzgerald must have believed he could not construct a strong legal case against him. As a man of integrity, Fitzgerald would only indict someone against whom he honestly believed he could prove criminal conduct regardless of whether he believed Rove was as guilty as sin. So be it!

But we also know that given the inbred Bush administration, “Scooter” was not some rogue elephant running amok leaking secret information willy-nilly. He was part of what former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff has called the right-wing Cabal centered on Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that pushed this country into war. These guys have a code of silence that that would put the mob to shame. “Scooter” was acting to take care of some wise guy who had messed with this Cabal’s desire to – as the Wall Street Journal’s October 24th editorial put it – defend President Bush’s “policy and his administration” at all cost. When they took their revenge on Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s exposure of their lies about Iraq’s nuclear weapons’ program by outing his wife, they were doing pay back. “Scooter” probably will not turn on the Cabal.

While we might wish that Fitzgerald believed he could indict Rove, all in all, “Scooter’s” indictment is just another brick in the wall exposing the duplicity of the Bush Administration in taking this country into the Iraqi quagmire. Anything that advances the truth should be welcomed. The final irony may be – and mark my words – if “Scooter” is convicted, the last act of President Bush before leaving the White House will be a presidential pardon.

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What Bloggers Are Saying About Libby's Indictment

After "a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned a five-count indictment against I. Lewis Libby, also known as Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff," bloggers of various political persuasions and influence quickly offered their opinions. They weighed in shortly after Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois headquartered here in Chicago, announced during an October 28, 2005 press conference in Washington:

The grand jury's indictment charges that Mr. Libby committed five crimes. The indictment charges one count of obstruction of justice of the federal grand jury, two counts of perjury and two counts of false statements.
Steve Gilliard at The News Blog wants us to:
Go to page 5 of the indictment. Top of the page, item #9.

On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

This is a crucial piece of information. The Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, i.e., not Directorate of Intelligence, the branch of the CIA where 'analysts' come from, but where the spies come from.Libby's a long time national security hand. He knows exactly what CPD is and where it is. So does Cheney. They both knew. It's right there in the indictment

John Hindraker at the conservative blog Powerline said:
...So, if the indictment is true, Libby told a story under oath which differs, not only materially but vitally, from that of close to a dozen other witnesses.

I can't imagine how Libby could have been foolish enough to lie to the grand jury, if indeed that is what happened. As a long-time Washington insider, he must have realized how grindingly thorough this kind of investigation is. How could Libby not have foreseen that his story would be contradicted by every other executive branch employee who was interviewed by the FBI? And how could he not have realized that perjury would be far worse than the original alleged offense? Indeed, Fitzgerald appears to have concluded that Plame was not, in fact, a covert agent, since there is no count in the indictment alleging violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. So if Libby had told the truth, it appears that he would have been fine.

The Middle America Chronicle said the following about the indictment:
As predicted, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted for making false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case.

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff resigned immediately and faces up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

While predicted, it's still sad. This indictment officially takes the administration to a new low. It's part of history. It's President George W. Bush's Teapot Dome or Whitewater and will be forever linked to his administration.

And it's not over-- the investigation into Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove, will continue.

Vnjagvet at YARGB Flares Into Darkness opined:
I just skimmed it and checked out a few lawblogs for first impressions. I heard parts of the Fitzgerald press conference. My impression is that it is a well-crafted indictment that depends entirely on the credibility of three people to convict. Without the testimony of Judy Miller, Tim Russert and Matt Cooper holding up on cross examination as to three separate conversations, this case cannot be won.

With all due respect to Mr. Fitzgerald, this case does not hang together.

Crazy Politico's Rantings said "The Left [ is] Convicting on Indictments as Expected."

Tobe at True Thoughts thinks "The events surrounding the indictments of "Scooter" Libby, will undoubtably affect personal, public and world opinion on a variety of issues.

Ed Cone at Ed Cone.com wrote: "Just to be clear on what we know: the Bush administration knowingly outed a covert CIA agent, then lied about it.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo wants us to:

Remember, I. Lewis Libby doesn't just work for the Vice President.

From the beginning of the administration, a key root of Libby's power at the White House is that he works both for the Vice President (as Chief of Staff and National Security Affairs Advisor) and the President of the United States (as Assistant to the President).

Kevin Drum at Political Animal had this to say:
THE BOTTOM LINE....There are lots of interesting tidbits in the indictment. Who is the "Under Secretary of State" who helped Libby track down information about Joe Wilson's Niger trip? [UPDATE: It's Marc Grossman.] Who is "Official A"? What was Dick Cheney's role? I'm sure all of that is going to get hashed over in detail in the coming days.
Hillary Profita at CBS' Public Eye blog has put together a list of commentary called "The Blogs On Libby."

Joe Gandleman's The Moderate Voice also has a good roundup.

Finally, there's is Technorati. If a blogger has written something about Libby, most likely Technorati has a link.

Editor's Note: This item is cross-posted at The Online Free Press.

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Righteous Right “Borks” Harriet E. Miers

Remember Robert Bork? President Ronald Regan nominated this extreme conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. But after a contentious hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and a vigorous public campaign, the Senate rejected him by a 58-42 vote. Well, the right-wing certainly has not forgotten him. In fact, they were so enraged that “liberals” for ideological reasons had blocked his nomination, they coined a new verb: to be “Borked,” which meant to be unfairly pilloried to defeat.

The irony is that these same irate conservatives have just “Borked” Harriet E. Miers, President Bush’s now withdrawn Supreme Court Nominee. Conservatives loudly bashed her credentials and mocked her intellectual acuity. Their media minions were preparing to Swift-Boat her a la John Kerry. For all their righteous rants about ability, their true concern was for a reliable right-wing vote: they did not want another Justice David Souter. After all, another of their heroes – Justice Clarence Thomas – was no Constitutional scholar – or rocket scientist for that matter.

The arrogance and sense of entitlement of these extreme conservatives is amazing.

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Waiting for Fitzgerald

Today Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may make an announcement that could confirm or discredit media speculation that I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, will be indicted for making false statements to the Federal Grand Jury investigating the leak of CIA Agent Valerie Plame name to journalists such as syndicated columnist Robert Novak, Judy Miller of the New York Times' and Matt Cooper of Time.

According to The New York Times, it's sources don't expect presidential adviser Karl Rove to be indicted today, however, he would "remain under suspicion as Fitzgerald extends the grand jury."

Even if Rove is not indicted, he's damaged goods and will forever be viewed as someone willing to sacrifice an American agent for political purposes simply because her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, discredited President Bush's bogus claim that Iraq sought to buy Uranium Yellowcake from Niger, for use in weapons of mass destruction. It will be interesting to see whether President Bush keeps his "brain" around. The honorable thing for Rove to do is resign whether he is indicted or not .

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October 27, 2005

Can Democrats Take Advantage of Republican Rift?

Washington Post Staff Writer Jonathan Weisman, writing in the October 28, 2005 issue, made the following observation:

The withdrawal of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court yesterday [October 27, 2005] was a triumph for conservative activists, but some of the drama's lead players said the bruising battle between erstwhile allies may have left scars for the remainder of President Bush's term.
I'm sure the Democrat's would love that. The question is: Would they have the balls to take advantage of it?

For more, please see "The Rift's Repercussions Could Last Rest of Term."

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Rattling Off Bush's Sins Against His Conservative base

Ann Coulter, one of the ultra-conservative Republican flame throwers, today rattled off a litany of President Bush's sins against his conservative base. Chief among them is the nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Outcries from the conservative intelligentsia created such a public furor that she withdrew her nomination today, having failed the litmus test on Roe v, Wade.

Loyal to President Bush to the end, she made it easy for him to choose someone more to his base's liking.

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Perjury: So What! The War Party Plays Damage Control

While we wait with bated breath for Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to announce whether anyone in President Bush’s administration will face the music for outing covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, it is fun to watch the right-wing meister-spinners squirm in their own hypocrisy. The same partisans who were so outraged that William Jefferson Clinton fibbed about his tryst with Monica Lewinski are now doing their best to pooh-pooh what certainly looks like perjury before a grand jury for a far more serious national-security breach. It sure looks like Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby – and who knows who else – crossed their fingers when they raised their hands and swore to tell the truth about their role in Plame’s outing. Suddenly, those conservatives who relish pontificating about “values” see things from both sides now.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wants to make certain that Fitzgerald only indicts someone if he finds that they committed a real crime – not something as trivial as obstruction of justice or perjury. In its October 24th editorial, the Wall Street Journal pays homage to its own hypocrisy by trying to make Clinton’s lies seem “clear and obvious” – justifying impeachment, but then urges President Bush not to dismiss anyone who is indicted because they were just “defending his policy and his Presidency.” In other words, their ends justify their means.

If and when the indictments come down, we will see a lot more of this double standard and hypocrisy from right-wing pundits and talking heads. While it will be fun to watch their embarrassment, we should not forget that the “policy and Presidency” these characters are defending are now responsible for 2,000 (and counting) deaths of American soldiers and countless Iraqis in this fiasco of a war. Let justice rain down from the heavens whether for “real” crimes or for perjury or obstruction of justice.

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Inside the White House War on Information

Village Voice reporter Jarrett Murphy noted in an October 26, 3005 report that,"The shakeup at the CIA is being painted as a crusade against agency employees who leaked secret information to the media."

"If so," he added, "it's another front in the wider Bush administration campaign against unauthorized disclosures of inconvenient facts."

For more, please see "Spy Another Day."

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October 26, 2005

Who Will Blink First on the Miers Nomination?

The Associated Press reported today that, "A conservative group opposing Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers announced plans Tuesday [October 25, 2005] to broadcast a TV ad calling for President Bush to withdraw her nomination."

"The White House said it was standing behind Miers," the AP said.

I think the White House will blink first on this one. If Karl Rove is indicted in the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame, the Bush Administration will need all the support it can get from the conservative intelligentsia that opposes Miers. The question is: Who's more important, Miers or the numerous conservative activists and intellectuals willing to take on the Democrats who will seek political advantage if indictments are handed down?

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The Journalists-Government Source Alliance

The New York Times' Douglas Jehl reports in the paper's October 26, 2005 issue that,

Until now, the federal government has rarely proved more impotent than in trying to plug leaks. Most inquiries go nowhere, because the officials and journalists who are the only witnesses to any crime refuse to discuss it,' he wrote.
.
"But in the case of Valerie Wilson, the outed C.I.A. officer, a prosecutor has succeeded in penetrating that sanctum," Jehl noted. "Unlike any of his predecessors, the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has delved deeply into conversations that government officials and reporters had every reason to believe would remain confidential.
Question: Why are journalist even in a symbiotic relationship with government officials? The joined-at-the-hip relationship between journalists and government hacks in Washington hopefully will cease as a result of the intense scrutiny of New York Times Reporter Judy Miller's too cozy relationship with the Bush Administration.

For more of Jehl's analysis, please see "Prosecutor's Progress Is Rare for Leak Inquiries."

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The End Game is Near in CIA Leak Investigation

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note, one of the most authoritative blogs focusing on Washington affairs, has two informative posts on Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's "indictment targets" in the CIA leak investigation. Clemons offers what appears to be a good guess at who will be indicted. See "Rumors, Accident, Interviews, Articles and Jon Stewart" and "Indictments Coming Tomorrow; Targets Received Letters Today."

Note: Steve was hit by a car on October 25. I wish him a speedy recovery.

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Bush Administration's Attempt to Circumvent CIA Steeped in History

Jeff Stein, National Security Editor at Congressional Quarterly, offers a worthwhile analysis of why the Bush Administration is in the mess it's in as a result of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in an attempt to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for discrediting the Administration's claim that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003. He concludes that conflict between intelligence analysts and political operatives is inevitable and has always resulted in clashes that have long had "momentous political consequences." Stein wrote:

Whether or not Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald decides to bring indictments in the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative -- and whether or not any crimes were actually committed -- one element of the case is central to an understanding of what happened and why: At the time of the leak, administration supporters of the Iraq war were determined to neutralize the CIA's doubts about the White House case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, most notably nuclear weapons.
He said, "It is also not the first time -- and it most likely won't be the last -- that conflicts over intelligence have had momentous political consequences."

Although Stein's analysis is historically accurate, the fact that politicians and the intelligence community have always clashed over shaping intelligence to fit political goals doesn't mean that it should continue. Intelligence should be about facts not politics. However, this will never be the case in Washington where politics shapes everything.

Here's the version of Stein's analysis that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Has Karl Rove Worked His Last Campaign?

In his October 26, 2005 column, Washington Post Columnist Dan Froomkin asks:

Will Karl Rove, architect of President Bush's improbable political career, snatch one last victory from the jaws of defeat? (Or at least avoid getting indicted?)
At this point, only the Federal Grand Jury and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knows for certain whether Rove or anyone else will be indicted for blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. If news reports are accurate, some Bush Administration officials are acting as if indictments will be handed down. Anyway, we should know by October 28, when the Grand Jury is scheduled to dissolve.

For more of Froomkin's column, please see "Rove's Last Campaign."

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October 25, 2005

Dave Garrow's Tribute to Rosa L. McCauley Parks

David J. Garrow's tribute to Rosa L. McCauley Parks, who died October 24, 2005 in Detroit, is one of the best I've read to date. Garrow, a senior fellow at Homerton College in Britain and the author of the critically acclaimed 'Bearing the Cross,' a Pulitzer-prize-winning biography of Martin Luther King Jr., recalled Ms. Parks' life in a Christian Science Monitor article headlined "Modest hero, civil rights icon."

By the way, I have met or interviewed numerous civil rights luminaries over the years but Ms. Parks was not one of them. May she rest in peace.

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October 24, 2005

Speculating About Rice and the Presidency

In speculating about the non-existent presidential ambitions of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the context of her October 23, 2005 visit to Birmingham, Alabama, her home town, with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the BBC's Jonathan Beale said:

This visit was genuinely interesting for other reasons. But it will only fuel the fires of speculation about her long term political ambitions. There are still huge obstacles in the way - she is a woman, single and black for a start.
"But she has certainly shown that she could be a formidable opponent on the campaign trail."

Question: If Rice has three strikes against her--she is a woman, single and black--what makes her a formidable opponent on the campaign trail? Just asking. For more, please see "Diplomacy or campaign trail for Rice?"

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Speculating About Rice and the Presidency

In speculating about the non-existent presidential ambitions of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the context of her October 23, 2005 visit to Birmingham, Alabama, her home town, with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the BBC's Jonathan Beale said:

This visit was genuinely interesting for other reasons. But it will only fuel the fires of speculation about her long term political ambitions. There are still huge obstacles in the way - she is a woman, single and black for a start.
"But she has certainly shown that she could be a formidable opponent on the campaign trail."

Question: If Rice has three strikes against her--she is a woman, single and black--what makes her a formidable opponent on the campaign trail? Just asking. For more, please see "Diplomacy or campaign trail for Rice?"

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Libby: I'll Stay With Cheney Until 'I Get Indicted or Something'

Mark Leibovich, staff writer for The Washington Post, wrote in an October 23, 2005 article that, "I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is known for his sarcastic, world-weary and at times dark sense of humor. He once quipped to an aide that he planned to stay as Vice President Cheney's top adviser until "I get indicted or something."

Libby's joke may prove prophetic. It appears that he may soon be indicted for his involvement in exposing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

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Libby: I'll Stay With Cheney Until 'I Get Indicted or Something'

Mark Leibovich, staff writer for The Washington Post, wrote in an October 23, 2005 article that, "I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is known for his sarcastic, world-weary and at times dark sense of humor. He once quipped to an aide that he planned to stay as Vice President Cheney's top adviser until "I get indicted or something."

Libby's joke may prove prophetic. It appears that he may soon be indicted for his involvement in exposing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

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Will FEMA Punish Bahamonde for Capitol Hill Testimony?

I wonder how long before Marty Bahamonde of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is punished for telling the Senate Homeland Security Committee on October 20, 2005 "I think there was a systematic failure at all levels of government" after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29?

I expect to soon see articles attacking his character and job performance.

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Will FEMA Punish Bahamonde for Capitol Hill Testimony?

I wonder how long before Marty Bahamonde of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is punished for telling the Senate Homeland Security Committee on October 20, 2005 "I think there was a systematic failure at all levels of government" after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29?

I expect to soon see articles attacking his character and job performance.

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Depth of Flawed Response to Katrina is Increasingly Clear

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board opines in an October 24, 2005 editorial that, "As the hurricane season progresses, the depth of the flawed federal response to Hurricane Katrina is increasingly clear." See "FEMA: Well-fed on high" for the entire editorial.

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Depth of Flawed Response to Katrina is Increasingly Clear

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board opines in an October 24, 2005 editorial that, "As the hurricane season progresses, the depth of the flawed federal response to Hurricane Katrina is increasingly clear." See "FEMA: Well-fed on high" for the entire editorial.

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October 23, 2005

Is Bush's Credibility Riding on Miers' Nomination and Confirmation?

"For a whole range of reasons," contends veteran Washington Post national political correspondent David Broder, "the confirmation hearings on Harriet Miers, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, have now become a supreme test for the president himself. The timing, the circumstances and the substance of the hearings all magnify the importance of the outcome," he contends,

It seems that there are many political and economic issues that will test Mr. Bush during the final years of his second term. One of them is the fallout from Valerie Plame Wilson CIA leak investigation, which could result in an indictment for certain officials in his administration.

For more more, please read "President's credibility rides on Miers' nomination."

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Is Bush's Credibility Ridings on Miers' Nomination and Confirmation?

"For a whole range of reasons," contends veteran Washington Post national political correspondent David Broder, "the confirmation hearings on Harriet Miers, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, have now become a supreme test for the president himself. The timing, the circumstances and the substance of the hearings all magnify the importance of the outcome," he contends,

It seems that there are many political and economic issues that will test Mr. Bush during the final years of his second term. One of them is the fallout from Valerie Plame Wilson CIA leak investigation, which could result in an indictment for certain officials in his administration.

For more more, please read "President's credibility rides on Miers' nomination."

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NOLA in Exile Stories

John Donley, the editor of NOLA.Com, is continuing his weblog NOLA in Exile. The blog contains powerful stories by New Orleanians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I hope we will soon see a book titled "NOLA in Exile. Read some of the latest stories.

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NOLA in Exile Stories

John Donley, the editor of NOLA.Com, is continuing his weblog NOLA in Exile. The blog contains powerful stories by New Orleanians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I hope we will soon see a book titled "NOLA in Exile. Read some of the latest stories.

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October 22, 2005

Will the Saints Go Marching Out?

The New Orleans Saints' lease at the Super Dome "runs through the end of the 2010 season, but the franchise could invoke an out clause because of the damage to the facility," according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "The Saints also have a one-time chance to opt out of the deal at the end of the season by paying the state $81 million," the publication said.

Louisiana officials are working to keep the team in Louisiana amid rumors that San Antonio is trying to lure it away. Read more here.

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What is FEMA Hiding?

James Varney, staff writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reported today that, "Local companies may be getting their share of work on contracts let by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Or maybe they're not. Only FEMA knows for sure, and FEMA won't say."

If this is true, what is FEMA hiding? Here's more.

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What is FEMA Hiding?

James Varney, staff writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reported today that, "Local companies may be getting their share of work on contracts let by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Or maybe they're not. Only FEMA knows for sure, and FEMA won't say."

If this is true, what is FEMA hiding? Here's more.

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October 20, 2005

The Times 'Invites Lilliputians of Cyberspace to Walk All Over It'

The Washington Post's Tina Brown contends that:

The age of the blogosphere has produced a new genre of mainstream journalism: fake transparency. The New York Times has become its foremost practitioner. The paper of record has been arraigned for arrogance so many times in the past three years that it has forgotten how useful arrogance can be.
She states in an October 20, 2005 post that, "The Gulliver of West 43rd Street has gotten so spooked that now it preemptively lies down, affixes bonds to its wrists and ankles, and invites the Lilliputians of cyberspace to walk all over it. Here's more of Brown's opinion.

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October 19, 2005

The Hammer's Hubris Leads to a Fall

Sandy Grady at USA Today offers a poignant assessment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's troubles. She wrote:

When Tom DeLay was riding high as House majority leader, his Capitol Hill office was festooned with a row of Texas-size bullwhips. They were a fitting symbol for DeLay, known as "The Hammer" for his take-no-prisoners style of muscling corporate lobbyists, intimidating enemies and racking up a campaign-money empire.

Now The Hammer has been hammered.

Hubris always lead to a fall. Some of the people he strong-armed over the years are probably gloating at his troubles.

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Wilma's Awesome Power

National Geographic News had the following to say about Hurricane Wilma:

The 2005 hurricane season reached two more milestones this week: Hurricane Wilma has become the 21st tropical storm of the season and has quickly grown into the most powerful hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin.
I hope it makes a turn away from the U.S. This midwesterner does not want to see our Gulf Coast battered one again. Here's more.

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Chertoff Admits Hurricane Katrina Overwhelmed FEMA

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did the right thing when he acknowledged October 18 that the mighty Hurricane Katrina "overwhelmed" the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is in sharp contrast to the head-in-the-sand approach he took in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Here's a report.

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October 18, 2005

Was Miller's Access to Power More Important to the Times Than Truth?

On October 17, 2005, New York Times Contributor Barbara Ehrenreich told Democracy Now's! Amy Goodman:

I have to wonder why the power of this one woman, Judith Miller, in the Times, and all I can think of is that like many other mainstream media outlets, they're very, very concerned with access to the highest places in government and, you know, power wherever it is.
For more, please see "New York Times Contributor Barbara Ehrenreich: Judith Miller's Access to Power Was More Important to the Times Than Truth

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Was Miller's Access to Power More Important to the Times Than Truth?

On October 17, 2005, New York Times Contributor Barbara Ehrenreich told Democracy Now's! Amy Goodman:

I have to wonder why the power of this one woman, Judith Miller, in the Times, and all I can think of is that like many other mainstream media outlets, they're very, very concerned with access to the highest places in government and, you know, power wherever it is.
For more, please see "New York Times Contributor Barbara Ehrenreich: Judith Miller's Access to Power Was More Important to the Times Than Truth

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U.S. News.com: Rumors say Cheney May Resign

I don't know whether to believe U.S. News.com reporter Paul Bedard's alarming October 18 report that said:

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
For more, please see "White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly."

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Did Judith Miller Witness Interrogation of Muhammad Salah?

Chicago Sun-Times reporters Annie Sweeney and Lisa Donovan reported October 18, 2005 that "In an odd twist," the Israeli interrogation of Bridgeview, Illinois " used car salesman" Muhammad Salah "was witnessed by embattled New York Times reporter Judith Miller, and defense attorneys suggested Monday [October 17, 2005] the best way for the U.S. government to prove its case -- and prove Salah wasn't abused -- is to call the controversial journalist to the witness stand."

"We think the government is going to call her," they quoted Chicago defense attorney Michael E. Deutsch as saying.

The reporters said, "A message left for Miller -- author of the book God Has Ninety-Nine Names: Reporting From a Militant Middle East -- at the New York Times on Monday [October 17, 2005] was not returned. "A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who subpoenaed Miller to testify in the leak of a CIA agent's name and whose office is prosecuting Salah, declined to comment on whether Miller might be called to testify in the case," the noted.

For more, please see "N.Y. Times reporter could testify for suspect."

Get a blog and explain yourself, Judy.

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N.Y. Times' Article on Miller Rightly Draws Questions, Criticism

I agree with Los Angeles Times' correspondent James Rainey that "A story published by The New York Times on Sunday [October 16, 2005] to clarify its coverage of the Valerie Plame leak case has instead raised a series of new questions and complaints about the newspaper's veteran reporter Judith Miller and her supervisors in the long-running controversy." Here's more.

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Here comes Wilma

Here comes Wilma. She formed in the Caribbean on October 17, 2005. She could strike along the U.S. Gulf Coast "as early as the weekend," the AP quotes forecasters as saying.

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An Influx of Hispanic Workers Worry Some Officials in New Orleans

"An influx of Hispanic workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has some officials wondering why locals aren't on the front lines of recovery," writes New Orleans Times-Picayune staff writer James Varney.

It's for the same reason that a lot of manufacturing and service jobs are sent to Asia. Cheap labor. Read more here.

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San Antonio Wants to Keep the Saints Football Team

New Orleans Times-Picayune staff writer Ted Lewis notes that "For seven weeks, the [New Orleans] Saints have been a guest in San Antonio. Now the city's mayor wants to make the move permanent."

What are they going to call the team? The San Antonio Saints. At least it has a better ring than The New Orleans Hornets, the name of the city's pro-basketball team. Here's more.

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October 16, 2005

Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby is in Trouble

Reuters Correspondent Adam Entous reported October 15, 2005 that,

Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide could face obstruction charges over whether he tried to shape a New York Times reporter's testimony about the outing of a covert CIA operative, people close to the case said on Sunday [October 15, 2005].
Scooter Libby deserves to be indicted if he tried to influence Judith Miller's grand jury testimony. I think hubris has finally gotten the best of Libby and the rest of the Bush Administration crowd who got us into a senseless war in Iraq.

Trying to sell a bogus rationale for the invasion and silencing critics of the war is what led someone in the Bush crowd to blow CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's cover, and then try to cover it up. It was done to punish her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, for publicly debunking the Bush rationale for the war. Hence, the CIA leak investigation.

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Mississippi Delta Region Suffering Even More After Katrina

"New Orleans and coastal Mississippi and Alabama were Katrina's most obvious casualties, but the predominantly black, perennially poor Delta region also is suffering," notes Associated Press correspondent Errin Haines.

"Overnight," she writes, "populations grew by the hundreds in the towns that were the end of the road for evacuees who went as far as they could on a tank of gas. Now, evacuees are seeking help from towns that can barely help themselves."

I've visited and reported from numerous towns in the Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana delta over the years. Read more here.

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'Renegade' New Orleans Driver Gets Movie Deal

Josh Peter has a fascinating article in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune on Jabar Gibson, the man who "commandeered" the so-called "Renegade bus" and drove it out New Orleans to escape the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Peter noted that:

The first bus to arrive in Houston loaded with Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans was not operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or any other government authority. It was an Orleans Parish school bus, its driver too young to drink but already a convicted car thief. His cargo: 60 of New Orleans' poorest residents, the youngest a week-old infant and the oldest 59.
"The police was leaving people behind," Gibson is quoted as saying. "I had to pick up people on the bus. The police didn't want to do nothing. We stepped up and did what we had to do."

Peter said Gibson "declined to say more because he since has agreed to a movie deal that prohibits interviews." Here's the story.

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Tourist Retuning to New Orleans

"With the French Quarter," New Orlean's "main tourist draw, spared from most of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, visitors are beginning to trickle back and others are vowing to keep upcoming reservations" in the "Big Easy," according to Associated Press reporter Matt Sedensky. Here's more.

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Les Payne: 'Bush Picked the Best Sycophant He Could

Newsday Columnist Les Payne said October 15, 2005 that, Harriet Miers "

was not selected [for the U.S. Supreme Court] for her prose but rather for her loyalty, her religion apparently and, yes, for her gender. When the O'Connor seat came open, wife Laura reminded the president, lest he didn't get it, that a woman replacement was expected. Like his father, who yielded to pressure to replace Thurgood Marshall with another black, Bush complied with the demands of affirmative action by decidedly lowering the standard - unnecessarily.In replacing Marshall with Justice Clarence Thomas, Bush 41 said, "He is the best person for this position." The father was wrong, of course, as his son may yet prove to be. Stay tuned.
For more of Payne's analysis, please read "Bush Picked the Best Sycophant He Could."

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If Fitzgerald Issues Indictments in the CIA Leak Investigation

Stephen F. Hayes notes in the October 24, 2005 edition of The Weekly Standard that:

FOR TWO YEARS, THE political class in Washington has followed with intense interest the story of Joseph Wilson and the events that led to the compromising of his wife's identity and undercover status as a CIA operative. The rest of the country seems to have responded with a collective yawn. That will soon change if special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald issues indictments of senior White House aides in his investigation of the alleged leaking of Mrs. Wilson's name.
There is a reason that Karl Rove, President Bush's Brain, and Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, are worried. Fitzgerald is noted for securing indictments.

In fact, Rove has made four appearances before the Grand Jury. The last was a four-hour appearance on October 14, 2005. Here's more.

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October 15, 2005

Judith Miller Posts Up at The Online Free Press

I've put up several posts on New York Times Reporter Judith Miller over at The Online Free Press, which focuses on the news media.

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How Should New Orleans Hold Elections?

Kristen Clarke-Avery and M. David Gelfand asks in a Findlaw article: "Post-Hurricane Katrina, how will the citizens of New Orleans be able to exercise their right to vote?" Here is their answer.

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Katrina Reunites Mississippi Father and Daughter

Katrina unites Lisa Jones and David Nesossis, a father and daughter in Mississippi, who lost touch six years ago. Here's more.

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Planners Hold Sessions on Rebuilding Mississippi

The Biloxi Sun-Herald reported on "The first brainstorming sessions" that "got under way Thursday [October 13, 2005] at the Isle of Capri Hotel at the same time that more than 70 people split into teams and fanned out across three counties to get a ground-level view of 11 towns devastated by Hurricane Katrina on August 29," 2005.

"The brainstorming sessions at the hotel are designed to give architects and planners more information from local leaders on issues of importance to them," the Sun-Herald said.

I hope locals get a chance to make money during the rebuilding. I can see some contractors from outside of Mississippi taking part in rebuilding but not to the exclusion of state contractors. Read more here.

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Experts at LSU Offer Perspectives on Katrina

Last Thursday night [October 13, 2005] "a panel of experts" discussed "critical perspectives on Hurricane Katrina at Louisiana State University," according to a report in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The article tells how to obtain a copy of the panel discussion.

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Can New Orleans' "Black Colleges" Make a Comeback?

"Before Katrina, 10,000 students attended New Orleans' trio of black colleges," notes The Houston Chronicle in an October 14, 2005 editorial. "Now the institutions are gasping for life."

The publication said, " With teachers and students dispersed to other schools hundreds are enrolled at the University of Houston their income, largely dependent on tuition, is nearly gone. Combined rebuilding, experts say, will cost as much as $1 billion. To make matters worse, Xavier and Dillard, both private institutions, are not eligible for FEMA reconstruction funds, according to Xavier's president."

Hopefully, the schools' graduates will come to the rescue.

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New Orleanians Still Scattered Across 44 States

Washington Post reporters Peter Whoriskey and Spencer S. Hsu, in an article headlined "Return To New Orleans Is Urged," noted that "Evacuees from Katrina are scattered across 44 states and many have vowed to remain where they landed."

I can't blame them. What if another hurricane strikes between now and November 30, when the hurricane season ends?

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Engineer: Swamp Peat Anchored New Orleans Levee Walls

John McQuaid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Washington bureau noted in an October 15, 2005 report that:

Soil tests indicate that a soft, spongy layer of swamp peat underneath the 17th Street Canal floodwall was the weak point that caused soil to move and the wall to breach during Hurricane Katrina, an engineer who has studied the data says.
McQuaid quotes Robert Bea, a geotechnical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, who examined the test results, as saying:
The thing that is remarkable here is the very low strength of the soils around the bottom of the sheet pile" base of the floodwall.
Bea, according to McQuaid, is a member of the National Science Foundation team that is studying the levee system's performance during Katrina."

"Bea said other data shows the same peat layer also runs under the London Avenue Canal breaches and probably was instrumental in those collapses as well," McQuaid wrote.

For more, please see "Swamp peat was poor anchor, engineer says."

The article makes me wonder whether short-cuts were taken when the levee was constructed.

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October 14, 2005

Pressure on Bush to Withdraw Miers Nomination Mounts

Carolyn Lochhead, a reporter in the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington Bureau, reported October 14, 2005 that, "Calls by conservatives for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination intensified Thursday [October 13, 2005] as White House efforts to reassure critics continued to backfire."

The calls and pressure will continue in the days ahead, however, President Bush should stand his ground on this one. Here's more.

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October 13, 2005

Is the al-Zawahiri Letter to al-Zarqawi a Hoax?

Dan Darling, in an October 12,2005 article in The Daily Standard, wrote"

THE FULL TEXT of the just-released letter from al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri to Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, dated July 9, 2005, makes it clear that not only are al-Zawahiri and bin Laden symbolic leaders to the global jihad, but they are still active in running their terror network, too.
While it may be true that al-Qaida's leaders may be running a global Jihad movement, there is strong possibility that the so-called al-Zawahiri letter is a hoax.

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A President Doesn't Owe His Followers Anything

Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard wants to know:

What does a president owe his followers, especially on issues that may have caused them to back him in the first place? And what do followers owe their president, particularly on matters where his commitment to their common agenda is unclear? These questions need to be considered in light of the conservative revolt against President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
He owes them absolutely nothing, Fred. He shouldn't cater to special interests on matters as important as a Supreme Court nominations and ambassadorships. Of course, that's a utopian view. Here's Barnes' commentary.

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Is Cheney Being Investigated in Plame Affair?

Jason Leopold at Raw Story says Vice President Dick Cheney's "role in outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame is "under examination, sources close to prosecutor say." Here's more.

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AP Releases Full Video of New Orleans Cops Beating Man

Today The Associated Press released full video of New Orleans policemen beating Robert Davis, a 64-year-old retired school teacher.

Watching the edited video and seeing blood dripping from Davis' head reminded me of farm animals I've seen slaughtered. Read more here.

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Did Mercy Killings Take Place in New Orleans Hospitals?

Did "mercy killings" take place at some New Orleans hospitals during Hurricane Katrina?

John Pope, staff writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported October 13, 2005 that,

Based on allegations that Memorial Medical Center doctors considered putting frail patients to death in the first days after Hurricane Katrina, state Attorney General Charles Foti has ordered an investigation of all hospital and nursing home deaths after the storm.
This sounds like a massive undertaking. However, it's worth it to put rumors to rest. Here's more.

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The New York Terror Alert

"It's clear now that last week's subway terror alert was based on intelligence data that proved wrong, but it's even more certain that Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did right by New York in sounding the alarm and tightening security," the New York Daily News said in an October 13, 2005 editorial.

If Bloomberg and Kelly had not acted swiftly they'd be catching hell from the press and the public. It's better to catch hell for doing something rather than doing nothing.

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Send Pedophiles Packing

Columnist and novelist Stanley Crouch contends that,"The flushing out of so many child molesters from beneath the skirts of the Catholic Church is not some version of a witch hunt bent on keeping homosexuals from the priesthood."

I agree. See "Faith is gone, and sex fiends must go, too."

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Hotel Katrinas

As of October 13, 2005, "616,023" Hurricane Katrina victims "were living in 198,717 hotel rooms at government expense and thousands more, nobody is sure how many, were stuck with friends or relatives," according to The Associate Press.

"The Red Cross estimates it will have spent between $350 million and $425 million on housing evacuees through October 24, when its contract for the job is due to expire," the wire service reported today. "That contract is expected to be renewed." Here's more.

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October 11, 2005

The Rise of the 'Redneck' Musician

Christian Science Monitor "reporter Patrik Jonsson's article headlined "The rise of the 'redneck' stirs up country music" reminds me of how so-called thug or gangster rappers took the word "nigger" and used it to make millions of dollars.

I've heard Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman." It's not bad.

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He's Called 'The Hammer' For a Reason

Representative Tom DeLay (Republican of Texas) is called "The Hammer" for a reason: He knows how to hammer opponents into submission. According to Reuters, and other publications, DeLay's attorney subpoenaed Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle on October 11, 2005 "as part of a campaign to discredit indictments charging DeLay with breaking Texas campaign finance laws."

I wonder would he subpoena a Federal prosecutor. Anyway, I'm certain Earle will try to get it quashed.

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October 10, 2005

New Orleans Stories

Jon Donley editor of Nola.com, is to be commended for keeping NOLA IN EXILE, a forum for New Orleanians displaced by Katrina, online and updated. He has regulary provided powerful stories from ordinary citizens who survived Katrina and are now displaced all over the country.

In reading the stories, I was struck by the powerful sense of family and love for New Orleans inherent in them. "Valerie's story: The missing husband" is a good example.

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FBI Should End its Hyprocritical Drug Policy

In an October 10, 2005 editorial on the FBI's decision to consider "a change in its hiring policies when it comes to drug use," the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that:

Drug use is obviously bad and too often turns destructive. But there are millions of productive citizens who have partaken in illegal substances. There are FBI officials and other law enforcement personnel in positions of power who used illegal drugs -- suffered no ill consequences -- and now prosecute people doing the same.
The publication said, "If the FBI wants to reform its hiring policies to reflect this reality -- as it should -- agency officials should also acknowledge that setting aside resources to pursue nonviolent drug offenders, when voters in several states have OK'd medicinal marijuana, is a waste of time."

I totally agree. Although I don't use marijuana or any other illegal drugs, I'd definitely want marijuana legally available if it had medicinal purposes and could relieve pain or prevent death. And it's definitely a waste of resources to arrest and prosecute people for marijuana possession.

I've often wondered about policemen and prosecutors who use drugs themselves--there have been headlines in the Chicago papers overs the years about police and prosecutors arrested for drug possession--feel when they arrest and prosecute people on drug possession charges.

Do they feel like hypocrites? I'd love to hear from prosecutors who've put someone away while waiting for the law to catch up to them.

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The Book Peddler

Louis Joseph Freeh, former FBI agent, federal judge, Director of the FBI and a man President Bill Clinton hates he ever appointed to head the bureau, is peddling a memoir titled "My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Waging War on Terror."

I haven't read it, and won't unless I find it in the $2.00 bin at a book store or someone gives me a copy.

By the way, I wonder what impact Freeh's appearance on "60 Minutes" will have on sales.

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Katrina Victims and the New Bankruptcy Laws

Jean Chatzky, financial editor for “The Today Show,” and editor-at-large at Money magazine, raises important questions about bankruptcy in an article headlined "Deadline looms for reformed bankruptcy rules." She asks:

What happens when your home and your livelihood are wiped away in a single body blow? Sometimes you have no choice but to raise the white flag and file bankruptcy. But the new, tougher bankruptcy laws that go into effect October 17 could put victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in a particular bind.
Chatzky noted that. "new, tougher bankruptcy laws" go into effect October 17, 2005.

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Scott C. Smith: 'It Isn't Easy Being Bush'

Scott C. Smith over at Blogcritics.org says: "It Isn't Easy Being Bush."Read why.

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October 9, 2005

Brian Greenspun: Can We Trust Bush's Faith in Court Nominee Miers?

Brian Greenspun, editor of the Las Vegas Sun, wants to know: "Can we trust Bush's faith in court nominee Miers?" Here's his opinion of the issue.

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Is the Bush Coalition Crumbling?

The New York Times' David D. Kirkpatrick said in an October 9, 2005 article that cracks are starting to show in President George W. Bush's coalition."

Because of his CIA leak troubles, which could lead to an indictment, I doubt Karl Rove will be able to help his boss keep the coalition together.

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Making Sense Out of the Miers Nomination for the Supreme Court

Dave Winer at Scripting News has a convincing analysis of Harriet Miers' nomination for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He said in an October 9, 2005 post:

Bush nominated Miers for the Supreme Court for a few reasons that actually make sense. First, if he had nominated a candidate that the conservatives would have fought for, he would have put Republican senators in a real bind, if they come from states where the majority of voters are pro-choice. The problem for the conservatives is that that's 80 percent of the electorate, and probably almost all the states except Wyoming and Alaska. It would have been suicide for him or for the senators, and it was his choice, because there was no way a pro-choice or pro-life nominee was going to make it through the process. So he chose suicide for no one. Seems reasonable.

The second reason he did it (and there's no doubt that Miers is pro-choice, that's why the conservatives are so pissed) is that he's pro-choice too, but can't say it for fear of destroying the illusion that the Republicans are actually so radical.

No wonder Mr. Bush is catching hell from William Kristol, George Will and other influential conservatives. Old George is secretly pro-life. Read more of Winer's analysis here

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A Look at 'Religious War in the GOP'

Take a look at RedState.Org's "Religious War in GOP." It's interesting reading.

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What Misstep?

Back on October 6, Peggy Noonan at OpinionJournal said whether Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers is confirmed to replace reiting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court"...all depends on the hearings.She opined:

Barring a withdrawal of her nomination, it's going to come down to Harriet Miers's ability to argue her own case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the American people decide she seems like a good person--sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable--she'll be in; and if not, not.
It will be tough road but I think Miers will be confirmed, that is if she can hold off the political barbarians in the Republican Party who oppose her nomination.

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Miers Has to "Prove She Belongs on the Supreme Court

Ron Harris of The St. Louis Post Dispatch says "For the first time in more than 35 years, a Supreme Court nominee's competence is about to become a central issue." Here's more.

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Harriet Miers and Judicial Politics

Craig Gilbert, a reporter in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Washington Bureau, offered the following on Harriet Miers, President Bush's choice to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court:

Criticized as a "stealth" nominee, Harriet Miers is testing a bit of common wisdom about judicial politics: that in today's polarized world, it's easier to get confirmed without a paper trail.
He said, "Since President Bush unveiled Miers as his latest Supreme Court pick, her lack of experience on the bench and in constitutional law has fueled suspicion on both the left and the right." Here's more.

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The New Opinion Gazette Site

I'm moving The Opinion Gazette from a Typepad account hosted on Six Apart's servers in California, to Hostway here in Chicago where my other sites are hosted.

The Gazette will now be powered by Movable Type. Why? Since September 29, I have been unable to access The Gazette at my TypePad account. When I attempt to login, it tells me I may be redirected to an unsecure site. Now why would I want to go there?

So, as soon as I can, I intend to move all the posts and comments to this site, and no longer post to the Typepad account.

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Did New Orleans Cops Steal Over 200 Cars?

On October 7, 2005, Louisiana "state authorities said they were investigating allegations that New Orleans police broke into a dealership and made off with nearly 200 cars including 41 new Cadillacs" as Hurricane Katrina closed in," according to The Associated Press.

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