View Full Version : Who's Indicted? You Choose ...

October 16th, 2005, 08:11 PM
Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is wrapping up his inquiry regarding Leaks & Lies; there is a good possibility that indictments of some top Bush Administration officials are on the horizon. Indictments would mean a quick exit from the White House for anyone so served.

Who deserves an indictment and why?

Vote for more than one if you see fit.

Heck, vote for them all if itwill make you feel better!

October 16th, 2005, 08:29 PM
Old Scooter is definitely getting one, especially considering his brilliant plan of intimidating reporters.

Knock on wood, I think Karl Rove's getting a surprise this week, too.

October 17th, 2005, 10:12 AM
Wow, seeing any of them in prison fatigues would be immensely satifying. Arresting Karen Hughes would put to rest my believe that she is actually a man by demonstrating what prison she would be sent to.

Overall, I think they are all indictable and guilty of destroying our nation, perhaps beyond repair. I think I need to move beyond who should get indicted and determine who should be tried for treason and be sentenced accordingly.

DICK CHENEY should be on death row.
KARL ROVE should be on death row.
DONALD RUMSFELD should be on death row.
GEORGE W. BUSH should be on death row.
CONDI RICE should be on death row.

I think they have all committed treason.

I'm not worried about who'll be indicted. I'm worried about who'll be pardoned.

October 17th, 2005, 04:37 PM
Old Scooter is definitely getting one, especially considering his brilliant plan of intimidating reporters.

Anyone called Scooter should definitely do some quality time in the slammer.

October 17th, 2005, 06:48 PM
Yes and he would be scooting for the pleasure of his cellmate!

October 17th, 2005, 09:44 PM
They better ready a whole darned wing in that Federal Prison...

The Financial Times is reporting that "Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name to include questioning about the administration's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence."

Go here: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=69439&postcount=71

And Raw Story is saying:


October 17th, 2005, 11:15 PM
Yes and he would be scooting for the pleasure of his cellmate!

Or would that be clenching?

TLOZ Link5
October 19th, 2005, 10:50 PM
Very Thatchery.

October 19th, 2005, 11:23 PM
From the Financial Times. This is pretty damning.:mad: But, is this the ploy to get rid of Cheney and bring in a viable 2008 nominee before the election? It's hard to believe anything anyone is saying.


Cheney 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy
By Edward Alden in Washington
Published: October 20 2005 00:00 | Last updated: October 20 2005 00:19

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.

It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.

“If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.”

The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

■ The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

■ Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

■ The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either”.

“There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today.”

October 21st, 2005, 05:52 PM
Some interesting analysis, with thanks to those brainy guys who love the GOP:


A Sitting President Can Be Indicted

(And so can a sitting Vice President.)


For a change, I'm not going to give you my own analysis. Instead, I'm going to quote arch conservative lawyer, the legal sidekick of Rush Limbaugh, the infamous Mark Levin of the Landmark Legal Foundation, aka "The Great One". Let's have a look at what he has to say, and what Rush totally agreed with, regarding the indictment of a sitting President (albeit another President, another time).

This comes from an official Landmark Legal brief ( http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/9694/Rush.html ):

LANDMARK LEGAL FOUNDATION (http://:</p><p> </p><p><font color=)

Can A President Be Indicted While in Office, Or Must He First Be Impeached?

January 23, 1998

Can a president be indicted while in office, or must he first be impeached?

Recent events in Washington have renewed this once obscure debate.

Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states, in part:

"Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law."There are two different concepts expressed in this part of the Constitution. First, impeachment is a political response, and the violations do not have to be specifically enumerated in a criminal code. It allows the public, through its representatives in Congress, to act on its revulsion with a president.

Some point to Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution and claim it requires criminal wrongdoing as a condition of impeachment. That section states, "The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction, of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

No less than the late constitutional expert Raoul Berger, who was one of the nation's leading scholars on the subject of impeachment, among others, wrote that treason, bribery, "'high crimes and misdemeanors' appear to be words of art confined to impeachments, without roots in the ordinary criminal law and which had no relation to whether an indictment would lie in the particular circumstances."

Second, the language in Article I, Section 3 makes clear that impeachment is not an exclusive remedy. A president is still subject to criminal prosecution, if warranted. He can be impeached and removed from office, but this is a limited remedy. Given this limitation, the Founding Fathers wanted to make clear that impeachment would not immunize a president and bar subsequent criminal prosecution. Obviously, this concern only arises in cases where impeachment precedes criminal prosecution. Therefore, if criminal prosecution precedes impeachment, it is not an issue.

October 21st, 2005, 06:36 PM
Juicy Scoop?

Fitzgerald gossip straight from my inbox

Here's a juicy e-mail I got from a Hill staffer.

Posted by Jan Frel (http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/frel/) at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2005.


just got this e-mail from a Democratic House member's staffer with tons of good dirt on the Plame investigation. I'm reprinting it whole cloth to share all, and show that while these Hill staffers are well-informed, they sure could use some capitalization classes.

Among the things I hadn't seen before:
-Fred Flights, an assistant to John Bolton, is a named name who could be indicted.

-Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been suggested as replacements for Dick Cheney.

-Colin Powell told John McCain he showed the infamous memo with Plame's identity on it two just two people; Dick Cheney and George Bush.

-Fitzgerald is looking at the precedent set from the indictment of Tricky Dick's veep Spiro Agnew to pursue against Cheney.
That's red meat folks.

Text of the e-mail:

below, some extremely sensitive information about the impending conclusion of the valerie plame investigations. the sources include two senior members of senate and key staffers; counsel for individuals that have been called before the grand jury; and two journalists taking a lead position in investigating the case. the following represents a composite of the information from those sources.

plamegate coming to conclusion. the investigation has focused mostly closely on vice president cheney and his staff, as well as us ambassador to the un (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) john bolton and his staff. we are told that eight indictments have already prepared, with the possibility of another ten. these indictments include senior white house staff, most notably vice president cheney's chief of staff scooter libby, fred flights (special assistant to john bolton), and--very surprisingly--national security adviser steve hadley. apparently, libby and hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments. the indictment of senior bush political advisor karl rove seems highly probable.

most critically, a plea bargain process has evidently been opened with vice president cheney's lawyer. that does not mean that an indictment is coming. but i've some critical background around the issue.

in the past several days, former secretary of state colin powell had a meeting with senator john mccain (R-AZ), primarily about the mccain-sponsored amendment on inserting a rider prohibiting torture onto the us defense budget (a bill which powell has himself been lobbying heavily for, against objections of president bush).

during the meeting, powell recounted to the senator that he had traveled on air force one with bush and cheney, and brought to their attention a classified memorandum about the issue of whether there was indeed a transaction inolving niger and yellow cake uranium. the document included ambassador joe wilson's involvement and identified his wife, valerie plame, as a covert agent. the memorandum further stated that this information was secret. powell told mccain that he showed that memo only to two people--president and vice president. according to powell, cheney fixated on the wilson/plame connection, and plame's status.

powell testified about this exchange in great length to the grand jury investigating the plame case. according to sources close to the case, powell appeared convinced that the vice president played a focal role in disclosing plame's undercover status.

in his conversation with mccain, powell felt that--at a minimum--there would be a serious shakeup at national security council as a consequence. in particular, vice president cheney would no longer hold a pivotal role in us national security affairs. powell apparently did not discuss the potential of a cheney resignation.

lead prosecutor patrick fitzgerald has apparently been looking at the precedent of formerly indicted nixon vice president spiro agnew. this shows the likely path, because addressing executive immunity and privilege questions would necessarily begin start with a plea-bargain deal that would entail a resignation.

this is all likely to occur within the next week. 28 october (next friday) is the last day of the grand jury, and no requests have been made to extend their session. the investigator is expecting to wrap up by then.

there are enormous implication for what would be the biggest white house shakeup since the iran-contra scandal in the reagan era. president bush's approval rating at 39% has already led to a significant decrease in policy efficacy with key legislators in congress. i'll spin out the broader policy implications when i have some time to write at greater length, but i wanted to get this out immediately.

one interesting point though--it is worth noting that a parade of senior republican senators have evidently been privately pushing mccain to lobby to be cheney's replacement. senator lindsey graham (R-SC) has also been mentioned. meanwhile, the white house has already been developing countermeasures--notably including senior white house officials privately voicing president bush's disappointment in karl rove's involvement in the case, calling it "misconduct." an urgent search for a rove replacement is already underway.


October 22nd, 2005, 11:47 PM
This should be an exciting site in coming weeks...


October 24th, 2005, 06:27 PM
Full Story: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=70281&postcount=80

Bush at Bay

UPI Editor

http://www.upi.com/InternationalInte...3-104217-9679r (http://www.upi.com/InternationalIntelligence/view.php?StoryID=20051023-104217-9679r)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.

This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration ...

October 25th, 2005, 11:10 PM
>>> The POLLS are CLOSED <<<

WIREDNY has Spoken ... the WINNER is .............................


Including the biggest Ace of all ...


October 25th, 2005, 11:33 PM
90% of Americans believe Bush Administration has acted illegally / unethically ...

Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak

October 25, 2005


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent said some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, in which the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was revealed.

The same percentage of respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said administration officials acted unethically, but did nothing illegal.

The poll was split nearly evenly on what respondents thought of Bush officials' ethical standards -- 51 percent saying they were excellent or good and 48 percent saying they were not good or poor.

The figures represent a marked shift from a 2002 survey in which nearly three-quarters said the standards were excellent or good and only 23 percent said they were fair or poor.

The latest poll questioned 1,008 adults October 21-23 and has a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Federal law makes it a crime to deliberately reveal the identity of a covert CIA operative, and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is heading a probe into the matter. (Fitzgerald profile (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/25/fitzgerald.profile.txt/index.html))

With the grand jury investigating the leak set to expire Friday, FBI agents interviewed a Washington neighbor of Plame for a second time.

The agents asked Marc Lefkowitz on Monday night whether he knew about Plame's CIA work before her identity was leaked in the media, and Lefkowitz told agents he did not, according to his wife, Elise Lefkowitz.

Lefkowitz said agents first questioned whether the couple was aware of Plame's CIA work in an interview several months ago.

Members of Fitzgerald's team also talked to a former White House official to gather last-minute information about the role of Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, a source familiar with the conversation told CNN.

CNN's Kelli Arena, Dana Bash and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

October 28th, 2005, 08:23 AM
October 28, 2005

Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny

By DAVID JOHNSTON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID JOHNSTON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID JOHNSTON&inline=nyt-per)
and RICHARD W. STEVENSON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=RICHARD W. STEVENSON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=RICHARD W. STEVENSON&inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/i_lewis_libby_jr/index.html?inline=nyt-per) Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/dick_cheney/index.html?inline=nyt-per) chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Karl Rove (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/karl_rove/index.html?inline=nyt-per), President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

As rumors coursed through the capital, Mr. Fitzgerald gave no public signal of how he intended to proceed, further intensifying the anxiety that has gripped the White House and left partisans on both sides of the political aisle holding their breath.

Mr. Fitzgerald's preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the investigation did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.

White House officials said their presumption was that Mr. Libby would resign if indicted, and he and Mr. Rove took steps to expand their legal teams in preparation for a possible court battle.

Among the many unresolved mysteries is whether anyone in addition to Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove might be charged and in particular whether Mr. Fitzgerald would name the source who first provided the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist. Mr. Novak identified the officer in a column published July 14, 2003.

The investigation seemed to be taking an unexpectedly extended path after nearly two years in which Mr. Fitzgerald brought more than a dozen current and former administration officials before the grand jury and interviewed Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to determine how the identity of the officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, became public.

Mr. Fitzgerald is expected to hold a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Friday. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Mr. Fitzgerald has examined whether the leak of Ms. Wilson's identity was part of an effort by the administration to respond to criticism of the White House by her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat. After traveling to Africa in 2002 on a C.I.A.-sponsored mission to look into claims that Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) had sought to acquire material there for its nuclear weapons program, Mr. Wilson wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, that the White House had "twisted" the intelligence regarding the suspected transaction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

At the White House, the withdrawal of Harriet E. Miers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/harriet_e_miers/index.html%20?inline=nyt-per) as the president's nominee to the Supreme Court dominated the day. Still, officials waited anxiously for word about developments in the investigation, which has the potential to shape the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.

Officials said that Mr. Bush, who traveled to Florida (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/florida/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) on Thursday to view the damage from Hurricane Wilma, would keep to his planned schedule on Friday, including a speech on terrorism in Norfolk, Va., if indictments were announced.

Administration officials said that the White House would seek to keep as low a profile as possible if indictments were issued; Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, did not schedule a briefing for Friday, and Mr. Bush plans to leave in the afternoon for a weekend at Camp David.

With so much about the outcome of the case still in doubt, political strategists in Washington spent the day gaming out the implications of different endings.

The apparent delay in a decision about whether to charge Mr. Rove, and the continuation of the criminal inquiry, is a mixed outcome for the administration. It leaves open the possibility that Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's closest and most trusted adviser, could avoid indictment altogether, an outcome that would be not just a legal victory but also the best political outcome the White House could hope for under the circumstances.

Yet, in apparently leaving Mr. Rove in legal limbo for now, Mr. Fitzgerald has left him and Mr. Bush to twist in the uncertainty of a case that has delved deep into the innermost workings of the White House and provided Democrats an opportunity to attack the administration's honesty and the way it justified the war to the American people.

Mr. Rove has had to step back from many of his public duties, including appearing at fund-raisers, and he is likely to have to keep a low profile as long as the investigation continues. It could also leave him distracted, depriving the White House of his full attention at a time when Mr. Bush is struggling to regain his political footing after months in which the bloody insurgency in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers have left the administration stumbling.
An indictment of Mr. Libby, who is seen by many people in the White House as Mr. Cheney's alter ego, would also keep a focus on the way in which the administration built its case that Saddam Hussein (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/saddam_hussein/index.html?inline=nyt-per) was a threat who had to be dealt with. Any trial of Mr. Libby would likely shine a spotlight in particular on Mr. Cheney and his prewar role.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been closely examining the truthfulness of accounts given by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby about their conversations with reporters about Ms. Wilson. As early as February 2004, two months after he was appointed, Mr. Fitzgerald obtained a specific written authorization from James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who appointed him, permitting him to investigate efforts to mislead the inquiry.

The prosecutor has inquired how Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove first learned that Ms. Wilson was employed at the C.I.A. and whether the discussions were part of a deliberate effort to undermine the credibility of her husband, according to lawyers in the case. The lawyers declined to be named, citing Mr. Fitzgerald's request not to discuss the case.

Allies of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald could be convinced that any misstatements were inadvertent and not intended to conceal their actions from prosecutors.

In addition, they have hoped that the prosecutor would conclude it would be difficult to convince a jury that Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby had a clear-cut motive to misinform the grand jury. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment on their legal status.

In Mr. Rove's case, the prosecutor appears to have focused on two conversations that Mr. Rove had with reporters. The first, on July 9, 2003, was with Mr. Novak. Mr. Rove told the grand jury that Mr. Novak mentioned Ms. Wilson and that was the first time he had heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Mr. Rove's second conversation took place on July 11, 2003, with Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine. Earlier this year, Mr. Cooper wrote that Mr. Rove did not name Ms. Wilson but told him that she worked at the C.I.A. and had been responsible for sending her husband to Africa.

In his first sessions with prosecutors, Mr. Rove did not disclose his phone conversation with Mr. Cooper, the lawyers said, though he disclosed from the start his conversation with Mr. Novak. The lawyers added that Mr. Rove did not recall the conversation with Mr. Cooper until the discovery of an e-mail note about the conversation that he had sent to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser. But Mr. Fitzgerald has been skeptical about the omission, the lawyers said.

In Mr. Libby's case, Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on his statements about how he first learned of Ms. Wilson's identity. Early in the investigation, Mr. Libby turned over notes of a meeting with Mr. Cheney in June 2003 that indicated the vice president had told him about Ms. Wilson, the lawyers said.

But Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he learned of Ms. Wilson from reporters, lawyers involved in the case said. Reporters who are known to have talked to Mr. Libby have said that they did not provide him the name, could not recall what had been said or had discussed unrelated subjects.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 28th, 2005, 12:48 PM
one down (click for details) ...

LIBBY INDICTED (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Vice_President_Dick_Cheneys_chief_of_1028.html)

5 COUNTS ...


November 5th, 2005, 01:09 AM
According to John W. Dean (who knows a thing or two about indictments and corruption in the White House):

it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.

More here: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=71789&postcount=99

Extra Bonus Audio Clip:

Dick on Life without Scooter ...


I will be useless as a witness ... I get all nervous and I forget stuff

November 13th, 2005, 05:41 PM
Only 2 MORE DAYS to get your VOTE registered !!!

November 16th, 2005, 12:32 AM
> The POLLS are CLOSED <

November 16th, 2005, 02:44 AM
Scooter for sure.

Bush solely because he's a moron, like someone else said.

November 20th, 2005, 02:52 AM
Why did you close this poll again?

I'll make a futile vote for Hadley.

November 20th, 2005, 11:16 AM
The closing was timed with the end-date of the original Grand Jury.

With a new Grand Jury I'll start a new poll -- with a list of some new bastards, uh, indictees.

November 23rd, 2005, 09:05 AM
I heard that some judge was supporting Delay. If I were to ask this judge what took so long to stand up this would be his answer:

I had to wait 3 weeks for the check to clear.
Or maybe that check bounced: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=74195&postcount=55

January 20th, 2006, 02:20 PM
Abramoff's dad bashes Clooney's 'ridiculous attack'

By Erica Solvig,
The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun
Jan. 19, 2006


The father of controversial Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is responding to actor George Clooney for what he's describing as a "glib and ridiculous attack" on his son.

Frank Abramoff, in a letter addressed to Clooney and sent to The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun Thursday, said he was watching the Golden Globes Monday night when Clooney, during his acceptance speech for best supporting actor, thanked Jack Abramoff "just because" and made a comment about the lobbyist's name.

"Who would name their kid Jack with the last words 'off' at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up," Clooney said during the internationally televised awards show.

In the letter, Frank Abramoff furiously defends the name, saying his son is named after Frank's father. In the two-page letter, he calls Clooney's act a "lapse in lucidity" and an "obscene query."

Former GOP lobbyist Abramoff admitted bribing public officials and defrauding his American Indian clients of millions of dollars.

In a telephone interview with The Desert Sun Thursday morning, Frank Abramoff said Clooney was "an idiot" and described the actions as "pure, unadulterated stupidity."

"You want to make fun. You can do that, but you don't make fun of someone else's hardships and misery," the 78-year-old Abramoff said. "We've gone through quite a bit, our family. But the political end of it and the media end of it and all the other areas are one thing. When you see something like that on a show for 500 million people, it was not only a slap in my son's face but in my father's."

Clooney's representative in Los Angeles declined comment, saying he had not seen Abramoff's letter yet.

Frank Abramoff’s open letter to George Clooney

Oh how far Hollywood has fallen. When you rose to accept the Golden Globes best actor award earlier this week, you decided to take a gratuitous slap at my son, my family and even my dear departed father. Is this the tradition of Gable, Bogart, Pacino and Burton? Are you the heir to the dignity and greatness of Hollywood's past, or more likely a portent to a depressing and horrific future?

Your glib and ridiculous attack on my son, Jack, coupled with your obscene query as to the choice his mother and I made in naming him, brought shame and dishonor on you and your profession. What drove you to this lapse in lucidity, I can never know, but you need to know that your words were deeply hurtful to many innocent and decent people who love my son and who cherish our family.

We have had to endure two years of unmitigated, outrageous falsehood directed at my son and his record of achievement on behalf of his clients and friends. The bloodthirsty media, guilty of untold character assassinations during contemporary times, have even outdone themselves in their lust to create a cartoon which does not come close to resembling this fine man, my son.

The fact that you would spend those few moments accorded to you, as an honor for your work as an actor, bashing his name and his family, is astonishing. How do you sleep at night, other than perhaps with the drink, which you lamented not having at that early hour. Funny, it was very hard for us little people in television land to tell whether you had indulged in the bottle or not.

My son was named after my beloved departed father. His name, too, was Jack Abramoff. And, were he alive today, would be standing firmly behind his namesake, as his entire family and many more true friends than you will ever know.

Not that it matters to you, I am sure, but the worst part of your tirade is that it played out in front of many young people, including my sweet 12-year-old granddaughter, one of Jack's five children. Jack did not waste his time watching the garbage spewing from your mouth, but his daughter did. You drove her to a fit of tears. Are you proud of that?

For four generations, our family has worked hard to serve this country we love. I enlisted as a young man of seventeen into the United States Navy, so I could serve my nation in WWII. My brother did the same, and we both served in South Pacific. My son dedicated his life to patriotic and religious causes, which have made this nation great. He gave unsparingly of his time and resources to help those in need.

You spend your days ridiculing our nation and our traditions. You mock those who serve our nation and its flag. You revile my son and publicly try to humiliate him in front of a national audience. I have news for you George Clooney — one day the truth about my son will come out and there will be a lot of people in your industry and others lined up to apologize for their efforts to destroy him and our family. You won't be in that line, though, because the plague of arrogance and falsehood will surely continue to blind your eyes and cause your tongue to disgrace the parents who brought you onto the earth.

One wonders how your father would respond, were the roles re versed. One wonders whether your children would delight in someone lampooning your name and besmirching your reputation. You have brought yourself to a low unparalleled by the greats of your profession. Shame on you.

Rancho Mirage, Calif.

© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY

January 22nd, 2006, 07:00 PM
Well, Abramoff has one person in his corner.

January 22nd, 2006, 11:22 PM
maybe two: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=80076&postcount=60

February 8th, 2006, 10:24 AM
White House Can't Sweep Aside Abramoff

Indicted Aide Safavian Heads to Court, And Questions Still Swirl About Griles and Rove

February 8, 2006

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB113935546071667719-auNBNLep_LngFIKDTwQ9vhhx3eY_20070208.html?mod=blog s (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB113935546071667719-auNBNLep_LngFIKDTwQ9vhhx3eY_20070208.html?mod=blog s)

WASHINGTON -- The scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has shaken up Capitol Hill. But it still poses significant problems for the Bush White House.

A court hearing scheduled later this month may bring fresh attention to the case of former White House aide David Safavian, who is charged with lying in connection with a golf trip Mr. Abramoff arranged. Justice Department officials haven't closed their review of actions by former Interior Department official J. Steven Griles, who disputes claims that he favored Abramoff clients, such as Native American tribes involved in casinos. Calls for the White House to release photos of Mr. Abramoff with the president -- and details of his contacts with presidential aides including Karl Rove -- haven't abated.

"Their refusal to release information is inexcusable," says Tom Fitton, president of conservative legal organization Judicial Watch. As a result, the scandal "is now in the White House."

The president has said his connections to Mr. Abramoff didn't amount to much. "Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with them or know them very well," Mr. Bush said at a recent news conference, calling Mr. Abramoff one of "thousands" of White House visitors with whom he might have been photographed.

Mr. Rove has known Mr. Abramoff for about two decades, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan. Both are former top officials of the College Republicans, many of whose alumni have gone on to national prominence within the party.

Mr. Abramoff was an early backer of the president, having been listed as a co-chairman pledged to raise $25,000 for Mr. Bush at a 1999 Washington reception. He gave money to the president's recount committee in 2000 and was in the elite tier of fund-raisers for the president's 2004 re-election committee. An Abramoff aide, Susan Ralston, later went to work as Mr. Rove's executive assistant at the White House.

Mr. Abramoff bragged of his "contact" with Mr. Rove when Tyco International (http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=tyc) Ltd. sought action on tax legislation in 2002, according to Senate testimony by Tim Flanigan, a former Tyco official. "At some point after he joined the engagement team, Mr. Abramoff told me that he intended to contact Mr. Rove directly or indirectly to communicate Tyco's position" on the tax issue, said Mr. Flanigan, who also once worked as Mr. Bush's deputy White House counsel.

A White House spokesman says Mr. Rove doesn't remember talking to Mr. Abramoff about Tyco. A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff declined to comment on whether he lobbied Mr. Rove on the issue. A Tyco spokeswoman says the company doesn't know what Mr. Abramoff did on its behalf. A tax provision Tyco opposed eventually was defeated.

Messrs. Abramoff and Rove shared a connection to Mr. Safavian. Mr. Safavian lobbied alongside Mr. Abramoff before applying for a job with the General Services Administration. On his GSA job application, Mr. Safavian listed Mr. Rove as a reference who could confirm he brought a group of Arab-Americans to a Bush 2000 outreach program in Austin, Texas.

Prosecutors have accused Mr. Safavian of giving Mr. Abramoff inside information from the GSA at a time when the lobbyist was seeking government leases for a client. They have also accused him of misleading ethics officers and investigators by saying Mr. Abramoff wasn't doing business with the GSA when the two men went to Scotland on a 2002 golfing trip.

Barbara Van Gelder, Mr. Safavian's attorney, dismisses the inside information that prosecutors have seized upon as irrelevant. And she says that Mr. Safavian's statement that Mr. Abramoff wasn't doing business with the GSA at the time of the Scotland golfing trip was accurate, because the lobbyist's clients hadn't formally applied for leases or been awarded any. "Seeking" business with government is different, she explains, from having business with government.

She says the charges against Mr. Safavian are an attempt to pressure him to testify against others. "This case is about the government squeezing David Safavian," Ms. Van Gelder says.

What information Mr. Safavian might have to implicate others isn't clear. But Mr. Abramoff has already sent tremors across Capitol Hill by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Lawmakers have scrambled to offer proposals for overhauling rules governing lawmakers' dealing with lobbyists. "I support your efforts ... to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington," Mr. Bush declared in last week's State of the Union address. The White House has tried to move beyond ethics controversies after the indictment late last year of former vice-presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby in connection with the Central Intelligence Agency leak case. Mr. Rove hasn't yet been cleared in the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Mr. Griles is waging a vigorous effort to avoid being charged in the Abramoff investigation. He has offered to meet with prosecutors, though so far they have declined. In emails that surfaced in a Senate inquiry, Mr. Abramoff referred to Mr. Griles as his "man" in the department that oversees Native American issues. Another Interior Department official last year told the Indian Affairs Committee that Mr. Griles showed unusual interest in such issues while serving as the department's chief of staff.

Barry M. Hartman, Mr. Griles's attorney, has written the Senate committee, dismissing the idea that Mr. Griles was close to Mr. Abramoff as a lobbyist's boast to his clients. Mr. Hartman said his own review had uncovered only a handful of telephone calls and email contacts between the two men -- none of which resulted in official Interior Department measures that would have benefited Mr. Abramoff's clients. Mr. Hartman also cited a 2003 email by Mr. Abramoff in which he lamented that Mr. Griles "can't (or at least won't) discuss any of my clients with me."

Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB113935546071667719-auNBNLep_LngFIKDTwQ9vhhx3eY_20070208.html?mod=blog s#)

February 9th, 2006, 08:56 AM
It will be interesting to see if these are just an example of Abramoff puffing himself up -- or if they lead to deeper connections ...

EXCLUSIVE EMAILS: Jack Abramoff Describes Relationship With President Bush


ThinkProgress has obtained emails written by Jack Abramoff in which the fallen lobbyist personally describes his relationship with President Bush. They depict a relationship far more extensive than has been previously reported.

The emails written by Abramoff were addressed to Kim Eisler, the national editor of Washingtonian magazine (http://www.washingtonian.com/). The Washingtonian recently reported on the existence of several photographs showing Abramoff and Bush together. Eisler is also the author of Revenge of the Pequots (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684854708/102-9555144-5465739?v=glance&n=283155), a book about tribal politics for which Abramoff was interviewed.

In the emails, Abramoff describes meeting Bush “in almost a dozen settings,” and details how he was personally invited to President Bush’s private ranch in Crawford, Texas, for a gathering of Bush fundraisers in 2003. Abramoff did not attend, citing a religious observance.

Abramoff emailed Eisler about his invitation to Crawford and his decision not to attend:

The White House has continually downplayed the relationship between Abramoff and President Bush. At a January 26 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060126.html) press conference, President Bush said “You know, I, frankly, don’t even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don’t know him.”

But according to Eisler, Abramoff told him that the two have met almost a dozen times, shared jokes, and spoke about details of Abramoff’s family:

Check back with ThinkProgress for more details about Abramoff’s relationship with Bush and other high-profile figures.

February 9th, 2006, 12:46 PM
Pics of Bush & Abramoff, despite White Houe denials, are starting to appear ...


March 6th, 2006, 08:30 PM
Opponents of DeLay Make Use of a Film

Birnbaum/Schermbeck Films

Representative Tom DeLay as seen in the documentary "The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress."

By DAVID M. HALBFINGER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/david_m_halbfinger/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
March 7, 2006


LOS ANGELES, March 6 — A documentary about the Texas criminal investigation that led to the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/tom_delay/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the former House majority leader, on campaign fund-raising charges is being put to use by Mr. DeLay's political opponents in an attempt to unseat him.

The film, "The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress," will be distributed this spring by the Hollywood producer and liberal provocateur Robert Greenwald, whose last release was a scathing attack on Wal-Mart sponsored by a variety of labor unions and other groups critical of the retailing giant.

A host of liberal organizations in Texas and nationwide, including People for the American Way, Democracy for America and the Pacifica radio station in Houston, are expected to sponsor the film's release. It will not follow a traditional theatrical rollout but will instead open in a few cities before being made widely available on DVD, as was the Wal-Mart movie, Mr. Greenwald said in an interview.

An important aspect of the release plan is to organize hundreds, if not thousands, of house parties in May and June at which the movie will be shown, Mr. Greenwald said. The distribution strategy is to be detailed on Tuesday — primary day in Texas — as a "welcoming gift" to Mr. DeLay, he said.

Mr. DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, called the movie, an early version of which he had seen, a "hatchet job," and said he had refused to sit down with the filmmakers for an interview. (Mr. DeGuerin appears on camera in public question-and-answer sessions with the news media.)

The filmmakers, Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, spent three years and about $100,000 following what began as a nasty state legislative battle over Mr. DeLay's push to redraw Congressional districts in Texas in 2002, and mushroomed into a nationally watched partisan standoff, complete with Democratic lawmakers fleeing across state lines. It ultimately wound up as a criminal case, with Mr. DeLay and his allies coming into the cross hairs of Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney of Travis County, Tex.

It was Mr. Earle's argument, in the indictment last September, that Mr. DeLay had engineered the Republican takeover of the Texas legislature in 2002 by breaking a state law banning companies from donating to individual candidates, essentially laundering tens of thousands of dollars in contributions through the Republican National Committee.

It is the film's argument that Mr. DeLay had a grander purpose in mind: using the newly Republican-run legislature to redraw the state's Congressional map, erasing five seats held by Democrats despite Republican majorities, causing a 10-vote shift in the House, and thereby giving Republicans a solid majority with which to enact corporate-friendly federal legislation. All of which, the film asserts, worked like a charm.

Mr. Birnbaum, 57, of Dallas, a veteran documentary maker who started out in public television, and Mr. Schermbeck, 47, of Lubbock, Tex., a longtime community organizer, said in a telephone interview that they had tried mightily but failed to get Mr. DeLay to return their calls, while the district attorney, Mr. Earle, made himself readily available. Nonetheless, they said, they had strived for an evenhanded approach, one they had used in their only previous collaboration, a 2003 film for the PBS series "P.O.V." about high school drug testing in Lockney, Tex. They edited a version of "The Big Buy" in which Mr. DeLay was not so central to the story, and showed it at a Dallas film festival in August.

Then came the indictment of Mr. DeLay.

Quickly, the congressman and his aides used the existence of the film to attack the prosecutor, saying Mr. Earle's cooperation with Mr. Birnbaum and Mr. Schermbeck was proof that he was merely chasing headlines. When Mr. Earle was quoted insisting he had said and done nothing unusual or inappropriate — "I'm just doing my job" — Mr. DeLay went on a Houston talk-radio show and retorted: "Oh yeah, he's just doing his job. He's just doing his job. He's got a film crew that has been following him around for two years to document how he's going to get Tom DeLay."

Mr. DeGuerin maintained in a telephone interview Monday that the movie "puts the lie to Ronnie Earle's protestations for a year, before the indictment came down on DeLay, that DeLay was not a target." He added, "In truth, all the time he was cooperating with the moviemakers."

But Mr. DeGuerin said that he had not followed through on a threat to subpoena the filmmakers' outtakes, and that he doubted the movie would become a factor at trial.

Mr. Birnbaum and Mr. Schermbeck insist that Mr. Earle had shared no secrets with them, and that they acted and were treated no differently from any journalists covering the case.

In California last fall, Mr. Greenwald watched the coverage of the DeLay indictment unfold and wondered if there wasn't a good documentary in it.
"Then somebody told me these two Texas guys had done one," he said in an interview.

The Sundance Film Festival had already expressed interest in "The Big Buy," and Mr. Birnbaum and Mr. Schermbeck were mulling whether to go the festival route, which could take the film a year or more to get into theaters.

But Mr. Greenwald had just distributed his Wal-Mart movie through a grass-roots campaign of house parties and internet sales of DVD's — and scored a huge publicity coup when Wal-Mart attacked him — so he proposed a similar strategy for the DeLay film. It is to have its premiere either in Houston or Austin, he said, before opening in a few other cities and being offered for sale on the Internet for $14.95.

Now, of course, the two Texans' supposedly balanced movie is being distributed by the man behind "Outfoxed," a stalwart of the partisan left. Yet they say the net effect will be negligible.

"With Tom DeLay you're either in his camp or you're not," Mr. Schermbeck said. "It wouldn't matter what distributor we chose. You could broadcast this on 'Masterpiece Theater,' and we'd still be Satan's messengers to Tom DeLay and his friends."

Mr. Schermbeck insisted the documentary was fair to Mr. DeLay; it includes comments by three of the congressman's lawyers and some of Mr. DeLay's Republican allies, for example. But he made clear he had no pretensions to neutrality.

"Timing was everything," he said, explaining the choice of Mr. Greenwald's company, Brave New Films. "It was important to get this out as soon as possible, given the trial, the Supreme Court and, frankly, given the elections this November."

Added Mr. Greenwald: "With Wal-Mart, 4,000 groups took it on. I'm assuming there are going to be people all over the country gleeful and joyous to have a tool that they can use for organizing, fund-raising, issue work, all of that."

Mr. Schermbeck suggested the film could well prove to have bipartisan utility.

"I'm sure Tom DeLay will use this for fund-raising," he said. "Will it be a great fund-raising tool? It remains to be seen. But I'm hoping to make some money back myself after three years of labor that haven't been compensated."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

March 6th, 2006, 09:22 PM
I'll definitely host a house party for this!
Party over here!

March 10th, 2006, 02:21 PM
Interior Secretary to resign;
Ties to Abramoff Indian deals

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
March 10, 2006



Interior Secretary Gale Norton will resign today, the Associated Press has confirmed (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060310/ap_on_go_pr_wh/interior_norton_1&printer=1;_ylt=AqC8B2qDg0cC5tZAkvQgSN0Gw_IE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-). Norton, photographed above with fallen conservative lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was fingered in deals with Native American tribes that Abramoff represented. The photograph above was released (http://www.doi.gov/initiatives/foia.html) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Abramoff's tribal clients donated $50,000 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9913002/) to a conservative environmental group founded by Norton, hoping to win face time with the Secretary. They eventually did.

Former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy helped Abramoff arrange a meeting with Norton, and within months, the lobbyist's clients were making huge contributions to the environmental group Norton started, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

“Do you think you could call that friend and set up a meeting?” then-DeLay staffer Tony Rudy asked fellow House aide Thomas Pyle in a Dec. 29, 2000, e-mail obtained by the Associated Press (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9913002/) titled “Gale Norton-Interior Secretary.” President Bush had nominated Norton to his cabinet the day before.

More from AP (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9913002/):

"Rudy wrote Abramoff that same day promising he had “good news” about securing a meeting with Norton, forwarding information about the environmental group Norton had founded, according to e-mails obtained by investigators and reviewed by The Associated Press. Rudy’s message to Abramoff was sent from Congress’ official e-mail system.

"Within months, Abramoff clients donated heavily to the Norton-founded group and to DeLay’s personal charity. The Coushatta Indian tribe, for instance, wrote checks in March 2001 for $50,000 to the Norton group and $10,000 to the DeLay Foundation, tribal records show.

"The lobbyist and the Coushattas eventually won face-to-face time with the secretary during a Sept. 24, 2001, dinner sponsored by the group she had founded.

"Abramoff’s clients were trying to stop a rival Indian tribe from winning Interior Department approval to build a casino."

April 1st, 2006, 02:35 PM
Jack's House

Op-Ed Contributor
NY Times
March 31, 2006


These are the men
That fleeced the tribes
That paid the money
That made the bribes
That purchased the Congress that
Jack built.

This is the Duke
That sailed the yacht
That raised the eyebrows
And got him caught,
Who helped Mitch Wade,
Who bought Duke's land
And kicked in 700 grand;
Which raised Duke's taxes,
And gave Duke pain;
So Wade paid the tab
On Duke's capital gain.
Bigger than Abscam:
Randy "Duke" Cunningham!
Top gun in the Congress that
Jack built.

This is Bob Ney,
Who knew the fine print
That could pass a casino
And rev up its mint,
Who spawned the e-mail
Where Jack foretold:
"Just met with Ney.
"We're [expletive] gold!"
And Ney in 2000,
A moment quite checkered
Ripped magnate Gus Boulis
In the Congress'nal Record.
His tirade was meant
To frighten the fellow,
Who cops say was shot
By Big Tony Moscatiello,
Who got a small fortune
From Jack's pal in D.C.,
A guy Ney said was known
For his "honesty."
Their pal was indicted
And then copped a plea
Guilty of fraud
And conspiracy.
For creating the vibes
That condoned the bribes
That corrupted the Congress that
Jack built.

This is DeLay,
Who built the machine
That redrew the districts
And raised the green,
That decided the races
That claimed the new seats,
That made the new friends
That owned luxury suites,
That held big galas
That brought the donations
That helped him to greet
The great Coushatta Nation!
With 800 members
And fund-stream support
From the famous Coushatta Casino Resort!
Which paid several million
For Jack to abort
A rival tribe's parlor
In nearby Shreveport,
Which prompted the letter
That outlined their claims
That went to Gale Norton,
Co-signed by these names:
Tom DeLay, Eric Cantor,
Roy Blunt, the chief whip,
Speaker Dennis Hastert.
That's the House leadership!
That played the game
And wears the shame
That hangs over the Congress that
Jack built.

This is the Jack,
Jack Abramoff,
Who bought the souls,
Then sold them off,
Who shook the hands
And financed the houses
And feted the staffs,
And hired the spouses,
And fleeced the tribes
And spread the bribes
That ransomed the Congress that
Jack built.

Hart Seely is the editor of "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

January 20th, 2007, 08:05 AM
January 20, 2007

Ney Is Sentenced to 2½ Years in Abramoff Case

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Former Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio leaving Federal District Court in Washington on Friday after being sentenced.


WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 — Former Representative Bob Ney, the only member of Congress to admit guilt in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in prison, longer than had been requested by the Justice Department.

Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of the Federal District Court in Washington said she had decided on her somewhat tougher sentence for Mr. Ney, an Ohio Republican, because his crimes involved a “significant and serious abuse of the public trust” over several years. The 30-month term she imposed was three months longer than prosecutors had asked.

“You have a long way to go to make amends,” Judge Huvelle told the former lawmaker, citing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of luxury overseas travel and other gifts he accepted from Mr. Abramoff and the corrupt Republican lobbyist’s partners in return for official favors.

Mr. Ney, who served six terms in the House before resigning in early November, will be able to keep his Congressional pension. Legislation now in Congress, similar to a bill for which he once voted that never became law, would deny pension payments to lawmakers convicted of crimes like bribery and fraud, but the measure would not apply retroactively.

The precise amount of Mr. Ney’s pension cannot be independently known, because of a variety of factors, but it will not be as large as those of many senior members, given his relatively few years in office. Further, since he is only 52, he will not get any payments for at least four years.

In a brief statement to Judge Huvelle, Mr. Ney apologized Friday to his family and his former constituents and suggested that his crimes had resulted in part from alcoholism.

He said he was continuing to “battle with the demons of addiction that are within me,” and requested through his lawyers that he serve his sentence at a federal prison in West Virginia that has a rehabilitation program.

The Justice Department had sought a 27-month term, the shortest possible under Judge Huvelle’s interpretation of federal sentencing guidelines, because a plea bargain that Mr. Ney struck last year allowed the government to avoid a long trial. The judge could have sentenced him to as much as 33 months.

Judge Huvelle also ordered that Mr. Ney pay $6,000 in fines and that after serving his prison term, he be placed on two years’ probation, during which he must abstain from alcohol.

In his plea bargain, Mr. Ney confessed that he had essentially sold his office to Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying operation and others. Mr. Abramoff himself pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to corrupt public officials, and the scandal surrounding him, which opinion polls suggest was a factor in the Democratic Congressional victory in last November’s elections, has brought a number of officials under scrutiny.

Just last week a lawyer for J. Steven Griles, who formerly served the Bush administration as the No. 2 official at the Interior Department, confirmed that Mr. Griles had been notified that he was likely to be indicted in the Abramoff inquiry.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

March 6th, 2007, 05:41 PM
What are the odds on a Cheney Resignation & a full pardon of Libby by Bush? His approval rating can't get lower. He still has the support of Ann Coulter / Fred Phelps Republicans and Evangelical Republicans watching their clocks for Armageddon. I think he'll go for it.

I do not want him to resign.. I want him impeached... I want a full scale investigation on how the Country's Energy policy was conducted in 2000... I want full disclosure on Haliburton's actions in New Orleans and Iraq.. I want to know where the lost $20BN went... and I want to see that traitorous SOB wearing an orange jump suit..

Gregory Tenenbaum
March 6th, 2007, 07:51 PM
Incredible news.

And my immediately preceding poster has some interesting thoughts.

View my latest post on the JFK assassination. If that is true and happened then, what possibly could be happening now in the world? Human nature never changes, and power always corrupts.


March 13th, 2007, 05:33 AM
White House mulled firing all prosecutors

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
March 13, 2007

The White House considered firing all 93 federal prosecutors at the start of President Bush's second term, but yielded to Justice Department objections and eventually agreed to a smaller list of dismissals compiled by Justice officials, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Dana Perino also said President Bush may have informally passed on to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales complaints the White House was receiving about the performance of some of the U.S. attorneys.

She said then-White House counsel Harriet Miers raised the idea with Gonzales aid Kyle Sampson of asking all 93 U.S. attorneys to resign in 2004, wondering whether the start of a new White House term marked a logical time to start with a new slate of U.S. attorneys, who serve four-year terms at the pleasure of the president.

Sampson disagreed, saying a wholesale firing would be disruptive. Perino said deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, vaguely recalls telling Miers that he thought firing all 93 was ill-advised.

The Justice Department, however, was working internally on a shorter list of firings, and submitted that list to the White House in late 2006.

"At no time were names added or subtracted by the White House," Perino said. "We continue to believe that the decision to remove and replace U.S. attorneys who serve at the pleasure of the president was perfectly appropriate and within administration's discretion. We stand by the Department of Justice's assertion that they were removed for performance and managerial reasons."

Dating back to mid-2004, the White House's legislative affairs, political affairs and chief of staff's office had received complaints from a variety of sources about the lack of vigorous prosecution of election fraud cases in various locations, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee and New Mexico, she said

Those complaints were passed on to the Justice Department or Mier's office.

"The president recalls hearing complaints about election fraud not being vigorously prosecuted and believes he may have informally mentioned it to the attorney general during a brief discussion on other Department of Justice matters," Perino said, adding that the conversation would have taken place in October 2006.

"At no time did any White Hose officials, including the president, direct the Department of Justice to take specific action against any individual U.S. attorney," Perino said.

The Washington Post reported initially on the idea of dismissing all the prosecutors, saying it reviewed a number of internal White House e-mails preceding the final dismissals.

Sampson resigned Monday after acknowledging that he did not tell other Justice officials who testified to Congress about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information in their testimony, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because Sampson has not announced his departure.

The new revelations Monday evening came after congressional Democrats earlier in the day singled out Rove for questioning about the firings of the eight prosecutors and whether the dismissals were politically motivated.

Those demands to question Rove signaled anew Democrats' shifting focus beyond the Justice Department and toward the White House in the inquiry.

Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., said he would seek to interview Miers and deputy counsel William Kelly for insight on their roles, if any, in the firings.

Rove emerged as the Democrats' newest target after weekend news reports said the New Mexico Republican Party's chairman urged Rove to fire David Iglesias, then the state's U.S. attorney.

In a statement Monday, Conyers said stories about Rove's alleged link to Iglesias' dismissal "raise even more alarm bells for us."

"As a result, we would want to ensure that Karl Rove was one of the White House staff that we interview in connection with our investigation," said Conyers.

Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., who is leading his chamber's probe into the firings, said he also wants to question Rove.
In an interview this weekend with The Associated Press, New Mexico GOP chairman Allen Weh said Iglesias' "termination had already occurred" by the time he spoke with Rove at a holiday party last December. But Weh made no secret of his dissatisfaction with Iglesias, in part from the prosecutor's failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation.

The White House has said previously that Rove wasn't involved in the firings, but did alert Miers to complaints about Iglesias. It was not immediately clear whether Rove also told Gonzales about the complaints.
Last week, Rove called the two-month controversy "a very big attempt by some in the Congress to make a political stink about it."

Schumer called it "almost unheard of" for a federal prosecutor with favorable reviews to be fired after a top presidential adviser like Rove received complaints about his performance.

"The more we learn, the more it seems that people at high levels in the White House have been involved in the U.S. attorney purge," Schumer said Monday.

Associated Press Writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report from Merida, Mexico.

Copyright &#169; 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


March 13th, 2007, 05:40 AM
Presidential adviser Karl Rove speaks during a University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service lecture series Thursday, March 8, 2007, in Little Rock, Ark. Rove defended the Bush administration's firing of several U.S. attorneys, stressing the positions serve at the pleasure of the president. (AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)

Source:AP Photo (http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070308/480/armw10103082059&g=events/pl/030707usprosecutors;_ylt=ArH6OpGDZO_hZyGDAKBBoxiMw fIE)

March 15th, 2007, 05:39 AM
Republican Says Gonzales Should Be Fired

By LAURIE KELLMAN, The Associated Press
Mar 15, 2007

WASHINGTON - A Senate Republican is calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' dismissal as Democrats weigh subpoenaing President Bush's top aides in the escalating political furor over the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, a longtime Bush administration critic facing a tough re-election campaign, called for Gonzales' ouster Wednesday just hours after Bush expressed confidence in the attorney general, who is a longtime friend.

"I think the president should replace him," Sununu said in an interview. "I think the attorney general should be fired."

Although some Republicans have been tepid in their support for the attorney general, Sununu was the first to go so far in the wake of an uproar over the Justice Department's firing of the attorneys and its response to congressional questions, plus a separate report that the administration abused its power to secretly investigate suspected terrorists.

The White House issued a curt response to Sununu's remarks.

"We're disappointed, obviously," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. A Justice Department spokeswoman refused to comment.

Speaking to reporters in Mexico before returning to Washington, Bush expressed confidence in Gonzales and defended the firings. "What Al did and what the Justice Department did was appropriate," the president said.
Still, Bush left himself room to sack the attorney general.

"What was mishandled was the explanation of the cases to the Congress," Bush said. "And Al's got work to do up there."

Gonzales, expected to meet with lawmakers this week, has been fending off Democratic demands that he resign over the ousters of eight U.S. attorneys - dismissals Democrats have characterized as a politically motivated purge.

"We want Congress to know, to understand what happened here," Gonzales said. "We'll work it out."

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was considering subpoenas for presidential political adviser Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and deputy White House counsel William Kelley, all of whom exchanged e-mails for two years with the Justice Department about the firings, according to documents made public this week.

The panel also was considering compelling the testimony of five of Gonzales' aides, even though the attorney general has pledged to let the officials speak with the committee.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters after the meeting with presidential counsel Fred Fielding on Wednesday that Fielding promised a yes-or-no answer by Friday.

"He said it was his goal to get us both the documents and the witnesses that we seek to question," Schumer said. The White House was expected to seek some conditions, but Fielding "said his intention was not to stonewall," Schumer added.

Sununu long has been a critic of what he has said was the White House's disregard for civil liberties in its war on terrorism and played a large part in forcing the administration to accept new curbs on its power during the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act last year.

He said his confidence in Gonzales had been shattered by the firings of the prosecutors and by a report Friday by the Justice Department's inspector general criticizing the administration's use of secret national security letters to obtain personal records in terrorism probes.

"We need to have a strong, credible attorney general that has the confidence of Congress and the American people," Sununu said. "Alberto Gonzales can't fill that role."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted Wednesday that Gonzales would soon be out.

"I think he is gone. I don't think he'll last long," Reid said in an interview with Nevada reporters. Asked how long, Reid responded: "Days."
Republicans came to Gonzales' defense.

"I don't believe the attorney general should resign over this," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. "I don't believe his ability to pursue the terrorist threat has been compromised to the extent that he should resign."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is running for his party's presidential nomination, agreed.

"(Gonzales) steadfastly maintains that he's done nothing wrong, so let him make his case," McCain said.

Some of the dismissed prosecutors complained at hearings last week that lawmakers tried to influence political corruption investigations. Several also said there had been Justice Department attempts to intimidate them.

E-mails between the Justice Department and the White House, released Tuesday, contradicted the administration's earlier contention that Bush's aides had only limited involvement in the firings.

U.S. attorneys are the federal government's prosecutors and serve at the pleasure of the president. They can be hired or fired for any reason, or none at all.

Senior Justice Department officials said Wednesday they considered for several years ways to fill vacant prosecutors' jobs without judicial meddling. They said they never intended to bypass the Senate confirmation process when the department pushed to change the renewed Patriot Act in 2006.

Instead, they said they sought to erase what Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella called a "constitutional anomaly" that let federal judges appoint interim U.S. attorneys in jobs that were vacant for more than 120 days.

"There's a conspiracy theory about this and it's nothing other than that," Moschella said in an interview Wednesday.

Moschella was one of several senior Justice Department officials who testified to Congress about the firings. It was disclosed later that he gave lawmakers misleading information.

Moschella declined to comment on that during the interview.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
http://www.examiner.com/a-620067~Republican_Says_Gonzales_Should_Be_Fired.ht ml (http://www.examiner.com/a-620067%7ERepublican_Says_Gonzales_Should_Be_Fired. html)

March 16th, 2007, 04:52 AM
E-mail indicates Rove role in firings

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
March 16, 2007

White House political adviser Karl Rove raised questions in early 2005 about replacing some federal prosecutors but allowing others to stay, an e-mail released Thursday shows. The one-page document, which incorporates an e-mail exchange in January 2005, also indicates Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was considering dismissing up to 20 percent of U.S. attorneys in the weeks before he took over the Justice Department.

The e-mail exchange concludes with Gonzales' top aide warning that an across-the-board housecleaning "would certainly send ripples through the U.S. attorney community if we told folks they got one term only."

E-mails released by the Justice Department indicate that Gonzales and his then-chief aide, Kyle Sampson, suggested replacing 15 percent to 20 percent of federal prosecutors they identified as underperformers.

Sampson resigned this week over the department's handling of the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and the agency's misleading of Congress about the process.

The White House maintains that Rove remembers first hearing about the idea to replace all 93 prosecutors from Harriet Miers, a top White House aide designated at the time to follow Gonzales as the president's counsel. "He has not said who the idea originated with," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday evening.

But earlier Thursday, Rove told journalism students in Alabama that the decision to fire each prosecutor "was made at the Department of Justice on the basis of policy and personnel."

"We're at a point where people want to play politics with it," Rove told students at a journalism seminar at Troy University.

Democrats have sought to pin down Rove's role in the dismissals to prove they were politically motivated.

A midday e-mail between two White House staffers, dated Jan. 6, 2005, was titled, "Question from Karl Rove."

"Karl Rove stopped by to ask you (roughly quoting), `How we planned to proceed regarding US Attorneys, whether we were going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.,'" Colin Newman, a legal aide in the White House counsel's office, wrote deputy counsel David Leitch.

Leitch immediately forwarded that message to Sampson. Three days later, on Jan. 9, Sampson sent back a lengthy reply.

"Judge and I discussed briefly a couple of weeks ago," Sampson wrote, referring to Gonzales, a former Texas state Supreme Court justice. He said the Justice Department was looking at replacing "underperforming" prosecutors. "The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc.," he said.

Sampson noted that, at the time, all 93 prosecutors were in the middle of their terms. "Although they serve at the pleasure of the President, it would be weird to ask them to leave before completing at least a 4-year term," he wrote.

Politically, Sampson said the firings would upset home-state senators who recommended the prosecutors who lost their jobs. "That said, if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, than so do I," Sampson wrote.

Democrats have asked that Rove, Miers and other White House officials appear before Congress for questioning and are considering subpoenas if they refuse to.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said the e-mails "show conclusively that Karl Rove was in the middle of this mess from the beginning."

The new document also indicates that Gonzales was considering firing prosecutors before he became attorney general on Feb. 3, 2005.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said "discussions of changes in presidential appointees would have been appropriate and normal" after the midterm elections.

She said Gonzales "has no recollection of any plan or discussion to replace U.S. attorneys while he was still White House counsel."
Associated Press writer Phillip Rawls in Troy, Ala., contributed to this report.


March 16th, 2007, 04:58 AM
"Who's Pardoned? You Choose ..."

March 16th, 2007, 04:12 PM
"Hello, Rapunzel. How are you?"

"The usual, Rapunzel, how are you?"

"The usual. What about this weather we're having, Rapunzel?!"

"I like it, but most people don't. And you, Rapunzel?"

"Touche~. Rapunzel, stay here, I have more news to post here."

"Sure thing, Rapunzel. I'm you're Number One Fan."

"Umm... *cough* ... I'm sorry to hear that, because I'm starting to think that we're boring and should go separate ways..."

(To be continued?)

White House backs off on Miers scenario

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer
March 16, 2007

The White House on Friday backed off its earlier contention that then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers first raised the idea of firing U.S. attorneys — an act that led to a firestorm of criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"It has been described as her idea but ... I don't want to try to vouch for origination," said White House press secretary Tony Snow, who previously had asserted Miers was the person who came up with the idea. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."

Snow's comments came as e-mails surfaced Thursday night pulling the White House further into the intensifying probe over the firings of eight federal prosecutors. The e-mails raised new questions about top political adviser Karl Rove's role in the dismissals, and came amid eroding GOP support for Gonzales that put his job at risk.

Snow said it was not immediately clear who first floated the more dramatic idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys shortly after President Bush was re-elected to a second term.

"This is as far as we can go: we know that Karl recollects Harriet having raised it and his recollection is that he dismissed it as not a good idea," Snow told reporters. "That's what we know. We don't know motivations. ... I don't think it's safe to go any further than that."

Asked if Bush himself might have suggested the firings, Snow said, "Anything's possible ... but I don't think so." He said Bush "certainly has no recollection of any such thing. I can't speak for the attorney general.

"I want you to be clear here: don't be dropping it at the president's door," Snow said.

Bush's top legal aides were to tell congressional Democrats on Friday whether and under what conditions they would allow high-level White House officials, including Rove, to testify under oath in the inquiry into the firings.

Subpoenas could come as early as next week.

"The story keeps changing, which neither does them or the public any good," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday. "They ought to gather all the facts and tell the public the truth."

Another Republican on Friday suggested it might be time for Gonzales to go.

"It is ultimately the president's decision, but perhaps it would benefit this administration if the attorney general was replaced with someone with a more professional focus rather than personal loyalty," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., complaining of "a pattern of arrogance in this administration."

The e-mails, including a set issued Thursday night by the Justice Department, appear to contradict the administration's assertion that Bush's staff had only limited involvement in the firings, which Democrats have called a politically motivated purge.

The latest e-mails between White House and Justice Department officials show that Rove inquired in early January 2005 about firing U.S. attorneys.

The one-page document also indicates Gonzales was considering dismissing up to 20 percent of U.S. attorneys in the weeks before he took over the Justice Department.

In the e-mails, Gonzales' top aide, Kyle Sampson, says that an across-the-board housecleaning "would certainly send ripples through the U.S. attorney community if we told folks they got one term only." But it concludes that "if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I."

Sampson resigned this week amid the uproar.

On Thursday, Rove said the controversy was being fueled by "superheated political rhetoric," adding that there was no similar uproar when President Clinton dismissed all 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of his first term.
"We're at a point where people want to play politics with it. That's fine," Rove said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday on authorizing subpoenas for Rove, Miers and her deputy, William K. Kelley. The panel already has approved the use of subpoenas, if necessary, for Justice Department officials.

Late Thursday, the committee invited two more administration officials to testify — J. Scott Jennings, a White House aide who works in Rove's office, and William E. Moschella, principal associate deputy attorney general.

E-mails between the White House and the Justice Department suggested that Jennings was involved in setting up a meeting on a possible replacement for soon-to-be-fired New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias. Another e-mail suggested Jennings may have been involved in responding to "a senator problem" with the proposed replacement of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins.

Committee leaders want Moschella to testify about whether a change in the Patriot Act in 2006 was aimed at allowing the attorney general to appoint new U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation and whether this change was authored with the consent of the White House.

In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Moschella said the change was aimed not at bypassing the Senate but at ending judicial meddling in filling vacant prosecutors' jobs. Under the former law, federal judges could appoint interim U.S. attorneys in jobs that were vacant for more than 120 days.

"There's a conspiracy theory about this and it's nothing other than that," Moschella said.

One Republican, Sen. John Sununu (news, bio, voting record) of New Hampshire, has publicly urged Bush to fire Gonzales. Another GOP lawmaker, this one in the House and not ready to speak out publicly, said Thursday he planned to call next week for Gonzales to step down. And Sen. Gordon Smith (news, bio, voting record), R-Ore., said Thursday that Gonzales had lost the confidence of Congress.

Bush has defended the firings but criticized how they were explained to Congress.

Copyright &#169; 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


March 16th, 2007, 04:20 PM
It seems both Cheney and Rove are inching toward the exit - like it or not. I'm pleased.

March 16th, 2007, 06:11 PM
"Who's Pardoned? You Choose ..."

Who should be? Not a one.

Who will be? Anyone in the Bush Administration who gets caught.

What a system, eh?

March 17th, 2007, 07:28 AM
Who will be? Anyone in the Bush Administration who gets caught.
There has to be one Republican scapegoat.

Bush has to be able to say: "I pardoned the innocent, but you see, I'm fair, I did not pardon <fill in blank>."

Maybe the poll should ask:

"Who will be the scapegoat?"


March 25th, 2007, 01:33 PM
March 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

When Will Fredo Get Whacked?


PRESIDENT BUSH wants to keep everything that happens in his White House secret, but when it comes to his own emotions, he’s as transparent as a teenager on MySpace.

On Monday morning he observed the Iraq war’s fourth anniversary with a sullen stay-the-course peroration so perfunctory he seemed to sleepwalk through its smorgasbord of recycled half-truths (Iraqi leaders are “beginning to meet the benchmarks”) and boilerplate (“There will be good days, and there will be bad days”). But at a press conference the next day to defend his attorney general, the president was back in the saddle, guns blazing, Mr. Bring ’Em On reborn. He vowed to vanquish his Democratic antagonists much as he once, so very long ago, pledged to make short work of insurgents in Iraq.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde contrast between these two performances couldn’t be a more dramatic indicator of Mr. Bush’s priorities in his presidency’s endgame. His passion for protecting his power and his courtiers far exceeds his passion for protecting the troops he’s pouring into Iraq’s civil war. But why go to the mat for Alberto Gonzales? Even Bush loyalists have rarely shown respect for this crony whom the president saddled with the nickname Fredo; they revolted when Mr. Bush flirted with appointing him to the Supreme Court and shun him now. The attorney general’s alleged infraction — misrepresenting a Justice Department purge of eight United States attorneys, all political appointees, for political reasons — seems an easy-to-settle kerfuffle next to his infamous 2002 memo dismissing the Geneva Conventions’ strictures on torture as “quaint” and “obsolete.”

That’s why the president’s wild overreaction is revealing. So far his truculence has been largely attributed to his slavish loyalty to his White House supplicants, his ideological belief in unilateral executive-branch power and, as always, his need to shield the Machiavellian machinations of Karl Rove (who installed a prot&#233;g&#233; in place of one of the fired attorneys). But the fierceness of Mr. Bush’s response — to the ludicrous extreme of forbidding transcripts of Congressional questioning of White House personnel — indicates there is far more fire to go with all the Beltway smoke.

Mr. Gonzales may be a nonentity, but he’s a nonentity like Zelig. He’s been present at every dubious legal crossroads in Mr. Bush’s career. That conjoined history began in 1996, when Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, was summoned for jury duty in Austin. To popular acclaim, he announced he was glad to lend his “average guy” perspective to a drunken driving trial. But there was one hitch. On the juror questionnaire, he left blank a required section asking, “Have you ever been accused, or a complainant, or a witness in a criminal case?”

A likely explanation for that omission, unknown to the public at the time, was that Mr. Bush had been charged with disorderly conduct in 1968 and drunken driving in 1976. Enter Mr. Gonzales. As the story is told in “The President’s Counselor,” a nonpartisan biography by the Texas journalist Bill Minutaglio, Mr. Gonzales met with the judge presiding over the trial in his chambers (a meeting Mr. Gonzales would years later claim to have “no recollection” of requesting) and saved his client from jury duty. Mr. Minutaglio likens the scene to “The Godfather” — casting Mr. Gonzales not as the feckless Fredo, however, but as the “discreet ‘fixer’ attorney,” Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen.

Mr. Gonzales’s career has been laced with such narrow escapes for both him and Mr. Bush. As a partner at the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, Mr. Gonzales had worked for Enron until 1994. After Enron imploded in 2001, reporters wanted to know whether Ken Lay’s pals in the Bush hierarchy had received a heads up about the company’s pending demise before its unfortunate shareholders were left holding the bag. The White House said that Mr. Gonzales had been out of the Enron loop “to the best of his recollection.” This month Murray Waas of The National Journal uncovered a more recent close shave: Just as Justice Department investigators were about to examine “documents that might have shed light on Gonzales’s role” in the administration’s extralegal domestic wiretapping program last year, Mr. Bush shut down the investigation.

It was Mr. Gonzales as well who threw up roadblocks when the 9/11 Commission sought documents and testimony from the White House about the fateful summer of 2001. Less widely known is Mr. Gonzales’s curious behavior in the C.I.A. leak case while he was still White House counsel. When the Justice Department officially notified him on the evening of Sept. 29, 2003, that it was opening an investigation into the outing of Valerie Wilson, he immediately informed Andrew Card, Mr. Bush’s chief of staff. But Mr. Gonzales waited another 12 hours to officially notify the president and inform White House employees to preserve all materials relevant to the investigation. As Chuck Schumer said after this maneuver became known, “Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence.”

Now that 12-hour delay has been matched by the 18-day gap in the Justice Department e-mails turned over to Congress in the dispute over the attorney purge. And we’re being told by Tony Snow that Mr. Bush has “no recollection” of hearing anything about the firings. But even these literal echoes of Watergate cannot obliterate the contours of the story this White House wants to hide.

Do not be distracted by the apples and oranges among the fired attorneys. Perhaps a couple of their forced resignations were routine. But in other instances, incriminating evidence coalesces around a familiar administration motive: its desperate desire to cover up the corruption that soiled what was supposed to be this White House’s greatest asset, its protection of the nation’s security. This was the motive that drove the White House to vilify Joseph Wilson when he challenged fraudulent prewar intelligence about Saddam’s W.M.D. The e-mails in the attorney flap released so far suggest that this same motive may have driven the Justice Department to try mounting a similar strike at Patrick Fitzgerald, the United States attorney charged with investigating the Wilson leak.

In March 2005, while preparing for the firings, Mr. Gonzales’s now-jettisoned chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, produced a chart rating all 93 United States attorneys nationwide. Mr. Fitzgerald, widely admired as one of the nation’s best prosecutors (most famously of terrorists), was somehow slapped with the designation “not distinguished.” Two others given that same rating were fired. You have to wonder if Mr. Fitzgerald was spared because someone in a high place belatedly calculated the political firestorm that would engulf the White House had this prosecutor been part of a Saturday night massacre in the middle of the Wilson inquiry.

Another canned attorney to track because of her scrutiny of Bush administration national security scandals is Carol Lam. She was fired from her post in San Diego after her successful prosecution of Representative Duke Cunningham, the California Republican who took $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. Mr. Rove has publicly suggested that Ms. Lam got the ax because “she would not commit resources to prosecute immigration offenses.” That’s false. Last August an assistant attorney general praised her for doubling her immigration prosecutions; last week USA Today crunched the statistics and found that she ranked seventh among her 93 peers in successful prosecutions for 2006, with immigration violations accounting for the largest single crime category prosecuted during her tenure.

To see what Mr. Rove might be trying to cover up, look instead at what Ms. Lam was up to in May, just as the Justice Department e-mails indicate she was being earmarked for removal. Building on the Cunningham case, she was closing in on Dusty Foggo, the C.I.A.’s No. 3 official and the director of its daily operations. Mr. Foggo had been installed in this high intelligence position by Mr. Bush’s handpicked successor to George Tenet as C.I.A. director, Porter Goss.

Ms. Lam’s pursuit sped Mr. Foggo’s abrupt resignation; Mr. Goss was out too after serving less than two years. Nine months later — just as Ms. Lam stepped down from her job in February — Mr. Foggo and a defense contractor who raised more than $100,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign were indicted by a grand jury on 11 counts of conspiracy and money laundering in what The Washington Post called “one of the first criminal cases to reach into the C.I.A.’s clandestine operations in Europe and the Middle East.” Because the allegations include the compromising of classified information that remains classified, we don’t know the full extent of the damage to an agency and a nation at war.

Not yet anyway. “I’m not going to resign,” Mr. Gonzales asserted last week as he played the minority card, rounding up Hispanic supporters to cheer his protestations of innocence. “I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids.” Actually, he’s going to stay focused on protecting the president. Once he can no longer be useful in that role, it’s a sure thing that like Scooter before him, Fredo will be tossed overboard.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

March 27th, 2007, 01:23 PM
The Washington Back Channel

Published: March 25, 2007

I. So there I sat, watching the United States government in all its majesty dragging into court the American press (in all its piety), forcing reporters to betray confidences, rifling their files and notebooks, making them swear to their confused memories and motives and burdening their bosses with hefty legal fees — all for the high-sounding purpose, yet again, of protecting our nation’s secrets. Top-secret secrets! In wartime!

To be sure, the defendant this time was not a journalist but a high-ranking official, I. Lewis Libby, the former chief of staff and national security adviser to Vice President Cheney and also a former assistant to President Bush — a pooh-bah courtier who knew virtually all government secrets worth knowing. Libby sat indicted, however, not as a critic of government who blew a whistle to correct an injustice but as an agent of government who lied and obstructed justice to protect the misuse of secrets. He was no Daniel Ellsberg, who gave the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times to expose the nation’s devious drift into war in Vietnam. Libby peddled secrets with comparable fervor, but to defend misjudgments and misrepresentations on the path to war in Iraq.

The crosscurrents of this trial were particularly confusing. No one stood accused of spilling a secret; this was at best a proxy trial, with perjury substituting for an unreachable, perhaps even nonexistent crime. The issue was merely, Who knew what when and said what to whom and testified about it how? Then again, in many eyes, the Libby case, like the Pentagon Papers, amounted to a tortured trial of a current war, America’s quaintly bitter way of assigning blame for a costly catastrophe.

And either way, reporters became central to the case. Their messy relations with officialdom were uncomfortably on display. We heard about celebrated correspondents routinely granting anonymity — better called irresponsibility — to government sources just to hear whispered propaganda and other self-serving falsehoods. We learned how our patriotic guardians of wartime secrets wantonly leak them to manipulate public opinion, protect their backsides or smear an adversary. And we learned again how clumsy are the criminal laws with which high-minded prosecutors try to discipline the politics of Washington.

Should we really be expending so much emotion crying over one spilled secret? Did Libby’s lies really warrant the law’s intrusion into reporters’ dealings with government informants?

Sitting in court, I kept thinking back to 1971 and my effort to unwrap the mysteries of the capital’s information traffic. I was The New York Times’s chief Washington correspondent when the Nixon administration asked the courts to halt our publication of the Pentagon Papers. Sensing then that even our own lawyers, like most judges, felt an urge to bow before the incantations of “national security,” I wrote a memo that shared with them the ultimate secret about secrets in Washington: that “practically everything that our government does, plans, thinks, hears and contemplates in the realms of foreign policy is stamped and treated as secret — and then unraveled by that same government, by the Congress and by the press in one continuing round of professional and social contacts and cooperative and competitive exchanges of information.”

My memorandum, duly attested, became an official affidavit and sailed with the case clear up to the Supreme Court. It continued:

The governmental, political and personal interests of the participants are inseparable in this process. Presidents make “secret” decisions only to reveal them for the purposes of frightening an adversary nation, wooing a friendly electorate, protecting their reputations. ... High officials of the government reveal secrets in the search for support of their policies, or to help sabotage the plans and policies of rival departments. ... Though not the only vehicle for this traffic in secrets — the Congress is always eager to provide a forum — the press is probably the most important.

Libby’s leaks fit this pattern, serving to protect his and Cheney’s personal reputations as well as their interests of state. And Libby’s lies were a ham-handed effort to evade responsibility for a possibly illegal betrayal, by his leaking, of a secret agent’s identity. But since that offense was never established, was it wise for government to intrude so crudely into Washington’s normal flow of secret information?

Libby’s reasonable expectation that reporters would keep his confidences — and protect his perjury — was foiled by some weird mishaps and finally by the shrewd maneuvers of a passionate and politically independent prosecutor. The resulting trial produced a fascinating display of how information is harvested in Washington and how secrets are dripped out by officialdom. But I kept thinking that the compelled testimony about reporters and their sources would end up doing more damage than even the reckless violation of a C.I.A. agent’s cover. For given the cult of secrecy that enveloped our government during the cold war and the hoarding of information that always attends the lust for power, a free, unregulated and unpunished flow of leaks remains essential to the sophisticated reporting of diplomatic and military affairs, a safeguard of our democracy.

II. Known for most of his 56 years as “Scooter,” Libby is a man of slight build, warm disposition and prodigious intellect. For a quarter-century, he has been affiliated in and out of government with Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, forming the nucleus of a neoconservative fraternity that wanted to project unchallengeable American power across the globe. The group aspired, even before its return to power with the second President Bush, to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein and turn it into a democratic bastion that might stabilize the Middle East and safeguard oil supplies and routes. When Cheney became vice president in 2001, he drew Libby to his side to coordinate policies with like-minded officials planted throughout the executive branch. The attacks of 9/11 gave the group its strategic opportunity to promote the invasion of Iraq on the ground that this would keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

That misfired adventure, and the buyer’s remorse of a press and public that accepted the war’s pretext, lay at the root of Libby’s perjury. For it was Cheney, with Libby’s active help, who had sounded the loudest alarms about Hussein’s “reconstituted” nuclear program, about his stores of chemical and biological weapons and supposed ties to Al Qaeda. When, mere weeks into the war in 2003, no such weapons could be found, it was Cheney and Libby whose reputations and influence were imperiled as much as the president’s.

The Cheney office came to grief, however, not from any sober investigation of intelligence failures and misrepresentations. The crazy charm of the case of United States v. I. Lewis Libby was that misperceptions inside government about a retired American diplomat and his undercover wife became the inspiration of idle gossip and ugly smears that joined to produce an explosive chain reaction.

Thus, much as I regretted to see the press snagged again in the clutches of the law — and embarrassed by our susceptibility to government disinformation — I found myself deeply engrossed in this spectacle. A once-disciplined Bush administration was being forced to devour one of its most valued operatives. A nation’s anger over an imperial debacle was being heaped upon a mainly symbolic defendant. A policy confounded by sectarian violence in Iraq was exposing fierce tribal warfare among the Potomac bureaucracies.

Paradox tumbled from paradox: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a fastidious U.S. attorney with Democratic, Republican and Qaeda scalps on his wall, had to rely on the testimony of reporters he had bullied into his service, actually jailing Judith Miller, then of The Times, for 85 days. Conversely, Theodore V. Wells Jr., the expansive principal defense counsel, chose a strategy that required him to savage the character and skills of some of Libby’s associates in government and also of his client’s once-favored, “very responsible” media outlets — Miller and Tim Russert of NBC.

The final allure of the Libby trial was the hope that Fitzgerald had fully solved the underlying mystery that plagued the capital for four years: Who outed Valerie Plame? Also known as Valerie Wilson, she was a covert (and, as befits a spy story, comely) agent of the Central Intelligence Agency so covert, in fact, that she had traveled in the guise of an energy consultant while recruiting spies abroad to track the traffic in weapons of mass destruction. Fatefully, she also became the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a debonair diplomat who bravely shielded hundreds of Americans from Saddam Hussein when they were trapped in Baghdad during the first gulf war and who later developed broad contacts throughout Africa. Doctrinally, his approach to Iraq stood with the moderate center of both political parties, in favor of disarming Hussein with threats and diplomacy rather than militarily deposing him.

Except in the comics, of course, truth and justice do not often occupy the same realm. The Libby jury was never told the details about Valerie Plame’s job and status; these were issues “beyond the scope” of the indictment and also judged too secret to air in public. Nor was the jury told about Libby’s lawyerly knowledge that he could talk about Plame to reporters and still avoid violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by claiming to have learned about her from reporters. And of course the jury never heard a word about the deeper deception that had been the drumbeat for war.

The Bush administration’s evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq rested almost entirely on claims that Hussein had contracted to buy large amounts of yellowcake, a uranium concentrate, from Niger and shopped the world for aluminum tubes with which to enrich uranium for weapons fuel. Expert opinion at the United Nations and also inside the U.S. government insisted that the sought tubes were usable only in rockets, not nuclear weapons. And the supposed purchases of uranium were swiftly debunked by three investigations. Yet the intelligence about a uranium purchase, based on suspect and even forged information, acquired nine lives in Washington.

When in early 2002, Cheney and Libby came upon a fresh report about uranium sales, they insistently asked an already dubious C.I.A. to check into it further. So with the assistance of Valerie Wilson, two of her colleagues in the agency’s counterproliferation division invited Joseph Wilson, her husband, to seek out friends in Niger, where he quickly gathered proof that no such deal had been or could be made without being discovered.

Wilson’s oral report to that effect and other findings persuaded the C.I.A.’s director, George Tenet, to remove any mention of uranium sales from a presidential speech in October 2002, but the Niger scare resurfaced three months later. Propelled by the winds of wishful thinking, it sailed clear into the president’s prewar State of the Union address, becoming a notorious 16 Words: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It was only one sentence among the pretexts for war, but because others were even less credible, it proved to be radioactive.

In April 2003, after the capture of Baghdad, with no nuclear or other mass weapon facilities in sight, Joe Wilson began to believe that the fishy Niger story, which he assumed his report had slain, had been the main prop under the president’s rationale for war; and if so, he wondered, what other intelligence had been willfully misrepresented? With or without the benefit of some pillow talk with Valerie, Wilson grew particularly suspicious of Cheney and Libby, supposing that their request for a C.I.A. inquiry into the Niger matter must have brought them knowledge of his negative finding. How then could the White House and State Department continue to defend the use of such discredited information?

Wilson aired his suspicions and Niger experience at a panel discussion on Iraq and agreed there to let Nicholas Kristof report them in his Times column on May 6, 2003, attributed only to a “former ambassador.” That’s how it’s done by critics who want to appear modest or discreet and by writers who want a good story, whatever the terms.

Stung by that column’s assertion that the vice president’s office had inspired the diplomat’s mission and knew of its result, Cheney and Libby asked the State Department to identify the ambassador. A search of the files at State brought up Wilson’s name, but it also revealed the C.I.A. as sponsor of his trip. Gratuitously, mistakenly and with a slight leer, the department reported back that “Wilson’s wife, a C.I.A. W.M.D. managerial type,” had “convened” the meeting that sent him to Niger.

Now the pot began to bubble.

Libby’s first reaction, as shown in trial testimony, was to badger the C.I.A. to quickly absolve the vice president of any knowledge of the Wilson mission. The agency complied, but the press wolves kept howling about the missing W.M.D.’s and lusting to learn who wrote the already refuted 16 Words into the president’s text. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, pleaded ignorance, even scoffing that the negative Niger report must be languishing “in the bowels of” the C.I.A. That put-down brought forth a second column by Kristof, on June 13, still not naming Wilson. But it used provocative shorthand to say that the ambassador had gone to Niger “at the behest” of the vice president’s office and added with provocative certainty that the office must have known that the Niger reports were forgeries.

III. Here came the first freakish turn of events, not fully revealed until the trial testimony of Bob Woodward, The Washington Post’s hero of Watergate, protector of Deep Throat and supreme collector of capital leaks.

While chatting confidentially with Woodward on June 13, the day of Kristof’s second column, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage could not resist a huge dose of schadenfreude. Himself a skeptic about the war, Armitage had read his department’s answer to Libby about the Wilson trip with a practiced bureaucratic eye. There was no way the State Department was going to take the blame for those 16 Words. And since he knew that Woodward was gathering information for a book rather than the next day’s paper, he chortled crudely about the affair.

See how an official’s boast of innocence fed a reporter’s hunger for guilty knowledge, a combination that produced the very first leak concerning Wilson’s wife. The audiotape played for the jury began with Armitage insisting that the saboteurs of the president’s speech resided elsewhere:

Armitage: We’ve got our documents on it. We’re clean as a [expletive] whistle. And George [Tenet] personally got it out of the Cincinnati speech of the president.

Woodward: Oh, he did?

A.: Oh, yeah. ...

W.: How come it wasn’t taken out of the State of the Union then?

A.: Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the White House. Condi doesn’t like being in the hot spot. But she —

W.: But it was Joe Wilson who was sent by the agency. I mean that’s just —

A.: His wife works in the agency.

W.: Why doesn’t that come out? Why does ... that have to be a big secret? ...

A.: Yeah. And I know [expletive] Joe Wilson’s been calling everybody. He’s [expletive] off because he was designated as a low-level guy, went out [to Niger] to look at it. ...

W.: But why would they send him?

A.: Because his wife’s a [expletive] analyst at the agency.

W.: It’s still weird.

A.: It — it’s perfect. This is what she does, she is a W.M.D. analyst out there.

W.: Oh, she is?

A.: Yeah. ...

W.: She’s the chief W.M.D.?

A.: No, she isn’t the chief, no.

W.: But high enough up that she can say, “Oh, yeah, hubby will go”?

A.: Yeah, “He knows Africa —” ...

W.: Was she out there with him?

A.: No.

W.: When he was ambassador?

A.: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know. I don’t know if she was out there or not. But his wife is in the agency and is a W.M.D. analyst. How about that [expletive]!

That’s how it’s done, in barroom style: an official playing bureaucratic tennis, protecting his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell; a reporter preying on the knowingness of his source. Woodward held the anecdote for possible follow-up questions and mentioned it to his Post colleague Walter Pincus, who did nothing with it.

It all sounded so familiar: Government officials spreading secrets to shape a story and to advance their interests, large and small. Listening to Woodward, I found myself recalling the day Lyndon Johnson summoned me to his Texas ranch during a recess of his 1967 summit meeting with Aleksei Kosygin, the Soviet premier, in Glassboro, N.J. I was covering the conference for The Times, and the president, standing beside me waist-deep in his swimming pool, wanted me to know how well he was jousting with his guest and enjoying the discomfort of Kosygin’s Kremlin colleagues. When I wondered casually how Kosygin was being second-guessed so readily, the president proudly revealed that, thanks to a global network of sophisticated intercepts, he could hear everything being said among the Soviet leaders then dispersed in different parts of the world. Like the reporters who appeared at the Libby trial, I received such information on my source’s terms; I could use Johnson’s observations to analyze the summit discussion without naming him, but I could not refer to his techniques of eavesdropping. Those were the rules of the game.

I knew the rules from the other side as well, from my experience as an Army private with newspaper connections. In early 1955, I was sent out from my desk in the Pentagon to Yucca Flat, Nev., to squat in trenches with several hundred soldiers during three nuclear tests. As the mushrooms rose, we marched 1,000 yards to ground zero, pawns to prove that the infantry could safely fire atomic artillery shells.

Other government agencies at the tests were eager to prove the opposite — the great danger of these explosions. So to end the competing press briefings, the Atomic Energy Commission declared all the tests “top secret.” Undaunted, the Army had me don civilian clothes and drive to Las Vegas to brief reporters I knew from The Times and The Associated Press about the maneuvers. Anonymous in the casinos, I told them atomic secrets.

IV. Libby’s interpretation of the Wilson challenge was much more sinister, and fateful, than anything implied in Armitage’s gossip: someone at the C.I.A. was trying to discredit the office of the vice president. Libby mentioned the Wilsons while complaining to the C.I.A. that some of its analysts had been griping to reporters about being pressured into distorting intelligence during his and Cheney’s frequent prewar visits to the agency. By the July 4 weekend, the suspicions in the vice president’s office about a C.I.A. vendetta — and the suspicions of its critics — hardened into angry resentment.

Provoked by Rice’s dismissive claim that his Niger findings were languishing in obscurity, Wilson stormed into public view with a clarion J’Accuse! On July 6, he appeared simultaneously in The Times (“What I Didn’t Find in Africa”), in a flattering Washington Post profile and as a last-minute guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He minced no words (only a punctuation mark) by opening The Times’s Op-Ed article with a question: “Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?” He knew from experience, he added, that at least some of its information about nuclear weapons “was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”

I could easily imagine the calculations in Cheney’s office. With just a touch of the paranoia produced by the war on terror, Cheney and Libby must have concluded that this relentless critic — connected by marriage to a resentful corner of the C.I.A. — was leading a coordinated assault by analysts whose judgments they had either ignored or inflated to make the case against Hussein. I could almost sympathize, knowing (as the jury probably did not) that several analysts had indeed complained about excessive pressure to the C.I.A.’s ombudsman and that the news of their unhappiness had been leaked to The Times and The Washington Post. A similar restiveness had become evident at the Pentagon, where Cheney allies had pushed forward unproved claims of collaboration between Hussein and Al Qaeda over the objections of other intelligence analysts.

I also knew from experience how the highest officials, while publicly scorning the press, parsed its daily offerings with obsessive concern. Here was Cheney urgently underlining Kristof and scribbling a question to Libby atop Wilson’s Times Op-Ed: “Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? — Or did his wife send him on a junket?” A telltale word, that “junket”; it would soon flow from official lips that Libby swore he never tutored.

In fact, Libby told the F.B.I. and the grand jury that he learned about Wilson’s wife — as if for the first time — from Tim Russert on July 10 or 11. He insisted that he had totally forgotten discussing her during the preceding month with Cheney and with officials from State and the C.I.A. Libby’s recollection of how he was “taken aback” by Russert’s revelation stood at the heart of his indictment, and his meandering re-enactment of his talk with Russert would clinch the case for the jury.

The other, subsidiary counts charged that Libby lied by denying knowledge of Wilson’s wife before the Russert conversation. And the sharpest contradiction was delivered by Ari Fleischer, the president’s former press secretary. Fleischer began his last week on the job on July 7, one day after Joe Wilson’s public attack, and lunched for the first time with Libby. You could hear a score being settled when Fleischer testified that Libby had rarely provided useful information for the press. But at this lunch they were chummy, discussing Fleischer’s plans for private life, their bond as Miami Dolphins fans and that morning’s White House press briefing, at which Fleischer assured the world that Cheney did not send Wilson to Niger. And that’s when Libby told a man in touch with reporters all day long — “hush-hush, this is on the Q.T.” — that Wilson was sent by his wife and that she worked at the C.I.A., and, Fleischer added, “I think he told me her name.”

Did Libby mean simply to instruct Fleischer further about the affair? Or was he planting a seed that he hoped would germinate? He and Cheney knew that calling it a spousal perk would discredit Wilson’s mission. Yet they surely also recognized the legal risk in exposing Valerie Plame’s covert status — that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act prohibits anyone with authorized access to knowledge of a covert agent to intentionally disclose the agent’s identity to persons not so authorized. Never forewarned that such a risk was involved in the Wilson case, Fleischer eventually spread the talk of a “boondoggle” to three reporters and would demand immunity from prosecution as the price of his testimony against Libby.

In the evening of July 7, Fleischer flew off with the president and other high officials to visit five African countries, but they worried that the Washington clamor about the 16 Words would drown out the journey’s goodwill message. So Powell and Rice dictated a mealy surrender from Air Force One: Yes, the Niger tale was based on a forgery, and the remaining evidence for the 16 Words “did not rise to the level of inclusion in a presidential speech.”

Instead of appeasing the press, however, that retraction provoked an even greater commotion: Who pushed those false words into the president’s mouth?

Libby persisted in building defenses for the vice president’s office, not at all preoccupied, as his lawyers would argue, by the onslaught of foreign crises. On Tuesday, July 8, in what his normally detailed calendar listed only as a “private meeting,” Libby spent two hours at breakfast with Judith Miller to enlist her help in countering Wilson’s attack. He told the grand jury that he admired her reporting, on Al Qaeda and chemical and biological weapons, and presumably also her prewar articles lending credence to the administration’s wild alarms about Iraqi W.M.D.’s — credulous articles that The Times eventually disowned.

Miller testified that Libby brought her selected excerpts from a top-secret National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.) to buttress his claim that long after Wilson’s mission, the C.I.A. still endorsed reports that Saddam Hussein had “vigorously” pursued uranium in Africa. This brought back memories of my own similar encounters — of President Kennedy allowing me to copy a secret transcript to prove how the Russians lied to him about missiles in Cuba; of Secretary of State Dean Rusk confiding that the Southeast Asia Treaty, later invoked in support of war in Vietnam, was “not worth the paper it’s written on”; of Henry Kissinger casually bemoaning the anti-Semitism he experienced “in the highest places.” The established Washington routine meant that such revelations could be reported, provided that they were attributed only to “senior administration officials.” But on the subject of Joe Wilson and his wife, Miller’s notes showed, Libby took the added precaution of asking to be identified as “a former Hill staffer.” Though technically true, this was a devious dodge even by Washington’s tortuous rules of engagement, and it should have led Miller to realize that the remedy for bad leaks is more leaks.

Miller said that she had gone to breakfast eager to learn why the intelligence reports she had swallowed had been so wrong but that she found Libby too much concerned with the 16 Words, with “who said what to whom, what I call inside baseball in Washington.” The editor in me cringed at this justification for her not writing anything out of this interview. She could have been the first to recognize that the White House’s denigration of the Wilsons betrayed a bitter feud during which Cheney was angrily pressuring Tenet to take sole responsibility for the bungled intelligence. By following the trail of Libby’s leak back to C.I.A. informants, she could have produced a pretty good yarn.

Miller’s role in the case served no one very well. On cross-examination, she was rattled into multiple confessions of uncertainty, poor memory and wobbly note-taking. She had suffered nearly three months in jail to serve the principle that reporters had a duty to keep their promises of confidentiality to sources — but finally accepted Libby’s longstanding offer to waive his protection as well as Fitzgerald’s agreement to avoid asking her about other sources. The prosecutor, in turn, had to make do with Miller’s tattered notes and testimony, for which he had fought a two-year battle clear up to the Supreme Court. As for Libby, his lawyers were so rough on Miller that the jury felt sympathy for her and her evidence.

The prosecutor did succeed in revealing the shameless ease with which top-secret information is bartered in Washington for political advantage. For example, Cheney and Libby claimed to have the president’s authority for leaking self-serving quotes from the National Intelligence Estimate even while other high officials were still begging Tenet to agree to declassification. And we learned that not even the administration’s best friends were spared the humiliation of falling for its ruses. To stimulate a supportive editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Libby enlisted Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, whose relay of sensitive information was celebrated by the paper as especially credible because “it does not come from the White House.”

Most reporters do not just lazily regurgitate such leaks; they use them as wedges to pry out other secrets. I remember once being shown the draft of a U.S. government “white paper” documenting the perfidies of the North Vietnam regime; a few more interviews found the news not in those accusations but in the fact that they were being assembled to justify the start of intensive bombing of that country. A few more questions following Libby’s leak from the N.I.E. would have exposed it as a deeply flawed analysis, a cut-and-paste collection of stale reports. It had been thrown together in three weeks in September 2002 because Senate Democrats refused to authorize the Iraq war without evidence of W.M.D. activity. By mid-2003, intelligence experts were available to denounce the document as wrong on every important count, the worst N.I.E. ever produced and one obviously tailored to support a policy decision already made.

No wonder, then, that the White House tried to shift the blame for its embrace of such sour intelligence and to discredit Wilson for standing in its way. The claim that Wilson’s mission to Niger had been an irrelevant junket arranged by his wife was duly conveyed, probably by Cheney, to Karl Rove, the president’s top political aide and most practiced spinmeister. And he promptly mobilized White House aides on July 8, observing that they were already late to the battle, “a day behind” in the pursuit of Wilson.

Reporters covering the president in Africa and some in Washington suddenly found themselves receiving broad hints to inquire about who had arranged the Wilson mission. And Robert Novak, a Rove favorite among conservative columnists, was the first to get an answer. After years of trying, he had obtained an interview with Armitage for July 8, at the end of which Armitage told him about Wilson’s wife, Valerie, and her job at the C.I.A. It was a chatty, offhand comment, according to Armitage; it was a calculated leak that he was urged to print, Novak said. He did print it on July 14, causing the C.I.A. to demand the criminal investigation of who illegally disclosed an agent’s identity, and it resulted two years later in Libby’s indictment.

When he finally described his role under oath, Novak said he had his own motives for asking Armitage about Wilson. Two days earlier, he overheard the ambassador making “obnoxious” comments about Bush in the green room before their separate appearances on “Meet the Press” and wondered why such a critic had been sent on an important mission. Novak said he used Rove — “a very good source, and I talked to him two or three times a week” — only to confirm the Armitage tip.

First Woodward, now Novak: Why did Armitage dump on Wilson a second time? I suspect that he was half annoyed and half amused by the fuss an upstart diplomat had created — for other departments. But he may also have known of Rove’s interest in spreading the junket tale. Whatever his motive, Armitage confessed his role to the F.B.I. at the start of the criminal probe two months later and was spared prosecution, probably because he claimed ignorance of Valerie Wilson’s covert status.

Knowing of Armitage’s role, why didn’t Fitzgerald fold his tent and return at once to his “day job” as U.S. attorney in Chicago? Because Libby’s already evident lies to the F.B.I. and Fleischer’s multiple leaks in far-off Uganda convinced him that there had been more than a single careless source. He smelled an illegal White House smear campaign and thought Libby could help him crack the case. And if Libby persisted in his story before the grand jury, he would at least have a perjury case — if, against all precedent, he could force reporters to testify.

He overcame the press resistance with a clever strategy: shaming the reporters’ known sources into waiving all claims of confidentiality, then persuading judges to jail reporters who still refused to talk. Miller held out because she doubted that Libby’s waiver was truly voluntary, but the experience of prison and Libby’s phone call eventually eased her conscience. Matthew Cooper, then of Time magazine, almost joined her in jail, but his bosses mooted resistance by turning over his notes. Cooper testified that he first learned about Wilson’s wife from Rove, who mentioned her carefully as the subject of the imminent Novak column.

V. As Fitzgerald’s focus changed from leaking to lying, Tim Russert emerged as his key witness.

Russert hobbled into court with a crutch and a broken ankle to swear to what he had never said. Tight-lipped and ready for battle, he showed none of the cheerful ebullience with which he grills guests on “Meet the Press.” His confrontation with the impassive Libby, just 30 feet away, was especially striking because the vice president had so often used Russert’s program to proclaim Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; it was “our best format,” Cathie Martin, Cheney’s communications chief, testified, providing control of “our message.” Symbiotically, the vice president was one of Russert’s best, attention-winning guests.

But now Russert sat unyielding, denying and denying Libby’s most important defense: that it was Russert who told him about Wilson’s wife on Thursday or Friday of that fateful July week. Listening to eight hours of Libby’s recorded grand-jury testimony, the petit jury heard a sometimes ingratiating, sometimes recoiling witness advancing this critical alibi:

“And then he said ... Did you know that Ambassador Wilson’s wife works at the C.I.A.? And I was a little taken aback by that. I remember being taken aback by it. And I said — he may have said a little more but that was — he said that. And I said, No, I don’t know that. And I said, No I don’t know that intentionally because I didn’t want him to take anything I was saying as in any way confirming what he said, because at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning. And so I said, No, I don’t know that because I want to be very careful not to confirm it for him, so that he didn’t take my statement as confirmation for him.

‘Now, I had said earlier in the conversation, which I omitted to tell you, that this — you know, as always, Tim, our discussion is off the record, if that’s O.K. with you, and he said that’s fine.

“So then ... Mr. Russert said to me, Did you know that Ambassador Wilson’s wife, or his wife, works at the C.I.A.? And I said, No, I don’t know that. And then he said, Yeah — yes, all the reporters know it. And I said, again, I don’t know that. I just wanted to be clear that I wasn’t confirming anything for him on this. And you know, I was struck by what he was saying in that he thought it was an important fact, but I didn’t ask him any more about it because I didn’t want to be digging in on him. ... ”

Never happened, Russert insisted — couldn’t have happened, because he and NBC News never heard of Valerie Plame until Novak’s column appeared the following Monday. He said Libby had called him in his role as NBC’s Washington bureau chief to register a cussing complaint about Chris Matthews’s attacks on Cheney and Libby. Russert said he referred Libby to Matthews’s superiors and no other subject came up. The jury believed him, concluding that even if the wife had been brought up by Russert, Libby’s claim of being “struck” and “taken aback” was simply incredible.

The defense’s counterattack on this vital witness could aim only at Russert’s character. It forced an embarrassed admission that Russert, a lawyer, had impulsively answered the F.B.I.’s questions without legal advice and without pleading the confidentiality he later invoked to contest a grand-jury summons. Russert also struggled to deny any animus toward the defendant, despite his giddy, celebratory comments on the “Today” and Don Imus shows on the morning of Libby’s indictment. But he held firm, no doubt resolving to beware when next he wanders into unprepared forums.

VI. Libby’s main defense for misstatements was a bad memory. And the nine witnesses who disputed his accounts were treated by his lawyers as similarly impaired. Judge Reggie B. Walton insisted, however, that a “memory defense” required Libby to take the stand. Since neither Cheney nor Libby dared to submit to cross-examination, the defense used one of Libby’s successors, John Hannah, to argue that burdensome crises weighed heavily on Libby in the summer of 2003. The jurors, judging by their written questions, were especially intrigued by Hannah’s depiction of Libby as a simultaneously brilliant yet abysmally forgetful colleague.

Besides Novak, the defense presented five other reporters to whom Libby did not speak about Wilson’s wife that July week. The most important was Walter Pincus of The Post, an early skeptic about W.M.D. claims, who revealed that he learned about Wilson’s “boondoggle” and helpful wife “off the record” from Ari Fleischer, two days before the Novak column.

All the reporters told the jury that they could do their jobs only by subscribing to the convoluted code of conduct governing Washington interviews. “Off the record” information could not be published, but could guide research and perhaps be confirmed elsewhere; “deep background” material could be printed only if not attributed to anyone; “background” called for a circumlocution, like “senior administration official.” Where no rules were explicit, the reporters protectively assumed some degree of confidentiality.

The system is sloppy and breeds confusion. Libby’s press aide, Cathie Martin, said that he often spoke “off the record” when he really meant “deep background.” Cheney by contrast was shown to have attached different degrees of anonymity to different parts of a single conversation — so much off the record, other items in various stages of “background.” Novak explained that he and Rove “had a modus operandi, you might say, where I knew without him getting into a long dissertation, I knew when he was confirming something or rejecting something, or at least I felt that way. ... When he said, ‘Oh, you know that, too,’ I took that as confirmation.”

These rituals have been observed at least since World War II. As I put it in my 1971 affidavit, secrets are the coins of Washington reporting and of official briefings in the national security orbit:

Learning always to trust each other to some extent, and never to trust each other fully — for their purposes are often contradictory or downright antagonistic — the reporter and the official trespass regularly, customarily, easily and un-self-consciously (even unconsciously) through what they both know to be official “secrets.” The reporter knows always to protect his sources and is expected to protect military secrets about troop movements and the like. He also learns to cross-check his information and to nurse it until an insight or story has turned ripe. The official knows, if he wishes to preserve this valuable channel and outlet, to protect his credibility and the deeper purpose that he is trying to serve.

And Woodward gave voice to the universal understanding that while many sources speak confidentially “for very noble reasons,” some do so “for less noble reasons.”

VII. Clearly, from the perspective of the public interest, there are and always have been both good and bad leaks, true and illuminating betrayals of secrets as well as false and conniving ones. On the path to war in Iraq, high officials of the Bush administration leaked classified but far from reliable information about W.M.D.’s, then pointed to its publication as “evidence” of its truth. When no W.M.D.’s were found, they used the same flawed secrets to justify their misrepresentations. But reporters could not expose this skullduggery until they obtained contradictory leaks from disheartened intelligence officials.

And while some leaks were destroying Valerie Wilson’s career and endangering her associates around the world, the leaks of other secrets allowed reporters to uncover the inhuman treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Guantánamo, the illegal eavesdropping on Americans and the “rendition” of captives to distant dungeons. The “moral ambiguities” of all this contrapuntal leaking were fairly observed by Joseph Wilson in his memoir, “The Politics of Truth” (Carroll & Graf):

I wondered: When is a leaker a true whistle-blower, risking his personal security to inform the citizenry and preserve the public’s interest? When is a leaker a mendacious opportunist, out to advance the narrow interests of himself or his boss? When does a leaker become so appalled at the self-serving actions of his colleagues that he crosses the line to shine a light on them? Is there a reliable way to distinguish among the many varieties of that genus peculiarly indigenous to Washington, the leaker?

The answer, of course, is that there are no neat lines of distinction. Ambiguity can inhabit even a single leak, serving a selfish and public interest in one breath. Officials who leak secrets to ward off blame for policy failures may be disloyal and insubordinate, but they may also inspire constructive corrective action. Leaks that describe poor training and equipment for troops in Iraq may severely damage morale both at home and at the front, but they may also expose incompetence and save lives. The leaks in California about baseball players using steroids betrayed grand-jury secrecy and circulated unproved charges against players, but they also forced the baseball industry to confront its coverups of drug abuse and unfair competition.

An even greater cloud of ambiguity hovered over the Libby case after it failed to produce firm evidence of any crime. Valerie Wilson’s exposure will be punished, if at all, only through the suit that she and her husband are bringing against Cheney, Libby, Armitage and Rove. Indeed, Libby’s jurors expressed some regret that he alone faced their judgment, even as they pronounced him guilty on four of five counts.

VIII. So was Libby’s prosecution worth a four-year judicial and journalistic circus? Was it worth turning the White House into a defensive fortress? Was it worth invading newsroom files and alerting other sources that their chance of exposure has been significantly increased? Was tracking down one leak worth the risk that greater wrongdoing will go unreported in the future?

The damage to newsgathering, I believe, has been significant. Celebrity journalists like Bob Woodward and Tim Russert may not lose access to sources, but more vulnerable reporters and less-wealthy media outlets will surrender to the subpoenas and jail threats now descending on them in unprecedented numbers. Some will betray confidences; some will suppress articles whose defense would be costly. Others may avoid risky reporting altogether. Sensing danger, many investigative reporters have become highly circumspect, using what one judge sympathetically called the methods of drug dealers to protect themselves: resorting to disposable cellphones, meeting sources outdoors and avoiding e-mail and other computer communication.

Fitzgerald’s strategy of prodding sources to waive confidentiality was a clever ploy that threatens other delicate relationships. In his separate capacity as U.S. attorney in Chicago, he has opened another route to uncovering sources without the media’s cooperation: he won a battle to force telephone companies to reveal the call records of two Times reporters whose newsgathering may have forecast a government raid on an Islamic charity. Moreover, the Libby case has lost the media political support, on both the left and right flanks. Liberals were so eager to see Cheney and Libby exposed that they lost patience for reporters’ claims of privilege. Conservatives, meanwhile, hoped that compelling reporters to reveal their sources was merely the start of legal actions to punish “unpatriotic” disclosures; they applaud the attorney general’s threat to use the Espionage Act to punish both the receipt and publication of national-security secrets.

Government obviously needs to guard some secrets, especially those describing military tactics and intelligence sources and methods. That is why presidents struggle to impose discipline on their bureaucracies. President Johnson used to cancel promotions and other promised actions if his authority was undermined with premature leaks. President Nixon pursued leaks with lie detectors and “plumbers” who broke into adversaries’ files, culminating in their hapless adventure at the Watergate. And Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, withheld information from other government departments and tapped the phones of his aides as well as reporters. Yet these same leaders leaked freely to promote their personal and political agendas, no doubt unable, like Cheney and Libby, to distinguish between the two.

The Libby case, however, did not serve to enhance government discipline. If President Bush had truly wanted to find and fire the people who outed Valerie Wilson, as he vowed, he could have extracted confessions from the White House staffs in a single stern meeting. And the case did little to promote honesty among high officials; Libby, like the Iran-contra liars in the Reagan-Bush administration, will almost surely be pardoned and praised for taking a hit for the team.

Much as I enjoyed the human drama and revelations of the Libby case, I wound up regretting the rough ride of the law through the marketplace of information.

Fitzgerald may be forgiven his passionate defense of the integrity of grand-jury proceedings and F.B.I. investigations. But attorneys general should resist the temptation to interfere with newsgathering or to delegate such a decision to a single-minded special counsel. When a White House leak is suspected, it is hard to avoid an independent prosecutor, but it’s a pressure worth resisting. Nothing in the last four decades has altered my preference for the chaotic condition I described when I asked the courts not to fret over the lost secrets of the Pentagon Papers:

For the vast majority of “secrets,” there has developed between the government and the press (and Congress) a rather simple rule of thumb: The government hides what it can, pleading necessity as long as it can, and the press pries out what it can, pleading a need and right to know. Each side in this “game” regularly “wins” and “loses” a round or two. Each fights with the weapons at its command. When the government loses a secret or two, it simply adjusts to a new reality. When the press loses a quest or two, it simply reports (or misreports) as best it can. Or so it has been, until this moment.

It may sound cynical to conclude that tolerating abusive leaks by government is the price that society has to pay for the benefit of receiving essential leaks about government. But that awkward condition has long served to protect the most vital secrets while dislodging the many the public deserves to know.

As Justice Potter Stewart wrote after studying the unending contest between the government and the press during the cold war:

So far as the Constitution goes ... the press is free to do battle against secrecy and deception in government. But the press cannot expect from the Constitution any guarantee that it will succeed. ... The Constitution itself is neither a Freedom of Information Act nor an Official Secrets Act. The Constitution, in other words, establishes the contest, not its resolution. ... For the rest, we must rely, as so often in our system we must, on the tug and pull of the political forces in American society.

In loose translation: Prosecutors of the realm, let this back-alley market flourish. Attorneys general and others armed with subpoena power, please leave well enough alone. Back off. Butt out.

Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The New York Times, is the author of “The Times of My Life and My Life With The Times.”

March 27th, 2007, 03:38 PM
March 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

When Will Fredo Get Whacked?


Frank Rich classic.

May 3rd, 2007, 10:38 AM
The New York Times
May 3, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

He’s Impeachable, You Know

Columbia, Mo.

IF Alberto Gonzales will not resign, Congress should impeach him. Article II of the Constitution grants Congress the power to impeach “the president, the vice president and all civil officers of the United States.” The phrase “civil officers” includes the members of the cabinet (one of whom, Secretary of War William Belknap, was impeached in 1876).

Impeachment is in bad odor in these post-Clinton days. It needn’t be. Though provoked by individual misconduct, the power to impeach is at bottom a tool granted Congress to defend the constitutional order. Mr. Gonzales’s behavior in the United States attorney affair is of a piece with his role as facilitator of this administration’s claims of unreviewable executive power.

A cabinet officer, like a judge or a president, may be impeached only for commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But as the Nixon and Clinton impeachment debates reminded us, that constitutional phrase embraces not only indictable crimes but “conduct ... grossly incompatible with the office held and subversive of that office and of our constitutional system of government.”

United States attorneys, though subject to confirmation by the Senate, serve at the pleasure of the president. As a constitutional matter, the president is at perfect liberty to fire all or some of them whenever it suits him. He can fire them for mismanagement, for failing to pursue administration priorities with sufficient vigor, or even because he would prefer to replace an incumbent with a political crony. Indeed, a president could, without exceeding his constitutional authority and (probably) without violating any statute, fire a United States attorney for pursuing officeholders of the president’s party too aggressively or for failing to prosecute officeholders of the other party aggressively enough.

That the president has the constitutional power to do these things does not mean he has the right to do them without explanation. Congress has the right to demand explanations for the president’s managerial choices, both to exercise its own oversight function and to inform the voters its members represent.

The right of Congress to demand explanations imposes on the president, and on inferior executive officers who speak for him, the obligation to be truthful. An attorney general called before Congress to discuss the workings of the Justice Department can claim the protection of “executive privilege” and, if challenged, can defend the (doubtful) legitimacy of such a claim in the courts. But having elected to testify, he has no right to lie, either by affirmatively misrepresenting facts or by falsely claiming not to remember events. Lying to Congress is a felony — actually three felonies: perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

A false claim not to remember is just as much a lie as a conscious misrepresentation of a fact one remembers well. Instances of phony forgetfulness seem to abound throughout Mr. Gonzales’s testimony, but his claim to have no memory of the November Justice department meeting at which he authorized the attorney firings left even Republican stalwarts like Jeff Sessions of Alabama gaping in incredulity. The truth is almost surely that Mr. Gonzales’s forgetfulness is feigned — a calculated ploy to block legitimate Congressional inquiry into questionable decisions made by the Department of Justice, White House officials and, quite possibly, the president himself.

Even if perjury were not a felony, lying to Congress has always been understood to be an impeachable offense. As James Iredell, later a Supreme Court justice, said in 1788 during the debate over the impeachment clause, “The president must certainly be punishable for giving false information to the Senate.” The same is true of the president’s appointees.

The president may yet yield and send Mr. Gonzales packing. If not, Democrats may decide that to impeach Alberto Gonzales would be politically unwise. But before dismissing the possibility of impeachment, Congress should recognize that the issue here goes deeper than the misbehavior of one man. The real question is whether Republicans and Democrats are prepared to defend the constitutional authority of Congress against the implicit claim of an administration that it can do what it pleases and, when called to account, send an attorney general of the United States to Capitol Hill to commit amnesia on its behalf.

Frank Bowman is a law professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)


May 3rd, 2007, 12:09 PM
Irony being, who would be the presiding judge on this?

May 15th, 2007, 12:32 AM
The New York Times
May 15, 2007

Gonzales’s Deputy Quits Justice Department

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Paul J. McNulty, deputy attorney general, testified in February.

By DAVID JOHNSTON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/david_johnston/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, May 14 — Paul J. McNulty, the deputy attorney general whose Congressional testimony in February provided a spark that turned a smoldering issue over the firings of federal prosecutors into a raging inferno, announced his resignation on Monday.

Mr. McNulty, the fourth and highest-ranking Justice Department official to resign since the uproar began in Congress over the dismissals of the United States attorneys (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/united_states_attorneys/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier), had told friends for weeks that he was planning to step aside.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/alberto_r_gonzales/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Mr. McNulty said he would remain at the Justice Department until late summer, adding “The financial realities of college-age children and two decades of public service lead me to a long overdue transition in my career.”

The departure of another senior aide at the Justice Department appeared to leave the attorney general in a somewhat more isolated position. But with President Bush’s support, Mr. Gonzales has so far fended off demands by Democrats and some Republicans (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/republican_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org) who have called on him to resign.

Mr. McNulty, 49, will leave after spending more than two decades in a variety of positions at the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill. He was a United States attorney in Virginia before taking the deputy’s job in November 2005.

Mr. Gonzales said in a statement that the Justice Department “will be losing a thoughtful and dynamic leader,” citing Mr. McNulty’s efforts on corporate and procurement fraud issues and in creating a new legal system in Iraq.

In a brief interview, Mr. McNulty said that his years working at the Justice Department and as a Congressional staff member had been “extraordinarily rewarding” and that he would soon begin looking for a legal job outside the government.

But friends said that Mr. McNulty had long chafed in his role as second in command under Mr. Gonzales and had realized that the furor over the prosecutors had probably ended his hope to be named to a seat on a federal appeals court.

Mr. McNulty, whose affable presence was said by friends to conceal an aggressively conservative approach to legal issues, had been shaken by the intensity of the storm over the removals and the sometimes sharp personal criticism directed at him from the White House and former Republican allies.

At times, Mr. McNulty found himself pushed aside by D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Mr. Gonzales, who granted Mr. Sampson wide-ranging authority, especially in personnel matters.

Mr. McNulty blamed himself for failing to resist the dismissal plan when Mr. Sampson brought it to him in October 2006, according to associates. He took one prosecutor off the removal list but acquiesced to the removal of seven others, according to Congressional aides’ accounts of his private testimony to Congress on April 27.

Friends of Mr. Sampson and his former deputy, Monica Goodling, were angry at Mr. McNulty’s testimony on Feb. 6 when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that most of the United States attorneys had been removed for performance reasons.

In testimony that even angered Mr. Gonzales, according to a Justice Department e-mail message, Mr. McNulty said that one prosecutor, H. E. Cummins III of Arkansas, had been dismissed solely to make room for J. Timothy Griffin, who had been named as the temporary successor with the backing of Karl Rove (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/karl_rove/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the senior White House political adviser.

Friends of Mr. McNulty said he had tried to be candid about what he knew of the removals. In his private Congressional testimony, Mr. McNulty said he did not realize until later the extensive White House involvement in Mr. Griffin’s appointment or Mr. Sampson’s nearly year-long effort to compile a list.

White House aides complained privately that Mr. McNulty’s testimony gave Democrats a significant opening to demand more testimony from the Justice Department and presidential aides. Several aides said he should have been combative in defending the dismissals.

His appearance also prompted several United States attorneys, who had until then said little about their dismissals, to question openly the motive for their removal, in part because their offices had received highly favorable performance reviews from the Justice Department.

Senator Charles E. Schumer (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/charles_e_schumer/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Democrat of New York, who has led the Congressional investigation, said, “It seems ironic that Paul McNulty, who at least tried to level with the committee, goes while Gonzales, who stonewalled the committee, is still in charge.”

Other casualties include Mr. Sampson and his deputy, Ms. Goodling, who was the Justice Department liaison aide to the White House. Another official who has left is William A. Battle, the Justice Department official who contacted most of the prosecutors to tell them they were being replaced.

Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)


May 15th, 2007, 12:38 AM
Would you consider lopping off these Justice Dept. posts and turning them into a separate topic?

May 15th, 2007, 02:58 PM
May 15, 2007

Gonzales Pressed Ailing Ashcroft on Spy Plan, Aide Says


WASHINGTON, May 15 — On the night of March 10, 2004, a high-ranking Justice Department official rushed to a Washington hospital to prevent two White House aides from taking advantage of the critically ill Attorney General, John Ashcroft, the official testified today.

One of those aides was Alberto R. Gonzales, who succeeded Mr. Ashcroft as Attorney General.

“I was very upset,” said James B. Comey, who was deputy Attorney General at the time, in his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me.”

Mr. Comey’s account offered a rare and titillating glimpse of a Washington power struggle, complete with a late-night showdown in the White House after a dramatic encounter in a darkened hospital room — in short, elements of a potboiler paperback novel.

Mr. Comey related his story to the committee, which is investigating various aspects of Mr. Gonzales’s tenure as Attorney General, including the recent dimissals of eight United States attorneys and allegations that applicants for traditionally nonpartisan career prosecutor jobs were screened for political loyalties.

Although Mr. Comey declined to say specifically what the business was that sent Mr. Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, to the bedside of Mr. Ashcroft in George Washington Hospital, where he lay critically ill with pancreatitis, it was clear that the subject was the National Security Agency’s secret domestic surveillance program. The signature of Mr. Ashcroft or his surrogate was needed by the next day, March 11, in order to renew the program, which was still secret at that time.

Since the existence of the program was disclosed in late 2005, it has been reported that it was the subject of a tense debate at the highest levels of the Bush administration, with some officials concerned about the very legality of the program.

Mr. Comey told the committee today that when Mr. Ashcroft was ill and he was in charge at the Justice Department, he told the White House he would not certify the program again “as to its legality.”

On the night of March 10, as he was being driven home by his security detail, he got a telephone call from Mr. Ashcroft’s chief of staff, who had just been contacted by Mr. Ashcroft’s wife, Janet.

Although Mrs. Ashcroft had banned visitors and telephone calls to her husband’s hospital room, she had just gotten a call from the White House telling her that Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to see her husband, Mr. Comey testified. “I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself, but I don’t know that for sure,” Mr. Comey said.
He said his security detail then sped him to the hospital with sirens blaring and emergency lights flashing, while he telephoned the director of the F.B.I., Robert S. Mueller 3d, from the car. Mr. Mueller shared his sense of urgency: “He said, ‘I’ll meet you at the hospital right now,’ ” Mr. Comey testified.
When he got to the hospital, Mr. Comey recalled, “I got out of the car and ran up — literally, ran up the stairs with my security detail.”

“What was your concern?” asked Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who was the chairman of today’s committee session.

“I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that,” Mr. Comey replied.

Mr. Comey recalled arriving at the darkened hospital room, where Mr. Ashcroft seemed hardly aware of his surroundings. For a time, only Mr. Comey and the Ashcrofts were in the room. Meanwhile, Mr. Mueller, who had not yet arrived, told Mr. Comey’s security detail by phone “not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances,” Mr. Comey testified.
Minutes later, he said, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card entered the room, with Mr. Gonzales carrying an envelope. “And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there, to seek his approval for a matter,” Mr. Comey related.
“And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me,” Mr. Comey went on: He raised his head from the pillow, reiterated his objections to the program, then lay back down, pointing to Mr. Comey as the attorney general during his illness.

When Mr. Mueller arrived, “he had a brief, a memorable brief exchange with the attorney general, and then we went outside in the hallway,” Mr. Comey said.

Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card departed, but after a while, Mr. Card telephoned Mr. Comey and “demanded that I come to the White House immediately,” Mr. Comey said.

“After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness, and I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States,” Mr. Comey said he told Mr. Card.

Whereupon, Mr. Comey said, he contacted the solicitor general, Theodore B. Olson, who was at a dinner party, and arranged to go with him to the White House. At first, Mr. Card would not let Mr. Olson enter his office, Mr. Comey said; he then had a considerably calmer private chat with Mr. Card for a quarter-hour, after which Mr. Olson entered the room and took part in the conversation.

“Mr. Card was concerned that he had heard reports that there were to be a large number of resignations at the Department of Justice,” Mr. Comey recalled.

The surveillance program was reauthorized on March 11, 2004, without a signature from the Department of Justice “attesting to its legality,” Mr. Comey testified.

Mr. Comey said today that he intended to resign the next day, March 12. But on that day, terrorists carried out deadly train bombings in Madrid, and he put his plans on hold.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

May 19th, 2007, 06:29 AM
This is definitely "for gleaning only"; it's too wordy, inflamatory and "cutsie" for most site members' taste. I posted it because I like most of the passages/links Mr. Kurz chose.

On second thought, maybe I just fell for the Gonzo-Meter (http://www.slate.com/id/2166557/) ;)

The Washington Post
May 18, 2007

When Justice is Hospitalized

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer

By the standards of Washington, where the most exciting development usually involves someone writing a memo or inserting an amendment, what happened with Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft is right out of a Hollywood movie. A low-budget B-movie, perhaps, but it has a cinematic quality nonetheless.

The attorney general, seriously ill and hospitalized. The president, wanting to get his secret eavesdropping program authorized by the Justice Department. The White House counsel (Gonzales), rushing to the hospital to try to get the incapacitated Ashcroft to sign the document. The deputy attorney general (James Comey), convinced that the program is illegal, racing to the scene to foil the plan. The weakened Ashcroft refusing to sign. The deputy threatening to quit.

And this is no mere rumor or secondhand account. Comey described the 2004 incident in dramatic fashion in his congressional testimony this week.

And that prompted this question yesterday, at the Bush-Blair farewell presser, from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell:

"Sir, did you send your then Chief of Staff and White House Counsel to the bedside of John Ashcroft while he was ill to get him to approve that program? And do you believe that kind of conduct from White House officials is appropriate?

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Kelly, there's a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn't happen; I'm not going to talk about it. It's a very sensitive program."

Excuse me, it's not speculation. It is the sworn testimony of the man you appointed as the second-ranking law-enforcement officer in the land. And while the program may be sensitive--it's no longer secret--the question wasn't about the inner workings of attempts to spy on terrorists. It was about whether the attempt by Gonzales and Andy Card to get the ailing Ashcroft to sign from his sickbed was proper. Bush chose to dodge the question instead.

"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's standing in Congress became even shakier today as Senate Democrats called for a vote of no confidence in him," the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/17/washington/17cnd-gonzales.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin) reports, "and the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and others predicted that the furor over Mr. Gonzales's leadership of the Justice Department would end with his resignation."

How many times have we heard that prediction?

"Mr. Gonzales's position was weakened by disclosures this week about his involvement in 2004, when he was White House counsel, in an attempt to circumvent Justice Department officials who had refused to renew authority for the Bush administration's secret domestic eavesdropping program.

"Those disclosures were cited this afternoon by Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, both Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, called for a no-confidence vote on Mr. Gonzales."

Says the L.A. Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-gonzales18may18,1,2460704.story?coll=la-headlines-politics): "After appearing to have weathered the worst of the Justice Department scandal, Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales found himself under fresh assault Thursday on the heels of this week's revelations about his conduct in the Bush administration. Gonzales suffered withering attacks from two Republican senators and a former prosecutor as Senate Democrats added pressure of their own, calling for a no-confidence vote on the attorney general's performance."

But the Gonzo-Meter (http://www.slate.com/id/2166557/) is only up to 57 percent. It used to be so much higher.

Hospitalgate is huge on the left side of the blogosphere, with some conservatives punching back. We'll start at the New Republic, with former Post editorial writer Benjamin Wittes (http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070514&s=wittes051707):

"At least as Comey relates it, this affair is not one of mere bad judgment or over-aggressiveness. It is a story of profound misconduct on Gonzales's part that, at least in my judgment, borders on the impeachable. Put bluntly, faced with a Justice Department determination that the NSA's program contained prohibitive legal problems, the White House decided to go ahead with it anyway. In pursuit of this goal, Gonzales did two things that both seem unforgivable: He tried to get a seriously ill man to unlawfully exercise powers that had been conveyed to another man and to use those powers to approve a program the department deemed unlawful. Then, when Ashcroft refused, the White House went ahead and authorized the program on its own.

"In terms of raw power, the president has the ability to take this step. But it constitutes a profound affront to the institutional role of the Justice Department as it has developed. The Justice Department is the part of the government that defines the law for the executive branch. For the White House counsel to defy its judgment on an important legal question is to put the rawest power ahead of the law.

"The must-derided John Ashcroft, on the other hand, showed himself when it counted to be a man of courage and substance whom history will surely treat more kindly than did contemporary commentary. Few attorneys general get tested as Ashcroft did that night in 2004. One can disagree with him about a lot of things and still recognize the fact that ultimately, he passed the hardest test: From a hospital bed in intensive care, he stood up for the rule of law . . .

"There is no way to resolve this problem as long as the man at the Justice Department's helm is the sort of person who can lean on a hospitalized colleague to usurp the power to authorize something that the department has determined to be unlawful . . .If he cannot materially challenge Comey's account, he must be removed from office immediately."

Josh Marshall (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/014172.php) is pretty worked up:

"Remember just who it is we're dealing with here. This is John Ashcroft, not by many measures a staunch libertarian and a pretty committed Republican to boot. He was refusing to sign off on this. And according to Comey's testimony he was willing to resign over it, apparently along with most of the senior leadership of the Department of Justice. I think we need to know more about just what was being done with this program that would make Ashcroft put so much on the line.

"Another point: if we assume that the president sent Gonzales and Card over to the hospital room (and I think that's the only reasonable interpretation of yesterday's testimony), there must have been a meeting before that call was placed, probably at the White House. Who was in the meeting? And who got the president to authorize this? Gonzales? I doubt it. I think we probably needing to be looking toward the Vice President's office playing a driving role in all this."

Salon's Glenn Greenwald (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/05/16/nsa_comey/) is ready to send some folks to jail, noting "how little we know (but ought to know) about what actually happened and how little accountability there has been for some of the most severe and blatant acts of presidential lawbreaking in the country's history . . .
"The overarching point here, as always, is that it is simply crystal clear that the President consciously and deliberately violated the law and committed multiple felonies by eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law."

Karen Tumulty (http://time-blog.com/swampland/2007/05/re_the_comey_testimony.html) picks up on "some 2006 Gonzales testimony regarding the NSA wiretap program that's looking a tad, um, inconvenient at the moment:

" GONZALES: Senator, here is a response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements. There has not been any serious disagreement, including -- and I think this is accurate -- there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations, which I cannot get into. I will also say --

"SCHUMER: But there was some -- I am sorry to cut you off, but there was some dissent within the administration, and Jim Comey did express at some point -- that is all I asked you -- some reservations.

"GONZALES: The point I want to make is that, to my knowledge, none of the reservations dealt with the program that we are talking about today."
Now for the conservative view, starting with John Hinderaker (http://powerlineblog.com/archives/017649.php) at Power Line:

"By March 2004, when the events described by Comey occurred, the NSA program had been in operation for 2 1/2 years, continuously certified as legal by the Department of Justice. It's no wonder that President Bush and his staff thought the program was legal. So why did DOJ raise a legal problem so long after the fact? In an exchange that has not been widely reported, Comey answered that question:

"It was simply the pace at which the work went on in the Office of Legal Counsel. We had a new assistant attorney general as of, I think, October of 2003. *** And the work got done in the beginning part of 2004. *** Concerns had reached the ears of the new assistant attorney general. And he undertook an examination--with my approval and with Attorney General Ashcroft's approval--of this matter. . .

"If you put the whole sequence together, it may well be that no actor in this admittedly lurid drama did anything wrong. Ashcroft and Comey apparently decided to go along with the conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and insist on changes in the program. Nothing wrong with that. Gonzales and Card may well not have known of Ashcroft's changed opinion, arrived at on the same day he went to the hospital--this is a key fact we don't know--and thought that Comey was trying to reverse his boss's judgment. So they went to see Ashcroft personally. Nothing wrong with that, as far as we know. Ashcroft set them straight; nothing wrong with that. (It's worth noting that Comey described Ashcroft's performance as a demonstration of physical and moral strength that was unprecedented in his experience.) President Bush then got into the act, learned the facts, and told Comey to do whatever he thought was right as acting Attorney General. Nothing wrong with that; on the contrary. The NSA program was revised to satisfy DOJ's concerns, and continued in effect, protecting Americans from terrorist attack, to the present time. Nothing wrong with that, to say the least.

"This is not, of course, the story you will get from the fragmentary and incoherent accounts that are appearing in the press."

I thought the accounts were pretty coherent, actually.

The Wall Street Journal (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010084) editorial page, scourge of all those Clinton scandals, sees much ado about nothing:

"The implication is that the White House was trying to lean on Justice to do something illegal. But listen to what Mr. Comey actually said as Mr. Specter questioned him. Was he pressured by Mr. Card, Senator Specter asked? No. 'I don't know that he tried to pressure me, other than to engage me on the merits and make clear his strong disagreements with my conclusion.'

"Did they threaten him, or suggest he could be fired? 'No sir, I didn't feel threatened, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be read [as threatening].' And what about Mr. Bush, did he twist arms in the Oval? Through FBI director Robert Mueller, Mr. Comey explained, 'The president said the Justice Department should do what the Department thinks is right.'

"So where's the smoking gun here? When the program was reauthorized by the President alone, Mr. Comey and others planned to resign in protest. So, Mr. Specter asked, does that mean the program went forward illegally? Again, negative: 'The Justice Department's certification . . . was not [required] as far as I know.' That's because, as even Mr. Comey conceded, many judges and scholars believe a president has the Constitutional authority to approve such wiretaps, especially in wartime.
"In other words, per Mr. Comey's testimony, nothing illegal was done, he was never threatened by White House officials, and the president told him to do what he felt was right."

Then why does Comey sound so upset?

Not all right-wingers are knocking it down, though. The occupant of Right Wing Nuthouse, Rick Moran (http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2007/05/17/comeys-tale-raises-stakes-for-bush/), actually invokes the I-word:

"Did Bush violate the law by authorizing the NSA program? A federal judge has said so, although many respected and knowledgeable legal observers -- not all of them Bush supporters -- pointed out numerous deficiencies in that judge's opinion that will most likely result in the decision being overturned. But if the president violated the law, is there any possible justification for it that would or should keep him from being impeached? . . .

"This is how important Comey's testimony is. It gives Congressional investigators a direct avenue to determining whether the impeachment and trial of President Bush is justified. And it does so because there is both a document trail to be unearthed and witnesses to be deposed who could possibly corroborate serious violations of the law."


June 14th, 2007, 02:25 PM
Faced with law-breaking Bush official, GOP plays the race card
Michael Roston
Published: Thursday June 14, 2007

In a hearing Wednesday examining the findings that Bush appointee Lurita Doan of the General Services Administration appeared to violate the Hatch Act by politicking in a federal workplace, several Republican Congressmen played the race card. On a number of occasions, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led his colleagues in accusing their Democratic counterparts of targeting Doan because she was a black woman and a Republican.

"You're an African-American Republican so you've got a big bull's eye on you," Davis, the former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said to Administrator Doan at one stage.

Doan was brought before the committee to testify on the Office of Special Counsel investigation that found she violated the Hatch Act during a Jan. 26, 2007 briefing given to GSA political appointees by White House staff from Karl Rove's office. In the briefing, a PowerPoint presentation was given that included slides on vulnerable Congressional districts in the 2008 election where Republicans believed they could regain seats. According to attendees, Doan asked at the end of the meeting how the GSA can "help 'our candidates' in the next elections."

Davis wasn't the only Republican member in the House hearing to make such an allegation.

"You're a Republican, a minority, and a woman, a GOP contributor, and they've targeted you, they're circling you to come after you," said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who objected to the hearing at various occasions.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) also said, "I find that when an African-American is a Republican, somehow, she is treated differently by Congress."

One African-American Democratic congress member objected strongly to the Republican representatives' use of race in the proceedings.

"I am a female and I am an African-American, and I resent the fact that race and gender is always thrown into it," said Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA). "I do not feel that this committee, or the chairman of this committee would ever bring you in front of us because you're a woman, and you're black."

Doan compares critics to racist bullies

Doan for her part admitted that she didn't believe she was being targeted because she was a black woman.

"I believe this hearing has a completely different agenda that even I probably am not aware of and not experienced about, I think this is a political thing. I don't think this is a race thing," she said.

But Doan also started off her testimony in a prepared statement by comparing her critics to racist bullies she encountered in her youth.

"I grew up in Ninth Ward in New Orleans and being one of the first minority students in all white school taught me a lot about how to deal with unfairness, harassment, and hostile environments," she declared. "Quitting would be far worse that persevering the face of adversity."

The Committee's Chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), pointed out at one stage that race had been raised first by Rep. Davis. He made note of the fact after Davis accused the Committee's Democrats of making the hearing focus on race.

"The race and gender issue didn't come from Mrs. Doan. It was interjected on the other side today by introducing a two year old e-mail that they had discovered from you that you sent to the administration...when you were looking to be the head of the Small Business Administration," Davis argued. "She has never brought this in to this context, this was brought up by the other side, and now they're trying to make it look like you're hiding behind it."

The e-mail in question, brought up by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), was used to contradict Doan's claim that she was interested only in public service, and not in partisan political position.

"I believe that the party has a unique opportunity to make about a 5% swing of the black votes to the GOP....small black business owners who represent the largest percentage of participants in the various [Small Business Administration] programs," Doan wrote in an e-mail to the White House's Al Hubbard prior to joining the Bush administration when she sought to be appointed head of the SBA. "As the SBA administrator I would have an unparalleled ability to serve as an articulate and passionate ambassador for the president's agenda and at same time be in a position to encourage both funding and votes to the GOP."

Cummings pointed out the contradiction with her earlier statements.

"You said earlier that you weren't interested in the political stuff, the partisan stuff," the African-American Democrat from Maryland said. "When we combine everything it leans more toward not pure truthfulness under oath, than truthfulness, and I'm sitting here, I'm trying to get where do you stand in all of this....where do the mistakes end, and the truth begin?"

Waxman calls on Doan to resign from her post

Waxman and his fellow Democrats concluded that the OSC's findings against Doan were accurate, and the Chairman called on her to resign at the end of the hearing.

"This is my opinion, but it's unusual for me to call for the resignation of a federal official," the California Democrat said. "But in your case, I don't see any other course of action that will protect the interests of your agency and the federal tax payer."

Davis and other committee Republicans objected to the manner and the findings of the Special Counsel's report.

"The OSC report is remarkably harsh and hyperbolic, and extremely short on support," Davis said in his opening statement. "The report cites no evidence. There are not footnotes, no exhibits. OSC says they 'interviewed over 20 individuals in attendance' at the Jennings presentation. But the report quotes testimony from zero attendees. Why didn’t they talk to all attendees? How did they choose?"

He also accused the OSC of violating Doan's rights.

"Lurita Doan was not afforded basic due process rights, such as an opportunity to review the testimony submitted against her," he added.

One Republican, Rep. Shays, admitted that Doan had done some inappropriate things, but thought she only deserved a reprimand, not the level of scrutiny she had so far received.

"There are two things that happened that I think shouldn't have happened - a meeting shouldn't have happened," he said first, then adding, "A comment shouldn't have been made, 'how can we help our candidates.'"

For her own part, Doan showed no inclination to resign, at one point dismissing the investigation as "a game of political gotcha, with me as the 'gotchee.'" She said that her fate was in the hands of President Bush, who is reviewing the Special Counsel's report.

"He'll make a decision, and I'll live with it," she told the committee.

June 14th, 2007, 09:40 PM
All Plamegate and Scooter Libby posts (after he was indicted) were moved to a new thread:

"I. Lewis": Plamegate & the Scooter Libby Saga (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14045)

And the thread is already hot!

August 27th, 2007, 01:58 PM
Why do they call out the fact that he was the first hispanic attorney general in the very first sentance of the article?

I do not care if he was the first martian attorney general, the man either did VERY wrong, or was an amnesiatic idiot. Either way, he should have been let go, and PROSECUTED.

January 7th, 2008, 04:54 AM
What happened with the case after all?? He resigned that is fine but was he prosecuted?

January 7th, 2008, 10:52 AM
Nothing has happened to Gonzalez ... he just disappeared.

Little Scooter Libby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Libby) was convicted and sentenced but then our fearful leader George W. Bush commuted Libby's prison term:

The presiding trial judge, Reggie B. Walton, sentenced Libby to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service, and then ordered Libby to begin his sentence immediately. When Libby's appeal of Judge Walton's order failed, President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence, leaving the other parts of his sentence intact. In commuting Libby's prison term, Bush stated: "I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison. ... My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged." After Libby paid his monetary fine and penalty totaling $250,400, Judge Walton queried aspects of the presidential commutation, and lawyers filed their briefs supporting Libby's serving supervised release, resolving the issue and thus clearing the way for Libby to begin the rest of his sentence, the two years of supervised release and 400 hours of community service.

July 28th, 2008, 03:09 PM
Justice Officials Repeatedly Broke Law on Hiring, Report Says

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 28, 2008; 3:00 PM

Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released today.

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs: "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.

In on case, Goodling refused to extend the temporary assignment of a prosecutor because of her "perception of the (lawyer's) sexual orientation," according to the report.

Taking political or personal factors into account in employment decisions for career positions violates civil service laws and can run afoul of ethics rules. Investigators said today that both Goodling and Sampson had engaged in "misconduct."

The improper personnel moves deprived worthy candidates of promotions and damaged the credibility of the Justice Department, investigators wrote. An experienced counterterrorism prosecutor, for example, was kept from advancing in favor of a more junior lawyer who lacked a background in terrorism.

The procedures imposed on immigration judge candidates caused serious delays in appointing judges at a time when the courts suffered under a heavy workload, the report said.

Goodling, who resigned in 2007 amid a scandal over the department's politicized hiring, is a central figure in the long-running investigation into the way politics infused decision-making at the department. Sampson, who had served as a top aide to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, also left the department last year and now works at a law firm in the Washington area.

The Justice Department IG's report, released this morning, cites several other workers who may have engaged in misconduct by using political or sexual orientation to screen candidates for immigration judgeships. It also cites instances in which current and former Justice employees, including one-time press aide and political appointee John Nowacki, may not have been candid with investigators.

Nowacki, who is on assignment in Iraq, could not be reached for comment this morning.

The extensive report confirms the long-held suspicions of congressional Democrats and underscores the challenge the next president will face in restoring public confidence in the nation's premiere law enforcement operation.

In a statement, current Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the department had already moved to institute changes to the hiring process and said he would consider more in light of today's report.

"Even as I commend the hard work and collaboration of the Justice Department's Offices of Inspector General and Professional Responsibility on today's report, I am of course disturbed by their findings that improper political considerations were used in hiring decisions relating to some career employees," Mukasey said. "I have said many times, both to members of the public and to Department employees, it is neither permissible nor acceptable to consider political affiliations in the hiring of career Department employees."

Goodling, a former operative at the Republican National Committee and a graduate of the Regent University law school, founded by Christian televangelist Pat Robertson, declined to be interviewed by investigators working for the inspector general and the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility. The investigators said they lacked the power to compel her to cooperate because she had left the department.

But she did testify before Congress in May 2007, under a grant of immunity from prosecution. Before the House Judiciary Committee, a shaken Goodling told lawmakers that "the best I can say is that I know I took political considerations into account on some occasions." She said she did not intend to break the law at the time.

"I did not hold the keys to the kingdom," she demurred.

John M. Dowd, a lawyer for Goodling, did not return several phone messages. Bradford Berenson, a lawyer for Sampson, said Sampson interceded several times to oppose the use of political criteria in hiring.

"With respect to immigration judges, he believed in complete good faith that they were not career civil service positions and that political criteria could be taken into account," Berenson said.

Today's study marks the second of four lengthy dissections of the role that partisan political considerations played in Justice Department employment decisions during the Bush administration. Reports on hiring problems in the Civil Rights Division and the firing of nine U.S. attorneys have yet to be released.

Wednesday, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine will testify about his findings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last month, Fine disclosed that hundreds of candidates for summer law intern and elite entry-level honors program jobs had been excluded from hiring pools because of their Democratic affiliations or membership in environmental and social justice groups.

Fine said this morning that "high-quality candidates for important department positions [had been] rejected because of improper political considerations."

Senior Senate Democrats last week sent a letter to Mukasey asking him to exercise "vigilance" to ensure that unqualified political appointees do not wheedle their way into career civil service jobs in the waning months of the president's term.

This morning, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) called the political interference "widespread" and said it "could not have been done without at least the tacit approval of senior Department officials."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said today he had directed his staff to consider whether he should issue a criminal perjury referral, based on alleged misstatements by Goodling, Sampson and Gonzales to Congress.

"Apparently the political screening was so pervasive that even qualified Republican applicants were rejected...because they were 'not Republican enough' for Monica Goodling and others," Conyers said.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

July 29th, 2008, 06:38 AM
In a statement, current Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the department had already moved to institute changes to the hiring process and said he would consider more in light of today's report.

"Even as I commend the hard work and collaboration of the Justice Department's Offices of Inspector General and Professional Responsibility on today's report, I am of course disturbed by their findings that improper political considerations were used in hiring decisions relating to some career employees," Mukasey said. "I have said many times, both to members of the public and to Department employees, it is neither permissible nor acceptable to consider political affiliations in the hiring of career Department employees."What a crock. Cover your ass political-speak.

Changing hiring rules implies there's a problem in the existing rules. The problem is, the rules which worked well before Bush and Gonzalez arrived on the scene, were violated.

July 29th, 2008, 09:52 AM
The appointees that were hired during this time should be given their papers and asked to leave coupled with a new hiring phase.

If they really want to make a change, they have to make the scales even again.

July 31st, 2008, 08:36 PM
Who's Indicted? Our previous list grows by a possble TWO ...

White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/washington/01SUBPOENA.html?_r=1&oref=login)
August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s top advisers cannot ignore subpoenas issued by Congress, a federal judge ruled on Thursday in a case that involves the firings of several United States attorneys but has much wider constitutional implications for all three branches of government.

“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court here.

Unless overturned on appeal, a former White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, and the current White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, would be required to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the controversial dismissal of the federal prosecutors in 2006.

While the ruling is the first in which a court has agreed to enforce a Congressional subpoena against the White House, Judge Bates called his 93-page decision “very limited” and emphasized that he could see the possibility of the dispute being resolved through political negotiations. The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling.

It was the latest setback for the Bush administration, which maintains that current and former White House aides are immune from congressional subpoena. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Karl Rove, a former top political adviser to President Bush, be cited for contempt for ignoring a subpoena and not appearing at a hearing on political interference by the White House at the Justice Department.

Although Judge Bates did not specifically say so, his ruling, if sustained on appeal, might apply as well to Mr. Rove and his refusal to testify.

The House has already voted to hold Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten in contempt for refusing to testify or to provide documents about the dismissals of the United States attorneys, which critics of the administration have suggested were driven by an improper mix of politics and decisions about who should, or should not, be prosecuted.

Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.

Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, citing legal advice from the White House, have refused for months to comply with Congressional subpoenas. The White House has repeatedly invoked executive privilege, the doctrine that allows the advice that a president gets from his close advisers to remain confidential.

In essence, Judges Bates held that whatever immunity from Congressional subpoenas that executive branch officials might enjoy, it is not “absolute.” And in any event, he said, it is up to the courts, not the executive branch, to determine the scope of its immunity in particular cases.

“We are reviewing the decision,” Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said. Before the decision was handed down, several lawyers said it would almost surely be appealed, no matter which way it turned, because of its importance.

Democrats in Congress issued statements in which they were quick to claim victory in the struggle with the administration over the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and other occurences in the Justice Department, and that they looked forward to hearing from the appropriate White House officials.

“I have long pointed out that this administration’s claims of executive privilege and immunity, which White House officials have used to justify refusing to even show up when served with congressional subpoenas, are wrong,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Leahy’s House counterpart in the House had a similar reaction.

“Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law,” said Representative John D. Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company