Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year, Peeps!

Hope everyone has fun tonight! Even folks with nicknames like, say, Scooter who might not get a chance to go out and celebrate a year from now.

At Raw Story, Larisa, Avery and I picked out a bunch of our favorite stories from the 2005 RS files, which included two articles that I'm really proud to have worked on: Beyond Abramoff which was published a month before David Safavian was indicted and U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war which was cited in Congressman Conyers' recently released report advocating censure for Bush and Cheney. But there's tons of other great ones at that link that you may have missed this year so check it out.

Also, the other day I had a silly article at Raw Story that I forgot to link to: Bush 'porno posters' removed from Vienna's electronic billboards.

Finally, the interview with Bill Roggio should be posted by mid-week...most probably at RS.



Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bill Roggio Responds (Part 1)

Bill Roggio, a milblogger who recently embedded with the troops in Iraq, took exception to my last post. To his credit, Roggio addressed some of the questions I raised and, perhaps, blasted my conspiracy theorizing out of the park, in a few comments left on my post.

Roggio also issued a challenge, of sorts:

You can leave it buried in the comments section and then I'd know what you are all about. Or you can do something unique and step outside of ideological blinders and tell the real story.

Its all up to you what you do with the information. It will reflect upon your character on how you act. You can delete the comments thread, but I'll know the truth.

Not that Roggio would know...but this won't be "something unique." Red State's Mike Krempasky did a similiar thing in February - left a comment objecting to a post - which resulted in an exchange of emails that led to a multi-part interview that cleared up some questions about Talon News/ (among other things, Krempasky discussed his dealings with the conservative fundraiser, Bruce Eberle, and "schooled the left" on Bruce's familial relationship to GOPUSA CEO Bobby Eberle: distant relatives, at best).

Roggio claimed that I'm the only blogger he responded to that wrote about the Washington Post article partially about himself:

Oh, and this is the only site I commented on. You have more information here than anyone else, even at my own site. As I said in my rebuttal to the WaPo, all of this is really mundane. But you have an opportunity to correct the record if you so wish. You can even ask follow up questions.

Mundane or not, I have more questions so I've written Bill to learn more. can check out that Haloscan thread in my last post to read what he's written so far. Roggio also told me:

You can be a playa in this whole controversy. If you wrote it up, I bet InstaPundit would link it.

My buddy, Tas at Loaded Mouth, recently experienced an "instalanche" which turned out to be more positive than he initially expected, but I'm not doing this for linkage purposes.

If I was wrong. If I was off-base. If I was unfair.

Then I'd like to correct the record.

(To be continued when I hear back from Roggio)


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Missing Dateline: Barwana, Iraq

(UPDATE: Bill Roggio responds on my Haloscan comments thread and tells me to shut my hole)

Why weren't there any journalists in Barwana, Iraq during the recent election?

A major offensive - Operation River Gate - was launched in early October to rid the cities Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana of Qaeda in Iraq affiliated insurgents.

Soon after there were reports that Coalition air strikes resulted in vast evacuations of tens of thousands of civilians.

As a result of Operation River Gate, the Military was able "to establish bases to maintain a long-term security presence" in the three cities.

As I asked above: Why weren't there any journalists in Barwana, Iraq during the recent election?

Whoops, my bad.

There was a journalist who filed reports from Barwana: Bill Roggio.

The thing is, though, Bill Roggio didn't become a journalist until a little over a month-and-a-half ago. Before he was a journalist, Bill Roggio was a military blogger (or Milblogger).

From a Washington Post article, Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War, written by Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck:

Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called "The Fourth Rail", to come cover the war from the front lines.

He raised more than $30,000 from his online readers to pay for airfare, technical equipment and body armor. A few weeks later, he was posting dispatches from a remote outpost in western Anbar province, a hotbed of Iraq's insurgency.

"I was disenchanted with the reporting on the war in Iraq and the greater war on terror and felt there was much to the conflict that was missed," Roggio, who is currently stationed with Marines along the Syrian border, wrote in an e-mail response to written questions. "What is often seen as an attempt at balanced reporting results in underreporting of the military's success and strategy and an overemphasis on the strategically minor success of the jihadists or insurgents."

Finer and Struck end their article by noting (by the way...there's also new info in the article about the military making propagandistic use of a local television station which is worth checking out, too):

On Dec. 15, when Iraqis voted in nationwide elections, Roggio reported from Barwana, a Western town where turnout was far heavier than in Iraq's constitutional referendum held Oct. 15.

"Barwana, once part of Zarqawi self declared 'Islamic Republic of Iraq,' " he wrote, "is now the scene of al-Qaeda's greatest nightmare: Muslims exercising their constitutional right to chose their destiny."

Roggio, Finer and Struck all failed to note that tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians had been sent running from their homes just before the October constitutional referendum.

Roggio's Barwana reporting received widespread coverage.

Why did the Marines invite a blogger to cover the election in Barwana and why weren't there any journalists there?


Roggio on Halloween:

I have received media credentials, thanks to Dr. Michael Ledeen and the American Enterprise Institute

Finer and Struck in The Washington Post:

After military officials in Baghdad said Roggio could not be issued media credentials unless he was affiliated with an organization, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization in Washington, offered him an affiliation, according to an entry on Roggio's blog.

Despite the protestations of Roggio and others, not factually wrong by a longshot.

Michael Ledeen "is a former employee of the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council" who played a role in Iran/Contra dealings as a former adviser to Oliver North and has forcefully advocated an expansion of the War on Terror into Iran the last few years.

Ledeen's also a frequent commenter at Roggio's blog.

Roggio complains:

I was not credentialed by the American Enterprise Institute. This would be impossible as the needed press credentials must be provided by a media organization. A friend suggested I approach the American Enterprise Magazine, which is a periodical published by the American Enterprise Institute. We were unable to work out an agreement, so I searched for an alternative.

Another friend suggested I contact The Weekly Standard. Richard Starr was happy to help and provided the necessary credentials to embed. Also, Rod Breakenridge of the Canadian talk radio show The World Tonight kindly provided documentation for credentials as well. The two letters allowed me to successfully embed, and there were no questions about my credentials in Baghdad or elsewhere.

The Weekly Standard or Mr. Breakenridge did not establish any preconditions for providing the credentials, nor did they fund my trip in any way. I wrote a single article for The Weekly Standard about Election Day in Barwana, and gave two phone interviews from Iraq to The World Tonight.

How does "I have received media credentials" somehow become "we were unable to work out an agreement"?

Allow me to theorize. Call it the Talon News Theory. Bobby Eberle launched Talon News partly because ace reporter Jeff Gannon was having trouble getting White House press credentials as an employee of Perhaps Roggio and Ledeen decided that his report from Barwana would be better received without the telltale mark of a conservative think tank.

I have absolutely no idea if anything Roggio wrote was inaccurate but by entangling himself with someone like Michael Ledeen it's hard to expound on whether the Milblogger is a journalist or not.


As mentioned at the top, Roggio left some comments on this post. I've written a follow-up and am waiting to hear back from Roggio by email for an additional follow-up that I'll post some time in the next few days.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ganging Up On Kurtz

I don't really get the widespread left-leaning online animosity directed at Howard Kurtz, media critic and reporter for The Washington Post.

I like Howie.

I've read a few of his books, always read his column, and check him out when I can on the idiot box.

I don't always agree with him. Sometimes I'm even like, "Damn, Howie, how can you come to that freakin' conclusion." But I think he's pretty fair. And - best of all - I think he allows his readers to think instead of doing all the thinking for them. You might come to a different conclusion than Howie but maybe you'll agree with everything else but that conclusion.

But all this nonsense about Howie being some kind of neo-con shill is just a complete bunch of nonsense. I'm not sure why James Carville's marriage doesn't seem to matter to most liberal bloggers but Howie's makes him out to be some kind of Manchurian Candidate.

I mean. What is this really about?

Is it that Kurtz isn't liberal enough? Because anyone that thinks he's some kind of shill for the right hasn't been paying attention.

The other day Kurtz broke a story about his bosses. A story about President Bush exerting pressure on Howie's bosses to attempt to kill a very important story that they went ahead and published anyway. Kurtz's story was a story that he never, never, never would have even written if he - obviously - wasn't concerned about such things happening. If Howie wasn't concerned...then there wouldn't have been any news value in it to him. He'd have written about something else rather than report what his bosses were leaving out ("Back Story" as Jay Rosen eloquently pegs this kind of stuff).

Yet his bravery and his intrepidness and his strength of character mean little to some.

One blogger thinks that Howie's use of the word "liberal" to describe critics angry at The New York Times for delaying their spying story and at The Washington Post for not naming what Eastern Europe countries the CIA installed secret prisons at somehow translates into turning both stories into partisan attacks.

The blogger then quotes a not-liberal upset at spying to somehow counter Kurtz. But no one seems to notice that the two have nothing to do with one another. Kurtz wasn't sticking up for the spying (and neither was he sticking up for the right of the state to suppress the media).

And I'm kind of confused how the use of the word "liberal" denotes partisanship. Kurtz didn't use the word "Democrats" and I'm not aware of any non-liberals that have specifically criticized the two papers for the stated reasons.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Kurtz breaks a big story that sheds an awful lot of light on how the Bush Administration has been pressuring the mainstream media, a story that only would be a story to someone who doesn't find that kind of thing kosher, yet he's mercilessly attacked cause he didn't write the article like a typical "liberal" blogger would (liberal is in quotes because in the blogosphere partisan Democrat bloggers are commonly called liberals even when they're not...though I should add that the blogger I'm referring to doesn't strike me as a particularly partisan blogger) with an ample supply of venom or rage or namecalling or obscenities or snark.

(An earlier column by Kurtz is worth reading on the eavesdropping stories. Again...I'm sure...many left-leaning bloggers will parse what they want to hear from it...but only a fool could read that article and not see that Kurtz sides with the right-to-publish-those-stories side of the altar.)

(I apologize for not inserting links...but it's late...and does it really matter if I name the liberal blogger I'm's not like they'll give a shit...they just do what they I've learned painfully this year...criticism of top bloggers on the left is an unforgivable sin which cannot be tolerated...hell...this same blogger made my top 10 best list for the year though I'm not always in agreement with what I read there...but I'm silly that way I guess)


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bad Media

Google News search results for articles about Colin Powell speaking out on the domestic spying program:

CBS News: Powell defends eavesdropping

ABC News: Powell: 'Nothing Wrong' With Eavesdropping

Chicago Sun Times: Colin Powell supports eavesdropping

Fox News: Powell OK with NSA Eavesdropping

But that's not what the articles say. Check the Google news link above and notice the word "but" which is excerpted from most of the links.

Powell wasn't giving a free pass to the Bush Administration. Read each of the articles and see the qualifications in the former Secretary of State's comments. A better headline would've been "Powell unaware of warrantless taps" which RAW STORY ran (umm...i guess i should mention that was me who wrote that header).

But give credit to the New York Times for writing a more accurate headline: Powell Speaks Out on Domestic Spy Program

"My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants," Mr. Powell said. "And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it. The law provides for that."

Most of the articles summarized the first part of that paragraph taken from Steven R. Weisman's New York Times article but left out the parts about emergency and law.

Bad Media. Bad, bad Media.


Powell's interview is online so I'm including the relevant parts to this post (afterwards are my reflections on the whole text).

From This Week on ABC News transcript of George Stephanopoulos' interview with Colin Powell:

Stephanopoulos: We're been right in the middle of a debate about the rule of law here in the United States this week, now that the president has acknowledged that he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without a court warrant.

You were secretary of state when this started. Were you aware of this?

Powell: No. And it is not the kind of thing that would have been brought to the secretary of state. I'm very familiar...

Stephanopoulos: Why not?

Powell: Because it was an internal domestic matter of the highest sensitivity. And I was not aware of this particular use of his authority.

But I'm very aware, from my earlier incarnation as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as a national security advisor, of these kinds of activities.

And in the aftermath of 9/11, the American people had one concern, and that was to protect us. And so, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions.

But where we're going to have the debate — and we're having the debate now — is these actions are authorized as a matter of law, laws passed by Congress.

Stephanopoulos: Well, that's the issue.

Powell: That's the issue. And so the president made a determination that he had sufficient authority from the Congress to do this in the way that he did it, without getting warrants from the courts or reporting to the courts after doing it.

And the Congress will have to make a judgment as to whether or not they think the president was using the law correctly or not.

Stephanopoulos: What do you think?

Powell: And that's going to be a great debate.

My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants. And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it. The law provides for that. And then, three days later, you let the court know what you have done and deal with it that way.

But for reasons that the president has discussed and the attorney general has spoken to, they chose not to do it that way, and they have briefed members of the Congress over the years on this program.

So hearings will be held, clearly, at the beginning of the new year. But I don't think anybody objects to the president doing this. He was trying to protect the nation. And we have done things like this in the past.

So there's no objection to it being done. The question is, was it done in the way that is consistent with the law...

Stephanopoulos: With the law. Isn't that the most important question for a president?

Powell: Well, yes, that's exactly it. And that's — the president says he did it in accordance with the law. And some members of Congress dispute that. So there will be a debate about this and there will be hearings held.

Stephanopoulos: And the president, in the meantime, says the program is going to continue. Do you think it should continue?

Powell: Yes. Of course it should continue.

Now, what — I think, however, the president, he'll have to determine what he wishes to say to the Congress about it or what they wish to do with respect to the court that's established for this purpose. I'll let them work that out.

But you have to do this in order to protect ourselves. And everybody understands that. I don't think you'll find any member of Congress that says, "Don't do this anymore."

The issue is, does the Congress believe that the president had been given the authority by the Congress not to use the procedures that had been set up? And this will be a subject of a lot of commentary, and it will go to congressional hearings, and an answer will emerge in due course.

It could have been avoided if the administration had chosen to use those procedures. But in the exigency of the situation, in the immediacy of the situation, the president made a judgment that he would not move that way. And he felt he had more than sufficient authority not to use those procedures.

Stephanopoulos: But it does sound like you think it would be wiser to go to the Congress now and get this authority.

Powell: I didn't say that, I don't think. I said the administration will now present to the Congress their point of view. The Congress will hold hearings on it.

What I said was that there was an alternative, which was to use the procedures that were in place, the FISA and other procedures, where you get a warrant beforehand or you take it to that special court designed for this purpose. Or, if you have to move so quickly that you don't have time to take it to a judge, then you notify the judge — you notify the court several days after you have taken the action.

It seems to me that would have been another way to handle it. But the president chose not to and felt that he had sufficient legal authority to do it the way that he did it.

Stephanopoulos: This is part of a much bigger debate about presidential power and what kind of power the president needs and has in a very dangerous time.

Vice President Cheney just said today, because of the threats we face, the president of the United States needs to have his constitutional arguments unimpaired. Do you agree with that?

Powell: Well, I don't know entirely what the vice president means by that. The president has his powers under the Constitution, and the Congress has its powers under the Constitution. It's the Congress that passes laws. It's the president who derives commander-in-chief authority from the Constitution. There have been debates about this issue, oh, I would say for the last 230 years.

Stephanopoulos: Most recently over torture, which you were involved in.

Powell: Yes, I was. It's been a debate in the course of our nation's history: presidential prerogative versus the prerogatives of the Congress.

And when you have this kind of a debate, then let's have congressional hearings, let's have debate and discussion between the president and between members of his administration and Congress to see if they could not find a solution.

The nation is not going to collapse over this issue. What the president is determined to do and what the Congress and the American people want him to do is protect us from terrorism. And if eavesdropping does that, then more power to it. And nobody is suggesting that the president shouldn't do this.

The whole issue is what is the shared responsibility of the Congress in this matter with respect to the laws that it had previously passed. And some members of Congress do not see a problem; other members of Congress do see a problem, on both sides of the aisle.

And as Senator Specter said, he'll be holding hearings on it in January to get to the bottom of it.

After reading this back-and-forth, hedge-and-sway in full...I take back my criticism. Who the hell knows what Colin Powell believes, feels or thinks?

And as for "nobody is suggesting that the president shouldn't do this." Perhaps George Stephanopoulos should have filled in Powell on the latest stories (if he's aware of them):

one, two, and three which reveal that the eavesdropping may go far beyond than what has been admitted by the Bush Administration the last few weeks.

There are very few who would "suggest" that widespread data-mining of millions of Americans' phone calls and emails is something that the president should be doing.

(Off-topic a little bit but Howie Kurtz in Monday's Washington Post reveals that 11 days before President Bush met with NY Times' editors to pressure them not to run their eavesdropping story WaPo editors also got a one-on-one censor session: Bush Presses Editors on Security.)


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Best Blogs of 2005

Call this a working top 10 post. I'm gonna name the blogs now, but fill in the reasons why (with links to my favorite posts from each respective blog) throughout the weekend.

Except for the first pick (which is a no-brainer), the blogs aren't listed in order of preference (and I visit at least 7-8 of these blogs every single day).

And unlike last year I'm not picking myself so that leaves out WAWBII as well as Raw Story (which arguably isn't a blog anyway) and ePluribus Media.

And there are no prizes for winners just cyber pats on the back.

Press Think

Loaded Mouth


The Common Ills

wot is it good 4

big brass blog

booman tribune

The Brad Blog


Daily Kos

Honorable Mentions

the farmer's one of my faves but since he's not with his old crew anymore they didn't make the cut - but still got a link in this post so what the hey...but check out the farmer's most recent post at harry dogwater )~ to see how he makes MSNBC look as silly as silly can be.

In terms of how often I go to each blog - if for no other reason: Eschaton and Crooks and Liars. I go to Atrios' blog because I have to; but too many empty threads and too few brilliant posts these days hardly even qualifies it for even a honorable mention. As for C&L, I think this post is enough for disqualification (but if any blog on this list deserves donations then it's definitely Crooks and Liars because they provide a tremendous service to the blogosphere and John and Co. are much more than just videos).

...more honorable mentions to come...including my favorite right-leaning blog and blogs that make me laugh on every visit almost nearly without exception...


Friday, December 23, 2005

The Unknown GOP Soldier: Bobby Eberle

Jeff Gannon's former publisher at Talon News is running for Vice Chairman of the Texas Republican Party.

Remember back in February when all the Republicans from Texas denied ever hearing of him?

Go to Raw Story to read my first article on Eberle's candidacy: Former Jeff Gannon publisher running for Vice Chair of Texas GOP.

Stay tuned for part two which will contain some dirty details about the race Eberle has ahead of him.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Power Line Left Behind

I always get suspicious when I read a blog post that contains no embedded or attached hyperlinks.

John Hinderaker wrote at Power Line:

I've been working on and off on the legal issues surrounding the NSA's interception of communications directed to al Qaeda members overseas, some of which originated in the United States. I haven't had time yet to write up a full analysis of the case law. For now, let me just say that the question does not appear to be close. Under all existing authorities, the NSA program, as we understand the facts, was legal.

For now, let me simply quote the November 2002 decision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, in Sealed Case No. 02-001:

The Truong court [United States v. Truong Dinh Hung, 4th Cir. 1980], as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. *** We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power.

And those are cases that deal with electronic intercepts inside the United States. A fortiori, intercepts outside the United States that coincidentally sweep in messages sent from America would seem to be obviously within the President's inherent Article II powers. So far, I have found no authority to the contrary.

Thanks to reader Andrew Strnad.

Hinderaker doesn't provide links to back this up but he does provide asterisks.

Here's a link to the November 2002 opinion (Attached note: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Federal Reporter).

Here's another to one of the things the asterisks replaced, endnote #26:

26 Although the plurality opinion in Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594, 633-51 (D.C. Cir. 1975) (en banc), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 944 (1976), suggested the contrary in dicta, it did not decide the issue.

Here's a pdf link to some background on Zweibon v. Mitchell (from a related ACLU brief for FISC, Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court):

Zweibon v. Mitchell involved an FBI wiretap of the Jewish Defense League. See 516 F.2d. at 606. The tap was installed without prior judicial approval and, according to the Attorney General, had been installed to “provide[] advance knowledge of any activities of JDL causing international embarrassment to this country.” Id. at 609. The court rejected the argument that the wiretap was proper notwithstanding the government’s failure to obtain prior judicial approval, basing its argument principally on the finding that a warrant procedure would not fetter the legitimate intelligence-gathering functions of the Executive Branch. See id. at 651. The court also noted the risk that expansive and unchecked executive surveillance powers might chill protected speech. See id. at 634. Although the surveillance in Zweibon was installed under a presidential directive in the name of foreign intelligence gathering for the protection of national security, the targets of the surveillance were neither foreign powers nor their agents. See id. at 614. The court opined in dicta, however, that "absent exigent circumstances, all warrantless electronic surveillance is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional." Id. at 613-14 (emphasis added).

Contained in a footnote marked #9 at the end of the preceding passage:

9 The Court also noted that a limitation of warrantless surveillance to agents of a foreign power would "not alter the fact that First Amendment rights of others are likely to be chilled." Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d. at 635. "Under such a test," the court noted, "a few alien members in a political organization would justify surveillance of the conversations of all members." Id.

But, in all fairness, John Hinderaker hasn't "had time yet to write up a full analysis of the case law" so maybe he'll get to Zweibon v. Mitchell in a future post.

In the meantime, The New York Times is reporting in a story, Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls, written by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau:

A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international."

Regardless of what happens - whether or not it is legally or politically determined that President Bush's actions were constitutional - one thing's for sure: Bush lied in 2004.

Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Even if civil liberties don't matter that much after you're dead I'm not sure how the White House and its blogger defenders will respond to the latest developments but you can bet they will, with or without attached or embedded hyperlinks.

(NOTE: Congressman Conyers' Downing Street Minutes report recommends censure and further investigations for Bush and Cheney. I haven't had time to read it yet so I'll wait before further commenting but I did notice that an article I worked on at Raw Story with John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna - U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war - is cited twice: pretty cool).


Monday, December 19, 2005

Maybe Cheney Should Blame Ashcroft

Dick Cheney:

Vice President Richard Cheney said the September 11 attacks on the United States could have been averted, if the government had the power to monitor electronic communications inside the country.

'It's the kind of capability if we'd had before 9/11 might have led us to be able to prevent 9/11,' Cheney said in an interview with ABC's 'Nightline' program.

But Cheney reminded that two of the Sept 11 terrorists were in San Diego, California before the attacks and communicating with Al-Qaeda sources outside the United States.

'We didn't know it,' he said. 'The 9/11 Commission talks about it. If we'd had this capability, then we might well have been able to stop it.'

9/11 Commission as reported in The New York Times on April 13, 2004:

Commission officials said that there was irony in the panel's finding that before Sept. 11, Mr. Ashcroft may have been too timid about seeking electronic surveillance of terror suspects. They said their investigation suggested that until the attacks, Mr. Ashcroft had resisted signing emergency warrants that would have allowed eavesdropping in terrorism investigations, apparently because he had only a rudimentary knowledge of how the warrant process worked.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

There's no 'we' in 'draft dodger'

Dick Cheney went to Iraq today (I assume because he ran out of deferments).

Perhaps 'we' should give him props for fielding tough questions from the troops. But this is just a stop-over for the Vice President. On Christmas Dick Cheney will be able to kick back with his family and listen to Jessica Simpson 'music.'

That's probably why this happened:

When he delivered the applause line, "We're in this fight to win. These colors don't run," the only sound was a lone whistle.

That's a despicable thing to say to our fighting men.

No one's asking any of them to 'run.'

If we do pull out of Iraq it will be the decision of whatever Administration is in power, not the troops.

Dick Cheney should save the 'we' for when he's talking to neo-con chicken hawks. He hasn't earned the right to 'rally' the troops. Hell, at least Bush served in TANG. Cheney ran in 1965 when he began racking up deferments: five in total.

Must've been an aide that whistled.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Jeff Gannon Gay-baits Ron Reagan Jr.

Jeff Gannon to Ron Reagan Jr.(at his eponymous blog):

"btw, Twinkle-toes, what's YOUR journalism background?"

Urban Dictionary definition for "twinkle toes"

An effeminate homosexual male; a fairy.

More at PageOneQ.

Of course, this is Jeff Gannon's plagiarism background and foreground. More coming soon at ePluribus Media on all that.


9/11, UFOs and Bush

I have a new article at Raw Story called 9/11, UFOs and Bush: Pentagon FOIA requests, 2000-2005.

A little lighter reading than usual. Here's my favorite FOIA request from the lists (downloadable at Raw Story):



Thursday, December 15, 2005

NBC Reports My Raw Story

I added an update to the last post but - just in case you missed it - my article at Raw Story - Antiwar protests monitored by U.S. Military - which built off of a Department of Defense database obtained by NBC News that lists nearly 50 peaceful protests during a ten month period that were viewed as possible "threats" led to a report on an NBC affiliate.

As I wrote yesterday:

I just got off the phone with a reporter from an NBC affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa who is planning to interview Elton Davis, a peace activist who was arrested at an anti-nuclear vigil included in the database (mentioned in my article). The August 9, 2004 vigil - for some reason - was entered into the database, months after it occurred, in November of 2004: a mystery.

Mark Tauscheck's NBC report can be accessed online at the Des Moines affiliate link: WHO TV. Just hit the link that says "Terror Watch List" and make sure you're using Internet Explorer. Although, Raw Story (and little old me) isn't mentioned in the's nice to see it reach a wider audience.

(Correction: This jealous Knicks fan wrote Elton Brand instead of Elton Davis)


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Raw Probes U.S. Anti-war Espionage

(Updated 12/15/05 8:30 PM)

I have a new article running at Raw Story today - Antiwar protests monitored by U.S. Military - which builds off of a Department of Defense database obtained by NBC News that lists nearly 50 peaceful protests during a ten month period that were viewed as possible "threats."

NBC's story - Is the Pentagon Spying on Americans? written by Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit - provided details on some of the groups and events on the list and my article added more.

I just got off the phone with a reporter from an NBC affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa who is planning to interview Elton Davis, a peace activist who was arrested at an anti-nuclear vigil included in the database (mentioned in my article). The August 9, 2004 vigil - for some reason - was entered into the database, months after it occurred, in November of 2004: a mystery.


Walter Pincus at the Washington Post reports that Pentagon Will Review Database on U.S. Citizens:

Pentagon officials said yesterday that they have ordered a review of a program aimed at countering terrorist attacks that had compiled information about U.S. citizens, after reports that the database included information on peace protesters and others whose activities posed no threat and should not have been kept on file.


Although defense officials defended the Pentagon's interest in gathering information about potential threats to military installations and troops, one senior official acknowledged that a preliminary review of the database indicated that it had not been correctly maintained.

"On the surface, it looks like things in the database that were determined not to be viable threats were never deleted but should have been," the official said. "You can also make the argument that these things should never have been put in the database in the first place until they were confirmed as threats."

Also at WaPo, there's more info about other protests in William M. Arkin's blog, Early Warning.

Crooks and Liars has a video of the original NBC News report as featured on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show: Quakers!.


The NBC report based on my story is viewable at the Des Moines affiliate link: WHO TV. Just hit the link that says "Terror Watch List" and make sure you're using Internet Explorer. Although, Raw Story (and little old me) isn't mentioned in the's nice to see it reach a wider audience.

(Correction: This jealous Knicks fan wrote Elton Brand instead of Elton Davis)


WaPo's Froomkin Vs. Harris Part 1

In case you missed it, there's a little brouhaha stewing at the Washington Post between Washington Press Briefing columnist Dan Froomkin and Washington national politics editor John Harris.

Rather than summarizing it...I suggest you hit Jay Rosen's Press Think to get the gist of the fracas.

Perhaps Harris has a chip on his shoulder about a column that Froomkin wrote in August of 2004 which seemingly took a jab at something he wrote.

From Froomkin's August 16, 2004 column, Revolt of the Press Corps:

The press corps appears to have had about enough of those hokey "Ask President Bush" events.

Instead of taking questions from reporters, President Bush has become increasingly partial to playing talk-show host to an audience of sycophantic fans.

There were four "Ask President Bush" events last week and in each case, after a long speech and staged interviews with prepped guests, Bush opened the floor to some incredible softballs.

The format allows the president to come off as very smooth.

As John Harris writes in The Washington Post: "In loosening his style, Bush tightened his message. Fielding friendly questions at 'Ask President Bush' forums, or lathering up the crowds at pep rallies like the one here on Saturday afternoon, he presented his case for reelection with a force and fluency that sometimes eluded him at important moments over the past year."

There's never a nasty question, never a heckler, nothing but love. That makes for great imagery and great soundbytes.

But now the press is pulling back the curtain.

Froomkin then adds a few links and quotes from articles which expose the "Ask President Bush" forums for the shams that they were.

The implication being that John Harris was perfectly fine with that curtain.

Hell, Harris' piece was an "analysis" as opposed to a news story...yet there's nothing harsher than the word "friendly" employed to describe the stagecrafted "events."

Hell, check out Harris' title for his "analysis": Shirtsleeves Style Is a Strong Suit for Bush.

Some excerpts from Harris' August 16, 2004 "analysis":

President Bush has formidable obstacles to reelection, but he served a reminder last week that he is a politician with formidable strengths.

Anyone who doubts it should spend some time watching the shirtsleeves campaign. In five days of energetic campaigning through five swing states, Bush looked and sounded like someone dropping by a neighbor's lawn party -- no coat, no tie, rolled-up sleeves, and conversational speeches in which he implored voters to "put a man in there who can get the job done."


Two weeks before the Republican National Convention, Bush's performances in recent days suggested someone who has settled on a comfortable marriage of message and style. Applause lines, anecdotes, and wisecracks at Kerry's expense rolled off at a steady clip. There was a buoyant, jaunty manner that announced a politician who is relishing his fight.

That's about all I can stand to quote from Harris' "analysis." If Harris' assignment was to basically find a way to reprint excerpts from Bush's speeches without having to show alternative points of view then he definitely succeeded.

Along with a number of jabs at Kerry, Harris allows Bush to insist "that Congress acted on the same intelligence he did in giving bipartisan approval to an Iraq war resolution" which is a line that screams out for "analysis."

But Harris is okay with the Bush bubble. It's that dastardly Froomkin who has become an "obstacle" to the hard work of acting as White House stenographers.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Viveca Novak's Scoop

In January or March or May of 2004, Time's Viveca Novak scored herself a scoop.

But she ignored it.

From What Viveca Novak told Fitzgerald:

Toward the end of one of our meetings, I remember Luskin looking at me and saying something to the effect of "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt." I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, "Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around TIME." He looked surprised and very serious. "There's nothing in the phone logs," he said. In the course of the investigation, the logs of all Rove's calls around the July 2003 time period--when two stories, including Matt's, were published mentioning that Plame was Wilson's wife--had been combed, and Luskin was telling me there were no references to Matt. (Cooper called via the White House switchboard, which may be why there is no record.)

Here's what should have been published:

White House phone logs show no calls with Time reporter, source says

by Viveca Novak (January, March or May, 2004)

A search through White House phone logs reveal there is no record that senior political adviser Karl Rove spoke to Time's Matthew Cooper within the July 2003 time period pertaining to the Plame leak probe, according to a source closely acquainted with the investigation.

But Time lost Viveca Novak's scoop because she knew right away that she said too much to Luskin and that she couldn't very well tell her editors or Matthew Cooper.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dear Washington Press

Judith Miller's testimonial account was one thing.

Bob Woodward's testimonial account was a similiar thing.

But Viveca Novak's testimonial account is something else entirely.

Journalism sins aside, I feel bad for Viveca Novak.

This might really cost her.

Swopa at Needlenose writes:

But as it turns out, just for the sake of stalling Rove's indictment for a month or two, Luskin has torched Novak's career with Time (which notes as the end of her article that she is on a mutually agreed "leave of absence"). It seems that Viveca didn't tell her bosses about her chats with Luskin to begin with, nor even when she first was interviewed by Fitzgerald -- and when she did admit her involvement after being asked to testify under oath, they weren't happy.

There should be an object lesson there for Washington, D.C. reporters playing the "access journalism" game ... the sources who you're covering up for even as they give you lies and personal smears will burn you in the blink of an eye if it helps them in the slightest.

Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher is a little harsh...but he's right:

Where will it end, and when will reporters pay with their jobs? First we learn that Bob Woodward failed to tell his editor for years about his role in the Plame/CIA leak case. Today, we find out that Time reporter Viveca Novak not only kept her editors in the dark about her own involvement, but even had a two-hour chat with the special prosecutor about it well before telling her superiors.

At the end of her first-person account at Time online today, we are told in a brief editor's note that she is by ”mutual agreement” now on a “leave of absence.” Has she been taken to the woodshed and, if not, why not?


At one point in the piece, Novak says she wishes she could have a “do over,” and that she had told her bureau chief about all this earlier. Time magazine: Your move.

This is going to get even uglier.

More and more journalists are going to get sucked into this.

But it's still not too late.

I have little doubt that there are more Bob Woodwards, Judith Millers, and Viveca Novaks out there. Why not come clean now? You might still get to keep your job...or at least part of your reputation.

Things aren't looking so hot for Viveca Novak. She made a few mistakes that might cost her tremendously.

No one should be gleeful at that.


From David Johnston's New York Times article, Lawyer knew Rove was a source, reporter says (RSS link):

Time's managing editor, Jim Kelly, said in a telephone interview: "I'm taking this seriously. I'm upset and she's upset," adding that her article "was full of regret about what happened."

Mr. Kelly suggested that were several issues of concern to editors, among them her failure to alert editors in a timely way about her conversation with Mr. Luskin and her dealings with the prosecutor. Mr. Kelly said that he would meet with Ms. Novak early next year to decide if further steps were warranted.

(more updates later tonight)


Bob Woodward Wants a Roadmap for Blogs

On December 5th Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein participated in a forum called "Anonymous sources, lessons learned" at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

There was some media coverage here and here (Harvard here and here) but not as much as one would think. Even though Woodward is news, it seems that Glen Johnson's version of what happened (and what was "newsworthy") for the Associated Press (the first link) was commonly accepted by the mainstream media as all there is to note of it.

But it takes a blogger to pick out the part when Bob Woodward picked on bloggers:

"On the Internet - I mean look it's a problem...we gotta face it - people can say...somebody can say anything about anyone and believe me they do. And somebody's gotta come out with some way of giving at least people a roadmap and saying, 'this has reporting standards, this does not' because you go and google somebody or you google something and who knows what's going to pop out of..."

You can watch or download the video here or check back because I'm going to transcribe some of the parts that deal with the Plame case and post them here in the next day or so.

(ENDNOTE - As you're impatiently waiting for Viveca Novak's version of what she told Patrick Fitzgerald about what she told Robert Luskin to hit the Time Website sometime today - it should be here at some point but don't get fooled into thinking that "Hooray, I've been indicted" is the right article - make sure you check out Jay Rosen's long-awaited take on Bob Woodward which everyone is - rightfully - raving about)


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Richard Pryor: 'The Bed Is On My Foot!'

The legendary Richard Pryor suffered a heart attack and passed away today.

I've watched Saturday Night Live since I was a little tot...and the episode Pryor hosted still reigns as one of the best. The two sketches that I love the most are the job interview with Chevy Chase which becomes hysterically racially charged and the brilliant Exorcist parody with Pryor's memorable refrain:

"The bed is on my foot! The bed is on my foot!"


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Burt Prelutsky is no Dr. Seuss

(via Eschaton via Roger (not really) Ailes)

From Burt Prelutsky's The Jewish Grinch Who Stole Christmas:

Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn’t, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in. Assimilation wasn’t a threat to anyone; it was what the Statue of Liberty represented. E pluribus unum, one out of many, was our motto. The world’s melting pot was our nickname. It didn’t mean that any group of people had to check their customs, culture or cuisine, at the door. It did mean that they, and especially their children, learned English, and that they learned to live and let live.

That has changed, you may have noticed. And I blame my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.


I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

Ouch is all I'm gonna add to that...kind of speaks for itself.

Aside from liberals, there's at least one Pajama blogger that disagrees with Prelutsky' libel (though not vociferously enough).

Burt was - allegedly - a humor columnist for the L.A. Times but after checking out some of his other columns I guess I fail to see much wit in his work (along with spewing hate, Burt's also been a tv critic and writer...he even wrote a few early episodes of M*A*S*H), but maybe you got be a right-winger to appreciate his humor.

From Burt's The Two Americas:

Some cynics insist that there are no longer standards in our society. I disagree. We have plenty of standards, but they’re double standards. For instance, there’s one for blacks and one for whites, one for Christians and another for Muslims and atheists, one for conservatives and one for liberals.

For instance, if a white person speaks critically even about black thugs, crack dealers and unwed teenagers, he’s immediately tarred as a racist. Blacks, on the other hand, are not only free to denounce whites, but they’re lionized for their efforts. Recently, a black ex-professor, while on a panel at Howard University’s law school, claimed that whites had a plan to kill blacks -- and the only solution to the problem was for blacks to exterminate the entire white race. C-Span saw fit to broadcast his insane diatribe, sharing his hate speech with its worldwide audience. Can you in your wildest dreams imagine their covering a Klan convention? No, neither can I.

Every black minister can count on being trotted out for photo ops every time a Democrat runs for dog catcher, but let a white parson speak out on an issue, and leftists start running around, screaming about separation of church and state.

From Burt's Islam is a riot:

Frankly, what I most fear is that in a world in which multiculturalists, including even President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, feel obliged to bow and scrape to Muslims, in a world so overflowing with infantile feel-good rhetoric about the joys of Islam, that it will eventually and inevitably give rise to fascism.

Each time I hear people defending Islam, pretending that it’s merely another humanistic faith like Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, I wonder if they would have insisted that National Socialism was just another political party, and that being a Nazi was no different from being a Republican or a Democrat. I worry that in a world filled with folks lying about the emperor, it will finally take a Hitler to point out he’s as naked as a jaybird.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing people parroting the lie that Islam is a religion of peace. I suppose so long as you’re willing to set aside your bible and pick up the Koran and start kneeling to Mecca, they’ll let you live in peace; unless, of course, you belong to a different sect. In which case, in the name of the great and merciful Allah, they’d have no choice but to cut your head off.

Burt has a letter he wrote at his homepage to the editor of Jewish Journal defending Bernard Goldberg for including 25 Jews in his "100 People Are Screwing Up America" screed and defending the right for Jews to self-loathe (you go, Burt):

I think you are being ingenuous when you point out that Jews make up only 2% of America's population, but 25% of Mr. Goldberg's list of major and minor villains. It's true that we make up a tiny portion of the 300,000,000, but it's also true that we are greatly over-represented when it comes to our numbers in politics, show business and the media. It is only logical that the folks who are the most high-profile, the most influential, would be in the best position to screw up the country.

I noticed that you did not actually rush to the defense of people such as Arthur Sulzberger, Noam Chomsky, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Al Franken, Howard Stern, Barbara Streisand and George Soros, and I don't blame you. (Heck, by the time I put the book down, I was just grateful that at least Michael Moore, Robert Byrd and Al Sharpton, weren't Jewish.)

Instead, you attacked Mr. Goldberg for daring to suggest that in his honest opinion twenty-five Jews were doing more than their part to destroy this nation's culture and lower its level of civility. Then, for good measure, you claimed he should be ashamed of himself because real life anti-Semites took his words to heart. How's that his fault? I have heard of guilt by association, but guilt by no association? That's a new one.

Apparently, if a gentile says something bad about Jews, even if it should happen to be true once in a while, he's a Nazi bastard. And if a Jew such as Mr. Goldberg dares criticize another Jew, it makes him a good-for-nothing self-hater. In short, nobody can even dare suggest that we are anything but wise and wonderful.

My favorite episode of M*A*S*H was the first episode with Harry Morgan who played the role of Colonel Sherman Potter for many, many years. But Morgan's first appearance was in 1974 in an episode called The General Flipped At Dawn. Morgan's a crazy general who tries to court-martial Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce. At the hearing, a black pilot is set to testify but Morgan wants him to sing a song instead. Morgan begins singing an old spiritual (forget which one) and runs out of the tent singing like a loon.

At the end of the episode we learn that Morgan's general got a promotion instead of a section eight. Morgan won an Emmy for his performance, and soon after got a plum role on the show when McLean Stevenson's character was killed off (and what an illustrious career Steven ended up with...who doesn't remember "Hello Larry"?).

What will Burt Prelutsky earn for his pathetic pandering?

(In a related story...check out Brad Blog for a hilarious video of Jon Stewart declaring war against Christmas.)


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

America's Downing Street Memo?

Just maybe.

More later.

For now, read eriposte's The White House Iraq Protocol (WHIP) for Deceiving the United States to see for yourself.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Damn Good Question

The Washington Post Politics Hour on Tuesday had national political reporter Tom Edsall fielding questions.

Here's a most excellent question:

Minneapolis, Minn.: This past weekend The Post published a story on Viveca Novak's role in the Plame matter that on key points directly contradicted a story published a couple of days earlier in the New York Times, clearly driven by the desire of The Post's -- anonymous -- sources to claim the Times' story mistaken. The Times' story was also driven by claims made by obviously different anonymous sources. How on earth are we readers supposed to decide between these stories and gain knowledge of the case when we've got contradictory information being floated by anonymous sources whose motives we are unable to judge, and when the two papers don't seem to post corrections or amendments as long as they're just reporting what anonymous sources have told them?

That said, any news on the Plame case? When are we going to get The Post's promised story on the role of Cheney in coaching Libby on what to say to journalists about the Plame affair in July (and possible June) 2003?

Tom Edsall: There is no way for the reader to resolve the two-paper contradictory anonymous source issue, except to judge over time which paper produces more accurate information. I think the Post would welcome such a competitive test.

Great question...absolutely awful answer.

Here's my question: When the hell is WaPo going to address the controversy surrounding the "friendship" of Time reporter Viveca Novak and Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin?

On November 29, Jim VandeHei wrote:

It could not be learned what Luskin and Novak, who are friends, discussed that could help prove Rove did nothing illegal in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters and the subsequent investigation of it.

On December 3, VandeHei (and Carol D. Leonnig) wrote:

A conversation between longtime friends -- Viveca Novak, who has helped cover the case for Time, and Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney -- is at the heart of the latest legal maneuvering in the two-year-old case.

Meanwhile, David Corn keeps insisting that Luskin and Novak aren't friends.

WaPo needs to explain why it is they are characterizing the "entanglement" as a friendship, because if it's true - as I wrote last week:

Time reporter Viveca Novak has a conflict of interest which should have precluded her from ever being assigned to stories about the Plame leak.

And while we're at it, Time Magazine needs to explain why one of their lead reporters on the Plame leak case wasn't "in the loop" about Rove being Matt Cooper's source and could only draw from gossip. Personally, I don't believe that shit for a second. Viveca Novak was wrong to give up Cooper's source, and even if it was done to get Luskin to open up, and even if Viveca was just offering up gossip, I don't understand how anyone at the magazine could ever trust her to keep their sources to herself ever again.


Monday, December 05, 2005

GOP FOIA Tomfoolery

I have a new article up at Raw Story that developed from the FOIA requests list which Michael Petrelis acquired last month.

Here are some excerpts from Closer look at Pentagon logs finds masked political requests from Republican Senate staffers:

A closer examination of documents released by the Pentagon which log all requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act shows that various individuals connected to the Republican party -- including at least five former staff members for the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- filed requests on Democratic congressmembers without identifying their employer.

Democrats, on the other hand, were more likely to state their affiliation: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made eight requests of the Pentagon by name since 2000 as RAW STORY reported last week.


The Pentagon logs, obtained by blogger Michael Petrelis and given to RAW STORY, include requests from names who appear on the 2001 Congressional staff directory.

Those names include: Krista Cole, Josh Hartsell, Brent Lancaster, Brian Rogers and Hannah Walker. Cole, Hartsell and Lancaster made requests on the same date: June 28, 2001, as did Edward Newton, who later received payment from the Republican party.

You can read the rest of the article at Raw Story.


What That time.

Guess what movie.

Winner gets nothing except their name promoted from comments to post - and I guess - satisfaction of a sort.


What That

I got a new toy. And since I have an embarrassingly large DVD collection I figure I might as well put it to use.

Guess what movie.

Winner gets nothing except their name promoted from comments to post - and I guess - satisfaction of a sort.


Bloppo guessed it correctly. John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate and the still is taken from a groundbreaking 360 degree shot from a dream sequence. Frank Sinatra looks bored as Lawrence Harvey pays attention to the speaker.

"Why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire" until the next edition of What That (or the next usual crap post goes up about whatever propaganda at the time sucks me in).


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Public Embarrassment and/or Ridicule

Here's a pdf of the latest Plame leak probe document which Patrick Fitzgerald filed in court on Friday in relation to the Wall Street Journal's battle to un-redact parts of the February 15, 2005 appeals court decision which affirmed that Judith Miller and Time's Matt Cooper were in contempt of court at the time for refusing to testify: "Government's response to motion of Dow Jones & Co. to unseal redacted portion of the court's opinion."

Fitzgerald is going to allow all the stuff about Libby to be released but not much else. Perhaps there's a few White House press reporters sighing in relief about this decision:

"However, the Special Counsel has concluded that secrecy continues to be necessary with respect to the remainder of the redacted pages, in order to protect from public embarrassment or ridicule individuals whose status as grand jury witnesses or subjects has not been publicly disclosed, as well as to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation."


"In addition, all but one of the witnesses discussed in this portion of the redacted pages have publicly disclosed the substance of their own testimony before the grand jury."

Aside from the fact that the latter quote seems to imply (or compels me to speculate or maybe even blogulate) that at least one other journalist talked with Libby and - most importantly - told the grand jury whom we the public haven't heard from yet, there's another thing that makes me wonder.

Is Fitz giving the blogosphere a shout-out?

"Public embarrassment or ridicule" is what we're known for, right, Tina Brown?

Speaking of PE or R...

Judy Miller told the BBC that it was after her second meeting with Scooter Libby on July 8, 2003 that she "began to think that this was potentially newsworthy."

What was this?

From A Personal Account - My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room by Judith Miller:

"At that breakfast meeting, our conversation also turned to Mr. Wilson's wife. My notes contain a phrase inside parentheses: "Wife works at Winpac." Mr. Fitzgerald asked what that meant. Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the C.I.A. that, among other things, analyzes the spread of unconventional weapons."

"I said I couldn't be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame's identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation. But I told the grand jury that I believed that this was the first time I had heard that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for Winpac. In fact, I told the grand jury that when Mr. Libby indicated that Ms. Plame worked for Winpac, I assumed that she worked as an analyst, not as an undercover operative."

Or was it this?

"Mr. Fitzgerald asked about a notation I made on the first page of my notes about this July 8 meeting, "Former Hill staffer.""

"My recollection, I told him, was that Mr. Libby wanted to modify our prior understanding that I would attribute information from him to a "senior administration official." When the subject turned to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Libby requested that he be identified only as a "former Hill staffer." I agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill."

"Did Mr. Libby explain this request? Mr. Fitzgerald asked. No, I don't recall, I replied. But I said I assumed Mr. Libby did not want the White House to be seen as attacking Mr. Wilson."

Time's running out, White House press people.

If you haven't figured it out by now any little thing you might have heard from (or told) a White House official (or mouthpiece) directly related to Valerie Wilson Plame before Robert Novak went to press is way more than just "newsworthy" at this not-sure-where stage in the "ongoing" game. It's also subpoenable.

Come out tomorrow and you might still face a little "public embarrassment or ridicule" but keep in mind - as James Wolcott notes - Bob Woodward has still "got a heavy lineup of Christmas parties to attend."

If Fitz don't get of your colleagues just might.

(Just wanted to add for the benefit of newer readers that even though I'm making fun a little bit I don't think that reporters should be compelled to give up their sources...even in this case...but when they do...damn straight...I believe they better be telling the truth...and most reasonable people can see that unless Woody or Judy or Matty testified in fuller detail than what they reported to us readers that that hasn't been going on to say the least)


Friday, December 02, 2005

Dear Tina Brown

In your latest Washington Post column, Anonymous Sources And a Known Quantity, you stand up for Bob Woodward and complain about "the pincer assaults of the fact-free ethical anarchy of the blogosphere" but you don't seem to get what most of the anger is about.

Kurtz got it.

As I blogged about a few days ago, Kurtz' article on Bob Woodward carried the subtitle, "For Bob Woodward, Proximity to Power Cuts Both Ways."

But you, Tina, think that Bob knows more than us about what makes an item "newsworthy."

Contrary to some of the postings from the grassy knoll, I believe Woodward when he says he didn't think the leak he heard about Valerie Plame's job was important at the time. He probably did see it as gossip, somewhere between macho knowingness and just another routine drive-by shooting from the Bush crowd. The problem is that when Woodward hears political gossip it's not a couple of lowly hacks at the office water cooler -- it's a transaction between one Big Beast at the heart of the power jungle and another. He hoarded the info for some larger reportorial purpose because that's what Big Beasts do. They don't waste time fiddling around with the quotidian crumbs from the dish of the day when they're aiming to haul in the big, fat story we'll all be chewing on for months.

Sorry, Tina, but I think the crumbs are important, and I'd prefer that the "big, fat" stories get written when they mean an election or before a war based on a lie gets launched.

And speaking of proximity to power, Tina, I was wondering who you might have as the guest of honor at your next book party. Paul Wolfowitz was such a hit back in March...maybe you can rope in Condi or Libby or somebody cool for your next big shindig.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Judith Miller BBC Newsnight Transcript

(UPDATE 11-2-05 3:30 PM)

This is a transcript that I made of Judith Miller's interview with Gavin Esler which aired on BBC Newsnight on November 30, 2005:

BBC – Do you accept that your reporting on stories about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was wrong?

JM – Absolutely. The handful of stories – about six or seven of them that I did before the war – were wrong because the sources on which they were based were wrong. And the intelligence information that I was accurately reporting was wrong. I guess if your sources are wrong, you’re going to be wrong.

BBC – But to say you got it wrong when your sources were wrong, that - as your colleagues at New York Times have said – reduces your role as a journalist to no more than a stenographer.

JM – No, on the contrary. I really reject that criticism because I did everything I could to evaluate the accuracy of the information that I was reporting. I ran those intelligence reports by officials from the United Nations inspection force. They were quoted on the record saying they agreed with these assessments or disagreed for the following reasons. I ran them by independent weapons experts. There was not a single story that was based entirely on anonymous sources.

BBC – But you relied on sources that you could not possibly corroborate including Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress who wanted a war between the United States and Iraq.

JM – First of all, he only supplied two individuals to me out of the six or seven stories. And I always identified where the information was coming from and what his political objective was…which was to overthrow the government of Iraq with American assistance so people -

BBC – But shouldn’t that have set off alarm bells?

JM – It did. It did.

BBC – But you knew he had an axe to grind...

JM - Yes.

BBC - You knew he wanted a war and you helped the allegations provided.

JM – No. I did not write stories to justify a war. I wrote stories to answer the question: What information is the White House receiving about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

BBC – Didn’t any of this sound alarm bells that you were being used…that you became a tool of people who did want a war?

JM – No. I really don’t think so. I think that -

BBC – Really? Not by anybody?!

JM – I think that what I tried to do was report the information that the White House was receiving and getting. I did not write about whether or not we should go to war in Iraq.

BBC – No, but you helped create a climate. Did you not? Where a war became justifiable because…

JM – Not… No. Not just me. But every reporter in the country who was writing roughly the same thing. Journalists are always used when they report on what the government is saying and doing behind closed doors. Someone always wants to get the message out in a particular way. The answer to insufficient stories to flawed stories and to bad intelligence information is not just an editor’s note or apology. The answer is more reporting. Let’s go and get it right.


BBC – Who was it who told you that Valerie Plame was a CIA spy?

JM – I don’t remember who supplied the name. I remember and I testified before a grand jury to who it was that told me that Valerie Plame worked at the agency in the weapons of mass destruction area and that individual was Lewis Libby…Scooter Libby.

BBC – Was there anybody else who named Valerie Plame to you as a CIA agent?

JM – Yes, other people did but I – my notes – these interviews were two years old. I never wrote a story about it. It wasn’t – I didn’t consider it very important information at the time and my notes have no indication of who those other people were…and I really couldn’t remember.

BBC – But if it was Karl Rove, for example, you’d remember.

JM – I’m not gonna talk about who my other sources were or were not.

BBC – Isn’t it inconceivable that Lewis Libby would name Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to you without authorization from his boss: the Vice President Dick Cheney?

JM – I can’t talk about the specifics of this case because I may now be a witness in a criminal trial involving Mr. Libby and I would not - in any event - speculate about his motive or what the Vice President knew or didn’t know.

BBC – Did it all seem to you rather odd, though, that you were being told that somebody was a covert CIA agent not just…

JM – I was never told that she was a covert CIA agent. Not ever. I was told that she worked for the CIA in the weapons of mass destruction area. I thought it was interesting because clearly her husband’s trip to Niger was very controversial. Her husband had written a piece for The New York Times in which he accused the Bush Administration of lying about the weapons information – this was obviously a very serious allegation – and if Ms. Plame Wilson was somehow responsible for the information he got or for arranging the trip or if she had anything to do with that trip it would have been newsworthy.

BBC – But did it not set off an immediate alarm bell that someone is trying to discredit this woman and her husband by using you?

JM – Not immediately – to tell you the truth - it was only on…at our second conversation...when I...

BBC – With Mr. Libby?

JM – With Mr. Libby that I began to think that this was potentially newsworthy.


BBC – Would you like to take this opportunity to apologize to your readers for the mistakes you made?

JM – I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect and I’m deeply sorry that the stories were wrong. I’m deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong. I’m deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and an active weapons program. I think it’s a…it’s a terrible failure. It’s a shocking failure. It’s a deeply troubling failure because if we don’t know if we didn’t know about Iraq…what do we really know about the programs of Iran or North Korea or Syria or what al Qaeda is up to?

BBC – Some of your colleagues at New York Times are very bitter about this. One said that you were in thrall to the Republican right who used you as a handmaiden absolutely in cahoots with the neo-cons in Washington. This is your colleagues.

JM - Did they say this on the record? Did they say this on camera?

BBC - Like your sources they said it off the record.

JM – I was notorious for kind of fighting hard for stories and to press ahead for stories and to keep some turf - that shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who works at a news organization. But I think…I don’t have a lot of respect for colleagues who criticize other reporters who got front page stories that we believed to be right at the time behind their back.

BBC – But one on the record and in The New York Times called you a woman of mass destruction. Was that fair?

JM – I…obviously I disagree. I think she inflates my role (laughs). I also think…I regret that The New York Times permitted that headline to be used. I think it was part of what Newsweek Magazine called The New York Times’ war on Miller. I think of myself as someone who did the only thing she could do at the time - a reporter that values the confidentiality of sources - could do. I really felt that I had no choice.

BBC – Judith Miller, thank you very much.

A short article on the interview is posted at the BBC News Website.

Aside from the fact that this is the first time Judith Miller has faced some hard questioning in front of the camera since returning from prison, this interview is "newsworthy" for the sort-of apologies Judy offers (notice how she piles on the CIA for being wrong but not the President) and a teensy bit of information she adds about who else spoke to her about Plame other than Libby.

Judy clearly says that her sources were plural...that's new...and she sure clammed up when Rove's name came up.

It seems that Judy Miller has decided to adopt the Bush doctrine: pretend that two-and-a-half years ago absolutely every single person in the world - not to mention the entire intelligence community - was in agreement about Saddam Hussein's weapon arsenal. Isn't it supposed to be elephants that never forget?


In case you don't feel like watching the Miller interview online, Brad Blog has downloads for Windows Media, Quicktime and MP3 (so you can listen to Judy on your ipod). It's worth a view or listen just to hear Gavin Ensler's magnificent retort:

"Like your sources they said it off the record."

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