Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush Takes Swipe at NY Times

A few weeks ago, Michelle Malkin and other right leaning critics savaged The New York Times for - in their eyes (and the family's eyes, too) - taking some words out of context that a Marine killed in Iraq wrote which was referred to in a close-to-5,000 word article called "2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark."

The New York Post called it "An Obscene Omission," in that The New York Times didn't fit to print more of a prophetic letter the Marine left on his laptop for his girlfriend before dying.

In his speech at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, President Bush dutifully read what the Times didn't print:

One of those fallen heroes is a Marine Corporal named Jeff Starr, who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here's what he wrote, he said, "[I]f you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq. I don't regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so they can live the way we live. Not [to] have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators_. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr and his fallen comrades -- and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight, and complete their mission.

President Bush omitted to quote the same part that The New York Times quoted from Corporal Starr's letter:

"I kind of predicted this," Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. "A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."


Dubya of Arabia

(UPDATE #2 - December 2, 11:00 AM)

President Bush's Iraq National Strategy for Victory in Iraq "outlines" eight strategic objectives or "pillars."

Lawrence of Arabia wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom but Dubya of Arabia one-ups him with eight.

But instead of emulating T.E. Lawrence's terminology a better strategy would be to take from his wisdom.

Shame was a key ingredient in Seven Pillars. Shame for leading his men under false pretenses with false promises. Shame for deceiving. Shame for over-inflating.

There is no shame for Dubya of Arabia.

From Book 7, Chapter 100 of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

"Yet I cannot put down my acquiescence in the Arab fraud to weakness of character or native hypocrisy: though of course I must have had some tendency, some aptitude, for deceit, or I would not have deceived men so well, and persisted two years in bringing to success a deceit which others had framed and set afoot. I had had no concern with the Arab Revolt in the beginning. In the end I was responsible for its being an embarrassment to the inventors. Where exactly in the interim my guilt passed from accessory to principal, upon what headings I should be condemned, were not for me to say. Suffice it that since the march to Akaba I bitterly repented my entanglement in the movement, with a bitterness sufficient to corrode my inactive hours, but insufficient to make me cut myself clear of it. Hence the wobbling of my will, and endless, vapid complainings."


First off, a shout-out to my buddy (and one-time Talon News assistant researcher), Ryan, at Liberal Avenger for linking to this post.

And I got an email from the farmer (ex-Corrente blogger extroadinaire) who cites the differences in the - at least - three different versions of Seven Pillars that Lawrence had published:

Just a quick note here on your TE Lawrence post.... and the link to the E-Book therein. The quote you've posted -- "Yet I cannot put down my acquiescence in the Arab fraud to weakness of character or native hypocrisy...." - and so sourced to Book 7, Chapter 100 in you post (via the e-book cited).


I have a copy of the first "public" edition of Seven Pillars: pub. 1935 (sitting right here in may lap as i write this) and the quote you cited appears in Book Nine "Maneuvring [sic] For a Final Stroke" Chapter 100 "Atonement, redemption, dint of consequence" (page 550) -- It (the quote you cite) is the last paragraph to that chapter.

Just sayin. It also appears that other chapters and Books have been left out of the E-Book you link to. As well, the chapters and Books are titled differently than my 1935 edition.

Which was published by Doubleday, Doran & Company in Garden City, NY. (The copy i have is the first "first published for general circulation" edition after the limited privately published edition (750 copies printed in 1926 by the same publisher).

Ha. I once called the farmer the William Faulkner of the blogosphere but he's also the David Foster Wallace.

the farmer's blog farm runoff... is on hiatus but he can now sometimes be found at harry dogwater )~: his latest - erudite and excellent, as usual - post can be found here.


Pierre Tristam, an editorial writer and columnist at the Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida and who has a new blog called Candide's Notebooks, also picked up on the "Pillars" thing.

From The President in his Labyrinth, II - Bush, T.E. Lawrence, and the Bible:

The thirty-eight page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is a pamphlet of hallucinations so crammed with in-your-face Biblical allusions and colonially Freudian slips that one wonders if the administration has abandon all pretenses of objective goals in favor of hopes and prayers hewing to the base. Embrace the inner cause: This is God’s duty for America. This is the president’s crusade: The appendix to "The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is called—and this is, unfortunately, no joke, and no laughing matter—"The Eight Pillars." Whoever wrote this wanted to one-up both the Book of Proverbs and T.E. Lawrence: In the Book of Proverbs (9:1) you read the lines, "Wisdom has built herself a house/she has erected her seven pillars." And of course T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, called his autobiography "Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph."

Make sure you read the rest of Tristam's article...speaking of erudite and excellent...I love political writers with strong literature backgrounds - and a peek at Tristam's published essays shows that he draws on it quite a bit. But then...that comes from a former English Lit major who only took a couple journalism courses back at Syracuse U.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How Ethical Is Time Magazine Anyway?

Today's Washington Post reveals that Time reporter Viveca Novak has a conflict of interest which should have precluded her from ever being assigned to stories about the Plame leak.

From Jim VandeHei's Time Reporter Called a Key to Rove's Defense In Leak Probe:

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.

As of this writing, I haven't been able to find an online code of journalism ethics or rules for Time Magazine journalists so I can't say for certain that Viveca Novak has committed an inhouse sin. But not disclosing her personal relationship in numerous articles that have used Robert Luskin as a source on and off the record would be considered a journalistic sin at other media outlets such as The New York Times.

From The New York Times Company Journalism Ethics Policy (link):

Relationships with sources require sound judgment and self-awareness to prevent the fact or appearance of partiality. Cultivating sources is an essential skill, often practiced most effectively in informal settings outside of normal business hours. Yet staff members, especially those assigned to beats, must be aware that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance. Editors, who normally have a wide range of relationships, must be especially wary of showing partiality. Where friends and neighbors are also newsmakers, journalists must guard against giving them extra access or a more sympathetic ear. When practical, the best solution is to have someone else deal with them.

From The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics (link):

Journalists should:

Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Ironically, Viveca Novak once wrote an article about ethics and conflicts of interest back in January of 2001 called How Ethical is the Bush Administration Anyway?:

That's why Bush's statement on his first day in office was exactly right: He said he expected members of his administration to act legally and ethically, adding "This means avoiding even the appearance of problems." If he meant it, he needs to enforce it.

At the very least, Time Magazine should apologize for allowing Viveca Novak to write about a source that she had a personal "entanglement" with and reassign her to another story (one where she won't have to worry about writing something that could reflect badly on a friend or his Administration official client).

How ethical is Time Magazine anyway?


Monday, November 28, 2005

Leaking Lawyer Luskin

On Sunday Time reported that a second reporter from the magazine has been sucked into the Plame leak investigation:

Fitzgerald is still trying to tie up the loose ends on Karl Rove's involvement in the case. Rove spoke to Matthew Cooper of TIME about Mrs. Wilson in July 2003, and this past July, Rove gave Cooper a specific waiver of confidentiality to testify about what was discussed. Fitzgerald has now asked a second reporter in TIME's Washington bureau, Viveca Novak, to testify under oath about conversations she had with Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, starting in May 2004, while she was covering the Plame inquiry for TIME. Novak, who is not related to columnist Robert Novak, who originally published Plame's name, is cooperating with the investigation.

So has Luskin graduated from being a supporting player to a leading role in the investigation?

Will Luskin need his own lawyer?

Pure speculation until more is released (or leaked) but it seems that Luskin has done more than just defend his client during the proceedings and in the press. A case can be made (and might be made) that Luskin has been part of the cover-up attempt.

In the winter of 2003 the Administration officials implicated (or inferred) in the affair apparently decided to adapt a clever strategy which would steer them through the investigation. The plan was to rely on journalists not to talk.

But at the same time that journalists (and stengographers) such as Matt Cooper and Judith Miller began to face the wrath of the "junkyard dog" prosecutor, Luskin talked to anyone who would listen sometimes with direct attribution and sometimes not.

But the thing about it is that Luskin often lied.

About a lot of things.

As firedoglake's Jane Hamsher shows it may have been Luskin's lies which urged Cooper to finally come clean (or as clean as he has so far):

And let's remember that Matt Cooper might be sitting in jail right now if it hadn't been for Luskin's comment to the press that "If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting." Cooper and his lawyer lunged on that statement like Jonah Goldberg on a box of Ding-Dongs and the rest is history.

Lawrence O'Donnell, who outed Rove as Cooper's source on television, wrote about Luskin's leaks back in July (link) and theorized about the reasons why and who might really be calling the shots:

After getting a lot of embarrassing attention for trying to deny to the Washington Post that Rove was the person who finally gave Cooper a specific release to testify, Luskin has gone undercover and now rarely attaches his name to the defense briefs he dictates to reporters, all of whom would love to use a source other than Luskin but no one in the prosecutor's office is leaking, so they're stuck with Luskin. The Washington Post usually identifies him as a source familiar with Rove's grand jury testimony, but Luskin has managed to negotiate a more indirect label with the Times where he appears as a source who has "been briefed on the case." The Times always points out that the source is sympathetic to Rove. Today's Times piece says that Luskin's latest description about how Rove and Lewis Libby worked together (the prosecutor might say conspired) to respond to Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece was leaked to the the Times "to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's [State of the Union] address."

That will be Rove and Libby's defense against a possible conspiracy count in the prosecutor's eventual indictment.

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called "the plot against Wilson" is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

Rove is obviously in charge of the day-to-day strategy of what Luskin leaks to the press. Rove is stealing a page from the Clinton scandal management playbook. He is trying to set the stage for the day the prosecutor turns over his cards. Rove-Luskin will then call it all "old news."

Everything Rove-Luskin has leaked has been printed in a form most favorable to the Rove defense without a word of leaked input from the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tells his story, don't expect him to accept Rove's currently uncontested claim that he does not recall who told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and don't expect the "old news" spin to work. When the prosecutor has his day, he is going to make new news.

Viveca Novak's first interesting article on the leak is from January of 2004 (though she wrote about it a few times in 2003), a web exclusive co-written by John F. Dickerson called The CIA Agent Flap: FBI Asks for Reporters to Talk. The most interesting thing about this article is that it spells out the nature of the attempted cover-up (counting on the press to keep quiet) as it relates to the releases that Bush Administration officials and White House employees were instructed to write up releasing reporters from their confidentiality aggreements:

It's plain that White House officials are under some pressure to sign the documents. "They can't refuse," said one individual who's familiar with the case. "The worst thing to be accused of here is not cooperating with the investigation." But reporters are not likely to feel the same pressure. Journalists rarely divulge the identities of confidential sources even when threatened with contempt citations so the releases may make little difference. Still, in a post-9/11 world, a case involving the disclosure of a covert agent's identity could be taken very seriously by a judge, who would have the power to jail a member of the press for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury.

For an administration that at times holds a very dim view of the press, the reputation of the Bush White House and the future of some of its officials may hang on the profession’s ethical standards.

Those ethical standards seem to be in limbo these days. Any day now another journalist will probably 'fess up to what he or she "learned" but didn't write about.

At Booman Tribune, Booman calls attention to a story that Viveca contributed to written by Massimo Calabresi called When They Knew published on July 31, 2005 that contained this line:

Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.

But the Viveca Novak story that intrigues me the most was a Web exclusive that was published on October 15, 2004 called Rove Testifies in Wilson Leak which probably pissed off Fitzgerald the most:

Karl Rove, one of President Bush’s top White House aides, testified this morning before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's name by administration sources. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald questioned Rove about his contacts with journalists in what a source familiar with Rove's situation said was his third appearance before the grand jury. "My client appeared voluntarily before the grand jury and has cooperated with the investigation since it began," said Rove's attorney Robert Luskin. "He has been assured in writing as recently as this week that he is not a target of the investigation."

Whether or not Luskin becomes a leading player in the investigation, after everything is said, leaked or done, Luskin might just lose his license to practice law. Why did he think he could get away with claiming that he possessed something in writing which he clearly did not?

Maybe that last question can be explained in another Web exclusive Time story written by Viveca Novak and John Dickerson called Grand Jury Hears Plame Case which was published on January 22, 2004 (before the time period that Fitzgerald appears to be interested in).

This story contains an interesting take on what subpoenas signify attributed to "one lawyer familiar with the case" (most probably Ruskin):

Grand juries aren't always used in criminal probes, but they are the preferred way to go in cases with potential political fallout, if only to lend credibility to the result. One conclusion to be drawn from this latest step, said one lawyer familiar with the case, is that investigators clearly have a sense of how the case is shaping up. "They clearly have a sense of what's going on and can ask intelligent questions" to bring the grand jury up to speed. A grand jury is not a trial jury, but is used as an investigative tool and to decide whether to bring indictments in a case.

Anyone who's subpoenaed in the inquiry, noted the lawyer, can be almost certain that prosecutors aren't contemplating indicting him or her. Subpoenas are rarely sent to the targets of an investigation, and if they are, the recipients must be told in advance that they are considered targets—at which point they would almost certainly cite the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions.

But Rove testified in October of 2004 "voluntarily" not under subpoena so it remains a mystery why Luskin told Viveca Novak that he had an assurance in writing that his client wasn't a target.


WaPo's Kurtz on Woodward

Washington Post staff writer and Media Notes columnist Howard Kurtz has a lengthy article in Monday's edition devoted to Bob Woodward called "The Man With the Inside Scoop," but it's the subtitle that really captures Kurtz' piece: "For Bob Woodward, Proximity to Power Cuts Both Ways."

And Kurtz certainly cuts both ways in this sometimes piercing must-reader which alternates between praise and condemnation for the secret Plame leak non-sharer. While some of the praise may get a little thick at the start of the column, from the second page and on there's so many sharp thrusts directed at Woodward from an assortment of peers, critics and once-admirers that - for more than a few seconds - you almost kind of feel bad for him.

Other Woodward issues that have "rankled" (yesterday's word) liberals for roughly the last five years are broached in the article. Much of this criticism has only been online, however, so Kurtz might be reaching a surprised and astonished audience (white is black and black is white). Once a hero, Woody has been more of a letdown to most astute liberals.

Kurtz has taken his share of licks from the left for his own familial proximity to power and has been attacked as a conservative shill and worse but - with exceptions - I've been a fan of his usually fair criticism ever since I read his talk radio takedown book, Hot Air, a few years back.

Since it's a long article I'll cut to the best parts - trapped in the middle - before weighing in on what is the most galling part of this whole Woodward story that he and his editor, Downie, refuse to really acknowledge (in other words: why I believe Woodward should be fired by The Washington Post).

Kurtz reveals that not everyone at WaPo is happy about Woodward's actions before and after he joined the Plame leak cast:

Woodward, who once headed the Metro staff, is widely admired at The Post, but a series of incidents has made some staffers question his loyalty to the paper. The Post was scooped on his book "Plan of Attack" in April 2004 when the Associated Press obtained an advance copy. Vanity Fair, not The Post, was the first to reveal this past spring that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, although in that case Woodward believed the 91-year-old former FBI official lacked the mental capacity to release him from his long-ago pledge. Metro reporters who wanted to know where they held their parking-garage meetings were miffed when Woodward revealed the Arlington location first to NBC's Tom Brokaw.

And a former Woodward source shows the danger of Woodward's reliance on access to power, in that the ones that talk to him may be given a larger role in the narrative than they might deserve:

Each Woodward book has generated its share of controversy -- particularly a hospital bed scene with a dying CIA chief William Casey in "The Veil" -- but nothing like the impassioned debate surrounding the Bush volumes. His books about Bill Clinton's administration, while nowhere near as polarizing as the work on Bush, were also dependent on top-level sources.

"He needs as his window into history the people who talk to him," says former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, noting that not everyone in that White House cooperated with Woodward. "That gives you a very flawed and distorted view.

"I certainly was a source on some of his books. I felt like I ended up having a prominent role that really didn't reflect reality. My role was inflated because I talked to him. You become part of the breathless narrative."

That - in a nutshell - is the problem with mainstream journalism. Rather than spending the time digging and researching, most reporters just write down what people tell them. Getting the interview is a bigger coup than finding that document (through a FOIA request perhaps) or digging through Congressional records like the great Izzy Stone used to do.

Back to Kurtz (and the reason why Woodward should get shitcanned):

Woodward made a "serious mistake" in not informing him about the Plame conversation, Downie says, even as Woodward was repeatedly criticizing special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald as a "junkyard dog" whose conduct in issuing subpoenas to reporters was "disgraceful." But, says Downie, "the fact that people would see that as a firing offense is unfathomable to me.

It's "unfathomable" to us "armchair critics" that we have to spell this out...because even Kurtz lets this go with no response.

First off, the "junkyard dog" epithet was a compliment so it's stupid to keep pounding on Woodward about this. Go to the Larry King CNN transcript and see for yourself:

"And, there's a lot of innocent actions in all of this but what has happened this prosecutor, I mean I used to call Mike Isikoff when he worked at the "Washington Post" the junkyard dog. Well this is a junkyard dog prosecutor and he goes everywhere and asks every question and turns over rocks and rocks under rocks and so forth...And it doesn't leak and I think it's quite possible that though probably unlikely that he will say, you know, there was no malice or criminal intent at the start of this. Some people kind of had convenient memories before the grand jury. Technically they might be able to be charged with perjury."

Woodward was clearly saying that Fitzgerald, like Isikoff, was so proficient an operator that he would go everywhere and anywhere to finish his job. No malice at all was meant in that off-hand remark that's taken up too much of the debate.

But Woodward was clearly advocating a position on national television which was designed - most of all - to cover his own ass.

Woodward was scared of being indicted. So he kept shut about his role in the affair and did his best to dissuade a prosecutor who has been keeping a very close eye on press coverage as shown in his indictments and letters to assorted attorneys.

If Woodward had only been guilty of lying that would be a far lesser offense. But by covering up his own involvement Woodward has 'forever-more' crippled his credibility and stature.

And...then there's the matter of that 18 page list of questions that Woodward sent to Cheney.

Apparently, it's "unfathomable" to Woodward and WaPo why that should be a no-no as evidenced by Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell's most recent column on all things Bob:

In a statement about his deposition, Woodward said that he submitted an 18-page list of questions to Vice President Cheney before he interviewed him for "Plan of Attack." Many readers were surprised that Woodward would tell a source what he intended to ask and said they thought he was going easy on a source. It is not uncommon in journalism, especially in highly complex stories, to let sources know what questions or issues will be asked. That doesn't mean that a reporter won't ask questions not on the list.

Why don't they get it?

It's not about whether or not Woodward won't be able to ask other questions it's that giving the questions well in advance allows his subject to closely vet and discuss with others the appropriate responses. That's not good journalism (sometimes it can be...but not as a rule). When Bob sends in his questions he's not getting a straight answer...he's getting a well-rehearsed one.

(I'm working on an article which will use Washington Post journalism rules to show what exactly Woodward did wrong...kind of like the piece I wrote for Jay Rosen's Press Think on The New York Times and Judith check back in a few days for that...and speaking of Jay...he's quoted in the Kurtz piece so make sure you read the whole darn thing)


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Does The Washington Post Help or Hurt America?

(UPDATE: Armando at Daily Kos absolutely eviscerates WaPo and the poll here!)

Via a Daily Kos diary, a new poll cited by The Washington Post in Sunday's edition shows that the problems at the paper don't begin and end with Bob Woodward's role in the Plame leak nor WaPo's dumbass refusal to publish the names of countries identified in their "exclusive" CIA secret prisons stories unless they appear under an Associated Press byline.

From "Sympathetic Vibrations" by Chris Cillizza and Peter Slevin:

Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney's suggestion that criticism of the administration's war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney's point.

Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale -- with 44 percent saying morale is hurt "a lot," according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush's Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.

The stupid poll doesn't rankle's the reporting of the poll that should rankle everyone.

This is the "morale" question from the poll:

Thinking about the war in Iraq, when Democratic Senators criticize the President’s policy on the war in Iraq, do you believe it HELPS the morale of our troops in Iraq or HURTS the morale of our troops in Iraq?

How in God's name would criticism help troop morale?

That's got to be the dumbest polling question I've ever seen in my life.

But it doesn't matter to WaPo's Chris Cillizza and Peter Slevin, who are just out to "rankle."



Saturday, November 26, 2005

Our Incurious Press

Over at Raw Story, we've been poring through thousands of requests made of the Pentagon under the Freedom of Information Act since 2000, that blogger Michael Petrelis (who rocks, by the way) FOIA'ed for in the hopes of finding ones made by ex-New York Times stenographer Judith Miller.

Not only were no requests filed by Judy, but - together - The New York Times and USA Today and The Wall Street Journal made less than 40 as John Byrne points out at Raw Story: Freedom of Information logs shed light on media's military curiosity.

Editor and Publisher also made note of this bizarre incuriousity: Are Media Using the FOIA Enough to Get Military Info?.

More later on this.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Complete Blogroll

To make my front page easier to load I had to move this huge list of lists to a separate page. I'm still making changes, so some of these great blogs will move back to the front page at some later date (and I still have new blogs to add to this big list, as well).

  • Press Think
  • wotisitgood4
  • The Common Ills
  • Loaded Mouth
  • ePluribus Media
  • ePluribus Scoop
  • Constructive Anarchy*new
  • Political Cortex
  • Petrelis Files
  • Cannonfire
  • The Brad Blog
  • Corrente
  • CorrenteWire*new
  • My Left Wing
  • Congressman John Conyers
  • The Sideshow
  • Back to Iraq
  • The Next Hurrah
  • The Higher Pie
  • Pushing Rope*new
  • Right As Rain*new
  • Young Libs
  • Mixter's Mix
  • The Left Coaster
  • firedoglake
  • Disinfotainment Today
  • The New Democrat
  • Progressive Blog Alliance
  • Chepooka
  • The Green Knight
  • Blue Meme
  • Truth Serum Blog*new
  • True Blue Liberal
  • greatscat!
  • LeftTurn
  • Candide's Notebooks
  • The Newsroom
  • Mercury Rising
  • Freiheit und Wissen
  • Dvorak Uncensored
  • Rayne Today
  • Dark Days Ahead...
  • Medbh Sings
  • Trish Wilson's Blog
  • Enemy of the State
  • Searching For A Better Way
  • Basie!
  • Steve's No Direction H.P.
  • editoriale
  • Fresno California Liberal
  • Hellblazer
  • pure bs
  • Jenny D.
  • The Shameless Antagonist*new
  • Empires Fall*new
  • WNY Media Network
  • Pacific NW Portal
  • Trust me, you have no idea...
  • Left I on the News
  • After School Snack
  • TwoGlasses
  • Far East
  • Progressive Gold - B.O.T.L.
  • Down And Out in S� i Gòn
  • RoguePlanet
  • Real on DetNews
  • The New York Connection
  • A List Of Things Thrown...
  • Republican Sinners
  • Steve Gilliard
  • Ang's Weird Ideas
  • Wampum
  • Love America, Hate Bush
  • Flogging The Simian
  • Honest Partisan
  • America Blog
  • Mushtown Media Corp.
  • Shakespeare's Sister
  • Pam's House Blend
  • The Dark Wraith Forums
  • Progressively Treva
  • The-Goddess
  • Angry Homo
  • Pandagon
  • Today in Iraq
  • Annatopia
  • Crooks and Liars
  • The Gadflyer
  • Rubber Hose
  • Utopian Hell
  • Diary of a Corporate Shill
  • Frederick Clarkson
  • Grouchy's Liberaltopia
  • Michael Hussey
  • blogACTIVE
  • Nephalim
  • i approve this messiah
  • Whiskey Bar
  • Julien's List
  • boadicea
  • DC Media Girl
  • thosethingswesay
  • BTC News
  • Nashua Advocate
  • Media Citizen
  • Watching The Watchers
  • Pseudo-Adrienne's
  • Roach Blog
  • The Gracchi
  • The Rogue Angel
  • Looking At The Stars
  • fafblog
  • big brass blog
  • Angry Single Mom
  • ReBelle Nation
  • Your Movie Dude
  • Oliver Willis
  • It's Morning Somewhere
  • The Liberal Avenger
  • The Iron Mouth
  • Twistedchick
  • Burnt Orange Report
  • The Hamster
  • Digby/Hullabaloo
  • Rob's Blog
  • Hep Kitty's Litter Box
  • Blogenlust
  • Corruption
  • President Boxer
  • 2millionth web log
  • and then...
  • Perpwalk
  • Byzantine's Shores
  • CJR Blog Report
  • Rising Hegemon
  • She Flies With Her Own Wings
  • PSoTD
  • This Century Sucks
  • Norweiganity
  • democracy guy
  • Unfair Witness
  • Bunko Squad
  • grannyinsanity
  • Reading A1
  • sed politics
  • archy
  • Cosmoetica
  • American Ex
  • The American Errorist
  • ISOU
  • Cy Guy
  • The Liferaft of Love
  • Article 19
  • Real Fake News
  • metacomments
  • move left media
  • Zen Comics
  • Rigorous Intuition*new
  • Real History Blog*new
  • Underneath Their Robes*new
  • Whatever Already!*new
  • Our Word*new
  • washingtonrox
  • Church of the Front Porch
  • cedric's big mix
  • Seth In The City
  • Like Maria Said Paz
  • mikey likes it!
  • Kat's Korner
  • The Daily Jot
  • Snarkaholic
  • Orcinus
  • Propagannon Blog
  • RConversation
  • The Stakeholder
  • Rebecca's Pocket
  • Alas, a blog
  • Baghdad Burning
  • Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
  • Echidne of the Snakes
  • Fair Treatment For Our Soldiers
  • Feministing
  • skippy the bush kangaroo
  • Make Me A Commentator
  • Observe But Do Not Interfere
  • Radical Georgia Moderate
  • Dakota Today
  • I Have More To Say
  • Eschaton
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    Has George Tenet ever seen The Dunk?

    (Correction: At the time of writing this...I wasn't aware that Tenet ever personally admitted using the "slam dunk" line but somehow - like a klutz - I missed this link: "Those were the two dumbest words I ever said," Tenet said in a speech at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.)

    As a diehard Knicks fan it hurt too much to have Michael Jordan's picture grace the top of my blog during the Thanksgiving holiday (even though it was a picture of M.J. missing a dunk, it still bugged me).

    So - for most Knicks fans - this is The Dunk:

    That's John Starks, a guy that had to claw his way into the NBA with limited talents but ferocious emotions which sometimes hurt the team but usually entertained the fans, dunking over Michael Jordan and most of the rest of his Chicago Bulls teammates in a play-off game the Knicks won (though the series...forget's been twelve years and it still hurts to think about what happened).

    Anyway...back to Mr. Slam Dunk: Former CIA director George Tenet.

    Bob Woodward wrote in his "Plan of Attack" that Tenet went to as many Georgetown Hoyas basketball games as he could attend which means that he's probably a season ticket holder these days.

    A few months before Bob's book came out, in January of 2004, while he still headed up the Central Intelligence Agency, Tenet penned a little column for Georgetown Univerity's newspaper called "Georgetown Source of Director's Intelligence." Here's a line about b-ball:

    "I was during my college years and remain today a diehard Hoya basketball fan and am so proud of my friend Craig Esherick's leadership."

    So at least Woodward didn't make that part up.

    But, since it's a holiday, I figure this post will end on a light note.

    Tenet's an interesting figure cause - pretty much - both sides hate him (hell...Jeff Gannon's even got admirers though the poor blogger gets less comments than any other I've ever seen), so here's a response to Tenet's column that might tickle both sides (oh yeah...and if you went to the link to the Georgetown paper you'd see that his short bio refers to "controversy surrounding the intelligence reports on Iraqi weapons"...poor guy's alma mater even nail him as the Bush Administration's fall guy), a letter to the editor asking, "Do the CIA and Men's Basketball Share Strategy?"

    George Tenet writes that he is "so proud of ... Craig Esherick's leadership" of our basketball team, which has been sputtering in decline. Tenet also presides over a CIA sputtering in decline, haplessly missing al Qaeda's attacks on our embassies and on Sept. 11, 2001, letting the obviously bogus Niger yellow-cake story go into President Bush's State of the Union Address, and allowing confidence in the CIA to be shaken by numerous reports that the intelligence on Iraq was politicized. Coincidence, or did these Hoyas learn the same sort of leadership?

    Happy T-Day, all.


    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Who told Woodward the "Slam Dunk" bit?

    (Correction: At the time of writing this...I wasn't aware that Tenet ever personally admitted using the "slam dunk" line but somehow - like a klutz - I missed this link: "Those were the two dumbest words I ever said," Tenet said in a speech at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.)

    It happens to the best of us (and I do mean the best):

    Even Michael Jordan missed a slam dunk or two.

    Not enough air can do it even if you're said to walk on air and are so damn hot that you hold the record for most points in a play-off game (63 in 1986 against Boston in a double overtime loss...go figure).

    Speaking of air and hot, Bob Woodward paid a visit to Larry King's CNN show the other night (transcript) and as other bloggers point out Mr. "I was scared of being indicted" is now claiming that he didn't tell his editor about being tipped about Plame early on in the game because he was "focused" on getting his book done.

    From the Larry King interview last night:

    "The evidence I had first-hand, a small piece of the puzzle acknowledge, is that that was not the case. So I'm trying to find out and focus on immense questions about, are we going to go to war in Iraq? How are we going to do it? What is the nature of Powell's position? What did Cheney do? What was the CIA's role? How good was the intelligence on all of this?"


    The interview in question with the "casual and off-hand" comment about Valerie Plame being a CIA analyst, supposedly took place in mid-June of 2003 after we already went to war in Iraq.

    Bob Woodward can't keep his "facts" straight.

    More Woody on CNN:

    "I think, at this point, I was learning things like, that the CIA director, George Tenet, went in and told the president the intelligence on WMD in Iraq was a slam dunk. That was new. That was the basis of this incredibly critical decision the president and his war cabinet were making on, do we invade Iraq?"

    How many people in the studio audience still think it's a slam dunk that George Tenet actually said "slam dunk" - much less said it twice and threw his hands in the air?

    This blogger has his doubts and, frankly, so do I.

    Did Woodward ever get a confirmation from George Tenet that that really happened like that?

    According to Woodward, Tenet "later told associates he should have said the evidence on weapons was not ironclad."

    On April 20th, Woodward was asked in an online forum at The Washington Post about Tenet's reaction to the "slam dunk" bit:

    "Has Director Tenet made any response to the book's passage in which a seemingly skeptical President Bush questions him on the CIA's WMD presentation and the Director twice states, "It's a slam dunk?""

    Woodward replied, "I'm not aware of anything Tenet has said in response to the book."

    But what about a response to the attribution of the quote? Shouldn't it have been somebody's job to make sure the quote was accurate? With that "unaware" answer Bob makes it seem like Tenet was never asked whether he said that money quote. And even though it was written for Woodward's "Plan of Attack" book, The Washington Post published excerpts from it so WaPo and Downie would be at fault, too, if it's fake.

    I don't think Woodward made up the quote. In fact, he's probably telling the truth about when he was "learning" it. Maybe Libby told him. June of 2003 was when the full-front assault against the CIA began in earnest and that's what the "slam dunk" bit was all about: placing the blame for bad intelligence that fueled the war on George Tenet and the CIA.

    Woodward blames the CIA, too.

    This is what Bob Woodward told Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes in April of 2004:

    What did Woodward think of Tenet’s statement? “It’s a mistake,” he says. “Now the significance of that mistake - that was the key rationale for war.”

    So poor George Tenet just didn't have the legs to finish off his slam dunk attempt. The ball bounced off the rim - if it ever even made it that far - and Tenet was told to take one for the team and announce his early retirement.

    Since even Bob Woodward - himself - believes that the "slam dunk" comment had a lot to do to push an (don't laugh, fellow libs who have read the Downing Street Memo and memos) uncommitted Bush to make the decision to go to war against Iraq isn't it about time someone called him on it?

    The unidentified White House official who told Bob Woodward about the "slam dunk" bit should be given the same amount of attention as who told Bob about Joe Wilson's wife in mid-June.

    Do you think Downie knows who told Bobby that?

    I sure don't.

    (Speaking of Washington Post online chats, the one-and-only Jay Rosen from Press Think will be doing a session later this morning at 11 AM eastern so pay the professor a visit and bring your sharpest questions)


    Monday, November 21, 2005

    NY Times' White Phosphorous Attack

    (UPDATED 11/21/05 5:00 PM)

    Let me be one of the first "war critics and journalists" to condemn this Scott Shane article, Defense of Phosphorus Use Turns Into Damage Control, published in the International section of Monday's New York Times (as reported at Raw Story, it was originally proposed for the front page).

    I'll leave it to the bloggers who have been following this story to get into the specifics of how this important story is reduced to a TV show review which only quotes two critics but no supporters; contains nothing of importance from even "anonymous offical sources" or former "entanglements" of Judith Miller; and ignores real newspaper reports.

    Here's a real newspaper report - a British one, of course - that contains real digging and legwork, as opposed to soundbites from whomever Scott Shane (or Ian Fisher who "contributed reporting from Rome for this article") could land on the phone.

    If Scott Shane has read Andrew Buncombe's "US Army rules say: 'Don't use WP against people'" published in the Independent which was online since at least late Friday evening, November 18 it sure as hell doesn't show.

    Andrew Buncombe reported:

    The debate over the use of white phosphorus in the battle of Fallujah took a new twist when it emerged the US Army teaches senior officers it is against the "laws of war" to fire the incendiary weapon at human targets.

    A section from an instruction manual used by the US Army Command and General Staff School (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, makes clear that white phosphorus (WP) can be used to produce a smoke screen. But it adds: "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."

    And unlike The New York Times the article contains both sides of the debate and includes comments by an actual-to-goodness US official.

    John Pike, a weapons expert who runs, flies off the hook against the documentary makers in The Times:

    "It's discredited the American military without any basis in fact."

    Oddly enough, Pike was also quoted in The Guardian sticking up for the Pentagon:

    But military specialists said the "laws of land warfare" taught at the CGSC are the guidelines that the US Army teaches as general principles. The GCSC generally teaches officers of senior rank such as major and colonel. John Pike, of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: "These are the general principles about proportionality, doctrine and so on and so forth."

    (Disclosure...Pike once was interviewed in an article I worked at Raw Story which disagreed on some of my findings: "U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war")

    The New York Times is back up to old Judy Miller tricks.


    The Common Ills weighs in, too, with links to George Monbiot (aka the original Moonbat to the far right) who argues that WP is, indeed, a chemical weapon, and allusions to the Pulitzer Dexter Filkins "earned" for the Times for his Fallujah "reporting."

    Think Progress also slams the Times for allowing the "White Phospourous is not a chemical weapon" MEME the Pentagon is pushing to run unchallenged. Think Progress dug up a "formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document" called "Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical" which reveals that when Saddam Hussein used WP there was no problem calling it a WMD.

    But I'll go Think Progress one better. That same document can also be found linked at John Pike's Global Security Website here, though the link appears to be dead now (Perhaps Mr. Pike can add the link that Think Process found to his Website).


    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Blogroll Purge

    The free ride is over.

    Let's just say I've developed a sort of reputation for decrying certain practices of certain A-list bloggers. Here, there, and everywhere and anywhere I have cried out about how important links are and how the right make better use of them.

    The right-leaning side of the blogosphere is far more organized and together than the left.

    Want proof?

    Check out the topics page for Iraq at Truth Laid Bear. Next to each blog title there is a number listed in paranthesis. That number stands for how many links each of the biggest posts of the last day or so received.

    As usual, the right-leaning blog posts dwarf the left-leaning blog posts in the number of links earned.

    At this writing, a post entitled "A Brief History of a Long War" at Mudville Gazette reigns in first place with 64 blogs linking to it. Those 64 links give weight to this post which was written as a response to Bush Administration critics who have attempted to "rewrite" the history of the war in Iraq.

    The majority of the next 10 most linked posts are devoted to the House showdown on the GOP sponsored resolution to make Democrats look bad. All 10 are from right-leaning blogs and total from 13-47 links each.


    Fuck it. I give up. No one wants to listen. No one wants to organize.

    I am removing every blog from my roll that has never linked to me.

    And you know what that will mean?

    Mostly B-to-Z-list blogs will be affected. I have been linked in the past by most of the A-list blogs at least once (including 4 times in the last 2 weeks) so the Eschatons and Americablogs will remain linked but it's the smaller bloggers that aren't doing their fair share of the load (the 4 posts I wrote that were big enough and important enough to earn A-list links last week got hardly any linkage from the littler blogs).

    By having such an enormous blogroll I have hurt my blog because it takes longer for my site to load and my Google ranking is affected by smaller blogs pulling it down (my 6 might turn into a 7 when I finish the purge).

    I plan to visit each link once before I remove it. And if I accidently cut off someone who's linked to me...leave a comment or send me an email.

    One day the left will learn the importance of links. One day.

    (The Last Straw Why: My last post, More On Cheney and Woodward, contains stuff that no other Woodward Plame leak bloggers have but who would know except the small loyal audience that I have?)


    Friday, November 18, 2005

    More on Cheney and Woodward

    Before I get into the third interesting thing I noticed in Bob Woodward's statement (Washington Post pdf, Raw Story text version), I'd like to add some further thoughts to the first two (and - yep - the third i.t. concerns Vice President Dick Cheney so stick with me).

    #1. Woodward's "typed notes"

    As I showed in Bob Woodward is just like Judith Miller, Woodward testified about his June 27, 2003 meeting with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby using his "four pages of typed notes" but there is no mention of what happened to the originals.

    Why do I assume there were originals as one or two commenters have asked about? Couldn't Woodward have used a laptop?

    Well...he could have...but I find it highly unlikely that Bob took notes on a laptop as he asked important questions of important officials. Even if Bob could type as fast as a court stenographer it just wouldn't be practical to rely on his speed and miss a chance at catching something important Libby or ____ (see third i.t.) might say.

    Woodward also claims:

    "My notes do not include all the questions I asked, but I testified that if Libby had said anything on the subject, I would have recorded it in my notes."

    In the paragraph before that one Woodward preceded the word "notes" with the word "typed" two times, but - curiously - doesn't then - when it counts. Woodward may not be speaking about the same notes.

    So what kind of notes are we talking about?

    Perhaps the answer lies in the paragraph regarding his June 20, 2003 interview with Andrew Card (though he's not specifically named in the statement):

    "I testified that on June 20, 2003, I interviewed a second administration official for my book Plan of Attack'' and that one of the lists of questions I believe I brought to the interview included on a single line the phraseJoe Wilson's wife.'' I testified that I have no recollection of asking about her, and that the tape-recorded interview contains no indication that the subject arose."

    Woodward "tape-recorded" that interview. The June 27 interview with Libby probably also exists on tape (or once did; and that sure would be ironic, huh?).

    #2 Woodward sent questions to the Vice President's office

    As I showed in The Typed Notes of Bob Woodward Woodward sent (assumingly, by fax or email) "an 18-page list of questions [he] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" to Libby at the Vice President's office and that list should have been turned over to the grand jury, and - because it wasn't - Cheney's office may have been complicit in obstruction of justice.

    No commenters have called me on that i.t., yet, but on further reflection it may be a bit more complicated than that.

    To the best of my knowledge, none of the subpoenas to White House officials have been made public; they're not accessible on Patrick Fitzgerald's Website or anywhere else I searched (if someone's got a link, though, please gimmee, gimmee, gimmee).

    All there is to go by are these White House memos regarding the September, 2003 DoJ request for "all materials that might be relevant to its investigation" and a Newsday article published on March 4, 2004 drawn from documents they obtained of three subpoenas that were issued to the White House on January 22, 2004.

    Basically, this means that perhaps the office of the Vice President wasn't under any obligation to turn in the "18-page list of questions."


    From the White House memos:

    Pursuant to a request from the Department of Justice, I am instructing you to preserve and maintain the following:

    “[F]or the time period February 1, 2002 to the present, all documents, including without limitation all electronic records, telephone records of any kind (including but not limited to any records that memorialize telephone calls having been made), correspondence, computer records, storage devices, notes, memoranda, and diary and calendar entries, that relate in any way to:

    1. Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, his trip to Niger in February 2002, and/or his wife’s purported relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency;

    There are two other items of interest mentioned but neither of them are applicable, and (here's where my backtracking "perhaps" enters the picture) it could be argued that this one isn't either.

    All we know about Woodward's "18-page list of questions" is that "[o]n page 5 of that list there was a question about "yellowcake" and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's weapons programs."

    But the White House was instructed to gather up anything and everything that "relate[s] in any way to...Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson [and] his trip to Niger in February 2002." Why did Joseph Wilson go to Niger?

    Let's go to the "bi-partisan" Senate Report on the U.S. Intelligence community's prewar intelligence assessments on Iraq:

    (deleted)Officials from the CIA's DO Counterproliferation Division (CPD) told Committee staff that in response to questions from the Vice President's Office and the Departments of State and Defense on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal, CPD officials discussed ways to obtain additional information. (deleted) who could make immediate inquiries into the reporting, CPD decided to contact a former ambassador to Gabon who had a posting early in his career in Niger.

    Then, from Joseph C. Wilson's What I Didn't Find in Africa:

    In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

    Since Joe Wilson's mission was all about the "yellowcake" that "18-page list of questions" should have been sent to the grand jury in October of 2003.

    The subpoenas in January don't seem to be applicable...that is...if we take Newsday's word on what was specifically contained in I won't get into it here.


    I promised more about Bob Woodward and Dick it is.

    #3 Why didn't Woodward testify about his meeting with the Vice President?


    Woodward's sole reason for speaking to Libby by telephone and meeting with him in his office was because he wanted to interview Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Woodward sent the "18-page list of questions" to Libby in order to get answers from Cheney.

    Maybe I missed something somewhere but did Woodward or did Woodward not eventually interview Cheney that day or on a future day? Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of "Plan of Attack" in front of me (I borrowed it from the library to read last year...the last Woodward book I paid for was "Wired") and an Amazon search of Woodward's book doesn't turn up anything.

    Since Woodward sent the "yellowcake" question to Libby for Cheney's attention then Woodward should've testified to the grand jury (and provided to his readers) about such an interview if it exists. It sure is strange that Woodward leaves us all in the dark about Cheney's possible role in all this.

    According to The Wall Street Journal (via ABC News' The Note):

    Prosecutors deposed Woodward in anticipation of presenting that evidence to a new grand jury, according to a person familiar with the situation.

    Along with Woodward's deposition, the new grand jury (or maybe it's still the last grand jury...this whole thing does get confusing) should also get their hands on Woodward's original notes or tape recordings, Woodward's 18-page list of questions, any possible written responses to those questions by Libby or Cheney (or anyone else who took a stab at an answer) between June 23 and June 27, and whatever exists of the interview Woodward sought to have with Cheney which may have touched on "yellowcake" uranium, Joseph Wilson or Valerie Plame.

    It took nearly three months for news of the three January 22, 2004 subpoenas to reach the public...perhaps subpoenas have already been issued for the items of interest that I write of.


    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Bob Woodward Sent Questions

    Another unexplained oddity from Bob Woodward's statement derived from his appearance on Monday before Patrick Fitzgerald for the Plame leak investigation:

    I also testified that I had a conversation with a third person on June 23, 2003. The person was I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, and we talked on the phone. I told him I was sending to him an 18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney. On page 5 of that list there was a question about ``yellowcake'' and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's weapons programs. I testified that I believed I had both the 18-page question list and the question list from the June 20 interview with the phrase ``Joe Wilson's wife'' on my desk during this discussion. I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation.

    Woodward claims he sent Libby an "18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney."

    Later from Bob's statement:

    "I testified that on June 27, 2003, I met with Libby at 5:10 p.m. in his office adjacent to the White House. I took the 18-page list of questions with the Page-5 reference to ``yellowcake'' to this interview and I believe I also had the other question list from June 20, which had the ``Joe Wilson's wife'' reference."

    TPMCafe contributor Paul Lukasiak wrote Romenesko at Poynter Online about this sending of questions:

    "Despite all the attention being paid to ethics questions regarding Bob Woodward's involvement in the Plame matter, his statement disclosing his testimony raises other significant journalistic ethics issues. Apparently, Woodward is in the habit of "pre-clearing" his questions for upper-level government officials with subordinates."


    "It is certainly understandable that a reporter would be willing to disclose the general subject matter he wants to talk to a public official about. But sending a detailed list of specific questions you "want to ask" turns journalism into little more than political theatrics masquerading as reporting."

    But putting aside the ethics question: what the hell happened to that 18-page list of questions?

    On September 30, 2003 White House employees were ordered to comply with the grand jury request for all records related to the leak:

    PLEASE READ: Important Message From Counsel's Office

    We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. The Department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the Department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the Counsel to the President's office.

    The President has directed full cooperation with this investigation.

    Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President

    What happened to the "18-page list of questions [Woodward] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" that was sent to the Vice President's office?

    That list presumably was viewed by Libby and Cheney, along with who-knows-whom-else.

    Patrick Fitzgerald should have known about Bob Woodward's involvement by October of 2003.

    The Vice President's office obstructed justice by not sending the "18-page list of questions [Woodward] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" to the grand jury investigation of the Valerie Plame leak.

    Patrick Fitzgerald might want to add a few more indictments to his feather cap.

    (In case you missed the first article I wrote on Woodward which, among other things, shows that Woodward testifed using "typed notes" instead of the original notes - or tape recordings - and details the many similiarities to Judy Miller and The New York Times, here's the link: Bob Woodward is just like Judith Miller. Or go straight to my homepage).


    More on this (and the "typed notes") is followed up in - the aptly named - More on Cheney and Woodward.


    The Typed Notes of Bob Woodward

    See if you can spot something interesting in this part of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's statement derived from his appearance on Monday before Patrick Fitzgerald for the Plame leak investigation:

    "I testified that on June 27, 2003, I met with Libby at 5:10 p.m. in his office adjacent to the White House. I took the 18-page list of questions with the Page-5 reference to ``yellowcake'' to this interview and I believe I also had the other question list from June 20, which had the ``Joe Wilson's wife'' reference."

    "I have four pages of typed notes from this interview, and I testified that there is no reference in them to Wilson or his wife. A portion of the typed notes shows that Libby discussed the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, mentioned ``yellowcake'' and said there was an ``effort by the Iraqis to get it from Africa. It goes back to February '02.'' This was the time of Wilson's trip to Niger."

    "When asked by Fitzgerald if it was possible I told Libby I knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in his assignment, I testified that it was possible I asked a question about Wilson or his wife, but that I had no recollection of doing so. My notes do not include all the questions I asked, but I testified that if Libby had said anything on the subject, I would have recorded it in my notes."

    Did you catch it?

    "Typed notes."

    Unless Bobby brought his typewriter (in his pocket I imagine) to the Libby interview these aren't his original notes.

    Why doesn't Bobby mention what happened to those original notes?

    And the larger question: Did Patrick Fitzgerald ask about what happened to Bobby's original notes?

    (Endnote: This appeared at the end of yesterday's post, " Bob Woodward is just like Judith Miller," but I thought I should single it out before movin' on. And special thanks to Susan G. for frontpaging a post about it at Political Cortex and all the readers who left links at various other blogs.)


    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Bob Woodward is just like Judith Miller

    Yesterday I quoted ex-CIA officer Larry Johnson on The Washington Post's Bob Woodward who claimed that the Plame leak caused "minimal damage" at the CIA:

    "So, either you had real news and didn't share it with your reporters or you are just making this up?"

    Today's Washington Post reveals that Woodward has been holding back other news...for over two years.

    Apparently, Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago:

    Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

    In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

    For how long did Bobby keep this 'insensitive' information?

    Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or provide crucial details about the testimony. Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place.

    Just like Judy, Woodward can't get his fellow employees to back up his stories.

    He also told Fitzgerald that it is possible he asked Libby about Plame or her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. He based that testimony on an 18-page list of questions he planned to ask Libby in an interview that included the phrases "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife." Woodward said in his statement, however, that "I had no recollection" of mentioning the pair to Libby.

    Just like Judy, Woodward can't totally remember details.

    He also said that his original government source did not mention Plame by name, referring to her only as "Wilson's wife."

    Just like Judy, Woodward does remember that the government officials refrained from using Valerie Plame's full name.

    Woodward declined to elaborate on the statement he released to The Post late yesterday afternoon and publicly last night. He would not answer any questions, including those not governed by his confidentiality agreement with sources.

    Just like Judy, Woodward's not talking about stuff that he isn't legally blocked from discussing.

    Downie said in an interview yesterday that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story. He declined to say whether he was upset that Woodward withheld the information from him.

    Just like Judy's bosses, Woodward's boss seems to be biting his tongue in the early stages.

    Bob Woodward - who, just like Judy, didn't write about it - against Walter Pincus - who did:

    Woodward's statement said he testified: "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."

    Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.

    "Are you kidding?" Pincus said. "I certainly would have remembered that."

    Pincus said Woodward may be confused about the timing and the exact nature of the conversation. He said he remembers Woodward making a vague mention to him in October 2003. That month, Pincus had written a story explaining how an administration source had contacted him about Wilson. He recalled Woodward telling him that Pincus was not the only person who had been contacted.

    Remember that July 11 Woodward interview with Larry King while Judith Miller languished in prison (CNN transcript):

    WOODWARD: I would have done it, too. And in fact, you know, maybe I shouldn't say this, but I will...

    KING: Go ahead.

    WOODWARD: ... because it came to mind. If the judge would permit it, I would go serve some of her jail time, because I think the principle is that important, and it should be underscored. It's not a casual idea that we have confidential sources. It is absolutely vital. And I'll bet there are all kinds of reporters out there, if we could divvy up this four-month jail sentence -- I suspect the judge would not permit that, but if he would, I'll be first in line. It's that important to our business.

    Let the record show that unlike Judy, Bob Woodward caved pretty damn quick.


    Atrios posted juicy excerpts from another Larry King interview that took place on October 27, 2005, a week before Patrick Fitzgerald was alerted to Woodward's involvement (the same interview in which Bobby claimed that he had the Senate Report on the U.S. Intelligence community's prewar intelligence assessments on Iraq in his pocket, though Larry King didn't ask him to prove it or - at least - explain how a 500-plus page report could fit inside his pocket).

    Atrios, among other excerpts, highlights this strange exchange:

    KING: We're in Washington where things are hopping and we're going to follow up again tomorrow night. We're going to lead this round with Bob Woodward as we turn to tomorrow. But, Michael Isikoff whispered to me during the break that he has a key question he'd like to ask Mr. Woodward, so I don't know what this is about.

    ISIKOFF: No, look, this is the biggest mystery in Washington, has been really for two years and now as we come down to the deadline of tomorrow the city is awash with rumors. There's a new one every 15 minutes and nobody really knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Nobody knows what Fitzgerald's got.

    I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don't know, maybe this is Bob's opportunity.

    KING: Come clean.

    WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.

    No wonder that Jane Hamsher at firedoglake is calling bullshit on Bobby. Over a month ago, Jane wrote:

    Note to self: do not EVER play poker with Patrick Fitzgerald.

    But I guess she'd allow Bobby to sit in for a few hands, at least (perhaps Bobby could play with his Wired royalties).

    Computer problems prevented me from examining the pdf containing the text of Bob Woodward's version of what he testified to before writing this post but John at Raw Story forwarded it to here's a few more thoughts on all this.

    Evidently, Woodward's "testimony was given in a sworn deposition at the law office of Howard Shapiro of the firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr instead of appearing under subpoena before a grand jury." Again, it's odd that Woodward backed Judy's stand but he himself barely raised a finger in defense.

    I testified after consulting with the Post's executive and managing editors, the publisher, and our lawyers. We determined that I could testify based on the specific releases obtained from these three people. I answered all of Fitzgerald's questions during my testimony without breaking promises to sources or infringing on conversations I had on unrelated matters for books or news reporting past, present or future.

    It was the first time in 35 years as a reporter that I have been asked to provide information to a grand jury.

    But Bobby really isn't being truthful here.

    Earlier in his statement he wrote:

    All three persons provided written statements waiving the previous agreements of confidentiality on the issues being investigated by Fitzgerald. Each confirmed those releases verbally this month, and requested that I testify.

    Woodward did break promises. Those promises were the original "agreements of confidentiality." Even though Bobby got written and verbal waivers that doesn't change the fact that he went back on his word.

    See if you can spot something interesting in this part of Bob's statement:

    I testified that on June 27, 2003, I met with Libby at 5:10 p.m. in his office adjacent to the White House. I took the 18-page list of questions with the Page-5 reference to ``yellowcake'' to this interview and I believe I also had the other question list from June 20, which had the ``Joe Wilson's wife'' reference.

    I have four pages of typed notes from this interview, and I testified that there is no reference in them to Wilson or his wife. A portion of the typed notes shows that Libby discussed the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, mentioned ``yellowcake'' and said there was an ``effort by the Iraqis to get it from Africa. It goes back to February '02.'' This was the time of Wilson's trip to Niger.

    When asked by Fitzgerald if it was possible I told Libby I knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in his assignment, I testified that it was possible I asked a question about Wilson or his wife, but that I had no recollection of doing so. My notes do not include all the questions I asked, but I testified that if Libby had said anything on the subject, I would have recorded it in my notes.

    Did you catch it?

    "Typed notes."

    Unless Bobby brought his typewriter (in his pocket I imagine) to the Libby interview these aren't his original notes.

    Why doesn't Bobby mention what happened to those original notes?

    And the larger question: Did Patrick Fitzgerald ask about what happened to Bobby's original notes?


    More on the "typed notes" and how The Office of the Vice President may be complicit of obstruction of justice at - the aptly named - More on Cheney and Woodward.


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