Thursday, April 20, 2006

Five On The President's Men

Five articles you should be reading today.

From Grand Jury Hears Evidence Against Rove by Jason Leopold:

In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.

"Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.


Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said.

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

From Cheney has tapped Iranian expatriate, arms dealer to surveil discussions with Iran, officials say by Larisa Alexandrovna:

The Department of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney have retained the services of Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as their “man on the ground,” in order to report on any interaction and attempts at negotiations between Iranian officials and US ambassador to Iraq, Zelmay Khalilzad, current and former intelligence officials say.


“Khalilzad has been authorized to enter into discussions with the Iranians over the issue of stability inside Iraq,” one former intelligence source said.

These discussions, however, are now on hold for unspecified reasons. Sources close to the UN Security Council and a former high ranking intelligence official say that this latest failed attempt to bring Iran to the table is part of an ongoing attempt by Cheney and Rumsfeld to squash diplomatic activities.

Another intelligence source confirmed the spiking of diplomatic action on Cheney’s behalf, explaining that the Bush administration sees such talks as a “sign of weakness.”

From The Jerk at the Podium: Scott McClellan Steps Away by Jay Rosen:

First, McClellan was a necessary figure in what I have called Rollback— the attempt to downgrade the press as a player within the executive branch, to make it less important in running the White House and governing the country. It had once been accepted wisdom that by carefully “feeding the beast” an Administration would be rewarded with better coverage in the long run. Rollback, the policy for which McClellan signed on, means not feeding but starving the beast, while reducing its effectiveness as an interlocutor with the President and demonstrating to all that the fourth estate is a joke.


...So this is the first thing to understand about McClellan and the job he was given by Bush. He wasn’t put there to brief the White House press, but to frustrate, and belittle it, and provoke journalists into discrediting themselves on TV...


The same goes for spin. Anyone who talks about McClellan “spinning” the press has got the wrong idea. The premise of spin is that by artful re-statement the facts can be made to look better for the President. But McClellan’s speaking style is artless in the extreme. He’s terrible at spin but it didn’t detract from the job he was there to do.

From The Un-Spokesman by Howard Kurtz:

He was painful to watch at times, gamely repeating the same stock phrases under a barrage of hostile media fire, grasping for new ways to deliver the same non-answers.


McClellan's tenure coincided with a rough reelection campaign and the lowest approval ratings of Bush's term in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Harriet Miers nomination and the continued carnage in Iraq. While Fleischer said McClellan would have preferred to stay on until year's end, his departure was engineered during a shake-up ordered by the new chief of staff, Josh Bolten. "I didn't need much encouragement to make this decision, even though you all kept tempting me," McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One.


In an interview last fall, McClellan said: "The media's trying to get under our skin and get us off-message. My job is to help the president advance his agenda."

From Behind the White House Reshuffling by Mike Allen:

The most telling word in Bush’s comments was "integrity," making it clear that he does not blame McClellan — and McClellan should not be blamed — for passing on incomplete or inaccurate information he had been given. "I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity," Bush said.


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